Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,640 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on May 26th, 2012


Apologies for the lateness of this post. We did the puzzle last weekend, but in the general chaos of moving house, I completely forgot that I was also meant to be writing it up, and we don’t have internet in the new place yet. We needed a couple of sessions to finish this one, which suggests that it’s on the hard side for Araucaria. I found it a satisfying solve, though – my favourite clue was 28 across, but there were lots of others that I noted for their cunning constructions.

1,13. PERSONA GRATA P = “page” + ERRATA around SON = “the boy” + AG = “Silver”; Definition: “OK character” – a joke on the much more commonly heard persona non grata
5. BARRACK BARACK = “[OBAMA]” about R = “right”; Definition: “Demonstrate against”
9. SEPIA Double definition: “Brown” and “ink” – I think the “ink” sense exclusively refers to squid ink – Sepia is the genus of cuttlefish, and the word is also used to refer to the ink produced by them, according to Chambers. It seems that the colour sense was derived from the colour of this ink, as well. We probably most often come across this in the Italian dish spaghetti al nero di seppia.
10. TARPAULIN TAR = “Black stuff” + PAUL = “boy” + IN; Definition: “sheet”
11. BEGGAR MAN BARMAN = “One supplying drinks” around EGG = “food”; Definition: “the seventh stone” – I think this refers to the nursery rhyme “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man and Thief” – Wikipedia tells me that this is a counting game, sometimes played with cherry stones, hence BEGGAR MAN would be the “seventh stone”.
12. WITHY “how to spell film actress [MANSFIELD]’s name?” refers to Jayne Mansfield‘s first name being spelled WITH Y; Definition: “Twig” – one of Chambers’s definitions of WITHY is “a flexible twig or branch, esp one used for binding”
15. SAM BROWNE I think this was our last clue: MB = “medico” + ROW = “quarrel” in SANE (from “Insane”); Definition: “piece of officer’s kit”
18. WATER MAIN TERM = “A period” in WAIN = “wagon”; Definition: “accessed by stopcock”
19. SCOOP Cryptic definition: “Exclusive ice cream?” – newspaper exclusives are scoops, and you’d normally order ice cream in numbers of scoops
21. RECAP C = “number” in REAP = “harvest”; Definition: “Summing up”
23. RIFLE SHOT RIOT = “Trouble” around FLESH = “meat”; Definition: “with a crack”
25. AUSTENITE AU = “gold” + STEN = “gun” + IT + E; Definition: “Form of carbon in iron”
26. USUAL LAUS = “Praise in Latin?” + U = “turn” reversed; apparently LAUS is the latin verb “to praise”, from which we get the word “laud”; Definition: “Common” Thanks to everyone for correcting my silly mistake here, KeithW and tupu being first…
27. HEARSAY HEAR + SAY = “listen before speaking”; Definition: “Little bird”, as in the expression “a little bird told me”
28. DIPTERA My favourite clue of the puzzle: DIP = “Immerse” + T = “time” + ERA = “time”; Definition: “flies” – the order DIPTERA has the so-called “true flies” as opposed, say, to dragonflies or butterflies
1. POSTBAG POST = “after” + GAB = “talk” reversed; Definition: “Group of letters”
2. REPUGNANT RENT = “Payment” around PUG = “dog” + NA = “not applicable”; Definition: “offensive”
3. OBAMA O = “Zero” followed by BA and MA = “degrees”; Definition: “in the hot seat?” – of all jobs, being President of the United States could perhaps most aptly represent being “in the hot seat”
4. ARTEMISIA ARTEMIS = “goddess” + I = “one” + A = “first”; Definition: “Herb”
5. BYRON BON = “good” (in French, so “a good”, I suppose) around YR = “year”; Definition: “Poet”
6. ROADWORKS (WORR[y] SKODA)*; Definition: “restriction on travel”
7. ALLOT Genesis and Malachi are the first and last books of the Old Testament, so ALL OT; Definition: “Parcel out”
8. KINTYRE KIN = “Family” + TYRE = “flat, maybe”; Definition: “on Mull?”, referring to The Mull of Kintyre
14. AIRSPEEDS AI (A1) = “First class” + (PRESSED)*; Definition: “must be measured in knots”
16,17. MANSFIELD WOODHOUSE “Park” is MANSFIELD Park and Emma is Emma Woodhouse to “[AUSTENITE]s” (fans of Jane Austen – a lovely use of 25 in a different sense); Definition: “in Notts”
18. WARPATH WARP = “Pervert” + (HAT)*; Definition: “on the way to cause grief”
20. PATELLA PAT = “given with approval” + ELLA = “Fitzgerald”; Definition: “Cap” – in this case, the kneecap
22. CASCA CASCA[de] = “waterfall” without the notes D and E; Definition: “Conspirator” – Casca was one of the conspirators who murdered Julius Caesar
23. RAINY IN = “home” in RAY = “light”; Definition: “Call on reserves on such a day”
24. EQUIP E = “English” + QUIP = “joke”; Definition: “Provide”

14 Responses to “Guardian 25,640 / Araucaria”

  1. KeithW says:

    18d is WARPATH

  2. KeithW says:

    and 26a USUAL is a reverse of LAUS (latin: praise) plus U (turn)

  3. Stevie B says:

    I got Rifle Shot but assumed the trouble was ‘rift’ so was looking for ‘lesho’ as a kind of meat. Strangle I did find somewhere a reference to lesho meat’ which proves you can find anything on the internet these days!!

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Araucaria

    A nice puzzle. I don’t remember finding it particularly hard.

    26a is laus + u (turn) reversed.

  5. tupu says:

    KeithW @2

    Sorry we crossed.

    I should add I needed to check 25a though the answer itself is clear. I particularly liked 15a, 27a, 6d, and 20d.

    Also my commiserations to mhl and hope you enjoy the new location!

  6. Robi says:

    I didn’t find this one too bad, apart from the SAM BROWNE, which I had never heard of.

    Thanks mhl for the blog. I think the 5d has YR for year; no doubt what you meant. I did like OBAMA and DIPTERA.

    Many thanks to all the 15 squared bloggers for tutoring me. I just found out today that I was the winner of the 25,634 Prize Crossword!

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl, for the blog, and all the very best in your new home.

    As you say, a satisfying puzzle. I loved the 25ac, 16,17dn 12ac connections and the exploitation of the two meanings of 25ac.

    Re 20dn: having given a plug for Araucaria’s ‘While shepherds watched’ anagram yesterday, I think it’s only fair to mention, for the sake of those who haven’t come across it, Rufus’ classic clue for this word: ‘Two girls, one on each knee’.

    Congratulations, Robi! :-)

  8. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Well done, Robi.
    Pretty straightforward although lack of knowledge about obscure Nottinghamshire places and the ‘Holy Jane’ canon held me up for a while at the end but it succumbed eventually.
    When a young boy I did read Northanger Abbey but nothing since.
    I think I discovered Aldous Huxley’s far superior and relevant social commentaries soon after and never looked back. It aws so much easier to imagine myself as one of his characters than hers (wishful thinking?)

  9. sidey says:

    Nice to have a puzzle worthy of a weekend for a change.

    The use of laus is a bit off. Yet again something not at all easy to confirm even with a fairly extensive bookshelf of reference books.

  10. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Sidey
    “The use of laus is a bit off. …..”

    The only reference book you need is Chambers: “laus Deo (Latin) – Praise to God”.

  11. mhl says:

    Congratulations, Robi! I’ve still never won any crossword competition, which (if my calculations are correct) is statistically rather unlikely…

    Thanks to everyone for the corrections for my mistakes with USUAL, WARPATH and BYRON – I’ve updated the post.

    tupu: my estimations of difficulty for Araucaria are always all over the place, I’m afraid – whereas with Paul, I feel I’m exactly on the setter’s wavelength, Araucaria’s crosswords always have a host of referents that I know nothing about…

    Eileen: I thought of the same clue – Rufus’s two millionth, no less!

  12. rrc says:

    thoroughly enjoyed this but the enjoyment was over far too quickly – I was surprised how easily every thing fell into place too many clues to pick out a favourite

  13. Biggles A says:

    Unusually for me, I finished this in one session so I wouldn’t have thought it was too difficult though, like RCW, I was stuck on the Woodhouse reference for a while. Rather more enjoyable than some recent offerings.

  14. sidey says:

    Gaufrid, indeed, I withdraw my comment. I wonder if I can get a refund on these new glasses?

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