Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,661 by Arachne

Posted by PeterO on June 13th, 2012


This has given me some difficulties.
After a rousing start in 1A, there was a clue where I could not see the wordplay (12A), and another (26A) where I suspect a misprint.

1. Someone of fluid sexuality’s bound to become a clergyman (6)
BISHOP A charade of BI’S (‘someone of fluid sexuality’s’) + HOP (‘bound’). What a clue to start off!
4. Albatrosses both taking turn to incubate brood (6)
OBSESS Hidden (‘to incubate’) reverse (‘taking turn’) answer in ‘albatroSSES BOth’.
9. Region made up of boundless warm seas (4)
AREA [w]AR[m] [s]EA[s] ‘boundless’.
10. Giant lime’s monstrous pips (4,6)
TIME SIGNAL An anagram (‘monstrous’) of ‘giant limes’.
11. It’s of assistance to shepherd or miner, but not king (6)
COLLIE COLLIE[r] (‘miner’) with the R removed (‘but not king’).
12. Mills and Boon-style books in modern Greek (8)
ROMANTIC Mills and Boon are the publishers of Harlequin romances, but I am not sure where the modern Greek comes in (and does ‘books’ belong in the definition or not?).
13. One’s up the duff in Room at the Top (9)
PENTHOUSE An anagram (‘duff’) of ‘ones up the’.
15. Lib Dem politician reportedly dealt sharp blows (4)
HEWN The Lib Dem politician is Chris Huhne, here represented as a homophone (‘reportedly’).
16. Lugs first of boats from harbours (4)
EARS [b]EARS (‘harbours’) with the B (‘first of Boats’) removed (‘from’).
17. Answers to clues published when it’s time to go to sleep (6,3)
LIGHTS OUT A charade of LIGHTS (‘answers to clues’) + OUT (‘published’)
21. Small island in river, short and narrow (8)
STRAITEN An charade of S (‘small’) + an envelope (‘in’) of AIT (‘island’) in TREN[t] (‘river, short’).
22. Male returning morning after morning with large-breasted creature (6)
MAMMAL A charade of M (‘male’) + AM (ante meridiem, ‘morning’) + (‘after’) MA (‘returning morning’) + L (‘large’).
24. Relative’s entry into Britain’s surprisingly supported by Labour and Tories? (10)
BIPARTISAN An envelope (‘entry into’) of PA (‘relative’) in BIRTISAN, an anagram (‘surprisingly’) of ‘Britains’.
25. Bounder boxing hard as result of punch (4)
CHAD An envelope (‘boxing’) of H (‘hard’) in CAD (‘bounder’).
26. When you’re caned, cane is something that grabs attention (6)
SHTICK I wonder if the intention was ‘when you’re canned’, suggesting the slurring of STICK (‘cane’).
27. Arachne’s nothing but crude (6)
IMPURE A charade of I’M PURE (‘Arachne’s nothing but’).
1. Skin reportedly has lines and stripes in black and white (3,4)
BAR CODE BARC, a homophone (‘reportedly’) of BARK (‘skin’) + ODE (‘lines’).
2. Has ordered over fifties to make will (5)
SHALL A charade of SHA, an anagram (‘ordered’) of ‘has’ + LL (Roman numerals, ‘fifties’).
3. Very busy, one then got off at last (2,3,2)
ON THE GO ‘ON[e] THE[n] GO[t]’, with the final letters removed (‘off at last’). A simple but unusual device.
5. Imbecile finally promises end to continuous boom and bust (6)
BOSOMS An anagram of S (‘finally promiseS‘) + S (‘end to continuouS‘) + ‘boom’.
6. Cockneys embracing new good causes (9)
ENGENDERS An envelope (’embracing’) of N G (‘new’ ‘good’) in E ENDERS (‘Cockneys'; not a dropped h in sight).
7. Locate good woman, one in a hundred (7)
STATION A charade of ST (‘good woman’) + an envelope (‘in’) of I (‘one’) in A TON (‘a hundred’).
8. Is porn mimesis, acting, or an artistic movement? (13)
IMPRESSIONISM An anagram (‘acting’) of ‘is porn mimesis’.
14. Severely criticised and curtailed American right to lock up men (4,5)
TORE APART An envelope (‘to lock up’) of OR (other ranks, ‘men’) in TEA PART[y] (‘curtailed American right’).
16. Requires guts? Run away! (7)
ENTAILS ENT[r]AILS (‘guts’) with the R removed (‘run away’).
18. Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar? (7)
HOMONYM Cryptic definition. Strictly, homonyms should have different derivations, whereas the two flavours of ‘funny’ share a common ancestry.
19. Juan was, we agree, regularly out in the dark (7)
UNAWARE Alternate letters (‘regularly’) of ‘jUaN wAs We AgReE‘.
20. Jacques Tati can’t keep still (6)
STATIC A hidden answer (‘keep’) in ‘JacqueS TAIT Cant’.
23. Historian losing bet in gambler’s paradise (5)
MACAU MACAU[lay] (‘historian’) without LAY (‘bet’). The historian in mind is most likely Thomas Babbington, but there is also Catherine.

45 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,661 by Arachne”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO. Tricky bottom half today.

    12 is NT (books)in ROMAIC, which Chambers tells me is “Modern Greek.”

    26 Chambers gives “caned: intoxicated by drink or drugs.”

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Peter. Trademark risqué clues, which I enjoyed (BISHOP especially) but I did find this very hard and couldn’t finish the last few. I think it’s a mark of a crossword that is pretty much over your horizon that you have to come here to understand the parsing of a good number of clues. So thank you for your explanations and thanks to Arachne for a fair but difficult puzzle.

  3. crypticsue says:

    I love Arachne. Her crosswords are a delight to solve, with lovely risque clues, stuff to make you think, laugh out loud and generally have a wonderful time. Hard to pick a favourite. A big thank you to Arachne for a wonderful start to an actual sunny morning (yes, really) and to Peter for the explanations.

  4. Rog says:

    For some reason Arachne appears not to be on-line at the moment.

  5. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, I too enjoy her frivolity.

    Thanks, Peter, for several explanations (1d, 14d, 5d, 18d, all of whose answers I got, but failed to see) and for 15a which I failed on completely.

    Wasn’t keen on HOMONYM even after the explanation, but I liked 1a and several others.

    I got the first four across clues straight away, an exceptional occurrence for me.

  6. Rog says:

    I tell a lie (sort of). It isn’t on the cryptic page, but clicking Arachne on the setters’ panel brings it up.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO – and bravissima Arachne!

    Yesterday, Picaroon referred to ‘the inimitable Arachne’ and I don’t think this puzzle could be easily mistaken for anyone else’s. As well as the risqué clues, like BISHOP and the confessional 27ac, there are the story-telling surfaces that I so admire [as usual, too many to name them all but 4ac is lovely and 12ac is stunningly good – that story’s already been told! – and the thought of Lord Macaulay in the casino made me laugh].

    There’s also political comment, with the reminder of the ‘hanging chads’ of 2000 and the Tea Party and Chris Huhne, and the characteristic ST = good woman [hurrah!]

    New words for me were ROMAIC [easily gettable from the wordplay] and CANED = intoxicated.

    Many thanks for all the fun, Arachne.

  8. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne

    This puzzle was another disaster for me. I can’t seem to get on this ladies wavelength.

    In my opinion there appears to be a lot of very difficult clues.

    Always next time to look forward to!

  9. postrophe says:

    to Eileen @7

    I remembered the chads of 2000 as being ‘pregnant’!

    Seems both expressions are in use, as well as ‘dimpled’ 😉

  10. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO

    Another splendid outing from the Spider Woman.

    I didn’t find this as difficult as other posters seem to have done; Arachne always puts me in a good mood, and the relaxation helps the solve. Nevertheless, there were a few clues that did hold me up for a while: ‘Romaic’ was a new one on me and I couldn’t decide whether 12ac was ROMANTIC or ROMANCES. Chambers enlightened me, which led to HEWN and STATION (where Arachne’s feminist clueing had decoyed me once more!) Last in was SHTICK: great clue for a word with an unusual arrangement of letters.

    Favourite clues were 1ac (natch), 4ac (clever reverse hidden clue with wonderful surface), 10ac (another great misleading surface), 13ac (LOL), 5dn (poor old Gordon), 7dn (as mentioned above).

    Varied, ingenious clueing, with splendid surface readings and a lorra laffs. Bravissima!

  11. Stella Heath says:

    Many thanks Arachne and PeterO.

    I didn’t find this too difficult, and it was certainly great fun. I was helped by my Spanish in the NE corner, as I’ve seen ROMAIC for “modern Greek” in Spanish crosswords, and I took “good woman” in 7d to be STA, the standard abbreviation for “santa” – although this, of course, makes the “a” in the clue redundant

  12. anax says:

    Was going to describe this as another great puzzle from the leading lady of cryptic crosswords – but forget gender; Arachne has stratospheric talent. Great surfaces, giggling naughtiness, ingenuity and just the right level of challenge.


  13. Thomas99 says:

    Re Homonym –
    I’m in a pedantic mood today so I decided to look it up. Chambers says homonyms have different origins; Collins (a rather old edition) and the OED don’t. Not the first time I’ve noticed Chambers going its own way.

    I found this a bit easier than some recent Arachnes but (and?) enjoyed it a lot. Some lovely surfaces – 13a possibly the best. We had to read Room at the Top at my (very southern) school.

  14. PeterO says:

    NeilW @1

    Thanks for filling in the gaps. I happened to have to hand my old edition of Chambers (1961!), which does not give Romaic, and even the 9th edition (which counts as my new copy) does not admit the required meaning of caned – but I might have tried the Urban Dictionary; indeed both words are readily available online. The Wiktionary even has a whole page of terms for drunkenness, including yoopered (Lower Peninsular of Michigan slang).

  15. JollySwagman says:

    Great puzzle. Raced through it to start with – started to feel disappointed – fun but where was the Arachne wickedness – then kerpow – the real work began – but all doable in the end. I must be on Arachne’s wavelength. Now that’s a worry.

    Many thanks for the blog PO.

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I see that there theems to be quite a strong division in comments here: some say it was comparatively easy. The majority (including me!) found it hard work.

    I am also one of those who had to come here to see the parsing of several clues where I was left scratching my head.

  17. chas says:

    Replace ‘theems’ by ‘seems’ in my previous post.

  18. NeilW says:

    Peter @14, I use the iPhone app of Chambers. This is very reasonably priced, portable (obviously) and regularly updated with the latest version. It also has a search facility which is very useful for “cheating” if I get really stuck on an obscure word. I can’t recommend it highly enough. My bit of product placement for the day! :)

  19. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO. The NW corner fell out quickly, along with 8dn, which mislead me into thinking this was going to be easy than it proved to be. Struggled a little towards the end, but got there eventually with help from the check button.

    I couldn’t parse 12ac and it took me ages to spot the reversed hidden at 4ac.

    A lovely puzzle, as others have said, with great witty story-telling surfaces! Hugely enjoyable. Thanks, Arachne!

  20. liz says:

    NeilW @18 — I recommend the same app, particularly for AZED puzzles!

  21. Robi says:

    Nice weave Spiderwoman!

    Thanks PeterO; the only one I failed to parse properly was TORE APART [I always forget OR=men.] I am more familiar with canned than caned, although the latter is in my Chambers 11th edition.

    As Eileen @7 says, lots of good story-telling clues e.g. for MAMMAL, OBSESS and, of course, BISHOP (not to mention PENTHOUSE.) In fact there was not really a duff clue. Well, only one! 😉

  22. lightweight says:

    Delightfully witty puzzle.

    I took 18dn to be inspired not by funny, but by humerus and humerous, which do indeed have different derivations – an extra remove that tickled my funnybone.

  23. NeilW says:

    lightweight @22 – and different spellings…? 😉

  24. lightweight says:

    Oops! @22 I meant humerus and humourous

  25. ClaireS says:

    As a long time lurker I thought I should finally have the grace to say thank you for the blog. So thanks to PeterO & to Arachne for another fine puzzle.

    I found this a mixture of some quite easy clues (9a, 17a, 8d) and many that had me pulling my hair out until the penny finally dropped. I especially liked 1a, 7d and 27a among others. Arachne’s humour and her surfaces are wonderful.

    Further to NeilW’s comment @18 – the Chambers apps (dictionary & thesaurus) are also available, similarly priced, for Android although they do have a couple of annoying quirks not present on the iOS versions (predictive text isn’t turned off automatically and the search function requires either a physical search key or one on the phone’s keyboard). They’re still well worth the money though.

  26. Paul B says:


  27. lightweight says:

    Paul B @26

    Yes, it’s a word that the more I look at it the less I can spell it. But my OED (1933!) gives both spellings, and only the 4th meaning is the funny one.

  28. apple granny says:

    We thoroughly enjoyed this as usual for Arachne, and guessed the last few – the only one we failed to see was 14d. We put in “torn apart”, failing to find the Tea Party link. Likewise, we guessed shtick without fully understanding, since we missed “caned” as a term for intoxicated. 21ac we guessed but missed “ait” as island. A good, satisfying challenge for a miserable wet morning.

  29. William says:

    Thanks PeterO

    Too hard for this slogger, I’m afraid. Failed on three. No complaints, though, all pretty fair and beautifully clued.

    Never heard of SHTICK
    Don’t understand the gambler’s paradise = MACAU but that’s probably just me.
    Don’t really understand the HOMONYM reference for two defs of the same word root.

    ENTAILS was very neat, and I’m delighted to learn that the real name for those irritating bits of paper is CHAD.

    I take it that the anagrind in 5d (BOSOMS) is ‘imbecile’?

    Super stuff, Spider Lady, just glad it’s not our exclusive diet.

  30. Tramp says:

    Lovely puzzle with Arachne’s usual blend of wit, a bit of sauce and super clues. I think the ONESUPTHE anagram with its “duff” anagram indicator is sublime.

    Unusually, I’ve had time to solve two puzzles in succession — they’ve both been belters.

  31. StanXYZ says:

    A very nice puzzle from Arachne – as always very nice surface readings!

    Stumbled on a few that were too hard – my knowledge of Lib Dems is minimal!

    The “Room at the Top” clue – excellent!

  32. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne

    A fine inventive and hard but very fair puzzle. I’d got it all sorted bar one (15a) this morning and had to go out. Eventually 15a hit me this afternoon. At first I thought it might be Beith/beat, which I did not like, but then I got ‘station’ (one of many excellent clues) and was left in the air.

    I had to guess caned = drunk, and I checked Romaic (an odd word with its evocations of Rome or Roma – it apparently relates to the eastern Roman Empire).

    I ticked 13a, 17a, 24a, 6d, and 14d but admired many others.

    I think this the best of Arachne’s puzzles I have solved so far.

  33. iz says:

    Thanks for all the explanations: this blog is helping me get a lot better at crosswords which is wonderful. I did wonder whether ‘sta’ in 9 down (station) could be for ‘santa’, like santa maria rather than saint?

  34. StanXYZ says:

    7d – To my shame – it took me a very long, long time to even consider that “good woman” = St.

  35. Arachne says:

    Evening everyone, and heartfelt thanks to PeterO for all the hard work – you’re a star! After a day of wrestling with the reddest of red tape (of a sort not unconnected with the clue at 24ac) only to get more horribly tangled up in it, I’m completely jiggered. But I just had to say my thank yous – to PeterO and to everyone who took the trouble to solve the puzzle and make comments. I promise I will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest all posts tomorrow, but for now I’m off down the Dog & Duck for a restorative snifter.

    Love & hugs,
    Arachne x

  36. PeterO says:

    iz @33

    Welcome. In 9D, sta makes for a perfectly reasonable parsing of the clue. I chose to parse it as I did because 1) Arachne is well known for choosing the female gender (and why not?) where many would go for a default male, and 2) there is a spare ‘a’ in the clue, which could be there just for the surface, but is better treated as part of the wordplay.

  37. flashling says:

    I took 9d as STA being female saint having been burnt that way before, lots of lovely stuff – hope you got to the pub before closing Arachne, and many thanks, was a fine run around.

  38. PeterJohnN says:

    Thanks Arachne for another great puzzle, and PeterO for another great blog, underlining the definitions!

    First in was 10a TIMESIGNAL, from which I was able to complete the whole puzzle fairly quickly without making a second start, except that I failed to get 15a HEWN, or 23d MACAU.

    Like someone else, I had entered HUMERUS in 18d, until I got 24a BIPARTISAN.
    I am of the school who think that in 7d STATION, STA = Santa, as in Santa Maria. ST alone does not imply a female.

    When I read the clue to 17a, I was reminded of Picaroon’s “answers to clues” on yesterday’s blog, which were posted at 10.51pm! The latest posting on that blog, as I write, was at 6.35pm today!

  39. flashling says:

    Underline definitions … actually I started that back in the day when I had time but Scchua has carried on the practice and improved upon it, the biggest problem is the copying of clues, underlininging etc takes a long time, much more than most readers suspect.

    As for Duncan S’s blogs, well they are something else.

  40. PeterJohnN says:

    Duncan S? Who he?!

  41. PeterJohnN says:

    …and I should have said, one doesn’t need to copy out the whole clue, only the definition part.

  42. flashling says:

    @PJN #40 Check out the Independent blogs, they are a work of art.

  43. flashling says:

    @PeterJohnN well allow me to disagree, although I rarely have the time to post the clue these days it’s a good reminder when you check the following day to find what you missed. Anyway enough, bed for me.

  44. Freddie says:

    PeterO @14

    Yoopered refers to the *upper* peninsula of Michigan (U.P), probably a reference to the fact that men are driven to drink due to the very low ratio of women to men (most likely historical). Yoopers are the butt of jokes in same way that Irish, Polish and Newfies (Newfoundlanders)

  45. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks all

    Started off very quickly with this one and was heading for unusual disappointment from Arachne … but then came the sting in the tail !!! The contest went on until early this morning – having to go back and fix MECCA to MACAU, ENGINEER to ENGENDER and IMBASE to IMPURE.

    15A was last in and it was a severe struggle – was absolutely dependent on internet help – thought that it may have been HEWS / HUGHES for a while but eventually settled with HEWN without being able to find Mr HUHNE.

    Was disappointed to see that my TORN APART – TO RN(navy men) APA[CHE] (curtailed American) RT (right) – was not correct. The TEA PARTY based answer is of course much better – but means the setter wins this one !!

    Well done Arachne for the challenge and look forward to the next one.

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