Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize No 25,682 by Araucaria

Posted by bridgesong on July 14th, 2012


I found this on the easy side for a prize puzzle, although there are one or two traps for the unwary. The theme was easy to spot, and there are one or two delightful clues, although also one or two which are loose even by Araucaria’s libertarian standards. Many thanks to my solving partner Timon for his help (and for the coffee).


Hold mouse over clue number to read a clue.


9 OVEREATEN Sounds like “over Eton”.
10 ADMIT Double definition
11 SHELDON HELD in SON. Gilbert Sheldon was the Chancellor of the University and commissioned the theatre which is named after him.
12 ANGRIER (Sh)ANGRI(-la), ER. Hilton refers to James Hilton, the author of Lost Horizon, in which Shangri-La is described.
13 See 16
14 HAPENCE *EACH round PEN. Even when I was a lad, you couldn’t buy much for a halfpenny.
17 TULLIUS TULL, I US. Jethro Tull was an agricultural pioneer. The Roman orator’s full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero.
19 THE LUMP EL in THUMP. A system of paying workers in cash to avoid tax and national insurance.
22 RICH MAN The rich man in the parable of Lazarus in Luke’s gospel is known as Dives, as this was the word (meaning “rich man”) in the Latin text used in the Vulgate Bible.
24 ADO AD 0: calendar experts may say that no such date exists.
26 TEL AVIV VIVA LET (all rev).
28 HEART HE ART. The definition is “middle”.
30 THE EYE OF A NEEDLE Another reference to the gospels: the reference to it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven is to be found in both Mark and Matthew’s gospels. (Apparently it’s based on a mistranslation of a Greek word for a rope, which was similar to a word for a camel). The Spoonerism is “knee of an idol”.
2 NIECE Sounds like Nice.
3 DRESDEN DR, *NEEDS. The reference is to the porcelain produced at Meissen, near Dresden from 1710 onwards.
5 FANTAST Hidden in “infant a study”.
6 EVANGEL LEG NAVE (all rev).
7 VAMPIRISM V AMP (5 amp), IRIS M. A laugh out loud moment when the penny dropped.
8 NET PRESENT VALUE PRESENT in *EVENTUAL. It’s a term used in finance, nothing to do with computers as such.
16,13 CAMELS CAM, (Ernie) ELS.
18 UNI U(lster) N(orthern) I(reland).
20 UNFITLY *FUN, IT(a)LY. You have to read the clue to say “inappropriate style”.
21 PALUMBO A in PLUMB, O. Peter Palumbo is perhaps best known nowadays for being the father of James Palumbo.
22 ROTUNDA “Rot under”, but it’s not a true homophone, and the Sheldonian is D-shaped, so not a true rotunda.
23 CALECHE LE in CACHE. This spelling is not to be found in Chambers, which gives only CALASH, although it cites it as coming from the French word CALECHE.
27 VAPID A P in VID.


32 Responses to “Guardian Prize No 25,682 by Araucaria”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks bridgesong. 30 caught my attention on first inspection and was my first entry. It opened the door to several others of course so I was off to a good start and finished quite quickly in the one session which is unusual for me. Paradoxically, 30 was also the last clue I could explain. I don’t know why, with hindsight it is so obvious, but I just had a lot of trouble finding the right wordplay.

  2. rhotician says:

    Thanks bridgesong.I think in 20dn the idea is that if you’re having dubious fun then you are behaving unfitly. The appropriate way to have dubious fun is inappropriately. Appropriate inappropriateness. An oxymoron.

  3. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Yes, rather easy for a prize Araucaria.
    I might have been held up by not knowing Cicero’s name but I did know Jethro’s so it was straightforward.
    I think bridgesong’s explanation for 20d is quite appropriate.
    30 ac is yet another example of how the ‘beautiful language’ of the bible is made up of misprints and mistranslations – just the sort of thing Gove would admire.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Made swift early progress with the long clues – 1d jumped out, and then the Dives ref in 22a opened it up. But the SW corner was tough. 28a and 15d were brilliant clues, PALUMBO was unknown and 19a a guessed UK quirk. 20d, last in, seemed to have a mistake: it should have been “in inappropriate style.” Satisfying to finish though.

  5. JollySwagman says:

    Yes – very enjoyable. Big A usually steers well clear of his old day-job but nothing too esoteric here.

    Thanks for the excellent blog B, but why do you say in the preamble “one or two [clues] which are loose even by Araucaria’s libertarian standards” without identifying them in the blog

    Or should one take the same view as an impressionistic painter and view “loose” as praise.

  6. bridgesong says:

    Jolly Swagman @ 5: I could cite 20 and 22 down, both of which are explicitly or implicitly criticised in the blog. I am an Ximenean by nature, but enjoy Araucaria’s liberties, especially when they’re witty.

  7. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. I enjoyed this too, even if it seems Araucaria is not a Big Bang Theory fan…

    Re 22d it doesn’t seem to me that “Rot” needs to be part of the homophone. Under=Unda is a precise homophone to me.

    (There may also be people who pronounce the “r” in under, but nobody has ever persuaded me that the rule that anything that can be equivalent is valid as an equivalence in a crossword should be suspended for homophones. (The fact that “dog” can mean “follow” doesn’t mean it can’t mean “canine” too, for instance.))

    Re 20d I took it as other commenters did – the “definition” referring back to “dubious”. At the Guardian open day Araucaria actually mentioned that he doesn’t like the narrow understanding of crossword clue “definitions” and I’ve noticed that a lot of his clues need to be read as a whole to see how the “definition” works.

    Re 23d I’m surprised about caleche not being in Chambers. It is in the 1-vol ODE, the Guardian crossword editor’s preferred dictionary. I should add I’m quite familiar with Caleche and not at all familiar with Calash.

  8. chas says:

    Thanks to bridgesong for the blog. I was scratching my head over 22a. The answer was obvious but not the reason!

  9. aztobesed says:

    I recall enjoying this.

    That kamelos / kamilos is a bit of a non-flying bird. There were over 50 top brains of the kingdom beavering away on the KJB and they all knew their Greek. They probably knew the theory of it referring to a Jerusalem gate too but there’s an equivalent reference to elephants not being up to needle-passing in the Talmud, so they probably got it spot on. The ‘eye of a cable’ sounds attractive but it’s a curiously modern image and is probably someone thinking in cryptic crossword. (I think they got the parsing wrong.)

  10. aztobesed says:

    PS – the spoonerism took me a ridiculous amount of time to spot. “The nye of an eagle”? “The nigh of an eedle”? etc. Perhaps not a LOL but certainly a delighted chuckle when it clicked.

  11. RCWhiting says:

    azto @9
    That clear,definitive, simple indisputable paragraph illustrates my point exactly.

  12. aztobesed says:

    RCW @11

    The ‘eye of the cable’ bit was a gag. I should probably have put a para in after ‘spot on’. Or is there a Greek word for ‘elephant’ that sounds like ‘large-diameter cabling’? I take your point, though. One should aim to be clear first, then amusing.

  13. JollySwagman says:

    @B #6 – I’ll pay on that – I misaccused you – others have talked further about those two so I’ll leave it there – thanks for responding.

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Araucaria

    Pretty straghtforward and enjoyable. Lie one or two others, the actaul form of the spoonerism in 30a kept me going for some little time till it clicked.

    15d was one of my last in – I had written ‘sinkful’ in 25a!

    I ticked 22a and liked the whimsy of 7d.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Your drinking habits leave much to be desired.

  16. Trench Adviser says:

    I thought this was a little disjointed, but good fun all in all. The SE corner was my downfall. Never heard of the lump. After doing cryptics for 6 years I have to say that this was a new form of Spoonerism for me where the sound of the words completely change. The obvious Spoonerism is ‘the nigh of an eedle’ which is nonsense. In my experience the Spoonerism always rhymes with the original e.g. dear old queen/queer old dean or one of my favourites, jack in the box/backin’ the jocks. Anyone else feel the same? Is 30a even actually a Spoonerism? Can anybody cite another example where the original phrase and Spoonerised version do not rhyme? All the best.

  17. Trench Adviser says:

    Sorry, SW corner.

  18. rhotician says:

    bridgesong @6 and Thomas99 @7:

    Very thought-provoking. I’m so incompetent with the pc that I’m going to have to inflict my thoughts on you in instalments. My comment @2 was rather terse so I’ll begin by saying that I enjoyed the blog. Amusing and informative. I hadn’t parsed 8dn completely and I had given up on the spoonerism. So thanks again.

  19. rhotician says:

    bridgesong: re 20d UNFITLY

    I hope you agree that the clue does not have to be read as “inappropriate style”. That would call for a noun rather than an adverb and I don’t think even the Rev would stray that far out of line. Thanks to T99 for supporting my interpretation.

    Of course this is a very long way from complying with Xim but I found the idea of the oxymoron entertaining. Perhaps a better description of it would be “appropriate impropriety”. (Chambers gives ‘unfit’ under ‘improper’.)

    The whole clue made me think of stag parties on the eve of a wedding, especially of the recently fashionable habit of using budget flights to have dubious fun in European capitals, such as Dublin, Prague and Amsterdam. The best man’s speech also sprang to mind. Or even April Fool’s day.

  20. rhotician says:

    Re 23d CALECHE

    Like T99 I was surprised, nay shocked, that A should use a word not in Chambers. But then how come we all knew the word? And that one of us knew calash. In my case it can only be from crosswords.

  21. rhotician says:

    Re 5d Old dreamer found infant a study – FANTAST

    I’m surprised no-one complained about this. Surely ‘found’ doesn’t indicate a hidden answer. If the ‘in’ in ‘infant’ is supposed to be the indicator then the clue is bad on two counts. Saying ‘found in infant’ would harm the surface only a little.

  22. rhotician says:

    Finally 22d ROTUNDA

    Thomas99, you seem to be saying Under=Unda is a precise homophone for you therefore it is a true homophone.

    Then you say “anything that CAN be equivalent is valid as an equivalence in a crossword”. Well, as homophones go, Hears(can)=ears but no setter would ever clue this without reference to Cockney or, recently, Eastenders.

    Lather(can)=Lava. I know people for whom the name of a small Italian car sounds like something that can be worse than death.

    As to what constitutes a true homophone I refer to Chambers’ detailed chart of pronunciation, in the front.

    Vowels followed by r

    In certain accents, for example in Scots, Irish, General American, r is pronounced wherever it occurs in the spelling and this is the form adopted in the dictionary.

    They could have added Lancastrian and English West Country.

    (Similar views can be found in Guidance to setters if you Google Listener crossword. Sorry I can’t do links. Iknow the Guardian is not the Listener but it is still very good advice.)

    By an unfortunate coincide your comment says that the Gaurdian crossword editor’s preferred reference is the single volume OED. I’m astonished. It costs 300 quid! I’m sticking with Chambers.

    Now I do not have the temerity to suggest that the Guardian changes its policy. When I first encountered such an offending homophone I couldn’t solve the clue. When I eventually twigged what was going on I was, frankly, outraged. But I was much youger then. These days I just sigh and mark the puzzle down in my estimation.

  23. rhotician says:

    RCW @3

    “I think bridgesong’s explanation for 20d is quite appropriate.”

    I don’t believe you. I think you’re pulling my leg and lying to bridgesong in the process.
    You are no gentleman, sir.

  24. bridgesong says:

    Trench Adviser @16: Spoonerisms: Azed sometimes sets a special puzzle involving Spoonerisms. He distinguishes between two different types: consonantal and vocalic. I don’t know if Ximenes ever used them, but Azed’s classification seems to be widely accepted, and here Araucaria is clearly using the second kind.

    Rhotician @2 and subsequently: I stand by my original analysis, which was the only way I could make sense of the clue. Grammatically, “dubious” attaches only to “fun” and it is, in my opinion, stretching it too far to make it also serve as part of the definition. I prefer molonglo’s explanation @4.

    Finally, I agree with your comment on 5d; but “found” is at least a hint of something hidden; earlier this week Araucaria just used “for” (see Eileen’s comments on 19 across in Guardian 25,687).

  25. aztobesed says:

    ‘Fiddler for one roof’ came in for a bit of stick but I took it as slightly ‘&littish’ – ‘under one roof’ – sharing the same house – indoors – sheltering. I’m sure he wouldn’t expect ‘for’ to be doing the work alone.

  26. Davy says:

    rhotician at 22.

    You say ‘Sorry I can’t do links’. Oh yes you can. Just key in the URL as text
    and when you Submit Comment, it will be miraculously transformed into a selectable link.

  27. rhotician says:

    bridgesong @24: Your blog said you have to read the clue to say inappropriate. Molongo says the clue should have said in inappropriate. These are subtly different objections but in essence they both say that Araucaria made a mistake.

    You also say @6 that you enjoy Araucarias liberties. I was trying to persuade you that the clue was not a mistake but yet another liberty. (I think Araucaria always clues deliberately.) I think Thomas99 agreed with my interpretation. I also said why I enjoyed the liberty.

    But that was illogical of me. You cannot enjoy a liberty if you don’t “get” it. T99 and I got it. But you and Molongo didn’t, therefore the clue is not only “unfair”, in the Ximenean sense, but also “invalid” even by Libertarian standards. You can’t be forgiven for taking liberties if people can’t see that you’re taking liberties. A joke is not funny if you have to explain it.

    I concede. I will not even take the line that a clue is OK if you can solve it.

  28. rhotician says:

    Rho @23: You can’t go around calling people liars.

    Self above: I was only pulling his leg.

    Not good enough.

    But it depends what he means by appropriate.

    Still not good enough.

    Ok. Mr Whiting, I apologise.

  29. tupu says:

    :) If you drink a modest part, there’s a lot left in the sink to be desired. Alternatively, if you drink the lot, there’s nothing left.

  30. tupu says:


    Actually Thomas says ODE (Oxford Dictionary of English).

    It seems the OED is available online via the library services of some County Councils.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    I have enjoyed reading your existential novel this evening.

    Apology accepted although not expected (or required).

  32. JollySwagman says:

    @T99 #7 re Araucarian definition.

    That must have been interesting. There’s a small amount from that in the clip on YouTube. It would be interesting to know more of what he said.

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