Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,721 / Arachne

Posted by Eileen on August 22nd, 2012


There’s been a rather longer than usual gap since the last Arachne puzzle, so I feel particularly lucky to have drawn this one. I think I found it rather easier than usual, except for a couple of parsings, but there’s the abundant wit and ingenious misdirection, together with great story-telling surfaces, that are Arachne’s hallmarks.

I’m not good at spotting Ninas – and Arachne’s not noted for them, I think – but even I couldn’t fail to spot the message spelled out in the perimeter of the grid, referring to this story. This follows a  brilliant puzzle from Anarche [Arachne’s Indy persona] earlier in the year, with the theme of the Leveson Inquiry. Unfortunately, the Indy does not have an archive but you can get something of the flavour of the puzzle here. Brava, Arachne – Carry on campaigning! [And many thanks for another great puzzle.]


8   DOCKSIDE: D [penny – old copper] + OCKSIDE, which sounds like [we hear] OXIDE [compound]
9   NOOKY: whimsical double / cryptic definition, which Paul might be proud of, I think
10  AGES: alternate letters of AnGlErS
11  HORROR FILM: ‘Ring’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘Christine’ are all horror films
12  NEW MAN: reference to John Henry Newman, old cardinal
14  STACCATO: SO [thus] round [carrying] CAT [pet] backwards and forwards
15  IRON ORE: IR [Irish] + ONE [individual] round [hoarding] OR [gold]
17  SEDATER: double definition
20  ENGENDER: END [design] in [accepted by] anagram [movement] of GREEN
22  GAS BAG: what Spooner might say for BASS GAG [fish joke]
23  LAMENTABLE: L [liberal] + AMENABLE [willing] round [to embrace] first letter [leader] of Tories – great surface
24  ARIA: the last one I managed to parse, after fruitless searchings for breeds of black sheep: it’s [p]ARIA[h] minus its first and last letters [shorn]
25  ERROR: hidden in lessER RORqual
26  NITROGEN: anagram [re-presented] of N ROGET IN: N is the chemical symbol for NITROGEN – a very clever clue


1   JONGLEUR: J [beginning to Junket] + ON + anagram [fresh] of GRUEL
2   UKES: last letters [basically] of yoU looK quitE humorouS
3   SIPHON: S [initially Set] + IPHON [contracted IPHON{e}]
4   TEA ROSE: TEAR [fly] + OS [huge] + E [English]
5   INNOVATE: anagram [alternative] of VOTE IN AN
6   CONFUCIANS: devotees of Confucius  [old Chinese] which, in a game of Chinese whispers, could be heard as ‘confusions’ [mix-ups] – another very clever clue. Note Arachne is not claiming a homophone!
7   EYELET: first and last letters [cleaned out] of ExtremelY EthicaL EnvironmentalisT
13  MONTENEGRO: MONO [record] round [describes] anagram [capricious] of REGENT
16  REDSTART: RED [ruddy] + START [dawn]
18  EXAMINEE: EX [former] + AMIN [African dictator Idi] + E[lectabl]E [thanks Stephen @2]
19  ARMBAND: this looked complicated at first but it’s a simple charade of ARM [inlet – of the sea] over BAND [line]: it took me a minute or two to see the definition, ‘float’ – I could only think of the funereal armbands people used to wear
21  NEATEN: N [new] replacing B [bachelor] in BEATEN [baffled] – another lovely surface
22  GHETTO: larGHETTO [somewhat slowly – musical direction] minus a third of its letters
24  ANON: [c]ANON

33 Responses to “Guardian 25,721 / Arachne”

  1. John Appleton says:

    I was definitely helped by the knowledge of a nina, thanks to Arachne tweeting about it yesterday (she’s @arachne_xwords, if anyone’s interested). This by no means spoilt it – Like some Araucaria special where you know there’s a message around the perimeter, half the fun is working out what it is. Great puzzle, though – 11a is brilliant.

  2. Stephen says:

    Thanks Eileen for the explanations. I had been baffled by 21.

    In 18 Presumably you meant to say the EE of EXAMINEE comes from extremely ElectablE.

  3. JollySwagman says:

    Fine and very enjoyable puzzle – seemed easy early on but soon toughened up.

    Also Eileen – many thanks – needed you for parsing of 24a.

    As usual, I missed the nina.

  4. malc95 says:

    Great stuff, thanks Arachne
    … and thanks to Eileen for making it all clear.
    I see that “Morgan” occurs in the crossword to which you referred in your preamble. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Recently, we’ve had a few grids like this, where there was no significance to the perimeter so I was most of the way through before it struck me. A very troubling story and I congratulate Arachne for championing the cause.

    What an excellent puzzle. GHETTO was my last, being no musician: I have to confess to word-searching ???GHETTO to confirm my suspicions.

    I messed around at the start because I couldn’t get Dixon of Dock Green out of my mind for the “old copper” having seen _O_K! :(

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne

    I missed the nina I’m afraid

    Definitely a puzzle of two halves for me. The west side story was much easier than the east.

    I had to check that all three in 11a were horror film titles.

    Some very clever and pleasing clues – e.g.8a, 6d, 22d. I found 19d hard to see, and 4d hard to parse at first.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I didn’t find this easy at all and in fact had to give up with two to go: I couldn’t get CONFUCIANS (which I wasn’t mad keen on) or HORROR FILM, having zilch interest in that genre.

    I liked the clever surface for LAMENTABLE and NOOKY was indeed funny. And bless me Father, I said a very bad word when I finally got NITROGEN.

    I remember Brendan got some criticism a few years ago when he produced a very ‘political’ puzzle (can’t remember exactly when), with some folk indicating he should keep his views to himself. I personally didn’t have a problem with that, or with Arachne’s theme here. It’s still a crossword, so thanks to her for this one.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Oh, and I meant to say that I missed the nina too.

  9. crypticsue says:

    I always miss Ninas!! I love Arachne puzzles and this one was great fun and kept distracting me from work! I wonder if she met the very tipsy anaethetist I once had to serve in our local pub who assured me that if he/one could still say anaethetist, he/one definitely wasn’t drunk! Try it, it does work 😀

    Many thanks to Arachne for brightening up my Wednesday morning no end and to lucky Eileen too.

  10. Diffident says:

    I found this very hard, but enjoyed it in the end. In 19D, do we need “on the contrary” to indicate that an ARM is the opposite of an INLET ?

  11. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Nice one from the Spider Woman, which I found a bit easier than usual – although I had been tipped off about the Nina, which helped.

    I found the bottom half a bit trickier: like K’s D (see 7) I kicked myself when I eventually got NITROGEN, having realised it was an anagram from the outset.

    Favourites were 8a, 9a, 23a, 24a, 6d (I liked the ‘whisper’ indication of the unvoicing of the middle sibilant in going from ‘confusions’ to CONFUCIANS). ‘Pet’ = CAT seems to crop up quite a lot these days; good use of this in 14a.

  12. Robi says:

    I found this very difficult and was so relieved to finish eventually that I missed the NINA.

    Thanks Eileen; I failed miserably to parse CONFUCIANS, ARIA, NEATEN, UKES and EYELET. Back to the drawing board! HORROR FILM needed some checking as I had never heard of the film ‘Christine.’

    Crypticsue @9; maybe you have had a little tipple before trying to say anaeSthetist. 😉

    I did like the GASBAG, NOOKY and, after reading the blog, UKES.

  13. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    On 11a: Carrie rang a faint bell as a films but the others I have never heard of.

  14. crypticsue says:

    Robi@12 – having terrible trouble with the typing lately. No drink involved, honest!

  15. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Having seen the tweet from @arachne_xwords, I was on the lookout for a nina, and it gave me a little assistance (I rarely spot them until after completing the puzzle). Still found it quite hard going, especially in SE. My last in were GHETTO and ARMBAND. It took a while for the [P]ARAI[H] penny to drop, too. But all impeccably clued and leavened with wit as usual.

    I wondered about MONO/record, since I’ve only heard mono as an adjective in that sense (I don’t recall anyone ever saying, e.g., “I’ve just bought the the new mono by the Beatles”), but Chambers has it as a noun: “a monaural gramophone record.”

    Malc95 @4 — I think that is just a coincidence. In the context of the Leveson-themed puzzle, mention of Morgan was surely an allusion to the egregious Piers.

  16. Miche says:

    Diffident @10 — but an arm is an inlet. “On the contrary” tells us to put ARM over BAND and not the other way round.

  17. Arachne says:

    Greetings from Spider Towers!

    First of all, huge thanks to Eileen for the magisterial blog, and for posting a link to the story behind the Nina. Thanks, also, to all who have taken the trouble to comment.

    Apologies to those who don’t like politics or ‘issues’ in their morning crossie, but I’ve had ants in my pants over this shocker for a long time and just had to share them with the world (if you’ll excuse the unpalatable image): I promise I’m not going to make a habit of campaigning crosswords, and normal service will be resumed next time out. For anyone wanting to find out more about the Daniel Morgan scandal, or the web of corruption involving the Met and the gutter press, I highly recommend Dial M for Murdoch by the wonderful Tom Watson and Martin Hickman, and if you are on twitter you might like to follow @Justice4Daniel and @AlastairMorgan : the latter is Daniel’s brother and a tireless terrier of a campaigner who just won’t give up.

    Thanks for your indulgence on this one.

    Love and hugs,
    Arachne x

  18. ClaireS says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen.

    I certainly needed it today as there were several I couldn’t parse – NEATEN, ARIA, ARMBAND and GHETTO. In fact, GHETTO was a dictionary word search so I failed completely on that one. Like JollySwagman @3, I found this easy early on but considerably tougher at the end. Much to enjoy though, the usual great surfaces from Arachne and many groans/laughs along the way. Although I’m not a fan of the genre, HORROR FILM was my favourite.

    Thanks Arachne.

    Side issue – I hope this isn’t considered too off-topic. Although the Indy doesn’t provide an archive of their xwords, you can still download via the Crossword Solver application using the URL & replacing ddmmyy with the date you want. [I think this info can also be found on the general message discussion on this site.]

  19. apple grandpa says:

    Found this a great and enjoyable challenge, but managed to finish. Particular favourites 6ac, 9ac and 6 dn; also 21,22 dn. Although had it early, failed to parse 8ac (looked up doxide!) And in 11ac only Carrie rang a bell.

    Completely missed the nina, I’m afraid.

  20. Mick H says:

    Good stuff Arachne. I loved Nooky… coincidentally the Guardian letters page today had this:

    • Presumably among the first titles to be available on the Nook e-reader will be Fifty Shades of Grey (E-reader rival arrives, 20 August).
    Henry Fryer, Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire.

    I was a trainee reporter in South London when Daniel Morgan was murdered, and it stank then. Incredible that the family is still fighting for a proper inquiry.

  21. Robi says:

    Thanks ClaireS for the Independent URL, but I can’t get it to work. Could you please add some more info via the ‘General Discussion’ tab. Thanks.

  22. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Robi, I’ve left you a comment in General Discussion about the Independent URL.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    As the NW corner fell before my pen nib I thought “Arachne, what are you doing?”.
    How wrong I was.The rest collapsed very slowly as I ground out clue after clue.
    Solving was a struggle, parsing was a (delightful) purgatory.
    A liked a lot but 22ac,7d and 22d especially.
    Last in was 6d.I knew Carrie and Christine but spent ages trying to parse ‘ring’!
    The ‘nina’ escaped me entirely, but I never look for them. I have no objections to a bit of ‘politicisation’ as long as it doesn’t interfere with the puzzle, I am old enough to be impervious to any unwanted propaganda (not that this was).

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    Miche, you are right and the authors of ole unreliable have goofed again. Nobody ever used it as a noun. But if they did it would be nice to know what obscure corner of society used it that way.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    I have been ruminating over the pleasures of being tickled by Arachne.
    There are so many tiny, often apparently insignificant, words slipped in to distract, mislead, confuse and delight.
    In 22ac, firstly I was looking for a 3-letter fish rather than ‘bass’, then I was uncertain whether the definition was ‘he loved’ or ‘he loved to tell’ (very different!). Eventually the clever double use of ‘tell’ was revealed and I collapsed in ecstasy (not really!).

  26. PeeDee says:

    Thank you Eileen for explaing some of the tricky parsings. Well done on spotting the Nina too. Passed me by completely.

  27. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I found this very difficult and failed on just ARMBAND which I still don’t understand.
    I’ve looked up both float and armband and can see no connection between the two words.
    I understand the wordplay but why does float equate to armband. Cheers.

  28. Paul B says:

    You can have an Army Band on a float can’t you? What’s the problem?

  29. NeilW says:

    Davy, despite Paul B’s explanation, I might add that you need to think children’s “water wings.”

  30. Arachne says:

    Davy @27

    When I was little (which is a long time ago)the first thing we were always asked by the sadist who ran the dreaded school swimming lessons was: “Which of you pathetic little minnows still needs armbands?” As someone more intimately acquainted with the bottom of the pool than the surface I was always rather grateful for them, despite the resounding blow to my already minimal street cred of having orange inflatables wrapped round my biceps every week. So in my book armbands=floats 4eva, and long may they prosper.


  31. Eileen says:

    Hi Davy @27 – if you’re still there { I didn’t see your comment last night]

    I don’t know where you were looking up ‘armband’ but Chambers has ‘an inflatable plastic cuff worn on the upper arm as a buoyancy aid’.

    As I said on the blog, I don’t know why I didn’t immediately think of those objects of Arachne’s humiliation. [There’s a wider variety available these days. 😉 ]

  32. Davy says:

    Thanks all, (now who says that ?)

    Yes, quite obvious really. I could only think of a money float or a carnival float. Indeed Paul B, whatever happened to the Boys’ Brigade
    and why are they no longer marching our streets ?. When I was little, a float was a big chunk of rectangular polystyrene which one clung
    onto with outstretched hands. The local baths (now long gone) was presided over by a ferocious woman called Mrs Dent who frightened the
    bejesus out of us all and yes there were quite a few sadists around in those days.

    By the way Arachne, you said 4eva but who is Eva ?. Only joking, you’ll be pleased to know.

    Eileen : I only looked in and did a ‘find’ for float in the definition of armband and vice versa. You can rap my knuckles
    if you like.

  33. Huw Powell says:

    I liked NITROGEN.

    Thanks Arachne, and Eileen, for explaining all the unsolved clues.

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