Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,724 by Araucaria

Posted by PeeDee on September 1st, 2012


I have been lucky to get to blog yet another Araucaria holiday special – this one is delightful!

I was only vaguely familiar with Robert Browning so I enjoyed finding out more.  Many of the poems turned out to be familiar after all, though I had long since forgotten the detail. I thought the difficulty level was spot on, the definitions were difficult enough to create a challenge without being so obscure that the task became a trawl through reference material.

I really enjoyed this, thank you Araucaria.

Hold the mouse pointer over any clue number to read the clue.

1 PIED PIPER sounds like “paid paper” in an exagerated East London accent (think East Enders TV series) – poem by Robert Browning
6 PIPPA PASSES PAPA father SS two sons PA PA S S (two fathers, two sons) in PIPES (what 1ac does) – poem/play by Robert Browning. Strictly speaking ‘fathers and sons’ here rather than ‘father and sons’, but I am not complaining.
12 RAG DOLL GAD* (about=anagram) in ROLL (revolution)
13 See 34
14 KILDA sounds like “killed her” – St Kilda in the North Atlantic. In the poem by Robert Browning Porphyria is strangled with her own hair by her lover.
15,7 HATE POEM A then PET reversed in HOME* – In the Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister by Robert Browning a monk describes his intense dislike of a fellow brother
16 YORICK IC (first century) in YORK (city) – Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy… often misquoted as “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well”.
17 See 5
20 RYE BREAD sounds like “Rye bred” – Rye is a town in Sussex
21 CLOTTED CREAM OTT (excessive) CREED* (alien=anagram) in CLAM (secretive person)
24 AUTOMATA AU (gold) TOMATo dropping O (something round) A (the first)
25 JULIUS CAESAR (USUAL ICES)* mix=anagram in JAR (drink)
27 FROM ABROAD FROM (of a) BROAD (woman) – Home Thoughts From Abroadby Robert Browning :

O, to be in England
Now that April ‘s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

28 GHENT TO AIX N (pole) in GHETTO (Jewish area) and A IX (9, Roman numerals) – How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix by Robert Browning
32 RABBI BEN EZRA (A BRAZEN BRIBE)* – eponymous character of poem by Robert Browning
35 See 45
37 INFANTILISMS IN (home, 45 down) FAN (supporter) TIL (seame seed) IS at MS (manuscript, by hand)
38 GLORIOLE GLORY ‘OLE – a glory hole is a place for putting bits and pieces. I can’t figure out how the Y turns into an I, there is no indication for a homophone.
40 DOWNLOAD cryptic definition – doesn’t quite work for me, but I get the idea.
42 CHERUB HER (female) in CUB (young lad)
43,44 HART NELL (girl) on HART (stag) – Sir Norman Bishop Hartnell, British fashion designer and former dressmaker to the queen
46 NEEDY ED (little boy) in Marshal NEY (soldier) – definition is ‘poor’
47 EMERSON ROSE* (wild) in MEN* (crazy) – Waldo Emerson
48 TROPINE TROP (too much so, French) IN E (English) – a poison
49 MELANCHOLIA sounds like MELAN (melon, gaudy flower) CHOLI (coley, fish) with A – references the final lines from Home Thoughts From Abroad :

The buttercups, the little children’s dower—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

50 ON THE BEAT THEBES missing S (tailed=no last letter) in Friedrich Robert DONAT (film star) missing D (to top=remove head) – ‘Roberts’ are policemen
1 PORPHYRIA double definition – girl from Robert Browning’s poem and suggested cause of the madness of George III
2 EIGHTEEN TWO (WHITE GENT OE)* – year of birth for Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo
3 POOR PO (Italian river) OR (golden, of gold) – Standard and Poor’s is a company publishing financial statistics
4 POLLY GARTER POLLY (parrot) given Order of the GARTER (knighthood) – resident of LLareggub, fictional village in Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood.
5,17 ROBERT BROWNING ROBERT (policeman, Robert Peel founded of the Police Force in the UK) BROWNING (fixing=making the gravy) – poet
6 PARACELSUS PALS (friends) containing (restricting) RACE then US (America) – 16th century alchemist Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim aka Paracelsus, the eponymous subject of a book of poems by Robert Browning
7 See 15
8 ATTORNEYS sounds like “at ERNIE’s” – the Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment used for selecting premium bond winners
9 ASKEW ASK (request) EW (bridge partners)
10 SILLINESS L (fifty, Roamn numeral) LINES in SIS (sister, relative) – 100 lines being the traditional school punishment
11 SLANG S (second) Cosmo LANG (archbishop of Cantebury throughout the 1930s)
18 GRAMMARIAN MARGaret (half of) reversed (backed) and maid MARIAN – poem A Grammarian’s Funeral by Robert Browning
19 STAITHE ATHEIST* – a staithe is a mooring place
22 COAST GUARD COAST (carry on idly) having (A DRUG)* problem=anagram
23 MUREX MU (micro, Greek letter) REX (king) – a genus of sea snails, metaphotically speaking fished up by Robert Browning to be put on a thorn in Pippa’a Song :

THE year ‘s at the spring,
And day ‘s at the morn;
Morning ‘s at seven;
The hill-side ‘s dew-pearl’d;
The lark ‘s on the wing;
The snail ‘s on the thorn;
God ‘s in His heaven—
All ‘s right with the world!

Also the notorious Snail Porridge – a recipe by Heston Blumenthal

UPDATE: much better is the final verse of Popularity by Richard Browning (thanks to BigglesA) …

Hobbs hints blue,—Straight he turtle eats:  
Nobbs prints blue,—claret crowns his cup:  
Nokes outdares Stokes in azure feats,—  
Both gorge. Who fished the murex up?  
What porridge had John Keats?
26 HAMELIN HAM (food) and NILE (the river, something that flows) reversed (taken up) – The Pied Piper of Hamelin
27 FARSI FAR (distant) SIgnal (part of) – lranian language
29 NIHIL OBSTAT (LATIN IS BOTH)* anagram=cryptically used, plainly used as the language of the solution – definition is ‘with permission’
30 ACHROMATISE ROMA (gypsies) TIS (it is, it’s) in ACHE (suffering) – definition is “take colour from”
31 FROM THE SEA (AFRO THEMES)* – Robert Browning’s Home Thoughts From The Sea(note the final line) :

NOBLY, nobly Cape Saint Vincent to the North-west died away;
Sunset ran, one glorious blood-red, reeking into Cadiz Bay;
Bluish ‘mid the burning water, full in face Trafalgar lay;
In the dimmest North-east distance dawn’d Gibraltar grand and gray;
‘Here and here did England help me: how can I help England?’—say,
Whoso turns as I, this evening, turn to God to praise and pray,
While Jove’s planet rises yonder, silent over Africa.

33 BUFF-WHEEL BUFF (enthusiast) to WH (dedication on Shakespeare sonnets) taking EEL (fish)
34,13 ELIZABETH BARRETT (HAZEL BETTER RABBIT)* missing B=start of body – wife of Robert Browning
36 SWEETMEAT normally one has the MEAT course before the SWEET course
39 GRINGO GRIN GO (make grin disappear) hence a straight face
40 DENIM MINED (laid with explosives) reversed (up)
41 LAY ON LAY (poem) ON (about) – quote from Macbeth
44 See 43
45,35 HOME THOUGHTS HO! (call) given to OUGHT (obligation) in METHS (methylated spirits) – two nostalgic poems by Robert Browning Home Thoughts from Abroad and Home Thoughts from the Sea


46 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,724 by Araucaria”

  1. Biggles A says:

    Thanks PeeDee. I agree, a good and enjoyable test which occupied me for some time. While Browning identified himself quite readily in 1d I needed help from reference sources to supplement my schoolday poetry lessons in order to get there.

    I did find in the process that 23 might be better explained by the closing line of ‘Popularity’, ‘Who fished the murex up?
    What porridge had John Keats?’


  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Pee Dee. It was off to Google for me, since my knowledge of Browning is somewhat limited, which then turned this into a bit of duck shoot.

    Tiny point: 49’s spelling: MELAN – which is an alternative spelling for the melon-flower. (Had I entered, I wouldn’t have won the prize either since, being an “unthinking actor,” I entered AUTOMATs at 24!)

  3. Miche says:

    Thanks, PeeDee.

    The friend of Shakespeare eluded me. I’d forgotten about Mr WH.

    6a has one PAPA rather than two PAs, I think.

  4. NeilW says:

    By the way, I haven’t lived in the UK for a very long time but isn’t the pronunciation in 1ac more Brummie than Cockney?

  5. ToniL says:

    I was rather hoping you’d shed some light on 38, various searches proving far, far less than helpful.

    In 2, does anyone refer to a year like this? Eighteen HUNDRED AND two, or Eighteen ‘O’ two, but Eighteen two?? (Not even RB’s year of birth!)

    Not sure about 40 ‘download’ on the whole, plus ‘Bobbies;, ‘Peelers’ and even ‘Rozzers’ from the founder of the police force, but never ‘Roberts’ as a nickname. Also Ghetto?? probably ok?.

    Nice Prize, thank-you A. and PeeDee for the blog, but just too many loose ends for me (as indeed there were in Araucaria’s Friday offering). Sorry.

  6. ToniL says:

    Apologies re ‘Ghetto’ query. Chambers confirms it can be specifically Jewish.

  7. Biggles A says:

    NeilW # 2. Me too!

    ToniL @ 5, OED definition of ‘glory-hole': A receptacle (as a drawer, room, etc.) in which things are heaped together without any attempt at order or tidiness.

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks PeeDee and Araucaria

    A fairly long but enjoyable solve. Had to check one or two Browning references.

    Re 49, Browning’s Home Thoughts has ‘gaudy melon-flower’. There is no need for an alternative ‘spelling’ of melon (if I’ve understood NeilW correctly), however, since ‘pronounced’ seems to refer to both flower and fish.

    Lots of enjoyable clues -20a, 21a, 25a, 8d, 39d, 45,35 to list a few.

  9. PeeDee says:

    Thanks NeilW and Miche, fixed now. Embarrassing about missplelling MELANCHOLIA, that was a mistake, not a typo.

    I thnk it is a homophone rather than an alternate spelling.

  10. r_c_a_d says:

    Pleased someone enjoyed this. I gave up as soon as I found Browning, since I know nothing about him and didn’t have the inclination to go hunting.

  11. PeeDee says:

    Biggles @7 – indeed, but the question is how does the Y turn into an I: GLORY’OLE -> GLORIOLE?

  12. fearsome says:

    Thanks Peedee for the blog, really enjoyed this crossword. Annoyed that I had to “cheat” to get gloriole to finish it.

  13. PeeDee says:

    ToniL @5 – I took Robert as a given name rather than a nickname. Robert Peel was “the man who created the police” hence cyptically he was a ‘police-man’.

    Normally I would say that this would not be enough to signify Robert, but in the context of Robert Browning as the theme of the crossword anything less obscure would be a dead giveaway.

  14. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeeDee.

    Very enjoyable puzzle. I’m not a Browning fan but I managed to get all the linked clues (eventually) without recourse to Google. Fortunately I spotted PORPHYRIA almost immediately, which led me straight to the theme. The one I had to ‘cheat’ for was POLLY GARTER – I saw the ‘Under Milk Wood’ reference, and the first part of the solution, but I’m not familiar with the play.

    The only liberty here which made me uncomfortable was 2dn, for the same reason as ToniL @5: 1802 would never be expressed in this way, would it? Araucaria seems to have painted himself into a corner here. GLORIOLE, on the other hand, just made me smile.

  15. aztobesed says:

    I don’t see any problem with 1802 getting that treatment in a poet-themed puzzle –

    In Eighteen Two
    Did Victor Hu
    And Alex Du
    Check in…

    ‘Roberts’ as ironic coppers is almost straight out of Guy Ritchie (or Peter Sellers as Pearly Gates). If it isn’t, it should be.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I enjoyed this in spite of all the niggles above.
    I did not completely parse 37ac, 10d and 23d.
    Do we know how 1802 was spoken when Hugo and Dumas were born?
    I ask because since 2000 I have heard a variety of ways of saying each year.
    When I was a boy I acquired a small book titled “The Best Scottish, Irish and Jewish Jokes”. An example was the schoolboy who could not remember the name Rabbie Burns, he was advised to picture a PC in flames.In his next examination he wrote ‘Robert Browning’! They don’t write them like that anymore.

  17. tupu says:

    The Oed gives the following on Robert

    3.Brit. slang. A police officer. Cf. bobby n. 1. Now rare.

    1870 Figaro 18 Nov. (Farmer), The ‘British Peeler’, after all, a sensitive creature. The blood of the Roberts is at length aroused.

    1899 ‘J. Flynt’ Tramping with Trampsii. 231 But look out for the Robert and the Dee (the policeman and the detective).

    1929 T. L. Davidson Murder in Laboratory xiv. 108, I stopped and asked a Robert the time.

    1968 J. Lock Lady Policeman iv. 34 Believe it or not PCs are still occasionally wished, ‘Good morning, Robert!’

  18. rhotician says:

    The ‘omophone in the clue for GLORIOLE is implied by the droppin’ of the g in “dumpin'”. Made me smile too.

  19. rhotician says:

    NeilW @4: Cockney is more accurate here than Brummie. Perhaps you have been misled by the not very funny “kipper tie / cuppa tea” joke.

    Wiki is quite good on “The Rain in Spain” from My Fair Lady.

    My Fair is itself a Cockney homophone for Mayfair, a “posh” part of London. This witticism is brilliantly apt, both to the light-hearted nature of the musical and the more serious theme of class in the play Pygmalion, on which it is based.

    It’s interesting that the lyrics of such an English musical should be by an American, Alan Jay Lerner. Pygmalion of course is the work of the renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shore.

  20. PeeDee says:


  21. RCWhiting says:

    Could the “dumpin'” indicate dropping the last letter to give ‘glor’ from ‘glory’?
    I cannot see how the ‘odds and ends’ will change ‘hole’ to ‘iole’.

  22. Biggles A says:

    PeeDee @ 11. Sure, I just thought that ToniL was seeking a reference. I had some trouble finding one myself. As for the mispelling, I can only assume the colloquialism of DUMPIN’ which justified ‘OLE might be a licence.

    Given the context is strongly indicated in the surface reading of the clue, is this not enough to provide a clear unambiguous definition?!

  23. rhotician says:

    It is not uncommon for people who drop h from the start of a word to also drop g from ing. For such speakers “glory hole” and “gloriole” are homophones. They would say “This is me glory ‘ole, I use it for dumpin’ me odds ‘n’ ends.”

    In fact it is quite common in more than one sense.

  24. RCWhiting says:

    You’re a bit cockshaw there, rho.

  25. PeeDee says:

    Dumpin’ implying a trailing G is dropped is explicit

    Dumpin’ implying a leading H is dropped is stretching the device, but still good for me

    Dumpin’ implying a full homophone with arbitrary spelling changes is going too far

    This falls into the ‘taking liberties’ category in my opinion.

  26. rhotician says:

    Well, as has been so often said before, that’s Araucaria for you. Taking liberties is what he does.

    As for going too far, in this case I’m inclined to agree with you, and other posters. For me the looseness of the homophone indication was compounded by the fact that gloriole was new to me and glory hole was one of those expressions that I was familiar with but whose meaning I didn’t really know. I needed to consult Chambers to confirm what amounted to a guess.

    Your blog establishes that you admire and enjoy the Rev’s puzzles but are not of the persuasion that he can do no wrong.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks.

  27. rhotician says:

    Oh, forgot to say that the clue was almost redeemed by the ? at the end. That’s often an indication that he’s having a larf.

  28. Paul B says:

    Doing things very differently is ‘what he does’. Occasionally he produces the irredeemable, or what some of us here deem irredeemable (not necessarily the same thing), but those items are the upshot of a way of thinking about words that’s made him what he is (i.e. adored and disliked, though not in equal measure). I find myself disliking the odd clue – don’t you?

  29. PeeDee says:

    PaulB @28 – I agree with that completely.

  30. RCWhiting says:

    I presume you are applying ‘irredeemable’ to single clues.
    I would only ever use that adjective about a whole puzzle and in that case A’s work is never, ever thus.

  31. PeterO says:

    Thanks PeeDee for the blog, and (of course) Araucaria for the crossword.

    Most of what is to be said about the puzzle has been said already; but one very minor point, which may had been your intention, PeeDee – in 20A, we have not just a cryptic definition, but more specifically a homophone (‘say’) of RYE BRED.

  32. rhotician says:

    Paul B, Yes, indeed. Personally I always like his puzzles, adore lots of his clues and only dislike, on technical grounds, a very few. (Mind you, some of his surfaces are truly awful, but that is not a valid criticism. With surfaces you have to take the rough with the smooth. After all, what we’re talking about is puzzles.)

    As to what he does, what he does NOT do is make mistakes. The discussion of “most of 21″ in Friday’s puzzle did not conclude to my satisfaction. After a lot of thought and some research I believe I have cracked it. Althoough I know from experience not to expect to satisfy everyone else.

  33. Paul B says:

    You didn’t like the surface for the STEEPLECHASING clue as I recall. It turned out that rather than being in some way nonsensical, the item had only seemed that way, exposing as it did a gap in your own knowledge. Like others, possibly, I bow to your deep experience in the matter of silly Araucarian surfaces, but surely this was a cautionary tale for would-be analysts.

  34. PeeDee says:

    I agree that Araucaria very rarely makes silly mistakes, the “duff” clues are usually differences in opinion on what is acceptable. The noticable exception to this is when he strays into the fields of science and technology (especilly IT) where factually he gets pretty shaky sometimes.

  35. PeeDee says:

    Thanks PeterO, fixed now.

  36. rhotician says:

    Thanks to you Paul B I’ve learnt from the STEEPLECHASING experience, in more than one way. It’s why I refrained from commenting on “most of 21″ until someone produced a satisfactory explanation. In the end I had to work it out for myself. It found it satisfying, in more than one way. Thanks to Araucaria for that. Nobody does Monkey Business like him.

    By the way, I would value your opinion of “the most of 21″.

  37. RCWhiting says:

    I thought Jolly Swagman @11 dealt with that.

  38. rhotician says:

    I thought JS got the first one right. But making all three interpretations the same, ie MAJOR, didn’t yield JOHN in the second one and didn’t place CALLAGHAN in the third as precisely as the rest of the PM clues. My reading gives three different interpretations of “most of 21″, none of which has anything to do with 21dn. Much more Araucarian. Thanks to JS though for the first one.

    Now let’s have no more quibbling.

  39. Paul B says:

    I wasn’t aware anyone had quibbled to be honest Rho, but in that case you’ll hardly be requiring my input on the matter, even though you were kind enough to request it. Do you know I’m almost quite upset?

    But no biggie. I’m still excited by that Jolly Old Swagpothesis we’ve seen on the matter, plus your own elucidations: and if good old RCW likes those, then who am I, quite frankly?

    Thanks indeed. I’m sure others too were glad for all the help.

  40. rhotician says:

    It’s only me who’s quibbling and I’m stopping….

  41. Gerald says:

    Waste of £2.10. Bought to take on holiday, shouldn’t have bothered. Crosswords should have clues, not retrospective justifications.

  42. PeeDee says:

    Hi Gerald, could you give an axample of what you mean? Thanks.

  43. Gerald says:

    Certainly, PeeDee. I do feel that one should be able to deduce some sort of answer from the clue, taking into account intersecting letters,and having regard for themes. Obscure words are expected. But a whole battery of arcane references requiring specific knowledge,oh no.I could do the same by producing a set of clues along the lines of say, pedigree dogs, celebrity, or neurology. One should at least be able to understand a solution after explanation. To be specific, having worked out Robert Browning, I just gave up. You see, I was probably in the woodwork stream.

  44. PeeDee says:

    I get you. I thinlk you are describing the ‘trawling through reference material’ scenario I mention in the preamble. I think this can be a big problem with themes, they can be too obvious for some and all but impossible for others, just depends on peoples differeing backgrounds.

    Having said that, some people enjoy a good trawl through Wikipedia. Horses for courses.

  45. Paul B says:

    In a Guardian Prize puzzle? You must be joking ‘Gerald': they’ve always been like this, and long may it continue.

  46. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria and PeeDee

    Carried this one around for months and for some reason it just daunted me to start – eventually wore a couple of answers in November (ASKEW and JULIUS CAESAR) and it wasn’t until this month that I looked again to see the anagram of ELIZABETH BARRETT which led to BROWNING and the theme.

    Still took a few days after that to finish and I now know several more poems (I read each one as they came up) of this poet. As I’ve said before and since this crossword – A not only provides one with an engaging cryptic challenge, but also often provides the opportunity to learn about some new subject whilst you go about it.

    I like the fact that you can derive the answer from the clue (as in 34, 13 for me), get a start on a clue and use assistance to generate the answer (MUREX was derivable as a shell from the cryptic – but needed help to find the Browning link to porridge) and others where you can generate an answer then have to think how the heck it is right (as in the contentious 38).

    Had no problem with DOWNLOAD and read it simply as a LOAD (large number) of DOWN (feathers) – hence DOWNLOAD that you might get from a computer ?

    A really enjoyable solve once I got into it many months on ! And now I can move on …

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