Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,765 by Araucaria

Posted by PeterO on October 12th, 2012


The theme centred on 24A made the puzzle seem daunting at first, but it yielded gracefully in the end.

I came to the theme by the back door, suspecting some spirits in the top left corner, with the INK in 14A clinching matters.

1 BE WISE TO Appreciate reverse of online interconnection is not finishing school (2,4,2)
A charade of BEW, ‘reverse’ of WEB (‘online interconnection’) plus ‘is’ plus ETO[n] (‘school’) cut short (‘not finishing’).
5,19 FAMOUS GROUSE Boy servant entertaining animal without tail to awaken 2 (6,6)
An envelope (‘entertaining’) of MOUS[e] (‘animal without tail’) in FAG (‘boy servant’) plus ROUSE (‘awaken’). The Famous Grouse is a whisky (answer to 2D).
9 ANISETTE One of 24 with one group coming in before (8)
An envelope (‘coming in’) of I (‘one’) plus SET (‘group’) in ANTE (‘before’).
10 NICKEL Steal the Spanish coin (6)
A charade of NICK (‘steal’) plus EL (‘the Spanish’).
11 DUKERIES Tip of England’s country lake’s in a Midland region (8)
A charade of D (‘tip of EnglanD‘) plus UK (‘country’) plus ERIE’S (‘lake’s’). The Dukeries is an area of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire where there were four ducal seats in close proximity.
12 GRAPPA One of 24 and letters lost by ancestor (6)
A little Araucarian levity: I take it that the original is GRA[nd]P[a]PA (‘ancestor’) with ‘letters lost’.
14 PAINKILLER Analgesic for father taking half 24 and getting less well (10)
A charade of PA (‘father’) plus INK (the answer to 24A is DRINKS, so ‘half 24′) plus ILLER (‘less well’).
18 AFICIONADO Fan finds a fish, say, at island party (10)
A charade of ‘a’ plus FIC, pronounced (‘say’) in this word at least as ‘fish’ plus IONA (‘island’) plus DO (‘party’).
22 VESTAL Meat has trapped holy virgin (6)
An envelope (‘has trapped’) of ST (‘holy’) in VEAL (‘meat’).
23 CLERICAL Wrong call catches boy in a sort of error (8)
An envelope (‘catches’) of ERIC (‘boy’) in CLAL, an angram (‘wrong’) of ‘call’.
24 DRINKS Writers on doctor’s round? (6)
A charade of DR (‘doctor’) plus INKS (‘writers’).
25 STRUTTER Street with composer who does his stuff? (8)
A charade of ST (‘street’) plus RUTTER (John, ‘composer‘, mainly of vocal music).
26 SUGARY Sweet American back, name of Cooper (6)
A charade of SU, a reversal (‘back’) of US (‘American’) plus GARY (‘Cooper’, film star).
27 ENMESHED Setter (female) in fine unable to escape? (8)
An envelope (‘in’) of ME (‘setter’) plus SHE (‘female’) in END (‘fine‘, Italian).
1 BRANDY One of 24 comes by restricting currency (6)
An envelope (‘restricting’) of RAND (South African ‘currency’) in ‘by’.
2 WHISKY One of 24 is getting £1,000, within reason (6)
An envelope (‘within’) of ‘is’ plus K (‘£1000′) in WHY (‘reason’).
3 SHERRY One of 24 to slip into cast (6)
An envelope (‘into’) of ERR (‘slip’) in SHY (‘cast’).
4 TITHE BARNS Old buildings — I find the top of one in the Lakes (5,5)
An envelope of ‘I’ plus ‘the’ plus B (‘top of one’ i.e ‘Building’) in TARNS (‘lakes’).
6 ACID RAIN Bill with one way out for pollutant (4,4)
A charade of AC (‘bill’) plus I (‘one’) plus DRAIN (‘way out’).
7 OAK APPLE Outer door for pupil with gall (3,5)
A charade of OAK (‘outer door'; I do not know how widely this is used, but in Oxford at least tutor’s’ rooms in college had double doors, the outer one being known as an oak. If the oak were shut, the tutor was either out or did not wish to be disturbed) plus APPLE (of the eye, ‘pupil’).
8 SALTAIRE Cross round a model village (8)
An envelope (’round’) of ‘a’ in SALTIRE (St. Andrew’s ‘cross’).
13 ENID BLYTON Tiny blonde possibly responsible for the 5 5 (4,6)
An anagram (‘possibly’) of ‘tiny blonde’. In the definition, the first ‘5’ is FAMOUS, the answer to 5A, and the second ‘5’ is FIVE.
15 CALVADOS One of 24 religious reformer’s lost in troubles (8)
A charade of CALV[in] (‘religious reformer’) ‘lost in’, plus ADOS (‘troubles’).
16 GIN SLING One of 24 with support for arm under trap (3,5)
A charade of GIN (‘trap’, one of the half-dozen meanings of the word) plus SLING (‘support for arm’).
17 HIJACKER Pirate boy in previous day across the water (8)
An envelope (‘in’) of JACK (‘boy’) in HIER (‘previous day’  ‘across the water’ i.e in French).
19 See 5
See 5
20 SCOTCH 2 to nip in the bud? (6)
Double definition.
21 FLORID Ornate state nearly split £1 in passage (6)
A double wordplay: FLORID[a] (‘state nearly’); and L I (‘£1) inserted (‘in’) separately (‘split’) in FORD (‘passage’).


48 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,765 by Araucaria”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO. PAINKILLER was my way in too. After that, the links helped rather than hindered and it was all plain sailing.

    I think you’re being unfair to A in your parsing of GRAPPA – he tells you to omit the letters of the word “and.”

  2. John Appleton says:

    Only failed on SALTAIRE, but that’s only because of absent-mindedly spelling NICKEL with the French rather than the Spanish. Otherwise it took a while, the grid not being terribly helpful. CDO probably 13d.

  3. John says:

    Couldn’t quite parse 27ac. Had ME and SHE in END but didn’t see how END was ‘fine’. I thought it might be a mis-print for ‘final’. Not sure it’s fair to use a foreign word (Italian in this case) without giving an indication that it needs translating eg HIER “over the water” in 17d. Do others agree? Always enjoy A’s crosswords though. Thanks.

  4. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Yesterday’s Picaroon took much of the day, on and off. This one took me about as long as my Weetabix. My way in was through CALVADOS, after which it all fell out smoothly. Last was FLORID, which confused me with its three parts.

    ‘Oak’ as the term for the outer door of a set of college rooms was traditional in Cambridge also: closing the outer door was sometimes known as ‘hanging the oak’. This was one of my first entries, in fact.

    I agree with NeilW on the parsing of 12a, which is rather nice.

  5. Rog says:

    John: I’d say 27ac is ok on a number of grounds: (1) ‘in fine’ is a Latin phrase used in English (albeit rarely) and meaning ‘in the end,’ so that ‘fine’ can be said to signify ‘end’ without resorting to Italian. (2) ‘fine’ is a musical term (albeit Italian) meaning ‘end’ and therefore no more controversial than Gordius’s ‘andante’ on Wednesday (although that did have a fault of translation, as Andrew pointed out in his blog). And finally (sic) (3) Webster at least has ‘end’ as a straight, though obsolete, definition of ‘fine’.

  6. Jim says:

    Very enjoyable. Gin Sling was first clue in which made the theme obvious. Excellent clue for 17dn.

    Minor quibbles:

    £ sign in 2dn: £1000=G(rand); 1000=G,K,M.

    As John says, there is no indication in 27dn that “fine” needs to be translated.

    In 25ac, could not understand why a strutter “does his stuff” .

  7. Gervase says:

    Jim @6: Just ‘K’ for £1000 was certainly current during the ‘loadsamoney’ era, when bonuses were boasted about using this terminology. ‘Strut one’s stuff’ is a common enough expression, and Araucaria indicates the allusive definition by means of the question mark at the end of the clue.

  8. Gervase says:

    And the sign £ is a FLORID ‘L’ – the abbreviation for the Latin ‘libra’ (the same sign was used for the Italian ‘lira’).

  9. Brinsopian says:

    I agree with the blog-author; tough until the golden moment then it all seems to resolve fairly straightforwardly. A pleasant start to the day, and glad to see my favourite digestivo at 12ac. I wonder if the revered setter is partial to a nip of the old malt? Plenty of references to that tincture today.

  10. mirrorboy says:

    Many thanks for explaining oak in 7dn. Otherwise a fairly easy, but not unenjoyable, ride from the Master.

  11. JollySwagman says:

    Lovely revver as always.

    24a neat – write is normally the def in themesters like this.

    27a – Fine means “end” in written music. DC al Fine – da capo al fine – ie go back to the top and stop when you see the word “fine”. Obviously that’s because it means that in Italian but it effectively makes it an international word. Obviously if you’ve never done music you’re at a disadvantage.

  12. liz says:

    Thanks PeterO. After wondering whether ‘writers’ was going to be the def at 24ac, the theme fell out pretty quickly once I got GIN SLING. An enjoyable solve, but nothing like as tortuous as yesterday’s.

    I’ve never heard of the DUKERIES but the wordplay was clear enough.

    Gervase @4 At Oxford it was called ‘sporting the oak’.

  13. Mitz says:

    Thanks Araucaria and PeterO.

    This all (hic) went in fairly quick(hic)ly and without too much (hic) pause except in a few ar(hic)eas. I wrote in the only possible (hic) answers to 4d, 7d, 27a (hic) and 21d without fully (hic) parsing them – after (hic) reading the above explan(hic)ations I thought some were fair (hic) enough, while others (hic) made me grumpy. Perhaps I’m hungover. More likely, after all (hic) that booze I’m still drunk. Ah well, happy (hic) Friday everyone!

  14. aztobesed says:

    Jim @6

    “…a poor player who struts and frets his hour on the stage”. Acting is the ‘doing’ profession. (The fretting comes when the gas-bills arrive.)

  15. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Araucaria

    A shame this good puzzle came after yesterday’s themester which made it seem a little lacklustre.

    In 10a I started to wonder if ‘shek’ can mean steal before the penny dropped.

    Thanks for the parsing of 13d which escaped me. A very nice clue.

    Hi Liz et al. It was also sporting one’s oak in Cambridge as I recall, for fellows and students alike.

    I carelessly read the B in 4 down as first letter of barn.

  16. GeoffreyMM says:


    The lyric of the old jazz classic There’ll Be Some Changes Made includes the line: ‘I’ll even change the way I strut my stuff.’

  17. rowland says:

    I enjoyed yesterday’s puzzle too, but dare I say I think it is made to look better by the low-end quality of some recent efforts? I think it is quite fair to say that The Guardian really is a curate’s egg these days, with not all puzzles up to the mark.

    Talking of the clergy, I enjoyed tooday’s as well. The Rev is always good, providing an excellent challenge every time. GRAndPaPA I think is okay brcause see the use of ‘letters’ which I think does enough to suggest the switiching-around we need. With ‘articles’ for Gordius, I don’t think enough was done.

    Very many thnaks all, and


  18. Jeff says:

    Thanks, Aracauria, thanks, PeterO. As for 27ac, might it not be the English “in fine” to mean “end”? No need then for a knowledge of Italian.

  19. Matt says:

    Fun crossword, thanks PeterO and Araucaria.
    A matter of personal taste, but I don’t like the ‘oak’ reference. The invention and (to my mind) artificial conservation of a distinct and often daft vocabulary (‘up’, ‘down’, ‘bop’, ‘bedder/scout’ etc. etc) has for me always been one of the less dignified Oxbridge traditions. (Which is not to say the clue is in any way incorrect).
    Just one of my bugbears,

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I had never heard of oak meaning an outer door so I was baffled there.

    I was disappointed with 2d: K=1000 is used everywhere e.g. kilogram, kilometre etc so I was also trying to insert L for pound. Once I had SCOTCH at 20d it was clear that WHISKY was intended :(

    I also found the beginning of this puzzle to be hard work, then I got PAINKILLER and I was then on my way.

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Obviously this was not like A. at his peak (like all of us who are old, that was some years ago) but it was a welcome improvement over some rather weak efforts of late.
    My last in were ‘florid’ and ‘enmeshed’ although they were both in mind for some time previously. It was the much discussed above, end = fine which held up entry.
    Last to solve was ‘saltaire’.
    I love a new and surprising anagram so ‘tiny blonde’ was delightful.
    I think by including ‘and letters’ in 12ac it becomes an excellent clue (NeilW @1 et al) .

  22. rowland says:

    Well, ‘one of drinks and letters lost by ancestor’ might not be the greatest surface ever RCW, but the ‘and letters’ is rather neat. Like whisky should be!

    Cheers R.

  23. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria and PeterO
    A pleasant end to the week which I found quite challenging to get started until the Famous Grouse broke open the theme at 24.

    Some new places in the Dukeries and Saltaire which I did not previously know of. Also had not seen OAK as a door or FINE as the end – but got there all the same.

    Last in wad TITHE BARNS and favorites were 13 and 17 down.

  24. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO and Araucaria for a nice puzzle.

    Re fine: I think Jeff’s interpretation @18 is correct. Both Chambers and SOED give fine = end as obsolete, except in the phrase ‘in fine’ – which is how it’s used in the surface here.

    I loved your ‘shek’, tupu, but I think one unusual word for ‘steal’ in a week is enough. 😉

    chas @20 re K = £1000 in 2dn: it’s still often seen in job adverts.

    I’m so fond of ‘lift and separate’ clues that I see them when they’re not there: although I’ve been through Saltaire a number of times, I was looking for a minute or two for the name of a village with A T in it. A bit of a double bluff, I think – model is always T in crosswords!

  25. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria and PeterO.

    I enjoyed this very much. Oak apple went in easily from gore and reminded me of botany lessons at school backed up by nature walks, when we were shown what wasn’t edible.

    I don’t see any problem with fine, which is common enough in music, the law and old church services. Latin springs to mind before Italian for it.

    Saltaire was another favourite.The village is a legacy of the philanthropist Sir Titus Salt, with handsome golden sandstone buildings by the River Aire.

    The setter (female) made me think of the spiderwoman first! As well as me and she there is me and shed. All good fun.

    Giovanna x

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Ditto exactly, Eileen, re Saltaire. No wonder it was my last solve.
    The more I think about it the better it gets; I wasted much time thinking cross = angry.

  27. rhotician says:

    Hanging the oak,eh? Nice to see good old Oxbridge argot. Makes a change from Cockney rhyming slang.

  28. Matt says:

    (involuntary shudder)

  29. rhotician says:

    Relax, Matt. It’s intrinsically difficult to be ironic, which usually means sarcastic, without recourse to tone of voice. The reader may miss the point.

  30. Dave Ellison says:

    Dare I say, after yesterday’s lovefest, that I enjoyed this one more? Even so, I found it, like others, quite tough, for an A.

    Reading through the comments above, I am always surprised what a variety of “first” and “last” answers in there are. GIN SLING was one of my later ones; I don’t know why – it seems so obvious now.

  31. Martin P says:

    Saltaire last for me too even though I live not far away.

    Didn’t warm to “oak”: exclusive slang I’d say.

  32. Martin P says:

    …I used to live near the Dukeries too come to think of it, and worked there…

  33. Matt says:

    Hi Rho,
    Sorry, yes: I realised – was trying to laugh along. As you say, tone of voice goes missing sometimes on these things.
    Until tomorrow, I’m sure.

  34. rhotician says:

    Dave @30. Lovefest indeed. I did not enjoy the variations on a swinger theme. The themed clues could never match the high standard of the others. Puck’s puzzle on Tuesday I enjoyed a lot. Nice theme, satisfying level of difficulty and first class clues throughout.

  35. Brendan (not that one) says:

    A nice pleasant stroll once GIN SLING had revealed the theme.

    Surprisingly one of the last in was SALTAIRE despite the “model village” and the fact that I must have visited the place at least 50 times! (model is always “T” in crosswords as E says!)

    COD definitely 13dn

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Nice puzzle, surely a bit on the easy side for an Araucaria (even though the NE was quite tricky when you’ve never heard of OAK APPLE (don’t like apple= pupil anyway) and SALTAIRE (nor the cross involved)).

    Not completely sure whether GRAPPA (12ac) is ‘neat’ or ‘excellent’ as the letters aren’t deleted in the a,n,d order. Also, there is more than one a in ‘grandpapa’. But the idea is quite nice.

    Just like others we were stumped by ENMESHED (27ac), by the END, that is.
    However it is in one of my dictionaries.
    I also had the same thoughts as Giovanna: me & Shed.
    In fact, it could have been EN[igmatist] + ME + SHED, with one Biggle (Paul) not, unable to escape.
    Forget about the punctuation in that sentence.

    Thanks, PeterO.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    At the risk of starting an (unwanted) discussion, I would like to say something about what Rowland brought up @17:
    “I enjoyed yesterday’s puzzle too, but dare I say I think it is made to look better by the low-end quality of some recent efforts? I think it is quite fair to say that The Guardian really is a curate’s egg these days, with not all puzzles up to the mark.”

    For me, my admiration for Picaroon’s puzzle was absolutely not influenced by what you call ‘the low-end quality of some recent efforts’. His crossword was, IMHO, rather brilliant – irrespectively of what I think of other crosswords/setters.

    I also do not agree with ‘the low-end quality of some recent efforts’ as such anyway. I do not see a negative change in Guardian puzzles – Rufus = Rufus, Araucaria = Araucaria, Paul = Paul, Arachne = Arachne, Orlando = Orlando (that said, he’s one of the more experienced setters whose crosswords have become even better than they already were – on top of that, setters like Philistine, Picaroon and Qaos have boosted the overall quality in a positive way.

    But, as I said, let’s not start a discussion. I just read you comment and felt the need to say something about it.

  38. jvector says:

    I enjoyed this – surprised nobody else seems yet to have mentioned, re. 2d, that ‘I S K’ can be seen as one thousand pounds sterling’?

  39. Paul B says:

    Be surprised. It’s IS plus K in WHY, as blogged.

  40. ancient fish says:

    Re the AND deletion, the ‘letters’ bit means ‘the letters in AND in any order’.

  41. RCWhiting says:

    The standard abbreviation for pounds sterling id GBP.
    Can I help with a little translation:
    “let’s not start a discussion” = “I want the last word”

    I pretty much agree with Rowland and certainly do not see any objection to what he said.

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, RCW, the label you put on me with that “equation” occurs to me as rather unfriendly. I am certainly nót someone who wants to have the final word in crossword matters – in fact, I like an open discussion (as long as it about content rather than persons).
    The reason why I said “let’s not start a discussion” is that a comment like mine can easily lead to an endless and sometimes purposeless exchange of views. One, for example, like in last Monday’s Rufus which was sensibly cut off by this site’s Admin.

    I am happy with everyone who thinks ‘and letters’ can be a-n-d in any order. For me , though, there is a discrepancy between this and the approach of a similar thing like ‘subtraction anagram’ which was heavily discussed in the blog of the previous Redshank puzzle for the FT – which is what made me think.

    More importantly, I still do not agree with anyone saying that the level of Guardian crosswords has gone down of lately. It’s only Rufus and Gordius who were recently criticised for their apparently under-par offerings. But that’s nothing new. This thing is going on for as long as I do crosswords and I am immune to it (as long as one doesn’t offend the setter and/or uses offensive language).

    So, RCW (and Rowland), what is it that made the Guardian “really a curate’s egg”? I am not saying that every single crossword is a masterpiece or even up to scratch, but has it changed in the past few weeks or months? I don’t think so (in fact, with excellent ‘newbies’ like Tramp, Philistine, Qaos and Picaroon, I think the overall level has gone up), but apparently you do.

    Thus far, I have always acknowledged that all of us have different expectations when it comes to solving crosswords.
    So please, don’t put me in a box labelled Mr Know-It-All – because I’m not.

    Perhaps, for a better understanding, it’s time to visit one of the Bloggers & Setters events. There’s one next month (in Derby). Yes, why not?

  43. Paul B says:

    The entity ‘RCW’ does not exist as a real person: I’m afraid he’s just another instance of the multi-id trolling that goes on here, and so he won’t be at Derby.

  44. Admin says:

    PaulB @43
    Your claim is unsubstantiated and is purely a personal belief. I have found no evidence of multi-id trolling on 15² (unless it occurred during the eleven weeks I was in hospital) despite regular checks.

  45. Paul B says:

    Agreed, it is a personal belief. I have an altar and everything.

  46. RCWhiting says:

    I criticise puzzles; I praise puzzles.
    I thought that was the primary function of this MB.
    Perhaps it would help such as PB if I gave forewarning of a criticism so they might prepare their little deniable barbs.
    They really do not concern me in the slightest.

  47. Jouanny says:

    I thought 11 ac was unfair with the definition, since it no longer exists as a region of the present day Midlands. On the other hand I loved 2 and 13 dn. Made me chuckle.

  48. maarvarq says:

    Why the quotations marks around ‘composer’ in the solution to 25ac? Do you think ‘real’ composers write for orchestras?

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