Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,842 by Araucaria

Posted by PeterO on January 11th, 2013


Araucaria has used this crossword to impart some very sad news.

I had not heard this before, but it appears that he has terminal cancer. I am sure that you will all join me in wishing him the best care, and peace in whatever time remains to him.

1. Subject to town hall causing milieu’s panic (12)
MUNICIPALISE An anagram (‘causing’) of ‘milieus panic’. The definition uses ‘subject’ as a verb.
9. Encounter dog’s home (5)
INCUR A charade of IN (‘home’) plus CUR (‘dog’).
10. Araucaria beginning to recite old poetry books, bringing Christmas cheer (9)
MERRIMENT A charade of ME (‘Araucaria’) plus R (‘beginning to Recite’) plus RIME (‘old poetry’) plus NT (‘books’).
11. Man with a first having common sense? That’s terrible (7)
HEINOUS A charade of HE (‘man’) plus I (‘a first’) plus NOUS (‘common sense’).
12. Scouse blues go green in time for energy supplier (7)
EVERTON Part of the clue is quite enough to solve it: an envelope (‘in’) of VERT (‘green’) in EON (‘time’), for the Liverpool (‘Scouse’) football club nicknamed the ‘blues’. The ‘energy supplier’ in the clue seems to be a reference to E.ON Energy, an electric utility company, as a second definition of EON.
13,15. Friendly (say) vicar at ease (say) with arrangement for coping with 18 down (10,4)
PALLIATIVE CARE A charade of PALLI, a homophone (‘say’) of PALLY (‘friendly’) plus an anagram (‘with arrangement’) of ‘vicar at’ plus EE (‘ease say’).
15. See 13
- See 13
18. 101o under the ice? (4)
CONE A charade of C plus ONE (‘101′), for what might be under an ice cream.
19. Food transporter heard to gradually reduce an endless effusion (10)
OESOPHAGUS A charade of OESOPH, a homophone (‘heard’) of EASE OFF (‘gradually reduce’) plus A GUS[h] (‘an endless effusion’).
22. Place(s) of non-vintage vintage? (7)
NEWPORT Port wine is only given a vintage if the producer declares it of sufficient quality; thus NEW PORT is (so far) non-vintage. The (s) indicates that there are several places of that name.
24. Food related to cake of soap? (4,3)
BATH BUN I would not recommend eating a bath bun in the bath – nor  a cake of soap, for that matter.
25. Complete very large reproduction with look at 19 etc (9)
ENDOSCOPY A charade of END (‘complete’) plus OS (‘very large’) plus COPY (‘reproduction’).
26. See 1 down
- See 1 down
27. Bargain keeping mum to deal with 18 down (12)
CHEMOTHERAPY An envelope (‘keeping’) of MOTHER (‘mum’) in CHEAPY (‘bargain'; I would have spelled it cheapie, but Chambers gives both spellings).
1,26. 18 down worker gives coat to factory girl and father of archbishop’s killer? (9,5)
MACMILLAN NURSE A charade of MAC (mackintosh, ‘coat’) plus MILL (‘factory’) plus ANN (‘girl’) plus URSE (‘father of archbishop’s killer?'; a reference to Reginald fitzUrse – son of Urse – one of the four knights who killed Thomas Becket). Macmillan nurses are new to me, but they specialise in cancer care.
2. Northern ocean hides love which could give ultimate 13 15 (8)
NARCOTIC An envelope (‘hides’) of O (‘love’) in N ARCTIC (‘northern ocean’)
3. French writer passed, only first out of university (5)
CAMUS A subtraction CAM[p]US (‘university’) with the P (‘Passed only first’) ‘out’.
4. Overplay muddle over old Frenchman (9)
PARLEYVOO An anagram (‘muddle’) of ‘overplay’ plus O (‘old’).
5. Hang about to see the Queen of Italy? (6)
LOITER A charade of LO (‘see!’) plus IT (‘Italy’) plus ER (‘the Queen’).
6. Scamp item to expand 19, for example (5)
STENT A charade of ‘s’ plus TENT (‘camp’).
7. Accident on motorway summit? (6)
MISHAP A charade of MI (M 1, ‘motorway’) plus SCAR (‘summit’) &lit-ish – Scar Shap Fell in Cumbria was a notorious accident black spot, and is still treacherous.
8. Case lacking in posture (6)
STANCE A subtraction – [in]STANCE (‘case’) ‘lacking in’.
14. Corrupt dealing with crime, the French abandoning the leader of the march? (9)
THEFTBOOT Another new word for me, the probably illegal practice of accepting the return of stolen goods or other compensation in lieu of prosecution. I had given up on the wordplay, but it came to me as I was getting into bed: it is THE [le]FT BOOT (‘the leader of the march’, left, right, left, right…) without LE (‘the French abandoning’).
16. Gray’s works (in two volumes?) contain opening of Byzantine controversy (4-5)
ARGY-BARGY After a while trying to work ELEGY into the solution, this turned out to be an envelope (‘contain’) of B (opening of Byzantine’) in ARGY, an anagram (‘works’) of ‘Gray’ twice (‘in two volumes?’).
17. Plant reported to be enemy to skin complaint (8)
PHOTINIA A homophone (‘reported’) of FOE (‘enemy’) plus TINEA (‘skin complaint’). Photinia is a genus of trees and shrubs with ornamental cultivars.
18. Sign of growth (6)
CANCER Double definition.
20. Fat round Poles at end of day (6)
SUNSET An envelope (’round’) of NS (‘poles’) in SUET (‘fat’).
21. Beast of Oz whose subject was cats (6)
POSSUM The definition is the name of various arboreal marsupials of Australasia (‘beast of Oz’), with reference to T S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
23. Dimension accompanying outside number (5)
WIDTH An envelope (‘outside’) of D (Roman numeral 500, ‘number’) in WITH (‘accompanying’).
24. Cook said to be lawman and impresario (5)
BOYLE A homophone (‘said’) of BOIL (‘cook’), with definitions indicating a lawman (there are several such Boyles; I do not know which Araucaria had in mind) and impresario Danny Boyle, of the London Olympics opening ceremony.

106 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,842 by Araucaria”

  1. Paul says:

    I think you got mixed up on 7dn which seems to have nothing to do with SCAR fell but rather SHAP summit (on the M6)

  2. Paul says:

    I think 14dn is a definition of “corrupt dealing” and crime is part of the wordplay “theft” with LE off BOOTLE or something like that.

  3. Verdanta says:

    Tragic news indeed. Our thoughts are with you and no thanks could be enough for the hours of enjoyment you have afforded us! God bless.
    14 dn the left boot leads the march (left right) remove the french (le)

  4. PeterO says:

    Thanks Paul. Scar came up in the Audreus the other day, which might explain my confusion – now corrected.

  5. PeterO says:

    … and thanks Verdanta. As you may see, the penny dropped just about when you were adding your comment.

  6. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Peter. My very best wishes to Araucaria; I suppose being a religious man allows him to be so very sanguine about this news and announce it in so graceful a fashion.

    A minor point: STENT is a verb as well as a noun so “item” can be seen as part of the wordplay rather than the definition.

  7. Ilippu says:

    sad news, indeed. esp. since crossword enthusiasts missed this info even though this puzzle was published in the december issue of 1Across magazine it seems…..wish him well and hope he gets better..

  8. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. Upsetting to begin at 18d and discover the dire theme right away. No joy (no difficulty either) in finishing this, except with 14d at the end which only came via the Shorter Oxford – a hyphen should be there and only with it will Google recognise the word. In 1,26 ‘father’, even with a ? at the end, won’t do: the orginal Urse died in 1108 and the killer’s father, also a FitzUrse, died in 1168 so it should have been grandfather at least. I join with everybody in wishing the setter well.

  9. milOway says:

    molonglo –
    14d: Chambers shows no hyphen
    1,26 If you’d met Mr Reginald fitzUrse might you not have asked yourself (or RfU himself) who Mr Urse is or was?

  10. CynicCure says:

    24d – lawman, as in Boyle’s Law.

  11. Emigree says:

    18D was the first clue of relevance in for me, and being an anaesthetist the rest dropped in without really needing to parse them properly. I am gutted by this sad news; he is irreplaceable and we will keenly feel his loss. I am very familiar with 2D; I hope they and the 1D 26As afford Araucaria a serene and comfortable end surrounded by his family. My thoughts are with them all at this difficult time.

  12. jetdoc says:

    As far as we know, Araucaria is still in good health (in the circumstances) and having fun. His philosophical attitude is truly inspiring, and this puzzle is one we will cherish. All power to him, and let’s not get too sad prematurely — there may be much more to enjoy.

  13. weller says:


    This is also a comment on his own attitude. Araucaria is a vicar.

  14. james g says:

    Re 27d. I think the Boyle lawman must be the physicist and author of “Boyle’s Law” which is something to do with temperature, pressure and volume of gasses.
    What sad news.

  15. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Peter. Like others I got 18d (what a grimly ironic clue!) and hence the “theme” immediately, so found myself solving this with a strange mixture of sadness and admiration. I’ve met Araucaria just once (very briefly), at the lunch in King’s College, Cambridge for his 90th birthday, and he is clearly a delightful person, as also witnessed by his appearance on ‘Desert Island Discs’. I’m glad to hear Jetdoc’s report of his condition, and wish him all the best.

  16. fearsome says:

    Not often you start a crossword at 18d! More clues were linked in the preamble to the 1 across version finishing with “still much merriment.” I thought 27a was wonderful.
    Sad news, thanks Peter and Araucaria

  17. Ian Payn says:

    When someone whose work one enjoys and respects dies (sorry to get ahead of things) there is always a sense of loss, but frequently that person has passed from the contemporary. For instance Sir Donald Sinden has given us a lot of pleasure over the years, but he now appears very infrequently on our screens. When he dies there will be fond memories of what he has given us in the past, but memories is what they’ll be. Araucaria, however, is a different kettle of fish. Despite his great age he continues to entertain us, and be part of our lives on a weekly basis – he’s not filed away in a memory drawer, he is of the present, which makes the news that much more immediate and depressing.

    How typical, though, that the news should be relayed in such a dignified and charming mannner. Rather like everything else about the man, really…

  18. William says:

    Thanks Peter. All thoughts with John and his family at this rotten time. He has given us so much for so long.

    To business…the preamble lets us know that the crossword was first published in the magazine 1 Across. Is there really a magazine called MUNICIPALISE or am I missing something?

    STENT and the reference to FitzUrse are just vintage Araucaria. Bravo.

  19. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks Peter.

    William @18: it would appear that there is such a periodical but Google yields nothing.

    Thank you, Araucaria for all the pleasure you have given us and for sharing your news in such a splendidly inimitable fashion. You, your family and carers are in my thoughts and prayers, and I look forward to the next puzzle.

  20. DunsScotus says:

    James G@14. Well remembered; I thinks it’s (pv)/t is a constant.

  21. William says:

    Thanks DunsScotus, joining you in thoughts and prayers.

  22. John H says:

    For anyone who is interested, “1 Across” is the title of a monthly subscription crossword magazine that Araucaria, Christine Jones and I launched 30-odd years ago. Currently edited by Tom Johnson, you can avail yourself of a sample copy by writing to Christine at The Old Chapel, Middleton Tyas, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10.

  23. Mike says:

    Still recovering from the sad news. My spirits are always given a lift when I see Araucaria’s name under a grid.

    I, too, am puzzled by the preamble’s reference to the magazine 1 Across. Is there any significance in the A of Across being a capital?

  24. Mike says:

    Thanks John H@22. You answered my question before it was posted.

  25. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks John H @ 22

  26. Stella says:

    Thanks Peter. I was stumped by 14d, even though the meaning is clear. The rest of the puzzle panned out quite easily, even though I didn’t go straight to the key clue, as my habit is to go in order.

    Sad news, but I think we can still look forward to some great puzzles from the master. His calm, matter-of-fact way of imparting the news is a credit to the great man, and I know his faith will stand him in good stead, as ever, at this time.

    All the best to him and his family, and God bless you all.

  27. William says:

    Thanks John H @ 22

  28. Apple Granny says:

    We are as gutted as everyone else, after so many years of the very best crosswords one can find anywhere. Like others we started with 18d and suddenly the rest fell into place. Very unsure of theft-boot but “the left boot ” had to be the hint – it was the last one in. We hope that we still have many more challenging crosswords to come, since cancer can be very slow as one ages.

  29. liz says:

    I, too, started with 18down, then had to pause for a moment. Very sad news, reported with great grace.

    As solvers, we get to ‘know’ our favourite setters over the years — their frame of reference, their sense of humour, the way their mind works. I’ve always looked forward to any puzzle by Araucaria.

    I’m glad to hear from jetdoc @12 that he’s still having fun.

    Very best wishes to him and his family.

  30. matt says:

    Sad news. I shall greet every new Araucaria crossword with even more relish.

    Best wishes to him, his family, friends, colleagues, and parishioners (which we all are, I suppose, in a sense).

    Good crossword as well.

  31. setrungo says:

    In my early crossword solving days, my heart used to sink when I saw Araucaria’s name under the grid. Over the years this has evolved into sheer joy at the many hours of pleasure he has afforded us all. As a committed atheist there are few people I would offer up a prayer for – but the venerable reverend is most certainly one of them. As a permanent memorial to the great man, I intend to plant a Monkey Puzzle tree in his honour.

  32. Trick Tree says:

    Devastated by this news – the man who first got me into crosswords. I would spend whole days at Christmas as a teenager, a couple of years before the arrival of the internet, trying to battle my way through one of his specials, even visiting Central Library in Manchester and using their reference books.

    I only got 18 down when I had a quick look this morning and part of me wishes I hadn’t.

  33. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Araucaria

    Like others, I solved this with my usual pleasure tempered by the sad news within it and enhanced by admiration for the matter of fact way in which Araucaria presents it.

    I had trouble with ‘theftboot’ which I hunted out after looking for theft words in Chambers. I agree with PeterO’s parsing – the definition is ‘corrupt dealing with crime’. I only got part of the way with the parsing.

    I particulary liked the unlikely anagaram in 1a, the humour of 24a, and the
    ‘homophone’ in 17d.

  34. Robi says:

    Started with 18,19 with the help of the special instructions. Brave crossword from a great man, who I’m glad to hear is still enjoying life, despite his condition. Great setting to fit in so many theme words.

    Thanks PeterO; last in was THEFTBOOT, which was recalcitrant to Google but, as milOway @9 says is in Chambers (11th ed.) Nice clue, once the parsing was shown to me. Like Paul @2 I assumed Bootle was some man who had led marches. :(

    I particularly liked PARLEYVOO (looked like an impossible anagram at first,) STANCE, CONE and STENT.

  35. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Peter

    I had already heard the news, so the key clues were a sad write-in for me. But the rest of the puzzle provided a good challenge, and I needed two goes at it to complete it. THEFTBOOT was my last entry, being unfamiliar.

    I couldn’t remember (if indeed I ever knew) the names of the murderers of Thomas à Becket, so the URSE part of the charade remained unparsed. As the prefix ‘Fitz’ denotes (illegitimate) ‘son of’, the clue works fine, irrespective of what name Reg’s dad was known by. I liked the characteristically Araucarian ‘lift-and-separate’ for STENT.

    And it is also characteristic of the temperament of this man, who has give so many of us so much pleasure over many years, to include the word MERRIMENT and several smiles in a crossword that could have seemed simply morbid. Let’s hope there’s time for quite a lot more.

  36. Tom Johnson says:

    Jetdoc @12 has summarized everyone’s thoughts succinctly and positively and as Jane says, Araucaria is still active on the crossword front. He was very keen that we should publish this crossword in “1 Across” originally and I have already received a number of emails from subscribers wishing him well. Now that the puzzle has appeared in the Guardian, many more of Araucaria’s admirers will know the news.

    Tom Johnson
    Editor of “1 Across” magazine

  37. Gillian says:

    I completed this crossword with a mixture of pleasure and sadness. Whether or not it is his last, I send my warmest thanks and good wishes to Araucaria for much entertainment over many years.

  38. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria and PeterO

    A relative newcomer to the Guardian crossword, this man has quickly become my favorite with his ability to put a sense of real fun into every puzzle that carries his banner. Whether it is a clever theme, his famous alphabet crosswords, the innovative devices he uses or his irreverent non-compliance to ‘cryptic rules’, one can always rely on a challenging contest when confronted with his empty grid.

    Today’s offering was completed with a cloud of sadness when 18 went in as the second answer, but with the normal respect as I grappled with his clues and added admiration for the dignity in which A passed on the news.

    My best wishes friend …

  39. Mitz says:

    Feels somewhat redundant to comment on the crossword today. Or at least it would were it not for gems like CONE and STENT, not to mention Araucaria’s apparent determination to simply carry on as always, until the very end.

    Thanks for the blog PeterO, and thanks Araucaria for everything – I’m sure the 1 26s will look after your every need, I hope you are comfortable, and I hope that there are still many more sets of 225 left in you yet.

  40. Rowland says:

    It is indeed sad, but I suppose we must all go, at the appointed time, and if there were ever a great life to celebrate rather than mourn, well! All the best JG — that’s what you’ve always given us.


  41. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yeah best wishes to Mr A. To the rest of you, on behalf of those of us who have the Big C, it may be helpful for you to not think of us as dying, that is just the bit at the very end, until then we are very much alive and kicking!

    As Macmillan Nurses are mentioned, can I also mention a charity which is local to me, the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham. They gave me once a week daycare when I was last on chemo which really helped breakup the sitting at home alone. They also have residential facilities. The staff say things like it is the happiest hospice they have worked at. I believe them. So if you are in my area and see their collecting tins and charity shops please make use of them, I do!

    As ever the puzzle was hard going for my limited abilities, but I got there eventually.

  42. Richard Packer says:

    So sad to hear of Araucaria’s illness. We go back a long way (in solving his exquisite clues). God bless.

    Kate & Richard Packer

  43. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Peter, for the blog – a difficult one for you to write. I’ve been struggling with my own blog of Araucaria’s latest Prize puzzle, since hearing the sad news last weekend. I’ve been relieved today to know that it doesn’t, after all, fall to me to break it.

    What a typically gracious way Araucaria chose to tell us – even with some humour, as has been mentioned. I was particularly touched by his inclusion of himself in the clue for MERRIMENT.

    Many thanks to Jetdoc and Tom Johnson for their positive comments. It’s not really surprising to hear that Araucaria seems to be, like others who have inspired me, resolved to live with cancer as long and as cheerfully as possible. As weller says @13, 13,15 is an absolute gem of a clue.

  44. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. You explained several cases where I had the right answer without understanding the parsing.

    I was saddened to hear about A’s illness and I wish him all the best. It was good to hear Jetdoc’s news of his present state and I hope he lives on producing his marvellous crosswords for many more years.

  45. PeterM says:

    I can’t really add to the foregoing comments – but I have never before finished a crossword with a tear running down my cheek.

  46. Kriscros says:

    Thank you PeterO for the blog and best wishes to Araucaria. Many great, gracious and dignifed clues – too many to mention.

    As with all Araucaria’s puzzles, I find myself wishing them not to end. Now these very thoughts apply to the master compiler too.

  47. Qaos says:

    Very sad news and testimony to the great man that he should convey the news via a medium he has been such a large part of.

    I wish him all the best.

  48. Wanderer says:

    Thank you, Araucaria.

  49. Judygs says:

    Like PeterM @45 in particular, I’ve never felt so sad while doing a crossword – Araucaria has cheered me over decades through light and dark days and his gift (in both senses of the word) is immeasurable. Wishing him bestest.

  50. yogdaws says:

    Don’t quite know what to say…

    Have shared a pub lunch with the man himself and was touched by his modesty, gentle humour and kindness.

    Today’s theme was definitely not our favourite.

    Our thoughts and best wishes to him and his family.

  51. Rigsby says:

    Oh. Bugger. Almost wish I hadn’t solved this now. Best setter ever. Wish him all the 2 downs and 10 across he can possibly have.

  52. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria and good luck with your journey. How about a jolly crossword on the theme of death to cheer us all up? You can’t go yet awhile as you can’t be spared!

    Well done PeterO.

    Giovanna xx

  53. Peter Murray-Rust says:

    In 2011 my family commissioned a personal alphabetic crossword from A for my 70th birthday with a theme on my interests. It was wonderful and I had the great pleasure of meeting A at the Guardian Open day last summer and getting his signature. Doing today’s brave offering was a great experience. Thank you.

  54. stevethewhistle says:

    Sorry to hear about A’s ill health.

    Please could someone explain the significance of the degree sign in the clue of 18a? The nearest that I could come up with is:

    C (= 100) plus (1 to the power zero (= ONE)), but this seems over-convoluted.


  55. MikeC says:

    Thanks PeterO. THEFTBOOT was new to me but clearly clued, as ever.

    Shocking news. As a solver, I feel as though I have “grown up” with Araucaria. His puzzles have always been there – challenging, teasing and amusing (and did I say “educational”?) – and I suppose I thought he and they would go on forever. Impossible, of course, but let’s hope that he and we can continue to enjoy the MERRIMENT for as long as possible.

  56. Peter Waterman says:

    Sad news. He’s been my favourite for more than 30 years. I had to give up on 14 and 17 so he’s still got teeth. Such dignity in the way he announced it typical of his generation. My thoughts go with him for the months he has left.
    I remember Boyle’s Gas Law inmy A level Chemistry so I think the Rev was thinking of Robert Boyle formulater of this law.

  57. shirleywhite says:

    Like Peter @53 I had a personalised crossword done as a retirement gift- it has pride of place in my hallway.Typical(wonderful)Araucarian clues with lots of personal references- there was even an unintended typo which JG wanted to correct – but I insisted should be left in as a Grauniad “special”!! As others have said – we’ve had years of wonderful clues from the great man – and I would like to thank JG publically for that – and wish him all the very best for what hopefully will be as long as is possible with more great crosswords to come.

  58. Robi says:

    steve @54; I think your parsing is probably right. 101=one hundred AND one; 101°=one hundred AND 1°, which is also 100+1, but the surface really requires the °, otherwise ‘101 under the ice?’ gives a poor result. ‘101° under the ice?’ is also a bit strange [hence ?,] but with thermal vents, who knows; maybe it’s plausible? :)

  59. Otis says:

    Thank you PeterO for the post and Araucaria for the puzzle. I’ve only started solving over the past 8 or so months and appear to be relatively young amongst most solvers. Solving Araucaria’s puzzles has over time become a pleasure. He remains one of most wittiest and thoughtful puzzlers.

  60. togo says:

    What a wonderful (in so many senses of the word) crossword. The clue to 13, 15 cheers me enormously. It also, though I’ve met him only through his art, conveys, quite simply, so much of what I’ve sensed over decades as being the essence of this gentleman – including kindness, humanity, wisdom, mischief and prodigious intelligence.

    Like others here I note (and celebrate) that the Rev Mr JG is still very much alive. Having no other way of communicating with him, I’ll express the hope here that he is not in too much discomfort, and that he knows and is warmed by the affection and appreciation felt by so many of us.

  61. PeeDee says:

    Thank you PeterO and A, very sad news indeed.

  62. opsimath says:

    It is a while since I have been to the fifteensquared website, but I had to today because of the very sad news from one of the very finest cruciverbalists of all time. This crossword, like so many of his others, was a delight to solve, although I have to admit there were tears in my eyes at the poignancy of many of the clues.

    Thank you, Araucaria – you have brought immense pleasure to so many of us with your gentle wit and devilish clues. I hope whatever time is left to you will be both peaceful and happy – it is heart-breaking to read your news – may God bless and keep you and those dear to you, sir.

  63. Trademark says:

    Very sad getting through today’s grid. I’m sure he will have taken some comfort knowing that despite the sad nature of the situation, he was able to turn it into a positive by producing an incredibly poignant crossword. May he enjoy what time he has left.


  64. Pete says:

    Theftboot almost defeated me. But how sad to learn of A’s terminal cancer. He will be sadly missed

  65. plotinus3 says:

    Wit, grace and courage. The crossword as education. Thank you, Araucaria.

  66. muck says:

    Thanks Araucaria for many years of enjoyment
    Keep the puzzles coming as long as you can
    You will always be with us

  67. Liz Geear says:

    All love and best wishes to the Rev. and long may you continue to entertain and educate.

  68. Jeremy Knight says:

    Thank you PeterO and Auraucaria for today’s offering, and thank you a thousand times to Auraucaria for all the pleasure, amusement, and edification you have afforded.

    There’s a vigorous specimen of the eponymous tree which I planted ten years ago in our garden as a tribute to the One and Only. One day, 7dns permitting, it will be as impressive as his reputation.

  69. Mikes says:

    Tears in the rain

  70. claire says:

    What a lovely man. I’m only sorry I’ve never met him, though I feel as if I have.

    There’s nothing more I can add.

  71. MalP says:

    Thanks Araucaria

  72. nikhil says:

    Irregular solver and visitor here, but wanted to add my wishes. Never solved a crossword with so much sadness

  73. Terry says:

    Just completed 24852 (with your help on theftboot)
    The courage and wit of Araucaria. What a great mind.

  74. SteveW says:

    Lovely puzzle, as always – even though sad completing it. A has really has been our
    favourite compiler for years!

  75. nametab says:

    What is there to add, other than to endorse all the heartfelt sentiments already expressed? His unmatched inventiveness, wit, and jaw-dropping brilliance has delighted me for forty years. No matter how apparently unbreakable some of his hardest crosswords might seem to be, his wavelength is always there to be discovered with perseverance, yielding such pleasure and admiration once the tussle is complete.
    All strength to Araucaria and family. God be with you.

  76. stumper says:

    Greatly saddened when I realised the import of this crossword on the tube this morning. I never met JG but I feel like I know him personally. With heartfelt thanks for all the entertainment over the years, and hope that there is still a good deal more to come. Very best wishes to you and your family

  77. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Like some others, I had already heard the news a while ago.
    I also knew that today there would be a special puzzle.
    For once ( :) ) I decided not to say too much today.
    But after Jane’s uplifting post @12, I thought:
    Boys and girls, come on, our hero is still alive – and he always will be!!
    13,15ac: so moving.
    It says it all, nothing to add.

  78. geoff anderson says:

    I would like to say a special thank-you to Araucaria for his holiday specials. My mother, who died a decade ago, and I used to spend many, many happy hours, especially over the Christmas period, tackling the ‘giants’ or the ‘doubles’, which always had some clever or fiendish theme. One in particular I recall was based on the changes of bell ringers’ peals. Thank you so much. Be well.

  79. Trailman says:

    A very late post I know but, although away from home, I would not want this moment to pass.

    I had heard of the Rev’s illness last month but knew no details. Solving 13, 15 was a shock; it almost felt that we had lost him already. But we haven’t of course. There are many delights to come, I fervently hope.

  80. g larsen says:

    Our trivial pursuit has never before moved me to tears. Araucaria has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. His wit and intelligence – and now his dignity and stoicism in the face of adversity – shine out in our dumbed-down and coarsened society. God bless.

  81. brucew_aus says:

    Just an update to the actual crossword that was bothering me. I was able to track down a variation of thiefboot as follows:

    Theftbote: a misdemeanor, occurs when a crime victim accepts the return of stolen property or makes other arrangements with a felon in exchange for an agreement not to prosecute.

  82. Paul B says:

    Huge love to Rev John Galbraith Graham, who started me, and countless others, on an incredibly amusing and entertaining journey.

    Thank you John, and please keep it going.

    Paul B.

  83. Colpen says:

    I am devastated by this dreadful news. A’s personality shone through his crosswords and I too, feel as though I’ve met him personally. My thoughts go out to you,Araucaria. Thank you.

  84. john McCartney says:

    The only crossword book I ever bought was “Monkey Puzzles” which kept me going through a very bleak period of my life. Love and best wishes to the Rev.

  85. Chris says:

    And how brave of him. Hold fast, keep faith

  86. Tramp says:

    What an extraordinary puzzle from an extraordinary man. The words “genius” and “legend” are used way too often these days but they apply to Araucaria. 13, 15 is one of his best, in my opinion. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him twice and I could never meet a more humbler person. God bless you John.

  87. bagbird says:

    I first came across an Araucaria puzzle on the back of a second hand copy of the Guardian Weekly some 25 years ago in America, and was hooked. I would like to thank him for every one of the countless puzzles I have enjoyed wrestling with since, and wish him well.

  88. Helen Ougham says:

    Others have said it all, and I couldn’t agree more; so I’ll just add my thanks, Araucaria, for decades of thought-provoking, entertaining, delightful puzzles. Love and best wishes.

  89. MichaelG says:

    I too solved this puzzle (except for 14D which stumped me) with a heavy heart. Araucaria’s and Cinephile’s puzzles have been a source of great joy ever since I started regularly attempting them 5 years ago, particularly the alphabetical jigsaws. As I got to know his style it became possible occasionally to finish them without resort to any aids, a particularly satisfying experience. To begin with only the prize puzzles had annotated solutions but then I discovered fifteen squared which has reliably parsed so many otherwise baffling clues, and I’m grateful to all the contributors for this. Many more of his puzzles are fortunately left for me to tackle in the Guardian online archive, for which many thanks, as well as in the Chambers collections – but nothing like seeing a new (especially prize) puzzle appear in Guardian or FT to set the pulse racing.
    I join you all in wishing him strength, and saluting his grace and continued merriment.

  90. Bogeyman says:

    Araucaria has been part of my life since I started trying to solve the Guardian cryptic some thirty years ago. What a splendidly graceful way to announce this sad news. I just wanted to add to the lovely tributes to the man here. Many thanks Big A and keep going!

  91. Graham H says:

    This was hard to complete – and I failed 14D. I’ve never felt so sad attempting a crossword. But it had to be done. Tramp@86 summarises for me. Best wishes, of course to him, and his friends and family.

  92. Eileen says:

    Hi everyone

    This article is on the front page of today’s Guardian:

  93. Dynamic says:

    I’m very grateful to have had John Graham’s influence in my life, though we’ve never met. I wish him as much pleasure, love and peace as possible over the time he has left.

    When the fateful day eventually comes, for those who love Araucaria’s work, a large part of what made him who he is will live on by virtue of the extraordinary body of work he leaves behind and even more so by the spirit, inventiveness and imaginative cluing that his protegés have adopted.

    Just as there are Ximenians, plying their trade today for our enjoyment with scrupulously precise cluing, there will be continue to be Araucarians mischievously misleading and stretching definitions yet staying fair and losing gracefully in the end. Setters of all sorts have delighted in and adopted the various innovations that have emerged from those they’ve admired, to the enjoyment of solvers.

    His contribution is multiplied by the wide body of talented setters that he has inspired and personally encouraged who will continue to delight both us and those solvers of the future who’ll never have seen an Araucaria crossword in their daily paper (just as I’ve never encountered a Ximenes) in the decades to come.

    What better legacy could he leave.

  94. allan_c says:

    What more can one say?

  95. 44 says:

    The hours of pleasure he has given people simply can’t be counted. A true genius. All the very best to him.

  96. joshua's mum says:

    Araucaria crosswords have been my major delight and occupation for decades and now challenge and entertain our sons. I hope for many more from this valiant crafty wizard.

  97. SteveC says:

    Devastating news indeed. Setrungo’s idea of planting a monkey puzzle tree in his memory seems perfectly fitting.

  98. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This contribution is late because I have been in the CCU at the local hospital where I solved it.
    I cannot express my gratitude any better than many of you have already done.
    I must add that to fit so many relevant words into one puzzle was a major achievement and when I had finished it I was in a perfect place to tour the wards showing it to all the professionals and explaining the background.
    A minor point which nobody else seems to have commented on: in 14d I found that ‘theftfoot’ fitted the cryptic perfectly (left foot forward) but it was uknown to me and the only reference available was “A Dictionary for Nurses” (!); of course it failed on the definition which I checked in Chambers when I came home today.
    Oh! Those delightfully challenging ‘specials’ which Geoff Anderson remembers with such pleasure.

  99. copland smith says:

    Never have I felt so numb at the completion of a puzzle. May there many more puzzles, John, and thank you for decades of pleasure. Each time the name Araucaria turns up beside a puzzle, my day is lifted, before I even begin. Love and best wishes.

  100. Coffee says:

    Oh dear, how could I have missed this? Very upsetting news & want to join you all in wishing the Rev the very best Thank you for hours of head scratching, including those still to come.

  101. Jane 53 says:

    When I tell my friends who have no interest in crosswords how much of Araucaria’s wonderful character is to be discovered in the clues he sets, they look at me as though I’ve rather lost my marbles. But it’d all there, isn’t it? The wit, the humanity, the ferocious intelligence and passionately held principles, all in abundance. And I just love the way a nonagenarian ex-vicar comes up with clues involving drug slang rock acts. Hero and genius, and I hope his last days are as happy and serene as they deserve to be.

  102. BernieD says:

    I always look forward to Araucaria in my Saturday Guardian and the many hours of digging into Roget’s and the OED and pondering the anagrams. I do not find the puzzles as easy as most of the regular contributors, but I still definitely enjoy the chase. Thank you Araucaria for all the pleasure you have given this poor solver, I wish you well and offer my gratitude for those puzzles you still have time to confound us with.

  103. Jane 58 says:

    Dear Araucaria, Thank you so much for your puzzles which have given me so much pleasure, encouragement and tuition – especially the jigsaws.

  104. KeithS says:

    So pleased, briefly, to find another Araucaria in the Weekly. So sad to realize the news underlying it. It’s all been said by now, of course, but what a wonderful spirit to be able to clue 13,15 the way he did!

  105. Anton says:

    24d: The “lawman” must be the physicist of Boyle’s Law fame. (Incidentally, in my country he shares the honour with a Frenchman, as in “Ley de Boyle-Mariotte”).

  106. Richard Samson says:

    Thanks to all the FifteenSquared readers and writers, and warmest thanks and appreciation to Araucaria, who has almost always defeated me, but always in the nicest way.

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