Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,854 / Arachne

Posted by Eileen on January 25th, 2013


What a treat, at the end of a week of excellent puzzles, to get a lovely puzzle from Arachne! Not quite such a tussle as it often is but full of the characteristic witty clues and ingenious constructions, along with amusing story-telling surfaces – great stuff!  Many thanks, Arachne, for the fun and entertainment.

Definitions are underlined.


1 Regime seeing annihilation of middle class as key again
R[egim]E minus [seeing annihilation of] its middle letters + TYPE [class]

4 Prohibition of smacking’s good and right
SLAP BAN [prohibition of smacking] + G [good]

9 Show electronic cable?
E [electronic] + VINCE [Cable – Lib dem MP, who has been such a gift to crossword setters]: a bit naughty to rob him of his capital but, for me, Arachne’s question mark lets her off

10 Father Jack, perhaps, embraced by Anglicans, causing split
REV [father] ASS [jack, perhaps] in CE [Church of England – Anglicans] – superb surface!

11 Joe Bloggs entertains them in variety
neat anagram [in variety] of ENTERTAINS THEM

13 I’d a way to help poorer countries
AID is an anagram [foreign] of I’D A

14 List some prime numbers
hidden in priME NUmbers

16 He helps virgin to shed clothes
[m]AIDE[n] [virgin] shedding first and last letters – clothes

18 It’s very hard to bear Spooner’s married lady friend
Spooner’s version of ‘wed date': my heart sinks when I see ‘Spooner’ but this is a nice one

21 Waste ground next to railway? It’s increasingly profitable
GROW THIN [waste] + DUST [ground] + RY [railway]

23 News broadcast shot at home
BULLET [shot] + IN [at home]

24 Mature bulb regularly coming into flower
alternate letters [regularly] of bUlB in NILE [flower]

25 Alienate Argentines, dropping in unexpectedly
anagram [unexpectedly] of ARGENT[in]ES minus [dropping] in – a very nice surface and construction

26 Heartlessly asking boy about potential source of misunderstanding
A[skin]G [heartlessly} + reversal [about] of PAGE [boy]


1 Regretted vulgar sounds
sounds like rude [vulgar] – and there’s no ambiguity!

2 Might an East End trichologist treat this for nothing?
East End trichologist’s possible pronunciation of ‘thin hair’

3 Stop that manic panic about stuff!
anagram [manic] of PANIC round KIT [stuff] – and you could say that PACK IT IN = stuff

5 Generous — and inclined to be magnanimous
I can’t really make this wordplay work: it’s not a double definition, since ‘generous’, ‘large’ and ‘magnanimous’ are all synonyms. I’m pretty sure I haven’t  come across this expression before and I don’t think I like it [it’s in Chambers but not my [older] Collins or SOED]: it’s a literal translation of the Latin magnanimus but that’s usually rendered as ‘great-hearted’ or ‘great-spirited’ : I think I’m missing somethiing!

6 Turns from small to big noise during escalation
reversal [during escalation, in a down clue] of S [small] + TO + VIP [big noise!]

7 Unemotional principals in Faust were sacked
[f]AUST [w]ERE – first letters [principals] omitted [sacked]

8 Garbo doesn’t have time to tease relative
GRE[t]A [Garbo minus T {time}] + TAUNT [tease]

12 Pounding ingredients
wonderful &lit anagram [pounding] of INGREDIENTS – probably my favourite clue but I haven’t time to list them all

13 French-Belgian compromise, easily broken
anagram [compromise?] of FR [French] + BELGIAN – or is it a compromise of FR and BELGIAN with ‘easily broken’ doing double duty?

5 Engorged lower half of wildebeest upset another wildebeest
BEEST [lower half of wildeBEEST] + reversal of GNU [another {name for} wildebeest]: a lovely clue – and, of course, I can’t resist giving you a link to this song
and this is what bee-stung lips look like  – a real laugh-out-loud clue

17 Tiny amount of petrol mistakenly offered at under a dollar
anagram [mistakenly] of PETROL under D [dollar? – I could only find this under USD, for example]

19 Getting dressed, kid goes over to Crosby
reversal [goes over] of RAG [kid – as verbs] + BING [Crosby]

20 Goddess later giving up booze?
THEN [later] in AA [Alcoholics Anonymous – giving up the booze] – I liked this one!

22 Ocean‘s water departed on a rising tide?
reversal [on a rising tide] of  PEE [water] + D [died – departed]

49 Responses to “Guardian 25,854 / Arachne”

  1. muffin says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne
    Mostly enjoyable, though I had NEAP insted of DEEP (without fully parsing it, of course). I liked TENDERISING very much.
    I can’t see what “offered at” is doing in 17d – doesn’t the clue work as well without it? (“Tiny amount of petrol, mistakenly under a dollar?”)

  2. Eileen says:

    Just dashing out now – will deal with errors / omissions later this morning.

  3. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I read 5d as a charade: LARGE (generous, as in ‘generous portions’) + MINDED (inclined).

    I think 13d is FR (French) + *(BELGIAN) with ‘compromise’ as anagrind and no double duty.

  4. Rick says:

    Many thanks to Arachne for a superb puzzle and to Eileen for the (as always) excellent blog. There were a few clues I struggled to parse and you put me straight on those.

    With regards to 5 across …

    Generous — and inclined to be magnanimous

    … I took “Generous” to give “Large” (e.g. a generous portion vs a large portion) and “Inclined” to give “Minded” (e.g. I’m inclined to … vs I’m minded to …). Putting “Large” and “Minded” together gives “Large-Minded” which means magnanimous.

    I take the point that “Generous” is rather close to the overall answer. I also went astray here by putting in “Broad-minded” to begin with and it took a while for me to discover my mistake.

    I liked the fact that there was no ambiguity in 1 down (I’m one of those people who gets pretty irritated when there is!) and I agree with you about the use of Spooner in 18 across; not a device I normally like but this is a good one!

    I misconstrued 22 down by having “Peed” for “water departed” (when I’ve peed water has departed from my system) but I think your parsing is better.

    In 13 down I had “FR” for French followed by an anagram (“compromise” of Belgian) so that “easily broken” just referred to the answer.

    None of this detracts from a wonderful puzzle.

  5. Rick says:

    Apologies Miche – my post crossed with yours! Glad to see we agree though.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Plenty of variety and ingenuity here so it was a pretty interesting puzzle. BEE-STUNG has ahyphen which , despite the splendid surface does force the clue bit.

  7. muffin says:

    [Thanks for the link to the song, Eileen – I’d not heard it for ages. I’m reminded of a cartoon I saw a long time ago of a zoo-keeper saying “We like to keep animals in their natural environments”. Behind him was a gnu in a cage, wall-papered with crossword grids.]

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne, for a somewhat easier than usual Xword, I thought.

    I found ambiguity in 1d, only resolved by putting in EVINCE. I think the final s of SOUNDS put me off; one could read the clue as “Vulgar sounds like regretted”. Without the final s there would be no ambiguity.

    I agree with others on explanation of 5d.

    I was a bit careless in checking 21a; I thought, but didn’t check, that it was an anagram of GROUND WITH (next to) and ITS, but now I see it is just one letter out!

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    I think I meant “Regretted sounds like vulgar”; but that now seems ok. Well, it confused me at the time!

  10. Apple Granny says:

    A really good puzzle. We loved 4a, 10a, 11a, 18a, 2d, and so on…Like Muffin @1 we had “neap” without understanding it. But it has been a great week of puzzles. Thanks everybody.

  11. Rowland says:

    This was “quite good”, but still with those annoying guardianisms (note no capital!!) chucked in to decrease the value. Just a little more attention to the details and it would have been REALLY good, because there are one or two very nice clues here. On LARGE and MINDED I agree with the blogger; it’s too close to the word we actually want, and that word is not well-known in any case. The Argentines I like best, as it has been done correctly, but it also begs the question; why not be as careful on other clues?


  12. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne

    A fun puzzle. I agree with others re 5d.

    I particularly liked 4a, 26a, 6d, 12d, and 20d.

    I also had neap. I eventually read it, not very convincedly, as ocean = open sea = pen (with O sea = water departed) which is reversed around ‘a’. :) I suppose one can make sense of anything if one tries hard enough! I know it must sound ‘sour grapes’, but I feel the ‘tide’ in the surface is a tiny bit too misleading (if that is possible in a cryptic crossword). Arachne’s cleverly devious parsing elsewhere (e.g. with Athena which I liked a lot) led me to think that ‘tide’ must be the definition and I was missing something in the parsing. I do, however, see how ‘on a rising tide’ fits the surface and I would agree that my ‘parsing’ is itself something of a step too far.

  13. Aztobesed says:

    Thanks to Eileen for her breakdown of a splendid puzzle.

    I struggled over 5 too and spotted the translation of magnanimous but concluded that animus = ‘mind’ was actually rather dinky. It’s not a familiar phrase to me either and I left it with a rather unsatisfactory DD note beside it. Testimony to a formidable setter to present such a chewy idea.

    And I agree that it has been a week of excellent puzzles.

  14. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks Arachne and Eileen; I enjoyed this very much and am very pleased to be easier to please than some of our company.

  15. crypticsue says:

    Agree with everyone else – excellent week for puzzles, this one being a fine example of an Arachne as you could wish for, lovely blog from Eileen. Thanks to both ladies for their part in our Friday entertainment. Now if only it would warm up a bit….

  16. Eileen says:

    Thanks, everyone: I did see that LARGE-MINDED breaks down into ‘inclined to be magnanimous’, but, since magnanimous means the same as generous, it just doesn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid.

    Apologies for the missing hyphen in BEE-STUNG – corrected now.

    Enough of you mentioned NEAP to cause me to doubt – but I’ve checked the solution now!

    [Thanks for the joke, muffin: I guess there could have been elands and okapis in that cage, too!]

  17. Trailman says:

    I don’t always untangle Arachne, but managed it this time and without taking too long too. Much enjoyment; what a wonderful language, that can keep turning up the likes of (INGREDIENTS)*.

    Minor quibble with Rowland @11; it is the Guardian, so caps are known to be a bit of an optional extra.

  18. Rowland says:

    Hi Trailman, yes, but I’d really rather they didn’t do that. I was a bit surprised this setter, who is usually pretty fair, allowed it in any case.

  19. Colin says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Arachne.

    This is my first post so hello to everyone.

    I really enjoyed this puzzle, partly because it is the first time I’ve cracked this setter since I started solving a few months ago. I have been working my way through the Guardian back catalogue and I find Arachne’s crosswords more difficult than most.

    I don’t recall seeing anything like 13a before. The answer is clear enough but I had to come here for the parsing. Is this type of clue common?

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. There were several cases where I had the right answer without understanding it.

    I was happy with 1d because the order of words in the clue meant that ‘sounds’ applies to vulgar so it is not ambiguous. I have complained in the past about less carefully worded clues in this situation.

    I was another with NEAP :(

  21. Rowland says:

    Re 13 it is quite common, where some part of the answer-word looks like an anagram indicator. Not sure that FOREIGN, adj, is all that good a one mind you!! Agree on one dowm. It can be understood as ‘rude makes the sound of RUED’.


  22. Eileen says:

    Hello, Colin @19 – and welcome.

    Reverse anagrams like 13ac are not uncommon. They are explained on shuchi’s excellent site here with some examples from Pasquale, Orlando and Rufus Guardian puzzles.

  23. Eileen says:

    Rowland @21

    We crossed [I’ve been busy watching the tennis!]

    I’ve seen ‘foreign’ as an anagram indicator a number of times recently and can see nothing wrong with it.

  24. Rowland says:

    Yes, a good result for the Miserable One.

    Re that clue, the closest I can get to a synonym for the agan-ind is ‘unfamiliar’, so ‘unfamiliar aid’ needs to be the same as I’D A. That’s not strong enough for me, though I do pick on these things quite a bit!

    I loved your blog btw, with all the clues written into it — much easier to work with!


  25. Robi says:

    Delightful puzzle, made more difficult with trying to multi-task with the tennis [first service, Eileen ;) ]

    Thanks, Eileen; I’m afraid to say that I missed the anagram part of TENDERISING – what a spiffing clue!

    I’ve just looked in the mirror and am pleased to report that I don’t have BEE-STUNG lips! I obviously haven’t been out in a while because I had no idea what they were.

    I also fell into the trap of looking for an anagram in 21. Both ‘waste’ and ‘ground’ are used as anagrinds, I believe, so that caused further complications; GROW THIN indeed – lovely!

    Last in was AUSTERE, where I thought at the beginning [so to speak] that it would start with ‘if.’ I’ll have to improve my parsing. I was also misled by ‘father’ in 10, thinking the answer was fracture, although of course I couldn’t unravel the clue.

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Unlike everyone else (what a surprise!) the one I put in wrongly to start with was ODDS for 14 having mentally corrupted the word SOME to OF for no reason I can think of!

  27. Colin says:

    Thanks Eileen. Great link.

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    The top half seemed rather comfortable but as usual this setter did not disappoint, with lots of thorny issues in the tail.
    Like tupu I went through the same ridiculous contortions to justify ‘neap’ which I wrote in last with minimal conviction.
    I enjoyed 12d (lovely anagram), 13d (clever), 15d (cleverer), 13 ac (cleverest).
    Although easy, I was hesitant about (c)able.
    Some above are being niggardly with their congratulations: I reckon we have had TWO weeks of excellent product. Thanks to all involved and keep it up.

  29. Tom Hutton says:

    Rowland @24 – cut it out. Andy Murray’s supposed miserableness is an English newspaper invention and has no place in a post here.

    The fact that so many people put neap in without being able to parse is a slight hint that there has been a bit too much woolly vagueness
    in Guardian crosswords of late.

  30. Mitz says:

    Thanks Arachne and Eileen.

    RCW has taken the words right out of my keyboard – the clues he cites were my favourites also (and although I did plump, correctly it turns out, for DEEP it was by luck more than judgement). I also think we have been on a terrific run lately and Arachne certainly didn’t break the sequence today. Well done Hugh and all the setters!

    Rowland and Tom Hutton: neither of you seem to like the more libertarian style of most Guardian setters – fair enough, each to his or her own and all that, and Rowly especially makes no secret that his preferred style can be found in The Times – and yet you both post comments here regularly. I wonder why you both insist on criticising aspects of the Guardian crossword that are probably not going to change any time soon (as most people like them), particularly in a tone that suggests that you think these style points are mistakes, when they are clearly intentional.

    [[By the way, quite agree with you, Tom, regarding the finest tennis player this country has produced in living memory (for most at least) – just because he doesn’t pander to fragile media sensibilities he is charged with being miserable, when in reality he is a model professional, focussed, talented, brilliant and (given half a chance) funny in his own way. All power to his elbow.]]

  31. RCWhiting says:

    Ah,Tom, but what if the “woolly vagueness” was totally apparent to the perpretrator (viz @12 & 27).
    That proves the opposite.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    Agree entirely about AM’s tennis ability.
    However,it has been his misfortune to be visibly and frequently compared to a man who oozes charm from every joint and in three languages; who is adored by multitudes of women (and yet is happily married and a dad); and a fashion icon (and can wear shocking pink shoe laces without a blink).
    He (AM) doesn’t stand a chance.

  33. Mitz says:

    Ha! Perfect description of Fed!

    Always preferred Ovett to Coe myself…

  34. RCWhiting says:

    Me too…….100%

  35. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Sorry for lateness of comment – I’ve been out all day. Consequently, there isn’t much more to be said, other than to reiterate the positive comments of others. Arachne’s puzzles always make me feel happy, and this was no exception. Lots of clues were ticked.

    I agree entirely with Mitz @30 about the inappropriateness of adverse comments concerning libertarian style. Arachne also sets puzzles for the Times, so she is perfectly capable of being strait-laced when the occasion demands. But she clearly enjoys loosening those stays for the Guardian, and many of us are heartily grateful for it. I often get a lot of interest and satisfaction from Times crosswords, but they rarely give me the sheer pleasure that is often to be found in the Guardian puzzles.

  36. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne
    I too considered NEAP and DEEP at 22d, but failed to parse either

  37. Arachne says:

    Greetings from Spider Towers!

    Many thanks to Eileen for doing such a spiffing job with the blog, and to all for taking the time and trouble to post.

    As the Guardian is famously Capital-averse I don’t feel too much of a naughty merchant banker for stealing Vince’s at 9ac.

    5dn is a rubbish word, but the only one which fits (as far as I can see). It’s also, in retrospect, a weak clue. I was thinking of ‘large/generous’ in physical terms, such as clothing sizes, but even then it’s too close to the definition.

    Eileen’s parsing of 22dn is spot on and I had thought the clue was quite straightforward. The use of ‘on a rising tide’ was intended to be a bit flowery, but obviously ended up being more misleading than poetic. Kudos (as they say) to Tupu @12 for attempting to parse ‘neap’!

    Not everyone will agree, but for me cruciverbalism is essentially a ‘ludic’ pastime. Whilst I’m not going to adopt the advertising catchphrase of my music hall comedian grandfather – “Laugh – or yer money back!” – I do nonetheless hope that the puzzle raised a smile!


    Love and hugs,

    Arachne x

  38. Tom W says:

    In 18a I was held up a bit by the use of ‘lady': date could be male or female?

  39. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thank you Eileen for the blog. We couldn’t parse 1ac although when it was explained we wondered why we hadn’t sorted it out ourselves.

    We like Arachne’s puzzle and this one didn’t disappoint.

    COD was 26ac – but that maybe because it was the last one in!

    Thanks Arachne!

  40. Simon S says:

    Tom @ 38

    Given that Spooner was male, it seems fair to me that the friend is a lady and Spooner is doing double duty in the clue.

    Simon ô¿ô

  41. Mitz says:

    Thanks so much for dropping by Arachne – always a pleasure to hear from the setter.

    “Playful in an aimless way” (which of course I knew without having to look it up, ahem): please rest assured: your puzzles are always ludic, in the best possible way, but never ludicrous.

  42. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Another lovely crossword from the “Spider Woman”.

    Favourite clue was 12d.

    I agree with everything’s that’s already been said. (Except of course for those made by the several Victor Meldrews who seem to have manifested today.

    Did nobody else parse 21a as “GROWTH IN DUST” (waste ground) next to RY (railway). It worked for me :-)

  43. michelle says:

    Thanks to Eileen for your blog and Arachne for the puzzle.

    I enjoyed this puzzle and found the bottom half easier than the top half, and for some reason I fond the NE section the most difficult. Last in were 10a, 24a and 22d.

    My favouites were 21a, 12d and 2d when I had found out what a trichologist is (new word for me).

    I also enjoyed learning another new word – FRANGIBLE

  44. john McCartney says:

    Ah, Arachne, I knew you and I had an unusual empathy! My Grandfather was on the halls too. He played the banjo in a black-face minstrel band, though. (Lovely puzzle BTW – thanks! )

  45. Tom Willis says:

    Simon @40

    Thanks for clarifying – I guess I’d never really thought about who Spooner might be / the origins of that wordplay. Thanks.

  46. mikewglospur says:

    I’m afraid I remain completely baffled by 13A. I got the answer OK, but was looking forward to the blog to lighten my darkness. I get the “I’d a” > “Aid”; and I get the overall definition “way to help poorer countries” = “foreign aid”. Pretty straightforward. But where does the word “foreign” come from? There doesn’t seem to me to be anything in the cryptic dimension of the clue to justify the inclusion of that word in the answer. It doesn’t feel to me as if it follows the rules! I’ve been cruciverbalising in the Guardian for some years now (admittedly not every day – I usually don’t complete a puzzle until at least the next day), but don’t ever recall a clue like this. Honest.

    And I’m not Victor Meldrewing about it, by the way. Just mystified. Can anyone help – preferably in simple language? I’m hoping not everyone has departed this thread by now.

  47. Eileen says:

    Hi mikewglospur

    The blogger never deserts the thread!

    I’m sorry this has been causing you such problems. It’s an example of a reverse anagram and ‘foreign’ is the anagram indicator [as in 20ac in today’s Indy Raich puzzle].

    Perhaps you missed my link @Comment 22: I really don’t think I can explain reverse anagrams better than shuchi does!

  48. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Arachne and Eileen

    Agree that the solving part of this puzzle was a bit easier than normal – the parsing certainly wasn’t ! Struggled to justify NEAP for ages and couldn’t – challenged the answer and finally saw DEEP instead (tide can equal a stream or flow of water – so at a stretch may also equate to pee!)

    Needed the blog to see correct parsing of 1a, 21a, 5d and 20d.

    Last in was PIVOTS which I thought was very clever.

  49. mikewglospur says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thanks for coming back to me @ 47, and for the trouble you’ve taken to provide an explanation………………

    Ah! Now I see! Unlike all the other kinds of clue where you have to understand the clue in order to get the answer, for reverse anagrams you have to get the answer, then spot the anagram indicator in it, before you can understand the clue. All very Lewis Carroll to me, I’m afraid!

    But hey! I’m shrugging my shoulders right now. I get little enough sleep as it is, without losing any more by worrying over this!

    ps I enjoyed the challenge of the puzzle apart from this!

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