Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,872 – Arachne

Posted by Andrew on February 15th, 2013


Well, you can’t go wrong with Arachne, as shown by her Quiptic on Monday this week, and now this cryptic. I got a few answers very quickly, and thought it was going to follow the generally easier-than-usual style of the week, but found myself getting more entangled in the sticky threads of the web as i went along, with the top left and bottom right corners giving me some trouble to finish off (these corners are a bit isolated in this grid, which doesn’t help). Altogether a good challenge, and very enjoyable – thanks Arachne.

1. MATELOTS The sailors who have lots of (sexual) relations will MATE LOTS
9. FOLLOWER F[orswear] O[pen-mindedness] L[ike] + LOWER (one of the herd – a cow that lows)
10. PASS GO Spoonerism of “gas Poe” – needing a non-RP pronunciation of PASS. You get £200 when you pass “Go” in Monopoly
12. OPENS Alternate letters of cOuPlE iN uSa. Definition “flowers”
13. FURTHERED FUR (hide=skin – perhaps a bit loose) + THE RED
14. MACHINATIONS MACH 1 (speed of sound) + NATIONS
18. FOUNTAINHEAD OF< + AUNT* + IN (fashionable) + HEAD (top), definition "source". A cleverly deceptive clue that led me down a couple of blind alleys
23. SPOIL P (president) “in SOIL”, i.e. interred
24. SPIRIT PRIVATISED* less the letters of DAVE. The surface reference is to David Cameron and possible dodgy dealings in the energy sector
25. BIGAMIST Cryptic definition – a woman with more than one husband would be “over-groomed”
27. THIEVERY 80% of “everything” is EVERYTHI, and THIEVERY is an anagram of that
1. MY FOOT MY (Arachne’s) FOOT (leg-end – and old chestnut that took me ages to spot)
2. TOLLED Homophone of “told”
3. LOOK SMART LOOKS (charms – someone who “has looks” is attractive, so has charms) + MAR + T
4. TWELFTH NIGHT “What you will” is the subtitle of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ and Twelfth Night is on 6 January
6. AWASH Hidden in fukushimA WAS Hazardously, and the nuclear power plant at Fukushima was dangerously damaged by the Japanese tsumani of March 2011.
7. DISPROOF [feyerbran]D IS PRO OF, and perhaps &lit as well, as the philosopher Paul Feyerabend was famous (well, to some) for “his purportedly anarchistic view of science and his rejection of the existence of universal methodological rules.”
11. FRENCH POLISH Double definition
15. TRANSLATE A kind of double definition in one – FARSI CAN is an anagram of FRANCAIS, and, literally, Farsi can be translated to French
16. OFF-PISTE OFF (away) + (I STEP)*. An off-piste slope is one that has not been specially prepared for ski-ing, and “off-piste” can also describe the skiing itself, so two definitions in one here.
17. GUNSMITH GUNS SNUG (cosy) reversed (“subverted”) + MITH (homophone of “myth” =story). Browning is an arms manufacturer, probably best known for its rifles.
19. IODINE 10 + DINE, with just “I”, the chemical symbol for Iodine, as the definition. This was my last in, with a mixture of amusement and annoyance at missing this trick, which I should have remembered from the Paul puzzle I blogged in December.
20. FLATLY LAT (latissimus dorsi, one of the msucles of the back) in FLY (= move fast = zip) Or (thanks Eileen) fly=zip on a pair of trousers
22. AXIOM A XI (eleven or side – e.g. in cricket) + O + M, definition “principle”

54 Responses to “Guardian 25,872 – Arachne”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I had exactly the same solving experience as you. Great puzzle, thank you Arachne.

    I agree that FUR for “skin” is a tiny bit loose but a caveman might not agree – I guess that’s why Arachne put a question mark.

    You’ve a typo in GUNSMITH where you meant to start with SNUG, I think.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Andrew [except that I disagree with your interpretaion of FLY 😉 ].

    Lovely stuff, as usual from Arachne. Counting up my ticks [and I don’t award them lightly] I found that almost half the clues had got one, for surface, wordplay or construction – or all three – so I’m certainly not going to list them all.

    It’s sad news that Arachne has published her last Quiptic puzzle, as she was the absolute mistress of that genre. However, she has performed so successfully in that teaching role that I’m sure there are now many more solvers who feel up to tackling her more spidery cryptics. They’re in for a lot of fun.

    Many thanks, as ever, Arachne, for a highly entertaining and enjoyable puzzle – and all the very best for next Saturday! :-)

  3. michelle says:

    An enjoyable puzzle from Arachne. I thought it was an elegant and interesting challenge. And I was extremely pleased that I could parse all of the answers, a rare occurrence for me.

    However, after reading this blog I now know that I didn’t correctly parse 1d (‘leg end’) & 19d (definition = ‘I’).

    New for me was DUP = ‘Democratic Unionist Party’ in 5a, thanks to google.

    I enjoyed so many of the clues today. My favourites were 1a, 3,18, 22, 25 and 15.

    The two last clues that I parsed were 17 & 20 and both made me laugh when the penny finally dropped.

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks to Neil to pointing out the SNUG/GUNS typo, and to Eileen for reminding me of the other meaning of “fly”;)

    I hadn’t noticed Arachne’s retirement from Quiptics (announced, I now see, in a comment on this week’s blog). A shame, as she was so good at them, but perhaps there will be more cryptics from her to compensate?

  5. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks Arachne and Andrew for a most enjoyable end to the week.

  6. Robi says:

    One of my favourite compilers who did not disappoint.

    Thanks Andrew; no obscurities here, although I didn’t know Hume.

    My experience was very similar to Eileen’s @2 – I kept ticking clues! I’m not sure I’ve seen the ‘chestnut’ leg-end before, so thanks Andrew for pointing it out. MATELOTS had me laughing out loud (lots of love, Dave. 😉 ) BIGAMIST was similar and I also loved MACHINATIONS. Too many others to list that I enjoyed a lot.

  7. Robi says:

    P.S. Not sure of the query over hide=fur; for the latter, Chambers gives: ‘the skin with this hair attached,’ which surely is the same as hide?

  8. Andrew says:

    Robi – I was thinking of the fur as consisting of the hairs that are attached to the skin or hide, but I agree that’s a rather picky distinction, especially in view of the definition you quote (which I hadn’t checked).

  9. muffin says:

    Thanks to Arachne and Andrew
    I found this the most enjoyable puzzle for ages. As with others I could mention lots of great clues, but I must make special mention of FRENCH POLISH.
    I haven’t played Monopoly for ages – is it still unaffected by inflation? Do you still only get £200 for passing Go?

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Arachne

    A very good puzzle. I particularly liked 25a and 1d but pretty nifty cluing all round.

    24a was instructive. It posedthe same sort of problem as yesterday’s ‘rapture’ (no first letter etc) but it was much more directly and wittily clued I think.

    I first thought 21 was pastichio (in any case should be pasticcio) and 27 might be thieving.

    24a was next to last in. It was only then I could be sure that 15d was not ‘transpose’.

  11. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    A real treat with lots of belters.

    I hadn’t noticed (gasp! oh!) that the homophone in 10a doesn’t work in RP. Makes a nice change. 😉

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu @10

    How funny – I’m just in the middle of making pastitsio [as my recipe book has it] for my grandchildren coming this evening – and hoping my minced lamb really is!

  13. coltrane says:

    Just want to add my thanks to Setter and Blogger!! Terrific crossword by the Spiderwoman. I agree with those who found so many ticks they could not list them all, but I thought French Polish was particularly brilliant. Also 10a; unlike some, I love Spoonerisms and this was a beauty. I’m sure RWC will approve and I love it when he is happy!!

  14. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. I did not spot leg-end=foot so I was scratching my head there :(

    On 15d I had seen that (farsi can)* is francais so I spent some time trying to make a verb from anagram but had to give up.

    13a made me groan when I finally saw FUR=hide!

  15. John Appleton says:

    A very good puzzle, which I failed to complete, not knowing MATELOTS, and foolishly putting in THIEVING for 27, without properly checking the wordplay. 15d – excellent.

  16. muffin says:

    Miche @11
    Don’t southerners pronounce GASS as GAAS?

  17. Andrew says:

    > Don’t southerners pronounce GASS as GAAS?

    No, that would be a ghastly thing to do.

  18. muffin says:

    Andrew @17
    I did think of spelling GAAS as GHAS! You are probably right, though.

  19. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Arachne and Andrew.

    A delightful end to the week with lots of smiles. On the whole, I don’t like Spoonerisms but this was a gas!! (sorry!).

    MACHINATIONS was a super clue.

    PISTACHIO held me up as I am more accustomed to double C but my Italian dictionary lists both spellings.

    More of the same, please, Arachne!

    Giovanna x

  20. Gasman jack says:

    Sometime in 1970s the Guardian had an on-going correspondence, which started (to paraphrase) “Did you realise that if Harold Wilson appointed Michael Foot as Minister of Defence you could run the headline FOOT HEADS ARMS BODY.” This mushroomed with even longer body parts headlines following for a period of about two weeks. It eventually terminated with – “This correspondence must now cease; Mr Foot is in danger of becoming a leg-end in his own time.”

  21. Colin says:

    Thanks to Arachne and Andrew.

    What a great puzzle! Thoroughly enjoyable with some wonderful constructions and no small amount of humour. It was just difficult enough to make it challenging but without any obscure references.

    I see there are some negative comments on the Guardian website. There is no pleasing some people.

  22. Arachne says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, for blogging so brilliantly. Thanks, too, to everyone for commenting. Once again I’d like to say thanks to *all* the bloggers here: I have no doubt that Fifteensquared is doing more to secure the future of our shared pastime than anyone or anything else.

    On the subject of Monopoly, the prize for winning the crossword competition is still, I think, £100 (hah!) which in today’s terms must be the equivalent of Moldova’s GDP.

    If anyone would like to get a flavour of Paul on Tour, here’s a link to a short film, by the talented Jon Hall, of last Friday’s ‘Create a Crossword’ event in Liverpool. A great time was had by all, and post-event analysis continued in various locations…

    Love & hugs,
    Arachne x

  23. muffin says:

    How nice of you to drop in, Arachne – thanks again for a really entertaining effort.

  24. Frank says:

    Got through this quite quickly until 19 down. Had to get help (from this blog!). Loved 25 across. Nice variety in this crossword.

  25. Trailman says:

    Best of the week by far. A great mix of difficulty levels and loads of wit. Favourites everywhere but special mention to IODINE and OFF-PISTE. All this and kind words from Spiderwoman herself. How good can things get!

  26. crypticsue says:

    A lovely entangling end to the week, thank you Arachne. Lots to smile at which is what I like in a puzzle – I had probably as many dots as Eileen had ticks. Plus a bruise where I kicked myself for forgetting my chemical symbols again – d’oh to 19d.

    Sorry to hear that we won’t get any more Quiptics from you but hope this means more cryptics. Best wishes for the forthcoming nuptials from me too.

    Oh, early forgot, thanks to Andrew too.

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I was expecting this compiler to compensate for what has been a mostly disappointing week.
    After about 75% going in rather quickly (including the Spoonerism, coltrane) i was getting worried, but there were some nicely misleading clues in the NW and SE so I finished with a smile.
    Last in and favourite was ‘Iodine’.
    ‘Bigamist’ was clever but I wrote it in too easily.
    ‘Follower’ was intriguing since ‘one of the herd’ could be a definition.

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Surely the fur trade doesn’t sell just hair.

  29. muffin says:

    RCW @ 27
    I read FOLLOWER as “triple” – but a complicated one, with one definition, and an &lit wordplay.

  30. Kathryn's Dad says:

    All of the above really: I too got started quickly but struggled to finish. SPOIL and THIEVERY were particularly tricky.

    Thanks to S&B. (And btw, I think RP is a bit of an outdated concept myself. All the folk down south speak Estuary English nowadays, innit?)

  31. Andrew says:

    It occurs to me that if 10a had mentioned 200 dollars then the homophone would be perfect – and suitable for the American writer too.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    When you say ‘down south’ I assume you mean ‘down south-east’.
    Some of us take RP to mean Rs Pronounced. As they should be, always and with emphasis!

  33. Robi says:

    Homophones are always great fun here. 10 seemed absolutely fine to me although I pronounce ‘pass’ as ‘pars(e)’ [not my fault really, I was just brought up that way!] However, I do pronounce ‘lass’ as, well….. ‘lass’ What a strange language!

  34. Mitz says:

    Thanks Arachne and Andrew.

    Glad to see pretty much everyone is feeling the love today. Deservedly so – a terrific puzzle full of variety and fun. My last in was IODINE as well, and it immediately became my favourite, although it had some very stiff competition.

  35. SeanDimly says:

    Great crossword – thanks, Arachne.
    If I had to choose a top 3, I think I’d choose MY FOOT, BIGAMIST and IODINE.
    Though LOOK SMART made me laugh too.
    Thanks to Andrew as well.

  36. coltrane says:

    RCW @32 surely that would be Spanish!!

  37. Arachne says:

    Andrew @31 – you are a genius. Why didn’t I think of that!

  38. yogdawas says:

    Thanks Andrew and much respect to Arachne.

    Couldn’t resist the cruci-groupie thrill of posting immediately after you. You are another leg-end. All eight of them!

    Best, Yogdaws

  39. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Since nobody mentioned or noticed it, the award for Clue of the Day must surely go to the one at the end: “Principle aside, love to get married!”. :)
    And, dear Arachne, hope 25ac doesn’t apply to you …..

    As others said, great crossword.
    Despite the dodgy homophone and fur/skin.
    While 27ac (THIEVERY) is clearly an anagram, I would like to see ‘movable’ as an indicator to turn EVERY/THI into THI/EVERY.
    Clue of the Day #2: IODINE (19d), even if Paul did a thing like that before – if I remember well his puzzle had abbreviations of elements as a mini-theme.

    Thanks, Andrew.

  40. coltrane says:

    I really do not understand the problem with either “the dodgy homophone” or hide/skin. OK, they are not immediately obvious but if they were, we would have a re-run of the complaints of Monday to Wednesday. It seems to me the setter is in a no-win situation. If s/he fashions-in no degree of deception s/he is accused of setting a quiptic. On the other hand if s/he makes us think a bit, we cry foul. In William Blake’s poem we have the couplet, “what immortal hand and or eye/ could frame thy fearful symmetry”. In order to get that to rhyme we need to be flexible with our pronunciation. Gas/pass seems a doddle!! As far as hide is concerned, fur is the fourth synonym after skin, pelt and fell in the Chambers Thesaurus: simples.

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Coltrane, please don’t make things overcomplicated.
    For me and my (English) Partner-In-Crosswords gas/pass did not work. Andrew @31 gave an alternative which was supported by the much admired setter herself @37.
    “Fur” is indeed “hide”, but with hair on it (which is quite essential).
    Actually, these things were not really important to me/us.
    If you want to blow them up, even with the help of William Blake, please feel free to do so.

    The first line of my post @39, that’s what it is all about.
    And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please go to the blog of last Mondaý’s Quiptic.

  42. Sylvia says:

    1 first thought 26a (unearth old philosopher)led to Gideon – ‘dig’ up + eon till crossing letters made me think again!

  43. Thomas99 says:

    Re 13a “Fur” isn’t “hide” but “a fur” certainly is “a hide” – consider a fox hide; it means the skin with the hairs still attached (on the other hand “fox hide” without the article would presumably be a kind of leather). Noticing these distinctions is part of what makes a carefully written puzzle like this so enjoyable.

    Re the homophone, it’s probably worth saying again that the preferred pronunciation of the solver is not relevant. But I’m glad to see that people seem to have mostly given up complaining about clues being in the wrong accent! About time too.

  44. Paul B says:

    Coltrane, you noddy, that’s an eye-rhyme.

    Re homophones, if there’s going to be a discrepancy from one area of the country to another, when you are setting for a national, use the appropriate indication.

  45. Tom says:

    Inspired! Ridiculous number of brilliant/entertaining clues. Thank you, Arachne.

  46. rhotician says:

    Thomas99 @43.
    “The preferred pronunciation of the solver is not relevant”. “People…have mostly given up complaining about clues being in the wrong accent”. Andrew, Sil & Partner, solvers all, are complaining. I agree that their preference for RP is not relevant.

    PaulB @44.
    The discrepancy in this case is between a small area of England and the rest of the English-speaking world. Even within the Home Counties class is a factor in pronunciation. But if we must pay deference to RP no doubt you can suggest an “appropriate indication” for the clue in question.

  47. Paul B says:

    Well you know me, Betty: I can be very fussy. But it’s not my puzzle.

    I try to be aware as much as I can, which I’m sure is not always enough, to try and remember that most people do not talk like someone brought up in a Hampshire village. Indeed people in the next village, as I recall, spoke in some unintellgible dialect, which is part of the reason we used to bake them alive in clay every Easter.

  48. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Rhotician, for what it’s worth, apparently I am one of the prominent criticasters of the homophone used in the Spoonerism. Actually, as a non-Brit I am rather insensitive to homophones. That said, the pronunciation of English words is certainly influenced by what I hear at the BBC, at my workplace and when talking to my PinC. In all these situations ‘pass’ doesn’t rhyme with ‘gas’. As it is used here, it’s sounds American to me.
    But as I said, I am not an expert in this area, and just because my PinC wasn’t convinced either, I called this homophone “dodgy”.

    Arachne is going to be married next Saturday, so the final clue of this crossword was just stunning (including exclamation mark), I thought.
    It was also a very good clue from a cryptic POV (OK, with a Guardianesque liberty).
    I was just surprised that nobody saw the relevance of it.

  49. rhotician says:

    Many years ago I lived, briefly, in a Hampshire village. Of the people I met, in the village and beyond, those brought up in Hampshire were a small minority and some of them had somehow lost their accent. It was a rare pleasure to hear an ‘ampshire speaker. Quite sad that. Happily I have yet to meet anyone who speaks RP.
    I wonder have you kept your accent.

  50. Paul B says:

    Betty, thanks. Which Ampshire village did you live in?

  51. rhotician says:

    Minstead, in the New Forest.

  52. Paul B says:

    Pints with the hircocervus then? But no gossip, presumably.

  53. rhotician says:

    While I was there the scandals were public knowledge and I doubt that I gave rise to gossip in The Trusty.

  54. Paul B says:

    Minced head though Betty: phwoar.

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