Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,883 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on February 28th, 2013


A real tour de force from Araucaria – one of those puzzles that make your heart sink, when you see so many clues depending on others, especially 10 and 14.

At first sight, this appeared pretty impenetrable but, fortunately, ‘of many colours’  fairly quickly gave me the answer to 10ac [which, strangely, appeared, in the same context, in the Paul puzzle that I blogged last Friday], which then opened up 11ac and 3dn, and, subsequently 25ac. Then it steadily unfolded,  with many ‘ahas’ and smiles along the way, foremost among them being the brilliant interlinking of  22ac / 25 and 22 /23 / 24 with 10.

Araucaria at his very best, I think. I loved every minute of it – but realise, of course, that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. 😉


7 Owner of shop in Suffolk to be in place of films
BE in DENHAM [place of films]
double definition: the retail store and the village in Suffolk which, fortunately, I have passed many times on the way to friends’.

9 Unpleasant author ridiculing piece
hidden in autHOR RIDiculing

10 25’s namesake of many colours
Iris is the goddess of the rainbow – reference to writer Iris Murdoch, namesake of RUPERT, 25ac

11 10’s work (by 3) of George who wrote Kafka’s
SAND [George who wrote]+ [‘the] CASTLE’ [novel by Franz Kafka]
Araucaria has omitted the articles in the titles of all the featured novels except 3dn: the ‘work by the sea’ [3dn] is ‘The Sandcastle’ , a novel by Iris Murdoch

12 Variations in code who could possibly imagine? Not I
anagram of IMAG[i]NE minus i: double definition,  reference to Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’

14 25 as clergyman?
double / cryptic definition: slang for a clergyman and  Rupert Murdoch is head of Sky

15 Araucaria in Queer Street
anagram [queer] of STREET

17 Virgin saint eaten by calf
ST [saint] in [eaten by] VEAL [calf]

20 Flag for 24 across, maybe, also in commendation end to end
AND [also] in STAR [commendation] + D [‘end to end’] – a standard is a type of rose [24ac]

22 25, singular mate of 25 (we hear)
poet Rupert Brooke, which sounds [we hear] like Brook, singular of [Rebekah] BROOK[s] [Rupert Murdoch’s ‘mate’ ]

23,24 10’s work (quoted from 22 across) causing failure of coins
anagram [causing] of FAILURE OF COINS
‘An Unofficial Rose’ is another novel by Iris Murdoch, which takes its title from Rupert Brooke’s poem, ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester':
‘Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose;’
and you would be very surprised if I didn’t seize this opportunity to mention one of Araucaria’s most famous clues: ‘Poetical scene has surprisingly chaste Lord Archer vegetating (3, 3, 8, 12)’ 😉

25 Rugby forward, namesake of 10 and half of 1
RU [Rugby Union] + PERT [forward]
reference to Rupert BEAR [half of 1]

26 Oddly notioned period around 12
anagram [oddly] of  NOTIONED


1 Positional sense requiring lubrication?
double definition

2 Points for 25 when international
all the points of the compass, referring to Rupert Murdoch’s News International

3 Demonstrative article repeated by 10
THESE [demonstrative] + A [article] – reference to Murdoch’s novel, ‘The Sea, the Sea’

4 Leaders from Bletchley, about 500, found location for shipbuilding
anagram about] of [bl]ETCHLEY round [about] D [500]

5 Food from 6 — transfer it to Corpus
anagram [transfer] of IT TO CORPUS  [Italian food]

6 Bring money from Tehran to appropriate part of Venice
RIAL [money from Tehran] + TO  – appropriate because the Rialto is the financial area of Venice, where Shylock plied his trade

8 Finding damp round pole, I believe all’s one
MOIST [damp] round N [pole]

13 Secure release of a prisoner in special offer
double definition, referring to ‘Buy one, get one free’, known as BOGOF

16 Reduce size of electronic friend without intelligence
E.MATE [electronic friend] round [without] CIA [intelligence]

18 Left film bird in keeping of assistant by the water
L [left] + KES [film bird]  in AIDE [assistant]

19 Mole and air freshener?
anagram [freshener] of AND AIR for the diarist created by our local heroine, Sue Townsend

21 Speaker out of orbit on guest night
hidden in orbiT ON GUEst

22 Author of work by 10 with little piece of 10 and 25
‘[the] BELL’ – another Murdoch novel + OC [a little piece of murdOCh] – outrageously Araucarian! – for another poet, Hilaire Belloc

24 Pity her loss of initial facts
[t]RUTH [facts] minus initial
double definition

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,883 / Araucaria”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Araucaria showing us he’s not slowing down one little bit!

    The only clue I wasn’t too keen on was TONGUE because of the superfluous “night” – even though I just grinned at the OC in BELLOC! As you say, so typically A.

  2. Daniel says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thanks for your comprehensive blog. I agree tough but good fun.

    Re 22d

    What does the second reference to 10 mean?

    Author of work by 10 with (little piece of 10) and 25

    Author is definition- work by 10 is Bell and piece of 25 is OC.

    I’m sure I’m just being a bit dim!

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Daniel

    As you say, “Author is definition- work by 10 is Bell and piece of 25 is OC.”

    I can’t add anything to that!

  4. Daniel says:


    Of course OC is part of both Iris MurdOCh and Rupert MurdOCh (10 & 25)

  5. John Appleton says:

    Struggled on this, some the literary references not being within my sphere of knowledge. As such, while all but BELLOC could be entered in the bottom half, the top resembled Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Finished this without aids but with a fair amount of mystification,which you have now cleared up: I missed the ‘mate’ ref in 22a and the subtleties in the BELLOC clue. 7a was last in: the shop in Suffolk another mystery. But as always with Araucaria, the struggle is pure delight: the best.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I don’t normally try an Araucaria, but having managed Anax in the Indy earlier I thought I’d have a go. I did finally finish it, but it reminded me why I don’t normally try an Araucaria. Too many interlinked clues for my taste, some outrageous stuff that no-one else would get away with, and frankly, not much humour.

    If that’s sacrilege, then so be it. I know he has legions of fans, rightly so, but I don’t think I’m ever going to join the club. But, chacun à son goût, as they say …

  8. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Great to see the doyen back to his original form – I’ve found many of his recent puzzles uncharacteristically straightforward. Not this one, which was rather impenetrable at first. It took me a long time to get the theme, not spotting IRIS immediately (I was fixated on COAT ‘of many colours’). Bizarrely, it was UNOFFICIAL ROSE which led me in. Clever to link RUPERT BROOKE with the two Murdochs and the egregious Rebekah, without having ‘Murdoch’ itself in the crossword.

    Favourites were 11a, for its typically Araucarian tortuousness, and 19d, which took me ages staring at the crossing letters to recognise as an anagram.

  9. Gervase says:

    K’s D @7: For those of us who are fans, it is Araucaria’s inventiveness and audacity that amuse and delight. His best examples always make me smile; there are more sorts of humour than Paulian ribaldry (much as I enjoy that also). But de gustibus non est disputandum, as you say.

  10. riccardo says:

    I love the ambiguity of “mate” in 22a… or am I too cynical?

  11. george says:

    I was very slow to get started with 13d my first in possibly due to always looking out for such offers.

    I am afraid I had to Wiki Iris Murdoch’s work as if I’ve read any I couldn’t remember titles.

    Nicknames for moles, the chemical kind and the double-agent sprang to mind so I had a good chuckle when I realised it was ADRIAN. (You say local heroine regarding Sue Townsend Eileen – do you live in Leicester?)

    I did eventually solve everything, but could not parse some e.g DEBENHAM and BELLOC so thanks Eileen. Time for a cup of coffee after all that I think.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi george

    [Yes, I do. ;-)]

  13. Ian Payn says:

    Quite difficult, I thought, but once the penny dropped it all cascaded into place. Araucaria has already produced an Iris Murdoch-themed crossword, but it was many years ago, so he’s hardly open to accusations of egregious repetition. Perhaps it’s even timely – since the flurry of interest when she developed Alzheimer’s and then died (fuelled by umpteen books about her by her husband and a film) I think her stock has slumped somewhat Does she still sell?

  14. michelle says:

    As with Paul’s puzzle earlier this week, I solved this with copious use of the “check” button plus Google plus God knows what other aids!

    I needed Google to find out what was “Bletchley” but luckily it helped me solve ENIGMA (as I am sure you are all aware, “During the Second World War, Bletchley Park was the site of the United Kingdom’s main decryption establishment, the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), where ciphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted, most importantly the ciphers generated by the German ENIGMA and Lorenz machines.”

    Google helped me to solve 4d THE CLYDE as well. (Of course, coming from OZ I had never heard of the Clyde River shipyards).

    Of the clues I could actually solve and parse on my own (or so I thought), the ones I liked best were GET ONE FREE, RIALTO, PROSCIUTTO, EMACIATE, VESTAL, RUPERT, ADRIAN, BROOKE.

    I guess that I would describe this experience as “interesting” rather than “enjoyable”.

    Thanks for your brilliant blog, Eileen.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. At first glance, I too thought I would never get into this but I eventually got going. RUPERT was my way in, but it took some time before I got IRIS. Lots to enjoy, for me at least. I couldn’t parse every clue and sloppily put BELLOW instead of BELLOC!

  16. Eileen says:

    Thanks, michelle @14: I forgot to mention the unobtrusive ENIGMA / Bletchley link – there were so many to keep track of!

    [It’s great to see you coming on by such leaps and bounds in such a few weeks. I hope you’ll enjoy Araucaria more as you get used to him. {See Gervase @9}]

  17. george says:

    [ Hi Eileen,

    I asked if you were from Leicester as my family was; I have none there now. I’m ex-Wyggeston Girls’ – now I believe a College. My parents moved while I was at University and I have only been back a few times since; most recently I was there for a weekend last year when we scattered my Dad’s ashes in his father’s grave in Welford Road Cemetery. (It was my Dad that got me interested in crosswords and introduced me to Araucaria). I visited the Museum on New Walk and found it much changed. I worked behind the scenes in the Natural History section one summer and got to feed all the animals in the Aquarium in the basement when the lad who normally did it was on holiday. One of my most memorable experiences is walking out on the planks above an enormous tank and dropping the dead fish (sardines from the fish market I think) when told the huge old pike was looking in the correct direction to see the movement and snap them up. Happy memories!]

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi again, george

    [I shouldn’t be doing this, really, but I taught at Wyggy Girls’ from 1974! – and was there as it morphed into a VI form College – and left in 1998. I’m rushing out now until teatime but if you want to continue this, we’d better do it in General Discussion. ;-)]

  19. Trailman says:

    Wonderful stuff, full of little jinks and allusions that you’ve blogged so well, Eileen.

    A little quibble for me with VESTAL; not strictly a virgin, but a type thereof.

    With the surface of 24d, I read an allusion to the dementia which so ravaged Iris Murdoch’s final years; if so, a typically compassionate sleight of hand from the Master.

  20. PeterM says:

    I got Iris almost straightaway, but it took a while to think of Rupert (which I don’t like to do). At 22dn. put in BELLOW without parsing clue successfully.

  21. Thomas99 says:

    Re 17a/Trailman @19

    Vestal […] n one of the Roman patrician virgins consecrated to Vesta; a woman dedicated to celibacy; a nun; a virgin; a woman of spotless chastity

    (It is of course also an adjective.)

  22. michelle says:


    I only mentioned it because ENIGMA was my way into this puzzle as I could then solve GET ONE FREE, SETTER, STANDARD, RUPERT etc.

    I have always enjoyed Araucaria’s puzzles – it’s just that this one required more aids and googling than usual. I also prefer Araucaria’s Prize puzzles. (It is probably Paul that will take more getting used to as far as I am concerned).

  23. Rowland says:

    Perhaps you taught George, Eileen!!

    Lovely to see the Boss back on form, great puzzle.

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I failed on 7a because the only ‘place of films’ I could think of was Elstree – having discarded Hollywood.

    It took me quite a while to sort out 5d: I was trying to make an anagram of RIALTO :(

    When I first looked at the puzzle and saw all those cross-references I thought I would never make any progress but proceded slowly until Unofficial Rose gave me IRIS etc.

  25. Robi says:

    Masterly effort although my only way in was to solve most of the non-themed clues first and then use the crossers and Mrs Google to sort things out.

    Thanks Eileen for your superb blog; I parsed 13 slightly differently – as GET FREE for ‘secure release’ and ONE being ‘a prisoner.’ Both work, I think. To be slightly picky, I think it would have been better to put ‘old’ before ‘place of films’ in 7 as the place closed in 1952! I was thinking first of Elstree and Hollywood.

    For BELLOC, I got the bell and, I thought, the ‘O’ was from 10, but then ran out of explanations for ‘C’ meaning 25. :( I suppose ‘little piece’ is fair enough, although I think many other setters would not get away with it. [Maybe could have had 10 and 100]. I was about to be ‘grumpy from Epsom’ and complain that in 25 Rupert Moon [courtesy of Google] was not a very familiar rugby forward – oh dear!

    Thanks Michelle @14 for your comment on Bletchley Park – it’s well worth a visit, although for you that might take a small amount of travelling time. 😉

    I particularly liked THE CLYDE, once I had been disabused from thinking that ‘Leaders from Bletchley about 500′ meant ‘bad!’

  26. Robi says:

    chas @24; we crossed – great minds!

  27. Susan says:

    9a. ‘Horrid’. I thought this might also refer to the Horrid Henry children’s books by Francesca Simon

  28. Derek Lazenby says:

    Not a wonderful crossword for me. That isn’t actually Mr A’s fault, it goes back to more youthful times when I crossed swords with what can only be described as a bunch of literary snobs of the vindictive persuasion. All it persuaded me to do was to not only avoid them but to religiously avoid the authors that they liked in case I tainted myself by association with their preferences.

    Had to laugh at one of them though. I had just told her some minor part of my philosophy of life. She then kept on asking me what were my sources. No matter how many times I explained that I had worked it out from scratch, she kept insisting I must have sources as “how can I comment if I don’t know your sources?”. The poor girl seemed to be totally unable to grasp the idea that it is not only famous people who have original ideas, and absolutely no concept of just analysing what I had said on it’s owm merits (or lack thereof!). Pathetic really.

  29. Kriscros says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the excellent blog and to Araucaria for another delightful tour de force!

  30. Trailman says:

    Thanks Thomas99 @21, I should have checked before opening mouth.

  31. muffin says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria
    I didn’t appreciate much of the cleverness of this before coming here, as I haven’t read any Iris Murdoch. As a partial consequence I entered BROOKS instead of BROOKE for 22ac.
    It didn’t take all that long to get answers for everything, but a lot I didn’t understand, so I also resorted to more frequent use of the “Check” button than usual.

  32. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I found this reasonably straightforward (35′ or so), so must have been on the right wavelength today.

    I didn’t know most of the Iris novels (but which I got from the clues, only using Google to confirm), except for The Bell in which my sister-in-law starred. I too put Bellow at first (a novelist), but then saw the construct and put BELLOC (though, was he renown as a novelist?)

    For ENIGMA I though in addition to what has been said the whole thing was approaching a kind of &lit, too.

    I had RUPERT quite early, and thought 10 ac might be BEAR, then COAT. It was only when I solved UNOFFICIAL ROSE that the rest followed quite easily.

  33. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Araucaria, enjoyed this

  34. Mitz says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Eileen.

    Got IRIS and RUPERT straight away and so was lulled into a very false sense of security. Even so, it was only DEBENHAM and the crossing SKY PILOT and THE CLYDE that really prolonged the agony, as the rest fell in pretty steadily (including BELLOC which I failed to parse but decided it had to be right anyway). Managed to spell PROSCIUTTO correctly this time, which helped.

    Loads of fun along the way and plenty of humour. And I increasingly disagree with those that say words to the effect of “only A could get away with this” – in recent times we have seen equally outrageous devices from Tramp, Picaroon, Philistine, Boatman, Paul, Bonxie, Crucible, Qaos etc. And long may it continue – the day it can be said definitively that every possible crossword trick has been seen and done with t-shirts distributed will be a very sad day indeed.

  35. george says:

    No chance Rowland @23. I had already left school before Eileen started teaching there!

    I will leave a message for you on General Discussion Eileen.

  36. Apple Granny says:

    We have been playing catch up since Paul’s retro sweeets crossword the other day, which took us forever, and meant we were a day behind. But we are now up to date, and this was a delight. Definitely within our comfort zone, but took a bit of time to get Belloc and Brooke – our last two in.

  37. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria – I have missed you this week. Glad you got the blog, Eileen.

    ENIGMA immediately raised thoughts of Bletchley Park and I wondered if we were in for a code theme.

    Lots of variety here and great fun. RUPERT went in early and I started looking out for Bill Badger, Edward Trunk and the Wise Old Goat ( one of my favourite characters) etc!

    Derek Lazenby @ 28 – she was the loser!!

    Giovanna x

  38. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    I only got to this late afternoon. After the last few Araucaria puzzles I rather expected a gentle stroll but it turned out to be a tour de force as has been said. As Gervase notes, the ghosts of Murdochs past and present lay unspoken and out of sight apart from their forenames and abridgement in 22d.

    I solved 23,24 from the word play but did not recognise it or the Rupert Brooke reference, till I checked on Google.

    Altogether quite remarkable and very well worthwhile solving.

  39. coltrane says:

    Has anyone else noticed the absence of RCW from these posts the last few days. If you are out there RCW please let us know you are OK, we miss you!! Well I do anyway!!

  40. Mitz says:

    Seconded coltrane! RCW, from one STFC fan to another, hoping all is well.

  41. nametab says:

    I really enjoyed this one. At first, I thought I’d never break the code (cf Bletchley), then managed ‘Adrian’ and few other down clues at the bottom, which meant the only word that would fit 23ac was ‘unofficial’. Then the rest unfolded fairly readily, but with admiration for all our 14ac’s complex interlinking. Quite brilliant really.
    Agree with Dave Ellison @25 – it’s an &lit also, and therefore my CoD
    25ac: Aren’t some rugby types nicknamed ‘Ruperts’?
    Coltrane @ 39: me too; miss your spice RCW – trust you’re well.
    Thanks for blog Eileen

  42. Morpheus says:

    good challenging stuff. 1 across was I thought a bit of a stretch for someone without fairly detailed knowledge of the geography of Suffolk or Pinewood studios.

  43. tupu says:

    Since writing the above I have read the odd review of ‘An Unofficial Rose’. The idea seems to be of a rose growing wild in a hedgerow rather than formally planted (like a German 20a). A reviewer notes that ‘All the major characters … are linked by an intricate network of inter-relationships’ which could equally well be said of those figuring in this remarkable crossword.

  44. Mitz says:

    Very well spotted, tupu – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that A had read that same review and decided to construct this type of puzzle around that theme for that very reason.

  45. SteveC says:

    Really tough. We completed all except Debenham (d’oh!) on a plane, which meant no Google or Wikipedia – one of Araucaria’s toughest to date.

    Incidentally, I had the great pleasure of visiting John Graham a few weeks ago to take his photo for his Wikipedia entry. A charming and remarkably modest man. Delighted finally to have made his acquaintance, especially since he compiled his first Guardian crossword in the year I was born.

  46. MDatta says:

    A stunner from the master, layers of wit, interlinked eureka moments and the moving,stand alone ‘queer street’ . Thank you.

  47. PeeDee says:

    Thanks you Eileen, this certainly was my cup of tea without a doubt. I couldn’t get BELLOC, which I am now kicking myself for. My best guess was Saul BELLOW, but couldn’t explain the ‘OW’.

  48. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Eileen

    Finished this one after BROOKE and then BELLOC finally yielded late on Sunday – still missed the Rebekah Brooks connection in 22 (which I eventually solved from 23,24 and looking for quotes focused about ‘unofficial rose’). Satisfying to see the OC in both Murdochs to close it out.

    Haven’t read any of Iris Murdoch’s works and unfamiliar with all except THE SEA, THE SEA so it was a bit of a slog with a lot of help to work through many answers. Not having the local knowledge of either DEBENHAM or DENHAM was also a challenge – as was THE CLYDE shipbuilding location.

    Still, as always with A, there is new knowledge to be gained if you persist with his crafty ways.

    Thanks Eileen for the great blog … and another one down … eventually.

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