Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,890 by Arachne

Posted by PeterO on March 8th, 2013


This puzzle may be found at

A fitting conclusion to a splendid week of Guardian crosswords. It probably took me longer to solve than any previous Arachne puzzle – the left side remained empty the longer. However, the effort was well worth while, for a puzzle abounding in wit and sleights-of-hand, with some excellent surfaces – particularly 17D.

1. Times outed femme fatale as powerful woman (7)
EMPRESS A subtraction [t]EMP[t]RESS (‘femme fatale’) with the Ts (‘times’) removed.
5. Spellbound, fellows make soft sound (7)
WHIFFLE An envelope (‘bound’) of FF (‘fellows’) in WHILE (‘spell'; as in “it took me a spell to work that one out”).
10. Where to find 12 (and Arachne sousing herself in Scotch) (6)
STYMIE A charade of STY (‘where to find 12′; 12A is PIG) plus an envelope (‘sousing’) of I (‘herself’) in ME (‘Arachne’ again).
11. Swelling with pride, putting company first (8)
GANGLION A charade of GANG (‘company’) plus LION (‘with pride’). Corrected.
12. Glutton stuffing epigastrium (3)
PIG A hidden answer (‘stuffing’) in ‘ePIGastrum’.
13. Vicar has drink and becomes more active (4,2)
REVS UP A charade of REV (‘vicar’) plus SUP (‘drink’).
14. Couple from London Road South, fashionable address for toffs (8)
LORDSHIP A charade of LO (‘couple from LOndon’) plus RD (‘road’) plus S (‘south’) plus HIP (‘fashionable’).
15. Idiots appraise contracts (5)
ASSES ASSES[s] (‘appraise’) cut short (‘contracts’).
16. Chewing caramels and beginning to think he’s so clever (5,4)
SMART ALEC An anagram (‘chewing’) of ‘caramels’ plus T (‘beginning to Think’).
19. County set berserk — berserk! — about contents of this (9)
BERKSHIRE An envelope (‘set … about’) of HI (‘contents of tHIs’) in BERKSRE, an anagram (‘berserk’) of ‘beserk’.
21. Join Gutless Gussie in club (5)
WEDGE A charade of WED (‘join’) plus GE (‘gutless GussiE‘)
24. Disorder in garden as immature pointer takes beast by ear (8)
CLUBROOT A charade of CLU[e] (‘pointer’) incomplete (‘immature’) plus BROOT, a homophone (‘by ear’) of BRUTE (‘beast’). Clubroot is a fungal disease of cabbages and other brassicas.
26. Like to describe cereal as food for 12 (6)
ACORNS An envelope (‘to describe’) of CORN (‘cereal’) in AS (‘like’).
27. Wrongly putting forty-nine before fifty? (3)
ILL A charade of IL (‘forty-nine'; as has been pointed out before in 225, this is not classical Roman usage) plus L (‘fifty’ which is).
28. Offering freedom without hesitation (8)
LIBATION A subtraction LIB[er]ATION (‘freedom’) without ER (‘hesitation’).
29. Person finds relatives in sewer (6)
BODKIN A charade of BOD (‘person’) plus KIN (‘relatives’). A bodkin is a large needle.
30. Tobey giggled (3-4)
TEE-HEED Quod she. A charade of TEE (‘T’) plus HEED (‘obey’).
31. Chain of florists (7)
GARLAND Cryptic definition.
2. Emsworth resolved to avoid women and female relations (7)
MOTHERS An anagram (‘resolved’) of ’ems[w]orth’ without the W (‘to avoid women’).
3. Behind state investment in small part of Jersey? (4,5)
RUMP STEAK A charade of RUMP (‘behind’) plus STEAK, a homophone (‘state’) of STAKE (‘investment’). The ‘Jersey’ is a cow, or was before it was butchered.
4. Dictator’s rung for location of gulags (6)
STEPPE Another artfully disguised homophone (‘dictator’s’) of STEP (‘rung’).
6. Frosty embraces — and not for nothing (8)
HONORARY An envelope (’embraces’) of NOR (‘and not’) in HOARY (‘frosty’).
7. Logs, or crocodiles? (5)
FILES Double definition.
8. Catty predecessor of Benedict XVI? (7)
LEONINE Pope LEO IX was not the immediate predecessor of Benedict XVI – he died in office in 1054.
9. Amassing silver bars, in which African capital’s invested (13)
AGGLOMERATING A charade of AG (‘silver’, chemical symbol) plus an envelope (in which … [i]s invested’) of LOME (‘African capital’ of Togo) in GRATING (‘BARS’).
17. Albert’s cap found next to lion, dead annoyed and sounding stuffed (9)
ADENOIDAL A charade of A (‘Albert’s cap’) plus DENOIDAL, an anagram (‘annoyed’) of ‘lion dead’. The surface references (remarkably closely) a comic poem, The Lion and Albert. by Marriott Edgar, perhaps best known as a monologue by Stanley Holloway.
18. PS This follows periodically (8)
CHLORINE In the periodic table of elements CL (CHLORINE), atomic number 17, follows P (phosphorus, 15) and S (sulphur, 16).
20. Want to be topless and slippery (3-4)
EEL-LIKE [f]EEL LIKE (‘want’) without its first letter (‘topless’).
22. Neat gin, skipping tonic (7)
GENTIAN An anagram (‘skipping’) of ‘neat gin’. Some species of the plant are used in tonics and bitters.
23. Rocky capital of Panama (6)
BALBOA Double definition; Rocky Balboa was the central character of the “Rocky’ series of films; and the capital of Panama is Panama City, of which Balboa is part.
25. Unmarried chap seen round entrance to Eastbourne lido? (5)
BEACH An envelope (‘seen round’) of E (‘entrance to Eastbourne’) in BACH (elor, ‘unmarried chap’).

50 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,890 by Arachne”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Peter. This was a delight.

    CLUBROOT took a good five minutes of staring before the pennies dropped.

    Giggled at 30!

  2. michelle says:

    I would have to describe this as a great puzzle as there were so many clues I liked, especially 8, 18, 28, 19, 9, 27, 5, 23, 30 and 29, which is as good as saying I loved the whole puzzle!

    I learnt a few new words today: ADENOIDAL, GANGLION, CLUBROOT, BODKIN & AGGLOMERATING plus Lome as capital of Togo.

    I solved but could not fully parse 1, 3, 24 & 17.

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO. I especially enjoyed your parsing of 30a.

    PS You have a typo in 11a – LOIN should be LION.

  3. sidey says:

    There seems to be a Blandings theme here but I can’t quite see it.

  4. Eileen says:

    It has indeed been a splendid week – and what better way to round it off than to celebrate International Women’s Day with a puzzle from Arachne, at the top of her form. Many thanks, PeterO – lucky you – for a great blog, which certainly does it justice.

    Special thanks for supplying the links for the stunning 17dn, which I urge – nay, beg – anyone who doesn’t know the poem [and those who do!] to read / listen to [again] to appreciate the brilliance of the clue.

    Of course, I’m a huge fan of story-telling surfaces, of which Arachne is mistress, and there are more wonderful examples here 10[!],13, 14ac etc, etc. I’ve never read a Wodehouse story but I know enough about them to realise that 2dn is pretty clever.

    Lovely witty constructions in 1,5,24,30 ac, and 3, 9,18,22dn, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of the day, most of the clues had been picked out as someone’s favourite.

    Huge thanks, Arachne, as ever. I just loved it and will be TEE-HEEing all day! 😉

  5. muffin says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne
    I had the top done, but not the bottom, then the bottom right but not the bottom left. Eventually cheated on TEE-HEED, which became my favourite clue.
    Many other great clues , but BALBOA and CHLORINE stood out for me.
    May I also recommend “Albert and the Lion”. There is also a sequel, which ends with father saying to Albert “See what tigers can do” (or something similar).

  6. rhotician says:

    Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle stories feature Lord Emsworth and his prize pig The Empress of Blandings. I think whiffle may be relevant as well.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne.

    I quite enjoyed this 90′ (!) solve. It started out very easy for me with seven answers on the first run through, but then became much more difficult. It wasn’t helped by my entering another anagram, ANTIGEN, at 22d, which seemed quite plausible.

    I also wrongly put MERGE for JOIN at 21a, but, of course, couldn’t see why it was this.

    I was not keen on the “definition” in 10a: SCOTCH for STYMIE? Am I missing something? Had the answer been PREVENT, surely ENGLISH would not be acceptable as a definition.

    30a my favourite.

  8. rhotician says:

    Logs, or crocodiles? is fabulous. Literally.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    OOPS Sorry! I see STYMIE now as one form of PREVENT

  10. EB says:

    muffin @5 – the sequel, one of many very funny monologues written by Marriott Edgar is called “Albert’s Return” (well he had to didn’t he?):

    Others here:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog and especially to Arachne for yet another beautifully crafted/clued puzzle.

  11. muffin says:

    EB @10
    Thanks for that.

  12. Roger says:

    BEACH was Lord Emsworth’s butler at Blandings, and Monty BODKIN was once his LORDSHIP’s secretary. And his PIG did indeed WHIFFLE.
    What fun!

  13. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, rhotician and Roger, for filling in the gaps.

    I started off envying PeterO for getting this one to blog – but, had it been mine, I’d have had egg all over my face, for missing the theme. :-(

    [And I already thought it was an excellent puzzle!]

  14. dunsscotus says:

    … and wasn’t the sow a BERKSHIRE?

    Thanks Arachne and PeterO: couldn’t get the giggles without you. What a great week’s puzzling.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks PeterO and many thanks to Arachne for an entertaining puzzle that only improved when I read the blog and saw the Wodehouse refs that others have teased out.

    Great surfaces made this v enjoyable. I struggled quite a bit to finish the last few — 23dn, 24ac and 18dn and didn’t appreciate the parsing of 30ac until I came here.

  16. EB says:

    Roger @12

    Augustus Whiffle was the author of “Care of the Pig” Lord Emsworth’s favourite book.

    Lady Garland was Emsworth’s sister.

    Could well be more connections – will maybe check later if time permits.

  17. Stella says:

    Thanks PeterO.

    I’m completely unfamiliar with Wodehouse or cabbage bights, but this didn’t prevent me from finishing, though with more difficulty in the SW.

    BALBOA is actually the currency, or capital, of Panama, which I found out through Wiki, knowing the city to be Panama City.

  18. dunsscotus says:

    Veronica Wedge appears in Full Moon and perhaps elsewhere?

  19. NeilW says:

    Wasn’t the PIG called the EMPRESS?

  20. NeilW says:

    Oops, sorry, just spotted rhotician said that @6!

  21. dunsscotus says:

    Hi Neil: see rhotician at 6

  22. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne

    A super puzzle with too many ticked clues to list, and as has been said, a great end to a great week. Like some others, I missed the Blandings theme, but am not sorry for that since, if I had known the material well, it could have spoiled the fun of working out the answers.

    I did notice there arequite a few lions about and remembered Albert.

    COD 17d but it has quite a bit of competition.

  23. Eileen says:

    PeterO, I now realise that my comment @13, which was intended to be self-deprecating, wasn’t very complimentary to you, either – my apologies. Themes like this are things you either know or don’t.

    But what a splendid example of a themed puzzle where the theme is not ‘in your face’ and hasn’t forced the use of an unfriendly grid or several obscure words – and, for those in the know, is just the icing on a delicious cake!

    [And I still think it was a great blog! 😉 Thanks again]

  24. tupu says:

    I have vaguely remembered seeing references to Blandings, empress etc. in an earlier puzzle and have now checked. It is in 7d and the blog thereto in Araucaria’s offering of Jan. 8th 2011.

  25. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Arachne and PeterO

    I’ve done a number of puzzles by Arachne now and I’d rate this one clearly the best – and that was before I realised that there was a theme (know of Wodehouse but haven’t read or watched any of hos work).

    This one started with the characteristic gimmes – 25d (the only one that was in that corner till the finish!), 16a and 8d (although it was only much later that it’s full parsing showed the cleverness of the clue). Then things hotted up … many fine devices and a number of times she initially drew the wrong answer – SHUFFLE for WHIFFLE, BALBAO for BALBOA and EEL-SKIN for EEL-LIKE.

    Eventually got there with CHLORINE which was my cod through its simplicity and brilliant use of periodic numbers to resolve.

    Bravo Arachne – great finish to a very good week.

  26. Trailman says:

    Yes, we’ve had a number of takes on ‘theme’ this week; if my favourite was the Swifts, this wasn’t far behind, mostly because I’m not familiar with the detail of Wodehouse! So thank you bloggers for filling in gaps in my knowledge.

    Two new words for me: WHIFFLE and CLUBROOT. I had CLUBFOOT until the last minute, noticing ‘garden’ just in time. SW corner indeed took ages. Loved 2d, 17d of course, also 19a, BERKSHIRE undoubtedly being a county with a ‘set’.

  27. michelle says:

    I think this was a GREAT puzzle because even for us who don’t understand the Wodehouse clues, it was totally ENJOYABLE. I’m happy to hear that Wodehouse fans found more in it….

  28. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I had EMPRESS but failed to parse it. You explained that.

    I am quite a fan of Wodehouse and once I spotted the theme I tried to find a place for Blandings but it would not go in anywhere.

    When I saw 10a I had a mental picture of Ms Arachne pouring a bottle of whisky over her head :)

  29. cholecyst says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne.
    What a brilliant puzzle – and a delight to complete.
    A small point: I parsed 11 across as “with pride” = “liongang” (geddit?), then move gang to the beginning (= putting company first.)

  30. george says:

    Phew I am late finishing today. I got off to a very late start as there was a technical problem in our area and no broadband until lunchtime.

    I found this puzzle relatively tough, but was able to chip away gradually even though I did not spot the theme. There were lots of lovely clues. I particularly liked the one for CHLORINE and TEE-HEED now I can see how 30ac is parsed.

    Thanks PeterO for the blog and to everyone for a very enjoyable week of discussion about crosswords, without cross words; you really are a knowledgeable and friendly group of people

  31. george says:

    cholecyst @29

    Arachne has just popped in to the Guardian comments section and endorsed your parsing (and the honeymoon Prosecco diet).

  32. PeterO says:

    Eileen @23

    That’s quite OK – I can take it. When it’s justified. Sometimes. Just don’t make a habit of it :-).

  33. Giovanna says:

    Thanks,Arachne and PeterO.

    What a gem of a puzzle! Definitely the trickiest of her offerings with lots of layers to it.

    Loved the Lion and Albert reference so thanks for the links, which cheered up a rainy afternoon.

    (Eileen, you should try Wodehouse.He’s a great pick-me-up writer as my father discovered. It helps if one enjoys general silliness and an appreciation of odd turns of phrase!)

    I liked BODKIN which has two good words to go well with Albert plus echoes of Hamlet in serious mood.

    It was a good day for EMPRESS as that is as high as a woman can go, which was my way in before I parsed it!

    Keep drinking the Prosecco, Arachne!!

    Giovanna x

  34. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Peter. It was a delightful puzzle, but pretty tricky for this solver. I kept chipping away at it, but with the grid essentially divided into four, it proved hard to break down. But some lovely clueing, especially for CHLORINE. The ghost theme passed me by, but as others have said, it didn’t impose on a well-constructed crossword.

    Well done to Arachne for this one. Now that she’s retired from the Quiptics, we shall have to wait for her appearances here to continue to enjoy her offerings.

  35. Arachne says:

    Greetings from confetti-strewn Spider Towers!

    Thank you so much, PeterO, for a cracking blog – I don’t know how you do it! As mentioned by cholecyst @29 and George @31 the parsing of 11ac was intended to be pride=lion gang, with gang(=company) put first. Thanks, too, to everyone for kind comments.

    The full, tragic story of Albert is best appreciated when recited by the immortal Stanley Holloway –

    Hope the theme wasn’t too obtrusive for non-Wodehousians. As I’ve already mentioned over on the Graun site, I was piqued into plugging Plum by the BBC’s recent mangling of Blandings. As Giovanna @33 says, if you haven’t tried Wodehouse do give him a go – Mr A always knows when I’m reading about Blandings or Bertie Wooster because of the gales of laughter rattling the window panes, but then I’m a great fan of silliness and odd turns of phrase:

    “I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled”
    “Aunt calling to aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps”
    “I once got engaged to his daughter Honoria, a ghastly dynamic exhibit who read Nietzsche and had a laugh like waves breaking on a stern and rockbound coast”

    Love and hugs,
    Arachne x

  36. gatehouse says:

    Of all the new posters at 15/2 I should think that ‘Michelle’ is the most annoying, with totally pointless remarks at every turn. And if ‘she’ is a beginner I am the Queen of Sheba. Sorry, just another frustrated lurker, I supppose.


  37. Admin says:

    gatehouse @36
    By all means add constructive comments about the puzzle under discussion but please don’t attack other contributors in such a personal manner. You may find Michelle annoying, I and others don’t.

    I find your type of comment irritating, pointless and contrary to the ethos of this site and I was sorely tempted to delete your comment. However, I have left it for posterity so that others can judge for themselves why you saw fit to post in such a manner.

  38. Robi says:

    Great puzzle as ever from Arachne.

    Thanks PeterO; I completely missed the theme. Loved TEE-HEED, ADENOIDAL, GANGLION and several (most) others.

    Thanks Admin; ‘totally pointless remark’ @36.

  39. coltrane says:

    Great puzzle, great blog:thanks to you both. Well done Admin @37. While I am addressing you, is there any way you can find out about RCW who lit up these posts, for me, from the day I discovered you until about 2 weeks ago when he suddenly went quiet. I’m sure I am not the only one who would like to wish him well and let him know he is missed!!

  40. Gaufrid says:

    Hi coltrane @39
    Following a comment in General Discussion, an email from a second concerned person and several comments in other posts, I emailed RCW a couple of days ago, expressing the sentiments you have indicated, but have not had a reply. He could be away or, more likely in view of what he has said recently, in hospital. If the latter, I know from personal experience last year that you become incommunicado with regard to emails etc unless you have the right mobile kit. I had a laptop, but there was no Wi-Fi available, and my mobile phone is very basic.

  41. coltrane says:

    Gaufrid @39 Thank you for this information. We look forward to hearing from RCW in due course.

  42. Sea Doc says:

    Coltrane @39: seconded on all points.

    One of the nice things about this site is the sense of a gentle community which, I find, is rare on the internet.

  43. Martin P says:

    Thanks setter and all.

    Good old Iraq Knee: a fine work out though I stumbled in SW corner. 30a my COD too.

  44. Arachne says:

    Coltrane@39, Sea Doc@42 – seconded, thirded, and more. Thanks to Gaufrid for providing and patrolling this warm, amiable and civilised ‘symposium’. And RCW – we miss you x

  45. coltrane says:

    Gaufrid @ 39, Sea Doc @ 42 and Arachne @ 44. Yes, for all crossword lovers of any level this is an informative and essential place to hang out, made all the more pleasant by the characters one hangs out with. And, what an international bunch we are, from bloggers in the Far East and the USA. to posters all over Europe, Australia and for all I know Africa. Long may it continue!! And, long may we ALL continue to meet!!

  46. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Great puzzle from Arachne.

    Nice and difficult as it should be on a Friday. I particularly liked the use of the periodic table in 18d. Misdirection at its best as when you finally solve it you see it was actually staring you in the face!

    Re Gatehouse @36, although the comments are probably a little harsh I can understand the sentiment. Michelle is rather verbose and I often wonder after her comments about new words and lack of experience how she actually solves the clues?!!! I naturally assume she’s some kind of cryptic prodigy! Unlike myself where it has taken 40 years of hard slog to get this bad! :-))

    Last in was 31a which I considered the only duff clue as I was convinced my answer was wrong.

    Thanks to Arachne and PeterO

  47. Kevin Kilsby says:

    Perhaps unintended by Arachne, but I got Chlorine (18a) because 18 follows 17 (Cl) in the periodic table!

  48. Badger says:

    Re. Gatehouse@36 as another lurker who loves the general tenor of this blog I think it is unfortunate that
    he/she posted in such a fashion. Having said that , I suspect that many share his feelings.
    I too miss RCW and wish him well.

  49. Paul B says:

    I suppose I should wish RCW well too. It is most inconvenient being ill, as I have myself been discovering of late, so if his real identity (shurely not ‘RC Whiting’) is actually unwell, then let it heal with all speed. I generally ignore his banal postings, which seem often to sit rather awkwardly with his stated user-profile, but so what.

    Re Gatehouse, please, please, please keep coming back. We like newcomers here, even if they are really oldcomers, or just comers, or ask what a Nina is again, just as they did when they were last newcomers (a personal opinion of course), plus many of us, I would venture to suggest, enjoyed your recent TV appearances very much indeed. Is this you?

  50. Shed says:

    This was class even by Arachne’s standards. For some reason, she’s one of the few setters who repeatedly leaves me one answer short even though the clue turns out to be perfectly valid when I come here for enlightenment. In this case it was 21ac, which I too had got into my head must be MERGE but couldn’t figure out why.

    Thanks, Arachne, and keep stretching me.

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