Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,894 by Araucaria

Posted by PeterO on March 13th, 2013


The crossword may be found at

The breadth of Araucaria’s palette continues to amaze, and the cross-referencing around around 5,2 and 21,22 is very ingenious. A pleasure to solve, and it would have been a pleasure to blog, but somehow I managed to delete most of my work, and had to reenter it. This would happen now, while we have just gone on daylight saving time, so that I get the puzzle an hour later than usual. I hope that I have not let too many typos through in the rush to publish.

1. Number a town that’s owned by a bulldog (8)
TENACITY A charade of TEN (‘number’) plus ‘a’ plus CITY (‘town’).
5,2. Like 21 22′s 13, a possible clue to 26 8 (6,3,7)
SHAKEN NOT STIRRED 21/22 is JAMES BOND, and 13 DRY MARTINI’ the wordplay is is an anagram (‘shaken’) of NOT STIRRED, which gives DORTER NITS, the answers to 26 and 8 respectively.
9. 5 2 (all but electronic) produces refusal (2,6)
NO THANKS Here 5 2 is taken the other way round: an anagram (‘stirred’) of SHAK[e]N NOT without the E (‘all but electronic’).
10. Skilled at putting gold back into mine opening (6)
ADROIT An envelope (‘into’) of RO, a reversal (‘back’) of OR (‘gold’) in ADIT (‘mine opening’).
12. McKenna’s Act with 20? (3,3,5)
CAT AND MOUSE Reginald McKenna was a British politician of the late 10th 19th and early 20th century; as Home Secretary in Asquith’s Liberal government he steered through the Prisons (Temporary Discharge for Ill-health) Act of 1913; this unpopular legislation, dubbed the Cat and Mouse Act, was primarily aimed at suffragettes, the more militant of whom had used the tactic of going on hunger strike in prison. The act allowed them to be released when weakened by hunger, and rearrested later. Remarkable what you can learn from Araucaria, isn’t it?
15. Chat queen‘s piece gets applause (5)
OPRAH A charade of OP (‘piece’ of music) plus RAH (‘applause’).
17. Transport backed by heroes turning from much backed animal (9)
RACEHORSE An charade of RAC, a reversal (‘backed’) of CAR (‘transport’) plus EHORSE, am anagram (‘turning’) of ‘heroes’.
18. Garment not quite being given away in Australian port (9)
FREMANTLE FRE[e] MANTLE (‘garment not quite being given away’).
19. Enthusiastic volunteering by student from Baltic port (5)
MEMEL A charade of ME! ME! (‘enthusiastic volunteering’) plus L (‘student’), for the city now known as Klaipeda, in Lithuania.
20. Boys drink to Conservative, entertaining fellow, one playing records by Queen (3,3,5)
TOM AND JERRY An envelope (‘entertaining’) of MAN (‘fellow’) plus DJ (‘one playing records’) plus ER (‘Queen’) in TORY (‘Conservative’). The cartoon characters are referenced in 12A. but not here, where we have two definitions: the boys’ names and an American cocktail associated with Christmas festivities.
24. Disapprove of article (6)
OBJECT Double definition.
25. Turn over state that could be poisonous (8)
PTOMAINE A charade of PTO (please ‘turn over’) plus MAINE (US ‘state’). “Ptomaine poisoning” was a catch-all for food poisoning, thought of as caused by ptomaines, alkaloids in decaying organic matter; the expression persists, even though other causes, such as bacteria, are now seen as responsible in many cases.
26. Where monks slept with younger woman, some might say (6)
DORTER A homophone (‘some might say’) of DAUGHTER (‘young woman’).
27. Garment for river — come across without one (3,5)
TEE SHIRT A charade of TEES (‘river’) plus an envelope (‘without’) of R (‘one’ i.e ‘river’) in HIT (‘come across’).
1. Fizzy drinks for foal changing sound system (5,3-2)
TONIC SOL-FA A charade of TONICS (‘fizzy drinks’) plus OLFA, an anagram (‘changing’) of ‘foal’.
2. See 5
- See 5
3. 22‘s length of pitch (5)
CHAIN Double definition; 22D is BOND, and the length of a cricket pitch is 1 chain, that is, 22 yards.
4. Don’t be so quick with a prison sentence after oak tree crashed around my head (4,4,4)
TAKE MORE TIME An envelope (‘around’) of M (‘My head’) in TAKEORE, an anagram (‘crashed’) of ‘oak tree’ plus TIME (‘a prison sentence’).
6. Bucks village deceived by another with studio (9)
HADDENHAM A charade of HAD (‘deceived’) plus DENHAM (‘another’ Bucks village, the site of Denham Film Studios from 1936 to 1952).
7. Speed of marriage? (4)
KNOT Double definition.
8. Infestation of fools? (4)
NITS Double definition.
11. Small cafe, revolutionary, getting on in crescent (12)
LUNCHEONETTE An envelope (‘in’) of CHE (‘revolutionary’) plus ‘on’ in LUNETTE (‘crescent’).
13. Thirsty? Swallow one drink (3,7)
DRY MARTINI A charade of DRY (‘thirsty’) plus MARTIN (‘swallow’, the bird) plus I (‘one’).
14. Strategic placing of some loyal people in small section (10)
DEPLOYMENT An envelope (‘in’) of LOY (‘some LOYal’) plus MEN (‘people’) in DEPT, an abbreviation (‘small’) of DEPARTMENT (‘section’).
16. It’s agony to listen to stiff upper lip, perhaps (9)
HEARTACHE A charade of HEAR (‘listen to’) plus TACHE (‘stiff upper lip, perhaps’ particularly if the ‘tache is waxed).
21,22. Fictional agent in sticky situation, no beds available (5,4)
JAMES BOND A charade of JAM (‘sticky situation’) plus ESBOND, an anagram (‘available’?) of ‘no beds’.
22. See 21
- See 21
23. More or less open for a drink (4)
AJAR When is a door not a door? No, when it is a negress (a version from before the word took on a taint of offensiveness).

35 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,894 by Araucaria”

  1. michelle says:

    I agree that this was a fabulous puzzle by Araucaria. There were so many clues that I enjoyed, especially DRY MARTINI, DEPLOYMENT, RACEHORSE, TAKE MORE TIME, FREMANTLE, NITS, KNOT & NO THANKS.

    I learnt some new words: ptomaine & dorter.

    I failed to solve MEMEL & CHAIN.

    I solved but could not parse 16 & 27.

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO.

  2. michelle says:


    I forgot to mention that I especially enjoyed your parsing of 12a and 20a.

    I realise now that having solved TOM AND JERRY (but without realising it is also a drink), I then solved 12a and was thinking of Virginia McKenna of “Born Free” fame which led me to ‘cat’, and then it seemed that the answer was obvious.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. Very few typos – the only notable one re 12a: 19th century. I learned quite a bit from your explanation of that clue. This was was all classic Araucaria: stretching, but never painfully, with some easy ones mixed in with some impeccable ones, and several additions to the solver’s knowledge on the way (eg DORTER, for me, but so clearly right; ditto MEMEL, lovely).

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    Very enjoyable, thanks Peter and A.

    A. used Denham in his Xword just a few weeks ago, on Feb 28th.

    HEARTACHE took a while for the penny to drop: I had – - A – TACHE, having fixed in my mind the sound of TACHE as in MOUSTACHE, and not as in ACHE.

  5. Eileen says:

    Excellent puzzle [especially the 5,2 combinations] and great fun to solve. Thanks for the blog, PeterO.

    I knew DORTER and CAT AND MOUSE Act from History lessons and remember being shocked by the image of the poster in the text book:

    but I didn’t know about the drink. I’d never come across LUNCHEONETTE, either: I see from Chambers that it’s American.

  6. Colin says:

    Thanks to Araucaria and PeterO.

    This was one of those puzzles that left me feeling completely satisfied. Araucaria is still the master.

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Araucaria

    An amazingly wide repertoire as already noted. Some excellent interconnected clues, and the usual enjoyable whimsy. I originally guessed wrong answers to 25a and 26a and had to rethink them after trying to check in Chambers.

  8. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Peter

    Most entertaining puzzle from A. I liked the multiple linkages: JAMES BOND was very straightforward, which led smoothly to the rest. The use of SHAKEN NOT STIRRED as the basis of an anagram clue in both possible senses is particularly pleasing.

    Araucaria is often accused of fuzziness in clueing (with justification, though we his fans rather like that sort of thing). 26a is a nice counter-example: ‘some might say’ carefully sidesteps the rhotic/non-rhotic problem which bedevils so many homophones, or near homophones.

  9. michelle says:

    Dave Ellison@4

    Thanks for the reminder. Re 6d, DENHAM had somehow stuck in my brain from the previous puzzle that you mention and that is how I solved the clue HADDENHAM.

    I solved HEARTACHE but couldn’t parse it as I did not know that TACHE = stiff upper lip / moustache.

  10. NeilW says:

    Thanks to PeterO and also A for the puzzle and the further education – although I’m not sure that I needed to know about a TOM AND JERRY: according to my Chambers, hot rum and eggs, spiced and sweetened which sounds truly disgusting. Chambers doesn’t say so but I’m glad to hear that it’s American!

  11. Stella says:

    A very entertaining puzzle where I learnt about the CAT AND MOUSE act, and that PTO means “please turn over” (Araucaria’s more up-to-date than me!). Thanks PeterO for the complete and informative blog.

    Stupidly, I forgot about the second anagram from 5,2, which meant I took ages to get 26 :-(

  12. george says:

    Some lovely clues; so much to enjoy here. Thanks PeterO for the blog. I did resort to cheating to complete a few that I had not come across before and could not solve (DORTER, TONIC SOL-FA and MEMEL).

    Last one in was LUNCHEONETTE, which I had to stare at for ages before I realised what the term must be. I didn’t know until I read the Wikipedia entry that lunch counters had significance in the American Civil Rights Movement. Do you think Araucaria was aware of this?

  13. Robi says:

    Great puzzle, although some surfaces (like 1d) were a bit weird, unless I have missed the point.

    Thanks PeterO; I thought the ‘over’ in 25 was ‘o,’ leaving me with PT for turn, which caused some head-scratching! Strangely enough, I solved/guessed SHAKEN NOT STIRRED from some crossers before getting JAMES BOND. Like Michelle @2, I thought of Virginia McKenna but more-or-less dismissed that thinking that A. would have something more erudite (and unknown to me :( ) in mind.

    I particularly liked HEARTACHE – I don’t think many people would have thought of cluing it in that way.

  14. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I had never heard of Tom and Jerry as a drink, but seeing the description supplied by NeilW I’m happy to miss it.

    There were a couple of others where I had the answer but failed to parse them.

    MEMEL beat me completely :(

  15. Noddy says:

    MEMEL is my answer of the day.

  16. crypticsue says:

    A joy to solve – nice theme and I agree with Noddy that MEMEL is solution of the day. Thanks to Araucaria for brightening up a very grey morning and to Peter for the blog.

  17. John Appleton says:

    This was good fun – The thematic answers were first in, and took some time to get a foothold after that, but eventually just had to look up PTOMAINE (which conjured images of William J. Le Petomaine of Blazing Saddles – perhaps figuratively poisonous) and HADDENHAM. “PTO” for “Turn over” was a nice misdirection.

    MEMEL was nice. I had to look it up to confirm it; it would have been a tragedy had it been something else.

  18. PeterO says:

    John @17

    Mel Brooks’ character in Blazing Saddles was actually Governor William J Lepetomane, which brings up yet another connection.

  19. muffin says:

    Thanks to Araucaria and PeterO

    Great fun, though I failed on MEMEL. I thought that the Reverend was particularly generous in giving us the unnecessary “Fictional” in 21,22 – the clue is fine without it, but very much easier with it there!


  20. John Appleton says:

    PeterO @18: That’s something I never knew! Thanks.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Martins and swallows are related, true, but they are not the same. They don’t even have something as obvious as the same shape of tail.

  22. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO @18, er… That certainly puts the TOM AND JERRY concoction in a kinder light! ;)

  23. Mitz says:

    Thanks Peter O and Araucaria.

    Having been laid up miserably with flu for the last few days, feeling far too sorry for myself to venture out and get the paper (I did at least have Shed’s Saturday Prize to keep me busy for a while) it was lovely to come back to Araucaria at close to his mis-directive best. Started easily enough and like Robi @13 I got SHAKEN NOT STIRRED first, but I found I needed quite a lot of 1 across to finish.

    Google Maps came to the fore with HADDENHAM, but I went all around the Baltic looking for MEMEL without spotting it – because it has a new name and wasn’t there. Lovely clue (and I did put it in without looking it up on the strength that with M?M?L it had to be right) but would “old Baltic port” have been slightly fairer?

    What other crossword compiler in the world would have clued TOM AND JERRY as a drink rather than a cartoon (12 notwithstanding)?

    Last in, and I really kicked myself, was TEE-SHIRT.

  24. Mitz says:

    Actually, I lied. I got DRY MARTINI first, then SNS and all the other linked clues.

    Derek @21, I was inclined to agree with you regarding swallows and martins, but according to Wiki, the authoritative Swallows and Martins: an identification guide and handbook by Turner and Rose states that “Within the Old World, the name “martin” tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name “swallow” for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups.”

  25. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Araucaria and PeterO

    A great puzzle to celebrate the end of our record run of (nine) consecutive days over 30 in Melbourne !!!

    JAMES BOND was first In for me which meant that the next couple were write-ins, but still only half done in my lunch break. Was able to finish off at next sitting with the new DORTER last in. As with others MEMEL was my cod.

    Have seen FREMANTLE clued similarly to that a few times in our papers – so ‘local knowledge’ did help – as did the recent DENHAM film studio.

    Typical addition to my learning from him again with the unsavory CAT AND MOUSE (both Act and drink), MEMEL, DORTER, HADDENHAM and LUNCHEONETTE.

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Mitz, I did see that quote, but every time I come on here and say something is scientifically or technically or mathematically wrong, everyone jumps on me and says “but it’s common usage”. So common usage in this case is that they are different. So, if I give in on this one does that mean I’ve won all previous arguments? LOL!

  27. Andy B says:

    Excellent puzzle again from the man. Had to resort to aids to get PTOMAINE and HADDENHAM, and once all the checkers were in place saw LUNCHEONETTE, which I was annoyed I hadn’t seen earlier because I owned the Hall & Oates “Abandoned Luncheonette” album back in the 70s.

    Andy B.

  28. rhotician says:

    DL @26: “every time I come on here … everyone jumps on me”.

    “does that mean I’ve won … “. No. It means you always lose.

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    Pointless comment rho, I already knew you were a vindictive without you needing to prove it.

    Damn but I miss RCW. I could rely on him for a proper argument.

  30. rhotician says:

    DL – vindictive is not a noun and why would I want to take revenge on anyone here, least of all you. We’re getting too personal.

  31. Derek Lazenby says:

    The noun was deliberately omitted, it is left as an exercise for the reader.

  32. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria and PeterO,

    Nearly didn’t do this but saw that it was Araucaria and just had to go for it.

    DORTER reminded me, too of History lessons (Paul would have had fun with this!)

    MEMEL was unknown to me but Me me and L for student made it easily gettable.

    HADDENHAM brought back happy memories of the 3rd October 1987, when ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ hauled a steam special to Marylebone and back in celebration of the opening of Hadddenham and Thame Parkway station; thus helping to save the Chiltern line from threatened closure and make it into the thriving line of today.

    Derek @ 31, I miss RCW, too. It’s just not the same without him!

    Giovanna x

  33. rhotician says:

    I’ll leave the lost word with you.

  34. Martin P says:

    Thanks very much setter and posters.

    I fell victim to an unforced fault by carelessly writing in “employment” for 14d. Still, gave my brain a real workout for 17a…

  35. Huw Powell says:

    The delightful 5,2 device reminded me of something Frank Lewis used to do with his Nation puzzle. The clue would be three words all the same length as the answer (usually 6). And all three words could be legitimate anagrinds. A delightful way to confuse the solver.

    Which is what this was. I ended up (after cheating on 6 and 18) with a letter written in every square. That actually corresponded 100% to the solution. A fantastic mix of easy and hard clues, and for once ;) all fair in my opinion.

    MEMEL is the clue and answer of the day, of course.

    Thanks for the blog Peter and the rest of you lot (Derek and Rho, keep it friendly!), and to the Monkey Puzzler for yet another delightful outing.

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