Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,926 / Arachne

Posted by Eileen on April 19th, 2013


What a treat to end a good week of crosswords! – a welcome return for Arachne, up to her usual witty wiles. The first two across clues were real ‘Won’t you come into my parlour?’ enticements. Thereafter, the solving [and parsing] got trickier, as we would expect, but it was sheer delight all the way, with several chortles as one by one the pennies dropped. As has been said before, it’s always worth going back, after teasing out Arachne’s ingenious constructions, to savour the clever, amusing and often topical surfaces.

Many thanks, Arachne, for the fun and entertainment – brilliant!


9 Uncle Arthur protecting Frank
hidden in unCLE ARthur

10 Pickled in ethanol without delay
anagram [pickled] of IN ETHANOL
when I arrived in Bristol to start my University course, my landlady gave me a tour of the city centre and showed me the bronze pillars [‘nails’] outside the Corn Exchange, which are said to be the origin of this phrase

11 Tour leader who sorts things out for the tourist
T [Tour leader] + RAVELLER [who sorts things out]
I was initially puzzled by this but found Chambers gives ‘ravel: to entangle; to disentangle’, so it’s one of those words like ‘cleave’, that we often comment on

12 Suspicious of your slippery character, on reflection
reversal [on reflection] of Y’R EEL [your slippery character]

13 Slob in local knocked back bevvy
OOZE [slob] in reversal [knocked back] of PUB [local] – super surface!

15 Spread Prohibition to Sleepy Hollow
BAN [Prohibition] + QU[i]ET [Sleepy – as in ‘sleepy village’ – ‘Hollow’]

17 Have young wife to provide assistance
W [wife] + HELP [provide assistance]

18 Caress girl, hitting the mark precisely
clever triple definition

20 Nod your heads off and hum
[n]OD + [y]OUR

22 Frequently short of soft paper in gents
S [Soft minus [short of] oft  – frequently] + QUIRES [paper] – ha ha!

25 Worst part about other papers for Guardian readers?
LEES [dregs – worst part] round FT and I [two other newspapers]

26,29 Brazilian footballer’s extremely overrated as folk hero
ROBINHO [Brazilian footballer] + OD [first and last letters of OverrateD – another great surface

27 Kind of plays on words without beginning to get tricky
[p]UNS [plays on words, without beginning] + ELFISH [tricky]

30 It won’t work in dry places, unfortunately
anagram [unfortunately] of DRY PLACES for the ancient water clock – a clever ‘sort of’ &lit!

31 Bash comic
double definition – especially neat, since the Bash Street kids feature in the ‘Beano’


1,3 Secret of behaving badly and escaping punishment
clever anagram [behaving badly] of SECRET OF
another old saying – equivalent of ‘escaping council tax’

2 Much less vicious, less hard individual
LET[h]AL [vicious, less h – hard] + ONE [individual]

4 It may help medicine go down, inserted into opening
reversal [go down] of PILL [medicine] in LOOP [opening]

5 In a state of excitement as edges of dressing gown fall away

6 Time to employ lifelong forte for dressing down
T [time] +  anagram of LIFELONG + F [forte]

7 Foodstuff consumed in most of France at one time
ATE [consumed] in GAU[l] [most of France at one time] – and, of course, GATEAU is French food

8 Perhaps banks lending capital make a killing
SAY [perhaps] round [banks] L [capital of Lending] – another superb surface

13 Ed heard loud shouts
sounds like [Ed] BALLS, the Shadow Chancellor

14 Lost nerve and skill
EX [lost] PERTNESS [nerve]

16 The noise of the bull ring
sounds like taurus [the bull]

19 Fundamentalists preferring heartless sadism over British charm
TALI[b]AN [fundamentalists] with S[adis]M replacing B [British]

21 Master said individual spirit is to be stifled
ORAL [said] round [stifling] I GIN [individual spirit!] – definition as in ‘master copy’

23 Organs found in jumble sales
hidden in jUMBLE Sales
yet another old saying: umbles are the heart, liver and entrails of [especially] deer, made into a pie for the humble servants, while the lord and his family feasted on the venison – hence ‘eat [h]umble pie’

24 Twenty-four hours without a sound

26 Artist starts to colour you blue
RA [artist] + C[olour] Y[ou]

28 Left order for portion of liver
L [left] + OBE [Order of the British Empire]

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,926 / Arachne”

  1. djawhufc says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thanks to you for the blog and Arachne for a tour de force.

    Took my whole journey into work but worth every minute. Now when I see her name on a puzzle I expect to enjoy it as much as one of the Masters.

    Does she set crosswords under other names do you know?

  2. muffin says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne
    Lovely crossword, with some really great clues. I liked WHELP and CLEPSYDRA, but BANQUET was the standout.

    I am a little puzzled about the equivalence of LET ALONE and MUCH LESS in 2d – I know “let alone” is used in speech to refer to things not being referred to (if you see what I mean), but why “much less”?

  3. J-Boh says:

    I enjoyed the puzzle, but I’m not convinced that “go down” works in 4D as an indicator of a reversal that, in fact, means the word needs to go up.

  4. Thomas99 says:

    @muffin (2)
    “He didn’t even kick the ball, let alone score a goal” “He didn’t even kick the ball, much less score a goal”.

    It’s full of cleverly off-centre definitions like that. Some typically original stuff from Arachne. Thanks for the blog.

  5. PJ says:

    I think “much less” is used the same way: “I could hardly solve a single clue, much less finish the puzzle” is another way of saying “I could hardly solve a single clue, let alone finish the puzzle”.

    Nicely disguised.

  6. PJ says:

    Ah, apologies for the cross-post with Thomas99

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi muffin

    I do see what you mean – and it’s much the same, surely? Collins: ‘let alone: much less, not to mention ‘I can’t afford wine, let alone champagne’.’

  8. Eileen says:

    Lots of crosses!

    djawhufc @1

    Arachne also sets puzzles for the Indy, as Anarche[!]

  9. michelle says:

    Quite an enjoyable puzzle by Arachne. My favourites were GATEAU, LEERY, LOLLIPOP, TALISMAN, STURDY & ATHROB.

    I learnt quite a few new words today: ON THE NAIL, CLEPSYDRA, TORUS, the BEANO comic, UMBLES, and the Brazilian footballer Robinho. Luckily they were all clearly-clued by Arachne and presented less problems than other words that I actually do know.

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I needed your help to parse 8d, 16d, 21d, 2d.

  10. djawhufc says:

    Thanks Eileen- I’ll keep an eye out for her in The Indy

  11. molonglo says:

    Can ‘t agree with your rave review, Eileen. This was all right, but several times (PAT, SLAY eg) I stared at my answer unconvinced – as someone said yesterday, it’s good when you instantly know when you have the answer right. Still, I did like 19 and 24 d.

  12. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Another fun offering from the Spider Woman, with a lot of her characteristically ingenious wordplay and disguised definitions. 15a, 26,29, 2d, 24d were clever. 22a and 5d provided a snigger. Other favourites were CLEPSYDRA and GATEAU.

    Like J-Boh @3, I was not entirely convinced by ‘go down’ as a reversal indicator in a down clue.

    First in was 9a; its allusion to Dad’s Army made me think we had a misattributed Tramp puzzle instead. SLAY was my last entry; although I had long seen it as a possibility, I couldn’t work out the parsing – until I suddenly spotted it, and gave a big smile.

    Thanks for cheering up the morning, Arachne.

  13. muffin says:

    Thanks to Thomas99, PJ and Eileen.
    I see now, though I seem always to have heard “let alone” rather than “much less” – might it be a regional thing?

  14. Eileen says:

    I don’t think it’s regional, muffin – perhaps more colloquial. I think I would probably say ‘let alone’ but write ‘much less’.

  15. jim says:

    Surely the whole of 4d is an ‘and lit’? You put the lollipop in the mouth after the medicine!

  16. george says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne. I enjoyed this too. So much to like, including BAWLS, LEFTIES and as a long-standing member of the Dennis the Menace and Gnasher Fan Club, BEANO, which I got straight away.

    I had wrongly parsed the CY of 26d in RACY as the start of CYAN. I also hadn’t been able to work out the derivation of quite a few, as well as learning a couple of new words: CLEPSYDRA and UMBLES (which I had down initially as bowels, until I found the hidden solution and looked it up).

    Am I the only one who tried to fit SQUIRTS into 22ac until the penny dropped?

  17. Robi says:

    Brilliant and highly entertaining – typical Arachne.

    Thanks Eileen; so many good clues, it’s difficult to pick out a few, but I ticked particularly SLAY, TALISMAN, UNSELFISH, GATEAU and, of course, the gents’ paper! [Sort of Pauline perhaps.] I’m afraid I missed the bathrobe – my last in as I was concentrating on the d/g edges of dressing :(

    I, too, was a bit confused by the ‘go down’ in 4 meaning up. Is this a common trick or is it just Arachnarian? [as opposed to Araucarian]

  18. Rowland says:

    Quite good, just a coupole of offences, and a chance missed to do a bogus subjunctive at 17!! But this xcompiler is one of the better, newer ones in the Gee.


  19. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Arachne and Eileen

    It was a great way to finish what was a good week of puzzles. Started off quickly here with 1d,3d which she generally let’s you do and then puts the brakes on. Finally finished with STURDY which took a while to understand what was going on and SLAY which I wrote in quite early but was my last actual clue to parse.

    Lots of innovative and shrewd devices with her typical slick surface readings. Many to like but will call out 5d, 24d and 27a as my favorites.

  20. William says:

    Thank you, Eileen, another excellent blog, which I needed for several parsings.

    I really enjoyed this – particularly UNSELFISH & STURDY, but there are 2 where I don’t think the structure quite works:

    “Frequently short of soft…” = “s” Fine, but shouldn’t it be “Soft short of frequently”?

    Also, in LOLLIPOP, isn’t the pill is going up, not down?

    These apart, I loved it, Spider Lady has definitely refined her art.

    More please.

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi William

    Re 22: I stared at this for a few minutes, wondering how to phrase the blog comment to explain it and not being completely happy with my effort. It works for me if I squint sideways at it!

    As for 4dn, I share the reservations about the reversal: I didn’t mention it, because I was sure others would!

  22. kenj says:

    re 13 across
    Surely a booze-up consists of more than one bevvy ?

  23. Eileen says:

    That’s what I thought, kenj, but Chambers gives ‘an alcoholic drink; a drinking session’.

  24. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Arachne

    Another good puzzle. I failed to parse ‘squires’ properly – it was my last in because I failed to remember about qs an us and I was glad to see the last of it having recognised the quire(s) part. I also missed the ‘master copy’ ref. in 21d. I had to check torus, clepsydra, and umbles in Chambers.

    I ticked 27a, 5d, 7d and 24d among a bevy of very good clues.

  25. Arachne says:

    Greetings from Spider Towers!

    A thousand thanks to Eileen for the blog, and to everyone for taking the time and trouble to comment. As ever, I’m made to feel that bloggers and solvers are all a lot cleverer than I am.

    4dn was perhaps pushing it a bit, and obviously I needed ‘go down’ for the surface, but may I put it to the court that as one of its many definitions of ‘go’ Chambers has ‘to take a direction, turn, follow a course’, so ‘go down’ can thus mean ‘turn down’.

    William@20 – my thinking was that if ‘three short of a quorum’ = ‘a quorum minus three’, then ‘frequently short of soft’ = ‘soft minus oft’. People have been known to say I’m a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but I’m not sure that’s relevant.

    Love & hugs,
    Arachne x

    PS Looking forward to seeing lots of you in Manchester in 2 weeks!

  26. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for dropping in, Arachne, and unravelling [or ravelling] 22ac: that’s something like the way I explained it to myself – I think!

    My recommendation to the bench re 4dn would be a conditional discharge.

    See you soon in Manchester – many thanks for helping to arrange it. ;-)

  27. flashling says:

    Thought 13a booze-up was an advert for the forthcoming S&B :-)

  28. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Always look forward to an Arachne, but she was being particularly tangly here. I think she’s a careful setter, in the sense that there’ll be a few in each quadrant to get you going; but I found the last six or seven really tricky to pin down. I’ll put it down to having to solve it this evening, when my crossword brain seems not to be at its sharpest.

    TALISMAN and ROBIN HOOD were favourites today. Guardian readers lefties? Puhleese … Arachne will be telling us next that the NUT delegates who physically or verbally abuse Secretaries of State for Education at their annual conference are a core constituency for the paper.

    Thanks for blogging, Eileen. Needed you for a few today.

  29. nametab says:

    Excellent stuff from Arachne, thank you

    Thanks for blog Eileen
    P.S. Might not 18a be a quadruple definition (caressing/girl/hitting the mark/ precisely – as in ‘off pat’)?

  30. William says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Arachne, and for taking the trouble to respond.

    Not that you really have anything to defend, but your defense is solid and unarguable.

    As I said earlier, more please.

  31. Rorschach says:

    Uncle Arthur protecting Frank was worth the price of the paper alone… And I did the puzzle online so I’m doubly thrilled. Long live her Royal Highness-the crown princess of the crossword world!

    Thanks Eileen and Sarah. Looking forwards to seeing you both on the 4th. You’ll have the latest Rorschach to battle with on the journey over… x

  32. Huw Powell says:

    Wow, what a perfect Friday puzzle for the Grauniad! Note it is now late Tuesday night here :)

    Arachne has done her gambit, ambit, and environment well. I’d swear every single clue was libertarian, though I’d be wrong. She twisted the ladder in so many ways even Watson, Crick, and Ms. Franklin would have been proud and perplexed. So much so that my reference to the good doctors Xray crystallographist is the only gender reference in this puzzle, and of course it isn’t. Bit sad, since I was privileged to listen to Gloria Steinem speak on the day of this puzzle.

    Echoing the Monday routine of smooth surfaces in favor of perfectly Ximenian clues, and following the Reverend’s bending of every rule we thought we could could trust, she constructed a tour de force indeed.

    I only lost at BEANO, in the end. I ticked off 17a, and 19, 23, and 24d as I worked through this.

    What a masterwork!

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen and you lot, and to Arachne for the incredibly imaginative puzzle – surely a milestone in what Grauniad setters can get away with!


Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

3 × = nine