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Club Monthly 20192 - September 1, 2016

I found this of about average difficulty, it took me an hour or so to finish, in three sessions. I observe with interest that some of the regular suspects, including the mighty Magoo, got one wrong - 19ac, reportedly.

I was interested to read some comments on TFTT blogs this last week about how bloggers could improve. I will most gracefully step aside in favour of anyone who wishes to show me how it ought to be done.. though in this tranquil backwater of TFTT, I will not expect it; you are probably stuck with me for the duration. But do please ask about any clue, I'm happy to explain anything at all.

cd = cryptic definition, dd = double definition, rev = reversed, anagrams are *(--), homophones indicated in ""

Dictionaries: The Club Monthly uses several dictionaries as sources, and why not? The main ones are the Concise Oxford Dictionary (COD), Collins, and Chambers. I can't afford all those so I use Chambers, the online Collins dictionary and the ODO (Oxford Dictionaries Online). I use the online Oxford English Dictionary too, (OED), though it sometimes goes beyond what we may reasonably be expected to know

1. S American native, sweet and unsophisticated at the outset (4)
pudu - PUD (sweet) + U(nsophisticated). Pudu are interesting, being the worlds smallest deer. They are crepuscular, (one of my favourite words); and both species of Pudu are threatened with extinction.
3. Exotic paste graduates pour endlessly, filling pot mostly (4,6)
baba ganouj - BABA (graduates) + (p)OU(r) (pour endlessly) in GANJ(a) (pot, endlessly)
9. Local area hosting a team that has Brazilian roots? (7)
paxiuba - A XI (a team) in PUB (local) + A(rea). It is a palm tree that can grow to 25m tall, so it has Brazilian trunk and fronds as well as roots..
11. Forgets part of page is rude, sadly (5,2)
dries up - *(P(age) IS RUDE). A standard cryptic clue.. each club monthly has half a dozen or so of these to help you find a way in, as it were
12. For cooking, try sole with a brown crustacean (6,7)
Norway lobster - *(TRY SOLE + A BROWN). Also known as a Dublin Bay Prawn, a langoustine, or .. scampi
14. Insincere wife’s abandoned cry for attention (5)
hollo - HOLLO(w) (insincere)
15. Prelate’s case dropped, breaking bowl over neighbour in church (3-6)
pew-fellow - P(relat)E + FELL (dropped) in WOW (bowl over). Known to me from my hero Sam Pepys' diary. Not in common use today, I suspect
17. Head for rural estates, perhaps going after grass for compositions (9)
ricercars - RICE (grass) + R(ural) + CARS (estates, perhaps). I have no technical knowledge of music whatsoever but I did know this word.. partly because it appeared in the TLS crossword only a week or two before! Its been in a Mephisto too.
19. A lack of memory set back relative of 12 (5)
maron - NO RAM rev. Of course on the face of it NO ROM is equally plausible.. but a maron is a crustacean, or so Chambers asserts, whereas a moron isn't, quite ..
21. Records one’s kept about personnel — old info — a cause of major faults (13)
taphrogenesis - HR (human resources, ie personnel - what used more sensitively to be called staff) + O GEN (old info) in TAPES IS (records one's)
24. How to leave extreme two thirds of political outsiders? (7)
oustiti - OK, if you get rid of the ITI you will leave the extreme two thirds of POL(ITI)CAL.. tricky clue! Oustiti, or outsiders, are crafty tools that grip from the outside a key put in from the inside of a lock, and enable you to turn it and thus open the door .. so always remove the key, after locking a door!
25. Periodically turning over, a night crying of discomfort in toe? (7)
onychia - hidden, rev., in A nIgHt CrYiNg Of
26. Religious monitors getting lazier sect in order (10)
zelatrices - *(LAZIER SECT)
27. Scot’s keen on pursuing golf (4)
gleg - G (golf, in NATO alphabet) + LEG (on, today's cricketing reference)

1. Mountain dweller’s hot female mates, not married (6,4)
piping hare - PIPING (hot) + HARE(m) .. always wanted one of those, not going to happen. Couldn't afford it anyway, I expect
2. Lord’s up for claiming additional right (7)
dextral - EXTRA (additional) in LD (lord) rev. As a leftie myself I've always rather objected to words like gauche, sinister etc etc. It would be interesting to see how many Times Championship finalists are left-handed. Bet it's lots
4. Ace hack, aptly, restructured paper with bosses (9)
anaglypta - A + NAG (hack) + *(APTLY). Never used the horrid stuff, but I have scraped plenty of it off walls over the years
5. Measure, maybe, drawn from underneath bottles (5)
ardeb - hidden, rev., in mayBE DRAwn. I had such trouble finding this. These hidden clues can be fiendish..
6. Stopping heat in a state of agitation, a contestant initially blocking scores ... (13)
adiathermancy - A in  ADITHER, + C(ontestant) in MANY (scores)
7. ... so alter running of heat (7)
oestral - *(SO ALTER). Heat in the hormonal sense rather than just temperature-wise
8. Kid in Bavaria, ok with training (4)
jape - JA (In Bavaria, OK) + PE (training) - another standard cryptic clue
10. Historic charter of university managed blunder: blame belonging to Fellow close to Provost (13)
uranographist - U(niversity) + RAN (managed) + OG (own goal, reckoned a blunder, unless you were paid to do it) + RAP (blame. As in: "It's a fair cop guv'nor, I'll take the rap; you've got me bang to rights, and no mistake") + HIS (belonging to fellow) + (provos)T. Not so much a clue, more of a Swiss watch.. really, a work of art, especially as the surface reading makes sense. Top class.
13. Cycle back and forth from Cornwall possibly, and again, entering en masse? (5-5)
swing-swang - SW (Cornwall, possibly) + SW (again!) in IN GANG (en masse) ..
16. Setters’ annual dinner, when I note uprising among my team? (9)
wasegoose - AS (when) + EGO (I) + SO (note) rev., all in WE (my team). Not just a really tricky clue but also a tricky spelling of wayzgoose, not (for example) to be found even in the OED. But Chambers, bless its little cotton socks, has it
18. Extremely carefully, means to trap small part of protoplasm (7)
cytosol - C(arefull)Y, + S(mall) in TOOL (means)
20. Loose material rogue male has entered for answer (7)
raschel - another tricky one .. it is RASCAL (rogue) with the HE (male) replacing the A(nswer)
22. Using more needles up, after rejecting special therapy (5)
reiki - (SP)IKIER, rev. Don't get me started on reiki as a therapy. If you believe that it is a valid medical treatment, and you can solve the club monthly as well, then you are special indeed. I recommend you think of it just as a pleasant way to spend half an hour and £50 or so, in which case, fair enough. Try ear candles, too
23. Certain familiar old US rock band recalled Out of Time (4)
pozz - Apparently there is a popular American beat combo called ZZTOP... remove the T(ime) and reverse it, and there you are. I looked them up on Wikipedia and it seems they are still going strong, with the original lineup, after almost 50 years. So the "old" is technically quite correct but is actually something of a compliment.
Whoever it was asking whether longtime Times solvers can guess the identity of the setters - I've been under the weather this week and so asked our esteemed editor for a special advance copy, during which transaction he dropped the setter's name, and once given that information it seemed totally obvious throughout, full of exactly the sort of vocabulary, abbreviations and signature clues for which the individual in question is famed. But hindsight is 20/20 and all that; I doubt I'd have worked it out for myself.

Anyway this was a pleasant middle-of-the-road Friday puzzle that I solved on paper in 8 minutes 22 seconds and eight hundredths of a second (aren't stopwatches brilliant?). Strangely heavy on the farmyard animals, though what kind of farmer would have a 9ac amongst his livestock I don't know, probably only one who does the crossword during his tractor rounds every morning. Being a TLS blogger I especially enjoyed the Wilde reference (plus we Magdalenenses have to stick together, don't you know) and the couple of other moderately erudite literary nods. 1ac was my LOI, being probably not the most obvious word conjurable from the C_A_R_ crossers.

Many thanks to the setter; and with that, I open this puzzle up to the floor...


1 Church - a vessel of salvation, revolutionary centre of spiritual power (6)
CHAKRA - CH A [church | a] + ARK reversed [a vessel of salvation, "revolutionary"]

4 Nonsense in legal document put into understandable language (7)
DECODED - COD [nonsense] in DEED [legal document]

9 Number present, parting with fine, about to get cross (5)
TIGON - NO. GI{f}T [number | present, "parting with fine" (i.e. losing an F)] all reversed ("about")

10 Thieves take risk with money, beginning to end (9)
PECULATES - SPECULATE [take risk with money], with the first letter moved to into last place ("beginning to end")

11 Attack what a farmer may do, wanting variety of milk? (4,1,2,2)
HAVE A GO AT - a farmer may HAVE A GOAT, if he wants goat's milk

12 Congregational members showing lack of discipline ignoring cross (5)
LAITY - LA{x}ITY [lack of discipline "ignoring cross" (i.e. losing an X)]

13 Sanction to restrict home producing beastly sound (4)
OINK - O.K. [sanction] "to restrict" IN [home]

14 Came across as very angry-looking, having swallowed drug after party (10)
DISCOVERED - V RED [very | angry-looking] "having swallowed" E [drug], after DISCO [party]

18 Expulsion of pub staff into street after this person had returned (10)
DISBARMENT - BARMEN [pub staff] "into" ST [street] after reverse of I'D [this person had, "returned"]

20 Foreign writer's demeanour putting the Queen off (4)
MANN - MANN{er} [demeanour "putting the Queen off" (i.e. dispensing with E.R.)]

23 Article about a knight, king's companion (5)
THANE - THE [article] about A N [a | knight]

24 In a queue, you say? Allowance must be made (9)
WEIGHTING - homophone of WAITING [in a queue, "you say?"]
A weighting as in "an allowance or adjustment made in order to take account of special circumstances or compensate for a distorting factor"

25 Causes of disease and sympathy - information is suppressed (9)
PATHOGENS - PATHOS [sympathy] "suppressing" GEN [information]

26 Dance fantastic on gala shows (5)
CONGA - hidden in {fantasti}C ON GA{la}

27 Author gloomy about sin in retrospect (7)
DURRELL - DULL [gloomy] "about" ERR reversed [sin "in retrospect"]

28 British engineers commandeering one old vessel (5)
BIREME - B REME [British | engineers] "commandeering" I [one]
REME are Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, who turn up in these puzzles once every so often


1 Suffer financial loss - i.e. to do this to get diamonds? (8)
CATCH COLD - apparently financial jargon for making a loss or losing one's investment. If "catch cold" is taken as a cryptic instruction, I.E. "catches" C to become ICE... which is to say diamonds. Clues can't get much crosswordier than this

2 French person offering a local wine - no good champagne ultimately imbibed (7)
ANGEVIN - A VIN [a | local (i.e. French) wine], with NG {champagn}E [no good | champagne "ultimately"] "imbibed"

3 Charge subsequently going up, squeezing any number (6)
RENTAL - LATER reversed [subsequently "going up"], "squeezing" N [any number]

4 Plant little girl on bed (5)
DICOT - DI [little (as in abbreviated) girl] on COT [bed]

5 Infatuation of everyone gathered round female in coastal location (4, 4)
CALF LOVE - ALL [everyone] "gathered round" F [female] in COVE [coastal location]

6 Performer admits drinking nothing, one becoming more crazy (7)
DOTTIER - DOER [performer] "admits" TT I [drinking nothing | one]. I don't know when TT was in common parlance to mean "teetotal"... but where would crosswords be without it?

7 Old-fashioned couple given dirty hovel for nothing (5)
DUSTY - DU{o->STY}: DUO is the couple, exchange STY [dirty hovel] for their O [nothing]

8 Saw a Miss Laetitia outside house briefly (8)
APHORISM - A PRISM [a | Miss Laetitia] outside HO [house "briefly"]. Miss Laetitia Prism is Cecily's governess in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest", responsible for absent-mindedly placing babies in handbags

15 Show girl's seen in court to be more wily than the rest (8)
CANNIEST - ANNIE'S [show girl's] seen in CT [court]. Show girl as in Little Orphan Annie from the Broadway musical and films

16 I fret at the bottom of haunt that's run down (9)
DENIGRATE - I GRATE [I | fret] below ("at the bottom of") DEN [haunt]

17 Mark betting system involving a measure of understanding (4, 4)
TAKE NOTE - TOTE [betting system] "involving" A KEN [a | measure of understanding]

19 Ruin brought by second mad person (7)
SHATTER - S HATTER [second | (proverbial) mad person, q.v. Alice in Wonderland]

21 One receiving property, having right to enter a vacated estate (7)
ALIENEE - LIEN [right] to enter A E{stat}E [a | "vacated" estate]. Molto legalese

22 Fashionable greeting is pretentious (6)
CHICHI - CHIC HI [fashionable | greeting]

23 Kind daughter had an office job maybe (5)
TYPE - TYPE D [kind | daughter]

24 Feature of vehicle brings shout of delight to one kind of driver (5)
WHEEL - WHEE [shout of delight] + L [one kind of (learner) driver]

A surprisingly topical puzzle with some jokes, a dodgy homophone, some science, some philosophy, classics, an obscure poison, some religion, and a trap for the unwary.  What could be better?  I got this about half finished in around 20 minutes and then did the rest piecemeal.  There were some pretty good times on the Club board but I found parts of it far from easy.  Definitions in italics underlined (where appropriate).  Answers in bold caps.

1.  He regularly created a TLS jaunt without a hint of jadedness (8)
TANTALUS.  Anagram of A TLS [j]AUNT, dropping the J (hint) from jadedness.  A graceful tribute to Donald Yerrill AKA Tantalus, for many years the "onlie begetter of these presents".  His last puzzle was in February of this year and he died in July aged 92.
6.  Agree to return a Liberal Democrat?  Not him! (6)
DONALD.  NOD=agree backwards (to return) with A L[iberal] D[emocrat].  From the sublime to the - not.  No further identity wll be given for that [fill in the blanks] individual.  If only it were funny.  If things come out ok in November I am saving a splendid sight gag on the subject which I took with my own camera just one block from here, but it will have to wait until it's safe to enjoy it.
9.  Fixes a Brookner title, Strangers to start with (6)
FRAUDS.  FRAUD is a novel by Anita Brookner, with S[trangers].
10.  What, according to Leibnitz, marks mostly one theory about a God, ultimately? (8)
MONADISM.  The reference seems to be to La Monadologie by the 17th/18th Century metaphysical philosopher Gottfried Leibnitz (which I've also seen spelled Leibniz without the T).  Philosophy is a closed book to me and I didn't do all that much better with this clue so this is probably wrong:  I had MONISM=theory of one supreme being, surrounding (about) A [go]D (ultimately).  But then "marks" seems superfluous.  I also tried waxing philosophical with a theory involving the former German currency and a god of the underworld, but it seemed no more plausible.  Help! See Paul infra.
11.  Flood's catastrophically daunting, gallons falling on earth (8)
INUNDATE.  Anagram of DAUNTIN[G] dropping the G from gallons, with E[arth].  A more creative clue than the usual one that includes a sister.
12.  Stylish movie - like Equus (6)
HIPPIC.  HIP=stylish.  PIC=movie.  I don't think I've met this word for horsey before but it wasn't obscure.
13.  In which a radical is found among the first of elements (5)
AMIDE.  AMID=among with E[lements].  As the great Sam Cook song says, I "don't know much about science book", so at first glance this was a bit daunting, but it turned out quite friendly.  It's a derivative of ammonia in which a hydrogen atom is replaced by an acid radical or a metal.  What the book says.
14.  "Altogether --, vast/ Herds of reindeer move across/ Miles and miles of golden moss" (WH Auden) (9)
ELSEWHERE.  From the 1940 poem The Fall of Rome.
17.  "Saves Sir Francis Drake from -- of Court" (Sir Fulke Greville, Life of Sidney) (9)
BLASTINGS.  Evidently Sir Philip Sidney, according to Greville, used his good offiices to protect Drake from the machinations of Queen Elizabeth I's courtiers.  Impossible to guess without all the checking letters, and even then I thought "boastings" was more likely until I looked it up.
19. Pianist who's good to put on after start of overture (5)
OGDON.  John, 20th Century British.  O=start of O[verture], G[ood].  DON=put on.
22.  I'd never heartlessly traduced one of Diaper's maidens (6)
NEREID.  Anagram (traduced) of ID NE[v]ER (heartlessly).  Refers to The Nereides, or Sea Eclogues, a pastoral poem of the sea by 17th to early 18th Century poet William Diaper.  The word "diaper" connotes nappies in these parts.
23.  Sounds like brownish-grey hats worn on canal walkways (8)
TOWPATHS. Homophone of "taupe" for TOWP with anagram (worn) of HATS.  The department of dodgy homophones.  I learned to drive on a Morris Minor Traveller (what Americans call a "woody") in a tasteful shade of taupe, but we pronounced it to rhyme with "thorpe" - TOWP sounding a bit too genteel in a Hyacinth Bucket sort of way.  And here it is!  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/bc/16/d4/bc16d4267c8265a408f081a6e456a664.jpg
24.  One that's sung round about start of devotions (5,3)
AGNUS DEI.  Maybe I missed the point but this seems to be a slightly convoluted "and lit.", except not quite because the chant doesn't actually come at the beginning of the mass.  A=one.  Anagram of SUNG with IE=that's backwards (round), surrounding (about) the start of D[evotions].  The answer was clear anyway and if I hadn't been on blog duty I wouldn't have stopped to try to unravel it.
25.  A story should have a beginning, a -- and an end, according to Larkin (not Aristotle) (6)
MUDDLE.  This is the one that seems to have caught one or two of us napping, although the setter was very fair.  On a non-blogging day I could easily have slung in "middle".   It's a satirical reference to a dictum of Aristotle, and Philip Larkin doesn't seem to be the only one to have adopted and adapted it.
26.  Sounds like a poet.  Like Crabbe we hear? (6)
SHELLY.  Coo, a double homophone and a cracker joke!  Excellent. Sounds like Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Also descriptive of a crab - geddit?
Chat on radio of line in Strong Poison (8)
GOSSYPOL.  Nothing to do with Dorothy Sayers.  Homophone(!) for GOSSIP=chat. OL=of line (not sure I quite get this).  It's a toxin derived from the cotton plant (gossypium).  I see from the club Forum that our encyclopedic Dave Howell didn't know this either.


2. Aids, perhaps, ex-PM's friend to come in in the morning (7)
ACRONYM.  AIDS is the acronym for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.  Largely curable or under control here in the US, but not so in many other parts of the world.  CRONY=ex-PM's friend surrounded by (to come in) AM=morning.  I don't know if there's a specific UK political reference here but this isn't the Guardian so probably not.
3.  Cut attributed to Rossini, for instance? (9)
TOURNEDOS.  A dish supposedly created to honour the composer.  In my Escoffier the filet mignon is to be garnished with foie gras and black trufflle and I haven't attempted it.  If I happen to get my hands on that cut I make Julia Child's steak Diane.  It is - immense. 
4.  Ship-mate of Lord Jim, dirty rascal!  (6)
LASCAR.  Anagram (dirty) of RASCAL.  Our statutory Joseph Conrad reference.  They were Asian or Arab seamen and also turn up in Sherlock Holmes etc.
5.  What's seen in sheets of Wodehouse? (6,9)
SUMMER LIGHTNING. A Blandings novel, not a Wooster one. 
6.  Eats item of Indian cooking in vessels (8)
DINGHIES.  DINES=eats containing GHI=item of Indian cooking.  Also often written as GHEE. A kind of clarified butter I've known of since early childhood when the nursery bookshelf held certain now notorious books by Helen Bannerman.  In one of them Little __ __ outwits four hungry tigers and turns them into ghee (or ghi).
7.  Ghastly pale, swallowing choppy water, but waving (7)
ARIPPLE.  Anagram (ghastly) of PALE containing (swallowing) RIP=choppy water.
8.  Crazy about love, utterly like Dionysian flatterer (9)
DAMOCLEAN.   MAD=crazy, backwards (about).  O=love.  CLEAN=utterly.  Not Dionysis the god of wine, but Dionysius, an ancient king of Syracuse, who responded to the flattery of Damocles by hanging a sword over his head by the thinnest thread.
13.  Fooling them all the same, disguises for Guglielmo and Ferrando (9)
ALBANIANS.  In Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte, the two suitors so disguise themselves to test the the fidelity of their inamoratas.  Roughly translated, the opera title means - they're all the same (women).
15.  In the way that a gaunt rider might look? (9)
HAGGARDLY.  Another cracker-style clue. If he were gaunt, H. Rider Haggard might look so.
16.  Burl Ives's burly patriarch (3,5)
BIG DADDY.  In the 1950s Ives reprised his original stage role on screen in Tennessee Williams's play Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.  He was joined by Elizabeth Taylor (memorably slinking about in a slip) and Paul Newman.  Judith Anderson (Mrs. Danvers in Hitchcock's Rebecca) was also in the cast.
18.  What Whistler did with grey and black for his mother (7)
ARRANGE.  I just happened to have the introductory userpic (by James MacNeill W) in my portfolio from last winter when it cropped up in a QC I was blogging..  Most people know this painting as "Whistler's Mother" but it was originally entitled Arrangement in Grey and Black.  It hangs in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris.
20.  He'll have got too misguided about a handkerchief perhaps? (7)
OTHELLO.  Anagram (misguided) of HE'LL and TOO.  Stage business with Desdemona's hankie.
21.  Was perhaps half mystic we hear?  They are! (6)
SWAMIS.  Anagram (perhaps) of WAS with homophone (we hear) of the first half of MYS[tic].

Quick Cryptic 669 by Teazel

Nearly twelve minutes for me, how did the rest of you go?

My major hold-up at the end, for no reason I can offer in hindsight, was the classic old TV show at 24ac.  One of the few comedies of that era that still holds up pretty well when you stumble across it on cable TV, IMHO.  The wordplay was pretty straightforward as well, but sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees.  Well done setter.

Hope you all enjoyed it.  I did, despite the low anagram count (just two today).  Thanks Teazel.

This is how I parsed the clues.....

(Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined.  Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised.  Then there's the answer IN BOLD, followed by the parsing of the wordplay.  (ABC)* means 'anagram of ABC').

1 Roll up hair length (4)
FURL - FUR (hair) + L (length)
A word you don't often see without an "un" in front of it.
3 Monkey’s limb doctor holds to fix (8)
MARMOSET - MO (doctor) 'holds' ARM (limb), + SET (fix)
One of Crosswordland's favourite apes.
8 Looking embarrassed, protects Maoists (3,6)
RED GUARDS - RED (looking embarrassed) + GUARDS (protects)
10 Signal that is used by potter (3)
CUE - Double def, the second one referring to a snooker (pool, billiards, etc) player
11 Splendid old woman and daughter (5)
GRAND - GRAN (old woman) + D (daughter)
12 Collector of scraps beginning to get thinner (7)
GLEANER - G (beginning to get) + LEANER (thinner)
13 Sticky liquid, a centilitre found in maple, for example (7)
TREACLE - A + CL (centilitre) found in TREE (maple, for example)
18 Jane tours one highly isolated position (5)
EYRIE - EYRE (Jane) 'tours' I (one)
19 Strain is back in part of joint (7)
TENSION - SI (is back) in TENON (part of joint)
Refers to the "mortise and tenon" joint commonly used in furniture making.
20 Man, to hold battle: magical success! (3,6)
HEY PRESTO - HE (man) + TO 'hold' YPRES (battle)
22 Voice criticism of short volume (3)
BOO - BOO{k} (volume)
23 Oddly, tried unknown orderly (4)
TIDY - TID (odd letters of TrIeD) + Y (unknown)
24 Parents host TV show (4,4)
DAD'S ARMY - DADS (parents) + ARMY (host)
Took so long to get it, I could feel Arthur Lowe shaking his head at me and muttering "stupid boy..."
1 Seek food article in smithy (6)
FORAGE - A (article) in FORGE (smithy)
2 In Leningrad, I always spoke (6)
RADIAL - Hidden in LeningRAD I ALways
As in the spoke of a wheel.  It's these quirks of the English language that allow us to have cryptic crosswords!
4 Not at first reasonable impression (3)
AIR - {f}AIR (reasonable)
5 Assorted clues some nail after working out (13)
First instinct was that "assorted" was the anagrind.  Nice bit of misdirection by the setter.
6 Support dispatch commander put in (6)
SECOND - CO (commander) 'put in' (SEND)
7 Conjecture the other ranks verify finally (6)
THEORY - THE + OR (other ranks) + Y (verify finally)
9 Don’t put on enough lingerie? (9)
UNDERWEAR - Double def
The first def is whimsical, the second is a DBE (definition by example), as signalled by the question mark.
12 Two soldiers, one huge (5)
GIANT - GI (soldier) + ANT (soldier)
14 The rod may become overheated (3,3)
15 Called harshly, wanting a little light in bunk (6)
BRAYED - RAY (a little light) in BED (bunk)
16 Watch set round British wood (6)
TIMBER - TIMER (watch) round B (British)
17 Dog tending to pry? (6)
SNOOPY - Double def
21 Main coal deposit metres short (3)
SEA - SEAM (coal deposit) minus M (metres)
Main=sea is another crossword standard. As in "sailing, sailing o'er the bounding main".

Times Quick Cryptic No 668 by Izetti

A nice sprinkling of history in today's tricky offering from Izetti. We had a Victorian cardinal, the First and Second World Wars, an old clan member (if we're to stretch a point), and two references to the Bronze Age - one Middle Eastern and the other, albeit indirectly, to a small town in the north of Wales. I don't know how well known that town is at 1ac - it was certainly unknown to me, but it has a long Wikipedia entry for a place with a population of 10,000, and with good justification. This, and a few other difficult clues pushed my time to 18 mins - by my reckoning the hardest of the week so far. Lots of nice clues, my favourite being 8d with its lovely surface reading that almost makes a short short story. Definitions underlined, and many thanks to Izetti for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle.

1 Plant a piece of equipment in Welsh town
MARIGOLD: A RIG (a piece of equipment) goes inside MOLD (Welsh town). So yes, I'd never heard of it, but it has a rich and varied history dating back to the Bronze Age. Most notably, a golden cape was discovered there in 1833 (in smithereens). At nearly 4,000 years old it was made from a single gold 'ingot' the size of a golf ball, beaten into an incredibly thin sheet, and decorated with a precision and artistry that make it the finest example of prehistoric metalwork yet found in the whole of Europe.
5 Wild animals, a nuisance for the most part
APES: A PEST (a nuisance); for the most part = mostly = tailless = endless = dock the last letter.
9 Rice Paul cooked around one
PILAU: anagram (cooked) of PAUL, goes around I (one).
10 Sparkly stuff not much good — rubbish
GLITTER: G = not much good, in a similar vein to 5ac; LITTER (rubbish).
11 A city's dream I recollected sometime in November
ARMISTICE DAY: Anagram (recollected) of A CITY'S DREAM I. I was slow getting this - I was thinking ___'s Day.
13 Acknowledges it’s mad getting drunk
ADMITS: anagram (getting drunk) of IT'S MAD.
15 Fresh fellow who became a cardinal?
NEWMAN: NEW (fresh) MAN (fellow). Made a saint in 2010 - the only English saint since the 17th century, no less. The Victorian cardinal has been busy of recent, performing two healing miracles since 2001 that led to his beatification.
17 Something good for cricketers? It helps one strike the right note
PERFECT PITCH: double definition, the first one semi-cryptic. My LOI, for some reason - seems very gettable in hindsight.
20 English Literature is initially timely for choosy person
ELITIST: E (English), LIT (literature), IS, T (initially timely).
21 What fat a person carries to get thinner gradually
TAPER: hidden in "faT A PERson", clued by "what ___ carries". Read the clue as 'What "fataperson" holds = the definition'. A similar device is used in 14d with "gathered".
22 Female bringing joy ultimately to boy
LADY: bring Y (joy ultimately) to LAD (boy). You can make as much of this surface reading as you choose.
23 One of the old people says Iran must reform
ASSYRIAN: anagram (must reform) of SAYS IRAN. Assyria would have included modern day Iran, which is neat. The empire was just starting to expand out across the region around the same time as the person was buried wearing the golden Mold Cape.

1 Look gloomy as this person outside work
MOPE: ME (this person) outside OP (work - short for opus).
2 Governor that helps to lay down a measure
RULER: double definition.
3 Become excited as passengers leaving Heathrow must
GO UP IN THE AIR: double definition, both semi-cryptic as far as I'm concerned.
4 More than one luminary comes down to earth
LIGHTS: another double definition (think "alight" for the second one) - very nice, this one.
6 Map's dot could show where important conference was held
POTSDAM: anagram (could show) of MAP'S DOT. Our WWII reference.
7 Stopping outside front of restaurant or wandering off?
STRAYING: STAYING (stopping) outside R (front of restaurant).
8 Science laboratory's termination follows this microbe getting out of control
BIOCHEMISTRY: Y (laboratory's termination) follows an anagram (getting out of control) of THIS MICROBE. It's a short short story with the hint of a cliffhanger...
12 Settlement with alarm finds old clan member
CAMPBELL: CAMP (settlement) with BELL (alarm).
14 Like a husband or wife being spoilt, one gathered
MARRIED: MARRED (spoilt) holds, or collects, or gathers I (one).
16 Conditions for different parts of America?
STATES: double definition - the fifth of the puzzle.
18 Island that's cold most of spring month
CAPRI: C (cold) APRI (most of APRIL)
19 Hard work finishing early? Smile
GRIN: GRINd (hard work, finishing early).
25 minutes on the dot, distracted perhaps by the incessant roar of a butterfly flapping its wings in the far, far distance. I don’t think there’s anything too tricky here, though there are a couple of pretty convoluted clues which require a bit of work. Perhaps the musical instrument will delay some, but I would have thought the geography at 25 was well enough known, even in the far flung corners of the Empire.
I am grateful to George for stepping in during my exile from reliable internet access a fortnight ago: we are now back to our regular pattern.
Here’s my reasoning, with the usual Clues definitions SOLUTIONS.

1 Armour, black and silver, generating a measure of response?  (4-3)
MAIL-BAG  How many of them would be a measure of success in generating responses. MAIL armour, B(lack), AG (or if you insist, even if it doesn’t work for highlighting purposes, Ag) silver
5 Drink with prostitute in company?  (5-2)
START-UP  Which would be one sort of company. It’s SUP, drink, with TART (prostitute) in. That “in” has a role to play in the wordplay
9 Opening perhaps when fully ready? Not quite  (3)
RIP  Not quite ready is RIP(e)
10 Cautious about sailor boy’s explanation for random behaviour  (5,6)
CHAOS THEORY  My last in, though it should have been quicker. Cautious gives you CHARY, into which you place O(rdinary) S(eaman), THEO. “Boy” usually indicates a short form of a name. Can’t someone stop that dam’ butterfly flapping around in the Amazonian jungle? Perhaps then we’d all get some peace.
11 House initially missing members, unable to have impact  (8)
HARMLESS  The H initial of House plus “not having arms”, members here indicating limbs.
12 Historic city — parking hard — food store must accept that  (6)
DELPHI  P(arking) and H(ard) – think pencils – within DELI, food store. Delphi famous for oracles, games and being the world’s belly button (sic)
15 Boorish fellow's influence in ousting leader (4)
LOUT  Influence, CLOUT, with its leader dismissed
16 Large American house containing nothing very bad  (10)
VILLAINOUS  Your large American house is a VILLA IN US. Chuck in a 0, nothing
18 RADA tutor in classic film  (10)
STAGECOACH  RADA being the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Stagecoach the movie (John Ford, 1939) famous for introducing John Wayne and just about every Western cliché before they became clichés.
19 Wealthy East German abandoning exotic bird  (4)
RICH  Remove OST (German for East) from the ostrich, helpfully described as “exotic”
22 Page nine capturing official opener (6)
PREFIX  P(age) IX (9 in Latin) and an inserted REF, your match official.
23 Instrument with strings partly cut? Yes, badly damaged  (8)
PSALTERY  To a cut PARTLy, add YES, and mutilate the letters until they agree to take the shape of this modern version of the Psalmist’s instrument.
25 Area's thrust up, forming Scottish hill  (7,4)
ARTHURS SEAT  An anagram, and quite an apposite one, of AREAS THRUST, up being the indicator. Overlooks Edinburgh, and yet another probably not Camelot.
27 United over missing out on first place  (3)
ONE  DONE, over, missing its first
28 Do better than penny in expenditure (7)
OUTPLAY  P(enny) in OUTLAY, expenditure
29 No point here in leading ambassador into flat (7)
PINHEAD The traditional Angels’ dance floor at the not sharp end of a pin. IN before H(is) E(xcellency) accommodated within PAD for flat.

1 Organise most of hemisphere of planet?  (7)
MARSHAL  The planet is Mars, and the hemisphere is HALF. Almost.
2 Demanding millions in restoration of reputation (11)
IMPORTUNATE  An unlikely looking anagram (restoration) of M(illions) and REPUTATION
3 Clip and fold  (6)
BUCKLE  I spent far too long trying to think of a sheep fold. It’s still just a straight double definition.
4 Inform wife repeatedly about marriage vow? One becoming disillusioned?  (5,5)
GRASS WIDOW  A member of a twosome much neglected for a foursome. GRASS inform, then repeated W(idows) placed around I DO, your wedding vow.
5 Average nameless boys  (2-2)
SO-SO   Two SONs without their N(ames)
6 Like sportsperson allowed in a friendly, finally dropping out  (8)
ATHLETIC   Allowed, LET, in A THICk, as in thick as thieves for “friendly”.
7 Couple now and then meeting, getting upset to some extent  (3)
TWO  An awful lot of clue for a short answer. If you join NOW to THEN , and reverse them, you’ll see our solution lurking in the middle.
8 Photos capturing reconstruction of shy scientist's study  (7)
PHYSICS  PICS, photos, containing an anagram of SHY.
13 Sweet opening for Ekberg, coming in for attractive part  (11)
PROFITEROLE The opening of Ekberg is, of course, E. Place that in a translation of “for attractive part”, PRO FIT ROLE, the  Times getting down and dirty with the “fit” bit. Anita Ekberg was a well fit Swedish-Italian actress in the sort of movies that required her mainly to be, well, fit.
14 Disgraced member to want silence amid sound of alarm?  (5,5)
BLACK SHEEP  As in “of the family”. The sound of alarm is the rather unstrident BEEP, into which you are to place LACK SH for “need silence”
17 Sure I'd misplaced almost all the rest  (8)
RESIDUAL  Anagram of SURE I’D plus almost ALl
18 Singer, very much embracing musical work, was progressing quickly  (7)
SOPRANO  Very much SO, taking in OP for musical work and RAN for “was progressing quickly”
20 Countryman deceived about conclusion to explanatory notice (7)
HAYSEED  Another place to lose time looking for a nationality. Deceived HAD around (explanator)Y conclusion and SEE for notice.
21 Excess emotion (in extreme instances) is a source of intolerance  (6)
GLUTEN  Excess GLUT, plus the extremes of E(motio)N
24 Notice pressure to oust it from piece of prose  (4)
ESPY  An ESSAY is a piece of prose, evict the S(ex) A(ppeal) – see above under Ekberg – and insert the P(ressure)
26 Spot on to decline a drink  (3)
TOT  Spot on is TO A T. Throw away the A

Times Quick Cryptic 667 by Flamande

Standing in at the last moment for William I prepared this in haste so please forgive lack of commentary. It took me 9 minutes to solve. Here's my blog...

 As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 Festival finished after meeting between father and sons (8)
PASSOVER - PA (father), SS (sons), OVER (finished). "After meeting between" adds to the surface and positions the various components of the clue
6 One way to barbecue / fish for tea (4)
CHAR - I make this a triple definition
8 Healthy hot drink (4)
HALE - H (hot), ALE (drink)
9 Prison employee mostly in the red given extra payment? (8)
REWARDED - WARDE{r} (prison employee) [mostly] in RED
10 At rear of stable I will get on horse (8)
STALLION - STALL (rear of stable), I, ON. Not sure that a stall is necessarily at the rear of a stable. On edit, thanks to Geoff H for this: 'stable' is clueing 'stall', with 'at rear of' indicating where to put the 'i' with 'on' to follow. I should have spotted that but was blogging under pressure today.
11 Corner, on turning right (4)
NOOK - ON reversed [turning], OK (right)
13 Oriental spies, devious characters (13)
16 Teachers' union's reeling in shock (4)
STUN - NUT'S (teacher's union's) reversed [reeling]
17 Where to find hedgerow, incidentally (2,3,3)
BY THE WAY - A straight defintion and a cryptic hint
19 A catalogue contains weapon, scandalmonger revealed (8)
ALARMIST - A, LIST (catalogue) contains ARM (weapon)
21 Swim across river? One's rather wet (4)
DRIP - DIP (swim) contains [across] R (river)
22 Card game some nippers are playing to begin with (4)
SNAP - First letters [to begin with] of S{ome} N{ippers} A{re} P{laying}
23 British writer once / playing cricket, perhaps (8)
FIELDING - Two definitions, the first being Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones
2 Flat fit to accommodate male painters? (9)
APARTMENT - APT (fit) contains [to accommodate] ART MEN (male painters)
3 Balloon finally soars successfully (5)
SWELL - {soar}S [finally], WELL (successfully)
4 Account in small volume senior translated (7)
VERSION - V (small volume), anagram [translated] of SENIOR
5 Dispute over a new tree (5)
ROWAN - ROW (dispute), A, N (new)
6 In court, non-U individual displaying small crown (7)
CORONET - ONE (individual) in CO{u}RT [non-U]
7 Copy paper with edges torn away (3)
APE - {p}APE{r} [edges torn away]
12 Formal speech about limits of private enterprise (9)
OPERATION - ORATION (formal speech) contains [about] P{rivat}E [limits of]
14 In foreign parts, Frenchman's one place to get a tan (7)
SUNTRAP - UN (Frenchman's one) in anagram [foreign] of PARTS
15 Title originally used by leading pair of Beatles? (3,2,2)
LET IT BE - Anagram [originally used] of TITLE, BE{atles} [leading pair]. The defintion is &lit - the whole clue - and a spectacular example of the type!
17 Lawyer / put in the picture (5)
BRIEF - Two definitions
18 Stopped pair of journalists covering news at first (5)
ENDED - ED + ED (pair of journalists) containing [covering] N{ews} [at first]
20 Boy embraced by Little Nell (3)
LEN - Hidden in [embraced by] {Litt}LE N{ell}

Times 26529 - one poet too many

Bushy tailed this morning, I sped through most of this in fifteen minutes, thanks to some write-ins and chunky anagrams. However the last few eluded me for a while longer, ending with 1d and 12a, even now I'm not sure why 12a is what it is.
I see some blog-readers are asking for more clarity in explanations (I do try to spell them out without being patronising) and the blog repeating each clue before the analysis. This latter idea would need a change of template for me, away from my simple HTML effort, and I'm not keen to copy and paste clues individually from the online puzzle into the draft blog. If someone sends me an easy solution to this, without my having to write java script, I'll give it a go.
That aside, I think it would be boring if every blogger followed the same style and syntax. Below, D = definition.

1 ELDEST - An easy starter; hidden word in ISRA(EL DEST)INED; D firstborn.
4 PLACATES - Insert CA (accountant) into PLATES (sheets); D calms down.
10 CONFIDANT - Anagram of O from DUO, with CAN'T FIND; D intimate, as a noun.
11 AMBER - Reverse RA (artist), insert MBE (award), D golden.
12 DOE - An animal D-E, so I wrote in DOE. My poetry knowledge is as minimal as I've always wanted it to be, I dislike all poetry except Lewis Carroll's, so now I can't explain which poem is being evoked here. Or have I missed the point? EDIT yes I missed the point, as explained below by our Noddy friend; ODE is the poem, with the D promoted (died too soon). Doh!
13 GODCHILDREN - Cryptic D. Well, not very cryptic.
14 SIMIAN - Means ape-like, sounds like a Hebrew tribe SIMEON.
16 SANDPIT - No need to conjure up names of Polish politicians with too many Ws and Zs. SAND = polish, PIT sounds like PITT, elder or younger. D play area fit for toddlers.
19 CONICAL - COAL = solid fuel, insert NIC(K) = short chip, D of regular shape.
20 DUENNA - DUE = anticipated, NNA = ANN reversed; D escort.
22 BODYBUILDER - (BURIED BY OLD)*; D muscleman.
25 TUX - TU = workers collectively, X = vote; D DJ, dinner jacket, short for tuxedo.
26 UNCUT - UN = French for 'a', CUT = hack; D missing none of the action.
27 TOWNSCAPE - Insert OWNS C (allows, clubs) into TAPE = record; D urban development. I wonder how much longer 'tape' will survive as a synonym for 'record'?
28 DESERVED - DE = case of D(ELEGAT)E, SERVED = did job; D earned.
29 STREET - Insert TREE (something like plane) into ST (stone); D the way.

1 ESCUDO - ESC = key, U = university, DO = study, read, "I'm doing Maths"; D former capital, old currency of Portugal. In spite of having E*C*** this held me up to too long, I kept thinking of cities not cash. And the old 'key' = esc, alt, del idea I find easy to forget.
2 DANDELION - DON = academic, insert AN, DELI (outlet); D plant. My second one in after 1a.
3 SWING - Cryptic D, genre of music.
5 LET THE SIDE DOWN - If you let the side down you've disappointed your colleagues, and a literal meaning for unloading a truck.
6 CHALLENGE - CHARGE would be custody, replace the R (king) in that word with NELL reversed; D dispute.
7 TABOR - ABORT = stop, move the T to the top; D drum.
8 SERENITY - Anagram of EYESTRAIN without the letter A, (EYESTRIN)*; D a sense of calm.
9 CARDINAL VIRTUE - (LUCID NARRATIVE)*; D a very good thing. A fine anagram too.
15 INCUBATOR - IN, CUBA (island), TOR = ROT (corruption) mounting; D one brooding.
17 PENETRATE - PENT = shut up, insert E (European) > PENET, RATE = levy; D bore.
18 ICEBOUND - ICE = finish off, slang for kill, BOUND = jump; D fast (stuck) in Arctic conditions.
21 EXCEPT - EXCERPT = selection, remove the R (run); D bar, as in 'all bar three'.
23 DOCKS - I liked this, simple but elegant. DOCK = moor, as in boat; S = first letter of spread (minimally) D weeds.
24 RESET - RE = note, as in Doh Re Mi, SET = firm; D fresh start.

Quick Cryptic 666 by Joker

666 may be 'the devil's number' but this was 13 minutes of entertainment from Joker. With a mix of easy-in and harder clues, my COD goes to 11ac for the definition. I have a bit of niggle with 15ac as it took me so long to guess where the letters should go but I like a crossword which gives me something to chew on.


3. Degas - French impressionist - noted for his ability to convey movement, esp in his studies of horse racing and ballet dancers. (D)raw, for example (EG), like (AS).
7. Presto - as in hey presto - fast moving. Preston without the closing letter.
8. Late - not delivered on time. Dish (pLATE) with the P (quietly) forgotten.
9. Ignoring - passing over. One (I), good (G), number (NO), phone (RING).
10. Pump - device for moving fluids. Turned up (PU), representative (MP).
11. Strike Breaker - one in when others are out. A lovely definition which took some time to figure out - then the word play was easy. Hit (STRIKE), runs (R) inside cup (BEAKER).
15. Inflorescence - the part of a plant that consists of the flower-bearing stalks. For those, like me, who had never heard of this it, was something of a challenge. LOI as the crossing letters were required to work out where the anagram could fit - but I felt the first 'I' and the first 'E' could have gone either way round. Anagram (altering) of FEEL CONCERN IS.
16. Coda - ending - of a musical or literary work. (C)ause, fuss (ADO) over - backwards.
18. Complete - full. Competition (COMP), allowed (LET), English (E).
20. Here - present. Weat(HER E)xtremes.
21. Retina - part of eye. Concerning (RE), girl (TINA).
22. Delay - wait. DAY importing 'the' in Spanish (EL).

1. Frighten - get alarmed. Just (RIGHT) inside flooded area (FEN).
2. Oslo - Scandinavian city. Anagram (must be given a makeover) of LOOS.
3. Domineer - boss. One taking action (DOER) about pit (MINE).
4. Gong - medal. Almost lost (GONe), (G)ymnast.
5. Slippage - running late. Error (SLIP), young attendant (PAGE).
6. Item - piece of news. One (I), encountered - met - rising (TEM).
12. Ill-fated - doomed. Unwell (ILL), obese (FAT), Edward (ED).
13. Rosemary - plant. Henry VIII's warship, the Mary Rose, with the words switched round.
14. Exciting - getting emotionally aroused. Coming out (EXITING) around clubs (C).
17. Omen - warning for the future. Old (O), soldiers (MEN).
18. Call - phone. 'Phone' twice in the crossword but in 9ac it meant ring. About (CA), lines (LL).
19. Lots - double definition.

Times Cryptic 26528 - A Touch of Frost

This one took me a leisurely 37 minutes so I imagine some of the speed-merchants will be home within 10 today. There's a reminder of the winter weather to come at 17ac and 16dn, and the drink at 22ac is sour and cold, but inner warmth is available courtesy of 12ac and 23ac. Here's my blog...

 As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 First rule picked up? (9)
PRINCIPAL - Sounds like [picked up] "principle" (rule)
6 Screw up — and down? (5)
FLUFF - Two definitions. Actors may screw up their performance by fluffing their lines. Down or fluff as on ducklings.
9 A pistol shot that's carried on a yard (7)
TOPSAIL - Anagram [shot] of A PISTOL. I know that sailing ships have yardarms and I take the nautical definition on trust.
10 Work to preserve vale (7)
CANTATA - CAN (preserve), TA-TA (vale - farewell)
11 Female parent less chubby (3)
HER - {fat}HER (parent) [less chubby - with fat removed]
12 Unseemly Ryder Cup row that heats up the course (5,6)
CURRY POWDER - Anagram [unseemly] of RYDER CUP ROW and a cryptic reference to food in the definition. The courses for the Ryder Cup alternate between Europe and the USA, and I gather from Vinyl1's remarks yesterday that it is currently taking place west of the pond.
14 Call a number on the phone to speak at length (6)
DILATE - Allegedly sounds like [on the phone] "dial" (call), "eight" (number). I didn't know this definition of "dilate" but the wordplay made the answer inevitable.
15 Figure lying back on table finds earwig (6,2)
LISTEN IN - LIST (table), NINE (figure) reversed [lying back]. I'm not sure if this meaning is known widely outside the UK.
17 Icy peninsula gripped by polar extremes (8)
SIBERIAN - IBERIA (peninsula) contained [gripped] by S and N (polar extremes). More on this at 16dn.
19 Fastener is essential (6)
STAPLE - Two definitions, the second as in "staple diet"
22 Resentful, failure in the drink (6,5)
BITTER LEMON - BITTER (resentful), LEMON (failure)
23 Funny / tipple (3)
RUM - Two definitions with "funny" in the sense of "odd". The second defintion can be any usually alcholic drink as in "what's your tipple?"
25 Food in a green nut's shell (7)
ALIMENT - A, LIME (green), N{u}T ('s shell)
27 Hooligan gathering support: that’s arranged (4,3)
LAID OUT - LOUT (hooligan) containing [gathering] AID (support)
28 A number enjoy computer science (5)
DIGIT - DIG (enjoy), IT (computer science)
29 Unknown relative caught by bear, he acted (4,5)
CARY GRANT -  Y (unknown) + GRAN (relative) contained [caught]  by, CART (bear). The Hollywood actor born in Bristol as Archibald Leach.
1 Substance containing cold, distilled residue (5)
PITCH - PITH (substance ) containing C (cold). I've never really thought about what this is, but apparently it's the residue from the distillation of wood tar or turpentine.
2 Sovereign refusing a compromise (7)
IMPERIL - IMPERI{a}L (sovereign) [refusing a]
3 Dear to secure a tender rump, piece of meat in butcher's shop (11)
CHARCUTERIE - CHERIE (dear) contains [to secure] A + {tende}R [rump) + CUT (piece of meat)
4 Sidekick shot Mickey Mouse (6)
PALTRY - PAL (sidekick), TRY (shot)
5 Matter of chance to see girl swim round close to creek (5,3)
LUCKY DIP - LUCY (girl) contains [round] {cree}K [close],   DIP (swim)
6 Devotee following a name (3)
FAN - F (following), A, N (name)
7 Mount to climb in African country, not South African (7)
UGANDAN - NAG (mount - horse) reversed [to climb] inside {s}UDAN (African country) [not South]
8 State bottling wind up in Cologne (9)
FRAGRANCE - FRANCE (state) containing [bottling] RAG (wind up - tease). A definition by example with reference to Eau de Cologne.
13 A1 is unfinished (11)
OUTSTANDING - Two definitions
14 Ruin meals for the panel (9)
DASHBOARD - DASH (ruin - one's hopes, perhaps), BOARD (meals - e.g. full/half board, meals included)
16 Graceful and flowing, Lake Erie finally freezing all round? (8)
BALLETIC - BALTIC (freezing) containing [all round] L (lake) + {Eri}E [finally]. After icy Siberia we now have the freezing Baltic. Actually, although "Baltic" has made it to some of the usual sources as a synonym for very cold, "Siberian" has not, though I'd have thought it was common enough.
18 In time, note included in report (7)
BATTING - T (time) + TI (note) included in BANG (report). The ins and outs of cricket once again.
20 Climbers on this mountain admitting a brute to ascend? (7)
PERGOLA - ALP (mountain) containing [admitting] OGRE (brute) all reversed [to ascend]
21 One walker or another wiping brow? (6)
AMBLER - {r}AMBLER (another - walker) with "wiping brow" as an unusual deletion indicator and one that only works for a Down clue.
24 Tyre’s outside in vehicle test, part of the service? (5)
MOTET - T{yr}E ['s outside] in MOT (vehicle test - Ministry of Transport). The ministry has changed its title over the years but the name of the safety check survives. Like the cantata at 10ac a motet can be a religious piece that's part of a church service.
26 Piece of furniture, a table put away (3)
EAT - Hidden [[piece of] {furnitur}E A T{able}

Time 26,527 - New location, same service

Solving time: 27 minutes

Music: None, music not yet available in my Connecticut establishment

I thought this was a rather vanilla puzzle, with maybe a few words that might be obscure to some solvers. I didn't have any major difficulties, although I ended up having to go through the alphabet to get the dog. Certainly, far from a masterpiece, but a serviceable Monday puzzle

My solve was a bit delayed by the golfing finals. Congratulations to Rory McIlroy for a wonderful round, although he should have put it away on the first playoff hole. I am expecting an exciting Ryder Cup, if the US can manage to hang on the in the foursomes, which are usually our downfall.

So on to the puzzle!

1TEAMSTER, TE(AM)STER, not the usual 'A' or 'US'.
8KOI, I OK backwards. I had never heard of this fish - has it ever been used to clue 'coypu'? Maybe we shouldn't give them ideas...
10CONTRACT, CON + sounds like TRACKED.
12VENT, hidden in [co]VENT[try]. I was considering 'send to Conventry' before I saw how this one worked.
14SPOTLIGHTS, S(POT)LIGHTS, not 'E' or 'H' this time.
17REGARDLESS, double defintion, one facetious.
20CASH, C + ASH.
23BEHEST, BE + HEST[on].
24PARENTAL, PA. RENTAL. Misleading because it starts with 'PA', not 'MA'. Concerning Boston birds, anyone?
25NETHERMOST, anagram of THE MONSTER. 'Slain' is certainly a novel anagram indicator.
26ERR, E[xpiated] + RR. Tempted to put 'ebb'? Don't!
27BRANDY, BRAND + Y[our].
28ALDERNEY, [b]ALD + ERNE + Y. Those unfamiliar with the names of the Channel ISlands, C.I. to cryptic solvers, migth find this difficult, but Alderney was just on the periphery of my knowledge.
1TAKE COVER, TAKE(C)OVER, eminently biffable.
2AVIGNON, A + VI(G)NO + N. I had some problem arriving at the correct spelling, needing 'koi' for a guide.
4EPISCOPAL, EP + IS + C[arved] + OPAL.
5PLEURAL, sounds like PLURAL...if anyone ever says it.
6PEDAGOGIC, P(ED[ucation] + AGOG)IC, another one that is most likely biffed.
13TRAVERTIN, TRA(VERT)IN, not the most common spelling, but I had never heard of it, so no matter.
15TESLA COIL, anagram of LOCAL SITE. Hmmm, seems familiar.
16SCHOLARLY, S(CH)O + LA + RLY, some rather seldom-used abbreviations being required.
18ELEANOR, E + LEA(NO)R, a queen who has appeared frequently of late.
22WESTIE, SEW upside-down + TIE, my LOI. Also a gang member from Hell's Kitchen, which would make an interesting double definition.

Quick Cryptic 665 by Orpheus

Orpheus has been a member of the Quicky stable of setters since the beginning, giving us a puzzle about once every 3 weeks, and (in my experience at least) has produced offerings all over the difficulty spectrum. I would peg this one as being perhaps marginally easier than average, with only 9D causing a minor pinging on my obscurity radar, so a gentle limbering up for the week ahead - thanks Orpheus.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20160926/18988/

Definitions are underlined.

1 Prevent free movement of covered basket (6)
HAMPER - double definition
4 Admission of something that isn’t consonant, so to speak? (6)
AVOWAL - homophone (so to speak) of A VOWEL (something that isn't consonant)
8 Two things an attractive model should be, in advantageous position (7,6)
SITTING PRETTY - an attractive model would be both SITTING (for a photographer or artist) and PRETTY (attractive)
10 Former partner, man or woman, one living abroad (5)
EXPAT - EX (Former partner) + PAT (man or woman - PAT can be short for Patrick or Patricia)
11 Nonsense writer without the polish? (7)
LEATHER - LEAR (Nonsense writer, i.e. Edward Lear, of The Owl and the Pussycat fame among others) around (without) THE. I didn't quite get the definition for this at first, as the only connections I could think of were that leather is either something that you polish or something that you polish with (e.g. chamois leather), neither of which gave equivalent parts of speech, but Chambers has leather as a verb meaning "To apply leather to" which I suppose, in the chamois context, gives us an equivalence. Or am I missing something more obvious?
12 Sort doing my job, working as compositor (11)
TYPESETTING - TYPE (Sort) + SETTING (doing my job, i.e. doing Orpheus' job as a compiler)
16 One flies aircraft at first by way of rocky peak (7)
AVIATOR - A (aircraft at first, i.e. the first letter of the word "aircraft") + VIA (by way of) + TOR (rocky peak)
17 Gentle progress of doctor overcome by beer (5)
AMBLE - MB (doctor, i.e. Medicinae Baccalaureus in Latin, or Bachelor of Medicine) inside (overcome by) ALE (beer)
18 Spanish pilot worried about daughter’s punctilious neatness (4,3,6)
SPIT AND POLISH - anagram of (worried) SPANISH PILOT, around D (daughter). A Spanish pilot in Crosswordland is highly unlikely to be anything other than part of an anagram, much like Stalin's hippo. Must admit the only meaning I knew of this phrase was with respect to giving something a good clean, but Chambers has "1. Cleaning up of uniform and equipment, esp to excess, 2. Ceremony and formality", so it's the second definition we need here. Edit: actually I should just have looked in Collins, which has: "punctilious attention to neatness, discipline, etc, esp in the armed forces".
19 Legislative body partly chosen at election (6)
SENATE - hidden in (partly) choSEN AT Election
20 Young cow unhappy here, if kept inside (6)
HEIFER - anagram of (unhappy) HERE, with IF inside

1 Move swiftly, initially holding a gun (6)
HASTEN - H (initially holding, i.e. the first letter of the word "holding") + A + STEN (gun). A Sten was a small submachine-gun, in service from the early '40s to the '60s, that was notable for its side-mounted magazine and simple design. It was named after the initials of the surnames of its creators, Major R. Shepherd and H. Turpin, and the first two letters of Enfield, location of the Royal Small Arms Factory where it was manufactured.
2 Philosopher bumped into a medical practitioner (13)
METAPHYSICIAN - MET (bumped into) + A + PHYSICIAN (medical practitioner). Nice surface. Famous metaphysicians include Aristotle and Kant.
3 What press chief may do about Conservative decree (5)
EDICT - EDIT (What press chief may do) about C (Conservative)
5 Green priest upset attorney over National Trust (7)
VERDANT - reversal of (upset, since this is a down clue) REV (priest), + DA (attorney) + NT (National Trust)
6 General surveillance TV addicts may be urged to keep? (8,5)
WATCHING BRIEF - quirky literal definition, where someone watching too much TV would be urged to keep their WATCHING BRIEF
7 Songs about a monarch’s hens? (6)
LAYERS - LAYS (Songs) about ER (a monarch - take your pick from the various Kings Edward and Queens Elizabeth), and a reference to the fact that hens lay eggs and are thus LAYERS
9 Plant originally lacking in parts of Dordogne? (9)
GOLDENROD - L (originally lacking, i.e. the first letter of the word "lacking") in an anagram (parts) of DORDOGNE. If you've not heard of the common name for the Solidago genus then you may raise an eyebrow at an anagram for a plant mainly native to the Americas, but once you have all the checkers then the vowel positions are pretty self-evident and the only alternative at that point is the unlikely looking "golnedrod".
13 Take out old religious pamphlet (7)
EXTRACT - EX (old) + TRACT (religious pamphlet)
14 Accountant’s sibling’s blackcurrant cordial (6)
CASSIS - CA'S (Accountant's, i.e. Chartered Accountant's) + SIS (sibling). You will be extremely unlucky if an encounter with a blackcurrant-related drink in Crosswordland doesn't lead you to either CASSIS or kir.
15 Article secured by odd bits of their rope (6)
TETHER - THE (Article, i.e. definite article) inside (secured by) ThEiR (odd bits of their, i.e. the 1st, 3rd, and 5th letters of the word "their")
17 Bloke in a European residence (5)
ABODE - BOD (Bloke) in A + E (European). Simple but pleasing clue to finish off with.

Mephisto 2925 - Don Manley

I think I was 50/50 on having the advantage here - I was very familiar with the name for rivers in the US, particularly in the Dutch-settled areas of Pennsylvania. On the other hand I didn't feel good about dredging up the name of a protein that also turned out to be a minister from 50 years ago.

Some generous anagrams around the outside made this an exercise from the outside in, though I recall finishing in the upper right corner.

Away we go...

9PENSIL: ENS(being) inside LIP reversed
12ROBLE: R(king) then NOBLE missing the first letter
13DYTICUS: I,C(see) in an anagram of STUDY
14SOBA: S.O.B. then A
16EPICARP: anagram of PIE, then CARP
17NOT-I: IT, ON all reversed
23SAHARAN: A,HAS all reversed then RAIN missing I
27SERIATE: anagram of TERESA,I
29LINT,IE: variation of LINNET
32LACUNAR: LUNAR(silver) with A,C(astle) inside
33ABIDE: ID(ea) inside ABE Lincoln
34KILL,AS: in the Northeast of the US you'll find a lot of rivers with -KILL at the end of the name, such as the Schuylkill river that runs through Philadelphia
1FORSET-SELLER: FELLER(man) containing an anagram of STORES
2NEBBISH: NEB(bill) then BISHOP missing OP
3ANLACE: ANL (Anti Nazi League) then ACE
4BIDARKA: BIA(s) containing DARK
5LATENCE: TEN in LACE - unless it is TEN in LACY
6AMIR: RIMA reversed
7TACIT: TACT holding I
10SERA: S(ubside),ERA
11TUNING: TURNING(deviation) missing (conducto)R
19GRAINER: RA in GIN, then ER
21ANEURIN: a reference to ANEURIN Bevan
22IDALIAN: of Aphrodite - Princess IDA then NAIL reversed
24WIBBLE: WILE containing alternative letters in BaBy
26INCUS: INCURS losing (bur)R
28REAL: I think this is meant to be (fune)REAL
30TUFT: hidden reversed in brillianT FUTure

Sunday Times 4712 by Jeff Pearce

10:34. A fairly gentle offering from Jeff Pearce this week, but none the less enjoyable for that. I was slowed down a bit by misspelling the little fella at 8dn: I put RUMPLE instead of RUMPEL. Fortunately this is just a crossword so being forced to give up my first born child was never on the cards, and eventually I realised I had gone wrong when the answer to 11ac occurred to me. I also struggled a bit with the unknown 29ac, which took me over the ten-minute mark at the end. There are one or two other unusual words in here but they're all fairly indicated.

So thanks to Jeff, and here's how I think it all works.

1 Charlie left party knocking back cocktail
SNOWBALL - SNOW (cocaine, aka charlie), then a reversal of L, LAB.
5 Sailor left a mark
10 Observe beetle and car crashing
CELEBRATE - (BEETLE, CAR)*. Oh, that meaning of ‘observe’.
11 Wheat uni put in snare?
DURUM - D(U)RUM. The type of wheat used in pasta.
12 North-eastern China is a mountainous area
13 Cool city leader leaves farm with fruit that’s not new
14 Asian is carrying one son for another
17 Price at which one may be disagreeing
ODDS - since the ODDS are the price of a bet, and if you are ‘at ODDS’ then you are in disagreement.
19 Mention sex in church
20 Removed nit for upsetting Italian scorer
22 Kind of cat made alarm go off
MARMALADE - (MADE ALARM)*. What I would call a ginger tabby, I think.
24 Gay? Not born straight
25 Lively beer’s right on time
27 Not knowing when badgers might appear
IN THE DARK - nocturnal creatures, badgers.
28 Place making car needs parking for it? That’s unnecessary
29 Cut some butter to go on this snail
RAMSHORN - RAM (butter), SHORN (cut). An acquatic snail I had never heard of, so I had to tease this one out from the wordplay.

1 Deputy that might make you resign!
SECOND IN COMMAND - a reverse number where the answer is wordplay for part of the clue: SECOND IN COMMAND gives you RE(S)IGN.
2 Old player finally cut deck
ORLOP - O, playeR, LOP. Another case of trusting the wordplay: I had never heard of this name for a lower deck in a ship.
3 Show disapproval of couple grabbing black bird
BOBOLINK - BO(B)O, LINK. I needed the wordplay here too, but this bird must have come up before because it seemed familiar.
4 A shopping district erected over Peruvian transportation
LLAMA - reversal of A MALL.
6 Very much an Arabian boat
AND HOW - AN, DHOW (Arabian boat).
7 Carried on chopping leaves for cooking
CORIANDER - (CARRIED ON)*. Aka cilantro.
8 Odd plumber initially ordered little sinks for wee chap
9 Liking charm when put under pressure
15 Scare off short toilet cleaner
16 Nervous picadors scattered
SPORADIC - when I solved this I thought ‘how does sporadic mean nervous?’
18 Watches Durham, say, being contained by some bowling
21 Throw gold over Latin American dictator
CASTRO - CAST (throw), reversal of OR.
23 Special walk-on part
25 Fertiliser sample of Nicaraguan origin
GUANO - contained in ‘Nicaraguan origin’.


I solved this in the garden with nothing to use as a timer other than the passage of the sun but I’d say it took me comfortably less than an hour so falls into the average difficulty bracket.  An enjoyable puzzle for all that.

First in was IT’S A FAIR COP and last was EUTERPE which I have to confess I needed aids to get.  I really should learn my muses (not to mention fates and graces).



INJURIOUS  - U for superior + RIO inside (bottled by) IN JUS (thin sauce favoured by Masterchef contestants)


FITNESS CENTRE - (firstsentence)*


SEBUM - BUM for no good on (generally (always?) after in an across clue) S(outh) E(ast).  Sebum is an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands


FORTNIGHTLY - soundee-likee for fought knightly, but probably not in all accents




FELIX THE CAT - deciding whether the anagram fodder was kiss l Cathie or X left Cathie might have held up some solvers.  Felix first came to a multiplex near you in 1919


AIR CORRIDOR  - AIR (feeling) + COR ((goodness) gracious) + RID + O(rdinary) R(anks)


ICE SHOW - ICES (think 1940s gangster movies) + HOW (think 1950s westerns or Fred Dineage


DIOXIDE - D(etected) + I(n) + OX + IDE, the crossword setter’s favourite fish




TWI - ToWnIs an obscure word (a collection of dialects of the Akan language, spoken in Ghana) helpfully clued.  I thought it was more likely to be a person than a tongue


RECOIL  - OIL after (on in an across clue again) REC, Brit shorthand for a playing field / recreation ground


SUN HELMET - SUM + HELM + E.T.  I don’t think the syntax of the definition (one would put on in tropics) quite works here.  It would need a “something”, a “be” or a “this” in there somewhere to make sense to me.




BIONIC - B(orn) + IONIC for “having feet” (nowt to do with ions and there’s no such thing as an ionic pentameter in poetry – Ionic columns in classical Greek architecture have bases or feet).  Bionic eh?  Do do do do do do… ba ba ba ba ba ba…  der der derr der, dah dah dah dah daaah.  Six million dollars doesn’t seem a lot these days does it?


MAE - last letter of film Columbia produce with Eastenders as the imaginative last letter indicator


NATURE ABHORS A VACUUM - a sort of CD I guess


OX-FENCE - OFFENCE with X replacing one of the Fs


GERBERA - hidden plant.  I nearly went for a jumble of manager


JOHNSON - JOHNS (US toilets) + ON for working to give you LBJ or the other one


TO BEGIN WITH - I in (bettinghow)*


COCONUT PALM - CO CO (firms) + NUT (crazy) + PALM (conceal)


ORGAN - DD, neither of which has anything to do with punctuation as suggested by the surface reading


OUT OF KILTER - DD, one of which is, um, quirky shall we say?  Straight out of the Uxbridge


DEMILITARISED - shot of soldiers is the def, constructed from DEMI LIT (half in the dark) with an incorrect past participle of arise


CAMCORDER - MC (as in Hammer) inside CA ORDER



REMIX - the ancient number is IX off of the Romans, and the band is R.E.M. off of Losing My Religion


SPRUCED - did tart as in tarted up made by tacking D for diamonds onto SPRUCE.  I neither know nor care if a spruce is a pine or vice versa


FINE-TOOTH COMB - anagram of C for cold plus bitofthemoon.  Why do so many people insist on enunciating the phrase as if it refers to a tooth-comb that is fine rather than a comb that is fine-toothed?  What exactly do they think a tooth-comb is? 


TOG RATING - TO as in closed (of a door) plus GRATING to give the mysterious number that tells you how cost your duvet is supposed to be.  I don’t think we’ll ever get consensus on whether “to” is not quite closed or not quite open


EUTERPE - E(nglish) PRE TUE all reversed.  As mentioned I had to “cheat” to arrive at the flute-wielding muse of music, song, lyric poetry and tooth-combs


SKYROCKETING - ROCKET IN in SKY G.  I considered ballooning and mushrooming long before skyrocketing occurred to me, probably because I associate the latter more with going up than expanding


EASY RIDER - picture as in fillum, a straightforward charade


TAXED - {ou}T plus AXED


ESPERANTIST - (saintpeters)* I think the definition (no natural language expert) relies on the fact that Esperanto is an artificial language


HAHNIUM - (himahun)* No wonder I hadn’t heard of this element.  It’s an alternative name for Dubnium, which I hadn’t heard of either.  It’s the secret ingredient that makes some tooth-combs finer than others 


KATHMANDU - AND in MU after KATH.  At first I wondered why the letters either side of AND should be M and U but of course it’s the Greek letter MU




OPEN AIR - O for ball the AIR for bearing under PEN


WISPIER - IS PIER after W(ife)


LATCHKEY CHILD - anagram of CLICK HEALTHY + D(aughter) Is this just a Britishism?  I think I’ve always heard it as latchkey kid


EPITAPH - &Lit made by putting PI TAP in EH?


SOUTHERNMOST - THE in SOUR {rundown}N MO ST.  The definition puzzled me briefly but of course it’s nearest [to the South] pole, not the pole that’s nearest


COMFORT FOOD - Decent cryptic definition with a surface reading that suggest plastic surgery


CEMENT MIXER - another straightforward charade where the division between the two elements is in the same place as the answer.  If this another peculiarly British term for that particular piece of plant?


PANJANDRUM - charade of PAN, JAN & DRUM FOR “a person who has or claims to have a great deal of authority or influence”.  Rather than being derived from Punjabi, Sanskrit, Arabic it whatever it’s an invented phrase in a nonsense verse (1755) by S. Foote.  In researching an appropriate description I chanced upon “The Great Panjandrum”, a massive, rocket-propelled, explosive-laden cart designed by the British military during World War II.  That would make a good ride at Alton Towers


NONAGONAL - reversal of LAN for network, O.G. (own goal / error) and ANON


AIR SHAFTS - (farasthis)* with a neat way of indicating the anagram (“potentially to be built as”)


GLITTER - GRITTER with L substituting the first (as is clearly indicated) R


ASCETIC - AS C + CITE reversed


SWATTED - homophone of swotted as in mugged as in crammed / revised


BY GUM - yet another simple two-part charade for a supposed Northern expression  meaning brother as in oh boy / oo ‘eck etc.  I’ve lived in Yorkshire for 16 years and in Lancashire for the 10 years before that and I’ve never heard anyone say “by gum”.




Saturday Times 26520 (17th Sept)

Solving time - about 17 minutes in the paper without rushing. It took me ages afterwards to see how 13ac worked, but no problems anywhere else (although I thought 19dn was a bit weak).

1 Competition to get church into expensive contract (12)
STEEPLECHASE - CH(urch) inside STEEP (expensive), LEASE (contract).
8 New and mostly strong cloth (7)
NANKEEN - N(ew) + AN(d) + KEEN (strong). Not the first synonym for strong that comes to mind, and it isn't in Chambers either. It is in Collins though ("intense or strong") so the setter's off the hook. It's a type of cotton cloth made in Nanking in China, so I suppose it is mostly strong (I'm sure quality control is as good there as anywhere these days).
9 Closes up / page (7)
BUTTONS - double definition. "Page" as in the pantomime character in Cinderella.
11 Possibly maximum speed of ship's bow (7)
TOPKNOT - a ship's highest speed might be called its TOP KNOT by a crossword setter!
12 Inventor / cut down to size? (7)
WHITTLE - double definition. Sir Frank Whittle invented the jet engine.
13 Tweak behind more, left to right a bit (5)
ALTER - LATER (behind more), with the L(eft) shifted to the right. Last one parsed, although I threw it in from the definition anyway.
14 Rip-off maintained by boss? I see what you mean (3-6)
LIP-READER - (rip)* inside LEADER (boss).
16 Manages to give up dessert, to get active again (4,5)
KICK START - KICKS (manages to give up) + TART (dessert).
19 Show Cockney's claim to be tough needs rejecting (5)
DRAMA - AM 'ARD (Cockney's claim to be tough) reversed.
21 Foolish not to start song with backing, a Shakespeare setting (7)
ILLYRIA - (s)ILLY (foolish not to start) + AIR (song) reversed. Twelfth Night was set there.
23 Take a tumble, missing the start - that's the end (3,4)
ALL OVER - (f)ALL OVER (take a tumble, missing the start). Quickest write-in for a long time!
24 Pair of tablets temporarily lower, with sound credit (7)
DIPTYCH - DIP (temporarily lower) + TYCH (sounds like "tick", credit).
25 Abolish enclosure? Counsel may be for it (7)
26 Pass on instruction after break's beginning to relax farm worker (6,6)
BORDER COLLIE - COL (pass) next to ORDER (instruction) after B(reak) + LIE (relax).

1 Paper's prize feature on star (7)
2 Depend on soldiers to support English queen (7)
ELEANOR - LEAN (depend) + OR (soldiers), all under E(nglish). Henry II's queen, in the 12th century.
3 Smoke in fact at intervals seen in dish (9)
PANATELLA - (i)N(f)A(c)T inside PAELLA (dish).
4 Joint, about a pound, lifted sadness (5)
ELBOW - LB (pound) inside WOE (sadness) reversed.
5 Emergency advice received here, then oil moving parts (7)
HOTLINE - (then oil)*.
6 Exclaimed, being rejected having dropped round (7)
SHOUTED - OUT (rejected) inside SHED (dropped).
7 An obsession with single number on record? (3-5,4)
ONE-TRACK MIND - cryptic definition.
10 Extra small fruit, one potentially infectious (5-7)
SPEAR-CARRIER - S(mall) PEAR (fruit) + CARRIER (one potentially infectious).
15 Boy painted round Dad - I'd finished off (3,4,2)
PUT PAID TO - PUTTO (boy painted) around PA (dad), I'D.
17 State agent goes over and over song (7)
CALYPSO - CAL (state) + SPY (agent) reversed + O(ver).
18 Drenched in mist, ramblers finally fell to their knees? (7)
SPRAYED - (rambler)S + PRAYED (fell to their knees?)
19 Miserable amount of benefit? (7)
DOLEFUL - cryptic definition.
20 Progress very limited in a social event (7)
ADVANCE - V(ery) inside A DANCE (a social event).
22 Not at all like one described as crashing endlessly round hospital (5)
ABHOR - A BOR(e) (one described as crashing, endlessly) around H(ospital).

Quick Cryptic 664 by Des

This is Rob Rolfe's blog for today as set up in the LJ scheduler where it seems to be due to post late this afternoon. As he is incommunicado this morning and asked me beforehand to keep an eye on things for him I have taken the liberty of retrieving it and am posting it now. He hopes to be back to deal with queries later (jackkt).

Some tough clues for the QC today, with lots of possibly challenging parsing required. 5ac may have stumped a few; 21ac sets the imagination running; and 6d (my COD, clue of the day) required more than some thought. Food of various sorts makes several appearances, as do school French and a relatively obscure Latin word. Just three anagrams, continuing a trend noted last Friday.

Thanks to Des for making us think!

1 Nice, open arrangement for seed-producer (4,4)
PINE CONE – An anagram (arrangement) of ‘Nice, open’. Took me years to realize where the seeds are in a pine cone.
5 That is, I hesitate to say, dross (4)
SCUM – SC (that is) UM...(I hesitate to say) = scum (dross). It may be new to some solvers, but ‘that is’, usually written as i.e. for the Latin id est, can also be given by sc. = scilicet, Latin for ‘namely’ = ‘that is’.
9 Show vicar up — embarrassing initially (5)
REVUE – vicar = REV, up – embarrassing initially = UE. A revue is a funny sketch show, topical and musical, (which may well ‘show up’ vicars or indeed anybody else). There is a continuing discussion on this forum about whether vicars are reverends.
10 Celebrate noisily one being included in catalogue (7)
ROISTER – I included in ROSTER = catalogue. A marvellously old-fashioned word.
11 Some criminal — add in scavengers — finding place with valuables (8,4)
ALADDIN’S CAVE – the phrase is included in the clue, and was not that easy to spot. Was Aladdin a criminal? – you decide.
13 Sources of wood and metal on the coast? (6)
ASHORE – ASH ORE. I have some doubts about this clue. ASH is a wood, not a source of it. ASHORE can easily mean ‘on land’ (think a boat on a river, not near the coast), but the question mark at the end of the clue allows the answer.
15 Cream the French used as accompaniment to cheese? (6)
PICKLE – PICK = cream LE = the in French. Cheese and pickle is a traditional sandwich or, along with crusty bread, the main ingredients of a ‘ploughman’s lunch’.
17 US president’s take on English county (12)
LINCOLNSHIRE – (Abe) LINCOLN’S HIRE = ‘take on’. Lincolnshire is very flat, (apart from its cathedral, which is so prominent it was used as a landmark by returning bomber crews during WW2), and grows lots of cabbages.
20 Italian dish to drop, getting in the way (7)
LASAGNE – More food, this time SAG (drop) in (getting in) LANE (the way).
21 Married female exploited (5)
FUSED – F (female) USED (exploited) – rather an odd way to describe ‘married’, but maybe some couples are joined by melting together.
22 Teddy bears, say, coming in twos? Yes, regularly (4)
TOYS – Definition is ‘Teddy bears, say (= for instance)’, given by ‘TwO’sYeS’, every other letter. And if you’re not singing ‘ If you go down to the woods today…’ you are too focused.
23 Cooperate in drama and dance (4,4)
PLAY BALL – PLAY = drama, BALL = dance, to ‘play ball’ is to cooperate

1 A hairstyle for every month (4)
PERM – PER = for every, each M for month. Are perms still restricted to elderly ladies? Short for ‘permanent wave’.
2 On the way up, left a vehicle connected to ships (5)
NAVAL – L (left) A VAN (vehicle) backwards (on the way up, this being a down clue). From Latin navis – a ship.
3 Cheese feast in English tourist attraction (7,5)
CHEDDAR GORGE – CHEDDAR (the most popular English cheese, 55% of all household cheese purchases) GORGE (feast, or rather eat too much too quickly) gives the very famous limestone feature in the Mendip Hills in Somerset.
4 Fantasy world of eccentric in Aran (6)
NARNIA – An anagram (eccentric) of ‘in Aran’, gives the land through the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’s wonderful tales. Not the Scottish island Arran, but could be the islands in Galway Bay. However, I’d never heard of the latter, so the surface did not work against me.
6 Stage where Queen, maybe, go missing? (7)
CATWALK – CAT (a queen is a female cat) WALK (go missing). Again the surface may not work, as it’s pretty hard to imagine Queen disappearing.
7 Finished off rearing of French racehorse (8)
MURDERED – backwards (rearing) DE (‘of’ in French) RED RUM, three-time Grand National winner. Definition is ‘finished off’ = MURDERED. Though definitely a horse who won races, RED RUM was a steeplechaser (over jumps). After retirement, he spent a lot of time opening supermarkets, and appeared on the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show.
8 It’s most unlike bacon could go up! (4,5,3)
PIGS MIGHT FLY - being generous and assuming no typographical error, ‘unlike’ here is Shakespearean for ‘unlikely’. Clue reminds me of Manuel in ‘Basil the Rat’.
12 American season, note, to fizzle out (4,4)
FALL FLAT – FALL = American for ‘autumn’ FLAT. Some notes of the scale are called flats (they’re the black keys on the piano, and can also be called sharps). However, describing a performed (played or sung) note as ‘flat’ means that is lower in pitch than it should be, and probably discordant.
14 Best policy, perhaps, dispatching the nosy (7)
HONESTY – Anagram (dispatching) of ‘the nosy’, recalling the phrase ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Across the pond they claim that this was coined by Benjamin Franklin, but it was around in sixteenth century Dublin.
16 Poorly in Paris one spring (6)
UNWELL – Definition is ‘Poorly’ = ill. UN (‘one’ in Paris, that is, in French) WELL = spring.
18 Adherent of religion: one elevating a foreign emperor (5)
RASTA - A TSAR backwards (elevating)
19 Hero doing nothing to speak of (4)
IDOL - A homophone (sounds the same) = ‘to speak of’; idle = doing nothing. Bit loose here, ‘idle’ usually means ‘lazy’ rather than ‘doing nothing’, and although an idol may be a hero, they usually aren’t, so maybe a ‘maybe’ or question mark should be in the clue.

Times 26,525: Hymns and Hurts

A good crossword this week I thought, and a very fine exemplum of the "must be a pangram, ARGH IT'S NOT A PANGRAM" genre. Extremely economically clued, some definite bang for one's buck in the vocabulary stake, and a number of quirky moments to raise a smile: 23ac (my FOI), 20ac, 17dn and 18dn... 20ac is so simple and clever that I think it must be my COD. 21dn my LOI and a biff, I learned something new there.

I'm tired and shagged out from a long TLS (1140 by Talos: once again highly recommended by me, and of a similar or slightly lower difficulty level to this puzzle, so you've no excuse for avoiding it unless you really hate books) that so I'm not going to tarry long for a change. But thanks to the excellent setter! I will just say in parting that I almost came a cropper at 25ac, on the grounds that AZUL seemed plausibly blue and a Zulu is *almost certainly* some kind of bike... but fortunately another possibility occurred before the fatal submit button could be pressed. How did the rest of you fare today?


1 Vehicle reversing with weight of gems is a chancy enterprise (8)
BACCARAT - CAB [vehicle] reversing with CARAT [weight of gems]

9 Coarse stuff witch squeezed into powder (8)
ROUGHAGE - HAG [witch] squeezed into ROUGE [powder]

10 Not that good a place of entertainment (4)
FAIR - double definition

11 Fond creature struggling in race (4,2,6)

13 Ad-lib regularly about keeping pet (6)
GERBIL - hidden reverse in {ad-}LIB REG{ularly}

14 Close up part of church on Hebridean island (8)
COLLAPSE - APSE [part of church] on COLL [Hebridean island]

15 Stationary traffic at main road around island (7)
JAMAICA - JAM [stationary traffic] at A1 [main road] + CA [around]

16 Short rope network, a way to catch one (7)
LANIARD - LAN A RD [network | a | way] "to catch" I [one]

20 The London Eye? (5,3)
MINCE PIE - cryptic definition; "mince pie" being Cockney rhyming slang for an eye

22 Losing energy, predator is in waterway (6)
TIGRIS - TIG{E}R ["losing energy", predator] + IS

23 One trying to hear what deciduous tree is misses the start (12)
EAVESDROPPER - A deciduous tree being a LEAVES-DROPPER, remove the first letter.

25 Finish off a sort of bike in pale blue (4)
AQUA - A QUAD being a sort of bike, take away the last letter

26 Keeping son away from jail, taking advantage of revolution (8)
UPRISING - PRI{son} ["son away from" jail] kept by USING [taking advantage of]

27 Endures travelling, and departs for Split (8)
SUNDERED - (ENDURES*) + D [departs]


2 Hate a man becoming this? (8)
ANATHEMA - (HATE A MAN*), semi-&lit

3 No restrictions here as church is set in converted tabernacle (5,7)
CARTE BLANCHE - CH [church] set in (TABERNACLE*)

4 Bar shut by priest in Catholic Venice once, say (8)
REPUBLIC - PUB [bar] "shut by" ELI [priest] in R.C. [Catholic]

5 Defame jazz function in speech (7)
TRADUCE - TRAD [jazz] + homophone of USE [function "in speech"]

6 Coarse fabric no use with felt in the middle (6)
DUFFEL - DUFF [no use] + {f}EL{t}

7 Hand on tradition, ultimately giving pledge (4)
PAWN - PAW [hand] on {traditio}N

8 So-called priest has to tear round all the time (8)
REVEREND - REND [to tear] round EVER [all the time]

12 Hymn sensational cricketer (7,5)
AMAZING GRACE - AMAZING [sensational] + GRACE [cricketer W.G.]

15 Started from chair, appearing arrogant (6,2)
JUMPED UP - double def

17 Presumably favouring genuine short hymn (8)
ANTIPHON - ANTI PHONY would be "presumably favouring genuine"; dock the last letter

18 Don’t agree, being around at home, to make another brew? (8)
REINFUSE - REFUSE [don't agree], being around IN [at home]

19 Take ages, having small fits (7)
BELONGS - BE LONG [take ages], having S [small]

21 Language of particular concern heard (6)
PIDGIN - homophone of PIGEON, which I did not previously know means: "a person's particular responsibility or business"

24 Manage to avoid missing a green (4)
VERT - {a}VERT [manage to avoid "missing a"]
There appear to be a variety of strategies for setting a TLS Crossword and they're probably all good, but I'm going to come out and say that I'm a huge fan of Talos's formula: every clue has some literary connotation, of the sort that most people without an actual pathological aversion to books would have a good chance of having heard of, but everything (bar the easily Googleable quotations) is given wordplay at the same level of a standard Times Cryptic puzzle. So even if you've drawn a blank on, say, the plays of Cecil Philip Taylor, you can probably still get to the answer by a different route. (Though it was probably unfortunate that an obscurer work like 4dn had one of the harder bits of wordplay on this occasion, making it my and I'm sure others', LOI by quite some margin. Even Talos nods?)

I'll let the answers below speak for themselves, as I've another crossword to blog this morning, but will pause to point out that once again this week Shakespeare dominated the pitch, with a final scoreline of 5-2 against Dickens by my reckoning. Can the Bard ever be beaten?


1 Parchment covering books in honour of Doctorow? (5)
FOREL - FOR [in honour of] E.L.
Edgar Lawrence "E.L." Doctorow, recently deceased American novelist

4 Self-penned work takes off after August (5,4)
GREAT APES - APES [takes off] after GREAT [august]
Self-penned as in "penned by Will Self"

9 Merchant Ivory’s debut features new director (9)
ANTONIONI - ANTONIO [(the) Merchant (of Venice)] + I{vory} features N
Michelangelo Antonioni, Italian film director

10 Modest Romeo hiding poetic inspiration (5)
ESTRO - {mod}EST RO{meo}

11 Hard to get into unusually merry McGonagall? (6)
RHYMER - H to get into (MERRY*)
William Topaz McGonagall, 1827-1902, purveyor of terrible doggerel

12 Hearts, perhaps, in a Shakespearean courtship (4-4)
LOVE-SUIT - Hearts being both a suit (of cards), and much associated with love
Found in Cymbeline, Henry V and Sonnets according to the concordance

14 Crime writer having a go in bombed Slough (5,5)
NGAIO MARSH - (A GO IN*) + MARSH [slough]

16 Border crossing husband goes over in Pullman briefly? (4)
PHIL - LIP [border] "crossing" H, reversed
Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and so forth

19 Madame Bovary’s contrary soul enthralling a French gentleman (4)
EMMA - reverse of AME [Madame Bovary's, i.e. French, "soul"] "enthralling" M (for Monsieur)
Emma Bovary, Flaubert's adulterous and certainly contrary heroine

20 McBain twist: jumper died a victim of strangulation (5,5)
EDWIN DROOD - ED + WIND ROO D [twist | jumper | died]
Ed McBain, 1902-2005, prolific crime writer. Edwin Drood was strangled, but by whom? It's a mystery.

22 Agent backing revolutionary ultra writer against the Ancients? (8)
PERRAULT - REP [agent] reversed + (ULTRA*)
Charles Perrault, fairy tale maestro who "was the leader of the Modern faction during the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns"

23 One caught by warm gust, wings failing (6)
ICARUS - I C [one | caught] by {w}AR{m} {g}US{t}, &lit
About suffering they were never wrong, the old Setters...

26 A problem this Scottish cop has when writing his name? (5)
REBUS - Rebus is Ian Rankin's Scottish cop protagonist, and a rebus is a puzzle-problem of words suggesting pictures

27 “— are a slavish herd and fools in my opinion” (Jean de la Fontaine) (9)

28 “A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ” (John —) (9)

29 Western writer Eastern journos deny embracing (5)
EDSON - hidden, in an east-to-west direction, in {jour}NOS DE{ny}
J.T. Edson, 1928-2014, prolific author of Westerns whom Wikipedia informs me had a catfight fetish


1 “She has all the — and freedom of a flower” (Wilde’s character description of Lady Chiltern) (9)

2 Could he become thus when badgered? (5)
RATTY - cryptic def: badgering someone can certainly leave them ratty, but more importantly Badger and Ratty are both characters in Grahame's Wind in the Willows

3 Tabler announcing what a boil specialist might do? (8)
LANCELOT - homophone of LANCE A LOT
Tabler as in "Knight of the Round Table"

4 Orwellian leader in power play with a German professor (4)
GOOD - O{rwellian} in GOD [power]
An award winning play in two acts by Cecil Philip Taylor about a liberal German professor seduced into Nazism

5 Post men on The Pequod, perhaps after rising tide (10)
EDITORSHIP - O.R. [men] on SHIP [the Pequod, perhaps] after reverse of TIDE
The Pequod being the whaling ship in Melville's Moby Dick

6 Banville’s Booker winner’s half the title Murdoch’s was (3,3)
THE SEA - 50% of Iris Murdoch's "The Sea, The Sea", which also won the Booker.
Surely someone must be tempted to write "The Sea, The Sea, The Sea" just to see what happens

7 Favourite game with companion, a naked lion tamer (9)
PETRUCHIO - PET R.U. [favourite | game] with CH [companion] + {l}IO{n}
The tamer in The Taming of the Shrew, and indeed The Tamer Tam'd

8 Finch family member close to indigo in tail (5)
SCOUT - {indig}O in SCUT [tail]
Scout Finch, daughter of Atticus in To Kill A Mockingbird

13 Poet stashing gold key in LA suburb, then drug (10)
BAUDELAIRE - AU D [gold | key] "stashed" in BEL AIR [LA suburb], then E [drug]
Surely the second greatest of all French poets

15 As was Crichton, Breaking Bad and Mailer (9)
The Admirable Crichton, J.M. Barrie's 1902 stage comedy

17 Unscrupulous beauty Miss America to open hospital (4,5)
LADY SUSAN - LADY [miss] + US [America] "to open" SAN [hospital]
From the epistolary Jane Austen novel of the same name

18 Lover of Carstone, a real cad in a bad way (3,5)
Ada Clare and Richard Carstone are romantically entwined wards of John Jarndyce in Bleak House

21 Doctor Who’s content kept from TV guide? (6)
WATSON - {w}H{o} "kept from" WHAT'S ON
Dr John Watson, faithful sidekick of Sherlock Holmes

22 Romantic city gent not making a bride joyful? (5)
PARIS - double def
"Now, by Saint Peter’s Church and Peter too,
He [Count Paris] shall not make me there a joyful bride." - R&J

24 Genealogical book that a Rolling Stone can’t put down? (5)
ROOTS - If a rolling stone gathers no moss, it can scarcely put down roots...
Alex Haley's 1976 novel, well known for its TV adaptation

25 Gently does it at first with a vacuous remark (4)
DIRK - D{oes} I{t} + R{emar}K
Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, of Holistic Detective Agency fame

Quick Cryptic No 663 by Hurley

A smattering of General Knowledge needed for this one (12, 15, 19 and 20 across), but all fairly clued to make an 8 minute challenge for me, so slightly easier than usual on my scale.  Some fun to be had along the way as well.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated by [square brackets] and deletions with {curly ones}

8  After time, walk with swaying gait? Nonsense (7)
TWADDLE – T{ime} with WADDLE
Values range of small cold beer (5)
SCALE – S{mall} C{old} plus ALE (beer)
10  Paul regularly timid?  Quite the opposite (5)
PUSHY – a semi &lit clue (the whole clue gives the definition), and constructed as follows – P{a}U{l} (regularly, i.e. alternate letters) with SHY (timid) to give something that is the opposite of timid
11  Extremely slick new title for pin used in game (7)
SKITTLE – (extremely, i.e. outside letters) S{lic}K with an anagram (clued by ‘new’) of [TITLE]
12  Poet Stephen one’s seen shopping? (7)
SPENDER – a SPENDER might be seen shopping, and Stephen SPENDER was Sir Stephen Harold Spender CBE, an English poet, novelist and essayist
14  Astonish a parent with variable English (5)
AMAZE – A (a) MA (parent, i.e. mother or MA), Z (variable – the letter Z is often used to represent a variable in an equation) and E{nglish} – put them together and voila, you will AMAZE
15  French writer parking away from university grounds (5)
CAMUS – University grounds are a CAM{p}US.  Remove P{arking} and you get Albert CAMUS, the French philosopher, author and journalist and Nobel laureate (literature) much loved by crossword setters
17  John introduced to cuter refashioned hairstyle (4,3)
CREW CUT – a John in America is what we often call a WC in the UK.  Put WC inside (introduced) an anagram (clued by ‘refashioned’) of [CUTER] to make CREW CUT
19  Manage firm used by Royal Navy in Cheshire town (7)
RUNCORN – RUN (manage) CO (firm) and R{oyal} N{avy}
20  Fish - wonderful (5)
BRILL – a double definition – BRILL is a type of fish and also can mean wonderful amongst the yoof of today (or was that yesterday?)
22  Feel great need for Conservative party? (5)
CRAVE – C{onservative} and RAVE (party)
23  Rugby Union’s followed by Welsh girl and foreign national (7)
RUSSIAN – R{ugby} U{nion}’S followed by SIAN – one of those girl’s names that I struggle to pronounce.  It is equivalent to the English Jane, the Scottish Sheena or the Irish Siobhan, the first two of which are much easier to pronounce

1.  Cease sports training over problems at outset (4)
STOP – I took a few minutes to parse this before I spotted that the answer is the first letters (at outset) of S{ports} T{raining} O{ver} P{roblems}
2  Story about silly girl (6)
LASSIE – the story is a LIE, with ASS in for silly.  I’m not sure that the adjective ‘silly’ and the noun ‘ass’ are exactly interchangeable, but ‘ass’ and ‘silly’ are so often associated with each other that I suppose it is OK?
Nervous journalist has good year after (4)
EDGY – Journalist is nearly always an ED{itor} in crosswordland, followed in this case by G{ood} Y{ear}
4  Uncle and retirees exercising here? (7,6)
LEISURE CENTRE – straightforward anagram indicated by ‘exercising’ of [UNCLE] and [RETIREES] with the whole clue providing the definition, i.e. a semi &lit
5  In Paris is one friend making approximate calculation (8)
ESTIMATE – EST (French, i.e. what one might say in Paris, for ‘is’) I (one) MATE (friend)
6  Chap painting over slogan (6)
MANTRA – the chap is a MAN and painting is ART with over clueing that the ART is reversed
7  Some defer – ever entirely respectful (8)
REVERENT – cleverly hidden answer in {defe}R EVER ENT{irely}
12  Contest to find out who’ll be first to be fired (4,4)
SACK RACE – an amusing whole clue definition
13  Find out Detective Inspector’s assumed identity (8)
DISCOVER – DIS from D{etective} I{nspector}’S and COVER is an assumed identity, especially in my favourite spy novels
16  Work many do – and when it might start? (6)
MONDAY – another whole clue definition containing an anagram (clued by ‘work), this time of [MANY DO]
18  Greek character with access code to provide money (4,2)
CHIP IN – The Greek character is CHI (the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet) and PIN is the access code that we all forget
20  Contemptible centre of operations (4)
BASE – straightforward double definition
21  Join left in Korea’s capital (4)
LINK – L{eft} plus IN (in) plus K{orea’s} capital as in capital letter, rather than capital city

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