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Maybe I was just in a better mood, but I thought this was a smashing puzzle, with wit, misleading definitions and all kinds of smart wordplay. Medium difficulty, perfect for a blog day, it took me a gentle 25 minutes plus time afterwards to look up 11a, where I was enlightened about plants and shrubs and the origin of this one in particular.

1 APOLLO - A, POLL for a measure of support, if not always accurate; O for over; D space program.
5 SNAPSHOT - SNAPS for sounds angry, HOT for heated; D picture.
9 STRADDLE - TR = half of tree, goes inside SADDLE = lumber, as in 'I was lumbered with the washing-up'; D get across.
10 LIMPID - a LIMP can cause a problem with progressing, ID for passport; D clear.
11 POINSETTIA - POINT for debating issue, insert SET = plant, add IA being AI = fine, reversed; D shrub. I was initially confused here because the green and red jobs which populate our house before Christmas I thought were plants, not shrubs, but I have learnt that the original Euphorbia pulcherrima is a Mexican tree or shrub, imported first into the USA in 1825 by one Robert Poinsett, and downscaled into the domesticated variety.
13 RIND - 'GRIND' would be hard work, remove the first; D outer layer.
14 CLOD - COLD = freezing, reverse the inner letters; D earth, lump of.
15 TIME SWITCH - I almost LOL when I twigged this one. A witch at The Times would perhaps be a 'spelling expert'. D one only works certain hours.
18 PROVENANCE - PROVENCE being a historic French region - the first Roman one outside the Alps, hence Provincia Romana - insert A N(ew), D source. Go down a ladder if you nearly spelt it provanence, which still fits the checkers.
20 MINK - M and K being shorthand for thousand, insert IN for popular; D fur.
21 FRAY - Double definition.
23 AUDIT TRAIL - DITT(O) for 'mostly, the same', inside a 'case' of AU for gold, RAIL for bar, D record of transactions.
25 RING UP - RING for band, UP for ended, as in 'the game is up'; D call.
26 IROQUOIS - IRO(N) = a lot of iron, metal; QUOI(T)S for hoops abandoned by T the first of These; D native Americans.
28 SOBRIETY - BRIE (cheese) swallowed by SOT (drunk, last letter of chardonnaY, D semi &lit, 'not an example of this'.
29 TRYING - the bell sounds TING, insert RY for railway; D hearing.

2 POT-BOILER - OP = work, 'elevated' = PO, TOILER for hard worker, insert B for book; D one (a book) of lesser quality.
3 LEARNED - Insert one of the 'three R's' into LEANED = inclined; D erudite.
4 ODD - Hidden word in GO(OD D)ISPLAY, D rum.
5 SWEET - WE = our side, inside SET = group; D charming.
6 A CLEAN SHEET - A sort of double definition, where a sheet is like a blanket and a clean sheet is said to occur when a football team completes a match without the opponents scoring a goal.
7 SAMURAI - Insert A RUM A (a curious article) into IS, then reverse all; D foreign warrior.
8 ONION - A NO-NO is a topic to be avoided; reverse and insert I for one; D source of tears.
12 EATING APPLE - EA = each, TINGLE = frisson, insert A PP (very soft); D fruit.
16 MAN - MANY would be lots of people, reduction = remove the Y; D staff, as verb.
17 CONDITION - CON = study, DON = academic, insert IT, I; D state. Nice misdirection to look for states starting with CON or DEN.
19 VOYAGER - V(ery) O(ld), A inside (GREY)*; D traveller.
20 MERCURY - Insert CU into MERRY (on way to being hammered, perhaps); D metal.
22 RHINO - R(un) H(ard), ON I reversed; D large animal.
24 DAISY - IS visible in DAY; D flower. Not a river, for once.
27 OUT - A BOUT is a boxing match, not first = drop the B; D &lit.

Quick Cryptic 777 by Hurley

A very enjoyable scramble to the finishing line, which took just a bit longer than usual. I had to leave many unfilled squares along the way, especially on the left of the grid and including 1ac! Were it not for the long anagrams and a few gimmies here and there providing checkers, I think I would have been struggling to unravel the harder clues (16ac, 6dn, 18dn for me).

Favourites include 13dn and 17ac.

Definitions underlined.

1 Suppress ultimately scathing report (4)
BANG - BAN (suppress) and last letter of (ultimately) scathinG.
4 America backing competitor importing Vermont’s No.1 relic (8)
SURVIVAL - reversal of (backing) US, with RIVAL (competitor) surrounding (importing) first letter (no.1) of Vermont.
8 Island group quiet, and for French, secure (8)
SHETLAND - SH (quiet), ET (and, in French) and LAND (secure).
9 Check about son’s underwear (4)
VEST - VET (check) surrounding (about) S (son).
10 This easy task in cold spell getting bravo for female (6)
BREEZE - fREEZE (cold spell), but with B (bravo) instead of F (female).
11 Trip to deliver money after expression of hesitation (6)
ERRAND - RAND (money, of South Africa) after ER (expression of hesitation).
12 Participate to one’s profit, ancient ghetto being redeveloped? (3,2,2,3,3)
GET IN ON THE ACT - anagram of (being redeveloped) ANCIENT GHETTO.
16 Merit in struggle to overcome resistance by trade union (6)
VIRTUE - VIE (struggle) surrounding (to overcome) R (resistance) and TU (trade union).
17 Where is crease, Ken enquired tactfully first of all: near this (6)
WICKET - first letters of (first of all) Where Is Crease Ken Enquired Tactfully. The definition is referring to the literal reading of the wordplay.
19 Twelve unchanged on reflection (4)
NOON - palindromic (unchanged on reversal).
20 Rage not, strangely, in NI Parliament (8)
STORMONT - STORM (rage) and an anagram of (strangely) NOT.
21 Clergyman, King, always close (8)
REVEREND - R (king), EVER (always) and END (close).
22 Opposed to European time frames (4)
ANTI - europeAN TIme hides (frames) this.

2 Detest a bore endlessly detaining husband (5)
ABHOR - A, with BORe (missing last letter, endlessly) surrounding (detaining) H (husband).
3 Get through using this code agent fashioned (2,3,8)
GO THE DISTANCE - anagram of (fashioned) THIS CODE AGENT.
4 Poor actor in South East — pity (5)
SHAME - HAM (poor actor) in SE (South East).
5 Looking most embarrassed about nasty deeds? Right (7)
REDDEST - RT (right, eg. Rt. Hon.) surrounding (about) an anagram of (nasty) DEEDS.
6 Mark on page — upside-down butterfly? (8,5)
INVERTED COMMA - INVERTED (upside-down) and COMMA (butterfly).
7 Some coarse nickname that’s toxic? (7)
ARSENIC - hidden in (some) coARSE NICkname.
10 Book on island, good, important (3)
BIG - B (book), I (island) and G (good).
13 Smashing iPods, extremely expensive incident (7)
EPISODE - anagram of (smashing) IPODS and outermost letters of (extremely) ExpensivE.
14 Manage poem in Old English (7)
OVERSEE - VERSE (open) in OE (Old English).
15 Shoddy stuff that he initially rejected (3)
TAT - ThAT with first letter of (initially) He left out (rejected).
17 Sought favour of English in golf club (5)
WOOED - E (english) in WOOD (golf club).
18 In mid-term on northern street see painter Max (5)
ERNST - middle letters of tERm (mid-term) on N (Northern) and ST (street). The definition is referring to the early 20th century artist Max Ernst.

Quick Cryptic 776 by Breadman

11 minutes for this rather elegant crossword from Breadman (an unusual setter? - I'm sure someone will let us know). A lot of clues seemed complex but broke down easily. There were a few clues where the definition was less than obvious (12ac, 17ac, 20ac, 18dn) but the word play was fair - and brought about a smile or two when twigged.


1. Yearned - felt great desire. To acquire money (EARN) hoarded by 'the' old (YE), duke (D).
7. Ice show - entertainment. I (I), anagram (specially) of CHOSE (W)oolley.
9. Legatee - one who's been left (a legacy). Shelter (LEE) around opening (GATE).
10. Stilton - cheese. Not (NOT) left (L) it's (ITS) all brought backwards,
11. Omit - overlook. Part of Dol(OMIT)es.
12. Solitaire - patience. LOI as it took a while to twig that we were after a card game. Anagram (going mad) of I LOST, a (A), rage (IRE).
14. Announcer - broadcaster. Female (ANN), little weight (OUNCE), (R)ejected.
16. Rhea - bird that cannot fly. Homophone of back - rear.
17. Mapless - without a guide. Representative of Canada (MAPLES), (S)ails.
20. Toccata - musical piece which I dnk but the word play was plain. Kitty (CAT) in an anagram (played) of COAT.
21. Rampage - rush about wildly. Sheep (RAM), yearly (PA per annum), for example (E.G.) moving backwards.
22. Remorse - feeling of regret. About (RE), male (M), equine h(ORSE) losing head.


1. Yellowhammer - bird. Fearful (YELLOW), with (W), manual tool (HAMMER).
2. Anglican - church member. Anagram (shaking) of IN GAL, tin (CAN).
3. Nuts - double definition.
4. Diesel - fuel. Peter out (DIE), (S)h(E)i(L)a.
5. Demister - ventilation device. Anagram (unusual) of ITEMS inside 'the' in German (DER).
6. Chat - conversation. Tea (CHA), time (T).
8. Winter Palace - royal residence. Part of year (WINTER), friend (PAL), expert (ACE). The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs.
12. Saucepan - kitchen utensil. Impudence (SAUCE), criticise (PAN).
13. In the air. Double definition - at work a pilot could be in the air - which also means uncertain. Hopefully a pilot wouldn't be so uncertain when at work in the air.
15. Custer - American general. Signal (CUE) when crossing street (ST), run (R).
18. Trainer - the sports shoe - pump. Mark (M) interrupts young dog (PUP).
19. Scam - swindle. Quiet (P) and one (I) taken out of seafood (SCAM)pi.

Times 26660

This took me 25 minutes so I have achieved my target half-hour at both opportunities so far this week.  We have some brand names today, that of a magazine at 9ac and a well-known high-street chemist at 1dn; both a little unusual in a daily Times puzzle. I think this is nearly all straightforward, but we shall see.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times 26659 - The need for speed....

Solving time: 14 minutes

Music: Shostakovich, Symphony #11, Berglund/BournemouthSO

I could hardly believe my time for this puzzle, as one clue after another fell with minimal effort. The one answer that should have given me trouble, 'rollmop', came up less than a week ago in the Tuesday puzzle that Jackkt blogged. Everything else was very plain sailing.

I am not sure if I was just on the wavelength, or if this was a really easy Monday puzzle. The usual speed merchants will undoubtedly gobble it up, but I suspect for middling and beginner solvers it will not prove all that simple. They will get there eventually, of course, but they probably don't know all the cryptic conventions that would allow them to zip through the puzzle like old-timers.

6SUBORN, SUB O[cean] + R.N.
9ABEL, AB. + LE backwards. There is a hidden pun here somewhere about an Abel Seaman.
10TELEVISION, double definition. An actual box set, of course, consists of muliple LPs!
11PRIMORDIAL, PRIM + OR + DIAL, where 'ring' is a verb, and lift and separate is required.
13INTO, IN + TO[p], our cricket clue of the day.
14GAZPACHO, G(AZ(PA)CH)O, a Russian-doll construction.
16RETURN, double definition. The meaning of 'elect to office' is a bit UK-centric.
18JETSAM, JETS, AM. It is probably best not to lift and separate here.
22DILL, D + ILL. One of my great-great-grandmothers had the surname 'Dill', it is apparently an old Massachusetts family.
24MARBLE ARCH, MARBLE + ARCH. Yes, an 'alley' is a marble; it originally referred to a marble made out of alabaster.
26BANDLEADER, B(AND)LEADER...yes, the other Ted Heath, not the PM who is implied in the surface reading.
28TRIP, TRIP[e]. I bunged this in, but research shows that both 'tripe' and 'cobblers' are synonyms for 'nonsense'. This meaning of 'cobblers' comes from some rather indecent Cockney rhyming slang.
29PLANET, PLANE + T[heories].
2HIBERNATE, H(I BERN)ATE, where the literal 'winter' needs to be read as a verb.
3ROLLMOP, ROLL + MOP, where the first element is a bit on the DBE side.
4SITAR, S(I)TAR, a chestnut.
5AIL, A + IL.
6SAVILE ROW, cryptic definition, but not very.
12IN ORDER, double definition, the first one jocular.
15CAMEMBERT, CA(MEMBER)T, presumably a hep sort of guy.
17REDUCTION, R(ED)UCTION. 'Ruction' is a bit on the obscure side, the the answer is readily biffable.
23IN ALL, I(N.A.)LL.
25LURID, L(UR)ID. Is it just me, or is this a really poor-quality surface?
27DEW, hidden in [insi]DE W[indow].

Quick Cryptic 775 by Joker

A straightforward puzzle from Joker today, I thought, with a plethora of simple charades and no vocabulary likely to be completely beyond the ken of regulars. COD to 16A.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20170227/22617/

Definitions are underlined, {} = omission

Read more...Collapse )

Sunday Times 4734 by Dean Mayer

19.33. Another very fine puzzle from Dean this week. I found it tricky, with numerous clues that had me scratching my head until the penny dropped. Looking at them now, as I write up the blog, everything seems perfectly simple, obvious even, and the explanations are for the most part extremely simple. This is generally the mark of a very high quality puzzle.

So thanks once again to Dean for a very entertaining Sunday morning solve, and here’s how I think it all works.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*.

1 Parking in spot by church address
5 Complexity of records given to judge
TAPESTRY - TAPES, TRY. You have to stretch the definition a little bit here to get from a complex thing to the state of being complex.
9 Consensus of 26?
POPULAR OPINION - the answer to 26ac (spoiler alert!) being IN STANCE.
10 Sausage roll made at random
MORTADELLA - (ROLL MADE AT)*. I know I shouldn’t be but I’m very partial to MORTADELLA.
12 Swallow, one that stops returning
GULP - reversal of PLUG.
13 Iron rod and spade to cut grass
FESCUE - FE (iron), CUE (rod) ‘cut’ with S (spade). A type of grass I hadn’t come across before and some tricky wordplay, so this was my last in, and induced some finger-crossing.
15 Take or takes steps
PROCEEDS - very cunning, this, and it had me scratching my head for ages. How can the answer be both a singular and a plural? Because the ‘take’ at the gate of a concert, for example, would be the PROCEEDS.
16 Damned useless cue cards
19 One car is all you have
ESTATE - more commonly all you had, since this word for all one’s possessions is usually used in the context of wills.
21 Got through American education
USED - or US ED.
22 Break away? No
STAYCATION - cryptic definition. A new-fangled word for a holiday of the kind that has become much more popular since we voted to be permanently poorer.
24 Words from mouth?
ESTUARY ENGLISH - another cryptic definition, the mouth in this case being that of the river Thames.
26 Case against ancestor being keeper
INSTANCE - contained in ‘against ancestor’.
27 Bob’s secret — a bad one
SINNER - S (shilling, bob), INNER. One of those clues where the capital B is misleadingly placed at the beginning of the sentence.

2 Show nurses fine needle
3 100% up — time to break out
ERUPT - reversal of PURE (100%), T.
4 The man deals with Top Gear items?
5 Piece of bread in cream tart
6 Couple ending up with one letter
PHI - the two letters ending ‘up with’, then I.
7 Dance music, being funky, is cracking hit
SWINGBEAT - SWAT containing (BEING)*.
8 Annoyed with joint, in a way
11 Kids like to keep hand on nose
14 Violent act due to power being seized
COUP D’ETAT - (ACT DUE TO)* containing P (power). Superb &Lit!
17 Tank command is initially tough
CISTERN - Command Is, STERN.
18 A remedy for change that’s unfortunate
20 Foot that is trapped under pipes
TOOTSIE - TOOTS (pipes), I.E.
23 Extremity, but not one on claw
25 18’s name for bristle
AWN - AW, N. I’m not sure I’d say AW to mean DEARY ME, but I’m not sure I’d say either of them to mean anything so I won’t profess expertise. This rather obscure word is familiar to me from numerous past appearances in crosswords.

Mephisto 2947 - Don Manley

I finished this with some very large question marks, four of which required some online research to sort out. Fortunately the definition was unambiguous in each case.

90-degree and 180-degree symmetry in the grid this week. I do like symmetrical grids.

What else can I say to make sure the text gets justified under the picture of my ugly mug to the left? Australia beat India this morning, woohoo!

Away we go...
3FLABELLATE: F, with LABEL(tag) and then ET AL reversed
11YAMEN: YEN containing AM
13KAISERIN: RAISE(advance) with the R moved to the back, inside KIN
15ELISA: one of my question marks - apparently there was a prophet ELISHA who was made fun of for being bald? Remove the first letter in Hair to get the biochemical lab technique
16ANELACE: AN ACE(one greater than a king, in cards) containing EL
19AMORCE: A, MOR(girl), CE - percussion cap
20SAVAGE: my second question mark - apparently the poet Richard Savage was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, but got a royal pardon. Lucky him.
22MIASMA: the letters of IS separately inisde MAMA
24OTITIS: O(old, little), TITIS(monkeys)
31HILAR: remove the end of the HILARY term
32CALATHEA: anagram of A,CHALET with A
33LABRID: DIAL(face) reversed around BR(bridge)
34REAST: hidden in aREA STrolling
35WEATHERMEN: EA, and THERM inside WEN - I googled "Great city of Wen" before noticing that it is in Chambers. This was my third question mark.
2BAALIM: anagram of AMIABL(e)
4LESSONS: property letters - LESSONS with R replacing (christia)N
6BORATE: BOR(neighbour), ATE - a salt of boron
7ERINYS: ERIN(Ireland), then YES missing the E
8LULLS: L(learner), then (p)ULLS
9AGUACATE: a fruit (avocado pear) - AGATE(stone) containing CAU(sed) reversed
10THECA: anagram of CHEAT
17DO A MELBA: last question mark here - the DOM is apparently another name for the Koln cathedral - put an A in it and add the island ELBA
21VISITEE: VIE containing SITE
23ABRADE: anagram of DAY BREAKS minus SKY
24OSTLER: anagram of HORSE LET minus HE
25ITA EST: I then A in TEST
27MINAE: A(are, measurement),in MINE
I'm just temping here, alternately with Brnchn (Bruce), for the next few weeks while our new boss Vinyl finds a permanent replacement for the irreplaceable Linxit (I believe B is continuing).  Some vintage American material here with a soupcon of political content, some geography, some music and some mythology - all giving us a highly entertaining puzzle.  The two long down clues were very helpful and I was on the wavelength for this one at 15.07.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.


1.  Groom has small furry animal schooled (7,2)
SMARTEN UP.   S[mall].  MARTEN=furry animal.  UP=schooled, i.e. up at university.
6. Magnate wants a cracking new hairstyle (5)
NABOB.  N[ew] A witht BOB=hairstyle.  And see 13A infra.
9.  Answer several letters in order to protect an Asian currency (7)
AFGHANI.  A, followed by FGHI (letters in order) containing (to protect) AN.
10.  Best man gets old mate round (7)
OPTIMAL.  TIM=man, surrounded by (round) O[ld] PAL=mate.
11.  Mike, popular American, makes negative point (5)
MINUS.  M=mike (in Nato alphabet).  IN=popular.  US=American.
12.  No good to succeed FBI boss, one sucking up (9)
HOOVERING.  The infamous J. Edgar, once upon a time Director of the FBI with N[o] G[ood] vacuuming up 1=one.  Excellent!
13.  Maybe Agnew thus entertains religious right (5)
SPIRO.  SO=thus, containing (entertains) PI=religious R[ight].  Neat one.  He was Richard Nixon's VP who resigned in disgrace, to be replaced by Gerald Ford who then became president when Nixon resigned in disgrace.  One of his best known catchphrases, referring to the media, was to call them the "nattering nabobs of negativism".  It was in fact his speech-writer William Safire who coined the phrase and then went on to become a highly respected columnist for that bastion of "negativism" the New York Times.  See 6A.
14. Toeing establishment line brings chaos in revolutionary Genoa (2,7)
ON MESSAGE.  MESS=chaos in anagram (revolutionary) of GENOA.  Something of a theme here.
17.  Loire seething with fish in continental location (9)
CHARLEROI.  Anagram (seething) of LOIRE with CHAR=fish.  Belgian city which played a significant role in the dispositions for the Battle of Waterloo.
18.  Tedious talk of flower power begins (5)
PROSE.  P[ower].  ROSE=flower.  It's not always tedious when written but as talk it may be.
19.  Scorer ordered pork with duck and five bananas (9)
PROKOFIEV.  Sergei.  If you have the long down clues solved, there aren't all that many words that we know that end in I*V.  Anagram (bananas) of PORK, O=duck and FIVE.  The scorer is, as is often the case in these puzzles, a composer.  He can be tricky to spell (I always think the F in the middle should be a V) but the setter has given us all the necessary.
22. Port has delays -- nothing allowed in (5)
LAGOS.  Nigerian mega-city and seaport.  LAGS=delays, containing O.
24.  Song complete about Minoan daughter (7)
ARIADNE.  ARIA=song with END=complete, reversed (about).  In Greek mythology the daughter of King Minos of Crete.  She helps Theseus escape the Labyrinth and the Minotaur.
25.  See the writer is Swift, using name for Lilliput's leader (7)
IMAGINE.  IM=writer of the puzzle is AGILE=swift, swapping the L in Lilliput for n[ame].
26.  All fingers and thumbs?  Or finding settled course? (5)
TENOR.  We've got ten of these digits altogether with OR.  As in the "noiseless tenor of their way" in Gray's Elegy.
27.  Delicacy that may complement sour vegetable?
SWEETMEAT.  Yes indeed, a sweet meat would be a good pairing, as the food writers might say.


1.  Did butterfly, say, crossing river move as many insects do (5)
SWARM.  SWAM=butterfly swimming stroke.containing (crossing) R[iver].
2.  Country chap, cultured, entering yacht station, having month off (9)
ARGENTINA.  GENT=cultured chap surrounded by (entering) [m]ARINA=yacht place with M[onth]removed.
3.  One spotted in woods?  Amphibian's also seen by lake (9)
TOADSTOOL.  TOADS=amphibian's.  TOO=also.  L[ake].
4.  Behaviour of the kind shown by script in soap opera (15)
NEIGHBOURLINESS.  Reference is to long-running Australian/UK tv series.
5.  Teacher or parent maybe well prepared to read aloud list of charges (8,7)
PROFORMA INVOICE.    Commercial term. PROF=teacher.  OR. MA=parent.  IN VOICE=ready to read aloud.  In the US "pro forma" is usually two words.
6.  Money raised on explosive component (5)
NITRE.  NIT=tin (money) reversed (raised).  RE=on.
7.  Famed fawn in tropical grass loves to leave island (5)
BAMBI.  Remove the OO (loves) from bamboo and replace with I[sland].  At my first boarding school someone had the bright idea to show this famous Disney movie the first weekend of the September term.  I was 9 and the memory remains.
8.  Doctor at centre in Amsterdam keeps diary -- it's saucy! (9)
BOLOGNESE.  BONES=doctor (from "sawbones"), surrounding LOG=diary with E=middle letter in [Amst]E[rdam].
13.  Crawler's second year chap, not fresher (9)
SYCOPHANT.  S[econd] Y[ear] with anagram (fresher) of CHAP NOT.
15.  Begging to take place of boxing instructor initially (9)
SUPPLIANT.  SUPPLANT=take the place of containing (boxing) I[nstructor] (initially).
16.  What's hypotenuse next to? (9)
ALONGSIDE.  The longest side of a right triangle.  Double definition and nice Pythagorean pun.
20. Hunter ahead snaring S. American banker (5)
ORION.  ON=ahead containing (snaring) RIO=river (banker).  He was the hunter in Greek mythology, now perhaps better known for the constellation named for him and highly visible in the night sky.
21.  Ruling class (5)
ORDER.  Succinct double definition.
23.  Sons given little money for bouquet (5)
SCENT.  S=sons with CENT=little money.  This would also have worked with "son" singular.

Jumbo 1250

Somewhat harder than average, with a handful of unknowns for me that went in on wordplay and crossed fingers. I enjoyed a good number of the surfaces, which isn't always the case with Jumbos - a Jumbo setter has to trot out generally twice as many clues as for a 15x15, so I can imagine that the surfaces might not be high on the list of priorities. And many solvers aren't too fussed about them anyway.

Definitions are underlined, dd = double definition, {} = omission, * = anagram

1 Threat suggested by one forever taking tea (3,6)
MAD HATTER - reverse anagram, as "Threat" could be clued by MAD HATTER
6 Fun in summer from people in lawsuits being on weed? (6,7)
GARDEN PARTIES - GARDEN (weed? - as a verb) + PARTIES (people in lawsuits)
13 Poor mark in school given by master (5)
GAMMA - GAM (school - collective noun for whales) + MA (master). I suppose "Poor" can be considered in a relative sense but gamma seems to correspond more with average than poor. Or do I just have low standards?
14 Arab friend — European gets one for nothing (11)
PALESTINIAN - PAL (friend) + ESTONIAN (European) with I instead of O
15 Hot and cold, turning unwell, with this? (5)
CHILL - CH (Hot and cold, turning) + ILL (unwell), and an extended definition
16 Singing happily in America, Scotsman from another era (11)
CAROLINGIAN - CAROLING (Singing happily in America, i.e. the American spelling of carolling) + IAN (Scotsman), to give the adjective corresponding to the dynasty of Charlemagne. Script lovers will be familiar with
17 On power trips, quietly press for expulsion of MPs (6,5)
PRIDES PURGE - P (power) + RIDES (trips) + P (quietly) + URGE (press), to give us (Wikipedia): "an event that took place in December 1648, during the Second English Civil War, when troops of the New Model Army under the command of Colonel Thomas Pride forcibly removed from the Long Parliament all those who were not supporters of the Grandees in the New Model Army and the Independents". Something I had either forgotten or never knew.
18 Pull vehicle back in a series of races (7)
ATTRACT - reversal of CART (vehicle) in A + TT (series of races)
20 Irritated expression as pet vanished (7)
DOGGONE - DOG (pet) + GONE (vanished)
21 It offers hope to the sick and old, sure to be treated (7)
23 What could create current possible disagreement? (9,10)
POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE - POTENTIAL (possible) + DIFFERENCE (disagreement), with the current being electric current
27 Back an attempt (3)
AGO - A (an) + GO (attempt)
28 In operetta, what’s put before jury? Not a hat (6)
TRILBY - TRI{a}L BY jury (Gilbert and Sullivan offering). I didn't know the G&S connection, but trial by jury is a common enough expression.
29 Terror as dresser goes tipping over, bits smashing off (6)
OGRESS - hidden reversed in dreSSER GOes
31 Steps taken as father’s old, getting billions in benefit (4,5)
PASO DOBLE - PAS (father's) + O (old), + B (billions) in DOLE (benefit). I always want to spell this PASA but fortunately the wordplay prevented that error. The surface reading perhaps a wry take on the state pension.
34 Agreeable article for men in tribute (9)
COMPLIANT - COMPLIMENT (tribute) with the MEN replaced by AN (article)
35 Closely follow play, having to put in notice (6)
SHADOW - AD (notice) in SHOW (play)
36 Walking a very short distance, short of energy (2,4)
ON FOOT - ON{e} FOOT (short distance, short of energy)
39 Scotland’s own Foreign Department (3)
AIN - dd, the first the Scottish word for "own", the second a department in eastern France. There didn't seem to be any likelier option for A?N but I can't say that either of these meanings emerged from my memory with any great sense of familiarity.
40 Done with requirement for Poohsticks (5,5,3,6)
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE - literal interpretation, referring to the game played by Pooh and friends in the AA Milne books
42 Batting with more confidence, one offers chance to cover (7)
INSURER - IN (Batting) + SURER (with more confidence), and a nice cricket surface as cover is a fielding position.
43 Female, commonly odious and critical (7)
FATEFUL - F (Female) + 'ATEFUL (commonly odious)
45 Ridiculous in a suit in the country (7)
47 A proportion of customers sat here, troubled by notice (6,5)
49 Short provision of beer by bar in America (4,7)
HALF MEASURE - HALF (beer) + MEASURE (bar in America, i.e. the American term for a musical bar)
51 Trim short leggings (5)
TIGHT - TIGHT{s} (short leggings)
52 Praise silent type, advancing initially into battle (11)
ACCLAMATION - CLAM (silent type) + A (advancing initally), in ACTION (battle)
53 Make altogether disgusting (5)
GROSS - dd
54 Part of fighter’s gear to lug, before run across high ground (9,4)
CARTRIDGE BELT - CART (to lug) + RIDGE (high ground) + BELT (run)
55 Fielder, inadequate, returning trophies (9)
SHORTSTOP - SHORT (inadequate) + reversal of POTS (trophies), to give the baseball fielding position

1 Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, say, favourite fairytale transport (5,6)
MAGIC CARPET - MAGIC CAR (Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, say) + PET (favourite)
2 In getting up fast, I remedy fault (7)
DEMERIT - hidden reversed in fasT I REMEDy
3 Sort of lamp I plugged in picked up as benefit (5)
AVAIL - reversal of LAVA (Sort of lamp) around I
4 Prepare vegetables and quickly see to baby (3,3,4)
TOP AND TAIL - dd, though I didn't know the second meaning, which is (Chambers): "To wash (a baby's) face and buttocks"
5 Met together for cause: Republican joined (7)
RALLIED - R (Republican) + ALLIED (joined)
6 Smooth style of progress through various gears? Nonsense (3,3,7)
GAS AND GAITERS - SAND (Smooth) + GAIT (style of progress), in GEARS*. Hadn't heard of this expression, and even when I'd figured it out from the wordplay I was left wondering what a "ga" was, as I'd assumed both words would be plurals. If I had different tastes in literature and TV shows, I would perhaps have known it from Nicholas Nickleby (though the meaning therein seems to have been more like "a satisfactory situation") or the Derek Nimmo-starring sitcom All Gas and Gaiters.
7 Before test, drops coat (9)
RAINPROOF - RAIN (drops) + PROOF (test). I'm more familiar with waterproof as the coat but Chambers has rainproof too.
8 Construction of poem featuring in Eliot’s first gamble (7)
EDIFICE - IF (poem) in E (Eliot's first) + DICE (gamble)
9 Greek visionary’s plans then lie in ruins (12)
10 Get back from city in sheer delight (9)
RECAPTURE - EC (city) in RAPTURE (sheer delight)
11 Ditch, I hear, with predictable exceptions gets more slippery (5)
ICIER - alternate letters of DItCh I hEaR, with the "I hear" perhaps deceiving the unwary (e.g. me) into looking for a homophone
12 Runner’s up prizes on high quality race track (11)
SILVERSTONE - SILVERS (Runner's up prizes) + TONE (high quality), for the circuit that hosts the British Grand Prix
19 A loveless return for country girl (7)
ANNABEL - A + reversal of LEBAN{o}N (loveless ... country)
22 Trace family: Nick may do it (4,5)
DRAW BLOOD - DRAW (Trace) + BLOOD (family)
24 Traditional accompaniments that are cut off (9)
25 Boat that leads the way for others? (7)
LIGHTER - one of Chambers' definitions for light is: "(transitive verb) To follow or precede (someone, or his or her path) with a light", so a person leading the way could perhaps be called a lighter
26 Knock over wine for communion (7)
RAPPORT - RAP (Knock) + PORT (wine)
30 The latest worry for museum conservator? (5,2,3,3)
STATE OF THE ART - literal interpretation
32 Useless worker endlessly about to finish cell extension (7)
DENDRON - DRON{e} (Useless worker endlessly) around END (to finish), to give (Chambers): "A branching projection of a nerve cell". Not a word I knew but it seemed believable as I knew of other dendr- words.
33 Antelope eats daisies, including one in remote place (6,6)
EASTER ISLAND - ELAND (Antelope) around ASTERS (daisies) around I (one)
34 Winning daily is guaranteed, but not car (11)
CHARISMATIC - CHAR (daily, i.e. cleaner) + IS + {auto}MATIC (guaranteed, but not car)
37 You’re caught; could this describe Quidditch? (3,4,2,2)
THE GAME IS UP - literal interpretation, since Quidditch is a game played on flying broomsticks in the Harry Potter books
38 Discovered painting in prison: sentence not wasted! (10)
PENTIMENTO - PEN (prison) + TIME (sentence) + NOT*, to give a word meaning (part of) a painting that has been painted over by another. Not a word I knew, and its derivation from the Italian word for "to repent" is hardly an obvious connection to its meaning, but the wordplay was kind of helpful.
40 We worked with rectors in one cathedral ... (9)
WORCESTER - (WE RECTORS)*, to give the cathedral that used to appear on the £20 note
41 in another, saw end of prayer cut short with entry of queen (5,4)
NOTRE DAME - NOTED (saw) + AME{n} (end of prayer cut short), around R (queen)
43 In charge, one party of Africans ringed girl (7)
FIANCEE - FEE (charge), around I + ANC (party of Africans)
44 Hardy tucks into extremely luscious sweets (7)
LOLLIES - OLLIE (Hardy, i.e. American comic actor Oliver Hardy) in L{usciou}S
46 Excluded workers rising in turn to get drinks (4,3)
SHUT OUT - reversal of TU (workers), in SHOUT (turn to get drinks, as in "It's my shout")
48 Man I have heard on the radio (5)
ROGER - dd, the second referring to (Chambers): "A word used in signalling and radio-communication for R, in the sense of received (and understood)"
50 Horrible feeling commonly looms over time (5)
ANGST - 'ANGS (commonly looms) + T (time). The second appearance of the commonly="remove the h" equivalence.

Club Monthly 20197 February 2017

Solving Time: 40 minutes, quick for me once again this month though my efforts to parse 16dn seem unconvincing so far.. otherwise the usual very high quality stuff we have come to expect from the Club Monthly

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 Dictionary Online). Sometimes the online OED too.

1. Italian writer’s snake constricting 200 with one more loop (9)
Boccaccio - CC (200) in BOA, + CCI (201, ie one more) + O (loop)
6. Pleasant, not too warm, with temperature set to 50 (5)
lepid - TEPID with the T changed to L
9. Queen Victoria in fits over caviar (7)
Sevruga - VR (Victoria Regina) in AGUES (fits) rev. Never liked caviar.
10. Nasty bugs ail plantain seeds (7)
isabgul - *(BUGS AIL)
11. What’s pretentious for me, former princess wears divine headdresses (5)
modii - DI in MOI (me, a la Miss Piggy
12. Move an inch, even if entering like a ghost (9)
chthonian - THO (even if) in *(AN INCH). An unlikely looking word of Greek origin, meaning "to do with the underworld"
13. This girl Vera would return a wake-up call (5)
Ellie - A REVEILLE, rev., and with the Vera removed ..
14. Sentimentality put on at an early age - no good leaving congratulations (4,2,3)
good on you - GOO + DON (put on) + YOU(ng)
17. Note penned by Greek poet, note simply to fill a gap? (5-4)
plain-darn - LA (note) in PINDAR (poet) + N(ote). Pindar was a rather opaque Greek poet, fortunate in that unlike most of his contemporaries much of his work has survived. Personally, I incline more to the Pam Ayres end of the spectrum..
18. Old gold coin with none of the buck’s spending power? (5)
obang - a reference to the phrase "More bang for your buck"
19. Act of sniper possibly trapping people in rampage (5,4)
rifle shot - FLESH (people, as in eg "flesh & blood) in RIOT (rampage)
22. Time in pub bar first using smaller base than usual (5)
octal - T(ime) in (l)OCAL (pub, bar first). The usual base being 10, no prizes for guessing which base octal is
24. Most of large towns see university’s backing of complaint affecting vision (7)
uveitic - CITIE(s) + V (vide, see as in qv) + U, all rev.
25. Rich, not poor, about to whine (7)
opulent - PULE (whine) in *(NOT)
26. Female senior apprentice dumping duo in the van (5)
ainee - (tr)AINEE. I thought it was just a girl's name to start with but no, it is (fem. version of) a French word meaning "senior."
27. Desperate youth crossing street before long (4-5)
last-ditch - ST in LAD + ITCH (long)

1. Black space in print goes round like this sweep (5)
besom - SO (like this) in B(lack) + EM (space). My granny called a broom a besom, in those days they were the old-fashioned witches' type
2. Brubeck’s Back in Black? Using their first names is a source of poison (9)
cevadilla - DAVE (Brubeck) rev. in CILLA (Black, stage name of Priscilla White). She was a cashier in Boots the Chemist in West Kirby, near where I lived at the time .. though I understand she moved on to better things, subsequently
3. Edible seed cooked in a bake contains depleted uranium (5,4)
aduki bean - D(epleted) U(ranium) in *(IN A BAKE)
4. Conservative Muslim’s allowed to hold minor worker and charge Roman for this, relating to engravings (15)
chalcographical - C (con.), + COG (minor worker) + RAP (charge) + HIC (Latin for "this") in HALAL. I was terrified by the thought of a 15 letter word meaning "conservative Muslim" but fortunately the def. was at the other end..
5. With jaws that recede as though potion’s foul (15)
opisthognathous - *(AS THOUGH POTIONS). Not quite an impossible anagram as the word has some similarity to prognathous, its antonym
6. Flat area turned off none, presumably (5)
llano - ALL ON, both rev., so none off .. presumably!
7. What’s standard to protect head in Goa, India? (5)
pagri - G(oa) in PAR (standard) + I(ndia). And an &lit.
8. Weasel cat (northern, mouse-coloured) seen in swamp mostly (9)
delundung - N + DUN (mouse-coloured) in DELUG(e) (swamp mostly). A fine word, Delundung, for an elusive mammal akin to a civet cat but unknown to Wikipedia and even google images struggles a bit, too
13. Savour of burning page raised doubt without question in novel (9)
empyreuma -  P(age) + (q)UERY rev., in EMMA, a fine novel. Struggled a bit to parse that one..
15. Pompous nonsense accepted in Ring Cycle (9)
ororotund - ROT in O (ring) + ROUND (cycle)
16. Still eating in the way that is even more barmy than the rest (9)
yeastiest - um.. I see YET, (still) containing ASTIES. That seems to be ST (way) and IE (that is) inside AS (even?) .. I think I must be missing something here! On edit - indeed I did miss something, see Mohn's comment below
20. Foreign Office pardon, conclusion of politician’s hot air in high places (5)
foehn - FO + EH (pardon?) + (politicia)N. One of a large number of exotic winds that it is useful to know
21. Spenser’s simply uncivilised when unconfined (5)
eathe - (h)EATHE(n) (uncivilised).
23. Indisposed, clutching a metal pot (5)
lotah - A in LOTH (indisposed, in the sense of not disposed to do something)

Times 26,657: Down With The NHS

A second puzzle in a row done by me, in defiance of human physiology and all else that is holy, first thing in the morning; but once more this left me with loads of change from a 10 minute time, so I won't complain too hard.

This was the sort of puzzle that I think of as very Roganesque (though I stress I have no inside information to lead me to believe it's by the editor himself) - highly intricate construction leading to smoothly deceptive surfaces of remarkable concision. A bunch of the down clues in particular caught my eye: 2dn, 4dn, 5dn, 15dn are all very very clever and the surfaces are beautiful. 8ac also gets an honourable mention just for having caught me, fair and square, in its trap: (1) "That's not a US town!" (2) "Okay, I guess it is a US town too, but hmm anyway." (3) "D'oh!"

There has been some discussion on the club forum already about whether 18dn might be too much of a stretch, and I think I would, in my professional capacity, tend to concur that a GUI is not the act of interfacing with the graphics by the user, but the graphics that are being interfaced with. But it's still quite early and perhaps I have no idea what I'm talking about. So I'll just say thanks to the setter, plus ask them, what have you got against the NHS? 7dn + 17dn + 14ac, don't try to claim there wasn't some kind of agenda here!


1 In this sort of voting, job often involves delivery (6,6)
POSTAL BALLOT - POST [job] + A LOT [often] involves BALL [delivery]
8 One housed in semi: feller in US town (7)
HALIFAX - I [one] housed in HALF [semi] + AX [feller in US]
9 Description of playful Sir Hugo? (7)
ROGUISH - (SIR HUGO*) ["playful"], semi-&lit
11 Presentation of image less stuffy — almost plain (7)
PRAIRIE - P.R. [presentation of image] + AIRIE{r} [less stuffy, "almost"]
12 Sweat-covered man in middle of field finding shamrock? (7)
TREFOIL - REF [man in middle of field], covered by TOIL [sweat]
13 Confirm demise of vessel after shelling (3,2)
INK IN - {s}INKIN{g}
14 Random opium use not ultimately causing rash (9)
IMPETUOUS - (OPIUM USE {no}T*) ["randomly"]
16 Dolphins enjoy poking elderly relative affectionately (9)
GRAMPUSES - USE [enjoy] poking GRAMPS [elderly relative, affectionately]
19 Some knocked back tea — one guzzled port (5)
GENOA - reverse hidden in {te}A ONE G{uzzled}
21 Jumbo the setter’s set mostly to trap people (7)
IMMENSE - I'M [the setter's] + SE{t}, to trap MEN [people]
23 Husband welcome, since brave (4-1-2)
HAVE-A-GO - H AVE AGO [husband | welcome | since]
24 Sailor who Roman knight would make legendary king (7)
TARQUIN - TAR [sailor] + QUI [who, "Roman"] + N [knight]. Lucky this didn't begin "sailor whom Roman", or it would have had to be TARQUEMN
25 Defiant remark: it follows comforting one (2,5)
SO THERE - SO [it follows] + THERE [comforting remark, as in "there, there"]
26 Young stand-in priest, purged of sin, insincere fellow (6,6)
PRINCE REGENT - PR [priest] + IN{sin}CERE + GENT [fellow]


1 Fish appearing in dock reversed shortage (7)
POLLACK - LOP [dock] reversed + LACK [shortage]
2 Son with slight temperature avoids food colouring (7)
SAFFRON - S [son] + AFFRON{t} [slight (that) T for temperature "avoids"]
3 Tensions exist in a European novel (9)
ANXIETIES - (EXIST IN A E*) ["novel"]
4 Overenthusiastically toasted end of graduation in Lancaster? (5)
BURNT - {graduatio}N in BURT [Lancaster, actor]
5 Cut grey lining in case where pins are laid (3-4)
LEG-REST - GRE{y} lining LEST [in case]
6 Regularly used coercion, force, on foreign banker (7)
ORINOCO - {c}O{e}R{c}I{o}N {f}O{r}C{e} O{n}
7 Polish GP isn’t, unfortunately, everything you’d wish for (8,4)
SHOPPING LIST - (POLISH GP ISN'T*) ["unfortunately"]
10 Asserts much more than control (4,4,4)
HOLD SWAY OVER - HOLDS [asserts] + WAY OVER [much more than]
15 Quickly giving compere stick if introductions mixed up (9)
POSTHASTE - HOST PASTE [compere | stick] Spoonerised
17 One who digs dirt concealed by a doctor (7)
ADMIRER - MIRE [dirt] concealed by A DR
18 Swan interacting with mouse? New for a bird! (7)
PENGUIN - PEN [swan] + GUI [interacting with mouse, in a G{raphical} U{ser} I{nterface}] + N [new]
19 Dance music in Lent is too much (7)
GAVOTTE - in GAVE [Lent] is O.T.T. [too much]
20 Rat seen moving extremely close (7)
NEAREST - (RAT SEEN*) ["moving"]
22 German I note raised boy (5)
ERNIE - EIN RE [German I | note] raised

This was an unusually (for the Times) political puzzle.  No complaints mind you, I found it thoroughly enjoyable.  There are some time capsule elements to it that made it helpful to have been around in the relevant era.  It was also pretty funny.  And, as the setter and editor could not possibly have known, it was remarkably apt in its timing.  There are quite a few among our solvers who would probably not have needed the "3" prompt from Praxiteles but I certainly found it helpful. There's one clue I haven't  parsed but I'm hoping that by post time light will have dawned.  42.12 which included a pause while I straightened out the effect of a too literal take on 23A.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.

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Times Quick Cryptic 774 by Teazel

Following Rob's departure from his alternate Friday slot I am covering for one week until Galspray takes on all Friday QCs on his return from Japan. We have a rather unusual grid today in which the left side is symmetrical with the right only along the diagonal. Much of this is straightforward I think, but there's a cryptic that may be unfamiliar to many, and a musical technicality that I suspect will be unknown to most.  11 minutes for this one making it my slowest solve of the week and the first to miss my target 10.

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Quick cryptic No 773 by Orpheus

Good puzzle with some nice surfaces.  I don’t have an accurate time, as I got up at 3:00 am to get this done before heading north on the M1, and wasn’t awake enough to remember to look at my watch, but it didn’t take long.

There is a nice mix of clue types, a little general knowledge required, but nothing too demanding.  Thanks to Orpheus, who like his namesake, has charmed us with his art.

1  Continue to bivouac, having secured right climbing aid (7)
CRAMPON – To continue to bivouac would be to ‘CAMP ON’, insert R{ight}.  A CRAMPON is a traction device used by climbers during ice climbing, or when traversing snow fields, glaciers, etc.
5  Old bloke in Arabian territory (4)
OMAN – O{ld} and MAN
Teacher initially trying to stop retreating rabble (5)
TUTOR – The rabble is a ROUT, reversed (retreating) and containing (to stop) T{rying} (initially)
Convincing action of informer? (7)
TELLING – Double definition, the first as in a ‘telling intervention’, the second what an informer is doing
10  Manage to compete in race (3)
RUN – Another double definition, as in to RUN a company, or to RUN in a race
11  Traveller given brandy and old game (5,4)
MARCO POLO – The Venetian merchant traveller whose story bought tales of the greatness and wealth of China and described other Asian wonders to Europeans, eventually resulting in Horryd setting up there (in China) amongst other things.  On edit - sorry I forgot to parse - thanks to those below who were more on the ball than me.  MARC is a type of brandy (made from grape skins and other grape refuse).  O{ld} and POLO is the game.
13  Foot doctor in Iowa, America (6)
IAMBUS – I[ow}A with MB for doctor and US for America.  Foot in this case is a division of a line of poetry, and IAMBUS is a particular foot of two syllables, a short followed by a long, or an unstressed followed by a stressed.  I was vaguely aware of IAMBUS from iambic pentameter, and even vaguer about foot in this context, but managed to get it anyway.
14  Solvent officer originally occupying an apartment (6)
AFLOAT – A FLAT is the apartment, insert O{fficer} (originally)
17  Pet food and joint provided in moored vessel (9)
LIGHTSHIP – LIGHTS are offal often used to feed pets, and the joint is the HIP.  A LIGHTSHIP is a ship serving the purpose of a lighthouse, and is necessarily moored in a fixed position when serving that purpose
19  Sailor gets deserter brought back (3)
TAR – The deserter is a RAT, reversed (brought back).  A bit of an old chestnut this.
20  One who makes a whooshing sound stealing cattle (7)
RUSTLER – A RUSTLER steels cattle (other kinds of rustler are available), and makes a noise, although I wouldn’t necessarily equate it with a whooshing sound.  They are usually seated behind me in the cinema.
22  Mixed paint is not suitable (5)
INAPT – Simple anagram of [PAINT] with ‘mixed’ as the indicator
23  Shout disapproval – and finally get sack (4)
BOOT – To BOO is to shout disapproval, with {ge}T (finally) added
24  Carry infection at the front?  It’s a nightmare! (7)
BUGBEAR – To carry is to BEAR, preceded by (at the front) BUG (infection)

1 Provide food and support for butterfly larva ()
CATERPILLAR – To CATER is to provide the food, and the support is a PILLAR
2  Not many at sea? It means the opposite (7)
ANTONYM – Anagram, clued by ‘at sea’ of [NOT MANY]
Most important soldier on horse, possibly? (9)
PARAMOUNT – The soldier is a PARA (abbreviation of paratrooper), and one type of MOUNT could be a horse, although other types exist, hence the question mark
Wildlife, etc, at old city in north-east (6)
NATURE – N{orth} E{ast} containing AT (at) and UR (ancient city).  We often see UR in crosswords, and in case you wondered, it is an ancient city-state in southern Mesopotamia
Bird’s plaintive cry in East London (3)
OWL – The plaintive cry is a HOWL, but in East London where Setters imagine that everyone drops their aitches, it would be an ‘OWL
Friend has a turn crossing motorway (5)
AMIGO – The turn is A GO, which crosses (or contains) the infamous M1 motorway, which I shall be driving up later today
Does one contain the spirit of someone else’s words (5,6)
GHOST WRITER – The whole clue forms the definition in a question, with spirit giving a further hint to the first part of the answer
12  Children belonging to start of fruitful season? (9)
OFFSPRING – belonging gives OF (as in OF this world), followed by (start of) F{ruitful} and the season referred to is SPRING.
15  Not in fashion?  It’s a scandal! (7)
OUTRAGE – If one isn’t ‘in’, one is OUT.  Fashion is RAGE.
16  Youngster a woman’s adopted – an angelic being (6)
CHERUB – The youngster is a CUB, containing (adopting) HER (a woman’s)
18  Relish: some giving us toothache (5)
GUSTO – Hidden answer clued by ‘some’, {givin}G US TO{othache}
21  Abraham’s nephew’s destiny (3)
LOT – Double definition, this time the first being Uncle Abe’s nephew who famously fled the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah whilst his wife turned to a pillar of salt (does anyone remember her name? – she seems always to be referred to as ‘Lot’s wife’), and the second meaning destiny – it was Lot’s wife’s LOT to end up as a table condiment.
Solving time : 9:37 - I thought this was a rather fun and neat crossword, with everything going in on a first or second pass through the clues and no real holdups. My last in was what I'd pick as my favorite clue (just edging out 11 across) - 17 down, which managed to get two references to supporters in without either of them being BRA. Have we entered a new age of enlightenment in the Times Crossword, or are there more BRAs waiting right around the shoulder?

Away we go...

1NEGUS: EG in NUS - a drink I have never heard of outside of crosswordland. Apparently it is sherry, hot water and spices. Sounds, umm, delicious?
4HOSTELLER: SOH(musical note) reversed, then TELLER(bank employee)
9IN GENERAL: IN(popular), GENERAL(officer)
11POTENTIOMETER: IOM(Isle of Man) after O, TENT(shelter), inside PETER(safe) - crafty clue!
14LOGO: LO(see), then GO(what is signified by green)
15SAILOR SUIT: kind of a cryptic definition - Jack being a sailor, and a young child named Jack may be stuffed into one
18SATIRISING: anagram of GIANTS containing the Greek god of the raibow, IRIS
19LIFT: hidden in tilL IF Tempted
25GARIBALDI: GI containing A, RIBALD
27LADY'S MAID: an anagram of DISMAY after LAD
28TEXAS: X (times, mathematically) inside TEAS
1NAIL POLISH: cryptic definition
2GIG: half of GIGGLE
3SONANT: SON(young male), ANT(worker, perhaps)
4HARRIDANS: HARRIS (one of the Three Men In a Boat) with DAN(a level of proficiency in martial arts) inside
5SALEM: Uncle SAM containing LE - reference to the witch trial city
7LE CORBUSIER: C(about) inside an anagram of ROLE, then BUSIER
8ROTA: OR reversed then TA
12TIGHTFISTED: the dukes are FISTS and they are in a TIGHT space
13STATISTICS: STATIC(still) and S(small) containing IST(first)
16LENINGRAD: NINE,L reversed, then GRAD(e)
17TRUSTEES: two supports, TEE and TRUSS, one inside the other
20TWO-BIT: TWIT containing OB
23GAUL: sounds like GALL, home of Asterix
26LAX: hide the top of FLAX
A good puzzle nearly as amusing as yesterday's, I thought, with no unknown words or poor clues. Around 25 minutes by the time I'd decided I could parse it all. I thought 17d had a couple of clever nuances to it, see below. But I may be reading too much into it given the Trumpery going on around us.

1 REFUSAL - REF for judge, USUAL would be expected, remove the central U; D option, as in 'first refusal'.
5 RADIANT - Insert DIA = charity, aid, rejected, into RANT = series of complaints; D visibly happy.
9 GAR - Truncate GARB = dress; D swimmer. This fish does exist outside of crosswordland, I have caught them when fishing for mackerel off Chesil Beach in my youth.
10 CENTRE STAGE - (SECRET AGENT)*, D in the limelight.
11 MAHARAJA - Reverse all (keel over) AJAR = open, HAM = cut, insert A; D prince.
12 MULLET - Double definition, one being a silly haircut.
15 NINE - N last letter of ten, E first of eight, insert I, N = one number; D partial &lit i.e. between eight and ten.
16 IMPASSABLE - MI motorway reversed, PASSABLE for unexceptional, D blocked.
18 SIAMESE CAT - Insert ACE reversed (one that's flipped) into (MATISSE)*; D domesticated animal.
19 TANG - GNAT reversed, D smack, taste.
22 OREGON - ON (cricket side) bags R(uns) EGO (I in Latin); D state.
23 DUST BOWL - ST = good man, inside DUB for knight, verb, OWL for bird; D arid region.
25 GHOSTBUSTER - G (gin originally), HOST (army), BUSTER (American term for a chap); D one downing spirits? Amusing, but I'm still chuckling about yesterday's army octopus.
27 DUE - D outstanding, sounds like DEW.
28 RETIRED - Anagram of TERRIFIED without IF; D permanently off work.
29 DUDGEON - DUD for failure, GEN for info, insert O for old; D offence. Usually high. I am sometimes in it without knowing why.

1 REGIMEN - RE sappers, Royal Engineers, GI enisted American, MEN are soldiers; D course.
2 FARTHINGALE - FAR = some way off, THIN = slight, GALE = blow; D historically, support for women. No BRA involved, for once. A device with hoops for making ladies' dresses very wide. If you're interested, Wiki says: The Spanish verdugado, from which "farthingale" derives, was a hoop skirt originally stiffened with the subtropical Giant Cane; later designs in the temperate climate zone were stiffened with osiers (willow cuttings), rope, or (from about 1580) whalebone. The name verdugado comes from the Spanish verdugo, ("green wood", or the more modern meaning of "executioner").Executioner?
3 SECURE - SEC for dry, URE a river in Wensleydale, Yorkshire; D land.
4 LONG JUMPER - Self explanatory, I hope.
5 RARE - Hidden word in EXT(RA RE)D; D &lit.
6 DISGUISE - Anagram of (ISSUE I'D G), G being head of gelding; D front, as in 'that was just a front'.
7 AGA - Palindromic oven, well, great big iron stove thing.
8 TRESTLE - Insert REST (place), L, into TE being 'the empty'; D frame.
13 LABRADOODLE - L (close to cathedral), A, BRA (here's the supporter we expect), DOODLE (drawing, noun); D cross. A Standard poodle / labrador cross, as owned (before divorce) by Tiger Woods, and other celebs.
14 CATAPULTED - (TEACUP AT L D)*, D launched.
17 REPORTER - RE (on) PORTER (the drink); D storyteller. Well, yes, reporters have been known to be 'on the drink'. But does 'storyteller' here mean a stranger to the truth, as The Donald would have you believe most reporters are?
18 SPONGER - S (beginning to smell), PONGER (stinker); D parasite. I know a few. Golf fourball, then three rounds bought, and they're off.
20 GALLEON - E the middle of SEA goes into GALLON a measure of liquid; D ship.
21 STORED - STO(P), or STO(PPER), for cork cut, RED for wine; D kept.
24 QUID - Double definition, is all I can see, quid being a chunk of tobacco you can chew, and an amount of money, although 'little' seems a bit strange, when there are lots of 'more little' denominations.
25 OAT - Initial letters of On Another Thief; D grass.

Quick Cryptic 772 by Hurley

I found this one fairly straightforward - most of it wrapped up in the time it took me to eat a sausage roll in a car park whilst en route to a funeral - with the last couple being added later. However, these things are subjective so I'll be interested to see what the rest of you thought.

Nothing obscure and plenty of different clue types, so probably a good one for those at the early stages of their cryptic learning curve.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Mini cameras adapted for New York usage? (11)
AMERICANISM - *(MINI CAMERAS) with "adapted" pointing us to the anagram (and also doing double duty as part of the definition as I read it - hence the question mark indicating something a bit quirky is going on...)
9 Book of maps in end left unfinished (5)
ATLAS - AT LAS{t} (in end left unfinished)
10 Delegate authority to fellow going to appointment (7)
MANDATE - MAN (fellow) with DATE (appointment)
11 At home a brother finally raises being behind with
IN ARREARS - IN (at home) A R (a brotheR finally) + REARS (raises)
13 Animal’s hiding place in story (3)
LIE - DD (at least I think that's the explanation - did not know 'lie' as a hiding place and do not have access to my trusty dictionary as I am on the road, and cannot find any online validation of this...)
14 Perhaps plot information about a road (6)
GARDEN - GEN (information) goes around (about) A RD (a road)
16 Mixture used in building gun (6)
17 Strange drink (3)
RUM - and another DD...
18 Condiment Bill allowed, Sarah briefly admitted (5,4)
TABLE SALT - TAB (bill) + LET (allowed) with SAL (Sarah briefly) inside (admitted). Must admit I had not known that Sal was a short form of Sarah - but at least it's not quite so mysterious as Peg being a short form of Margaret (never could fathom that one!)
21 In restaurant is not able to recall indication of maiden
name (7)
CANTEEN - CANT (is not able to) + NEE reversed (recall indication of maiden name)
23 Measuring device used in extreme terrain (5)
METER - Hidden (indicated by 'used in') extreME TERrain
24 New scout’s botched attempt to find where Devon is?
WEST COUNTRY - *(NEW SCOUT) - with "botched" indicating the anagram - + TRY (attempt). And for the benefit of any non-UK based solvers, Devon is a county in the southwest of England renowned for cream teas, rustic life and the great sea-dogs of the Elizabethan age - a heady combination.

2 Mother, fifty, cheers for Republic (5)
MALTA - MA (mother) + L (Roman numeral for fifty) + TA (cheers)
3 Again use Ulster’s outside recreation ground in break (9)
RESURRECT - UR (UlsteR's outside) + REC (slang for recreation ground) 'in' REST (break).
4 Mark, actor Mumbai regularly features (5)
COMMA - Every other letter in (regularly features) aCtOr MuMbAI.
5 Member of Order — note posh name (3)
NUN - N (abbrev. 'note') + U (posh - as in "U / non-U") + N (abbrev. 'name')
6 Red vehicle learner, English, parked in street (7)
SCARLET - CAR (vehicle) + L (learner) + E (English) put inside (parked in) ST (street)
7 Prayer after preventing goal — redeeming feature? (6,5)
SAVING GRACE - GRACE (prayer) follows (after) SAVING (preventing goal)
8 Rectory able to be transformed in honour of win, perhaps
CELEBRATORY - *(RECTORY ABLE) with "to be transformed" as the anagram indicator
12 Mask opens unexpectedly — a guy media deal with is
revealed (9)
SPOKESMAN - *(MASK OPENS) with "unexpectedly" pointing to the anagram
15 Love languages derived from Latin (7)
19 Game has Robin going to some extent (5)
BINGO - Hidden (indicated by 'to some extent') in roBIN GOing
20 Firstly ask laity to adorn refurbished church table (5)
ALTAR - First letters of (firstly) Ask Laity To Adorn Refurbished
22 Devour ham, say, heading off (3)
EAT - {M}EAT - ham for example - with its first removed (heading off)

Quick Cryptic 771 by Flamande

I'm really pleased to have been on blog duty for this one. Solving took 8 minutes (so a good quick QC) but compiling the blog allowed me to fully relish some of the clues. I'd like to highlight 24ac, 13dn and 20dn but pick your own favourite. Good one, Flamande.


8. Israeli - from Jewish state. Is (IS), queen (R), a (A), priest (ELI).
9. On ice - kept for later. Nothing (O), pleasant (NICE).
10. Get on - prosper. Not say (NOT EG) retired (backwards).
11. Officer - constable. Fine one (F I) inside an anagram (troubled) of FORCE.
12. Eurocrats - masters in Brussels. Anagram (organised) of ART COURSE.
14. Egg - &lit. Something v(EGG)ie eats (has inside).
16. Rip - tear. R.I.P.
18. Rounded on - verbally attacked. Rotund (ROUND), English (E), teacher (DON).
19. Redress - correct. Put clothes back on (RE-DRESS).
22. Rebel - dissenter. Part of film - in the old days (REEL) about British (B).
23. Miler - runner. Q. Who looks happy? A. A smiler. Missing the start=s(MILER).
24. Oration - speech. From H(ORATIO N)elson. Quite clever - CS Forester wrote the excellent Horatio Hornblower fictional books based on Nelson.


1. King Lear - tragic ruler. Anagram (terribly) of LARGE with family (KIN) made prominent - raised up to the front.
2. Grater - kitchen implement. Homophone (we hear) of greater.
3. Fern - plant. Marshy area (FEN) around river (R).
4. Mimosa - tree. Anagram (high) of MOM IS, on top of a (A).
5. Confused - bewildered. Wrongdoer (CON), female (F), employed (USED).
6. Circle - double definition. Group of people - one's circle, theatre seats above the stalls.
7. Peer - noble. Disciple - St. Peter - losing heart (PEtER).
13. Car ferry - a form of transport the queen is unlikely to take to get to the Continent. Heading for France (first letter - F), the queen (ER), inside (goes aboard) transport (CARRY). A nice clue which makes you jump about a bit - any questions just ask.
15. Gangling - lanky. (G)uy, catching fish (ANGLING).
17. Peddle - try to sell. Homophone (you say) of pedal.
19. Upshot - result. An up shot would fire into the air.
20. Dublin - city. Anagram (drunk) of BLIND going round university (U). This is a great clue full of cross reference and personal reminiscence. Dublin is a lovely city with the university right in the centre and open for public access. Anyone having previously visited the Temple Bar area may so wander through the university. COD.
21. Rump - portion of steak. (P)ie after drink (RUM).
22. Read - study. Article (A) penned by communist (RED).

Times Number 26654

This one took me over an hour having got myself completely stuck on 20d and 29ac

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