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Times 26,591: A Wet Weekend in Wales

A puzzle for which the word that springs to mind is "ingenious": I found no shortage of toeholds to began my ascent, but then ran into many "how on earth do I get from here to there?" moments before I finally made it to the summit, rather closer to the 15 minute mark than the 10. 11ac in particular defeated me: while the correct answer clearly couldn't be anything else, I cracked and asked for a hint from the ed just now to fully untangle how to get the first two words of the clue from the wordplay. If only I'd paid more attention in school sports...

I really like crossword clues about crossword clues, so 13dn is my Clue of the Day, with an honourable mention to 20dn too. My daughters' school on the other hand really likes them not to be late, so off I'd better dash. Many many thanks to the setter and a special tip of the hat to the helpful editor too this week. A tout a l'heure!


1 Town, it's plain, hiding new failure (9)
LLANDUDNO - LLANO [plain], hiding N DUD [new | failure]

6 A teacher is wrong (5)
AMISS - A MISS [a | teacher]

9 Very pale green at first, have you left grey at the end? (7)
GHASTLY - G{reen} + HAST L [have you | left] + {gre}Y

10 Explosion setting army back: I drive off (7)
ATISHOO - reverse of T.A. ["setting... back" army] + I SHOO [I | drive off]

11 With no play area at first, game is in the balance (5, 3, 2)
TOUCH AND GO - AND [with], given TOUCH [no play area (in sportsball)] at first + GO [game]

12 Almost entirely give up (4)
QUITE - QUIT{e} ["almost" entirely]

14 What's in some gap that's found in alphabet (5)
OMEGA - hidden in {s}OME GA{p}

15 Incomplete box, say, among items chucked in current (3, 6)
JET STREAM - TRE{e} ["incomplete" box, say] among JETSAM [items chucked in]

16 Fails to be accepted by priest, with name as Lothario (6, 3)
LADIES MAN - DIES [fails] to be accepted by LAMA [priest], with N [name]

18 Provide peer with one penny, not a pound (5)
EQUIP - EQUAL [peer] with 1P [one penny], minus the A L ["not" a pound]

20 Starts to compile, and later finishes new jumbo? (4)
CALF - C{ompile} A{nd} L{ater} F{inishes}; a calf as in a baby elephant

21 Act by ministry rejected in row, so no meaningful pattern here (6, 4)
RANDOM WALK - reverse of LAW M.O.D. [act (by) ministry "rejected"] in RANK [row]

25 Book jazz singer to appear after autumn period (7)
NOVELLA - ELLA [jazz singer (Fitzgerald)] to appear after NOV [autumn period]

26 Fat girl with an attitude going about (7)
ADIPOSE - DI [girl] with A POSE [an attitude] going about

27 Bird for one: about time (5)
EGRET E.G. RE T [for one | about | time]

28 Wonder if a rug can cover me during meditation (9)
AMAZEMENT A MAT [a rug] can cover ME during ZEN [meditation]


1 Easy to carry guide in the dark (5)
LIGHT - double def

2 Mainly like beer, covering game (2, 1, 4)
AS A RULE - AS ALE [like | beer], covering R.U. [game]

3 Give up drink that's said to be dull (10)
DITCHWATER - DITCH WATER [give up | drink]; per the proverb, "dull as ditchwater"

4 Senior teacher accepts you as old-fashioned (5)
DOYEN - DON [teacher] accepts YE [you "as old-fashioned"]

5 Our cousin called, briefly out and about (5-4)
ORANG-UTAN - RANG [called], with OUT AN{d} about

6 A small number coming up the Central Line (4)
AXIS - A + SIX reversed [small number "coming up"]

7 One hopeless astride horse without outside help (2-5)
IN-HOUSE - I [one] + NO USE [hopeless] astride H [horse]

8 Peace increased, suppressing rise of imitative violent programme (5-2-2)
SHOOT-EM-UP - SH UP [peace | increased], suppressing ME-TOO reversed ["rise of" imitative]

13 Get more efficient in the morning to crack Listener somehow (10)
STREAMLINE - A.M. [in the morning] to crack (LISTENER*) ["somehow"]

14 So some prisoners released; just what pub needs (2-7)
ON-LICENCE - ON [just, as in "that's not on"] + LICENCE [what pub needs]

15 Hand, one held by digger (7)
DELIVER - I [one] held by DELVER [digger]

17 Post a bet on a Creole dish (9)
JAMBALAYA - JAMB A LAY [post | a | bet] on A

19 Generally agreed a French bird has lost tail (3, 4)
UNA VOCE - UN [a French] AVOCE{t} [bird "has lost tail"]

22 Goddess offers a help up (5)
DIANA - AN AID reversed [a help "up"]

23 Got down time after short sound of bell (5)
KNELT - T [time] after KNEL{l} ["short" sound of bell]

24 Stomach accommodates large excess
GLUT - GUT [stomach] accommodates L [large]

Quick Cryptic 719 by Rongo

Found this one to be easier than average, completing it in 3:55.  Hope that means there was some encouragement for those on the beginners' slopes, and the chance for a fast time (if that's your aim) for those who have reached base camp and may even be eyeing off the treacherous terrain of the 15x15.

I started to put together an analysis of why this one might have been easier than the average Quickie, but quickly realised it was a fool's errand.  Solving is such an individual pursuit, and levels of experience vary so greatly that it's hard to be categorical about these things, and the only guarantee is that someone would take offence.

It suffices to say that I thought there were a number of very generous definitions, including those for PASSPORT, USED, ENLARGE, RED TAPE, DUNGEON and DIARIST.  And if you've been around long enough to spot a chestnut, they don't come much more chestnutty than FIRM and OUTDO.

There's a few other write-ins as well, but I'll stop digging now and get on with the parsing.  After first thanking Rongo, who gives us this day our daily grid.

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 Hand over fortified wine: it must be shown at Immigration (8)
PASSPORT - PASS (hand over) + PORT (fortified wine)
5 Exploited? That’s not new (4)
USED - Double definiton
8 Wave weapon each noon, like Falstaff? (13)
SHAKESPEAREAN - SHAKE (wave) + SPEAR (weapon) + EA (each) + N (noon)
Possibly one of the harder clues.  I panicked at "like Falstaff" when I realised that all I knew about Falstaff was that he was a Shakespearean character.  Turns out that's all you needed to know.
10 Be more successful than unpopular party (5)
OUTDO - OUT (unpopular) + DO (party)
11 Make bigger general changes (7)
12 Returning to pinch, dull routine for highwayman (6)
TURPIN - [NIP (pinch) + RUT (dull routine)] all reversed (returning)
We call them bushrangers down here, so I knew it couldn't be Ben Hall, Captain Thunderbolt or Mad Dog Morgan.  In fact the only highwayman that comes to mind is Dick Turpin.  Another case of limited knowledge working to my advantage.
13 Guard’s military hideout? (6)
WARDEN - A DEN is a hideout, so a WAR DEN could be a military hideout
Could be, hence the question mark.
16 Bureaucracy gradually became thinner after switching sections (3,4)
RED TAPE - TAPERED (gradually became thinner) 'switching sections'
ie, put the RED in front of the TAPE.  Not a commonly used device this one, even in the 15x15.  I quite like it, though it must be said in this case that the enumeration and the first word of the clue would have been enough for many solvers.
18 MRI check, say, with time in short supply (5)
SCANT - SCAN (MRI check, say) + T (time)
20 Musical arrangement as an alternative to box allocation? (13)
ORCHESTRATION - OR (as an alternative to) + CHEST (box) + RATION (allocation)
21 Solid company (4)
FIRM - Double definition
I've seen easier cryptic crossword clues, but I can't remember when.
22 Is nosy, vacant troll variable, or suited to clerical work? (8)
PRIESTLY - PRIES (is nosy) + TL (vacant TrolL) + Y (variable)
Slightly more chewy.  Look out for "vacant", "vacated" or "on vacation" as an instruction to just use the first and last letter of a word.  And of course "variable" will be X, Y or Z, unless it's an anagram indicator.
1 Annoyance with old Italian sauce (5)
PESTO - PEST (annoyance) + O (old)
2 Son and cap-maker suddenly go to pieces (7)
SHATTER - S (son) + HATTER (cap-maker)
3 Complicated rite and poem are most common (11)
The hardest clue of the day I think, as PREDOMINANT is so tempting if you skim over the anagrist.  But it's all in the subtlety of the definition, which of course includes the "are".
4 Declamatory performer’s packaging for radio? (6)
RAPPER - Homophone (for radio) of WRAPPER (packaging)
"Declamatory" means "vehement or impassioned in expression".  I didn't know that, I assumed it meant something like "denigratory", but that didn't exactly lead me away from the solution!
6 Some journalism earnestly shows slander (5)
SMEAR - Hidden in journaliSM EARnestly
Easier to see than most hiddens I think.  Sometimes you need to squint a bit.
7 Dropping a long time in underground cell (7)
DUNGEON - DUNG (dropping) + EON (a long time)
9 Chance to start afresh that newly washed roof might provide? (1,5,5)
A CLEAN SLATE - Two definitions, one proverbial and one cryptic
12 Something repellent in entrance to side road? (4-3)
TURN-OFF - Double definition
14 Bridget Jones possibly mounted attack on one street (7)
DIARIST - DIAR ['mounted' RAID (attack)] + I (one) + ST (street)
A nice change from Samuel Pepys or Anne Frank.
15 Strange trance produces something very sweet (6)
17 Interior design company has crimson put up outside (5)
DECOR - CO (company) with DER [RED (crimson) 'put up'] outside
19 Piquant, brown and grey on the outside (5)
TANGY - TAN (brown) + GY (GreY 'on the outside')
If you take it that 16ac is a reference to the William Walton opera based on Chaucer’s poem, there ain’t no Shakespeare in this one, making it a true rarity. It also contains something of a considerable rarity in the current run of TLS puzzles, a genuine, honest to goodness mistake at 25 across. That almost everyone who commented on it on the CC site knew who it was supposed to be suggests that it was an easy mistake to make if you weren’t looking it up to be sure. To be honest, it would have passed me by even though I can claim a passing acquaintance with Hackney boy Theo Paphitis, another Dragon and sometime generous supporter of my charity (cheers, Theo!). But of course, as your trusted blogger, I had to check. That, and just plain slow-on-the-uptakeness, stretched my time to near enough 12 minutes past the hour. Here’s what I concluded, backed up by careful (but not necessarily reliable) research: clue, definition, SOLUTION


1 A clown, Mario’s one who dies in a tale of crime  (4)
FOOL  Mario Puzo (he who wrote the Godfather stuff) wrote Fools Die, so one of his is offered as our unrefusable answer.
4 Reject lad with trifling gains - one falsely accused of theft (7,3)
WINSLOW BOY  A fine clue: lad with trifling gains translates to BOY (with) LOW WINS. Reverse the sequence for the Rattigan play about a schoolboy accused of stealing a 5/- postal order. Clearing his name involves legal action at the highest level, and at great cost to his family and others involved.
9 What can link actor to film? Looking fashionable - that’s about right (8,2)
STARRING IN  Think film posters, and a literal link. Looking: STARING, fashionable: IN about R(ight)
10 Something trivial in the Riot Act (4)
IOTA  hidden in rIOT Act. The Greek letter translates  י (yod), the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, used in “one iott or one tytle” (Matthew 5.18, Tyndale 1526) to indicate something trivial                
11 This month featuring in ode rewritten anew  (2,4)
DE NOVO  You need to know this puzzle was published in November. ODE rewritten gives you the DEO to surround NOV.
12 Earlier author’s flow of words, comprehended by Beat poet (8)
TROLLOPE  Earlier than Ginsberg, anyway. Beat (up) POET to get TOPE, and insert ROLL for flow of words.
13 This playwright lived with an artist  (8)
FLETCHER John Fletcher was an Elizabethan era playwright, noted for his collaborations with Francis Beaumont. John Aubrey claims they lived together in a ménage à trois. The complication for me is that Beaumont was not an artist per se, but there are several other Beaumonts that were and one of them will have to do.
14 Thriller writer’s left in an indication of danger  (6)
AMBLER  L(eft) contained in AMBER, the middle light on traffic lights etc. Eric's our writer.
16 Orwell’s horse blanket concealing a bit of Lippizaner  (6)
CLOVER  Correctly divide. CLOVER is one of the inhabitants of Animal Farm. Blanket provides COVER, and contains a bit of Lipizzaner, sc the first bit.
18 In Spain, a house suitable for everyone - in France, good for a priest from the English Midlands  (8)
CASAUBON  Trust the wordplay. Spanish house CASA, suitable for everyone U (film classification) and in France, good: BON. George Eliot’s Edward Casaubon is priest in Middlemarch, somewhere indistinct in the East Midlands
20 One seen flirting with Greek in play is scared (8)
CRESSIDA  As in Troilus and, and an anagram (in play) of IS SCARED. The whole clue also makes perfect and accurate sense.
22 Mummy, damned in a vampire expert’s work  (6)
RAMSES  From “The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned”, a 1989 historical-horror novel by Anne Rice, or so I assume, better known for Interview with the Vampire. Currently undead in New Orleans
23 Junk lies somewhere off the coast (4)
ISLE  A rather easy anagram, but again a pleasing surface.
24 Striking a level tone in Latin America drama  (10)
TELENOVELA  Wiki says “a type of limited-run serial drama originally produced in Latin America”. If you don’t know that, fiddle with the letters of A LEVEL TONE until you stumble across a probable Spanish/Portuguese portmanteau word.
25 Dragon once a major figure in children’s literature  (10)
BALLANTYNE   Probably RM, author of The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean, and improbably (not to say incorrectly) Duncan Bannatyne, erstwhile denizen of Dragons Den, a popular presentation on the BBC. “Mr Middleton”, our esteemed editor, has already apologised for the error on the CC website.
26 David Hare’s clergyman with sixth sense? Unknown  (4)
ESPY  The David Hare play you need is Racing Demon (1990) and the character Lionel Espy, but you can get away with trusting the wordplay and the very few words that fit the crossers. 6th sense ESP and unknown Y. Sir David lives on the Essex Costa Geriatrica, AKA St Leonards on Sea.


2 Expose hoax? It’s what one writer may want to do to another  (7)
OUTSELL  Nothing to do with the Hitler Diaries, but expose gives you OUT, and HOAX gives sell. The rest of the clue supposes a competitive avarice amongst authors, a calumny on all authors whose dedication is, of course, to art rather than Mammon.
3 Male lover not ridiculous for a poet with Scottish roots  (9)
LERMONTOV Descended from a Scottish soldier called George Learmouth and possibly from Thomas the Rhymer. Also derived by playing around with the letters of M(ale) LOVER NOT.
4 Tumbledown winter home is for one exiled in the Borders  (4,2,9)
WEIR OF HERMISTON Collapsing letters of WINTER HOME IS FOR gives you the title of RL STEVENSON’s unfinished novel (and not say, the setting of a less spectacular incident for Sherlock Holmes). Hermiston is a village in the Scottish Border country where weir was – um - exiled.
5 One with no support - no great shakes  (7)
NEGATOR  An anagram of NO GREAT. Can’t offer much on matching (presumed) definition and solution, I’m afraid, other than they are both in negative vein. Something grammatical, perhaps? Is “no great shakes” an example as well?
6 Spankers appear in this city with complete confidence  (6,9)
LONDON ASSURANCE  is also a play by Dion Boucicault featuring Lady Gay Spanker and her husband Dolly. You’re right, they don’t write ‘em like that any more.  City: London, complete confidence: ASSURANCE
7 “Oh, give me again the rover’s life - the joy, the thrill, the” (Herman Melville, White Jacket)  (5)
WHIRL  Not whale, then. GOLIU
8 Curious couplet describing the Snark’s fits  (7)
OCTUPLE  Not many anagrams of couplet, are there? Charles Dodgson described his famous poem as “An Agony in 8 Fits”
15 Southern story, lots of it filmed  (4,5)
BLUE MOVIE  is also a book by Terry Southern (1970). It can also be characterised, in TLS coy naughtyspeak, as lots of “it”, filmed. Probably by Andy Warhol in 1969.
17 Greek city featured in Doctor Zhivago  (7)
LARISSA  The very lovely Lara, as portrayed by Julie Christie and characterised by one of the most ravishing theme tunes in cinema history, was a contraction of Larissa, which is also, as the clue explains, the name of an ancient Greek city and, as it happens, the modern version. Birthplace of Achilles and Hippocrates.
18 Dramatically a nephew (unknown) replacing son in Dickens  (7)
CHARLEY  So long as you know the first name of Dickens (yes, that one) this is easy: swap out the S for a Y, and you have the eponymous nephew in Charley’s Aunt, a hugely successful farce by Brandon Thomas first performed in 1892 and rarely off the stage since. Catch it this Sunday at the Globe Theatre, 104 London Street, Dunedin, Otago
19 Spells of cricket and running partly coincide  (7)
OVERLAP The two sports can divide into OVERs and LAPs. You need one of each.
21 Very successful author’s bargain book announced?  (5)
STEEL  I think this must be Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel, currently the world’s best selling living author (New York City, I believe). A bargain book is a homophonic STEAL

Times Quick Cryptic No 718 by Hawthorn

I was a bit under the 11 minute mark today, making it one of the quicker ones I've tried in a while - helped out by a few easy clues, a few familiar clues, and a rudimentary knowledge of plants that happily includes 14d (although my mental image of it was something quite different). While we're on the subject, this knowledge didn't extend to 4d in the main crossword (and I had it ending in an "a"), but as z8b8d8k intimates below, today's is definitely worth a shot - if you're anything past halfway through this, give it a try. Anyway, half the across clues fell into place after the first scan through, with the sticklers being 10,11,12,14, 20 and 22. Not much else 14ac could have been, in fairness, but I was stubborn to see why for some reason and just moved on. 22ac is a nice example of a clue that immediately reveals itself as an anagram once you've seen an anagram-indicator or two, but can be very hard to answer without a checker or two. Well, for me at least. (And "number" makes me immediately fearful it'll be some popular song that was doing the rounds in the 1920s.) All in all, towards the easier end, with some lovely surface readings and more than enough going on to make it very good fun, so many thanks to Hawthorn.

7 Cook with right hop kiln
ROAST: R (right) OAST (hop kiln)
8 Tossing and turning, I dream about married female of fantasy
MERMAID: anagram (tossing and turning) or I DREAM, going around M (married). Very nice.
10 What can be seen in voyages to Niagara’s state
ESTONIA: which can be seen in the letters of voyagES TO NIAgara.
11 Prophetess is reflected by lake
SIBYL: SI (is, reflected), BY, L (lake). Lovely surface reading and efficiency of clueing. I had a negative connotation of sibyl in my head, but I think I might be getting confused with Fawlty Towers.
12 One stirring up discontent if going back to market again
FIREBRAND: FI (if, going back) REBRAND (market again).
14 Taxi reversing in backwards
CAB: reversing and "hidden" in the letters of BACkwards. Sufficiently hidden for me, anyway.
15 Tailless African river duck
NIL: NILE (African river loses its tail)
16 Perhaps don’t put on enough lingerie
UNDERWEAR: cryptic definition: if you don't put on enough, you would perhaps under-wear.
18 One who’s emigrated with retired TV postman
EXPAT: EX (retired) PAT (TV postman). An ex-Pat is of course simply a Pat who's changed their name, but the ex-postman in question hasn't done so, I believe. His/her for their is cumbersome, in my view, but I take your point if you disagree, let's move on to...
20 Call for battle cry?
WARRANT: WAR (battle) RANT (cry)
22 Teasingly reveals a number
SEVERAL: anagram (teasingly) of REVEALS. Teasing indeed.
23 A Russian fighter meets old Spanish friend
AMIGO: A MIG (a Russian fighter) meets O (old)

1 Lawn and elaborate fringes showing gardening ability
GREEN FINGERS: GREEN (lawn) FINGERS (anagram "elaborate" of FRINGES). Another lovely clue.
2 Rustic friend embraces pioneering stateswoman
PASTORAL: PAL (friend) embraces ASTOR (pioneering stateswoman).
3 Shock as almost attacked by bee
STUN: is almost STUNG (attacked by bee)
4 Parking in exotic Mali next to a leaping antelope
IMPALA: P(arking) goes in an anagram (exotic) of MALI, next to A. There were lots kicking around in the capital of Uganda, or so I've just recently learnt.
5 Medieval soldier is more coarse when receiving singular answer
CRUSADER: CRUDER (more coarse) receives S, A (singular, answer).
6 Cutting remark made by hairdresser without hesitation
BARB: BARBER (hairdresser) is without "er" (hesitation)
9 Old inebriate’s muddled thinking
DELIBERATION: anagram (is muddled) of OLD INEBRIATE. Very nice.
13 Subtle manoeuvring on railway that’s windy
BLUSTERY: anagram (manoeuvring) of SUBTLE on RY (railway)
14 Cat is eating fruit, not on plant
CLEMATIS: CAT IS eats LEMON (fruit - but not the ON).
17 Walk slowly from valley, taking in edges of wood
DAWDLE: DALE (valley) taking in edges of WooD.
19 Cover with flags: first couple from Panama and Venezuela
PAVE: first couple from Panama and Venezuela
21 Wander about Italian capital, speaking
ROAM: is the same as ROME when spoken.
A nice quick solve for me in 14.42, helped enormously by the vast majority of the clues looking like a collection of IKEA assembly instructions: insert part a into part b, attach part c to section d, invert part 2 and try it an several places in part 2 until it looks right. Apart from a few anagrams (throw all the parts into the air and hope they land looking something like the picture in the catalogue) only the rather fun 8d stands out from the crowd and was inevitably the one that gave me most trouble even when I had all the crossing letters.
Here's what I thunk
Clue, definition, SOLUTION


1 Prayer archdeacon at old university cuts in assembly, for example  (10,4)
COLLECTIVE NOUN  Coll’ect is a prayer used in Western Christian worship, and an Archdeacon’s title is VENerable. He, with O(ld) U(niversity) cuts into IN. OED says “assembly” is the collective noun for a group of clergy. I thought it was a surplice.
9 Oddly I can bear oxygen, being not dependent on it  (9)
ANAEROBIC, a sort of &lit, with I CAN BEAR O(xygen) providing the anagram fodder, indicated by oddly.
10 Marker Irish are able to put outside  (5)
CAIRN  IR(ish) with CAN, are able, outside. Fresh from a very recent, as yet unblogged, crossword, when it was rather more succinctly clued
11 The 6 a French artist mostly has yen for?  (5)
MONEY  The artist is MONEt, end removed, Y(en) added for the necessary, another euphemism for the solution provided by 6d
12 Restore charge for crossing a German thoroughfare  (9)
REINSTATE  Charge RATE, a German EIN and thoroughfare ST(reet). Assemble in suitable order.
13 Prediction favouring actors on Eastenders initially  (8)
FORECAST Favouring FOR, actors CAST, E(stenders) primarily. Assemble sensibly.
15 Settle up with small state keeping first of primitive manuscripts  (6)
PAPYRI  Guest appearance from 26585, this time clued as settle up PAY, small state R(hode) I(sland) and including the first letter of Primitive.
17 They all leave books on former alliance of nations (6)
EXEUNT omnes, technically, for they all leave. Former EX, EU alliance of nations (not for much longer, perhaps) and N(ew) T(estament) books Assemble with due care.
19 Better territory ultimately — except for a S American rodent!  (8)
CAPYBARA  A phenomenally large guinea pig. Better CAP, territory ultimately Y, except for BAR and a A. Assemble linearly
22 Gravity of appeal for help by son investing capital (9)
SOBERNESS  Appeal for help SOS, S(on), containing capital BERNE Assemble painstakingly
23 Chairman once primarily reporting in antipodean language  (5)
MAORI  The one time Chairman is MAO, the first letters of Reporting In. Assemble in sequence
24 Like pathological agents researchers originally stored in small bottle  (5)
VIRAL  The first letter of Researchers place in a VIAL, or small bottle.
25 Exciting sixty minutes employed in working the land (9)
THRILLING  Sixty minutes, HR, and working the land TILLING. Assemble intuitively.
26 Loony role tunny plays? No way!  (3,2,4,5)
NOT ON YOUR NELLY  The truly odd collection of words at the beginning shrieks anagram. It is. The phase is allegedly Cockney Rhyming slang via Nelly Duff/puff/(breath of ) life. Researching this will drive you rainin’ (rain in Spain, insane). It did cuppa.


1 Repugnant church member’s first attempt to win favour  (5,9)
CHARM OFFENSIVE  Repugnant OFFENSIVE, CH(urch) member ARM. Assemble in the order give.
2 One inclined to accommodate Republican student  (7)
LEARNER  One inclining leaner, R(epublican), assembled in the manner of a rather disappointing Russian doll. If I had a penny for every CV I have seen with “I am a fast leaner” I would have ooh, I dunno, a couple of quid? Ditto (only more so) I posses good powers of observation.
3 See about painter turning up ahead of time  (5)
EARLY  See, the inevitable (and ecclesiastical) ELY and painter turning up A(cadamician) R(oyal) Assemble part b into part a, taking care to choose the right slot.
4 Objection raised over European woman’s Mexican plant (8)
TUBEROSE This one, propagated by objection raised TUB (it’s a down clue) E(uropean) and woman pick-one-of-millions ROSE. Assemble in the original order.
5 Fall guy showing energy around Court One  (6)
VICTIM Energy VIM, C(our)T one I. Assemble vigorously.
6 Inescapable point absorbing City fairly regularly  (9)
NECESSARY  Point is NESS, City is EC (- of London postal district), and every other letter of fAiRlY provides the rest.
7 Marked by oneness, like posh people your article can upset  (7)
UNITARY Posh people are U (see under Mitford, Nancy). Then Y(ou)r Article A and can TIN all reversed and glued on.
8 One’s not lost, presumably, behaving thus?  (14)
UNHESITATINGLY  Based on “he who hesitates is lost”. So that he who doesn’t isn’t.
14 Singer, bad lot, supporting one-time Nicaraguan guerrilla?  (9)
CONTRALTO  Ah what fun we had when the worst thing a president (in this case Ronnie) could do was secretly sell weapons to Iran and use the money to secretly support right wing rebels in Nicaragua. They were the CONTRAs. Fortunately we only need to borrow their name and attach it to a “bad” version of LOT
16 Hard American con man briefly framing a German woman  (8)
HAUSFRAU H(ard) American US and FRAUd, our brief con man, assembled in that order to provide a fitting (probably) frame for A.
18 Ban accordingly restricting business degree  (7)
EMBARGO  Accordingly is ERGO, and a business degree is an MBA. Another minimalist matrioshka project. Many, many years ago, my school chums drew my attention to a lady’s supportive undergarment that was branded “Embargo” until seen in a mirror. How we – um – tittered.
20 A note spies left, avoiding contact with others  (7)
ASOCIAL   A, er, A, note SO (a needle pulling thread) (whoops I did it again, sorry)  spies CIA, L(eft). Assemble in strict order
21 Follow lines about northern aristocrats  (6)
GENTRY  Follow gives GET (do you get it?) lines give R(ailwa)Y and N(orthern) can be slotted into place where it fits.
23 Fellow touring the Italian financial centre (5)
MILAN Fellow gives MAN, the Italian gives IL, place doll two into doll one and sigh. Home of Italy’s Stock Exchange, in case you were wondering where the financial centre came in. That’s not the bit you’re too sexy for. There, I’ve freed you from the Do Re Me earworm. You might not thank me.

Times 26589 - no duck soup here

My life is in chaos. Well, disarray. Thanks to a virus with the catchy epithet H5N8 - la grippe aviaire. It takes me 35 minutes - sometimes 34 - to get to or from the golf club. Yesterday, thanks to road closures, it took nearly 50. Three cases of bird 'flu on a nearby duck farm, 20,000 fat ducks already abattu there alone, if it spreads there could be a million or two in our area and a strong smell of roast duck from wherever they 'euthanase' them. Stampedes to follow, in the supermarket; the thought of a Christmas without foie gras would be too much to bear for any Frenchman. Migrating swans from Russia may be responsible, they say, another Putin plot? Or is it Horryd wreaking revenge on us tireless bloggers?

Wednesdays are an oasis of calm in this chaos. The only weekdays I can ignore the car, road blocks and disinfectant troughs, be a recluse, make a coffee and blog the Times crossword. This one I tried to do under 'exam conditions' (although not as intimidating as those at Château Murdoch, no doubt); I found it if anything easier than last week's, although I see only 44% of semi-finalists completed it correctly. Of the six Champiohsip puzzles so far, I thought it was the wittiest and most enjoyable. Just inside 20 minutes, done and parsed, so a level par score.  As a teamwork gesture, I've left parsing 18a for the commentators.

1 FOLK MUSIC - Anagram of UK FILM CO'S, D traditional notes.
6 SCOOP - Double definition.
9 KAMPALA - K = king, A LAP = a wash, reverse it, insert MA reversed; D capital, of Uganda; the name means roughly 'Hill of Impala' so we have an antelope clue, well sort of.
10 NEW TOWN - Insert W(ide) into Isaac NEWTON: D urban development.
11 REBUS - RE BUS = on vehicle; D puzzling symbols, etc.
12 DREARIEST - DEARIE = ducks, as in Northern expression of endearment; insert R(iver) and add T (close to boat); D most tiresome.
13 CRAVE - CRAVEN = coward, delete the N for knight; D pine for.
14 REBELLION - REEL = wind, as in reel in (a fishing line); insert B for black; add LION for cat; D rising.
17 HANDLEBAR - BAR = local, put HANDLE = name up front, D biker uses this.
18 OUTRE - D bizarre, I biffed it, no idea how it works. Ah yes, Jimbo was first, ROUTE has its R moved to near the end. Simps!
19 BROADCAST - Witty cryptic double definition, BROAD CAST and air.
22 IRISH - I, RIS(E) = mount docked, H = horse; D National.
24 TACTILE - ACT = performance, inside TILE = playing piece; D hands-on.
25 LAGGARD - LAG = wrap-up warmly, DRAG reversed = to haul, back; D trailer.
26 DERBY - RED reversed = left-winger backed; BY = times; D city.
27 SISYPHEAN - SY = StaY on vacation; insert into (IN SHAPE)* anagrid 'jogging'; D uphill. An uphill task, as in Sisyphus who had to keep pushing that big rock up again and again.

1 FAKIR - FAIR = clean, insert K = stank ultimately; D mendicant.
2 LAMEBRAIN - Insert E(nergy) into LAMB, then RAIN = drops; D idiot.
3 MEANS WELL - MEAN = average, SWELL = toff, D has good intentions.
4 STANDARD-BEARERS - STANDARDS = guidelines, insert E(nglish) into BARER = simpler then insert that into STANDARDS: D party leaders.
6 SOWER - SOW = mother on farm, E R = alternate letters of hEaRd: D arable worker.
7 OZONE - O ZONE = old region; D by sea you could take in this. I've never been convinced that seaside smell is caused by ozone, a toxic gas, rather than rotting seaweed and iodine vapour.
8 PENITENCE - PENCE = coppers, insert E TIN reversed: D remorse.
13 COHABITED - CO-ED = school, insert HABIT = tradition; D came together under one roof.
15 LOOKING UP - Double definition, improving and the other bit.
16 INTRICATE - (RECITATI N)*, D involved (not varied as I had at first).
20 OCCUR - CO (commander) reversed = OC, CUR = heel, D come off. Took me a minute or two to see how this worked, atfer trying to get OSCAR in there.
21 DAISY - Insert I'S into DAY = age; D bloomer.
23 HAD ON - HA ! = I'm surprised, DON = academic; D was sporting, wore.

Quick Cryptic 717 by Hurley

A straightforward puzzle. I was not entirely familiar with 9ac or 20ac, but both came into consciousness readily enough. Very neat clue at 4dn, which raised a smile.

Thanks Hurley (and our resident Time Lord).

Definitions underlined.

1 Correctly predict charge covering sources of metal (7)
FORESEE - FEE (charge) surrounding (covering) ORES (sources of metals).
7 Shambolic tea on terrace is caricatured initially (7)
CHAOTIC - CHA (tea) with first letters of (initially) On Terrace Is and Caricatured.
9 Feature of will — something fishy, not quite licit, on reflection? (7)
CODICIL - COD (something fishy), with most of (not quite) LICIt reversed (on reflection).
10 At heart Jamie, seaman, extremely lively in friendly way (7)
AMIABLY - middle letters of (at heart) jAMIe, AB (able bodied, seaman), and outside letters of (extremely) LivelY.
11 Wings of the raven? Another bird (4)
TERN - outermost letters (wings) of ThE and RaveN.
12 Long-lasting series of Superman, enthralling (9)
PERMANENT - hidden in (series of) suPERMAN ENThralling.
14 Procession Democrat organised about first of October (9)
MOTORCADE - anagram of (organised) DEMOCRAT around first letter of October.
16 Long and impressive European film (4)
EPIC - E (european) and PIC (film).
17 Prominent street captivates outsider (7)
SALIENT - ST (street) surrounding (captivates) ALIEN (outsider).
20 Payment per animal he linked to commercial era (7)
HEADAGE - HE, AD (commercial) and AGE (era).
21 Serve as comfort to prisoner, unaccompanied (7)
CONSOLE - CON (prisoner) and SOLE (unaccompanied).
22 Rugby team assemble about noon (7)
MUNSTER - MUSTER (assemble) around N (noon).

1 Cash fee cut — I’m prepared to confront consequences (4,3,5)
FACE THE MUSIC - anagram of (prepared) CASH FEE CUT I’M.
2 Embarrassed anger over court — advise new course (8)
REDIRECT - RED (embarrassed), IRE (anger), on top of CT (court).
3 Time to escape from standard footwear (4)
SOCK - t (time) removed (to escape) from StOCK (standard).
4 Cake, high calorie, nothing left (6)
ECLAIR - anagram of (high) CALoRIE, with O (nothing) left over.
5 Ivan turning up at entrance to plan route (8)
NAVIGATE - IVAN reversed (turning up), and GATE (entrance).
6 Attempt nocturnal types mounted (4)
STAB - BATS (nocturnal types) written up (mounted).
8 Obvious call — car’s tyre needs changing (7-5)
CRYSTAL-CLEAR - anagram of (needs changing) CALL CAR’S TYRE.
12 At first popular — very, our new food supplier (8)
PURVEYOR - first letter of Popular, then an anagram of (new) VERY OUR.
13 He won’t forget Jumbo? (8)
ELEPHANT - double definition.
15 Part of veteran thematic song? (6)
ANTHEM - hidden in (part of) veterAN THEMatic.
18 Shipping company policy (4)
LINE - double definition.
19 Drops artist home (4)
RAIN - RA (royal academician, artist) and IN (home)

Quick Cryptic 716 by Mara

16 minutes for this one which included a few chewy clues - rather more complex in structure than most QCs. As I don't get much time for the 15x15 these days I enjoyed the cleverness of their make up - but I'm interested to hear how our newer recruits got on. No matter how long it takes to solve there's plenty to enjoy here.


1. Seasoning - possibly salt with a pun on 'a salt' = a sailor. At home (IN) breaking into shanty (SEA SONG).
6. Fir - wood. In flames shortly - shortened version of FIRe - or aFIRe.
8. Stand-up - comic. Bear (STAND) on a horse (UP).
9. Revel - make merry. Taking girl (EVE) in both directions (inside right and left R L).
10. Bar billiards - game. Suffering (ILL) after hook (BARB), anagram (getting sloppy) of RAIDS.
12. Stew - double definition.
13. Abut - neighbour. Instrument (TUBA) backwards.
17. Straightened - aligned. Anagram (wrongly) of THE GRADIENTS.
20. Tried - tested. Bound (TIED) to be about right (R).
21. Subject - theme. Two forms of transport (SUB and JET) and (C)ars.
23. Ego - I. Travel (GO) after (E)gyptian.
24. Wisconsin - state. Is (IS), against (CON), transgression (SIN) by wife (W).


1. Sash - band. Somewhat cacophonou(S A SH)ocking.
2. Adamant - sure. Mother (MA) inspired by (inside) a (A) poet (DANTe) not quite.
3. Odd - double definition - one is such a number and eccentric means odd.
4. Impale - spike. The demon (IMP), drink (ALE).
5. Germinate - begin. Anagram (to form) of A REGIMENT.
6. Fever - temperature. Fine (F), always (EVER).
7. Relish - double definition.
11. Bow Window - architectural feature. This held me up for a while. Didn't expect dog to be bow wow! In (IN) and (D)oghouse inside said BOW WOW.
14. Useless - not worth saving. If you save more you use less.
15. Tsetse - fly. Anagram (off) of SET - twice.
16. Ghosts - spirits. Good (G) with armies (HOSTS).
18. Rhino - horned animal. One (I) breaking through anagram (cracked) of HORN.
19. Eton - school. Homophone (did you say) of eaten - as dinners should be.
20. Bro - sibling. Something round (ORB) turned up.

Times Cryptic 26588

A fairly straightforward puzzle that took me 35 minutes to solve. Everything more I have to say about it is in the blog, so here it is...

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

1 Iron anklet finally brought in for one’s security (6)
SAFETY - FE (iron) + {ankle}T [finally] in SAY (for one - for example)
4 Monitor arranged play-pens (8)
SPYPLANE - Anagram [arranged] of PLAYPENS. Maybe I'm missing something but the definition here seems decidedly loose.
10 Suggest true love doesn't run smooth around November (9)
VOLUNTEER - Anagram [doesn't run smooth] of TRUE LOVE containing [around] N (November - in the NATO alphabet)
11 Assign full set of religious texts? (5)
ALLOT - ALL (full), OT (set of religious texts - Old Testament)
12 Hazard visitors will move tail-ender forward before one end to game (11)
GUESSTIMATE - GUESTS (visitors) with its last letter moved up the ranks [tail-ender forward], I (one), MATE (end to game - chess)
14 Prohibition sees cop retiring (3)
BAN - NAB (cop) reversed [retiring]
15 Understanding blame attached to harbour (7)
RAPPORT - RAP (blame), PORT (harbour)
17 A lot of criticism about a source of television interference (6)
STATIC - STIC{k} (criticism) [a lot of] containing [about] A + T{elevision} [source of]
19 Kidnapping ending in distress, of course (6)
SNATCH - {distres}S [ending], NATCH (of course - naturally)
21 Top setter’s hard attitude with posh lass (4,3)
HAIR GEL - H (hard), AIR (attitude),  GEL (posh lass). A somewhat cryptic definition.
23 A positive outcome, losing one's beard (3)
AWN - A, W{i}N (positive outcome) [losing one]
24 Show of embarrassment, seeing how poor people live? (4-2-5)
HAND-TO-MOUTH - Putting a hand to one's mouth is a gesture sometimes made on realising one has said something embarrassing.
26 Regret monarch's being besieged by heads of Merchant Navy (5)
MOURN - OUR (monarch's, as in the Royal "We") inside [being besieged by] M{erchant} N{avy} [heads]
27 Ostentatious sob recalled as something generating red eyes? (9)
FLASHBULB - FLASH (ostentatious), BLUB (sob) reversed [recalled]. In photography red eye is a reflection from the blood vessels of a person's retina, seen on a colour photograph taken with a flash.
29 Hotel regularly accommodating a divine (8)
HEAVENLY - H (hotel - in the NATO alphabet again), then  EVENLY (regularly) containing [accommodating] A
30 Fairly dim idiot concealing bad cut (6)
TWILIT - TWIT (idiot) containing [concealing] IL{l} (bad) [cut]. Comments about repetition in clues will have to wait for another day.
1 Rescue curtailed: a European country losing man in barbarous attack? (8)
SAVAGERY - SAV{e} (rescue) [curtailed], A, GER{man}Y (European country) [losing man]
2 Sports body going to college in London? Not so (5)
FALSE - FA (sports body - Football Association), LSE (college in London - the London School of Economics)
3 Metal part of fork trimmed (3)
TIN - TIN{e} (part of fork) [trimmed]
5 Maybe iodine isn't found in variety of sapphire (7)
PERHAPS - Anagram [variety] of SAPPH{i}RE [Iodine isn't found]
6 Trashed male Puritan, one offering vision of heaven (11)
PLANETARIUM - Anagram [trashed] of MALE PURITAN
7 Politician upset writer embraced by a BBC chief, improvising (2-7)
AD-LIBBING - A, then LIB (politician) + NIB (writer [upset]) contained [embraced] by DG (BBC chief - Director General)
8 Current navigational device not accommodating first polar direction (6)
EXTANT - {s}EXTANT (navigation device) without [not accommodating first polar direction - S]. "First" is needed here to specify which of the two poles - S or N - in "sextant" is to be removed.
9 Live to support son — disregarding daughter? (6)
SEXIST - S (son), EXIST (live). Another somewhat cryptic definition, and by example, making it very loose.
13 Part of team kit not entirely given makeover in swindle (5-6)
SHORT-CHANGE - SHORT{s} (part of team kit) [not entirely], CHANGE (makeover)
16 Alpine sun transformed narrow piece of land (9)
PENINSULA - Anagram [transformed] of ALPINE SUN. I was ready to query "narrow" here, but Collins has it. I wouldn't have thought the Iberian peninsula qualifies as "narrow".
18 Peak support involving husband and lots of characters (8)
ALPHABET - ALP (peak), H (husband), ABET (support)
20 Bananas: food without energy? That's a nuisance (7)
HANDFUL - HAND (bananas), FU{e}L (food) [without energy]
21 Time to interrupt that chap (an assassin) (3,3)
HIT MAN - T (time) inside [to interrupt] HIM (that chap), AN
22 Cordiality on leaving some time after conflict (6)
WARMTH - WAR (conflict), M{on}TH (some time) [on leaving]
25 America adopting universal line regarding customs? (5)
USUAL - USA (America) containing [adopting] U (universal), L (line)
28 Hot team in card game making cut (3)
HEW - H (hot), E W (team in card game - bridge)

Times 26587 - Or maybe lose some....

Solving time: 50 minutes

Music: Old Blind Dogs, Wherever Yet May Be

I encountered a number of problems with this one. While I was nearly finished in 15 minutes, the remaining clues proved quite elusive. It is all very well to casually biff 'chatelaine' and 'protease', but their presence can serve to indicate that there may be others that you won't see at once, or at all.

At least there is now some music here in Connecticut, although only CD. This is due to my newly-acquired computer, which is able to play music over headphones without any problems. It was a street pickup, a nice Dell Optiplex with a dual 2.8 processor and 4 gigs of memory. The former owner at least had the sense to remove the hard drive, so I had to acquire a 320 gig SATA drive from another junk pile. I installed the latest Ubuntu desktop, and there you go, one somewhat modern computer at a cost of $0.00.

So when I went to write the blog, I remembered all my previous blogs were on the XP boat-anchor. However, I have found Ubuntu to be surprising user-friendly as a desktop, so I just stuck in a USB key, clicked on an old blog, and found myself in gedit, a perfectly suitable text editor as far as I can tell. You could do worse....so on with the blog!

1CHAINSAW, CHAIN + SAW, in different senses. I thought for a while that 'group of stores' was the target, and 'power' = 'P', but not so.
9ONE-LINER, ONE + LINER, in vastly different senses, where 'only' = 'one' and 'Queen Victoria' = '[ocean] liner'.
10ANALYSER, anagram of NEARLY AS. I wasted a tremendous amount of time on an anagram of 'as person'.
11STRIDENT, ST + RID + anagram of TEN.
12COMELINESS, COME(LINES)S. The Wikipedia notes that 'marriage lines' is equivalent to 'marriage certificate' without explaining why.
14BETA, BET[h] + [b]A[lmoral]. A problematic clue for me, as there is no 'remove the h' indicator that I can see.
15BEESWAX, B[e]E[p]E[r]S + WAX.
17WINSOME, WIN + SOME, an obvious clue that I could make nothing of for the longest time.
21OATH, [v]O[w] + [prof]A[nity] + [attes]T[ation] + [blasp]H[eming], an overly-clever clue if there ever was one.
22CHATELAINE, CHAT + ELAINE, a chestnut and a write-in for me - newbies will not be so lucky.
23PRESERVE, P + RESERVE, one of the few straightforward clues.
25LOVELORN, LO + V + anagram of LONER.
26PROTOCOL, P.R + LOCO TO backwards.
27ENDURING, END + -URING. I couldn't see where the 'ur' came from for quite a while, wanting to put END IN ING, a momble.
2HANDSOME, HANDS + [c]OME, amusing surface.
3IDLENESS, I + anagram of ENDLESS, as I have just discovered while writing the blog.
4SASH, S + ASH, my FOI.
5WORSTED, WOR(ST [valentin]E)D, a slightly archaic usage.
7ANGELENO, AN + ONE LEG upside-down, my LOI, and rather tough. Hollywood is in fact not politically independent, but became a mere neighborhood in Los Angeles following the voluntary annexation of 1910.
15BLOWPIPE, BLOW + PIPE, a cask one associates with well-supplied Elizabethan taverns.
16ENTRESOL, E.N.T. + LOSER upside-down. I never heard of it, so had to get it from the cryptic.
18SPARKLER, double definition. I had been ransacking my brain for a long time, when suddenly I remembered the Dickens character, who bore the name but was, of course, a perfect ass.
20GAZELLE, GAZE + ELL upside-down.

Quick Cryptic 715 by Orpheus

Not a difficult one from Orpheus today, meaning I had to reluctantly return to Christmas shopping rather sooner than perhaps I might have liked (though the upside of online shopping is that I often end up buying stuff that I myself would like, so that the value of the order will exceed the threshold for free shipping). No particularly complex cryptic constructions but, even though we've seen the device used in 23A before, I like it nonetheless. Thanks, Orpheus.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20161205/20767/

Definitions are underlined.

3 Practise on undertaker’s vehicle (8)
REHEARSE - RE (on, in the sense of "with reference to") + HEARSE (undertaker's vehicle)
7 Prevent an area producing fruit (6)
BANANA - BAN (Prevent) + AN + A (area)
8 Blooming action required in tiddly-winks! (8)
FLIPPING - double definition, the first a mild expletive, the second literal. I can't find tiddlywinks hyphenated in any of the usual sources but, spelling aside, I'm assuming the game is familiar to all, even if one can't tell a boondock from a Penhaligon.
9 Complain, parking at east end of estate, perhaps (4)
CARP - P (parking) to the right (at the east end) of CAR (estate, perhaps, i.e. a station wagon as some people know it)
10 Info supplied by senior officer, briefly (3)
GEN - Gen. is an abbreviation (briefly) for General (senior officer)
11 Customer’s urn comes adrift (8)
CONSUMER - anagram of (adrift) URN COMES
13 Half of them taking degree? That’s novel (4)
EMMA - {th}EM (Half of them, i.e. half the letters of the word "them") + MA (degree, i.e. Master of Arts). The majority of the books in Crosswordland are copies of Jane Austen's Emma and Rider Haggard's She.
15 Motorway circling a large West African country (4)
MALI - MI (Motorway) around (circling) A + L (large), to give the country in which one can find Timbuktu
17 Lofty declaration of model at work? (8)
IMPOSING - a model at work might state I'M POSING
19 News about union leader’s sister? (3)
NUN - NN (News, i.e. the abbreviation for new, twice) about U (union leader, i.e. the first letter of the word "union")
22 Some are altogether genuine (4)
REAL - hidden in (Some) aRE ALtogether
23 Girl embraced by parents in TV programme (8)
PANORAMA - NORA (Girl) in (embraced by) PA + MA (parents), to give the BBC current affairs series that may not be familiar to overseas solvers (though Wikipedia tells me there is a programme of the same name in Poland)
24 Strike in snack bar? (6)
BUFFET - double definition
25 Pig chap always used for celebration (8)
HOGMANAY - HOG (Pig) + MAN (chap) + AY (always), to give us New Year's Eve in Scotland

1 He wooed many, initially counting as a star (8)
CASANOVA - C (initially counting, i.e. the first letter of the word "counting") + AS + A + NOVA (star)
2 A politician visiting key American college grounds (6)
CAMPUS - A + MP (politician), inside (visiting) C (key, in the musical sense) + US (American)
3 Floating structure right behind (4)
RAFT - R (right) + AFT (behind)
4 Musical carrier’s device for securing locks? (8)
HAIRGRIP - HAIR (Musical) + GRIP (carrier), with the slightly oblique definition referring to locks in the sense of hair (Goldilocks, dreadlocks, etc). All the usual sources define a grip as a travelling bag, hence "carrier". Musicals in Crosswordland are either Hair, Evita, or Cats, in the main, with the occasional Gigi or Annie thrown in for variety.
5 A large tree growing on high mountains (6)
ALPINE - A + L (large) + PINE (tree)
6 Unhappy about new seaside feature (4)
SAND - SAD (Unhappy) about N (new)
12 Look after chief, popular with army (8)
MAINTAIN - MAIN (chief) + TA (army, i.e. Territorial Army, now the Army Reserve) + IN (popular)
14 Cannibal’s mother — of tidier appearance (3-5)
MAN-EATER - MA (mother) + NEATER (of tidier appearance). I was amused by the surface, though a bit of Googling revealed that Hall and Oates used the non-hyphenated spelling (not supported by any of the usual sources) for their 1982 single of the same(-ish) name. In related news, whilst wandering the streets of Whitby last week I found an outdoor shop called Hall and Coates.
16 Sneak attending class? (6)
INFORM - if one was attending class, then one could be described as being IN FORM
18 Conflict associated with trouble for Cockney spouse? (6)
STRIFE - a reference to the Cockney rhyming slang for wife (spouse) being "trouble and STRIFE"
20 Pudding ingredient originally steamed in the past (4)
SAGO - S (originally steamed, i.e. the first letter of the word "steamed") + AGO (in the past)
21 Very young child born in creek (4)
BABY - B (born) in BAY (creek)

JUMBO 1236

This was mostly very straightforward with just a smattering of “funny” words to sort the men from the chaff.

First in was PARASOL and last two were RAREE SHOW and ERINYES.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then let’s begin.



CASSIUS  - CAs (chartered accountants) + I(nstalled) in S US.  Cassius was the ringleader of the conspirators against Julius Caesar in the play of the same name what William Shakespeare wrote.


SEGREGATION - STATION with E GREG replacing the first T


SINFONIETTA - (nonetifitsa)* I had to correct my first hopeless stab of sinfonettia


ESTOP - HIDDEN.  To estop is to impede or bar by estoppel.  Just off the top of my head, estoppel is a legal principle in the law of equity that prevents a party from asserting otherwise valid legal rights against another party because of conduct by the first party, or circumstances to which the first party has knowingly contributed, making it unjust for those rights to be asserted, with knobs on.


ECOSPHERE - (copse)* + Although strictly speaking an ecosphere is, let’s say, the zone of the earth, a planet, a star, etc. which contains or is theoretically capable of containing living organisms, you can buy glass balls containing water and diddly creatures that go by the same name.


ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND - Alexander Selkirk being the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe, with Alexander’s followed by (brigandteam)*.  If this song isn’t Irving Berlin’s worst I don’t know what is.


INCISIVE - (losse)S + I’VE following IN C.I.  On one of this week’s blogs someone suggested that the Channel Islands were obscure.  Not in crosswords.  Or, for that matter, in real life.


PRIVET - RIVE in PT for part.  Does oleaceous mean good for hedges and loved by pet stick insects?


EURATOM - homophone for you’re then A TOM.  I wasn’t aware of this institution and had to rely on Wiki to discover that The European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) is an international organisation founded in 1957 with the purpose of creating a specialist market for nuclear power in Europe, developing nuclear energy and distributing it to its member states while selling the surplus to non-member states.


PIN-UP - Nip down must equal pin up


SHEBEEN - HEBE in S.E.N.  I you didn’t know that Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, or that an S.E.N. was a State Enrolled Nurse, or that a shebeen is an Irish term for an illicit bar or club where excisable alcoholic beverages were sold without a licence, you might have struggled with this.


EAGERNESS  - AGE in ERNE’S then (realm)S


THESAURUS - THUS surrounding ESAU + R


PROWL - PROW + L(ake)


HEBRAIC - HE BRA I/C. def is “of Semitic people?”




DESPOTIC - CID reversed around (poets)*


WORTH ONES WEIGHT IN GOLD - WORTH (justifying) + ONES + homophone of wait + GOLD as in target area in archery.


LOBSCOUSE - LOB for throw + SCOUSE for Liverpudlian.  Lobscouse is a stew once “enjoyed” by sailors


INKPOTS - IN K POTS as in potted shrimps




CELEBRATORY - BRAT O in CELERY, although calling celery a food item is a bit of a stretch.


BILLETS-DOUX - BILL + (usedto) + X.  If you ask me the plural should be billet-douxes.


BESIEGE - S(outhern) I(sle) + e.g. in BEE


TEST BED - TEST (match) + Batchelor of Education


FORESEE - (prelat)E in FOR SEE



SLEEPLESS - S(on) then PEEL rev and LESS




TENET - THE NET without H(usband). Tenet and canon are both synonyms for principle 


HUNTER-GATHERER - HUNTER (a type of pocket watch) and HER E.R. around GAT


CROCODILE - DD of a sort.  Do our overseas solvers call a line of schoolchildren marching down the street a crocodile?


SKIMP - S(hillings) & P(ence) around KIM


IN THE LAST RESORT - (lenhestartsriot)*


SEAWEED - SEED gathers in AWE


ADVISOR - D(aughter) in A VISOR


RAREE-SHOW - A new one on me.  It’s a sort of peep show in a box, apparently, with seedy undertones, which would explain why I’d never heard of it.  Cough.  R-R-E didn’t look too promising as a set of letter but once you came up with the right Welshman you just had to pop A REES into ROW containing H(ospital) 


EARDROP - EAR DR OP with it depends being the clever definition using depend in its lesser-used sense of to hang down or be suspended




CANTERBURY BELLS - See for the cathedral City in Kent + homophone for belles to give the common name for Campanula medium


VANITY BAG - (bytvgaina)*.  More commonly called a vanity case I think but what do I know?


PEASANTS’ REVOLT (protestantslave)* less T for time


PHARAOH - sounds like fair O.  I used to spell this word with the O and A t’other way about before I started doing the Times crossword


GUDGEON - GRUDGE minus (dine)R plus ON.  It says here that Gudgeon is the common name for a number of small freshwater fish of the families Cyprinidae, Eleotridae or Ptereleotridae. Most gudgeons are elongate, bottom-dwelling fish, many of which live in rapids and other fast moving water.


CONSULATE - C (musical note) O(ld) {i}NSULATE (as in pipe or tank).  A bit tricky because the experienced solver will want CON to be the old lag bit.  Anyone else used to smoke Consulate? Because they were menthol your mum would just think you’d been in the woods with your mates sucking mints and not smoking at all.  Oh no.  Silly mums.




STROLLED - S(on) TROLLED (reference to online message boards etc.)


WOLF CUB - FLOW reversed then CLUB (as in golf) for wood perhaps minus L for Liberal


ERINYES - ERIN YES.  Unknown to me, but Erinyes (and Erinys) are just alternative names for the Furies, which I have enough trouble with as it is.  That Davey Arthur has a lot to answer for.






CABLE - AB L in C.E.


KEBAB - E(aten) B.A. in K.B.  In the North-East doner kebab is called elephant leg.


SHEAF - H.E. in SAF{e}


Sunday Times 4722 by Dean Mayer

I normally try to do these blogs soon after solving the puzzle. At the very least I will make a start, which generally means reading through the clues to make sure I understand everything and getting some initial impressions down. I didn't get round to this one until yesterday, at which point I found that I couldn’t remember a darned thing about it. I had a bit of minor dental surgery on Tuesday and the 4dn, which made me feel pretty stupid for a day or two, appears to have wiped my memory. I hope nothing important happened at work on Monday.

Anyway, this puzzle took me 20:35 to solve, which suggests something quite tricky, but looking at them now all the clues seem very straightforward. This is generally a sign of a first rate puzzle.

There’s one clue (18ac) I don’t understand, but the answer is pretty obvious from the checkers and at least parts of the clue, so I expect I just bunged it in.

With the benefit of hindsight this looks like the usual first-class Dean Mayer offering, but I'd be interested in the views of anyone who actually remembers solving it.

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

1 One authorised bonus given to workers
TIPSTAFF - TIP (bonus), STAFF (workers). I know that this is a word, if not what it means, so I expect I knew it last week too. A TIPSTAFF is a court official or a sheriff’s officer/bailiff, depending on which dictionary you prefer. The latter seems closer to the definition here.
6 Simple house with parking on A1
PREFAB - P (parking), RE (on), FAB (A1).
10 Lincoln Cathedral’s last murder victim
ABEL - ABE (Abraham Lincoln), cathedraL.
11 Wanting charges later
AFTERWARDS - ATER (wanting) WARDS (charges, as in wards of court for example).
12 One very bright teacher is blocked by university
SIRIUS - SIR (teacher), I(U)S. The Dogstar. I do remember initially bunging in GENIUS here, although I don't now remember why I thought it made any sense.
13 Nearly as upset as one breaking down
15 Usually on top, master criminal
18 Some odd issue of Paris Match?
ENFANT TERRIBLE - I may have understood this last week, but now I have absolutely no idea what’s supposed to be going on, other than that the issue (child) of a match in Paris would be an ENFANT. I can’t see how ‘odd’ contributes, or any reference to the meaning of the answer. Help gratefully received!
22 Block letters after G better
HANDICAP - the letters after G in the alphabet are H AND I. Then CAP (better, i.e. beat, outdo).
24 Copper market’s failed
25 I have to fill potty carried for so long
A RIVEDERCI - (CARRIED)* containing I’VE. There was some discussion on the club forum about whether this should be one word or two, but this is one of those quite common cases where I was unburdened by prior knowledge.
26 Stone work filling in wall
OPAL - OP, wALl. It's coming back to me now: my initial thought for this was STOP, and ‘filling in wall’ is quite tempting as a possible definition. Unlike with 12ac though I don't think I bunged this in: perhaps it didn’t seem quite convincing enough.
27 Cosiest area to catch some sleep
SIESTA - contained in ‘cosiest area’.
28 Is in heat — that’s ominous
SINISTER - SIN(IS)TER. SINTERing is a bit like soldering.

2 Cheese-coated food, primarily ungarnished?
IN BRIEF - IN BRIE (cheese-coated), Food. I suppose if something is IN BRIEF you could say it is ungarnished with detail, but it seems rather loose to me. I probably thought it was fine last week.
3 Bond eats one piece of bread
SOLDIER - SOLD(I)ER. SOLDERing is a bit like sintering.
4 I can see that odd number
5 Much about turning behind to medium size here?
FAT FARM - FAR (much) containing a reversal of AFT (behind), M (medium). Semi-&Lit.
7 Turning left and right, less important sort of wheel
ROWEL - LOWER (less important) with the L and R swapped.
8 Smoking group completely stop
FORESTALL - FOREST is the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, hence ‘smoking group’. No, me neither. Add ALL (completely).
9 Lecture about a small level of interest
14 Concept car safety feature — grip
ABSTRACTION - ABS (car safety feature), TRACTION.
16 Attack that may cause wounding
17 She dared to cook ducks
REDHEADS - (SHE DARED)*. A type of diving duck I hadn’t heard of.
19 Old Paddy set up foreign trade?
EXPORTS - EX (old), reversal of STROP.
20 Save a great deal for servant
21 Copy one bird and others will come back
EMULATE - EMU, reversal of ET AL.
23 Clumsy writer about to get into it
INEPT - IT containing a reversal of PEN.

Mephisto 2935 - Tim Moorey

Not too difficult here, got through everything in one session.

You don't often find a theme or a Nina in a Sunday Times puzzle, but if I'm not way off the mark, then there is something hidden in here and congratulations are in order to the Mooreys who are hidden in the grid.

Away we go...

1MUDDER: a racehorse that prefers dead tracks - MUDDLER without the L
5BICARB: CAR(banger) in BIB(short for imbibe)
9ANNIVERSARY: anagram of DANNY,ARRIVES missing the D
11ANGELICAL: ANGELICA(cake decorating),L
13CANTAL: CAN'T, A, L(unch)
14DOSEH: DOSH(money, ready) around E(gypt)
18BRAINPAN: BRAIN(crown, hit on the head), P(rosecutor), AN
19SHITTIMS: T inside an anagram of HIT and MISS
21ELIAS: SAILED(left port) without the last letter, reversed
22ONE-OFF: GONE OFF missing the G
24GELDS: double definition
26STRATONIC: anagram(criminal) of ACT,IN,SORT
27CEMENTATORY: TAT(tap, 5th definition in Chambers) inside an anagram(blessed) of CEREMONY
28MUSERS: remove the middle from MUSTERS
29STATOR: remove the ends from STAR and TORY
1MASA: two thirds of MASALA
2UNCLOTHE: first letters of O(ur), T(hai), H(ostesses) surrounded by UNCLE
3DIAPENTE: PAID reversed then ENTE(r)
4REGO: Aussie for car registration - RE, GO
5BRECHAMS: BREAMS(cleans the ship's keel) surrounding CH
6ISLAY: I SAY around L
7ARCTOPHILE: anagram of CHARLIE containing POT(Mary Jane) reversed - a lover of teddy bears
8BALLANTS: sounds like BALANCE
10CASSIMERES: C, ASS then IS containing MERE(entirely, outdated)
15GRIFFONS: OFF side reversed in GRINS(nets)
16ANALECTA: anagram of CATALAN and E
17TAPADERO: TO(against) containing an anagram of PARADE
20AFTER: A, FT(Financial Times) then RE reversed
23ANTS: PAGEANTS missing the top half

Saturday Times 26580 (26th Nov)

Solving time 12:30, so on the easier side. There were a few very easy clues in amongst this lot, e.g. 1D, 29A - and a few that could be written in fairly confidently without having to work out the wordplay till later (I'm particularly thinking of 7D, which turned out to be a very good &lit, and 9D which had a lot more going for it than was at first apparent). I also learned a new meaning of a familiar word (14A), so it was a good puzzle for me.

1 Encourage Greek character, very, very disheartened (6)
CHIVVY - CHI (Greek character) + V(ery) + V(er)Y.
4 Fish has to avoid sailor (8)
SKIPJACK - SKIP (avoid) + JACK (sailor).
10 Puncturing vessel, hostile weapons (9)
ARTILLERY - ILL (hostile) inside ARTERY (vessel).
11 Cold, like the wind? (5)
NIPPY - double definition.
12 Understanding old marshal should adopt Democrat for president (7)
KENNEDY - KEN (understanding) + NEY (old marshal) around D(emocrat).
13 Notice work hasn't started, then assist (7)
OBSERVE - (j)OB (work, minus the 1st letter) + SERVE (assist).
14 Thread continuously wound back over suture, ultimately (5)
REEVE - EVER (continuously), reversed around (sutur)E. New meaning of this word for me - I've only ever seen it defined as a magistrate or a bird before. This is a verb meaning to thread (e.g. a rope) through a hole.
15 White lies circulating in gang (8)
RIESLING - (lies)* inside RING (gang).
18 Magic words - turned out hiding something up one's sleeve? (5,3)
THANK YOU - (out)* around HANKY (something up one's sleeve?).
20 Servant takes so long with first of tasks (5)
VALET - VALE (Latin for goodbye, so long) + T(asks).
23 Element female has to put in a diary (7)
HALOGEN - HEN (female) around A LOG (diary).
25 Spanish city a little bit lacking in Latin love? (7)
GRANADA - GRA(in) (a little bit lacking in) + NADA (Spanish for nothing, hence Latin love?).
26 Puckish fairy originally in river doing the backstroke? (5)
ELFIN - F(airy) inside NILE (river) reversed.
27 Human organ, item preserving life, primarily (9)
EARTHLING - EAR (organ) + THING (item) around L(ife).
28 Sugar, last of contaminated variety tossed back in river (8)
DEXTROSE - (contaminate)D + SORT (variety) reversed inside EXE (river).
29 Piece that's dark, by the sound of it? (6)
KNIGHT - sounds like "night". Bit of a gimme, that one.

1 Nutty biscuits (8)
CRACKERS - double definition.
2 Strong set nine played (7)
INTENSE - (set nine)*.
3 Fabric to examine, eleven woolly coats? (9)
VELVETEEN - VET (examine) inside (eleven)*.
5 Opening performance in the theatre? (7,7)
KEYHOLE SURGERY - cryptic definition.
6 Frightful clothing (5)
PANTS - double definition. The first one is very much British slang I think, so might have puzzled some overseas solvers.
7 Ailing initially, not entirely well - one swallowed? (7)
ASPIRIN - A(iling) + SPRIN(g) (not entirely well) around I (one). Nothing left over, so the whole clue's the definition.
8 Economist has important figures, nothing less (6)
KEYNES - KEY (important) + ONES (figures), without the O (nothing less). John Maynard Keynes, British economist.
9 Orkney and Skye anew cursed the nine of diamonds? (3,4,7)
NEW YORK YANKEES - (Orkney Skye anew)*. Very clever clue - as a baseball team has nine players and the field is a diamond shape so we have a cryptic definition, but also on the surface reading the nine of diamonds playing card is nicknamed "The Curse of Scotland".
16 Monster heading off priest after prophet (9)
LEVIATHAN - (n)ATHAN (priest without his head) after LEVI (prophet). Hmm, according to Wikipedia Nathan's the prophet and Levi's the priest!
17 Hand tossing good husband in channel (8)
STRAIGHT - G(ood), H(usband) inside STRAIT (channel). A poker hand with a run of consecutive cards, e.g. 7-8-9-10-J.
19 Detailed well, I copy in English town (7)
HALIFAX - HAL(e) (well, "de-tailed") + I + FAX (copy).
21 First member to hold a racket (7)
LEADING - LEG (member) around A DIN (a racket).
22 Fury over daughter is keen (6)
SHREWD - SHREW (fury) + D(aughter).
24 Hopeless case in passing, one released (5)
GONER - hidden inside "passing, one released".
Times Quick Cryptic 714 by Izetti

Friday, 02 December 2016

A fair Friday challenge from Izetti today, with a sting at 7d and a possible shake of the head at 6d. There are several clues today in which the solver can guess the word and then work out why it is the answer, because of other allusions/references. Special mention will be made of the best alternative cluings or clueings of 5ac and 7d, so have a go.


1.Crusade in which faction gets unexpected gain (8)

CAMPAIGN – CAMP (faction) + AIGN (anagram, ‘unexpected’, of gain)

5. Growth revealed by chairman (4)

HAIR – c{HAIR}man. How about ‘Show of full-frontal nudity revealed by chairman’?

9. Dance exercises in vehicle (5)

CAPER – PE (exercises) in CAR (vehicle) Is a CAPER a dance? It’s probably the verb.

10. At home in flat, good time for supper? (7)

EVENING – definition is ‘time for supper’. ‘At home’ = IN, inside (bit clumsy this) EVEN (flat) + G (good)

11. Gesture from fellow rolling over (3)

NOD – DON (man’s name) backwards (rolling over)

12. Admit giving instruction to potential guest on hygiene? (4,5)

COME CLEAN – Brings a smile to my face this one. To admit something is to COME CLEAN. Wonder if anyone has actually said this to a potential visitor?

13. Excitement hard to capture in sound of bird (6)

THRILL – H (hard) in TRILL (sound of bird). Shouldn’t this be ‘to be captured’?

15.Stop mostly domesticated small chicken (6)

BANTAM as in BANTAM COCK or similar – a small chicken – BAN (Stop) + TAM (mostly TAME, domesticated)

17.A saint 'assled and stupefied (9)

ASTOUNDED – Cockney makes an appearance A ST (a saint) + OUNDED, ‘hounded’ = ‘hassled’, without the h, as Cockneys are supposed to speak. I am a real Cockney, by the way.

19. Buzzer in spelling competition? (3)

BEE – double definition. Spelling competitions, which at their worst involve hothoused kids, seem to be back in vogue.

20. Anger at back of pub causing obstruction (7)

BARRAGE – RAGE = anger, at back of BAR = pub = BARRAGE, as in BARRAGE BALLOON.
21.Form of musical composition for twenty (5)

SCORE – A SCORE is written music, hence a form of musical composition, and also is an archaic word for the number twenty. Famous examples are the Biblical human life span of ‘three score and ten’ years and the Gettysburg address’s ‘Four score and seven years ago…’

22. Some trod enthusiastically or went on bikes? (4)

RODE – t{ROD E}nthusiastically.

23. Cleverest son facing ruin before exam (8)

SMARTEST- S (son) + MAR (ruin) + TEST (exam). I always found being regarded as the smartest very stressful, and had trouble throughout life thinking that I wasn’t good enough. Isn’t ‘ruin’ a bit of a strong word for MAR?


1.Clown, enthusiast that may get hit at fair (7)

COCONUT – which may get hit at a COCONUT shy, although they never seem to fall off. COCO (famous clown) + NUT (enthusiast)

2. Keeping quiet, doctor and journalist were miserable (5)

MOPED – an exemplary clutch of crossword abbreviations: MO (doctor, usually in the armed forces, stands for medical officer) + P (piano, soft, quiet, musical instruction) + ED (journalist, short for ‘editor’) = MOPED (hung around looking miserable)

3.Laura, girl cut out for farming (12)

AGRICULTURAL – obviously an anagram on first look (count the letters) but parsing not so easy. I suspect it’s the adjective, as in ‘agricultural practices’ = ‘farming practices’; but it could be that the definition is ‘for farming’ as in ‘agricultural land’. Discuss please.

4. Short game in which to see the French shine (5)

GLEAM = shine, GAM (short game) includes LE (‘the’ in French)

6. Insect collects fruit for food (7)

ALIMENT – ANT (insect) includes (collects) LIME (fruit) = ALIMENT, which is an archaic word for food. If you’ve been to France you will know that many shops announce that they sell alimentation, while a knowledge of biology means you may have heard of the ALIMENTary canal. Great word, I must throw it into conversation.

7. King's daughter's wild anger (5)

REGAN – Not, as I first thought, something to do with reigning (I considered if REGNA was a word), but a reference to King Lear’s daughter in the Shakespeare play. A very learned clue, this. Read it as ‘king’s daughter is wild anger’ and you get the anagram (wild) of ‘anger’ indicated. It is Regan who drives Lear out into the storm, alluded to by the second apostrophe possible being the possessive. How about ‘Jack, Thaw not Frost’?

8. Cash reminder revised for trader (12)

MERCHANDISER – an anagram (revised) of ‘cash reminder’. Long anagrams are sometimes easy, but need to be carefully parsed.

14. Terrified if dismissed, sacked, no longer working (7)

RETIRED – an anagram (sacked) of ‘terrified’ without the ‘if’ (dismissed). One year on, retirement is good, and the clue is excellent.

16. Sheepish female inside Pole’s life jacket (3,4)

MAE WEST – how many other names for life jackets do you know? EWE (sheepish female) inside MAST (pole). The enumeration (3,4) possibly makes this a gimme.

17. Colour of gong cast into a river (5)

AMBER – The middle one on traffic lights, some drivers having no idea what it means. MBE (gong = medal) in A R (river)

18. Ambition about to be admitted by mother (5)

DREAM – RE (Latin for ‘about’, in the sense of concerning – comes up a lot in law reports) inside (to be admitted by) DAM (mother – used when referring to animals)

19. Bishop to gush, producing alcohol (5)

BOOZE – B (bishop) + OOZE (gush) = slang for alcoholic drinks. I thought at first this was unsatisfactory, since when referring to fluids ‘gush’ is a fast flow, ‘ooze’ is a sluggish one. However, consider the word ‘insincerity’ coming afterwards, and ‘gush’ and ‘ooze’ can be synonyms. (Regan and her sister Goneril act like this).

Please comment on the clues and on the blog!

This didn't actually take me the 4 days recorded on the Club timer - more like about 50 minutes.  No sooner had I printed out the puzzle that Friday than all internet and cable tv service from one of the 2 local providers went phut and stayed that way until midday Tuesday.  And so large tracts of one of the most expensive wodges of real estate on the planet (the UES of Manhattan) were disconnected.  We thought that one of the subway workers working round the clock to get the new local subway line running by Christmas must have drilled through something vital, and we weren't far wrong except that it was the phone company fooling about with some new equipment.  The incandescently furious tech guy who finally turned up at our door threw company loyalty out the window and gave us the whole story - and it was reminiscent of that old Flanders & Swann song, T'was On A Monday Morning, writ large.  Well at least it wasn't a whole week.

The puzzle, on the other hand, was very good news.  Thanks to Myrtilus this was delightfully solvable without recourse to Google etc (except for blogging purposes).  And that was without the help of any quotations this time

Definitions (where appropriate) in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.

1.  A Dutch artist's soft copy left lying around (5)
APPEL.  Karel.  20th Century avant garde all-rounder.  APE=copy, surrounding P=soft, followed by L[eft].
4.  Hoyt Thorpe left her cold tart and drink unfinished (9)
CHARLOTTE.  From the 2004 novel Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, Sexual assault and college sports on an American campus.  Simmons is taken advantage of and then betrayed by Hoyt, who gets his own come-uppance.  Topical but not particularly enjoyable.  C[old].  HARLOT=tart. TE[a]=drink unfinished.
9. McDermid's PI girl interrupts robber knocking off diamonds (9)
BRANNIGAN.  Kate Brannigan is the PI in the 1990s series of novels by Scottish author Val McDermid.  ANN=girl contained in (interrupting) BRIGAN[d]=robber, removing D as in diamonds.
10.  Small fish one caught in part of Eccles... (5)
SPIKE.  S with PIKE=fish.  It took a while, after toying with some sort of reference to an abbreviated Ecclesiastes, before light dawned.  I was never much of a Goons fan but did finally dredge up a boarding school memory of a dorm-mate who listened to them every evening as we got ready for bed.  Spike Milligan played Eccles as a preternaturally dense teenager in the radio show.  I wondered idly if there was any significance to the pairings (as food writers would say) of APPEL CHARLOTTE and SPIKE BRANNIGAN.
11.  ... ugly dwarf fish (5)
TROLL.  To troll is to fish, and as a noun, an ugly dwarf (although in folklore some of them can also be quite large).  And an apt description of some of the lurking low-lifes we meet on the internet.
12.  Borstal's a terrible burden (9)
ALBATROSS.  Anagram (terrible) of Borstal's.  Metaphor taken from Coleridge's poem The Ancient Mariner.
13.  A deliverer of tea for two, granny consumed noisily (7)
NANETTE.  NAN=granny.  ETTE=homophone (noisily) for ate=consumed.  Not everyone's homophone - some say "eight" - but it works for me.  From the 1920s musical No No Nanette. Tea For Two and I Want To Be Happy are the 2 songs most of us know even if we don't know the show.
15. A female Nobel winner's approval initial withheld (7)
LESSING.  Remove the B from [b]LESSING=approval and you have Doris, winner of the 2007 prize for literature.
18.  Tenor to suit music say, or drama (3,4)
THE ARTS.  T=tenor.  HEARTS=suit.
20.  The foremost of several writers presented to Queen Bess (7)
SPENSER.  First letter (foremost) in S[everal] with PENS=writers and ER=queen.  If I'm not mistaken this is another example of a deft AndLit clue to be found in these puzzles.  Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, where ERI appears as Gloriana, is an "homage" (just working in that piece of US pretentiousness which is on a par with pronouncing "herb" ERB - oh dear, yes some will do it)  presented to her.
21.  Cad taking in smart, decadent poet (9)
SWINBURNE.   SWINE=cad taking in BURN=smart.  Algernon.  Late 19th Century poet writing of then taboo subjects.
23.  "Anon" regularly hides this writer's an actor as well as an author (5)
NIVEN.  The two Ns in ANON (regularly) contain (hide) IVE=this writer's.  Suave, debonair, mustachioed British movie actor David (from Around The World In Eighty Days, The Pink Panther etc).  He also wrote (apparently entirely without the help of a ghost) two entertaining autobiographies - The Moon's A Balloon and Bring On The Empty Horses.
25.  Holy statue of two characters (5)
PIETA.  PI and ETA=characters.
26.  Dickens's milliner laminating trimmed synthetic (9)
MANTALINI.  Anagram (synthetic) of LAMINATIN[g] (trimmed).  Feckless and foppish husband of Kate's employer in Nicholas Nickleby.
27. Man-of-war crushed reeds round a war zone (9)
DESTROYER.  Anagram (crushed) of REEDS surrounding TROY=war zone.
28.  Rows of footwear (5)
SPATS. Double definition.  They're not really footwear, more lower-leg wear.  I think they and gaiters may be one and the same and were worn in the C of E long after they were passe everywhere else.


1.  A bachelor in a book, not just a friend to Hannay (9)
ARBUTHNOT.  B=batchelor contained in A RUTH=book NOT.  Sandy Arbuthnot is a friend of Richard Hannay, the protagonist in several of John Buchan's novels, but doesn't appear in the best known one - The 39 Steps.
2. He wrote laws re: deserting soldiers (5)
PLATO. I really don't want to say how long it took me to get this, post submit.  If ON=re deserts a PLATO[on]=soldiers, that's who turns up.  The laws are the last of Plato's dialogues.
3.  Bond, in a bit he wrote on Orkney (9)
LINKLATER.  LINK=bond.  LATER=in a bit.  Eric, 20th Century Scottish author.
4. Allied officer shortly to fly east (7)
COGNATE.  CO=officer shortly.  GNAT=fly. E[ast].
5.  Winter's Tale uses a new name:  The Third Man (7)
ANNABEL.  Is the title of a 2010 novel by Canadian author Kathleen Winter about a hermaphrodite.
6.  Lean, outspoken "Ossa arida" writer (5)
LISZT.  Homophone (outspoken) of "list", as in lean.  "Dry bones" is a sacred choral work by the composer Franz. 
7.  Hears about fire god in book groups (9)
TRILOGIES.  TRIES=hears containing (about) LOGI=fire god in Norse mythology.
8.  Girl upset by, say, dad favouring Demetrius (5)
EGEUS.  After EG=say, reverse (upset) SUE=girl.  In Midsummer Night's Dream he's the father of Hermia and favours Demetrius over his daughter's lover Lysander.  Hermia's friend Helena, on the other hand, loves Demetrius.  The plot thickens.
14.  Poverty and ill-health requiring change of direction at the top (9)
NEEDINESS.  Take the S[outh] from [s]eediness and replace with N[orth].
16. Instruments to get a German wife into corsets (9)
STEINWAYS.  EIN=a in german.  W[ife].  Contained in STAYS=corsets.  Steinway Hall, the magnificent beaux arts showroom, used to be on West 57th Street not far from Carnegie Hall, but moved last year sadly.
17.  A dreamer's urge to sin, redressed (9)
GERONTIUS.  Anagram (redressed) of URGE TO SIN.  1900 choral work by Edward Elgar based on a poem by John Henry Newman, the controversial 19th Century theologian.
19.  Maybe I got drunk with Rosie; I'm unclear (7)
SCRUMPY.  The reference is to Laurie Lee's Cider With Rosie.  It's a kind of rough local cider that's cloudy rather than clear, and in France at any rate (I'm not sure about Gloucestershire), is a lot more powerful than the usual brew.  Scrummy.
20.  A comic novelist, at last rather more serious (7)
STERNER.  Laurence (author of Tristram Shandy) STERNE with the last R in rather.
21.  Heidi passed around sandwiches: tasty! (5)
SAPID.  [Hei]DI PAS[sed] contains (sandwiches) it backwards (around).
22. Orwell book in which animal lies (5)
BLAIR.  Eric Arthur was the pen name of George Orwell.  B=book.  LAIR=where animal lies.  Easy but very neat.
24.  A fake eunuch rearranges a couple of bits and there it is!
VOILA.  If you switch the first two vowels in Viola in Twelfth Night, there it is.  In Act 1 Viola pays the sea captain to disguise her and "present me as an eunuch" to Orsino.

Times Cryptic 26585

I'm covering for Verlaine today.

This was going very well but I hit a wall as the half-hour approached with almost nothing in the SW corner. Once I got going again it fell into place quite quickly but my total solving time was 44 minutes. I blogged this at short notice so I've commented very little other than to explain the parsing. I thought it a really good puzzle which required quite a lot of lateral thinking.

After yesterday's talk of anniversaries it's a bit spooky suddenly to find myself back in my old Friday slot where I spent most of my 9 years here.

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

1 Woman like Bertha Rochester and a Fleming character (5)
MADAM - MAD (like Bertha Rochester - Jane Eyre), A, M (Fleming character - James Bond's boss)
4 Mastiff's heading after hollow stick — watch out for it! (4,5)
CAVE CANEM - CAVE (hollow),  CANE (stick), M{astiff} [heading]. "Beware of the dog!"
9 This line around ship secured by rope (9)
CROSSWORD - ROW (line) around SS (ship) all inside [secured by] CORD (rope). Neat definition.
10 Tucked in to endless meat: we might (5)
POWER - WE tucked in to POR{k} (meat) [endless]
11 Under a roof, complete in wrought iron (6)
INDOOR - DO (complete) in anagram [wrought] of IRON
12 A one-liner? (8)
MONORAIL - Cryptic definition
14 Cool criminal in capital of Sicily, Palermo (10)
IMPERSONAL - Anagram [criminal] of IN PALERMO S{icily} [capital]
16 Ignore / item on a building site (4)
SKIP - Two definitions
19 Swimmer, a fanatic doing the backstroke? (4)
TUNA -  A + NUT (fanatic) reversed [doing a backstroke]
20 The remote control initially thrown some distance (10)
HECTOMETRE - Anagram [thrown] of THE REMOTE C{ontrol} [initially]
22 Delivery, piece that's fragile? (8)
CHINAMAN - a MAN (piece) made of CHINA might indeed be fragile.  Two games for the price of one here - cricket in the definition and chess in the wordplay.
23 Island featuring in marathons, hundreds! (6)
HONSHU - Hidden [featuring] in {marat} HONS HU{ndreds}
26 Last seen of bottle, spare the hard stuff (5)
EBONY - {bottl}E [last seen], BONY (spare)
27 Killing / beyond value (9)
PRICELESS - Two definitions
28 Leader kind of tense having stolen passport, say? (9)
PRESIDENT - PRESENT (kind of tense) containing [having stolen] ID (passport, say)
29 Tips for perfect miso soup side order: lush! (5)
TOPER - Last letters [tips] of {perfec}T, {mis}O, {sou}P, {sid}E, {orde}R
1 One working on a device that's a hit in film (9)
MACHINIST - A + CHIN (hit) in MIST (film)
2 Designer starting out, couturier raised as an automaton (5)
DROID - D{esigner} [starting out],  DIOR (couturier) reversed [raised]
3 State has to avoid the ego of The Times? (8)
MISSOURI - MISS (avoid), OUR (of The Times), I (ego)
4 Fish around lake for dope? (4)
CLOD - COD (fish) around L (lake)
5 Grotesquely veiny toads — an unpleasant picture (5,5)
VIDEO NASTY - Anagram [grotesquely] of VEINY TOADS. This came up very recently in a discussion and some solvers had not heard of it.
6 Better prominence for jailer? (6)
CAPTOR - CAP (better), TOR (prominence)
7 Card game of course? (9)
NEWMARKET - Two definitions. The home of UK horse racing.
8 Extra large fungus (5)
MOREL - MORE (extra), L (large)
13 First ten enough, say (3,7)
FOR EXAMPLE - FORE (first), X (ten), AMPLE (enough)
15 Model punched by rival over hot underwear (9)
PANTIHOSE - POSE (model) containing [punched by] ANTI (rival) + H (hot). On edit: Writing PANTYHOSE initially added to my problems in the SW corner for a while. Collins informs me that "I" instead of "Y" is an alterantive spelling, especially in Britain. Although I understand the meaning is something quite different in some quarters, "pantihose" also means "tights" which are always at least partially worn underneath other clothing, so I don't have any problems with the definition "underwear".
17 Herald procures new editor, finally (9)
PRECURSOR - Anagram [new] of PROCURES, {edito}R ([finally]
18 Very short poems ending in sentiment, shameless (8)
IMMODEST - 1 MM (very short), ODES (poems), {sentimen}T [ending]
21 Old manuscripts deliver cut below penny in wages (6)
PAPYRI - P (penny) in PAY (wages), RI{d} (deliver) [cut]
22 Chicks originally look to pull up worm (5)
CREEP - C{hicks} [originally], PEER (look) reversed [pull up]
24 Range is clear (5)
SWEEP - Two definitions
25 A bomb that's sweet (4)
MINT - Two definitions. On edit: Various dictionaries, including some of the usual sources, have both "mint" and "bomb" as meaning "a large amount of money", so clearly in that sense at least the two words are interchangeable, As far as I'm aware, one context is sufficient for crossword purposes.

Quick cryptic No 713 by Marty

I don’t think I remember coming across Marty before (but no doubt, Jack will correct me), but this was a relatively simple QC although my time was still one minute over my new target of 15 minutes.  There were a good smattering of anagrams to get me going, and nothing too obscure or difficult, so I have no idea why I was so slow.

Sorry for the slight delay in posting the blog – I had some difficulties with my broadband after the guys repaving my drive managed to cause a problem with the cabling – all sorted now.

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

1  Alec stands waving something on the beach (10)
SANDCASTLE – Nice easy anagram to start (clued by waving) of [ALEC STANDS]
Offer comfort to Tory only (7)
CONSOLE – CON{servative} for Tory, and SOLE equals only
9  Some backing from fair American girl (5)
MARIA – Hidden reversed (backing) in {f)AIR AM{erican}
10  Jolly experience with LSD (4)
TRIP – Double definition, a jolly as a noun is an outing or TRIP, and I am led to believe that a TRIP of another kind results from an experience with the hallucinogenic drug LSD
11  Rudely jeer any English novel (4,4)
JANE EYRE – Another simple anagram (clued by rudely) of JEER ANY E{nglish} to give the Charlotte Bronte classic
12  Expelled school inspectorate, making one change (6)
OUSTED – the school inspectorate is OFSTED, and the one change is to swap the F for a U
14  Entices office workers?  About time (6)
TEMPTS – The office workers are TEMPS, and insert T{ime}
17  Raw treat prepared for amphibious rodent (5,3)
WATER RAT – Anagram again (clued by prepared) of [RAW TREAT]
19  Wonderful going around foremost of night spots (4)
ACNE – ACE is wonderful, around first letter (foremost) of N{ight}
21  Does walk, say, regularly, in Japanese city (5)
OSAKA – Alternate letters (regularly) of {d}O{e}S {w}A{l}K {s}A{y}
22  Minor quarrel to have in Cheltenham? (3,4)
SPA TOWN – A minor quarrel is a SPAT followed by OWN (to have).  Cheltenham is an example of a SPA TOWN
23  Music hall song, unspecific request to golf caddie? (3,3,4)
ANY OLD IRON – what a golfer may demand of his caddie, when any old club will do for the next shot (unspecific).


2.   Article completes the undoing of relatives (7)
AUNTIES – The article is A and UNTIES is to complete the undoing
3  Party, alternatively, providing means of escape?(4)
DOOR – Party in crosswords is usually a DO, and OR is alternatively
Primate’s name secretary recalled (6)
APEMAN – As instructed, reverse NAME and PA (secretary) to give a generic name for any of several extinct primates, or Tarzan’s handle
5  Be visibly embarrassed after little boy beamed? (8)
TIMBERED – To BE RED is to be visibly embarrassed, after TIM (little boy, as in Tiny Tim Cratchit in the Scrooge story (A Christmas Carol)).  I’m sure that, like others, I was looking for the being embarrassed to be the clue until I saw the other meaning of beamed.
6  Nobleman years ahead of his time (5)
EARLY – The EARL is the nobleman concerned, ahead of Y{ears}
Maybe Chinese food at the back (3,7)
FAR EASTERN – Food is FARE and at the back is ASTERN, put them together to get the answer.  Another anglo-centric clue.  China isn’t far-eastern to Horryd for example.  And what do American’s use to describe what we describe as the middle-east?
Protective material, designed to cool, won’t (6,4)
COTTON WOOL – Another anagram, this time clued by ‘designed’, of [TO COOL WON’T]
12  To prepare vintage, tread year’s contents(3,5)
GET READY – cleverly hidden in {vinta}GE TREAD Y{ear’s}
15  Picture army officer with old musical instrument (7)
PICCOLO – PIC{ture} followed by COL{onel} and O{ld}
16  Young lady distributed medals (6)
DAMSEL – anagram (clued by distributed) of [MEDALS]
18  Jewelled headdress: it elevated a painter (5)
TIARA – IT reversed (elevated in a down clue) followed by A and RA (which we should all recognise by now as the abbreviation for R{oyal} A{cademician}, or painter or artist)
20  Garment sarts off small and rarely increases(4)
SARI – first letters (starts off) S{mall} A{nd} R{arely} I{ncreases}

Times 26584 - nine down?

Solving time : 18:43 but with one mistake, which on a glance back at what I submitted turned out to be a rather silly typo. I was so far from the setters wavelength on this one that it's not even funny, though in the end I think I understand all of the wordplay.

It is the start of December and that means that I have been bringing you every other Thursday crossword (and Mephisto) for nine years now. It continues to be a blast.

Away we go...

1RED HAT: Spoonerism of HEAD RAT
4FLAGSHIP: FLAGS(flowers), HIP(with it) leading to Nelson's Flagship
9TANK TOP: TANK(vat), TOP(maximum). Not sure how often they are knitted
11NATURAL: A, RUT(pothole) in LAN(e) all reversed
12FRYER: FRY(little fish), (h)ER(e) - an all-in-one clue
13OUT OF LINE: double definition, with one cryptic (if you are out of the hereditary line)
14IN GOOD NICK: another double definition with the police one being slightly cryptic
16WOAD: first letters of W(orn) A(s) D(ecoration) containing O
19GLIB: L inside BIG(large) reversed - definition is smooth
22APPORTION: PORT inside an anagram of PIANO
25PRIMULA: UM reversed inside an anagram of APRIL
26EROSION: the statue of EROS with I, ON(leg side in cricket)
27COGWHEEL: the source of jelly is a COW HEEL - insert G
28AFFORD: (aren)A, F(following), FORD(car)
1RATIFYING: remove the first letter from GRATIYING
2DINKY: D(diamonds), INKY(showing dark stain)
3ANTERIOR: this was my typo as somehow I had ANTERIOT in the grid. ER inside ANTI(hostile), OR(troops at the front) Oops - "at the front" was the definition, as pointed out in comments
5LUNATIC FRINGE: anagram of IN CULT FEARING, and a term that may need to be re-evaluated following recent elections
6GET OFF: two definitions, neither of which I suspect are the usual use of this term
7HERBIVORE: HERO(lion) RE(about) containing the first letters in B(uck) I(n) V(eldt),
8PULSE: double definition
15GLIMPSING: G(enia)L, IMP(rogue), SING(pipe)
17DETHRONED: sounds like THROWN(brought down) inside DEED
18KNOCK OFF: double definition
21TROUGH: THROUGH missing an H
24PRIMO: RIM in OP reversed - the lead part of a duet

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