Times Cryptic Jumbo 1420 - 11th January 2020

Bleary-eyed greetings from London.  I found this jumbo unproblematic (no 17a) although I didn't know the US writer, the poison or the oration and only dimly recalled a few other things.  My one error was a typo which, not being a competition solver, I didn’t give the full two hoots about.  Only a single small hoot, perhaps a small cry of pain (48a).  I enjoyed what the setter did in 17a, but my favourite was the neat &lit at 51a.

In a weird coincidence, two answers not commonly seen in the wild had crossed my path very shortly before solving.  The 1a material was worn by a character in a book and the 33d quibbler featured in an article on the BBC news website.  (These “weird coincidences” are of course as common as anything due to the number of things that there are.)

Enough of my ramblings – to the puzzle, then over to you.  And not to forget to say thank you to the setter!

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Times Cryptic No 27564 - Saturday January 18th 2020. Hard, not hard.

This was a slow solve for me, but really there isn’t anything fearsome involved. The clue of the day for me was the elegant 5dn. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Tell-tale phone call taken earlier (7-6)
WHISTLE-BLOWER – WHISTLE (call), BLOWER (phone – a rather dated expression, wot?)
8 What bowlers aim for: leg side to start with (4)
PINS – PIN (leg), S[ide] “to start with”. So, not a cricketing clue ... ten-pin bowling!
9 Strain shown by Sun worker in print department (10)
TYPESETTER – TYPE (strain), SETTER (sun). True, the sun also rises …
10 Dealer caught by dogged police officer? (8)
CHANDLER – C (caught), HANDLER (a police officer in the dog squad). A ships’ chandler for example, not Raymond.
11 Outburst from one brought into commerce (6)
13 Cheat within short time, being fickle (10)
16 Pot for reheated meat and vegetables (4)
HASH – double definition. The first is marijuana, not a cooking pot.
17 Language restriction from Speaker (4)
THAI – sounds like TIE.
18 Writer, intense, on taking in NI peninsula (10)
RICHARDSON – RICH (intense), ON, taking in ARDS. I didn’t know either the author or the geographical place. Luckily my better half looked over my shoulder at the helpers and said, ‘Richardson’.
20 Echo in violent anger demands floral tribute (6)
WREATH – E (echo) in WRATH.
22 Melancholy men reversed in top gear (8)
SOMBRERO – SOMBRE, OR backwards. Gear on the top of your head, is what we’re talking about.
24 What makes chicken opt for secure road crossing? (10)
CHECKPOINT – (CHICKEN OPT*). I scratched my head over the definition, but it must be a reference to border crossings like the infamous Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.
26 Trick allows second duke to escape old magistrate (4)
DOGE – the trick is a DO[d]GE.
27 Space probes face constant thundering in explosive aftermath (8,5)
MUSHROOM CLOUD – MUSH (face), ROOM (space), C (constant), LOUD (thundering). Assemble as instructed.

1 Prepare to leave who in charge for restructure? (5,6)
WEIGH ANCHOR – (WHO IN CHARGE*), ‘for restructure’.
2 English author briefly upset European one (5)
IBSEN – NESBI[t], briefly, upset. I searched past blogs, and this wordplay has occurred more than a few times. And, to quote one of our previous bloggers, ‘I was able to get the playwright from just the initial I’.
3 Betting system is a lottery endlessly manipulated (9)
TOTALISER – (IS A LOTTER-*), ‘manipulated’.
4 Fab guy from south takes minute inside shops (7)
EMPORIA – AI, ROPE taking M[inute] inside, all reversed (‘from the south’).
5 Great composer? Hear hear! (5)
LISZT – in the wordplay , the first ‘hear’ tells us that this is a ‘soundslike’ clue, and the second HEAR = LISTEN = LIST (archaic or poetic)! Another where the answer was rather biffable, but this time I had to think hard to get the wordplay.
6 Doctor was there with daughter for turning point (9)
WATERSHED – (WAS THERE D*), ‘doctored’.
7 Fast runner third in original Marathon we hear? (3)
ROE – the third letter of Marathon is R. In the original Greek alphabet, that letter was called RHO, which (we hear) sounds like ROE. As to whether roe deer run fast, ask the setter!
12 Party lost cool about university being opposed (11)
14 Ridiculously rich with gas and oil, heartless rulers (9)
OLIGARCHS – (RICH GAS O-L*), ‘ridiculously’. OIL is ‘heartless’.
15 Shocking deception almost secures gold carpet (9)
TRAUMATIC – TRIC[k] secures AU (gold) MAT.
19 Luggage English mislaid in old Italian town (7)
CASSINO – CAS[e]S are luggage, IN, O[ld].
21 Somewhat touchy person really wired (5)
HYPER – hidden answer.
23 Set to transmit commercial in Brazilian city (5)
25 Do part badly, rest initially avoiding damage (3)
HAM – HA[r]M is damage.

Times 27,569: Hit Me With Your Tickling Stick

I found this a little bitty, with some quite easy numbers intermingled with strange foreign-isms, including 3dn which is one of the most wilfully obscure clues in recent memory. I did very much enjoy the penny-drop moment of the cryptic def at 11dn and the cameo by Mussolini, who I learned in a quiz I was hosting only last night, tried to get Italians to switch from pasta to rice, to stop importation of expensive foreign semolina flour. The monster. Where else but crosswords would Il Duce rub shoulders with Doddy, too?

Just booked my tickets for the 43rd Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford CT at the end of March. If you're on that side of the USA around then, you should definitely drop by?

1 Just when pearl of wisdom can be testing? (8)
ASSAYING - AS SAYING [just when | pearl of wisdom]

6 Seabird leaving home has little hesitation to get fish (6)
PUFFER - PUFF{in} has ER

9 Attack from the rear to capture a Pacific island (4)
GUAM - reversed MUG to "capture" A

10 Shout with pain, with heart maybe leading to caution in game (6,4)
YELLOW CARD - YELL OW [shout with pain], with CARD [heart maybe]

11 Superior one joining up with four others (5,5)
GREAT LAKES - cryptic def, the four others being Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.

13 Mood of small son confronting ’umungous lout? (4)
SULK - S confronting 'ULK. My FOI.

14 Turn of old French actor performing after end of war (8)
ROTATION - O TATI ON [old | French actor (Jacques) | performing], after {wa}R

16 Something very cold about lord close to you, dictator (2,4)
IL DUCE - ICE [something very cold] about LD + {yo}U

18 Once in a blue moon, old master goes wrong, turning out bad art (6)
SELDOM - (OLD MASTER*) ["goes wrong"], evicting (ART*) ["bad"]

20 Light piece of verse that facilitates communication (8)
LANDLINE - LAND LINE [light | piece of verse]

22 Acknowledge hospital is having trouble (4)
HAIL - H + AIL [trouble]

24 One addict, I fancy, could show this (10)
DEDICATION - (ONE ADDICT I*) ["fancy'], semi-&lit

26 Have nothing to do with hermit-style holiday? (5,5)
LEAVE ALONE - or, if you take your LEAVE ALONE, you are doing it hermit-style.

28 Abdomen, soft little protuberance (4)

29 Load of church silver, holy books missing (6)

30 The old man's entertaining celebrity baddies (8)
DASTARDS - DAD's "entertaining" STAR

2 Starting point for endeavour in which maybe four succeeded, reportedly? (6,3)
SQUARE ONE - a square obviously has four sides but beyond that I don't really see how it's "maybe four". ONE though it certainly a homophone for WON.

3 Game leader departing with a word of appreciation in Asian city, once (4-3)
ALMA-ATA - {h}ALMA + A TA. This is the former name for Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. A defunct name for an obscure (apologies Kazakhs) foreign place being clued with reference to an obscure old game? Almost needless to say, my LOI.

4 Group of jolly dimwits set up a happy scene (5)
IDYLL - hidden reversed in {jo}LLY DI{mwits}

5 Superior-sounding female set (3)
GEL - double def, of two homographs that are by no means homophones.

6 Put on airs ridiculously, like a French author (9)
PROUSTIAN - (PUT ON AIRS*) ["ridiculously"]

7 United around military leader and single-minded (7)
FOCUSED - FUSED around OC [Officer Commanding/Officer in Charge]

8 Register of leaderless soldiers with inadequate function (5)
ENROL - {m}EN + ROL{e}

12 Fired-up type, source of illumination (7)

15 This writer's means of communicating with article heartlessly direct (9)
IMMEDIATE - I'M [this writer's] + MEDIA [means of communicating] + T{h}E [article, "heartlessly"]

17 Criminal, in my opinion, had finally obeyed the law? (9)

19 Heading north, attacked to achieve rescue (7)
DELIVER - upside down REVILED [attacked]

21 Girl seeing bird, one in meadow (7)

23 Leading character abroad captured by female photographer (5)
ALEPH - hidden in {fem}ALE PH{otographer}

25 Game with boxes, present finally emerging (5)
CHESS - CHES{t}S, removing the last letter of {presen}T

27 Funny comedian ignoring the first of three daughters (3)
ODD - Ken {d}ODD, minus the first of his 3 D's. Was Doddy funny or odd? Feel free to debate below the line.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1533 by Felix

Well, there is plenty of meat on the bones of this fine offering from Felix, where he has made good use of an unusual grid to tax us this morning.  My time was close on 20 minutes to complete this puzzle, although, unusually for me, some of the parsing and craft of the setter needed the time spent in writing the blog to be fully appreciated.

It seemed to take an age to get a meaningful foothold, with odd isolated answers being entered all over the grid before they started to link up and reveal further secrets as I solved.  I also noted a plethora of letters I and V around the grid (21% and 6% of squares to be filled respectively, versus 7% and 1% expected in random written English).

FOI was IDIOT, LOI was VISION, COD for me is 16a for the unwanted image of small boys being punished (#METOO), and WOD is REFLEXIVE.  Thanks Felix, and good luck to the rest of you!


1  Fool on street is landing (9)
STAIRHEAD – ST (street) and AIRHEAD (fool).  Nice to see that the chestnut of using ‘flight’ to clue STAIR has been avoided.
Simpleton’s one point taking one in (5)
IDIOT – I (one) DOT (point) containing (taking in) I (one, again).
8 A Conservative I defied verbally’s become sour (9)
ACIDIFIED – A (a) C{onservative) and I (I), finishing with DIFIED (sounds like defied, verbally).  To acidify is to become acidic or sour.
9 What’s hard and highly valued about the jumbo? (5)
IVORY – Cryptic definition with misdirection, pointing the solver towards the aeroplane.
10  Brave Pole’s broadcast that can be shown (9)
PROVEABLE – Anagram (broadcast) of [BRAVE POLE].  Often spelled without the first E in my experience.
12  National Insurance in tax year is something worthless (6)
VANITY – N{ational} I{nsurance} inside VAT (tax – Value Added Tax) and followed by Y{ear}.  I was initially unsure why VANITY is considered worthless - my vanity licence plate certainly has a value associated with it.  The nearest I can find is oblique references to an alternative definition of vanity as meaning worthless, but this isn’t in my Chambers under vanity (it does appear as an alternative definition for vain), although I did find it in an old Penguin Dictionary on my shelf.
13  Image of German holding most of 6 down (6)
VISION – The answer to 6 down is ISIS, and most of this is ISI.  Put this inside VON (holding) and one gets VISION.  VON is a common term in German language surnames, meaning ‘from’ or ‘of’, or less commonly, indicating a noble patrilineality.
16  Unfairly punish small boys: one’s contrite, finally (9)
VICTIMISE – VIC and TIM are shortened names for (small) boys, followed by IS (one’s) and {contrite}E (finally = last letter).
19  Once in the middle of kiss, hugged by imbecile (5)
TWIXT – TWIT (imbecile) containing (hugging) X (kiss).  ‘TWIXT is an abbreviation for BETWIXT, an archaic preposition and adverb meaning ‘between’, therefore the ‘once’ in the definition – it used to mean in the middle of.
20  Referring back to subject of Felix, ever cryptic! (9)
REFLEXIVE – Cleverly signalled anagram (cryptic) of [FELIX EVER].  REFLEXIVE is a grammatical term indicating that the action turns back upon the subject, as in ‘he shot himself!’.  OK – I’m expecting someone to quibble with this example!
22  Cancelling hair removal treatment after losing weight (5)
AXING – {w}AXING (losing W{eight}).
23  An unknown obligation’s around that is causing concerns (9)
ANXIETIES – AN (an) X (unknown, as in algebra) with TIE’S (obligation’s) and IE (that is) between them (around).


Don’t split up tasty fragments! (4,3)
STAY PUT – Anagram (fragments) of [UP TASTY] after one has lifted and separated split and up.
2  Stasi moved to hold famous author (6)
ASIMOV – Hidden (to hold) inside {st}ASI MOV{ed}.
Lift light beams that can be picked up (5)
RAISE – Homophone clue (that can be picked up, or heard).  Sounds like rays.
Old priest the Spanish idolised originally (3)
ELI – EL (the in Spanish) and I{dolised} (originally).  It has been said many times before – ELI is worth remembering as the most common priest in Crosswordland.
Resentment once of failure, gone bad (7)
DUDGEON – DUD (failure) and an anagram (bad) of [GONE].  I wondered if the ‘once’ was an indicator that the word DUDGEON was considered archaic, but that isn’t supported by Chambers, so I assume it is just considered a bit old-fashioned.
Goddess: I’m Swiss, oddly (4)
ISIS – Alternate letters (oddly) of I{‘m} S{w}I{s}S.
Like sports drink, one drunk on ice, briefly (8)
ISOTONIC – I (one) SOT (drunk) ON (on) and IC{e} (briefly – drop the last letter).  To be ISOTONIC as a drink is to contain the same concentration of salts and minerals as the human body.
11  Bird is flying around in Italian port (8)
BRINDISI – Anagram (flying) of [BIRD IS] containing (around) IN (in).
12  Oral examination initially routine in all animal enclosures (7)
VIVARIA – VIVA (oral examination) and first letters of (initially) R{outine} I{n} A{ll}.  A VIVARIUM (singular) is an artificial enclosure for keeping living animals.
14  Refreshing drinks cat, I see, has upset (3,4)
ICE TEAS – Anagram (has upset) of [CAT, I SEE].  One of today’s easier clues for a concoction that I personally consider to be an abomination, but that is just my opinion.
15  Black ones containing family’s swimwear (6)
BIKINI – B{lack} and II (ones) containing KIN (family).  Another easier one if you aren’t distracted by a bikini being labelled as swimwear (most are anything but), although I have absolutely no objection to any of them.
17  Passion displayed by north eastern girl (5)
IRENE – IRE (passion) and N{orth} E{astern}.  Three easy ones in a row – was Felix running out of steam?
18  Lass finally catching game, unaccompanied male (4)
STAG – {las}S (finally) and TAG (catching game)
21  Message that’s loud a mark of error (3)
FAX – F (loud, musical notation) A (a) and X (mark of error, as in a cross).

Times 27568 - time to get on the case

Solving time: 16:20, but with one incorrect. Not a typo, not a brain fart, one that I am still pretty stumped on but it is rather late in the puzzle so maybe something will come to me as I type up the rest of the clues.

I struggled with this one! There's some tricky wordplay, one that I got I am still a little unsure on, and more hyphenated entries than I am used to seeing, some of them phrases not in common usage.

Time to unravel all of this... away we go.

1 Top item California put inside bread roll (7,3)
BATHING CAP - First clue and my last in - THING(item) and CA(California), inside BAP(breakfast roll). Top seems a little obscure for the definition so the intention may be for this to be an all-in-one.
7 Is unable to swing round (4)
CANT - double definition, the first one would have an apostrophe
9 Tailor is fool to hurry back of blazer (8)
CLOTHIER - CLOT(fool), HIE(hurry) then the last letter of blazeR
10 Move to avoid waltz’s beginning during ball at court (6)
SWERVE - frist letter of Waltz inside SERVE(ball at tennis court)
11 Create difficulty for philosopher endlessly cut by left (6)
HOBBLE - The philosopher is HOBBES, remove his last letter and insert L(left)
13 Like Jersey sailors to kiss amorously? (4-4)
CREW-NECK - CREW(sailors), NECK(kiss amorously)
14 Tilapia is freshest spit cooked (2,6,4)
ST PETER'S FISH -  anagram of FRESHEST,SPIT - did not know this one, had to piece it together from the anagram
17 Lawbreaking shot, perhaps before teeing off (5-7)
DRINK-DRIVING - a shot can be a DRINK, then DRIVING(teeing off)
20 Withdrawn train cut for engineering work? (8)
21 The sack around tavern is stored like wine (6)
BINNED - BED(the sack) surrounding INN(tavern)
22 Intended one for Resistance in country round Paris (6)
FIANCE - I(one) instead of R(resistance) in FRANCE(country around Paris)
23 Some yeti seen roaming mountain valley (8)
25 Taunt rich setter, not well (4)
JEER - the rich setter is a JEWELLER, remove WELL. This was the one that I wasn't sure of the wordplay until I started writing up the puzzle
26 Want the French to cultivate tapestries? (10)
NEEDLEWORK -  NEED(want), LE(the in French), WORK(cultivate)

2 Sweets and drops the head confiscated outside class (3-5)
ALL-SORTS - FALLS(drops) missing the first letter outside of SORT(class)
3 Search for missing note in cabin (3)
HUT - HUNT(search for) without the N(note)
4 One is unusually sound (5)
NOISE - anagram of ONE,IS
5 Remains mostly outside a capital city (7)
CARACAS - Take your pick of CARCASS or CARCASE(remains) remove the last letter, and insert A - the capital of Venuzuela
6 Bill holds port back (9)
POSTERIOR - POSTER(bill) containing RIO(port)
7 Scours harbour — with nothing like a walrus to be seen? (5-6)
CLEAN-SHAVEN - CLEANS(scours), HAVEN(harbour)
8 Young monk’s drama over wrong habit (6)
NOVICE - NO(Japanese drama) over VICE(wrong habit)
12 Wife’s got in mostly fish supper for working partner (11)
BREADWINNER - W(wife) inside BREAM(fish) missing the last letter, DINNER(supper)
15 Vast human waste with any number devoted to luxury (9)
EPICUREAN - EPIC(vast), UREA(waste), N(any number)
16 One originating at Isle of Wight resort lacking second name (8)
INVENTOR - IN(at), then VENTNOR(IOW resort) missing the second N(name)
18 Peninsula and related port in the Med (7)
KINTYRE - KIN(related), TYRE(port in the Med). I hope I'm not the only one who got this from the Paul McCartney song
19 Case of veal is lost (6)
VALISE - OK George, wear that dunce cap proudly. I stared at this and came up with nothing, and put in DATIVE with a shrug. And of course it is a simple anagram of VEAL,IS!
21 City centre line (5)
BASEL - BASE(centre), L(line)
24 Perhaps cut down rye whiskey after second (3)
MOW - W(whiskey) after MO(second)

Times 27567 - TCC Heat 1 #3 - nothing to scare the mokes.

I found this third of the set just about the same in difficulty as the first two, with plenty of scope for biffing on the day I'd imagine, even if the parsing was a bit tricky at times. I see half the field completed it correctly.

I'm not sure I have quite explained 16d. I'll also pose you all a challenge for setting a second clue for the answer to 15a; this one is good but it can't be the easiest word to set for.

My LOI 4d raised an eyebrow, not expecting to see a Procter & Gamble brand name in a Times puzzle.
1 Current parliament returns early work (5)
ILIAD -  I (current) then DAIL (parliament) reversed. My FOI.
4 Disastrously dropped litre drinks in school (9)
COLLAPSED - COED = school, insert L and LAPS.
9 Master divisor, ignoring two quarters (9)
DOMINATOR - divisor = DENOMINATOR, remove E and N two quarters.
10 Armstrong’s heard of what prayers do (5)
KNEEL - sounds like NEIL as in Neil Armstrong, astronaut.
11 Resorts employing treatment, having nothing for drug at intervals (13)
SPASMODICALLY - SPAS (resorts) then MEDICALLY (employing treatment) has its E (drug) replaced by an O (nothing).
14 Unpleasant, and very cold, outside King’s Head (4)
ICKY - ICY very cold, insert K King's head.
15 Republic disperses beatniks pursuing sawn-off gun (10)
UZBEKISTAN - UZ(I) = sawn-off gun, (BEATNIKS)*.
18 Give up introducing complex rating scale (10)
CENTIGRADE - CEDE = give up, insert (RATING)*. Old name for temperature scale Celsius.
19 Still, one that’s never been authenticated (4)
YETI - YET (still) I (one).
21 Cruisers might lie along this front, playing cards (9,4)
PROMENADE DECK - PROMENADE = front, as in a seaside resort; DECK = playing cards. Cruisers here means people on a cruise.
24 In which the beast of Siberia is caught? (5)
TAIGA - Sounds like TIGER, the beast found in the Siberian Taiga or snow forest. Wiki tells me the biome taiga is the largest in area, it covers 11.5% of the world's land surface.
25 Screen producer’s turkey chasing small donkey (5,4)
SMOKE BOMB - Amongst other things, a MOKE can mean a donkey; so we have S(mall) MOKE, BOMB = turkey.
27 Stars dealing with a disease hooked by drugs (5,4)
GREAT BEAR - Drugs = GEAR, insert RE (dealing with) A, TB (disease). No doubt biffed by most.
28 Toy with no head found in sack (5)
RIFLE - TRIFLE (toy) loses its head.
1 Obscure country’s losing a contest finally in court (10)
INDISTINCT - INDIA'S loses its A > INDIS, T (contest finally) IN CT (court).
2 This author’s taking in singular theory (3)
ISM - I'M (this author) insert S for singular.
3 Current producer withdraws a good deal in style (6)
DYNAMO - MANY reversed inside DO.
4 In place of holiday, English cleaner in criminal court! (4,5)
COTE DAZUR - My LOI, as i stared at D*Z*R thinking can this be right? Then I remembered apostrophes are not enumerated, and pennies fell. E DAZ (washing powder) goes inside (COURT)*.
5 Some delightfully rich little poem (5)
LYRIC - barely hidden in DELIGHTFUL(LY RIC)H.
6 Take a look into a large juvenile compound (8)
ALKALOID - A LO (a look) goes inside A L(arge) KID (juvenile).
7 Three views about to be one (3,3,2,3)
SEE EYE TO EYE - SEE, EYE, EYE = three views, about TO.
8 Fool jolly officer (4)
DOLT - DO = jolly, party; LT = officer. I wanted to put DORM at first, but a dorm isn't an officer.
12 Like grass family doctor brought in, it’s negotiable (6,5)
ASKING PRICE - AS RICE = like grass, insert KIN and GP.
13 As was Molly Brown, tanning in bleak sun (10)
UNSINKABLE - (IN BLEAK SUN)*. Have we seen 'tanning' as an anagrind before? Mrs Margaret Brown a.k.a. Molly was an American socialite so known, she survived the sinking of the Titanic, and acted heroically, see her Wiki entry.
16 Try nut and bolt to secure area (9)
ENDEAVOUR - Well, DEVOUR can mean bolt, eat quickly, so insert A for area into that, leaves you with EN to mean nut. An en is a short space in typography, perhaps printer's slang for it is a nut?
17 Skirt round old temple displaying measure of power (8)
KILOWATT - KILT (skirt) goes around O, WAT as in Angor Wat.
20 Fighter once assembled eastern troops (6)
METEOR - MET (assembled) E (Eastern) OR (troops. The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter, I remember making my Airfix model.
22 Poles in Brussels start to examine result (5)
ENSUE - N S (poles) inside EU (Brussels), E (start to Examine).
23 Cut theatre for men only (4)
STAG - STAGE (theatre) gets cut.
26 Away side at Old Trafford (3)
OFF - Double def., Old Trafford having a cricket ground as well as Manchester United's stadium. As we know, even if cricket is a mystery to you, there are two sides to a cricket pitch, ON (leg) and OFF.


Times Quick Cryptic 1531 by Mara

I made heavy weather of this, probably down to the anagrams, and took
13 minutes. I hope it’s just me as, on review, I can’t see
why I got held up.

I've had a bit of a tussle with the new
livejournal editor. I can't seem to do anything with the extra spaces
so let me know if it's a problem (for next time) - also, definitions
are in italics (as there wasn't an underline option I could

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Times Cryptic 27566

Solving time: 28 minutes. I found most of this quite straightforward. There were a couple of less than familar words in the Down answers but they were easily assembled from wordplay, and a plant at 27ac that turned out to be an alternative spelling to the one I was aware of.

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