ulaca (ulaca) wrote in times_xwd_times,

Times 26353 - Ton Up

Today is my hundredth blog. To mark the occasion, I invited my fellow bloggers (including a couple of lapsed ones) to help write up the Across clues. I also approached one confrère specifically to see if he would be able to provide the preamble. Happily, he was…

Bob Geldof once asked his audience rather wistfully to help him understand just what it was about the first day of the working week that made him ill disposed towards it, and I think I can help him out of this particular quandary. If he had ever tried solving a cryptic crossword at one in the morning after an evening spent in West Norwood listening to Ecstatic Treetops, he would know. Not, however, that the occasion was a total disaster. Far from it, or pauci laeta arva tenemus, as the Swan of Mantua once put it. For, it chanced that there was an award for Most Originally Decorated T-shirt. I was later told that many people had spent hours – even days – designing and perfecting their raiment, whilst I not only knew nothing of the matter but had not – knowingly – entered the competition at all. The complete story of why it happened that I arrived at the subterranean venue clad in a tattered once-white T-shirt with vivid discolourations is too long to relate, but suffice to say that shortly before I set out from home I was engaged in what became a protracted struggle to convince my three-year-old to consume her pumpkin granola. The upshot (quite literally, one might say) was that the contents of said cereal, liberally laced with the nut roast that had made up her midday repast, were jettisoned all over the shirt I had donned earlier on this eventful Sunday in a futile attempt to stem the flow of water from a leaky cistern. Having no time to change may have meant I got an odd look from the cab-driver, but it also meant I carried home with me in some triumph a CD of Ecstatic Treetops’ latest hit, ‘Stuck with the Seraphim’.

But I have already gone on too long, and others are waiting impatiently to contribute on this auspicious occasion. I wonder if you will be able to identify the guest bloggers out of their natural habitat, as it were.

(Tuesday 8 March) It would appear that Ulaca's happy idea of inviting his estimable fellow bloggers to contribute to his centesimus editio has elicited requests for the identity of the contributors to be revealed. He has accordingly forwarded to me the relevant email correspondence, based on which I am able to satisfy the burgeoning curiosity, the identities being now appended to the blog, infra.


1. BRIOCHE – I had one of these during a break in rehearsals, meaning this was something of a write-in: BRI(OCH)E.
5. RECIPE – I had “recept” for the longest time before seeing the obvious, thinking the city was Königsberg, hometown of Immanuel Kant, famous for his percepts and recepts. R[EC]IPE.
8. BILLIARDS – I’m hopeless at sports, but I knew this one from Georgette Heyer, where many a romance is consummated on the baize. It’s BILL=fellow. IS around ARD= a road.
9. AMISS – My French is as much use as a glass door on a dunny, but fortunately AMIS + S doesn’t require a Higher School Certificate in the language.
11. YUCCA – my uncle in Birkenhead Wallasey (see comment below) kept a yucca plant, which he named Derrida, since it grew phenomenologically fast until it was deconstructed one day by a Tranmere Rovers fan. Y+U+CC+A.
12 Mostly courteous hanger-on with old Communist committee
POLITBURO – POLIT(e) (courteous, cut) next to BUR (hanger-on) next to O (old). When I was running a pub, I had a regular who thought he was Nikolayevich Kosygin. When he left, he would always say, ‘Must be Russian!’
13. UNTHREAD – Forget Dickens and co., Trollope is the only 19th century novelist worth reading. This word, clued almost identically, came up in a recent Club Monthly: *(HER AUNT D).
15. ERRATA – The Royal Regiment of Artillery, to give it its official name, actually consists of a number of regiments, as a fellow who worked with me in the factory used to let me know at every available opportunity. E (standard abbrev. English) + RA (Royal Artillery) ‘locking up’ RAT (deserter).
17. UPDATE – another write-in in a vanilla offering: UP + DATE (we used to court in my day – I have no idea what they get up to now).
19. GARRISON - G{eorge} [head], {H}arrison (Rex [executed]). I was worried when I was allotted the musical clue, as, despite my degree in music, these ones often trip me up. Not a singer in the usual sense of the word, Harrison perfected the talking-on-pitch style and performed ‘Talk to the Animals’, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1967.
22. CAIRNGORM – I didn’t get round to this until after I’d had to deal with a dispute involving the local inspecteur des drains, which in turn meant I could only get 9 holes in today. (RING)*, OR (men) inside CAM (rivulet running through Fenland Poly); D stone.
23. HELOT - This is one of those Greek words that hasn’t found its way to West Yorkshire yet, unlike ‘kebab’ and ‘moussaka’. I had to piece it together from wordplay and generous checkers: HE then LOT (item knocked down).
24. ELEMI – I was heading for quite a good time before the dreaded vocalophobia gripped me when confronted by E*E*I. I finally saw the light after 15 seconds, which pushed my time out to 8:47 minutes. ELM + I around E, of course.
25 What act as channels for processing sago, I hope
OESOPHAGI – Are two clues ending in ‘I’ really necessary? This is not a major complaint, but I just wonder if Dean could have taken another route. Pretty alimentary, I’d have thought. (SAGO I HOPE)*, &lit.
26. ANNEXE – OK, I think this is our unspecified woman du jour ANNE tucking into her voluminous aprons EX, which sounds like X (but not if you are singing in the Italianate style – in which case it sounds like EK). The surname ‘X’ was chosen among others by Malcolm Little, who considered his birth name a slave name and chose ‘X’ to signify his lost tribal name. We do the Googling™ so you can sit there and marvel.
27. TOOTING – Many are the times I’ve listened to Febrile Footmassage in the leafy district of Tooting. One particular occasion involved quite a bit of honking from passing vehicles as I tottered towards Colliers Wood tube station in the early hours, but that story must await another day.


1. BOBS YOUR UNCLE – Bob Cratchit worked for Ebenezer Scrooge and had six kids, including Tiny Tim. No brother or sister of Bob or Mrs Cratchit is mentioned by Dickens, to the best of my knowledge, so this is a purely hypothetical clue, although I have a feeling it might receive a few different epithets from regulars here. The phrase has rather gone out of fashion in England, which is probably no bad thing, since it has something of the Dick Van Dyke about it.
2. ILLICIT – ILL + IC + IT. The more we rail against IT = SA, the more the setters rejoice in letting us have it.
4. EUROPEAN – ROPE (of which painter is a type found in crosswords and also on a boat if you don’t want it wandering away from the quayside) in EUAN.
5. RUSTLE – sounds like [Bertrand] Russell.
6. CHATTERER – C + [Mad] HATTER + RE reversed.
7. PRIMULA – PRIM + U[nion] + LA .
10. STOP AT NOTHING – TO PAST* + NOTHING. The 3-word clues are proving quite accessible.
14. RETENTIVE – TENT (a wine to sip while you’re painter is slipping off its mooring?) in REIVE[r]. I cannot hear this word without thinking of its anatomical concomitant. Oh for more innocent days in the billiards room!
18. DRIVE-IN – RD reversed + I’VE (‘this setter’s come’ can be rendered as ‘I’ve come’ in Crosswordland) + IN.
20. SYLLABI – the literal is ‘course programmes’, which is derived from S[chool] followed by a reversal of I (electrical current) and BALLY (ruddy).
21. COYOTE – [p]O[n]Y in COTE (shelter).
23. HIPPO – HIP (‘with it’) on PO.

20 minutes and change.

List of Contributors

1. BRIOCHE - glheard
5. RECIPE - vinyl1
8. BILLIARDS - oliviarhinebeck
9. AMISS - galspray
11. YUCCA - mctext
12. POLITBURO - linxit
13. UNTHREAD - jerrywh
15. ERRATA - nick_the_novice
17. UPDATE - dorsetjimbo
19. GARRISON - jackkt
22. CAIRNGORM - pipkirby
23. HELOT - penfold_61
24. ELEMI - tony_sever
25. OESOPHAGI - keriothe
26. ANNEXE - z8b8d8k
27. TOOTING - verlaine
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