ulaca (ulaca) wrote in times_xwd_times,
ulaca
ulaca
times_xwd_times

Times 26437 – Standing on this pleasant lea

A very pleasant start to the week, with nothing to scare the thoroughbreds but enough to keep the palfreys on their toes. Mine trotted home in 37 minutes. I particularly liked the muddled situation at 5a, since I seem increasingly to find myself in those these days, but my favourite would be 17d for its smooth and ambiguous surface. Does ‘game’ refer to duck, say, or Pictionary?

Since this will be my last blog before trading Oriental shores for Occidental ones, just a reminder that there will be an informal gathering of cruciverbalists at the Old Red Lion on Kennington Park Road, SE11 4RS, starting at 6pm on Wednesday 29 June. The nearest tube station is Kennington. There’s a nice beer garden to enjoy, if it’s a fine midsummer evening.

Those wishing to join the fun can indicate either hereinunder or send me a message on my LJ account. On the evening, I will be suitable accoutered with a copy of The Times (the first I will have bought since student days) for easy identification, possibly a rolled-up umbrella, but, sadly, no bowler hat.

ACROSS

1. GLASNOST – anagram* of SLAG + SON reversed + T[his].
5. MORASS – OR in MASS. Smooth as a gravy sandwich, no?
9. BAG – don’t you just hate it when people chuck bags and stuff down to reserve seats? I do. Well, unless I do it myself, but then I’ve always got very good reasons. GAB reversed.
10. GREAT-NEPHEW – HEW following GREAT + PEN reversed.
12. ILL-STARRED – TALL RIDERS*.
13. VETO – VET (‘check’) + O (‘cipher’).
15. TROIKA – OIK in TRA[in]. My last in.
16. AGELESS – ES (east and south) in A GEL’S.
18. AIRSHIP – the definition is ‘flying craft’ and the wordplay a homophone of ‘heirship’.
20. LATEST – L.A. + TEST.
23. RISK – [f]RISK[y].
24. SIEGE TRAIN – IT ENRAGES + I*. Go on – hands up who biffed ‘siege tower’? According to Wikipedia (and I’d sooner disagree with my wife than with that), a siege train, whether hyphenated or not, is a collective term for ‘siege engines or artillery together with the necessary troops and transport vehicles’.
26. SUBSTANTIAL – SUB + IN AT LAST*. Rather cunning this, especially if one is trawling the recesses of one’s mind for words starting ‘sab’ and ‘sob’.
27. IDA – D in I+A for the eponymous G&S heroine of whom I know nothing.
28. EXEMPT – MP (Military Policeman, AKA ‘redcap’) in EX + ET.
29. (Is it me, or are there loads of clues today?) IDENTITY – I followed by DEN + TIT + Y (‘unknown’). Definition ‘name’.

DOWNS

1. GOBLIN – sounds like gobblin’ – the sort of thing Dick Van Dyke might do when he ain’t doin’ ’is comical poem.
2. ANGULAR – ‘annular’ with a ‘g’ replacing the second ‘n’.
3. NIGHT-LIGHT – sounds like ‘knight’ + LIGHT (as in ‘alight’). I suppose a night-light does allow you to see – not a lot, mind, but enough. Plus, it frightens off them ghosts. On edit (Tuesday 14 June): debate has raged about whether NIGHT-SIGHT is an acceptable alternative or not. After much reflection, I would say it is. The clue reads 'What enables one to see and hear horseman land (5-5)'. In Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO), 'night-sight' is defined in two senses: '1 The faculty or power of seeing in the dark; 2 A gunsight designed for shooting at night; an image intensifier'. First, let's consider the definitions (which in any case are typically referred to in crosswords as 'literals', to reflect the fact that they are often approximations rather than exact synonyms, if such things exist in the first place): re 1, is what enables one to see another way of saying the faculty of seeing? Pretty damn close, I would say. Then, is a gunsight that intensifies an image in dark conditions something that can be described as what enables one to see in the dark? Well, I'd have thought so. And so onto the wordplay. Can the homophone indicated by 'hear' cover both 'horseman' and 'land'? I'd love to hear someone mount (sorry) a successful challenge to that thesis. And so, we move finally onto the most contentious (having read the comments on the Club forum) aspect - the equivalence of 'land' and 'site'. Under 'land', ODO has 'an area of ground, especially in terms of its ownership or use'; under 'site' it has 'an area of ground on which a town, building, or monument is constructed'. Well, how much closer need one be? I think the Times should accept both answers.
4. SMEAR CAMPAIGN – the definition is ‘organised drive to defame’ and the wordplay is a rather well concealed anagram of CAMERAMAN GP IS. My penultimate, cos I never saw the anagram, and my alphabet run at S*A*R took in ‘h’ and ‘p’ but missed out ‘m’. And I still dream I might make the championships one day…
6. OMEN – reversed hidden in the monkish stuff.
7. ACHIEVE – definition ‘fulfil’; the cunning wordplay is [challeng]E in A[r]CHIVE.
8. SAW-HORSE – um, SAW + HORSE (heroin); my father used to have one of these, which I loved greatly. I was an unusual child.
11. THE DAILY GRIND – a pretty decent cryptic definition. I was on the set of one of the Bond films at Pinewood and witnessed Judi Dench tearing a female employee off a strip for poor preparation of her morning coffee. After that everyone called her ‘M barista’.
14. PENTATHLON – PEN + TAT + H + L + ON. Not as athletic as the decathlon or heptathlon, when you consider that shooting is one of the disciplines. Maybe it was a toss-up between that and darts, and they didn’t have enough lager on hand.
17. LACROSSE – L + ACROSS + [tabl]E.
19. RISIBLE – RILE around SIB (‘sibling’). Some words I hate (execrable, egregious, traduce, liberty), some I love (piecemeal, freedom, Aston Martin, money). I’m pretty fond of risible.
21. SWAHILI – AIL around H in SWI.
22. UNWARY – move the R down the RUNWAY. Reminds me of the old joke, ‘Move farther down the compartment, please!’ ‘That’s not father, that’s grandpa.’
25. STEP – S[ociety] + PET reversed.
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