ulaca (ulaca) wrote in times_xwd_times,
ulaca
ulaca
times_xwd_times

Times 26929 - If the animal doesn't get you, the author will

A fine specimen of the Monday puzzle, I thought, fitting to celebrate my 150th blog, with not one but two 8-letter stings in the tail. Now, I must contend that while 20 across was eminently fair (a very fine autobiographical novel, which was a particular favourite of the great CS Lewis, and with wordplay based on an anagram to boot, which always ups the entertainment value around here). 9 across on the other hand was a bit below the belt. First off, the creature itself is none too prepossessing, looking like a cross between a meerkat and ET. Second of all (as the Americans would say), the dreaded Random Woman rears her ugly head (she's back at 10 across, by golly! - having already popped up at 5 across - has this setter no sōphrosynē tempering his/her appetition), which brings us on to the next problem: Collins Dictionary has the required sense of 'quirk' as only its fourth entry, which I think qualifies as pretty darned recondite. Give me an anagram any day! Oh, yes, and 'tickajou' sounds far more like a tree-dwelling slothy thing than the actual word.

To sum up, a fair bit of 3 down was in evidence here in Hong Kong, as I arrowed in on a pukka sub-23 time. Finally, I think I may have spotted a Ninaic reference to one of our regular contributors, a denizen of the north-east of our sceptred isle and noted bon viveur. If you don't believe me, take a closer look at 22 and 23 across.

Music: Andrejs Jurjans - Symphonic Allegro (conductor Arthur Marcello Ozolins)

Breakfast: Bit of bread left over by the wife and daughter & last scrapings of the Park 'n' Shop own label strawberry jam, washed down by a sachet of all-in-one instant coffee given to me by Keriothe on my last UK trip

ACROSS

1 One left first, followed by a rich heiress (6)
PORTIA - PORT + I + A; heroine of Merchant of Venice
5 Girl consuming second course of meal? (8)
SEMOLINA - MO in SELINA; Hong Kong's disgraced and imprisoned former chief executive Donald Tsang has a
wife of this name.
9 Quirk a woman originally uncovered in an arboreal mammal (8)
KINKAJOU - KINK + A + JO + U[ncovered]
10 Girl takes exercise, carrying house keys (6)
PHOEBE - H (house) + E and B [musical keys] in PE
11 Direct nonsense written about rejected payment (6)
ROBUST - SUB reversed in ROT
12 Unbalanced lord accepting work with team (8)
LOPSIDED - OP + SIDE in LD (lord)
14 Jazzman finally spending money on band’s development (5,7)
BENNY GOODMAN - [spendin]G + MONEY ON BAND* (anagram)
17 Senior diplomat taking a shift with a male singer? (12)
AMBASSADRESS - A + M + BASS + A + DRESS (shift)
20 Borrow book on Ravel, good in translation (8)
LAVENGRO - ON RAVEL G* (good)
22 See very old city hospital protected by barrier (6)
DURHAM - UR + H in DAM
23 Bumbling old fellow putting a gloss on things? (6)
BUFFER - a sort of tongue-in-cheek extended definitional thingy, with an allusion to buffing up the
silver (or brass, if you live up north)
25 Arsenal player initially performing in tired environment (8)
WEAPONRY - at first I flirted with Mesut Özil, but when that didn't fit, I saw the wordplay: P[layer] + ON
(performing) in WEARY
26 Passion unknown by a woman like Erica? (8)
HEATHERY - HEAT (passion) + HER (a woman) + Y (unknown); Erica may be heather to some, but to me she
will always be the generously proportioned lady who streaked across Twickenham 35 years ago. Things got
interesting in our family when the lady in question took up with a wealthy Hampshire landowner who
shared my father's rather uncommon double-barrelled name (unsurprisingly as they were second cousins)
and, more pertinently, Christian name. For days people kept coming up to Dad, saying, 'Bill, we never
knew you had it in you!'
27 Infusion one’s served in lightish brown earthenware, primarily (6)
TISANE - IS in TAN + E

DOWN

2 Prayer old teacher offered up before broadcasting (6)
ORISON - O + SIR reversed + ON
3 Consider fashion, following posh medic, and show resentment (4,7)
TAKE UMBRAGE - TAKE + RAGE after U (posh: lavatory, not toilet) + MB
4 CO’s assistants adapt, releasing direction over soldiers? (9)
ADJUTANTS - ADJU[s]T + ANTS
5 Blowing in gusts, just as European leaves for south (7)
SQUALLY - EQUALLY (just as) with E replaced by S
6 Absorb work in month at university (3,2)
MOP UP - OP in M + UP
7 See about beginning to erect sign (3)
LEO - E[rect] in LO
8 Possibly count on rising bachelor needing lover once (8)
NOBLEMAN - ON reversed + B + LEMAN
13 Diligent Brahmans maybe leaving hotel, united in small groups? (11)
INDUSTRIOUS - [h]INDUS + U in TRIOS
15 Excessively stupid, entertaining Republican’s arrangement with bank (9)
OVERDRAFT - OVER + R in DAFT
16 A rum time, unfortunately, to be wet behind the ears (8)
IMMATURE - A RUM TIME*
18 Cross about article blocking extremely windy entrance (7)
DOORWAY - ROOD reversed + A in W[ind]Y
19 Unproductive 8, by the sound of it? (6)
BARREN - sounds like a nobleman (baron)
21 Regularly grow rushes and furze (5)
GORSE - alternate letters in G[r]O[w]R[u]S[h]E[s]
24 Attack section of ancient poem (3)
FIT - Okay, over to Encyclopædia Britannica: 'Fit, in literature, a division of a poem or song, a canto,
or a similar division. The word, which is archaic, is of Old English date and has an exact correspondent
in Old Saxon fittea...Lewis Carroll revived this archaic poetic division (perhaps to lend
gravity) in the composition of his 132-verse nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark, beginning
with "Fit the First: The Landing" and ending with "Fit the Eighth: The Vanishing".'
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