March 18th, 2019

  • ulaca

Times 27301 - And top of da morning to you too, setter!

What a puzzle, containing one of the most unlikely words to ever appear in a Times daily puzzle! Congratulations to everybody who persevered and worked it out. (No kudos at all to those who might have been born there or have visited the place.) Given how easy the rest of the crossword was, I think congratulations are also in order to the setter, who perhaps was either born in this place or had a seminal and unforgettable experience there - his (or her) first Guinness, perhaps.

I was going to make an announcement this week in advance of a personal milestone that falls soon, but I have decided that any attempt to steal the compiler's thunder on this most special of occasions would be insensitive and out of order, so it will have to wait for another day.

32 minutes plus change for this perseverer.


1 Freely take grub round Canberra at first — in this? (6-3)
TUCKER-BAG - anagram* of TAKE GRUB round C[anberra] to give us this semi &lit. For all the cobbers, Bruces and Sheilahs out there. G'day, mates!
6 Record book (5)
ALBUM - double definition (DD)
9 Verse in ancient language inspiring a native of Riga? (7)
LATVIAN - V (verse) and A (from the clue) in LATIN
10 Admission of right-winger relating to sexual desire? (7)
AMATORY - If Theresa May were to say, I 'AM A TORY' then, who knows, this incantation might work it's magic as an aphrodisiac and everyone might vote for what she appeared to be wanting on that particular day. On the other hand...
11 Left French department carrying note for Irish town (10)
PORTLAOISE - aha, here we are, here we have it. THAT CLUE, as I'm sure it will become known whenever cruciverbalists gather to share their collective wisdom on the world's greatest, oddest, etc. clues. First, the wordplay, then the history lesson. PORT (left) followed by OISE (a French département) around LA (musical note). Now, I - and indeed the setter - would have you know that PORTLAOISE, though boasting a population of only 22,000, is the fastest growing of the top 20 largest towns and cities in Ireland (it's obviously a devoutly Catholic place), which was once called Maryborough (after Bloody Mary) in the days when the county was called Queen's County. Very sensibly, one of the first things the burghers of the Irish Free State did after they had got this county back was to give both it and their county seat new names. Originally the town was called Portlaoighise (meaning 'Fort of Leix', in case the more observant of you were wondering how you can have a port near the geographical centre of Ireland, however wet it might get) but they very sensibly I think simplified this to Portlaoise, while the county somehow ended up without the E (Laois). Incredibly, in light of the clue's reference to a French department, Port Laoise (as it is also called) is twinned with Coulounieix-Chamiers in the Dordogne département of France. Extraordinary, as David Coleman might have said. (Thanks to Kevin for the correct parsing.)
12 Evidence of injury and endless panic (4)
14 Weight of ice beginning to accumulate in farm vehicle (5)
CARAT - A[ccumulate] in CART. I wonder how many carts those British farmers who are always pleading poverty still operate across their substantial acreages.
15 Wader shortly to appear around quiet headland (9)
SPOONBILL - P in SOON BILL (headland as in Portland Bill)
16 Send down girl who’s out of practice for speaking? (9)
RUSTICATE - If Cate (or could it be Kate? I think so, you know) hasn't been practising her public speaking, a wag might go up to her and say, 'You must be very rusty, Cate!'
18 Stony, and lacking 15 dn (5)
ROCKY - DD, one relying on a quick scan of the down clues
20 Lamb casserole at last, one served in US city? (4)
ELIA - dear old Charles Lamb, brother of the lady who called Byron 'mad, bad and dangerous to know', but still had her wicked way with him, is in danger of becoming better known for filling awkward four-letter crossword spots than for being a dashed good essayist; [casserole]E I in LA
21 Dramatist quietly crossing river, and later wooded hollow (10)
PIRANDELLO - another author chappie who pops up not infrequently, this Italian is best (only?) known for his play Six Characters in Search of an Author, which, it has to be said, is up there with Long Day's Journey into Night for title of really cool play title; R (river) in PIANO (quietly) followed by (and later) DELL
25 Jew, possibly, lives with artist and priest (7)
26 Pouring drink, reportedly, requiring Chinese porcelain (7)
TEEMING - sounds like TEA, MING
27 Almost decapitated sooner than expected (5)
28 Sailor sporting many hats around Cowes initially (9)


1 Dump outside entrances to urban lorry plant (5)
TULIP - U[rban] L[orry] in TIP
2 Time to enter new career as supplier of food (7)
3 Pilot gets one in a spin, making us flap (10)
EPIGLOTTIS - PILOT GETS I* for the flappy thing that stops food entering the lungs. Well done, that man!
4 Game sheltering in scrub in gorge (5)
BINGO - hidden in the last three words
5 Young chap: good person enthralled by dead PM once (9)
GLADSTONE - LAD ST (saint) in GONE (dead)
6 Old Asian maid a poor actor sent up (4)
AMAH - A HAM reversed
7 Air passages booked originally by male Greek character (7)
BRONCHI - B[ooked] RON (male) CHI (Greek letter)
8 Irish county chap accepting lieutenant for civic office (9)
MAYORALTY - MAYO (which should never be forgiven for sending us Westlife) LT in RAY (Ron's mate)
13 Component French artist briefly noted initially in food allowance (10)
INGREDIENT - INGRE[s] N[oted] in DIET; Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres is best known for his depictions of scantily clad females of uncertain reputation
14 Vehicle chosen by male member of religious order (9)
CARMELITE - CAR M (male) ELITE (chosen)
15 Way proficiency produces steadiness (9)
17 Agitator possibly reading scripture in prison (7)
STIRRER - R (one of the 3Rs) RE (religious education, AKA scripture) in STIR (slang for prison)
19 Bone constituent of Scotsman, say, touring Channel Islands (7)
22 A variable investigator, one of Mexican Indian extraction (5)
AZTEC - A Z (variable) TEC
23 Algerian port accommodating golf magazine (5)
24 About end of April money finally comes to bank (4)
RELY - RE (about) [apri]L [mone]Y