December 24th, 2020

  • glheard

Times 27856 - t'was the morning before Christmas

Time taken: 8:21

Still got a little bit to unravel before confidently writing this up, but this was on the easier side with many generous definitions, fortunately my only guess was correct, and now I look up part of the wordplay, it seems to ring a bell.

There's some really good surfaces here - I'll point out what I noticed, but maybe you found more.

I hope everyone is saying safe and sane! My county just announced a ban on multiple-family gatherings starting January 2 (why wait that long???) and that you can buy take-out cocktails from restaurants and bars. So have yourshelf a merry little Christmas!

Away we go...

1 Finish degree course in ferry port (6)
DIEPPE - DIE(finish), and PPE(Philosophy, Politics and Economics). I guessed this as I could not figure out the second part.
4 Disdain shown by agency worker after working in court (8)
CONTEMPT - TEMP(agency worker) after ON(working) inside CT(court)
10 Author in store with novel penned by Greek (11)
GHOSTWRITER - anagram of STORE,WITH inside GR(Greek)
11 Nothing left at home? Quite the reverse (3)
NIL - L(left) and IN(at home) reversed
12 Admirer cheers following popular princess (7)
INFANTA - FAN(admirer) and TA(cheers) after IN(popular)
14 Boy on French island gets a thrill (7)
FRISSON - SON(boy) next to F(French), IS(island)
15 Please wait a moment for what groom may do? (4,4,6)
HOLD YOUR HORSES - double definition, with groom meaning stablehand
17 Met employees here having come through Waterloo? (7,7)
WEATHER STATION - WEATHER(come through) and WATERLOO station
21 Moore's ultimate in standing figures (7)
STATUES - last letter of moorE inside STATUS(standing). Clever clue referencing the sculptor Henry Moore
22 Rings about the lines in play (7)
OTHELLO - O and O (rings) surrounding THE, L and L(lines)
23 Mendicant would appear when this food produced in bar (3)
EGG - don't often see this sort of clue. The menidicant is a BEGGAR, so remove BAR to get EGG
24 Film of polar bear shot round mouth of Horton River (5,6)
PEARL HARBOR - anagram of POLAR BEAR containing the first letter of Horton, then R(river). The Horton River is one of the most northern rivers in Canada, so this is another clever surface.
26 Concern, though not about one in isolation (8)
SOLITUDE - SOLICITUDE(concern) missing C(about) and I(one)
27 Case missing in carriage (6)
STANCE - the case is an INSTANCE, remove IN
1 Follow key number, heading off for battle (8)
DOGFIGHT - DOG(follow), then the key of F, and EIGHT(number) missing the first letter
2 Morale, say, on first of ops (3)
EGO -  EG(say) and the first letter of Ops
3 Number diving into Italian river, extremely choppy, might (7)
POTENCY - TEN(number) inside the river PO and the outside letters of ChoppY
5 Wizard coming from where we do? (3,2,4,5)
OUT OF THIS WORLD - double definition (I think) since we are of this world
6 Reservist having row about blunder (7)
TERRIER - TIER(row) surrounding ERR(blunder)
7 Short series of episodes about television's top executive (11)
MINISTERIAL - MINI(short) SERIAL(series of episodes) surrounding the first letter in Television
8 Flair shown by almost everyone appearing in marquee (6)
TALENT - remove the last letter of ALL(everyone) and place inside TENT(marquee)
9 Animatedly, auntie reads RLS adventure story (8,6)
TREASURE ISLAND - anagram of AUNTIE, READS, RLS, with RLS also being the initials of the author
13 Immoral investor's evil spirit (6,5)
FALLEN ANGEL - FALLEN(immoral), ANGEL(investor)
16 Heading in the right direction playing links? (2,6)
ON COURSE - double definition with the links being a golf COURSE
18 Mutter in agitation about parking for orchestra member (7)
TRUMPET - anagram of MUTTER containing P(parking)
19 Deep down in U-boat, hear torpedo (2,5)
AT HEART - hidden inside u-boAT HEAR Torpedo
20 Gauge outdated, failing to show power on steamship (6)
ASSESS - PASSE(outdated) missing P(power) on SS(steamship)
25 Outlaw's trial cut short (3)
BAN - BANE(trial, annoyance) missing the last letter

Times Quick Cryptic No 1773 by Pedro

An approachable QC from Pedro that took me 15 minutes exactly to complete and parse, but which contains nothing to frighten the reindeer!  My FOI was COPY, LOI was PIOUS, with WOD QUERULOUS and COD goes to MESS for its unusual device.  There are several nebulous links to Pantomimes, but nothing strong enough to be classed as a theme, I don't think.  Where they exist, I have highlighted them in the blog below.  I may have missed some - I am no afficionado of this art form.

Next time I am scheduled to blog, we will be one week into 2021, which we all hope will be a significant improvement on what 2020 had to offer us.  Can I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for Christmas and the New Year, and to thank you for all of your excellent comments and support through 2020.


1  Son, upper-class type, and bishop needing no work to become snooty (8)
SNOBBISH – S{on} followed by NOB (upper-class type) and then BISH{op} (needing no work – delete the OP).
Imitate policeman going to Yard (4)
COPY – COP (policeman) and Y{ard}.
8  Some editor-in-chief is calling regarding the Treasury (6)
FISCAL– hidden answer (some) in {editor-in-chie}F IS CAL{ling}.
9 Discover truth about complaint – not good (6)
RUMBLE – {g}RUMBLE (complaint, drop the g, not G{ood}).  My Chambers gives one definition of RUMBLE as to grasp, see through, or discover the truth about.
10  Get a sense of payment left (4)
FEEL – FEE (payment) and L{eft}.
11 Item for discussion is not quite lacking it, somehow (8)
QUESTION – Anagram (somehow) of [IS NOT QU{it}E] after removing IT (lacking it).
12  Criminal attempt recalled in regret (5)
ROGUE – GO (attempt) reversed (recalled) to give OG inside RUE (regret).  Most pantomimes in most Christmas seasons, have a resident ROGUE. I should point out, as a Rotter, that not all ROGUEs are criminals, but some certainly could be, and not all rotters are rogues..
13  One of Snow White’s dwarfs very quietly brought in grass (5)
HAPPY – PP (pianissimo in musical notation – very quietly) inside (brought in) HAY (grass).  Another nod to panto season, which is otherwise a bit curtailed this year!
15  A quiet intermission around end of recital – then this erupts? (8)
APPLAUSE – A (a) P (quiet) then PAUSE (intermission) around {recita}L (end of = last letter).  Here the whole clue acts as the definition and includes the wordplay.  Once again, there is usually plenty of APPLAUSE in pantoland.
17  Space programme’s latest?  Look amazed (4)
GAPE – GAP (space) and {programm}E’s latest (last letter).
19  One of the birds or bats (6)
CUCKOO – Double definition.
20  Follow poster used in display (6)
SHADOW – AD (advertisement, poster) in SHOW (display).
21  Meaningless, largely empty confusion (4)
MESS – ME{aningle}SS or M{eaningl}ESS, take your pick – ‘largely empty’ is an instruction to remove an unspecified number of letters (but more than half) from the middle of ‘meaningless’.
22  It helps one observe end of alluring girl linked to 007? (8)
SPYGLASS – G (end of {alluring}G) and LASS (girl) following (linked to) SPY (007 or James Bond).


2  I will interrupt passage in church, being artless (5)
NAIVE – NAVE (passage in church) interrupted by I (I).
3  Support record showing work not yet completed (7)
BACKLOG – BACK (support) and LOG (record).  ‘showing’ could either be a link word, or part of the definition.
Unwell still, though losing stone (3)
ILL – They don’t come much easier than this.  STILL losing ST{one}.
5  Last pair of gardeners in gardens attack the weeds?  That’s a lucky thing(9)
HORSESHOE – Last pair of (letters) in {gardene}RS gives us RS.  Insert this inside HOES (gardens) to give HORSES, and then add HOE (attack the weeds) to the end for HORSESHOE.  I am not sure why a horseshoe shape is considered lucky, but one belief set is that they were made of iron (considered to ward off evil), and they were held in place with seven nails, seven being considered the luckiest number, but then the question arises ‘why is seven considered lucky?’
6  Company gathered together to find astronomical object (5)
COMET – CO{mpany} and MET (gathered together – something we are all being discouraged from doing this festive season).
7 Ridicule medicine, or remedy, finally (7)
PILLORY – PILL (medicine) OR (or) and {remed}Y (finally).
11  Peevish Queen reformed rule over America (9)
QUERULOUS – QU (queen – Chambers confirms that QU is an acceptable abbreviation for QUEEN), followed by an anagram (reformed) of [RULE], in turn followed by O{ver} and finally US (American).  Despite the convoluted parsing, I’m going to make this my WOD (word of the day).
12  Criticise return of routine: source of eventual happiness (7)
RAPTURE – RAP (criticise), RUT (routine) reversed (return of) and then source of (first letter) of E{ventual}.  I think we had RAPTURE in the grid a week or two ago.
14  Variety of plait seen around one girl’s head? (7)
PIGTAIL – Anagram (variety) of [PLAIT] surrounding I (one) and G{irl}’s head (first letter).  The clue is another &lit (as was 15a), with the whole clue providing the definition as well as the word play. One very minor quibble, although usually worn by girls, pigtails can also be worn by boys or men, especially sailors.  Also Aladdin traditionally wears one, at least in Pantos.  Hang on though - Aladdin is usually a boy played by a cross-dressing girl!
16  Stories about King making responses on social media (5)
LIKES – LIES (stories) containing K{ing} (chess notation).  Apparently, things posted on social media (such as this blog for example) can be LIKEd by readers, with the number of such LIKES being a measure of the audience’s appreciation.  Of course, I would never dream of soliciting such responses.
18  Religious in abundance, but dismissing heads of Catholic order (5)
PIOUS – The word we are looking for is COPIOUS (in abundance), but we then drop the heads (first letters) of C{atholic} and O{rder} to give the answer - PIOUS.
20  Speak, for example (3)
SAY – Double definition.
  • jackkt

Christmas Day Puzzles

Seeing a comment in today's QC discussion made me realise that perhaps some TfTT contributors may not be aware that the 15x15 and Quick Cryptic puzzles will be available on Christmas Day as usual on the Times site, and this may be a something of lifeline for  those forced to spend the day on their own or more quietly than they normally would. Hopefully the blogs will be up early in the day so that discussions can take place here as normal.

Times 27,857: Three Hos Before The Mast

A medium difficulty puzzle that should hopefully not interfere with the digestion of anyone's Christmas dinner. I very much liked the use of "eg" in 5dn and the neighbouring &lit was cute too. A very merry Christmas to the setter and all of you at home - see you all in the long-awaited year of 2021!

1 An entrance's variegated stones (6)

5 Unwelcome invader to stay in hotel — try to intervene (8)
VISIGOTH - VISIT H, with GO "intervening"

9 Unable to move currently, journalist in the wrong (6,2)

10 Pollster's message of increased bitterness (6)

11 Plant a message to establish social distancing? (5-2-3)
TOUCH-ME-NOT - cryptic def

13 Appropriate opinion (4)
TAKE - double def

14 Name for religious leader, holy American (4)

15 People accused brilliant workers? There's concealed purpose (10)

18 A love that's bad then good in authentic sort of film? (10)

20 Frost in December I'm expecting (4)
RIME - hidden in {decembe}R I'M E{xpecting}

21 Match ending in magnificent victory (4)
TWIN - {magnificen}T WIN

23 Suggestion of big road race confronted by negative response (10)
NOMINATION - M1 NATION [big road | race], (con)fronted by NO

25 Shelter Yankee in a poor part of Harlem? (6)
ASYLUM - Y in A SLUM. "Harlem" only since it makes for a better surface alongside "Yankee"

26 A condition for being carried by pallid bargee? (8)
WATERMAN - A TERM being carried by WAN

28 Legs covered in grass got worse (8)
RELAPSED - LAPS "covered in" REED

29 Repetition of extra terminal message (3-3)
BYE-BYE - repeated BYE [extra]

2 Maybe a Venetian doge in role mostly awkward (9)

3 Hits nails — hard wood initially to penetrate (7)
THWACKS - TACKS "penetrated" by H W{ood}

4 Blue fish not caught (3)
SAD - S{c}AD

5 Late in the day escaping from eg poison (5)

6 Without vetting ultimately, possibly guessing then? (5,6)

7 Nymph coming to life, having light refreshment in a marquee? (7)
GALATEA - or GALA TEA. Pygmalion's statuesque other half

8 Vehicle hit with its top shearing off (5)

12 Anna has two — Lucy and Jane are among other possibilities (6,5)
MIDDLE NAMES - {a}NN{a} does indeed contain two N(ame)s in the middle. Not sure if Lucy and Jane have any special significance, apart from being names that could easily be used middlingly...

16 Number cut by half, amount that can be ignored? (3)
FIG - FIG{ure}, as in "I don't give a fig", probably.

17 Sorrowful about politician and other men as fly-by-nights? (9)

19 Ordinary sort of castle maybe for a knight to occupy (7)
VANILLA - VILLA "occupied" by A N

20 Third-Ager on Scottish island (7)
RETIREE - RE TIREE [on | Scottish island]

22 Refuse a dish wife served much earlier (5)
WASTE - A STE{<-W}, with the W(ife) moving from last position to first

24 Cut, or style, of broadcaster (5)
MOWED - homophone of MODE

27 Bill is one sort of cricketer on the up (3)
TAB - reversed BAT