January 4th, 2021

Ulaca de Milo
  • ulaca

Times 27865 - Out with the auld, in with the noo

Coinciding with my retirement (at an incredibly young age, I must add), I manage what I am pretty sure is a personal best on a Mon-Sat Times cryptic (9:45). But enough about me. How did you do?

I like to use this pulpit to give the occasional homily and for today's text I would like to draw on a comment made last week by a long-time lurker, who said that this was one of the most gracious spaces on the internet. How much I endorse that sentiment, as someone who lurked for six months or so before becoming a contributor 11 years ago, taking up blogging duties eight and a half years back.

There are so many aspects of this blog that I treasure (the more so since the place where I live - Hong Kong - now effectively criminalises free speech as it regresses to the dark ages): the different types of characters that frequent this oasis (even the odd wind-up merchant or two!), the different approaches to the art of blogging (from the para-scientific to the, um, quirky), the benefit of the doubt that people typically give others when they are perceived to be sailing close to the wind, the absence of silly squabbling over trifles, the tell-it-like-it-is, no-beating-about-the-bush approach to technical matters (parsing, factual matters etc).

So, a big thank-you to everyone who helps make this site a place I always enjoy coming to to be educated, entertained and edified.


1 Muslim ruler’s last month in hospital (6)
SULTAN - ULT (last month in Victorian bureaucratese) in SAN
4 Unmannerly chit initially having fling with one’s husband (8)
CHURLISH - C[hit] HURL (fling) IS (one's) H (husband)
10 Outstanding peacekeepers put down roots (9)
UNSETTLED - UN (United Nations, bless 'em) SETTLED (put down roots)
11 Military unit’s chaplain quietly becoming Conservative (5)
CADRE - PADRE becomes CADRE as the P (quietly) morphs to C (conservative)
12 Tanzanian port makes bold sadly to back America (3,2,6)
DAR ES SALAAM - DARES (makes bold) ALAS reversed AM (America, bless her)
14 Continental character, and when he might turn up? (3)
ETA - Greek letter and Estimated Time of Arrival
15 Sources of comfort only found lining fashionable shoes at first (7)
INSOLES - SOLE in IN (fashionable) S[hoes]
17 See Anglican cleric entering calmly (6)
EVENLY - VEN (in C of E, the style usually given to an archdeacon) in ELY (see or bishopric)
19 Aim to follow member’s story (6)
21 A northern girl crossing river in mountainous principality (7)
ANDORRA - R (river) in A N DORA
23 Spot head of zoo taking computer studies (3)
ZIT - Z[it] IT (nerdy pursuit)
24 Way I write journal, like some magistrates (11)
26 In Bhopal, a thick, long, heavy stick (5)
LATHI - hidden in words 2, 3 and 4; a stick found more often in crosswords now than on the streets, I imagine
27 Musician, odd chap associated with tango (9)
TRUMPETER - T (tango) RUM (odd) PETER (random chap)
29 A year’s rent for an old place in Scotland (8)
AYRSHIRE - A YR'S HIRE; the historic county of Ayrshire (home of Robert the Bruce and Rabbie Burns) is now sub-divided between four council areas
30 Make an impression in Turkey’s borders, being irritable (6)
TETCHY - ETCH in T[urke]Y


1 Private soldier, second one of four to go west (8)
SQUADDIE - S QUAD DIE (to go west)
2 No-hoper’s new role picking up seaweed at front (5)
LOSER - S[eaweed] anagram* of ROLE
3 Area north of Italian islet (3)
AIT - A above (north of) IT
5 Doctor’s alter ego trapping rodent in compound (7)
HYDRATE - RAT in HYDE (the nutty half)
6 Approved play area old firm finally repaired (11)
RECOMMENDED - REC (play area) O (old) [fir]M MENDED
7 Popular countertenor once going about with one persistently present (9)
INDWELLER - IN W in DELLER; Alfred Deller was a famous English countertenor, who had somehow escaped my notice. Part of the reason for this is that I can't abide a man trying to sound like a woman, while I am an absolute sucker for a boy sounding like a woman
8 Sound made by animal, male, beginning to eat fruit (6)
HEEHAW - HE ([generic pronominal] male) E[at] HAW (fruit)
9 Irish county’s leader absent constantly (6)
ALWAYS - [g]ALWAY'S; to be sure...
13 Sea cook’s story verbally identifying worker in precious metal (11)
SILVERSMITH - If a deck-hand wanted to refer to a yarn spun by pirate captain (and erstwhile chef) Long John Silver, he might say 'Silver's myth'
16 Onlooker’s cheers welcomed by policeman dropping in (9)
SPECTATOR - TA (cheers) in [in]SPECTOR
18 Like Rumpole we lay drunk on railway (8)
20 Gap traversed by the German fishing-boat (7)
DRIFTER - RIFT in DER (German for 'the', as in 'Der Bomber', AKA Gerd Muller)
21 Tree-lined approach, a place to meet (6)
22 Extreme characters crushing a meadow plant (6)
AZALEA - AZ (extreme characters) on top of (crushing) A LEA
25 Big lorry, one originally carrying paintings on top (5)
ARTIC - I (one) C (originally carrying) under ART (paintings on top)
28 American writer needing oxygen in gym (3)
POE - O in PE; one for Brother Jonathan, as one of our esteemed number might say...