April 8th, 2021

Linus van Pelt

27946 Thursday, 8 April 2021 Mr and Mrs Igitur and their flamboyant son Gaudy Amos

I made rather heavy weather of this, slowed by an entry I put in but was very dubious about and an entry I injudiciously biffed. When you have a dubious entry, it tends to make you distrust the crossing letters which is nearly as bad as not having any, or at least that’s how it works for me. I also couldn’t see what was going on in 1ac, and there’s a maliciously placed comma that messes up the wordplay. I think I may have followed the setter’s artful map of garden paths too enthusiastically: others may see through such deceptions rather more easily and do relatively better than my 27.34.
I don’t think the vocab and GK needed is particularly obscure anywhere, but then I rarely do. I’m mildly impressed by the setter sneaking in two meanings of the same word in the wordplay.
Today’s smile came from the nail clue. I like daft definitions.
Clues are in italics, their definitions underlined, and their solutions in THIS STYLE.


1 What shows one’s composed and performed for, new documentation following? (9)
SANGFROID Ah yes, the Englishman with his usual bloody cold. Not helped by thinking it was two words. The wordplay goes performed: SANG, for, new: FRO (it’s an anagram) and documentation: ID
6 Brief moment absorbing work matter (5)
TOPIC Brief moment TIC(k), work OP, the latter “absorbed” by the former.
9 Cheap booze from pub enthralling first of alcoholics (7)
BARGAIN Too long trying to think of cheap booze. Instead, booze from pub is BAR GIN, insert (first of) A(lcoholics)
10 Wise figure showing a lot of courage in the end retreating (7)
MINERVA Nerve is courage, so a lot of it is NERV. Place it in AIM for end reversed (retreating). Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare, justice, law, victory, and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. Impressive multitasking.
11 What’s needed for walking dog in meadow: quiet (5)
LEASH Not an insertion, which the “in” suggests. Just LEA for meadow and SH for quiet.
12 Doctors, in sum, given to single marker of death (9)
TOMBSTONE Doctors in one of their many abbreviations are MBS. Place in sum: TOT and add ONE for single.
14 Bridge that’s not finished well (3)
SPA From SPAN unfinished
15 Wine quantity not uniform? Bad business (11)
AMONTILLADO SO that’s quantity: AMOUNT but with no U(niform), bad: ILL and business: ADO
17 Proceed to accept unhappy end? (5,4,2)
CRACK DOWN ON Proceed is CRACK ON and unhappy accepted thereby is DOWN
19 Element of bondage session male eschewed (3)
TIE Probably the simplest possible element of bondage. Session: TIME with the M(ale) eschewed (posh for discarded)
20 Support car marque as an original design (9)
ARCHETYPE I couldn't justify prototype, but it didn’t stop me chewing up the minutes by putting it in. But it’s simply support: ARCH by that most evocative of car marques the E TYPE
22 Chief is behind gathering wood (5)
BEECH  Chambers does justify CH as an abbreviation for chief. Put it behind BEE for gathering, as in The Great British Sewing Bee, shortly to resume on the BBC
24 Back to chop tree, clearing area, for instance (7)
EXAMPLE Back instructs you to reverse AXE for chop, then the tree you want ia MAPLE minus it’s a(rea)
26 Indian city featured in obscure plan (7)
DIAGRAM The Indian city is the one with the photo opportunity in white marble, AGRA. Insert into DIM for obscure.
27 Gaudy description of nails? (5)
TACKY One of those where the question mark indicates a whimsical Uxbridge English Dictionary description. Nails could be tacky. Well, they could.
28 Clumsy: presumably good for hitches ? (3,6)
ALL THUMBS Uma Thurman only needed one extraordinary thumb for hitching rides in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, but you get the idea.


1 Forecaster is upset over Times letters initially (5)
SIBYL Not a hitherto unrecognised talent of Mrs Fawlty: the Sibyls were legendary prophetesses of antiquity. IS is upset to produce SI, times (as in multiply) gives BY, which I spotted for once, and get the L from the initial of Letters.
2 Blessed state of vehicle caught in squally rain (7)
NIRVANA The vehicle is a VAN, and “squally” invites you to anagram RAIN to place outside it.
3 Loud thing cat may do? Here’s a reminder (9)
FLASHBACK Depends on you seeing that a cat is a form of whip, which might LASH BACK. Loud provides the initial F.
4 Subjects observed in this may be swift to grouse? (11)
ORNITHOLOGY I was uneasy about this for so long. So both swift and grouse are birds, their alternative meanings providing an amusing surface reading. For me, it jars a bit with their positions in an ornithology, which would be alphabetically reversed? Aasvogel to Zebra Finch, anyone?
5 Mother cracked up (3)
DAM Just MAD for cracked, crazy “up”
6 Regulates day in November? On the contrary (5)
TUNES So you’re looking to reverse the syntax and put N(ovember) (NATO) in a day. Pick TUESday.
7 Chopped up half of garden pole to make frame for plants (7)
PERGOLA Half of garden GAR, add POLE and then anagram (chop up) them both.
8 Tea for each individual companion (9)
CHAPERONE Tea CHA, each PER, and individual ONE.
13 Hollywood star who could move into elite domain (7,4)
MATINEE IDOL It’s an anagram slightly sneakily indicated. It could move into ELITE DOMAIN. Well, it could.
14 Ecstatic about ace stuff in ceremony (9)
SACRAMENT Held up by the P of my prototype. Ecstatic Is SENT, ace is A and stuff is CRAM. Insert parts B and C into A
16 Pine? 22 picked up in Californian city (4,5)
LONG BEACH 22 is BEECH as you may already know. Pine is LONG, and BEACH the other tree’s homophone (picked up).
18 Shrewd account about one of old (7)
ARCHAIC Another ARCH, this time clued by shrewd. Ad AC(count) with I (one) inserted.
19 Ran miles to embrace that chap? That’s the idea (7)
THEOREM Ran is TORE, M from M(iles) and an embrace HE for that chap.
21 Pointless trial attorney has abandoned before end of day (5)
EMPTY I think this is trial ATTEMPT with the ATT(ourney) abandoned, plus the end of daY
23 Organic material from our group supporting the sound of activity (5)
HUMUS What habebit nos post molestam senectutem. Our group is US, and the sound of activity HUM.
25 Time zone reduced after upset (3)
ERA I believe this is AREA for zone reversed, but without its final letter.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1848 by Trelawney

On the gentle side of things today from Trelawney, at least I think so - for some unknowable reason I've been on a run of decent form of recent, and at 5.20 this is my quickest QC in a while. It was only 13ac, 16ac and the first half of 1ac that I missed on a first read through of the acrosses which made for a lot of merry biffing come the downs. Definitely no complaints from me - many thanks to Trelawney!

1 Pays for conservative's false alibi (5,5)
COVER STORY - COVERS (pays for) TORY (Conservative)
7 What a casino employee might say is perfect? (5)
IDEAL - or "I DEAL" might say a casino employee
8 Ship's wreckage — beginning to find plenty in the morning (7)
FLOTSAM - F ("beginning" to Find) LOTS (plenty) AM (in the morning)
10 Pet dragon is strange baptism participant! (9)
GODPARENT - anagram (is strange) of PET DRAGON
12 Eat briefly, making racket (3)
DIN - DINE (eat), briefly = dock the tail
13 Drink, for example, with medal being returned (6)
EGGNOG - EG (for example), with GONG (medal) being returned
15 Inability to catch, or retain, strangely (3,3)
TIN EAR - anagram (strangely) of RETAIN. Catch as in hear.
16 Supply department (3)
ARM - double definition.
17 Therefore a religious leader initially records a drama (4,5)
SOAP OPERA - SO (therefore) A POPE (a religious leader) R ("initially" Records) A
20 Flood from river covering moor regularly (7)
TORRENT - TRENT (river) covering OR (m O o R "regularly")
22 Blackbeard, say, doesn't start being angry (5)
IRATE - pIRATE (Blackbeard, say, "doesn't start")
23 A quick game with mates? (5,5)
SPEED CHESS - cryptic definition, as in check mate. I recently read The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig, a novella. It's excellent!
1 Faith in mediocre education (5)
CREED - "In" the letters of medioCRE EDucation
2 Broken coal ovens — they can produce lots of smoke! (9)
VOLCANOES - anagram (broken) of COAL OVENS
3 Weapon search (5)
RIFLE - double definition
4 Leaders in The Oval Office, also (3)
TOO - "Leaders" in The Oval Office
5 I reused horrible leftovers (7)
RESIDUE - anagram (horrible) of I REUSED
6 Bachelor on island failing to finish liquor? (6,4)
SINGLE MALT - SINGLE (bachelor) on MALTa (island, failing to finish)
9 Psychic put fear into underground worker (4,6)
MIND READER - put DREAD (fear) into MINER (underground worker)
11 I chuck in worn-out fossil (9)
TRILOBITE - I LOB (I chuck) in TRITE (worn-out)
14 Fool picked up then let go of sweet (7)
GUMDROP - MUG (fool) picked up = reversed, then DROP (let go)
18 Contents of data, stick found in storage area (5)
ATTIC - "Contents" of dATa sTICk
19 Tests new axes around military, primarily (5)
EXAMS - anagram (new) of AXES around M (Military, "primarily")
21 Study agreement in speech (3)
EYE - in speech, sounds like AYE (agreement)

Times 27,947: Don't Put Your Blogger On The Stage, Madame Guillotine

A great Friday treat for us this week, with COD-worthy clues aplenty. I was very impressed indeed with the setter's discovery of WW2 inside newswriting, with "how un-English!" (like not going out in the midday sun), the brilliant cryptic reimaginings of some very long words/phrases at 5dn and 9dn... so much to enjoy all told, so thanks muchly, your settership! I coulda got away with sorting all this out inside of 10 minutes if it hadn't been for 6dn, where I stared blankly at T_O_I_S thinking about Trots and indeed Thomists for an embarrassingly long time before the in-no-way-Numenorean penny finally dropped.

Is anyone here doing the New York Times crossword competition (online this year) in a couple of weeks? If their servers can handle it, it could be a lot of fun, in a "slumming it" kind of way...

1 Minute spinner played best (6)
RECORD - triple def: if you record a meeting you "minute" it, a spinner that you play is a vinyl record, and your personal best is your personal record

4 They boast they’ve at last achieved firsts (8)

10 Conflict appearing regularly at the heart of newswriting in capitals? (5,3,3)
WORLD WAR TWO - {ne}W{s}W{r}I{t}I{ng}, expanded from WWII in the standard way

11 Victorian perhaps linked with books primarily (3)
BOZ - OZ [= Australian = Victorian, perhaps] linked with B{ooks}; &lit, as Boz was Charles Dickens (as in "Sketches By")

12 Dracula, perhaps, put on a cape, one in red or black? (7)
ACCOUNT - COUNT (Dracula) put on A C. A bank account can be in the red or in the black

14 Flash Police Sergeant displaying muscle (7)
TRICEPS - TRICE P.S. First one in, partly because "triceps kickbacks" are the only yoga sculpt exercise I can actually do without vociferous complaint

15 Date with old female I persuade to make a special effort (2,3,2,4,3)

17 Coward’s work in November storm, throwing wobbly (3,11)
MRS WORTHINGTON - (N STORM THROWING*). Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington!

21 Plant agents to catch one up early (7)
CLARKIA - CIA to "catch" LARK [up with whom an early riser proverbially is]

22 Impossible to find who’s originally featured in drama once before (7)
NOWHERE - W{ho} is "featured in" NOH ERE

23 In which to be either bored or excited? (3)
RUT - cryptic def, depending on whether your rut is sexual or not

24 Show how un-English is honest criticism (4,7)
FAIR COMMENT - FAIR [show] + COMMENT [how, un-English: i.e. French]

26 Sticky substance is green, with something served as starter (8)
BIRDLIME - LIME [green] with BIRD [= jail time = something served] starting

27 Tin, about to be returned, containing yellow kipper we hear (6)
SNORER - SN [tin] + reversed RE, "containing" OR. "We hear" not a homophone indicator for once, this is actually a sleeper that we can hear

1 Be disputatious and pushy, displaying some craft (3,5)
ROW BARGE - if you ROW (to rhyme with cow) and BARGE you are being disputatious and pushy

2 Trouble when overlooking the fourth estate? (3)
CAR - CAR{e}

3 Defence in question again (7)
REDOUBT - or to DOUBT is to question, to RE-DOUBT to question again

5 Equip exhibition centre with computers, block finally to be carpeted (3,2,2,3,4)
GET IT IN THE NECK - GET I.T. IN THE N.E.C., plus {bloc}K

6 Revolutionary nature film’s set in Middle-earth (7)
TROPICS - reversed SORT [nature] with PIC [film] set in it. The tropics are equatorially located

7 Make bears, maybe, behave like hawks? (5-6)
SABRE-RATTLE - reverse cryptic - if you "rattle" SABRE you end up with BEARS

8 Picking on the large model, unknown one’s brought in (6)
SIZIST - SIT [model], Z I'S "brought in".

9 Writing in Express, a top football official’s taken up religion (14)
RASTAFARIANISM - reverse all of MS IN AIR [writing | in | express] + F.A. TSAR [a top football official]

13 A musical director, I’m involved with orchestra (11)

16 One maybe giving drug in city to junior nurses (8)
INJECTOR - IN, + EC TO "nursed" by JR

18 Restless auk flew erratically (7)

19 Journalist’s cardinal sin cancelling home visits (7)
NEWSMAN - (Cardinal) NEWMAN "visited" by S{in}, having cancelled its IN [home]

20 Sacred creature, originally Egyptian? (6)
SCARAB - S{acred} C{reature} + ARAB [Egyptian?], &lit

25 Repairs, on and off, getting attention (3)
EAR - {r}E{p}A{i}R{s}