Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1396

Note: I won’t be in a position to post solutions for the next couple of grids because lager + Bank Holiday + more lager. I’ll buy the papers and see how I get on once the DTs fade.

This was a puzzle that rather outstayed its welcome. I can appreciate the cleverness of some of the clues now that the dust has settled, but towards the end this was beginning to get on my nerves, which rather sapped the fun. Still, I think I got there in the end. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

As ever with these things, a spot of housekeeping before we begin. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s looking a little gappy then you might be interested in my Just For Fun page. If book reviews float your boat then I have a few of them too. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 9 up shortly. Well, shortly-ish.

And now, our feature presentation. Laters.

LP

Across clues

1. Asian deity placed river by a river in Asia (11)

Answer: BRAHMAPUTRA (i.e. “a river in Asia”. A big ‘un too, by all accounts.) Solution is BRAHMA, the Hindu Creator god (i.e. “Asian deity”) followed by PUT (i.e. “placed”) then R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”) and finally A, like so: BRAHMA-PUT-R-A. Chalk one to my Bradford’s here, as there are several hundred thousand rivers out there I’ve never heard of.

7. Battle line’s cut in retreat (6)

Answer: FLIGHT (i.e. “retreat”). Solution is FIGHT (i.e. “battle”) with L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”) “cut in” like so: F(L)IGHT.

10. With Bill following, say “I’m shocked!” (4)

Answer: EGAD (i.e. “I’m shocked!”). Solution is AD (i.e. “bill”, as in a shortened form of “advertisement” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) which is placed behind or “following” EG (i.e. “say”, as in for example), like so: EG-AD. Yes, I immediately thought of Pinky and the Brain when I got this. I am a massive child. (Thumbs nose and sticks out tongue.)

14. Worry for each kind of wine knocked back (7)

Answer: PERTURB (i.e. “worry”). Solution is PER (i.e. “for each”) followed by BRUT (i.e. “kind of wine”) reversed or “knocked back”, like so: PER-TURB.

15. Set off, with a way to cross river (7)

Answer: AROUSED (i.e. “set off”, as in to trigger rather than to launch). Solution is A followed by RD (i.e. “way”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “road”) once it has been wrapped around or “crossing” OUSE (i.e. “river”), like so: A-R(OUSE)D.

16. Steward to go off, returning on time for resolution (7)

Answer: JANITOR (i.e. “steward”). Solution is ROT (i.e. “to go off”) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and placed behind JAN I (i.e. “time for resolution”, as in New Year’s Day), like so: JAN-I-TOR.

17. Secretly touring some countries in wild fashion (13)

Answer: INCONTINENTLY (i.e. “in wild fashion” – I mean, it’s one way to describe it, I guess). Solution is INLY (i.e. “secretly” – it’s one way to describe it, I guess) wrapped around or “touring” CONTINENT (i.e. “some countries”), like so: IN(CONTINENT)LY.

18. Service dispatched, carrying ace stuff (9)

Answer: SACRAMENT (i.e. “service”, as in a ceremony). Solution is SENT (i.e. “dispatched”) wrapped around or “carrying” A (a recognised abbreviation of “ace” used on playing cards) and CRAM (i.e. “[to] stuff”), like so: S(A-CRAM)ENT.

19. House staff do twirls (5)

Answer: TUDOR (i.e. “house”, as in the dynasty of kings and queens who ruled England, Ireland and Wales between 1485 and 1603). Solution is ROD (i.e. “staff”) and UT (i.e. “do”, as in the musical note “do” or “doh”. Once upon a time this used to be “ut”, it says here), which are both reversed (indicated by “twirls”), like so: TU-DOR. One of those clues where you get the solution fairly easily and then spend ages trying to figure out what on earth the setter was playing at.

21. In the main, it’s outstanding publicity with name on the right (10)

Answer: PROMONTORY (i.e. “in the main, it’s outstanding” – setters love using “main” to mean the sea, and a promontory is a headland or cape that juts out into the sea). Not quite sure about this one, so watch out. I get that PR is “publicity”, being a recognised abbreviation of “press release”, and “on the right” gets you ON TORY (as in the right-leaning Conservative Party) but the OM bit leaves me cold. It’s a recognised abbreviation of Order of Merit, perhaps, but that’s more a title than a name. Maybe the setter is playing fast and loose here, which wouldn’t be an isolated case. Ah, sod it, I’m moving on.

23. Jet circles area, quiet or loud? (6)

Answer: FLASHY (i.e. “loud”). Solution is FLY (i.e. “[to] jet”) wrapped around or “circling” A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”) and SH (i.e. “quiet”), like so: FL(A-SH)Y.

25. Without hesitation, making free drink (8)

Answer: LIBATION (i.e. “drink”). Solution is LIBERATION (i.e. “making free”) with the ER removed (indicated by “without hesitation”).

26. Power to hurt a biologist, not European chemist (14)

Answer: PHARMACOLOGIST (i.e. “chemist”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) followed by HARM (i.e. “to hurt”) then A and then ECOLOGIST (i.e. “biologist”) once the initial E has been removed (indicated by “not European”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “European”), like so: P-HARM-A-COLOGIST.

29. One’s very sharp at English exam, amazingly (7)

Answer: MEATAXE (i.e. “one’s very sharp”. One is also a hyphenated word in my dictionary, but there you go). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “amazingly”) of AT EXAM and E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”).

30. Hopeless sort of computer game is included in trial (9)

Answer: PESSIMIST (i.e. “hopeless sort”). Solution is SIM (i.e. “sort of computer game”, e.g. a flight simulator) and IS placed or “included in” PEST (i.e. “trial” – the setter has gone deep into the definitions here, but a trial can be a pest or nuisance), like so: PES(SIM-IS)T.

31. Possessing urge, laugh? This creature might (5)

Answer: HYENA (i.e. “this creature might [laugh]”). Solution is YEN (i.e. “urge”) which is placed in or “possessed” by HA (i.e. “laugh”), like so: H(YEN)A.

32. Filling of jam, plenty or enough? (5)

Answer: AMPLE (i.e. “enough”). “Filling of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: J(AM PLE)NTY.

34. Like certain characters in drug affair (5,4)

Answer: UPPER CASE (i.e. “like certain characters”). Solution is UPPER (i.e. “drug”) followed by CASE (i.e. “affair”).

37. Recover or recovered like books? (7)

Answer: REBOUND (i.e. “recover”). Solution also riffs on how books are bound in covers, so if they are re-covered, they are re-bound. Best clue of the puzzle. Very well played.

39. Caring too much to evict and reprove criminal (14)

Answer: OVERPROTECTIVE (i.e. “caring too much”). “Criminal” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO EVICT and REPROVE.

41. Fashionably petite and fit one, that Parisian (8)

Answer: BOUTIQUE (i.e. “fashionably petite”). Solution is BOUT (i.e. “fit”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and QUE (i.e. “that Parisian”, i.e. the French for “that”).

43. Feel anger for one half of match, we hear? (6)

Answer: BRIDLE (i.e. “feel anger”). “We hear” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of BRIDAL (i.e. “one half of match” or marriage).

44. Rock star isn’t in school (2,8)

Answer: ST TRINIANS (i.e. fictitious boarding “school” created by Ronald Searle – I used to love the old St Trinians movies back when I was even more of a massive child than I am today). “Rock” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of STAR ISNT IN.

45. Follow is about right for this (5)

Answer: TRAIL. The clue riffs on how TAIL and TRAIL both satisfy “follow”, and how wrapping the former “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) will get you the latter. You get the idea.

48. Government supporter in charge, in fact (9)

Answer: STATISTIC (i.e. “fact”). Solution is STATIST (i.e. “government supporter”) followed by IC (a recognised abbreviation of “in charge”).

49. Stepping on court game’s dividing lines (6,7)

Answer: DOUBLE SPACING (i.e. “[gaps] dividing lines”). Solution is PACING (i.e. “stepping”) placed after or “on” DOUBLES (i.e. “[tennis] court game”).

51. Bow’s straight with recording for a dance (3-4)

Answer: ONE-STEP (i.e. “dance”). Solution is HONEST (i.e. “straight”) with the initial H removed (indicated by “Bow”, referring to how Cockneys drop their aitches – Cockneys are those born within earshot of Bow Bells) and followed by EP (i.e. “recording”, specifically an Extended Play single), like so: ONEST-EP.

52. Youngster redeveloping the London borough (7)

Answer: LAMBETH (i.e. “London borough”). Solution is LAMB (i.e. “youngster”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “redeveloping”) of THE, like so: LAMB-ETH.

53. Desire this person has to be caustic (7)

Answer: EROSIVE (i.e. “to be caustic”). Solution is EROS (i.e. “desire [is] this person”) followed by I’VE (i.e. “has”).

54. It’s formed by a group of signatories? (4)

Answer: NATO (i.e. “it’s formed by a group [of countries]”). “Of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, likes so: SIG(NATO)RIES.

55. Caught fabric in drawer (6)

Answer: CRAYON (i.e. “drawer”, as in something used to draw stuff). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in ball games) followed by RAYON (i.e. “fabric”).

56. Person seeking return in cattle pen (11)

Answer: STOCKHOLDER. Solution satisfies “person seeking return [on investment]” and “cattle pen”, as in a STOCK HOLDER.

Down clues

1. Maybe John’s fitting in again, given time (7)

Answer: BAPTIST (i.e. “maybe John”, as in John the Baptist). Solution is APT (i.e. “fitting”) placed “in” BIS (i.e. “again” – in musical lingo this indicates a section is to be repeated) and then followed by T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: B(APT)IS-T.

2. Enchanting remark from a villain wearing a pair of undergarments (11)

Answer: ABRACADABRA (i.e. “enchanting remark”). Solution is CAD (i.e. “villain”) that is surrounded by or “wearing” “a pair of” A BRA (i.e. “undergarment”), like so: A-BRA-(CAD)-A-BRA.

3. Think of the late or early period in speech (5)

Answer: MOURN (i.e. “think of the late” – late being a way of describing someone who is deceased). “In speech” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of MORN (i.e. “early period”).

4. Clip up court robes if high official there (6,10)

Answer: PUBLIC PROSECUTOR (i.e. “[court] official”). “If high” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CLIP UP COURT ROBES.

5. Landed up penning composer’s moving account? (8)

Answer: TRAVELOG (i.e. “account”). Solution is GOT (i.e. “landed”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and placed around or “penning” Maurice RAVEL (i.e. “composer” best known for his work, Bolero), like so: T(RAVEL)OG.

6. Addresses a set of lines in mail briefly (11)

Answer: APOSTROPHES (i.e. “addresses”, or, as my Chambers has it, “a sudden turning away from the ordinary course of a speech to address some person or object present or absent”. Not a definition that sprang to mind, but I like it.) Solution is A then STROPHE (i.e. “a set of lines” – off to my Chambers again: a strophe is “(in a Greek play) the song sung by the chorus as it moved to one side, answered by an exact counterpart”. So there you go) once it has been placed “in” POST (i.e. “mail”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) like so: A-PO(STROPHE)S. A clue that scans rather well once you take a step back from it.

7. Suspect roughly apprehended in case of felony (5)

Answer: FISHY (i.e. “suspect”). Solution is ISH (i.e. “roughly”) placed in or “apprehended” by FY (i.e. “case of felony”, i.e. the first and last letters of “felony”), like so: F(ISH)Y.

8. Below River Test, one last character with lots of works? (14)

Answer: INDUSTRIALIZED (i.e. “with lots of works”). Solution is INDUS (i.e. Asian “river” and another big’ un) followed by TRIAL (i.e. “test” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and ZED (i.e. “last character”), like so: INDUS-TRIAL-I-ZED. Clever, but as far as my patience was concerned, the river mini-theme had rather ran its course by this point, if you’ll forgive the pun.

9. “Hello, sailor” is appropriate (6)

Answer: HIJACK (i.e. to steal or “appropriate”). Solution is HI (i.e. “hello”) and JACK (i.e. one of many words meaning “sailor”). Another very neat clue. Well played.

11. Nearly go out and attack poor child (11)

Answer: GUTTERSNIPE (i.e. “poor child”). Solution is GUTTER (i.e. “nearly go out”) followed by SNIPE (i.e. “attack”).

12. Mimic US writer, an unknown Kansan (7)

Answer: DOROTHY (i.e. “Kansan”, specifically the main character of The Wizard of Oz). Solution is DO (i.e. “[to] mimic”) followed by Philip ROTH (i.e. “US writer” – an unwritten rule of the Times crossword is that people can only be used in clues or solutions so long as they are dead. This means setters have clues lined up for future use in much the same way as newspaper editors have pre-prepared obituaries. That’s nice, isn’t it?) and finally Y (i.e. “unknown” – setters love using this to represent X, Y or Z in their solutions), like so: DO-ROTH-Y.

13. Fashionable label brought back maybe crude design (8)

Answer: INTAGLIO, which is a figure or “design” cut into any substance. Solution is IN (i.e. “fashionable”) followed by TAG (i.e. “label”) and OIL (i.e. “maybe crude”) which is reversed (indicated by “brought back”), like so: IN-TAG-LIO. One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

20. Artist to draw depressing image of existence (3,4)

Answer: RAT RACE (i.e. “depressing image of existence”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) followed by TRACE (i.e. “to draw”).

22. I’m grateful to get recurrent pain in bones (5)

Answer: TARSI (i.e. “bones”, as in the plural of tarsus). Solution is TA (i.e. “I’m grateful”) followed by RSI (i.e. “recurrent pain”, specifically Repetitive Strain Injury).

24. Hospital worker puts up with wood that’s cut (11,5)

Answer: PORTERHOUSE STEAK (i.e. “cut [of meat]”). Solution is PORTER (i.e. “hospital worker”) followed by HOUSES (i.e. “puts up”) and TEAK (i.e. “wood”). As repeats go, this is a doozie. Not only did the same solution appear back in puzzle 1375 but it used the exact same wordplay in its construction (then the clue was “worker at lodge stores wood and food”) and was placed in the exact same position of a grid that used the exact same layout. Quick! Somebody call the Fortean Times! #Sarcasm

25. Smoker to get over source of discomfort (7)

Answer: LUMBAGO (i.e. “source of discomfort”). Solution is LUM, a Scottish word for a chimney (i.e. “smoker” – this word was fresh in my mind having also made an appearance in last week’s puzzle) followed by BAG (i.e. “to get”) and O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket).

27. Time to move inelegantly in pants (7)

Answer: TWADDLE (i.e. rubbish or “pants”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) followed by WADDLE (i.e. “to move inelegantly”).

28. I collect PayPal transfers in fury (14)

Answer: APOPLECTICALLY (i.e. “in fury”). “Transfers” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I COLLECT PAYPAL.

31. Home cover’s included fairly (7)

Answer: HABITAT (i.e. “home”). Solution is HAT (i.e. “cover”) wrapped around or “including” A BIT (i.e. “fairly”), like so: H(A-BIT)AT.

33. The last word in divine pickle (11)

Answer: PREDICAMENT (i.e. a sticky situation or “pickle”). Solution is AMEN (i.e. “the last word”) placed “in” PREDICT (i.e. “[to] divine”), like so: PREDIC(AMEN)T.

35. Judge turned up on pitch (5)

Answer: RATER (i.e. “judge”). Solution is RE (i.e. “on” or regarding something – think email replies) and TAR (i.e. “pitch”) both reversed or “turned up”, this being a down clue, like so: RAT-ER.

36. Leader of air force about to release bold lady (11)

Answer: ADVENTURESS (i.e. “bold lady”). Solution is A (i.e. “leader of air”, i.e. the first letter of “air”) and DURESS (i.e. “force”) wrapped “about” VENT (i.e. “to release”), like so: A-D(VENT)URESS.

38. Quail if nude modelling without right attributes (11)

Answer: UNQUALIFIED (i.e. “without right attributes”). “Modelling” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of QUAIL IF NUDE. A clue that scans rather well.

40. Moderate starter of pâté the only thing I consumed (8)

Answer: PALLIATE (i.e. “moderate”). Solution is P (i.e. “starter of pâté”, i.e. the first letter of “pâté”) followed by ALL (i.e. “the only thing”, as in “that is all”) then I and ATE (i.e. “consumed”).

42. Blasted husband loves making a fuss (8)

Answer: BALLYHOO (i.e. “a fuss”). Solution is BALLY (i.e. “blasted”, if you were Bertie Wooster, maybe) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and OO (i.e. “loves”, as in two zeroes – “love” being a zero score in tennis).

43. One’s blown bonus eating goose (7)

Answer: BASSOON (i.e. “one’s blown”). Solution is BOON (i.e. “bonus”) wrapped around or “eating” ASS (i.e. “goose”, both words for a fool), like so: B(ASS)OON. Now I’m proofreading this, I can’t believe I wrote “eating ASS” just then and didn’t snigger like… well, like a massive child. Which I am doing now, obviously.

46. Clothing on show (7)

Answer: LEGWEAR (i.e. “clothing”). Solution is LEG (i.e. the “on” side in cricket) followed by WEAR (i.e. “[to] show”).

47. Proust novel’s dull quality (6)

Answer: STUPOR (i.e. “dull quality”). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PROUST.

49. Legendary friend, one who wanders up (5)

Answer: DAMON (i.e. “legendary friend” – this refers to the legend of Damon and Pythias which illustrates the Pythagorean ideal of friendship. No, me neither). Solution is NOMAD (i.e. “one who wanders”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue). One I got from the wordplay, clearly.

50. A couple of leaves, or as many as you want (1,4)

Answer: A GOGO. Solution satisfies “a couple of leaves”, as in A GO and GO, and “as many as you want”.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1395

An easier time of it this week, though there were still a few exotic solutions to keep things spicy. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

As ever, a spot of housekeeping first. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that has left you baffled in some way, then you might find my Just For Fun page a fine place to visit. If you like reading more than just crossword solutions, however, then I have a few book reviews that might interest you too.

Right. On with the show. I’m writing this via 4g as my broadband has packed in, so I’d better be quick before my phone melts through the chair arm.

TTFN – LP.

Across clues

1. Large American plane for one going across to fight China (10)

Answer: LUSTREWARE, which is pottery that has a metal glaze (i.e. “china” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) followed by US (i.e. “American”) and TREE (i.e. “plane”, specifically any tree of the genus Planatus, it says here. I remembered this usage from a previous puzzle, if I’m honest) which is wrapped around or “going across” WAR (i.e. “to fight”), like so: L-US-TRE(WAR)E. “For one” is strangely redundant, so I might not have this fully right.

6. Doctor retries oxide brought out in surgery (12)

Answer: EXTERIORISED, which is to temporarily bring an internal part outside of the body (i.e. “brought out in surgery”). “Doctor” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RETRIES OXIDE.

14. Refined data Peg left (7)

Answer: GENTEEL (i.e. “refined”). Solution is GEN (i.e. “data”) followed by TEE (i.e. “peg” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”).

15. Bland genus of flowers filling image (7)

Answer: PROSAIC (i.e. “bland”). Solution is ROSA (i.e. “genus of flowers”) placed inside or “filling” PIC (i.e. “image”), like so: P(ROSA)IC. Got this mainly thanks to the same solution featuring in last week’s grid.

16. Replacement players cave in (7)

Answer: SUBSIDE (i.e. “cave in”). Solution is SUB (i.e. “replacement”, specifically short for substitute) followed by SIDE (i.e. “players”).

17. Tread on this very tender part, recoiling (4)

Answer: TYRE (i.e. “[there’s] tread on this”). “Part” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “recoiling” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: V(ERY T)ENDER.

18. Writer taking in street cafe (6)

Answer: BISTRO (i.e. “cafe”). Solution is BIRO (i.e. “writer”, as in the brand of pen) wrapped around or “taking in” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”), like so: BI(ST)RO.

20. None more vicious than this violent strife besetting church (8)

Answer: FIERCEST (i.e. “none more vicious than this”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “violent”) of STRIFE wrapped around or “besetting” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically Church of England), like so: FIER(CE)ST.

24. Behind curtain, nasty yob nabs red flag? No flipping wonder! (7,7,2,7)

Answer: HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON, one of the Seven “Wonders” of the World. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “nasty”) of YOB NABS RED FLAG followed by ON (i.e. “no flipping”, i.e. the word NO reversed) which are then both placed “behind” HANGING (i.e. “curtain”), like so: HANGING-GARDENSOFBABYL-ON.

25. I’m taking queen in for card game… (7)

Answer: PRIMERO (i.e. “card game” – not one I’m familiar with, which isn’t saying much). Solution is I’M and ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) placed “in” PRO (i.e. in favour of, or “for”), like so: PR(IM-ER)O.

26. …one completely spoiled for us (3,5)

Answer: ALL-FOURS (i.e. “one” – the ellipsis indicates we’re continuing the context of the previous clue, so we’re seeking another card game. And, no, I don’t know this one either!) Solution is ALL (i.e. “completely”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “spoiled”) of FOR US.

27. Quarters affected? Put up tents (6)

Answer: ENCAMP (i.e. “put up tents”). Solution is EN (i.e. “quarters”, as in two of the four points or “quarters” of a compass, in this case East and North) followed by CAMP (i.e. an “affected” manner).

29. Best-ever splitting logs? (6-8)

Answer: RECORD-BREAKING. Solution satisfies “best-ever” and, cryptically, “splitting logs”.

31. Cheeky bishop maybe who’s just gone up? (8)

Answer: FRESHMAN (i.e. “who’s just gone up” – “up” can mean “in residence at school or college”, which I faintly remembered from a previous puzzle. A freshman is a new entrant to a school or college.). Solution is FRESH (i.e. “cheeky”) followed by MAN (i.e. “bishop maybe”, referring to how chess pieces are sometimes referred to as men).

34. Prepare state offering (8)

Answer: DONATION (i.e. “offering”). Solution is DO (i.e. “prepare” – it’s in the dictionary, but I can’t immediately think of a sentence that uses the word in this way) followed by NATION (i.e. “state”).

36. Guide turned up with pedalo with few people (14)

Answer: UNDERPOPULATED (i.e. “with few people”). “Guide” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TURNED UP and PEDALO.

39. Talk roughly about female sailor (6)

Answer: CONFAB (i.e. “talk”, short for confabulation. Hands up anyone who uses “conflab” even though it’s not in the dictionary? Yup. Me too.) Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of circa, i.e. “roughly”) followed by ON (i.e. “about”, as in “this week’s blog post is on the latest Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword”), then F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) and AB (i.e. “sailor”, specifically one that is Able-Bodied), like so: C-ON-F-AB.

41. He serenades Poles in joint with learner (8)

Answer: MINSTREL (i.e. “he serenades”). Solution is NS (i.e. “poles”, as in North and South) placed “in” MITRE (i.e. “joint” – a mitre joint is where two pieces of wood have a 45 degree edge so they help form a right-angle when put together) and then followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”), like so: MI(NS)TRE-L.

43. Again take in notice occupying authority (7)

Answer: READMIT (i.e. “again take in”). Solution is AD (i.e. “notice”, as in a short form of advertisement) placed in REMIT (i.e. “authority”), like so: RE(AD)MIT.

46. Economic rule from when industrialising flourished (3,2,11,7)

Answer: LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS (i.e. “economic rule”). “Flourished” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FROM WHEN INDUSTRIALISING.

47. Kissed noisily on mouth, touching chest (8)

Answer: PECTORAL (i.e. “touching chest”, as in the definition “of, for, on or near the breast or chest” rather than the muscle). Solution is PECT (i.e. “kissed noisily”, i.e. a homophone of PECKED) followed by ORAL (i.e. “mouth”).

48. Answer for each copper’s witty comment (6)

Answer: APERCU, which can mean an immediate intuitive insight (i.e. “witty comment” – I guess “wit” in this context means being clever as opposed to being funny). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer” as in Q&A) followed by PER (i.e. “for each”) and CU (chemical symbol of “copper”). One I got solely through the wordplay.

49. Hard going in wartime force for mule perhaps (4)

Answer: SHOE (i.e. “mule perhaps” – a variant definition of the word is a backless slipper or shoe). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils) “going in” SOE (i.e. “wartime force”, specifically the Special Operations Executive) like so: S(H)OE. One of those where I said, “I wonder if a mule is a kind of shoe” and was happy to find it was. Doesn’t always happen like that.

53. Placate gorilla, say, feeding him vegetables (7)

Answer: APPEASE (i.e. “placate”). Solution is APE (i.e. “gorilla, say”) wrapped around or being “fed” by PEAS (i.e. “vegetables”), like so: AP(PEAS)E.

54. Gradually assimilating very big second sibling (7)

Answer: OSMOSIS (i.e. “gradually assimilating”). Solution is OS (i.e. “very big”, specifically a recognised abbreviation for “outsize”) followed by MO (i.e. “second”, as in a short form of the word “moment”) and SIS (i.e. “sibling”, as in a short form of “sister”).

56. Four abandoning calm standstill (7)

Answer: IMPASSE (i.e. “standstill”). Solution is IMPASSIVE (i.e. “calm”) with the IV removed (indicated by “[Roman numerals] four abandoning”).

57. Fight follows big birthday present under tree? (9,3)

Answer: CHRISTMAS BOX (i.e. “present under tree”). Solution is CHRISTMAS (i.e. “big birthday”) “followed” by BOX (i.e. “[to] fight”).

58. Reluctant to give way: sets new checks on income (5,5)

Answer: MEANS TESTS (i.e. “checks on income”). Solution is MEAN (i.e. miserly or “reluctant to give”) followed by ST (i.e. “way”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “street”) and then an anagram (indicated by “new”) of SETS, like so: MEAN-ST-ESTS.

Down clues

1. Main beacon illuminates joint (9)

Answer: LIGHTSHIP, which is a ship that acts like a lighthouse, i.e. “main beacon”. Setters love using “main” to mean the sea. Solution is LIGHTS (i.e. “illuminates”) followed by HIP (i.e. “joint”).

2. Cut stable brother resident in US port (3,10)

Answer: SAN FRANCISCAN (i.e. “resident in US port”). Solution is SANE (i.e. “stable”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “cut”) and then followed by FRANCISCAN (i.e. monk or “brother”).

3. Stench from burn about to disappear (4)

Answer: REEK (i.e. “stench”). Solution is CREEK (i.e. “burn”, as in a waterway) with the C removed (indicated by “about to disappear”, C being a recognised abbreviation of circa or “about”).

4. One of two confining the flanks at Waterloo? (10,4)

Answer: WELLINGTON BOOT. “One of two confining the flanks” – flanks are sides, which in this case are left and right. Your left and right feet can be “confined” in wellies. “Waterloo” refers to the Battle of Waterloo, in which the Duke of Wellington did alright. You get the idea.

5. Blame strike (3)

Answer: RAP. Solution satisfies “blame” – as in to take the rap for something – and “strike”.

7. Gunmen stop axes penetrating beam (1-3)

Answer: X-RAY (i.e. “beam”). Solution is XY (i.e. “axes” on a graph) wrapped around or being “penetrated” by RA (i.e. “gunmen”, specifically the Royal Artillery), like so: X(RA)Y.

8. Escape ceremony involving old Irish bureau (10)

Answer: ESCRITOIRE, which is a secretary desk or “bureau”. It’s a mishmash of desk, drawers and bookcase which obviously demanded its own word once upon a time. Solution is ESC (i.e. “escape” as in the Esc key on your keyboard) followed by RITE (i.e. “ceremony”) which is wrapped around or “involving” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and IR (i.e. ditto “Irish”), like so: ESC-RIT(O-IR)E. One I got from the wordplay and a quick shufti through my Chambers.

9. What chisellers do in bed in Home Counties? (8)

Answer: INSCRIBE (i.e. “what chisellers do”). Solution is IN followed by CRIB (i.e. “bed”) once it has been placed “in” SE (i.e. “Home Counties”, i.e. the South East of England) like so: IN-S(CRIB)E.

10. They secure Polish gangs seizing black ruler (6,5)

Answer: RUBBER BANDS (i.e. “they secure”). Solution is RUB (i.e. “polish” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and BANDS (i.e. “gangs”) wrapped around or “seizing” B (a recognised abbreviation of “black” used in chess) and ER (i.e. “ruler”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: RUB-(B-ER)-BANDS.

11. I can still broadcast a little bit (9)

Answer: SCINTILLA (i.e. “a little bit”). “Broadcast” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I CAN STILL. This is one of those words I heard once and it immediately stuck. In this case, I have The Day Today to thank. (Resists urge to fill rest of blog post with favourite quotes…)

12. Act one way or the other (4)

Answer: DEED (i.e. “act”). “One way or another” indicates the solution is a palindrome.

13. Doughnut-shaped gold ring in sort of wave (8)

Answer: TOROIDAL (i.e. “doughnut-shaped”). In mathematics, a torus is a doughnut-shaped thing. Solution is OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry) and O (i.e. “ring”) placed “in” TIDAL (i.e. “sort of wave”), like so: T(OR-O)IDAL. Another one I knew, weirdly.

19. Early drink from this side with a royal couple (3-5)

Answer: TEA-MAKER (i.e. “early drink from this”. Not me. I start my day with a manly shot of tabasco sauce in each eye. RRRRRRRRR!!!!) Solution is TEAM (i.e. “side”) followed by A and then K and ER (i.e. “royal couple”, specifically recognised abbreviations of king (in chess or cads) and queen, i.e. Elizabeth Regina), like so: TEAM-A-(K-ER).

21. Long, narrow cruise ship rounds tip of Africa (6)

Answer: LINEAR (i.e. “long”). Solution is LINER (i.e. “narrow cruise ship”) wrapped “round” A (i.e. “tip of Africa”, i.e. the first letter of “Africa”), like so: LINE(A)R.

22. Introduce a new cat by name (8)

Answer: ANNOUNCE (i.e. “introduce”). Solution is A then N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) then N (ditto “name”) and OUNCE (i.e. “cat”, as in a snow leopard – oooh, pretty!), like so: A-N-N-OUNCE.

23. End up with one novel still in its wrapping (8)

Answer: UNOPENED (i.e. “still in its wrapping”). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of END UP and ONE.

28. It’s less than one professional for each French case (6,8)

Answer: PROPER FRACTION, which is a fraction where the numerator is less than the denominator, i.e. “it’s less than one”). Solution is PRO (a recognised abbreviation of “professional”) followed by PER (i.e. “for each”), then FR (recognised abbreviation of “French”) and ACTION (i.e. “[court] case”), like so: PRO-PER-FR-ACTION.

29. Scorn regulation limiting papers in charge (8)

Answer: RIDICULE (i.e. “scorn”). Solution is RULE (i.e. “regulation”) which is wrapped around or “limiting” ID (i.e. “papers”, as in a short form of “identification”) and IC (a recognised abbreviation of “in charge”), like so: R(ID-IC)ULE.

30. Head of government breaks bond for top office (8)

Answer: KINGSHIP (i.e. “top office”). Solution is G (i.e. “head of government”, i.e. the first letter of “government”) placed in or “breaking” KINSHIP (i.e. “bond”), like so: KIN(G)SHIP.

32. Latin work undergoes transformation (13)

Answer: METAMORPHOSES. Solution satisfies a “Latin work” by Ovid and “undergoes transformation”.

33. University left in old money for wealth (8)

Answer: OPULENCE (i.e. “wealth”). Solution is U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) and L (ditto “left”) placed “in” O (ditto “old”) and PENCE (i.e. “money”), like so: O-P(U-L)ENCE.

35. Deal preserves hold-ups (7,4)

Answer: TRAFFIC JAMS (i.e. “hold ups”). Solution is TRAFFIC (i.e. trade or “deal”) followed by JAMS (i.e. “preserves”).

37. Shelter papa leaving sea battle (4-2)

Answer: LEAN-TO (i.e. “shelter”). Solution is LEPANTO (i.e. “sea battle”) with the P (“papa” in the phonetic alphabet) removed (indicated by “leaving”). A near carbon-copy of this clue only a couple of weeks ago. I mean, there’s freebies and then there’s this. Come on, ed!

38. Lion’s taken in by various nuts, as are most mammals (10)

Answer: VIVIPAROUS, which describes species in which young reach an advanced stage of development before delivery (i.e. “most mammals”). Solution is VIP (i.e. “lion” – this can be taken to mean an important person) placed in an anagram (indicated by “nuts”) of VARIOUS, like so: VI(VIP)AROUS. One I got though the wordplay, and the fact a very similar word appeared in last week’s grid. A cool word, still.

40. Daily exercising pre-nap, we start to snooze (9)

Answer: NEWSPAPER (i.e. “daily”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “exercising”) of PRE-NAP WE and S (i.e. “start to snooze”, i.e. the first letter of “snooze”).

42. Practise on late transport? (8)

Answer: REHEARSE (i.e. “practise”). Solution is RE (i.e. “on” or regarding – think email replies) followed by HEARSE (i.e. “late transport”, a play on how “late” can mean deceased).

44. Crude Greek column accepted by news agency (9)

Answer: TASTELESS (i.e. “crude”). Solution is STELE (i.e. “Greek column” – over to my Chambers here: a stele is “an upright stone slab or tablet” derived from the Greek word stele meaning “from root of”. So now you know.) placed in or “accepted by” TASS (i.e. “news agency” – and back into my Chambers again. TASS was the Telegrafnoye Agentstvo Sovietskovo Soyuza, a telegraph agency of the former Soviet Union. Right-oh, then). One of those weird clues where the solution was significantly easier than the wordplay used to derive it!

45. Nothing upset old Scottish smoker putting in English flooring (8)

Answer: LINOLEUM (i.e. “flooring”). Solution is NIL (i.e. “nothing”) reversed (indicated by “upset”, this being a down clue) and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and LUM (a Scottish word for “chimney” it says here) which is wrapped around or “putting in” E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: LIN-O-L(E)UM.

50. Tender loving care protects area, using this? (4)

Answer: TALC. Solution is TLC (a recognised abbreviation of “tender loving care”) wrapped around or “protecting” A (ditto “area”), like so: T(A)LC. Within the context of the clue you might use a little talc to help protect an area of the skin. Unless you wear black.

51. Rounds of smoked ham, skinned (4)

Answer: AMMO (i.e. “rounds”). Solution is GAMMON (i.e. “smoked ham”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “skinned”).

52. Lie across soft strip of land on coast (4)

Answer: SPIT (i.e. “strip of land on coast”). Solution is SIT (i.e. “lie”) wrapped around or “across” P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano” in music, meaning quiet or “soft”), like so: S(P)IT.

55. Short fat girl (3)

Answer: SUE (i.e. “girl”). Solution is SUET (i.e. “fat”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1394

Me in last week’s post:
“I don’t mind trickier puzzles so long as the setter plays fair and doesn’t overly rely on their Who’s Who or Collins Atlas of the World to bail themselves out of a tight spot.”

This week’s setter:
“Hold my Armagnac, Jeeves, there’s a good fellow…”

In a word: “ugh”. Who gave Jacob Rees-Mogg the keys to the crossword generator again? A novelty this week, then, as I post an incomplete grid. If I have a flash of inspiration, or if some kindly cruciverbalist swings by in the comments, then I’ll update the solution. You’ll find my grid below as it currently stands, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.
[EDIT: The grid has now been completed. Thanks to Mark in the comments for saving the day! – LP]

Before we jump in, some housekeeping in time-honoured fashion. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword which has left you baffled then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If you have a soft spot for horror fiction then my Reviews page carries a few odds and sods for you to pick over.

Finally, the solution for puzzle 1392 has been published. My solution DING was indeed incorrect and should have been PING. I’ll update the post accordingly.

Right, on with the show. Laters, taters.

LP

 

A big hat-tip to Mark in the comments for sorting out JANGLE and COACHEE.

Across clues

1. Still bright and fine – due to change (7)

Answer: UNFADED (i.e. “still bright”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to change”) of AND DUE and F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine” used in grading pencils).

5. Recent arrival to pack stuff by eight? Not quite (4,3)

Answer: WOLF CUB (i.e. “recent arrival to pack”). Solution is WOLF (i.e. “[to] stuff”, e.g. to wolf down your food) followed by CUBE (i.e. “eight”, in this case the cube number 2x2x2) with its final letter removed (indicated by “not quite”).

9. Charlie needs one for a cricket team? Correct (7)

Answer: CHASTEN (i.e. “[to] correct”). Solution is CHAS (i.e. “Charlie”) followed by TEN (i.e. “needs one for a cricket team” – a cricket team consists of eleven players, so deduct one to get ten).
[EDIT: Thanks to 1961blanchflower in the comments for providing a more satisfying explanation. The solution can also be read as C-HAS-TEN. C is “Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet, and if he “needs one for a cricket team” then you could say he HAS TEN.]

13. One on hand with the punch (6,5)

Answer: BOXING GLOVE. You can see how this fits the clue. A suspiciously straightforward solution, unless I’m missing something.

14. Africans lost in maze saw two bishops (11)

Answer: ZIMBABWEANS (i.e. “Africans”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “lost”) of IN MAZE SAW and B and B (i.e. “two bishops” – B being a recognised abbreviation of “bishop” used in chess).

15. Capital time to leave unspeakable German indeed! (5)

Answer: ABUJA, the “capital” city of Nigeria. Solution is TABU (i.e. “unspeakable”, being a variant spelling of “taboo”) with the T removed (indicated by “time to leave”, T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”) and then followed by JA (i.e. “German indeed”, as in the German for “yes”), like so: ABU-JA.

16. Match going away from City: fix! (3,4)

Answer: TIE DOWN (i.e. “fix”). Solution is TIE (i.e. “match”, as in a cup tie) followed by DOWN (i.e. “going away from city” – ignore the misleading capitalisation – it’s in the dictionary but I can’t say I’ve ever used the word in this way).

17. Sometime around four, perfect perhaps, for sweeping! (9)

Answer: EXTENSIVE (i.e. “sweeping”). Here’s one where the setter loses me, the first of a few this week. I get that IV is “four” in Roman numerals, and TENSE could be “sometime” (as in future tense, present tense, past tense), and placing one in the other gets you TENS(IV)E. As for the EX bit, um…
[EDIT: Thanks to Mike in the comments for nailing this one. The solution is EX (i.e. “sometime” as in formerly) followed by IV (i.e. “[Roman numeral] four”) once it has been placed into TENSE (i.e. “perfect, perhaps”, perfect tense is “a tense signifying action completed in the past”, e.g. I have said), like so: EX-TENS(IV)E.]

18. Join forces with Bob from Victoria? (4,3,6,8)

Answer: TAKE THE QUEEN’S SHILLING, which, according to Chambers, is “to enlist as a soldier by accepting a recruiting officer’s shilling, a practice discontinued in 1879” (i.e. “join [the Armed] forces”). Solution riffs on how “bob” is an informal name for a SHILLING. The practice would have been active while QUEEN “Victoria” was on the throne. Blimey, a solution I knew!

23. Unusually short but square old weapon (8)

Answer: ARQUEBUS (i.e. “old weapon” – did a Google Image search. A gun, then.) Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unusually”) of BU (i.e. “short but”, i.e. “but” with the last letter removed) and SQUARE. I knew this was going to be shitty solution, so chalk one to my Bradford’s here.

25. Sitcom of one hour, back on screen (2-2-2)

Answer: HI-DE-HI (a “sitcom” that ran on the BBC from 1980 to 1988. Ask your parents, kids.) Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and H (a recognised abbreviation of “hour”) both reversed (indicated by “back”) and placed after HIDE (i.e. “screen” – think of it along the lines of hiding something behind a screen), like so: HIDE-(H-I).

27. We all have two payments to follow annually (7)

Answer: PARENTS (i.e. “we all have two” – well, traditionally, anyway. A handful of kids have been conceived recently using the DNA from three people.) Solution is  RENTS (i.e. “payments”) placed after or “following” PA (a recognised abbreviation of per annum, i.e. “annually”), like so: PA-RENTS.

30. Back in Brazil, educating professor’s pupil (5)

Answer: ELIZA (i.e. “professor’s pupil”, specifically Eliza Doolittle, Professor Henry Higgins’s pupil in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion). “In” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, while “back” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: BR(AZIL E)DUCATING. Now, repeat after me: “The woh-tah in Ma-jow-ka don’t fall where it oughta”.

32. Unimaginative artist incorporating circles in image (7)

Answer: PROSAIC (i.e. “unimaginative”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) wrapped around or “incorporating” OS (i.e. “circles”, as in Xs and Os), and then the whole itself placed “in” PIC (i.e. “image”, being a short form of picture), like so: P(R(OS)A)IC.

33. Miss turning to wine-based drink drained dry port (9)

Answer: KIRKCALDY (i.e. “port”). Solution is LACK (i.e. “miss”) reversed (indicated by “turning”) and then placed behind KIR (i.e. “wine-based drink”). The whole is then followed by DY (i.e. “drained dry”, i.e. the word “dry” with its middle letter removed), like so: KIR-KCAL-DY.  Chalk one to my Bradford’s again. The moment I saw “port” I knew this wasn’t going to be worth too much of my time.

35. Parisian that enters to defeat Home Secretary hands down! (9)

Answer: BEQUEATHS (i.e. “hands down”). Solution is QUE (i.e. “Parisian that”, i.e. the French for “that”) placed in or “entering” BEAT (i.e. “to defeat”) and then followed by HS (a recognised abbreviation of “Home Secretary”), like so: BE(QUE)AT-HS.

36. Terms used in cricket are too long (7)

Answer: OVERRUN (i.e. “[go on] too long”). Solution is OVER and RUN, both “terms used in cricket”.

37. I refuse to go on backing everyone that’s flat (5)

Answer: LLANO, which, diving into my Chambers, is: “one of the vast steppes or plains in the northern part of South America”. So there you ago. Anyway: “that’s flat”. Solution is NO (i.e. “I refuse”) “to go on” or after ALL (i.e. “everyone”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “backing”), like so: LLA-NO. One of several solutions in this puzzle where I had only the wordplay to go on.

38. Sailor briefly caught in a satellite town on the Med (7)

Answer: AJACCIO, which is a town on the island of Corsica (i.e. “town on the Med”). Solution is A and IO (i.e. “a satellite” – Io being one of Jupiter’s many moons) which are wrapped around JACK (i.e. “sailor”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in several ball games), like so: A-(JAC-C)-IO. Oh goody, more place names. Yay. #NotYay

40. Take The Sun for understanding article on woman (6)

Answer: BASQUE (i.e. “article on woman”, as in an article of women’s clothing). “For understanding” rather weakly indicates the solution is a homophone of BASK (i.e. “take the sun”, ignore the misleading italics and capitalisation).

41. Blind porter catching zeds – where you’d expect to find him? (8)

Answer: BEDAZZLE (i.e. “blind”). Solution ALE (i.e. “porter”) wrapped around or “catching” Z and Z (i.e. “zeds”), and preceded by BED (i.e. “where you’d expect to find [someone catching Zs]”), like so: BED-A(ZZ)LE.

44. What have you in mind? Very little change on offer (1,5,3,4,8)

Answer: A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS. Solution riffs on how A PENNY represents “very little change”. You get the idea.

48. Resolutely deferred start of meal during visit (9)

Answer: STAUNCHLY (i.e. “resolutely”). Solution is LUNCH (i.e. “meal”) with the initial letter placed at the end (indicated by “deferred start of”) and placed inside or “during” STAY (i.e. “visit”), like so: STA(UNCHL)Y.

50. Bits from Roman times one read in translation (7)

Answer: DENARII, plural of denarius (i.e. “bits from Roman times” – a bit being an informal name for a coin, e.g. a thrupenny bit). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “in translation”) of READ IN and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”).

53. Area with which the author’s at home, reflecting his female side (5)

Answer: ANIMA, which is (from my Chambers): “in Jungian psychology, the female component of the male personality”, i.e. “his female side”. Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”) followed by AM IN (i.e. “the author’s at home” – taken from the point of view of the setter) which is reversed (indicated by “reflecting”), like so: A-(NI-MA). I knew this one back from when I was composing my review of Best New Horror 4, which contained a story by M. John Harrison called Anima.

54. Fire extinguisher taken from prison: warder finally in court subject to questioning (7,4)

Answer: STIRRUP PUMP. And off we go to my Chambers again! A stirrup pump is “a portable water pump held in position by the foot in a stirrup-like bracket, for fighting small fires”. Not recommended for electrical fires, then. Anyway: “fire extinguisher”. Solution is STIR (i.e. slang term for “prison”) followed by R (i.e. “warder finally”, i.e. the last letter of “warder”), then UP (i.e. “in court”, e.g. “up in front of the judge”), and finally PUMP (i.e. “subject to questioning”, as in to pump someone for information). I managed to get STIRRUP from the wordplay but had to jump into the dictionary for the rest.

55. Putting together project about Times: “no gaps”, I resolved (11)

Answer: JUXTAPOSING (i.e. “putting together”). Solution is JUT (i.e. “[to] project”) wrapped “about” X (i.e. “times”, as in the multiplication symbol – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and then followed by an anagram (indicated by “resolved”) of NO GAPS I, like so: JU(X)T-APOSING.

56. Crime baron maybe going down (7)

Answer: SINKING. Solution satisfies “crime baron maybe”, as in a SIN KING, and “going down”.

57. Prince, not exactly that carefree (7)

Answer: HALCYON (i.e. “carefree”). Solution is HAL (i.e. “Prince” – I had to resort to Wikipedia here, not being a keen fan of Shakespeare. Prince Hal is “the standard term used in literary criticism to refer to Shakespeare’s portrayal of the young Henry V of England as a prince before his accession to the throne, taken from the diminutive form of his name used in the plays almost exclusively by [Sir John] Falstaff.” Got all that? You’re a better person than me, then.) followed by C (i.e. “not exactly”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) and YON (i.e. a poetic form of “that”), like so: HAL-C-YON.

58. Learner driver (7)

[EDIT: Big thanks to Mark in the comments for correcting COACHER to COACHEE, an informal word for a coachman or “driver”. The solution is also a sneaky way of describing a “learner”, as in one being coached. I’ve left my original solution below for posterity, but you can ignore it. – LP]
Answer: COACHER [incorrect]. Solution satisfies “learner” – a sneaky way of saying someone who teaches or coaches – and “driver” as in a sneaky way of describing a coach horse, “drive” being taken to mean powering something rather than steering it.

Down clues

1. Happy to attend, having finished earlier (6)

Answer: UPBEAT (i.e. “happy”). Solution is BE AT (i.e. “attend”) with UP (i.e. “finished”, as in one’s time being up) placed “earlier”, like so: UP-(BE-AT).

2. Outdoor pursuit by horse in spring (7)

Answer: FOXHUNT (i.e. “outdoor pursuit”). Solution is X (i.e. “by”, as in the multiplication symbol) and H (a recognised abbreviation of “horse”) placed “in” FOUNT (i.e. “spring”), like so: FO(X-H)UNT. A clue that scans really well. I like it.

3. Pass request for assignment to tutor? (4,3,2)

Answer: DON’T ASK ME (i.e. “pass”). Solution also satisfies “request for assignment to tutor”, as in DON, TASK ME! Another good ‘un.

4. Figure computer buffs do this? (5)

Answer: DIGIT (i.e. “figure”). Solution also satisfies “computer buffs do this”, as in they DIG IT, a recognised abbreviation of Information Technology. I admit, this one made me smile when I got it.

5. Anyone occupying new home, verifiably? (8)

Answer: WHOMEVER (i.e. “anyone”). “Occupying” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: NE(W HOME VER)IFIABLY. Took me a while to spot. Well played.

6. More or less stop, in the main to deceive (3,2)

Answer: LIE TO, which is sailor-speak for bringing a vessel to a virtual stop (i.e. “more or less stop, in the main” – “main” in this case being another word for the sea – a bit of wordplay often used by setters). Solution also satisfies “to deceive”.

7. Enclosed frames something Walton’s on about for artist (7)

Answer: Paul CEZANNE (i.e. “artist”, and very good he was too). This took some figuring, but the solution is ENC (a recognised abbreviation of “enclosed” typically used in formal correspondence to indicate a letter has been accompanied by one or more enclosures) which is wrapped around or “framing” NAZE (i.e. “something Walton’s on”, referring to the small town of Walton-On-The-Naze in Essex. No, me neither. The Naze in question, if you’re interested, is a headland that juts out quite a way into the North Sea, which looks pretty cool), and then the whole lot reversed (indicated by “about”), like so: C(EZAN)NE.

8. With glasses on, watches ads for cars? (6,8)

Answer: BUMPER STICKERS (i.e. “ads for cars” – well, it’s described as such in the dictionary, I guess). Solution is BUMPERS (i.e. “glasses”, specifically full glasses ready to raise in a toast – no, me neither) followed by TICKERS (i.e. “watches”).

9. Outlet’s porch fast deteriorating (5,4)

Answer: CRAFT SHOP (i.e. “[retail] outlet”). “Deteriorating” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PORCH FAST.

10. What you’ll see on the Nile, and the Avon, typically (5)

Answer: ASWAN. Solution satisfies “what you’ll see on the Nile”, referring to the city of ASWAN which is situated on the Nile. More place names, then. Solution also satisfies “what you’ll see on…the Avon, typically”, as in A SWAN. One I only got once I had all the intersecting letters.

11. Music that could have lad join tzaritza dancing (11,4)

Answer: TRADITIONAL JAZZ (i.e. “music”). “Dancing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LAD JOIN TZARITZA.

12. Saving time in New York, say: no good concealing it (4,3)

Answer: NEST EGG (i.e. “saving”). This was another one that took some figuring, but the solution is EST (i.e. “time in New York”, specifically Eastern Standard Time) and EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) placed in or “concealed” by N (a recognised abbreviation of “no”) and G (ditto “good”), like so: N-(EST-EG)-G.

19. Herald eclipse, one a long way from earth? (7)

Answer: TRUMPET (i.e. “herald”). Solution is TRUMP (i.e. “eclipse”) followed by ET (i.e. “one a long way from earth”, specifically an Extra-Terrestrial).

20. Single-issue college speakers get up briefly (9)

Answer: UNIPAROUS, which is to produce only one at birth (i.e. “single-issue”). Solution is UNI (a recognised abbreviation of university, i.e. “college”) followed by PA (i.e. “speakers”, specifically a Public Address system) and ROUSE (i.e. “get up”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “briefly”), like so: UNI-PA-ROUS.

21. Unfinished stringed instrument: I state you can wax it (7)

Answer: LYRICAL (i.e. “you can wax it”). Solution is LYRE (i.e. “stringed instrument”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “unfinished”), then followed by I and then CAL (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of California), like so: LYR-I-CAL.

22. A snake or two bear tormented (5,3)

Answer: WATER BOA (i.e. “a snake”). “Tormented” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TWO BEAR.

24. Callixenus comprehends his limits age wise (15)

Answer: QUINQUAGENARIAN, which describes someone in their fifties (i.e. “age wise”). I know the word (it’s one of my favourites – yes, I’m weird) but not having had hundreds of thousands of pounds lavished on my education, I’m left guessing the solution is something that can be broken down into a Latin phrase befitting the clue, something like QUIN-QUA-GENERI-AN. Google Translate has this as “without the degree or”, so, er… perhaps not.
[EDIT: A big thank you to Mike, Mark and Clive in the comments for decoding this one.  CaLLIXenus contains or “comprehends” the Roman numerals L and LIX successively, being the numbers 50 and 59, i.e. the “limits” of a quinquagenarian. For all I’m not this setter’s biggest fan, I have to admit this clue is brilliant.]

26. State funds partner no longer one with place on the board (9)

Answer: EXCHEQUER (i.e. “state funds”). Solution is EX (i.e. “partner no longer”) followed by CHEQUER (i.e. “one with place on board”, as in a piece in a game of chequers).

28. The blue socks that are great for seeing baseball teams in? (8)

Answer: SKYBOXES (i.e. “that are great for seeing baseball teams in”, as in the posh boxes found in some sports arenas). Not a word found in my Chambers, this, but the solution is SKY (i.e. “blue” occasionally) followed by BOXES (i.e. “socks” – think of it in terms of hitting someone).

29. Odd person, the president, one featuring in reply to children’s question (10,4)

Answer: GOOSEBERRY BUSH (i.e. “one featuring in reply to children’s question” – this refers to an allegedly popular response given to a child when they ask where they came from, whereupon they are told they were “found under a gooseberry bush”. “Gooseberry bush” was originally a slang term describing a woman’s pubic hair, so, technically speaking, they’re right.) Solution is GOOSEBERRY (i.e. “odd person”, as in the awkward hanger-on who accompanies a pair who would rather be alone) followed by BUSH (i.e. “the president” – George or Dubya, take your pick).

31. French town one can start to like, somehow (7)

Answer: ALENCON (i.e. “French town”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “somehow”) of ONE CAN and L (i.e. “start to like”, i.e. the first letter of “like”). One I got from the wordplay and only once I’d had most of the intersecting letters filled in. More bloody place names.

34. Romeo regularly taking money for reciting poem (7)

Answer: RONDEAU. Hold on. (Grabs Chambers again.) This is “a form of poem characterised by closely-knit rhymes and a refrain, and, as defined in the 17c, consisting of thirteen lines, divided into three unequal strophes, not including the burden (repeating the first few words) after the eighth and thirteenth lines, brought into vogue by Swinburne”. And they wonder why limericks are popular. Anyway, the solution is R (“Romeo” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by ON (i.e. “regularly” – a weak one this, if I have it right) and DEAU (i.e. “money for reciting” – it should be noted that RONDEAU is pronounced ron-dough… so DEAU is a homophone of dough, i.e. “money”). Another one that took a fair amount of figuring.

39. How mishit croquet ball might come back ready-made (3,3,3)

Answer: OFF THE PEG. Solution satisfies “how mishit croquet ball might come back”, a beastly situation I’m sure every man, woman and child can relate to, what, what, what, eh, Jeeves; and “ready-made [clothing]”.

42. Alias entered into by queen to see a Russian poet (9)

Answer: Anna AKHMATOVA (i.e. “Russian poet” – what do you mean you’ve never heard of… ah, who am I kidding? Me neither.) This was another that took a fair amount of figuring, but the solution is AKA (i.e. “alias”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “also known as”) which surrounds or is “entered into by” HM (i.e. “queen”, as in Her Majesty), then followed by TO, then V (i.e. “see” – one of this setter’s tells, and one I was wise to. V is a recognised abbreviation of “vide”, which is “see” in Latin), and finally A, like so: AK(HM)A-TO-V-A. Good grief.

43. Hormone’s harmful substance keeping husband younger (8)

Answer: THYROXIN (i.e. a “hormone” produced by the thyroid gland). Solution is TOXIN (i.e. “harmful substance”) wrapped around or “keeping” H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and YR (ditto “younger”), like so: T(H-YR)OXIN. Unsurprisingly, this was another one gotten largely through the wordplay.

44. Is supporter first to abandon plucky players? (7)

Answer: ASSISTS (i.e. “is supporter”). Solution is BASSISTS (i.e. “plucky players”, as in how they pluck the strings) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “first to abandon”).

45. Reference work on beer, large and so complex? (7)

Answer: OEDIPAL (i.e. “complex”, being a strong affection one has for their mother paired with a strong dislike of one’s father). Solution is OED (i.e. “reference work”, specifically the Oxford English Dictionary) followed by IPA (i.e. “beer”, specifically Indian Pale Ale) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”).

46. Maybe like Berkshire land one’s keeping quiet about (7)

Answer: SWINISH (i.e. “maybe like Berkshire” – referring to the Berkshire breed of pig. No, me neither.) Solution is WIN (i.e. “land”, as in to land a big contract) and I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”) both placed in SH (i.e. “quiet”), like so: S(WIN-IS)H.

47. Jar on its lid – something often right underneath (6)

[EDIT: A further big thank you to Mark in the comments for the answer, which is JANGLE (i.e. “[to] jar”). The solution is J (i.e. “jar on its lid”, a little bit of recursion there referring to the first letter of “jar”) and ANGLE (i.e. “something often right”, as in right angles. “Often”, setter, really? On a sheet of graph paper, perhaps…) placed “underneath”, this being a down clue. Again, I’ve left my original text below for posterity, not that it’ll help you much! – LP]
Answer: Your guess is as good as mine, I’m afraid. There are dozens of words that match the letters _A_G_R, and none of them leap out as a strong contender for the solution. It could be DAGGER, being the symbol you sometimes see in text to denote a related footnote, or “something often right underneath”. I can’t see how it fits the rest of the clue, though. Given the setter’s penchant for using place names, it could be BANGOR, which fits “jar” (BANG) and “right underneath” (R placed at the end, this being a down clue), but that’s about it. If I have a brainwave anytime soon, I’ll let you know. I suspect when the solution is published in a couple of weeks, I’ll still be none the wiser.

49. Italian architect recalled in verse – and oddly overlooked (5)

Answer: Pier Luigi NERVI (i.e. “Italian architect” – I know, I know. More dead people. Don’t worry, we’re nearly done). “Oddly overlooked” indicates the odd letters are ignored in the words IN VERSE AND once they have been reversed (indicated itself by “recalled”), like so: DNA ESREV NI.

51. In vain altering Schiller ode’s intro (2,3)

Answer: NO JOY (i.e. “in vain”). Solution is TO JOY (i.e. “Schiller’s ode”, as in Ode To Joy. We’re ignoring the “Ode” bit, as it has already been mentioned in the clue) with the initial letter changed (indicated by “altering…intro”).

52. Child nearly sacrificed? There are differing accounts (5)

Answer: ISAAC (i.e. “child nearly sacrificed” – in the Bible, Abraham was tasked by God to kill his son, Isaac, to prove his faith and was only stopped at the very last moment by a spot of divine intervention. That God, eh? Such a nice deity. “It’s Tuesday so let’s mentally scar a boy to help flatter My ego. Cor, it’s great being God, isn’t it?” <snips 10,000 word anti-religious rant>) Anyway, the solution comprises ISA and AC, both “differing accounts”, the former being an Individual Savings Account, the latter being a recognised abbreviation of the word “account”.

Review: Best New Horror 8

Here’s looking at you, kid.

(If you would like to read reviews of the previous books in the Best New Horror series, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

After a run of above-average entries in the Best New Horror series it was inevitable we would hit an iffy one, and this is it. The weird thing, though, is there is nothing massively wrong with the book. There are few stinkers to be found here, if any, but then nor are we overly blessed with knockout stories. This instalment therefore scores a fairly average 3/5 from me.

Best New Horror 8 presents twenty-four horror shorts published during 1996, and runs as follows:

 

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Conference with the Dead”

Walking the Dog – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – Steve is hired by the mysterious Mr Stook to walk his dog, which sounds easy enough until Steve finds himself being dragged around some godforsaken craggy moor by the thing each and every night. It’s an arrangement that is every bit as eccentric for our man as it is exhausting, but then nothing quite compares to the weirdness of the “dog” itself. Still, at least the money is good. Now if only Steve can loosen the grip Stook has somehow taken on his life. Or, more accurately, his neck. Who is leading who, exactly? I’d say this was the weakest story of Lamsley’s to appear in Best New Horror. That’s not to say this was poor, rather the least best of a good bunch. The characters are interesting, the setting is suitably creepy, and there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a horror story. Still, you have to wonder how this oddity popped into Lamsley’s head. I’ll have what he’s having, please.)

Also collected in Brite’s “Self-Made Man”

Mussolini and the Axeman’s Jazz – Poppy Z. Brite (3/5 – Another beautifully-written story from Brite, and one that typically doesn’t skimp on the claret. Like The Sixth Sentinel (Best New Horror 5), Brite digs into New Orleans history for inspiration, but falters on this occasion by also attempting to incorporate all of world history into the bargain. (Small exaggeration.) Archduke Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo, triggering the Great War. Four years later the Archduke’s ghost turns up in New Orleans, exceedingly pissed off and determined to hunt down and kill a centuries-old Italian occultist called Cagliostro. The Archduke is convinced Cagliostro is guilty of ordering his assassination. He has a plan for revenge. All he needs in an unwitting pawn. Beware, New Orleans, the axeman cometh. This is ambitious and imaginative stuff, but ultimately a rare misfire from Brite. You might have a better time of this than me if you ignore the tone set by the first part of the story and instead strap yourself in for a silly, gory fun ride.)

An Eye for an Eye – Norman Partridge (3/5 – Wanda and Russell are intrigued by a stuffed black cat owned by Wanda’s grandmother, Madame Estrella, not least by how Estrella is somehow able to bring the thing back to life. The cat supposedly once starred in a few golden oldie horror movies, and word has it that a fella of Estrella’s acquaintance has more memorabilia like it stashed away somewhere. Wanda and Russell are keen to plunder this valuable collection. Wanda especially will stop at nothing to get her hands on it. This story was written for a themed anthology and good grief does it show. It’s a fun read, yes, but, like the story preceding it, there’s a lot of wreckage to overlook.)

Also collected in Clegg’s “The Nightmare Chronicles”

Underworld – Douglas Clegg (3/5 – Oliver takes his wife Jenny to an old Chinese restaurant squirrelled away in a run-down New York alley. The wife of the owner correctly guesses Jenny is pregnant and is confident she will give birth to a baby boy. Jenny is tragically murdered, however, and when Oliver returns to the alley sometime later he finds the restaurant has been boarded up. When he looks through a crack in the boards and into the darkened restaurant, he catches a vision of Jenny framed in the glass of the kitchen door. Inevitably, Oliver breaks in to investigate. This was okay, and better than Clegg’s previous entry, Where Flies Are Born (Best New Horror 3), but it felt like a plot outline at times which would have benefitted from a little more flesh on the bones.)

The Curse Of Kali – Cherry Wilder (3/5 – Gwen lodges with the Bentons and their three children. The mother, Rose, works in real estate. Through some prior financial finagling Rose had managed to secure ownership of the house next door, much to the annoyance of the old widow Pallister who lived there. Now, with Mrs Pallister passed away, Gwen watches as the Bentons pick over their acquisition and its exotic chattels. When the youngest Benton fails to return home one evening, Gwen is disturbed to see a shadowy figure lurking at the corner of the Pallister house. This was okay, but, for me, the setup seemed too obviously engineered to deliver the shock Wilder had in mind. I’d have also preferred a little less of the awful Bentons and a little more of the Pallisters, if only to better qualify events later in the story.)

The Film – Richard Christian Matheson (3/5 – A short shocker from Matheson which sees a ragtag bunch of sick and ailing ne’er-do-wells descend on a brutalist movie theatre in some futuristic, eco-apocalyptic shithole. They’re all super-keen to see “The Film”, even if it’s the last thing they do. Another middling story here, but this does at least better Matheson’s previous entry, Ménage à Trois (Best New Horror 6). It’s an entertaining read, and one whose postmodernist leanings lend it a certain freshness for you hep cats, but it won’t be too long after the end before you start picking holes in it.)

Also collected in Constantine’s “The Oracle Lips”

Of a Cat, But Her Skin – Storm Constantine (3/5 – Nina escapes her control-freak other half, Scott, and loses herself for a while in the grounds of Elwood Grange. She happens across a stone monument tucked away in the woods: a wide obelisk carved with assorted arcane texts, atop which sits a sculpture of a cat hunkered down in a hunting pose. Nina is drawn to the monument, and feels it expose a rich seam of confidence within her. This was okay, but it takes a while to get going. While I liked the places the story goes to, I couldn’t help thinking that the fantasy element – I struggle to call this horror – served to undermine Nina; as if she wouldn’t have been capable of achieving what she does within the story without receiving a magical leg-up.)

Also collected in Burleson’s “Wait for the Thunder”

Hopscotch – Donald R. Burleson (3/5 – It’s the dead of night and an old woman revisits the neighbourhood of her youth. Signs of life are thin on the ground. The buildings vary from decrepit to barely inhabitable piles of wire and rubble. The old woman finds a faded hopscotch grid in an enclosed alleyway and recalls the gruesome fate of the intense young girl who painted it. The old woman flips a bottlecap into square one. Game on. Well, you can’t fault Burleson for a lack of effort. He lays on the atmosphere with a trowel in the opening pages and then, when most writers would have given up the story as a bad job, he ploughs on ahead despite having an old woman playing hopscotch, in a dead part of town, in the middle of the night, on her own, and while beset with arthritis. He tries everything to make the story work. To be fair this was okay once it got going, but, let’s be blunt, there’s a lot of bollocks you’re going to need to swallow here. So to speak.)

Also collected in SRT’s “City Fishing”. Cover links to Smashwords page.

Ghost In The Machine – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Carter is baffled how the TV is still on with no power running to it. In fact, how can the TV be on at all when he’d already given it to his neighbour? It seems Carter’s mind is in a strange place. Life has not been the same since his mother died. Best get the repairman around to help put things right. Fans of SRT know how strange his stories can get, and this is one of the strangest. In the story’s introduction he describes how it was written at 2am, which sums up its dreamlike quality perfectly.)

The Moon Never Changes – Joel Lane (3/5 – Gareth is a young man who, for the most part, manages to keep hidden the seething frustration he feels for modern life and the state of things. He indulges his bitterness through a number of unhealthy pursuits. He attends meetings of a local fascist group and soaks up their dogma. He broods over photographs of those who’d dumped him. When Lorraine, a work colleague, invites herself around to his place, it seems Gareth has a chance to turn his life around, but is he willing to take it? In the introduction Lane describes the story as being about the psychology of fascism. I don’t doubt this, but by wrapping it in his usual gossamer layers of metaphor and implied meaning, I couldn’t help but feel he’d let his target off the hook.)

Butcher’s Logic – Roberta Lannes (4/5 – We’re in 1950s US of A to witness a slice of familial strife brought on by the eldest daughter’s friendship with a lad called Jesse, a half-Puerto-Rican half-Afro-American boy. Neither of the girl’s parents approve of Jesse, what with this being 1950s US of A and all. Her mother in particular dials up her admonishment of the girl at every opportunity. Tempers boil over when Jesse stands up to the girl’s father during a fractious exchange, causing the old man to accidentally bugger over and hurt himself. Later, on a grocery errand, the girl sees her father’s car parked by the store. The old man is nowhere to be found inside, and the staff seem a little cagey of his whereabouts: the cashier, the bagger… and the butcher. I liked this a lot. Lannes replaces the extreme horror of her previous stories with something more restrained and reaps the rewards as a result.)

Kites and Kisses – D. F. Lewis (3/5 – Clive is a young lad who spends a lot of his time looking out of the window. He often sees another young lad playing outside with a kite. Asking his mother for a kite of his own, Clive is told if he’d wanted one hard enough then he’d have one by now. According to his mother, such twisted logic as this is what helped them become so terribly, terribly wealthy. Clive isn’t so sure about that. It seems every time Mr Court pops round in his dumpster, it’s to seek money that Clive’s mother doesn’t have. This is one of the longer stories of Lewis’s oeuvre, clocking in at a giddy five and a half pages. For the most part it was a fairly straight affair with some nice writerly flourishes, but the jarring switch to Lewis’s usual cryptic style right at the end was more tiresome than intriguing.)

Last Train to Arnos Grove – Marni Griffin (3/5 – It’s approaching midnight and a woman is trying to get home in time to receive a call from her other half. Wouldn’t you know it, her car runs out of petrol just outside Wood Green tube station. Scrabbling together some loose change she buys a ticket for the underground. When she gets on the train, however, she finds there are several more stops before Arnos Grove than were advertised. This was okay, albeit another story that felt overly engineered. Was it really so fantastically important to be home by the stroke of midnight? Wouldn’t her other half have called again a little bit later? Or does he turn into a pumpkin at one-minute-past? And who calls their partner at midnight anyway?)

The King of Rain – Mark Chadbourn (4/5 – Four work colleagues are on a miserable hiking break on the Derbyshire moors: John, the owner of the business; Phil, the office curmudgeon; Gordon, the annoyingly upbeat guy; and young Sam, our narrator. As rain persists and the hike progresses, Gordon and Phil begin exhibiting strange injuries: a large bruise on the arm, a sudden nosebleed. Much to Sam’s unease, John seems to be holding something back about the purpose of their hike. This was a very good story, and one written at a time when insufferable office team-building exercises were all the rage. Coincidence?)

Also collected in Sinclair’s “Slow Chocolate Autopsies”

Hardball – Iain Sinclair (3/5 – For the last three years a young man has been in the employ of The Pole, a crotchety and creatively-sweary drunkard. Along with an unhinged youth known simply as The Kid, the three of them maintain the painted lines of football pitches on Hackney Marshes. It’s a never-ending job, seeing as though there are two hundred of them. To our man’s surprise he finds both The Pole and The Kid sometimes engage in a little extra-curricular activity, taking on football fans in penalty shootouts outside grounds on match days. Our man is invited to play but soon comes to realise there’s a lot more at stake than a couple of quid and a celebratory chug of vodka. This was okay, but it took a second reading for it to improve. Even then I didn’t buy it. I suspect that for every reader who laps up the literary showboating on display here there’ll be a dozen more enduring a story basting indulgently in its own writerly juices.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “The Nightmare Factory”

Gas Station Carnivals – Thomas Ligotti (4/5 – This playfully meta story sees a dyspeptic writer sitting in a cabaret club, drinking mint tea and smoking mild cigarettes. He is joined by an arts critic called Quissier who is worried that he’s in dutch with the club’s proprietress after calling her “a deluded no-talent”. Apropos of nothing, Quissier then goes on to relate his childhood experience of the run-down little carnivals that he would sometimes find close to equally run-down gas stations, and of the strange and scary entertainment he would find within them. The writer, seemingly having had enough, stops Quissier halfway through his story with a surprising and revelatory interjection. Ligotti’s stories are in a field of their own, and are often a highlight of the Best New Horror books that feature them. This is no different. Probably my favourite of his appearances thus far.)

Also collected in Tessier’s “Ghost Music and Other Tales”

Ghost Music: A Memoir By George Beaune – Thomas Tessier (4/5 – Beaune, a music journalist, recounts the strange events surrounding the decline of his composer friend, Eric Stringer. When Stringer is commissioned to write a quartet he moves to London to throw himself fully into his work. Months pass, but, when Stringer eventually exhibits the piece to Beaune, our man is troubled by what he hears. The music into which Stringer had poured so much of himself was undoubtedly beautiful, but it also had the unfortunate distinction of having already been written, note for note, by an obscure composer several years earlier. When Stringer scraps the work and starts afresh, he finds to his horror and shame that the same thing happens again. Could Stringer have been suffering a bizarre episode of writer’s block, or was there a more supernatural explanation? Tessier really knows his stuff when it comes to classical music, it seems, and this had the feel of a story he’d wanted to write for some time. The result is a really good read. Jump in!)

That Blissful Height – Gregory Frost (4/5 – Frost dramatises the story of Professor Robert Hare and his efforts to apply scientific methods to the craft of local spirit mediums in mid-1800s Pennsylvania. He attends a séance with his friend and fellow cynic, John Hazard, noting how the medium often had too much influence on the messages being passed along from the afterlife. Hare endeavours to produce a number of contraptions to create a degree of separation between the medium and the message being delivered. In doing so he finds his long-dead sister, Anna, suddenly keen to have a chat. Hare’s head is turned by this revelation, but Hazard remains unconvinced. Frost’s impeccable writing helps make this one of the strongest stories in the book and is very much worth your time.)

Also collected in Royle’s “Mortality”

Skin Deep – Nicholas Royle (3/5 – Henderson has been enthusiastically boffing Graham Bloor’s wife, Elizabeth, behind the man’s back for some time. When he is invited one day to accompany the Bloors up to the Highlands to help hunt wildcat, Henderson accepts. He is disappointed and slightly alarmed, however, to discover Elizabeth has been unable to make the trip. Cue much tension as the two men head on out for the hunt. This was another story that was jarringly over-engineered. Here’s an example of what I mean. Within the space of the first two pages we establish: 1) that Bloor is being offered two thousand pounds from a taxidermist for each wildcat he bags; 2) that wildcats are “as rare as rocking horse droppings”, and 3) that Bloor is a successful businessman with a big house and a flash car. Ri-i-i-ight, because spending days hunting rare wildcat is just what successful businessmen do for pocket change. I smell droppings here, and they’re not from any rocking horse. The story never really recovers from this clanger, but it does have its moments and Royle does succeed in providing a strong ending.)

Also collected in MMS’s “More Tomorrow and Other Stories”

Hell Hath Enlarged Herself – Michael Marshall Smith (4/5 – An old man drives to a hotel room in a world gone to hell. Along the way he reminisces about an old friend of his, David, and the incredible technological advances they achieved in their youth along with David’s girlfriend, Rebecca. Back then the three of them worked in secret to produce a nanotechnological panacea, a real world-changer in their eyes. But each advance they made in their discoveries would come with an added layer of hubris. As any Outer Limits fan knows, the arrogance of boffins too much in love with their own work never plays out well. This novelette was nominated for a World Fantasy Award at the time and while the futuristic science on display has rusted a bit over the years, the story is still a good one. It does come slightly adrift towards the end, however, when MMS starts spooning in the supernatural.)

Also collected in Fowler’s “Personal Demons”

Unforgotten – Christopher Fowler (3/5 – A ruthless property developer is keen to purchase a knackered old building sitting between two others he owns. The developer wants to knock the whole lot down and parcel the land for development, maximising its value. His right-hand-man, however, sees a certain charm in the old building. He also finds its plans don’t quite add up. Not every square foot of the place seems to be accounted for. Time for a look-see, then. I doubt there are many people who can rival Fowler’s knowledge of London and his passion for the place, but on this occasion it proves his undoing. While he pulls out a decent ending to the story, there’s too much fussing and farting about getting there. A rare misfire for me, sadly. Fowler went on to use elements of this story some years later in his second Bryant & May novel, The Water Room, with broadly similar results.)

Also collected in Edelman’s “These Words Are Haunted”.

A Plague On Both Your Houses – Scott Edelman (3/5 – Five words: “Romeo and Juliet and zombies”. A long-running feud exists between the living and the living dead. Carlo, son of the mayor of living New York City, falls head over heels in love with Delores at a masquerade ball. Unknown to Carlo, Delores is a zombie, and the daughter of Leopold, king of the zombies, no less. Can true love find a way? Edelman presents for the audience’s delectation a five act play written in rhyming couplets. It’s an admirable effort, but it’s telling that Edelman couldn’t find anyone to publish the piece, resorting instead to self-publishing it as a Halloween card. Still, A Plague… eventually bagged a Stoker nomination, so his efforts seem vindicated. For me, though, I’m with the editor who said ‘Sorry, but we don’t like Shakespeare’.)

Also collected in “Masters of the Weird Tale: Karl Edward Wagner”

Final Cut – Karl Edward Wagner (4/5 – In what was believed to be Wagner’s last story before his untimely death, Dr Kirby Meredith is a psychiatrist in a large hospital who gets a distressing call from Cousin Bob. Bob, a long-time alcoholic, can’t stop vomiting blood, and so Meredith instructs him to come to the hospital straight away. Bob is stabilised, but finds he needs an operation to save his life. While under the knife, Bob has a strange dream in which he stumbles into a morgue and an ongoing autopsy. Or at least Bob thinks it was a dream. This was a very good story. Though there’s a sense that Wagner, a trained psychiatrist himself, was getting one or two things off his chest, it never strayed into chest-beating polemic.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Conference with the Dead”

The Break – Terry Lamsley (5/5 – If Walking The Dog was Lamsley’s weakest appearance in the Best New Horror series, then I would say The Break was his strongest. In this superb novelette, Danny accompanies his grandparents on a week’s holiday in the sleepy seaside town of Todley Bay. There he witnesses a number of weird things happening around him, from a man taking days to inch a large heavy box along the jetty, to a huge oily gull stalking him, to a hotel with a shifting number of floors, to a number of people only he seems able to see. Some of these people seem awfully keen to spirit Danny’s senile grandfather away. The lightness of touch that imbues many of Lamsley’s stories is replaced here with sobering observations on the effects of Alzheimers on the sufferer and those who love and care for them, and his story is all the more powerful for it. This was an excellent read. Jones leaves the best story for last in Best New Horror 8.)

And so we reach the end of the review. If you got this far, thanks for reading! I hope there were a few stories here that tickled your fancy. If so, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a second-hand copy of Best New Horror 8 online. Alternatively, you can purchase an eBook copy on most major platforms for a couple of quid. The cover images in the review will take you to the relevant Goodreads page should you want to explore more of the author’s work.

Till book 9, keep well and I’ll see you soon.

LP

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1393

A tricky one this week, for me. Though there were slightly fewer exotics in the grid, there were a couple of clues that needed a little extra legwork. Could just be me. As I’ve said in previous posts, I don’t mind trickier puzzles so long as the setter plays fair and doesn’t overly rely on their Who’s Who or Collins Atlas of the World to bail themselves out of a tight spot. This struck a nice balance, despite a few niggly repeats.

As ever, before we begin, a spot of housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that has left you baffled then you might find succour in my Just For Fun page. If horror fiction floats your boat, then my Reviews page may interest. My current folly is a full readthrough of Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series. I’ll have a review of book 8 up shortly after posting this, you lucky things.

Okay, I’ve kept you long enough. Here’s my completed grid along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. Until next time, enjoy!

LP

Across clues

1. Plots against high church features (9)

Answer: CONSPIRES (i.e. “plots”). Solution is CON (i.e. “against”, as in pros and cons – con being a contraction of the word “contra”, meaning “against”) followed by SPIRES (i.e. “high church features”).

6. Beastly homes with ultimately awful appearances? (5)

Answer: LAIRS (i.e. “beastly homes”). Solution is L (i.e. “ultimately awful”, i.e. the last letter of “awful”) followed by AIRS (i.e. “appearances”).

9. Feathers in need of fastening, first to last (7)

Answer: HACKLES (i.e. “feathers”, in this case a cock’s neck feather). Solution is SHACKLE (i.e. “[something] in need of fastening”) with the initial letter moved to the end (indicated by “first to last”).

13. Poor person won’t have superior material (5)

Answer: PAPER (i.e. “material”). Solution is PAUPER (i.e. “poor person”) with the U removed (indicated by “won’t have superior” – U being a recognised abbreviation denoting the upper class. Superior, are they? Right. Form an orderly line for petrol bombs, please, my fellow oiks…)

14. A bit of a retail promotion with article seen to be tasteless (7)

Answer: SNAFFLE (i.e. “a bit”, as in an item of riding gear. I remembered this one from a few months ago, in puzzle 1379.) This took some figuring, but the solution is SALE (i.e. “retail promotion”) with the A (an “article”) replaced by or “seen to be” NAFF (i.e. “tasteless”), like so: S(NAFF)LE.

15. Religious woman probing secret writing, endlessly strange enigma (9)

Answer: CONUNDRUM (i.e. “enigma”). Solution is NUN (i.e. “religious woman”) placed in or “probing” CODE (i.e. “secret writing”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and then followed by RUM (i.e. “strange”), like so: CO(NUN)D-RUM.

16. Thus fun is cut short by groups of experts offering solution to current problems? (5,6)

Answer: SOLAR PANELS (i.e. “solution to [electrical] current problems”). Solution is SO (i.e. “thus”) followed by LARK (i.e. “fun”) which has its final letter removed (indicated by “cut short”) and then followed by PANELS (i.e. “groups of experts”), like so: SO-LAR-PANELS. A clue that scans rather well.

17. Teaching primarily unorthodox with nothing in it based on logical thinking (11)

Answer: THEORETICAL (i.e. “based on logical thinking”). Solution is T (i.e. “teaching primarily”, i.e. the first letter of “teaching”) followed by HERETICAL (i.e. “unorthodox”) once it has had O (i.e. “nothing”) placed “in it”, like so: T-HE(O)RETICAL. Another clue that scans rather well.

18. At the highest level, and in charge, becoming hypersensitive (6)

Answer: ATOPIC (i.e. “hypersensitive”). Solution is ATOP (i.e. “at the highest level”) followed by IC (a recognised abbreviation of “in charge”). One I got purely from the wordplay and a quick check in the dictionary, if I’m honest.

19. Miss gets soaked and hurries back (8)

Answer: SPINSTER (i.e. “Miss”). Solution is RETS (i.e. “gets soaked” – a new one on me, but it’s there in the dictionary) followed by NIPS (i.e. “hurries”), both reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: SPIN-STER.

21. Artist hasn’t gone out – a bit of a fruitcake? (6)

Answer: RAISIN (i.e. “a bit of a fruitcake”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) followed by IS IN (i.e. “hasn’t gone out”).

25. American politician, not about to become a man behind bars? (8)

Answer: PUBLICAN (i.e. “a man behind bars”). Solution is REPUBLICAN (i.e. “American politician”) with the RE (i.e. “about” – think email replies, for example) removed.

26. Andrew and Thelma both have this piece in a 13 (7,7)

Answer: LEADING ARTICLE. The solution to 13a is PAPER, and both ANdrew and THElma, as you can see, both begin or “lead with” articles. You will also often find leading articles in newspapers. You get the idea.
[SMALL EDIT: Just realised I should have written ANdrew rather than ANDrew. Now corrected. Articles cover the words A, AN and THE. AND, on the other hand, is merely a conjunction.]

28. Painter is severe, a good person coming to the end (5)

Answer: Max ERNST (i.e. “painter”). Solution is STERN (i.e. “severe”) with the ST (a recognised abbreviation of a saint, or “a good person”) moved “to the end”.

29. European pal surrendered ID separately before check (6)

Answer: FRENCH (i.e. “European”). Solution is FRIEND (i.e. “pal”) with the I and D removed (indicated by “surrendered ID”) and then followed by CH (a recognised abbreviation of “check” used in chess), like so: FREN-CH.

30. Host is in this dazed state, attending battle site (10)

Answer: MONSTRANCE, which is (riffles through Chambers) “the ornamental receptacle in which the consecrated host is exposed in Roman Catholic churches for the adoration of the people”. Did a Google Image search – they look like deified glory holes if you ask me. Yes, I’m going to Hell. Anyway, “host is in this”. Solution is TRANCE (i.e. “dazed state”) which is preceded by MONS (i.e. “battle site”, specifically the Battle of Mons, an early conflict of the First World War), like so: MONS-TRANCE.

33. Sail in returning vessel – splendid! (10)

Answer: TOPGALLANT (i.e. “sail” – chalk one to my Bradford’s here as there are tons of sails to choose from). Solution is POT (i.e. “vessel”) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and followed by GALLANT (i.e. “splendid” – it’s in the dictionary but flagged as rare usage, which is of course all the invitation a setter needs), like so: TOP-GALLANT.

35. Bar to do very well briefly – than there’s quiet time (6)

Answer: EXCEPT (i.e. “bar”). Solution is EXCEL (i.e. “to do very well”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and then followed by P (a recognised abbreviation of piano, or “quiet” in musical lingo) and T (ditto “time”), like so: EXCE-P-T. The wording seems a bit weird for this one. I wonder if “than” ought to have been “then”. (Shrugs shoulders.)

36. Man following a sign of love in principle (5)

Answer: AXIOM (i.e. a rule, or “principle”). Solution is IOM (i.e. “Man”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of the Isle of Man – a sneaky one this, if I have it right. I don’t think I’ve seen this wordplay before. It’s not as if Isle of Man is listed among “man’s” definitions in my dictionary. Anyway, moving on…) which is placed behind or “following” A and X (i.e. “sign of love”), like so: A-X-IOM.

38. Possibly one prelate getting less responsive (8,6)

Answer: CARDINAL NUMBER (i.e. “possibly one” – cardinal numbers are those that express a quantity rather than an ordinal such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. So, a number, then.) Solution is CARDINAL (i.e. “prelate”) followed by NUMBER (i.e. “getting less responsive”).

40. Coming from Dorset, say, boy embraces reformer, heading off (8)

Answer: SOUTHERN (i.e. “coming from Dorset, say”). Solution is SON (i.e. “boy”) wrapped around or “embracing” Martin LUTHER (i.e. “reformer”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “heading off”), like so: SO(UTHER)N.

42. Advice to motorist wanting to be safe – don’t talk! (4,2)

Answer: BELT UP. Solution satisfies “advice to motorist wanting to be safe” and “don’t talk”.

43. First sign of silly Italian getting drunk? Don’t move! (3,5)

Answer: SIT TIGHT (i.e. “don’t move”). Solution is S (i.e. “first sign of silly”, i.e. the first letter of “silly”) followed by IT (a recognised abbreviation of “Italian”) and TIGHT (i.e. “drunk”).

44. Assignment Queen managed with Duke (6)

Answer: ERRAND (i.e. “assignment”). Solution is ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) followed by RAN (i.e. “managed”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “duke”).

47. Politician offering something hairy before bottling it (11)

Answer: THATCHERITE (i.e. “politician”). Solution is THATCH (i.e. “something hairy” – stop sniggering at the back) followed by ERE (i.e. poetic form of “before”) which is wrapped around or “bottling” IT, like so: THATCH-ER(IT)E.

50. Eat or a belly will churn around in a complicated manner (11)

Answer: ELABORATELY (i.e. “in a complicated manner”). “Will churn around” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EAT OR A BELLY.

52. Call a worker to lock up a good woman in need of taming? (9)

Answer: TERMAGANT, which is “a brawling, scolding woman” (i.e. “woman in need of taming” – rather says something about the setter, don’t you think?) Solution is TERM (i.e. to determine or “call” something) and ANT (i.e. “a worker”) which are wrapped around or “locking up” A and G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: TERM-(A-G)-ANT. A brute force of my Chambers was in order here.

53. Part of UK about to face future possibly emotional? (7)

Answer: INTENSE (i.e. “emotional”). Solution is NI (i.e. “part of UK”, specifically Northern Ireland) reversed (indicated by “about”) and followed by TENSE (i.e. “future possibly”, as in future tense, present tense, past tense, that kind of thing). A rather cleverly constructed clue.

54. The writer looks happy finding support in the home? (1-4)

Answer: I-BEAM (i.e. “support in the home”). Solution also satisfies, from the point of view of the setter, “the writer looks happy”, as in I BEAM.

55. Top side losing form is put down (7)

Answer: DEPOSIT (i.e. “is put down”). “Losing form” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TOP SIDE.

56. Some notable girl about to become a star (5)

Answer: RIGEL (i.e. “a star” appearing in the constellation of Orion). “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “about” suggests the solution has been reversed, like so: NOTAB(LE GIR)L. I probably got this through how often Rigel gets namechecked in science fiction.

57. Amateur players unexpectedly joining cricket side (9)

Answer: LAYPERSON (i.e. “amateur”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unexpectedly”) of PLAYERS followed by ON (i.e. “cricket side”, sometimes called leg side), like so: LAYPERS-ON.

Down clues

1. Garments that will cover shoulders or heads (5)

Answer: CAPES. Solution satisfies “garments that will cover shoulders” and “heads”, as in the geographical feature.

2. General with a plan to open one bar after redevelopment (8,9)

Answer: NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (i.e. a “general”). “After redevelopment” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A PLAN TO OPEN ONE BAR.

3. One may bring spirit to art magically (11)

Answer: PORTRAITIST. “Magically” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SPIRIT TO ART. In the context of the clue, a portraitist may well bring the essence or spirit of someone into their art.

4. Art around the Louvre in authentic frame is secure again (6)

Answer: RESEAL (i.e. “secure again”). Solution is ES (i.e. “art around the Louvre” – a sneaky one, this, riffing on “art” being a ye olde form of “are”, the French of which being “es” – the Louvre being situated in France) placed “in” REAL (i.e. “authentic”), like so: R(ES)EAL.

5. Upheavals produced by drinks when fish is eaten (5-3)

Answer: SHAKE-UPS (i.e. “upheavals”). Solution is SUPS (i.e. “drinks”) which is wrapped around or “eating” HAKE (i.e. “fish”), like so: S(HAKE)UPS. Nerd fact: a solution with the exact same construction appeared back in May, again, in puzzle 1379. Weird, that.

6. Story about female – a few words showing result of terrible crime? (4,8)

Answer: LIFE SENTENCE (i.e. “result of terrible crime”). Solution is LIE (i.e. “story”) wrapped “about” F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) and followed by SENTENCE (i.e. “a few words”), like so: LI(F)E-SENTENCE.

7. I need it put in a different way, being incompetent (10)

Answer: INEPTITUDE (i.e. “being incompetent”). “In a different way” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I NEED IT PUT.

8. Close off part of monument? (5)

Answer: SOCLE (i.e. “part of monument”, specifically a plain face or plinth at the foot of a column. No, me neither.) “Off” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CLOSE. Another one I got purely from the wordplay and a quick check in the dictionary.

9. Oh, no – terrible singer’s final song gets fees! (9)

Answer: HONORARIA, which are voluntary “fees” paid to professionals for their services. Solution is an anagram of OH NO (indicated by “terrible”) followed by R (i.e. “singer’s final”, i.e. the last letter of “singer”) and ARIA (i.e. “song”), like so: HONO-R-ARIA. Another one I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

10. Prisoner not loose, given soldiers that can apply lethal pressure (11)

Answer: CONSTRICTOR (i.e. a snake “that can apply lethal pressure”). Solution is CON (i.e. “prisoner”) followed by STRICT (i.e. “not loose”) and OR (i.e. “soldiers”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army).

11. Cyril dancing, expressing poetic feeling (5)

Answer: LYRIC (i.e. “expressing poetic feeling”). “Dancing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CYRIL.

12. Herb is like Simon (6)

Answer: SIMPLE. Solution satisfies “[medicinal] herb” and “like Simon”, as in the nursery rhyme.

18. Assent only half given to attract new worker? (10)

Answer: APPRENTICE (i.e. “new worker”). Solution is the first half of APPROVAL (indicated by “assent only half given”) followed by ENTICE (i.e. “to attract”), like so: APPR-ENTICE.

20. Writer Arthur died, saved from sin (8)

Answer: RANSOMED (i.e. “saved from sin”, to give its religious definition – there’s a real religious theme to this week’s puzzle, isn’t there? I’m surprised my laptop hasn’t burst into flames by now.) Solution is RANSOME (i.e. “writer Arthur”) followed by D (a recognised abbreviation of “died”).

22. Intercessions dean put together carelessly, showing lack of thought (17)

Answer: INCONSIDERATENESS (i.e. “showing lack of thought”). “Carelessly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of INTERCESSIONS DEAN.

23. Learner terrible – should be obeying the rules (6)

Answer: LAWFUL (i.e. “obeying the rules”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) followed by AWFUL (i.e. “terrible”).

24. Set put off and bored (10)

Answer: DETERMINED (i.e. “set”). Solution is DETER (i.e. “put off”) followed by MINED (i.e. “bored”).

27. Writers entertaining a number in the hills (8)

Answer: PENNINES (i.e. a big load of “hills” up in Northern England). Solution is PENS (i.e. “writers”) wrapped around or “entertaining” NINE (i.e. “a number”), like so: PEN(NINE)S.

31. Rest company before start of major entertainment show (6)

Answer: SITCOM (i.e. “entertainment show”). Solution is SIT (i.e. “rest”) followed by CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”) and M (i.e. “start of major”, i.e. the first letter of “major”).

32. Boffin inadequate, one insane emerging from the laboratory? (12)

Answer: EXPERIMENTAL (i.e. “emerging from the laboratory”). Solution is EXPERT (i.e. “boffin”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “inadequate”) and followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and MENTAL (i.e. “insane”), like so: EXPER-I-MENTAL.

34. Top people come to light briefly – brilliant little resting place set up (11)

Answer: ARISTOCRATS (i.e. “top people”). Solution is ARISE (i.e. “come to light”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and followed by STAR (i.e. “brilliant”) and COT (i.e. “resting place”) both reversed (indicated by “set up”, this being a down clue), like so: ARIS-TOC-RATS. Another repeat, as near as dammit.

36. Colonial being control freak might try to do this? There’s a possibility (11)

Answer: ALTERNATIVE. Solution satisfies “colonial being control freak might try to do this”, as in to ALTER [a] NATIVE, and “a possibility”.

37. Superficial knowledge being significant after end of lessons (10)

Answer: SMATTERING (i.e. “superficial knowledge”). Solution is MATTERING (i.e. “being significant”) placed “after” S (i.e. “end of lessons”, i.e. the last letter of “lessons”), like so: S-MATTERING. I guess that means if anyone says they have “a smattering of knowledge” about something, they’re really saying “a smattering of knowledge of knowledge“, which in turn can be expanded to “a smattering of knowledge of knowledge of knowledge”, which can in turn be expanded to…
<snipped before universe disappears into linguistic black hole>

39. Sweet little place, out of this world, fitting into a role (5,4)

Answer: APPLE TART (i.e. “sweet”). Solution is a PL (i.e. “little place”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “place”) and ET (i.e. “out of this world”, as in an Extra-Terrestrial) “fitting into” A and PART (i.e. “role”), like so: A-P(PL-ET)ART.

41. Nasty little bits and bobs, say, of yesteryear (8)

Answer: SHRAPNEL. Solution satisfies “nasty little bits” and “bobs, say, of yesteryear”, as in an informal name for old English shillings, riffing on how SHRAPNEL is often used to describe loose change.

45. Said geophagist ate dirt, but not all of it (6)

Answer: STATED (i.e. “said”). “But not all of it” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: GEOPHAGI(ST ATE D)IRT. What a bizarre clue!

46. See very small city as pretty as a picture (6)

Answer: LOVELY (i.e. “pretty as a picture”). Solution is LO (i.e. “see”, as in “lo and behold”) followed by V (a recognised abbreviation of “very”) and ELY (i.e. a “small city” of Cambridgeshire).

48. No longer lying on bed after a journey (5)

Answer: ATRIP, which describes an anchor in a perpendicular position having just been raised from the ground (i.e. “no longer lying on [the sea] bed”). Solution also satisfies “a journey”, as in A TRIP. Being a wimpy landlubber, this was another solution gotten through the wordplay and a quick check in my Chambers.

49. Put to rest during short period (5)

Answer: INTER (i.e. to bury or “put to rest”). Solution is IN TERM (i.e. “during…period”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”).

51. State of your crossword setter, longing to get outside (5)

Answer: YEMEN (i.e. country or “state”). Solution is ME (i.e. “your crossword setter”) with YEN (i.e. “longing”) placed “outside” of it, like so: YE(ME)N.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1392

A medium strength puzzle this week, though this may be thanks to some kind wordplay and a few repeated solutions making things a little easier. Either way, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

Before we begin, some housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic showing a few gaps then you might find my Just For Fun page to be just the ticket. If you’ve a thing for horror fiction then I also have a few things on my Reviews page that might be of interest.

And so onto the good stuff. TTFN.

LP

Corrected grid. PING won out against DING, as suspected.

Across clues

1. Source of light snacks originally served around English city (5)

Answer: LEEDS (i.e. “city”). Solution is LED (i.e. “source of light”, specifically a Light Emitting Diode) followed by S (i.e. “snacks originally”, i.e. the first letter of “snacks”) which are then wrapped around E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: LE(E)D-S.

4. Inland lake completely enclosed at first in S Africa? (4,3)

Answer: DEAD SEA (i.e. “inland lake”). Solution is DEAD (i.e. “completely” – like saying a race was completed in “two minutes dead”) followed by E (i.e. “enclosed at first”, i.e. the first letter of “enclosed”) once it has been placed “in” SA (a recognised abbreviation of “S Africa”), like so: DEAD-S(E)A.

8. Space remaining even now for housekeeper’s pantry (9)

Answer: STILLROOM (i.e. “housekeeper’s pantry”). Solution also satisfies “space remaining even now”, as in there being STILL ROOM.

13. Backing cultural pursuits in a Turkic ruler’s fleecy coat (9)

Answer: ASTRAKHAN (i.e. “fleecy coat” – did a Google Image search. Yup. Coat.) Solution is ARTS (i.e. “cultural pursuits”) reversed (indicated by “backing”) and placed in A KHAN (i.e. “a Turkic ruler”), like so: A-(STRA)-KHAN. One I got through the wordplay and a quick check in my Chambers.

14. Domineering writer and heretic imbibing wine (13)

Answer: AUTHORITARIAN (i.e. “domineering”). Solution is AUTHOR (i.e. “writer”) and ARIAN (i.e. “heretic” – and so to my Chambers again – an Arian being someone following the doctrines of Arius of Alexandria, who asserted “that Christ was not consubstantial with God the Father, but only the first and highest of all finite beings”. All of which is moot, of course, now we have superheroes to worship) wrapped around IT (i.e. “wine” – specifically an informal short name for Italian vermouth… no, me neither), like so: AUTHOR-(IT)-ARIAN.

15. Free of suspicion, turning out article uncoded (2,5)

Answer: IN CLEAR (i.e. “uncoded” – I can’t find this in my Chambers so I guess this is one where the dictionaries differ. It does have “en clair“, however, which is the French equivalent). Solution is IN THE CLEAR (i.e. “free of suspicion”) with THE (an “article”) removed (indicated by “turning out”).

16. Public service uselessness getting leader dismissed (7)

Answer: UTILITY (i.e. “public service”). Solution is FUTILITY (i.e. “uselessness”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “getting leader dismissed”).

17. Disgrace isn’t commonly associated with a non-drinker (7)

Answer: ATTAINT (i.e. “[to] disgrace”). Solution is AINT (i.e. “isn’t commonly”, as in a common form of “isn’t”) which is placed after A and TT (a recognised abbreviation of “teetotaller”), like so: A-TT-(AINT).

18. Become organised, like a parliament framing a law? (3,4,3,8)

Answer: GET ONE’S ACT TOGETHER. Solution satisfies “become organised” and “like a parliament framing a law”. Not at the moment, of course. Right now, they couldn’t find their arses with both hands.

21. Sound made by bell in first half of game? (4)

[FURTHER EDIT: As suspected, PING turned out to be the answer. I’ve left my original text for posterity, but you can safely ignore it. The grid has been updated with the corrected solution. – LP]
[EDIT: Thanks to Richard in the comments who suggests the solution could also be PING (as in the first half of Ping-Pong). I suspect, of the two, PING will be the answer given how Ping-Pong (the trademarked game) is in the dictionary while Dingbats (the trademarked game) is not. If so, I’ll update the post when the solution is published.]
Answer: DING [incorrect] (i.e. “sound made by bell”). I guess the “game” in question is DINGBATS, of which DING is the “first half”. Sometimes setters use brands and product names in their clues – even their solutions when they’re desperate – so I guess this flies. That said, if it turns out there was an obscure game called TINGTITS played in fifteenth century Scotland using niblicks, pettigrews and bags of fartwangles then you’ll have to accept my apologies in advance.

23. Carpet and reportedly sack politician leaving India (9)

Answer: AXMINSTER (i.e. “carpet”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “reportedly”) of AXE MINISTER (i.e. “sack politician”) once the final I has been removed (indicated by “leaving India” – India being I in the phonetic alphabet).

25. Dog beginning to cross a square (6)

Answer: CANINE (i.e. “dog”). Solution is C (i.e. “beginning to cross”, i.e. the first letter of “cross”) followed by A and NINE (i.e. “square”, being 3×3).

26. Question posh commander about good sort of horse once (6)

Answer: QUAGGA (i.e. “sort of horse once” – my Chambers has it thus: “an extinct S African wild ass”, so there you go). Solution is Q (a recognised abbreviation of “question”, as in Q&A) followed by U (ditto “posh”, denoting the upper class) and AGA (i.e. “[a Turkish] commander”) which is wrapped “about” G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: Q-U-A(G)GA. Not one that sprang to mind, if I’m honest, but the wordplay soon guided me to the right page in the dictionary.

28. Eg Captain Cook’s ruined manor hikers survey in the end? (12)

Answer: YORKSHIREMAN (i.e. “eg Captain Cook”, among two or three others). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of MANOR HIKERS and Y (i.e. “survey in the end”, i.e. the last letter of “survey”).

30. Returning ring, stays for game devised by honey eater? (10)

Answer: POOHSTICKS (i.e. “game devised by honey eater” – referring to a game played in AA Milne’s Winnie The Pooh stories, and how the titular bear was always rather fond of honey). Solution is HOOP (i.e. “ring”) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and followed by STICKS (i.e. “stays”).

33. Like some population theory an African put about so (10)

Answer: MALTHUSIAN (i.e. “like some population theory…” – and off we go to my Chambers again: “…that the increase of population tends to outstrip that of the means of living and that sexual restraint should therefore be exercised”. Whoooo!!! Party round Malthus’s!!!) Solution is MALIAN (i.e. “an African”, specifically a citizen of Mali) which is “put about” THUS (i.e. “so”), like so: MAL(THUS)IAN. One I got through the wordplay, if I’m honest, and only once the M and a few other intersecting letters had been completed.

34. Modest and genuine, not like two of the Stuarts? (12)

Answer: UNPRETENDING. Solution satisfies “modest and genuine” and “not like two of the Stuarts”, referring to James Stuart (nicknamed The Old Pretender) and Charles Stuart (nicknamed The Young Pretender).

37. Comparatively roguish sportsperson aiming for the gold? (6)

Answer: ARCHER. Solution satisfies “comparatively roguish” as in to be more arch than someone, and “sportsperson aiming for the gold”. Nice pun, there. I like it.

39. Some fracas in old gaming establishment (6)

Answer: CASINO (i.e. “gaming establishment”). “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: FRA(CAS IN O)LD.

40. Old-style exam initially exploring rural composition (9)

Answer: PASTORALE (i.e. “rural composition”). Solution is PAST (i.e. “old-style”) followed by ORAL (i.e. “exam”) and E (i.e. “initially exploring”, i.e. the first letter of “exploring”). Chalk one to my Bradford’s for that one.

42. Speaker’s claim to possess a small Scottish island (4)

Answer: IONA (i.e. “small Scottish island”). “Speaker’s claim” indicates the solution is a homophone of I OWN (i.e. “to possess”, from the point of view of the speaker) followed by A.

43. Act independently: get an individual’s recollection broadcast (4,1,4,2,4,3)

Answer: HAVE A MIND OF ONE’S OWN (i.e. “act independently”). Solution is HAVE A MIND OF ONE (i.e. “get an individual’s recollection”) followed by SOWN (i.e. “broadcast”, as in chucking seeds about).

46. Grouse when eg Henry goes off the rails (7)

Answer: GREYHEN, a female black “grouse”. “Off the rails” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EG HENRY.

47. Performer’s way to penetrate clarinettist Shaw? (7)

Answer: ARTISTE (i.e. “performer”). Solution is ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”) placed in or “penetrating” ARTIE (i.e. “clarinettist Shaw”), like so: ARTI(ST)E.

48. Measure volume of gallery, getting it right inside (7)

Answer: TITRATE (i.e. “[to] measure volume [or strength of a chemical solution]”. Solution is TATE (i.e. “gallery”) wrapped around or “getting” IT and R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: T(IT-R)ATE.

50. Former word one country used for mass murder… (13)

Answer: EXTERMINATION (i.e. “mass murder”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) followed by TERM (i.e. “word”), then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and finally NATION (i.e. “country”).

51. …wooing judicial assemblies with it (9)

Answer: COURTSHIP (i.e. “wooing”). Solution is COURTS (i.e. “judicial assemblies”) followed by HIP (i.e. “with it”, as in hip and happening, daddio).

52. Whiskery growth displayed by poet following team (9)

Answer: SIDEBURNS (i.e. “whiskery growth”). Solution is Robert BURNS (i.e. “poet”) placed after or “following” SIDE (i.e. “team”), like so: SIDE-BURNS.

53. Furtiveness of waterbird accommodated in south (7)

Answer: STEALTH (i.e. “furtiveness”). Solution is TEAL (i.e. “waterbird”) placed in STH (a recognised abbreviation of “south”), like so: S(TEAL)TH.

54. Greeting about right for person renting car, perhaps? (5)

Answer: HIRER (i.e. “person renting car, perhaps”). Solution is HI (i.e. “greeting”) followed by RE (i.e. “about” – think of the prefix applied to email replies, for example) and R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”).

Down clues

1. Top actress with influence in the upper chamber? (7,4)

Answer: LEADING LADY. Solution satisfies “top actress” and “[one] with influence in the upper chamber”, referring to a member of the House of Lords.

2. Stabbing sword or knives to carry in the centre (5)

Answer: ESTOC (i.e. “stabbing sword”). “In the centre” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: KNIV(ES TO C)ARRY. I remembered this solution from a previous puzzle, if I’m honest.

3. Tremble with fear hearing Arab chief sharing one’s situation (5,2,4,5)

Answer: SHAKE IN ONES SHOES (i.e. “tremble with fear”). Solution is SHAKE (i.e. “hearing Arab chief”, i.e. a homophone of “sheikh”) followed by IN ONES SHOES (i.e. “sharing one’s situation”).

4. Removes hard outgrowths developing on herds (7)

Answer: DEHORNS (i.e. “removes hard outgrowths”). “Developing” indicates anagram. Solution is a rather fitting anagram of ON HERDS.

5. Female cat beginning to ruffle person behind mike (9)

Answer: ANNOUNCER (i.e. “person behind mike”). Solution is ANN (i.e. “female”) followed by OUNCE (i.e. a snow leopard or “cat”, and an absolute beauty too) and R (i.e. “beginning to ruffle”, i.e. the first letter of “ruffle”).

6. Stable fellow first engaged as data analyser (12)

Answer: STATISTICIAN (i.e. “data analyser”). Solution is STATIC (i.e. “stable”) and IAN (i.e. “fellow”) wrapped around or “engaging” IST (i.e. “first”), like so: STAT(IST)IC-IAN.

7. Like Herts town hospital department checking bleeding (10)

Answer: ASTRINGENT, which is to have the power to contract organic tissue (i.e. “checking [or stemming] bleeding”). Solution is AS (i.e. “like”) followed by TRING (i.e. “Herts town”) and ENT (i.e. “hospital department”, specifically Ear Nose and Throat). A clue that scans rather well.

8. Way in which southern Yankee goes about being ostentatious (5)

Answer: SHOWY (i.e. “being ostentatious”). Solution is HOW (i.e. a method or “way”) placed “in” S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”) and Y (“Yankee” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: S-(HOW)-Y.

9. Copied Iowa man touring New England university (8)

Answer: IMITATED (i.e. “copied”). Solution is IA (a recognised abbreviation of “Iowa”) and TED (i.e. “man”, short form of Edward) placed around or “touring” MIT (i.e. “New England university”, specifically the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), like so: I(MIT)A-TED.

10. Outbuilding quietly removed from Greek battle site (4-2)

Answer: LEAN-TO (i.e. “outbuilding”). Solution is LEPANTO (i.e. “Greek battle site”, specifically a 16th century battle between the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire that took place in the Gulf of Patras, it says here) with the P (a recognised abbreviation of piano, or “quietly”) “removed”. Coo, someone’s showing off, aren’t they?

11. Old team digs in frantically, though going rusty (9)

Answer: OXIDISING (i.e. “going rusty”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and XI (i.e. “team”, specifically the number eleven expressed in Roman numerals) followed by an anagram (indicated by “frantically”) of DIGS IN, like so: O-XI-DISING.

12. Tiny girl wrapping grand timing device (6-5)

Answer: MINUTE-GLASS (i.e. “timing device”, specifically a sandglass that runs for a minute). Solution is MINUTE (i.e. “tiny”) and LASS (i.e. “girl”) “wrapped” around G (a recognised abbreviation of “grand” often used to describe thousands of pounds), like so: MINUTE-(G)-LASS.

19. Farm cart new butler observed across motorway (7)

Answer: TUMBREL (i.e. “farm cart”. Also a means of torture, apparently, which is nice.) Solution is an anagram (indicated by “new”) of BUTLER which is wrapped around or placed “across” M (a recognised abbreviation of “motorway”), like so: TU(M)BREL. One of those solutions where I got a few letters, guessed the rest and was pleased to find it in the dictionary.

20. Type of oven with yellowish-brown access (7)

Answer: TANDOOR (i.e. “type of oven”). Solution is TAN (i.e. “yellowish-brown”) followed by DOOR (i.e. “access”). Another solution that has appeared relatively recently, making it easier to solve.

22. Seeks word with small person making reinforcing loop (10,6)

Answer: BUTTONHOLE STITCH (i.e. “reinforcing loop”). Reading it slightly differently the solution also satisfies “seeks word with small person”, i.e. BUTTONHOLES TITCH.

24. Craving finally familiar in the present time (6)

Answer: THIRST (i.e. “craving”). Solution is R (i.e. “finally familiar”, i.e. the last letter of “familiar”) placed “in” THIS (i.e. “the present”) and T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: THI(R)S-T.

27. Naval NCOs framing sexy snaps (6)

Answer: PHOTOS (i.e. “snaps”). Solution is POS (i.e. “Naval NCOs”, specifically Petty Officers) wrapped around or “framing” HOT (i.e. “sexy”), like so: P(HOT)OS.

29. Send out Greek character with reputation for climbing? (7)

Answer: EMANATE (i.e. “send out”). Solution is ETA (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet) and NAME (i.e. “reputation”) which are both reversed (indicated by “climbing” – this being a down clue), like so: EMAN-ATE. I got this mostly through a very similar solution that appeared in last week’s grid.

31. Transatlantic city stylish in the past (7)

Answer: CHICAGO (i.e. “transatlantic city”). Solution is CHIC (i.e. “stylish”) followed by AGO (i.e. “in the past”).

32. Lack of awareness of GOC, one in Cannes, surprisingly (12)

Answer: INCOGNISANCE (i.e. “lack of awareness”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “surprisingly”) of GOC IN CANNES and I (“[Roman numeral] one”).

33. Futile process for enclosing fireplaces (11)

Answer: MEANINGLESS (i.e. “futile”). Solution is MEANS (i.e. “process for”, e.g. a means to an end) wrapped around or “enclosing” INGLES (i.e. “fireplaces” – a new one on me, but I rather like it), like so: MEAN(INGLES)S.

35. Groundsman’s jade ring? (11)

Answer: GREENKEEPER (i.e. “groundsman”). Solution is GREEN (i.e. “jade”) followed by KEEPER (i.e. “ring”, as in a wedding ring, supposedly).

36. Girl removes clothing, inspiring first of lewd men’s slides (10)

Answer: FILMSTRIPS (i.e. “slides”). Solution is FI (i.e. “girl”, short for Fiona, for example) and STRIPS (i.e. “removes clothing”) wrapped around or “inspiring” L and M (i.e. “first of lewd men’s”, i.e. the first letters of “lewd” and “men’s”), like so: FI-(L-M)-STRIPS. A clue that scans rather well, if a little creepily!

38. Satisfied crook given temporary shelter (9)

Answer: CONTENTED (i.e. “satisfied”). Solution is CON (i.e. “crook”) followed by TENTED (i.e. “given temporary shelter”).

40. French national’s tried and tested state (9)

Answer: PROVENCAL (i.e. “French national”, as in one living in Provence). Solution is PROVEN (i.e. “tried and tested”) followed by CAL (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of California).

41. More sprightly junior ringing the BBC? (8)

Answer: JAUNTIER (i.e. “more sprightly”). Solution is JR (a recognised abbreviation of “junior”) wrapped around or “ringing” AUNTIE (an nickname given to “the BBC” by its employees), like so: J(AUNTIE)R.

44. Precipitate overflow from blooming waterside plant! (7)

Answer: OUTRUSH. This is a bit of a guess, but I reckon “precipitate” is taken to mean quick or in a RUSH, and so a precipitate overflow would be an OUTRUSH. The solution then also satisfies “blooming waterside plant”, as in an OUT RUSH. You get the idea.

45. Innocent child’s difficulty following guerrilla leader (6)

Answer: CHERUB (i.e. “innocent child”). Solution is CHE Guevara (i.e. “guerrilla leader”) with RUB (i.e. “difficulty”) “following” afterwards.

47. A mother with two sons to collect (5)

Answer: AMASS (i.e. “to collect”). Solution is A followed by MA (i.e. “mother”) then S and S (i.e. “two sons”, S being a recognised abbreviation of “son”).

49. Hate a tedious talker endlessly trapping husband (5)

Answer: ABHOR (i.e. “hate”). Solution is A BORE (i.e. “a tedious talker”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and then wrapped around or “trapping” H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”), like so: A-B(H)OR.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1391

A toughie this week with a fair few exotic solutions peppering the grid. It took a while but I got there in the end. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

Before we get there, some housekeeping in time-honoured fashion. If you’ve got a recent puzzle for which you are missing a few solutions then my Just For Fun page might interest you. Likewise, if you’re a fan of horror fiction, my Reviews page might have a few things to tickle your fancy. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 8 coming shortly. Ish.

Right then, here we go. Till next week, TTFN!

LP

Across clues

1. Average sound quality got with older player (10)

Answer: MIDFIELDER (i.e. a positional “player” in some field games). Solution is MID-FI (i.e. “average sound quality”, a play on how high-fidelity audio is often shortened to “hi-fi”) followed by ELDER (i.e. “older”).

6. Parades truth about state (5,7)

Answer: UTTAR PRADESH (i.e. a “state” in Northern India). “About” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PARADES TRUTH. This clue kicks off an Arabic and Indian mini-theme that seems dotted throughout the puzzle. See how many you can spot!

14. Keenly observant, she prayed all over the place (5-4)

Answer: SHARP-EYED (i.e. “keenly observant”). “All over the place” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SHE PRAYED.

15. Arab digger, maybe, with no time for gardening tool (5)

Answer: ROWEL, which is a small spiked wheel found on a spur (i.e. “Arab digger, maybe” – Arab being a breed of horse in this case, but chalk one for the mini-theme too). Solution is TROWEL (i.e. “gardening tool”) with the T removed (indicated by “with no time for…” – T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”).

16. What can be good with a cuppa – getting universal vote? (7)

Answer: GATEAUX. Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by A TEA (i.e. “a cuppa”), then U (a recognised abbreviation of “universal” used in film certification) and finally X (i.e. how you cast your “vote” – not that it counts for much these days, maddeningly). Within the context of the clue, you might enjoy a bit of gateaux with a cuppa. Not me. Bourbon Creams forever!

17. Terribly casual orator, no pro, is one using voice to great effect (10,7)

Answer: COLORATURA SOPRANO (i.e. “one using voice to great effect”). “Terribly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CASUAL ORATOR NO PRO. I got the “soprano” bit fairly easily but had to root through a few books for the rest.

18. Saw race where India obliterates English (5)

Answer: SPIED (i.e. “saw”). Solution is SPEED (i.e. “race”) with the first I (“India” in the phonetic alphabet – continuing the mini-theme) replacing or “obliterating” E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”).

19. Where bells may be ringing to raise spirits? (7)

Answer: INSPIRE (i.e. “to raise spirits”). Solution also satisfies “where bells may be ringing”, i.e. IN SPIRE. A clue that scans really well. I like it.

21. The old country gentleman working at court (6)

Answer: YEOMAN (i.e. “gentleman working at court”). Solution is YE (i.e. “the old”, as in a ye olde form of “the” – a similar trick was used last week using YE for “you”, but with no “old” indicator, which was bloody sneaky – I was consequently wiser to it this time around) followed by OMAN (i.e. “country” – in keeping with the puzzle’s mini-theme).

22. Spirit of large Latin female appearing in a Roman church (8)

Answer: ARMAGNAC (i.e. “[alcoholic] spirit”). Solution is MAGNA (i.e. “large Latin female” – the male equivalent being “magnus”) placed or “appearing in” A and RC (i.e. “a Roman church”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Roman Catholic), like so: A-R(MAGNA)C.

24. Little error allowed in what musician might play (7)

Answer: TRIPLET, which, in this case, and according to my Chambers, is “a group of three notes occupying the time of two, indicated by a slur and the figure 3”. Got all that? Good. Anyway, “what musician might play”. Solution is TRIP (i.e. “little error”) followed by LET (i.e. “allowed” – the tense is a little iffy taken in isolation but works a little better in context of the clue).

26. Suspicious bringing back Diana on a criminal charge? (8)

Answer: PARANOID (i.e. “suspicious”). Solution is DI (i.e. shortened form of “Diana”) followed by ON, then A, then RAP (i.e. “criminal charge”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “bringing back”), like so: PAR-A-NO-ID.

27. Stomach bananas – month old – on the turn (6)

Answer: OMASUM (i.e. “stomach” – specifically the third stomach of a cow. Also called the psalterium or manyplies because they’re clearly more memorable). Solution is MUSA (a variety of “banana”) followed by M and O (recognised abbreviations of “month” and “old” respectively), and the whole then reversed (indicated by “on the turn”), like so: O-M-ASUM. Needless to say, not being a veterinarian, I had to get this from the wordplay and a fair rummage of my Chambers.

30. Answer separate item with correspondence (11)

Answer: COUNTERPART (i.e. “with correspondence”, as in an equivalent or corresponding person or thing – a bit weak, but it just about works). Solution is COUNTER (i.e. “answer”) followed by PART (i.e. “separate item”).

32. Music surprise with official record (4,3,4)

Answer: ROCK AND ROLL (i.e. “music”). Solution is ROCK (i.e. “[to] surprise”) followed by AND (i.e. “with”) and then ROLL (i.e. “official record”, e.g. the electoral roll).

33. Being disapproving is losing value when I can’t be seen (11)

Answer: DEPRECATING (i.e. “being disapproving”). Solution is DEPRECIATING (i.e. “losing value”) with the first I removed (indicated by “when I can’t be seen”).

35. Try nice chop cooked using a little rocket? (11)

Answer: PYROTECHNIC (i.e. “rocket”). “Cooked” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TRY NICE CHOP. A clue that scans really well.

37. Herb’s missing society conference (6)

Answer: PARLEY (i.e. “conference”). Solution is PARSLEY (i.e. “herb”) with the S removed (indicated by “missing society” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “society”).

38. Church has to gauge years used for churchyard? (8)

Answer: CEMETERY (i.e. “churchyard”). Solution is CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England) followed by METER (i.e. “gauge”) and Y (a recognised abbreviation of “year”).

39. Speaking is a habit that’s lost nowadays (7)

Answer: DICTION (i.e. “speaking”). Solution is ADDICTION (i.e. “habit”) with the AD removed (indicated by “that’s lost nowadays”, AD standing for Anno Domini). Another clue that scans really well.

42. Proposal to confine dying criminal (8)

Answer: OFFENDER (i.e. “criminal”). Solution is OFFER (i.e. “proposal”) wrapped around or “confining”) END (i.e. final or “dying”), like so: OFF(END)ER.

44. Unknown person in crazy area that has banned unknowns (6)

Answer: ANYONE (i.e. “unknown person”). Solution is ZANY (i.e. “crazy”) and ZONE (i.e. “area”) both with the Z removed (indicated by “that has banned unknowns” – setters love using “unknown” to represent X, Y or Z in their solutions), like so: ANY-ONE. A bit of a clumsy one this, for me.

46. Large creature seen in stream in Indian state (7)

Answer: GORILLA (i.e. “large creature”). Solution is RILL (i.e. “stream” – further proof following my comment last week that there were sometimes too many names for things) placed “in” GOA (i.e. “Indian state” – kerching for the mini-theme), like so: GO(RILL)A.

48. Having a bite free on account (5)

Answer: ACRID (i.e. “having a bite”). Solution is RID (i.e. “[to] free [oneself of]”) placed beside or “on” AC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”), like so: AC-RID.

49. What upsets us – even carbonating red wine? (8,9)

Answer: CABERNET SAUVIGNON (i.e. “red wine”). “What upsets” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of US EVEN CARBONATING.

51. One man keeps a house somewhere in the US (7)

Answer: IDAHOAN (i.e. “somewhere in the US” – a bit weak, this. It feels like the setter panel-beat this clue into shape to make it work). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by DAN (i.e. “man”, shortened form of Daniel) which is wrapped around or “keeping” A and HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”), like so: I-D(A-HO)AN.

52. Read this page in correct order? (5)

Answer: RECTO, which, in publisher-speak, is the right-hand page of an open book (i.e. “this page” – the Times Jumbo Cryptic puzzle is published each week in the Saturday Review supplement and always occupies the penultimate page, and therefore a right-hand page). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: COR(RECT O)RDER. Crossword nerds will know The Times collects many of these puzzles in an annual book a couple of years after their original publication. I wonder if this particular puzzle will make it in, because the clues in those books are published on the left-hand page…

53. Relating to issuing musical title with backing (9)

Answer: EMANATIVE (i.e. “relating to issuing”). Solution is EVITA (i.e. “musical”) and NAME (i.e. “title”) both reversed (indicated by “with backing”), like so: EMAN-ATIVE.

54. Race annoyed America, perhaps (5-7)

Answer: CROSS-COUNTRY. Solution satisfies “race” and “annoyed country, perhaps”.

55. Part of team abandoned player (6,4)

Answer: INSIDE LEFT (i.e. a positional “player” in some field games). Solution is IN SIDE (i.e. “part of team”, as in someone who is in a side) followed by LEFT (i.e. “abandoned”). A nice bit of symmetry by the setter between this and MIDFIELDER. I like it.

Down clues

1. A comic’s this upsetting, taking pleasure in hurt (11)

Answer: MASOCHISTIC (i.e. “taking pleasure in hurt”). “Upsetting” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A COMIC’S THIS.

2. Speak slowly to bring out learner (5)

Answer: DRAWL (i.e. “speak slowly”). Solution is DRAW (i.e. “to bring out”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”).

3. Disclose current key Liberal objective (9)

Answer: IMPARTIAL (i.e. “[to be] objective”). Solution is IMPART (i.e. “disclose”) followed by I (a recognised abbreviation of an electrical “current”) then A (i.e. “[musical] key”) and then L (a recognised abbreviation of “Liberal”). A clue that scans rather well.

4. Baby’s gear still coming in behind schedule (7)

Answer: LAYETTE (i.e. “baby’s gear”). Solution is YET (i.e. “still”) placed or “coming in” LATE (i.e. “behind schedule”) like so: LA(YET)TE. One I got through the wordplay, if I’m honest.

5. Old tree lay with heart gone (7)

Answer: ELDERLY (i.e. “old”). Solution is ELDER (i.e. “tree”) followed by LY (i.e. “lay with heart gone”, i.e. the word LAY with the middle letter removed).

7. Leather maker about to have place for environmental adviser (4,7)

Answer: TOWN PLANNER (i.e. “environmental advisor”). Solution is TANNER (i.e. “leather maker”) which is placed “about”) OWN (i.e. “to have”) and PL (a recognised abbreviation of “place”), like so: T(OWN-PL)ANNER.

8. Solvent, see, found in a stout? (6)

Answer: AFLOAT (i.e. “solvent”, as in being debt-free). Solution is LO (i.e. “see”, as in “lo and behold”) placed in A and FAT (i.e. “stout”), like so: A-F(LO)AT.

9. What offers a lot of openings in council that’s under limit (8)

Answer: PEGBOARD, which is a wooden block covered in holes used to help keep score in games such as cribbage (i.e. “what offers a lot of openings”). Solution is BOARD (i.e. “council”) which is placed “under” PEG (i.e. “[to] limit”), this being a down clue, like so: PEG-BOARD.

10. Remedy sorting out most acid pains (13)

Answer: ANTISPASMODIC (i.e. “remedy”). “Sorting out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MOST ACID PAINS. Another clue that scans really well.

11. Dodge row about alternative vote that’s turned up (7)

Answer: EVASION (i.e. “dodge”). Solution NOISE (i.e. “row”, as in an argument) placed “about” AV (a recognised abbreviation of “alternative vote”) and the whole then reversed (indicated by “that’s turned up” – this being a down clue), like so: E(VA)SION.

12. Hard day cutting leather climber’s item up in a high base (11)

Answer: HEXADECIMAL (i.e. “[numerical] base [16]” – computer types will be familiar with base 16, i.e. the numbers 1-9 and the letters A-F which represent the numbers 1 through 16. Most other people will usually see these numbers when their computer buggers over and produces an error code). Bloody hell, what a convoluted mess this was! It took a while to decode this one, but my solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in pencil grading) with D (a recognised abbreviation of “day”) placed in or “cutting” LAM (i.e. “leather”, as in to hit something) and ICE AXE (i.e. “climber’s item”) which have been reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue), like so: H-(EXA-(D)-ECI)-MAL. Good grief, I’m off for a lie down after that one.

13. Revolutionary target endlessly at risk to Conservative informer (10)

Answer: ARISTOCRAT (i.e. “revolutionary target” – an unusual description. I’m fairly certain few aristocrats will have “revolutionary target” on their business cards, but fair enough). Solution is A and RIS (i.e. “endlessly at risk”, i.e. the words “at” and “risk” with the final letters removed) followed by TO, then C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) and RAT (i.e. “informer”), like so: A-RIS-TO-C-RAT.

20. Mostly fleece garment for a winter sportsman? (3-6)

Answer: SKI JUMPER (i.e. “winter sportsman”). Solution is SKI (i.e. “mostly fleece”, i.e. the word SKIN with the last letter removed – another weak one for me. If you were to skin an animal, you’d have its pelt rather than its fleece, wouldn’t you?) followed by JUMPER (i.e. “garment”).

23. Go wrong, getting very muddy around steep cliff (8)

Answer: MISCARRY (i.e. “go wrong” – another rather jarring description from the setter). Solution is MIRY (i.e. “very muddy”) wrapped “around” SCAR (i.e. “steep cliff”), like so: MI(SCAR)RY.

25. Skill used to cut bronze material (6)

Answer: TARTAN (i.e. “material”). Solution is ART (i.e. “skill”) placed in or “cutting” TAN (i.e. “bronze”), like so: T(ART)AN.

26. Hypocrite under pressure – he’s grabbing a pay increase (8)

Answer: PHARISEE, an over-adherent religious type obsessed with its rules. The word also means “hypocrite”. A new one on me, but I like it. Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “pressure”) followed by HE once it has been wrapped around or “grabbed” A RISE (i.e. “a pay increase”), like so: P-H(A-RISE)E.

28. Flyer showing cost of cutlery item? (9)

Answer: SPOONBILL (i.e. “flyer”, as in a bird). Solution also satisfies “cost of cutlery item”, as in a SPOON BILL.

29. Did season put girl and boy together? (6)

Answer: SALTED (i.e. “did season”). Solution is SAL (a “girl”, short for Sally) and TED (a “boy”, short for Edward) “put together”.

31. One understands what sweets the very poor might afford? (3,5,5)

Answer: THE PENNY DROPS. Solution satisfies “one understands” and “what sweets the very poor might afford”.

33. Alcoholic sinks an Arab account (11)

Answer: DISPOMANIAC (i.e. “alcoholic”). Solution is DIPS (i.e. “sinks”) followed by OMANI (i.e. “an Arab” – kerching the mini-theme again) and AC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”).

34. Avocado, perhaps, and it’s said, more disgusting fruit he sells (11)

Answer: GREENGROCER. Solution is GREEN (i.e. “avocado, perhaps”) followed by GROCER, a homophone of GROSSER (indicated by “it’s said, more disgusting”). In the context of the clue, a GREENGROCER would often sell avocados.

35. Men phone, after stumbling on incident (10)

Answer: PHENOMENON (i.e. “incident”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “after stumbling”) of MEN PHONE followed by ON, like so: PHENOMEN-ON.

36. Quite happy to include area in motorway control (11)

Answer: CONTAINMENT (i.e. “control”). Solution is CONTENT (i.e. “quite happy”) wrapped around or “including” A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”), IN and M (ditto “motorway”), like so: CONT(A-IN-M)ENT.

40. Eat garlic cooked, but this is not good in a pie (9)

Answer: CARTILAGE. “Cooked” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EAT GARLIC. Within the context of the clue, cartilage isn’t good if found in a pie.

41. Notable C given out in operatic style (3,5)

Answer: BEL CANTO (i.e. “operatic style”). “Given out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NOTABLE C. One I got through the wordplay, if I’m honest.

43. Extreme ridicule over confused mix-up (7)

Answer: FARRAGO (i.e. “confused mix-up”). Solution is FAR (i.e. “extreme”) followed by RAG (i.e. “[to] ridicule”) and O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket).

45. Maidstone finally trailing Orient (7)

Answer: EASTERN (i.e. “Orient”). Solution is E (i.e. “Maidstone finally”, i.e. the last letter of “Maidstone”) followed by ASTERN (i.e. “trailing”).

46. Nearly squash foreign friend’s tropical fish (7)

Answer: GOURAMI (i.e. “tropical fish” – did a Google Image search – yup, it’s a fish). Solution is GOURD (i.e. “squash”, as in a big fleshy fruit) with the last letter removed (indicated by “nearly”) and then followed by AMI (i.e. “foreign friend” – “ami” is French for “friend”). Score one for the Bradford’s here.

47. Honour no queen over Shakespearean king (6)

Answer: OBERON, “king” of the fairies in “Shakespeare’s” A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Solution is OBE (i.e. “honour”, specifically the Order of the British Empire) followed by NO and R (a recognised abbreviation of Regina, being Latin for “queen”) both reversed (indicated by “over”), like so: OBE-(R-ON).

50. Rogue losing head about one innocent (5)

Answer: NAÏVE (i.e. “innocent”). Solution is KNAVE (i.e. “rogue”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “losing head”) and wrapped “about” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: NA(I)VE.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1390

What a strange one this was! I was doing rather well for about two-thirds of it, only for the brakes to be pulled and for me to find the remainder leavened with a load of bastard-hard solutions. It was almost as if two setters had compiled the puzzle. (Rubs imaginary chin.)

Anyway, I got there in the end… I think. Either way, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. This doesn’t represent my best week, I warn you, thanks mostly to my nostrils converting my fatty tissue and vital organs into snot and hosing it out at an alarming rate. Consequently, crabbiness and occasional swears lie ahead for those with a strong constitution.

Before we get to all that, as ever, a little housekeeping. You can find solutions to previous Times Jumbo Cryptics on my Just For Fun page, which you might find useful. If books are your thing, then my Reviews page might be of interest, particularly if you’re a fan of horror.

Right. On with the show. I’m off to snort bleach and to dump this laptop in a bucket of disinfectant for a week.

Yours, in man-flu – LP

With thanks to Chris in the comments for the correction. – LP

 

Across clues

1. Mark places of learning installing area for oriental tree (9)

Answer: MACADAMIA (i.e. “tree”). A faller at the first, it seems. My solution, for what it’s worth, is M (a recognised abbreviation of “mark”, the former currency of Germany) followed by ACADEMIES (i.e. “places of learning”), with the final letters ES (I’m guessing ES represents “oriental” as in a recognised abbreviation of “Eastern”, but my Chambers doesn’t support this) replaced by A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”).
[EDIT: A big thank you to Chris in the comments for the clarification and correction. I was on the right lines, but not quite there. The annoying thing is I’d looked this one up in my Chambers while writing the original post, and still didn’t spot I’d spelled the solution incorrectly. Told you I was ill! – LP]

6. For sale, non-uniform prison tankard (4,3)

Answer: TOBY JUG (i.e. “tankard”). Solution is TO BUY (i.e. “for sale”) with the U removed (indicated by “non-uniform” – U being “uniform” in the phonetic alphabet) and then followed by JUG (i.e. a slang term for “prison” – it’s in the dictionary, but I can’t recall ever seeing its use), like so: TO-BY-JUG.

10. Collect fool’s confession (5)

Answer: AMASS (i.e. “collect”). Solution is AM ASS (i.e. “fool’s confession”, as in “I am an ass”).

13. One recommends a screen to protect duke (7)

Answer: ADVISOR (i.e. “one recommends”). Solution is A VISOR (i.e. “a screen”) wrapped around or “protecting” D (a recognised abbreviation of “duke”), like so: A-(D)-VISOR.

14. In the air? Not initially – on the ground (5)

Answer: LYING (i.e. “on the ground”). Solution is FLYING (i.e. “in the air”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “not initially”).

15. Impossible to improve without billions? That’s not acceptable from restaurant (9)

Answer: UNEATABLE (i.e. “that’s not acceptable from restaurant”). Solution is UNBEATABLE (i.e. “impossible to improve”) with the first B removed (indicated by “without billions” – B being a recognised abbreviation of “billions”).

16. Make difficulties and honk when respirator wasn’t adjusted (5,1,7,2,3,5)

Answer: THROW A SPANNER IN THE WORKS (i.e. “make difficulties”). “Adjusted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HONK WHEN RESPIRATOR WASN’T. A repeated solution from only a few months ago. Ho hum.

17. Enlarge muscle; fail to keep it (6)

Answer: DILATE (i.e. “enlarge”). Solution is LAT (short form of latissimus dorsi, a “muscle” in the lower back) “kept” inside of DIE (i.e. “fail”), like so: DI(LAT)E.

18. Haggle about a shilling, and finally buy instrument (8)

Answer: PSALTERY (i.e. “instrument” – did a Google Image search… then had to do a You Tube search… pretty cool, but it looks a bugger to play. I’ll stick to air guitar, thanks.) Solution is PALTER (i.e. “haggle” – a new one on me, but I rather like it) wrapped “about” S (a recognised abbreviation of “shilling”) and then followed by Y (i.e. “finally buy”, i.e. the last letter of “buy”), like so: P(S)ALTER-Y.

19. Given to burner regularly, short fat strips (7)

Answer: UNROBES (i.e. “strips”). Solution is UNR (i.e. “burner regularly”, i.e. every other letter of BURNER) followed by OBESE (i.e. “fat”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”), like so: UNR-OBES.

22. Unfair comment about DNA pioneer ending in court (3,7)

Answer: NOT CRICKET (i.e. “unfair”). Solution is NOTE (i.e. “comment”) placed about Francis CRICK (i.e. “DNA pioneer”) and then followed by T (i.e. “ending in court”, i.e. the last letter of “court”), like so: NOT(CRICK)E-T.

23. Look, I escaped, flying in ever-changing patterns (12)

Answer: KALEIDOSCOPE (i.e. “in ever-changing patterns” – I don’t want to come over all Grammar Nazi, but doesn’t this phrasing lead to “kaleidoscopic“?). “Flying” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LOOK I ESCAPED.

27. Steer half of relatives into charity (5)

Answer: OXFAM (i.e. “charity”). Solution is OX (i.e. “steer”) followed by FAM (i.e. “half of relatives”, i.e. the first half of the word FAMILY).

29. Partly undressed, losing one’s head? (7)

Answer: TOPLESS. Solution satisfies “partly undressed” and “losing one’s head”.

30. Party indoors with whiskey for starter a disadvantage (8)

Answer: DOWNSIDE (i.e. “disadvantage”). Solution is DO (i.e. “party”) followed by INSIDE (i.e. “indoors”) with the initial letter or “starter” I replaced with W (i.e. “whiskey” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: DO-WNSIDE.

32. Exercises joint that doesn’t allow one to lug cargo across (8)

Answer: TRANSHIP (i.e. “lug cargo across”). Solution is TRAINS HIP (i.e. “exercises joint”) with the first I removed (indicated by “that doesn’t allow [Roman numeral] one”).

34. Live, introducing choir to rock and roll (7)

Answer: BRIOCHE (i.e. “[bread] roll”). Solution is BE (i.e. “[to] live”) wrapped around or “introducing” an anagram (indicated by “to rock”) of CHOIR, like so: B(RIOCH)E.

36. Pressure in water channel rose fast (5)

Answer: LEAPT (i.e. “rose fast”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “pressure”) placed “in” LEAT (i.e. “water channel” – proof that there are sometimes too many words for things), like so: LEA(P)T.

39. Writer’s sporting portmanteau covering cape (6,6)

Answer: TRUMAN CAPOTE (i.e. “writer”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “sporting”… a bit weak) of PORTMANTEAU, which is wrapped around or “covering” C (a recognised abbreviation of “cape”, as in Cape Cod etc), like so: TRUMAN(C)APOTE.

41. Lead actors in play concerning priests (10)

Answer: SACERDOTAL (i.e. “concerning priests”). “In play” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LEAD ACTORS. One I got more through brute force on the anagram than any ecumenical knowledge.

44. Shy, but entice into pub (7)

Answer: INDRAWN (i.e. “shy”). Solution is DRAW (i.e. “entice”) placed “into” INN (i.e. “pub”), like so: IN(DRAW)N.

46. Trumpet that fleece is off? (4-4)

Answer: RAM’S-HORN (i.e. “trumpet” made from… well, a ram’s horn). Solution is also RAM SHORN (i.e. “fleece is off”).

48. Look good with weapon (6)

Answer: GLANCE (i.e. “look”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by LANCE (i.e. “weapon”).

50. Enormous company of mounted soldiers heard of in Arabian saga (3,8,3,3,6)

Answer: THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (i.e. “Arabian saga”). For the most part of solving this grid, I had this written in as ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS because… well, that’s what it is, isn’t it? Only when I finally solved 38d did I realise the setter was playing silly buggers. Anyway, “heard of” indicates a homophone is at play here, in this case THE THOUSAND AND ONE KNIGHTS (i.e. “enormous company of mounted soldiers”). Shite, in a word.

53. Satisfying answer, using gas for cooking (9)

Answer: ASSUAGING (i.e. “satisfying”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer”, as in Q&A) followed by an anagram (indicated by “for cooking”) of USING GAS, like so: A-SSUAGING.

54. A Nevada city shortly acquires a stadium (5)

Answer: ARENA (i.e. “stadium”). Solution is A followed by RENO (i.e. “Nevada city”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “shortly”) and followed by another A, like so: A-REN-A. Not great.

55. In orchestra, you are heard with a plucked instrument (7)

Answer: BANDURA (i.e. “plucked instrument” – and off we go again to a Google Image search… and a You Tube search… really cool, this, a bit like a board-backed harp, but it must be a right sod to tune. Anyway…) Solution is BAND (i.e. “orchestra”) followed by UR (i.e. “you are heard”, as in the pronunciations of U (“you”) and R (“are”)) and then A. A clue that scans rather well.

56. Pair failing to thwart special occasion (5)

Answer: EVENT (i.e. “special occasion”). Okay here’s one I’m really shaky on, but I can’t see anything else in the clue that fits the letters E_E_T. I reckon, given this setter’s penchant for removing letters from words to derive solutions, and given how “thwart” can be taken to mean “to cross the path of”, that there is a synonym of “pair” removed from (i.e. “failing to thwart”) a larger word meaning “special” in order to derive EVENT, e.g. E(___)VENT, or EV(___)ENT, or EVE(___)NT, etc. I can’t think of one at the moment, as my head is still mostly filled with snot as I type this. Maybe sleeping on it will spark something.
[EDIT: Thanks to Rod in the comments for helping out on this one. Solution is PREVENT (i.e. “thwart”) with PR (a recognised abbreviation of “pair”) removed.]
[FURTHER EDIT: Gab in the comments suggests an alternative solution to this which hinges on “pair” being EVEN on a roulette table, and T being a reduction of the word “thwart”. (“Failing” could be said to be a shortcoming.) Thanks, Gab!]

57. Half-past ten? Ridiculous, we snort (3-4)

Answer: NOR-WEST (i.e. “half-past ten”, which is north-west on the compass). “Ridiculous” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WE SNORT.

58. Account book held page for dining room extension (5,4)

Answer: TABLE-LEAF, which is an extension to a table-top (i.e. “dining room extension”). Here’s another that tripped me up. I’m seeing “account” as TAB, and LEAF as “page”, but after that my brain jumps ship on me.
[EDIT: Thanks to Rod and Clive in the comments for both clarifying this one. The solution is TALE (i.e. “account”) wrapped around or “holding” B (a recognised abbreviation of “book”) and then followed by LEAF (i.e. “page”), like so: TA(B)LE-LEAF.]

Down clues

1. Implied insect’s introduction? (5)

Answer: MEANT (i.e. “implied”). Solution is also ME ANT (i.e. “insect’s introduction”). I actually laughed when I got this. I’ll always be a sucker for bad puns.

2. Fielder not apparently engaged on field catches hit eventually, having to run far (5,1,3,2,6)

Answer: COVER A LOT OF GROUND (i.e. “having to run far”). Solution is COVER (i.e. a “fielder” in cricket) followed by ALOOF (i.e. “not apparently engaged”) and GROUND (i.e. “field”) which are wrapped around or “catching” T (i.e. “hit eventually”, i.e. the last letter of “hit”), like so: COVER-ALO(T)OF-GROUND.

3. Ruin server, dropping one in dirty liquid (9)

Answer: DISHWATER (i.e. “dirty liquid”). Solution is DISH (i.e. “ruin”, informally) followed by WAITER (i.e. “server”) with the I removed (indicated by “dropping [Roman numeral] one”), like so: DISH-WATER.

4. Miserable doctor was promoted (6)

Answer: MOROSE (i.e. “miserable”). Solution is MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) followed by ROSE (i.e. “promoted”).

5. Complete success of worker not yet in the chimney? (1,5,5)

Answer: A CLEAN SWEEP. Solution satisfies “complete success” and “worker not yet in the chimney”. Another that made me smile when I got it.

6. Shape of kitchen item (8)

Answer: TRIANGLE (i.e. “shape”). I don’t quite get the “kitchen item” angle, if I’m honest. A lazy look on Google suggests “the kitchen triangle” to be some kind of design ethos that’s rather useless for those whose kitchens measure 7ft by 12ft – to pick an example entirely at random. Either way, it doesn’t sound terribly “item”-ish. Right now, whatever it is, it can’t cure the common cold, so I don’t really give a shit. Moving on…
[EDIT: Jeremy added a comment to my About page that nails this one. The clue is playing on how the percussion section of an orchestra is sometimes informally referred to as the “kitchen”, so the triangle could be said to be a “kitchen item”. Thanks, Jeremy!]

7. Actor grand in part of stage role finally (7)

Answer: Dirk BOGARDE (i.e. “actor”). Good grief this took some getting. The trouble with a clue like “actor” is that there are literally tens of fucking thousands of them, even the dead ones. Luckily, I blew my nose and found the answer written in the shredded bog roll folded in my hands. No, really. Anyway, solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “grand”, often used to describe thousands of pounds) placed “in” BOARD (i.e. “part of stage”, as in treading the boards) and then followed by E (i.e. “role finally”, i.e. the last letter of “role”), like so: BO(G)ARD-E. For all this annoyed the hell out of me for much of the puzzle, I’ll admit it did feel pretty good when I finally nailed it.

8. Where lovers meet in play? (8,3)

Answer: JOURNEY’S END, a 1928 “play” by R. C. Sherriff. “Where lovers meet” refers to a quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “Journeys end in lovers meeting”. One of those where I got the clue from the intersecting letters rather than any “proper” cultural knowledge.

9. Uranium in hydrogen compound? Want to bet on it? (9)

Answer: GREYHOUND (i.e. “want to bet on it?”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “compound”) of HYDROGEN and U (chemical symbol of “uranium”). A clue that scans rather well.

10. Pacifist soldier perhaps I advise to conceal name (7)

Answer: ANTIWAR (i.e. “pacifist”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “soldier perhaps” – other ants are available) followed by I and then WARN (i.e. “advise”) with the N removed (indicated by “to conceal name” – N being a recognised abbreviation of “name”), like so: ANT-I-WAR.

11. Light resin (5)

Answer: AMBER. Solution satisfies “light”, as in the middle of a set of traffic lights, and “resin”. A good clue, this.

12. Measures I back shortly for one who hated Cinderella (10)

Answer: STEPSISTER (i.e. “one who hated Cinderella”). Solution is STEPS (i.e. “measures”) followed by I and then STERN (i.e. “back” of a ship) which has the final letter removed (indicated by “shortly”), like so: STEPS-I-STER.

17. I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue team full of news (5)

Answer: DUNNO (i.e. “I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue”). Solution is DUO (i.e. “team”) which is “filled with” N and N (each a recognised abbreviation of “new”, the plural being “news” – sneaky, isn’t it?), like so: DU(N-N)O. A good clue that scans rather well.

20. American woman finding actors for audience in Art Deco building (12,5)

Answer: BROADCASTING HOUSE (i.e. “Art Deco building” home of the BBC). Solution is BROAD (i.e. “American woman”) followed by CASTING (i.e. “finding actors”) and HOUSE (i.e. “audience” of a theatre).

21. Corner of Yorkshire offering strong drink (6)

Answer: SCOTCH (i.e. “strong drink”). Solution also refers to Scotch “Corner”, a motorway junction “of Yorkshire” well known to motorists bombing it up and down the A1.

24. Attack Christmas revelry, needing to lose weight (6)

Answer: ASSAIL (i.e. “attack”). Solution is WASSAIL (i.e. “Christmas revelry” – I remembered this from a recent puzzle) with the W removed (indicated by “needing to lose weight” – W being a recognised abbreviation of “weight”).

25. Girl, one bound up in rope fibre (5)

Answer: SISAL (i.e. “rope fibre” made from the leaves of a Mexica agave – another I remembered, this time from a puzzle from the end of last year). Solution is LASS (i.e. “girl”) with I (Roman numeral “one”) “bound” inside of it, and the whole then reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue), like so: S(I)SAL.

26. You Tube’s about to lose European sort of agreement (3-3)

Answer: YES-BUT (i.e. “sort of agreement”). Another I’m shaky on. My guess is we’re dealing with an anagram (indicated by “about”) of YOU TUBE’S, once it has “lost” OU – but quite what makes this “European” is anyone’s guess. I’m open to alternative solutions!
[EDIT: Thanks to several commenters for their input on this tricky bugger. Solution is YE (i.e. “you”) followed by TUBES once it has been reversed (indicated by “about”) and the E removed (indicated by “to lose European” – E being a recognised abbreviation of “European”), like so: YE-SBUT. Thanks, everyone!]

28. Special food not able initially to support fellow (5)

Answer: MANNA (i.e. “special food” miraculously provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, if you go in for Bible stuff). Solution is NA (i.e. “not able initially”, i.e. the first letters of “not” and “able”) placed beneath or “supporting” MAN (i.e. “fellow”) – this being a down clue – like so: MAN-N-A.

31. One greeting little childless person (6)

Answer: WEEPER, which is a hired mourner (i.e. “one greeting”). Not a profession that I’d choose for myself. Anyway, solution is WEE (i.e. “little”) followed by PER (i.e. “childless person”, i.e. the word PERSON with the SON removed).

33. Perhaps briefly disturbed by rage: his work sends him up the wall (11)

Answer: PAPERHANGER (i.e. “his work sends him up the wall”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “disturbed”) of PERHAPS once it has had its last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and then followed by ANGER (i.e. “rage”), like so: PAPERH-ANGER.

35. Seer vainly involved with actor (11)

Answer: CLAIRVOYANT (i.e. “seer”). “Involved” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of VAINLY and ACTOR.

37. Movement of water across lake in wavy line (5)

Answer: TILDE (i.e. “wavy line”, specifically the ~ you see over some letters of foreign words). Solution is TIDE (i.e. “movement of water”) wrapped around or placed “across” L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”), like so: TI(L)DE.

38. Revelatory performance by band interrupted by drinks (10)

Answer: STRIPTEASE (i.e. “revelatory performance”). Solution is STRIPE (i.e. “band”) wrapped around or “interrupted by” TEAS (i.e. “drinks”), like so: STRIP(TEAS)E.

40. Old officer, badly neurotic, back from expedition (9)

Answer: CENTURION (i.e. “old officer” of Ancient Rome). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “badly”) of NEUROTIC followed by N (i.e. “back from expedition”, i.e. the last letter of “expedition”), like so: CENTURIO-N.

42. Virtually exhausted in social function, a waste of time (9)

Answer: DALLIANCE (i.e. “waste of time”). Solution is ALL IN (i.e. “exhausted”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “virtually”) and placed “in” DANCE (i.e. “social function”), like so: D(ALL-I)ANCE.

43. Part of leg that is way the most glossy (8)

Answer: SHINIEST (i.e. “the most glossy”). Solution is SHIN (i.e. “part of leg”) followed by IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. … well, “i.e.”) and ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”), like so: SHIN-IE-ST.

45. Essentially a danger when river moves south (2,5)

Answer: AT HEART (i.e. “essentially”). Solution is A THREAT (i.e. “a danger”) with the R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”) moved down or “south” a couple of notches – this being a down clue.

47. Intervene, having no time to ponder at length (7)

Answer: MEDIATE (i.e. “intervene”). Solution is MEDITATE (i.e. “ponder at length”) with the first T removed (indicated by “having no time” – T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”).

49. Rower’s newly-washed hairstyle? (3-3)

Answer: WET-BOB, which is, according to my Chambers: “at Eton, a boy who goes in for rowing during the summer term”. Meh. I went to a comprehensive which has since been pulled down, so ya-boo to all that elitist bollocks. Anyway, before I invoke class war, the solution satisfies “rower” and “newly-washed hairstyle”.

51. Follow, to make certain of downing resistance (5)

Answer: ENSUE (i.e. “follow”). Solution is ENSURE (i.e. “to make certain of”) once the R (a recognised abbreviation of “resistance”) is removed or “downed” – an odd choice of word by the setter, there. Could just be me.

52. No way out of town for employees (5)

Answer: STAFF (i.e. “employees”). Solution is STAFFORD (i.e. “town”) from which is removed (indicated by “out of”) the O (i.e. “no”, as in nothing or zero) and RD (a recognised abbreviation of “road”, i.e. “way”).

Review: Best New Horror 7

(If you would like to read reviews of the previous Best New Horror books, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

After the rather slim volume 6 comes a significantly chunkier entry in Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series. While previous entries had been a tad uneven in terms of quality, volume 7 is pretty good throughout, with only a handful of stories I’d skip through on a reread. As you will see below, a number of stories suffer from weak or unsatisfying endings, but these are often due to the ending being overshadowed an interesting premise or strong opening. So, predictably, this is another 4/5 from me.

Best New Horror 7 comprises twenty-five stories and a poem which mark the best horror shorts published during 1995, and runs as follows:

Also collected in MacLeod’s “Voyages by Starlight”

Tirkiluk – Ian R. MacLeod (3/5 – Science Officer Seymour takes a stint manning an Arctic weather station. As winter takes hold, he finds a scavenger nearby. Her name is Tirkiluk and she is an outcast from a nearby eskimo settlement. When Seymour discovers Tirkiluk is heavily pregnant, he lets her stay with him in the rather cramped confines of his hut. Things go south, however, when Seymour accidentally starts a fire that endangers all their lives. This was okay, but the diary format of the story made me feel little more than a witness to a sequence of events, which robbed the story of emotional impact. Also, unless I missed a paragraph somewhere, no reason was given or intimated for Seymour’s decline. Was it supernatural? Was Seymour merely going a bit doolally? It’s as if the story says, “Ehhhh, who cares? Move along, please.” So I will.)

Also collected in Fowler’s “Uncut”

The Most Boring Woman In The World – Christopher Fowler (4/5 – The ever-reliable Fowler scores another winner. If you only know Fowler through his Bryant & May books, then stop right now and seek out a collection or two of his short fiction. You won’t be disappointed. Anyway, here a housewife tells us of her crushingly boring existence, and how she’s having to perk things up here and there to keep herself from going mad. She starts out with little acts of rebellion, but then oh my do things escalate! As a side note, it’s an interesting editorial choice of Jones to open Best New Horror 7 with a story that keeps the reader at arm’s length in Tirkiluk, and then juxtapose it with one that directly engages the reader. I’m not saying it works perfectly, it’s just… interesting.)

Also collected in Hodge’s “The Convulsion Factory”

Extinctions In Paradise – Brian Hodge (4/5 – Hodge follows up his excellent The Alchemy Of The Throat (featured in Best New Horror 6) with a very good story which sees Robert, a former journalist, trying to rebuild his life in Mexico following the horrific loss of his wife and children. Now in his adopted homeland, Robert has a new family of sorts in the numerous street kids who scrape a living in and around the neighbourhood. His kindness stands him in good stead too, because it seems these kids have developed a novel – some would say murderous – way to survive on the streets. Dammit, this story was so close to being another 5/5 for Hodge, but was let down by a final act that felt a little tacked on and created a jarring sense of “Whaaaaaaaa…?!!?”. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean. The fact Hodge specifically mentions in his introduction how he came to write those last few pages suggests he knew this and was trying to justify it in some way.)

Also collected in Tuttle’s “Ghosts and Other Lovers”

Food Man – Lisa Tuttle (4/5 – An anorexic teenager hides food under her bed, much preferring to live with the stench of rotting food in her room than to risk putting on weight. Things take a turn for the bizarre when, late one night, a figure emerges out from under her bed. It’s a man, made of food! So what’s a girl to do? Get jiggy with it, of course! If the premise sounds too far-fetched, don’t worry – you are not alone. But let’s cut the author some slack and pretend the girl’s parents and brother are ardent 120-a-day smokers of Woodbines whose sense of smell died long ago, and that, in psychosis, food can be seen to coalesce into the shape of a man and… er… rise up, so to speak. Even so, I would love to know what was in Tuttle’s head when she wrote this. “Okay, yeah, I’ve got this girl, right, and… er… she… er… well, she gets fucked by a man made of food.” Most bizarre of all is that she makes this ludicrous story work, and manages to steer things toward a spine-tingling climax, if you’ll forgive the expression. Pretty impressive, all said.)

Also collected in MMS’s “More Tomorrow and Other Stories”

More Tomorrow – Michael Marshall Smith (5/5 – An IT contractor gets chummy with a young colleague, Jeanette, but finds his chances of romance gutter and die when he meets her boyfriend. Straight away our man knows something is off, and his suspicions are all but confirmed when he finds a recent image of Jeanette posted online, then another, and another. Each image is more revealing and more disturbing than the last, and each image is cheered on by a nameless, faceless audience. MMS absolutely nails it in this British Fantasy Award winner; a story that puts an arm over your shoulder, has a laugh and a joke with you and then stabs you in the gut. This story also perfectly illustrates how we have always had a dark side to the internet, as we have had with any creative technology. Finally, as this story was written shortly before the advent of search engines and web browsers, there’s also a certain nostalgic quality for ageing nerds to enjoy. Ah, the days!)

Also collected in Campbell’s “Ghosts & Grisly Things”

Going Under – Ramsey Campbell (2/5 – Steve Blythe is queueing for a rare chance to walk through the Mersey Tunnels, along with half of Merseyside it seems. Blythe is one of those fellas who is welded to his mobile phone, much to the annoyance of everyone around him. (This was 1995, kids. People were weird back then.) He is undergoing an acrimonious divorce and is keen for his new squeeze to post off the latest maintenance payment to his ex in order to avoid a legal bollocking. But Val isn’t picking up his calls. Blythe only ever gets his answerphone. When he is harangued and pressed into entering the tunnel by his fellow walkers, Blythe finds he has a more urgent need to make a phone call. Good grief, even after a second read this was a chore to get through. Nearly everything about this story got up my nose, from the hopelessly over-engineered premise and how teeth-grindingly overwritten it was, through to the largely fake, annoying and unfunny characters. At times I swear I was reading a Fat Slags cartoon. Surprisingly, despite all this, Going Under isn’t a total bust. Campbell succeeds in creating a sweaty sense of claustrophobia once the story gets going, but that’s about all to commend it. This is one of those stories you suspect only got published because of the name behind it, and only made it into this book due to a spot of cronyism.)

Also collected in Smeds’s “Embracing the Starlight”

Survivor – Dave Smeds (4/5 – It’s 1967 and Troy Chesley is due to return to Vietnam for another tour of duty. He gets a tattoo to commemorate this and asks the artist to draw him a seriously ripped unicorn. Yes, a unicorn. The artist agrees, but only if Troy has the tattoo over his heart. When Troy returns to the conflict he finds his tattoo is somehow keeping him from harm, but at what cost? This is a really good story that explores a few interesting themes, from living someone else’s life to the effects of time-dilation on Troy and those around him, and just when you start wondering where Smeds is going with all this, he pulls out a superb ending. Recommended.)

The Stones – Patrick Thompson (4/5 – Neil and Jane are holidaying in Cornwall, attempting to locate sites of ancient standing stones. While Cornwall is very nice and all, it seems Jane isn’t getting much of a mystical tingle from anything they’ve found so far. An old man they meet suggests a nearby beach, but there doesn’t seem to be much there, least of all anything living. Now why would that be? This was a story I was looking forward to re-reading for these extended reviews of Best New Horror because, when I’d read it originally, and despite enjoying the pleasingly chill Aickmanesque atmosphere it generated, there was something about the story that didn’t quite click. A second read happily sorted all that out. On the evidence of this story, I might have to seek out a couple of dark comedy thrillers he later wrote, Seeing The Wires and Execution Plan – assuming it’s the same bloke.)

Back Of Beyond – Cherry Wilder (3/5 – The Mandevilles are tempted out of retirement to help Mary Boyd, a wealthy woman who is desperate to locate her missing son. Vivien Mandeville is a sensitive, capable of reading an incredible amount of detail and history from the objects she handles. Her husband, Albert, acts as her straight-man. When the Mandevilles reach the Boyd residence, they find themselves stalked from afar, and are given an ominous warning by an old Aboriginal to let sleeping dogs lie. This was okay, with Wilder creating a great double act in the Mandevilles, but the ending disappointed.)

A Hundred Little Wicked Witches – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Jack sees witches everywhere. They judge him, criticise him, mock him. When they are not expressing seemingly every aspect of his life, they are controlling it. When Jack meets Marsha, he is astonished to find that she wants to get to know him and seems willing look past all the witches he sees. But can he? This is a playful short from SRT “witches” spoiled only by an ending that felt abrupt and overly harsh.)

The Finger Of Halugra – Manly Wade Wellman (4/5 – You might wonder how a posthumous entry from an author who had passed away nearly a decade earlier could make it into a book called Best New Horror, but who cares about such trifling technicalities when the story is this good? The improbably named Sugg Harpole is hired by an unsavoury sort called The Greek to locate and retrieve the titular finger. The statue of Halugra is to be found somewhere up in the mountains, and the neighbouring Native Americans believe its finger has remarkable healing qualities. Turns out it does, but it seems the statue is rather attached to it. While this story was predictable, it was also a lot of fun, reading like an old horror comic strip from a bygone age.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Conference with the Dead”

The Toddler – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – Haddon Hall is a place with a dark history. Centuries ago the monstrous Sir Rufford De Quintz resided there and took delight in abusing the staff in every terrible way. He sired a daughter by one of the young maids and, unusually for De Quintz, he let the child live. The toddler was subsequently tolerated but despised throughout the house. Fast forward to 1995 and Myra Cooper is spearheading the renovation of Haddon Hall. She is called to investigate a gruesome discovery bricked up in one of the walls. This was another winner from Lamsley, who is somehow able to document the most horrific things with an astonishing lightness of touch. This was the mirror opposite of his previous entry, Blade and Bone (Best New Horror 6) in that the build-up throughout this story was terrific, but was let down by the ending.)

Also collected in Gallagher’s “Out of his Mind”

Not Here, Not Now – Stephen Gallagher (4/5 – A quick in-and-out from Gallagher which sees a hit-and-run driver get his comeuppance in a suitably ironic way. There’s no messing about with this one.)

 

 

 

 

 

Also collected in Ligotti’s “The Nightmare Factory”

The Bungalow House – Thomas Ligotti (4/5 – A return to form for Ligotti in a Stoker-nominated story where a man is enchanted by an installation at his local grotty art gallery. The artwork takes the form of an audio recording describing in striking detail a dream of the artist in which he is trapped inside an unlit bungalow house in the dead of night while all kinds of weird and horrible vermin lie dead or dying at his feet. The imagery the recording creates in our man is so vivid that he simply must know more about the artist responsible, as much as it may bother Dahla, the gallery’s owner. The prose is as lush and the plot is as weird as ever. The story is perhaps let down by two things: first, Dahla’s character often spills over caricature and into parody; second, I saw the twist coming. Still a good read, though.)

Cradle – Alan Brennert (4/5 – Marguerite wants to have a baby, but her vampirism has made her sterile. She uses the wealth she has accrued over the years (and years and years) to hire a surrogate, Sondra, and a team of doctors to handle all the fiddly DNA-imprinting science stuff necessary for the pregnancy to be viable. (Who knew?) The pregnancy starts out normally, but, once junior develops a heartbeat, Sondra finds that her body is having a hard time keeping up with the little bugger’s needs. This is an interesting what-if story, but I suspect the ending will divide opinion between those who consider it a neat twist on vampire myth and those who will groan and move on. I’m in the “neat twist” camp, for what it’s worth.)

Also collected in Rice’s “The Idol of the Flies”

The Sixth Dog – Jane Rice (3/5 – A veterinarian is creeped out by the Clanton brothers living next door. The Clantons mostly keep to themselves, which creates fertile ground for the town’s rumourmongers. Bizarrely, it is suggested the brothers are attempting to create something that could replace food. Our man isn’t convinced about that. All he knows is that the Clantons are dwindling one by one, and the burial plots out the back of their house are increasing in number. This was okay, but it’s one of those stories where the protagonist is almost entirely passive, which made him a hard person to get behind. There were other niggles too, but are probably down to my personal taste, such as dialog written as it is spoken (which I find rarely works), quirkiness replacing humour rather than complementing it, etc.)

Also collected in Dowling’s “The Man Who Lost Red”

Scaring The Train – Terry Dowling (3/5 – It’s 1962 and Paul and Max spend their school holidays creating and executing ever more elaborate stunts to scare the living crap out of train drivers. They observe the fruits of their endeavours each time from a safe enough distance to avoid detection. After a particularly daring prank, the pair witness a man examining the offending trackside area. The man homes in on their position with uncanny speed and precision and offers them a wave. Paul and Max are spooked by this but decide to press on with their most daring stunt yet – a final hurrah before the school holidays are through. Big mistake. This was okay, but the first half of the story – concerning events in Paul and Max’s childhood – rather outshines the second half, where they return to their old stomping ground some years later.)

Also collected in Sutton’s “Clinically Dead & Other Tales of the Supernatural”

La Serenissima – David Sutton (4/5 – Euphrosyne and Polyhymnia are identical twins who have been trusted in Venice to the care of their guardians, the Fortescues – their parents being much too rich to be bothering with such piffling inconveniences as parenthood. Polyhymnia is horrified to find Rudolf Fortescue laying a hand on Euphrosyne in a most inappropriate manner and is further appalled to see not only Miranda Fortescue turning a blind eye to it, but also that Euphrosyne is quite enjoying Rudolph’s attentions. To top it all, things are not as they seem in this crumbling and rotting Venice, and a clue to it all may be found in a painting called La Serenissima. This is a very nicely written story, a significant improvement on Sutton’s previous entry, Those of Rhenea (Best New Horror 2). Euphrosyne and Polyhymnia are engaging characters, identical twins yet polar opposites, and we get a good sense of the sights, sounds and smells of Venice and its grotty underbelly. And yet, in keeping with several stories in this volume, it’s the ending that disappoints, feeling a tad throwaway. Worth a look, all the same.)

Also collected in Partridge’s “The Man with the Barbed Wire Fists”

The Bars On Satan’s Jailhouse – Norman Partridge (4/5 – Partridge serves up a bizarre and meaty slab of Wild West gothic in a tale which sees a Chinese girl, Lie, being sold by her father to a brutal and notorious criminal, Midas Gerlach. Midas’s ranch sits within a large amount of land, and he isn’t above slaughtering any government officials who come sniffing around his patch. Lie is being delivered to Midas courtesy of a large black man wearing strange boots made of fur, bone and razor-sharp teeth. It doesn’t turn out well for either of them. Perhaps both Lie and her courier should have heeded the warnings of the strange gun-toting coyote-man they met along the way. This weird western nabbed an International Horror Critics Guild Award back in the day. It’s grubby and clearly off its nut, but certainly worth a read. If you liked this, check out Partridge’s Guignoir (Best New Horror 3), which is another gritty treat of his.)

Also collected in VanderMeer’s “Secret Life”

The Bone-Carver’s Tale – Jeff VanderMeer (3/5 – Sajit is an ageing bone-carver of great renown who is captivated by the music of a serunai player he hears drifting from a nearby village. The serunai player is a woman called Prei Chen, and the two accomplished artists finally meet when Prei seeks Sajit at his home. But Sajit finds the artist pales against the beauty of her art and so sends Prei away in tears. It is a decision he comes to regret. This was okay – VanderMeer really knows his stuff when it comes to Southeast Asian history – but the richness and sense of place he gives this story is undermined by its linearity. This may have been intentional, an attempt to give it an ancient legend vibe, but this also meant the story didn’t grab me quite as much as I’d hoped it would.)

Also collected in Gaiman’s “Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions”

Queen Of Knives – Neil Gaiman (3/5 – In this poem, a child and his grandparents attend a variety show. The star act is a magician, and Grandad, thinking he knows it all, attempts to explain (often incorrectly) how each trick is done. For his next trick the magician picks Grandma from the crowd and rolls out a large cabinet. Once Grandma is secured inside the cabinet, out come the knives. This does the business but doesn’t cover any new ground.

Also, if poems
with seemingly random line
breaks leave you cold and bemused,
this probably isn’t going to turn you a-
-round.)

 

Also collected in McAuley’s “The Invisible Country”

The True History Of Dr Pretorius – Paul J. McAuley (3/5 – Larry Cochrane is a celebrated journalist of the “attack dog” variety, and he’s got the notorious Dr Pretorius in his sights. Cochrane knows Pretorius possesses the secret to near-immortality and is determined to coerce it from him, no matter what it takes. The only problem is Pretorius seems quite comfortable admitting to the misdeeds of his past – well, most of them anyway. This was okay, but not as good as The Temptation of Dr Stein, McAuley’s previous Pretorius story from Best New Horror 6. It’s hard to know what McAuley was trying to achieve here. I’m willing to believe he’s merely having a lot of fun with the mad scientist genre, but by name-dropping nearly every fictional mad scientist in literature as either a friend or understudy of Pretorius, the story comes across a bit “me too”. Cochrane is also too much of a bad guy, bordering on pantomime at times.)

The Grey Madonna – Graham Masterton (4/5 – Shades of Don’t Look Now abound as Dean, a wealthy American tourist, returns to Bruges three years after his wife, Karen, was found dead there with a broken neck. A sole witness recalls how Karen was arguing with a nun shortly before her death, and that the nun was wearing a light grey habit at the time. Dean is determined to track down the nun. He finds he doesn’t have far to look. While predictable, this still delivered a satisfying tingle down the spine.)

Loop – Douglas E. Winter (4/5 – In this International Horror Critics Guild Award winner we observe legal eagle and keen dick-flick enthusiast Delacorte’s growing obsession for a porn actress. Initially he sees her only briefly at the end of a looped movie in a pay-as-you-go porn booth. As her porn career takes off, so does Delacorte’s and he spunks a lot of time and money collecting everything she has starred in. Every last bit of it. This was good, comfortably the author’s best story in Best New Horror, but you’ll probably spend the first three-quarters of this wondering when Winter is going to get his hands out of his pants and get on with telling the story. Also, the regular switching between second and third person is a flimsy attempt to make the reader feel complicit in Delacorte’s hairy-palmed hobby. Sorry, Doug, you’re on your own there.)

The Hunger And Ecstasy Of Vampires – Brian Stableford (3/5 – Edward Copplestone is an ageing adventurer who gathers an eccentric gaggle of real-life and fictional nineteenth century minds to hear and perchance discuss an in-depth account of his latest expedition: a drug-induced step… INTO THE FUTUUUUUURRRRE!!! Across three separate visions, Copplestone recounts increasingly advanced and fantastic futures, but they are all based upon one uncomfortable fact: that it’s vampires that take civilisation forward, not mankind. Which is music to the ears of a certain Count Lugard in attendance. This short novel is comfortably the longest story in the book, but it doesn’t quite earn its page count. It’s not a bad story by any means. I liked a good chunk of what it was trying to do, but the moment each guest – and I mean each and every one of them – began rubbing their chin and offering their take upon what they had heard, that was about the moment I began wishing the story would end. Interestingly, this story looks to have fallen victim to an extension of copyright periods in the UK during the mid-90s, in that every mention of a certain consulting detective and sidekick in the story had to be shown as S******k H***** and Doctor W*****. (Their names are intact in the issues of Interzone that featured this story originally.) Hats off to Jones for keeping this in the book, though, when it would have been a lot easier to drop it.)

Lacuna – Nicolas Royle (4/5 – After a 30-odd-thousand-word monster, we close the book on a one-pager, and a rare thing indeed: a mood piece that works, and not only that but one told in the second person! If you’ve ever missed an hour or two while in the house or have ever sensed there’s someone “other” keeping you company, then this one is for you.)

And so we reach the end of another Best New Horror review. Thanks for reading! If you are tempted by any of the stories then you should be able to find a second-hand copy of Best New Horror 7 on the interwebs without too much trouble. Alternatively, most eBook outlets will have a crisp, digital copy awaiting your purchase. The cover images in the above review will take you over to Goodreads, where you might find further avenues to explore.

Thanks again for reading. I’ll see you later for a whizz through book 8.

LP

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1389

In a word, UGH! I think it’s safe to say I didn’t get on with this one. This is a setter that I’ll never quite get, with several tells that rub me the wrong way. Still, I persevered and got there in the end. You can find my completed grid below along with (occasionally caustic) explanations where I have them.

As ever, some housekeeping before we begin: if you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s left you baffled, then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If horror fiction is your thing, then my Reviews page has a few tasty morsels for you. I’ll put up another review shortly for Best New Horror 7, as it’s been a while.

Right, I won’t keep you any longer. Onto the solution. I hope you find it helpful!

LP

Across clues

1. Like an old maid with unserviceable cooker (6)

Answer: PRIMUS, a brand-named “cooker”. Solution is PRIM (i.e. “like an old maid”) followed by US (a recognised abbreviation of “unserviceable”). It never sits right when a setter chucks a product name in their grid. Yes, this one is in the dictionary, but still…

5. Scraps a few words in speech (7)

Answer: AFFRAYS (i.e. “scraps”). “In speech” indicates the solution is a homophone of A PHRASE (i.e. “a few words”).

9. Check canine? (8)

Answer: DOGTOOTH. I’m taking issue with this one, but let’s play along with the setter for a second. The clue supposedly riffs on how the solution is both a broken “check” pattern used in some tweeds, as well as a “canine” tooth. Trouble is, my Chambers has this as DOGSTOOTH (houndstooth is another such pattern). It has entirely different definitions for DOGTOOTH. I’m assuming dictionaries differ on this, so there’s only one way to solve this situation… FIGHT!!!!

13. Dreadfully crude cuts in Manchester, due to conditions (5,3,13)

Answer: UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES (i.e. “due to conditions”). “Dreadfully” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CRUDE CUTS IN MANCHESTER.

14. Bombardment on town primarily, then country (8)

Answer: THAILAND (i.e. “country”). Solution is HAIL (i.e. “bombardment”) placed “on” or after T (i.e. “town primarily”, i.e. the first letter of “town”) and followed by AND (i.e. “then”), like so: T-HAIL-AND. Not a classic.

15. Part of mechanism leaking fluid (7)

Answer: LINKAGE (i.e. “part of mechanism”). “Fluid” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LEAKING. A clue that scans rather well.

16. Co-ordinated report of high water? (4,2)

Answer: TIED IN (i.e. “co-ordinated”). “Report of” indicates the solution is a homophone of TIDE IN (i.e. “high water”).

17. A close relative cutting exercise, so it seems (10)

Answer: APPARENTLY (i.e. “so it seems”). Solution is A followed by PARENT (i.e. “close relative”) which is placed in or “cutting” PLY (i.e. “[to] exercise”), like so: A-P(PARENT)LY.

20. Eastern weapon for shooting a politician revealed in correspondence (12)

Answer: EPISOLATORY (i.e. “revealed in correspondence”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “Eastern”) followed by PISTOL (i.e. “weapon for shooting”) and then A TORY (i.e. “a politician”). Another clue that scans rather well.

23. Hat requiring some dagger-like pins (4)

Answer: KEPI (i.e. “hat” – think of old photos of French army types and there you are. Don’t worry, I didn’t know it either.) “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: DAGGER-LI(KE PI)NS.

24. Diplomatic prison guard briefly incarcerated by regime (8)

Answer: DISCREET (i.e. “diplomatic”). Solution is SCREW (i.e. “prison guard”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and placed into or “incarcerated by” DIET (i.e. “regime”), like so: DI(SCRE)ET. Another clue that scans rather well.

26. Two locals, the first in California to find mineral (8)

Answer: CINNABAR (i.e. “mineral” – another one for which I had to fall back on my Bradford’s, given that there are hundreds of minerals to choose from). Solution is INN and BAR (i.e. “two locals”, as in public houses). “The first in California” indicates that INN is placed inside of CA (a recognised abbreviation of the US state), like so: C(INN)A-BAR.

29. Tam-o-Shanter’s super-hot pepper? (6,6)

Answer: SCOTCH BONNET. Solution satisfies “Tam-o-Shanter” (a traditional Scottish bonnet worn by men) and “super-hot pepper”. Another hat-related solution. There’s more to come, folks.

30. Break forth and flee Forces in disarray (10)

Answer: EFFLORESCE (i.e. “break forth”). “In disarray” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FLEE FORCES. Cool word. I like it.

32. Take off over area of grassland and bush (4,6)

Answer: MOCK ORANGE (i.e. “bush”). Solution is MOCK (i.e. “take off”, as in to make an impression of someone) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket) and RANGE (i.e. “grassland”). A solution repeated from a few months ago, one hopes not from the same setter.

34. Enthusiastic supporters boost government’s morale? (12)

Answer: CHEERLEADERS (i.e. “enthusiastic supporters”). Solution also satisfies “boost government’s morale”, as in to CHEER LEADERS.

36. US psychiatrist that is ultimately seen amid top rankers (8)

Answer: ALIENTIST (i.e. “US psychiatrist”). Solution is IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. umm… “i.e.”) and N (i.e. “ultimately seen”, i.e. the last letter of “seen”) placed “amid” A-LIST (i.e. “top rankers”), like so: A-L(IE-N)IST.

38. Cake covering when swathed in sauce (8)

Answer: SOLIDIFY (i.e. “[to] cake”). Solution is LID (i.e. “covering”) and IF (i.e. “when”) both placed or “swathed in” SOY (i.e. “sauce”), like so: SO(LID-IF)Y.

39. Eleven motorists cross about origin of journey (4)

Answer: AJAX (i.e. “eleven”, as in a football team, particularly the Dutch Champions League semi-finalists). Solution is AA (i.e. “motorists”, specifically the Automobile Association) and X (i.e. “cross”) placed “about” J (i.e. “origin of journey”, i.e. the first letter of “journey”), like so: A(J)A-X.

41. Because airport’s close, our home proved extremely expensive (4,3,5)

Answer: COST THE EARTH (i.e. “extremely expensive”). Solution is COS (i.e. “because”) followed by T (i.e. “airport’s close”, i.e. the last letter of “airport”) and then THE EARTH (i.e. “our home”).

43. Doctor chips in, say, for his colleagues? (10)

Answer: PHYSICIANS. “[To] doctor” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CHIPS IN SAY. Within the context of the clue, physicians could be “colleagues” of a doctor. A rather well-played clue.

44. When one lacks power, there’s no resistance in assault (6)

Answer: OUTAGE (i.e. “when one lacks power”). Solution is OUTRAGE (i.e. “assault”) with the R removed (indicated by “no resistance” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “resistance” used in physics.)

46. An attempt on record broken by any number in the past (4,3)

Answer: LONG AGO (i.e. “in the past”). Solution is A GO (i.e. “an attempt”) placed “on” or after LOG (i.e. “record”) which is wrapped around or “broken by” N (i.e. “any number”), like so: LO(N)G-A-GO.

48. Disorganised gaggle regularly roaming harbours (8)

Answer: STRAGGLY (i.e. “disorganised”). Solution is GGL (i.e. “gaggle regularly”, i.e. every other letter of GAGGLE) which is placed in or being “harboured” by STRAY (i.e. “roaming”), like so: STRA(GGL)Y.

50. Seize the chance to linger canal-side? Without warning of course (4,4,2,3,8)

Answer: TAKE TIME BY THE FORELOCK (i.e. “seize the chance” – it’s in the dictionary, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard the phrase. Consequently, this was one of the clues that took aaaaaaages to get). Solution is TAKE TIME BY THE LOCK (i.e. “to linger canal-side”) placed around or “without” FORE (i.e. “warning of [golf] course”).

51. Pest controller ceaselessly campaigning? (8)

Answer: WARFARIN, which is a widely prescribed anticoagulant that also acts as a kind of rat poison (i.e. “pest controller”). Solution is WARFARING (i.e. “campaigning”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “ceaselessly”).

52. Customer from the States coming in closer? (3,4)

Answer: END USER (i.e. “customer”). Solution is US (i.e. “the States”) placed “in” ENDER (i.e. “closer”), like so: END(US)ER.

53. Overcoming strong smell, I’m going back inside (6)

Answer: TAMING (i.e. “overcoming”). Solution is TANG (i.e. “strong smell”) with IM reversed (indicated by “going back”) and placed “inside”, like so: TA(MI)NG.

Down clues

2. Uneven grating below par (5)

Answer: ROUGH. Unless my vocabulary deceives me (which happens more than I care to let on) this triple-whammy solution satisfies “uneven”, “grating” and “[feeling] below par”.

3. Singer from capital appended to unbalanced schedule (11)

Answer: MADRIGALIST (i.e. “singer”). This took some getting, but the solution is RIGA (i.e. “capital” city of Latvia) added between or “appended to” MAD (i.e. “unbalanced”) and LIST (i.e. “schedule”), like so: MAD-RIGA-LIST.

4. Talk of banker, fired, having additional liabilities (8)

Answer: SURTAXED (i.e. “having additional liabilities”). Solution is SURT (i.e. “talk of banker”, i.e. a homophone of CERT, as in “a dead cert” – I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: setters, please stop using made-up words as homophones!) followed by AXED (i.e. “fired [from job]”).

5. Did long account on hard press chief (5)

Answer: ACHED (i.e. “did long [for]”). Solution is AC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”) followed by H (ditto “hard”, as used in grading pencils) and ED (i.e. “press chief”, as in an oft-used abbreviation of “editor”).

6. Memory possibly defective, Charlie admitted (7)

Answer: FACULTY (i.e. “memory”). Solution is FAULTY (i.e. “possibly defective”) which is wrapped around or “admitting” C (“Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: FA(C)ULTY.

7. Energy packed FBI agents, in absolute terms (11)

Answer: ARRANGEMENT (i.e. “terms”). Another that took some getting. Solution is G-MEN (i.e. “FBI agents”) wrapped around or “packing” E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”), which is itself wrapped “in” ARRANT (i.e. “absolute”), like so: ARRAN(G(E)MEN)T.

8. Very much America’s March man? (5)

Answer: John Philipe SOUSA, US composer known best for his military music (i.e. “America’s march man” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). One of his most famous compositions was The Liberty Bell, used as the theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Solution is SO (i.e. “very much”) followed by USA (i.e. “America”). A rather cool clue.

9. Depict spy hilariously out of humour (9)

Answer: DYSPEPTIC (i.e. “out of humour”). “Hilariously” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DEPICT SPY.

10. 19th century president’s allowance (5)

Answer: GRANT. Solution satisfies “19th century [US] president” – specifically Ulysses S. Grant – and “allowance”.

11. Arrange theatre score? Just about? (11)

Answer: ORCHESTRATE (i.e. “arrange”). Solution is an anagram (indicated itself by “arrange”) of THEATRE and SCORE once the last letter of “score” has been removed (indicated by “just about”). A comparatively easy get, but I liked this one.

12. More crusty deposit raised bank (7)

Answer: TESTIER (i.e. “more crusty”). Solution is SET (i.e. “[to] deposit”) reversed (indicated by “raised”, this being a down clue) and followed by TIER (i.e. “bank”), like so: TES-TIER.

18. Coach supports gym, limiting runs in early years (9)

Answer: PRESCHOOL (i.e. “early years”). Solution is SCHOOL (i.e. “[to] coach”) preceded by or “supporting” – again, this being a down clue – PE (i.e. “gym”, specifically Physical Education) once it has been wrapped around or “limiting” R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in several ball games), like so: P(R)E-SCHOOL.

19. Hat in good condition obscuring male ears? (7)

Answer: TRICORN (i.e. “hat” – a bit of a mini-theme for the puzzle, it seems). Thanks to the editor of the Times Saturday Review – in which the Times Jumbo Cryptic is published – for putting the answer on the front cover for their Poldark feature. Anyway, the solution is TRIM (i.e. “in good condition”) with the M removed (indicated by “obscuring male” – M being a recognised abbreviation of “male”) and then followed by CORN (i.e. “ears”, as in ears of corn), like so: TRI-CORN.

21. Winning entailed galloping astride horse (2,3,4)

Answer: IN THE LEAD (i.e. “winning”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “galloping”) of ENTAILED wrapped around or “astride” H (a recognised abbreviation of “horse”), like so: INT(H)ELEAD.

22. Outsider welcomes teacher being in capital (8)

Answer: LONDONER (i.e. “being in capital”). Solution is LONER (i.e. “outsider”) placed around or “welcoming” DON (i.e. “teacher”), like so: LON(DON)ER.

25. Criminal retreats with engineer’s coat – could it add to the charge? (9)

Answer: CONDENSER, which can be a type of capacitor (i.e. “could it add to the [electrical] charge”). Solution is CON (i.e. “criminal”) followed by DENS (i.e. “retreats”, as in man-caves) and ER (i.e. “engineer’s coat”, i.e. the first and last letters of “engineer”).

27. Establish a spot to house country’s first queen (9)

Answer: ASCERTAIN (i.e. “establish”). Solution is A STAIN (i.e. “a spot”) wrapped around or “housing” C (i.e. “country’s first”, i.e. the first letter of “country”) and ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: A-S(C-ER)TAIN.

28. Correct delivery is taken in by ruler without delay (8)

Answer: SHARPISH (i.e. “without delay”). Solution is RP (i.e. “correct delivery”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Received Pronunciation, or – in English – saying your shit all proper, like) and IS, which are both “taken in by” SHAH (i.e. “ruler”), like so: SHA(RP-IS)H.

31. Light horse-drawn carriage: a crawler? (7)

Answer: FIREFLY (i.e. “a crawler” – is it though? Is it really? I guess the setter is riffing on creepy crawlies here, but really? A crawler? Really? Hang on, let me check my Chambers in case I’m missing some obscure definition… (riffles pages…) Nope. Thought not. Really, setter? Firefly? A crawler? Are you sure about that? A crawler? Really? Hang on, let me check for obscure references to Joss Whedon’s short-lived TV series…) – [snip] – Solution is FIRE (i.e. “light”) followed by FLY (i.e. “horse-drawn carriage”). An excellent clue, this. Best of the year so far. Five stars.

33. Follow detailed instruction to avoid crossing railway line (4,5,2)

Answer: KEEP TRACK OF (i.e. “follow”). Solution also satisfies “instruction to avoid crossing railway line”, i.e. to KEEP TRACK[SIDE] OF. Not a classic.

34. Harsh complaint impassioned with king’s intervention (11)

Answer: COLDHEARTED (i.e. “harsh”). Solution is COLD (i.e. “complaint”, as in illness) followed by HEATED (i.e. “impassioned”) wrapped around or “intervened” by R (a recognised abbreviation of “king”, specifically the Latin word Rex), like so: COLD-HEA(R)TED.

35. Scene of life class, maybe, where guests are entertained? (7,4)

Answer: DRAWING ROOM. Solution satisfies “scene of life class, maybe” – as in where you get to draw people with no clothes on (the sitter, not you) – and “where guests are entertained”. Note my use of “sitter” there, for I had this down as SITTING ROOM for most of the time. Needless to say, it didn’t help. A good clue, all the same.

37. Dad instructed staff, introducing Higher Education (3,3,3)

Answer: THE OLD MAN (i.e. “Dad”). Solution is TOLD (i.e. “instructed”) and MAN (i.e. “staff”) which are wrapped around or “introducing” HE (a recognised abbreviation of “Higher Education”), like so: T(HE)OLD-MAN.

40. Strongest church beset by strife, suffering (8)

Answer: FIERCEST (i.e. “strongest”). Solution is CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England) placed in or “beset by” an anagram (indicated by “suffering”) of STRIFE, like so: FIER(CE)ST.

42. Top of oak stake tipped prime cactus (7)

Answer: OPUNTIA, better known as a prickly pear (i.e. “cactus”). Score another one for my Bradford’s, here, as you can fit my knowledge of cactuseseses on the… well, the spine of a cactus, I guess. Solution is O (i.e. “top of oak”, i.e. the first letter of “oak”) followed by PUNT (i.e. “[betting] stake tipped”) and AI (i.e. “prime”, as in something that is A1).

43. Use IT perhaps to handle move in train (7)

Answer: PROCESS. Solution satisfies “use IT perhaps to handle” – as in processing data – and “move in train” – as in a procession.

45. When territorial guards submit? (5)

Answer: ENTER (i.e. “submit”). “Guards” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: WH(EN TER)RITORIAL.

47. Lord’s swipe – one bye conceded (5)

Answer: NOBLE (i.e. “lord”). Solution is NOBBLE (i.e. “swipe”, as in to steal rather than to inhibit something) with one of the Bs removed (indicated by “one bye conceded”, B being a recognised abbreviation for a “bye” – a run awarded in cricket scored without the ball being struck by the batsman).

48. Thoroughly clean comb (5)

Answer: SCOUR. Solution satisfies “thoroughly clean” and “[to] comb [through]”.

49. Compare Liberal president with nation’s leader (5)

Answer: LIKEN (i.e. “compare”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “Liberal”) followed by IKE (i.e. “president”, specifically Dwight D. Eisenhower, nicknamed “Ike”) and then N (i.e. “nation’s leader”, i.e. the first letter of “nation”).