Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1382

I guess we were due a proper stinker and, hoooo boy, we got one! There were exotic solutions aplenty in this week’s grid, but at least they were actual words. I’d much rather be camped out in my Chambers during these harder puzzles than a Who’s Who of dead people or the darker recesses of Britain’s botanical gardens. If anything my issue with this week’s puzzle was the poor quality of some of the clues. The setter’s overreliance on using people’s names in particular grew rather tiresome. Anyway, what’s done is done. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

As usual some housekeeping before we begin. If you have an recent Times Jumbo Cryptic for which you are missing some answers, then my Just For Fun page might be of interest. If you have a hankering for horror fiction then my Reviews page might point you in the direction of a few books. I’m currently putting together a review of Best New Horror 6, which I hope to put up after Bank Holiday Monday’s solution, assuming I have one obvs.

Right, I won’t keep you any longer. TTFN!


Across clues

1. Doctor caught pinching journalist’s wine (5)

Answer: MEDOC (i.e. “wine”). Solution is MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games) “pinching” ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “editor”), like so: M(ED)O-C. A really good, tricksy clue this.

4. A woman’s spells on a drug rejected in these parts (10)

Answer: HEREABOUTS (i.e. “in these parts”). Solution is HER BOUTS (i.e. “a woman’s spells”) which is placed around A and E (i.e. “drug”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “ecstasy”) which have been swapped around (indicated by “rejected”), like so: HER-(E-A)-BOUTS.

9. Tactless remark primarily riling the chief electrician (6)

Answer: GAFFER (i.e. “the chief electrician”). Solution is GAFFE (i.e. “tactless remark”) followed by R (i.e. “primarily riling”, i.e. the first letter of “riling”).

14. Strait-laced Carthaginian woman making entry (9)

Answer: PURITANIC (i.e. “strait-laced”). Solution is PUNIC (i.e. “Carthaginian” – an early taste of the kind of puzzle we’re dealing with this week) with RITA (i.e. “woman”) “making entry” like so: PU(RITA)NIC.

15. Questioning politician on eg train or at sea (13)

Answer: INTERROGATORY (i.e. “questioning”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “at sea”) of EG TRAIN OR, followed by TORY (i.e. “politician”). Not a classic.

16. What Parisian left among directions for follow-ups (7)

Answer: SEQUELS (i.e. “follow-ups”). Solution is QUE (i.e. “what Parisian” – the French for “what” is “que”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) placed “among” SES (i.e. “directions” – I’m taking this to be the compass points “south”, “east” and then “south” again). Again, not a classic.

17. Friend eager to carry a new covered litter (9)

Answer: PALANKEEN (i.e. “covered litter”). Solution is PAL (i.e. “friend”) and KEEN (i.e. “eager”) “carrying” A and N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: PAL-(A-N)-KEEN. One I got more or less through the wordplay. While I knew the word palanquin, I had no idea there was an alternative spelling.

18. Horrify a reindeer herder going west (5)

Answer: APPAL (i.e. “horrify”). Solution is A then LAPP, a native of Lapland (i.e. “reindeer herder”) which is reversed (indicated by “going west”, this being an across clue), like so: A-PPAL.

19. How it dries rice out? That’s novel (5,4,5)

Answer: CIDER WITH ROSIE, a “novel” by Laurie Lee. “Out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HOW IT DRIES RICE.

22. Pole with old hat in distant settlement (7)

Answer: OUTPOST (i.e. “distant settlement”). Solution is POST (i.e. “pole”) with OUT (i.e. “old”) placed on top like a “hat”, like so: OUT-POST. Probably would have worked better as a down clue.

25. Son finally abandons water-starved sheep in fairish number (10)

Answer: THIRTYFOLD (i.e. “fairish number”). Solution is THIRSTY FOLD (i.e. “water-starved sheep”) with the S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) removed. I’m not quite sure where “finally” factors into it, mind, so I might be wrong.

27. Crossing ocean it finally moved quickly, having particular sound (12)

Answer: TRANSPACIFIC (i.e. “crossing ocean”). Solution is T (i.e. “it finally”, i.e. the last letter of “it”) followed by RAN (i.e. “moved quickly”) and then SPACIFIC (i.e. “having particular sound”, i.e. a homophone of “specific” – I’m seldom impressed when setters use non-existent words as homophones in their solutions, but this takes some beating).

30. Italian fellow’s regularly alluring air (5)

Answer: LUIGI (i.e. “Italian fellow” – for non-existent homophones, see also people’s names). “Regularly” indicates the solution is derived through removing every other letter of ALLURING AIR.

31. Confuse viewpoint of otolaryngologists? (8)

Answer: ENTANGLE (i.e. “confuse”). “Otolaryngologists” are specialists in the ear, nose and throat areas of the body, often abbreviated to ENT. The clue therefore hints the “viewpoint” of such specialists would be an ENT ANGLE.

32. One of Mitford’s aristos accepting suggestion for psalm (8)

Answer: ANTIPHON, which is a type of church music sung by two parties each responding to the other (i.e. “psalm”). Bear with me here. In the novel The Pursuit of Love by Nancy “Mitford” there are upper-crust characters collectively named The Hons. One such “aristo” would therefore be AN HON. “Accepting” TIP (i.e. “suggestion”), you would then get: AN-(TIP)-HON. Don’t worry, I’ve not read her either.

35. Study dance, providing fee for postponement (8)

Answer: CONTANGO, which, in stockbroking circles, is a percentage paid by the buyer to the seller of stock for keeping back its delivery until the next settlement day (i.e. “fee for postponement”). Solution is CON (an archaic word for “study” often used by setters in their solutions) followed by TANGO (i.e. “dance”). A small admission: I’ve worked in the industry for donkey’s years (albeit very much back-office) and I’ve never come across this word before, probably because 99+% of stock delivery is now done electronically. Cool word, all the same, though not as good as scripophily. Anyway, I’m blathering…

36. Detached Roman statesman with animals from the east (8)

Answer: STACCATO, a musical term for notes that are “detached” or disconnected. Solution is CATO (i.e. “Roman statesman” – there were a couple of them to choose from) preceded by CATS (i.e. “animals”) which is reversed (indicated by “from the east”, this being an across clue), like so: STAC-CATO.

37. Outspoken woman receiving military commander (5)

Answer: VOCAL (i.e. “outspoken”). Solution is VAL (i.e. “woman”, short for Valerie) “receiving” OC (i.e. “military commander”, specifically an Officer Commanding), like so: V(OC)AL.

39. Upright rider’s second woman at frontier, we hear (12)

Answer: SKATEBOARDER (i.e. “upright rider”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) followed by KATE (i.e. “woman”, short for Katherine) and then BOARDER (i.e. “frontier, we hear”, i.e. a homophone of “border”).

41. Saw about taking to the water and making merry (10)

Answer: WASSAILING (i.e. “making merry”). Solution is SAW reversed (indicated by “about”) and followed by SAILING (i.e. “taking to the water”).

43. Cleft stick girl’s found by river at Pontypridd (7)

Answer: DISTAFF, which is a “cleft stick” used to keep hold of the wool in spinning. Solution is DI’S (i.e. “girl’s” – I was getting weary of the setter’s overuse of people’s names in their clues by this point) followed by TAFF (i.e. “river at Pontypridd”).

45. Mount further industrial action, ringing pub to agree on terms (6,1,7)

Answer: STRIKE A BARGAIN (i.e. “agree on terms”). Solution is GAIN (i.e. “[to] further”) “mounted” by STRIKE (i.e. “industrial action”) and then split around or “ringing” A BAR (i.e. “pub”), like so: STRIKE-(A-BAR)-GAIN. Again, not a great one, this.

48. Singers in Cuba’s side streets (5)

Answer: BASSI (i.e. “singers”, a plural of the Italian term “basso”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: CU(BA’S SI)DE.

49. Gangster’s way to enter parts of builder’s course (9)

Answer: CAPSTONES, which are the top or finishing stones of a structure (i.e. “parts of builder’s course”). Solution is CAPONE’S (i.e. “gangster’s”, specifically Al Capone) with ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”) “entering”, like so: CAP(ST)ONES.

51. Foot of giant bird encountered in the east (7)

Answer: TROCHEE, which, in prosody, is a “foot” of two syllables, a long followed by a short. Yeah, me neither. This was one I got purely through the wordplay. Solution is ROC (i.e. a “giant bird” of legend) placed “in” THE and E (a recognised abbreviation of “east”), like so: T(ROC)HE-E.

53. Slow mover gets into a riot, carelessly (5,8)

Answer: GIANT TORTOISE (i.e. “slow mover”). “Carelessly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GETS INTO A RIOT.

54. Talmudic scholar’s chatter about rejection of wrongdoing (9)

Answer: RABBINIST (i.e. “Talmudic scholar”). Solution is RABBIT (i.e. “chatter”) placed “about” SIN (i.e. “wrongdoing”) reversed (indicated by “rejection”), like so: RABBI(NIS)T.

55. Fully developed type demanding change of leader (6)

Answer: MATURE (i.e. “fully developed”). Solution is NATURE (i.e. “type”) with a “change of leader” or initial letter. The only other word it can be is “mature”.

56. Uncultivated Greek character given inventory in English (10)

Answer: PHILISTINE (i.e. “uncultivated”). Solution is PHI (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by LIST (i.e. “inventory”) then IN and finally E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”).

57. Part of spring attached to 50% of beds, perhaps (5)

Answer: MAYBE (i.e. “perhaps”). Solution is MAY (i.e. “part of spring [months]”) followed by BE (i.e. “50% of beds”, specifically the first 50%).

Down clues

1. Like Eeyore’s second expression of impatience (6)

Answer: MOPISH (i.e. “like Eeyore”). Solution is MO (i.e. “second”, specifically a short form of “moment”) followed by PISH (i.e. “expression of impatience”).

2. Quiet old insider prepared to return to civilian employment (13)

Answer: DEREQUISITION (i.e. “return to civilian employment”). “Prepared” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of QUIET INSIDER and O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”).

3. Piece of meat – item regularly forming dish (5)

Answer: CUTIE (i.e. “dish”, as in a smart girl or something cute – I know it’s a recognised word but there’s something about it that feels profoundly creepy these days). Solution is CUT (i.e. “piece of meat”) followed by IE (i.e. “item regularly”, i.e. every other letter of ITEM), like so: CUT-IE.

4. Passes first of workmen carrying a tool (7)

Answer: HANDSAW (i.e. “tool”). Solution is HANDS (i.e. “passes”) and W (i.e. “first of workmen”, i.e. the first letter of “workmen”) “carrying” A, like so: HANDS-(A)-W.

5. Go over again, about to surrender (12)

Answer: RECAPITULATE (i.e. “go over again”). Solution is RE (i.e. “about”, often used in email replies) followed by CAPITULATE (i.e. “to surrender”).

6. Fax Mary starts off about affliction of the armpit (8)

Answer: AXILLARY (i.e. “of the armpit”). Solution is FAX and MARY with the initial letters removed (indicated by “starts off”) and the remaining letters wrapped “about” ILL (i.e. “affliction”), like so: AX-(ILL)-ARY. Another I got purely from the wordplay.

7. Like some cereal Oscar put away before noon (5)

Answer: OATEN (i.e. “like some cereal”). Solution is O (“Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by ATE (i.e. “put away”) and then N (a recognised abbreviation of “noon”).

8. Like a Weill opera, costing very little once (10)

Answer: THREEPENNY. Solution satisfies “like a Weill opera”, referencing Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, and “costing very little once”, referring to the old threepenny bit.

10. Insistent a worker must shore up barrier (7)

Answer: ADAMANT (i.e. “insistent”). Solution is A and ANT (i.e. “worker”) wrapped around or “shoring up” DAM (i.e. “barrier”), like so: A-(DAM)-ANT.

11. Completely safe dessert, one originally consumed by academic (9)

Answer: FOOLPROOF (i.e. “completely safe”). Solution is FOOL (i.e. “dessert”) followed by O (i.e. “one originally”, i.e. the first letter of “one”) placed in or “consumed by” PROF (i.e. “academic”), like so: FOOL-PR(O)OF.

12. Member of ruling family put up by Republican circle (5)

Answer: ROYAL (i.e. “member of ruling family”). Solution is LAY (i.e. “put”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and fronted “by” R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”) and O (i.e. “circle”), like so: R-O-YAL.

13. Intimates favour crooked man in scoop (4,10)

Answer: BOON COMPANIONS (i.e. “intimates”). Solution is BOON (i.e. “favour”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “crooked”) of MAN IN SCOOP. This was the last clue I solved and took some doing even though “companions” was an easy get. The solution is not a phrase I’m familiar with and doesn’t feature in my Chambers. Nicely played, all the same.

20. Free former con briefly at end of sentence (9)

Answer: EXTRICATE (i.e. “free”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) followed by TRICK (i.e. “con”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”), then AT and then E (i.e. “end of sentence”, i.e. the last letter of “sentence”), like so: EX-TRIC-AT-E. A good clue that scans rather well.

21. Vestment certain to incorporate new clip (8)

Answer: SURPLICE (i.e. “vestment”). Solution is SURE (i.e. “certain”) “incorporating” an anagram (indicated by “new”) of CLIP, like so: SUR(PLIC)E. Another I got purely through the wordplay and only once I’d had a few letters filled in.

23. Practical sciences only the GOC deployed (10)

Answer: TECHNOLOGY (i.e. “practical sciences”). “Deployed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ONLY THE GOC.

24. Stressed computer studies woman with daughter touring islands (10)

Answer: ITALICISED (i.e. “stressed”). Solution is IT (i.e. “computer studies” – this is weak in my opinion: computer studies and information technology aren’t necessarily the same; the former is a relatively small subset of the latter #PedantsYay) followed by ALICE (i.e. “woman” – sigh…) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) placed around or “touring” IS (ditto “islands”), like so: IT-ALIC(IS)E-D.

26. Experience efficient estate manager’s sense of wellbeing (4-4,6)

Answer: FEEL-GOOD FACTOR (i.e. “sense of wellbeing”). Solution is FEEL (i.e. “experience”) followed by GOOD FACTOR (i.e. “efficient estate manager”). For a while I had the first two words of this clue as “good-will”, which was clearly not the case. Nicely played, setter.

28. Nagging civilian in garrison principally restricting husband (9)

Answer: CHIVVYING (i.e. “nagging”). Solution is CIVVY (i.e. “civilian”) followed by IN and then G (i.e. “garrison principally”, i.e. the first letter of “garrison”), which are all wrapped around or “restricting” H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”), like so: C(H)IVVY-IN-G.

29. Woollen items knight placed among gear on river (8)

Answer: KNITWEAR (i.e. “woollen items”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “knight” used in chess) “placed among” KIT (i.e. “gear”) and then followed by WEAR (i.e. “river”), like so: K(N)IT-WEAR. Another clue that scans rather well.

33. Greek character with house worked in mythic Asian port (2,3,4,4)

Answer: HO CHI MINH CITY (i.e. “Asian port”). Solution is CHI (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet) placed “with” or behind HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”) and then followed by an anagram (indicated by “worked”) of IN MYTHIC, like so: HO-CHI-MINHCITY.

34. Artist in Irish county composed airs outside eastern inn (12)

Answer: CARAVANSERAI, which is a kind of unfurnished “inn” in some Eastern countries in which caravans stop. Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) placed “in” CAVAN (i.e. “Irish county”) and followed by an anagram (indicated by “composed”) of AIRS which itself is placed “outside” of E (a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”), like so: CA(RA)VAN-S(E)RAI. Not a word I was familiar with, but I rather like it.

38. Peevish type giving mongrel a common dog’s name (10)

Answer: CROSSPATCH (i.e. “peevish type”). Solution is CROSS (i.e. “mongrel”) followed by PATCH (i.e. “a common dog’s name” – hmm, really?). Another word I wasn’t familiar with, but another I rather like.

40. One leaving Francis’s place beat rear of flippant aide (9)

Answer: ASSISTANT (i.e. “aide”). Solution is ASSISI (i.e. “[Saint] Francis’s place”) with the final I removed (indicated by “[Roman numeral] one leaving”) and then followed by TAN (i.e. “beat”) and T (i.e. “rear of flippant”, i.e. the last letter of “flippant”), like so: ASSIS-TAN-T.

42. Society family not so devoid of cover (8)

Answer: SKINLESS (i.e. “devoid of cover”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “society”) followed by KIN (i.e. “family”) and LESS (i.e. “not so”).

44. One flying aircraft at first by way of rocky peak (7)

Answer: AVIATOR (i.e. “one flying”). Solution is A (i.e. “aircraft at first”, i.e. the first letter of “aircraft”) followed by VIA (i.e. “by way of”) and TOR (i.e. “rocky peak”).

46. Current board suitable for representing on stage (7)

Answer: ACTABLE (i.e. “suitable for representing on stage”). Solution is AC (i.e. “current”, specifically alternating current) followed by TABLE (i.e. “board”).

47. Take up residence in N Yorks town (6)

Answer: SETTLE. Solution satisfies “take up residence” and “N Yorks town”. I’m never keen when setters use tiny towns as solutions – Settle in this case having a population of less than 3,000 people – but they do have a knack of picking towns with some geographical or historical significance. In this case, “Settle” being an actual word helps too!

48. High-ranking Muslim woman, say taken in by tramp (5)

Answer: BEGUM (i.e. “high-ranking Muslim woman”). Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) “taken in by” BUM (i.e. “tramp”), like so: B(EG)UM. One I got through a combination of the wordplay and recent-ish news events.

50. Leaving hospital, get excited and sing (5)

Answer: TRILL (i.e. “sing”). Solution is THRILL (i.e. “get excited”) with the H (a recognised abbreviation of “hospital”) removed or “leaving”.

52. Work on island with hesitation, producing narcotic drug (5)

Answer: OPIUM (i.e. “narcotic drug”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, short for “operation”) followed by I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”) and UM (i.e. “hesitation”).


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1381

Another easyish one this week, though there were a few odd words in there that had me scrabbling through the dictionary. A few well-worked clues helped make this a rather pleasant puzzle overall – a good run of late. You can find my completed grid below, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful in your quest for cruciverbalist perfection.

As usual, some housekeeping before we begin: if you have an old Times Jumbo Cryptic for which you’d like the answers, then my Just For Fun page might see you right. If horror fiction is your thing and you’d like to read me wang on about it, then my Reviews page might be of interest.

Right-oh. On with the show.


Across clues

1. Light rain: Jack sheltering in hollow that’s welcoming (10)

Answer: HOSPITABLE (i.e. “welcoming”). Solution is SPIT (i.e. “light rain”) and AB (i.e. “jack”, specifically a seaman of the Able Bodied variety) “sheltering in” HOLE (i.e. “hollow”), like so: HO(SPIT-AB)LE.

6. Ignorant group is taken in by hacker (4,3,5)

Answer: NONE THE WISER (i.e. “ignorant”). Solution is NONET (i.e. “group”, specifically a group of nine players) followed by HEWER (i.e. “hacker”) “taking in” IS, like so: NONET-HEW(IS)ER. I had the solution right from the off but it took me most of the puzzle to figure out how it was composed. Nicely done.

14. Animal has tail at first, one to cut back (7)

Answer: POLECAT (i.e. “animal”). Solution is T (i.e. “tail at first”, i.e. the first letter of “tail”) followed by ACE (i.e. “one” in cards) and LOP (i.e. “to cut”), all reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: POL-ECA-T.

15. Source of wealth around old church of a distant epoch (7)

Answer: MIOCENE (i.e. “of a distant epoch”, specifically of an era between 23,000,000 and 5,000,000 years ago). Solution is MINE (i.e. “source of wealth”, e.g. a goldmine) placed “around” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: MI(O-CE)NE. I had an idea of what this could be, but it took some rummaging through my Chambers to nail it.

16. Emperor carrying on with unknown character – that’s anything but love? (3-4)

Answer: NON-ZERO (i.e. “that’s anything but love” – a play on “love” being zero in tennis). Solution is NERO (i.e. “emperor”) “carrying” ON and Z (i.e. “unknown character” – setters often use “unknown” to represent X, Y or Z in their solutions), like so: N(ON-Z)ERO.

17. Mock a noted conclusion (4)

Answer: CODA (i.e. “noted conclusion”, as in the end part of a musical composition). Solution is COD (i.e. “mock”) followed by A.

18. Discussion involving Tory – amazing (6)

Answer: CONFAB (i.e. “discussion”, short for confabulation). Solution is CON (a recognised abbreviation of Conservative, i.e. “Tory”) and FAB (i.e. “amazing”).

20. Attentive chap from East Timor? (8)

Answer: DILIGENT (i.e. “attentive”). Solution is DILI (capital of “East Timor”) followed by GENT (i.e. “chap”), as in a DILI GENT. A rather well-worked clue.

24. Now partner has ruined everything, after happening to cause upset (5,1,7,2,3,5)

Answer: THROW A SPANNER IN THE WORKS (i.e. “cause upset”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of NOW PARTNER HAS, followed by IN (i.e. “happening”, as in what is fashionable) and THE WORKS (i.e. “everything”) placed “after” it, like so: THROWASPANNER-IN-THEWORKS.

25. Girl has put short stockings on – hallelujah! (7)

Answer: HOSANNA, an exclamation of praise to God (i.e. “hallelujah”). Solution is ANNA (i.e. “girl”) fronted by or “having put on” HOSE (i.e. “stockings”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”), like so: HOS-ANNA.

26. Friend a nuisance in European city (8)

Answer: BUDAPEST (i.e. “European city”, specifically the capital of Hungary). Solution is BUD (i.e. “friend”) followed by A and PEST (i.e. “nuisance”).

27. In a fine spray deodorant initially contained (6)

Answer: AMIDST (i.e. “in”). Solution is A MIST (i.e. “a fine spray”) “containing” D (i.e. “deodorant initially”, i.e. the first letter of “deodorant”), like so: A-MI(D)ST.

29. Thickness not diminished, roughly about right (5,9)

Answer: THIRD DIMENSION (i.e. “thickness”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “roughly”) of NOT DIMINISHED placed “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: THI(R)DDIMENSION.

31. Pernicious lady about to steal fella’s heart (8)

Answer: DAMNABLE (i.e. “pernicious”). Solution is DAME (i.e. “lady”) placed “about” NAB (i.e. “to steal”) and L (i.e. “fella’s heart”, i.e. the middle letter of “fella”), like so: DAM(NAB-L)E. Another well-worked clue.

34. Interesting it’s coming together (8)

Answer: ENGAGING. Solution satisfies “interesting” and “coming together”, as in getting engaged to marry.

36. Turning scarlet, the sour dessert (9,5)

Answer: CHARLOTTE RUSSE, a kind of cake that, from the images I’ve seen, looks to be around 80% cream, i.e. “dessert”. “Turning” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SCARLET THE SOUR.

39. About to marry deadwood (6)

Answer: REFUSE (as in rubbish, i.e. “deadwood”). Solution is RE (i.e. “about”) and FUSE (i.e. “to marry”).

41. Stairs including an opening (8)

Answer: FANLIGHT, which is a window over a door or another window (i.e. “opening”). Solution is FLIGHT (i.e. “stairs”) “including” AN, like so: F(AN)LIGHT.

43. Anxious over cracks in heater returning (7)

Answer: NERVOUS (i.e. “anxious”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “cracks”) of OVER, which is placed “in” SUN (i.e. “heater”) which is reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: N(ERVO)US.

46. Having saved little US cash, silly granddad, he wed nan, getting severely punished (6,5,3,9)

Answer: HANGED DRAWN AND QUARTERED (i.e. “severely punished” – they didn’t do things by halves back in Middle Ages #exitsstage). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “silly”) of GRANDDAD HE WED NAN, which is placed about or “saving” QUARTER (i.e. “little US cash”), like so: HANGEDDRAWNAND(QUARTER)ED.

47. Quibble darling? Move well back! (8)

Answer: PETTIFOG (i.e. “quibble” – a pettifogger is a solicitor who deals quibblingly with trivial cases). Solution is PET (i.e. “darling”) followed by GO (i.e. “move”) and FIT (i.e. “well”) which are both reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: PET-TIF-OG.

48. State having twisted story, journalist going into it (6)

Answer: SWEDEN (i.e. “state”). Solution is NEWS (i.e. “story”) which is reversed (indicated by “twisted”) and ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of an editor) “going into it”, like so: SW(ED)EN.

49. Suspect image for recollection, provided in terrible case (1-3)

Answer: E-FIT, which is the modern-day equivalent of photofit images of criminals based on eyewitness accounts, (i.e. “suspect image”). Solution is IF (i.e. “provided” – a nod to Clive in the comments section of previous posts for this) placed “in” TE (i.e. “terrible case”, i.e. the first and last letters of the word “terrible”). The whole lot is then reversed (indicated by “for recollection”), like so: E(FI)T. Another well-worked clue.

53. Equal measure in a tumbler originally containing reduced drink (7)

Answer: ALIQUOT (i.e. “equal measure”). Solution is A and T (i.e. “tumbler originally”, i.e. the first letter of “tumbler”) which “contain” LIQUOR (i.e. “drink”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “reduced”), like so: A-(LIQUO)-T. Not a word I’m familiar with, so chalk one to my Chambers for this.

54. Mineral container one returned, awaiting delivery (2,5)

Answer: IN UTERO (i.e. “[of a baby] awaiting delivery”). Solution is ORE (i.e. “mineral”) followed by TUN (i.e. “container”) and I (Roman numeral “one”), all reversed (indicated by “returned”), like so: I-NUT-ERO.

56. Finally abandoning south for north, then a US city (7)

Answer: ATLANTA (i.e. “US city”). Solution is AT LAST (i.e. “finally”) with the S (recognised abbreviation of “south”) “abandoned for” or replaced by N (ditto “north”), “then” followed by A, like so: AT-LANT-A.

57. Drink in exciting bars, say? (3,9)

Answer: HOT CHOCOLATE (i.e. “drink”). Solution is HOT (i.e. “exciting”) followed by CHOLOTATE (i.e. “bars, say”, suggesting one form in which chocolate is served).

58. Sweet wine no great shakes? (10)

Answer: AFTERSHOCK (i.e. “no great shakes” – still rather hairy for anyone unlucky enough to experience them, though). Solution is AFTERS (i.e. “sweet”, as in a pudding) followed by HOCK (i.e. “wine”).

Down clues

1. After trip, stop game (9)

Answer: HOPSCOTCH (i.e. “game”). Solution is HOP (i.e. “trip”) with SCOTCH (i.e. “[to] stop”) placed “after” it.

2. Saucy thing beginning to strip – a boy doing otherwise? (5,8)

Answer: SALAD DRESSING (i.e. “saucy thing”). Solution is S (i.e. “beginning to strip”, i.e. the first letter of “strip”) followed by A LAD (i.e. “a boy”) and DRESSING (i.e. “doing otherwise” – in the context of the clue, one dressing would be the opposite of one stripping).

3. Island, a short distance (4)

Answer: INCH. Solution satisfies a Scottish or Irish word for an “island”, and “a short distance”.

4. Sat on Titanic so agitated, prepare for a battle! (6,8)

Answer: ACTION STATIONS (i.e. “prepare for a battle!”). “Agitated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SAT ON TITANIC SO.

5. In Nepal, a meteor hit (3)

Answer: LAM (i.e. “hit”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: NEPA(L A M)ETEOR.

7. Original ode’s first up for poet (4)

Answer: Wilfred OWEN (i.e. “poet”). Solution is NEW (i.e. “original”) followed by O (i.e. “ode’s first”), which are then reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue), like so: O-WEN.

8. One seeing English tree, it overlooking cape (10)

Answer: EYEWITNESS (i.e. “one seeing”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by YEW (i.e. “tree”), then IT, which are all placed above or “overlooking” (again, this being a down clue) NESS (i.e. a headland or “cape”), like so: E-YEW-IT-NESS.

9. Party bringing leaders of neighbouring nations into prominence (3,5)

Answer: HEN NIGHT (i.e. “party”). Solution is N and N (i.e. “leaders of neighbouring nations”, i.e. the initial letters of “neighbouring” and “nations”) which is placed “into” HEIGHT (i.e. “prominence”), likes so: HE(N-N)IGHT. Another good ‘un.

10. Extraordinary female made up new word where Arabic spoken (6,5)

Answer: WONDER WOMAN (i.e. “extraordinary female”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “made up”) of NEW WORD followed by OMAN (i.e. “where Arabic spoken”).

11. Protected pigs ultimately led there to be slaughtered (9)

Answer: SHELTERED (i.e. “protected”). Solution is S (i.e. “pigs ultimately”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “slaughtered”) of LED THERE.

12. Little jumper, fine top (4)

Answer: ROOF (i.e. “top”). Solution is ROO (i.e. “little jumper”, as in a baby kangaroo) followed by F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine”).

13. Together in neatly arranged houses (8)

Answer: COMBINED (i.e. “together”). Solution is IN which is “housed” within COMBED (i.e. “neatly”), like so: COMB(IN)ED.

19. Lit up at dinnertime, darling goes in to eat (8)

Answer: FLAMBEED (i.e. “lit up at dinnertime”). Solution is LAMB (i.e. “darling”) which “goes in” FEED (i.e. “to eat”), like so: F(LAMB)EED.

21. Identical daughter gets hold of bandage finally for wound (6)

Answer: TWINED (i.e. “wound”). Solution is TWIN D (i.e. “identical daughter” – D being a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) which “gets hold of” E (i.e. “bandage finally”, i.e. the last letter of “bandage”), like so: TWIN-(E)-D.

22. Inspired by rock, style of music to perform – that’s for dropouts? (4,4)

Answer: TRAP DOOR (i.e. “that’s for dropouts”). Solution is RAP (i.e. “style of music”) and DO (i.e. “to perform”) which is placed in or “inspired by” TOR (i.e. “rock”), like so: T(RAP-DO)OR. Another clue that scans rather well.

23. Weariest when travelling, in a kind of way (2,2,4)

Answer: AS IT WERE (i.e. “in a kind of way”). “When travelling” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WEARIEST.

28. Mean knock? (7,7)

Answer: BATTING AVERAGE. In cricket, a “knock” is a batsman’s score in a single innings, while “mean” is another word for “average”).

29. Ecclesiastical governors the chief enemy in conclusion (8)

Answer: THEARCHY (i.e. “ecclesiastical governors”). Solution is THE followed by ARCH (i.e. “chief”) and Y (i.e. “enemy in conclusion”, i.e. the last letter of “enemy”).

30. English town succeeded before the French city (2,6)

Answer: ST HELENS (i.e. “English town”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) followed by THE and LENS (i.e. “French city”).

32. Singer ending in club like so, for enjoyable party (5,8)

Answer: BASSO PROFUNDO (i.e. “singer” – never heard of him #lamejoke). Solution is B (i.e. “ending in club”, i.e. the last letter of “club”) followed by AS (i.e. “like”), then SO, then PRO (i.e. “for”), then FUN (i.e. “enjoyable”) and DO (i.e. “party”), like so: B-AS-SO-PRO-FUN-DO.

33. Match fit, perhaps, though no start in store (8)

Answer: BOUTIQUE (i.e. “store”). Solution is BOUT (i.e. “match”) followed by PIQUE (i.e. “fit, perhaps”) which has had its initial letter removed (indicated by “though no start”), like so: BOUT-IQUE. For some reason this took bloody ages for me to get, given only the even letters.

35. Essay on wheat, book totally factual (6,5)

Answer: GOSPEL TRUTH (i.e. “totally factual”). Solution is GO (i.e. “[to] essay”) followed by SPELT (i.e. an inferior variety of “wheat”) and then RUTH (i.e. “book”, as in one of the books of the Old Testament). A comparatively tough clue, this.

37. Curiosity – artist needs it to read between the lines? (6)

Answer: RARITY (i.e. “curiosity”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) followed by IT which is placed “between” RY (i.e. “the lines”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), like so: RA-R(IT)Y.

38. Hot stuff, with nothing in court case being vulgar (10)

Answer: LAVATORIAL (i.e. “vulgar”). Solution is LAVA (i.e. “hot stuff”) followed by O (i.e. “nothing”) which has been placed “in” TRIAL (i.e. “court case”), like so: LAVA-T(O)RIAL.

40. Details I infer scattered around page on book (4,5)

Answer: FINE PRINT (i.e. “details”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “scattered”) of I INFER which is placed “around” P (a recognised abbreviation of “page”), and then followed by NT (i.e. “book”, specifically the New Testament), like so: FINE(P)RI-NT.

42. Criminal comedian admitting beaten, finally (8)

Answer: GANGSTER (i.e. “criminal”). Solution is GAGSTER (i.e. “comedian”) “admitting” N (i.e. “beaten, finally”, i.e. the last letter of “beaten”), like so: GA(N)GSTER.

44. Distract team with song (9)

Answer: SIDETRACK (i.e. “distract”). Solution is SIDE (i.e. “team”) followed by TRACK (i.e. “song”).

45. A bit of water and a second, neither quite finding sea (8)

Answer: ADRIATIC (i.e. “sea”). Solution is A DRIP (i.e. “a bit of water”) “and” A TICK (i.e. “a second”), both of which have their last letters removed (indicated by “neither quite”), like so: A-DRI-A-TIC.

50. Dish – or pot? (4)

Answer: HASH. Solution satisfies both “dish” and “pot”, as in hashish.

51. Sculptor’s piece in pieces! (4)

Answer: BUST. Solution satisfies “sculptor’s piece” and “in pieces”. I rather liked this one.

52. Something more luxurious, cut (4)

Answer: PLUS (i.e. “something more”). Solution is PLUSH (i.e. “luxurious”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “cut”).

55. A female with nothing up top? (3)

Answer: OAF (i.e. “[having] nothing up top”, as in one having no brain). Solution is A then F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) with O (i.e. “nothing”) placed “up top” of them, this being a down clue, like so: O-A-F. Another I rather liked.

Review: Best New Horror 5

(If you would like an overview of the stories published in the first four books of the series, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

Best New Horror 5 showcases twenty-nine horror shorts that were published during 1993 and was the last instalment of the series to be edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell. As with previous books in the series, Best New Horror 5 is a mixed bag with runs of good stories here and there. A strong finish to the anthology helps push this into 4/5 territory.

As for the stories themselves, let’s take a look:

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

Later – Michael Marshall Smith (4/5 – A man watches in horror as his beloved Rachel is cruelly knocked down in a hit-and-run accident. She dies in his arms a moment later. Our man is devastated and tries his best to get through the awful events that must follow, such as informing Rachel’s parents, attending her funeral and wake, and adjusting to living alone in a house still filled with her effects. Soon after the funeral, and unable to face life without her, he goes to macabre lengths to bring Rachel back home. This was a good read with touching and believable expressions of grief, but was spoiled slightly the moment the supernatural was brought in. Slight spoiler – this was originally published in a zombie anthology, so I guess it had to go there, but I reckon Later would have packed a bigger punch had it ended just before the zombie stuff kicked in.)

When The Red Storm Comes – Sarah Smith (4/5 – We’re in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. Peace talks are taking place between Russia and Japan, and the town is awash with foreign diplomats and their entourages. Amid the hubbub Susan Wentworth finds herself the subject of Count Ferenc Zohary’s intense interest. He promises to make her a vampire, just like him – if he is indeed what he says he is. Horror veterans will have read umpteen stories of vampire rumpy such as this over the years, but the interesting setting makes this worth a look.)

The Exhibit – Martin Plumbridge (4/5 – Suzie is enduring a succession of drab beach-side attractions with her father, all the while wishing she was somewhere else. When her father suggests they try The Wax Museum, Suzie stays put and sends him in on his own. When he fails to materialise some time later, Suzie and the museum’s attendant head in to investigate. I liked this more than I thought I would, given the setup. The story goes in some unexpected directions, which helps to build a satisfyingly creepy atmosphere.)

Leavings – Kathe Koja (3/5 – Gordon finds he is being haunted by the long choking hair of his dead lover Sophy. He’s pulling hair from the back of his throat, from his food, from his drink, seemingly everywhere. But why is Sophy haunting him so? I wasn’t terribly keen on this the first time around. It’s told in an increasingly cut-up style to give us a sense of the madness taking hold of Gordon, but it didn’t take long for this to get on my nerves. Stories that set themselves up as difficult reads live or die on the willingness of the reader to go along with it, and it soon felt like this was a story that was determined to throw me out. It evidently succeeded as a second reading revealed a wonderfully creepy ending I’d missed the first time around. I’ve therefore upped the score a notch from my original review. Leavings is worth a look if you have the patience for it.)

Originally collected in Bryant’s “Darker Passions”

Human Remains – Edward Bryant (3/5 – A group of women meet at a hotel. They dine together even though they have never met before. They are each survivors of a man recently executed for serial rape and murder, and the women exchange their experiences of him. Vicky shares the story of her narrow escape but leaves out a few crucial details, not least that she secretly wishes to feel the thrill of her near-death experience once more. In her bag is a Barbie doll wrapped in its entirety with fishing wire, seemingly left for her in the ladies’ toilet. A lure, perhaps? I’ve rarely felt as conflicted about a story as I did here. There’s a nasty undercurrent that grows the longer you dwell on it. Scored purely on the unease the story creates, this would be a 5/5, but I can’t say I liked this one.)

Also collected in Royle’s “Mortality”

Flying Into Naples – Nicholas Royle (3/5 – Royle fills the “holiday horror” slot for this particular instalment of Best New Horror with a weird slipstreamy story about a divorcee jetting into Naples in the hope of re-engaging with an old flame, Flavia. On his travels he experiences a bizarre episode, meeting a dying man not unlike himself who tells him where Flavia lives. When he tracks her down our man finds that Flavia only really comes alive when she is in her car. At all other times she is almost grey and lifeless, as if she is gathering a fine layer of dust like everything else around town. Flavia also claims to have been widowed six times, an enigmatic warning our man would do well to heed. I wasn’t overly keen on this story from the outset. My unshakeable impression was that we were on holiday with a stalker, and I’m not entirely convinced that was intentional. The story is rescued somewhat by the impressive sense of place Royle creates, giving us a good flavour of Naples and its surrounding areas.)

Also collected in Brite’s “Swamp Foetus”

The Sixth Sentinel – Poppy Z. Brite (5/5 – In this superb ghost story we are in the company of Jean Lafitte, feared pirate and privateer of New Orleans’ French Quarter during the mid-nineteenth century. Now long dead, he haunts his old stamping grounds. In one such place lives Rosalie Smith, a world-weary twentysomething who strips by night and fills the rest of her waking hours slugging hard liquor. Jean is smitten and is not shy about making himself known to her. Rosalie is unconcerned by his presence, often talking freely with him, but she flatly refuses his offers of undiscovered treasure. She’s not keen on digging stuff up. Keen to ease Rosalie’s mental hurt, Jean enters her dreams to find the source of her pain. But is that his only motivation? If you liked His Mouth Will Taste Of Wormwood, Brite’s story in Best New Horror 2 (and also collected in Swamp Foetus) then you’ll love this. Unmissable.)

The Brothers – Rick Cadger (4/5 – Ian is driving home with his odious brother-in-law, Neville, who is stopping over for a few days. Home is the picturesque village of Galham with its pair of large serpentine statues erected like bookends on either side: The Brothers Bokovan and Yusenoi. Only those born of Galham can see The Brothers and each Galhamite has allegiance to one or the other. The Brothers quietly bless their subjects with success and longevity in return for their loyalty… and for a once-in-a-lifetime test of their faith. Events take a bizarre turn when, upon arriving home, Ian suddenly finds himself a guest; that somehow his wife is now married to Neville. This story has no right to work as well as it does. For a start it’s written in the second person, a tough sell for me. Not only that, The Brothers operates solely and unapologetically on its own terms and it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. And yet it’s a wonderfully weird read. Definitely worth a look.)

The Owen Street Monster – J. L. Comeau (4/5 – A mean and mighty fine story told entirely as a sequence of phone calls made by Janine, the neighbourhood queen bee, to her closest friends. It seems some of Janine’s friends aren’t coping very well. Some are doubting whether the titular monster they’d killed was a monster at all. To say any more would be to give the game away, suffice to say this is a devilishly fun short.)

Also collected in Klein’s “Reassuring Tales”

One Size Eats All – T. E. D. Klein (4/5 – Continuing the devilish fun is a story in which a young lad, Andy, receives a sleeping bag for Christmas. Both he and his older brother are planning to camp out on Mount Wendigo, so this is all very well. But the packaging seems to contain a misprint, declaring the sleeping bag to be “One Size Eats All”. At least Andy hopes it’s a misprint. Though this story was written for kids, Klein doesn’t shy away from pressing all the scary buttons. A mighty fine way to spend ten minutes.)

Mulligan’s Fence – Donald R. Burleson (4/5 – Kelly returns to the neighbourhood where she grew up. The apartment block in which she lived is long gone, razed to the ground, but old man Mulligan’s fence still stands. Kelly scans the wood, running her fingers over the initials carved there, remembering the names, unaware she is also somehow drawing some of her old childhood friends back to the fence. For the most part this was a straight-up 3/5. As short as the story was, it lingered much too long on a roll call of inconsequential characters from Kelly’s past, but the Tales-From-The-Crypt-style ending just about rescued it.)

How She Dances – Daniel Fox (4/5 – Michael shares a taxi with Alice, who is trying to get home to her baby, Anne-Marie. Michael is wary of Alice from the off. She seems unstable, speaking in halting sentences, struggling to get her meaning across, but one thing becomes clear: Alice didn’t arrange a babysitter. Michael is concerned for Anne-Marie’s welfare but soon comes to regret not leaving well enough alone. Like Kathe Koja’s Impermanent Mercies (featured in Best New Horror 3) this story reminded me of a nightmarish sketch in Chris Morris’s Blue Jam radio show (the sketch with the plumber, he says tiptoeing around spoilers). It’s a good read, though one that is guilty of forever warning the reader of the horror to come, which is a rather cheap way of building tension.)

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

Passages – Karl Edward Wagner (3/5 – Three old friends meet at a school reunion and fall into a conversation detailing their secret horrors. Freddie tells how his sisters and their friends would dress him up in girls clothes. Marcia tells of how she was convinced she had spiders infesting her tight curly hair. Grant, a surgeon, tells of his hatred of needles – and how he managed to overcome his fear. For me, this was a misfire. Wagner does a good job of building up the story, creating a sense of unease as Grant tells his tale, but the payoff is underwhelming.)

Easing The Spring – Sally Roberts Jones (3/5 – A folksy horror tale which sees an environmental campaigner introduced to a young woman called Ceri in a somewhat obvious matchmaking attempt by Ceri’s grandmother. They hit it off, which turns out to be bad news for our man. This was okay, but most readers will be familiar with a number of other stories along these lines, not least of which *cough* a certain cult 1970’s British horror film starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward *cough*. Goodness me, that was a long cough.)

Also collected in the Tems’ “In Concert: The Collected Speculative Fiction”

Safe At Home – Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem (2/5 – Melinda is struggling to cope in her relationship with Charlie. Scenes of her inner conflict, of the horrors she experiences when they become intimate, are intercut with snatches of dialogue from Uncle Pat to his niece, Mandy, and Uncle Pat loves Mandy so very, very much. Boy, did this story piss me off the first time around. The Tems’ attempt to conflate child sex abuse and hairy Lovecraftian squid-sex, real or imagined, later in Mandy/Melinda’s life felt horribly misjudged; an opinion that hasn’t changed after a second reading. The subject matter is bad enough. Tacking monsters onto it serves only to cheapen the real horror at the centre of the story. Worse still, this grubby shocker was originally published in an anthology of erotic horror called Hottest Blood. I’m going to take erotic at its broadest meaning here – that of relating to sexual desire rather than arousing it – because the idea of someone getting their jollies off of this story doesn’t bear thinking about.)

Also collected in Fowler’s “Flesh Wounds”

Mother Of The City – Christopher Fowler (4/5 – Douglas hates London. He hates how his friends have all moved there and made successes of their lives. Perhaps most of all he hates how he has been left behind. After sleepwalking through much of his twenties he suddenly has the good fortune to meet a young advertising executive, Michelle, through a work commission. To Douglas’s surprise, they hit it off. It seems life has turned a corner for our man, but it doesn’t take long for the cracks in their relationship to show. Unlike Douglas, Michelle absolutely adores London and when our man lets slip his true feelings about the place Michelle takes it to heart. After their differences manifest themselves into a full-blown row, Douglas soon regrets his idiocy and begs Michelle for another chance. When she agrees to meet him for dinner on her turf, Douglas finds London doesn’t want to play ball. Another winner from Fowler.)

Also collected in Hand’s “Last Summer at Mars Hill”

Justice – Elizabeth Hand (3/5 – Janet is a journalist who is stranded in a one-horse town after her editor pulls the story she’s working on. She is told to investigate a nearby cattle mutilation instead. Janet is furious, but reluctantly goes along with it. Later, she spies a familiar-looking RV parked in town with what sound like two huge dogs shut up inside. The RV belongs to itinerant lawyer, Irene Kirk, who Janet discovers has her own sense of justice. Hand’s excellent story The Bacchae in Best New Horror 3 was a modern take on Euripides’s tragedy. She dips into Greek mythology again for Justice, but doesn’t quite succeed. The story takes an age to get going, and feels overlong as a result.)

Also collected in Newman’s “Famous Monsters”

The Big Fish – Kim Newman (3/5 – From one author attempting to relive recent glories, it seems, to another. Newman gave us the superb Red Reign in Best New Horror 4, which was a fantastic mash-up of literary and real-life characters set in Victorian London, which then gave rise to his Anno Dracula series. In this novelette he tries another mash-up, this time plonking a Chandleresque private detective into a Lovecraftian world, but on this occasion he comes up short. The near-constant wisecracking of our shamus soon becomes tiresome, and the rather dry roll-call of names and movies dumped into the first half of the story could have been better spent developing some of the characters. In the end I suspect this was a lot more fun for Newman to write than it was for me to read.)

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

In The Desert Of Deserts – Thomas Tessier (3/5 – A man is crossing the Sahara desert because plot. (I’m not kidding. At no point do we know why he’s doing this, suffice to say that he is and he’s doing it in a Range Rover packed full of – air quotes – expensive equipment. Anyway, back to the plot.) He is advised to only drive at night by the locals, but soon finds this impractical. The roads, or at least what exists of them, are almost impossible for him to follow. He switches to daytime driving, but soon discovers why he was advised to drive at night. The next morning he finds footprints circling his camp, a presence that seems to haunt him every time he stops for the night. This was okay – Tessier’s depiction of the Sahara is a highlight – but the ending is weak.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Under The Crust”

Two Returns – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – We’re on the up again now with a wonderful Jamesian ghost story from a writer who would go on to make a number of welcome appearances in Best New Horror. In Two Returns we follow Mr Rudge, an old man who one evening witnesses a caped silhouetted figure standing manfully on a darkened railway platform. Rudge is alarmed to see glimpses of this shadowy figure all the way home. The shadow always seems to stay ahead of him. When Rudge gets in through the front door he finds a decidedly unwelcome cape hanging on his coat-hook. I picked up a copy of Lamsley’s Under The Crust, from which this story is taken, at the most recent World Fantasy Convention. Sadly that was all I did as the thing would have cost me $400 to purchase. Cripes!)

The Moment The Face Falls – Chet Williamson (4/5 – Paul Kenyon is a former screenwriter who knocks out a steady stream of pseudonymous novels to make ends meet. Out of the blue he receives a phone call from a producer who really, really liked that western he wrote decades ago – the one with Jimmy Stewart, the one directed by Anthony Mann – and he wants Kenyon to write the screenplay of a soon-to-be-published nailed-on bestseller. After so long in the wilderness things are finally looking up for Kenyon. What could possibly go wrong? Though not strictly speaking a horror story, it still has a certain Tales Of The Unexpected vibe to it. If you liked that show – and I very much did – then you’ll lap this up.)

Also collected in Somtow’s “The Pavilion of Frozen Women”

Darker Angels – S. P. Somtow (4/5 – This extraordinary story was originally published in an anthology called Confederacy Of The Dead, and it ticks pretty much every box of that premise. We’re witnessing the last dregs of the American Civil War through the eyes of Jimmy Lee, a fourteen-year-old boy left picking his way through a battlefield carpeted with the corpses of Confederate troops. Amid the carnage he meets Old Joseph, a former slave who seems to remember Jimmy from a decade earlier, and who is skilled in magic as old as the rivers and mountains of this young America. This is a terrific story – certainly a highlight of the book – but is sadly let down by an ending which feels at odds with the message it was trying to convey. Somtow would later develop this story into his novel Darker Angels, which I might have to seek out.)

The Timbrel Sound Of Darkness – Kathe Koja & Barry N. Malzberg (2/5 – The ghost of Jack the Ripper (or Springheel Jack, take your pick) takes to haunting Sir Arthur Sullivan (one half of Gilbert & Sullivan). Well, “haunting” is perhaps a bit strong. “Floats about telling Sullivan how shit and worthless his work is and will be in the fullness of time” may be a better description. A bit like me with this pointless story, I guess.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “Noctuary”

The Tsalal – Thomas Ligotti (3/5 – The exhausted people of Moxton are desperate to leave town but find their every effort to escape is thwarted. Something is repelling them. Something is sucking the life out of Moxton, its people and seemingly all existence itself. The only one not affected is Andrew Maness, a man who possesses a book of knowledge called The Tsalal. This is another Lovecraftian effort from Ligotti, who seems here to have shifted from his usual lush storytelling style to the kind of stale, overly-verbose and hopelessly tangled prose you’d normally expect of H.P. himself. It’s a shame because, once you have hacked your way the turgid first half of the story, The Tsalal really comes alive. Not his best, but worth sticking with.)

In The Still, Small Hours – Charles Grant (4/5 – Lucas is unable to accept that his other half, Joan, has perished in an air crash. He haunts the observation deck of a mostly empty airport nearly every week in the still, small hours. He watches as the last few planes descend and land, waiting for her. There he meets a mysterious man called Daryl, who Lucas assumes has recently landed. It seems Daryl knows a lot about the airport and its workings. Incredibly he also seems to know something about Joan. This was a fine ghost story that was initially a little slow but came to life once Daryl entered the scene. Grant also has some fun messing with your head: not every ghost in this airport is necessarily a person, for example. It’s an effective diversion. Just when you’re mentally separating the real from the ethereal, Grant slots in another of his wonderfully chill endings.)

Also collected in SRT’s “The Far Side Of The Lake”

Ice House Pond – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Bear with me here a moment, folks. Some of you might remember a while ago when TV executives hit upon a weird little phenomena: slow TV. Whether it was two hours of unbroken footage taken from the driver’s seat of a train, or an unhurried and voiceover-free look at someone blowing glass, these shows succeeded in finding a steady audience. This novella is like that, and it absolutely works. The story focuses on Rudy Green as he seeks to rebuild his life following the death of his wife and unborn child. Rudy purchases a rundown house isolated in its own winter wonderland and begins to clear it out. A large frozen pond dominates the immediate landscape, its thick ice a shifting swirling grey. A channel of near-black water runs from the lake to the ice house adjoining the residence. When a neighbour swings by suggesting Rudy harvest the ice, to restock the ice house and to restart an old tradition of building a house of ice with the excess, Rudy agrees. After the horror show of Safe At Home, earlier in the book, this is a much better offering from SRT. Very much worth your time.)

Also collected in Etchison’s “The Death Artist”

The Dog Park – Dennis Etchison (4/5 – This British Fantasy Award-winning short finds a writer called Manning visiting the local dog park on the off-chance he’ll find his lost pooch. The park itself is a thinly-veiled cover for the movers and shakers of the TV and movie industry to gather and network, a scene Manning is all too happy to quit. The local homeowners overlooking the park from their expensive designer pads are keen to close the whole thing down, and they’re certainly not the kind of people to worry about the occasional dog being snatched by the park’s wilder animals. This was a good story but I was surprised to learn it was an award winner.)



Also collected in Wilson’s “The Cleft and Other Odd Tales”

The Marble Boy – Gahan Wilson (5/5 – Two boys break into a graveyard for a ruddy good rummage about the place. They soon find a life-size marble statue of a boy encased in glass. They assume the statue is of a boy buried nearby, a boy in a grave whose stone lid appears to have split in two. Much to George’s horror Andy levers the halves of the stone lid apart and reaches inside the grave. Bad, bad move. This is an excellent horror short that delivers with every paragraph, building up the atmosphere and tension wonderfully before delivering a truly spine-chilling climax.)



Also collected in Ellison’s “Slippage”

Mephisto In Onyx – Harlan Ellison (5/5 – As with the previous book, Best New Horror 5 closes with a barnstorming award-winning novella from a seasoned pro who really knew what he was doing. Rudy Pairis is a mindreader who is asked by Ally, a long-time friend, to help her acquit a convicted mass-murderer, Henry Lake Spanning. Ally confesses she is in love with Spanning, which Rudy finds utterly bizarre given how Ally was the prosecuting attorney who built the case against him in the first place. With only days to go before Spanning’s execution, Rudy very reluctantly agrees to visit him, and so a deadly game commences. Ellison’s writing positively crackles in this twisty-turny tale. Rudy is a great character armed with a number of laugh-out loud opinions, descriptions and turns of phrase. (A security guard being “seven foot in any direction”, is a personal favourite.) It’s worth seeking out a copy of Best New Horror 5 for this story alone.)

And so we reach the end of another mega review of Best New Horror. Thanks for reading! If the stories take your fancy then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a second-hand copy of the book on the interwebs, failing that you should be able to find an eBook copy on all the major platforms.

All being well, I’ll see you soon with a run-through of book 6. TTFN!


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1380

It seems we have an easier puzzle to round off the Bank Holiday weekend, though there were a handful of tricky buggers to contend with. Still, not a bad one, and no repeats! As ever, you’ll find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

If you have an old Times Jumbo Cryptic knocking around with a few gaps then my Just For Fun page might help you. If horror fiction is your bag then my Reviews page might interest. To give you a flavour of what that is all about, you’ll shortly see a review of Best New Horror 5 following this post.

And so to the solutions. I’ll be back in a jiffy!


Across clues

1. Eastern country’s occupied by cold rodents (11)

Answer: CHINCHILLAS (i.e. “rodents”). Solution is CHINA’S (i.e. “eastern country’s”) being “occupied” by CHILL (i.e. “cold”), like so: CHIN(CHILL)AS.

7. Being terribly sinful, ceded, having no-one else to blame? (4-7)

Answer: SELF-INDUCED (i.e. “having no-one else to blame”). “Being terribly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SINFUL CEDED.

13. Like the writer existing with aspirations? Wow! (2,1,4,3,7)

Answer: AS I LIVE AND BREATHE. Solution satisfies “like the writer existing with aspirations” – “the writer” indicates this is from the setter’s point of view, so “like the writer existing” becomes AS I LIVE; meanwhile “aspiration” can be another word for breathing – and the exclamatory “Wow!”. A well-worked clue, if a rather clunky explanation.

14. Small statues said to be in old parts of Egypt? (5)

Answer: NOMES, which can mean provinces or departments of Ancient Egypt or modern Greece, i.e. “old parts of Egypt”. “Said to be” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of GNOMES (i.e. “small statues”). This was a new one on me, so score one to my Chambers. Took some finding, though!

15. Port? Buy it when taking course at Oxford (6)

Answer: DIEPPE (i.e. a fishing “port” of northern France). Solution is DIE (i.e. “[to] buy it”) followed by PPE (i.e. “course at Oxford” – specifically Philosophy, Politics and Economics, in case one subject wasn’t enough).

16. Country hollow in which a storage chest is buried (8)

Answer: PAKISTAN (i.e. “country”). Solution is PAN (i.e. a “hollow” in the ground that can collect rainwater) “in which” A and KIST (i.e. “storage chest” up in Scotland or Northern England, though not one I’m familiar with) “is buried”, like so: P(A-KIST)AN.

17. Worker briefly engaged by woman in Muslim territory (7)

Answer: KHANATE (i.e. “Muslim territory”). Solution is HAND (i.e. “worker”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and placed in or “engaged by” KATE (i.e. “woman”), like so: K(HAN)ATE.

19. About to enter cult, one has to be tight-lipped (9)

Answer: SECRETIVE (i.e. “tight-lipped”). Solution is RE (i.e. “about”, like you get on email replies) “entering” SECT (i.e. “cult”) and followed by I’VE (i.e. “one has”, i.e. a contraction of “I have”), like so: SEC(RE)T-IVE.

21. Best quality regularly associated with one chum (8)

Answer: ULTIMATE (i.e. “best”). “Regularly” indicates we take every other letter of QUALITY, which is then followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and MATE (i.e. “chum”), like so: ULT-I-MATE.

23. English theologian introducing a series of stories (4)

Answer: EDDA, the name of two Scandinavian books, the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, the former of which collect together a “series of stories”. Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by DD (i.e. “theologian”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Divinitatis Doctor, or a Doctor of Divinity) and, finally, A, like so: E-DD-A. I have the hundreds of hours spent playing Skyrim to thank for this one. I knew it would be worth it someday.

25. Devices restricting personal freedom in prisons or clubs (5)

Answer: IRONS. Solution satisfies “devices restricting personal freedom in prisons” – as in “clapped in irons” – and “[golf] clubs”.

27. Character who may offer terms to residents? (6)

Answer: LETTER. Solution satisfies “character” – as in one of the letters A-Z – and “who may offer terms to residents” – as in one who lets property.

28. Aura surrounding Conservative, one knowing what will happen in future? (10)

Answer: PRESCIENCE (i.e. “knowing what will happen in future”). Solution is PRESENCE (i.e. “aura”) “surrounding” C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) and I (Roman numeral “one”), like so: PRES(C-I)ENCE.

30. Captive in small room in home counties in terminal situation (8)

Answer: ENSLAVED (i.e. “captive”). Solution is LAV (i.e. “small room”, specifically a recognised abbreviation for a lavatory, sometimes called the smallest room in the house) which is placed “in” SE (i.e. “home counties”, i.e. the South East of England), which is in turn placed “in” END (i.e. “terminal situation”), like so: EN(S(LAV)E)D.

31. Dicky is mad on oratory – it involves listening to many a star (5,9)

Answer: RADIO ASTRONOMY (i.e. “it involves listening to many a star”). “Dicky” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IS MAD ON ORATORY.

34. Gutted economist in action of castigating the abolition of gold standard? (14)

Answer: DEMONETISATION (i.e. “the abolition of gold standard”). Solution is ET (i.e. “gutted economist”, i.e. the word “economist” with all its middle letters removed), placed “in” DEMONISATION (i.e. “action of castigating”), like so: DEMON(ET)ISATION.

35. Blissful course regularly taken by one female in charge (8)

Answer: BEATIFIC (i.e. “blissful”). Solution is BEAT (i.e. “course regularly taken”, often in relation to police officers) followed “by” I (Roman numeral “one”) and F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) and IC (ditto “in charge”), like so: BEAT-I-F-IC.

38. Expert’s treatise shows what can help a handicapped person (10)

Answer: PROSTHESIS (i.e. “what can help a handicapped person”). Solution is PRO’S (i.e. “expert’s”) followed by THESIS (i.e. “treatise”).

40. Secret agent, good person in trouble (6)

Answer: MOLEST (i.e. “[to] trouble”). Solution is MOLE (i.e. “secret agent”) followed by ST (i.e. “good person”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “saint”). This was the last clue I solved, and I only got it once I’d finally convinced myself it really, really, really wasn’t going to be “covert”. Well played, setter.

41. Christmas month has gold ornamentation (5)

Answer: DÉCOR (i.e. “ornamentation”). Solution is DEC (i.e. “Christmas month”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “December”) followed by OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry, often used by crossword setters in their solutions).

43. Regular competition – waste of time (4)

Answer: EVEN (i.e. “regular”). Solution is EVENT (i.e. “competition”) with the T removed (i.e. “waste of time”, T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”).

44. Where fares are lowest always in part of journey (8)

Answer: STEERAGE (i.e. “where fares are lowest [on a passenger ship]”). Solution is E’ER (i.e. “always”, specifically a poetic contraction of “ever”) placed “in” STAGE (i.e. “part of journey”), like so: ST(EER)AGE.

45. Most superior fellows looking down on a bit of St John’s Wood? (9)

Answer: OVERLORDS. Solution satisfies “most superior fellows” and “looking down on a bit of St John’s Wood”, i.e. OVER LORDS [cricket ground].

48. Lady’s indication – test 75% complete (7)

Answer: SIGNORA (i.e. “lady” in Italian). Solution is SIGN (i.e. “indication”) followed by the first three letters of ORAL (i.e. “test 75% complete”) like so: SIGN-ORA.

49. Schools with prime requirement for ticking box (3,5)

Answer: TEA CHEST (i.e. “box”). Solution is TEACHES (i.e. “schools”) followed by T (i.e. “prime requirement for ticking”, i.e. the first letter of “ticking”).

50. Go astray, as one type of bird around November (6)

Answer: WANDER (i.e. “go astray”). Solution is WADER (i.e. “one type of bird”) placed “around” N (i.e. “November” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: WA(N)DER.

53. Gas from individual on the east side of Australia (5)

Answer: OZONE (i.e. “gas”). Solution is ONE (i.e. “individual”) placed after or, this being an across clue, “on the east side of” OZ (i.e. “Australia”), like so: OZ-ONE.

54. Novel performance of warder in prison show? (3,4,2,3,5)

Answer: THE TURN OF THE SCREW, a  short “novel” by Henry James. Solution also satisfies “performance” – or TURN – “of warder in prison” – or SCREW.

55. Secretarial skill sorting out thorny pages (11)

Answer: STENOGRAPHY (i.e. “secretarial skill”). “Sorting out” indicates anagram. Solution is anagram of THORNY PAGES.

56. Odour about troublemaker socialist oblivious to others? (4-7)

Answer: SELF-CENTRED (i.e. “oblivious to others”). Solution is SCENT (i.e. “odour”) placed “about” ELF (i.e. “troublemaker”) and followed by RED (i.e. “socialist”), like so: S(ELF)CENT-RED.

Down clues

1. Secret tribe doomed to come to premature end (11)

Answer: CLANDESTINE (i.e. “secret”). Solution is CLAN (i.e. “tribe”) followed by DESTINED (i.e. “doomed”) with the last letter trimmed (indicated by “to come to premature end”), like so: CLAN-DESTINE.

2. This person’s plan to ban a chemical (5)

Answer: IMIDE (i.e. “chemical”). Solution is I’M (i.e. “this person’s” – ignore the misleading possessive ‘s and read it as “this person is”) followed by IDEA (i.e. “plan”) with the A removed (indicated by “to ban a”), like so: IM-IDE. I knew this would end in IDE, but needed to dip into the dictionary to get the second letter.

3. Charlie, unconventional character in fast-food outlet (7)

Answer: CHIPPIE (i.e. a “fast-food outlet” serving fish and chips). Solution is C (“Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by HIPPIE (i.e. “unconventional character”).

4. Day when one meets fate, not insignificant! (4)

Answer: IDES, which is the middle of the month (more or less). Anyway, “day”. Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) followed by DESTINY (i.e. “fate”) once TINY has been removed (indicated by “not insignificant”), like so: I-DES.

5. Property managers providing light over a toilet (4,6)

Answer: LAND AGENTS (i.e. “property managers”). Solution is LAND (i.e. “[to] light [upon]”) placed “over” – this being a down clue – A and GENTS (i.e. “toilet”).

6. Military personnel unessential but in action (14)

Answer: SUBLIEUTENANTS (i.e. “military personnel”). “In action” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of UNESSENTIAL BUT.

7. Place in which to find provider of milk and soft mineral (8)

Answer: STEATITE, another name for soapstone (i.e. “soft mineral”). Solution is SITE (i.e. “place”) “in which is found” TEAT (i.e. “provider of milk”), like so: S(TEAT)ITE. One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

8. Reveal the French fashion (3,2)

Answer: LET ON (i.e. “reveal”). Solution is LE (i.e. “the French”, i.e. the French for “the” being LE) followed by TON (i.e. “fashion” – I’ve seen this usage before in crossword clues, but I can’t visualise a sentence where “ton” is used to mean fashion).

9. Kit ceases to work – things essential for some sporting competitors (3,6)

Answer: ICE SKATES (i.e. “things essential for some sporting competitors”). “To work” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of KIT CEASES.

10. Renunciation of study, learner of highest standard being upset (6)

Answer: DENIAL (i.e. “renunciation”). Solution is DEN (i.e. “study” as in a room rather than the act of studying) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) and AI (i.e. “of highest standard”, a play on A1 using the Roman numeral I) which are reversed (indicated by “upset” – this being a down clue), like so: DEN-IA-L.

11. COBRA when lacking support gets this military supremo initially (10,7)

Answer: COMMANDING OFFICER (i.e. “military supremo”). Solution is derived by taking BRA away from COBRA (indicated by “when lacking support”), leaving CO. “Initially” indicates this should be expanded to obtain the solution.

12. Some French person half cut off at cathedral site, showing hopelessness (11)

Answer: DESPERATELY (i.e. “showing helplessness”). Solution is DES (i.e. “some French”, the French word “des” translates as “of the”), followed by PER (i.e. “person half cut”, specifically cutting away the second half), then AT and then ELY (i.e. “cathedral site” being the cathedral city of Ely).

18. Bound to swallow untruths, most typical of a lass? (8)

Answer: GIRLIEST (i.e. “most typical of a lass”). Solution is GIRT, the past participle of gird (i.e. “bound”) “swallowing” LIES (i.e. “untruths”), like so: GIR(LIES)T.

20. Spoil plans – for self-catering facility at Christmas? (4,8,5)

Answer: COOK SOMEONE’S GOOSE. Solution satisfies “spoil plans”. Within the context of the clue, this could for example involve cooking someone else’s Christmas goose. You get the idea.

22. Holy woman’s heartless alien from another planet! (6)

Answer: MARIAN, a devotee of Mary (i.e. “holy woman”). Solution is MARTIAN (i.e. “alien from another planet”) with the middle letter T removed (indicated by “heartless”).

24. Final bit of letter I sent off offered a smart reply (8)

Answer: RIPOSTED (i.e. “offered a smart reply”). Solution is R (i.e. “final bit of letter”, i.e. the final letter of “letter”) followed by I then POSTED (i.e. “sent off”).

26. Get stuck in street with any number jammed in an entrance (8)

Answer: STAGNATE (i.e. “get stuck”). Solution is ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”) with N (i.e. “any number”) “jammed in” A GATE (i.e. “an entrance”), like so: ST-A-G(N)ATE.

29. Suppress the employees or fail to take action? (3,2,4,5)

Answer: SIT ON ONES HANDS. Solution satisfies “suppress the employees” and “fail to take action”.

32. Attempts outside to dispose of written agreements (8)

Answer: TREATIES (i.e. “written agreements”). Solution is TRIES (i.e. “attempts”) placed “outside” of EAT (i.e. “to dispose of”, albeit a little weakly), like so: TR(EAT)IES.

33. Aim revealed by creature with venom and anger (6)

Answer: ASPIRE (i.e. “aim”). Solution is ASP (i.e. “creature with venom”) followed by IRE (i.e. “anger”).

34. So is spender suffering mental problems? (11)

Answer: DEPRESSIONS (i.e. “mental problems”). “Suffering” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SO IS SPENDER.

36. Port’s rough and ready, we hear? Bottle stoppers may have been this (11)

Answer: CORKSCREWED (i.e. “bottle stoppers may have been this”). “We hear” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of “Cork” (i.e. a “port” in Ireland) made possessive with ‘s, and “crude” (i.e. “rough and ready”).

37. Feel so rum, distraught after end of affair – and maybe this? (10)

Answer: REMORSEFUL. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “distraught”) of FEEL SO RUM which is placed “after” R (i.e. “end of affair”, i.e. the last letter of “affair”). Within the context of the clue, one may feel remorseful after the end of an affair.

39. Remover of spear carrier, short performer on stage? (9)

Answer: EXTRACTOR (i.e. “remover”). Solution is EXTRA (i.e. “spear carrier” – a nickname for a minor acting part) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”) and followed by ACTOR (i.e. “performer on stage”), like so: EXTR-ACTOR. A very well worked clue.

42. A few lines in newspaper on fellow enthralling a country (8)

Answer: PARAGUAY (i.e. “country”). Solution is PARA (i.e. “a few lines in newspaper”, specifically a recognised informal abbreviation of “paragraph”) followed by GUY (i.e. “fellow”) which includes or “enthrals” A, like so: PARA-GU(A)Y.

46. Affair’s trouble, after upsetting one child? (7)

Answer: LIAISON (i.e. “affair”). Solution is AIL (i.e. “trouble”) which is reversed (indicated by “after upsetting”, this being a down clue) and followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and SON (i.e. “child”), like so: LIA-I-SON.

47. Manage without, because of self-esteem (6)

Answer: FOREGO (i.e. “manage without”). Solution is FOR (i.e. “because of”) and EGO (i.e. “self-esteem”).

49. Hint about group of countries in affiliation (3-2)

Answer: TIE-UP (i.e. “affiliation”). Solution is TIP (i.e. “hint”) placed “about” EU (i.e. “group of countries”, specifically the European Union), like so: TI(EU)P.

51. Some are rude about Renaissance painter (5)

Answer: Albrecht DURER (i.e. “Renaissance painter”), and very good he was too – even if his rhino was a little trippy. Anyway, “some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “about” suggests the solution is reversed, like so: A(RE RUD)E.

52. Smart bird getting bottom pinched (4)

Answer: CHIC (i.e. “smart”). Solution is CHICK (i.e. a baby “bird”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “getting bottom pinched”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1379

A slightly tougher one this week with a few more exotic solutions, but at least they’re actual words. There is another repeat, which I’ll grump about later, and there are a couple of niggly clues I’d take issue with. All in all, though, this is another good ‘un. Question is, what have we in store on Monday? An easy one or a real stinker?

Anyway, blathering aside, you’ll find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. Just a bit of housekeeping before we begin. If you’d like solutions to recent other Times Jumbo Cryptics, hop over to my Just For Fun page. If horror fiction is your thing, then my Reviews page might pique your interest. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 5 up once I’ve published Monday’s solution. (Assuming I get that far, obviously.)

Right, here you go. I hope this helps! I’m off to watch Match of the Day.


Across clues

1. Small growths extremely likely to fill small cracks (6)

Answer: POLYPS (i.e. “small growths”). Solution is LY (i.e. “extremely likely”, i.e. the first and last letters of “extremely”) “to fill” POPS (i.e. “small cracks”), like so: PO(LY)PS.

4. Experiences fellow feeling, with English politician at his tablets (10)

Answer: EMPATHISES (i.e. “experiences fellow feeling”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by MP (i.e. “politician”, specifically a Member of Parliament) then AT HIS and finally ES (i.e. “tablets”, specifically ecstasy tablets), like so: E-MP-AT-HIS-ES.

10. Representing noble of the French state (5)

Answer: DUCAL, which is representative of a duke (i.e. “representing noble”). Solution is DU (i.e. “of the French” – the French for “of the” is “du”) and CAL (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of California).

14. Criminal female comes in handy with debtor’s notes (9)

Answer: NEFARIOUS (i.e. “criminal”). Solution is NEAR (i.e. “handy”) with F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) “coming in” and then followed by IOUS (i.e. “debtor’s notes”), like so: NE(F)AR-IOUS.

15. Suspect streak in hugely rich sport on wheels (6-7)

Answer: ROLLER-SKATING (i.e. “sport on wheels”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “suspect”) of STREAK placed “in” ROLLING (i.e. “hugely rich”), like so: ROLL(ERSKAT)ING.

16. Ace is away boxing, causing worry (7)

Answer: AGONISE (i.e. “worry”). Solution is A (i.e. an “ace” in cards) followed by GONE (i.e. “away”) which is “boxing” IS, like so: A-GON(IS)E.

17. Mentioned poet providing woman’s undergarment (7)

Answer: SPENCER (i.e. “woman’s undergarment” – not one that rings a bell. I’d do a Google Image search but… no). Solution is also a homophone (indicated by “mentioned”) of sixteenth century “poet” Edmund Spenser, who is responsible for all manner of screwy alternative spellings that litter modern-day dictionaries. To be fair, setters have largely resisted using these in their grids.

18. Umpteenth rally more than enough to reveal rivet (7)

Answer: ENTHRAL (i.e. “[to] rivet”). “More than enough to reveal” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: UMPTE(ENTH RAL)LY.

19. Swimmers should avoid this Iberian armed ship (10,3-2-3)

Answer: PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR. Solution satisfies “swimmers should avoid this” – a proper nasty-looking jellyfish – and “Iberian armed ship” – Iberia describing Spain and Portugal and man-of-war describing a warship. I think the solution to this one sprang to mind from an episode of QI I’d watched some years ago. It’s weird what I remember sometimes.

21. Originally the supreme autocrat, leader of Russia (4)

Answer: TSAR (i.e. “leader of Russia”). Solution is TSA (i.e. “originally the supreme autocrat”, i.e. the first letters of “The”, “Supreme” and “Autocrat”) and R (i.e. “leader of Russia”, i.e. the first letter of “Russia”). A nifty bit of recursion there.

24. Acclaim legend about fencing clubs (5)

Answer: ECLAT (i.e. applause or “acclaim”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “clubs” used in card games) being “fenced” by TALE (i.e. “legend”) which is reversed (indicated by “about”), like so: E(C)LAT. (Sighs.) We’re barely a third of the way into the year and this is already the third time this solution has appeared, popping up in puzzles 1359 and 1374. Evidently this a go-to word for several setters. Or, more likely, this is the result of the grid-constructing software they’re using.

26. Starving old American pursues crow (8)

Answer: RAVENOUS (i.e. “starving”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and US (i.e. “American”) following or “pursuing” RAVEN (i.e. “crow”), like so: RAVEN-O-US.

27. Shuffles fish during drinks (5-3)

Answer: SHAKE-UPS (i.e. “shuffles”). Solution is HAKE (i.e. “fish”) placed “during” SUPS (i.e. “drinks”), like so: S(HAKE)UPS.

29. Graduate, lout and English guy cross fine sea area (3,2,6)

Answer: BAY OF BENGAL (i.e. “sea area”). Solution is BA (i.e. “graduate”, specifically a Bachelor of Arts) followed by YOB (i.e. “lout”), ENG (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and AL (i.e. “guy”, as in a man’s name) wrapped around or “crossing” F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine”), like so: BA-YO(F)B-ENG-AL.

30. The most timid avoid eastern unit in national park (11)

Answer: YELLOWSTONE (i.e. a “national park” situated (mostly) in Wyoming, USA). Solution is YELLOWEST (i.e. “the most timid”) with the second E removed (indicated by “avoid eastern” – E being a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”) and followed by ONE (i.e. “unit”), like so: YELLOWST-ONE.

32. Rodney plugs terrible sweetener (6,5)

Answer: GOLDEN SYRUP (i.e. “sweetener”). “Terrible” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RODNEY PLUGS.

35. Old warship had go and turned unexpectedly (11)

Answer: DREADNOUGHT (i.e. “old warship”). “Unexpectedly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HAD GO and TURNED.

37. Tea during the present time? That’s definitely out (2,6)

Answer: NO CHANCE (i.e. “that’s definitely out”). Solution is CHA (i.e. “tea”) placed “during” NONCE (i.e. “the present time”), like so: NO(CHA)NCE.

39. Where film would be kept secretly (2,6)

Answer: IN CAMERA. Solution satisfies “where film would be kept” and “secretly”.

40. Time when Powell has gained power, replacing Nationalist (5)

Answer: EPOCH (i.e. “time”). Solution is ENOCH “Powell” with the N (a recognised abbreviation of “Nationalist”) “replaced” by P (ditto “power”). A rather well-worked clue.

43. Pupils no longer returning after a punishment (4)

Answer: ASBO, an acronym for Anti-Social Behaviour Order (i.e. “punishment”). Solution is OBS (i.e. “pupils no longer”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “Old Boy” which is then made plural) and A placed “after”, then the whole lot reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: A-SBO.

44. Spare no effort to play the pipes at full volume (4,3,3,3,5)

Answer: PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS. Solution satisfies “spare no effort” and “to play the [organ] pipes at full volume”.

47. Pretend deal includes song (7)

Answer: PLAYACT (i.e. “pretend”). Solution is PACT (i.e. “deal”) “including” LAY (i.e. “song” – one of the word’s many meanings), like so: P(LAY)ACT.

48. New displays in gallery the lady’s backing with dread almost (7)

Answer: REHANGS (i.e. “new displays in gallery” – a bit of a weak ‘un for me, unless I’m missing some gallery lingo somewhere). Solution is HER (i.e. “the lady”) reversed (indicated by “backing”) and followed by ANGS (i.e. “dread almost” – i.e. the word “angst” with the last letter removed), like so: REH-ANGS.

50. Ring about gunmen casing home, blow it! (7)

Answer: OCARINA (i.e. “blow it”, as in a musical instrument). Solution is O (i.e. “ring”) then CA (i.e. “about”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) then RA (i.e. “gunmen”, specifically the Royal Artillery) “casing” IN (i.e. “[at] home”), like so: O-CA-R(IN)A. What’s that you say? Did I get this from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?
(Looks to camera.)

51. Priest in church has men close to pulpit for Albert, say (6,7)

Answer: PRINCE CONSORT (i.e. “Albert, say”). Solution is PR (a recognised abbreviation of “priest”) followed by IN, then CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), then CONS (i.e. “has [somebody]”), then OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army) and finally T (i.e. “close to pulpit”, i.e. the last letter of “pulpit”), like so: PR-IN-CE-CONS-OR-T. Phew!

52. Main man eats one like some Glasgow chocolate bars? (4-5)

Answer: DEEP-FRIED (i.e. “like some Glasgow chocolate bars”). Solution is DEEP (i.e. “main”, both words for the sea) followed by FRED (i.e. “man”) “eating” I (Roman numeral “one”), like so: DEEP-FR(I)ED.

53. Poles brought in money for viola (5)

Answer: PANSY (i.e. “viola”, as in the flower rather than the musical instrument). Solution is PAY (i.e. “money”) with NS (i.e. “poles”, i.e. recognised abbreviations of north and south) “brought in”, like so: PA(NS)Y.

54. Busy Italians accepting revolutionary firm’s withdrawn (10)

Answer: ANTISOCIAL (i.e. “withdrawn”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “busy”) of ITALIANS “accepting” CO (i.e. “firm”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “company”) which is reversed (indicated by “revolutionary”), like so: ANTIS(OC)IAL.

55. Plucky one locked in iron enclosure (6)

Answer: FEISTY (i.e. “plucky”). Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) placed between or “locked in” FE (i.e. chemical symbol for “iron”) and STY (i.e. “enclosure”), like so: FE-(I)-STY.

Down clues

1. Long drink filled with very soft fruit (9)

Answer: PINEAPPLE (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is PINE (i.e. “[to] long”) followed by ALE (i.e. “drink”) filled with PP (i.e. “very soft”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of pianissimo), like so: PINE-A(PP)LE.

2. Firefly Leo and I manoeuvred, making excellent time (4,2,5)

Answer: LIFE OF RILEY (i.e. “excellent time”). “Manoeuvred” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FIREFLY LEO and I.

3. Border stitch that is used at the front (7)

Answer: PURLIEU. My Chambers has this everyday word as “in plural, borders or outskirts”, so this clue feels a little cheaty.  Why “border” and not “borders”? Anyway, the solution is PURL (i.e. “stitch”) followed by IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. … well, i.e.) and U (i.e. “used at the front”, i.e. the first letter of “used”).

5. Lawmaker takes a stroll, avoiding Yankee (5)

Answer: MOSES (i.e. “lawmaker” – I’ll let the internet argue that one among themselves). Solution is MOSEYS (i.e. “takes a stroll”) with the Y removed (indicated by “avoiding Yankee”, being Y in the phonetic alphabet).

6. Two kinds of screen for part of Heathrow (3,8)

Answer: AIR TERMINAL. Solution satisfies “two kinds of screen” – as in two meanings of the word “screen” (AIR as in to screen or broadcast something; TERMINAL as in a computer screen – another cheat for me as a terminal represents the computer not the screen… anyway, world keeps spinning) – and “part of Heathrow”.

7. Batter felt raunchy, making good score (4-7)

Answer: HALF-CENTURY (i.e. a “good score” in cricket or one’s age). “Batter” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FELT RAUNCHY.

8. Vow to give up fade after last of hooks (5,3)

Answer: SWEAR OFF (i.e. “vow to give up”). Solution is WEAR OFF (i.e. “fade”) placed “after” S (i.e. “last of hooks”, i.e. the last letter of “hooks”), like so: S-WEAROFF.

9. Englishman and SAS chase criminal around north (9)

Answer: SASSENACH (an often derogatory term for an “Englishman” all the way up there in Scotland.) Solution is SAS followed by an anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of CHASE which is placed around N (a recognised abbreviation of “north”), like so: SAS-SE(N)ACH.

10. Note conductor’s deficiency (6)

Answer: DEARTH (i.e. “deficiency”). Solution is D (i.e. “[musical] note”) followed by EARTH (i.e. “conductor”).

11. Like artwork in Fifty Shades of Grey? (11)

Answer: CHIAROSCURO, which is a black-and-white painting, hence the clue. If I’m honest I got this from the publisher of ChiZine magazine, but I was rather pleased to find it also fitted the clue. Anyway, if you’d like to see a really good example of chiaroscuro at work, check out Rudolph Stingel’s Untitled (After Sam) on Google Images. I was damn-near hypnotised by this painting (yes, it’s a painting) when I visited the Whitney Museum of American Art a few years ago. Absolutely stunning. Anyway, I digress.

12. It’s acceptable for one article to appear between lines (5)

Answer: LEGAL (i.e. “it’s acceptable”). Solution is EG (i.e. “for one” – read as “for example”) and A (i.e. “article”) “appearing between” L and L (recognised abbreviation of “line” pluralised), like so: L-(EG-A)-L.

13. On radio, what makes one stud’s leading part? (12)

Answer: FOREQUARTERS, which is the front portion of a side of meat (i.e. “leading part”). “On radio” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of “four quarters”, which I’m taking to mean “a limb with adjacent parts of the trunk, especially of the dismembered body of an executed person, or of an animal carcass”. Collectively they’d make “one stud”, I guess. Except for the head. Whatever. I’m seldom a fan of these wishy-washy clues, if I’m honest.

20. It recalled silver in highly uncivilised state (8)

Answer: SAVAGERY (i.e. “uncivilised state”). Solution is AS (i.e. “it”, though I can’t immediately think of a good example of using one instead of the other) reversed (indicated by “recalled”) and followed by AG (chemical symbol of “silver”) placed “in” VERY (i.e. “highly”), like so: SA-V(AG)ERY.

22. Admire scripture cult absorbing pressure (7)

Answer: RESPECT (i.e. “admire”). Solution is RE (i.e. “scripture”, i.e. Religious Education) followed by SECT (i.e. “cult”) which has “absorbed” P (a recognised abbreviation of “pressure”), like so: RE-S(P)ECT.

23. Second opener for Kent is to run sports venue (3,5)

Answer: SKI SLOPE (i.e. “sports venue”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) followed by K (i.e. “opener for Kent”, i.e. the first letter of “Kent”) then IS then LOPE (i.e. “to run”).

25. Cloths in which to wrap up oily cheeses? (8)

Answer: TAFFETAS (i.e. “cloths”). Solution is FAT (i.e. “oily”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and followed by FETAS (i.e. “cheeses”), like so: TAF-FETAS.

28. Obscene call for former dancing girl (8)

Answer: BLUEBELL (i.e. “former dancing girl” – a quick Google revealed that the Bluebell Girls were a dance troupe during the mid-twentieth century). Solution is BLUE (i.e. “obscene”) followed by BELL (i.e. “[to] call”).

29. Almost clear off one initially aggressive plant (7)

Answer: BEGONIA (i.e. “plant”). Solution is BEGONE (i.e. “clear off”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and A (i.e. “initially aggressive”, i.e. the first letter of “aggressive”), like so: BEGON-I-A.

31. Authority in east London built square (3-9)

Answer: OLD-FASHIONED (i.e. “square”). Solution is OLD (i.e. “authority in east London”, i.e. the word HOLD with the H dropped) followed by FASHIONED (i.e. “built”). This took me way longer to solve than it ought to have done. Well played, setter.

33. Late study of lutetium, copper and boron quota (11)

Answer: LUCUBRATION (i.e. “late study”, i.e. what most students do the night before their exam). Solution is LU (chemical symbol of “lutetium”), CU (ditto “copper”) and B (ditto again “boron”) followed by RATION (i.e. “quota”). Nice word. I like it.

34. Leg reduces impact of aids for sewers (11)

Answer: PINCUSHIONS (i.e. “aids for sewers”). Solution is PIN (i.e. an informal term for “leg”) followed by CUSHIONS (i.e. “reduces impact of”).

35. Confusing enigmatic ad showing oddly attractive quality (11)

Answer: DIAMAGNETIC (i.e. “showing oddly attractive quality”). “Confusing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ENIGMATIC AD.

36. Global subject, say, upset old, old drunk cutting images (11)

Answer: GEOPOLITICS (i.e. “global subject”). Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) reversed (indicated by “upset”, this being a down clue) and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”). It’s then followed by O (ditto) and LIT (i.e. “drunk”, or, as Wodehouse would have it, pickled to the gills) placed in PICS (i.e. “images”), like so: GE-O-P(O-LIT)ICS. Convoluted? Yes. Yes it is.

38. Marine arthropods covering hole in one area (9)

Answer: CRUSTACEA (i.e. “marine arthropods”). Solution is CRUST (i.e. “covering”) followed by ACE (i.e. “hole in one”) and A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”).

41. Farming hours now and then on group lines (9)

Answer: HUSBANDRY (i.e. “farming”). Solution is HUS (i.e. “hours now and then”, i.e. every other letter of the word HOURS) followed by BAND (i.e. “group”) and RY (i.e. “lines”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “railway”).

42. Wine inspires latest member of orchestra (8)

Answer: CLARINET (i.e. “member of orchestra”). Solution is CLARET (i.e. “wine”) including or “inspiring” IN (i.e. the “latest”), like so: CLAR(IN)ET.

45. Pinch a bit (7)

Answer: SNAFFLE. Solution satisfies “pinch” – as in to steal – and “a bit” as in a piece of riding gear. I didn’t know that.

46. Religious publication cautious about credit (3,3)

Answer: WAR CRY (i.e. “religious publication” of The Salvation Army). Solution is WARY (i.e. “cautious”) placed “about” CR (a recognised abbreviation of “credit”), like so: WAR(CR)Y.

47. Children’s drink more costly, like some of their books? (3-2)

Answer: POP-UP. Solution satisfies “children’s drink more costly” and “like some [childrens] books”.

49. Hindu workers, 500 in part of Koran (5)

Answer: SUDRA, a member of the fourth and lowest of the great Hindu castes (i.e. “Hindu workers”). Solution is D (Roman numeral “500”) placed “in” SURA (i.e. a chapter or “part of Koran”). Cor, this was a right old trawl through my Chambers!

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1378

A good puzzle this week with a few really well-worked clues and only a handful of exotic solutions. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope they help.

As usual, some housekeeping before we begin. If you’d like solutions for previous puzzles then jump over to my Just For Fun page. If horror fiction is your thing then I have a few Reviews that might take your fancy. I should have a review of Best New Horror 5 coming soon, you lucky people.

Right, I won’t keep you any longer. Here you go.


Across clues

1. Being a good husband to Verity? Or less than faithful? (10,4,3,5)

Answer: ECONOMICAL WITH THE TRUTH. Solution satisfies “being a good husband to Verity” – husbandry can mean economical management, while verity is another word for truth – and “less than faithful”. A rather well worked clue.

13. Something to chew on: setter’s getting stick! (6)

Answer: CUDGEL (i.e. “stick”). Solution is CUD (i.e. “something to chew on”) followed by GEL (i.e. “setter”, as in something that sets).

14. Grass skirts so long? That’s not ringing a bell! (3-1-3)

Answer: RAT-A-TAT. Solution is RAT (i.e. “grass”, as in to rat on someone) “skirting” TA-TA (i.e. “so long”), like so: RA(TATA)T. Within the context of the clue, a “rat-a-tat” would suggest someone has used a door knocker rather than ringing a doorbell.

15. Sink to fill? Revealing plunger perhaps! (8)

Answer: NECKLINE (i.e. “revealing plunger perhaps”, as in garments with a plunging neckline). Solution is NECK (i.e. “[to] sink [a drink]”) followed by LINE (i.e. “to fill”).

16. Variety of cheese they sell excluding one European country (3,10)

Answer: THE SEYCHELLES (i.e. “country”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “variety”) of CHEESE THEY SELL once one of the Es as been removed (indicated by “excluding one European”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “European”).

18. Having pins and needles of metal, hideous but lead free (6)

Answer: TINGLY (i.e. “having pins and needles”). Solution is TIN (i.e. “metal”) followed by UGLY (i.e. “hideous”) with its first letter removed (i.e. “but lead free” – a nice bit of misdirection), like so: TIN-GLY.

20. Ghastly rotter claims to have pinched half of ours (10)

Answer: CADAVEROUS (i.e. “ghastly”). Solution is CAD (i.e. “rotter”) followed by AVERS (i.e. “claims”) which has “pinched” OU (i.e. “[the first] half of ours”), like so: CAD-AVER(OU)S.

21. Song a small bird relies on (2,4,4,2)

Answer: AS TIME GOES BY (i.e. “song”). Solution is A then S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by TIME (i.e. “bird” – both alternative words for a prison sentence) and GOES BY (i.e. “relies on”).

24. Press home point first (6)

Answer: INSIST (i.e. “press”). Solution is IN (i.e. “[at] home”), then S (a recognised abbreviation of “south” – i.e. a “point” on a compass), then IST (i.e. “first”).

26. Succumbing idly, eg in exercises (8)

Answer: YIELDING (i.e. “succumbing”). “Exercises” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IDLY EG IN.

28. Brilliance of one with strong desire to be heard (6)

Answer: LUSTRE (i.e. “brilliance”). “To be heard” indicates the solution is a homophone of LUSTER (i.e. “one with strong desire”).

30. Event in which twin mounts challenge? (3-5,4)

Answer: TWO-HORSE RACE. “Mounts” in this context meaning horses rather than mountains.

31. Minor US oil works producing fuel (10)

Answer: ORIMULSION, which, it says here, is an emulsion of bitumen, water and detergents used as a “fuel”. A new one on me. “Works” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MINOR US OIL.

33. Poison sample found in school square (10)

Answer: STRYCHNINE (i.e. “poison”). Solution is TRY (i.e. “[to] sample”) placed “in” SCH (a recognised abbreviation of “school”) and followed by NINE (i.e. “square”, specifically 3×3), like so: S(TRY)CH-NINE. Another well-worked clue.

34. Novel keeping (at first) prose writer father in a job (6-6)

Answer: WORKER-PRIEST (i.e. “father in a job”). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of K (i.e. “keeping (at first)”) and PROSE WRITER.

35. Brings boat in from Islay, Stornoway (4,2)

Answer: LAYS TO (i.e. “brings boat in”). “From” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: IS(LAY STO)RNOWAY.

37. Spy’s outside tracking account in French, very theatrical (8)

Answer: ACTRESSY (i.e. “theatrical”). Solution is SY (i.e. “spy’s outside”, i.e. the first and last letters of “spy”) following or “tracking” AC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”) and TRES (i.e. “in French, very”, the French for “very” being “tres”), like so: AC-TRES-SY.

38. Always following band parade (6)

Answer: SASHAY (i.e. “[to] parade”). Solution is AY (i.e. “always”, taken here to mean “yes” or “aye” or its alternative form “ay”) “following” SASH (i.e. “band” – think beauty contests), like so: SASH-AY.

40. Back doctor to provide supporting role (6,6)

Answer: SECOND FIDDLE (i.e. “supporting role”). Solution is SECOND (i.e. “[to] back [someone]”) followed by FIDDLE (i.e. “[to] doctor [something]”).

41. Dramatist maybe misses meeting with dignitary (10)

Answer: John GALSWORTHY, who wrote, among other things, The Forsyte Saga (ask your grandparents, kids). Anyway, “dramatist”. Solution is GALS (i.e. “maybe misses” – misses as in unmarried women) followed by WORTHY (i.e. “dignitary”).

43. Hungarian woman’s hat size not oddly recalled more than once (3,3)

Answer: ZSA ZSA Gabor (i.e. “Hungarian woman”). “Not oddly” indicates the solution is hidden in the even letters of HAT SIZE once they have been reversed (indicated by “recalled”). “More than once” then indicates ZSA is repeated. I can’t help but think the setter rather painted themselves into a corner here.

45. Henry buys into risk, after altering his past assessment (7,2,4)

Answer: HISTORY IS BUNK, a quote attributed to Henry Ford (i.e. “Henry…his past assessment”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “altering”) of H (for “Henry”) and BUYS INTO RISK. Taking into account the context of the quote, this is an excellent clue – probably the best since I started posting these solutions.

48. Skin condition initially affecting within month those with spotty faces (8)

Answer: JAUNDICE (i.e. “skin condition”). Solution is A (i.e. “initially affecting”, i.e. the first letter of “affecting”) placed “within” JUN (i.e. “month”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of June) and followed by DICE (i.e. “those with spotty faces”), like so: J(A)UN-DICE. Another good ‘un.

49. A hanky pictured when you hear this? (7)

Answer: ATISHOO. Solution riffs on how this sounds like A TISSUE (i.e. “a hanky”).

51. Saw investigators turning away from corporation (6)

Answer: DICTUM (i.e. “saw”, which can mean a motto or a saying). Solution is CID (i.e. “investigators”, specifically the Criminal Investigation Department of the police force) reversed (indicated by “turning away”) and followed by TUM (i.e. “corporation” – an alternative meaning of the word is the belly), like so: DIC-TUM.

52. Relish holding the k-keys? (8,6,8)

Answer: THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING (i.e. “relish”). Solution riffs on how K is often used to represent a thousand, and how “keys” can be a group of islands.

Down clues

2. Vintage Times brain teaser! (4)

Answer: CRUX (i.e. “brain teaser”). Solution is CRU (i.e. “vintage”) followed by X (i.e. “times”, as in the multiplication symbol).

3. Ailing rhythm’s turning out like a bad dream (13)

Answer: NIGHTMARISHLY (i.e. “like a bad dream”). “Turning out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AILING RHYTHMS.

4. Chap has taken notes in foreign language (7)

Answer: MALTESE (i.e. “foreign language”). Solution is MALE (i.e. “chap”) having “taken” TES (i.e. “notes” as in the doh-ray-me scale – can be spelled TE or TI), like so: MAL(TES)E.

5. Tail short for a dog (3)

Answer: CUR (i.e. “a dog”). Solution is CURT (i.e. “short”) which has been “tailed” (i.e. the last letter removed – to tail something can mean to remove the tail from it).

6. Milky fluids after hours mostly taken with cold dishes (7)

Answer: LATICES, which is the plural form of “latex” (i.e. “milky fluid”). Solution is LATE (i.e. “after hours”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and followed by ICES (i.e. “cold dishes”), like so: LAT-ICES.

7. One collection of books fellow’s muddled up (2,3,6)

Answer: IN THE SADDLE (i.e. “up”, as in someone who is a focus of interest, e.g. “who’s up next?”). Solution is I (Roman numeral “one”) followed by NT (i.e. “collection of books”, specifically the New Testament of The Bible), then HE’S (i.e. “fellow’s” – think of it more as “the fellow is” rather than the possessive form) and ADDLE (i.e. “muddled” – the past tense appears to be misleading here). Not a classic.

8. Place to stay in Arnhem after November? (5)

Answer: HOTEL (i.e. “place to stay”). Solution riffs on how, in “Arnhem”, the letter H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet) is “after” N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet). Another well-worked clue.

9. To give a few is generous (8)

Answer: HANDSOME (i.e. “generous”). Solution is HAND (i.e. “to give”) followed by SOME (i.e. “a few”).

10. Implied some lacking in sophistication turned up (5)

Answer: TACIT (i.e. “implied”). “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “turned up” suggests the solution has been reversed, this being a down clue, like so: SOPHIS(TICAT)ION.

11. Swede’s chasing university place – they’re living the high life! (9)

Answer: UPLANDERS (i.e. “they’re living the high life”). Solution is ANDERS (i.e. “Swede”) placed after or “chasing” U and PL (recognised abbreviations of “university” and “place” respectively), like so: U-PL-ANDERS.

12. Impressive hair grip for someone who’s 7? (9,9)

Answer: HANDLEBAR MOUSTACHE. Solution riffs on how someone in the saddle (referenced by “7 [down]”) of a bike would “grip” a handlebar, and how handlebar moustaches are indeed “impressive hair”.

17. Before collecting pants, son wearing synthetic material (5,5)

Answer: EPOXY RESIN (i.e. “synthetic material”). Solution is ERE (i.e. a poetic form of “before”) “collecting” POXY (i.e. “pants”, as in rubbish), then followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) and IN (i.e. “wearing”), like so: E(POXY)RE-S-IN.

19. The latest, if far from the best, careers? (3,4,7,4)

Answer: BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST. Another riffy clue, this. “The latest” can mean NEWS; “if far from the best” suggests it’s BAD NEWS, while “careers” can mean TRAVELS FAST. Stitch them all together and voila. I’m not often keen on these wishy-washy kind of clues, if I’m honest.

22. Indian restaurants opening for function one’s to hold (9)

Answer: TANDOORIS (i.e. “Indian restaurants”). Solution is DOOR (i.e. “opening”) placed in TAN (i.e. “function”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “tangent”, one of the six trigonometrical functions) and I’S (Roman numeral “one” made possessive), like so: TAN-(DOOR)-IS.

23. Liberal MP laughs wildly, strides exultantly (9)

Answer: GALLUMPHS (i.e. “strides exultantly”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “wildly”) of L (a recognised abbreviation of “Liberal”) and MP LAUGHS.

25. Pair keeping gold chain round middle of cedar tree (9)

Answer: TORCHWOOD, a variety of “trees” whose wood make rather good torches. Solution is TWO (i.e. “pair”) “keeping” OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry) and CH (a recognised abbreviation of “chain” (a linear measure of 100 feet it says here), then followed by O (i.e. “round”) and D (i.e. “middle of cedar”, i.e. the middle letter of “cedar”), like so: T(OR-CH)WO-O-D. I guess an anagram of Doctor Who would have been too obvious.

27. Welshman, key journalist, gradually faded (9)

Answer: EVANESCED (i.e. “gradually faded”). Solution is EVAN (i.e. “Welshman”) followed by ESC (i.e. “key”, specifically the Escape key situated top-left of a keyboard) and ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “editor”).

29. Lycée flics stormed: lots of changes resulting (4,6)

Answer: LIFE CYCLES (i.e. “lots of changes”). “Stormed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LYCEE FLICS.

32. The excitement you get from cutting out certain actions in swimming? (8,5)

Answer: SCISSORS KICKS. Solution satisfies “the excitement [i.e. kicks] you get from cutting” and “certain actions in swimming”.

34. Kind Cockney home raised money for Iranian monument (3,8)

Answer: WAR MEMORIAL (i.e. “monument”). Solution is WARM (i.e. “kind”) followed by OME (i.e. “Cockney home”, i.e. the word “home” after the H has been dropped) reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue) and followed by RIAL (i.e. “money for Iranian”), like so: WARM-EMO-RIAL.

36. Irish party men end letter with word of appeal, suddenly emphatic (9)

Answer: SFORZANDO (i.e. “suddenly emphatic” – I had a funny feeling this was going to be a musical term – chalk one to my Chambers Thesaurus for bagging me this one). Solution is SF (i.e. “Irish party”, specifically Sinn Fein) followed by OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army) then Z (i.e. “end letter”) then AND (i.e. “with”) then O (i.e. “word of appeal”, e.g. in “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), like so: SF-OR-Z-AND-O. Bloody hell.

39. Aussie football team te-heeing rudely (8)

Answer: EIGHTEEN (i.e. “Aussie football team”). “Rudely” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TE-HEEING.

41. Monster crackling finally on line: call terminated early (7)

Answer: GRYPHON (i.e. “monster”). Solution is G (i.e. “crackling finally”, i.e. the last letter of “crackling”) followed by RY (i.e. “line”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “railway”) and PHONE with it’s final letter removed (i.e. “call terminated early”), like so: G-RY-PHON.

42. Aspiring to listen to small forest insect? (5-2)

Answer: WOULD-BE (i.e. “aspiring to”). “To listen” indicates the solution is a homophone of WOOD BEE (i.e. “small forest insect”).

44. Nice friends the last to reappear inappropriately (5)

Answer: AMISS (i.e. “inappropriately”). Solution is AMIS (i.e. “Nice friends” – Nice as in the French city – the French for “friends” is “amis”). “The last to reappear” indicates the last letter of AMIS is repeated.

46. Was crawling, maybe, in front of one’s teacher (5)

Answer: SWAMI (i.e. “[Hindu] teacher”). Solution is SWAM (i.e. “was crawling, maybe”, as in the swimming stroke) followed by I (Roman numeral “one”).

47. Child of five seen in case of strabismus (4)

Answer: QUIN (i.e. “child of five”). A strabismus is a fancy name for a squint, which, as you can see, contains the solution: S(QUIN)T.

50. Gorge above delta, a long way from common (3)

Answer: ODD (i.e. “a long way from common”). Solution is OD (i.e. “gorge”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “overdose”) followed by D (“delta” in the phonetic alphabet).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1377

As suspected, today’s puzzle was a bit of a stinker, but we’ve certainly had worse. Some of the wordplay was a little exhausting to solve but at least the grid wasn’t plugged with umpteen dead people, plants and musical terms. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

As usual, some housekeeping before we begin: if you’d like solutions for previous Times Jumbo Cryptics, jump over to my Just For Fun page. If you have a soft spot for horror fiction, my Reviews page might have something of interest.

Right, I won’t keep you any longer. Enjoy! I’m off to watch Game of Thrones.


Across clues

1. Large rat goes around, one providing diversion (9)

Answer: DEFLECTOR (i.e. “one providing diversion”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) with DEFECTOR (i.e. “rat”) “going around”, like so: DEF(L)ECTOR.

6. Publisher rebuffed piece of writing that’s rot (13)

Answer: DECOMPOSITION (i.e. “rot”). Solution is ED (i.e. “publisher”, specifically an abbreviation of “editor” – a bit of a stretch in my less-than-humble opinion, but we’ll let it slide) reversed (indicated by “rebuffed”) and followed by COMPOSITION (i.e. “piece of writing”), like so: DE-COMPOSITION.

13. As some say, Dorothy or Charlie’s coat (5)

Answer: PARKA (i.e. “coat”). “As some say” indicates the solution is a homophone of “Parker”, surname of Dorothy (the poet) and Charlie (the jazz saxophonist – fans of John Connolly may suggest otherwise).

14. One’s repeated no fun getting drunk – as these are (9)

Answer: INFUSIONS (i.e. “drunk – as these are”). “Getting drunk” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I’S and I’S (i.e. “one’s repeated”, as in the Roman numeral – ignoring the misleading apostrophe) and NO FUN.

15. Retired flier delaying one achievement (7)

Answer: EXPLOIT (i.e. a deed or “achievement”). Solution is EX-PILOT (i.e. “retired flier”) with the I knocked back a couple of notches (indicated by “delaying one”, as in the Roman numeral).

16. Rascal adapts ancient game without hesitation in book (6,6,7,3)

Answer: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (i.e. a “book” by John Le Carré). Solution is TINKER (i.e. “rascal”) then TAILORS (i.e. “adapts”) followed by OLD (i.e. “ancient”) and I SPY (i.e. “game”) placed around or “without” ER (i.e. “hesitation”), like so: TINKER-TAILORS-OLD-I-(ER)-SPY. A rather well-worked clue.

18. Cricket side with test location for players (2-6)

Answer: ON-SCREEN (i.e. “location for players”). Solution is ON (i.e. “cricket side”, sometimes referred to as leg side) followed by SCREEN (i.e. “test” – as in how certain things are screened for suitability on things like phone-ins).

20. Worry about old figure producing plant hydrocarbon (8)

Answer: CAROTENE (i.e. “plant hydrocarbon”). Solution is CARE (i.e. “worry”) placed “about” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and TEN (i.e. “figure”), like so: CAR(O-TEN)E. One I had to look up, as I couldn’t get past seeing “gasoline” given the letters _A_O_E_E.

21. Deliberately hands round a board game (5)

Answer: LARGO, a musical term meaning broad and slow (i.e. “deliberately”). Solution is L and R (i.e. “hands”, as in recognised abbreviations of “left” and “right”) placed “round” A and then followed by GO (i.e. “a board game”), like so: L(A)R-GO.

23. Seat in empty gallery likely to snap? (6)

Answer: GRUMPY (i.e. “likely to snap”). Solution is RUMP (i.e. “seat”) placed in G and Y (i.e. “empty gallery”, i.e. the word “gallery” with all its middle letters removed), like so: G(RUMP)Y.

24. One’s charged for not retreating (6)

Answer: PROTON (i.e. “one’s charged”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “for”) followed by NOT reversed (indicated by “retreating”), like so: PRO-TON.

25. Dog circles stallion dropping head in fatigue (9)

Answer: LASSITUDE (i.e. “fatigue”). Solution is LASSIE (i.e. “dog”) “circling” STUD (i.e. “horse”) with its first letter removed (indicated by “dropping head”), like so: LASSI(TUD)E.

28. What distracts ruddy husband, misbehaving (3,7)

Answer: RED HERRING (i.e. “what distracts”). Solution is RED (i.e. “ruddy”) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and ERRING (i.e. “misbehaving”).

29. Nation’s first person sought office (4)

Answer: IRAN (i.e. “nation”). Solution is I (i.e. “first person”, as in I am (first person); you are (second person); they are (third person)) followed by RAN (i.e. “sought office”).

30. Scrap books with divine pieces inside (7)

Answer: ODDMENT (i.e. “scrap”). Solution is OT (i.e. “books”, specifically the Old Testament) with DD (i.e. “divine”, DD is short for “Deo dedit”, which is Latin for “gave to God” – chalk one for my Chambers) and MEN (i.e. “[chess] pieces”) placed “inside”, like so: O(DD-MEN)T.

32. Conservative admitted to fondness for defeat (7)

Answer: LICKING (i.e. “defeat”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) “admitted to” LIKING (i.e. “fondness”), like so: LI(C)KING.

34. In the auditorium, didn’t catch film (4)

Answer: MIST (i.e. “film”). “In the auditorium” indicates the solution is a homophone of MISSED, i.e. “didn’t catch”.

35. Litter in saloon for American President (5,5)

Answer: SEDAN CHAIR (i.e. “litter”, as in a seat held up on horizontal poles). Solution is SEDAN (i.e. “saloon [car]”) followed by CHAIR (i.e. “American President”, the position rather than anyone in particular).

38. Two strikes, one pushing back litres in kitchen vessel (5,4)

Answer: PUNCH BOWL (i.e. “kitchen vessel”). Solution is PUNCH and BLOW (i.e. “two strikes”), the latter having L (a recognised abbreviation of “litres”) “pushed back” a few notches. Though the clue doesn’t scan particularly well, I liked the word play behind it.

39. Extract from Biblical figure quoted (6)

Answer: ELICIT (i.e. “extract”). Solution is ELI (i.e. “Biblical figure”) followed by CIT (i.e. “quoted”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “citation”).

40. Bug spies used to trap villain (6)

Answer: CICADA (i.e. “bug”). Solution is CIA (i.e. “spies”) “trapping” CAD (i.e. “villain”), like so: CI(CAD)A.

43. Oscar, in trouble, beginning to imbibe the sauce (5)

Answer: AIOLI (i.e. “sauce” – a garlicky mayonnaise, and rather nice too). Solution is O (i.e. “Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) placed “in” AIL (i.e. “trouble”) and followed by I (i.e. “beginning to imbibe”, i.e. the first letter of “imbibe”), like so: AI(O)L-I.

45. Understood piece of pottery is reserved (8)

Answer: TACITURN (i.e. “reserved”). Solution is TACIT (i.e. “understood”) followed by URN (i.e. “piece of pottery”).

47. Enduring wish to be given name (4-4)

Answer: LONG-TERM (i.e. “enduring”). Solution is LONG (i.e. “wish to be”) and TERM (i.e. “given name”).

49. Kind of speech by one still defending unusually realist aim, in theory (11,11)

Answer: DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM, which is “Karl Marx’s view of history as a conflict between two opposing forces, thesis and antithesis, which is resolved by the forming of a new force, synthesis”. Ain’t philosophy fun, kids? Setting aside how overly simplistic a view that might be for a moment and getting back to the clue: “theory”. Solution is DIALECT (i.e. “kind of speech”) followed by I (Roman numeral “one”) and CALM (i.e. “still”) wrapped around or “defending” an anagram (indicated by “unusually”) of REALIST AIM, like so: DIALECT-I-CAL(MATERIALIS)M.

52. Key expert’s hint about wrong answer completely rejected (7)

Answer: PIANIST (i.e. “key expert”). Solution is TIP (i.e. “hint”) placed “about” SIN (i.e. “wrong”) and A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer”). The whole lot is then reversed (indicated by “rejected”), like so: PI(A-NIS)T.

53. Moving to Fair Isle, fixing sort of gate with even more reason (1,8)

Answer: A FORTIORI (Latin for “even more reason”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “moving”) of TO FAIR and I (a recognised abbreviation of “isle”) placed around OR (i.e. “sort of gate” used in electronics), like so: AFORTI(OR)I. I knew from the (1,8) that this was going to be a Latin phrase but, finding that “a posteriori” was too long, had to trawl through my Chambers until I found a similar phrase. Probably the toughest clue in the grid.

54. In Djibouti, putting away every second mug (5)

Answer: IDIOT (i.e. “mug”). “Putting away every second” indicates the solution is hidden in every other letter of IN DJIBOUTI. Another clue that doesn’t scan terribly well, but where I liked the wordplay.

55. Shyster, one who gives you a hand on horse (7,6)

Answer: WHEELER DEALER (i.e. “shyster”). Solution is WHEELER (i.e. “horse”, specifically one closest to the wheels of the vehicle its pulling; also known as a wheelhorse) and DEALER (i.e. “one who gives you a hand [of cards]”).

56. Drink with students, going over grim experience (9)

Answer: SUNDOWNER (i.e. “drink”, specifically one drunk around sundown. I need no such excuse.) Solution is NUS (i.e. “students”, specifically the National Union of Students) reversed (indicated by “going over”) and followed by DOWNER (i.e. “grim experience”), like so: SUN-DOWNER.

Down clues

1. Swim with hot swimwear in sound (9)

Answer: DIPHTHONG which, as repeated a few weeks ago in puzzle 1373, is a two-vowel “sound” pronounced as one syllable. Solution is DIP (i.e. “swim”) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”) and THONG (i.e. “swimwear”).

2. Those who execute reverse if bike follows circles (6,5)

Answer: FIRING SQUAD (i.e. “those who execute”). Solution is IF “reversed”, then RINGS (i.e. “circles”) “followed” by QUAD (i.e. “bike”), like so: FI-RINGS-QUAD.

3. Bill wearing woman’s skirt (5)

Answer: EVADE (i.e. “[to] skirt”). Solution is AD (a recognised abbreviation of advertisement, i.e. “bill”) “wearing” EVE (i.e. “woman” – ignore the misleading possessive S), like so: EV(AD)E.

4. Frenzied rite thus engulfs ill-omened figure (8)

Answer: THIRTEEN (i.e. “ill-omened figure” – one I’m somewhat familiar with, ahem). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frenzied”) of RITE placed in THEN (i.e. “this”), like so: TH(IRTE)EN.

5. After service lift provided by a basket-maker? (6)

Answer: RAFFIA (i.e. “basket-maker”, as in the ribbon-like fibres obtained from the Raphia palm). Here’s one where the setter loses me, so watch out. RAF might be “service”, as in the Royal Air Force, but the rest leaves me stone cold. Next!

6. Being untrue is dashed silly today (10)

Answer: DISLOYALTY (i.e. “being untrue”). “Dashed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SILLY TODAY.

7. Something indicating Kiss title track is running (5-7)

Answer: CROSS-COUNTRY (i.e. “running”). Solution is CROSS (i.e. “something indicating kiss” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) followed by COUNT (i.e. “title”) and RY (i.e. “track”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “railway”).

8. White part of gazelle, somewhat towards the top (7)

Answer: MOSELLE, which is a German “white” wine. “Part of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “towards the top” indicates the solution is reversed, this being a down clue, like so: GAZ(ELLE SOM)EWHAT. One I got through the wordplay, if I’m honest.

9. Unsophisticated trash is in no lemonade (3-11)

Answer: ONE-DIMENSIONAL (i.e. “unsophisticated”). “Trash” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IS IN NO LEMONADE.

10. Like some rulers dismissing a risk (7)

Answer: IMPERIL (i.e. “risk”). Solution is IMPERIAL (i.e. “like some rulers”) with the A “dismissed”.

11. Counterpart right to block popular tune that’s mistimed (11)

Answer: INOPPORTUNE (i.e. “mistimed”). Solution is OPPO (i.e. “counterpart”, as in an informal abbreviation for one in opposition) and R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) “blocking” IN (i.e. “popular”) and TUNE, like so: IN-(OPPO-R)-TUNE. The mirror opposite of this clue amusingly appeared in the previous puzzle a couple of days ago.

12. Mark in college raised (4)

Answer: NOTE (i.e. “mark”). Solution is ETON (i.e. “college”) reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue).

17. Guide Europeans over pitch (8)

Answer: POLESTAR (i.e. a director or “guide”, also known as Polaris or the North Star). Solution is POLES (i.e. “Europeans”) placed “over” TAR (i.e. “pitch”). My Chambers had this as two words. Hardly the seventh seal being broken, I know, but there you go.

19. Retailer, quiet about poor line, is to stock up again (9)

Answer: REPLENISH (i.e. “to stock up again”). Solution is REP (i.e. “retailer”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a “[corporate] representative” – a weak one, this, so I might be wrong) and SH (i.e. “quiet”) placed “about” an anagram (indicated by “poor”) of LINE, like so: REP-(LENI)-SH.

22. Family member left complaint involving attacks (5,3)

Answer: GRAND MAL, a French term for a violently convulsive form of epilepsy (i.e. “complaint involving attacks”). Solution is GRANDMA (i.e. “family member”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”).

25. Garments of swimmer on lake (8)

Answer: LINGERIE (i.e. “garments”). Solution is LING (which is a kind of fish, i.e. “swimmer”; did a Google Image search – not a looker) followed by ERIE (one of the five Great “Lakes” in the US).

26. Accusing Punjabi’s group can end in snag (9)

Answer: INDICTING (i.e. “accusing”). Solution is INDIC, which is the Indian branch of Indo-European languages (i.e. “Punjabi’s [parent] group”), followed by TIN (i.e. “can”) and G (i.e. “end in snag”, i.e. the last letter of “snag”), like so: INDIC-TIN-G.

27. One predicting development of giant root crops (14)

Answer: PROGNOSTICATOR (i.e. “one predicting”). “Development” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GIANT ROOT CROPS.

28. Look around in theatre, place for acting (4,4)

Answer: ROLE PLAY (i.e. “acting”). Solution is LO (i.e. “look”, as in “lo and behold”) reversed (indicated by “around”) and placed “in” REP (i.e. “theatre” – “rep” is a recognised abbreviation of a repertory theatre, which has “a repertoire of plays and a stock or permanent company of actors”, it says here) and followed by PAY (i.e. “place”), like so: R(OL)EP-LAY. Bloody hell, that took some figuring out.

31. Plant extract which art collector has to have? (9,3)

Answer: ESSENTIAL OIL. Solution satisfies “plant extract” and, cryptically, “which art collector has to have”. I had this down as “sunflower oil” for too long before finally accepting it wasn’t to be. Sorry, Vince.

33. Make firm study works for one partner (11)

Answer: CONSOLIDATE (i.e. “make firm”). Another where the setter loses me, so watch out. I get that CON is an archaic word for “[to] study” and I DATE could be “[Roman numeral] one” and “partner”, but that’s about it. Next clue please.

36. A rebel here in France engaged by servant for painter (11)

Answer: ACADEMICIAN (i.e. “painter”, e.g. a Royal Academician, often abbreviated to RA by setters for use in their solutions). Solution is A, followed by Jack CADE (who led a rebellion against Henry VI a couple of years ago, i.e. “rebel”) and ICI (i.e. “here in France” – the French for “here” is “ici”) “engaged by” MAN (i.e. “servant”), like so: A-CADE-M(ICI)AN.

37. More confused with metric gauge (10)

Answer: MICROMETER (i.e. “gauge”). “Confused” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MORE and METRIC.

41. Old lady overwhelmed by change, being old school (4,5)

Answer: ALMA MATER (i.e. “old school”). Solution is MAMA (i.e. “old lady”) “overwhelmed by” ALTER (i.e. “change”), like so: AL(MAMA)TER.

42. Force Cicero to wriggle about (8)

Answer: COERCION (i.e. “force”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to wriggle”) of CICERO followed by ON (i.e. “about”), like so: COERCI-ON.

44. Dislike current lines by bard (3,4)

Answer: ILL WILL (i.e. “dislike”). Solution is I (used in physics to represent an electric “current”), then L and L (recognised abbreviations for “lines”), followed by WILL (i.e. “bard”, specifically William Shakespeare).

46. Bends stick broken by Roman here (7)

Answer: CHICANE (i.e. “bends”). Solution is CANE (i.e. “stick”) “broken by” HIC (i.e. “Roman here”, the Latin for “here” is “hic”), like so: C(HIC)ANE.

48. When climbing, wears bits of leather (6)

Answer: STROPS (i.e. “bits of leather”). Solution is SPORTS (i.e. “wears”) which is then reversed (indicated by “when climbing”, this being a down clue).

50. Foreign ally questioning whether he can proceed? (5)

Answer: AMIGO, Spanish for “friend” (i.e. “foreign ally”). As for the latter half of the clue, said ally could be said to be asking “AM I GO?”

51. Expel from school’s front bench (4)

Answer: SPEW (i.e. “expel”). Solution is S (i.e. “school’s front”, i.e. the first letter of “school”) followed by PEW (i.e. “bench”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1376

This week’s puzzle saw another slight increase in difficulty, but could equally have just been me taking longer than normal to twig the wordplay behind a number of clues. Either way, this puzzle was one of the better ones. You’ll find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

As usual, before we crack on, a little housekeeping. If you have a relatively recent Times Jumbo Cryptic puzzle knocking around for which you’re missing a few solutions, then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If you’ve a soft spot for horror short stories then you might find of interest my current folly of reviewing Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series, which you can find on my Reviews page.

Right-oh. On with the show. I’ll see you in a couple of days, all being well, once I’ve gotten my hands on Easter Monday’s puzzle.


Across clues

1. Doctor put into a group round hospital with many others (3-6)

Answer: MOB-HANDED (i.e. “with many others”). Solution is MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) followed by BANDED (i.e. “put into a group”) placed “round” H (a recognised abbreviation of “hospital”), like so: MO-B(H)ANDED.

6. One who’s not genuine scarecrow (3,2,5)

Answer: MAN OF STRAW. Solution satisfies “one who’s not genuine” (perhaps more commonly referred to as a “straw man”), and “scarecrow”.

12. Runner arrives in haste at start of relay (7)

Answer: HARRIER (a cross-country “runner”). Solution is ARR (a recognised abbreviation of “arrives”) placed “in” HIE (i.e. “haste”) and then followed by R (i.e. “start of relay”, i.e. the first letter of “relay”), like so: H(ARR)IE-R.

13. Meeting of alumni? There’s a thing (9)

Answer: OBSESSION (i.e. “a thing”, e.g. having a thing for someone). Within the context of the clue, a “meeting of alumni” would be an OB SESSION, with OB being a recognised abbreviation of “old boy”.

14. One page coming out of directory (5)

Answer: RECTO, which is a printing term meaning the right-hand page of an open book. “Coming out of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: DI(RECTO)RY. This solution appeared recently in puzzle 1366.

16. A quiet period assembling for a fast start (3,9)

Answer: ASH WEDNESDAY (i.e. “a fast start”, being the first day of Lent). Solution is A then SH (i.e. “quiet”) and WEDNESDAY (i.e. a 24-hour “period”).

17. Receive two presents but not make further advance (3,7)

Answer: GET NOWHERE (i.e. “not make further advance”). Solution is GET (i.e. “receive”) followed by NOW and HERE (i.e. “two presents”).

19. Old police supervisors choosing what to close round wrists? (5,9)

Answer: WATCH COMMITTEE (i.e. “old police supervisors”). Solution jokingly suggests such a committee could also be responsible for choosing wristwatches. I’ll keep using my phone, thanks.

22. Fair experience very popular with creep (3,5)

Answer: BIG WHEEL (i.e. “fair experience”). Solution is BIG (i.e. “very popular”) followed by W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) and HEEL (i.e. “creep”).

24. Defector from Scottish party returning her dress? (6)

Answer: TARTAN. Solution is RAT (i.e. “defector”) followed by NAT (i.e. “from Scottish party”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “Nationalist”), all reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: TAR-TAN. Within the context of the clue, said Scottish defector’s dress could well be tartan.

25. Politician tending to arouse lecherous thoughts, by agreement (10)

Answer: CONSENSUAL (i.e. “by agreement”). Solution is CON (i.e. “politician”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) followed by SENSUAL (i.e. “tending to arouse lecherous thoughts”).

26. Violinist, say, during and at the end of recital? (5)

Answer: BOWER. Solution satisfies “violinist, say, during recital” as in one using a bow to play their instrument, and “violinist, say, at the end of recital”, as in one taking a bow at the end of their performance. A pleasingly elegant clue.

29. Go over and over something on the drums (4)

Answer: ROLL. Solution satisfies “go over and over” and “something on the drums”, as in a drum roll.

30. Heavily defeat male, since all but untouchable (8)

Answer: MASSACRE (i.e. “heavily defeat”). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”) followed by AS (i.e. “since”) and SACRED (i.e. “untouchable”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “all but”), like so: M-AS-SACRE.

32. Even biography is an art form (5,4)

Answer: STILL LIFE (i.e. “art form”). Solution is STILL (i.e. “even”) followed by LIFE (i.e. “biography”).

34. This term oddly tires me out (9)

Answer: TRIMESTER (i.e. three months, or an academic “term”). Solution is TR (i.e. “term oddly”, i.e. the odd letters of TERM) followed by an anagram (indicated by “out”) of TIRES ME, like so: TR-IMESTER.

35. Inopportune fret by half back (8)

Answer: MISTIMED (i.e. “inopportune”). Solution is MIST (e.g. a sea “fret”) followed by DEMI (i.e. “half”) reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: MIST-IMED.

36. Manages to drop daughter in marshland (4)

Answer: FENS (i.e. “marshland”). Solution is FENDS (i.e. “manages”) with the D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) “dropped”.

39. Get cracking, say, to open container (5)

Answer: BEGIN (i.e. “get cracking”). Solution is EG (i.e. for example, or “say”) “opening” BIN (i.e. “container”), like so: B(EG)IN.

40. Plant second holy book (good!) in church (4,6)

Answer: MOCK ORANGE (i.e. “plant”). Solution is MO (short for moment, i.e. a “second”) with KORAN (i.e. “holy book”) and G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) placed “in” CE (ditto “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: MO-C(KORAN-G)E.

42. Presumably happy about one omitted from speech (6)

Answer: UNSAID (i.e. “omitted from speech”). Solution is UNSAD (i.e. “presumably happy”) placed “about” I (Roman numeral “one”), like so: UNSA(I)D.

44. Searching for this, Marcel fell behind (4,4)

Answer: LOST TIME. Solution satisfies both “fell behind” and “searching for this, Marcel”, as in Marcel Proust’s 4000+ page novel In Search Of Lost Time. Can’t say I’ve read it, but I have read Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, which also weighs in over 4000 pages. Does that count?

46. Illnesses later devastated island group (6,8)

Answer: LESSER ANTILLES (i.e. “island group”). “Devastated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ILLNESSES LATER.

48. Summarily dismissed in speech all the time (10)

Answer: THROUGHOUT (i.e. “all the time”). Solution also satisfies “summarily dismissed in speech”, i.e. a homophone of “threw out”.

49. Current situation of the national myth? (3,2,3,4)

Answer: LIE OF THE LAND. Solution satisfies “current situation” and, cryptically, “the national myth” – a myth being another word for a lie.

53. Meaning to float along (5)

Answer: DRIFT. Solution satisfies “meaning” and “to float along”.

54. Principally relied on such a drive in a British vehicle (5-4)

Answer: RIGHT HAND. Solution satisfies “principally relied on”, as in a right-hand man, and “a [right-hand] drive in a British vehicle”.

55. One may be boring these days, joining in rough fight (7)

Answer: BRADAWL, which is a small tool used for making holes in woodwork to assist the application of nails or screws (i.e. “one may be boring”). Solution is AD (i.e. “these days”, as in Anno Domini) “joined in” BRAWL (i.e. “rough fight”), like so: BR(AD)AWL.

56. “Where is the college porter?” barmaid said (4,6)

Answer: BEER CELLAR. Solution satisfies “barmaid said”, i.e. a homophone of “beer seller”. In the context of the clue, a beer cellar would well be where the porter – a kind of beer – is kept. Not a great one, this. I’m guessing “college” is a red herring to throw solvers off the desired meaning of “porter”, but I could be wrong.

57. Setter chosen – assess regularly for brevity (9)

Answer: TERSENESS (i.e. “brevity”). “Regularly” suggests the solution can be found at regular intervals in the clue, in this case the final three letters of the first three words of the clue: SETTER CHOSEN ASSESS.

Down clues

1. Slowly transform school party going over hotel (5)

Answer: MORPH (i.e. “slowly transform”). Solution is PROM (i.e. “school party”) reversed (indicated by “going over”) and followed by H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: MORP-H.

2. Literary castle often veiled (10)

Answer: BRIDESHEAD. Solution satisfies “literary castle”, specifically from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, and something that is “often veiled”, as in a BRIDES HEAD.

3. A monarch abandoning modern art, rejected as without purpose (2,6)

Answer: AT RANDOM (i.e. “without purpose”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “rejected”) of MODERN ART once ER (i.e. “a monarch”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) has been removed (i.e. “abandoned”).

4. Refuse Duke Lawrence (5)

Answer: DROSS (i.e “refuse”, as in rubbish). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “duke”) followed by John Hume ROSS, a false name used by Thomas Edward “Lawrence”, popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia. That’s my take on it, anyway.

5. Philosopher taking sort of lead, with children round about (9)

Answer: René DESCARTES (i.e. “philosopher”). Solution is SCART (i.e. “sort of lead” – ask your parents, kids) with SEED (i.e. “children”) reversed and placed around it (indicated by “round” and “about”), like so: DE(SCART)ES.

6. Paste is inserted by doctor (4)

Answer: MISO (i.e. a Japanese “paste” made from soya beans). Solution is IS “inserted” into MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer), like so: M(IS)O.

7. Properly fixed, having got worse after November (6)

Answer: NAILED (i.e. “properly fixed”). Solution is AILED (i.e. “having got worse”) placed “after” N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: N-AILED.

8. Paper money minister initially covered in restrictions (9,5)

Answer: FINANCIAL TIMES (i.e. “paper”). Solution is FINANCIAL (i.e. “money”) followed by M (i.e. “minister initially”, i.e. the first letter of “minister”) “covered in” TIES (i.e. “restrictions”), like so: FINANCIAL-TI(M)ES.

9. Delivered curve ball, perhaps, get very upset (5,1,6)

Answer: THREW A WOBBLY. Solution satisfies “delivered curve ball, perhaps” and “get very upset”. The past tense of the former suggests is should be THREW rather than THROW.

10. In a Med island clubs grow together (7)

Answer: ACCRETE (i.e. “grow together”). Solution is A and CRETE (i.e. “Med island”) placed around C (a recognised abbreviation of “clubs” used in card games), like so: A-(C)-CRETE.

11. Wheatear chewed and eaten by senior bird (10)

Answer: SHEARWATER (i.e. “bird” – did a Google Image search: cool wings, bit random otherwise). Solution is SR (a recognised abbreviation of “senior”) “eating” an anagram (indicated by “chewed”) of WHEATEAR, like so: S(HEARWATE)R. Another well-worked clue.

15. Excessive lavender and rosemary at first in round border (9)

Answer: OVERLARGE (i.e. “excessive”). Solution is L, A and R (i.e. “lavender and rosemary at first”, i.e. the first letters of “lavender”, “and” and “rosemary”) placed in O (i.e. “round”) and VERGE (i.e. “border”), like so: O-VER(L-A-R)GE.

18. Not so much needed to cover girl, being thin (8)

Answer: LEANNESS (i.e. “being thin”). Solution is LESS (i.e. “not so much”) “covering” ANNE (i.e. “girl”), like so: LE(ANNE)SS.

20. Sensational preoccupation about running water (9)

Answer: THRILLING (i.e. “sensational”). Solution is THING (i.e. “preoccupation”, as in having a thing for someone) placed “about” RILL, which is a very small brook (i.e. “running water”).

21. Crazed drummer’s means of transport (10)

Answer: MOONSTRUCK (i.e. “crazed”). Solution is Keith MOON (i.e. the “drummer” in The Who) with a possessive ‘S and followed by TRUCK (i.e. “means of transport”).

23. Nursing leg, shot – by him? (10)

Answer: GUNSLINGER. “Shot” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NURSING LEG. Within the context of the clue, someone could well have been shot by a gunslinger.

27. What everyone supports the tiniest bit: government (9)

Answer: WHITEHALL (i.e. “government”). Solution is EH (i.e. “what”, as in “eh?”) and ALL (i.e. “everyone”) being placed under or “supporting” WHIT (i.e. “the tiniest bit”) – this being a down clue – like so: WHIT-EH-ALL. One of those clues where the wordplay took a lot longer to figure out than the solution itself. I rather like it, weirdly.

28. No atmosphere? I’m having to change double act (9,5)

Answer: PANTOMINE HORSE (i.e. “double act”). “Having to change” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NO ATMOSPHERE IM.

31. Made manure as temperature dropped in calm (8)

Answer: COMPOSED (i.e. “calm”). Solution is COMPOSTED (i.e. “made manure”) with the T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”) removed or “dropped”.

33. Paste up a brunette, top of torso retouched (6,6)

Answer: PEANUT BUTTER (i.e. “paste”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “retouched”) of UP A BRUNETTE and T (i.e. “top of torso”, i.e. the first letter of “torso”).

34. Not to be touched on behind, daughter ordered (9)

Answer: TABULATED (i.e. “ordered”). Solution is TABU, an alternative spelling of taboo (i.e. “not to be touched”) followed by LATE (i.e. “behind”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”).

37. Inch round close to the blue delta, not across the bay? (4-6)

Answer: SIDE-SADDLE (i.e. “[riding] not across the bay [horse]”). Solution is SIDLE (i.e. to “inch”) placed “round” E (i.e. “close to the”, i.e. the last letter of “the”), SAD (i.e. “blue”) and D (“delta” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: SID(E-SAD-D)LE.

38. At home, box inlaid with pine missing its top – turn to ash (10)

Answer: INCINERATE (i.e. “turn to ash”). Solution is IN (i.e. “at home”) followed by CRATE (i.e. “box”) which has been “inlaid with” INE (i.e. “pine missing its top”, i.e. the word “pine” without the initial letter), like so: IN-C(INE)RATE.

41. Stalin as a vicious aggressor (9)

Answer: ASSAILANT (i.e. “aggressor”). “Vicious” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of STALIN AS A.

43. Not mentally sound, take horse out? (8)

Answer: UNSTABLE. Solution satisfies “not mentally sound” and, cryptically, to “take horse out”.

45. Set of dishes for ceremony (7)

Answer: SERVICE. Solution satisfies “set of dishes” and “ceremony”.

47. Good-time girl’s sort of infection (6)

Answer: FUNGAL. Solution satisfies “sort of infection” and “good-time girl”, i.e. a FUN GAL.

50. Stranger backing Communist Party (5)

Answer: ODDER (i.e. “stranger”). Solution is RED (i.e. “Communist”) and DO (i.e. “party” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and the whole lot reversed (indicated by “backing”) like so: OD-DER.

51. President commonly received a text (5)

Answer: John ADAMS, second “president” of the United States of America. Solution is AD (i.e. “commonly received”, i.e. the word “had” as said by one who drops their aitches) then A and MS (i.e. “text”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “manuscript”), like so: AD-A-MS. Another where the wordplay took significantly longer to figure out than the solution.

52. Hollywood figure perhaps, half naked (4)

Answer: STAR (i.e. “Hollywood figure, perhaps” – could refer to “star” as in a celebrity, or the stars that adorn the pavement of Hollywood Boulevard). Solution is the first half of STARKERS (i.e. “half-naked”).

Review: Best New Horror 4

Nom, nom, nom!

(If you would like a run-through the stories found in the first three volumes of Best New Horror, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

Best New Horror continues into a fourth volume showcasing twenty-four of the best horror shorts published during 1992. Well, twentyish may be a more accurate description. Not for the first time, the editors have padded the book with a few not-terribly-horrific pretenders, especially in the latter half. Thankfully, the quality of these pretenders helps elevate the book into 4/5 territory.

As to the stories, let’s take a look.

Also collected in Edelman’s “These Words Are Haunted”. Cool cover, taking detail from Francisco Goya’s “Saturn Eating His Son”. Nom, nom, nom! (Again.)

The Suicide Artist – Scott Edelman (3/5 – A man reluctantly tells the reader of a horrible experience of his, aged just six, when a stranger led him away from school. He would like to end the story there but, of course, you, the reader, want to know more. So he continues: detailing the murderous lengths he went to in order to survive the stranger’s clutches; about the tragedy that had seen him left alone at the school gates in the first place; and, a short time later, how he stumbled upon his father’s appalling abuse of Kate, his older sister. The more that is revealed, the greater the bitterness and hostility the narrator feels about it. How dare you want to know more! But you can’t help it, can you? You just won’t let him stop, not unless… I admire what Edelman was trying to do here, exploring how characters in a horror story would feel to have the worst moments of their lives written up for the entertainment of others, and how the permeance of the fourth wall could present an opportunity for a little payback. In Edelman’s introduction, he describes the unease the story would create in his audience whenever he performed a reading of it, and I can fully believe it. This is a piece that begs to be read aloud. On paper, however, its power is lessened. In my case it allowed me to dwell upon on plot weaknesses. Rather than feeling shame at wanting to know more of the story, or quivering in fear of what the narrator might have in store for me, I spent the latter half thinking, “Wow, you were one unexpectedly strong and fiendishly devious six-year old boy, weren’t you?”)

Dancing On A Blade Of Dreams – Roberta Lannes (3/5 – The evil that men do carries over into this sexually-charged story of a juror, Patty, during a kidnapping-rape-murder trial. In the dock sits Garrick, an incredibly handsome man who claims to have been set up by a former friend. One night, as the trial nears its climax, Patty dreams of being driven – shackled, bruised and bloody – to a pristine hotel room where she is chained to a bathtub by her ex-husband, Michael. There she is abused by her ex, all the while craving the smallest morsel of his love. When Patty eventually awakens, she feels incredibly uncomfortable about the dream, for Michael had never once been violent during their marriage. Patty’s stomach sinks when the trial moves onto an eerily-familiar hotel room in which one of the victims was believed to have been held captive. It seems Patty is experiencing the horrific final days of Garrick’s victims in her dreams and, worse still, Garrick knows it. This was okay, and noticeably better than Apostate In Denim, Lannes’ controversial entry in Best New Horror 2. Lannes works some vivid and gruesomely effective imagery into her story, but the ending felt a little tacked-on and didn’t work the more I thought about it.)

Also collected in “The Essential Clive Barker”

The Departed – Clive Barker (5/5 – A short and sweet story in which Hermione, a recently-departed ghost, seeks to connect with her young son one last time. Under the counsel of an experienced old ghost called Rice, the two devise a plan to visit upon the boy while he is out trick-or-treating. Barker works real magic in this story. There can be no other explanation. In the space of a few pages he masterfully creates a pair of wonderful characters in Hermione and especially Rice, and imbues them with a winning chemistry from the off. By the ending – because of the ending – I wanted to know so much more about them. An excellent read.)


Also collected in Brite’s “Swamp Foetus”

How To Get Ahead In New York – Poppy Z. Brite (4/5 – Steve and Ghost (from Brite’s novel Lost Souls) are booked to play a gig in New York’s East Village. It’s four in the morning and they step off a Greyhound and into a daunting Port Authority bus terminal. It doesn’t take long for them to get lost in a building seemingly designed to confuse out-of-towners, and they soon fall prey to a resident army of mindless vagrants. So begins a typically strange morning in New York. I liked this story a lot, despite not having read Lost Souls. Brite maintains a light and affectionate touch throughout much of the story, wrapping a rich human zoo around Steve and Ghost as they sample much of the weirdness New York has to offer.)

Also collected in Brunner’s “The Man Who Was Secrett and Other Stories”

They Take – John Brunner (4/5 – Ann and her husband Carlo are summoned to Bolsevieto, a small rural Italian village, to inspect a nearby house and some accompanying land, both of which had been left to Ann by her late aunt. They are unimpressed by what they find. They are keen to leave the village and to sell the place as soon as possible, until Ann spots some unusual tomb-like structures squatting on her land. They should have listened to their instincts. There’s a great sense of place in this story, helped in no small part by Brunner’s command of all things Italian. Horror stalwarts will probably find the bones of this story in numerous others they read, but, all things considered, this is a good substitute for the “dumped on a remote Greek island” story found in the previous three books.)

Replacements – Lisa Tuttle (4/5 – Stuart is horrified by the sight of a wingless bat-like creature shuffling pathetically amid the pavement trash. He instinctively stamps it to death, repulsed, but soon finds another crawling along the kerbside. It’s clear there are more of the hideous little critters out there. Tensions mount when his wife, Jenny, brings one of the creatures home as a pet, seemingly in thrall of it. This story did a decent job of making my skin crawl but was somewhat offset by Stuart being a complete and utter wet blanket. Throughout the story he tells precisely nobody about his predicament, which takes some swallowing.)

Also collected in “25 Years in the Word Mines – The Best Short Fiction of Graham Joyce”

Under The Pylon – Graham Joyce (4/5 – A bunch of kids play beneath a neighbourhood pylon, paying no heed to the warning signs and in spite of the discarded bricks and five-foot-high nettles growing there. Big School is fast approaching for all of them, bringing with it the end of childhood innocence and the onset of puberty, and it seems the pylon is sensitive to the changes playing out below. There’s something about Joyce’s style that never fails to draw me in, a raw honesty perhaps. I loved The Year of the Ladybird (a.k.a. The Man in the Electric Blue Suit in the US), a review of which you can read here, and I really liked this.)


Collected in Ligotti’s “Grimscribe: His Lives and Works”

The Glamour – Thomas Ligotti (3/5 – A man is drawn to a movie theatre one night while walking through an unfamiliar part of town. Being the kind of man who likes visiting movie theatres in the dead of night, this seems rather a fortuitous find. The front of the movie theatre is dilapidated and boarded up, and yet a poorly-lit notice advertises tonight’s attraction: “The Glamour”. When his attention is drawn to an alternative side-entrance to the building further along a darkened alleyway, the man is helpless to resist taking a look. This story has appeared in a few “Best of…” anthologies over the years but was a bit of a misfire for me, sadly, even after a reread. Ligotti’s lush writing is present, certainly, but in places it felt like he was trying too hard. His use of repetition, often a successful and hypnotic trait of his other works, feels a little overdone here, likewise a visceral atmosphere he doesn’t so much accumulate as heap upon the reader once our man enters the movie theatre. Could just be me, though.)

Also collected in Gordon’s “The Burning Baby and Other Ghosts”

Under The Ice – John Gordon (4/5 – Rupert invites his schoolfriend, David, to come skating on the frozen fens near his parent’s farm. David is a little suspicious of the boy’s motives. It’s as if Rupert has an answer to every excuse of David’s for not going. Eventually David gives in and they are picked up by Rupert’s father. David soon finds that Rupert’s parents weren’t expecting company, making him feel even less comfortable. He senses a great unspoken tragedy hanging over the family: conversation with Rupert’s father is practically non-existent, while Rupert’s mother is a shadow of her former vibrant self. To David’s relief, Rupert pulls him away from the house and out onto the ice. With the daylight quickly fading, the boy is keen to show David something out there; something under the ice. Like They Take a little earlier in the book, this story will have a familiar ring to it for seasoned horror fans, but is no less of a good read because of it. Worth a look.)

Collected in Lane’s “The Earthwire and Other Stories”

And Some Are Missing – Joel Lane (4/5 – David is adjusting to life alone following a split from his long-term boyfriend, Alan. A chance intervention outside his new digs introduces David to the shadowy antipeople, and they are not exactly friendly. I mentioned in my review of Best New Horror 3, which featured Lane’s story Power Cut, how I often have to read his stories a couple of times before I get a whiff of what’s really going on. This was one of those stories, due mainly to a final sentence that forced me to reassess everything I’d just read. After a re-read, I’m fairly certain it was thrown in there for precisely that purpose, but your reading of it may differ. Either way, it is still worth a read.)


The Little Green Ones – Les Daniels (3/5 – An American writer takes time out from a convention to explore a nearby London cemetery where he is creeped out by a pair of lifelike statues: one of a little girl, the other a little boy. Both are completely covered with an unusually green lichen, a colour that begins to haunt him as he returns home. In the editors’ introduction they explain how this story was inspired by the author’s attendance at a recent World Fantasy Convention held in London. I rather wished they’d hadn’t mentioned this, to be honest, because it made The Little Green Ones less of a horror story and more a six-page gripe about the shitty time he had there. This was an okay read, to be fair, but how this was nominated for a World Fantasy Award back in the day is a mystery.)

Also collected in SRT’s “The Far Side Of The Lake”

Mirror Man – Steve Rasnic Tem (3/5 – Jeff is a man staring old age in the face, quite literally. He regularly checks his appearance in the mirror for fresh signs of his inevitable decrepitude, unable to help himself. His marriage to Liz has long been a loveless endeavour, but Jeff is determined not to let the same happen with Susan, their eleven-year-old daughter. In fact, to help him feel better about the white hairs poking out of his ears, he decides it would be a fine idea to take his daughter for a long drive to Providence and to a college reunion due to take place there. There he can show Susan off to all his old friends. Wouldn’t that be fun? (…?) The longer the drive drags on, and the closer they get to Providence, the more it seems Susan is slipping away from him. On the Steve Rasnic Tem Weird-O-Meter™, this story ranks a respectable “Pretty Strange”. Sadly, it doesn’t rank among his best. It’s not for a lack of effort, but it seems my Lovecraftian maxim holds true once more: that when an author dabbles in Lovecraft’s world, they often produce inferior work. Indeed, in the introduction to this story, we learn SRT had a hard time selling it for publication precisely due to its Lovecraftian angle, eventually finding succour in a dedicated Lovecraftian press.)

Mothmusic – Sarah Ash (4/5 – Astar Taziel is a physician who witnesses the devastating effects of boskh – a substance yielded from the dust of a moonmoth’s wings. Boskh has wonderful medicinal qualities when taken in moderation, but beyond that addiction lies. To Taziel’s growing horror, it soon becomes clear that boskh has a payload much more serious than mere dependency. This is a fantasy yarn, traveller, so steel yonself for A Story Of A Hundred And One Spurious Names. Stick with this one, though, because there is a satisfying seam of horror running throughout.)

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

Did They Get You To Trade? – Karl Edward Wagner (5/5 – Another winner from Wagner sees Ryan Chase, a successful portrait artist, seeking inspiration over a few alfresco pints one fine sunny afternoon in London. A homeless man approaches Chase’s table and begs a few coins for a meal. Chase sees something in the man that could inspire a future work and so he buys a round of drinks to get to know him a little more. To his surprise Chase discovers the derelict was once a punk hero of his: the mighty Nemo Skagg of the trailblazing punk band Needle, a man who once had the world at his feet, but is now on his uppers. What could have happened to Skagg for him to end up in this state? Over the course of a staggering amount of drink, we are about to find out. This was nominated for a Stoker award back in the day, but, even after a reread, I fail to see the horror here. Urban fantasy, absolutely. Horror, no. Not that any of that matters because, whatever the genre, this story is a solid-gold treat from beginning to end. Put simply, Nemo Skagg is a magnificent creation. In Skagg, Wagner perfectly captures an angry punk spark and fierce intelligence that can never be fully extinguished by the booze, but in the end it’s Skagg’s humanity that shines through. The final revelation of what happened to the last of Skagg’s money is bittersweet and devastating. I can’t pretend to have read Wagner’s entire output, but I’d be astonished if he had written many things better than this. A reread sees this score upped from a 4/5 to 5/5.)

Night Shift Sister – Nicholas Royle (4/5 – Carl is a record shop owner with a huge record collection, an even bigger crush on Siouxsie Sioux and a photocopied map of somewhere he cannot place. The latter intrigues him. There are no street names to speak of and none of the landmarks are labelled, so where could the map have come from? Wait, there’s a Siouxsie Sioux lookalike over there. Perhaps she will know something. Yeah, the jumps of logic in this story take some getting over, but to be fair this is the best Royle story I’ve read in Best New Horror so far, and it bagged a British Fantasy Award at the time. It was also weirdly fun counting all the spiral motifs Royle stuffed into the story.)

The Dead – Simon Ings & M. John Harrison (2/5 – Echoes of the old New Wave movement can be heard in a story where a woman discovers through her childhood and young womanhood an unwanted and unpleasant rebirthing role she must fulfil. My original review of this story was a single word “Nope” – not entirely helpful, but it rather summed up my thoughts at the time. Nothing in the story quite matches the creep factor of two blokes, however well-respected, hunched over their respective keyboards writing this particular literary gem:

It helps to lick your finger and wet yourself between the legs.

Riiiiiight, thanks fellas. The piece improves upon a second reading, but not enough to improve its score. If you are a fan of fiction from out of the left-field then you might have a better time of The Dead than me. That said, when this story was republished in Interzone magazine back in January 1993 – a publication not entirely unfamiliar with weird fiction – it sank without a trace in its annual Readers Poll. Next story please!)

Also collected in Fowler’s “Uncut”

Norman Wisdom And The Angel Of Death – Christopher Fowler (4/5 – Stanley is a desperately boring man charged with brightening up the days of those patients at his local hospital with no family or friends to visit them. And how better to entertain the lonely sick than a meticulous run-through of every Norman Wisdom movie, line by line, scene by scene? Just don’t switch off whatever you do, otherwise it might be the end of you! When budget cuts create a bed shortage at the hospital, Stanley is asked to take in a wheelchair-bound patient, Saskia. They instantly hit it off, with Stanley finding in Saskia a tonic to his own loneliness. To top it all, she is a fan of Our Norman. How fortunate is that! Could Stanley be about to turn his life around? What do you reckon? Fowler expertly crafts an engaging and hyperreal villain in Stanley in an entertaining story that is only one contrivance short of perfection.)

Red Reign – Kim Newman (5/5 – This is the novella that inspired Newman’s Anno Dracula series of books, and it’s a corker. I had avoided the Anno Dracula series till now because “vampires, meh…” but I might have to rethink all that. This is Victorian London, but not as we know it. Dracula is Prince Regent, vampirism is spreading unchecked across the land, and a certain Dr Seward is secretly taking it upon himself to despatch vampish ladies of the night. The murders are sending ripples across the warms (humans) and new-borns (vampires) alike. Something must be done. Centuries-old vampire Genevieve Dieudonné and Charles Beauregard of The Diogenes Club must work together to root out this so-called “Jack The Ripper”. This brilliant story is worth the entrance fee on its own.)

Also collected in Atkins’ “The Wishmaster and Other Stories”

Aviatrix – Peter Atkins (3/5 – Jonathan Dyson is a nervous flyer. He’s fine once he’s up in the air, but the take-off? Forget about it. To help him get through his latest trip he sinks a Valium pre-flight, secures himself in his seat, and finds himself slipping into a vivid dream world. In it he meets the titular aviatrix who takes him out in her open-top biplane across increasingly strange lands and seas. As he slips in and out of consciousness Jonathan is surprised to find he is able to re-enter his dream where he left off. This was okay, with some great little touches here and there, particularly when Jonathan slips into the dream world for the first time, but let’s be honest – the moment you saw he was a nervous flyer you probably guessed how the story turns out.)

Also collected in MacLeod’s “Past Magic”

Snodgrass – Ian R. MacLeod (4/5 – A smart alternative history that follows John Lennon as he bums around Birmingham thirty years after he walked out The Beatles. His whole selfish existence has been spent living from one moment to the next. His friends and acquaintances are little more than means to an end, which, for “Dr Winston O’Boogie”, is usually to get pissed and get high. Now, with Lennon squarely in his fifties, The Beatles are back in town and Macca would like to see the good doctor again. I liked this a lot more than 1/72nd Scale, MacLeod’s previous story in Best New Horror 2. His Lennon is a wonderfully gobby character: coarse and witty and, despite his many, many flaws, unmistakeably human. This is an engrossing and entertaining read, certainly, but it has found its way into a horror anthology on the thinnest of premises.)

Also collected in Wilhelm’s “And the Angels Sing”

The Day Of The Sharks – Kate Wilhelm (3/5 – Gary and Veronica are heading on holiday to Grand Bahama, stopping over at Bill and Shar’s luxury house on the way. Their hosts are preparing for a party that evening, to which Gary and Veronica are cordially invited. The shindig is self-serving, of course. Gary is an investment councillor and he knows it won’t take long for Bill’s wealthy business-owning guests to learn of the fact and to start tapping him up. Meanwhile Veronica is a woman on the edge of madness. She struggles to hold herself together with tranquilisers after an incident in which she set fire to her workplace. Gary cares little for her these days. He’s playing down time before they can separate. Gary’s much keener to bump uglies with Shar again. Events take a metaphorically gruesome turn the morning after the party. This was okay but, as you may have detected, a lack of likeable characters made it difficult to care what was happening to anybody.)

Also collected in Harrison’s “Travel Arrangements”

Anima – M. John Harrison (3/5 – A writer makes the acquaintance of a curious fella called Choe Ashton, who proceeds to drift in and out of his life. Ashton is an enigma: giddy and in love with the world one moment, then surly and abusive the next. He is, however, never less than interesting. It’s impossible to see the whole of him without parts of one’s vision blurring, for instance. Ashton is prone to disappearing for weeks and months without notice only to reappear as if nothing had happened, and our man is unable to resist his call every time. The anima is another name for the soul and Harrison deftly personifies through Ashton the changeable and restless bugger sitting behind the wheel in all of us. It’s an okay read – less a story than it is a character study – but quite what qualified this for inclusion in a horror anthology is beyond me.)

Bright Lights, Big Zombie – Douglas E. Winter (3/5 – In this Stoker-nominated story, zombies are a thing, New York is struggling to cope with its returning dead and society has banned all video nasties as part of its response. Blurry umpteenth-generation copies of notorious old giallo flicks such as Cannibal Holocaust and Guinea Pig become valuable contraband, and an opportunity presents itself to exploit this demand by producing real-life zombie movies. The story is told in second-person (as fans of Bright Lights, Big City might suspect). Usually this is a red flag for me, but Winter’s playful inventiveness made this one of the better examples.)

Also collected in Straub’s “Magic Terror”

The Ghost Village – Peter Straub (5/5 – This superb novella expands on Straub’s novel Koko and is an early and condensed version of The Throat, the concluding part of his Blue Rose trilogy. We’re back in the heat of the Vietnamese jungle. Death is only a sniper’s bullet away. Tim Underhill and Mike Poole explore a chamber dug beneath a hut in an abandoned village. Something bad happened here, something bad enough to keep the VC away. Text lines the walls and ceiling of the chamber, old rust-coloured blood stains much of the floor and ominous-looking manacles hang limp. A chance meeting in an illegal bar reveals the horrific truth of the place. Like Koko before it, The Ghost Village bagged a World Fantasy Award, and is a terrific closer to this book.)


And so ends another monster review of Best New Horror. Thanks for getting this far. I hope you enjoyed it. Sadly, PS Publishing’s anniversary editions of Best New Horror seem to have stopped at book three with little sign of the series continuing. They continue to publish new volumes of the series, however, with book twenty-nine (yes, twenty-nine!) coming in the next month or so. That said, you shouldn’t have too much trouble sourcing a second-hand copy of this book from Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks should you desire, and, as ever, you’ll find eBook editions available across all main platforms.

And so onto book five!


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1375

A slightly tougher puzzle this time, which makes me think there could be a stinker coming over the busy Easter weekend! This was a pretty good puzzle too, all told, with only one repeat of a recent solution to speak of (GARB). You’ll find my completed grid below, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

If you’d like solutions for the last couple dozen Times Jumbo Cryptic puzzles, then jump to my Just For Fun page. If you’re a fan of horror fiction (because why wouldn’t you be?) then I have a few things on my Reviews page that might float your boat, soon to include the oft-promised review for Best New Horror 4. (I’m just turning it into some approximation of English.)

Till then, TTFN.


Across clues

1. Engaging in local tour, turned ahead to progress slowly in Crosby? (3-8)

Answer: PUB-CRAWLING (i.e. “engaging in local tour”). Solution is UP (i.e. “ahead”) reversed (indicated by “turned”) and then followed by CRAWL (i.e. “to progress slowly”) placed “in” BING (i.e. “Crosby”), like so: PU-B(CRAWL)ING.

7. Here one may find shops are opened by scoundrel (6)

Answer: ARCADE (i.e. “here one may find shops”). Solution is ARE being “opened [up] by” CAD (i.e. “scoundrel”), like so: AR(CAD)E.

10. Swedish-American star almost in dress (4)

Answer: GARB (i.e. “dress”). Solution is Greta GARBO (i.e. “Swedish-American star”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “almost”).

14. Principal director brings in northern chap to make money abroad (7)

Answer: CENTIMO, which is the name of several Latin American countries’ small coins (i.e. “money abroad”). Solution is CEO (i.e. “principal director”, specifically a Chief Executive Officer) “bringing in” N (a recognised abbreviation of “northern”) and TIM (i.e. “chap”, as in a man’s name), like so: CE(N-TIM)O.

15. Men, splitting apart, strangely maintaining correspondence (3,4)

Answer: PRO RATA (i.e. “maintaining correspondence” – pro rata means “in proportion”, so this should be read along the lines of “maintaining correspondent portions”. It’s sneaky, but I rather like it.) Solution is OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army) “splitting” an anagram (indicated by “strangely”) of APART, like so: PR(OR)ATA.

16. Spectacular performance where learner breaks cover (7)

Answer: BLINDER (i.e. “spectacular performance”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) “breaking” BINDER (i.e. “cover”), like so: B(L)INDER.

17. Endeavour by arrangement to have superb small pianos (7,6)

Answer: CONCERT GRANDS (i.e. “pianos”). Solution is CONCERT (i.e. “endeavour”, think of it like a concerted effort) placed “by” GRAND (i.e. “superb”) and S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”), like so: CONCERT-GRAND-S.

18. Diver in vehicle test on craft circling lake (9)

Answer: GUILLEMOT, a shorebird that can dive up to 100m for food (i.e. “diver”). Did a Google Image search – yup, looks like a bird. Solution is MOT (i.e. “vehicle test” – the initials are derived from the now-defunct Ministry of Transport) placed after GUILE (i.e. “craft”) which is “circling” L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”), like so: GUI(L)LE-MOT.

19. Republican, accompanied by venomous types, speaks hoarsely (5)

Answer: RASPS (i.e. “speaks hoarsely”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”) followed by ASPS (i.e. “venomous types”).

21. Fuel the very thing needed in an ancient Balkan location (10)

Answer: ANTHRACITE, also known as “hard coal”, which burns without smoke or much of a flame. Good for barbeques, then. Anyway, “fuel”. Solution is IT (i.e. “the very thing”) placed “in” AN and THRACE (i.e. “ancient Balkan location” – no, me neither), like so: AN-THRAC(IT)E.

23. Brutish sort, throwing back thin plate (6)

Answer: ANIMAL (i.e. “brutish sort”). Solution is LAMINA (i.e. “thin plate”) reversed (indicated by “thrown back”).

25. Artist in decline – could depression cause this? (8)

Answer: RAINFALL (i.e. “could [atmospheric] depression cause this”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) then IN, and then FALL (i.e. “decline”).

26. Man’s excellent knowledge about British regiment in border area (6-8)

Answer: ALSACE-LORRAINE, a region of France that was annexed by the German Empire in the 19th century (i.e. “border area”). Solution is AL’S (i.e. “man’s”), then ACE (i.e. “excellent”), followed by LORE (i.e. “knowledge”) placed “about” RA (i.e. “British regiment”, specifically the Royal Artillery) and IN, like so: ALS-ACE-LOR(RA-IN)E. I got the Alsace bit, but had to look up the rest.

29. Element turning stomach in clergyman losing work (7)

Answer: BISMUTH (i.e. “[chemical] element”). Solution is TUM (i.e. “stomach”) reversed (indicated by “turning”) and placed in BISHOP (i.e. “clergyman”) with the OP removed (i.e. “losing work” – op being short for operation), like so: BIS(MUT)H.

30. Likely to notice retainer having departed? (9)

Answer: OBSERVANT (i.e. “likely to notice”). Solution is SERVANT (i.e. “retainer”) placed after OB (an abbreviation of “obiit”, which is Latin for “died”, i.e. “departed”), like so: OB-SERVANT.

31. Lived in luxury endlessly in Datchet’s outskirts (5)

Answer: DWELT (i.e. “lived in”). Solution is WELL (as in some degree of “luxury”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and placed in DT (i.e. “Datchet’s outskirts”, i.e. the first and last letters of “Datchet”), like so: D(WEL)T.

32. Try hard to catch glimpse of Romeo – stick around (5)

Answer: CRANE (i.e. “try hard to catch glimpse”). Solution is R (which is “Romeo” in the phonetic alphabet) with CANE (i.e. “stick”) placed “around” it, like so: C(R)ANE.

34. Vessel having rope at bow in tangle (9)

Answer: POWERBOAT (i.e. “vessel”). “In tangle” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ROPE AT BOW.

37. Exile concerned with stale atmosphere vacated enclosure (7)

Answer: REFUGEE (i.e. “exile”). Solution is RE (i.e. “concerned with”) followed by FUG (i.e. “stale atmosphere”) and EE (i.e. “vacated enclosure”, i.e. the word “enclosure” with all its middle letters removed), like so: RE-FUG-EE.

39. Nurse working after pains located around sick body part (8,6)

Answer: ACHILLES TENDON (i.e. “body part”). Solution is TEND (i.e. “[to] nurse”) and ON (i.e. “working”) placed “after” ACHES (i.e. “pains”) put “around” ILL (i.e. “sick”), like so: ACH(ILL)ES-TEND-ON.

41. Secret meeting with Tory and Liberal inside underground chamber (8)

Answer: CONCLAVE (i.e. “secret meeting”). Solution is CON (i.e. “Tory”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Conservative) and L (ditto “Liberal”) placed “inside” CAVE (i.e. “underground chamber”), like so: CON-C(L)AVE.

43. Have riches perhaps in a vault (6)

Answer: ABOUND. Solution satisfies “have riches perhaps” and “a vault”, as in a leap or A BOUND.

44. Doing well in Duke of Milan’s university (10)

Answer: PROSPEROUS (i.e. “doing well”). Solution is PROSPERO’S (i.e. “Duke of Milan’s”, as in Prospero, the protagonist of Shakespeare’s The Tempest) with U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) placed “in” it like so: PROSPERO(U)S.

45. Saw things in Société Ethnologique? (5)

Answer: TEETH (i.e. “saw things” – a nice bit of wordplay that made me smile when I got it.) “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: SOCIE(TE ETH)NOLOGIQUE.

48. Musical flourish modified signals at party (9)

Answer: GLISSANDO (i.e. “musical flourish”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “modified”) of SIGNALS followed by DO (i.e. “party”), like so: GLISSAN-DO. I often moan when musical terms are used as solutions as there are bloody thousands of the things, but, unusually, this was one I actually recognised.

49. Happy home deity to constrain old ghosts (2,4,7)

Answer: IN GOOD SPIRITS (i.e. “happy”). Solution is IN (i.e. “[at] home”) and GOD (i.e. “deity”) “constraining” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), then followed by SPIRITS (i.e. “ghosts”), like so: IN-GO(O)D-SPIRITS.

51. European move abroad to unseat good foreign government (7)

Answer: EMIRATE (i.e. “foreign government”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) followed by MIGRATE (i.e. “move abroad”) with the G removed (i.e. “to unseat good” – G being a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: E-MIRATE.

52. Barker grabbing little Mexican food (7)

Answer: TOSTADA, which is a fried tortilla (i.e. “Mexican food”). Solution is TOSA (which is a Japanese mastiff, i.e. “barker” – did a Google Image search – meh, random) “grabbing” TAD (i.e. “little”), like so: TOS(TAD)A. A bit of a stinker, this one.

53. Eastern sea creature shedding tail in Spring (7)

Answer: EMANATE (i.e. “[to] spring” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”) followed by MANATEE (i.e. “sea creature”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “shedding tail”), like so: E-MANATE.

54. Cosmetic procedure for legendary friar (4)

Answer: TUCK. Solution satisfies “cosmetic procedure” and “legendary friar”.

55. Strict at all times in case of sabotage (6)

Answer: SEVERE (i.e. “strict”). Solution is EVER (i.e. “at all times”) placed “in” SE (i.e. “case of sabotage”, i.e. the first and last letters of “sabotage”), like so: S(EVER)E.

56. Closer minders so upset with order to protect stronghold (11)

Answer: DOORKEEPERS (i.e. “closer minders” – clumsy, but it passes). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “upset”) of SO and ORDER, “protecting” KEEP (i.e. “stronghold”), like so: DOOR(KEEP)ERS.

Down clues

1. Leading vehicle has to complete with top retracted (4,3)

Answer: PACE CAR (i.e. “leading vehicle”). Solution is RACE (i.e. “to compete”) and CAP (i.e. “top”) all reversed (indicated by “retracted”), like so: PAC-ECAR.

2. Potential trouble coming from deranged relatives son supports (6,5)

Answer: BANANA SKINS (i.e. “potential trouble”). Solution is BANANAS (i.e. “deranged”) followed by KIN (i.e. “family”) and S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”).

3. God is here ultimately to provide uplift (5)

Answer: RAISE (i.e. “uplift”). Solution is RA (i.e. “god”, specifically the ancient Egyptian sun god) followed by IS and then E (i.e. “here ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “here”).

4. Whale epithet also adapted for this football chant? (3,3,3,3,4)

Answer: WHO ATE ALL THE PIES (i.e. “football chant”). “Adapted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WHALE EPITHET ALSO. A rather well-worked clue.

5. The writer’s regret about old city’s corrupt constituent (8)

Answer: IMPURITY (i.e. “corrupt constituent”). Solution is I’M (i.e. “the writer’s”, a contraction of “the writer is” rather than the possessive form; think of this from the point of view of the setter) followed by PITY (i.e. “regret”) placed “about” UR (i.e. “old city”, specifically one in ancient Mesopotamia), like so: IM-P(UR)ITY.

6. Draws line under reason for basic principles (6,5)

Answer: GROUND RULES (i.e. “basic principles”). Solution is RULES (i.e. “draws line”) placed “under” GROUND (i.e. “reason”), this being a down clue.

7. Gather tea’s brought up in the morning (5)

Answer: AMASS (i.e. “gather”). Solution is ASSAM (a variety of “tea”) with the AM (i.e. “in the morning”) “brought up” to the front. This was a solution that took considerably less time to get than the wordplay leading up to it!

8. Demand huge amount to power our planet? (6,3,5)

Answer: CHARGE THE EARTH. Solution satisfies both “demand huge amount” and “to power our planet”.

9. Style shown by Labour’s leader in European city (6)

Answer: DUBLIN (i.e. “European city”). Solution is DUB (i.e. “style”) followed “by” L (i.e. “Labour’s leader”, i.e. the first letter of “Labour”) and then IN, like so: DUB-L-IN.

11. Jogger encountered on the Champs Elysées? (4-7)

Answer: AIDE-MÉMOIRE, which is a reminder or something that “jogs” the memory. Solution riffs on how this is a French phrase, as hinted at by “on the Champs Elysées”.

12. Regressive boy wrecked last old reformatory (7)

Answer: BORSTAL (i.e. “old reformatory”). Solution is ROB (i.e. “boy” – I guess in the context of the solution it couldn’t really be “man”) which is reversed (indicated by “regressive”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “wrecked”) of LAST, like so: BOR-STAL.

13. One going aloft in ship under the wind (8)

Answer: AIRLINER (i.e. “one going aloft”). Solution is LINER (i.e. “ship”) placed “under” AIR (i.e. “wind”), this being a down clue, like so: AIR-LINER.

20. Almost endure consuming American spread (7)

Answer: SUFFUSE (i.e. “spread”). Solution is SUFFER (i.e. “endure”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and the remainder “consuming” US (i.e. “American”), like so: SUFF(US)E.

22. A bit of a laugh with one in credit control meeting (5)

Answer: CHAIR (i.e. “[to] control meeting”). Solution is HA (i.e. “a bit of a laugh”) “with” I (Roman numeral “one”) placed “in” CR (a recognised abbreviation of “credit”), like so: C(HA-I)R.

24. Worker at lodge stores wood and food (11,5)

Answer: PORTERHOUSE STEAK, which is broadly similar to a T-bone steak (i.e. “food”). Solution is PORTER (i.e. “worker at lodge”) followed by HOUSES (i.e. “stores”) and TEAK (i.e. “wood”).

25. Novel touching and useless because without chapter (7)

Answer: REBECCA, a “novel” by Daphne Du Maurier. This was a solution I guessed right at the beginning and only sussed the wordplay towards the end. Weird. Anyway, the solution is RE (i.e. “touching [upon]” or regarding) followed by BECAUSE without the USE (i.e. “useless”) which is then wrapped around or “without” C (a recognised abbreviation of “chapter”), like so: RE-BEC(C)A.

27. Too much here to be taken out of context – remember? (7)

Answer: EXTREME (i.e. “too much”). “To be taken out of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: CONT(EXT REME)MBER.

28. Trouble with heart? Here’s comfort in retirement! (3-5,6)

Answer: HOT-WATER BOTTLE (i.e. “comfort in retirement”, as in going to bed). Solution is HOT WATER (i.e. “trouble”) followed by BOTTLE (i.e. “heart”, as in courage).

31. Loss expert acting as receiver for chemical company (7)

Answer: DEFICIT (i.e. “loss”). Solution is DEFT (i.e. “expert”) “receiving” ICI (an old “chemical company”, specifically Imperial Chemical Industries), like so: DEF(ICI)T.

33. Admitting nothing in crash, I paid out for other driver (11)

Answer: APHRODISIAC (i.e. a “driver” for a bit of the “other”, nudge, nudge). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “out”) of CRASH I PAID “admitting” O (i.e. “nothing”), like so: APHR(O)DISIAC.

35. Large American trucks transporting new phones (5)

Answer: RINGS (i.e. “phones”). Solution is RIGS (i.e. “large American trucks”) “transporting” N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: RI(N)GS.

36. Cautious taking dangerous bends (2,4,5)

Answer: ON ONES GUARD (i.e. “cautious”). Solution is ON (i.e. “taking”, though an example of this doesn’t spring immediately to mind) followed by an anagram (indicated by “bends”) of DANGEROUS.
[EDIT: Check out the comments, where Michael gives a good explanation of how ON is derived.]

38. Serious in backing learned person to become an idol (6,5)

Answer: GRAVEN IMAGE (i.e. “idol”). Solution is GRAVE (i.e. “serious”) followed by IN which is reversed (indicated by “backing”) and then MAGE (i.e. “learned person”), like so: GRAVE-NI-MAGE.

40. No sailor alights on isle (8)

Answer: LANDSMAN, which is someone with no seafaring experience (i.e. “no sailor”). Solution is LANDS (i.e. “alights”) followed by MAN (i.e. “isle”, as in the Isle of Man).

42. Mountain pass on ring road constructed in state (8)

Answer: COLORADO (i.e. “[US] state”). Solution is COL (i.e. “mountain pass”) followed by O (i.e. “ring”) and an anagram (indicated by “constructed”) of ROAD, like so: COL-O-RADO.

43. Add to men relieving us in some 31 days? (7)

Answer: AUGMENT (i.e. “add to”). Solution is AUGUST (i.e. “some 31 days”) “relieved of” US and replaced with MEN.

46. Society girl pursuing house party organiser (7)

Answer: HOSTESS (i.e. “party organiser”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “society”) and TESS (i.e. “girl”) “pursuing” or placed after HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”), like so: HO-S-TESS.

47. Belong essentially out there? On the contrary! (6)

Answer: INHERE (i.e. “belong”). Solution riffs on “in here” being “contrary” to, “out there”.

49. Children that may be taken where there’s disagreement? (5)

Answer: ISSUE. Solution satisfies both “children” and “that may be taken when there’s disagreement”, as in “to take issue with something”.

50. Absurd and mad to toss away shilling (5)

Answer: INANE (i.e. “absurd”). Solution is INSANE (i.e. “mad”) after “tossing away” S (a recognised abbreviation of “shilling”).