After a few relatively easy puzzles I suppose we were due another stinker, and this week’s puzzle certainly warrants the title. Once again we have a setter using the dick move of plugging half a dozen dead people into the grid to help bail themselves out of a tricky spot. Ugh. And don’t even get me started on some of the other solutions. You’ll see what I mean.
This also felt like a “greatest hits” puzzle at times, with several solutions being repeated from recent grids. I appreciate there are several setters of these puzzles behind the scenes but having also seen recent repeats in last week’s puzzle it does feel like an editor fail. I mean, the setters clearly have no means of communicating with one another – for that we would need some kind of massively interconnected network of some description. Hmm… Anyway, world keeps spinning, as they say.
A little bit of housekeeping: if you’d like to see completed (and occasionally bitchy) solutions for recent other Times Jumbo Cryptic puzzles then check out my Just For Fun page. If you’ve a hankering for reviews of decades-old horror short stories (because of course you have – you haven’t come here just to nick my answers have you? 😉 ) then check out my Reviews page. I should have a monster review for Best New Horror 3 along in the next day or two.
Anyhoo, on with the show. Here’s my completed grid, along with solutions where I have them. Enjoy!
1. Old dictator to be in one’s part-time army (7)
Answer: Fulgencio BATISTA, US-backed authoritarian ruler of Cuba in the 1950s. Solution is BAT (i.e. “to be in”, i.e. at bat) followed by IS (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”) and TA (i.e. “part-time army”, specifically the Territorial Army). Ugh. A shape of the things to come in this puzzle.
5. Regulated eg, thus – or most inaccurate (8)
Answer: ROUGHEST (i.e. “most inaccurate”). “Regulated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EG THUS OR.
9. Bones and Sulu, only half accepted by the ship’s crew? (6)
Answer: TARSUS, which is a cluster of “bones” in your foot. Solution is SU (i.e. “Sulu, only half”, specifically the first half) being “accepted by” TARS (i.e. “ship’s crew” – a tar is another word for sailor which is popular with crossword setters), like so: TAR(SU)S.
13. Jumbo’s sound and not forced: that’s music to our ears! (7,9)
Answer: TRUMPET VOLUNTARY (i.e. “music to our ears”). Not a term I was familiar with, I’ll admit. Do a search on YouTube for “Prince of Denmark’s March” for an example of one you might have heard. Anyway, solution is TRUMPET (i.e. “Jumbo’s sound”) followed by VOLUNTARY (i.e. “not forced”).
14. Get back from park, all down? (6)
Answer: RECOUP (i.e. “get back”). Solution is REC (i.e. “park”, short for “recreation area”) followed by O UP (i.e. “all down” – if all are down then we assume zero are up, or O UP).
16. You troublemakers, partly responsible for closing bars! (5)
Answer: OUTRO (i.e. “closing bars [of a tune]”). “Partly” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: Y(OU TRO)UBLEMAKERS.
17. Land to the west excellent – north west? (7)
Answer: ESTONIA (i.e. “land”). This took some figuring, but essentially the solution is AI (i.e. “excellent” – with I representing 1 in A1) followed by NOT SE (i.e. “north west”, as in the opposite of south-east) and the whole lot reversed (indicated by “to the west”, this being an across clue), like so: ES-TON-IA.
18. National reserve network with warning light coming back on? (9)
Answer: ICELANDER (i.e. “national”). Solution is ICE (i.e. “reserve”, as in having an icy nature) then LAN (i.e. “network”, specifically a Local Area Network in computing – ask your parents, kids) and RED (i.e. “warning light”) reversed (indicated by “coming back on”), like so: ICE-LAN-DER.
19. Lots of French who drink fine English whiskey (5,1,3)
Answer: QUITE A FEW (i.e. “lots”). Solution is QUI (i.e. “French who” – the French for “who” is “qui”) followed by TEA (i.e. “drink”) then F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine” used in grading lead pencils) then E (ditto “English”, except for the pencils bit, natch) then W (which is “whiskey” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: QUI-TEA-F-E-W.
21. One might ask caddie to get this put right (4,3)
Answer: IRON OUT. Solution satisfies both “one might ask caddie to get this” and “put right”.
22. Two, having change of heart, bringing about thaw? (2-3)
Answer: DE-ICE (i.e. “bringing about thaw”). Solution is DEUCE (i.e. a “two” in cards or dice) with the middle letter changed to I (i.e. “change of heart)”.
23. Insect with a soft skin, mostly (5)
Answer: APHID (i.e. “insect” – and right sods for my chilli plants they are too). Solution is A, then P (i.e. “soft”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “piano” in musical lingo), then HIDE (i.e. “skin”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”), like so: A-P-HID.
25. Psychiatrist, Regional Health Authority chief, hosting old Shakespearean actors (9)
Answer: RORSCHACH (i.e. “psychiatrist” – he of the inkblot test and, a mere four weeks since I last made it official, still everyone’s favourite character in Watchmen. Don’t lie.) Solution is RHA (i.e. the now defunct “Regional Health Authority”) and CH (a recognised abbreviation of “chief”) “hosting” O (ditto “old”) and RSC (i.e. “Shakespearean actors”, specifically the Royal Shakespeare Company), like so: R(O-RSC)HA-CH.
27. Say something cheeky, pinching girlfriend’s drink (3-4)
Answer: EGG FLIP, a “drink” made of ale, wine, spirits or milk, with eggs, sugar, spice etc. Sounds positively vile. Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) and LIP (i.e. “something cheeky”) “pinching” GF (a recognised abbreviation of “girlfriend”), like so: EG-(GF)-LIP.
29. Passes over spare golf pants (9)
Answer: LEAPFROGS (i.e. “passes over”). “Pants” (as in rubbish) indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SPARE GOLF.
31. Be not totally penniless, reportedly, after power failure? (5-4-4)
Answer: MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN (i.e. “failure”). Solution is HAVE BEEN (i.e. “be not totally penniless, reportedly”, i.e. homophone of “have bean”) placed “after” MIGHT (i.e. “power”).
34. Centre of stilton to keep getting softer, cut with harsh sound (6,7)
Answer: MELTON MOWBRAY (i.e. “centre of stilton” – stilton is said to have originated near there). Solution is MELTON (i.e. “keep getting softer” as in “melting”. I could be wrong here as I would have expected a homophone indicator of some description) followed by MOW (i.e. “cut”) and BRAY (i.e. “harsh sound”).
35. Animated character with old coin after cake (9)
Answer: SPONGEBOB SquarePants (i.e. “animated character”). Solution is BOB (i.e. “old coin” as in a slang term for a shilling) placed “after” SPONGE (i.e. “cake”), like so: SPONGE-BOB.
37. Failed to follow suit, minister agreed (7)
Answer: REVOKED (i.e. “failed to follow suit [in a game of cards]”). Solution is REV (i.e. “minister”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “reverend”) followed by OKED (i.e. “agreed”).
39. Picked up something to go with roll, a square cheese (9)
Answer: ROQUEFORT (i.e. “cheese”). Solution is ROQUE (i.e. “picked up something to go with roll”, i.e. a homophone of “rock” as in “rock and roll”) followed by FORT (i.e. “a square” – a weak one, this, unless I’m missing something blindingly obvious.)
42. Daughter, standing, gets knocked back (5)
Answer: DRANK (i.e. “knocked back”). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) followed by RANK (i.e. “standing”).
43. City’s matches: one’s been put back (5)
Answer: PARIS (i.e. “city”). Solution is PAIRS (i.e. “matches”) with the I (Roman numeral “one”) “put back” a notch.
45. Plant that’s simple and exotic we adore (7)
Answer: OARWEED, a type of seaweed (i.e. “[a] plant that’s simple”). “Exotic” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WE ADORE.
47. Eccentric went for early bath? (4-5)
Answer: LEFT-FIELD. Solution satisfies both “eccentric” and “went for early bath”.
49. Show where the food’s kept: about time! (9)
Answer: PAGEANTRY (i.e. “show”). Solution is PANTRY (i.e. “where the food’s kept”) placed “about” AGE (i.e. “time”), like so: P(AGE)ANTRY.
50. Recalled hotel late in the day closing early in ME city once (7)
Answer: NINEVEH, which was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia (i.e. “ME city once” – ME being a recognised abbreviation of Middle East). Solution is H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by EVENING (i.e. “late in the day”) with the last letter removed (i.e. “closing early”) and the whole lot reversed (indicated by “recalled”), like so: NINEVE-H.
52. French philosopher’s pained conclusion to testimonial (5)
Answer: Georges SOREL (i.e. “French philosopher” – more dead people!). Solution is SORE (i.e. “pained”) followed by L (i.e. “conclusion to testimonial”, i.e. the last letter of “testimonial”).
54. Complaint viewer has first off is recorded? Correct! (6)
Answer: IRITIS, which is an inflammation of the iris (i.e. “complaint viewer has”). I’d do a Google Image search but… no. Solution is IR (i.e. “first off is recorded”, i.e. the first letters of “is” and “recorded”) followed by IT IS (i.e. “correct”).
55. Fair number to be found in magazine? (6,10)
Answer: BLONDE BOMBSHELLS. One of those slightly airy-fairy solutions which riffs on how fair-haired people are referred to as BLONDE, and how you could store a “number” of BOMBSHELLS in a “magazine”; also, how you may find blonde bombshells in certain magazines. I’m told.
56. The latest, hard, fashionable, Times puzzle setter (6)
Answer: SPHINX, a monster in Greek mythology who proposed riddles to travellers and strangled whoever was unable to solve them. Which sounds a bit mean. Anyway: “puzzle setter”. Solution is SP (i.e. “the latest”, i.e. an abbreviation of “Stop Press” used in newspaper offices, albeit one that doesn’t feature in my Chambers – your dictionary may differ) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils) then IN (i.e. “fashionable”) and X (i.e. “Times”, as in the multiplication symbol), like so: SP-H-IN-X.
57. They make better notes – doesn’t respond to them? (8)
Answer: REMEDIES (i.e. “they make [one] better”). Solution is RE and ME (i.e. “notes” in the do-re-me scale – these are always a bit of a ball-ache as there are so many variant spellings of each one) followed by DIES (i.e. “doesn’t respond to them” – within the context of the solution, if one doesn’t respond to a remedy they could die).
58. Kindly leave the car running after parking, finally (7)
Answer: GERTCHA, a slang contraction of “get out of it you” made famous by Chas and Dave (again, ask your parents, kids). In other words, “kindly leave”. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “running”) of THE CAR placed “after” G (i.e. “parking, finally”, i.e. the last letter of the word “parking”), like so: G-ERTCHA.
1. One’s often up in the air, however not turning to shrink (6,5)
Answer: BUTTON QUAIL (i.e. “one’s often up in the air”). Done a Google Image search – aaaaaaaaahhh, cute. Solution is BUT (i.e. “however”) followed by NOT reversed (indicated by “turning”) and then QUAIL (i.e. “to shrink”).
2. Barb’s letter from Kefalonia – not on vacation (5)
Answer: TAUNT (i.e. “barb”). Solution is TAU (i.e. “letter from Kefalonia” – Kefalonia being one of around four billion Greek islands, and tau being the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by NT (i.e. “not on vacation”, i.e. the word “not” with the middle letter removed).
3. Judge has way of sitting after drink (7)
Answer: SUPPOSE (i.e. “[to] judge”). Solution is POSE (i.e. “way of sitting”) placed “after” SUP (i.e. “drink”), like so: SUP-POSE. For too long I had this down as “Rumpole” until I remembered he was a barrister, not a judge. Don’t worry pole-sitters, I’m sure you’ll get a nod in a future puzzle.
4. Wartime lines repeated do haunt memory of the wounded (6,3,6,5)
Answer: ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH, a poem by Wilfred Owen (i.e. “wartime lines”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “wounded”) of DO and DO (i.e. “repeated do”) and HAUNT MEMORY OF THE.
5. Oarsman to do exercises inside part of church (4-5)
Answer: ROOD-TOWER (i.e. “part of church”, specifically the steeple and tower over the crossing of a church, so now you know). Solution is ROWER (i.e. “oarsman”) with an anagram (indicated by “exercises”) of TO DO placed “inside”, like so: RO(ODTO)WER.
6. What future holds: new and drastic change (1-4)
Answer: U-TURN (i.e. “drastic change”). Solution is the middle letters of FUTURE (i.e. “what future holds”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: UTUR-N.
7. A certain posturing no longer holds a Spanish artist up (5,4)
Answer: HATHA YOGA (i.e. “a certain posturing”). Solution is HATH (i.e. “no longer holds”, i.e. an archaic variation of the word “has”) followed by A GOYA (i.e. “a Spanish artist”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue), like so: HATH-AYOG-A.
8. Short withered crack masking very good condition of skin (7)
Answer: SERPIGO, which is a spreading skin disease, particularly ringworm, i.e. “condition of skin”. I have literally no idea what the setter is on here, even after having slept on it, so watch out.
[EDIT: A big thank you to Clive in the comments for helping to clear this one up. The solution is SERE (an alternative form of the word “sear”, which is itself a poetic word for dry and “withered”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “short”) and GO (i.e. “[a] crack [at something]”) “masking” PI (i.e. “very good”, an alternative meaning of “pi” is a pious person), like so: SER-(PI)-GO. This was comfortably one of the toughest clues I’ve seen in these puzzles. Still, at least I now know what to call that big rash that covers 75% of my body.]
[FURTHER EDIT: 76% now.]
10. Brother murdered by a doctor turned theologian in France (7)
Answer: Peter ABELARD (i.e. a “theologian in France” from around 900 years ago whose love affair with Héloïse d’Argenteuil became legendary, it says here. Uh-huh, if you say so.) Solution is ABEL (i.e. “brother murdered [by Cain]”) then A then DR (a recognised abbreviation of “doctor”) reversed (indicated by “turned”), like so: ABEL-A-RD.
11. Hummingbird that’s flown high we hear and notice (9)
Answer: SWORDBILL (i.e. a kind of “hummingbird” with a looooooong beak). Solution is SWORD (i.e. “that’s flown high we hear”, i.e. a homophone of “soared”) followed by BILL (i.e. “notice”).
12. A new purpose for developing devastating missile perhaps (11)
Answer: SUPERWEAPON (i.e. “devastating missile perhaps”). “Developing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A NEW PURPOSE.
15. Tell Tom off as a result? (3,3,3,3,2,3,3)
Answer: LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG. Solution satisfies both “tell” and, within the context of the clue, “Tom off as a result”. Another solution repeated from a recent puzzle, this time from the start of the year.
20. Sort of parent, the Spanish patriarch (7)
Answer: ISHMAEL (i.e. “patriarch”). Solution is ISH (i.e. “sort of”) followed by MA (i.e. “parent”) and EL (i.e. “the Spanish”, the Spanish for “the” being “el”). Another recent solution, appearing only a couple of weeks ago.
21. New entrant’s pay ultimately fair (7)
Answer: INCOMER (i.e. “new entrant”). Solution is INCOME (i.e. “pay”) followed by R (i.e. “ultimately fair”, i.e. the last letter of the word “fair”).
24. Take orders from wizard perched on stone (7)
Answer: DEFROCK (i.e. “take orders [away] from [a priest]”). Solution is DEF (i.e. excellent or “wizard”) followed by or “perched on” ROCK (i.e. “stone”).
26. Can’t stand up in corset a hindrance (5)
Answer: HATES (i.e. “can’t stand [something]”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “up” indicates the solution is reversed, this being a down clue, like so: COR(SET A H)INDRANCE.
28. Old actor appreciated on tours one reflected (7)
Answer: Sir John GIELGUD, luvvie, i.e. “old actor”. Another where the setter has gone off on their own. I get that DUG is “appreciated”, that I is “one” and “reflected” indicates some or all of the elements are reversed, but I can’t visualise the rest so I’m moving on with my life.
[EDIT: Thanks to Grindrod in the comments for the speedy clarification: the solution is G(I)EL-GUD, being DUG then LEG (i.e. “on” in cricket) wrapped around or “touring” I and then the whole lot reversed.]
30. Broadcaster of the truth used to be cut short (5)
Answer: SOWER (i.e. “broadcaster”). Solution is SO (i.e. “of the truth”) followed by WERE (i.e. “used to be”) with the last letter removed (i.e. “cut short”), like so: SO-WER.
32. R-refuse to admit Grace possibly upset county (7)
Answer: GWYNEDD (i.e. “county”). Solution is D-DENY (i.e. “r-refuse”) followed by WG (i.e. “Grace possibly”, specifically the cricketer WG Grace), and then the whole lot reversed (indicated by “upset”) like so: GW-YNED-D.
33. In which host briefly holds British artist? (7)
Answer: EMBRACE. Solution is EMCE (i.e. “host”, i.e. a Master of Ceremonies) “holding” B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”) and RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) like so: EM(B-RA)CE. Within the context of the clue, one may be said to hold someone in an embrace.
[EDIT: On a re-read I’ve realised I missed a bit. “Host briefly” should be EMCEE with the final E removed.]
34. Nursemaid’s extraordinary parsimony, saving pennies (4,7)
Answer: MARY POPPINS (i.e. a fictional “nursemaid”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “extraordinary”) of PARSIMONY wrapped around or “saving” P and P (recognised abbreviations of a couple of “pennies”), like so: MARYPO(P-P)INS.
36. Dessert poor, sadly, containing essence of weakened spirit (5,6)
Answer: BAKED ALASKA (i.e. “dessert”). Solution is BAD (i.e. “poor”) and ALAS (i.e. “sadly”) “containing” KE (i.e. “essence of weakened”, i.e. the middle two letters of the word “weaKEned”) and then followed by KA (i.e. “spirit”), like so: BA(KE)D-ALAS-KA. Not a classic.
38. Through journey is hard, crossing river like the Amazon? (9)
Answer: VIRAGOISH (i.e. “like the amazon” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is VIA (i.e. “through”) then GO (i.e. “[to] journey”), IS and H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard”), all wrapped around or “crossing” R (ditto “river”), like so: VI(R)A-GO-IS-H. This was the last clue I solved and what a fart-on it was.
40. Strange, tailless goat, mostly seen over Eastern China (5,4)
Answer: QUEEN ANNE (i.e. “china” – again, ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is QUEER (i.e. “strange”) with the last letter removed (i.e. “tailless”) and followed by NANNY (i.e. “goat”) also trimmed of it’s last letter (indicated by “mostly”) and finished with E (a recognised abbreviation of “Eastern”), like so: QUEE-NANN-E.
41. Plain clothes police at centre totally in the dark? (9)
Answer: OBLIVIOUS (i.e. “totally in the dark”). Solution is OBVIOUS (i.e. “clear”) which “clothes” LI (i.e. “police at centre”, i.e. the middle two letters of “poLIce”), like so: OB(LI)VIOUS.
44. Stop and figure it out? Not at first (7)
Answer: STATION (i.e. “[train or bus] stop”). Solution is STAT (i.e. “figure”) followed by I O and N (i.e. “it out not at first”, i.e. the first letters of “it”, “out” and “not”) like so: STAT-I-O-N.
46. What would be for Queen Elizabeth I? (5,2)
Answer: ROYAL WE. Within the context of the clue, the Queen would use the Royal We rather than referring to herself as “I”.
48. Champion mater and pater, with Independent Schools Council for a time! (7)
Answer: Bobby FISCHER, former US chess grandmaster (i.e. “champion mater”). Solution is FATHER (i.e. “pater”) with the A and T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) replaced by ISC (i.e. “Independent Schools Council”).
51. Patches of red and green, last three to turn up (5)
Answer: NAEVI. A naevus is a birthmark, and its plural is “naevi”, i.e. “patches of red”. Solution is NAÏVE (i.e. “green”) with the last three letters reversed (i.e. “last three to turn up”, this being a down clue).
53. Survivor’s ordeal: his CD Ignoring the Odds (5)
Answer: RELIC (i.e. “survivor”). “Ignoring the odds” indicates the solution is derived by removing the odd letters of ORDEAL HIS CD.