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.
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.
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”).