A toughie this week, though I hesitate to call it a stinker. While this was one of those grids where every letter of the alphabet gets used – often the hallmark of a stinker – it felt rather like a knock-off. There was some good misdirection at play in some of the clues, but others exhibited a degree of scruffiness I’m surprised escaped the editor’s pen.
They also tried to kill off Alice Munro, which seemed a bit mean.
Also, also, this seemed another Jumbo puzzle aimed squarely at solvers of a particular vintage. Nothing wrong in that, I suppose, but it does sometimes grate the number of Times setters who think we all still take Latin at school and for whom popular culture ended in the 1970s.
Anyway, griping aside, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. If a recent Jumbo has given you the slip then you might find my Just For Fun page of use, where you’ll find links to solutions for hundreds of the things.
Thanks again for the kind words and input. It’s always interesting to read the opinions of other solvers once they’ve set down their pens. Till next time, stay safe out there kids.
FBV (French-By-Volume): 8.3%
A potent little number, so you might want to sip this one.
- Ancient musical instrument, not exactly novel (7)
Answer: REBECCA (i.e. “novel” by Daphne Du Maurier). Solution is REBEC (i.e. “ancient musical instrument” akin to a mandolin, apparently) followed by CA (i.e. “not exactly”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “circa”).
- Show loyal friendship, perhaps, with press chief in retreat (4-5)
Answer: BACK-PEDAL (i.e. “retreat”). Solution is BACK PAL (i.e. “show loyal friendship”) wrapped around or having “in” ED (i.e. “press chief”, short for an editor), like so: BACK-P(ED)AL.
- Hit recalled for granny? (4)
Answer: KNOT (i.e. “granny”, a variant thereof). Solution is TONK (i.e. “hit”) reversed (indicated by “recalled”).
- As we were on a quest astute, largely, to be organised (6,3,4)
Answer: STATUS QUO ANTE (i.e. “as we were” in Latin, because, you know, The Times…) Solution is an anagram of ON A QUEST and ASTUTE once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “largely”).
- Film makers did show with some Japanese cooking (9)
Answer: CAMERAMEN (i.e. “film makers”). Solution is CAME (i.e. “did show” or appear) followed by RAMEN (i.e. “Japanese cooking”).
- Force unit to broadcast each November in style of French author (10)
Answer: VOLTAIREAN (i.e. “in style of French author”, specifically ‘im wot did Candide). Solution is VOLT (i.e. “force unit”) followed by AIR (i.e. “to broadcast”), then EA (a recognised abbreviation of “each”) and N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet).
- Stop early, returning home: beer with male friend (3,2,3,3)
Answer: NIP IN THE BUD (i.e. “stop early”). Solution is IN (i.e. “home”) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and followed by PINT (i.e. “beer”), then HE (i.e. “male”) and BUD (i.e. “friend”), like so: NI-PINT-HE-BUD.
- One having shot rook involved in row (5)
Answer: TRIER (i.e. “one having shot” or a go at something). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “rook” used in chess) placed or “involved in” TIER (i.e. “row”), like so: T(R)IER.
- Free issue including photo that’s been withdrawn (10)
Answer: EMANCIPATE (i.e. to “free”). Solution is EMANATE (i.e. “issue”) wrapped around or “including” PIC (i.e. “photo”) once reversed (indicated by “that’s been withdrawn”), like so: EMAN(CIP)ATE.
- Set sights on corporate tax IFC’s holding over (6)
Answer: FIXATE (i.e. “set sights on”). “Holding” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, while “over” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: CORPORAT(E TAX IF)C’S.
- Girl who came out on maybe weekly drive, bypassing E German town (9)
Answer: MAGDEBERG (i.e. “German town”, in which the effects of atmospheric pressure was proven by holding two hemispheres together and pumping the air out from between them. Yes, of course I looked it up). Solution is DEB (i.e. “girl who came out”, short for debutante) placed “on” of after MAG (i.e. “maybe weekly” publication, short for magazine) and followed by URGE (i.e. “drive”) once the E has been removed (indicated by “bypassing E”), like so: MAG-(DEB)-URG.
- Reading matter keeping I see within the law (5)
Answer: LICIT (i.e. “within the law”). Solution is LIT (i.e. “reading matter”, short for literature) wrapped around or “keeping” I and C (“see”, one of its variant meanings is the spoken form of the letter ‘C’), like so: L(I-C)IT.
- Graduate playing clumsily with a small set of keys (7)
Answer: BAHAMAS (i.e. “set of keys” or islands). Solution is BA (i.e. “graduate”, specifically a Bachelor of Arts) followed by HAM (i.e. acting or “playing clumsily”), then A and S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”).
- Bloomers in letter by Pentagon – demise of Reagan? (13)
Answer: RHODODENDRONS (i.e. “bloomers”). Solution is RHO (i.e. “letter”, specifically the seventeenth letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by DOD (i.e. “Pentagon”, in this case the Department Of Defence), then END (i.e. “demise”) and RON’S (i.e. “of Reagan”, referencing a shortened form of the former US president’s first name).
- Order to be collected from elderly butcher serving part-time (4,5)
Answer: DON’T PANIC. Solution satisfies “order to be collected” or keep calm, and “elderly butcher serving part-time”, a reference to the catchphrase of Clive Dunn’s character Lance Corporal Jones in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army […, a butcher by trade. – edit courtesy of Sue in the comments. Cheers, Sue! – LP.]
- Learner celebrated mathematician clinching City University teaching job (9)
Answer: LECTURING (i.e. “university teaching job”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) and Alan TURING (i.e. “celebrated mathematician”) all wrapped around or “clinching” EC (i.e. “City”, basically the City of London’s postcode area. The Times is a London newspaper, so…), like so: L-(EC)-TURING.
- Photo op formed originally for Cassandra (7,2,4)
Answer: PROPHET OF DOOM (i.e. “Cassandra”, who in Greek myth was doomed to foresee events and not be believed). “Originally” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PHOTO OP FORMED.
- Writer Romeo, back in the day, one for Flower Power generation (7)
Answer: TURBINE (i.e. “one for Flower Power generation” – ignore the misleading capitalisation, the setter is playing on flowers being rivers, as in how they flow. Turbines, meanwhile, are used to generate hydroelectric power). Solution is NIB (i.e. “writer”) and R (“Romeo” in the phonetic alphabet) both reversed (indicated by “back”) and placed “in” TUE (i.e. “day”, in this case short for Tuesday), like so: TU(R-BIN)E.
- In place of classic poems, novel (5)
Answer: EPSOM (i.e. “in place of classic”, a reference to the horse race that takes place there). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of POEMS.
- Love having one’s fair share of trouble? (9)
Answer: ADORATION (i.e. “love”). When written as ADO RATION the solution also playfully satisfies “having one’s fair share of trouble”.
- Strong material, when front has split, weakening (6)
Answer: EBBING (i.e. “weakening”). Solution is WEBBING (i.e. “strong material”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “when front has split”).
- Frame of picture, or highly ornate ancient symbol (10)
Answer: HIEROGLYPH (i.e. “ancient symbol”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “ornate”) of PE (i.e. “frame of picture”, i.e. the first and last letters of “picture”) and OR HIGHLY.
- Floor cover (5)
Answer: THROW. Solution satisfies to “floor” or surprise someone, and a “cover” e.g. for a sofa.
- Earth for example from plot and from abroad needed by Tom or Barbara? (5,6)
Answer: MAJOR PLANET (i.e. “Earth for example”). Solution is PLAN (i.e. “plot”) and ET (i.e. “and from abroad”, i.e. the French for “and”) placed after MAJOR (i.e. “Tom or Barbara” – the former a reference to Major Tom, a recurring character in some David Bowie songs; the latter a reference to Major Barbara, a play by George Bernard Shaw), like so: MAJOR-(PLAN-ET).
- Stoker needing hot drink not saying thanks? (5,5)
Answer: CHAIN GRATE (i.e. “stoker” – over to Chambers: “a device for stoking a furnace in which fuel is drawn into the furnace by means of a rotating chain”. I’m still none the wiser). Solution is CHA (i.e. “hot drink” or an informal word for tea) followed by INGRATE (i.e. “not saying thanks”).
- Outlaw’s especially long time inside not even with remission? (9)
Answer: DESPERADO (i.e. “outlaw”). Solution is ESP (a recognised abbreviation of “especially” often used in dictionaries) and ERA (i.e. “long time”) both placed “inside” of ODD (i.e. “not even”) once reversed (indicated by “with remission”), like so: D(ESP-ERA)DO.
- Request for news that’s unexpected! (4,2,3,4)
Answer: WHAT DO YOU KNOW. Solution satisfies “request for news” and an exclamatory expression meaning “that’s unexpected”.
- 1 down to choose university for a career (4)
Answer: RUSH (i.e. “career”). The solution to “1 down” is RASH. Here we’re swapping A “for” U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”), like so: R(A)SH => R(U)SH.
- Popular English composer died: that’s a shock! (1,5,3)
Answer: I NEVER DID (i.e. “that’s a shock”). Solution is IN (i.e. “popular”) followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), then Giuseppe VERDI (i.e. “composer”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “died”).
- Unemotional, but on consuming whiskey, reddened? (3-4)
Answer: DRY-EYED (i.e. “unemotional”). Solution is DYED (i.e. “reddened”) wrapped around or “consuming” RYE (i.e. “whiskey”), like so: D(RYE)YED.
- Not considered an unwelcome series (4)
Answer: RASH. Solution satisfies “not considered” and “an unwelcome series”, presumably of spots.
- Heavily publicising law graduate with answer on regionalisation (9)
Answer: BLAZONING (i.e. “heavily publicising”). Solution is BL (i.e. “law graduate”, specifically a Bachelor of Law) followed by A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer”, as in Q&A) then ZONING (i.e. “regionalisation”).
- Bar turn by stars – not rising ones? (7-15)
Answer: COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARIES (i.e. “not rising ones”). Solution is COUNTER (i.e. “bar”) followed by REVOLUTION (i.e. “turn”) and ARIES (i.e. a constellation of “stars”).
- Come by with a lot of paper for the auditors (7)
Answer: ACQUIRE (i.e. “come by”). Solution is A followed by a homophone (indicated by “for the auditors”) of QUIRE (i.e. “lot of paper”).
- Returned unexpectedly, as did thunder across mountains (11)
Answer: BOOMERANGED (i.e. “returned unexpectedly”). Solution is BOOMED (i.e. “did thunder”) wrapped around or placed “across” RANGE (i.e. “mountains”), like so: BOOME(RANGE)D.
- Accepted article for wearing like a dunce’s hat? (9)
Answer: CANONICAL (i.e. “accepted”). Solution is AN (i.e. “article”, i.e. a word like a, an or the) placed in or “wearing” CONICAL (i.e. “like a dunce’s hat”), like so: C(AN)ONICAL.
- Hymn from non-believer having change of heart (5)
Answer: PAEAN (i.e. “hymn”). Solution is PAGAN (i.e. “non-believer”) with the middle letter changed to E (indicated by “having change of heart” – I’m seldom keen on wishy-washy wordplay like this), like so: PA(G)AN => PA(E)AN.
- Poorly paid cadet, note, not having a bean? (11)
Answer: DECAPITATED (i.e. “not having a bean” – a variant meaning of “bean” is an informal word for one’s head). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “poorly”) of PAID CADET and TE (i.e. “note” in the sol-fa notation, or doh-ray-me). Another thing I’m not keen on is when setters perform a double-jump in their clues, in this case expecting solvers to unscramble an anagram that isn’t possible without first also deducing what “note” refers to.
- Tart left money splashed out (6)
Answer: LEMONY (i.e. “tart” or sharp-tasting). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “splashed out” – again, scruffy. “Splashed” as an anagram indicator? That’s fine. “Out”? Yup, that’s okay as well. “Splashed out” though? Really?) of MONEY, like so: L-EMONY.
- Staff turning up one short prejudice foreign state (7)
Answer: NAMIBIA (i.e. “foreign state”). Solution is MAN (i.e. to “staff” an organisation) reversed (indicated by “turning up” – this being a down clue) and followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), then BIAS (i.e. “prejudice”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “short”), like so: NAM-I-BIA.
- Garment is big top put on by female medic? (4,5)
Answer: TENT DRESS (i.e. “garment”). I think the clue is playing on a circus TENT being a “big top” and a DR-ESS being a “female medic”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “doctor” with a “-ESS” suffix.
- Abbey church prior on fast unsettled leading cleric (10,2,10)
Answer: ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY (i.e. “leading cleric”). “Unsettled” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ABBEY CHURCH PRIOR ON FAST. Nicely worked.
- Cart with breadbasket falling on Belgian singer (7)
Answer: TUMBREL (i.e. a ye olde “cart” used to carry dung, and also those condemned to hang. Lovely!) Solution is TUM (i.e. “breadbasket” or belly) followed by Jacques BREL (i.e. “Belgian singer” – no, me neither).
- Artist’s abnormal craving’s like this (7)
Answer: Pablo PICASSO (i.e. “artist”). Solution is PICA’S (i.e. “abnormal craving” for food – a new one on me – made possessive) followed by SO (i.e. “like this”).
- A tip for rubbish? One with nothing from the start (2,6)
Answer: AB INITIO (i.e. “from the start” in Latin). Solution is A followed by BIN IT (i.e. a hint or “tip for rubbish”), then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and O (i.e. “nothing”). One nailed from the wordplay, unsurprisingly.
- As written or spoken French, filling university requirement (8)
Answer: UNEDITED (i.e. “as written”). Solution is DIT (i.e. “spoken French”, i.e. the French for “said”) placed in or “filling” U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) and NEED (i.e. “requirement”), like so: U-NE(DIT)ED. Bloody hell, if there was ever a clue that deserved the French meme it’s this, so…
- Writer’s scaled down poem, unromantically (5)
Answer: James MUNRO (i.e. “writer”, a pseudonym used by author and TV writer James Mitchell, creator of the 1970s TV series When The Boat Comes In and Callan, and through which he published four novels in the 1960s. Except, of course, it isn’t him at all. One of the unwritten rules of Times crosswords is that people have to be dead to feature in them, and I’ll bet good money the setter had the much better-known Alice Munro in mind when writing this clue. Trouble is she is still alive… unless of course the setter knows something we don’t. Hmm. Book ’em, Danno…) “Scaled down” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: POE(M UNRO)MANTICALLY.
[EDIT: Mick in the comments points out that the setter was more likely thinking of H H Munro, better known under his pen name Saki, who was a celebrated short story writer until his death in the First World War. Having had a shufti, I’d agree, if only because it would align with the setter’s rather antediluvian proclivities. Cheers, Mick! – LP]
- Come to mind old dog that’s caught cold (5)
Answer: OCCUR (i.e. “come to mind”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and CUR (i.e. “dog”) wrapped around or “catching” C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold” used on taps), like so: O-(C)-CUR.
- One to contend with pensioner missing a sitter (7)
Answer: OPPOSER (i.e. “one to contend with”). Solution is OAP (i.e. short for old age “pensioner”) with the A removed (indicated by “missing a”) and the remainder followed by POSER (i.e. “sitter” or artist’s model), like so: OP-POSER.
- Urgent invitation, perhaps, bringing mild reproof (4,3)
Answer: COME NOW. Solution satisfies “urgent invitation” and “mild reproof”.
- Recognise an unusual feature (7,4)
Answer: GRECIAN NOSE (i.e. “feature”). “Unusual” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RECOGNISE AN.
- Unsubtle fellow poet’s indeed offered gripping verse (5-6)
Answer: HEAVY-HANDED (i.e. “unsubtle”). Solution is HE (i.e. “fellow”), AY (i.e. “poet’s indeed”, a poetic form of yes or always) and HANDED (i.e. “offered”) all wrapped around or “gripping” V (a recognised abbreviation of “verse”), like so: HE-A(V)Y-HANDED.
- Jollies I had with other ranks once a month (9)
Answer: THERMIDOR (i.e. “once a month” – over to Chambers again: “the eleventh month of the French Revolutionary calendar, 19 July – 17th August”). Solution is THE RM (i.e. “jollies” – one definition of “jolly” is a slang word for a Royal Marine; meanwhile RM is a recognised abbreviation of the Royal Marines) followed by I’D (a contraction of “I had”) and OR (a recognised abbreviation of the “Other Ranks” of the British Army).
- Staff flourished for a spell (5,4)
Answer: MAGIC WAND. Clue plays on a wand being a “staff”, and how magic wands are wafted around when casting a “spell”. You get the idea.
- Irish girl being educated in New York caught bug? (9)
Answer: IRRITANCY (i.e. “bug”). Solution is IR (a recognised abbreviation of “Irish”) followed by RITA (i.e. “girl being educated”, referencing Willy Russell’s stage play Educating Rita) and NY (short for “New York”) once wrapped around or having “in” C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games), like so: IR-RITA-N(C)Y.
- My bride after vacation in France I suspect (7)
Answer: BEJESUS (i.e. “my”, both exclamations of surprise – backed up by my Oxford. Weirdly my Chambers doesn’t want to know). Solution is BE (i.e. “bride after vacation”, i.e. the word “bride” with all of its middle letters removed) followed by JE (i.e. “in France I”, i.e. the French for “I”) and SUS (slang form of “suspect”).
- Tune you had that’s soothing (7)
Answer: HONEYED (i.e. “soothing”). Solution is HONE (i.e. to “tune”) followed by YE’D (I think a contraction of “you had”, taking YE to be “you” – again, I’m not keen).
- Lime maybe drunk mostly without a hint of lemon (6)
Answer: ALKALI (i.e. “lime maybe”). Solution is ALKIE (i.e. “drunk”, slang for alcoholic) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and the remainder wrapped around or placed “without” A and L (i.e. “hint of lemon”, i.e. the first letter of “lemon”), like so: ALK(A-L)I.
- Strap we see on odd occasions no more? (5)
Answer: TAWSE (i.e. a leather “strap” used for corporal punishment). “On odd occasions no more” indicates the solution is derived by taking the odd letters away from STRAP WE SEE.
- A day filled with dread (4)
Answer: AWED (i.e. “filled with dread”). Solution is A followed by WED (i.e. “day”, short for Wednesday).