About Lucian Poll

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Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1366

There are times when you come across a cryptic crossword that makes you wonder why you bother doing them; a puzzle that tries so hard to throw you off the scent with iffy clue construction or an overreliance on places and names, or one that just seems out to piss you off. Last week’s puzzle was a bit like that, but this week?! Forget about it! Let’s put it this way, if I’d chosen these last couple of weeks to chance my arm at a cryptic crossword then I’d have laughed and given the whole thing the middle finger instead. Sheesh!

So, yeah, this was a tough one. If you can endure my frequent bitching then you will find my completed grid below along with explanations of the solutions where I have them.

If you’d like to read something a little less bitchy, however, then I am currently putting together my review of Best New Horror 2 which should follow shortly(ish). If you’re interested, you can find my review of book 1 here or on my Reviews page. If you’ve got a relatively recent jumbo cryptic knocking about for which you’d like the answers, then my “Just For Fun” page might help. (Speech marks added for sarcastic effect.)

Anyway – deep breaths, now – and onwards!

Across clues

1. Members bound to keep to themselves, even? (7)

Answer: HOGTIED, which is where the arms and legs – which can be collectively termed “members” – are tied to prevent any movement (i.e. “members bound”). Solution is HOG (i.e. “keep to themselves”) and TIED (i.e. “even”).

5. Gradually, Post Office couple refusing to serve grasping pensioner (4,1,4)

Answer: POCO A POCO, which is Spanish or Italian for “little by little” (i.e. “gradually”). Here’s the first one where the setter loses me, so be warned. I get that PO is “Post Office” and OAP is “pensioner”, and that “grasping” could suggest OAP is slotted in somewhere, but the rest is a mystery. I’m guessing the solution is intended to be along the lines of PO-C(OAP)OCO, but I can’t visualise how COCO would be “couple refusing to serve”. [UPDATE: Check out the comments to this post where Clive clears this one up. Thanks, Clive!]

10. Undergarment picked up for revel (4)

Answer: BASK (i.e. to “revel” in something). “Picked up” indicates the solution is a homophone of “basque” (i.e. “undergarment”).

14. Groom footballer for award? (3,2,3,5)

Answer: MAN OF THE MATCH. Solution satisfies both “groom” – “match” being another word for “wedding” – and “footballer for award”. I didn’t get this till late on, which is rather embarrassing as I had the footie on in the background all the while!

15. Smart men dressed down – one found in bed? (3,6)

Answer: FLY ORCHID (i.e. “one found in [flower] bed”). Solution is FLY (i.e. “smart”), then OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army), then CHID (i.e. “dressed down” – “chid” is a recognised variant of “chided”).

16. Depleted after too many catches dropped by some cricket girl (10)

Answer: OVERFISHED (i.e. “depleted after too many catches”). Solution is SHED (i.e. “dropped”) placed after OVER (i.e. “some cricket”) and FI (i.e. “girl”, short for Fiona), like so: OVER-FI-SHED.

17. After skirmishing ok – the rest on stretchers (11)

Answer: TENTERHOOKS, which are sharp hooks on frames used to stretch cloth (i.e. “stretchers”). “After skirmishing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OK THE REST ON.

18. With this tweet, mean to be heard? (5)

Answer: CHEEP (i.e. “tweet”). “To be heard” indicates the solution is a homophone of “cheap” (i.e. “mean”).

19. See tailless sloth’s burying its head in squalor (10)

Answer: SLEAZINESS (i.e. “squalor”). Solution is SE (i.e. “see tailless”, i.e. the word “see” with the final letter removed) wrapped around the first letter of LAZINESS (i.e. “sloth”) with the remainder of the word following thereafter, like so: S(L-)E-AZINESS.

21. A month from Quebec to the Alaskan port (6)

Answer: JUNEAU, port and capital of Alaska. Solution is JUNE (i.e. “a month”) followed by AU (i.e. “from Quebec to the” – Quebec being a French speaking area, “to the” in French is “au”).

23. A way to colour match – with pronounced finish (3-3-3)

Answer: TIE-AND-DYE (i.e. “a way to colour”). Solution is TIE (i.e. “match”) followed by AND (i.e. “with”) and DYE (i.e. “pronounced finish”, i.e. a homophone of “die”).

25. Villain’s Irish accent putting off British (5)

Answer: ROGUE (i.e. “villain”). Solution is BROGUE (i.e. “Irish accent”) with the B removed (“B” being a recognised abbreviation of “British”).

26. Peter out of luck at first, if at races (4,3)

Answer: TAIL OFF (i.e. “peter out”). “Races” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OF, L (i.e. “luck at first”, i.e. the first letter of “luck”) and IF AT.

28. Old single guys dig tarts bursting with pizzazz in the East End (5,8)

Answer: ZIGGY STARDUST (i.e. “old single”). “Bursting” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GUYS DIG TARTS and Z (i.e. “pizzazz in the East End”, i.e. the last letter of “pizzazz” – this being an across clue).

31. After present, left watch for sculptor (9)

Answer: DONATELLO (i.e. “sculptor” – No Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles references here. Except for that one.) Solution is DONATE (i.e. “present”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and LO (i.e. “watch”, as in “lo and behold”).

33. In theory, little time to intercept an enemy, presumably (9)

Answer: NOMINALLY (i.e. “in theory”). Solution is NO ALLY (i.e. “an enemy, presumably”) being “intercepted” by MIN (i.e. “little time”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “minute”), like so: NO-(MIN)-ALLY.

35. Baker in a suit (5,2,6)

Answer: QUEEN OF HEARTS. Solution satisfies “in a suit [of cards]” but can I hell figure how this relates to “baker”. [UPDATE: I’m reliably informed by the mysterious She that a Queen of Hearts is a kind of cake, hence “baker”.] [UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: And Clive in the comments even more reliably informs me this was from a famous rhyme. Thanks again, Clive!]

37. She’s example of one backing demise of world body? (7)

Answer: PRONOUN (i.e. the “she” of “she’s [an] example of one”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “backing”) and NO UN (i.e. “demise of world body”, specifically the United Nations).

38. Roughly, American grabs one Ancient jurist (5)

Answer: CAIUS (i.e. “Ancient [Roman] jurist”). Solution is CA (i.e. “roughly”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) and US (i.e. “American”) “grabbing” I (i.e. Roman numeral “one”), like so: CA-(I)-US. One I got from the wordplay than any real knowledge of classical history.

40. Pressing obsession to contain evil spoken of (9)

Answer: THRONGING (i.e. “pressing”). Solution is THING (i.e. an informal term for a slight “obsession”) “containing” RONG (i.e. “evil spoken of”, i.e. a homophone of “wrong” – the setter just about gets away with this; “rong” does exist in the dictionary but only as an obsolete past tense form of “ring”), like so: TH(RONG)ING.

42. Son in light blue tee, crouching (6)

Answer: ASQUAT (i.e. “crouching”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) placed “in” AQUA (i.e. “light blue”) and followed by T (i.e. “tee”), like so: A(S)QUA-T.

44. Declare capital of Venezuela just the thing for royal assignment? (5,5)

Answer: STATE VISIT (i.e. “royal assignment”). Solution is STATE (i.e. “declare”) followed by V (i.e. “capital [letter] of Venezuela”) and IS IT (i.e. “just the thing”).

46. European champion missing out on gold is put out (5)

Answer: EVICT (i.e. “put out”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) followed by VICTOR (i.e. “champion”) with the OR removed (i.e. “missing out on gold” – “or” is “gold” in heraldry).

48. Confusion resulting from action of forge what’s new? (3,3,2,3)

Answer: THE FOG OF WAR (i.e. “confusion resulting from [military] action”). “New” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OF FORGE WHAT. This took me bloody ages to get but seems so simple now. Touché, setter.

50. That familiar person, embraced by Tokyo, UK, now wholly (3-4-3)

Answer: YOU-KNOW-WHO (i.e. “that familiar person”). “Embraced” indicates the solution is hidden in the solution, like so: TOK(YO UK NOW WHO)LLY.

52. City once through hesitation allowing unknown enemy to enter (9)

Answer: BYZANTIUM, an Ancient Greek colony (i.e. “city once”). Solution is BY (i.e. “through”) and UM (i.e. “hesitation”) “allowing” Z (i.e. “unknown” – setters like using this to represent X, Y or Z in their solutions) and ANTI (i.e. “enemy”), like so: BY-(Z-ANTI)-UM.

53. One providing a flavour of scripture lessons with Irish in school (9,4)

Answer: CORIANDER SEED (i.e. “one providing a flavour”). This took some getting, but the solution is COED (i.e. “school”) wrapped around RI (i.e. “scripture lessons”, specifically Religious Instruction) AND (i.e. “with”) ERSE (“a name sometimes used for Irish Gaelic as opposed to Scottish Gaelic” it says here, i.e. “Irish”), like so: CO(RI-AND-ERSE)ED.

54. Had lilies regularly dropped round for girl (4)

Answer: ELLA (i.e. “girl” – whenever I see a first name used as a solution it suggests a setter struggling to get the job done, evidence of which abounds in this puzzle). “Regularly” indicates the solution is derived by removing every other letter from HAD LILIES. “Round” then indicates those letters should be reversed.

55. Crustacean’s shortened tongue put out, briefly (9)

Answer: LANGOUSTE, a small lobster (i.e. “crustacean”). Solution is LANG (i.e. “shortened tongue”, i.e. the first half of the word “language”) and OUTSE (i.e. “put out, briefly”, i.e. the word “ousted” with the last letter removed).

56. Criticise “daft” clothes? They might (7)

Answer: NUDISTS. Solution is DIS (i.e. “criticise”) being “clothed” by NUTS (i.e. “daft”), like so: NU(DIS)TS. Within the context of the clue, nudists might well criticise clothes as being daft. Another that took a while for me to twig the construction, but is a good ‘un.

Down clues

1. In Ancient Greek, no end of grammar (4)

Answer: HOME (i.e. at home is to be “in”). Solution is HOMER (i.e. “Ancient Greek”) with R removed (i.e. “no end of grammar”, R being the last letter of the word “grammar”).

2. Lady jockey in the news, almost always (9)

Answer: GENEVIEVE (i.e. “lady”). Solution is VIE (i.e. “jockey”) placed “in” GEN (i.e. “news”) and EVE (i.e. “almost always”, i.e. the word “ever” with the last letter removed), like so: GEN-E(VIE)VE.

3. No half measures from lowdown artist, female, and lowdown artist poet (2,3,1,5,2,3,1,5)

Answer: IN FOR A PENNY IN FOR A POUND (i.e. “no half measures”). Solution is INFO (i.e. “lowdown”), RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician), PENNY (i.e. “female”), INFO (i.e. “lowdown” again), RA (i.e. “artist” again) and Ezra POUND (i.e. “poet”).

4. Spanker, maybe, was made to pull up bloomers (7)

Answer: DAHLIAS (i.e. “bloomers”). Solution is SAIL (i.e. “spanker, maybe”, i.e. a sail on the aftermost mast of a ship – I’ll leave any sailor jokes up to you) and HAD (which, I guess, is “was made to pull”, though I can’t figure out what the setter is doing here). “Up” instructs us to reverse the two, this being a down clue, like so: DAH-LIAS.

5. One doing handouts allowed in chap to feed baby (11)

Answer: PAMPHLETEER (i.e. “one doing handouts”). Solution is LET (i.e. “allowed”) placed “in” HE (i.e. “chap”), which is in turn placed in (i.e. “feeding”) PAMPER (i.e. to “baby”), like so: PAMP(H(LET)E)ER.

6. Nice area where young retire in western Europe: endless astonishment (4,5)

Answer: COTE D’AZUR (i.e. “nice area”). Solution is COT (i.e. “where young retire”) followed by EUR (i.e. “western Europe”, i.e. the left-hand half of “Europe” – part of me would argue this should be “northern Europe” given this is a down clue, but whatever…) with DAZ (i.e. “endless astonishment”, i.e. the word “daze” with the last letter removed) placed “in”, like so: COT-E(DAZ)UR. Not a classic clue by any stretch.

7. Dish when warm emits aromas at the outset (5)

Answer: ASHET. What a shitty clue this is. I’m not 100% sure what the setter is playing at here, but my guess is the solution satisfies “dish”  (because an ASHET is one), “when warm” (i.e. AS HET – “het” being a past participle of “hot” – yes, I agree “warm” is not the same as “hot”, unless you are a snowman) and “emits aromas at the outset” which could suggest an anagram, indicated by “emits”, of AS (i.e. the first and last letters of “aromas”) and THE. Ugh, back to setter school with you! [UPDATE: Clive comes to the rescue again in the comments with a faultless explanation. Thanks, Clive!]

8. Switch positions with English girl: promotion wasted (3,4,4)

Answer: OFF ONES HEAD (i.e. “wasted”). Solution is OFF and ON (i.e. “switch positions”), then E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) then SHE (i.e. “girl”) and AD (i.e. “promotion”).

9. It’s a gas using axes to slice melon! (6)

Answer: OXYGEN (i.e. “it’s a gas”). Solution is XY (i.e. the x and y “axes” of a graph) “slicing” OGEN (a kind of “melon”) like so: O(XY)GEN.

11. Pay to have hotel for vacation in Irish town (7)

Answer: ATHLONE (i.e. “Irish town” – a solution I have no regrets in looking up, my knowledge of every single town in the UK and Ireland with populations of less than 30,000 not being all that great.) Solution is ATONE (i.e. “pay”) “having” HL (i.e. “hotel for vacation”, i.e. the word “hotel” with all of its middle letters removed), like so: AT(HL)ONE.

12. Issue pack that’s easily handled (4,5)

Answer: KIDS STUFF (i.e. “that’s easily handled”). Solution is KIDS (i.e. “issue”, a slightly more formal word for sprogs) and STUFF (i.e. to “pack”).

13. Out-of-tune shepherd tenor would ruin opera (7,2,3,10)

Answer: ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD (i.e. “opera”, and one I actually knew too! Don’t ask me to hum it, though.) “Out-of-tone” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SHEPHERD TENOR WOULD RUIN.

18. Native of Channel Islands, note, descending on Japanese school (7)

Answer: CITIZEN (i.e. “native”). Solution is CI (a recognised abbreviation of the “Channel Islands”) followed by TI (i.e. “note” in the do-ray-me stylee) and ZEN (i.e. a “Japanese school” of Buddhism).

20. Skimpy attire Keith gingerly covers up (7)

Answer: NIGHTIE (i.e. “skimpy attire”). “Covers” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue and “up” suggests the solution is reversed, this being a down clue, like so: K(EITH GIN)GERLY.

22. Remain behind brook (5,3)

Answer: STAND FOR (i.e. to “brook”, or to bear or endure). Solution is STAND (i.e. “remain”) and FOR (i.e. to be “behind” something).

24. Journalist’s heading to court on business (8)

Answer: DATELINE (which is a line in a newspaper giving the date and location, i.e. “journalist’s heading”). Solution is DATE (i.e. “to court” someone) and LINE (i.e. “[line of] business”).

27. One staring too long; will he disappear, finally? (5)

Answer: OGLER (i.e. “one staring”). “Finally” indicates the solution is derived by the last letters of TOO LONG WILL HE DISAPPEAR.

29. Patois of old boy one had easily picked up (5)

Answer: GUMBO, which is “a patois spoken by blacks and Creoles in Louisiana, etc”. So there you go. Solution is OB (a recognised abbreviation of “old boy”) and MUG (i.e. “one had easily”) all reversed, indicated by “picked up” – this being a down clue – like so: GUM-BO.

30. Restless energy in reverse kicking action? (7)

Answer: UNQUIET (i.e. “restless”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) placed in UNQUIT (i.e. “reverse kicking action”, a weak pun on how resuming a habit once kicked would be to “unquit” it), like so: UNQUI(E)T.

32. Hosting plays at time of presentation (2,5)

Answer: ON SIGHT (i.e. “at time of presentation”). “Plays” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HOSTING.

34. Sailor on watch may start to sleep, outrageously (11)

Answer: YACHTSWOMAN (i.e. “sailor”). “Outrageously” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ON WATCH MAY and S (i.e. “start to sleep”, i.e. the first letter of the word “sleep”).

36. Alternative to banger, maybe displaying zip (3,1,7)

Answer: NOT A SAUSAGE. Solution satisfies both “alternative to banger, maybe” and “zip” i.e. nothing.

37. Proposal by board that can be put to bed? (9)

Answer: PLANTABLE (i.e. “that can be put to [flower] bed”). Solution is PLAN (i.e. “proposal”) followed by TABLE (i.e. a “board” or committee).

39. After short taste of Broadway, courts certain opera lovers (9)

Answer: SAVOYARDS (i.e. “opera lovers”). My guess here is the setter is playing on how Broadway is a large parish in the Cotswolds near Stratford-on-AVOn, and that SAVO might be a taste of that, but, frankly, I’m clutching at straws. Anyway, that’s followed by YARDS (i.e. “courts”) to get a word meaning a devotee of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas performed at the Savoy Theatre. Ugh. Moving on… [UPDATE: Check out the comments, where Clive clears this one up admirably.]

41. Flag Nazi’s stolen originally now national property (9)

Answer: IRISHNESS (i.e. “national property”). Solution is IRIS (one of the alternative meanings of “flag” is an iris, or reed grass) followed by Rudolph HESS (i.e. “Nazi”) “stealing” N (i.e. “originally now”, i.e. the first letter of the word “now”) like so: IRIS-H(N)ESS.

43. Bright bird one missed from different late quiz shows (7)

Answer: QUETZAL (i.e. “bright bird” – just done a Google image search and they’re not kidding. Very pretty.) Solution is an anagram (indicated by “different”) of LATE QUIZ once the I has been removed (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one missed from…”).

45. Departs from New Zealand port after time, having found the station? (5,2)

Answer: TUNED IN (i.e. “having found the station”). Solution is DUNEDIN (a “New Zealand port”) with the first D removed (i.e. “departs from”, “d” being a recognised abbreviation of “depart”) and the remainder placed “after” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: T-UNEDIN.

47. Cheerful girl, by and large (6)

Answer: JOVIAL (i.e. “cheerful”). Solution is JO (i.e. “girl”) followed by VIA (i.e. “by”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”).

49. No leaves left? Park closed (5)

Answer: RECTO, which is a printing term meaning the right-hand page of an open book. So if you had no pages, or “leaves”, to the left then you would have only those to the right, i.e. “recto”. Solution is REC (a recognised abbreviation of a recreation area or “park”) followed by TO (i.e. of, say, a door in a “closed” or fastened position).

51. The likelihood of only smaller bras being available? (4)

Answer: ODDS (i.e. “likelihood”). Within the context of the clue, the solution plays on the stated lack of large bras, specifically double-D size, i.e. O DDS. Hilarious.

Anyway, thank goodness that’s over with, eh? Till next time (if there is one)!



Review: Best New Horror

The long-running reprint anthology series Best New Horror was launched in 1990 with this book, edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell. It followed the launch of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s successful series Demons & Dreams: The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror a few years earlier, and, in much the same vein, aimed to present a comprehensive overview of the horror genre during the previous year.

This inaugural volume sets the mould for all subsequent entries in the series. It opens with a short summary of the book, movie, magazine and comic book releases during the previous year, as well as an appraisal of the health of the horror genre. (These summaries would soon lengthen with each successive book in the series, sufficient to consistently earn negative reviews from some readers miffed at having 60-80 pages “stolen” from the book they’d just bought. Personally, I don’t mind these summaries, though I agree they make for rather dry reading. I tend to skim over them to reach Jones’s closing comments, which are always worth a read.) This is followed by the main attraction: a line-up of the best horror stories published during the previous year – twenty on this occasion. To round off the book there is a necrology to remember those we lost from the realms of horror fiction, film and all the media in between.

I’ll ignore the opening and closing sections of the book and focus instead on the stories. That’s why we’re here, after all. As any seasoned reader knows, short story anthologies can be something of a curate’s egg, but there are a number of stories here which make Best New Horror worth a read and just about secures a 4/5 score.

These stories were all published in 1989 and run as follows:

Also collected in McCammon’s “Blue World”.

Pin – Robert R McCammon (3/5 – McCammon takes us inside the mind of Joey Shatterley as he psyches himself up to give the world exactly what for in the only way he knows how… by shooting up a local McDonalds. Tsk, nutters, eh? But before he can proceed with this most vital work Joey must first prove himself ready. For that he needs a pin and a certain part of his anatomy… and a whole lot of nerve. A short, sharp shock to open proceedings. Icky, but a bit by-the-numbers.)





The House on Cemetery Street – Cherry Wilder (5/5 – Lucy and Joachim are teenage siblings returning to Germany from America shortly after the end of the Second World War. They arrive at their old house and reacquaint themselves with the family elders they had left behind. They are a proud lot despite the relative poverty, tragedy and guilt that had befallen their lives. When Lucy starts seeing a dark-clothed figure among the tombstones of the neighbouring graveyard, it triggers a series of other visions and bizarre noises throughout the house. It seems the house wants rid of its darkest secret. This story takes a while getting there, but the ending will stick in your mind for a long time to come. Probably the best story in the book.)

Also collected in Gallagher’s “Out Of His Mind”

The Horn – Stephen Gallagher (4/5 – Three stranded drivers hunker down in an abandoned roadside recovery hut, sheltering as best they can against an increasingly bitter snowstorm. The snow is thigh-deep outside and rising, the wind is merciless and visibility is almost zero. The phone is out, and the electricity supply soon follows suit. It becomes obvious they cannot remain in the hut, and so one of them agrees to venture out to a jack-knifed road train further up the motorway. From there he will sound a horn for the others to follow. If only it was that simple. I loved reading Gallagher’s stuff when I was in my teens – around the same time that his TV mini-series Chimera was successfully scaring the bejabbers out of me – and he remains immensely readable nearly thirty years on. Good gory fun!)

Breaking Up – Alex Quiroba (4/5 – In this dark and sexually-charged story we closely follow Max Griffin, who is dumped by his girlfriend, Nancy, and whose mind immediately starts to unravel, taking him further and further down a succession of rabbit holes before snapping him back to reality: he slashes Nancy’s throat and watches her struggle to stem the bleeding; he takes his car for a spin and crashes and burns; he attends a porno theatre and unwillingly becomes the main attraction… all ridiculous flights of fantasy, of course. Right? There have been a fair few stories with unreliable main characters or narrators over the years, but this is one of the better ones, helped somewhat by its short running time – it’s in and out before its Cormac-McCarthy-wannabe lack of punctuation begins to annoy.)

Also collected in Campbell’s “Waking Nightmares”

It Helps If You Sing – Ramsey Campbell (3/5 – From the window of his high-rise flat an old man called Bright observes the neighbouring blocks and how they are growing increasingly dark, as if fewer and fewer people are living there. He hears the muffled strains of a hymn here and there, always the same one, playing at different times of the day, sometimes overlapping. When Bright arrives home one day to find two androgynous religious zealots waiting for him by his front door it seems he’s about to discover the truth for himself. This was a disappointing show, sadly. Though there were some nice touches in places, the story was slight and came across as having been written after Campbell had closed the door on the umpteenth Jehovah’s Witness that week.)

Also collected in Staig’s “Dark Toys and Consumer Goods”, though hard to find

Closed Circuit – Laurence Staig (4/5 – In a twisted future (at least from the perspective of 1989) Mrs Anderson and her two young children park up at the Consumer Comfort Shopping Mall in order to get some shopping done. Once inside they find other shoppers in the mall fervently keen – some might say insanely keen – on doing likewise. When the high-pressure selling gets a bit too much for the kids to handle, Mrs Anderson tries to hustle them away without buying anything, which proves a mite trickier than it sounds. There’s a strong whiff of The Twilight Zone about this story… no bad thing in my eyes. Hmm, an inescapable nightmare set in an endlessly huge building… I can’t imagine for a second why this one resonated with me!)

Also collected in SRT’s “City Fishing”.

Carnal House – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Another dark and sexually-charged story which sees a man called Gene receive a phone call from Ruth, an old friend from college. She wants Gene to come over, which he does, like he does every time Ruth calls, leaving his seriously-ill junkie girlfriend, Jennie, once more to fester in front of the TV. Ruth is forever hungry for Gene to make love to her, not for his affection but simply to feel something… it’s been such a long time since she’s felt anything at all. When I first read this I wasn’t overly impressed. I generally like SRT’s work – even when he goes full-weird – but something about this didn’t click. I can only imagine I was tired or not quite paying attention, because the story was noticeably better upon a second read.)

Also collected in Newman’s “The Original Dr Shade and Other Stories”

Twitch Technicolor – Kim Newman (3/5 – Michaelis Monte is an artist who makes a living remixing old movies for his clients, not only colourising them but outright altering entire scenes, updating them with gore enough for modern audiences, even editing in actors who were never in the film to begin with. The wonders of future-modern technology! Monte has been losing staff (and rivals) hand over fist, often in gruesome ways ironic to the movie they were working on. He hasn’t given much thought to why this would be. Perhaps he should. As will often be noted during his appearances in the Best New Horror series, Newman has an oceans-deep knowledge of everything cinema, which is rivalled perhaps only by his enthusiasm for the medium. It’s not for nothing that he co-edits the Necrology section in each book with Jones. But sometimes this can be his undoing, and this, for me, was one of those times. Perhaps the story read better back in 1989 than it does today.)

Also collected in Frost’s “Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Stories”

Lizaveta – Gregory Frost (3/5 – In the searing heat and amid the brutal pogroms of early-twentieth-century Russia, Lizaveta Ostrov tells a soldier a disturbing tale of her life before becoming a whore. Lizaveta had once been a schoolteacher, and had taken up a post in a small village near the Kazakh border. Her predecessor had done a poor job of educating the children of the village, and had mysteriously left without a word. Given the baleful presence of one particular child in her class, perhaps Lizaveta should have done the same. The build-up of this story is really good, and rather reminded me of one of the stories-within-a-story found in Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, but Frost throws it away at the end. It’s almost as if he couldn’t wait to finish it. A shame.)

Snow Cancellations – Donald R Burleson (4/5 – Jamie listens to the radio as he watches the snow fall outside. He’s nine years old and he’s waiting to see whether school will be cancelled that morning – which obviously happens. When his mother fails to secure a sitter for him, Jamie is entrusted to look after the house while she’s at work. Jamie calls his schoolfriend, Kevin, and together they listen as the snowstorm claims one place after another. A fun read.)

Archway – Nicholas Royle (3/5 – In this unrelenting misery-fest we follow a near-destitute Bella as she loses her job and, not long after that, her marbles. She repeatedly hears laughter from all angles, sees cracks in her walls that seep pure blackness into the room, and, in pretty much every other sentence, she glimpses a menacing figure wearing a grinning white triangular mask. Not the best form to go tackling a labyrinthine social security system then. This seemed less a horror story than a rant about how shitty life was on the breadline in late-80s Britain, and the ending was nasty purely for the sake of it. Not great. Thankfully, Royle’s subsequent entries in the Best New Horror series greatly improve on this first appearance.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “Noctuary”

The Strange Design of Master Rignolo – Thomas Ligotti (3/5 – Messrs Nolon and Grissul meet one night at a park bench. Grissul is keen to show Nolon a most peculiar and unearthly thing he’s seen in a nearby field. Nolon, on the other hand, is more keen to take Rignolo up on a rare invitation to view the reality-bending artworks the master artist has spent so long perfecting. Little do they suspect the two may be linked. I love reading Ligotti’s work. The dreamlike quality of his writing and the impasto-thick atmosphere he builds; the offbeat characters he creates and the utterly odd situations he places them in – they all mark Ligotti as a true one-off, but this rather slight story left me wanting to like it more than I did.)

…To Feel Another’s Woe – Chet Williamson (3/5 – Adams is an actor auditioning for a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. While he and his fellow New Yorker luvvies await being called, he is warned to stay clear of a fellow hopeful, Sheila Remarque. It seems while her star shines ever-brighter, her previous squeezes have all come away from their relationships with her a shadow of their former selves. This was okay, offering a decent sense of the actor scene, but this deliberately bloodless vampire story didn’t stick in my mind for long, even after a second read.)

Also collected in “The Best of Robert Westall Volume One: Demons and Shadows”

The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux – Robert Westall (5/5 – Geoff Ashden is an antiques dealer who also sits on the board of a local school. When the upper-crust Miss Molyneaux applies for the job of teaching the notorious class 4C, Geoff casts the deciding vote to hire her, mainly because he fancies her. Miss Molyneaux soon has class 4C wrapped around her little finger with her practical, unvarnished teaching style. When a school outing to a largely abandoned church results in some unusual graffiti, the schoolchildren are immediately blamed, but the unsettling sight of a bald-headed man loitering in the background suggests all may not be what it seems. Westall was a celebrated children’s author back in the day and it’s no surprise that the schoolchildren here get all the best lines. The Last Day… is genuinely funny, it’s scary when it needs to be, and it closes with the best line I’ve read in years. This is a superb read.)

Also collected in Lumley’s “No Sharks in the Med and Other Stories”

No Sharks In The Med – Brian Lumley (3/5 – Geoff and Gwen are newlyweds holidaying in coastal Greece. They are driven from the airport by a man called Spiros, who is less-than-shy in his affections for Gwen. As the holiday progresses, so too do Spiros’s attempts to wangle himself into Gwen’s pants. When a drunken confrontation sees Spiros go too far, he apologies and offers the newlyweds a trip out on his boat to a small secluded island a few miles from the shore. Nothing wrong with that, right? This comparatively lengthy tale could have made a half-decent mid-80’s Tales of the Unexpected, but I struggle to call it horror.)


Mort au Monde – D. F. Lewis (2/5 – David wakes in a state of confusion to find the door to his room open and a sense of searing red eyes watching him. His beloved Marianne sleeps a few occupied rooms further down the hall, and when David checks in on her, her red eyes and a disturbing grunt from elsewhere in the room send him scurrying back to bed. Perhaps the intervening rooms are no longer as quite occupied as he first believed. Lewis was a highly prolific writer at the time, mainly writing hundreds (and hundreds) of moody ambiguous shorts like this. Though this was well-written, I can’t count myself a fan. I have to be in the right frame of mind for things like this, and that doesn’t come around very often.)

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

Blanca – Thomas Tessier (4/5 – A burnt-out American travel writer arrives in the titular (fictitious) region with the express intention to kick back and relax with a Maigret novel or two. This is a region with a heavy police presence, mostly plain-clothed, but he’s comfortable with that. He makes the acquaintance of a local man, Basma, a Lebanese immigrant, who shows him around town. That night our man experiences a vivid dream in which he looks out from his hotel room and witnesses an indiscriminate round-up of terrified citizens by soldiers on horseback. The next night he witnesses the same scene, only fully awake. Is he experiencing a series of timeslips, or is something more sinister going on? This was another story that left me a little flat the first time around but improved on a second read.)

Also collected in “The Best of Ian Watson”

The Eye of the Ayatollah – Ian Watson (3/5 – The Muslim world is in uproar. Death to the Satan-author, they cry, wherever he is hiding! Immediately following the chaotic funeral of the Ayatollah, an injured soldier, Ali, is shocked to find he carries the cleric’s eyeball in his hand, optic nerve and all. Even weirder, the eye is still infused with life. It seems the eye of the Ayatollah retains a keen desire to hunt out the Satan-author. This story was published shortly after the genuinely chaotic funeral of the Ayatollah Khomeini and does a good job of conveying the carnage that took place. From then on, however, the story gets a bit too silly to be taken seriously. Perhaps this read better back in 1989 amid the hullaballoo surrounding the publication of The Satanic Verses, but in 2019 it’s a little jarring.)

Also collected in Wagner’s “Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane”

At First Just Ghostly – Karl Edward Wagner (4/5 – Cody Lennox is a best-selling horror author who is visiting Britain partially to attend a writer’s convention, but mainly to drink himself into oblivion. Lennox soon catches up with a few fellow professionals, who ably assist him in this regard. But during this, his latest visit to Blighty, things take a very peculiar turn. Lennox finds calling cards dotted around the place, his luck is in time and again on the fruit machines, and it seems a whole other, seemingly supernatural, side of London seeks his acquaintance – not least a legendary figure calling himself Kane. This novella was nominated for a Stoker award back in the day, and it’s not hard to see why. There is a broad seam of humour running throughout this story which makes it immensely readable. Though this was a Kane story, you don’t need to be too familiar with the character to enjoy it. (I hadn’t read any of Wagner’s Kane stories before this.) The one thing that held the story back is something it genuinely cannot help. Lennox is a thinly-veiled version of Wagner himself, and shares the author’s prodigious capacity for drink. Wagner died five years after this was published, due largely to complications brought about by his alcohol consumption. He was 48 years old. It’s hard to read a character express concern about Lennox’s wellbeing in this story and not feel this was the author’s inner voice speaking. Such a shame.)

Bad News – Richard Laymon (5/5 – When Paul retrieves his morning paper and leaves it lying on the coffee table, the last thing he expects is for a disgusting creature to worm its way out from the folds and to chase him all round the house trying to eat him and his family. For as much as Laymon divides opinion among the horror community – I’m in the “like” camp, for my sins – I’m sure everyone can get behind this one. It’s funny, the horror starts almost immediately, it escalates rapidly and it never, ever lets up! As a closer to the book, this is an absolute scream.)

And that concludes this review of Best New Horror. If any of these stories whet your appetite then you should be able to find a second-hand copy of this book without too much difficultly. If you’d prefer a nice clean copy then PS Publishing offer a swanky 25th Anniversary edition. Finally, if digital is your thing, then you can find Best New Horror for purchase on several popular eBook platforms.

Till the next one – TTFN!


Reading Best New Horror

If, like me, you are partial to a spot of short horror fiction, then the chances are you’ll have come across Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series.

Launched in 1990 by Robinson Publishing in the UK and Carrol & Graf in the US, and continued in recent years by PS Publishing, this long-running reprint anthology series presents an annual selection of the best short horror fiction published during the previous year.

The Best New Horror family photo. I really ought to buy some bookshelves…

Each volume opens with a detailed summary of all things horror released during the year and finishes with a necrology that honours those the genre lost. In the three-to-four-hundred pages in between, Jones showcases a broad variety of stories, written by old hands and future stars of the genre, frequently demonstrating that there’s much more to horror fiction than mere zombies and werewolves and vampires (though they do inevitably get a look-in every now and again). No one subgenre or theme is allowed to dominate, and it’s arguably this tight editorial control that has played a large part in the series’ success, particularly considering the horror genre’s poor health throughout the decades.

Some time ago I undertook to complete my collection of Best New Horror with an aim to eventually reading them all in sequence and perhaps get a sense of how the horror genre has changed over the last three decades (albeit through one editor’s eyes). Thanks to some second-hand bookdealers and the power of the internet, this proved neither too tricky nor too expensive. So long as you are willing to take a chance on quality, you shouldn’t struggle getting a copy of each volume.

If the thought of holding a book that may have once been owned by someone who habitually forgets to wash their hands after going to the toilet horrifies you, then you should be able to find eBook editions across a variety of platforms, usually priced between £2.50 and £4.00 each. If you’d prefer to hold a crisp clean copy in your hands, then PS Publishing have selected volumes of the series available in a variety of formats from around £12 each.

In the coming weeks and months I’ll review each book in sequence, offering up a brief summary and mini-review of the stories found therein. I’ll also provide links where I can to author’s collections in which you can also find the story. Over time this should build a pretty comprehensive overview of the several hundred stories published across Best New Horror for anyone who may be tempted to dip into the series.

Before we begin, here’s a brief overview of how I score things in my reviews:

1/5 – The story had nothing going for it, or it wasted my time, or it pissed me off, or all of the above. Few stories earn this score as I can usually find something in a poor story that partially redeems it;

2/5 – Overall the story was a disappointment because it was weak or too clichéd, or it was blatantly over-engineered, or – worse still – it wasted the potential of a great idea or central character;

3/5 – The story didn’t exactly set my world on fire, but nor did it leave me feeling like I’d wasted my time. On occasion this score might also indicate a story that had some great points but also some equally naff ones;

4/5 – The story left me feeling entertained or enlightened in some way or impressed by a certain aspect of it. There may have been the odd fly in the ointment here and there, but the overall quality of the story made up for it;

5/5 – I don’t often score things a 5/5, but every now and again there will be a story where the quality of the writing is extraordinary, where a real sense of place is achieved, where meticulous attention to detail has really paid off, or, generally, where I get to the end and can’t help but say “that was bloody brilliant!” When that happens, 5/5s follow.

To keep things simple, the average score across each story in a book will decide its overall score. Will there be a book that scores 5/5, I wonder?

Let’s begin with book one and find out, shall we?


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1365

Though not quite as harsh as the Boxing Day puzzle, there was still a load of farting about going on here. A grid that employs four plants, five dead people(*) and a half-dozen words from those hard-to-reach places of the dictionary suggests a setter having trouble getting the job done. The saving graces of this puzzle are a handful of these esoteric solutions being rather cool words.

(*) It’s an unwritten rule that The Times only allow people to be used as solutions in their crosswords if they are no longer living.

Anyway, enough bitching from me. Here’s my completed grid along with solutions where I have them. Hope this helps!

Across clues

1. Toast to show support, perhaps, then drink (7,2)

Answer: BOTTOMS UP (i.e. “toast”). Solution is BOTTOM (i.e. “support, perhaps”) “then” SUP (i.e. “drink”). One of the best episodes of “Bottom” too!

6. Scare makes close friend conceal identity (10)

Answer: INTIMIDATE (i.e. “scare”). Solution is INTIMATE (i.e. “close friend”) “concealing” ID (i.e. “identity”) like so: INTIM(ID)ATE.

12. Sketch by artist depicts hurly-burly of competitive work (3,4)

Answer: RAT RACE (i.e. “hurly-burly of competitive work”). Solution is TRACE (i.e. “sketch”) placed “by” RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician), like so: RA-TRACE.

13. Girl I love close by, not a type to preach at people? (9)

Answer: MISSIONER, a person in charge of parochial missions (i.e. “not a type to preach at people”). Solution is MISS (i.e. “girl”), then I, then O (i.e. “love”, i.e. zero in tennis) then NER (i.e. “close by, not a”, i.e. the word “near” with the letter “a” removed), like so: MISS-I-O-NER.

14. Nick turning a hundred, in need of companion (5)

Answer: NOTCH (i.e. “nick”). Solution is TON (i.e. “a hundred”) reversed (indicated by “turning”) and followed by CH (i.e. “companion”, specifically a Companion of Honour), like so: NOT-CH.

16. Comprehensive cellar big man organised (3-9)

Answer: ALL-EMBRACING (i.e. “comprehensive”). “Organised” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CELLAR BIG MAN.

17. Avoid getting drunk with beer when entertaining university philosopher (2,8)

Answer: Simone DE BEAUVOIR (i.e. “philosopher”. I have no shame in looking this one up as, frankly, there are more philosophers than people who have read them.) Solution is an anagram (indicated by “getting drunk”) of AVOID and BEER wrapped around (i.e. “entertaining”) U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”), like so: DEBEA(U)VOIR.

19. Financial process (singular, not variable, internally) that makes some characters look big (14)

Answer: CAPITALISATION. Solution satisfies both “financial process (singular, not variable, internally)” – both “capitalisation” and “capitalization” exist in the dictionary, so the part in brackets tells us to use S, a recognised abbreviation of “singular”, instead of Z (setters love using “unknown” or “variable” to represent X, Y or Z in their clues) – and “that makes some characters look big”.

22. Supports British activity in court (8)

Answer: BRACKETS (i.e. “supports”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”) followed by RACKETS (i.e. “activity in [tennis] court”).

24. Dissonant composer is not consistent, leaving out one note (6)

Answer: Edgard VARESE (i.e. “dissonant composer” – another one I looked up as composers are also ten-a-penny). Solution is VARIES (i.e. “is not consistent”) with I removed (i.e. “leaving out [Roman numeral] one”) and followed by E (i.e. a musical “note”).

25. Bitter speeches an encouragement to audience, accompanied by illustrations (10)

Answer: PHILLIPPICS (i.e. “bitter speeches” – this is a new one on me, but I rather like it). Solution is PHILLIP (i.e. “an encouragement to audience”, i.e. a homophone of “fillip”) followed by PICS (i.e. “accompanied by illustrations”).

26. Fellow must keep quiet in wood (5)

Answer: MAPLE (i.e. “wood”). Solution is MALE (i.e. “fellow”) “keeping” P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, a musical term for “quiet”), like so: MA(P)LE.

29. Man in game is cheat (4)

Answer: ROOK. Solution satisfies both “man in game” i.e. a chess piece, and “cheat” (a rook is a card sharp).

30. Headline: “Ship has crossed river” (8)

Answer: STREAMER (i.e. a large, bold “headline”). Solution is STEAMER (i.e. “ship”) wrapped around (i.e. “has crossed”) R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”), like so: ST(R)EAMER.

32. Identification of woman, ‘orrible one, no relation (9)

Answer: DIAGNOSIS (i.e. “identification”). Solution is DI (i.e. a “woman’s” name) followed by AG (i.e. “’orrible one”, the apostrophe indicates that the initial “h” of “hag” – a horrible woman – should be dropped) then NO and SIS (i.e. “relation”, short for “sister”).

34. Conservative politician hiding nothing and within the law or guilty with others? (9)

Answer: COMPLICIT (i.e. “guilty with others”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) and MP (i.e. “politician”, specifically a Member of Parliament) “hiding” O (representative of “nothing”) and then followed by LICIT (i.e. “within the law”), like so: C-(O)-MP-LICIT.

35. Importance of small foreign church (8)

Answer: SALIENCE (i.e. “importance”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by ALIEN (i.e. “foreign”) then CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England).

36. Artist of major importance making comeback (4)

Answer: Joan MIRO (i.e. “artist” – as composers, ditto artists). “Of” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue and “making a comeback” suggests the solution is reversed, like so: MAJ(OR IM)PORTANCE.

39. Excellence of top female in American university (5)

Answer: MERIT (i.e. “excellence”). Solution is ER (i.e. “top female”, i.e. the word “her” with the first letter removed) placed “in” MIT (i.e. “American university”, specifically the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), like so: M(ER)IT.

40. One can detect a certain amount of bluster (10)

Answer: ANEMOMETER, a wind gauge. An oddly uncryptic clue, this, with a minimum of wordplay.

42. Sports official from West ‘am’s annoyance and anger (6)

Answer: UMPIRE (i.e. “sports official”). Solution is UMP (i.e. “West ‘am’s annoyance”, i.e. the word “hump” with the letter “h” dropped, as them West ‘am types are forever dropping their aitches) followed by IRE (i.e. “anger).

44. Getting on, accepting the conclusions of proper debate? (8)

Answer: AGREEING. Solution plays on how it satisfies both “accepting” and “getting on”, and how AGEING – another meaning of “getting on” – can be transformed into the solution by adding the final letters – or “conclusions” – of the words “proper debate”, like so: AG(RE)EING. Something like that, anyway.

46. Number half-resigned after change offering words of reconciliation (2,4,8)

Answer: NO HARD FEELINGS (i.e. “words of reconciliation”). Solution is NO (a recognised abbreviation of “number”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “after change”) of HALF-RESIGNED.

48. What parliamentary candidate can lose almost? Politician maybe safe (10)

Answer: DEPOSITORY (i.e. “safe”). Solution is DEPOSIT (i.e. “what parliamentary candidate can lose”) with the final letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and then followed by TORY (i.e. “politician”).

49. William and I broadcasting news periodically – we’ve made a packet? (12)

Answer: BILLIONAIRES (i.e. “we’ve made a packet”). Solution is BILL (i.e. alternative form of “William”) followed by I, then ON AIR (i.e. “broadcasting”) then ES (i.e. “news periodically”, i.e. alternate letters of the word NEWS).

53. Gentleman returning, greeting wise man (5)

Answer: RISHI, a Sanskrit word for a sage (i.e. “wise man”). Solution is SIR (i.e. “gentleman”) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and followed by HI (i.e. “greeting”), like so: RIS-HI.

54. This writer’s book of sayings – no book for those not yet perfect! (9)

Answer: IMPROVERS (i.e. “those not yet perfect”). Solution is IM (i.e. “the writer’s” – from the perspective of the setter, “the writer is” becomes “I am”, the contraction of which is “I’m”) followed by PROVERBS (i.e. “book of sayings”) with the B removed (i.e. “no book” – “b” being a recognised abbreviation of “book”).

55. Anecdotes by this fellow full of energy in Californian city (7)

Answer: ANAHEIM (i.e. “Californian city”). Solution is ANA (i.e. “anecdotes” – not a word I was familiar with, if I’m honest) followed by HIM (i.e. “this fellow”) wrapped around E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”), like so: ANA-H(E)IM.

56. No good territory for Scot to occupy – so he emigrates to here? (3,7)

Answer: NEW ENGLAND. Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “no”), G (ditto “good”) and LAND (i.e. “territory”), wrapped around EWEN (i.e. “Scot to occupy”), like so: N-(EWEN)-G-LAND.

57. Like some dates ending in kiss? Lacking style (9)

Answer: STONELESS (i.e. “like some dates”). Solution is S (i.e. “ending in kiss”, i.e. the last letter of the word “kiss”) followed by TONELESS (i.e. “lacking style”).

Down clues

1. Something risky – the Spanish people may chew on it (5)

Answer: BETEL, a chewable leaf (i.e. “people may chew on it”). Solution is BET (i.e. “something risky”) followed by EL (i.e. “the Spanish” – the Spanish for “the” is “el”).

2. What could make one irate: smut – a shock (10)

Answer: TRAUMATISE (i.e. to “shock”). “What could make” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IRATE SMUT A.

3. Don’t allow botanical body to admit blunder (8)

Answer: OVERRULE (i.e. “don’t allow”). Solution is OVULE (i.e. “botanical body”) “admitting” ERR (i.e. “blunder”), like so: OV(ERR)ULE.

4. Tree French author climbs (5)

Answer: SUMAC (i.e. “tree” – I only know this because I’ve seen a clue very much like it rather recently). Solution is a reversal (indicated by “climbs”) of Albert CAMUS (i.e. “French author”).

5. Job somewhere in Africa in a time of new life (9)

Answer: POSTNATAL (i.e. “time of new life”). Solution is POST (i.e. “job”) followed by NATAL (i.e. “somewhere in Africa”).

6. Two islands in river (4)

Answer: ISIS, an alternative name of the River Thames (i.e. “river”). Solution is IS (a recognised abbreviation of “island”) repeated (i.e. “two islands”).

7. Offer facility for steam train (6)

Answer: TENDER. Solution satisfies both “offer” and “facility for steam train” – a tender is a train carriage containing fuel and water.

8. Car makers there organised test of customers’ requirements (6,8)

Answer: MARKET RESEARCH (i.e. “test of customers’ requirements”). “Organised” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CAR MAKERS THERE.

9. Knight about to enter final scene, saying something’s wrong (12)

Answer: DENOUNCEMENT (i.e. “saying something’s wrong”). Solution is DENOUEMENT (i.e. “final scene”) with N (a recognised abbreviation of “knight” used in chess) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “circa”, i.e. “about”), like so: DENOU(N-C)EMENT.

10. Walked with external support, a bit of electronic apparatus (7)

Answer: TETRODE (i.e. “a bit of electronic apparatus”). Solution is TROD (i.e. “walked”) placed inside (indicated by “external”) TEE (i.e. a golf “support”), like so: TE(TROD)E.

11. Come out with holiday insurance (5,5)

Answer: BREAK COVER (i.e. “come out”). Solution is BREAK (i.e. “holiday”) followed by COVER (i.e. “insurance”).

15. Troublesome types rush around a ship, taking risk regularly (9)

Answer: HARASSERS (i.e. “troublesome types”). Solution is HARE (i.e. “rush”) placed “around” SS (a recognised abbreviation of a steamship, i.e. “ship”) and then followed by RS (i.e. “risk regularly”, i.e. every other letter of the word RISK), like so: HARA(SS)E-RS.

18. My friend entertaining soldiers is one of them? (8)

Answer: CORPORAL. Solution is COR (i.e. an exclamatory “my!” as in “cor blimey!”) followed by PAL (i.e. “friend”) wrapped around (i.e. “entertaining”) OR (i.e. “soldiers”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army), like so: COR-P(OR)AL. Within the context of the clue, the solution is “one of them [soldiers]”.

20. Agent set up yesteryear’s entertainer? (9)

Answer: PERFORMER (i.e. “entertainer”). Solution is REP (short for “representative”, i.e. “agent”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and followed by FORMER (i.e. “yesteryear’s”), like so: PER-FORMER.

21. The crew is shipwrecked with last character aboard a theologian (10)

Answer: Albert SCHWEITZER (i.e. “theologian”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “shipwrecked”) of THE CREW IS wrapped around Z (i.e. “with last character aboard” – Z being the last letter of the alphabet), like so: SCHWEIT(Z)ER. I admit I got this purely through the wordplay rather than any real knowledge of theologians.

23. Leader of orchestra, one may surmise, is young and green (10)

Answer: FIDDLEHEAD, the edible curled frond of some ferns, it says here. So more bloody plants, then! Solution plays on how a FIDDLE HEAD may be the “leader of [an] orchestra”.

27. Rider to send wild beast across island (9)

Answer: POSTILION, someone who guides posthorses by riding on one of them (i.e. “rider”). No, me neither. Solution is POST (i.e. “to send”) then I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”) and LION (i.e. “wild beast”).

28. Thinking to act’s tricky – keep trying (5,2,7)

Answer: STICK AT NOTHING (i.e. “keep trying”). “Tricky” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of THINKING TO ACT’S.

31. Big beast gets post keeping little old fellow under (8)

Answer: MASTODON (i.e. “big beast”). Solution is MAST (i.e. “post”) with O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and DON (i.e. “fellow”) “kept under”, like so: MAST-O-DON.

33. Brats and the like spouting nonsense (12)

Answer: BLATHERSKITE, a garrulous talker of “nonsense” – I have never seen, heard or come close to this word in all my eighteen-and-a-bit-and-a-bit years. I really like it!). “Spouting” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BRATS and THE LIKE.

34. Arrive, having ditched English chap, to meet the German boss (9)

Answer: COMMANDER (i.e. “boss”). Solution is COME (i.e. “arrive”) with the E removed (i.e. “having ditched English” – E being a recognised abbreviation of “English”), followed by MAN (i.e. “chap”) and DER (i.e. “the German” – the German for “the” is “der”), like so: COM-MAN-DER.

37. Key command in move against thieves (4,6)

Answer: OPEN SESAME. In Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the door to the thieves’ den is opened by these words, i.e. “key command”.

38. Mix in a Spanish city, having abandoned a friend (10)

Answer: AMALGAMATE (i.e. “mix”). Solution is A, then MALAGA (i.e. “Spanish city”) with its middle A removed (i.e. “having abandoned a”), then MATE (i.e. “friend”), like so: A-MALGA-MATE.

41. Former French friend observed turning up – they’d have testing time (9)

Answer: EXAMINEES (i.e. “they’d have a testing time”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) then AMI (i.e. “French friend” – the French for “friend” is “ami”) then SEEN (i.e. “observed”) reversed (indicated by “turning up” – this being a down clue), like so: EX-AMI-NEES.

43. Move of company northwards noted in chronicle (8)

Answer: RELOCATE (i.e. “move”). Solution is CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”) reversed (indicated by “northwards” – this being a down clue) and placed in RELATE (i.e. “chronicle”, albeit rather weakly), like so: REL(OC)ATE.

45. Ceremony embracing sailor’s swift comeback (7)

Answer: RIPOSTE (i.e. “swift comeback”). Solution is RITE (i.e. “ceremony”) “embracing” POS (i.e. “sailors”, specifically Petty Officers), like so: RI(POS)TE.

47. Spirit of good old man accepting modern style of music (6)

Answer: GRAPPA (i.e. “spirit”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and PA (i.e. “old man”) “accepting” RAP (i.e. “modern style of music”), like so: G-(RAP)-PA.

50. What cowboy uses, see, for catching animal (5)

Answer: LASSO. At first it looks like a strangely uncryptic clue, but solution is LO (i.e. “see”, as in “lo and behold”) “catching” ASS (i.e. “animal”), like so: L(ASS)O.

51. Music-makers overwhelmed by greed sometimes (5)

Answer: REEDS (i.e. “music-makers”). “Overwhelmed” (as in “swamped by”) indicates the solution is hidden within the clue, like so: G(REED S)OMETIMES.

52. Proceed with commercial that provides motivation (4)

Answer: GOAD (i.e. “provides motivation”). Solution is GO (i.e. “proceed”) followed by AD (i.e. “commercial”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1364

Okay, that’s me back up to date again. Here’s my completed grid for the latest Times Jumbo Cryptic puzzle, along with explanations where I have them.

Okay, now I promise to post something a little more readable. Scout’s honour, guv!


Across clues

1. Vessel has slate on lip (8)

Answer: SAUCEPAN (i.e. “vessel”). Solution is SAUCE (i.e. “lip”) then PAN (i.e. to “slate” something).

5. Settle down in Arsenal’s opening match (6)

Answer: ALIGHT (i.e. “settle down”). Solution is A (i.e. “Arsenal’s opening”, i.e. the first letter of “Arsenal”) followed by LIGHT (i.e. “match”).

9. Calm down, please: official’s inside (4,3)

Answer: EASE OFF (i.e. “calm down”). “Inside” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: PL(EASE OFF)ICIAL.

14. Modish poem contains a line on worker, perhaps without style (11)

Answer: INELEGANTLY (i.e. “without style”). Solution is IN (i.e. popular, trendy or “modish”) followed by ELEGY (i.e. “poem”) “containing” ANT (i.e. “worker”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”), like so: IN-ELEG(ANT-L)Y.

15. Doctor knocked back drink, once again dispatched everywhere (11)

Answer: OMNIPRESENT (i.e. “everywhere”). Solution is OM (i.e. “doctor knocked back”, i.e. the initial letters of Medical Officer reversed) followed by NIP (i.e. “drink”) and RESENT (i.e. “once again dispatched”).

16. Confidence bound to be picked up (5)

Answer: TRUST (i.e. “confidence”). “To be picked up” suggests the solution is a homophone of “trussed” (i.e. “bound”).

17. Clouds having been formed containing radioactive element, note (7)

Answer: NEBULAE (i.e. “clouds”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “formed”) of BEEN “containing” U (i.e. “radioactive element”, specifically the chemical symbol for uranium) and LA (i.e. “note”, as in the do-ray-me scale), like so: NEB(U-LA)E.

18. Novel with fantastic genre to flog in bulletin (9)

Answer: NEWSFLASH (i.e. “bulletin”). Solution is NEW (i.e. “novel”) followed by SF (i.e. “fantastic genre”, specifically Science Fiction) and LASH (i.e. “to flog”).

19. Abnormal sort of water in Derwent’s banks (7)

Answer: DEVIANT (i.e. “abnormal”). Solution is EVIAN (i.e. “sort of water”) placed “in” DT (i.e. “Derwent’s banks”, i.e. the first and last letters of “Derwent”), like so: D(EVIAN)T.

20. Send on deployment of troops, say, following Thirty Years War? (4-11)

Answer: POST-REFORMATION (i.e. “following Thirty Years War”). Solution is POST (i.e. “send”) followed by RE (i.e. “on”, as in “regarding”) and FORMATION (i.e. “deployment of troops”).

22. Used to give support, at first (6-4)

Answer: SECOND-HAND (i.e. “used”). I’m a little wobbly on this. I get that SECOND is “to give support”, and you might perhaps do so by raising your hand, but to be honest I’m not quite tuned into what the setter’s doing here. I doubt I’ll miss any sleep over it.

23. Depict resistance fighters on edge, retreating (6)

Answer: MIRROR (i.e. “depict”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation for electrical “resistance”) followed by OR (i.e. “fighters”, specifically the Other Ranks of the army) and RIM (i.e. “edge”) all reversed (i.e. “retreating”), like so: MIR-RO-R.

25. Condescend to listen to EU citizen (4)

Answer: DANE (i.e. “EU citizen”). “To listen” suggests the solution is a homophone of “deign” (i.e. “condescend”).

28. Crazy whirl upstaging enchanting event? (9,5)

Answer: WALPURGIS NIGHT, the night in German folklore when witches get down with the devil (i.e. “enchanting event”). “Crazy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WHIRL UPSTAGING.

30. A lot of craft to satisfy a welcoming crowd (8)

Answer: FLOTILLA (i.e. “a lot of [sea]craft”). This one’s a mess, but I think the solution is LOT being “welcomed” into FILL (i.e. “to satisfy”) and A like so: F(LOT)ILL-A. Not a classic clue by any means.

32. Venomous man, a day tripper (8)

Answer: ACIDHEAD (i.e. “tripper”). Solution is ACID (i.e. “venomous”) followed by HE (i.e. “man”) then A and D (a recognised abbreviation of “day”).

34. Hinder false advertiser, one offering advice (4-4,6)

Answer: BACK-SEAT DRIVER (i.e. “one offering advice”). Solution is BACK (i.e. to “hinder” or hold back) followed by an anagram (indicated by “false”) of “advertiser”.

37. Make unclear, short publicity text (4)

Answer: BLUR (i.e. “make unclear”. Solution is BLURB (i.e. “publicity text”) with the last letter removed (i.e. made “short”).

38. Heartless fool screening film in old age (6)

Answer: NINETY (i.e. “in old age”). Solution is NINNY (i.e. “fool”) with the middle letter removed (i.e. “heartless”) and wrapped around (i.e. “screening”) ET (i.e. “film”), like so: NIN(ET)Y.

39. Admitting depression, crooks joining church recover (10)

Answer: CONVALESCE (i.e. “recover”). Solution is CONS (i.e. “crooks”) “admitting” VALE (i.e. “depression”) and then followed by CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: CON(VALE)S-CE.

43. Subject promises to settle coastal area, being quarrelsome (15)

Answer: CONTENTIOUSNESS (i.e. “quarrelsome”). Solution is CONTENT (i.e. “subject”) followed by IOUS (i.e. “promises to settle”) and NESS (which is another word for headland, i.e. “coastal area”).

45. Vain Englishman and American crossing river (7)

Answer: POMPOUS (i.e. “vain”). Solution is POM (i.e. “Englishman”) and US (i.e. “American”) placed around, or “crossing”, PO (i.e. a “river” in Italy), like so: POM-(PO)-US.

47. Mobile phone with charm and a reluctance to innovate (9)

Answer: NEOPHOBIA, a fear of new things (i.e. “reluctance to innovate”). Solution is NEOPH, an anagram (indicated by “mobile”) of “phone”, followed by OBI (a kind of “charm”) and A.

49. Agreement to embrace John? Nothing is impossible (2,3,2)

Answer: NO CAN DO (i.e. “impossible”). Solution is NOD (i.e. “agreement”) “embracing” CAN (i.e. “John”, as in a toilet) and followed by O (i.e. “nothing”), like so: NO(CAN)D-O.

51. Crustacean luckily protecting back bones (5)

Answer: ULNAE (i.e. “bones”). “Protecting” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, and “back” suggests the clue is hidden backwards, like so: CRUSTAC(EAN LU)CKILY.

52. It’s almost the end in sentence (4,7)

Answer: HOME STRETCH (i.e. “it’s almost the end”). Solution is HOME (i.e. “in”) and STRETCH (i.e. a prison “sentence”).

53. The writer’s to offer books without forethought (11)

Answer: IMPROVIDENT (i.e. “without forethought”). Solution is IM (i.e. “the writer’s” – from the setter’s point of view “the writer is” becomes “I am”, which is contracted to I’M) followed by PROVIDE (i.e. “to offer”) and NT (i.e. “books”, specifically the New Testament).

54. Singular art including most blue (7)

Answer: SADDEST (i.e. “most blue”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “singular”). The rest of the clue will take some explaining. “Art including” should be read as ye olde “[Someone] art including [something]”, i.e. read as “is including”. To include something is to “add” it. Keeping it all ye olde, “art including” therefore becomes something like “Lucian ADDEST another reader to his blog”. So, the solution is S-ADDEST. I like and despise this clue in equal measure.

55. Person managing to seize one unoriginal type (6)

Answer: COPIER (i.e. “unoriginal type”). Solution is COPER (i.e. “person managing”) “seizing” I (Roman numeral “one”), like so: COP(I)ER.

56. Kid by cool water experiencing heat (2,6)

Answer: IN SEASON (i.e. “experiencing heat”). Solution is SON (i.e. “kid”) placed “by” IN (i.e. “cool”) and SEA (i.e. “water”), like so: IN-SEA-SON.

Down clues

1. Awkward son went off the straight and narrow (7)

Answer: STILTED (i.e. “awkward”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) followed by TILTED (i.e. “went off the straight and narrow”).

2. A French ass, say, mostly loud and clear (11)

Answer: UNEQUIVOCAL (i.e. “clear”). Solution is UN (i.e. “a French”, as in the French for “a”) followed by EQUI (i.e. “ass, say, mostly”, i.e. the word “equid” – which describes horses, zebras and asses – with the final letter removed) and VOCAL (i.e. “loud”).

3. Reader’s issue with English agreed by school (9)

Answer: EYESTRAIN (i.e. “reader’s issue”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by YES (i.e. “agreed”) and TRAIN (i.e. to “school” someone).

4. Unnatural profit, in a way, with vodka and beer (7,3,5)

Answer: AGAINST THE GRAIN (i.e. “unnatural”). Solution is A GAIN (i.e. “profit”) followed by ST (i.e. “a way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”) and THE GRAIN (i.e. “vodka and beer” I guess).

6. No republican initially changing sides? He won’t (8)

Answer: LOYALIST. Solution is ROYALIST (i.e. “no republican”) with the first letter R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) switched for L (ditto “left”) i.e. “initially changing sides”. In the context of the clue, a loyalist is someone who won’t change sides.

7. Blooming head of theatre and choir take off (5,9)

Answer: GLOBE ARTICHOKE (i.e. “blossoming head”). Solution is GLOBE (i.e. the famous Shakespearean “theatre” in London) followed by an anagram (indicated by “off”) of CHOIR TAKE.

8. It helps musician to grin, with funk playing (6,4)

Answer: TUNING FORK (i.e. “it helps musician”). “Playing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO GRIN and FUNK.

9. Entitle army corps to pull back holding detainee (7)

Answer: EMPOWER (i.e. “entitle”). Solution is REME (i.e. “army corps”, specifically the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) reversed (i.e. “pulled back”) and then “holding” POW (i.e. “detainee”), like so: EM(POW)ER.

10. Note what’s up in the papers? (5)

Answer: SHEAF (i.e. “papers”). Solution is FA (i.e. “note”, as in the do-ray-me scale) and EHS (i.e. “what’s”, as in “eh, what was that?”) all reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue), like so: SHE-AF.

11. Frank, mostly sensible, is running (11)

Answer: OPERATIONAL (i.e. “is running”). Solution is OPE (i.e. “frank, mostly”, i.e. the word “open” with the last letter removed) followed by RATIONAL (i.e. “sensible”).

12. Pretty female making an impression (8)

Answer: FETCHING (i.e. “pretty”). Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “female” followed by ETCHING (i.e. “making an impression”).

13. Go crazy, in a spin (4)

Answer: STAB (as in to have an attempt, or a “go”, at something). Solution is BATS (i.e. “crazy”) reversed (i.e. “in a spin”).

20. Castigate attempt at humour, to a degree (6)

Answer: PUNISH. Solution satisfies “castigate” and “attempt at humour, to a degree” i.e. not quite a pun.

21. Go off northwards after car, I hear (7)

Answer: AUDITOR (i.e. “I hear”, as opposed to the ever-increasing number of firms found to be skilled at overlooking corporate financial mismanagement and white-collar crime). Solution is ROT (i.e. “go off”) reversed (indicated by “northwards” – this being a down clue) and placed after AUDI (i.e. “car”) like so: AUDI-TOR.

22. I’m not interested in female item of clothing (2,4)

Answer: SO WHAT (i.e. “I’m not interested”). Solution is SOW (i.e. “female”) and HAT (i.e. “item of clothing”).

24. Maybe what could make inventor pour ale (8,7)

Answer: RELATIVE PRONOUN, which, I guess, is the word “what” in the clue (i.e. “Maybe what”). “Could make” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of INVENTOR POUR ALE.

26. Inclusive approach gets old man aboard Britain’s new vessel (14)

Answer: BIPARTISANSHIP (i.e. “inclusive approach”). Solution is PA (i.e. “old man”) placed “aboard” an anagram (indicated by “new”) of BRITAINS and followed by SHIP (i.e. “vessel”), like so: BI(PA)RTISAN-SHIP.

27. Children’s writer’s block has no end (6)

Answer: [J. M.] BARRIE, author of Peter Pan (i.e. “children’s writer”). Solution is BARRIER (i.e. “block”) with “no end”, i.e. the last letter removed.

29. Throw up, at first, on new drug (7)

Answer: UNHORSE (i.e. “throw”). Solution is U (i.e. “up, at first”, i.e. the first letter of the word “up”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and HORSE (i.e. “drug”, specifically a slang word for heroin).

31. Goddess, we’re told, is like a carrier of blood (6)

Answer: VENOUS. Solution satisfies both “goddess, we’re told” – i.e. a homophone of “Venus” – and “like a carrier of blood”. Think of intravenous drips in hospitals.

33. One learner guided around in class is ignorant (3-8)

Answer: ILL-INFORMED (i.e. “ignorant”). Solution is I (i.e. Roman numeral “one”) then L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) and LED (i.e. “guided”) placed “around” IN FORM (i.e. “in class”), like so: I-L-L(IN-FORM)ED.

35. Loveless letters penned by thick aristocrat (11)

Answer: VISCOUNTESS (i.e. “aristocrat”). Solution is NOTES (i.e. “letters”) with the O removed (i.e. “loveless” – “love” being a zero score in tennis) and placed in VISCOUS (i.e. “thick”), like so: VISCOU(NTES)S.

36. Pragmatic criminal in court takes fellow in (10)

Answer: UNROMANTIC (i.e. “pragmatic”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of IN COURT “taking in” MAN (i.e. “fellow”), like so: UNRO(MAN)TIC.

40. Echo behind cattle car (9)

Answer: LIMOUSINE (i.e. “car”). Solution is E (“echo” in the phonetic alphabet) placed “behind” LIMOUSIN (a breed of “cattle”), like so: LIMOUSIN-E.

41. Kind of leaves a prison in this way (8)

Answer: ACANTHUS (i.e. “kind of leaves”). Solution is A CAN (i.e. “a prison”) followed by THUS (i.e. “in this way”).

42. Responding with original, moving chapter (8)

Answer: REACTIVE (i.e. “responding”). Solution is CREATIVE (i.e. “original”) with C moved down a couple of notches (i.e. “moving chapter” – C being a recognised abbreviation of “chapter”).

44. Not dressed in rubbish fabric (7)

Answer: TABARET (i.e. “fabric”). Solution is BARE (i.e. “not dressed”) placed “in” TAT (i.e. “rubbish”), like so: TA(BARE)T. I admit I got this one purely by the wordplay.

46. Two versions of small figure to placate (7)

Answer: SWEETEN (i.e. “to placate”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small” used in clothing) and WEE (giving us “two versions of small”) followed by TEN (i.e. “figure”).

48. Eats meal briefly, in rush (5)

Answer: HASTE (i.e. “in rush”). Solution is HAS TEA (i.e. “eats”) with the final letter removed from “tea” (indicated by “briefly”).

50. Regularly in toupee? You must be joking (4)

Answer: NOPE (i.e. “you must be joking”). “Regularly” suggests the solution is derived by taking every other letter of IN TOUPEE.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1363

Here’s my solution to last Saturday’s puzzle, along with explanations where I have them. This was another to file under “Not A Classic”, especially if my mood by the end of the puzzle was any judge. Then again, I have been a right grumpy sod these last few weeks…

Anyway, on with the solution:

Across clues

1. Very bad – being sanctioned, losing head (5)

Answer: AWFUL (i.e. “very bad”). Solution is LAWFUL (i.e. “sanctioned”) with the first letter removed (i.e. “losing head”).

4. Caught in withdrawal with English soldiers – time for agitation (10)

Answer: EXCITEMENT (i.e. “agitation”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in cricket) placed “in” EXIT (i.e. “withdrawal”) and then followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), MEN (i.e. “soldiers”) and T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: EX(C)IT-E-MEN-T.

9. Think about new name for herb (6)

Answer: FENNEL (i.e. “herb”). Solution is FEEL (i.e. “think”) placed “about” N and N (both recognised abbreviations of “new” and “name”), like so: FE(N-N)EL.

14. Only crag around that’s home to fine raptor (9)

Answer: GYRFALCON, a bird of prey (i.e. “raptor”). Did a Google Image search – oooh, pretty. Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine” used when grading pencils) placed in an anagram (indicated by “around”) of ONLY CRAG, like so: GYR(F)ALCON.

15. Remarkably ungodly Titans must be destroyed (13)

Answer: OUTSTANDINGLY (i.e. “remarkably”). “Must be destroyed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of UNGODLY TITANS. This took me longer than it should as I couldn’t look past “astoundingly” even though I knew it didn’t have enough Ts. Stoopid brain.

16. Press function that’s very crowded (7)

Answer: SQUEEZE. Okay, here’s the first solution I’m not 100% sure about, so watch out. I’m going for “squeeze” being another word for “press”, but the rest of the clue has me flummoxed. Moving on with my life…

17. Tangle of limbs – frogs slip, now shedding skins (9)

Answer: IMBROGLIO (i.e. “tangle”). “Shedding skins” suggests we remove the first and last letters of the words LIMBS, FROGS, SLIP and NOW.

18. Woodworker hasn’t to criticise log (5)

Answer: ENTER (i.e. to “log”). Solution is CARPENTER (i.e. “woodworker”) with CARP removed (i.e. “hasn’t to criticise”).

19. Influence of Austen novel not working? See “Sense” rewritten (14)

Answer: PERSUASIVENESS (i.e. “influence”). A bit of a stinker this. Solution is PERSUASION (i.e. “Austen novel”) with ON removed (i.e. “not working”), then followed by V (i.e. “see” – V is a recognised abbreviation of “vide”, which is Latin for “see”… I know, I know…) and an anagram (indicated by “rewritten”) of SENSE, like so: PERSUASI-V-ENESS. Sheesh!

22. Spotted millions too much under control (7)

Answer: MOTTLED (i.e. “spotted”). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “millions”) followed by OTT (i.e. “too much”, or Over The Top – which, coincidentally, was the first film I saw at the cinema. Don’t judge me; we had the choice of either that or Mannequin) and LED (i.e. “under control”).

25. Make new assessment concerning girl dead after eating uranium (2-8)

Answer: RE-EVALUATE (i.e. “make new assessment”). Solution is RE (i.e. “concerning”) followed by VAL (i.e. “girl”) and LATE (i.e. “dead”) wrapped around, or “eating”, U (chemical symbol of “uranium”) like so: RE-EVA-L(U)ATE.

27. After stone’s removed, red guy perhaps is infectious (12)

Answer: COMMUNICABLE (i.e. “infectious”). Solution is COMMUNIST (i.e. “red”) with ST removed (i.e. “after stone’s removed”) and then followed by CABLE (i.e. a “guy”), like so: COMMUNI-CABLE.

30. Importance of manservant being reduced outside upper class (5)

Answer: VALUE (i.e. “importance”). Solution is VALET (i.e. “manservant”) with the final letter removed (i.e. “reduced”) and remainder placed around U (a recognised abbreviation used to denote the “upper class”), like so: VAL(U)E.

31. Wizard’s more angry about church resistance (8)

Answer: SORCERER (i.e. “wizard”). Solution is SORER (i.e. “more angry”) placed “about” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England) and R (a recognised abbreviation for electrical “resistance”), like so: SOR(CE-R)ER.

32. Battle’s appeal perhaps is a test of strength (3-2-3)

Answer: TUG-OF-WAR. Solution satisfies both “battle’s appeal” and “test of strength”.

35. Generosity of Ayrshire town about English home Counties (8)

Answer: LARGESSE (i.e. “generosity”). Solution is LARGS (i.e. “Ayrshire town” – not one I’m familiar with, if I’m honest) placed “about” E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and followed by SE (i.e. “home Counties”, or, generally, the South East), like so: LARG(E)SSE.

36. Keeping French company in hand with a big Spanish house (8)

Answer: HACIENDA (i.e. “big Spanish house”). Solution is CIE (i.e. “French company” – while we abbreviate “company” to “co.”, the French abbreviate “compagnie” to “cie”, so now you know) being “kept” in HAND and then followed by A, like so: HA(CIE)ND-A.

37. Show contempt for society and banal sentimentality (5)

Answer: SCORN (i.e. “show contempt”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “society”) followed by CORN (i.e. “banal sentimentality”).

39. Magnanimous in one’s real nature, beset by selfish desire (5-7)

Answer: GREAT-HEARTED (i.e. “magnanimous”). Solution is AT HEART (i.e. “one’s real nature”) “beset by” GREED (i.e. “selfish desire”), like so: GRE(AT HEART)ED.

41. Energy in river gets less after its start, characteristic of the plain (10)

Answer: SEVERENESS (i.e. “characteristic of the plain”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) placed “in” SEVERN (i.e. “river”) and followed by ESS (i.e. “less after it’s start”, i.e. the letters following the initial letter of the word “less”), like so: SEVER(E)N-ESS.

43. Former role in Goethe, hard for female to get everything out of (7)

Answer: EXHAUST (i.e. “to get everything out of”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) followed by HAUST (i.e. “role in Goethe, hard for female”, i.e. “Faust” with F replaced by H, both being recognised abbreviations of “female” and “hard” respectively).

45. Making up earlier public relations lie about ecstasy (14)

Answer: PREFABRICATION (i.e. “making up earlier”). Solution is PR (short for “public relations”) and FABRICATION (i.e. “lie”) placed “about” E (being a recognised abbreviation of “ecstasy”), like so: PR-(E)-FABRICATION.

48. Husband’s in French resort area with specialised group (5)

Answer: NICHE (i.e. “specialised group”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) placed “in” NICE (i.e. “French resort”), like so: NIC(H)E.

49. Horseman heard to pine from day to day? (9)

Answer: NIGHTLONG. Solution satisfies both “horseman heard” – suggesting a homophone of “knight” – “to pine” i.e. long, and “from” i.e. between “day to day”. A curious omission from my Chambers, this one.

51. Some wire electrician put in again (2-5)

Answer: RE-ELECT (i.e. “put in again”). “Some” suggests the solution is hidden within the clue, like so: WI(RE ELECT)RICIAN.

53. Elegant literature allowed in ghastly best seller? (6-7)

Answer: BELLES LETTRES (i.e. “elegant literature” – probably not something you’d find on my bookshelves). Solution is LET (i.e. “allowed”) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “ghastly”) of “best seller”, like so: BELLES (LET)TRES.

54. It went with the need to recompose at the end of a score (9)

Answer: TWENTIETH (i.e. “at the end of a score”). “Recompose” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IT WENT and THE.

55. Youthful bachelor, rather bashful, avoiding clubs (6)

Answer: BOYISH (i.e. “youthful”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “bachelor”) followed by OYISH (i.e. “rather bashful, avoiding clubs”, i.e. the word “coyish” with the letter C (a recognised abbreviation of “clubs” used in card games) removed), like so: B-OYISH.

56. Barbican may defend this sketch by English composer (10)

Answer: DRAWBRIDGE (i.e. “Barbican may defend this” – a barbican is a fortified outpost). Solution is DRAW (i.e. “sketch”) followed by Frank BRIDGE (i.e. “English composer”).

57. One who travels up Amazon, say, but velocity’s small (5)

Answer: RISER (i.e. “one who travels up”). Solution is RIVER (i.e. “Amazon, say”) with V (a recognised abbreviation of “velocity”) replaced by S (ditto “small”).

Down clues

1. Gold rush in the air for part of the summer (6)

Answer: AUGUST (i.e. “part of the summer”). Solution is AU (chemical symbol of “gold”) followed by GUST (i.e. “rush in the air”).

2. Bank employee follows mint guide to future developments (7,6)

Answer: FORTUNE TELLER (i.e. “guide to future developments”). Solution is TELLER (i.e. “bank employee”) “following” FORTUNE (i.e. “mint”).

3. Pull out a lot of pages (5)

Answer: LEAVE. And here’s the next solution I’m not 100% on, so, again, be careful here. I’m going for “leave” being another word for “pull out”, but, frankly the setter has left me stone cold after that.

4. Excellent rate when moving waste (7)

Answer: EXCRETA (i.e. “waste”). Solution is EXC (a recognised abbreviation of “excellent”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “when moving”) of RATE, like so: EXC-RETA.

5. Shout about arranged coalition bringing parties together (12)

Answer: CONCILIATORY (i.e. “bringing parties together”). Solution is CRY (i.e. “shout”) placed “about” an anagram (indicated by “arranged”) of COALITION, like so: C(ONCILIATO)RY.

6. Worried nearly all fish escaped into surrounding area (8)

Answer: TROUBLED (i.e. “worried”). Solution is TROUT with the final letter removed (i.e. “nearly all fish”) followed by BLED (i.e. “escape into surrounding area”).

7. Sailor losing pounds eating unknown biscuit (5)

Answer: MATZO, a Jewish unleavened flatbread eaten during Passover (i.e. “biscuit” – albeit veeeeery loosely). Solution is MATLO (a slang word for “sailor” I wasn’t familiar with) with L removed (i.e. “losing pounds”, L being a recognised abbreviation of “pounds”) and the remainder “eating” Z (i.e. “unknown” – setters love using this to represent the letters X, Y or Z), like so: MAT(Z)O.

8. Ordering of ten omelets is annoying (10)

Answer: NETTLESOME (i.e. “annoying” – a bit like some of the clues in this puzzle). “Ordering of” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEN OMELETS.

10. Demanding information during flight? (7)

Answer: EXIGENT (i.e. urgent, pressing, or “demanding”). Solution is GEN (i.e. “information”) placed “during” EXIT (i.e. “flight”) like so: EXI(GEN)T. Nice word. I suspect I’ll see it several times over the coming weeks.

11. Almost one hundred and fifty in boat’s cabaret (9)

Answer: NIGHTCLUB (i.e. “cabaret”). Solution is NIGH (i.e. “almost”) followed by TUB (i.e. “boat”) wrapped around CL (Roman numerals for “one hundred and fifty”), like so: NIGH-T(CL)UB.

12. Killer beheaded hen (5)

Answer: LAYER (i.e. “hen”). Solution is SLAYER (i.e. “killer”) with its first letter removed (i.e. “beheaded”).

13. Insane commuter upset out of all proportion (14)

Answer: INCOMMENSURATE (i.e. “out of all proportion”). “Upset” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of INSANE COMMUTER.

20. Announcement broadcast about gallery being given millions (9)

Answer: STATEMENT (i.e. “announcement”). Solution is SENT (i.e. “broadcast”) placed “about” TATE (i.e. “gallery”) and M (a recognised abbreviation of “millions”), like so: S(TATE-M)ENT.

21. Note: habitual drunkard chap is known to a few (8)

Answer: ESOTERIC (i.e. “known [only] to a few”). Solution is E (i.e. a musical “note”) followed by SOT (i.e. “habitual drunkard”) and ERIC (i.e. “chap”).

23. Eats last of meals outside back in gloom (10)

Answer: DREARINESS (i.e. “gloom”). Solution is DINES (i.e. “eats”) and S (i.e. “last of meals”, i.e. the last letter of the word “meals”) placed “outside” of REAR (i.e. “back”), like so: D(REAR)INES-S.

24. Composer with work mounted in Tuesday’s programme (10)

Answer: TRAVELOGUE (i.e. “programme”). Solution is RAVEL (i.e. “composer” – him what done “Bolero”, like) and OG (i.e. “work mounted”, i.e. the word “go” reversed) all placed in TUE (short for “Tuesday”), like so: T(RAVEL-OG)UE.

26. Naively unsure, but not about small muscle smarting (14)

Answer: UNSUSPECTINGLY (i.e. “naively unsure”). Solution is UNSURE with RE removed (i.e. “but not about”, RE being often used to denote “about” or “regarding”), followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”), PEC (i.e. “muscle”) and TINGLY (i.e. “smarting”), like so: UNSU-S-PEC-TINGLY.

28. What will support some fliers showing signs of ageing (5-4)

Answer: CROWS FEET. Solution satisfies both “what will support some fliers” and “signs of ageing”.

29. Everyone initially pursuing beer in pins in contract wording? (8)

Answer: LEGALESE (i.e. “contract wording”). Solution is LEGS (i.e. “pins”) placed around ALE (i.e. “beer”) and followed by E (i.e. “everyone initially”, i.e. the first letter of the word “everyone”), like so: LEG(ALE)S-E.

33. Unity keeps a number in good condition (13)

Answer: WHOLESOMENESS (i.e. “in good condition”). Solution is WHOLENESS (i.e. “unity”) “keeping” SOME (i.e. “a number”) like so: WHOLE(SOME)NESS.

34. Teenage drugs circulating in one group (12)

Answer: UNSEGREGATED (i.e. “in one group”). “Circulating” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEENAGE DRUGS.

38. Hold up a reptile – one giving birth? (10)

Answer: PROPAGATOR (i.e. “one giving birth”). Solution is PROP (i.e. “hold up”) followed by A GATOR (i.e. “a reptile”).

40. Properly European count seen around this in Rome? (9)

Answer: ETHICALLY (i.e. “properly”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) followed by TALLY (i.e. “count”) wrapped “around” HIC (i.e. “this in Rome” – the Latin for “this” is “hic”), like so: E-T(HIC)ALLY.

42. Driver having to go round old noisy drinker (8)

Answer: CAROUSER (i.e. “noisy drinker”). Solution is CAR USER (i.e. “driver”) placed “round” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), like so: CAR-(O)-USER.

44. Having no home, the first two thrown out will be idle (7)

Answer: USELESS (i.e. “idle”). Solution is HOUSELESS (i.e. “having no home”) with the “first two [letters] thrown out”.

46. Obtain returns in main train (7)

Answer: CORTEGE (i.e. “train”). Solution is GET (i.e. “obtains”) reversed (i.e. “returns”) and placed “in” CORE (i.e. “main”), like so: COR(TEG)E.

47. And expensive in Paris for one who’s eating out (6)

Answer: ETCHER (i.e. “one who’s eating out” material with acid). Solution is ET CHER (i.e. “and expensive in Paris”, i.e. the French for “and” and “dear”).

48. Nick? He died an important person (5)

Answer: NABOB (i.e. “an important person”). Solution is NAB (i.e. “nick”) followed by OB (a recognised abbreviation of the Latin word “obiter”, meaning “died”).

50. Cast line after tench, missing those in the middle (5)

Answer: THROW (i.e. “cast”). Solution is ROW (i.e. “line”) placed “after” TH (i.e. “tench, missing those in the middle”, i.e. the word “tench” with the middle letters removed), like so: TH-ROW.

52. County town demolishing church compound (5)

Answer: ESTER (i.e. “compound”). Solution is CHESTER (i.e. “county town”) with CH removed (i.e. “demolishing church”, CH being a recognised abbreviation of “church”).

One more to go and we’ll be up to speed.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1362

Okay, a some more solutions before we get onto slightly more interesting stuff. This is the Times Jumbo Cryptic from a couple of weeks ago. I’d have posted this sooner but Real Life had the temerity to encroach on this little fantasy corner of mine, how dare it.

This wasn’t a classic puzzle for my money. Both this puzzle and the next had a handful of clues where the setter went to extraordinary lengths to obfuscate a solution in the wordplay even when it was pretty obvious what the solution was going to be. You’ll see what I mean.

Across clues

1. Backed pound like this economist (7)

Answer: Thomas Robert MALTHUS, a nineteenth century British economist. No, me neither. Solution is LAM (i.e. to “pound”) reversed (i.e. “backed”) and followed by THUS (i.e. “like this”), like so: MAL-THUS.

5. Group of Scouts put on uniform for assembly (4-4)

Answer: FLAT-PACK (i.e. “for assembly”). Solution is PACK (i.e. “group of Scouts”) with FLAT (i.e. “uniform”) placed before it (i.e. “put on”).

9. Stay in contention with endlessly enthusiastic whippersnapper (4,2)

Answer: KEEP UP (i.e. “stay in contention”). Solution is KEE (i.e. “endlessly enthusiastic”, i.e. the word “keen” with the final letter removed) followed by PUP (i.e. “whippersnapper”).

13. Unfairly achieve desired results on woodwork placement scheme? (4,3,9)

Answer: MOVE THE GOALPOSTS. Solution satisfies both “unfairly achieve desired results” and “woodwork placement scheme”.

14. Skimpy costume a greatcoat conceals (6)

Answer: MEAGRE (i.e. “skimpy”). “Conceals” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: COSTU(ME A GRE)ATCOAT.

16. Broadcast for church service (3,5)

Answer: AIR FORCE (i.e. “service”). Solution is AIR (i.e. “broadcast”) followed by FOR and then CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England).

17. Points for attention if holding company changes direction (4)

Answer: FOCI (i.e. “points for attention”). Solution is IF “holding” CO (i.e. “company”) and then the whole lot reversed (i.e. “changes direction”), like so: F(OC)I.

18. What’s techy up to, struggling to input data quickly? (5-4)

Answer: TOUCH-TYPE (i.e. “to input data quickly”). “Struggling” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TECHY UP TO.

20. Capital street parking wholly in front of shopping centre (4,4)

Answer: PALL MALL (i.e. “capital street”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “parking” used in signage) then ALL (i.e. “wholly”) then MALL (i.e. “shopping centre”).

21. Chance event in which criminal traps one lot of detectives and headless coppers (11)

Answer: COINCIDENCE (i.e. “chance event”). Solution is CON (i.e. “criminal”) wrapped around (i.e. “traps”) I (the Roman numeral “one”), which is then followed by CID (i.e. “lot of detectives”) and ENCE (i.e. “headless coppers”, i.e. the word “pence” with the initial letter removed), like so: CO(I)N-CID-ENCE.

24. A universal god: that nameless thing with unknown power (9)

Answer: AUTHORITY (i.e. “power”). Solution is A then U (a recognised abbreviation of “universal”) then THOR (i.e. a “god”) then IT (i.e. “that nameless thing”) then Y (i.e. “unknown” – setters love using this to denote X, Y or Z in a solution), like so: A-U-THOR-IT-Y.

25. Deacon is excited to become a bishop (8)

Answer: DIOCESAN (i.e. “a bishop”). “Is excited” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DEACON IS.

26. Urge that man to chase wife (4)

Answer: WHIM (i.e. “urge”). Solution is HIM (i.e. “that man”) “chasing” after W (a recognised abbreviation of “wife”), like so: W-HIM.

29. Film Queen Elizabeth II? (7,4)

Answer: LEADING LADY. My take on this is that the solution satisfies both “film Queen” and “Elizabeth II”. If there’s a classic film out there with that title, however, then I guess I’m wrong.

31. Pass round semi cooked goose (6,5)

Answer: SIMPLE SIMON. I’m guessing the setter here means “goose” to be “a stupid, silly person” as opposed to a playground game or nursery rhyme. Either way this is a weak clue. Solution is SIMPLON (i.e. a Swiss “pass” – well, we had the Saint Bernard Pass a couple of weeks ago, why not another one?) placed “round” an anagram (indicated by “cooked”) of SEMI, like so: SIMPL(ESIM)ON.

33. Let out advance payment to shrink (11)

Answer: SUBCONTRACT (i.e. “let out”). Solution is SUB (i.e. “advance payment”) followed by CONTRACT (i.e. “to shrink”).

36. Heard course of travel cut short, not having a spanner under one’s car? (11)

Answer: WEIGHBRIDGE (i.e. “spanner” – as in something that spans two points – “under one’s car”). Solution is WEIGH (i.e. “heard course of travel”, i.e. a homophone of the word “way”) followed by BRIDGE (i.e. “cut short, not having a”, i.e. the word “abridge” without the a).

38. Monster? Er… Run in the opposite direction! (4)

Answer: OGRE (i.e. “monster”). Solution is ER and GO (i.e. “run”) both reversed (i.e. “in the opposite direction”), like so: OG-RE.

39. Audible row avoided: a source of visible upset (4,4)

Answer: TEAR DUCT (i.e. “a source of visible upset”). Solution is two homophones: TEAR for tier (i.e. “row”), and DUCT for ducked (i.e. “avoided”).

41. Joiner placing typical suburban house by cut-off settlement (9)

Answer: SEMICOLON (i.e. “joiner”). Solution is SEMI (i.e. “typical suburban house”) placed “by” COLON (i.e. “cut-off settlement”, i.e. the word “colony” with the last letter removed).

44. Police fine deceitful son brought to court (6,5)

Answer: FLYING SQUAD (i.e. “police”). Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine” used in grading pencils) followed by LYING (i.e. “deceitful”) then S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) and QUAD (i.e. “court”).

45. Encourage users with ear twists (8)

Answer: REASSURE (i.e. “encourage”). “Twists” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of USERS and EAR.

48. Old king’s private, large hotel for taking in Olympics? (9)

Answer: GILGAMESH, a historical king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, it says here (i.e. “old king”). Solution is GI (i.e. a US “private” in the army) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) and H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet) “taking in” GAMES (i.e. “Olympics”), like so: GI-L-(GAMES)-H.

49. WC Field’s first turns as comedian (4)

Answer: FOOL (i.e. “comedian”). Solution is LOO (i.e. “WC” or water closet) followed by F (i.e. “Field’s first”, i.e. the first letter of “Field”) and then the whole lot reversed (i.e. “turns”), like so: F-OOL.

50. Potentially dangerous competition that sounds like a charity fun run! (4,4)

Answer: ARMS RACE. Solution satisfies both “potentially dangerous competition” and “sounds like a charity fun run”, which riffs on ARMS being a homophone of “alms”.

52. Woman’s pro-European statement? (6)

Answer: EUNICE (i.e. “woman” – again, I’m never keen on forenames being used as solutions; it smacks a little of desperation from the setter). Solution is EU NICE, i.e. a “pro-European statement”.

53. Smash hit at concert hall to arrive at club (8,8)

Answer: CHARLTON ATHLETIC (i.e. a football “club”). “Smash” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HIT AT CONCERT HALL.

54. Now end is in sight for inequality at last (6)

Answer: TRENDY (i.e. “now”). Solution is END placed “in” the final letters (indicated by “at last”) of “sighT foR inequalitY“, like so: TR(END)Y.

55. Inactivity that may follow love-in (8)

Answer: IDLENESS (i.e. “inactivity”). A late get for me despite having the solution ages ago. After a quick “I wonder…” moment in Google, it turns out “Love In Idleness” was a play by Terence Rattigan. Who knew? (Doesn’t raise hand.)

56. A little laughter observed about bishop in yesterday’s news (3-4)

Answer: HAS-BEEN (i.e. “yesterday’s news”). Solution is HA (i.e. “a little laughter”) followed by SEEN (i.e. “observed”) placed “about” B (a recognised abbreviation of “bishop”), like so: HA-S(B)EEN.

Down clues

1. Mark a short distance in front of a large animal (6)

Answer: MAMMAL (i.e. “animal”). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “mark”, being Germany’s former currency) then A then MM (i.e. “a short distance”) “in front of” A and then L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”).

2. After lie, briefly show true colours (6)

Answer: LIVERY (i.e. “colours”). Solution is LI (i.e. “lie, briefly”, i.e. the word “lie” with the last letter removed) then VERY (i.e. “true”).

3. Stew over answer to a contentious question (3,6)

Answer: HOT POTATO. Solution riffs on how “a contentious question” is often called a “hot potato”, and how you might find a hot potato in a stew. You get the idea.

4. Drawing with help from supporter, keeping client involved (11)

Answer: STENCILLING (i.e. “drawing with help”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “involved”) of CLIENT placed in (indicated by “keeping”) SLING (i.e. “supporter”), like so: S(TENCIL)LING.

5. Regularly fall over some ice (4)

Answer: FLOE (i.e. “some ice”). “Regularly” suggests we remove every other letter from FALL OVER.

6. Feast loudly with salsa dancing (3,5,3)

Answer: ALL SOULS DAY (i.e. “feast”). “Dancing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LOUDLY and SALSA.

7. In favour of miscellaneous couple going topless with me and others? (11)

Answer: PROMISCUOUS (i.e. “going…with me and others”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “in favour of”) then MISC (short for “miscellaneous”) then UO (i.e. “couple going topless”, i.e. the word “duo” with the first letter removed) then US (i.e. “me and others”), like so: PRO-MISC-UO-US.

8. Arrive in the nick of time and make the grade all right! (3,2,4)

Answer: CUT IT FINE. Solution satisfies both “arrive in the nick of time” and “make the grade” – i.e. “cut it” – “all right!” i.e. “fine!”.

10. Europeans holding positive vote retained something like CAP (8)

Answer: EYESHADE (i.e. “something like [a] cap” – nothing to do with the Common Agriculture Policy). Solution is E and E (a recognised abbreviation for “European” x 2) “holding” YES (i.e. “positive vote”) and HAD (i.e. “retained”), like so: E-(YES-HAD)-E.

11. Children’s game that may hint at golf? (5,2,3,6)

Answer: PIGGY IN THE MIDDLE. Solution satisfies both “children’s game” and “that may hint at golf” – i.e. how G (or “golf” in the phonetic alphabet) is in the middle of the word “piggy”.

12. Pave the way for power with revolutionary decree (7)

Answer: PRECEDE (i.e. “pave the way”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “revolutionary”) of DECREE, like so: P-RECEDE.

15. Caught in fight after turning up for boozy event (3,5)

Answer: PUB CRAWL (i.e. “boozy event”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in cricket) placed in BRAWL (i.e. “fight”) and placed “after” PU (i.e. “turning up”, i.e. the word “up” reversed – this being a down clue), like so: PU-B(C)RAWL.

19. Top year rearing horse, the largest animal of its kind (8)

Answer: CAPYBARA, the largest living rodent (i.e. “the largest animal of its kind”). Solution is CAP (i.e. “top”) then Y (a recognised abbreviation of “year”) and then BARA (i.e. “rearing horse”, i.e. the word “Arab” – a breed of horse – reversed, this being a down clue), like so: CAP-Y-BARA.

22. Two different rings encircling first moon of Jupiter (8)

Answer: CALLISTO (i.e. “moon of Jupiter” – definitely one I don’t regret looking up as there are approximately 400 billion moons of Jupiter). Solution is CALL and O (i.e. “two different rings”, one being a phone call, the other being the letter O, which looks like a ring, albeit a rather ovular one) “encircling” IST (i.e. “first”, riffing on how I looks like a 1), like so: CALL-(IST)-O.

23. Red-light woman? (10,6)

Answer: STRAWBERRY BLONDE, someone with reddish-yellow hair, i.e. a “red-light woman”. Moving on…

27. Artist to become held up by unexpected gift (8)

Answer: Andrea MANTEGNA, an Italian Renaissance “artist” – and very good he was too, check him out. Solution is MANNA (i.e. “unexpected gift”) wrapped around (or “holding”) TEG (i.e. “to become…up”, i.e. the word “get” reversed, this being a down clue), like so: MAN(TEG)NA.

28. Powerful leader celebrity’s half upset (4)

Answer: TSAR (i.e. “powerful leader”). Solution is STAR (i.e. “celebrity”) with the first “half upset”, i.e. reverse the first two letters.

30. Forge bars or girders, primarily, yielding this metal in different form? (4)

Answer: IRON. This is a guess as I have no idea what the setter is up to here. I mean literally none. Still, it’s fairly obvious that the solution is a metal, and, given the letters I_O_, there’s only one that fits the bill. So why did the setter go to such lengths to hide this in all that waffle?

32. Piece of rigging from sea holiday? (8)

Answer: MAINSTAY. Solution satisfies both “piece of rigging” and “sea” – often taken to mean “main” in cryptic crosswords – “holiday”.

34. Series of trees (3,5)

Answer: THE ASHES. Solution satisfies both “series” – specifically The Ashes test series in cricket – and “trees”.

35. Great success due to Republican’s New Model Army (4,2,5)

Answer: TOUR DE FORCE (i.e. “great success”). Solution is an anagram (hinted by “new model”, I guess) of DUE TO and R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”) followed by FORCE (i.e. “army”), like so: TOURDE-FORCE.

36. Canteen dining attendant clearing out last of scampi with courage (5,6)

Answer: WATER BOTTLE (i.e. “canteen”). Solution is WAITER (i.e. “dining attendant”) with I removed (i.e. “clearing out last of scampi”, I being the last letter of the word “scampi”) followed by BOTTLE (i.e. “courage”).

37. Presenter entertaining me with gag in the final stage (4,7)

Answer: HOME STRETCH (i.e. “the final stage”). Solution is HOST (i.e. “presenter”) “entertaining” ME and then followed by RETCH (i.e. “gag”), like so: HO(ME)ST-RETCH.

40. I don’t like that second husband coming in back door in nonslip footwear (9)

Answer: ROUGHSHOD (i.e. “in nonslip footwear”). Solution is UGH (i.e. “I don’t like that”) followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) then H (ditto “husband”) all placed in ROOD (i.e. “back door”, i.e. the word “door” reversed), like so: RO(UGH-S-H)OD.

42. Kit’s packaging lays prepared for future skipper, perhaps (9)

Answer: CHRYSALIS (i.e. “future skipper, perhaps” – a skipper is a variety of butterfly). Solution is CHRIS (a variation of the name “Kit”) “packaging” an anagram (indicated by “prepared”) of LAYS, like so: CHR(YSAL)IS.

43. Improved aim, seizing opportunity after dismissing opener (8)

Answer: ENHANCED (i.e. “improved”). Solution is END (i.e. “aim”) “seizing” HANCE (i.e. “opportunity after dismissing opener”, i.e. the word “chance” with the initial letter removed), like so: EN(HANCE)D.

44. Fancy a fruit Tango opened by servants (7)

Answer: FIGMENT, a fabrication or imagination, i.e. “fancy”. Solution is MEN (i.e. “servants”) “opening” FIG (i.e. “fruit”) and T (i.e. “Tango” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: FIG-(MEN)-T.

46. Fellow accepting National Trust’s role of responsibility (6)

Answer: MANTLE (i.e. “role of responsibility”). Solution is MALE (i.e. “fellow”) “accepting” NT (i.e. “National Trust”), like so: MA(NT)LE.

47. Live current activated signal (6)

Answer: BEACON (i.e. “signal”). Solution is BE (i.e. to “live”) followed by AC (i.e. “current”, specifically alternating current) and ON (i.e. “activated”).

51. Hotels in opposite directions (4)

Answer: INNS (i.e. “hotels”). Solution is IN followed by NS (i.e. “opposite directions” being North and South).

Right, onto the next one.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1361

Phew! Finally caught up! You turn your back for a couple of beers and these jumbo cryptics quickly mount up, don’t they? Anyway, here’s my completed grid for last Saturday’s puzzle, along with explanations where I have them.

Across clues

1. Close to the Dutch shore, not in any trouble (3,3,4)

Answer: OFF THE HOOK. Solution satisfies both “close to the Dutch shore” (i.e. off a small coastal town called The Hook of Holland) and “not in any trouble”.

6. Startling approach adopted by barber? (5,7)

Answer: SHOCK TACTICS (i.e. “startling approach”). Solution riffs on how “shock” is another word for “hair”.

14. Terrible months around zero Kelvin (7)

Answer: William THOMSON, 1st Baron “Kelvin”, physicist after whom the Kelvin scale was named. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “terrible”) of MONTHS placed “around” O (which resembles a “zero”), like so: TH(O)MSON.

15. May beauty defeat crowd circling around (7)

Answer: BLOSSOM (i.e. “May beauty”). Solution is LOSS (i.e. “defeat”) with MOB (i.e. “crowd”) reversed (indicated by “circling”) and placed “around” it, like so: B(LOSS)OM.

16. Concerned with walrus, revealing compassion (7)

Answer: REMORSE (i.e. “compassion”). Solution is RE (i.e. “concerned with”, i.e. an abbreviation of regarding) and MORSE (i.e. “walrus” – a new one on me. I wonder if Colin Dexter named his famed detective after one).

17. Able to hold glass at last, one’s ready for punch (4)

Answer: FIST (i.e. “one’s ready for punch”). Solution is FIT (i.e. “able”) “holding” S (i.e. “glass at last”, i.e. the last letter of the word “glass”), like so: FI(S)T.

18. Poor and simple, holding a grudge at the outset (6)

Answer: MEAGRE (i.e. “poor”). Solution is MERE (i.e. “simple”) “holding” A and G (i.e. “grudge at the outset”, i.e. the first letter of the word “grudge”), like so: ME(A-G)RE.

20. Going round meadows is unalloyed joy (8)

Answer: PLEASURE (i.e. “joy”). Solution is LEAS (i.e. “meadows”) with PURE (i.e. “unalloyed”) “going round” like so: P(LEAS)URE.

24. What’s needed, as pharmacist, when ill? That’s rough justice (1,5,2,4,3,8)

Answer: A TASTE OF ONE’S OWN MEDICINE. Solution satisfies both “what’s needed, as pharmacist, when ill” and “rough justice”.

25. Man on board ship needs so much water? (7)

Answer: DRAUGHT. Solution satisfies both “man on board” i.e. in a game of draughts or checkers, and “ship needs so much water” – the draught is the depth to which a ship sinks in the water, i.e. between the waterline and the bottom of the hull. So now you know.

26. In its turn it picks up loads regularly that trades, say, collect (8)

Answer: WINDLASS, which is a kind of hoist. This is one of those solutions I got without fully twigging what the setter had in mind, so beware. My solution is WINDS (i.e. “in its [windlass’s] turn”) “loading” LAS (i.e. “loads regularly”, i.e. every other letter of the word LOADS), like so: WIND(LAS)S. As for the rest of the clue… (shrugs shoulders).

27. In no hurry to give one away, it’s plain (6)

Answer: PATENT (i.e. “it’s plain”). Solution is PATIENT (i.e. “in no hurry”) with the I removed (i.e. “to give one away”).

29. Ample librarian reinvented as athletic star (5,9)

Answer: PRIMA BALLERINA (i.e. “athletic star”). “Reinvented” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AMPLE LIBRARIAN.

31. Wander round trench, half quivering (8)

Answer: ATREMBLE (i.e. “quivering”). Solution is AMBLE (i.e. “wander”) placed “round” TRE (i.e. “trench, half”, specifically the first half), like so: A(TRE)MBLE.

34. Was dragged along by dogs and killed for crying out (8)

Answer: SLEIGHED. Solution satisfies both “was dragged along by dogs” and “killed for crying out”, i.e. a homophone of “slayed”.

36. Penniless short journeys by public transport convenient for gentleman booked (8,6)

Answer: TRISTRAM SHANDY, the titular character of Laurence Sterne’s influential eighteenth century novel (i.e. “gentleman booked”). Solution is TRIPS minus the P (i.e. “penniless short journeys”) followed “by” TRAMS (i.e. “public transport”) and HANDY (i.e. “convenient”), like so: TRIS-TRAMS-HANDY.

39. Feeble Luddism a labourer embraces (6)

Answer: DISMAL (i.e. “feeble”). “Embraces” hints that the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: LUD(DISM A L)ABOURER.

41. Figure closely confined with endless pain (8)

Answer: PENTAGON (i.e. “figure”). Solution is PENT (i.e. “closely confined”) followed by AGON (i.e. “endless pain”, i.e. the word “agony” with the final letter removed).

43. In a way, keeping muscle in check (7)

Answer: INSPECT (i.e. “check”). Solution is IN followed by ST (i.e. “a way”, ST being a recognised abbreviation of “street”) “keeping” PEC (i.e. “muscle”), like so: IN-S(PEC)T.

46. Overreaching at law, estate lost – no one understood it (4,7,2,3,7)

Answer: TWAS CAVIARE TO THE GENERAL, a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet meaning a good thing unappreciated by the ignorant (i.e. “no one understood it”). “Lost” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OVERREACHING AT LAW ESTATE. Not being a massive fan of Shakespeare, this took me a while to decrypt.

47. Great circle is right one to split in the middle (8)

Answer: MERIDIAN, an imaginary “great circle” going through the poles of the Earth. Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) and I (i.e. the Roman numeral “one”) “splitting” MEDIAN (i.e. “in the middle”), like so: ME(R-I)DIAN.

48. Niggardly, parting with pound creates distress (6)

Answer: MISERY (i.e. “distress”). Solution is MISERLY (i.e. “niggardly”) with L removed (i.e. “parting with pound”, L being a recognised abbreviation of “pound”).

49. Dope back from the six counties (4)

Answer: INFO (i.e. “dope”). Solution is OF NI (i.e. “from the six counties” – the six counties being another name for Northern Ireland) reversed (indicated by “back”).

53. After sailor died, submariner’s return shows guts (7)

Answer: ABDOMEN (i.e. “guts”). Solution is AB (i.e. “sailor”, specifically Able Bodied) followed by D (a recognised abbreviation for “died”) and then OMEN (i.e. “submariner’s return”, i.e. Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’s Captain NEMO spelled backwards).

54. I despise small, cosy position (7)

Answer: SCORNER (i.e. “I despise”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by CORNER (i.e. “cosy position”).

56. As one in feud, I get stirred up (7)

Answer: UNIFIED (i.e. “as one”). “Get stirred up” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IN FEUD I.

57. Having been sent to prison, going down very angry (12)

Answer: INCANDESCENT (i.e. “very angry”). Solution is IN CAN (i.e. “having been sent to prison”) followed by DESCENT (i.e. “going down”).

58. Villain with the Midas touch? (10)

Answer: GOLDFINGER (i.e. “villain”). (Coughs.) Gollllllld-fingahhhhhhh (wah-waaa-wah) He’s the man, the man with the Midas touch… Best. Frasier. Scene. Ever.

Down clues

1. So get pet bird fed without delay? (3,2,4)

Answer: OUT OF HAND. Solution satisfies both “so get pet bird fed” and “without delay” – not a variant meaning I was familiar with, if I’m honest.

2. Cool about holding box by broken side? Content here is not secure (5,8)

Answer: FOOL’S PARADISE (i.e. feeling “content here is not secure”). Solution is ALOOF (i.e. “cool”) reversed (indicated by “about”) “holding” SPAR (i.e. to “box”… think Rocky) and then followed by an anagram (indicated by “broken”) of SIDE, like so: FOOL(SPAR)A-DISE. This was one of those solutions I’d had filled in lightly for ages before I finally twigged the wordplay. Well played.

3. What signifies a number to chop up (4)

Answer: HASH. Solution satisfies both “what signifies a number”, e.g. #1, and “to chop up”.

4. The only organised man calls round in southern town (6-2-6)

Answer: HENLEY-ON-THAMES (i.e. “southern town”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “organised”) of THE ONLY with HE NAMES (i.e. “man calls”) placed “round” it, like so: HE-N(LEYONTH)AMES.

5. Eye monk up (3)

Answer: ORB (i.e. “eye”). Solution is BRO (i.e. “monk”, i.e. Brother – I’ve now got the image of a bunch of monks telling Yo Mama jokes to one another) backwards (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue).

7. Urgently whisper part of this speech (4)

Answer: HISS (i.e. “urgently whisper”). “Part of” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: T(HIS S)PEECH.

8. Appears to admit poetry’s beauty (10)

Answer: COMELINESS (i.e. “beauty”). Solution is COMES (i.e. “appears”) wrapped around (i.e. “to admit”) LINES (i.e. “poetry”), like so: COME(LINES)S. I had this down as “seemliness” for a long time, and it was only when I solved 15a that I knew I had it wrong. I don’t imagine I was the only one. Again, well played.

9. Look likely to have small card briefly over a higher one (8)

Answer: THREATEN (i.e. “look likely”). Solution is THRE (i.e. “small card briefly”, i.e. a “three” with the last letter removed) placed “over” A TEN (i.e. “a higher one”, as in a higher card).

10. Take a host from kibbutz, maybe, including one pet (11)

Answer: COMMUNICATE (i.e. “take a host”… think communion). Solution is COMMUNE (i.e. “kibbutz, maybe”) “including” I CAT (i.e. “one pet”), like so: COMMUN(I-CAT)E.

11. Tribesman is artist, top drawer (9)

Answer: ISRAELITE (i.e. “tribesman”). Solution is IS RA (i.e. “is artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) followed by ELITE (i.e. “top drawer”).

12. Rank particularly cherished by solider at first on the up (4)

Answer: SEED (i.e. “rank”). I’m not twigging the wordplay here, so take this with a pinch of salt. Pretty much all I can get is the initial S (i.e. “soldier at first” i.e. the first letter of the word “soldier”) and how “on the up” suggests this will be placed at the start. As for “particularly cherished”… nope, not getting it.

13. Anticipated wood cut has been executed (8)

Answer: FORESEEN (i.e. “anticipated”). Solution is FORES (i.e. “wood cut”, i.e. the word “forest” with the final letter removed) followed by EEN (i.e. “been executed”, i.e. the word “been” with its first letter – or head – removed).

19. Presumably one properly left an intangible asset (8)

Answer: GOODWILL. Solution satisfies both “presumably one properly left” – i.e. a good will as opposed to a crappy one – and “intangible asset”.

21. A mark, good? It’s the reverse – a bad one (6)

Answer: STIGMA (i.e. “a bad [mark]”). Solution is A then M (short for “mark”) then G (ditto “good”) then ITS all “reversed”, like so: STI-G-M-A.

22. Spirit of country seen in vacation (8)

Answer: HOLLANDS, a gin made in Holland (i.e. “spirit [of country]”). Solution is LAND (i.e. “country”) “seen in” HOLS (i.e. “vacation”), like so: HOL(LAND)S.

23. Tough article in early edition (8)

Answer: LEATHERY (i.e. “tough”). Solution is THE (i.e. “article”) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “edition”) of EARLY, like so: LEA(THE)RY.

28. Reason to support marking familiar territory (8,6)

Answer: STAMPING GROUND. Solution satisfies both “reason to support” – i.e. ground for giving something a stamp of approval – weak, I know – and “familiar territory”.

29. Stop immediate use of information on envelope (8)

Answer: POSTDATE. Solution satisfies both “stop immediate use”, i.e. of a cheque, and “information on envelope”.

30. One taking part in regimental ceremonies which don’t occur often (8)

Answer: RARITIES (i.e. “which don’t occur often”). Solution is RA (i.e. “regimental”, specifically Royal Artillery) followed by RITES (i.e. “ceremonies”) wrapped around I (i.e. a Roman numeral “one” “taking part”), like so: RA-RIT(I)ES.

32. Being indisposed, doctor indelibly writing “overindulgence” (5,8)

Answer: BINGE DRINKING (i.e. “overindulgence”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “indisposed”) of BEING followed by DR (short for “doctor”) and INKING (i.e. “indelibly writing”), like so: BINGE-DR-INKING.

33. Subsidiaries of British farms (8)

Answer: BRANCHES (i.e. “subsidiaries”). Solution is B (short for “British”) followed by RANCHES (i.e. “farms”).

35. Appalling arrogance, in which old Frenchman is showing classical influence (6-5)

Answer: GRAECO-ROMAN (i.e. “classical influence”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “appalling”) of ARROGANCE “in which” OM (though quite what makes this specifically “old Frenchman” is beyond me) “is showing”, like so: GRAECOR(OM)AN.

37. Washing down accommodation university’s not used (6)

Answer: HOSING (i.e. “washing down”). Solution is HOUSING (i.e. “accommodation”) with U (short for “university”) removed.

38. Ridiculously, grapes came a huge distance (10)

Answer: MEGAPARSEC (i.e. “a huge distance”). “Ridiculously” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GRAPES CAME.

40. Detectives order fools to turn up in bursts (9)

Answer: SPASMODIC (i.e. “in bursts”). Solution is CID (i.e. “detectives”, specifically the Criminal Investigation Department) followed by OM (i.e. “order”, specifically the Order of Merit) and SAPS (i.e. “fools”) all reversed (i.e. “turn up”, this being a down clue), like so: SPAS-MO-DIC.

42. Look into playing on computer in the half dark (8)

Answer: GLOAMING (i.e. “in the half dark”). Solution is LO (i.e. “look” – think of hammy actors pointing and saying something like “lo, a castle, my lord”) placed “into” GAMING (i.e. “playing on computer”), like so: G(LO)AMING.

44. Demand for giraffes perhaps that is hard to fulfil? (4,5)

Answer: TALL ORDER. Solution satisfies both “demand for giraffes” (stop groaning) and “[demand] that is hard to fulfil”.

45. Signs of drug depravity around where you would expect? (8)

Answer: EVIDENCE (i.e. “signs”). Solution is E (i.e. “drug”, specifically the shortened form of “ecstasy”) followed by VICE (i.e. “depravity”) wrapped “around” DEN (i.e. “where you would expect [drug depravity]”), like so: E-VI(DEN)CE.

50. Dry course with a dull instructor, principally (4)

Answer: WADI (i.e. “dry course” – a new word on me, but not one I can see using too often). “Principally” suggests the solution is found in the initial letters of With A Dull Instructor.

51. A time to reflect, but not to change (4)

Answer: NOON. Solution riffs on how NOON is a palindrome.

52. A mouse is heard in vehicle (4)

Answer: MINI. Solution satisfies both “a mouse is heard”, i.e. a homophone of “Minnie” Mouse, and “vehicle”.

55. Letter Cecil only half finished (3)

Answer: RHO. Solution satisfies both “letter” – i.e. the seventeenth letter of the Greek alphabet – and “Cecil only half finished” – I’m guessing the Cecil in question here is Cecil Rhodes, businessman, politician and founder of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

So there were are. Another post, another crossword solution. As mentioned previously, I’ll soon start leavening these blog posts with something a little less dry. If you are a fan of the Best New Horror book series or other such anthologies, stay tuned.

Laters, taters.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1360

Nearly caught up. Here’s my completed grid for the puzzle that was published on New Year’s Day. I’ll line up Saturday’s solution for tomorrow, and then I’ll start putting out a few things that aren’t crossword solutions, otherwise I might as well change the title of this blog to “The Crossword Guy”…

(checks internet)

…okay, “The Crossword Chap” then. Anyway, we’ll get back to horror stuff shortly, folks, bear with me.

Across clues

1. Writing of law enforcer delayed by publisher at first (11)

Answer: COPPERPLATE (i.e. “writing”). Solution is COPPER (i.e. “law enforcer”) followed by P (i.e. “publisher at first”, i.e. the first letter of the word “publisher”) and LATE (i.e. “delayed”).

7. Oft repeated utterance at church he carps frightfully about (5-6)

Answer: CATCH-PHRASE (i.e. “oft repeated utterance”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frightfully”) of HE CARPS placed “about” AT CH (i.e. “at church” – CH being a recognised abbreviation of “church”), like so: C(AT-CH)PHRASE.

13. Reverse decision: support youth knocked over outside gym (4-5)

Answer: BACK-PEDAL (i.e. “reverse decision”). Solution is BACK (i.e. “support”) and then I wobble a bit. I’ll say the remainder is PE (i.e. “gym”, i.e. Physical Education – yeah, I know, not convincing) and DAL (i.e. “youth knocked over”, i.e. the word “lad” backwards).

14. Crummy seaside feature – more like a rough ride! (7)

Answer: BUMPIER (i.e. “more like a rough ride”). Solution is BUM PIER (i.e. “crummy seaside feature”). This made me smile when I figured it out.

15. Having left for river, fetch glitzy jewellery (5)

Answer: BLING (i.e. “glitzy jewellery”). Solution is BRING (i.e. “fetch”) with R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”) replaced with L (ditto “left”).

16. Well-built chair finally installed in workplace (6)

Answer: STURDY (i.e. “well-built”). Solution is STUDY (i.e. “workplace”) with R (i.e. “chair finally”, i.e. the last letter of the word “chair”) “installed” inside, like so: STU(R)DY.

17. Open note about current opportunity for supplementing income (8)

Answer: OVERTIME (i.e. “opportunity for supplementing income”). Solution is OVERT (i.e. “open”) and ME (i.e. “note” in the doh-ray-me scale) wrapped “about” I (represents an electric “current” in physics), like so: OVERT-(I)-ME.

18. Malevolent spirit in work unit left family trapped (3-4)

Answer: ERL-KING, “a mistranslation of the Danish ellerkonge, king of the elves”, i.e. “malevolent spirit”. A new one on me, if I’m honest. Could be an interesting one to follow up. Solution is ERG (a unit of “work”) “trapping” L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and KIN (i.e. “family”), like so: ER(L-KIN)G.

20. Release Tom from confinement – and give the game away (3,3,3,3,3,2,3,3)

Answer: LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG. Solution satisfies both “release Tom from confinement” and “give the game away”.

23. British hooligan hanging around old women’s feast (7)

Answer: BLOWOUT (i.e. “feast”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”) and LOUT (i.e. “hooligan”) wrapped “around” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and W (ditto “women), like so: B-L(O-W)OUT.

24. Former actor holding opening of Macbeth to be over the top (7)

Answer: EXTREME (i.e. “over the top”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) and TREE (i.e. “actor” – I’m guessing we’re riffing on wooden performances here) “holding” M (i.e. “opening of Macbeth”, i.e. the opening letter of “Macbeth”), like so: EX-TRE(M)E.

26. Put in leafy recess, half of them submit with hesitation (7)

Answer: EMBOWER (i.e. “put in leafy recess”). Solution is EM (i.e. “half of them”, specifically the last half) followed by BOW (i.e. “submit”) and ER (i.e. “hesitation”).

28. Promise shown by hero at Harrow (4)

Answer: OATH (i.e. “promise”). “Shown by” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: HER(O AT H)ARROW.

29. Dutiful knight in parliament with recipient of lesser honour (8)

Answer: OBEDIENT (i.e. “dutiful”). Solution is N (an abbreviation of “knight” used in chess) placed “in” DIET (a variant meaning of which is “parliament”) with OBE (i.e. “recipient of lesser honour” – in the honours system an OBE ranks below a knighthood) placed before it, like so: OBE-DIE(N)T.

32. Brainy chap with temperature, sick internally (9)

Answer: BRILLIANT (i.e. “brainy”). Solution is BRIAN (i.e. “chap”) and T (a recognised abbreviation for “temperature”) with ILL (i.e. “sick”) placed “internally”, like so: BR(ILL)IAN-T.

35. Old coach’s daily account written outside bar (9)

Answer: CHARABANC (i.e. “old coach”). Solution is CHAR (i.e. “daily”) and AC (i.e. “account”) “written outside” BAN (i.e. to “bar”), like so: CHAR-A(BAN)C.

36. See viper slithering around church entrance initially (8)

Answer: PERCEIVE (i.e. “see”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “slithering”) of VIPER wrapped “around” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England) and then followed by E (i.e. “entrance initially”, i.e. the first letter of the word “initially”), like so: PER(CE)IV-E.

37. Old Persian ruler’s quiet expression of pleasure (4)

Answer: SHAH (i.e. “old Persian ruler”). Solution is SH (i.e. “quiet”) and AH (“expression of pleasure”).

39. Youth flustered man carrying high class resin (7)

Answer: LADANUM (i.e. a fragrant Mediterranean “resin”). Solution is LAD (i.e. “youth”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “flustered”) of MAN “carrying” U (i.e. “high class” – U is often used to denote posh or upper class), like so: LAD-AN(U)M.

41. Bachelor fled, but returned – to have a dip in this? (4-3)

Answer: BRAN-TUB, which is “a tub of bran from which small presents are drawn at parties”. So a lucky dip, then. Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “bachelor”) followed by RAN (i.e. “fled”) and then TUB (i.e. “but returned”, i.e. the word “but” reversed).

44. Emotionally stimulated, like Earl Grey sometimes? (7)

Answer: STIRRED. Solution satisfies both “emotionally stimulated” and “like Earl Grey sometimes”.

45. He wrote our best love stories oddly adopting new name (6,5,9)

Answer: ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON (i.e. “he wrote”). “Oddly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OUR BEST LOVE STORIES, N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and N (ditto “name”).

49. Reportedly recognises trashy paper: one sustains blows (4,3)

Answer: NOSE RAG, a slang term for a handkerchief (i.e. “one sustains blows”). Solution is NOSE (i.e. “reportedly recognises”, i.e. a homophone of “knows”) and RAG (i.e. “trashy paper”).

50. Fellow lessee’s hypocrisy involving books in French (8)

Answer: COTENANT (i.e. “fellow lessee”). Solution is CANT (i.e. “hypocrisy”) “involving” OT (i.e. “books”, specifically the Old Testament) and EN (i.e. “in French”, the French for “in” is “en”), like so: C(OT-EN)ANT.

51. Course finally eaten in Eastern plane, perhaps? (6)

Answer: ENTREE (i.e. “course”). Solution is N (i.e. “finally eaten”, i.e. the last letter of the word “eaten”) placed “in” E (i.e. “Eastern”) and TREE (i.e. “plane”, any tree of the genus Planatus – no, me neither), like so: E-(N)-TREE.

53. Eg Ezra’s enclosure for stray dogs (5)

Answer: POUND. Solution satisfies both “eg Ezra” as in the poet Ezra Pound, and an “enclosure for stray dogs”.

54. Allure of former county briefly belonging to us (7)

Answer: GLAMOUR (i.e. “allure”). Solution is GLAM (i.e. “former county briefly”, specifically an abbreviation of Glamorgan, a historic county of Wales) followed by OUR (i.e. “belonging to us”).

55. Councillor in row about old hooped skirt (9)

Answer: CRINOLINE (i.e. “hooped skirt”). Solution is CR (a recognised abbreviation of “councillor”), IN and LINE (i.e. “row”) placed “about” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), like so: CR-IN-(O)-LINE.

56. Like emblem of Manx people – and like some other races (5-6)

Answer: THREE-LEGGED. Solution satisfies both “like emblem of Manx people” and “like some other races”.

57. Boarding-school altercation that may make the feathers fly! (6,5)

Answer: PILLOW FIGHT. Solution riffs on how pillow fights would sometimes see the feather stuffing go flying.

Down clues

1. Eg Picasso’s share of profits securing rise for sibling (6)

Answer: CUBIST (i.e. “eg Picasso”, referencing the artist’s cubist phase). Solution is CUT (i.e. “share of profits”) “securing” BIS (i.e. “rise for sibling”, i.e. the word “sib” spelled backwards – remember setters like using words like “up” in down clues to signify all or part of a word needs to be reversed), like so: CU(BIS)T.

2. Bearer of message presenting a one-sided view? (7,8)

Answer: PICTURE-POSTCARD. Solution riffs on how postcards have an idyllic view of a holiday spot on the one side of the message.

3. Quest for speed (10)

Answer: EXPEDITION. Solution satisfies both “quest” and “speed”.

4. Groups of dolphins originally protected by Officers of the Day (4)

Answer: PODS (i.e. “groups of dolphins”). Solution is P (i.e. “originally protected”, i.e. the first letter of the word “protected”) placed “by” ODS (a recognised abbreviation for “Officer of the Day” is OD, the plural would be ODS).

5. Ease a former son of Jacob snatched (9)

Answer: ALLEVIATE (i.e. “ease”). Solution is A LATE (i.e. “a former”) “snatching” LEVI (i.e. “son of Jacob” – I once had to play Levi in a primary school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, which required me to stand in the background like a lemon singing half-remembered songs with a big letter L pinned to my chest. We didn’t tour.) like so: A-L(LEVI)ATE.

6. Ban printers’ unit before pub game (7)

Answer: EMBARGO (i.e. “ban”). Solution is EM (a slightly bigger space about the width of a letter m, i.e. “printers’ unit”) followed by BAR (i.e. “pub”) and GO (i.e. “game).

7. Arrive to welcome German with note for board (9)

Answer: COMMITTEE (i.e. “board”). Solution is COME (i.e. “arrive”) “welcoming” MIT (i.e. “German with” – the German for “with” is “mit”) and TE (i.e. “note” in the doh-ray-me scale), like so: COM(MIT-TE)E.

8. He leaves the grain for a moment (5)

Answer: TRICE (i.e. “a moment”). Solution is THE RICE (i.e. “the grain”) with HE removed (i.e. “he leaves”).

9. Arab, possibly, has house in Home Counties, lucky thing! (9)

Answer: HORSESHOE (i.e. “lucky thing”). Solution is HORSE (i.e. “Arab, possibly”, i.e. a breed of horse) followed by HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”) placed “in” SE (i.e. “Home Counties”, or, in other words, the South East), like so: HORSE-S(HO)E.

10. Confusion from astronomer crushing fraudulent scheme (6-6)

Answer: HUBBLE-BUBBLE (i.e. “confusion”). Solution is HUBBLE (i.e. “astronomer”) placed on (i.e. “crushing”) BUBBLE (i.e. “fraudulent scheme”).

11. Enduring a loud noise – generous about it (7)

Answer: ABIDING (i.e. “enduring”). Solution is A followed by BIG (i.e. “generous”) placed “about” DIN (i.e. “loud noise”), like so: A-BI(DIN)G. Though I knew the solution from the letters I had, for some reason it took me several minutes before I finally saw how it had been constructed. It happens.

12. Get involved, good about leaving fruit (6)

Answer: ENGAGE (i.e. “get involved”). This took some figuring out! Solution is GREENGAGE (a green and sweet variety of plum – no me neither) with the first G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and RE (i.e. “about”, i.e. regarding) removed (i.e. “leaving”).

19. Plunge finally breaking Green supporter’s backbone, partly (8)

Answer: VERTEBRA (i.e. “backbone, partly”). Solution is E (i.e. “plunge finally”, i.e. the last letter of the word “plunge”) placed between (i.e. “breaking”) VERT (i.e. “green”) and BRA (i.e. “supporter”), like so: VERT-(E)-BRA.

21. Disapproving cry about drink going up? It’s on the house! (7)

Answer: FREEBIE (i.e. “it’s on the house”). Solution is FIE (i.e. “disapproving cry”) placed “about” REEB (i.e. “drink going up”, i.e. the word “beer” reversed, seeing as this is a down clue), like so: F(REEB)IE.

22. Hapless wife made an impression with king (8)

Answer: WRETCHED (i.e. “hapless”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “wife”) and ETCHED (i.e. “made an impression”) placed around R (a recognised abbreviation of “king”, i.e. Rex), like so: W-R-ETCHED.

23. Endlessly badger man requiring new green veg (8)

Answer: BROCCOLI (i.e. “green veg”). Solution is BROC (i.e. “endlessly badger”, i.e. the word “brock” with the last letter removed) followed by COLI (i.e. “man requiring new”, i.e. the name “Colin” with N – a recognised abbreviation of “new” – removed).

25. Connection I established at first in place to the north (3-2)

Answer: TIE-UP (i.e. “connection”). Solution is I and E (i.e. “established at first”, i.e. the first letter of the word “established”) placed in TUP (i.e. “place to the north”, i.e. the word “put” reversed, this being a down clue), like so: T(I-E)UP.

27. Surviving without managers giving protection from the rain (15)

Answer: WEATHERBOARDING (i.e. “protection from the rain”). Solution is WEATHERING (i.e. “surviving”) placed “without” BOARD (i.e. “managers”), like so: WEATHER(BOARD)ING.

30. Sound measure of beauty, we hear, after start of month (7)

Answer: DECIBEL (i.e. “sound measure”). Solution is BEL (i.e. “measure of beauty, we hear”, which I’m taking to mean a homophone of “belle”) placed “after” DEC I (i.e. “start of month”), like so: DEC-I-BEL.

31. Wrong, turning up without a card (5)

Answer: TAROT (i.e. “card”). Solution is TORT (i.e. “wrong” in legalese) reversed (i.e. “turning up”, this being a down clue) and placed “without” A, like so: T(A)ROT.

33. Encroaching female brought up in home where flowers are displayed (8)

Answer: INVASIVE (i.e. “encroaching”). This is a bit weak, but I reckon this is VI (i.e. “female”, which I’m assuming is a shortened form of Vivien I’ve never heard in my life) reversed (i.e. “brought up”, again this being a down clue) and placed in IN VASE (i.e. “home where flowers are displayed”), like so: IN-VAS(IV)E.

34. Bug ready to skip under farm building? That’s novel (7,5)

Answer: BARNABY RUDGE, a “novel” by Charles Dickens. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to skip”) of BUG READY placed “under” BARN (i.e. “farm building”), like so: BARN-ABYRUDGE.

38. Author’s session in bookshop cancelled, ending programme? (7,3)

Answer: SIGNING OFF. Solution satisfies both “author’s session in bookshop cancelled” and “ending programme”.

40. Home buyer increasingly sore ultimately about time restriction (9)

Answer: MORTGAGEE (i.e. “home buyer”). Solution is MORE (i.e. “increasingly”) and E (i.e. “sore ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of the word “sore”) placed around T (a recognised abbreviation of “time” and GAG (i.e. “restriction”), like so: MOR(T-GAG)E-E.

42. Maturity teachers originally found in a mostly dreary poet (9)

Answer: ADULTHOOD (i.e. “maturity”). Solution is T (i.e. “teachers originally”, i.e. the first letter of the word “teachers”) placed “in” A DUL (i.e. “mostly dreary”, i.e. the word “dull” with the last letter removed) and HOOD (i.e. “poet”, which I’m assuming is Thomas Hood, a nineteenth century poet – no, I haven’t read him), like so: A-DUL-(T)-HOOD.

43. Unexpected action in lab loosely relating to plants (9)

Answer: BOTANICAL (i.e. “relating to plants”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unexpected”) of ACTION placed inside another anagram (indicated by “loosely”) of LAB, like so: B(OTANIC)AL.

45. One who saves rupees, always pocketing shillings and copper (7)

Answer: RESCUER (i.e. “one who saves”). Solution is R (short for “rupees”) followed by EER (i.e. “always”, or put poetically, “e’er”) placed around S (short for “shillings”) and CU (the chemical symbol for “copper”), like so: R-E(S-CU)ER.

46. Sheltered place some seamen once or students set up (7)

Answer: SUNTRAP (i.e. “sheltered place”). This took some digging! Solution is PART (i.e. “some”) and NUS (i.e. “some seamen once…” – specifically the National Union of Seamen, which ceased to be in 1990, “…or students”, specifically the National Union of Students) reversed (i.e. “set up”, again this being a down clue), like so: SUN-TRAP.

47. Container for fluid, one not kept regularly inside (6)

Answer: INKPOT (i.e. “container for fluid”). Solution is I (i.e. the Roman numeral “one”) followed by NOT with KP (i.e. “kept regularly”, i.e. every other letter of the word KEPT) placed “inside”, like so: I-N(KP)POT.

48. Act as judge, though initially deprived (6)

Answer: BEREFT (i.e. “deprived”). Solution is BE REF (i.e. “act as judge”, as in be referee”) followed by T (i.e. “though initially”, i.e. the first letter of the word “though”).

50. Resounding effect of Cosmo at first, one-time archbishop (5)

Answer: CLANG (i.e. “resounding effect”). Solution is C (i.e. “Cosmo at first”, i.e. the first letter of “Cosmo”) followed by LANG (i.e. “one-time archbishop”, specifically Cosmo Gordon Lang, who was Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication crisis and the outbreak of the Second World War).

52. Warrant officer imbibing at home, a heavy drinker (4)

Answer: WINO (i.e. “a heavy drinker”). Solution is WO (a recognised abbreviation for “warrant officer”) placed around (i.e. “imbibing”) IN (i.e. “at home”), like so: W(IN)O.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1359

Okay, now we’re catching up a bit. Here’s my completed grid for Sat 29th Dec’s puzzle, along with explanations of my solutions. This wasn’t as much of a nightmare as Boxing Day’s horror show but still had its moments. At least I can justify nearly all of my solutions. Onwards!

Across clues

1. When Barnet manager let the side down? (3,4,3)

Answer: BAD HAIR DAY. Solution riffs on barnet being another word for “hairdo”.

6. Alternative band added clause to include new musician for handling crank? (5,7)

Answer: ORGAN GRINDER (i.e. “musician for handling crank”). Solution is OR (i.e. “alternative”) then GANG (i.e. “band”), then RIDER (i.e. “clause”) wrapped around N (a recognised abbreviation for “new”), like so: OR-GANG-RI(N)DER.

14. Score twice for final outcome (3,6)

Answer: NET RESULT. Solution satisfies both “score twice” – how both NET and RESULT are both words for “score” – and “final outcome”.

15. Energy powder knocked back for striking effect (5)

Answer: ECLAT (i.e. “striking effect”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation for “energy”) followed by CLAT (i.e. “powder knocked back”, i.e. the word “talc” reversed), like so: E-CLAT.

16. Obsolete former colour (no longer used) (7)

Answer: EXTINCT (i.e. “obsolete”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) and TINCT (an obsolete transitive verb meaning to tint or to dye, i.e. “colour (no longer used)”).

17. Awful, flaky model’s a creature of legend (10,7)

Answer: ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (i.e. “creature of legend”). Solution is ABOMINABLE (i.e. “awful”) and SNOWMAN (i.e. “[snow]flaky model”).

18. The end for, e.g. Speedy Gonzales, small and mischievous (5)

Answer: ELFIN (i.e. “small and mischievous”). Solution is EL FIN, or “the end” in Spanish, as The Fastest Mouse In All Mexico would say it.

19. Ally using encryption to conceal weapon pointed towards west (7)

Answer: COMRADE (i.e. “ally”). Solution is CODE (i.e. “encryption”) “concealing” MRA (i.e. “weapon pointed towards west”, i.e. the word ARM reversed – setters like using clues like “westward” when reversing all or part of across clues, and “up” for down clues), like so: CO(MRA)DE.

21. Poorly rates unknown substitute (6)

Answer: ERSATZ (i.e. “substitute”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “poorly”) of RATES, followed by Z (i.e. “unknown” – setters often use this to represent X Y or Z in a solution), like so: ERSAT-Z.

22. Access divinity programme (8)

Answer: RECOURSE (i.e. “access”). Solution is RE COURSE (i.e. “divinity programme”, RE being Religious Education).

24. Heading off, speechless with anger, having taken it? (7)

Answer: UMBRAGE, which is to take offence at something. Solution is UMB (i.e. “heading off, speechless”, i.e. the word “dumb” with the initial letter removed) followed by RAGE (i.e. “anger”).

26. One is after revolutionary massage – they’re heavenly! (8)

Answer: CHERUBIM, which, as any art aficionado knows, are winged children who smoke ciggies, like on the sleeve of Van Halen’s 1984 album (i.e. “they’re heavenly”). Solution is IM (i.e. “one is”, i.e. a contraction of “I am”) placed “after” CHE (i.e. “revolutionary”, specifically Che Guevara) and RUB (i.e. “massage”), like so: CHE-RUB-IM.

27. Commercial division’s directionless (6)

Answer: ADRIFT (i.e. “directionless”). Solution is AD (i.e. “commercial”) followed by RIFT (i.e. “division”).

30. Student of form favoured dog, maybe, following the races excitedly (8,3)

Answer: TEACHER’S PET (i.e. “student of form favoured”). Solution is PET (i.e. “dog, maybe”) “following” an anagram (indicated by “excitedly”) of THE RACES.

32. Identify as communist when union’s being held under siege (11)

Answer: BELEAGUERED (i.e. “under siege”). Solution is BE RED (i.e. “identify as communist”) “holding” LEAGUE (i.e. “union”), like so: BE-LEAGUE-RED.

33. Addiction to horse? This gear might be appropriate (6,5)

Answer: RIDING HABIT, which satisfies both “addiction to horse”, and, with horses in mind, “this gear might be appropriate”.

35. Oil company adjusted ratios for better distribution system (11)

Answer: TOTALISATOR, which is “a system of betting in which the total amount staked is divided among the winners in proportion to the size of their stake”, i.e. “better distribution system”. Solution is TOTAL (i.e. “oil company”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “adjusted”) of RATIOS, like so: TOTAL-ISATOR.

37. Comedy creator previously getting the bird (6)

Answer: GODWIT (i.e. “bird” – just done a Google Image search. It does indeed look like a bird.) Solution is WIT (i.e. “comedy”) with GOD (i.e. “creator” – I’ll let you argue that one among yourselves) placed “previously”, like so: GOD-WIT.

38. Tall plant from Tennessee containing spliff (4,4)

Answer: TREE FERN (i.e. “tall plant”). Solution is TN (the state code of “Tennessee”) “containing” REEFER (i.e. “spliff”), like so: T(REEFER)N.

39. Pub worker maybe taking order for spirit (7)

Answer: PHANTOM (i.e. “spirit”). Solution is PH (i.e. “pub”, specifically Public House) followed by ANT (i.e. “worker”) and OM (i.e. “order”, specifically the Order of Merit), like so: PH-ANT-OM.

42. Dodgy viagra no good, causing severe damage (8)

Answer: RAVAGING (i.e. “causing severe damage”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “dodgy”) of VIAGRA followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “no”) and G (ditto “good”), like so: RAVAGI-N-G.

44. U.S. weapon China introduced to Vietnam (6)

Answer: NAPALM, a highly-flammable jelly used in bombs and flamethrowers most famously used during the Vietnam War (i.e. “U.S. weapon”). Solution is NAM (i.e. “Vietnam”) with PAL (i.e. “China” – in cockney rhyming slang, “china plate” is “mate”) “introduced” inside, like so: NA(PAL)M.

46. More dull, crushing bores cornering you in the Louvre (7)

Answer: OBTUSER (i.e. “more dull” – a word worthy of an editor’s red pen if there ever was one). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “crushing”) of BORES “cornering” TU (i.e. “you in the Louvre” – the French for “you” is “tu”), like so: OB(TU)SER.

48. Private meal from which duke’s excluded (5)

Answer: INNER (i.e. “private”). Solution is DINNER (i.e. “meal”) with the D removed (i.e. “from which duke’s excluded” – “d” being a recognised abbreviation for “duke”).

49. Talking rook might be one! (12,5)

Answer: CONVERSATION PIECE. Solution plays on “rook” being a chess piece. I’ll admit this made me smile when I got it.

51. Commercial watchdog to pass judgment generally (2,1,4)

Answer: AS A RULE (i.e. “generally”). Solution is ASA (i.e. “commercial watchdog”, specifically the Advertising Standards Agency) followed by RULE (i.e. “pass judgment”). For some reason this took me until nearly the end of the puzzle before I finally got it.

52. Number’s occurring with frequency (5)

Answer: OFTEN. Solution satisfies both “number’s” – i.e. “of ten” as hinted at by the possessive apostrophe – and “occurring with frequency”).

53. Aggravate complaint, swallowing pill regularly (9)

Answer: DISPLEASE (i.e. “aggravate”). Solution is DISEASE (i.e. “complaint”) “swallowing” PL (i.e. “pill regularly”, i.e. every other letter of the word PILL), like so: DIS(PL)EASE.

54. Horse has position behind second in field, being as far from start as finish? (12)

Answer: EQUIDISTANCE (i.e. “being as far from start as finish”). Solution is EQUID (i.e. “horse”) followed by I (i.e. “second in field”, i.e. the second letter of the word “field”) and STANCE (i.e. “position”).

55. Prominent Greek in favour of America possessing Middle East (10)

Answer: PROMETHEUS (i.e. “prominent Greek”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “in favour of”) and THE US (i.e. “America”) “possessing” ME (i.e. “Middle East”), like so: PRO-ME-THEUS.

Down clues

1. Tale of Ratty’s home, perhaps; and where the bread’s kept? (4,7)

Answer: BANK ACCOUNT. Solution satisfies both “tale of Ratty’s home, perhaps” and “where the bread’s” – i.e. money – “kept”.

2. Pointlessly correct to the same thing (5)

Answer: DITTO (i.e. “the same thing”). Solution is DIT (i.e. “pointlessly correct”, i.e. the word “edit” with E – a point on the compass – removed) followed by TO.

3. Yank stuff in a camera out (9)

Answer: AMERICANA (i.e. “Yank stuff”). “Out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IN A CAMERA.

4. Stable worker cornered by rake is a dish (7)

Answer: ROULADE (i.e. “dish”). Solution is LAD (i.e. “stable worker”) “cornered by” ROUE (i.e. a rogue or “rake”), like so: ROU(LAD)E.

5. A set of steps with bee in flower (7)

Answer: ASTILBE (i.e. “flower” – whenever I see a solution is going to be a plant, animal, port or musical term I swallow my pride and allow myself to use a solver when needed, which was the case here. If the setter has to go deep into the dictionary to bail themselves out of a tight corner, then I have no qualms about using a solver to root out the solution.) Solution is A STILE (i.e. a set of steps) “with bee [B] in”, like so: A-STIL(B)E.

7. Revised version of Blue Fur Moth – A Practical Guide (4,2,5)

Answer: RULE OF THUMB (i.e. “a practical guide”). “Revised version” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BLUE FUR MOTH.

8. Fall on mutual’s holding after rise (6)

Answer: AUTUMN (i.e. “fall”). “Holding” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, with “after rise” also suggesting the letters need to be reversed, like so: O(N MUTUA)L.

9. Lower arms when queen enters, then you must rise (8)

Answer: GUERNSEY (i.e. a “lower” – bear with me here: Guernsey is a breed of dairy cattle => when cattle moo they are said to “low” => a Guernsey is said to be a “lower”). Solution is GUNS (i.e. “arms”) with ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) placed inside (i.e. “enters”), then followed by EY (i.e. “you must rise”, i.e. the letters of “ye” backwards), like so: GU(ER)NS-EY.

10. This setter and latest in endless series of editors getting vintage spirits down (2,3,8)

Answer: IN THE DOLDRUMS (i.e. “down”). Solution is I (i.e. “this setter”) followed by NTH (i.e. “latest in endless series”) then EDS (i.e. “editors”) “getting” OLD (i.e. “vintage”) and RUM (i.e. “spirits”), like so: I-NTH-ED(OLD-RUM)S.

11. Half of food in kebab’s condemned (4,3)

Answer: DONE FOR (i.e. “condemned”). Solution is FO (i.e. “half of food”, specifically the first half of the word “food”) “in” DONER (i.e. “kebab”), like so: DONE(FO)R.

12. Leftist holding a metal event full of despised creatures (3-8)

Answer: RAT-INFESTED (i.e. “full of despised creatures”). Solution is RED (i.e. “leftist”) “holding” A TIN (i.e. “a metal”) and FEST (i.e. “event”), like so: R(A-TIN-FEST)ED.

13. Determined leader of Arabs not in Iran’s camp (10)

Answer: PERSISTENT (i.e. “determined”). Solution is PERSIS (i.e. “leader of Arabs not in Iran’s”, which means remove the first letter of “Arabs” from “Persia’s” – Persia being the former name of Iran) followed by TENT (i.e. “camp”), like so: PERSIS-TENT.

20. En masse, holding caps? (3-6)

Answer: MOB-HANDED. Solution satisfies both “en masse” and “holding caps”, specifically a mob cap, a kind of hair-protector.

23. Rex’s X-ray perhaps put in this private language (3,5)

Answer: PIG LATIN (i.e. “private language”). When I got my first computer – an Atari XEGS no less, look it up – there was a programming exercise in the accompanying book that described how pig Latin worked. You’d move the first letter of each word to the end and add “ay” to the end, e.g. Igpay Atinlay. I admit I’m being overly pedantic, but surely Rex would be “Exray” in pig Latin? Okay, okay, I’ll get back in my oxbay.

25. Your lug on top is grubby (6)

Answer: EARTHY (i.e. “grubby”). Solution is THY (i.e.ye olde “your”) with EAR (i.e. “lug”) placed “on top”, like so: EAR-THY.

26. Frightfully pacy horse pulled up, seeing rodent (8)

Answer: CAPYBARA (i.e. “rodent”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frightfully”) of PACY followed by ARAB (i.e. a breed of “horse”) reversed (i.e. “pulled up” – this being a down clue), like so: CAPY-BARA.

28. Irish woman set up needles (9)

Answer: IRRITATES (i.e. “needles”). Solution is IR (a recognised abbreviation of “Irish”) then RITA (i.e. “woman”) then TES (i.e. “set up”, i.e. the word “set” reversed – again this being a down clue), like so: IR-RITA-TES.

29. Beat politician with legislation arising (6)

Answer: WALLOP (i.e. “beat”). Solution is POL (a recognised abbreviation for “politician”) followed by LAW (i.e. “legislation”) and then whole lot then reversed (i.e. “arising” – again this being a down clue), like so: WAL-LOP.

31. Staying execution to have a few drinks?  (7,6)

Answer: HANGING AROUND. Solution satisfies both “staying” and “execution” – i.e. hanging – “to have a few drinks” – i.e. a round.

33. Bring up tiger rug, tattered and munched (11)

Answer: REGURGITATE (i.e. “bring up”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “tattered”) of TIGER RUG followed by ATE (i.e. “munched”), like so: REGURGIT-ATE.

34. Article to knock Brussels – habitual response meant to make one feel better (11)

Answer: THERAPEUTIC (i.e. “meant to make one feel better”). Solution is THE (i.e. “article”) followed by RAP (i.e. “knock”) then EU (i.e. “Brussels”) and TIC (i.e. “habitual response”).

35. Drunken tenants had a ball in the afternoon (3,7)

Answer: THE DANSANT, which was a tea dance held in summer afternoons, i.e. “ball in the afternoon”. Not my cup of tea, thanks. “Drunken” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TENANTS HAD.

36. Not letting up, note decoded? (11)

Answer: REMORSELESS (i.e. “not letting up”). Solution is RE (i.e. “note” as in the do-ray-me scale, “ray” being an anglicised version of “re”) followed by MORSELESS (i.e. “decoded”, a pun hanging on Morse code).

40. Ideal state’s ending up with fate in control bypassing human intervention (9)

Answer: AUTOPILOT (i.e. “control bypassing human intervention”). Solution is AUTOPI (i.e. “Ideal’ state’s ending up”, i.e. “Utopia” with the last letter placed first) followed by LOT (i.e. “fate”).

41. A thousand pounds on small underwear (8)

Answer: KNICKERS (i.e. “underwear”). Solution is K (i.e. “a thousand”) then NICKER (i.e. “pounds”) then S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”).

43. Pacific nation head installing alternative technology in universities (7)

Answer: VANUATU (i.e. “Pacific nation”). Solution is VAN (i.e. “head” – van is a recognised abbreviation of “vanguard”) followed by AT (a recognised abbreviation of “alternative technology”) placed in U and U (ditto “universities), like so: VAN-U(AT)U.

45. Spanish performer runs after dull performance (7)

Answer: MATADOR (i.e. “Spanish performer”). Solution is MAT (i.e. “dull”) followed by ADO (i.e. “performance”) and finally R (i.e. “runs after” – r being a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in cricket), like so: MAT-ADO-R.

46. Tree climber, work very good, picked up amount of money (7)

Answer: OPOSSUM (i.e. “tree climber”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, i.e. short for “operation”) then OS (i.e. “very good”, picked up” – i.e. the word “so” reversed – this being a down clue) then SUM (i.e. “amount of money”).

47. Woolly right embraced by African nation after rejecting left (6)

Answer: ANGORA (i.e. “woolly”). Solution is ANGOLA (i.e. “African nation”) with L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) is replaced with R (ditto “right”).

50. “Skip advertisement” pressed by Apple consumer (5)

Answer: EVADE (i.e. “skip”). Solution is AD (i.e. “advertisement”) “pressed” into EVE (i.e. “Apple consumer”), like so: EV(AD)E. This was another clue that made me smile when I got it. Well played.