Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1418

Happy New Year, folks! The Times saw in the new decade with this tricky bugger. A mighty fine puzzle overall, but blimey some of the clues left my head hurting. (Examines previous night’s alcohol intake.) Ah. Right.

Anyway, as ever you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful. My Just For Fun page lists umpteen solutions should you have a recent Jumbo that’s showing a few gaps. While I’ve got you here, I’ll also take this opportunity to hawk a few book reviews and a short story of mine, because you can’t blame a guy for trying.

And so to the answers. Till the weekend, laters!


Across clues

1. Unlimited late opening eventually, then close (8)

Answer: INTIMATE (i.e. “close”). Solution is LATE with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “unlimited”) and placed in or “opening” IN TIME (i.e. “eventually”), like so: IN-TIM(AT)E.

5. Handy for Nancy only to accept feminine uniform for a start (6)

Answer: USEFUL (i.e. “handy”). Solution is SEUL (i.e. “for Nancy only”, i.e. the French for “only” – Nancy being a small city in France) wrapped around or “accepting” F (a recognised abbreviation of “feminine”) and the whole preceded by U (indicated by “uniform for a start” – “uniform” being U in the phonetic alphabet), like so: U-SE(F)UL. A stinker of a clue!

9. Famous people touring eastern island (7)

Answer: CELEBES, also known as Sulawesi, an “island” found in the Pacific Ocean. Solution is CELEBS (a contraction of the word “celebrities”, i.e. “famous people”) wrapped around or “touring” E (a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”), like so: CELEB(E)S. One gotten solely from the wordplay and a quick shufti on Google.

14. Such a school? A head leaving chapel to chase pupil’s work (11)

Answer: PREPARATORY (i.e. “school”). Solution is A followed by ORATORY (i.e. “chapel”) once its initial letter has been removed (indicated by “head leaving”). The whole is then preceded by or “chasing” PREP (i.e. “pupil’s work”), like so: PREP-A-RATORY.

15. Entitlement to take a small shower? Fine (5,2,4)

Answer: RIGHT AS RAIN (i.e. “fine”). Solution is RIGHT (i.e. “entitlement”) followed by AS RAIN (i.e. “to take a small shower”). A bit loose, but I guess it works.

16. Unexciting way to get help (5)

Answer: STAID (i.e. “unexciting”). Solution is ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”) followed by AID (i.e. “help”).

17. Ultimate misfortune dogs a colony (7)

Answer: ANTHILL (i.e. “colony”). Solution is NTH (i.e. “ultimate” – my Chambers doesn’t back this up, taking nth to mean an indeterminate or variable degree, but my spanking new Oxford bails the setter out) followed by ILL (i.e. “misfortune”) all following or “dogging” A, like so: A-NTH-ILL.

18. Underground river heard of in rural location (3,6)

Answer: THE STICKS (i.e. “rural location”). “Heard of” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of THE [river] STYX (i.e. “underground river”).

19. Preparing to read, maybe, old writing, pulling out end of translation (7)

Answer: OPENING (i.e. “preparing to read, maybe”, as in the opening of a book or magazine). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) followed by PENNING (i.e. “writing”) with one of the Ns removed (indicated by “pulling out end of translation”, i.e. the last letter of “translation”), like so: O-PENING.

20. Around twenty, this could be, in space with symptom of illness (4,11)

Answer: ROOM TEMPERATURE (i.e. “around twenty [degrees Celsius], this could be”). Solution is ROOM (i.e. “space”) followed by TEMPERATURE (i.e. “symptom of illness”).

22. Department where one would be expecting to be cared for (10)

Answer: OBSTETRICS, a “department” concerned with childbirth. Clue riffs on how “expecting” refers to mothers-to-be. You get the idea.

23. Hush-hush demand on drivers (4,2)

Answer: BELT UP. Solution satisfies “hush-hush” and “demand on drivers”.

25. Does understand others partly (4)

Answer: DOTH (i.e. ye olde “does”). “Partly” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: UNDERSTAN(D OTH)ERS.

28. Ask for a hand from Dad: “to be or not to be”? (3,3,8)

Answer: POP THE QUESTION (i.e. “ask for a hand [in marriage]”). Solution is POP (i.e. “Dad”) followed by THE QUESTION (i.e. “to be or not to be [that is the question]”, a famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet). Good clue.

30. One able to lay hands on for doctor, we hope (8)

Answer: PROCURER (i.e. “one able to lay hands on”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “for”) followed by CURER (i.e. “doctor, we hope”).

32. Non-rigid bar becomes flatter (4-4)

Answer: SOFT-SOAP (i.e. “[to] flatter”). Solution is SOFT (i.e. “non-rigid”) followed by SOAP (i.e. “bar”). A new one on me.

34. Royals, and singular admiral, wily man (7,3,4)

Answer: WILLIAM AND MARY (i.e. “Royals”, 17th century rulers of England, Scotland and Ireland). “Singular” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ADMIRAL WILY MAN.

37. Followers of star, glossy one (4)

Answer: MAGI (i.e. “followers of star”, also known as the Three Wise Men). Solution is MAG (i.e. “glossy”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”).

38. Confusing reflections in garbled Oldie article (6)

Answer: EIDOLA (i.e. “confusing reflections”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “garbled”) of OLDIE followed by A (i.e. “article”, descriptive of words like a, an and the), like so: EIDOL-A.

39. Priest getting feeling of euphoria in book she might read from (10)

Answer: REVELATION (i.e. “book [of Bible] priest might read from”). Solution is REV (a recognised abbreviation of “reverend”, i.e. “priest”) followed by ELATION (i.e. “feeling of euphoria”).

43. Is Douglas attached to England? A poet’s answer (2,3,2,2,6)

Answer: NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, a quote from John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (i.e. “a poet’s answer”). Clue riffs on how Douglas is the capital of the Isle of Man. You get the idea. Cool clue.

45. Rugs from publishing house thrown in river (7)

Answer: TOUPEES (i.e. “rugs”). Solution is OUP (i.e. “publishing house”, i.e. the Oxford University Press) placed or “thrown” in TEES (i.e. “river”), like so: T(OUP)EES.

47. Festival books, green, a nuisance to carry (9)

Answer: PENTECOST (i.e. “festival” celebrated fifty days after Easter Sunday). Solution is NT (i.e. “books”, specifically the New Testament) and ECO (i.e. “green”) placed in or being “carried” by PEST (i.e. “nuisance”), like so: PE(NT-ECO)ST.

49. Drinking whiskey without water, regularly backing city (7)

Answer: SWANSEA (i.e. “city”). Solution is SANS (i.e. French for “without”) wrapped around or “drinking” W (“whiskey” in the phonetic alphabet”) and followed by AE (i.e. “water, regularly”, i.e. every other letter of WATER) which is reversed (indicated by “backing”), like so: S(W)ANS-EA.

51. Bend double at start of exercise (5)

Answer: TWINE (i.e. “bend”). Solution is TWIN (i.e. “double”) followed by E (i.e. “start of exercise”, i.e. the first letter of “exercise”).

52. Not to be tolerant of denial – threw wobbly (4,3,4)

Answer: DRAW THE LINE (i.e. “not to be tolerant of”). “Wobbly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DENIAL THREW.

53. Business’s printer has messed up page (11)

Answer: PARTNERSHIP (i.e. “business”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “messed up”) of PRINTER HAS followed by P (a recognised abbreviation of “page”), like so: PARTNERSHI-P.

54. Send up and down in the shade (3,4)

Answer: SKY BLUE (i.e. “shade”). Solution is SKY (i.e. “send up”) followed by BLUE (i.e. “down”).

55. One putting on skirt perhaps in good condition (6)

Answer: KILTER. Solution satisfies “one putting on skirt perhaps” and “in good condition”.

56. Fish bones passing around back of throat (8)

Answer: STURGEON (i.e. “fish”). Solution is SURGEON (sometimes nicknamed “bones”) wrapped “around” T (i.e. “back of throat”, i.e. the last letter of “throat”), like so: S(T)URGEON.

Down clues

1. Me, too old, for love? That’s laying it on thick (7)

Answer: IMPASTO (i.e. “that’s laying [paint] on thick”). Solution is I’M PAST (i.e. “me, too old”) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), like so: I’M-PAST-O.

2. Quidditch for example under way? All is revealed (3,4,2,2)

Answer: THE GAME IS UP (i.e. “all is revealed”). In the Harry Potter books, Quidditch is a game played up in the air. You get the idea.

3. Excellent daughter with source of wealth in my family (2,3,4)

Answer: ME AND MINE (i.e. “my family”). Solution is MEAN (i.e. “excellent”, as in “that deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball”) followed by D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) and MINE (i.e. “source of wealth”, e.g. a gold mine).

4. Area of sea level – heroic sailor looks down on it (9,6)

Answer: TRAFALGAR SQUARE. Clue riffs on the Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson’s Column, which “looks down” on Trafalgar Square.

6. Possible TV programme that’s not polite for vicar (3,5)

Answer: SKY PILOT, a slang description of a vicar (i.e. “that’s not polite for vicar”). Solution also satisfies “possible TV programme”, referring to UK’s Sky TV and how pilot shows are made for prospective TV series.

7. Unrestricted, our planet? Exactly! (3,3,3,5)

Answer: FOR ALL THE WORLD. Solution satisfies “unrestricted, our planet” and “exactly”.

8. Allowed on appeal? I am worried (10)

Answer: LEGITIMATE (i.e. “allowed”). Solution is LEG (i.e. “on”, referring to leg or on side in cricket) followed by IT (i.e. “[sex] appeal”) then I’M (a contraction of “I am”) and ATE (i.e. “worried”, i.e. being eaten with worry).

9. It reflects well on those behind the wheel (4,3)

Answer: CATS EYE. Clue riffs on the small “reflective” disks set into the road to help keep drivers or “those behind the wheel” on the right path.

10. Virtuoso, drunk when partnered? (5)

Answer: Franz LISZT (i.e. “virtuoso”). I had to resort to Google to get this one. I forget The Times often thinks the UK ends at the M25. Anyway, the clue refers to Cockney rhyming slang, “Brahms and Liszt”, i.e. pissed or “drunk”. I love the cheekiness of the clue, but I can’t say I’ve heard this particular epithet.

11. Auditor has some coffee at the table (4,7)

Answer: BEAN COUNTER (i.e. “auditor”). Solution is BEAN (i.e. “some coffee”) followed by COUNTER (i.e. “table”).

12. Left at home as relative goes outside (8)

Answer: SINISTER (i.e. “left”; sinister being left and dexter being right). Solution is IN (i.e. “at home”) with SISTER (i.e. “relative”) placed “outside”, like so: S(IN)ISTER.

13. After a job (4)

Answer: POST. Solution satisfies “after” and “a job”.

20. Music fan makes switch, of sorts (6)

Answer: ROCKER. Solution satisfies “music fan” and “switch, or sorts”, i.e. an on-off switch.

21. Brought as evidence answer worked out with no end of trouble (7)

Answer: ADDUCED (i.e. “brought as evidence”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer” as in Q&A) followed by DEDUCED (i.e. “worked out”) with the first E removed (indicated by “with no end of trouble”, i.e. the last letter of “trouble”), like so: A-DDUCED.

22. Not favour work by ancient author, not started, picked up (6)

Answer: OPPOSE (i.e. “not favour”). Solution is OP (a recognised abbreviation of “opus” or, I like to think, “operation”) followed by AESOP (i.e. “ancient author”) with its initial letter removed (indicated by “not started”) and reversed (indicated by “picked up” – this being a down clue), like so: OP-POSE.

24. Make arrangements concerning publication after tax: it never needs charging (9,6)

Answer: PERMANENT MAGNET, which is “a magnet that keeps its magnetism after the force which magnetised it has been removed” (Chambers) (i.e. “it never needs charging”). Solution is PERM (i.e. “make [hair] arrangements”) followed by ANENT (a Scots word for “concerning”) then MAG (short for “magazine”, i.e. “publication”) and NET (i.e. “after tax”). Phew, what a stinker!

26. Let’s set to work with essentials to make an alloy (9,5)

Answer: STAINLESS STEEL (i.e. “an alloy”). “Set to work” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LETS and ESSENTIALS.

27. Drawer made of carbon fibre (6)

Answer: CRAYON (i.e. “drawer”). Solution is C (chemical symbol of “carbon”) followed by RAYON (i.e. “[man-made] fibre”). Cool clue.

29. Man’s wicked deed invites a sacking (7)

Answer: HESSIAN (i.e. “sacking”). Solution is HE’S (i.e. “man’s”) followed by SIN (i.e. “wicked deed”) once it has been wrapped around or “inviting” A, like so: HE’S-SI(A)N.

31. Remains fine, work list not quite complete (3,3)

Answer: FAG END (i.e. “remains”). Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine”) followed by AGENDA (i.e. “work list”) once it’s last letter has been removed (indicated by “not quite complete”), like so: F-AGEND.

33. Fray garment that collapses in bits (11)

Answer: FRAGMENTARY (i.e. “in bits”). “That collapses” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FRAY GARMENT.

35. In A&E, suffering debilitating condition, try a hymn (5,4,2)

Answer: ABIDE WITH ME (i.e. “hymn”). Solution is A and E followed by WITH M.E. (i.e. “suffering debilitating condition”, i.e. an illness that causes extreme fatigue in its sufferers) all wrapped around BID (i.e. “try”), like so: A(BID)E-WITH-ME.

36. My brain won’t work? Absolutely not (1,4,5)

Answer: I DON’T THINK. Solution satisfies “my brain won’t work” and “absolutely not”.

40. More grown up? Extremely eager cheat (9)

Answer: ADULTERER (i.e. “cheat”). Solution is ADULTER (i.e. “more grown up”) followed by ER (i.e. “extremely eager”, i.e. the first and last letters of “eager”).

41.Extremely popular health centre laid on diets from time to time (2,6)

Answer: IN SPADES (i.e. “extremely”). Solution is IN (i.e. “popular”) followed by SPA (i.e. “health centre”) and DES (i.e. “diets from time to time”, i.e. every other letter of DIETS), like so: IN-SPA-DES.

42. Soldier turned out of New York for a day; was he corrupting the others? (3,5)

Answer: BAD APPLE (i.e. “was he corrupting the others”). Solution is BIG APPLE (i.e. “New York”) with the IG (i.e. “soldier turned out”, i.e. the initials GI reversed) replaced by A and D (a recognised abbreviation of “day”), like so: B(IG)-APPLE => B(A-D)-APPLE.

44. Central European translating English novels (7)

Answer: SLOVENE (i.e. “Central European”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “translating”) of E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and NOVELS.

46. Take a turn around shelter and miss breakfast? (5,2)

Answer: SLEEP IN (i.e. “miss breakfast”). Solution is SPIN (i.e. “take a turn”) placed “around” LEE (i.e. “shelter”), like so: S(LEE)PIN.

48. Crack up without reversal of fortune (5)

Answer: EXTOL (i.e. to praise or “crack up” – a definition that’s supported in Chambers but not in my shiny new Oxford). Solution is EX (i.e. outside of or “without” in Latin) followed by LOT (i.e. “fortune”) once it has been reversed (indicated by… um… “reversal of”), like so: EX-TOL.

50. Almost cutting island (4)

Answer: SARK (i.e. “island”). Solution is SARKY (i.e. being sarcastic or “cutting”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1417

Catching up, here’s my solution for Saturday’s puzzle. This was much more my speed, hence a significantly less grumpy post! You can find explanations for my solutions below, where I have them. I hope you find them useful. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic showing a few gaps then you might find my Just For Fun page a handy place to visit. While you’re here I’ve also got a bunch of book reviews and a short story you can tuck into.

All being well I’ll see you soon for New Year’s Day’s puzzle.


Across clues

1. Desolate region with a wild animal guarding street (9)

Answer: WASTELAND (i.e. “desolate region”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”), A and ELAND (i.e. “wild animal”, a kind of antelope found in East and Southern Africa), all wrapped around or “guarding” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”), like so: W-A-(ST)-ELAND.

6. Graduate absorbed into Sanskrit works comes to island (7)

Answer: SUMATRA (i.e. an Indonesian “island”). Solution is MA (i.e. “graduate”, specifically a Master of Arts) placed in or “absorbed into” SUTRA (i.e. “Sanskrit works”), like so: SU(MA)TRA.

10. Children that might be taken in disagreement? (5)

Answer: ISSUE. Solution satisfies “children” and “that might be taken in disagreement”, as in to take issue with something.

13. Withdraw renegade’s empty pamphlet (7)

Answer: RETRACT (i.e. “withdraw”). Solution is RE (i.e. “renegade’s empty”, i.e. the word RENEGADE with all its middle letters removed) followed by TRACT (i.e. “pamphlet”), like so: RE-TRACT.

14. Determined Armada man took ships (7)

Answer: ADAMANT (i.e. “determined”). “Ships” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: ARM(ADA MAN T)OOK.

15. Feline in tattered coat gives touching display (7)

Answer: TOCCATA (i.e. “touching display” – a toccata is a piece of music that demonstrates a player’s touch, a bit like an elaborate warm-up. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is a famous example, used in countless horror films and TV shows, including Amicus’s Tales From The Crypt. But I digress…) Solution is CAT (i.e. “feline”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “tattered”) of COAT, like so: TOC(CAT)A.

16. In crisis having finished fast food meal? (4,3,5,3,4)

Answer: WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN. Solution satisfies “in crisis” and “having finished fast food meal”.

17. For Inquisition, the one priest (3)

Answer: ELI (i.e. “[Biblical] priest”). Solution is EL (i.e. “for Inquisition, the”, i.e. the Spanish for “the”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”).

18. Begin meal without start of anchovy (6)

Answer: LAUNCH (i.e. “begin”). Solution is LUNCH (i.e. “meal”) wrapped around or placed “without” A (i.e. “start of anchovy”, i.e. the first letter of “anchovy”), like so: L(A)UNCH.

20. Wild and free in Spanish city (6)

Answer: MADRID (i.e. “Spanish city”). Solution is MAD (i.e. “wild”) followed by RID (i.e. “free”).

21. Unmarried mum sensible under different conditions (9)

Answer: OTHERWISE (i.e. “under different circumstances”). Solution is MOTHER (i.e. “mum”) with the M removed (indicated by “unmarried”, M being a recognised abbreviation of “married”) and followed by WISE (i.e. “sensible”), like so: OTHER-WISE.

23. Horsemen completely irritated returning by taxi (10)

Answer: CABALLEROS (i.e. “horsemen”). Solution is ALL (i.e. “completely”) followed by SORE (i.e. “irritated”) which is reversed (indicated by “returning”) and preceded by CAB (i.e. “taxi”), like so: CAB-ALL-EROS. One I remembered from a recent puzzle, if I’m honest.

25. Person met in travelling everywhere at once (11)

Answer: OMNIPRESENT (i.e. “everywhere at once”). “Travelling” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PERSON MET IN.

29. Tried to get boss across river (5)

Answer: HEARD (i.e. “tried”, as in a court case). Solution is HEAD (i.e. “boss”) wrapped around or placed “across” R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”), like so: HEA(R)D.

30. Tool one wants repaired (5,3)

Answer: TENON SAW (i.e. “tool”). “Repaired” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ONE WANTS.

31. Luminous discharge – constellation losing alpha star (8)

Answer: ARCTURUS (i.e. “star”). Solution is ARC (i.e. a “luminous discharge” of electricity) followed by TAURUS (i.e. “constellation”) with its A removed (indicated by “losing alpha”), like so: ARC-TURUS.

34. Female cross going round wide forest (8)

Answer: SHERWOOD (i.e. “forest”). Solution is SHE (i.e. “female”) followed by ROOD (i.e. “[Christ’s] cross”) once it has been wrapped “round” W (a recognised abbreviation of “wide”), like so: SHE-R(W)OOD.

36. Scots banker detains Welshman having caught partner previously (8)

Answer: DIVORCEE (i.e. “partner previously”). Solution is DEE (i.e. “Scots banker”, referring to the River Dee) wrapped around or “detaining” IVOR (i.e. “Welshman”) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games), like so: D(IVOR-C)EE.

37. Hollow black blocks arrive (5)

Answer: COMBE (i.e. “hollow”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “black” used in chess) placed in or “blocking” COME (i.e. “arrive”), like so: COM(B)E.

39. Ancient power revealed in deconstructing mariner poem (5,6)

Answer: ROMAN EMPIRE (i.e. “ancient power”). “Deconstructing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MARINER POEM.

41. Parisian is involved in supporting tight budget (10)

Answer: SHOESTRING (i.e. “tight budget”). Solution is EST (i.e. “Parisian is”, i.e. the French for “is”) placed or “involved in” SHORING (i.e. “supporting”), like so: SHO(EST)RING.

43. Vivacious former queen? (9)

Answer: EXUBERANT (i.e. “vivacious”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) followed by UBER ANT (i.e. “queen”). Cool clue. I like it.

45. Count shocked King Edward (6)

Answer: NUMBER (i.e. “count”). Solution is NUMB (i.e. “shocked”) followed by ER (i.e. “King Edward”, specifically Edwardus Rex).

47. No spring chicken, alumnus about to show concern for alcohol (6)

Answer: BODEGA (i.e. a wine shop or “concern for alcohol”). Solution is AGED (i.e. “no spring chicken”) and OB (i.e. “alumnus”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “old boy”) all reversed (indicated by “about”), like so: BO-DEGA.

49. Female finished where any number disqualified (3)

Answer: DOE (i.e. “female”). Solution is DONE (i.e. “finished”) with the N removed (indicated by “where any number disqualified” – any number being the unknown variable N).

50. Explore specific proposals, though somewhat mechanically (2,7,3,7)

Answer: GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS. Solution satisfies “explore specific proposals” and to do something “somewhat mechanically”.

52. Boy consuming egg and bones (7)

Answer: SURGEON (i.e. “bones”, a nickname given to medical professionals). Solution is SON (i.e. “boy”) wrapped around or “consuming” URGE (i.e. to “egg” someone on), like so: S(URGE)ON.

53. Copper outside a college finds plant extract (7)

Answer: CATECHU (i.e. “plant extract” – no, me neither). Solution is CU (chemical symbol of “copper”) placed “outside” of A TECH (i.e. “a college”), like so: C(A-TECH)U. A brute force of my Chambers was needed for this, which revealed I can’t spell Schopern… Schoppen… 33 down.

54. Retired clergyman comes in to put an end to bondage (7)

Answer: SLAVERY (i.e. “bondage”). Solution is REV (a recognised abbreviation of “reverend”, i.e. “clergyman”) reversed (indicated by “retired”) which is placed “in to” SLAY (i.e. “put an end to”), like so: SLA(VER)Y.

55. Become ready to eat beef – no good before noon (5)

Answer: RIPEN (i.e. “become ready to eat”). Solution is GRIPE (i.e. “beef”) with the G removed (indicated by “no good”, G being a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and then followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “noon”), like so: RIPE-N.

56. Indonesian fellow pens a poem sung (7)

Answer: MALAYAN (i.e. “Indonesian”). Solution is MAN (i.e. “fellow”) wrapped around or “penning” A LAY (i.e. “a poem sung”), like so: M(A-LAY)AN.

57. Memorable revolutionary character (3-6)

Answer: RED-LETTER (i.e. special or “memorable”). Solution is RED (i.e. “revolutionary”) followed by LETTER (i.e. “character”).

Down clues

1. Our lot are blooming revolting, being liable to change (8)

Answer: WEREWOLF (i.e. a “being liable to change”). Solution is WE (i.e. “our lot”) followed by FLOWER (i.e. “blooming” – a bit loose from the setter) which is reversed (indicated by “revolting”, i.e. an uprising, this being a down clue), like so: WE-REWOLF.

2. Scorer required in Johannesburg match? (5)

Answer: Erik SATIE (i.e. “scorer” or composer). When read as SA TIE, the solution also satisfies “Johannesburg match”, Johannesburg being one of the major cities in South Africa. One I got from the wordplay and a quick check on Google, to be honest.

3. Office item least suitable one accepted by city group (7,4)

Answer: ELASTIC BAND (i.e. “office item”). Solution is LAST (i.e. “least suitable”) and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed in or “accepted by” EC (i.e. “city”, as in the postcode area of the City of London) and then followed by BAND (i.e. “group”), like so: E(LAST-I)C-BAND.

4. Learnt to play the horn (6)

Answer: ANTLER (i.e. “horn”). “To play” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LEARNT. A clue that scans really well, which made this a tricky one to twig for quite a while. Well played.

5. Dispatch order? (5,7)

Answer: DEATH WARRANT. Clue riffs on how dispatching someone can be taken to mean killing them. You get the idea.

6. Small mobile home or Beetle? (7)

Answer: SCAMPER (i.e. to scurry or “beetle” about – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by CAMPER (i.e. “mobile home”).

7. Key elements in data one top team’s manipulated (4,3,8)

Answer: MEAT AND POTATOES (i.e. “key elements”). “Manipulated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DATA ONE TOP TEAM’S.

8. What’s rude about article becomes relevant (2,3,5)

Answer: TO THE POINT (i.e. “relevant”). Solution is TO POINT (i.e. “what’s rude”) placed “about” THE (i.e. “article”, which is a word like a, an or the), like so: TO-(THE)-POINT.

9. Sacred place – it faces north in an old church (7)

Answer: ANTIOCH (i.e. “sacred place”). Solution is IT reversed (indicated by “faces north” – this being a down clue) and placed “in” AN, O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and CH (ditto “church”), like so: AN-(TI)-O-CH. Another repeat, albeit one all the way back from Boxing Day 2018’s utter stinker. Bad memories, man… baaaaaad memories!

10. Elected Tory chap round Rugby not compatible (11)

Answer: INCONGRUENT (i.e. “not compatible”). Solution is IN (i.e. “elected”) followed by CON (a recognised abbreviation of the Conservative Party, i.e. “Tory”) and GENT (i.e. “chap”) once it has been placed “round” RU (i.e. “rugby”, specifically Rugby Union – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: IN-CON-G(RU)ENT.

11. Mixed drink traitor served with a little food (9)

Answer: SNAKEBITE (i.e. “mixed drink”). Solution is SNAKE (i.e. “traitor”) followed by BITE (i.e. “a little food”).

12. Study what was formerly a bomb? (7)

Answer: EXAMINE (i.e. “study”). Solution is EX (i.e. “formerly”) followed by A MINE (i.e. “a bomb”).

19. Ignorant girl fighting anyone in the end (7)

Answer: UNAWARE (i.e. “ignorant”). Solution is UNA (i.e. “girl”) followed by WAR (i.e. “fighting”) and E (i.e. “anyone in the end”, i.e. the last letter of “anyone”).

22. Raised floor in factory unable to retain new mould (8)

Answer: PLATFORM (i.e. “raised floor”). Solution is PLANT (i.e. “factory”) with the N removed (indicated by “unable to retain new”, N being a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and then followed by FORM (i.e. “mould”), like so: PLAT-FORM.

24. Daily surfacing of fish on River Test produces new business (7,8)

Answer: SUNRISE INDUSTRY (i.e. “new business”). Not quite got my hooks into this one, if I’m honest. My guess is SUNRISE being “daily surfacing” followed by INDUS (i.e. one of the longest “rivers” in Asia) and TRY (i.e. “test” – ignoring the misleading capitalisation). The “of fish” bit seems a bit redundant, so I’ve probably missed something.
[EDIT: Thanks to Mark in the comments for breaking this down a little more. SUNRISE should be split into SUN (i.e. “daily [UK newspaper]”) and RISE (i.e. “surfacing of fish”). The rest is as described. Thanks, Mark! – LP]

26. Peculiar proposal for paying poets? (8)

Answer: PERVERSE (i.e. “peculiar”). When read as PER VERSE the solution also satisfies “proposal for paying poets”. A near-identical version of this appeared around this time last year in puzzle 1357. It’s weird what I remember sometimes.

27. Examiner perhaps coming in quite stern (6)

Answer: TESTER (i.e. “examiner perhaps”). “Coming in” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: QUI(TE STER)N.

28. Drink from tea service? No crime in that! (6)

Answer: CHASER (i.e. “drink”). Solution is CHA (i.e. “tea”) followed by SERVICE once the VICE has been removed (indicated by “no crime in that”), like so: CHA-SER.

32. Churches in schism in medieval narrative? (7)

Answer: ROMANCE (i.e. story “narrative”). Solution is ROMAN and CE (i.e. “churches in schism”, the latter a recognised abbreviation of the Church of England, which split from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534). I’m guessing the “medieval” bit refers to the time this took place, but history isn’t my strong point.

33. Hours, each horrendous, where writer entertained thinker (12)

Answer: Arthur SCHOPENHAUER (i.e. “thinker”, and, if his picture is any guide, an early inspiration for Tekken stalwart Heihachi Mishima. #NicheVideoGameHumour). Anyway, solution is PEN (i.e. “writer”) placed in or “entertained” by an anagram (indicated by “horrendous”) of HOURS EACH, like so: SCHO(PEN)HAUER.

35. Wife put in ground viridescent shrub (11)

Answer: WINTERGREEN (i.e. “shrub”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “wife”) followed by INTER (i.e. to bury or “put in ground”) and GREEN (i.e. “viridescent”).

37. Sellers here driven to make money? (3,4,4)

Answer: CAR BOOT SALE. Clue riffs on how “driven” can describe one motivated to do something, in this case selling, and also describe a car being driven. You get the idea.

38. Welcome state getting to grips with riots mishandled in the past (10)

Answer: HISTORICAL (i.e. “in the past”). Solution is HI (alternative form of “hello”, i.e. “welcome”) and CAL (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of California) wrapped around or “getting to grips with” an anagram (indicated by “mishandled”) of RIOTS, like so: HI-(STORI)-CAL.

40. Working method Pasteur devised for cheese (9)

Answer: MOUSETRAP (i.e. “cheese” – a cheeky play by the setter, but I like it). Solution is MO (i.e. “working method”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Modus Operandi) followed by an anagram (indicated by “devised”) of PASTEUR, like so: MO-USETRAP.

42. One obstinate and indeed singular philosopher (8)

Answer: NAYSAYER (i.e. “one obstinate”). Solution is N (a contraction of “and”, as seen in Guns N Roses, fish ‘n chips, etc) followed by AY (i.e. “indeed”, as in an alternative form of “aye”), then S (a recognised abbreviation of “singular”) and [A. J.] AYER (i.e. “philosopher”), like so: N-AY-S-AYER.

43. Frenchman taking in French south upset ultimate consumer (3,4)

Answer: END USER (i.e. “ultimate consumer”). Solution is RENE (i.e. “Frenchman”) which is wrapped around or “taking in” SUD (i.e. “French south”, i.e. the French for “south”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “upset” – this being a down clue), like so: EN(DUS)ER.

44. Great lover married? The opposite! (7)

Answer: ANTONYM (i.e. “the opposite”). Solution is Mark ANTONY (i.e. “great lover”, specifically Cleopatra’s bit of fluff) followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “married”). A rather similar clue to this appeared last month in puzzle 1408.

46. Complaint made about this classical style (7)

Answer: MOHICAN (i.e. “[hair]style”). Solution is MOAN (i.e. “complaint”) placed “about” HIC (Latin for “this”), like so: MO(HIC)AN.

48. Made to smile with a thought (6)

Answer: AMUSED (i.e. “made to smile”). Solution is A followed by MUSED (i.e. “thought”).

51. No secret hole on green (5)

Answer: OVERT (i.e. “no secret”). Solution is O (i.e. “hole”) followed by VERT (i.e. “green” in heraldry).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1416

A recent run of good puzzles comes to an end with the Boxing Day stinker. While there were a number of good clues to decode, or clues that scanned rather well, there was also too much silly-buggery to cut through, too many place names (and, yes, I’m including EXMOOR here), repeated solutions and other things that generally get on my wick. It all began to sap the fun out of this one, sadly.

Anyway, you can find my completed grid below along with grumpy explanations of my solutions, where I have them. I hope you find them useful. Before we begin, if you’d like to see recent solutions to other Times Jumbo Cryptic crosswords, check out my Just For Fun page. I’ve got a bunch of book reviews and a short story dotted about the place too should you want to stay a while.

In the meantime, the answers. Good riddance to this one!


Across clues

1. Driving away fast, after return of outcast (9)

Answer: REPELLENT (i.e. “driving away”). Solution is LENT (i.e. “fast”) placed “after” LEPER (i.e. “outcast”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “return of”), like so: REPEL-LENT.

6. Anarchist finally does away with aristos (5)

Answer: TOFFS (i.e. “aristos”). Solution is T (i.e. “anarchist finally”, i.e. the last letter of “anarchist”) followed by OFFS (i.e. “does away with”).

9. Gets round about fifty cracking GIs (7)

Answer: CAJOLES (i.e. “gets round”, as in to coax or persuade). Solution is CA (a recognised abbreviation of circa, i.e. “about”) followed by L (i.e. “[Roman numeral] fifty”) once it has been placed in or “cracking” JOES (i.e. “GIs”), like so: CA-JO(L)ES.

13. Capital from stock drained after short time (5)

Answer: MINSK (i.e. “capital” city of Belarus). Solution is SK (i.e. “stock drained”, i.e. the word STOCK with all the middle letters taken out) placed “after” a recognised abbreviation of MINUTE (indicated by “short time”), like so: MIN-SK.

14. Ray and Mark well impressed by girl in the morning (7)

Answer: SUNBEAM (i.e. “ray”). Solution is NB (short for the Latin nota bene, i.e. “mark well” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) placed in or “impressed by” SUE (i.e. “girl”) and followed by AM (i.e. “in the morning”), like so: SU(NB)E-AM.

15. Thinking no case for park in Irish town (9)

Answer: MULLINGAR (i.e. “Irish town”). Solution is MULLING (i.e. “thinking”) followed by PARK once its first and last letters have been removed (indicated by “no case for park”), like so: MULLING-AR. One gotten through the wordplay alone I’m afraid, Mullingarians, if that’s the right demonym.

16. Agony one might hope to go through? (4,7)

Answer: PAIN BARRIER. Solution plays on the phrase “going through the pain barrier”, “agony” being a heightened sense of pain one would meet along the way. Probably the most straightforward clue of the lot!

17. Mess around dreadfully with end of well-known aria (6,5)

Answer: NESSUN DORMA, an “aria” from Puccini’s opera Turandot which gained fame after it was used as the theme song of BBC’s coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “dreadfully”) of MESS AROUND and N (i.e. “end of well-known”, i.e. the last letter of “well-known”).

18. Gave out after infusion of sulphur: something to do with seawater? (6)

Answer: DESALT (i.e. “something to do with seawater”). Solution is DEALT (i.e. “gave out”) wrapped around or “infusing” S (chemical symbol of “sulphur”), like so: DE(S)ALT.

19. What murderer who has run for nothing has become? (8)

Answer: PRISONER. Solution is POISONER (i.e. “murderer”) with the first O (i.e. “nothing”) replaced by R (a recognised abbreviation of “run” used in several ball games). Good clue!

21. In Fulham after vacation, one has quiet time (4,2)

Answer: FIVE PM (i.e. “time”). Solution is I’VE (a contraction of “I have”, i.e. “one has”) and P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, i.e. “quiet” in musical lingo) both placed “in” FM (i.e. “Fulham after vacation”, i.e. the word FULHAM with all its middle letters removed), like so: F(I’VE-P)M. I appreciate setters can be precious about keeping certain solutions in their grids, particularly if they’ve conjured up a good clue for them, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of having to fill awkward gaps with made-to-fit rubbish like this.

25. Mister Angry’s up for a scrap (5,3)

Answer: SPRAY GUN (i.e. “mister”, as in something that creates a mist). “For a scrap” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ANGRY’S UP. Took a while to twig this one. Another good clue.

26. Regulator in carburettor: small copper one? (9,5)

Answer: BUTTERFLY VALVE (i.e. “regulator in carburettor”). “Small copper one” refers to how coppers are a type of butterfly. Not much more to it than that, unless I’m missing something clever. I got the VALVE bit but, not being an engineer or mechanic, I had to sift through Wikipedia for the rest.

28. Go round and round at speed (5)

Answer: OOMPH (i.e. “go”, as in vim and vigour and suchlike). Solution is OO (i.e. “round and round”) followed by MPH (a recognised abbreviation of miles per hour, i.e. “speed”).

29. One full of idle chatter that’s put on Flower of Scotland? (6)

Answer: DEEJAY. A guess, this, so watch out. I suppose the operative part of the clue is “one full of idle chatter”, referring to disk jockeys, but this seems weak as they’re there to play music, not to blather on. Alternatively, “put on” could refer to dinner jackets, also known as deejays, but again this is weak and also flies against convention by sticking the operative part in the middle of the clue. As for the solution, I’m taking “Flower of Scotland” to be the River DEE, and a JAY as something that could be said to “chatter” (do they, though?). Frankly, your guess is as good as mine. If this is in anyway correct then bloody hell, setter, have a word with yourself. (If I’ve read the tells correctly, this setter was also responsible for this beast back in September, which might explain some of the abstruse clueing on show this week.)

30. Correct having navy lead? (4,6)

Answer: BLUE PENCIL (i.e. “[to] correct”). Solution riffs on navy being a dark “blue” colour, and how one would have “lead” in a pencil. You get the idea. Tsk… you wait ages for a BLUE PENCIL and two come along at once. A case of setter-see-setter-do, or an editor fail?

33. No-one’s charged after this brawl? (4-3-3)

Answer: FREE-FOR-ALL. Solution satisfies “brawl” and “no-one’s charged”. A clue that scans rather well.

35. Is one’s pouch for a naval NCO’s money? (6)

Answer: POSSUM, the females of which have “pouches”. Solution is PO’S (i.e. “naval NCO’s”, specifically a Petty Officer’s – an NCO being a non-commissioned officer) followed by SUM (i.e. “money”). Another clue that’s trying a bit too hard.

36. Tips off secretary before backing academic council (5)

Answer: SYNOD (i.e. “council”). Solution is SY (i.e. “tips off secretary”, i.e. the first and last letters of “secretary”) followed by DON (i.e. “academic”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “backing”), like so: SY-NOD.

38. Vin rosé, perhaps, and a good book! (7,7)

Answer: REVISED VERSION, an English translation of the Bible published in the late nineteenth century (i.e. “a good book”). Clue riffs on how VERSION is an anagram or a REVISED VERSION of VIN ROSÉ. Good clue!

40. Drug pusher’s outside, on holy ground (8)

Answer: ROHYPNOL (i.e. “drug”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “ground”) of ON HOLY and PR (i.e. “pusher’s outside”, i.e. the first and last letters of “pusher”). Another good ‘un.

42. Employ variables, including indefinite number, missing out on 28? (6)

Answer: UNSEXY (i.e. “missing out on 28” – the answer to 28a is OOMPH, which can also mean sex appeal). Solution is USE (i.e. “employ”) and XY (i.e. “variables” – setters like to refer to the letters X, Y and Z as variables or unknowns in their clues) wrapped around or “including” N (i.e. an “indefinite number”), like so: U(N)SE-X-Y.

43. Peg, note, taking wine, was unsteady (8)

Answer: TEETERED (i.e. “was unsteady”). Solution is TEE (i.e. “peg”) followed by TE (i.e. “note”, in the doh-ray-me fashion) and RED (i.e. “wine”).

44. Short drink in unspecified French town (6)

Answer: ANNECY (i.e. “French town”). Solution is NECK (i.e. “drink”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”) and placed in ANY (i.e. “unspecified”), like so: AN(NEC)Y. A nod to Britannica’s website for this one. More evidence of the setter playing silly buggers here. I’m sure there are less obscure solutions that could have fitted the letters -N-E-Y. Like UNSEXY, for example. Oh, wait…

47. Break from tension caused by cracks? (5,6)

Answer: COMIC RELIEF (i.e. “break from tension”). Clue riffs on how “cracks” can refer to jokes. That’s about it, I guess.

50. Sharp fragments with eg acid in the form of smoke (5-6)

Answer: CIGAR-SHAPED (i.e. “in the form of [a] smoke”). “Fragments” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SHARP and EG ACID.

52. Greens best to embrace the ballot box (6,3)

Answer: TURNIP TOP, the “green” bit atop a turnip. Solution is TIP TOP (i.e. “best”) wrapped around URN (i.e. “ballot box” – referring to a vessel used in Roman times to hold voting tablets), like so: T(URN)IPTOP.

53. Brief plea to wake someone with a bouquet? (7)

Answer: ODOROUS (i.e. “with a bouquet”, as in having a smell). Solution is O DO ROUSE (i.e. “plea to wake someone”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “brief”).

54. Revolutionary way to shift article, not easily swallowed? (5)

Answer: CHEWY (i.e. “not easily swallowed”). Solution is CHE Guevara (i.e. “revolutionary”) followed by WAY once the A has been removed (indicated by “way to shift article” – articles refer to words such as a, an and the), like so: CHE-WY.

55. Receiver of French visits informed (7)

Answer: AWARDEE (i.e. “receiver”). Solution is DE (i.e. “of French”, i.e. French for “of”) placed in or “visiting” AWARE (i.e. “informed”), like so: AWAR(DE)E.

56. Exercises help us get ready for the Andes (5)

Answer: PESOS (i.e. “ready for the Andes”, i.e. currencies of Colombia, Chile and Argentina, all of which occupy parts of the Andes mountain range). Solution is PE (i.e. “exercises”, specifically Physical Education) followed by SOS (i.e. “help us”, i.e. Save Our Souls).

57. Command ultimately is passed on and observed – or not (9)

Answer: DISOBEYED (i.e. “command … not observed”). Solution is D (i.e. “command ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “command”) followed by IS, then OB (i.e. “passed on”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of obiit, Latin for “died”) and EYED (i.e. “observed”).

Down clues

1. US band, with revolutionary sound system, will make chart again (5)

Answer: REMAP (i.e. “chart again”). Solution is REM (i.e. “US band”) followed by PA (i.e. “sound system”, specifically a Public Address system) which is reversed (indicated by “revolutionary”, i.e. an uprising, this being a down clue), like so: REM-AP.

2. Change out of blue number (7,4,6)

Answer: PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, a song or “number” from a 1936 film of the same name. Solution also satisfies “change out of blue”: “change” being pennies and “blue” being another name for the sky or heavens. You get the idea.

3. Hard to dig: can only hoe at first (4,5-2)

Answer: LIKE BILLY-OH (i.e. “hard”). Solution is LIKE (i.e. “to dig”) followed by BILLY (i.e. a “can” used to help boil water outdoors) and OH (i.e. “only hoe at first”, i.e. the first letters of “only” and “hoe”).

4. Guarantee Peru’s neutrality will hold up (6)

Answer: ENSURE (i.e. “guarantee”). “Will hold” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “up” indicates the solution has been reversed – this being a down clue – like so: P(ERU’S NE)UTRALITY.

5. African city rarely gets rain (8)

Answer: TANGIERS (i.e. “African city”). “Rarely” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GETS RAIN. A clue that scans rather well.

6. Pope’s observation hurts: Rome in a flap (2,3,2,5)

Answer: TO ERR IS HUMAN (i.e. “[Alexander] Pope’s conclusion”). “Flap” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HURTS ROME IN A.

7. Iron mining, mostly filthy, not oddly something all men want (10)

Answer: FEMININITY (i.e. “something all men want”. Hmm. Misogynists included?). Solution is FE (chemical symbol of “iron”) followed by MINING with its last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and then ITY (i.e. “filthy, not oddly”, i.e. the even letters of FILTHY), like so: FE-MININ-ITY.

8. Reservoirs in time avoided by foxes (5)

Answer: SUMPS (i.e. “reservoirs”). Solution is STUMPS (i.e. “foxes”, as in to baffle someone) with the T removed (indicated by “time avoided by…” – T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”).

9. Cull of our bats is slightly obscene (9)

Answer: COLOURFUL (i.e. “slightly obscene”). “Bats” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CULL OF OUR.

10. Cross-channel transport missed if you’re late? (4,2,5)

Answer: JOIE DE VIVRE, French for a lust or zest for life. “Cross-channel” hints the solution is a French phrase, while to “transport” someone can mean to evoke a strong emotion or ecstasy in them, which isn’t quite the same a joy of life but I guess the setter had to panel-beat this clue into shape somehow. Anyway, the “missed if you’re late” bit riffs on how such joie de vivre disappears once one… er… see 32 down!

11. One who totes, half-heartedly, a gun (5)

Answer: LUGER (i.e. “gun”). Solution is LUGGER (i.e. “one who totes” or carries) with one of the middle Gs removed (indicated by “half-heartedly”).

12. Comic that is requiring much paper (6)

Answer: SCREAM (i.e. “comic”, as in side-splittingly funny as opposed to the short-lived and much missed UK horror comic of the 1980s). Solution is SC (i.e. “that is”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of the Latin silicet, meaning “namely”) followed by REAM (i.e. “much paper”).

18. Dance music rather loud: men tango in irritation (10)

Answer: DISCOMFORT (i.e. “irritation”). Solution is DISCO (i.e. “dance music”) followed by MF (a recognised abbreviation of mezzo-forte, i.e. “rather loud” in music lingo, as in not quite loud rather than very loud – isn’t the English language fun?!(?!?)) then OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army) and T (“Tango” in the phonetic alphabet).

20. Countryman in brown coat crossing river with boxer (8)

Answer: RURALIST (i.e. “countryman”). Solution is RUST (i.e. “brown coat” of some oxidised metals) wrapped around or “crossing” R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”) and Muhammad ALI (i.e. “boxer”), like so: RU(R-ALI)ST.

22. Heraldic feature sort of crossing improperly herein: pity! (7,2,3,5)

Answer: PELICAN IN HER PIETY (i.e. “heraldic feature”). According to medieval legend, a pelican could revive its dead young with its own blood, an image which went on to become popular in heraldry. Solution is PELICAN (i.e. “sort of crossing”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “improperly”) of HEREIN PITY, like so: PELICAN-INHERPIETY.

23. Juliet, one dispensing milk shake (6)

Answer: JUDDER (i.e. “shake”). Solution is J (“Juliet” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by UDDER (i.e. “one dispensing milk”). A well worked clue.

24. Chap left money about to perform a musical (5,5)

Answer: HELLO DOLLY (i.e. “musical”). Solution is HE (i.e. “chap”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and LOLLY (i.e. “money”) once it has been wrapped “about” DO (i.e. “to perform”), like so: HE-L-LO(DO)LLY.

27. A feature in camp(anology)? (4,4)

Answer: BELL TENT, which, funnily enough, is a bell-shaped tent that might “feature in a camp”. Campanologists are also known as bell-ringers, hence the “(anology)” bit. You get the idea.

31. Old doctor regaled at first with a load of old pony! (6)

Answer: EXMOOR (i.e. “pony”). Solution is EX (i.e. “old”) followed by MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) and R (i.e. “regaled at first”, i.e. the first letter of “regaled”) wrapped around or “loaded” with O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), like so: EX-MO-(O)-R.

32. Father and I stop moving, with ship about to depart (3,4,5)

Answer: POP ONE’S CLOGS (i.e. to die or “depart”). Solution is POP (i.e. “father”) followed by ONE (i.e. “I”) then CLOG (i.e. to block or “stop moving”) once SS (i.e. “ship”) has been placed “about” it, like so: POP-ONE-S(CLOG)S.

34. Youngster cared for orchids left to wither (6,5)

Answer: FOSTER CHILD (i.e. “youngster cared for”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to wither”) of ORCHIDS LEFT.

36. Recorder for something that’s often articulated informally (3,2,3,3)

Answer: SPY IN THE CAB, which is a device that keeps track of the mileage and such of trucks, i.e. “recorder”. Clue riffs on how “articulated” can mean spoken or, in the context of trucks, of articulated lorries. Not a great clue, all told, unless I’m missing something particularly clever.

37. Cynophilist’s claim overheard in the London area (4,2,4)

Answer: ISLE OF DOGS (i.e. “London area”). “Overheard” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of I LOVE DOGS (i.e. a “cynophilist’s claim”). A good clue once you know what a cynophilist is!

39. Lawman taking Young Conservatives on short course in welfare building (3,6)

Answer: DAY CENTRE (i.e. “welfare building”). Solution is DA (i.e. “lawman”, specifically a District Attorney) followed by YC (a recognised abbreviation of “Young Conservatives”) and ENTRE (i.e. “short course” of a meal).
[EDIT: I was a little lax here. The ENTRE part should be ENTREE (i.e. “course”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”). – LP]

41. Day just about beginning for wizard Potter (8)

Answer: Josiah WEDGWOOD (i.e. “Potter” – no, me neither). Solution is WED (i.e. “day”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Wednesday) followed by GOOD (i.e. “just”) once it has been placed “about” W (i.e. “beginning for wizard”), like so: WED-G(W)OOD. One gotten solely from the wordplay.

45. I was regularly seen with sea monster in drink (3,3)

Answer: ICE TEA (i.e. “drink”). Solution is IA (i.e. “I was regularly”, i.e. every other letter of I WAS) with CETE (i.e. “sea monster”) placed “inside”, like so: I(CETE)A.

46. They do breakdown of light image consultancy jargon? (6)

Answer: PRISMS (i.e. “they do breakdown of light”). When read as PR ISMS – PR being a recognised abbreviation of Press Release or Public Relations – the solution also satisfies “image consultancy jargon”. I liked this when I finally twigged it.

48. Maybe miss show in the morning, on getting up (5)

Answer: MARIA (i.e. “maybe miss”, as in a girl’s name… ugh, I’m never keen when setters resort to names to help plug the gaps). Solution is AIR (i.e. “[to] show”) followed by AM (i.e. “in the morning”). The whole is then reversed, indicated by “on getting up” – this being a down clue – like so: MA-RIA.

49. Expectant, perhaps, as Afghan model lowers top (2,3)

Answer: IN-PUP (i.e. “expectant, perhaps, as Afghan”, referring to the breed of dog). Solution is PIN-UP (i.e. “model”) with the first letter knocked down a couple of notches (indicated by “lowers top” – this being a down clue).

51. Wood spirit not on alcohol promotion (5)

Answer: DRYAD (i.e. “wood spirit”). Solution is DRY (i.e. “not on alcohol”) followed by AD (i.e. “promotion”, being a recognised abbreviation of “advertisement”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1415

Another pretty good puzzle this week, with a few clues that worked rather well. The only blots on the landscape were a few recent repeats. Now we must hunker down and prepare ourselves for The Boxing Day Stinker!

Speaking of which, I’ll be away from my laptop for a few days over Christmas, wrapping these grubby hands of mine around a steady succession of pints. All being well, I’ll have a Boxing Day solution up at some point next weekend.

As for this week’s puzzle, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful. Solutions to previous Times Jumbo Cryptic crosswords can be found on my Just For Fun page. I’ve a few book reviews dotted around the place too, and even a short story if you’re into that kind of thing.

Right. To the answers then! TTFN.


Across clues

1. Not close to Italian? On the contrary (3,4,2)

Answer: FAR FROM IT (i.e. “on the contrary”). When IT is read as a recognised abbreviation of “Italian”, the solution also satisfies “not close to Italian”.

6. Attack report revealing credit arrangement (6,7)

Answer: CHARGE ACCOUNT. Solution satisfies an “attack report” and “credit arrangement”. The first of a few repeats in this grid, this one being a near carbon copy of another appearing only last month.

13. Forward terms of reference (5)

Answer: REMIT (i.e. to advance or “forward” something, usually money). The setter has thrown me here, so watch out. I’m guessing “terms of reference” indicates the solution comprises recognised abbreviations of terms of reference, such as RE (i.e. concerning something). Quite where MIT fits into this, though, is a mystery.
[EDIT: Thanks to Sid and Clive in the comments for pointing out “terms of reference” is merely one of REMIT’s umpteen definitions. A quick check in Chambers and there it was, tucked away. Thanks all! – LP]

14. Lifting problem? (11)

Answer: KLEPTOMANIA, an impulsive urge to steal. Clue riffs on how “lifting” is another word for stealing.

15. Relish spring, reportedly (5)

Answer: SAUCE. Solution satisfies “relish” and “spring, reportedly”, as in a homophone of SOURCE [of water].

16. Revolutionary chess organisation all the players, men, backed after second of elections (5,6)

Answer: FIDEL CASTRO (i.e. “revolutionary”). Solution is FIDE (i.e. “chess organisation”) followed by CAST (i.e. “all the players”) and OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army), the latter reversed (indicated by “backed”). CAST and RO are placed “after” L (i.e. “second of elections”, i.e. the second letter of the word “elections”), like so: FIDE-L-CAST-RO.

17. Retailer’s son pulled apart guard (11)

Answer: STOREKEEPER (i.e. “retailer”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) followed by TORE (i.e. “pulled apart”) and KEEPER (i.e. “guard”).

18. Left one’s home, dated (4,3)

Answer: GONE OUT. Solution satisfies “left one’s house” and “dated”.

20. One fills some of the time at work (7)

Answer: DENTIST. Clue riffs on how dentists fill some of their time at work filling teeth.

21. I caught it sitting next to poorly criminal (7)

Answer: ILLICIT (i.e. “criminal”). Solution is I, then C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games) and IT, which are all then placed “next to” ILL (i.e. “poorly”), like so: ILL-I-C-IT. A clue that scans rather well.

23. Film male and female in ditch coupling (3,6,10)

Answer: THE FRENCH CONNECTION (i.e. “film”, and a mighty fine one too). Solution is HE (i.e. “male”) and F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) placed in TRENCH (i.e. “ditch”) and followed by CONNECTION (i.e. “coupling”), like so: T(HE-F)RENCH-CONNECTION. Another clue that scans well, particularly in smutty minds such as mine.

27. Fabulous bird having origins in Russia or China (3)

Answer: ROC (i.e. “fabulous bird”). “Having origins in” suggests the solution can be derived by taking the initial letters of RUSSIA OR CHINA.

28. Member of the clergy in park by rocky hill (6)

Answer: RECTOR (i.e. “member of the clergy”). Solution is REC (i.e. a recreation area or “park”) followed by TOR (i.e. “rocky hill”).

29. Performer appearing in Hobart is Tasmanian (6)

Answer: ARTIST (i.e. “performer”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: HOB(ART IS T)ASMANIAN.

31. Hit black bird of prey in hollow (9)

Answer: PUNCHBOWL (i.e. a “hollow” in the ground). Solution is PUNCH (i.e. “hit”) followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “black” used in chess) and OWL (i.e. “bird of prey”).

34. Page writer inside saw in supplement (9)

Answer: APPENDAGE (i.e. “supplement”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “page”) and PEN (i.e. “writer”) both placed in ADAGE (i.e. “saw”, as in a phrase or motto), like so: A(P-PEN)DAGE.

35. Better when Focke, perhaps, loses height (6)

Answer: ENRICH (i.e. “better”). Solution is HENRICH (i.e. “Focke, perhaps” – other historical Henrichs are available) with the initial H removed (indicated by “losing height”, H being a recognised abbreviation of “height”).

36. Lucky charm found in the old lady’s bed (6)

Answer: MASCOT (i.e. “lucky charm”). Solution is MA’S (i.e. “the old lady’s”) and COT (i.e. “bed”).

39. Rhubarb crumble (3)

Answer: ROT. Solution satisfies “rhubarb” (as in tosh, piffle and horse feathers) and “crumble”.

40. Record statement made by Walter Mitty? (3,1,4,2,2,2,5)

Answer: ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM (i.e. a “record” by The Everly Brothers). Solution also satisfies “statement made by Walter Mitty”, an intrepid daydreamer, after a character from a short story by James Thurber.

42. Lock of hair stuck inside covering letter (7)

Answer: RINGLET (i.e. “lock of hair”). “Stuck inside” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: COVE(RING LET)TER. Despite having the solution, it took me ages to spot what the setter was doing here. Well played.

43. Caustic play on words fellow delivers (7)

Answer: PUNGENT (i.e. “caustic”). Solution is PUN (i.e. “play on words”) followed by GENT (i.e. “fellow”).

45. Boat clubs backed by authority (7)

Answer: CORACLE (i.e. “boat”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “clubs” used in card games) followed or “backed by” ORACLE (i.e. “authority”).

47. Gemstone is left in Bolivian city university, large one (5,6)

Answer: LAPIS LAZULI (i.e. a deep blue semiprecious “gemstone”). Solution is IS and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) both placed in LA PAZ (i.e. “Bolivian city”) and followed by U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”), L (ditto “large”) and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: LA-P(IS-L)AZ-U-L-I.

49. Scottish group in Arizona react, badly about me being imprisoned (5,6)

Answer: AZTEC CAMERA (i.e. “Scottish group” who scored a hit with “Somewhere In My Heart” back in the 80s). Solution is AZ (a recognised abbreviation of “Arizona”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “badly”) of REACT which is placed around or “imprisoning” CA (a recognised abbreviation of “circa”, i.e. “about”) and ME, like so: AZ-TEC(CA-ME)RA.

51. Brigadoon girl heading off round island’s ancient region (5)

Answer: IONIA (i.e. “ancient region”). Solution is FIONA (i.e. “Brigadoon girl”, i.e. one of the lead characters in the musical Brigadoon) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “heading off”) and the remainder placed “about” I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”), like so: ION(I)A.

52. Ordered cab to canals in Spanish region (5,6)

Answer: COSTA BLANCA (i.e. “Spanish region”). “Ordered” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CAB TO CANALS.

53. Strangely frightening eastern chain with no borders (5)

Answer: EERIE (i.e. “strangely frightening”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”) followed by SERIES (i.e. “chain”) once the first and last letters have been removed (indicated by “with no borders”), like so: E-ERIE.

54. Courage needed with large waves: they cause grief (13)

Answer: HEARTBREAKERS (i.e. “they cause grief”). Solution is HEART (i.e. “courage”) followed by BREAKERS (i.e. “large waves”).

55. Murderer that court set free (3-6)

Answer: CUT-THROAT (i.e. “murderer”). “Set free” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of THAT COURT. Another clue that scans rather well.

Down clues

1. Emergency service worker using axe on military aircraft (11)

Answer: FIREFIGHTER (i.e. “emergency service worker”). Solution is FIRE (i.e. “[to] axe [someone]”) followed by FIGHTER (i.e. “military aircraft”).

2. Mother entering stage school gets lead in Norma fast (7)

Answer: RAMADAN (i.e. “fast”). Solution is MA (i.e. “mother”) placed in or “entering” RADA (i.e. “stage school”) and then followed by N (i.e. “lead in Norma”, i.e. the first letter of “Norma”), like so: RA(MA)DA-N.

3. Charge pounds for a badger-like creature (5)

Answer: RATEL (i.e. “badger-like creature”, specifically the famously badass honey badger). Solution is RATE (i.e. “charge”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “pounds” of weight).

4. Batsmen hoping to do this adopt a determined attitude? (4,1,5)

Answer: MAKE A STAND. Solution satisfies “batsmen hoping to do this” in cricket, and “adopt a determined attitude”.

5. Attended to grooved surface round edges of tyre (7)

Answer: TREATED (i.e. “attended to”). Solution is TREAD (i.e. “grooved surface”) placed “round” TE (i.e. “edges of tyre”, i.e. the first and last letters of “tyre”), like so: TREA(TE)D.

6. Wallpaper may have been put in one’s place (3,4,2,4)

Answer: CUT DOWN TO SIZE. Solution satisfies “[as] wallpaper may have been” and “put in one’s place”.

7. District Attorney up calling for confession (9)

Answer: ADMISSION (i.e. “confession”). Solution is DA (a recognised abbreviation of “District Attorney”) reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue) and followed by MISSION (i.e. “calling”), like so: AD-MISSION.

8. Naval vessel in attack, protecting peacekeepers? Bravo (7)

Answer: GUNBOAT (i.e. “naval vessel”). Solution is [have a] GO AT (i.e. “attack”) wrapped around or “protecting” UN (i.e. “peacekeepers”, specifically the United Nations) and B (“Bravo” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: G(UN-B)O-AT.

9. Institute members came in as acid thrown (12)

Answer: ACADEMICIANS (i.e. “institute members”). “Thrown” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CAME IN AS ACID.

10. Governor’s girl in prisoner (9)

Answer: CASTELLAN (i.e. “governor” of a castle). Solution is STELLA (i.e. “girl”) placed “in” CAN (i.e. “prison”), like so: CA(STELLA)N. I’m guessing the “can of Stella” wordplay had already been used for this solution…

11. Supplant head of union by surprise? Not half! (5)

Answer: USURP (i.e. “supplant”). Solution is U (i.e. “head of union”, i.e. the first letter of “union”) followed by SURP (i.e. “surprise? Not half”, i.e. remove the latter half of SURPRISE), like so: U-SURP.

12. The staggering article about oxygen is speculative (11)

Answer: THEORETICAL (i.e. “speculative”). Solution is THE and an anagram (indicated by “staggering”) of ARTICLE both placed “about” O (chemical symbol for “oxygen”), like so: THE-(O)-RETICAL.

19. Worn out, comic producing play (3,4)

Answer: OUR TOWN (i.e. 1938 “play” by Thornton Wilder). “Comic producing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WORN OUT. One gotten from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

22. Concern about rival in case (9)

Answer: CARTOUCHE (i.e. “case” for fireworks or old-school ammunition, for example). Solution is CARE (i.e. “concern”) placed “about” TOUCH (i.e. “rival”, as in “you can’t touch this”), like so: CAR(TOUCH)E.

24. Operetta: top it in style (2,7)

Answer: EL CAPITAN (i.e. 1896 “operetta” by John Philip Sousa). Solution is CAP (i.e. “top”) and IT both placed “in” ELAN (i.e. “style”), like so: EL(CAP-IT)AN. Another gotten solely from the wordplay.

25. Rachel thrown under horse in North Wales town (7)

Answer: HARLECH (i.e. “North Wales town”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “thrown”) of RACHEL placed after (or “under” – this being a down clue) H (a recognised abbreviation of “heroin”, also informally referred to as “horse”), like so: H-ARLECH. Yet another one gotten solely from the wordplay. The town hit the headlines this year it seems, recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as having the world’s steepest street, but I must have missed it. Knowing how steep some of Durham’s streets can get, the good people of Harlech have my sympathy.

26. Top Italian novelist died in coastal area of Massachusetts (4,3)

Answer: CAPE COD (i.e. “coastal area of Massachusetts”). Solution is CAP (i.e. “top”) followed by Umberto ECO (i.e. “Italian novelist”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “died”). Hmm. That reminds me. I ought to rescue “Foucault’s Pendulum” from the corridors of my to-be-read pile sometime soon. Well, soonish.

30. Change what one plays in casino and get ahead after being behind? (4,3,6)

Answer: TURN THE TABLES (i.e. “get ahead after being behind”). Solution is TURN (i.e. “change”) followed by THE TABLES (i.e. “what one plays in casino”).

32. Not so easy housing old compulsive collector (7)

Answer: HOARDER (i.e. “compulsive collector”). Solution is HARDER (i.e. “not so easy”) wrapped around or “housing” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”), like so: H(O)ARDER.

33. Allow daughter to interrupt acrobat, an artiste (6,6)

Answer: BALLET DANCER (i.e. “an artiste”). Solution is LET (i.e. “allow”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) placed in or “interrupting” BALANCER (i.e. “acrobat”), like so: BAL(LET-D)ANCER.

34. Goddess, British actress, in a work by Browning (6,5)

Answer: AURORA LEIGH (i.e. “a work by [Elizabeth Barrett] Browning” – shrugs shoulders). Solution is AURORA (i.e. Roman “goddess” of dawn) followed by Vivien LEIGH (i.e. “British actress”).

37. Method of painting intended, we hear, to depict nature (11)

Answer: TEMPERAMENT (i.e. “nature”). Solution is TEMPERA (i.e. “method of painting”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of MEANT (i.e. “intended”).

38. Magic circle originally taken in with guile (10)

Answer: WITCHCRAFT (i.e. “magic”). Solution is C (i.e. “circle originally”, i.e. the first letter of “circle”) placed or “taken in” WITH and then followed by CRAFT (i.e. “guile”), like so: WIT(C)H-CRAFT. This was another that took ages to get. Well played.

40. Impressive person, girl, appearing in double bill, then tango (1,5,3)

Answer: A CLASS ACT (i.e. “impressive person”). Solution is LASS (i.e. “girl”) placed “in” between AC and AC (i.e. “double bill” – AC being a recognised abbreviation of “account”), then followed by T (“Tango” in the phonetic alphabet”), like so: AC-(LASS)-AC-T.

41. Clear leader in variety show (9)

Answer: VINDICATE (i.e. “clear”). Solution is V (i.e. “leader in variety”, i.e. the first letter of “variety”) followed by INDICATE (i.e. “show”). For ages I had this as VENTILATE, which also fitted “clear”. Clearly this was not to be. Another clue that was well played.

43. Former German state – American in Paris confused (7)

Answer: PRUSSIA (i.e. “former German state”). Solution is US (i.e. “American”) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “confused”) of PARIS, like so: PR(US)SIA.

44. Huge film (7)

Answer: TITANIC. Solution satisfies “huge” and a 1997 “film”. Something about a ship, I seem to recall. Another recent repeat too.

46. Salute maiden seduced by Zeus for so long (7)

Answer: CHEERIO (i.e. “so long”). Solution is CHEER (i.e. “salute”) followed by IO (i.e. “maiden seduced by Zeus”).

48. Herbivore also kept by father (5)

Answer: PANDA (i.e. “herbivore”). Solution is AND (i.e. “also”) placed in or “kept by” PA (i.e. “father”), like so: P(AND)A.

50. A letter in Hebrew starts to amaze locals entering public house (5)

Answer: ALEPH (i.e. “a letter in Hebrew”). “Starts to” indicates the solution can be derived by taking the initial letters of AMAZE LOCALS ENTERING PUBLIC HOUSE.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1414

Another good ‘un this week, with plenty of well worked clues to keep solvers entertained. There were a few repeats to contend with, but, overall, this was good clean fun.

You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful. If you have a previous puzzle that’s showing a few gaps then you might also find my Just For Fun page a helpful resource. While you’re here, feel free to check out the odd book review, or indulge in a short story. If I had biscuits in, I’d offer them too, but I don’t. (Hides biscuits.)

Right. (Munch, munch, munch…) To the (chomp…) solutions then.


Across clues

1. Anxious – unlocked is it? (10)

Answer: DISTRESSED. Solution satisfies “anxious” and, cryptically, “unlocked”. (Tresses and locks are other words for hair, so if one has a haircut, they could be said to be both distressed and unlocked.)

6. Prayer treasured for rescuer at sea (5,7)

Answer: GRACE DARLING, who, in the nineteenth century, gained fame when she helped rescue survivors of a shipwreck (i.e. “rescuer at sea”). Solution is GRACE (i.e. “prayer”) followed by DARLING (i.e. “treasured”). A name that rang a bell, weirdly, though I couldn’t have said why.

14. Chapter I’d rewritten for a song? (4,5)

Answer: DIRT CHEAP (i.e. “[going] for a song”). “Rewritten” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CHAPTER I’D.

15. Wander north into red mist? (5)

Answer: RANGE (i.e. “wander”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “north”) placed “into” RAGE (i.e. “red mist”), like so: RA(N)GE.

16. Staff teacher in ancient kingdom (7)

Answer: MACEDON (i.e. “ancient kingdom”, also known as Macedonia, not to be confused with North Macedonia. I know, I know, it’s all Greek to me too…) Solution is MACE (i.e. “staff”) followed by DON (i.e. “teacher”).

17. Entering maturity, things better work out fab – forget senility! (4,6,2,5)

Answer: LIFE BEGINS AT FORTY (i.e. “entering maturity, things [get] better”). “Work out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FAB FORGET SENILITY.

18. Specific done deed? (5)

Answer: EXACT (i.e. “specific”). When read as EX-ACT, the solution also satisfies a “done deed”.

19. Remains of ashes, perhaps? (7)

Answer: SAWDUST. Clue refers to ash trees. If one was to take a saw to the wood from an ash tree, you’d get SAWDUST “remaining”. “Ashes”, following a cremation, are also said to be “remains”. You get the idea.

21. About to happen, but not starting – far from it? (6)

Answer: ENDING (i.e. “starting – far from it”). Solution is PENDING (i.e. “about to happen”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “but not starting”).

22. Girl embracing fashion finally, swimmer in broad hat, possibly? (8)

Answer: SUNSHADE (i.e. “broad hat, possibly”). Solution is SUE (i.e. “girl”) wrapped around or “embracing” N (i.e. “fashion finally”, i.e. the last letter of “fashion”) and SHAD (i.e. “swimmer”, as in a fish – did a Google Image search… yup, fish), like so: SU(N-SHAD)E.

24. Alone, dude in a shambles (7)

Answer: UNAIDED (i.e. “alone”). “Shambles” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DUDE IN A.

26. In the box, fashionable items ultimately glittering (8)

Answer: TINSELLY (i.e. “glittering”). Solution is IN (i.e. “fashionable”) and S (i.e. “items ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “items”) both placed “in” TELLY (i.e. “the box”, both referring to a television), like so: T(IN-S)ELLY.

27. At first, everything in hand before a party (6)

Answer: FIESTA (i.e. “party”). Solution is E (i.e. “at first, everything”, i.e. the first letter of “everything”) placed “in” FIST (i.e. “hand”), all placed “before” A, like so: FI(E)ST-A.

30. Difficult finding Russian bread in volume (11)

Answer: TROUBLESOME (i.e. “difficult”). Solution is ROUBLES (i.e. “Russian bread”, i.e. Russian currency) placed “in” TOME (i.e. a book or “volume”), like so: T(ROUBLES)OME.

32. Still about one metre of layered rock (11)

Answer: SEDIMENTARY (i.e. “layered rock”). Solution is SEDENTARY (i.e. “still”) placed “about” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and M (a recognised abbreviation of “metre”), like so: SED(I-M)ENTARY.

33. Women cursing very, very loudly outside, stops paying attention (8,3)

Answer: SWITCHES OFF (i.e. “stops paying attention”). Solution is SO (i.e. “very”) and FF (a recognised abbreviation of “fortissimo”, i.e. “very loudly”) placed “outside” of WITCHES (i.e. “women cursing”), like so: S(WITCHES)O-FF.

35. Important carrier ship joining race (5,6)

Answer: BLOOD VESSEL (i.e. “important carrier”). Solution is VESSEL (i.e. “ship”) placed after BLOOD (i.e. “race”).

37. Damned English pages left! (4,2)

Answer: EVER SO (i.e. “damned”, both taken to mean “very”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) followed by VERSO (i.e. “pages left” – in printing terms, VERSO denotes left-handed pages while RECTO denotes right-handed pages).

38. Anthem in lied, sung (amazingly) backwards! (5,3)

Answer: AGNUS DEI (i.e. “anthem”, as in a composition for a church choir). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “backwards” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: L(IED SUNG A)MAZINGLY.

39. Daring act one found in old story (7)

Answer: EXPLOIT (i.e. “daring act”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed “in” EX (i.e. “old”) and PLOT (i.e. “story”), like so: EX-PLO(I)T.

42. Gradually moving to pinch queen’s ornament (4-4)

Answer: NOSE-RING (i.e. “ornament”). Solution is NOSING (i.e. “gradually moving”) wrapped around or “pinching” ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: NOS(ER)ING.

44. High-quality nurse covering surgery (3-3)

Answer: TOP-END (i.e. “high-quality”). Solution is TEND (i.e. “nurse”) wrapped around or “covering” OP (i.e. “surgery”, short for “operation”), like so: T(OP)END.

46. In flower (7)

Answer: CURRENT. Solution satisfies “in”, as in what is hip and happening, and “flower”, referring to a river.

48. Bird flying (5)

Answer: SWIFT. Solution satisfies “bird” and “flying”, as in speedy.

49. Plan of action in statement to peer who’s been stitched up? (9,8)

Answer: OPERATION OVERLORD (i.e. “plan of [D-Day military] action”). Solution comprises OPERATION (hinted by “who’s been stitched up”), OVER (i.e. “statement”, as in what something is about) and LORD (i.e. “peer”). The clue is a bit clunky, but the crossword trivia attached to this one more than makes up for it. Back in 1944 the Daily Telegraph published a series of crosswords whose solutions contained D-Day codewords such as “Overlord”, “Omaha”, “Utah”, “Neptune” and so on. The number of codewords and their frequency in the run-up to D-Day was found to be an incredible coincidence, but only after the setter, Leonard Dawe, was arrested and interrogated by MI5. The whole episode has been one of my favourite mysteries of the unexplained for years. Worth a read!

51. What woman might have on Noah’s son, follows a patriarch (7)

Answer: ABRAHAM (i.e. “patriarch” – we’ve had a few of these recently). Solution is BRA (i.e. “what woman might have on”) and HAM (i.e. “Noah’s son”), both placed after or “following” A, like so: A-BRA-HAM.

52. Hindu deity sees five parting Muslims (5)

Answer: SHIVA (i.e. “Hindu deity”). Solution is V (i.e. “[Roman numeral] five”) placed in or “parting” SHIA (i.e. “Muslims”), like so: SHI(V)A.

53. Soldier a degree east of Ulster peninsula caught by rifle, say? (9)

Answer: GUARDSMAN (i.e. “solider”). Solution is MA (i.e. “degree”, specifically a Master of Arts) placed to the right or “east of” ARDS (i.e. “Ulster peninsula”) and the whole placed in or “caught by” GUN (i.e. “rifle, say”), like so: GU(ARDS-MA)N.

54. US president manoeuvring to bring in new controls (12)

Answer: SUPERINTENDS (i.e. “controls”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “manoeuvring”) of US PRESIDENT which is wrapped around or “bringing in” N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: SUPERI(N)TENDS.

55. Censor has been extremely unhelpful, clip appearing blurred (4-6)

Answer: BLUE-PENCIL (i.e. “[to] censor”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “appearing blurred”) of BEEN, CLIP and UL (i.e. “extremely unhelpful”, i.e. the first and last letters of “unhelpful”).

Down clues

1. In America, nothing left in little house illegally occupied (6-5)

Answer: DIDDLY-SQUAT (i.e. “in America, nothing”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) placed “in” DIDDY (i.e. “little”) and followed by SQUAT (i.e. “house illegally occupied”), like so: DIDD(L)Y-SQUAT.

2. Line of text shoots up (5)

Answer: SERIF (i.e. “line of text”). Solution is FIRED (i.e. “shoots”) reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue).

3. Pitch sure to be covered in stones (4-5)

Answer: ROCK-BOUND (i.e. “covered in stones”). Solution is ROCK (i.e. “pitch”, as in something pitching back and forth) followed by BOUND (i.e. “sure”, as in something was bound to happen).

4. Reportedly insignificant skill (7)

Answer: SLEIGHT (i.e. “skill”). “Reportedly” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of SLIGHT (i.e. “insignificant”).

5. Sweep containers into river (7)

Answer: EXPANSE (i.e. “sweep”). Solution is PANS (i.e. “containers”) placed “into” EXE (i.e. “river”), like so: EX(PANS)E.

7. Where gold may be on display, contact thieves (4,7)

Answer: RING FINGERS (i.e. “where gold may be on display”). Solution is RING (i.e. “contact”) followed by FINGERS (i.e. “thieves”).

8. One’s stoned, heading off drunk after companion (6)

Answer: CHERRY (i.e. “one’s stoned”). Solution is MERRY (i.e. “drunk”) with its initial letter removed (indicated by “heading off”) and placed “after” CH (i.e. “companion”, specifically a Companion of Honour), like so: CH-ERRY.

9. I’m not sure my cricket score is under five hundred in Test (5,3)

Answer: DUMMY RUN (i.e. “test” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is UM (i.e. “I’m not sure”), MY and RUN (i.e. “cricket score”) all placed “under” (this being a down clue) D (i.e. “[Roman numeral] five hundred”), like so: D-UM-MY-RUN.

10. Clever stuff investing energy and time in geology, say? (6,7)

Answer: ROCKET SCIENCE (i.e. “clever stuff”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) and T (ditto “time”) placed “in” ROCK SCIENCE (i.e. “geology, say”), like so: ROCK-(E-T)-SCIENCE.

11. State – nation not applicable (7)

Answer: INDIANA (i.e. “[US] state”). Solution is INDIA (i.e. “nation”) followed by NA (a recognised abbreviation of “not applicable”).

12. Power in heat energy adapted for experimental engineering (4,7)

Answer: GENE THERAPY (i.e. “experimental engineering”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “adapted”) of HEAT ENERGY, like so: GENETHERA(P)Y.

13. Holiday: European hosts constant acrobatic entertainment (10)

Answer: BREAKDANCE (i.e. “acrobatic entertainment”). Solution is BREAK (i.e. “holiday”) followed by DANE (i.e. “European”) once it has been placed around or “hosting” C (a recognised abbreviation of “constant”), like so: BREAK-DAN(C)E.

20. Make arm bend in a sweep round (9)

Answer: WEAPONISE (i.e. “make arm”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “bend”) of IN A SWEEP and O (i.e. “round”).

23. Bloomers revealed by daughter in dressing, girl disheartened initially (8)

Answer: GLADIOLI (i.e. “bloomers”). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) placed “in” AIOLI (i.e. “dressing”, and very tasty it is too) and the whole then preceded by (indicated by “initially”) GL (i.e. “girl disheartened”, i.e. the word “girl” with the middle letters removed), like so: GL-A(D)IOLI. A clue that scans rather well.

25. German, one looking to shift stones, perhaps? (6)

Answer: DIETER. Solution satisfies “German”, as in a German forename, and “one looking to shift stones, perhaps”, as in one who diets. This took a lot longer for me to spot than it ought to have!

26. Comprehensive, however, uncivilised (8)

Answer: THOROUGH (i.e. “comprehensive”). Solution is THO (i.e. “however”, i.e. an informal “though”) followed by ROUGH (i.e. “uncivilised”).

28. Soft rock beginning to shake pensioners – stress down below (9)

Answer: SOAPSTONE (i.e. “soft rock”). Solution is S (i.e. “beginning to shake”, i.e. the first letter of “shake”) followed by OAPS (i.e. old age “pensioners”) and TONE (i.e. “stress”). “Down below” indicates the composite parts are stacked on top of one another, this being a down clue. I remembered this from a previous puzzle, which made it an easier get.

29. Mark in trousers, mud generally (6)

Answer: SMUDGE (i.e. “mark”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: TROUSER(S MUD GE)NERALLY.

31. Devil punching angel: one with a long reach (13)

Answer: BACKSCRATCHER (i.e. “one with a long reach”). Solution is SCRATCH (i.e. “devil”, sometimes known as Old Scratch) placed or “punched” into BACKER (i.e. “angel” – as in a financial backer), like so: BACK(SCRATCH)ER. Another really good clue.

33. Somewhat dazed at the Oscars, say? (6,5)

Answer: SEEING STARS. Solution satisfies “somewhat dazed” and “at the Oscars, say”.

34. Fair, ok, somehow, in institute to get a great deal? (4,2,1,4)

Answer: FOUR OF A KIND (i.e. “a great deal [in, say, a game of poker]”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “somehow”) of FAIR OK placed “in” FOUND (i.e. “[to] institute”), like so: FOU(ROFAKI)ND.

35. Chirpy character has to fix car that won’t start after shift (10)

Answer: BUDGERIGAR (i.e. “chirpy character”). Solution is RIG (i.e. “to fix” an outcome) followed by CAR once its initial letter has been removed (indicated by “that won’t start”), and the whole then preceded by or placed “after” BUDGE (i.e. “shift”), like so: BUDGE-RIG-AR.

36. Inuit a tad confused between lines around the Arctic Circle, say? (11)

Answer: LATITUDINAL (i.e. “lines around the Arctic Circle, say”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “confused”) of INUIT A TAD placed in L and L (recognised abbreviations of “line”), like so: L-(ATITUDINA)-L.

40. A bit on edge in game (9)

Answer: PARTRIDGE (i.e. “game [bird]”). Solution is PART (i.e. “a bit”) followed by or placed “on” RIDGE (i.e. “edge”).

41. Singular French figure on public land (8)

Answer: UNCOMMON (i.e. “singular”). Solution is UN (i.e. “French figure”, referring to one in this case, the French of which is “un”), placed “on” COMMON (i.e. “public land”).

43. Put foot in it when racing to correct purist about last bit of grammar (7)

Answer: STIRRUP (i.e. “put foot in it when racing”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to correct”) of PURIST placed “about” R (i.e. “last bit of grammar”, i.e. the last letter of “grammar”), like so: STI(R)RUP. Another one made easier having appeared in several puzzles this past year.

45. Irish county tricked colleen (7)

Answer: DONEGAL (i.e. “Irish county”). Solution is DONE (i.e. “tricked [someone]”) followed by GAL (i.e. “colleen”, taken to be a girl’s name with a misleading lack of capitalisation).

46. Caution required, carrying through eggs (7)

Answer: CAVIARE (i.e. “eggs”). Solution is CARE (i.e. “caution required”) placed around or “carrying” VIA (i.e. “through”), like so: CA(VIA)RE.

47. Tenant with not as much space, miserable ultimately (6)

Answer: LESSEE (i.e. “tenant”). Solution is LESS (i.e. “with not as much”) followed by E and E (i.e. “space, miserable ultimately”, i.e. the last letters of “space” and “miserable” – the comma acting as a list separator), like so: LESS-E-E. An easier get, as this solution also appeared last week!

50. Giant scratching head – very dense? (5)

Answer: OSMIC (i.e. “very dense” – referring to the chemical element osmium). Solution is COSMIC (i.e. “giant”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “scratching head”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1413

A number of well-worked clues made this a good ‘un. It was another straightforward puzzle, relatively speaking, so we’ll probably see the difficulty cranked up in time for a Boxing Day stinker. Back in the here and now, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

(Cue Pearl and Dean music.)

Some me-stuff before we begin. My Just For Fun page has solutions for over a year’s worth of Times Jumbo Cryptic crosswords. If you have a grid that’s recently given you gyp, then go check it out. Meanwhile, I have a Reviews page if book reviews are your thing. If you fancy a short story, I’ve got your back.

(Cue Pearl and Dean music again.)

And now our feature presentation.


Across clues

1. Amusing and sad to urinate in street after beer (11)

Answer: BITTERSWEET (i.e. “amusing and sad”). Solution is WEE (i.e. “to urinate”) placed “in” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”), and the whole placed “after” BITTER (i.e. “beer”), like so: BITTER-S(WEE)T. A clue that scans rather well!

7. Fantastic careerist at office (11)

Answer: SECRETARIAT (i.e. “office”). “Fantastic” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CAREERIST AT.

13. Rented property is large, no bother to maintain (9)

Answer: LEASEHOLD (i.e. “rented property”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) followed by EASE (i.e. “no bother”) and HOLD (i.e. “to maintain”). Another good clue.

14. Catch geezers twice undressed in circus bar (7)

Answer: TRAPEZE (i.e. “circus bar”). Solution is TRAP (i.e. “catch”) followed by EZE (i.e. “geezers twice undressed” – meaning to twice remove the beginning and end letters of GEEZERS).

15. Friend, a married one with spirit (5)

Answer: AMIGO (i.e. “friend”). Solution is A followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “married”), then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and GO (i.e. “spirit”, as in having some oomph).

16. Monkey god gets to climb with no tail (6)

Answer: RASCAL (i.e. “monkey”). Solution is RA (i.e. “[Ancient Egyptian sun] god”) followed by SCALE (i.e. “to climb”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “with no tail”), like RA-SCAL.

17. Rogue, pig mostly, led to run by Republican (8)

Answer: SWINDLER (i.e. “rogue”). Solution is SWINE (i.e. “pig”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”), followed by an anagram (indicated by “to run”) of LED, then R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”), like so: SWIN-DLE-R.

18. China is after support, filled with people (7)

Answer: TEEMING (i.e. “filled with people”). Solution is MING (i.e. “China”) placed “after” TEE (i.e. “[golf ball] support”), like so: TEE-MING.

20. Recorded mental impulses to choose caviar, new mushroom glory and chickpeas (20)

Answer: ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAM, often abbreviated to EEG (i.e. “recorded mental impulses”). Solution is ELECT (i.e. “to choose”), followed by ROE (i.e. “caviar”), then N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), then CEP (i.e. a type of “mushroom”), then HALO (i.e. “glory”) and GRAM (i.e. “chickpeas”), like so: ELECT-ROE-N-CEP-HALO-GRAM. Crikey. As seed words go, this is a doozy! Well, I guess it was a seed word. I can’t imagine the setter left themselves -L-C-R-E-C-P-A-O-R-M to fill.

23. Admit something in Arabic once denied (7)

Answer: CONCEDE (i.e. “admit”). “Something in” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: ARABI(C ONCE DE)NIED.

24. Pedal note raised a tone in cloying sentimentality (7)

Answer: TREADLE (i.e. “pedal”). Solution is TREACLE (i.e. “cloying sentimentality”) with the C (i.e. “[musical] note”) upped to D (indicated by “raised a tone”).

26. Oriental festival beginning in Nagasaki (7)

Answer: EASTERN (i.e. “oriental”). Solution is EASTER (i.e. “festival”) followed by N (i.e. “beginning in Nagasaki”, i.e. the first letter of “Nagasaki”).

28. Concerned with morning paper? (4)

Answer: REAM (i.e. “paper”). Solution is RE (i.e. “concerned with” – think email replies) followed by AM (i.e. “morning”).

29. Runs article in Express, most extreme (8)

Answer: FARTHEST (i.e. “most extreme”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in a number of ball games) and THE (i.e. “article”) placed “in” FAST (i.e. “express” – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: FA(R-THE)ST. Another clue that scans rather well.

32. Note girl’s shoulder piece (9)

Answer: EPAULETTE (i.e. “shoulder piece”). Solution is E (i.e. “[musical] note”) followed by PAULETTE (i.e. “girl”).

35. A nice pure mixed philosophy student (9)

Answer: EPICUREAN (i.e. “philosophy student”). “Mixed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A NICE PURE.

36. Really like deer backing into large shrub (8)

Answer: TREASURE (i.e. “really like”). Solution is RUSA (i.e. “deer”) reversed (indicated by “backing”) and placed “into” TREE (i.e. “large shrub”), like so: TRE(ASUR)E.

37. Handle spades leaving access to mine (4)

Answer: HAFT (i.e. a “handle”). Solution is SHAFT (i.e. “entrance to mine”) with the S removed (indicated by “spades leaving”, S being a recognised abbreviation of “spades” used in card games).

39. Chap’s chasing leather function (7)

Answer: TANGENT (i.e. “[trigonometrical] function”). Solution is GENT (i.e. “chap”) placed after or “chasing” TAN (i.e. “leather”), like so: TAN-GENT.

41. Weak, like modern violins? (7)

Answer: GUTLESS (i.e. “weak”). Catgut, made from the intestines of sheep and other animals, was once used to create strings for musical instruments. “Like modern violins” refers to how they are, as it were, GUTLESS.

44. Inflicting of pain is wrongful act regularly hurried (7)

Answer: TORTURE (i.e. “inflicting of pain”). Solution is TORT (i.e. “wrongful act” – one I remember from a previous puzzle) followed by URE (i.e. “regularly hurried”, i.e. every other letter of HURRIED).

45. Mistake by noble moving slowly in seeking to restore old order (7-13)

Answer: COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY (i.e. “seeking to restore old order”). Solution is ERR (i.e. “mistake”) placed after or “by” COUNT (i.e. “noble”) and then followed by EVOLUTIONARY (i.e. “moving slowly”), like so: COUNT-ERR-EVOLUTIONARY.

49. Wine drink revealed secrets, draught being knocked back (7)

Answer: SANGRIA (i.e. “wine drink”). Solution is SANG (i.e. “revealed secrets”) followed by AIR (i.e. “draught”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “being knocked back”), like so: SANG-RIA.

50. Surprised being shown the way after second bitter (8)

Answer: STARTLED (i.e. “surprised”). Solution is LED (i.e. “being shown the way”) placed “after” S (a recognised abbreviation of “second”) and TART (i.e. “bitter”), like so: S-TART-LED.

51. Is copper interrupting me for error? (6)

Answer: MISCUE (i.e. “error”, say, in snooker). Solution is IS and CU (chemical symbol of “copper”) placed in or “interrupting” ME, like so: M(IS-CU)E.

53. Up before court (5)

Answer: ERECT (i.e. “up”). Ooer missus, etc. Solution is ERE (i.e. poetic form of “before”) followed by CT (a recognised abbreviation of “court”).

54. Through which one hears a murder has been arranged (7)

Answer: EARDRUM (i.e. “through which one hears”). “Has been arranged” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A MURDER.

55. Unfortunately no clue left us for body found in cell (9)

Answer: NUCLEOLUS, which, according to my Chambers, is a body with a cell nucleus. Not sure this quite equates to “body found in cell”, but there you go. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unfortunately”) of NO CLUE, L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and US.

56. Two-faced tutor holds right over us (11)

Answer: TREACHEROUS (i.e. “two-faced”). Solution is TEACHER (i.e. “tutor”) wrapped around or “holding” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) and followed by O (ditto “over”, used in cricket) and US, like so: T(R)EACHER-O-US.

57. Wrongly interpret consumerist modelling (11)

Answer: MISCONSTRUE (i.e. “wrongly interpret”). “Modelling” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CONSUMERIST.

Down clues

1. Trunk must get right round in Spanish dance (6)

Answer: BOLERO (i.e. “Spanish dance”). Solution is BOLE (i.e. “[tree] trunk”), followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) and O (i.e. “round”).

2. Tons managed military base about project moving elsewhere (15)

Answer: TRANSPLANTATION (i.e. “moving elsewhere”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “tons”) followed by RAN (i.e. “managed”) and STATION (i.e. “military base”) once it has been placed “about” PLAN (i.e. “project”), like so: T-RAN-S(PLAN)TATION.

3. Impressive sight, organ has to provide around church (3-7)

Answer: EYE-CATCHER (i.e. “impressive sight”). Solution is EYE (i.e. “organ”) followed by CATER (i.e. “to provide”) once it has been placed “around” CH (a recognised abbreviation of “church”), like so: EYE-CAT(CH)ER.

4. Set up Japanese festivals for pretentious person (4)

Answer: SNOB (i.e. “pretentious person”). Solution is BONS (i.e. “Japanese festivals” – referring to a Buddhist festival held in Japan every August. A new one on me, but its Google-able) reversed (indicated by “set up” – this being a down clue).

5. Women tend to organise funding (9)

Answer: ENDOWMENT (i.e. “funding”). “To organise” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WOMEN TEND.

6. Caught during doing something to raise sunken ship (7)

Answer: TITANIC (i.e. “sunken ship”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in several ball games) followed by IN (i.e. “during”) and AT IT (i.e. “doing something”). Titter ye not, etc. The whole is then reversed (indicated by “raise”, this being a down clue), like so: TI-TA-NI-C.

7. Carefully examined cases entirely curved at the edges? (9)

Answer: SCALLOPED (i.e. “curved at the edges”). Solution is SCOPED (i.e. “carefully examined”) which is wrapped around or “encasing” ALL (i.e. “entirely”), like so: SC(ALL)OPED.

8. The French invested in vehicle patent (5)

Answer: CLEAR (i.e. “patent”). Solution is LE (i.e. “the French”, as in the masculine form of “the” in French) which is placed or “invested in” CAR (i.e. “vehicle”), like so: C(LE)AR.

9. What may be connected and favoured people went on horseback (9)

Answer: ELECTRODE (i.e. “what may be connected”). Solution is ELECT (i.e. the “favoured people”) followed by RODE (i.e. “went on horseback”).

10. Ineptly confuse us with a tail rhyme (12)

Answer: AMATEURISHLY (i.e. “ineptly”). “Confuse” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of US and A TAIL RHYME.

11. I’d one covered in one strange metal (7)

Answer: IRIDIUM (i.e. “metal”). Solution is I’D and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed or “covered in” I (“one”, again) and RUM (i.e. “strange”), like so: I-R(I’D-I)UM.

12. Even if finished, runs out (6)

Answer: THOUGH (i.e. “even if”). Solution is THROUGH (i.e. “finished”) with the R removed (indicated by “runs out” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in a number of ball games).

19. Open conflict over English code given away (8)

Answer: FREEWARE (i.e. “[program] code given away”). Solution is FREE (i.e. “open”) followed by WAR (i.e. “conflict”) and E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”). “Over” indicates how the pieces are stacked over one another, this being a down clue.

21. Forever without regular income, foregoing whiskey (7)

Answer: AGELESS (i.e. “forever”). Solution is WAGELESS (i.e. “without regular income”) with the W removed (indicated by “foregoing whiskey”, being W in the phonetic alphabet).

22. Harsh and sharply caustic, quietly dismissed the French (8)

Answer: UNGENTLE (i.e. “harsh”). Solution is PUNGENT (i.e. “sharply caustic”) with the P removed (indicated by “quietly dismissed”, P being a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, which is “quietly” in musical lingo), and then followed by LE (i.e. “the French”, i.e. the masculine form of “the” in French), like so: UNGENT-LE.

23. Check temperature in centre of reactor’s vessel (8)

Answer: CORVETTE (i.e. “[sea] vessel”). Solution is VET (i.e. “check”) and T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”) placed “in” CORE (i.e. “centre of [nuclear] reactor”), like so: COR(VET-T)E.

25. “Uniform tango” incident (5)

Answer: EVENT (i.e. “incident”). Solution is EVEN (i.e. “uniform”) and T (“tango” in the phonetic alphabet).

27. Outside routine, run with dog in charge in rural ground (5-10)

Answer: EXTRA-CURRICULAR (i.e. “outside routine”). Solution is EXTRA (i.e. a “run” in cricket not scored by a batsman, such as those punishing wide deliveries) followed by CUR (i.e. “dog”) and IC (a recognised abbreviation of “in charge”) once it has been placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “ground”) of RURAL, like so: EXTRA-CUR-R(IC)ULAR.

30. Bird is brown and silver tern with wings out (7)

Answer: TANAGER (i.e. “bird” – did a Google image search – Ooh, pretty!) Solution is TAN (i.e. “brown”) followed by AG (chemical symbol of “silver”) and ER (i.e. “tern with wings out”, i.e. the word TERN with the first and last letter removed), like so: TAN-AG-ER.

31. Anthem lacking an English subject (5)

Answer: THEME (i.e. “subject”). Solution is ANTHEM with the AN removed (indicated by “lacking an”) and followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: THEM-E.

33. Broadcasts mistake in pilot’s destination? (8)

Answer: AIRSTRIP (i.e. “pilot’s destination”). Solution is AIRS (i.e. “broadcasts”) followed by TRIP (i.e. “mistake”).

34. Counting beans in cucurbit area ploughed up? (12)

Answer: BUREAUCRATIC (i.e. “counting beans”). “Ploughed up” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CUCURBIT AREA.

38. Odd manner of Scots physicist succeeded in Civil Service (10)

Answer: CRANKINESS (i.e. “odd manner”). Solution is William John Macquorn RANKINE (i.e. “Scottish physicist” – no, me neither) and S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) placed “in” CS (ditto “Civil Service”), like so: C(RANKINE-S)S.

40. Repetitive notes about a private meeting (4-1-4)

Answer: TETE-A-TETE (i.e. “private meeting”). Solution is TE TE TE TE (i.e. “repetitive notes” in the doh-ray-me style) placed “about” A, like so: TE-TE-(A)-TE-TE.

42. Reference like this includes Jacob’s brother Romeo (9)

Answer: THESAURUS (i.e. “reference”). Solution is THUS (i.e. “like this”) which is wrapped around or “including” ESAU (i.e. “Jacob’s brother” in the Bible) and R (“Romeo” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: TH(ESAU-R)US.

43. Author’s holding gold wine that’s sweet (9)

Answer: SAUTERNES (i.e. “wine that’s sweet”). Solution is Laurence STERNE (“author” of Tristram Shandy) wrapped around or “holding” AU (chemical symbol of “gold”), like so: S(AU)TERNES.

45. Bring together religious community that’s endless ecstasy (7)

Answer: CONVENE (i.e. “bring together”). Solution is CONVENT (i.e. “religious community”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “that’s endless”) and followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of the drug “ecstasy”), like so: CONVEN-E.

46. Best I am in work with corporation (7)

Answer: OPTIMUM (i.e. “best”). Solution is I’M (a contraction of “I am”) placed “in” OP (a recognised abbreviation of “opus”, i.e. “work”. Also “operation”, I like to think) and TUM (i.e. “corporation”, an archaic word meaning the tummy often used by setters), like so: OP-T(I’M)UM.

47. Feature of a cult grabbing power (6)

Answer: ASPECT (i.e. “feature”). Solution is A SECT (i.e. “a cult”) wrapped around or “grabbing” P (a recognised abbreviation of “power), like so: A-S(P)ECT.

48. Make reduction, changing direction for tenant (6)

Answer: LESSEE (i.e. “tenant”). Solution is LESSEN (i.e. “make reduction”) with the N changed to E (indicated by “changing direction”, N and E being recognised abbreviations of “north” and “east” respectively).

50. Something ensuring really vigorous output, primarily (5)

Answer: SERVO. “Primarily” indicates the solution is derived by taking the initial letters of SOMETHING ENSURING REALLY VIGOROUS OUTPUT. Within the context of the clue, a SERVO is a system in which a mechanism gets a helping hand from a subsidiary mechanism to achieve more grunt, hence “something ensuring really vigorous output”.

52. Musical effect in nocturne Chopin put together (4)

Answer: ECHO (i.e. “musical effect”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: NOCTURN(E CHO)PIN.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1412

A simpler affair this week, though there was one clue that had me chewing over its solution for a while (ALIVE) and another that took me fuffing ages to decode (RECTITUDE). You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful. (With luck I’ll have gotten the grid image right this week!)

As ever, some housekeeping before we launch into proceedings. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that has defeated you, then you might find my Just For Fun page a useful destination. If book reviews are your thing, then I have a few on my Reviews page to while away your time. Finally, if you’d like to while away a few minutes more, I have a short story to keep you entertained.

Right, enough of me-me-me. Let’s head to the solutions.


Across clues

1. City Road swathed in mist after morning (9)

Answer: AMSTERDAM (i.e. “city”). Solution is RD (a recognised abbreviation of “road”) placed or “swathed in” STEAM (i.e. “mist”), and the whole following or placed “after” AM (i.e. “morning”), like so: AM-STE(RD)AM.

6. Doctor saw no end of torment? Just a little (7)

Answer: MODICUM (i.e. “a little”). Solution is MO (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a Medical Officer) followed by DICTUM (i.e. “saw”, both words meaning a motto or saying) once the T has been removed (indicated by “no end of torment”, i.e. remove the last letter of “torment”), like so: MO-DICUM.

10. Verse in artistic gathering releasing new attack (5)

Answer: SALVO (i.e. “attack”). Solution is V (a recognised abbreviation of “verse”) placed in SALON (i.e. “artistic gathering”, being art exhibitions organised by French artistic academies) once the N has been removed (indicated by “releasing new”, N being a recognised abbreviation of “new”), like so: SAL(V)O.

13. Impassive fathers having suppressed energy, note (4-3)

Answer: DEAD-PAN (i.e. “impassive”). Solution is DAD and PA (i.e. “fathers”) wrapped around or “suppressing” E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) and followed by N (ditto “note”), like so: D(E)AD-PA-N.

14. Hair preparation used by hairdresser in secret (5)

Answer: RINSE (i.e. “hair preparation”). “Used by” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: HAIRDRESSE(R IN SE)CRET.

15. Temporary accommodation? Local heading off unsure (9)

Answer: TENTATIVE (i.e. “unsure”). Solution is TENT (i.e. “temporary accommodation”) followed by NATIVE (i.e. “local”) once its initial letter has been removed (indicated by “heading off”), like so: TENT-ATIVE.

16. Late view of main activity offering only a brief connection (5,4,4,2,3,5)

Answer: SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT. Solution satisfies “late view of main activity” – main being another word for the sea – and “a brief connection”.

17. Match was recalled as an up-and-down affair (6)

Answer: SEESAW (i.e. “an up-and-down affair”). Solution is SEE (i.e. “match”, as in “I see your blah and raise you blah-blah“) followed by WAS reversed (indicated by “recalled”), like so: SEE-SAW.

18. Idle worker without a mahlstick? (4-4)

Answer: FREE-HAND. Solution satisfies “idle worker” and “without a mahlstick” – a mahlstick or maulstick is something a painter uses in order to steady their brush hand. Doing without would give them a free hand. You get the idea.

19. Satisfied after strike brought about a Parisian rampage (3,4)

Answer: RUN AMOK (i.e. “rampage”). Solution is OK (i.e. “satisfied”) placed “after” RAM (i.e. “strike”) once it has been “brought about” UN (i.e. “a Parisian”, i.e. the French for “a”), like so: R(UN)AM-OK.

22. Outrageous location of circus banner? (4-3-3)

Answer: OVER-THE-TOP. Solution satisfies “outrageous” and “location of circus banner”, playing on how circus venues are often called big tops.

23. Shop entices – deals being outrageous (12)

Answer: DELICATESSEN (i.e. “shop”). “Being outrageous” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ENTICES DEALS.

27. What you’d expect of a non-level playing field (5)

Answer: PITCH. Solution satisfies “playing field” and “non-level”, as in sloping down.

29. Try to get rid of small bird (7)

Answer: GOSLING (i.e. “small bird”, as in a young goose). Solution is GO (i.e. “try”) followed by SLING (i.e. “to get rid of”).

30. Party line given by newspaper carried by timid folk in the House? (8)

Answer: DOMICILE (i.e. “house” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is DO (i.e. “party”) followed by I (i.e. “newspaper”, recently flogged to The Daily Mail) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”) once they have been placed in or “carried by” MICE (i.e. “timid folk”), like so: DO-MIC(I-L)E.

32. Big concert followed by capers, mostly (8)

Answer: GIGANTIC (i.e. “big”). Solution is GIG (i.e. “concert”) followed by ANTICS (i.e. “capers”) once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “mostly”), like so: GIG-ANTIC.

34. Head of information succeeding in capturing account with some uncertainty (7)

Answer: INEXACT (i.e. “with some uncertainty”). Solution is I (i.e. “head of information”, i.e. the first letter of “information”) followed by NEXT (i.e. “succeeding”) once it has been wrapped around or “capturing” AC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”), like so: I-NEX(AC)T.

36. Mostly in the dark about copper’s position (5)

Answer: LOCUS (i.e. “position”). Solution is LOST (i.e. “in the dark”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and the remainder wrapped “about” CU (chemical symbol of “copper”), like so: LO(CU)S.

39. Start up suddenly after vermin appearing in a South Australian city (5,7)

Answer: ALICE SPRINGS (i.e. “Australian city”). Solution is SPRING (i.e. “start up suddenly”) placed “after” LICE (i.e. “vermin”) and the whole then placed or “appearing in” A and S (a recognised abbreviation of “south”), like so: A-(LICE-SPRING)-S.

41. Evenly-matched situation ahead of game? One’s up for the attack? (10)

Answer: DRAWBRIDGE (i.e. “one’s up for the attack”). Solution is DRAW (i.e. “evenly-matched situation”) followed by or “ahead of” BRIDGE (i.e. “game”).

44. Trips? Unconscious after woozy state, we hear (4,3)

Answer: DAYS OUT (i.e. “trips”). Solution is OUT (i.e. “unconscious”) placed “after” a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of DAZE (i.e. “woozy state”).

46. Extravagant time tucking into source of booze? (8)

Answer: OPERATIC (i.e. “extravagant”). Solution is ERA (i.e. “time”) “tucked into” OPTIC (i.e. “source of booze”), like so: OP(ERA)TIC.

48. Coach seat initially reserved, occupied by husband (6)

Answer: SCHOOL (i.e. “coach”). Solution is S (i.e. “seat initially”, i.e. the first letter of “seat”) followed by COOL (i.e. “reserved [in nature]”) once it is wrapped around or “occupied by” H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”), like so: S-C(H)OOL.

50. Town academies, often disturbed with noise, getting similar treatment (1,5,2,4,3,8)

Answer: A TASTE OF ONE’S OWN MEDICINE (i.e. “getting similar treatment”). “Disturbed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TOWN ACADEMIES OFTEN and NOISE. Also appeared at the start of the year.

53. The people vote, beset by hard claims for attention (3,6)

Answer: HOI POLLOI (i.e. “the people”). Solution is POLL (i.e. “vote”) placed in or “beset by” H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils) and OI OI (i.e. “claims for attention”), like so: H-OI-(POLL)-OI.

54. Line occupying edge to edge (5)

Answer: SIDLE (i.e. “to edge”). Solution L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”) placed in or “occupying” SIDE (i.e. “edge”), like so: SID(L)E.

55. Taking a position but abandoning street – it’s very wet (7)

Answer: POURING (i.e. “very wet”). Solution is POSTURING (i.e. “taking a position”) with the ST removed (indicated by “abandoning street” – ST being a recognised abbreviation of “street”).

56. Sail fixed after ambassador’s boarded (5)

Answer: SHEET (i.e. “sail”). Solution is HE (i.e. “ambassador”, specifically His Excellency) placed in or “boarding”) SET (i.e. “fixed”), like so: S(HE)ET.

57. Recalled one joining European train (7)

Answer: RETINUE (i.e. entourage or “train”). Solution is UNITER (i.e. “one joining”) reversed (indicated by “recalled”) and followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”), like so: RETINU-E.

58. Protects latest from mole, controversially – stamping this on document? (3-6)

Answer: TOP-SECRET. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “controversially”) of PROTECTS and E (i.e. “latest for mole”, i.e. the last letter of “mole”). Within the context of the clue, a document from a spy or “mole” may well be stamped “top secret”.

Down clues

1. Some Europeans having day later in South American area (5)

Answer: ANDES (i.e. “South American area”). Solution is DANES (i.e. “some Europeans”) with the D (a recognised abbreviation of “day”) knocked back a few notches (indicated by “having…later”).

2. What’s still shocking? (6,11)

Answer: STATIC ELECTRICITY. Clue riffs on how STATIC can mean “still”. Electricity can “shock”. You get the idea.

3. By the way, NASA sent shot round Pluto at first (2,7)

Answer: EN PASSANT (i.e. “by the way” in French. This is a move in chess when a pawn is captured after making an initial move of two squares if an opposing pawn can immediately occupy the space it jumped over. Something like that, anyway.). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “shot”) of NASA SENT which is placed “round” P (i.e. “Pluto at first”, i.e. the first letter of “Pluto”), like so: EN(P)ASSANT.

4. Not clear about horse boat (6)

Answer: DINGHY (i.e. “boat”). Solution is DINGY (i.e. “not clear”) placed about H (a recognised abbreviation of “heroin”, also known as “horse”), like so: DING(H)Y.

5. Deserving suitor more free to embrace one (11)

Answer: MERITORIOUS (i.e. “deserving”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “free”) of SUITOR MORE wrapped around or “embracing” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: MER(I)TORIOUS.

6. Old woman less dishevelled: she’s always looking for a chap? (3-5)

Answer: MAN-EATER (i.e. “she’s always looking for a chap”). Solution is MA (i.e. “old woman”) followed by NEATER (i.e. “less dishevelled”).

7. Pace picked up, with each occupying certain trenches? (4-3)

Answer: DEEP-SEA (i.e. “occupying certain trenches”). Solution is SPEED (i.e. “pace”) reversed (indicated by “picked up”, this being a down clue) and followed by EA (a recognised abbreviation of “each”).

8. Decided what flowers to be pressed should be? (3,3,5)

Answer: CUT AND DRIED. Solution satisfies “decided” and “what flowers to be pressed should be”.

9. Wild behaviour involving a lot of agitation in part of China (9)

Answer: MANCHURIA (i.e. “part of China”). Solution is MANIA (i.e. “wild behaviour”) wrapped around or “involving” CHURN (i.e. “agitation”) once its final letter has been removed (indicated by “a lot of”), like so: MAN(CHUR)IA. One I got from the wordplay and a quick verify on Wikipedia, to be honest.

10. Quiet name adopted by nameless river (7)

Answer: SHANNON, the longest “river” in Ireland. Solution is SH (i.e. “quiet”) followed by ANON (i.e. “nameless”) once it has been wrapped around or “adopting” N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”), like so: SH-AN(N)ON.

11. Telling stories, very brief, without introduction (5)

Answer: LYING (i.e. “telling stories”). Solution is FLYING (i.e. “very brief”, as in a flying visit) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “without introduction”).

12. Getting the better of blatant forgery, handing out fine (10)

Answer: OVERTAKING (i.e. “getting the better of”). Solution is OVERT (i.e. “blatant”) and FAKING (i.e. “forgery”) once the F has been removed (indicated by “handing out fine”, F being a recognised abbreviation of “fine”), like so: OVERT-AKING.

17. Small worker’s organisation in news story (5)

Answer: SCOOP (i.e. “news story”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by CO-OP (i.e. “worker’s organisation”).

20. Compiled and misfired, getting confused about a grammatical solecism (9,8)

Answer: MISPLACED MODIFIER (i.e. “grammatical solecism” or error). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “getting confused”) of COMPILED and MISFIRED once they have been wrapped “about” A, like so: MISPL(A)CEDMODIFIER.

21. Hard cube – and one of its dimensions? (6)

Answer: HEIGHT (i.e. “one of [a cube’s] dimensions”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard”) followed by EIGHT (i.e. “cube”, being 2x2x2).

24. Picked up box containing silver bird (small) (6)

Answer: EAGLET (i.e. “bird (small)”, specifically a young eagle). Solution is TELE (i.e. “box”, both informal words for a television) reversed (indicated by “picked up” – this being a down clue) and wrapped around or “containing” AG (chemical symbol of “silver”), like so: E(AG)LET.

25. Times correspondent, initially taken in by evasive type, to do very well (5)

Answer: EXCEL (i.e. “to do very well”). Solution is X (i.e. “times”, as in the multiplication symbol) and C (i.e. “correspondent, initially”, i.e. the first letter of “correspondent”) both placed or “taken in by” EEL (i.e. “evasive type”), like so: E(X-C)EL.

26. Martian mission, very fancy, heading off (6)

Answer: VIKING (i.e. “Martian mission”, referring to the space probes sent to Mars during the 1970s). Solution is V (a recognised abbreviation of “very”) followed by LIKING (i.e. having a “fancy” for someone or something) once the initial letter has been removed (indicated by “heading off”), like so: V-IKING.

28. Afterlife mostly an upward movement? (5)

Answer: HEAVE (i.e. “an upward movement”). Solution is HEAVEN (i.e. “afterlife”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”).

31. French word applied to personal musical style (6)

Answer: MOTOWN (i.e. “musical style”). Solution is MOT (i.e. “French word”, i.e. the French for “word”) followed by OWN (i.e. “personal”).

33. Disco hit with pro dancing? One specialising in footwork (11)

Answer: CHIROPODIST (i.e. “one specialising in footwork”). “Dancing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DISCO HIT and PRO.

35. German train crashed in start of trial (11)

Answer: ARRAIGNMENT (i.e. “start of trial”). “Crashed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GERMAN TRAIN.

37. Period charm (5)

Answer: SPELL. Solution satisfies “period” and “[magical] charm”.

38. Alexander’s in possession of eight German beach vehicles (4,6)

Answer: SAND YACHTS (i.e. “beach vehicles”). Solution is SANDY’S (i.e. “Alexander’s” – Alexander is sometimes shortened to Sandy) wrapped around or “in possession of” ACHT (i.e. “eight German”, i.e. the German for “eight”), like so: SANDY(ACHT)’S.

40. Bestseller – or a range? (3-6)

Answer: POT-BOILER. Solution satisfies “bestseller” and “[cooking] range”.

42. Integrity? Full assurance requires two characters swapping places (9)

Answer: RECTITUDE (i.e. “integrity”). Solution is CERTITUDE (i.e. “full assurance”) with the R and C swapped (indicated by “two characters swapping places”).

43. Crowd loves Democrat appearing in subscriber channels (8)

Answer: CABOODLE (i.e. “crowd”). Solution is OO (i.e. “loves”, as in zero scores in tennis) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “Democrat”) placed or “appearing in” CABLE (i.e. “subscriber channels”), like so: CAB(OO-D)LE.

45. Frontier station intray won’t contain it (7)

Answer: OUTPOST (i.e. “frontier”). When written as OUT POST, the solution also satisfies “intray won’t contain it”.

47. American thinker: this writer elevated individual not wanting power (7)

Answer: Ralph Waldo EMERSON (i.e. “American thinker”). Solution is ME (i.e. “this writer”, taken from the point of view of the setter) reversed (indicated by “elevated” – this being a down clue) and followed by PERSON (i.e. “individual”) with the P removed (indicated by “not wanting power” – P being a recognised abbreviation of “power”), like so: EM-ERSON. Chalk this one to my Bradfords, given the quintillions of philosophers there have been over the years. (Slight exaggeration.)

49. Stop going to bed and peek? (4,2)

Answer: KEEP UP. Solution satisfies “stop going to bed” and, cryptically, “peek”, riffing on how PEEK is the reverse of KEEP, and how UP signals reversals in down clues. Nice!

51. A cut of meat, quick (5)

Answer: ALIVE (i.e. “quick”, as in being alive to a situation). Solution is A followed by LIVER (i.e. “meat”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “cut of”).

52. A number picked up article about serving American (5)

Answer: EIGHT (i.e. “a number”). Solution is THE (i.e. “article”, being a word like “the”, “a” or “an”) wrapped “about” GI (i.e. a solider or “serving American” of Government Issue), and the whole reversed (indicated by “picked up”, this being a down clue) and like so: E(IG)HT

Review: Best New Horror 11

He looks a friendly soul, doesn’t he!

(If you would like to read reviews of previous books in the Best New Horror series, jump over to my Reviews page for links.)

After a below-par offering last time around, Best New Horror 11 saw in the new millennium with a welcome return to form, evidenced by a number of award-winners and nominees in its pages. It’s a shame then that Robinson’s proofreaders decided to go on strike that year, or so it seems, leaving the book peppered with niggly typos. These don’t factor into my scores, but they did bug me after a while. One would hope the eBook versions offer a cleaner read. In all, Best New Horror 11 is a comfortable 4/5 and worth hunting out.

The stories, all published during 1999, run as follows:

Also collected in SRT’s “Celestial Inventories”

Halloween Street – Steve Rasnic Tem (3/5 – Laura is a strange girl. She has a face that’s hard to remember. Her eyes are impossible to describe. She doesn’t play with the other children, preferring instead to sit at her bedroom window, looking out on Halloween Street, a rundown part of town that strikes fear into the hearts of the local kids. Especially feared is the one house on Halloween Street that looks normal. Laura decides to go trick-or-treating one Halloween to the surprised relief of her parents. They hope it’s a sign of her acting like a normal girl at last. If only. This story was nominated for an International Horror Critics Guild award back in the day, but it didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped. Sometimes a re-read is needed to open up SRT’s stories a little, but on this occasion even that didn’t help. Laura is presented as someone who is forever doomed to remain othered, but her actions and demeanour in the story do little to engender any sympathy. That said, the story does set the scene rather nicely for the series of vignettes that closes the book.)

Except taken from Herbert’s novel “Others”

Others – James Herbert (3/5 – In an excerpt from Herbert’s novel of the same name, we follow private investigator Nicholas Dismas as he makes his way home from the pub one evening. He chews over a few scraps of evidence in a missing-baby case he recently quit, evidence that questions whether the child existed in the first place. So why does the case continue to play on his mind? Things are not as they first seem, we discover, not least in Dismas himself, nor some of the people he has the misfortune of meeting. Back in Best New Horror 10, Stephen Jones mentioned only two authors had ever refused to have their stories reprinted in his series. Coincidentally they were the two biggest horror authors on either side of the Atlantic. This seemed a bit strange, given that Jones had previously edited a 300-page book on Herbert called By Horror Haunted. Makes you wonder. Anyway, this dig in Herbert’s ribs seemed to do the trick because a quick copy-and-paste later saw him appear in Best New Horror 11. While this excerpt functions as a story in its own right, it never once left my mind that I was reading a 10-page advertisement for someone’s book. The excerpt is well written, yes, and Herbert does a nice job of making Dismas a credible and sympathetic character, but its inclusion here feels unearned.)

Also collected in Klein’s “Reassuring Tales”

Growing Things – T. E. D. Klein (3/5 – Herb is hooked on a bunch of tatty old magazines found stuffed in the attic: decades-old publications such as Practical Gardener, Home Handyman and Country Kitchen. Of particular interest are the letters pages. There Herb finds a short series of letters from someone trying to deal with a lump growing beneath the linoleum floor of their bathroom. Back then Mr Fixit recommended they should pop open the lump and drain whatever gunk was collecting inside. As subsequent letters go on to reveal, this may not have been the best course of action. Sadly, this was another story I wanted to like more than I did. I loved the central idea of the story but was rather less keen on the devices Klein used to tell it. Not that I can think of any better methods myself. Some stories are just plain awkward, I guess.)

Also collected in Schow’s “Eye”

Unhasped – David J. Schow (3/5 – Ethan is a married man who likes to reflect on his promiscuous bachelorhood. He keeps a cigar box filled with photographs and mementos of past conquests in his fireproof safe, something to help him remember Valerie. And Silla. And Barbara, and Jennifer, Tokay, Wendy, Shari… Conscious that his wife is heading home, Ethan puts away the cigar box and sets about finding a hidey-hole for his safe key. He finds a suitable location behind some corkboard drywall wherein he spies the faint glint of another key hanging there, a key to another box of memories. I can’t say I was overly keen on this one. The first half of the story felt like a string of writing exercises based on past loves, all stitched together using Ethan as a framing device. Schow threads some foreshadowing and wordplay throughout to show this isn’t the case, but those efforts are largely undone by events going in the direction you’d expect, especially when you consider this was a story written by someone who coined the term “splatterpunk”, was originally published in a themed anthology called White of the Moon: New Tales of Madness and Dread and is reprinted here in a horror anthology.)

Also collected in Files’ “The Worm In Every Heart”

The Emperor’s Old Bones – Gemma Files (5/5 – A harsh and inequitable partnership is struck in wartime Shanghai between Tim, a ten-year-old boy, and Ellis, a ruthless, streetwise young woman. Tim was abandoned by his parents in their doomed attempts to flee the country, ultimately putting him in Ellis’s path. Ellis sees in Tim her ticket out of Shanghai and soon the boy discovers just how little value she places on human life. Ellis is not above slashing a throat or two if it benefits her, nor is she slow to sell Tim’s body for sex when the money is right. As Tim gets to know Ellis and sees glimpses of her tender side, a grudging respect slowly builds between the two – a respect that is sorely tested the moment Ellis is tasked to provide for a speciality dish called The Emperor’s Old Bones, a dish that is said to extend the lives of those who eat it. This story bagged the International Horror Critics Guild short fiction gong back in the day (ahead of SRT’s Halloween Street, incidentally) and with good reason. It’s brilliant. The setting feels fresh and exciting, the horror is properly holy-shiiiiit horrific, and, best of all, Files creates in Tim and Ellis two monstrously fascinating characters. Make no mistake, these are bad people – they are like the opposite edges of the same razor blade – and Files works wonders in turning them into relatable, believable and immensely readable characters. This was a superb read. Seek it out.)

Also collected in Campbell’s “Told By The Dead”

The Entertainment – Ramsey Campbell (5/5 – In this Stoker-nominated story we follow Shone, a nursery schoolteacher, as he drives around Westingsea in the pouring rain looking for a place to stay for the night. He eventually settles on a leafy old hotel, parks up and knocks on the door. An old woman answers him, asking, “Are you the entertainment?” She promises him food and a room for the night, and so, perhaps against Shone’s better judgement, he says “I’ll have a stab.” After a mixed bag of Campbell stories dotted throughout previous volumes of Best New Horror, The Entertainment sees him at the top of his game and was a pleasure to read from beginning to end. Slip in a few jokes and this would have made a great Inside No 9 episode. I might be a little biased here because I absolutely love Robert Aickman’s The Hospice (similarities to which Campbell acknowledges in his introduction), but Campbell’s story stands alone once he softens and picks away at Shone’s sanity. Excellent stuff.)

Also collected in Gaiman’s “Fragile Things”

Harlequin Valentine – Neil Gaiman (4/5 – It’s Valentine’s Day and impish, naughty, mischievous Harlequin is in love. The object of his desire is a young woman called Missy, a former mortuary lab technician. In a macabre demonstration of his love, Harlequin pins his heart to her front door, then promptly vanishes from sight to observe what follows. But has Harlequin given his heart away too easily? If fans of genre fiction were to read all of the stories in this book blind of their authors and were then asked to identify the story that was written by Neil Gaiman, literally everyone would pick this. It’s very Gaiman. Happily, it’s also a fine read. The story has a lively feel to it, as if it came to Gaiman quickly, and there are a number of delightfully weird little turns to enjoy. A brief exchange between Harlequin and a mortuary corpse was wonderfully played, for example, as was the ending.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Dark Matters”

The Stunted House – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – Lamsley fills the semi-regular Holiday Horror slot in Best New Horror with another quality offering. In it we follow Ambrose and Mel as they take a trip out to the coast. On their travels they discover the titular house situated a short distance from a cliff edge. The house is a little rundown and seemingly abandoned. A balcony floor provides an ideal spot for them to set up a picnic and to take in spectacular views of the secluded beach below. When Ambrose wakes from a post-prandial nap to find Mel nowhere to be found, he goes off to find her. First stop: a look inside the stunted house. This wouldn’t have been out of place in a show like Tales of the Unexpected, which is a thumbs-up from me. A fine way to while away the time.)

Also collected in Newman’s “Unforgivable Stories”

Just Like Eddy – Kim Newman (5/5 – Newman does a wonderfully pompous turn as Edgar Poe as the man unspools a tale of tragedy and madness, all centred around his troublesome middle name. The name Allan serves as a constant reminder to Poe of his enormously wealthy stepfather, John Allan, and the cold-hearted way the man would toy with Poe during the poet’s all-too-frequent times of need. Then, as Poe finds his work in print, his loathsome middle name takes on a further aspect of his displeasure in how often it is misspelled: viz, Edgar Allen Poe. As time passes, Poe grows convinced that Edgar Allen is something more than a mere typo, that he is in fact a doppelganger hellbent on destroying Poe’s life, his family and his reputation, and that Poe is doomed forever to trail in his wake, picking up the pieces. Written to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Poe’s death, this is a rare example of showboating that absolutely works. This is a stonking story from Newman – another one! – and one in which he doesn’t shy away from Poe’s myriad faults.)

Also collected in Kiernan’s “Tales of Pain and Wonder”

The Long Hall on the Top Floor – Caitlin R. Kiernan (3/5 – Deacon Silvey settles down on a park bench one evening to quietly sup a bottle of cheap gin and read one of his battered old paperbacks. He is interrupted by skater-boi Soda, who enquires upon a rumour that Deacon possesses psychic abilities. Turns out Soda was asking for a friend, Sadie, who is keen to show Deacon something in the long hall on the top floor of an abandoned building. Aggrieved at having the peace of his evening ruined, Deacon reluctantly agrees to take a look. In all the 200-odd stories I’ve covered so far in Best New Horror, this is the only one that completely escaped my memory within a few weeks of its reading. I could remember literally nothing about it. Even halfway through a reread I struggled to remember how it ended. The reason for this is simple. There is barely a story here. The writing is stylish and pops throughout its runtime, and the characters Kiernan draws together are interesting from the get-go, but there’s precious little for them to do. Like Unhasped, earlier, this is another story that feels like a writing exercise.)

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

Lulu – Thomas Tessier (4/5 – A man pieces together the story of how his grandfather, Leon Kuhn, came to know (real-life writer) Joseph Roth during the man’s final months. Europe stands on the cusp of another Great War and both Kuhn and Roth have holed up in Paris, each having fled an increasingly intolerant Germany. Roth is a tortured genius, alternating between days of feverish working and days of prodigious drinking, while Kuhn is a writer of relatively little renown. A friendship of sorts strikes up between the two men as they frequent Paris’s bars. Kuhn is soon enchanted by Sonja, a woman he assumes to be Roth’s lover or muse. When Kuhn and Sonja fall into bed together, it marks the beginning of a strange symbiotic relationship between the three. Another impressive story from Tessier, whose Ghost Music in Best New Horror 8 was a highlight. As with that story, Lulu showcases in Tessier a writer who knows his material inside-out. It’s seriously impressive stuff, but is let down a smidge by an unnecessary twist ending. Worth seeking out all the same.)

Also collected in Masterton’s “Feelings of Fear”

The Ballyhooly Boy – Graham Masterton (3/5 – Jerry Flynn inherits a rundown terraced house in Ballyhooly from Margaret Devlin, a woman he claims not to have known. The house is cold and grubby and sparsely furnished, with ripped carpets and strange scratches gouged in the ceiling. Jerry eyes the house for a quick sale, having no intention of living there. He is soon accosted by a neighbour who tells him of the screams she’s heard from the supposedly empty house, claims that are soon backed up by others in town. Events take a chilling turn when Jerry stumbles across a few of the house’s chattels, among them a yearbook from his old junior school, and a sullen ghostly boy sitting quietly on the stairs. For the most part this is a fine read. Masterton succeeds in fleshing out an affecting backstory for Jerry and builds a chilling sense of dread as the main story goes on, but the moment the story required a victim and the true monster of the piece was revealed, things started to come apart for me.)

Welcome – Michael Marshall Smith (3/5 – MMS finds inspiration in his home computer once more, this time a computer file with an impossible timestamp. In Welcome, Paul witnesses such a file on his PC, allegedly created on Monday, September 9 1957. He puzzles over this while grinding through tiresome commutes to and from a job he hates. On one such train ride home, Paul wakes to find a strange newspaper by his side. Except it’s not a newspaper at all. The title, for example, is Welcome, and the newsprint is nothing more than pages and pages of people’s names. Why would that be? This is one of those stories where the journey is more important than the destination. Or, put another way, a story which tantalises the reader throughout its runtime without resolving anything at the end. For me, such stories have to work a damn-sight harder than most to warrant my time reading them, and, sadly, on this occasion, MMS doesn’t deliver.)

Also collected in Marano’s “Stories from the Plague Years”

Burden – Michael Marano (4/5 – A gay man is haunted by the ghosts of several friends, each of whom succumbed to the AIDS virus. They linger in plain sight as he cruises the bars with what remains of his friends, bumping into other men on the scene, some of whom resemble walking ghosts themselves. But our man is also haunted by the fact he recently had unprotected sex; a night of passion he might now come to regret. Marano’s full-on film reviews in Cemetery Dance are one of two columns I always seek out whenever they appear. His reviews are unapologetic and in-your-face and guaranteed to be free of bullshit, which gives you a flavour of this story. The gay scene Marano presents here is 100% meat market. There’s no room for love, it’s just men out to fuck other men, night after night. It’s bleak and nihilistic, but the writing really pops and draws you in, a fact made more impressive considering it’s written in the second person, which is usually a tough sell for me.)

Naming the Dead – Paul J. McAuley (4/5 – In this World Fantasy Award-nominated story we are introduced to Mr Carlyle, psychic detective. His is a world in which imps and beasties cling invisibly to people, filling them with doubt and anxiety; a world where diminished ancient river gods can rise up through plugholes to parley, and Carlyle can see them all. When Mrs Stokes drops by to employ Carlyle’s services in tracking down Robert Summers, a convicted murderer recently released from prison, Carlyle reluctantly agrees to help. The plot thickens when Mrs Stokes is slaughtered in her hotel room shortly after their meeting. When two heavies are put onto Carlyle it seems someone, or something, doesn’t want Summers to be found. This was an enjoyably imaginative read. McAuley creates in the space of twenty pages a vibrant world for Carlyle that I’d happily revisit. In his introduction, McAuley expresses his desire to pair Carlyle with another of his characters in a story called Doctor Pretorius and the Lost Island, which appears later in Best New Horror 14. (Rubs hands together expectantly.))

Also collected in Wilson’s “Aftershock & Others”

Aftershock – F. Paul Wilson (4/5 – F. comes up with the goods again in a Stoker-winning story centred on Joe Glyer, a doctor who takes an extracurricular interest in a lightning strike survivor. To his surprise, Kim, having just recovered from the strike in question, is determined to head straight back out to find another storm. She claims each time she is struck by lightning she gains a fleeting moment with her dead son, a claim Glyer has a hard time believing until he too is struck by lightning. F. is as readable as ever, though this is a story that hasn’t aged quite as well as its peers. If you can get past Kim’s lovely breasts, and how frequently they pop out for a bit of fresh air, then an entertaining read awaits you.)

Also collected in Wolfe’s “Innocents Aboard”

A Fish Story – Gene Wolfe (4/5 – A quick in-and-out from Wolfe, presenting in barely four pages a story within a story within a story. Now that’s some editing! In A Fish Story, a writer recounts a fishing trip he once took with his buddies Rab and Bruce. When they start telling ghost stories to one another around the campfire, Rab reluctantly tells of a strange episode he experienced while visiting his dying Aunt Elspeth in hospital, an episode that evidently left its mark on the man. This is another story that raises more questions than it cares to answer but is helped along by its brevity. Worth a five-minute look.)

Originally collected in Case’s “Brotherly Love & Other Tales of Faith and Knowledge”

Jimmy – David Case (3/5 – The sleepy mountain town of Bleekerville is threatened by the emergence of a violent attacker with long nails, a mask-like face with sulphuric eyes and a rapacious passion for teenage girls. Elsewhere, a father sits and frets about his daughter, Rebecca, from whom he has not heard for some months. All he knows is that Rebecca last took up residence in Bleekerville. Meanwhile, an old couple agonise over their teenage son, Jimmy, who has been missing for a few days now. Ethel and Homer fear for Jimmy’s safety, that others in town won’t understand how Jimmy is different from all the other boys. You could chart my enjoyment of this story as a 4/5 gently declining to a 3. It’s is a shame, as Case’s writing for the most part has a brilliant folksy feel to it, riffing on every backwater police station you’ve ever seen in American movies and TV shows. But this folksiness sits uncomfortably in a story about a teenage monster attacking and raping women and teenage girls. This comes to a head, if you’ll forgive the expression, in a scene late in the story which unwisely veers into pornography, a genre in which Case has also been published. Needless to say, this, along with an oh-please ending, made for another story that hasn’t aged well.)

Also collected in Lebbon’s “Fears Unnamed”

White – Tim Lebbon (4/5 – The world is knackered. A gruesome virus has devastated the global population, and the resulting imbalance of power has seen nations merrily knocking seven bells out of each other. A harsh winter has descended, hitting the UK hard, smothering everything in a deep cover of snow. A group of survivors hunker down in a large manor house by the coast, hoping they can see out the worst of the weather. But as the snow continues to fall and the drifts continue to deepen, a more immediate threat emerges from out of the wilds, an otherworldly threat that is as bloodthirsty and vicious as it is cunning and cruel. This story impressed a few people back in the day, bagging a British Fantasy Award and an International Horror Critics Guild nomination, and it’s not hard to see why. This is great story from beginning to… well, till about the three-quarter mark. Like The Ballyhooly Boy earlier, this is a story that doesn’t quite survive the reveal of its monsters, but don’t let that put you off, as the ride up to that point is top-notch. Lebbon creates a real sense of a world dying one snow-blasted day at a time, and the way he strips away layers of hope from our protagonists until there is nothing left but a will to survive is masterful.)

Also collected in Straub’s “Magic Terror”

Pork Pie Hat – Peter Straub (4/5 – A postgrad student secures a private interview with an ailing jazz musician, the eponymous Hat. Our man aims to sell the interview to a magazine with the hope of bringing Hat to the attention of a wider audience. But Hat is a sick man. A life spent playing three sets a night has taken its toll on him, and shortly after the interview Hat passes away. The interview is published, save for one part: a lengthy account of a disturbing incident one Halloween night in Hat’s childhood, his last proper Halloween. In it lie the seeds of Hat’s hard life, and perhaps why, in the run-up to his death, he wouldn’t venture out on Halloween night. I’d been looking forward to reading this ever since devouring Straub’s brilliant Ghost Story a few years ago. Having been partial to a spot of jazz over the past fumfty years, I’d purposely avoided all descriptions of Pork Pie Hat so I could soak up and savour every word Straub had for me. Imagine my slight disappointment, then, when I found this, like Ghost Story, was another story-within-a-story, and one that was not so much concerned with smoky bars and the hard lives that were writ large on tiny stages. Both the inner and outer stories of Pork Pie Hat are great, don’t get me wrong, and Straub knocks it out of the park when it comes to generating tension – the moment our young Hat is on the run and cornered at knifepoint is damn near heart-stopping – but I had hoped for something else. That’s on me, really, so no harm etc. There are a few other niggles, however, that are on Straub. Within the inner story, for example, Hat and his friend Dee are keen to spice up their last proper Halloween by sneaking around The Backs, a shack-strewn bad side of town set in the woods, around which much of the inner story is centred, but too long is spent getting them there, and, when they finally arrive, Straub takes an almost obsessive interest in manoeuvring them through The Backs like chess pieces. And the fact that they wear ghostly white sheets for most of the time feels a bit weird when they’re trying to sneak about in the night. This is also another story that hasn’t aged well since it was published. If you are triggered by use of the word “coloured”, then you might find this one a troubling read. If you can accept that, however, then this is still a mighty fine read.)

Tricks & Treats One Night on Halloween Street – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – After SRT opened the book with Halloween Street, he closes the book with this, a series of flash fiction vignettes all connected in some way to the titular street. As with any collection of short stories, they’re a mixed bag, and flash fiction is often a tough sell for me, but one story stands out a mile: that of a boy, Ronald, who answers the door on Halloween to a trick-or-treater who is wearing a mask of his face. Ronald demands to know from whom or where the boy has gotten a mask of his face, but the boy runs off. What happens next is downright eerie and brilliant. In all, this Stoker-nominated “story” is a good and natural closer to the book.

And so ends another lengthy review of Best New Horror. As ever, if you’ve gotten this far, then thanks for reading! I hope you found something of interest. If you fancy a read of Best New Horror 11 then you should be able to find a second-hand copy on Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks without too much hassle. Alternatively, if eBooks are your thing, then you’ll find the book available across all major platforms. Finally, the book images in this review will take you to their respective pages on Goodreads should you wish to explore an author’s work further.

Once again, thank you for reading. I hope you’ll pop by again for another review of Best New Horror.

Till then, TTFN!


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1411

A weird one this week, in that I solved most of the relatively easy clues at the beginning, unwittingly leaving all the bloody hard ones to the end. Sheesh, talk about a false sense of security! I got there in the end, I think, which is the main thing.

You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. Before we jump in, a spot of housekeeping: if you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s gotten one over you, then you might find succour in my Just For Fun page. If book reviews are your bag then I have the odd one on my Reviews page. I hope to have one up for Best New Horror 11 shortly(ish), as it’s been a while. Finally, if you’d like to read a short story of mine, then you can find one here.

Right, with that little lot out of the way, it’s straight on through to Answerville.

Till next time,


Grid image corrected thanks to a comment from Sid on my About page. Thanks, Sid! – LP

Across clues

1. Open wide his cell, but not completely (7)

Answer: DEHISCE (i.e. “open wide”). “But not completely” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: WI(DE HIS CE)LL. Cool word, but a brute force of Chambers was needed to get it.

5. Mechanic’s grand when in better shape (3,6)

Answer: GAS FITTER (i.e. “mechanic”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “grand”) followed by AS (i.e. “when”) and FITTER (i.e. “in better shape”).

10. Sunlight makes ozone gas, initially producing this? (4)

Answer: SMOG. “Initially” indicates the solution is derived by taking the first letters of SUNLIGHT MAKES OZONE GAS. Not sure of the science behind this one, but then I’m no scientist.

14. Until David is prepared to tour India, he’s not a team player (13)

Answer: INDIVIDUALIST (i.e. “he’s not a team player”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “prepared”) of UNTIL DAVID IS which is wrapped around or “touring” I (“India” in the phonetic alphabet). A clue that scans rather well.

15. Greeks exploited this devious foresight (4,5)

Answer: GIFT HORSE (i.e. “Greeks exploited this”, referring to the Trojan Horse used by the Greeks to infiltrate the city of Troy). “Devious” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FORESIGHT.

16. County with lots of money transferred electronically? (10)

Answer: DOWNLOADED (i.e. “transferred electronically”). Solution is DOWN (i.e. “[Irish] County”) followed by LOADED (i.e. “with loads of money”).

17. Remove police officers from allotment again as punishment (11)

Answer: RETRIBUTION (i.e. “punishment”). Not sure about this one, so watch out. I guess the solution is derived by “removing” some letters from RE(AT)TRIBUTION (i.e. “allotment again”), but I can’t see how AT gets you “police officers”.
[EDIT – Mick comes to the rescue in the comments, highlighting that the word ought to have been REDISTRIBUTION. If one removes DIS (being Detective Inspectors, i.e. “police officers”), you then get RETRIBUTION. Thanks, Mick! – LP]

18. Prominent feature of unfinished material (5)

Answer: CHINO (i.e. “material”). Solution is CHIN (i.e. “prominent feature”) followed by O (i.e. “of unfinished”, i.e. the word “of” with the last letter removed).

19. As many plays are to Mike touring revolutionary Havana (10)

Answer: TRAGICOMIC (i.e. “as many plays are”). Solution is TO and MIC (i.e. “Mike”, both recognised words for a microphone) wrapped around or “touring” CIGAR (i.e. “Havana”) which is reversed (indicated by “revolutionary”), like so: T(RAGIC)O-MIC.

21. Cleverly obtain women’s view (6)

Answer: WANGLE (i.e. “cleverly obtain”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “women”) and ANGLE (i.e. “view”).

23. Fine old important ass with no name (4-5)

Answer: OKEY-DOKEY (i.e. “fine”, as in a word of assent). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) followed by KEY (i.e. “important”) and DONKEY (i.e. “ass”) with the N removed (indicated by “no name” – N being a recognised abbreviation of “name”), like so: O-KEY-DOKEY.

25. Start university owing money? (5)

Answer: DEBUT (i.e. “start”). Solution is U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) placed in DEBT. The “owing money” bit plays on how the U is placed “in DEBT” to derive the solution. You get the idea.

26. A copper breaking up rave’s beaming (7)

Answer: RADIANT (i.e. “beaming”). Solution is A DI (i.e. “a copper”, specifically a Detective Inspector) placed in or “breaking up” RANT (i.e. “rave”), like so: R(A-DI)ANT.

28. Top sailor and German worker make more than enough (13)

Answer: SUPERABUNDANT (i.e. “more than enough”). Solution is SUPER (i.e. “top”) followed by AB (i.e. “sailor”, specifically one of the Able Bodied variety) then UND (i.e. “and German”, i.e. the German for “and”) and ANT (i.e. “worker”).

31. Drop two drinks containing last of gin (9)

Answer: DOWNSWING (i.e. “drop”). Solution is DOWN and SWIG (i.e. “two drinks”) wrapped around or “containing” N (i.e. “last of gin”, i.e. the last letter of “gin”), like so: DOWN-SWI(N)G.

33. American sent back a strong beer brought in for each fan (9)

Answer: SUPPORTER (i.e. “fan”). Solution can be US (i.e. “American”) reversed (indicated by “sent back”) and PORTER (i.e. “a strong beer”) once P (i.e. “for each”, or per – I’m guessing the setter has “per annum” in mind here, often shortened to “pa”, but in isolation this is not an abbreviation of “per” that is recognised by my Chambers) is “brought in” between them, like so: SU-(P)-PORTER. Alternatively, if you pretend for a moment that the setter’s screwed up, that PORT is a strong beer and not fortified wine, then you could place it in PER (being “for each”), like so: SU-P(PORT)ER. Either way, this ain’t great. Next!!!

35. Called bully regularly in Euston, say, for using throttle (13)

Answer: STRANGULATION (i.e. “using throttle”). Solution is RANG (i.e. “called [on the telephone]”) and UL (i.e. “bully regularly”, i.e. every other letter of BULLY) placed “in” STATION (i.e. “Euston, say”), like so: ST(RANG-UL)ATION.

37. You brought in coffee and baby’s clothing (7)

Answer: LAYETTE (i.e. “baby’s clothing”). Solution is YE (i.e. ye olde “you”) placed “in” LATTE (i.e. “coffee”), like so: LA(YE)TTE. Another go-to solution for setters it seems, having recently appeared here and here.

38. Cunning servicemen open case of claret (5)

Answer: CRAFT (i.e. “cunning”). Solution is RAF (i.e. “servicemen”, specifically the Royal Air Force) placed in or “opening” CT (i.e. “case of claret”, i.e. the first and last letters of “claret”), like so: C(RAF)T.

40. Check what golfer does on tee to try out buggy? (4,5)

Answer: TEST DRIVE. Solution is TEST (i.e. “[to] check”) followed by DRIVE (i.e. “what golfer does on tee”). Test drives are taken in motor vehicles by prospective owners in order to “try them out”. A golf “buggy” might be one such vehicle, at a stretch. You get the idea.

42. Charge the German for trough (6)

Answer: FEEDER (i.e. “trough”). Solution is FEE (i.e. “charge”) followed by DER (i.e. “the German”, i.e. the German for “the”).

44. Angle to pay for drink, including duck (10)

Answer: STANDPOINT (i.e. “angle”). Solution is STAND PINT (i.e. “to pay for drink”) wrapped around or “including” O (i.e. “duck”, being a zero score in cricket), like so: STAND-P(O)INT.

46. Republican university withdraws race (5)

Answer: RELAY (i.e. “race”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”) followed by YALE (i.e. “[American] university”) which is reversed (indicated by “withdraws”), like so: R-ELAY.

48. Study society involved in racket with your authority (11)

Answer: CONNOISSEUR (i.e. “authority”). Another one I’m not 100% on, so watch out. Solution is CON (an archaic word for “study” often used by setters) followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “society”) once it has been placed or “involved” in NOISE (i.e. “racket”). I’m guessing the setter then means UR to be “your”, to then make CON-NOIS(S)E-UR, but this usage isn’t supported by any of my assorted reference books. If the intention was a contraction of “you are”, then 1) “you’re” is not the same as “your”, and 2) some kind of homophone indicator should have been used. So are we allowing textspeak now, setters, or am I missing something? Hmm. Given my recent form, the latter is a possibility…
[EDIT – After sneaking a look in a few other dictionaries, I see the latest Oxford lists UR as an abbreviation of “your”. Shame, Oxford! Shame! (Rings bell.) – LP]

50. Goods in a recession ignoring City’s hostility (10)

Answer: AGGRESSION (i.e. “hostility”). Solution is GG (i.e. “goods” – G is a recognised abbreviation of “good”, so GG would be the plural “goods”) placed “in” A RECESSION once the letters EC have been removed (indicated by “ignoring City” – EC is the post code area of the City of London), like so: A(GG)RESSION.

52. Gentleman calling for taxi briskly, good to go (9)

Answer: CABALLERO (i.e. a Spanish “gentleman”). Solution is CAB (i.e. “taxi”) followed by ALLEGRO (i.e. “fast” in musical lingo) once the G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) has been removed, like so: CAB-ALLERO.

53. Run new article about outcome of WWIII? (7,6)

Answer: NUCLEAR WINTER (i.e. “outcome of WWIII”). “About” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RUN NEW ARTICLE.

54. First female premier’s right wing, still (4)

Answer: EVER (i.e. “still”). Solution is EVE (i.e. “[Biblical] first female”) followed by R (i.e. “premier’s right wing”, i.e. the last letter of “premier”).

55. Baked bits and pieces bits Kitty dumps across river (9)

Answer: POTSHERDS, which, in archaeological terms, are fragments of pottery (i.e. “baked bits and pieces”). Solution is POT (i.e. “kitty” as in a pot of money – ignore the misleading capitalisation) followed by SHEDS (i.e. “dumps”) once it has been wrapped around or placed “across” R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”), like so: POT-SHE(R)DS. A new word on me, but not one I can see using in conversation anytime ever. Also, the second mention of “bit” seems redundant, unless it’s supposed to qualify “kitty” – bits being another word for coins. Given that the second “bit” doesn’t scan at all well within the clue, I’m guessing this is an editor fail.

56. Battle colour (7)

Answer: MAGENTA. Solution satisfies “battle” – referring to the Battle of Magenta fought during the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 (so says Wikipedia, anyway) – and “colour”.

Down clues

1. Stage cow, perhaps, with no tail (4)

Answer: DAIS (i.e. “stage”). Another where the setter shakes me off, so be aware. My best guess is that the solution is derived from DAISY with the last letter removed (indicated by “with no tail”), but I’m not getting how this is a “cow, perhaps”. There’s probably some enormous neon-lit cultural reference I’m missing somewhere.

2. Extremely happy vet maybe with leather needing horse compound (9)

Answer: HYDROXIDE (i.e. “compound” of hydrogen and oxygen). Solution is HY (i.e. “extremely happy”, i.e. the first and last letters of “happy”) followed by DR (a recognised abbreviation of doctor, i.e. “vet maybe”) and OX HIDE (i.e. “leather”) with the H removed (indicated by “needing horse” – H being a recognised abbreviation of heroin, also known as “horse”), like so: HY-DR-OX-IDE.

3. Son still muses on mundane old edifices, including a lighthouse (5,7,2,3,5)

Answer: SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD (i.e. “old edifices, including a lighthouse” – the latter referring to the Lighthouse of Alexandria). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) followed by EVEN (i.e. “still” – 54a has EVER being “still”, 3d has EVEN being “still” – both work), then WONDERS (i.e. “muses on”) and OF THE WORLD (i.e. “mundane”).

4. Final violent demonstration missing quota (7)

Answer: ENDMOST (i.e. “final”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “violent”) of DEMONSTRATION once the RATION has been removed (indicated by “missing quota”).

5. King George with cleric going round Yankee landmark (5,6)

Answer: GRAND CANYON (i.e. “landmark”). Solution is GR (i.e. “King George” or Georgius Rex in Latin) followed by AND (i.e. “with”) and CANON (i.e. “cleric”) once it has been placed “around” Y (“Yankee” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: GR-AND-CAN(Y)ON.

6. Cool GP, seen running round getting dehydrated fast? (4-5)

Answer: SPIN-DRIED (i.e. “getting dehydrated fast”, or at least faster than being left out in the open). Solution is SPIED (i.e. “seen”) placed “round” IN (i.e. hip and happening and “cool”) and DR (a recognised abbreviation of “doctor”, i.e. “GP” or General Practitioner), like so: SP(IN-DR)IED.

7. Season without wife’s place in ground (5)

Answer: INTER (i.e. “place in ground”). Solution is WINTER (i.e. “season”) with the W removed (indicated by “without wife” – W being a recognised abbreviation of “wife”).

8. Grasping digits the FT put about (11)

Answer: TIGHTFISTED (i.e. “grasping”). “Put about” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DIGITS THE FT.

9. Fliers on female, one supported by a hat-maker (6)

Answer: RAFFIA (i.e. “hat-maker”. It is also used to make other things, like mats and baskets.) Solution is RAF (i.e. “fliers”) followed by F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”), then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and A. The “supported by” bit relates to how these pieces are all stacked on top of the final A, this being a down clue.

11. Greeting old seafarers in China (7)

Answer: MORNING (i.e. “greeting” – hoo boy, the swearing when this finally clicked!) Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and RN (i.e. “seafarers”, specifically the Royal Navy) placed “in” MING (i.e. “china” – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: M(O-RN)ING.

12. A degree in martial arts restricted building here (5,4)

Answer: GREEN BELT. Solution satisfies “a degree in martial arts” and “restricted building here”.

13. Somehow understanding solids has special relish (8,6,8)

Answer: THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING (i.e. “relish”). Both “somehow” and “special” appear to be anagram indicators here, which seems a tad excessive. Unless thousand island dressing is indeed “special”. Never tried it. Solution is an anagram of UNDERSTANDING SOLIDS HAS. An easier get, having appeared in a previous grid.

18. Rich man’s wrinkles mentioned? (7)

Answer: CROESUS (i.e. “rich man”). “Mentioned” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of CREASES (i.e. “wrinkles”). Another easier get, having appeared in a previous grid.

20. Troops maybe fly spacecraft (7)

Answer: ORBITER (i.e. “spacecraft”). Solution is OR (i.e. “troops”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army) followed by BITER (i.e. “maybe fly”. Other biters are available.)

22. Mature people occasionally want to enter gangs (5-3)

Answer: GROWN-UPS (i.e. “mature people”). Solution is WN (i.e. “occasionally want”, i.e. every other letter of WANT) placed in or “entering” GROUPS (i.e. “gangs”), like so: GRO(WN)UPS.

24. Royal couple, taking in current blitz, left out US meddler (8)

Answer: KIBITZER, which is a Yiddish word used in the “US” to describe someone who interferes or gives unwanted advice, i.e. “meddler”. No, me neither. Solution is K and ER (i.e. “royal couple”, being recognised abbreviations of “king” and “Elizabeth Regina” respectively) wrapped around or “taking in” I (a recognised abbreviation for an electrical “current”) and BLITZ once the L has been removed (indicated by “left out” – L being a recognised abbreviation of “left”), like so: K-(I-BITZ)-ER.

27. Defence one entered, jumping bail (5)

Answer: ALIBI (i.e. “defence”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed in or “entering” an anagram (indicated by “jumping”) of BAIL, like so: AL(I)BI.

29. Drug source, old man with paltry margins (5)

Answer: POPPY (i.e. “drug source”). Solution is POP (i.e. “old man”, both informal descriptions of one’s father) followed by PY (i.e. “paltry margins”, i.e. the first and last letters of “paltry”).

30. Volunteers in sailor’s home don’t drink (7)

Answer: ABSTAIN (i.e. “don’t drink”). Solution is TA (i.e. “volunteers”, specifically the Territorial Army) placed “in” between AB’S (i.e. “sailor’s” – as mentioned earlier, AB is an Able-Bodied seaman) and IN (i.e. “home”), like so: AB’S-(TA)-IN.

32. Armaments chap holding notes and ruler (7)

Answer: GUNNERY (i.e. “armaments”). Solution is GUY (i.e. “chap”) wrapped around or “holding” NN (i.e. “notes” – N is a recognised abbreviation of “note”, so NN makes a pair of “notes”) and ER (i.e. “ruler”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: GU(NN-ER)Y.

34. Hack to back her to make waves (4,3,4)

Answer: ROCK THE BOAT (i.e. “make waves”). “Hack” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO BACK HER TO.

36. Vacuum old object found in northern loch (11)

Answer: NOTHINGNESS (i.e. “vacuum”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and THING (i.e. “object”) placed or “found in” N (a recognised abbreviation of “northern”) and NESS (i.e. “loch”), like so: N-(O-THING)-NESS.

37. Everyone goes through this lithium and iron carrier (4,5)

Answer: LIFE CYCLE (i.e. “everyone goes through this”). Solution is LI (chemical symbol of “lithium”) and FE (ditto “iron”) followed by CYCLE (i.e. “carrier”, referring to a bicycle).

39. Noisy performer hit reindeer (3-6)

Answer: TAP-DANCER (i.e. “noisy performer”). Solution is TAP (i.e. “hit”) followed by DANCER (i.e. “[Santa Claus’s] reindeer”).

41. I will try Times nurse acquired under the counter? (3-6)

Answer: ILL-GOTTEN (i.e. “acquired under the counter”). Solution is I’LL (a contraction of “I will”) followed by GO (i.e. “try”, as in have a go), then TT (i.e. “times” – ignore the misleading capitalisation. T is a recognised abbreviation of “time”, and as we’ve seen a number of times, this week’s setter likes to use plurals to indicate repeated letters, so “times” becomes TT) and EN (i.e. “nurse”, specifically an Enrolled Nurse), like so: I’LL-GO-TT-EN.

43. Maybe make peeress some genteel bonnets in retirement (7)

Answer: ENNOBLE (i.e. “maybe make peeress”). “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “in retirement” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: GENTE(EL BONNE)TS.

45. Formula of The Golden Mean? Recall first half only (7)

Answer: THEOREM (i.e. “formula”). Solution is THE followed by OR (i.e. “golden” in heraldry) and ME (i.e. “mean … first half only”) which is reversed (indicated by “recall”), like so: THE-OR-EM.

47. A former PM’s getting up numb (6)

Answer: ASLEEP (i.e. “numb”). Solution is A followed by Robert PEEL’S (i.e. “former PM’s” – PM being Prime Minister) which is reversed (indicated by “getting up” – this being a down clue), like so: A-S’LEEP.

49. Spread limb, ignoring breadth (5)

Answer: RANCH (i.e. “spread”). Solution is BRANCH (i.e. “limb” of a tree) with the B removed (indicated by “ignoring breadth” – B being a recognised abbreviation of “breadth”).

51. Swimmer that completes two of the Balearics (4)

Answer: ORCA, a.k.a. a killer whale (i.e. “swimmer”). “That completes two of the Balearics” refers to MajORCA and MallORCA. Another repeated solution, this time from last month.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1410

Another tricky bugger this week, with exotic solutions all over the place. Another good one, on reflection, though I didn’t think so while in the thick of it! I think I got there in the end. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

In time honoured fashion, a spot of housekeeping before we jump in. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s looking a bit gappy then you might find my Just For Fun page the cat’s pyjamas. While I’ve got you here, how about a book review or two? Or a short story, maybe? (You don’t ask, you don’t get…)

And so to the answers. See you next time.


A big thank you to Richard in the comments for the correction – LP


Across clues

1. Reach crisis point? Wake up! (4,2,1,4)

Answer: COME TO A HEAD (i.e. “reach crisis point”). “Wake up” also satisfies COME TO. A bit of a scruffy half-finished clue.
[EDIT: Thanks to Barry in the comments for decoding this one further, in that “wake” satisfies COME TO, while “up” satisfies AHEAD. Cheers, Barry! – LP]

7. He’s one United put in control (6)

Answer: HELIUM. (“He” is the chemical symbol of helium.) Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one” and U (a recognised abbreviation of “united”) “put in” HELM (i.e. “control”), like so: HEL(I-U)M.

10. Not a thing associated with involuntary movement of the ear? (4)

Answer: OTIC (i.e. “of the ear”). Solution is O (i.e. “not a thing”, i.e. zero) followed by TIC (i.e. “involuntary movement”).

14. Doctor’s endless search for places to pray (7)

Answer: MOSQUES (i.e. “places to pray”). Solution is MO’S (i.e. “doctor’s” – specifically a Medical Officer) followed by QUEST (i.e. “search”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “endless”), like so: MOS-QUES.

15. Fifty-peseta contracts for work as printer (7)

Answer: TYPESET (i.e. “work as printer”). “Contracts” indicates the solution is hidden within FIF(TY-PESET)A.

16. Green diesel, maybe, turning blue if old (7)

Answer: BIOFUEL (i.e. “green diesel, maybe”, as in eco-friendly diesel). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “turning”) of BLUE IF and O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”).

17. Story in French of a skating hazard claiming archdeacon (5,2,6)

Answer: DEATH IN VENICE, a “story” by Thomas Mann. Solution is DE (i.e. “in French of”, i.e. the French for “of”) followed by A, then THIN ICE (i.e. “skating hazard”) once it has been wrapped around or “claiming” VEN (i.e. “archdeacon”, being a recognised abbreviation of “venerable”), like so: DE-A-THIN-(VEN)-ICE.

18. Pants ladies and gents put on itch (4,5)

Answer: LONG JOHNS (i.e. “pants”). Solution is JOHNS (i.e. “ladies and gents [toilets]”) placed “on” or after LONG (i.e. to yearn or “itch”).

19. Girl’s watch in red from Latin America (5)

Answer: CHLOE (i.e. “girl”). Solution is LO (i.e. “watch” or see, as in lo and behold) placed “in” CHE (i.e. “red from Latin America”, specifically Che Guevara), like so: CH(LO)E.

21. One into renewable energy, local veg? (3-7)

Answer: ECO-VILLAGE. Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “renewable”) of E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) and LOCAL VEG, like so: ECOV(I)LLAGE. Within the context of the clue, an eco-village would indeed be into renewable energy.

23. Pattern of fur, silver, revealed by one (6)

Answer: AGOUTI (i.e. “pattern of fur” – also a big-assed rat). Solution is AG (chemical symbol of “silver”) followed by OUT (i.e. “revealed”) and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”). Unsurprisingly, this was one gotten solely from the wordplay.

25. Cutting plants, as Don Quixote once did on the plain (8)

Answer: SAWMILLS (i.e. “cutting plants”). When read as SAW MILLS the solution also satisfies “as Don Quixote once did on the plain”, referring to his tilting (jousting) with imaginary enemies, coined as “tilting at windmills”. It says here.

26. Park in Paris, close to chateau – soon be obliged to move (4,2,8)

Answer: BOIS DE BOULOGNE (i.e. “park in Paris”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to move”) of U (i.e. “close to chateau”, i.e. the last letter of “chateau”) and SOON BE OBLIGED. Another one gotten solely from the wordplay, and only once most of the intersecting letters were solved.

29. Drop of drink, after song (3,4)

Answer: LAY DOWN (i.e. “drop”). Solution is DOWN (i.e. “[to] drink”) placed “after” LAY (i.e. “song”).

30. Word that’s silly name adopted by posh people (9)

Answer: ASSURANCE (i.e. “word”, as in “my word is my bond”). Solution is ASS (i.e. “[one] that’s silly”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”) once it has been placed in or “adopted by” U (i.e. “posh” – as in a recognised abbreviation of the upper classes in general) and RACE (i.e. “people”), like so: ASS-U-RA(N)CE.

31. Drag people in front of film – to watch here? (2,3)

Answer: TV SET (i.e. “film – to watch here”). Solution is TVS (i.e. “drag people”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of transvestites) placed “in front of ” ET (i.e. “film”, specifically ET: The Extra-Terrestrial).

32. Word of praise in first half for Manchester’s players (5)

Answer: HALLE (i.e. “Manchester’s players”, as in the Halle Orchestra). Solution is the “first half” of HALLELUIAH (i.e. “word of praise”). An easier get than it ought to have been owing to Halle’s appearance in a recent puzzle.

34. Island in Med, large, hyped by America (9)

Answer: LAMPEDUSA (i.e. “island in Med”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) followed by AMPED (i.e. “hyped”) and USA (i.e. “America”). Another one from my Bradfords.

37. In general, duck passes for gander (4-3)

Answer: LOOK-SEE (i.e. “gander”). Solution is LEE (i.e. “general”, as in the car the Dukes of Hazzard buggered about in. That’s all, I think. (Checks history books.) Ohhhhh…) with O (i.e. “duck”, as in a zero score in cricket) and OKS (i.e. okays or “passes”) placed “inside” like so: L(O-OKS)EE.

39. Protected from rain, say, if picked up and quietly covered (14)

Answer: WEATHERPROOFED (i.e. “protected from rain, say”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “picked up”) of WHETHER (i.e. “if”) followed by P (i.e. “quietly”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, which is “quiet” in musical lingo) and ROOFED (i.e. “covered”).

41. Prolific poet failing to finish on a roll (8)

Answer: ABUNDANT (i.e. “prolific”). Solution is DANTE Alighieri (i.e. “poet”) with his final letter trimmed (indicated by “failing to finish”) placed “on” or after A BUN (i.e. “a roll”), like so: A-BUN-DANT.

43. Patriarch exercises back, cracking rib (6)

Answer: JOSEPH (i.e. “[Biblical] patriarch”). Solution is PE (i.e. “exercises”, specifically Physical Education) reversed (indicated by “back”) and placed in or “cracking” JOSH (i.e. “[to] rib”), like so: JOS(EP)H.

44. After ripping up my card, I left party (5,5)

Answer: PLAID CYMRU (i.e. “[political] party”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “after ripping”) of UP MY CARD I and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”).

45. Mostly, spa hotel area is for the stars (5)

Answer: HYDRA (i.e. “for the stars”, referring to the Hydra constellation). Solution is HYDRO (i.e. “spa hotel”, short for a hydropathic establishment – chalk one to my Bradfords here) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and followed by A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”), like so: HYDR-A.

48. Eccentric Dickens characters starting on lamb and cheese (9)

Answer: CAMBOZOLA (i.e. “cheese” – another win for the Bradfords here… I doubt my local Tesco Express stocks it). Solution is CAM (i.e. “eccentric” – this could be an alternate spelling of KAM, meaning “awry” (no, me neither), but this feels weaker than a cup of unnervingly milky tea) followed by BOZ (the name Charles “Dickens’s” pen name he used for his early published work) then O-L-A (i.e. “characters starting on lamb and”, i.e. the initial letters of “on”, “lamb” and “and”).
[EDIT: Barry comes to the rescue, lighting on “eccentric” in an engineering sense, citing the CAM shafts of an engine as an example. Thanks again, Barry! – LP]

49. Unassisted TV broadcast outside ending in panic and disorder (2,6,5)

Answer: ST VITUS’S DANCE, a disease or “disorder” also known as Sydenham’s Chorea, resulting in the uncontrollable jerking of the hands, face and feet. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “broadcast”) of UNASSISTED TV placed “outside” of C (i.e. “ending in panic”, i.e. the last letter of “panic”). Another one gotten from a combination of wordplay and a brute force of my Chambers once I’d solved most of the intersecting letters.

51. Half our capital: two grand to keep in yen (7)

Answer: LONGING (i.e. “yen”). Solution is LON (i.e. “half our capital” – The Times being an English newspaper, this would be the first half of LONDON) followed by G and G (i.e. “two grand” – G being a recognised abbreviation of “grand”) once they have been wrapped around or “keeping” IN, like so: LON-G-(IN)-G.

52. Small child can count on granny, ultimately (4,3)

Answer: TINY TOT (i.e. “small child”). Solution is TIN (i.e. “can”, as in a tin can) and TOT (i.e. “count”), the latter placed “on” or after Y (i.e. “granny, ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “granny”), like so: TIN-Y-TOT.

53. Notes Home Counties firm concealing tax returns (7)

Answer: OCTAVES (i.e. “[musical] notes”). Solution is SE (i.e. “Home Counties”, referring to the South East of England) and CO (i.e. “firm”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “company”) which are wrapped around or “concealing” VAT (i.e. “tax”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “returns”), like so: OC-(TAV)-ES. Nicely worked.

54. Welshman’s huffing and puffing, say, putting me out (4)

Answer: RHYS (i.e. “Welshman”). Solution is RHYMES (indicated by “huffing and puffing, say”) with the ME removed (indicated by “putting me out”).

55. Jazz can be so beneficial: understandable say, on vacation (6)

Answer: BLUESY (i.e. “jazz can be”). “On vacation” indicates the solution is derived by removing all the middle letters from BENEFICIAL, UNDERSTANDABLE and SAY.

56. They’re carried by women: one visiting Oz a lot (7,4)

Answer: DOROTHY BAGS (i.e. “they’re carried by women”). “One visiting Oz a lot” refers to DOROTHY, central character of The Wizard of Oz. Another scruffy half-finished clue, it seems. As the scruffy clues represent the first and last of the across clues, maybe this was intentional by the setter for some reason.
[EDIT: A few commenters have helped clarify this one further both here and on my About page. As with 1a, I needed to break the clue down a bit more, in that DOROTHY satisfied “one visiting Oz”, while “a lot” satisfied BAGS. Thanks, all – LP]

Down clues

1. Not the only one to treat you as a joke? (7)

Answer: COMEDIC (i.e. “as a joke”). When read as CO-MEDIC, the solution also satisfies “not the only one to treat you”. A clue that scans rather well.

2. Virginia’s work, turning over boy’s room: mean, indeed (3,8)

Answer: MRS DALLOWAY (i.e. “Virginia [Woolf]’s work”). Solution is LAD’S RM (i.e. “boy’s room” – RM being a recognised abbreviation of “room”) reversed (indicated by “turning over”) and followed by LOW (i.e. “mean” or nasty) and AY (i.e. “indeed”, as in a word of assent), like so: (MR-SDAL)-LOW-AY.

3. Old Testament book at the heart of Matthew’s gospel (5)

Answer: TRUTH (i.e. “gospel”). Solution is RUTH (i.e. “Old Testament book”) placed under or “at” T (i.e. “the heart of Matthew”, i.e. the middle letter of “Matthew”), like so: T-RUTH.

4. Presumably no accompanying letter (8,8)

Answer: ABSENTEE LANDLORD, a “letter” who lives well away from their properties (indicated by “presumably no accompanying”).

5. Apartment resold, after narrowing floor (8)

Answer: ENTRESOL, which is French for a mezzanine (i.e. “floor”). “After narrowing” indicates the solution is hidden within APARTM(ENT RESOL)D. Another one gotten purely from the wordplay, and again only once I’d solved most of the intersecting letters.

6. Deceiving political party not quite legal, as we see it (11)

Answer: DUPLICITOUS (i.e. “deceiving”). Solution is DUP (i.e. “political party”) followed by LICIT (i.e. “legal”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “not quite”) and followed by TO US (i.e. “as we see it”), like so: DUP-LICI-TO-US.

7. Rush, once you’ve got close to home (5)

Answer: HASTE (i.e. “rush”). Solution is HAST (i.e. “once you’ve got”, i.e. ye olde “you’ve got”, as in “Cor, thou hast a crackyng payre, Bettina.”; “Ooh, saucy!” Carry On Henry (1971)… probably) followed by E (i.e. “close to home”, i.e. the last letter of “home”).

8. Visitor from afar supposedly appearing to allow safe passage? (6,5,3)

Answer: LITTLE GREEN MAN. Solution satisfies “visitor from afar supposedly”, alluding to a space alien. The Times being a UK paper, the solution also satisfies “appearing to allow safe passage”, alluding to the green man symbol that appears when it’s safe to step out on a road crossing.

9. Courteous short text accusing a pest? (6)

Answer: URBANE (i.e. “courteous”). “Short text” indicates the solution can also be read as U R BANE, or “you are bane”, i.e. “accusing a pest”. Yeah, I’m not a fan of this one either.

11. Hint book is needed for linesmen (5,6)

Answer: TOUCH JUDGES (i.e. “linesmen” in a game of rugby). Solution is TOUCH (i.e. “hint”) followed by JUDGES (a “book” of the Old Testament).

12. Huge figures in army officer circles, one’s reflected (7)

Answer: COLOSSI (i.e. “huge figures”). Solution is COL (i.e. “army officer”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a colonel) followed by OS (i.e. “circles”) and IS (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one” – ignore the misleading possessive), the latter once it has been reversed (indicated by “reflected”), like so: COL-OS-SI.

13. Marriage of prisoner by prison wall, on the inside (8)

Answer: CONJUGAL (i.e. “marriage”). Solution is CON (i.e. “prisoner”) followed by JUG (i.e. “prison” – I remembered this alternative meaning from a previous puzzle) and middle letters of WALL (indicated by “on the inside”), like so: CON-JUG-AL.

20. European poised for throwing event (7)

Answer: EPISODE (i.e. “event”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “for throwing”) of E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) and POISED.

22. I’ve gone down: but I’ll be up in 5! (5)

Answer: LOSER (i.e. “I’ve gone down”). “But I’ll be up in 5” indicates the solution can also be found reversed in 5 down, ENT(RESOL). (“Up” often indicates reversals in down clues.)

24. Delights perhaps in Tory election victory drama (5,7,4)

Answer: LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST. Solution satisfies “drama” by William Shakespeare and, with the removal of the first apostrophe, also “delights perhaps in Tory election victory”.

25. Scoff after female makes you jump and turn (7)

Answer: SALCHOW (i.e. “jump and turn [in figure skating]” – ah, so that’s how it’s spelled). Solution is CHOW (i.e. “scoff”) placed “after” SAL (i.e. “female”), like so: SAL-CHOW.

27. Petition opening briefly put an end to fast? (7)

Answer: ENTREAT (i.e. “petition”). Solution is ENTRY (i.e. “opening”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and then followed by EAT (i.e. “put an end to fast”), like so: ENTR-EAT.

28. Something comforting, said cornerpiece, in grand residence (8,6)

Answer: BALMORAL CASTLE (i.e. “grand residence”). Solution is BALM (i.e. “something comforting”) followed by ORAL (i.e. “said”) and CASTLE (i.e. “cornerpiece” at the start of a game of chess).

31. Nick would only be a quarter as long? (3-4)

Answer: TWO-INCH. Solution alludes to “half-inch”, which is Cockney rhyming slang for “pinch” i.e. to “nick” something. A half-inch is “a quarter as long” as two inches. You get the idea.

33. Analyse mood that’s transformed uncouth rich kid? (11)

Answer: LOADSAMONEY, one of comedian Harry Enfield’s characters, mocking the yuppies and “uncouth rich kids” of the 1980s. I’ll admit I was surprised to find it in the dictionary! Anyway, “that’s transformed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ANALYSE MOOD.

35. What triggers eating complaint, or longer illness? (1,4)

Answer: E COLI, a nasty “illness”-inducing bug. “What triggers” indicates the solution can be derived from the starts of EATING COMPLAINT OR LONGER ILLNESS. Another nicely worked clue.

36. Third of income tax due. Evan’s wrong? Not so mine! (11)

Answer: UNEXCAVATED (i.e. “not so mine” – I mean, yeah, I get it, ish, but this is weak). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “wrong”) of C (i.e. “third of income”, i.e. the third letter of “income”) and TAX DUE EVAN.

38. Some of European’s small capitals also in a way classical (11)

Answer: SCANDINAVIA (i.e. “some of Europe[an]”). Solution is SC (a recognised abbreviation of “small capitals” used in printing) followed by AND (i.e. “also”) then IN A and VIA (i.e. “way classical”, i.e. the Latin for “way”), like so: SC-AND-IN-A-VIA. A clue that scans rather well.

40. Sending off pitch, no yellow initially having been waved (8)

Answer: HYPNOTIC (i.e. “sending off”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “having been waved”) of PITCH NO and Y (i.e. “yellow initially”, i.e. the first letter of “yellow”).

42. I hand across a yellow parrot (8)

Answer: IMITATOR (i.e. “parrot”). Solution is I then MITT (i.e. “hand”) which is wrapped around or “across” A and then followed by OR (i.e. “yellow”, referring to gold in heraldry), like so: I-MIT(A)T-OR.

43. Round copper bowl’s ending in grate, full of cracks (7)

Answer: JOCULAR (i.e. “full of [wise]cracks”). Solution is O (i.e. “round”), CU (chemical symbol of “copper”) and L (i.e. “bowl’s ending”, i.e. the last letter of “bowl”) all placed “in” JAR (i.e. “[to] grate [upon]”) like so: J(O-CU-L)AR.

46. Being germ-free, say, extended players’ lives (7)

Answer: ASEPSIS (i.e. “being germ-free”). Solution is AS (i.e. “say”) followed by EPS (i.e. “extended players”, as in vinyl records) and IS (i.e. “lives”).

47. Stupendous amount of sentimental stuff on record recalled (6)

Answer: GOOGOL (i.e. “stupendous amount”). Solution is GOO (i.e. “sentimental stuff”) followed by LOG (i.e. “record”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “recalled”), like so: GOO-GOL.

49. Auditor’s bright lad! (5)

Answer: SONNY (i.e. “lad”). “Auditor” indicates the solution is also a homophone of SUNNY (i.e. “bright”).

50. Irrational number’s using variable for second time (5)

Answer: DITZY (i.e. “irrational”). Solution is DITTY (i.e. “[musical] number”) with the “second” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) replaced by (indicated by “using…for”) Z (i.e. “variable” – setters like calling the letters X, Y or Z variables or unknowns in their clues), like so: DIT(T)Y => DIT(Z)Y.