About Lucian Poll

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Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1359

Okay, now we’re catching up a bit. Here’s my completed grid for Sat 29th Dec’s puzzle, along with explanations of my solutions. This wasn’t as much of a nightmare as Boxing Day’s horror show but still had its moments. At least I can justify nearly all of my solutions. Onwards!

Across clues

1. When Barnet manager let the side down? (3,4,3)

Answer: BAD HAIR DAY. Solution riffs on barnet being another word for “hairdo”.

6. Alternative band added clause to include new musician for handling crank? (5,7)

Answer: ORGAN GRINDER (i.e. “musician for handling crank”). Solution is OR (i.e. “alternative”) then GANG (i.e. “band”), then RIDER (i.e. “clause”) wrapped around N (a recognised abbreviation for “new”), like so: OR-GANG-RI(N)DER.

14. Score twice for final outcome (3,6)

Answer: NET RESULT. Solution satisfies both “score twice” – how both NET and RESULT are both words for “score” – and “final outcome”.

15. Energy powder knocked back for striking effect (5)

Answer: ECLAT (i.e. “striking effect”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation for “energy”) followed by CLAT (i.e. “powder knocked back”, i.e. the word “talc” reversed), like so: E-CLAT.

16. Obsolete former colour (no longer used) (7)

Answer: EXTINCT (i.e. “obsolete”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former”) and TINCT (an obsolete transitive verb meaning to tint or to dye, i.e. “colour (no longer used)”).

17. Awful, flaky model’s a creature of legend (10,7)

Answer: ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (i.e. “creature of legend”). Solution is ABOMINABLE (i.e. “awful”) and SNOWMAN (i.e. “[snow]flaky model”).

18. The end for, e.g. Speedy Gonzales, small and mischievous (5)

Answer: ELFIN (i.e. “small and mischievous”). Solution is EL FIN, or “the end” in Spanish, as The Fastest Mouse In All Mexico would say it.

19. Ally using encryption to conceal weapon pointed towards west (7)

Answer: COMRADE (i.e. “ally”). Solution is CODE (i.e. “encryption”) “concealing” MRA (i.e. “weapon pointed towards west”, i.e. the word ARM reversed – setters like using clues like “westward” when reversing all or part of across clues, and “up” for down clues), like so: CO(MRA)DE.

21. Poorly rates unknown substitute (6)

Answer: ERSATZ (i.e. “substitute”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “poorly”) of RATES, followed by Z (i.e. “unknown” – setters often use this to represent X Y or Z in a solution), like so: ERSAT-Z.

22. Access divinity programme (8)

Answer: RECOURSE (i.e. “access”). Solution is RE COURSE (i.e. “divinity programme”, RE being Religious Education).

24. Heading off, speechless with anger, having taken it? (7)

Answer: UMBRAGE, which is to take offence at something. Solution is UMB (i.e. “heading off, speechless”, i.e. the word “dumb” with the initial letter removed) followed by RAGE (i.e. “anger”).

26. One is after revolutionary massage – they’re heavenly! (8)

Answer: CHERUBIM, which, as any art aficionado knows, are winged children who smoke ciggies, like on the sleeve of Van Halen’s 1984 album (i.e. “they’re heavenly”). Solution is IM (i.e. “one is”, i.e. a contraction of “I am”) placed “after” CHE (i.e. “revolutionary”, specifically Che Guevara) and RUB (i.e. “massage”), like so: CHE-RUB-IM.

27. Commercial division’s directionless (6)

Answer: ADRIFT (i.e. “directionless”). Solution is AD (i.e. “commercial”) followed by RIFT (i.e. “division”).

30. Student of form favoured dog, maybe, following the races excitedly (8,3)

Answer: TEACHER’S PET (i.e. “student of form favoured”). Solution is PET (i.e. “dog, maybe”) “following” an anagram (indicated by “excitedly”) of THE RACES.

32. Identify as communist when union’s being held under siege (11)

Answer: BELEAGUERED (i.e. “under siege”). Solution is BE RED (i.e. “identify as communist”) “holding” LEAGUE (i.e. “union”), like so: BE-LEAGUE-RED.

33. Addiction to horse? This gear might be appropriate (6,5)

Answer: RIDING HABIT, which satisfies both “addiction to horse”, and, with horses in mind, “this gear might be appropriate”.

35. Oil company adjusted ratios for better distribution system (11)

Answer: TOTALISATOR, which is “a system of betting in which the total amount staked is divided among the winners in proportion to the size of their stake”, i.e. “better distribution system”. Solution is TOTAL (i.e. “oil company”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “adjusted”) of RATIOS, like so: TOTAL-ISATOR.

37. Comedy creator previously getting the bird (6)

Answer: GODWIT (i.e. “bird” – just done a Google Image search. It does indeed look like a bird.) Solution is WIT (i.e. “comedy”) with GOD (i.e. “creator” – I’ll let you argue that one among yourselves) placed “previously”, like so: GOD-WIT.

38. Tall plant from Tennessee containing spliff (4,4)

Answer: TREE FERN (i.e. “tall plant”). Solution is TN (the state code of “Tennessee”) “containing” REEFER (i.e. “spliff”), like so: T(REEFER)N.

39. Pub worker maybe taking order for spirit (7)

Answer: PHANTOM (i.e. “spirit”). Solution is PH (i.e. “pub”, specifically Public House) followed by ANT (i.e. “worker”) and OM (i.e. “order”, specifically the Order of Merit), like so: PH-ANT-OM.

42. Dodgy viagra no good, causing severe damage (8)

Answer: RAVAGING (i.e. “causing severe damage”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “dodgy”) of VIAGRA followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “no”) and G (ditto “good”), like so: RAVAGI-N-G.

44. U.S. weapon China introduced to Vietnam (6)

Answer: NAPALM, a highly-flammable jelly used in bombs and flamethrowers most famously used during the Vietnam War (i.e. “U.S. weapon”). Solution is NAM (i.e. “Vietnam”) with PAL (i.e. “China” – in cockney rhyming slang, “china plate” is “mate”) “introduced” inside, like so: NA(PAL)M.

46. More dull, crushing bores cornering you in the Louvre (7)

Answer: OBTUSER (i.e. “more dull” – a word worthy of an editor’s red pen if there ever was one). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “crushing”) of BORES “cornering” TU (i.e. “you in the Louvre” – the French for “you” is “tu”), like so: OB(TU)SER.

48. Private meal from which duke’s excluded (5)

Answer: INNER (i.e. “private”). Solution is DINNER (i.e. “meal”) with the D removed (i.e. “from which duke’s excluded” – “d” being a recognised abbreviation for “duke”).

49. Talking rook might be one! (12,5)

Answer: CONVERSATION PIECE. Solution plays on “rook” being a chess piece. I’ll admit this made me smile when I got it.

51. Commercial watchdog to pass judgment generally (2,1,4)

Answer: AS A RULE (i.e. “generally”). Solution is ASA (i.e. “commercial watchdog”, specifically the Advertising Standards Agency) followed by RULE (i.e. “pass judgment”). For some reason this took me until nearly the end of the puzzle before I finally got it.

52. Number’s occurring with frequency (5)

Answer: OFTEN. Solution satisfies both “number’s” – i.e. “of ten” as hinted at by the possessive apostrophe – and “occurring with frequency”).

53. Aggravate complaint, swallowing pill regularly (9)

Answer: DISPLEASE (i.e. “aggravate”). Solution is DISEASE (i.e. “complaint”) “swallowing” PL (i.e. “pill regularly”, i.e. every other letter of the word PILL), like so: DIS(PL)EASE.

54. Horse has position behind second in field, being as far from start as finish? (12)

Answer: EQUIDISTANCE (i.e. “being as far from start as finish”). Solution is EQUID (i.e. “horse”) followed by I (i.e. “second in field”, i.e. the second letter of the word “field”) and STANCE (i.e. “position”).

55. Prominent Greek in favour of America possessing Middle East (10)

Answer: PROMETHEUS (i.e. “prominent Greek”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “in favour of”) and THE US (i.e. “America”) “possessing” ME (i.e. “Middle East”), like so: PRO-ME-THEUS.

Down clues

1. Tale of Ratty’s home, perhaps; and where the bread’s kept? (4,7)

Answer: BANK ACCOUNT. Solution satisfies both “tale of Ratty’s home, perhaps” and “where the bread’s” – i.e. money – “kept”.

2. Pointlessly correct to the same thing (5)

Answer: DITTO (i.e. “the same thing”). Solution is DIT (i.e. “pointlessly correct”, i.e. the word “edit” with E – a point on the compass – removed) followed by TO.

3. Yank stuff in a camera out (9)

Answer: AMERICANA (i.e. “Yank stuff”). “Out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IN A CAMERA.

4. Stable worker cornered by rake is a dish (7)

Answer: ROULADE (i.e. “dish”). Solution is LAD (i.e. “stable worker”) “cornered by” ROUE (i.e. a rogue or “rake”), like so: ROU(LAD)E.

5. A set of steps with bee in flower (7)

Answer: ASTILBE (i.e. “flower” – whenever I see a solution is going to be a plant, animal, port or musical term I swallow my pride and allow myself to use a solver when needed, which was the case here. If the setter has to go deep into the dictionary to bail themselves out of a tight corner, then I have no qualms about using a solver to root out the solution.) Solution is A STILE (i.e. a set of steps) “with bee [B] in”, like so: A-STIL(B)E.

7. Revised version of Blue Fur Moth – A Practical Guide (4,2,5)

Answer: RULE OF THUMB (i.e. “a practical guide”). “Revised version” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BLUE FUR MOTH.

8. Fall on mutual’s holding after rise (6)

Answer: AUTUMN (i.e. “fall”). “Holding” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, with “after rise” also suggesting the letters need to be reversed, like so: O(N MUTUA)L.

9. Lower arms when queen enters, then you must rise (8)

Answer: GUERNSEY (i.e. a “lower” – bear with me here: Guernsey is a breed of dairy cattle => when cattle moo they are said to “low” => a Guernsey is said to be a “lower”). Solution is GUNS (i.e. “arms”) with ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) placed inside (i.e. “enters”), then followed by EY (i.e. “you must rise”, i.e. the letters of “ye” backwards), like so: GU(ER)NS-EY.

10. This setter and latest in endless series of editors getting vintage spirits down (2,3,8)

Answer: IN THE DOLDRUMS (i.e. “down”). Solution is I (i.e. “this setter”) followed by NTH (i.e. “latest in endless series”) then EDS (i.e. “editors”) “getting” OLD (i.e. “vintage”) and RUM (i.e. “spirits”), like so: I-NTH-ED(OLD-RUM)S.

11. Half of food in kebab’s condemned (4,3)

Answer: DONE FOR (i.e. “condemned”). Solution is FO (i.e. “half of food”, specifically the first half of the word “food”) “in” DONER (i.e. “kebab”), like so: DONE(FO)R.

12. Leftist holding a metal event full of despised creatures (3-8)

Answer: RAT-INFESTED (i.e. “full of despised creatures”). Solution is RED (i.e. “leftist”) “holding” A TIN (i.e. “a metal”) and FEST (i.e. “event”), like so: R(A-TIN-FEST)ED.

13. Determined leader of Arabs not in Iran’s camp (10)

Answer: PERSISTENT (i.e. “determined”). Solution is PERSIS (i.e. “leader of Arabs not in Iran’s”, which means remove the first letter of “Arabs” from “Persia’s” – Persia being the former name of Iran) followed by TENT (i.e. “camp”), like so: PERSIS-TENT.

20. En masse, holding caps? (3-6)

Answer: MOB-HANDED. Solution satisfies both “en masse” and “holding caps”, specifically a mob cap, a kind of hair-protector.

23. Rex’s X-ray perhaps put in this private language (3,5)

Answer: PIG LATIN (i.e. “private language”). When I got my first computer – an Atari XEGS no less, look it up – there was a programming exercise in the accompanying book that described how pig Latin worked. You’d move the first letter of each word to the end and add “ay” to the end, e.g. Igpay Atinlay. I admit I’m being overly pedantic, but surely Rex would be “Exray” in pig Latin? Okay, okay, I’ll get back in my oxbay.

25. Your lug on top is grubby (6)

Answer: EARTHY (i.e. “grubby”). Solution is THY (i.e.ye olde “your”) with EAR (i.e. “lug”) placed “on top”, like so: EAR-THY.

26. Frightfully pacy horse pulled up, seeing rodent (8)

Answer: CAPYBARA (i.e. “rodent”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frightfully”) of PACY followed by ARAB (i.e. a breed of “horse”) reversed (i.e. “pulled up” – this being a down clue), like so: CAPY-BARA.

28. Irish woman set up needles (9)

Answer: IRRITATES (i.e. “needles”). Solution is IR (a recognised abbreviation of “Irish”) then RITA (i.e. “woman”) then TES (i.e. “set up”, i.e. the word “set” reversed – again this being a down clue), like so: IR-RITA-TES.

29. Beat politician with legislation arising (6)

Answer: WALLOP (i.e. “beat”). Solution is POL (a recognised abbreviation for “politician”) followed by LAW (i.e. “legislation”) and then whole lot then reversed (i.e. “arising” – again this being a down clue), like so: WAL-LOP.

31. Staying execution to have a few drinks?  (7,6)

Answer: HANGING AROUND. Solution satisfies both “staying” and “execution” – i.e. hanging – “to have a few drinks” – i.e. a round.

33. Bring up tiger rug, tattered and munched (11)

Answer: REGURGITATE (i.e. “bring up”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “tattered”) of TIGER RUG followed by ATE (i.e. “munched”), like so: REGURGIT-ATE.

34. Article to knock Brussels – habitual response meant to make one feel better (11)

Answer: THERAPEUTIC (i.e. “meant to make one feel better”). Solution is THE (i.e. “article”) followed by RAP (i.e. “knock”) then EU (i.e. “Brussels”) and TIC (i.e. “habitual response”).

35. Drunken tenants had a ball in the afternoon (3,7)

Answer: THE DANSANT, which was a tea dance held in summer afternoons, i.e. “ball in the afternoon”. Not my cup of tea, thanks. “Drunken” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TENANTS HAD.

36. Not letting up, note decoded? (11)

Answer: REMORSELESS (i.e. “not letting up”). Solution is RE (i.e. “note” as in the do-ray-me scale, “ray” being an anglicised version of “re”) followed by MORSELESS (i.e. “decoded”, a pun hanging on Morse code).

40. Ideal state’s ending up with fate in control bypassing human intervention (9)

Answer: AUTOPILOT (i.e. “control bypassing human intervention”). Solution is AUTOPI (i.e. “Ideal’ state’s ending up”, i.e. “Utopia” with the last letter placed first) followed by LOT (i.e. “fate”).

41. A thousand pounds on small underwear (8)

Answer: KNICKERS (i.e. “underwear”). Solution is K (i.e. “a thousand”) then NICKER (i.e. “pounds”) then S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”).

43. Pacific nation head installing alternative technology in universities (7)

Answer: VANUATU (i.e. “Pacific nation”). Solution is VAN (i.e. “head” – van is a recognised abbreviation of “vanguard”) followed by AT (a recognised abbreviation of “alternative technology”) placed in U and U (ditto “universities), like so: VAN-U(AT)U.

45. Spanish performer runs after dull performance (7)

Answer: MATADOR (i.e. “Spanish performer”). Solution is MAT (i.e. “dull”) followed by ADO (i.e. “performance”) and finally R (i.e. “runs after” – r being a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in cricket), like so: MAT-ADO-R.

46. Tree climber, work very good, picked up amount of money (7)

Answer: OPOSSUM (i.e. “tree climber”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, i.e. short for “operation”) then OS (i.e. “very good”, picked up” – i.e. the word “so” reversed – this being a down clue) then SUM (i.e. “amount of money”).

47. Woolly right embraced by African nation after rejecting left (6)

Answer: ANGORA (i.e. “woolly”). Solution is ANGOLA (i.e. “African nation”) with L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) is replaced with R (ditto “right”).

50. “Skip advertisement” pressed by Apple consumer (5)

Answer: EVADE (i.e. “skip”). Solution is AD (i.e. “advertisement”) “pressed” into EVE (i.e. “Apple consumer”), like so: EV(AD)E. This was another clue that made me smile when I got it. Well played.



Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1358

Ah, Boxing Day. That most wonderful time of the year when the sporting calendar resumes and one’s body finally begins to digest all the lager, food, lager, sweets, lager and lager feasted upon the day before. What can be better than to settle down on the sofa and launch into a crisp, clean jumbo cryptic crossword? Well, as it happens, quite a lot. I went back out on the beers, for instance, which was an eminently more sensible idea given the horrors lying in wait here. In a word: YUCK!

Or at least something that rhymes with that.

Still, you can’t keep a partially-talented crossword nerd down. I have a grid for you, but, before we get on with the show, if you’re the kind of person who seeks trigger warnings, I should point out that this post contains a sprinkling of naughty words and the general air of someone who perhaps ought to readjust their perspective on what’s important in the world.

Even so, just look at some of the crap dotted around this puzzle. I mean, really! Sheesh!

Across clues

1. Mock coach admitting blunder by defender (5)

Answer: BOGUS (i.e. “mock”). Solution is BUS (i.e. “coach”) “admitting” OG (i.e. “blunder by defender”, specifically an Own Goal), like so: B(OG)US.

4. Put up with endless few weeks in African port (7)

Answer: ABIDJAN (i.e. “African port”, the first of several place names used by the setter to get the job done – geographers rejoice! The rest of us…). Solution is ABID (i.e. “put up with endless”, i.e. the word “abide” with the final letter removed) followed by JAN (i.e. “few weeks”, i.e. the month of January).

8. Twice a year, kid meets old photographer (9)

Answer: PAPARAZZO (i.e. “photographer”). Solution is PA and PA (i.e. “twice a year”, i.e. twice Per Annum) followed by RAZZ (i.e. to “kid” someone – this is the first of several weak – or at best tenuous – wordplays employed by the setter in this puzzle) and then O (a recognised abbreviation for “old”), like so: PA-PA-RAZZ-O.

13. Does blood test – a new one, three times, unusually (9)

Answer: INITIATES (i.e. “does blood” – to blood someone is to initiate them. I suspect the setter had all sorts of bother trying to conjure up a grammatically sound clue for this and eventually said, “fuck it, that’ll do”. The result is another weak clue. Most people would never construct a sentence along the lines of “Kay does blood Jay”, they would say “Kay bloods Jay”. Anyway, getting off my high horse…) “Unusually” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEST, A, N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and III (i.e. “three times”, or three ones). Urgh, next!

14. Singer maybe putting energy into jazz note, packing a punch (6,7)

Answer: SEWING MACHINE (i.e. “singer maybe”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) “put…into” SWING (i.e. “jazz”), then ME (i.e. “note”, as in do-ray-me etc) “packing” A CHIN (i.e. “a punch”), like so: S(E)WING-M(A-CHIN)E.

15. Plate borne back by short celebrity (7)

Answer: ELECTRO, an informal abbreviation of “electroplate” (i.e. “plate”). Take this one with a pinch of salt as the setter has pretty much lost me here. I get that ELEC is a short cele[brity] put back, but how TRO or ORT has been worked into this is beyond me and my assorted dictionaries. Anyone?

16. Familiar visiting actress, favourite of royal film producer (7)

Answer: Samuel GOLDWYN (i.e. “film producer”). Solution is Nell GWYN, an actress and mistress of Charles II (i.e. “actress, favourite of royal”) wrapped around (i.e. “visiting”) OLD (i.e. “familiar”), like so: G(OLD)WYN.

17. New goalie saving United getting lots of praise (7)

Answer: EULOGIA (i.e. “lots of praise”). Solution is U (a recognised abbreviation of “United”) placed in (i.e. being “saved” by) an anagram (indicated by “new”) of GOALIE, like so: E(U)LOGIA.

18. Appropriate to give king and queen most important material accessory (6-12)

Answer: POCKET-HANDKERCHIEF (i.e. “material accessory”). Solution is POCKET (i.e. to “appropriate” something) followed by HAND (i.e. “to give”), K (a recognised abbreviation of “king”), ER (ditto “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) and finally CHIEF (i.e. “most important”), like so: POCKET-HAND-K-ER-CHIEF.

21. Short short stay in hotel round the corner (4)

Answer: NIGH (i.e. “around the corner”). Solution is NIGHT (i.e. “short stay in hotel”) with the last letter trimmed (indicated by the first “short”).

23. Tree like this seen with winding liana (9)

Answer: ALIANTHUS (i.e. “tree” – no, I couldn’t point one out in a forest either.) Solution is THUS (i.e. “like this”) placed after an anagram (indicated by “winding”) of LIANA, like so: ALIAN-THUS.

25. Reacted to funny different types of note (2-4)

Answer: TE-HEED (i.e. “reacted to funny” – you’d spell it “tee-heed”? Yeah, me too.) Solution plays on different meanings of note, i.e. TE (as in the do-ray-me musical note sequence) and HEED (to take note of something).

26. Pluck lead, perhaps, from radio broadcast? (6)

Answer: METTLE. Solution satisfies both “pluck” (as in courage or bottle) and “lead, perhaps, from radio broadcast” – “lead” is a metal, which is a homophone of METTLE.

28. Out of danger? Not quite, with mad pilot (12)

Answer: EXPERIMENTAL (i.e. “pilot”). Solution is EX (i.e. Latin for “out of”) followed by PERI (i.e. “danger – not quite”, i.e. the word “peril” with the last letter removed) and MENTAL (i.e. “mad”).

30. A way we must assume is cynical (10)

Answer: STREETWISE (i.e. “cynical”). Solution is STREET (i.e. “a way”) followed by WE wrapped around (i.e. “must assume”) IS, like so: STREET-W(IS)E.

33. Dropping in and plugging Times (8,2)

Answer: STOPPING BY. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I’d say the solution satisfies both “dropping in” and “plugging” – i.e. stopping – “Times” as in times gone BY. (Shrugs shoulders.)

34. Left fresh after bearing undemanding holiday work? (7,5)

Answer: AIRPORT NOVEL (i.e. “undemanding holiday work”). Solution is PORT (i.e. “left”) and NOVEL (i.e. “fresh”) placed “after” AIR (i.e. “bearing”), like so: AIR-PORT-NOVEL.

37. Superior muscle to act as bodyguard (6)

Answer: ABBESS, a female head of an abbey (i.e. a “superior”). This is another one where the setter has lost me. I get that ABS is “muscle” and that it’s “guarding” BES, but precisely what body this is beyond me. British Ecological Society, perhaps? Meh. Next.

39. Hot date one Romeo recalled in city (6)

Answer: RIYADH (i.e. capital “city” of Saudi Arabia). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”) followed by DAY (i.e. “date”) then I (i.e. the Roman numeral “one”) and R (i.e. “Romeo” in the phonetic alphabet), all reversed (indicated by “recalled”), like so: R-I-YAD-H.

40. DVD easily reproduced following guidance? (9)

Answer: ADVISEDLY (i.e. “following guidance”). “Reproduced” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DVD EASILY.

42. Bash in the Turk’s Head perhaps to be put back (4)

Answer: TONK. Solution satisfies both “bash in” and “Turk’s Head” – a rather cool-looking type of knot – “perhaps to be put back” – i.e. reverse the word “knot”.

43. Forward merchandise – adding VAT in full (4,5,3,6)

Answer: LOCK STOCK AND BARREL (i.e. “in full”). Solution is LOCK (i.e. a “forward” position in a rugby scrum – not at the front of the scrum, mind, that would be too obvious) followed by STOCK (i.e. “merchandise”) then AND BARREL (i.e. “adding vat” – a sly bit of misdirection there).

46. Yank taking Oscar in hurry once: a poser (7)

Answer: TOUGHIE (i.e. “a poser” – yes, setter, we get it, you’ve set a difficult puzzle. Well done. Have a biscuit.) Solution is TUG (i.e. “yank”) “taking” O (i.e. “Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) and then followed by HIE (i.e. “in hurry once”), like so: T(O)UG-HIE.

47. Motorists in France that finish in court: one held there (7)

Answer: RACQUET (i.e. something one might hold in a tennis court, i.e. “court: one held there”). Solution is RAC (i.e. “motorists”) followed by QUE (i.e. “French that” – the French for “that” is “que”) and T (i.e. “finish in court”, i.e. the last letter of “court”), like so: RAC-QUE-T.

48. Work objective, indeed, often held by institution (4,3)

Answer: OPEN DAY, a day when an institution, often a school, opens its doors to the public (i.e. “often held by institution”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, i.e. a shortened form of “operation”) followed by END (i.e. “objective”) and AY (a variant form of aye, i.e. “indeed”), like so: OP-END-AY.

50. Building material got from lad, new, but a tad suspect (6,3,4)

Answer: WATTLE AND DAUB (i.e. “building material”). “Suspect” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LAD NEW BUT A TAD.

51. Festival at college the chap’s going to: pyjamas oddly not needed! (2-5-2)

Answer: UP-HELLY-AA, a year-end fire “festival” held in the Shetland Islands. Yes, I looked it up. Solution is UP (i.e. in residence “at college”) followed by HELL (i.e. “the chap’s going to”, i.e. a contraction of “he will”) and then YAA (i.e. “pyjamas oddly not needed”, i.e. the word “pyjamas” with the odd letters removed – PYJAMAS), like so: UP-HELL-YAA.

52. Port and health resort function combined: radical, on reflection (9)

Answer: SANTANDER, a Spanish “port” city. Here’s another clue where the setter loses me. I get that TAN is “function” (i.e. tangent, being one of the six trigonometrical functions of an angle) and that DER is “radical, on reflection” (i.e. the word “red” reversed) but can I hell equate SAN to “health resort”. Bugger it. Next!

53. Old jailor to go off with principal (7)

Answer: TURNKEY (i.e. “old jailor”). Solution is TURN (i.e. “to go off”) followed by KEY (i.e. “principal”).

54. Drunk, losing head, is possessed (5)

Answer: OWNED (i.e. “possessed”). Solution is DOWNED (i.e. “drunk”) with the initial letter removed (i.e. “losing head”).

Down clues

1. Set of instructions for putting together chicken dish? (11)

Answer: BOILERPLATE. Another one to take with a pinch of salt here, folks, as my solution bears little relation to the clue. To me, “boilerplate” means great chunks of clichéd or standardised text, not a “set of instructions”. Also I can’t see how the pun “boil a plate” equates to a set of instructions for putting together a chicken dish. Sod it, I’m done with this. Next!

2. The beef is good and ready (5)

Answer: GRIPE – very apt! – (i.e. “the beef”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by RIPE (i.e. “ready”).

3. Isn’t a road skirting Swiss capital, going through spas, this, ultimately (5,7,4)

Answer: The Great SAINT BERNARD PASS, which is a road pass in Switzerland – yes, another place name. Don’t worry, folks, there’s more to come. Anyway, while there’s no obvious anagram indicator, the solution essentially comprises anagrams of ISNT A (for “Saint”) and SPAS (for “Pass”) wrapped around BERN (the capital of Switzerland) and A RD (i.e. “a road”), like so: SAINT-BERN-A-RD-PASS.

4. Books Olympic bigwigs into a hotel in Turkish city (7)

Answer: ANTIOCH, an ancient ruined Greek city now within Turkey’s border – see, I told you the place names weren’t done yet. And there’s still more to come. Solution is NT (i.e. “books”, specifically the New Testament) and IOC (i.e. “Olympic bigwigs”, i.e. the International Olympic Committee) placed “into” A and H (i.e. “hotel” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: A-(NT-IOC)-H.

5. Minor inventor of sign is so excited by one (9)

Answer: Sir Alec ISSIGONIS, the creator of the Morris Minor, i.e. “Minor inventor”. Solution is I (i.e. “one”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “excited”) of SIGN IS SO. It was about this point when I said “sod this” and decided to open up the entire internet to help crack this bastard. I regret nothing!

6. Suddenly have only a single preference (4,4,4)

Answer: JUST LIKE THAT. Solution satisfies both “suddenly” and “have only a single preference”. For some reason this took me ages to get. Only then did a bunch of other clues finally fall into place.

7. A stranger briefly cursed your hitting the headlines? (10)

Answer: NEWSWORTHY (i.e. “hitting the headlines”). Solution is NEW (i.e. “a stranger”) followed by SWOR (i.e. “briefly cursed”, i.e. the word “swore” with the final letter removed) and THY (i.e. ye olde “your”).

8. Attach to small tree (5)

Answer: PINON. Solution satisfies both “attach to” (i.e. “pin on”) and “small tree” – put one next to an ailanthus and I’ll flip a coin to tell you which was which.

9. Did baby girl pee before daughter? (8)

Answer: PAMPERED (i.e. “did baby” someone – again, for me, this is a weak attempt at misdirection by the setter as hardly anyone would say someone “did baby” another; they’d say “babied”. Anyway, before I go full Grammar Nazi…) Solution is PAM (i.e. “girl”) followed by P (i.e. “pee”), ERE (i.e. “before”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”).

10. Jersey, etc, large, in light blue in fashion (6)

Answer: RACILY. Here’s another one I’m very flaky about, so watch out. I’m assuming the solution here is RACILY for “in fashion”, being I (a recognised abbreviation for an island, i.e. “Jersey, etc”) and L (ditto “large) placed in RACY (i.e. “light blue”). I doubt this is correct, but I cannot think of another word that comes close fitting both the clue and the letters R_C_L_.
LATE EDIT: The solution for this was published today, and indeed the answer is RACILY. Whether my reasoning matches that of the setter will be something that sparks intense philosophical debate for millennia to come. That and Love Island.

11. Seize G&T: it’s drunk as spirit for a time (9)

Answer: ZEITGEIST (i.e. “spirit for a time”). “Drunk” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SEIZE G T and IT.

12. Better expectations from old ladies about chances initially welcome (11)

Answer: OVERACHIEVE (i.e. to “better expectations”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) VERA and EVE (i.e. “ladies”) wrapped “about” C (i.e. “chances initially”, i.e. the first letter of the word “chances”) and HI (i.e. “welcome”), like so: O-VERA-(C-HI)-EVE.

19. A number seen with scaly, psoriatic peeling (7)

Answer: CALYPSO (i.e. “a [dance] number”). “Seen” suggests the solution is hidden within the clue, like so: S(CALY PSO)RIATIC.

20. List milk as something drinker’s left (7)

Answer: HEELTAP (i.e. “something drinker’s left”). Solution is HEEL (i.e. “list”, as of a ship leaning on one side) followed by TAP (i.e. to “milk”).

22. In tournament singles weaken? Can be beaten (4,4,8)

Answer: MEET ONES WATERLOO (i.e. “be beaten”). Solution is MEET (i.e. “tournament”) followed by ONES (i.e. “singles”), WATER (i.e. “weaken”) and LOO (i.e. “can”, i.e. toilet).

24. Kind of chap to stay in the shade (6)

Answer: HUMANE (i.e. “kind”). Solution is MAN (i.e. “chap”) placed in (i.e. “to stay in”) HUE (i.e. “shade”).

27. Male monarch unknown in female interpretation of the Bible (5,1)

Answer: HENRY V (i.e. “male monarch” – here’s another weak entry that pissed me off. Would the setter have done the same for Henry VIII (5,4)? I doubt it.) Solution is Y (i.e. “unknown” – setters like using X Y or Z for “unknown”) placed in HEN (i.e. “female”) and RV (i.e. “interpretation of the Bible”, specifically the Revised Version), like so: HEN-R(Y)V.

29. Tip for writer: light coat’s needed in club (7)

Answer: NIBLICK, an old-fashioned golf “club” for lofted shots. No, me neither. Solution is NIB (i.e. “tip for writer”) followed by LICK (i.e. a “light coat” of paint).

31. Driven mad with a far from welcome guest (7)

Answer: INVADER (i.e. “a far from welcome guest”). Solution is A placed in an anagram (indicated by “mad”) of DRIVEN, like so: INV(A)DER.

32. Piece spoken aloud by striker, one hitting the spot? (12)

Answer: NIGHTCLUBBER (i.e. “one hitting the [night] spot”). Solution is NIGHT (i.e. “piece spoken aloud”, i.e. a homophone of the “knight” in chess) followed “by” CLUBBER (i.e. “striker”).

33. I’m not going to have YTS intakes in rundown neighbourhoods (6,5)

Answer: SHANTY TOWNS (i.e. rundown neighbourhoods”). Solution is SHANT (i.e. “I’m not”) followed by YTS wrapped around (i.e. “intakes”) OWN, like so: SHANT-YT(OWN)S.

35. What might be swiped could make lady cry a lot (7,4)

Answer: LOYALTY CARD (i.e. “what might be swiped”). “Could make” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LADY CRY A LOT.

36. Diagram for production system that grant cheque originally got moving (5,5)

Answer: GANTT CHART (i.e. “diagram for production system”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “got moving”) of THAT GRANT and C (i.e. “cheque originally”, i.e. the first letter of the word “cheque”).

38. 41 American volunteers in Tennessee after Prohibition (9)

Answer: BANTUSTAN, which is “any of the partially self-governing regions, or homelands, of South Africa populated and administered by black people before the end of apartheid in 1994”. (The solution for 41d is HOMELAND.) Solution is US (i.e. “American”) and TA (i.e. “volunteers”, specifically the Territorial Army) both placed in TN (i.e. the state code for “Tennessee”), which is then placed “after” BAN (i.e. “Prohibition”), like so: BAN-T(US-TA)N. I admit I got this one purely from the wordplay rather than any deep knowledge of South African history.

40. Does find it difficult to go along with this killing? (1,4,4)

Answer: A FAST BUCK. Solution satisfies “does find it difficult to go along with this” – i.e. difficult to keep up with a fast buck – and “killing” i.e. to make a fast buck.

41. Original state of black dog found half-wasted in scuttle (8)

Answer: HOMELAND (i.e. “original state”). Solution is MELAN (i.e. “black dog found half-wasted”, i.e. the word “melancholy” chopped in half) placed in HOD (i.e. “scuttle”), like so: HO(MELAN)D.

44. Ready to put queen in commonwealth state carriage (7)

Answer: DROSHKY, “a low four-wheeled open carriage used in Russia”. This took me way too long to figure out. Solution is DOSH (i.e. as in “ready” money, i.e. readies) wrapped around R (a recognised abbreviation for “queen”, i.e. Regina) and followed by KY (i.e. “commonwealth state”, specifically Kenya), like so: D(R)OSH-KY.

45. Grace, in truth, a liability (6)

Answer: THALIA, one of the three “Graces”. “In” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: TRU(TH A LIA)BILITY.

47. With less warning, perhaps, taking helm half-heartedly (5)

Answer: RUDER (i.e. “with less warning”). Solution is RUDDER (i.e. “helm”) with one of the middle Ds removed (i.e. “half-heartedly”).

49. Senior fellow’s long supporting note (5)

Answer: DOYEN (i.e. “senior fellow”). Solution is YEN (i.e. to “long” for) placed after (i.e. “supporting”) DO (i.e. “note”, as in do-ray-me etc).

That’ll teach me for saying some of the previous puzzles were rather easy, won’t it? Ugh. The next puzzle wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either. More on that – and with less bitching – shortly.



Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1357

Alrighty then. Having spent the last couple of weeks dipping my thirsty bits in lager – so much lager – it’s time to catch up on a few of these jumbo cryptics. So here’s the one from a couple weeks ago – a bit late for anyone to wanting the chance to score a free dictionary perhaps, but that’s tough titty toenails. Sometimes lager life must come first.

So without further blathering:

Across clues

1. Charge keeper: better player rounding one (9)

Answer: CAPACITOR (i.e. “charge keeper”). Solution is CAP (i.e. “better”) followed by ACTOR (i.e. “player”) “rounding” I, like so: CAP-AC(I)TOR.

6. Function in city on island (5)

Answer: COSEC, short for cosecant, which is one of the six trigonometric “functions” of an angle. Solution is EC (i.e. “city”, specifically the postcode area of the City of London, in case anyone outside the M25 was wondering) placed after COS (i.e. “island”), like so: COS-EC.

9. Very brilliant newspaper chief in comfortable position (4,3)

Answer: SOFA BED (i.e. “comfortable position”). Solution is SO FAB (i.e. “very brilliant”) followed by ED (i.e. “newspaper chief”), like so: SO-FAB-ED.

13. Grub right inside burning liquid (5)

Answer: LARVA (i.e. “grub”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) placed “inside” LAVA (i.e. “burning liquid”), like so: LA(R)VA.

14. Show a bit of fork poking me (7)

Answer: MATINEE (i.e. “show”). Solution is A TINE (i.e. “a bit of a fork”) placed in ME, like so: M(A-TINE)E.

15. Usually one tucks in kid after prayer (2,7)

Answer: ON AVERAGE (i.e. “usually”). Solution is RAG (i.e. to “kid” someone) placed “after” AVE (i.e. “prayer”), and then the whole lot “tucked in” to ONE, like so: ON(AVE-RAG)E.

16. Cowardly message, layers behind it? (7,4)

Answer: CHICKEN WIRE. Solution satisfies both “cowardly message” and “layers” – i.e. hens – “behind it”.

17. Face hairs in cuts of meat? (11)

Answer: MUTTONCHOPS. Solution satisfies both “face hairs” and “cuts of meat”.

18. Dance jacket (6)

Answer: BOLERO. Solution satisfies both “dance” and “jacket”.

19. Contrary way to pay songwriter, possibly? (8)

Answer: PERVERSE. Solution satisfies both “contrary” and “way to pay songwriter, possibly”, i.e. “per verse”.

21. Grace, perhaps, but no heart – superhero! (6)

Answer: BATMAN (i.e. “superhero”). Solution is BATSMAN (i.e. “Grace”, specifically W.G. Grace, the original beard to be feared), with the middle letter S removed (i.e. “no heart”). This took some time for me to twig which Grace the setter had in mind. Well played.

25. Lift to reveal flaps (8)

Answer: ELEVATOR (i.e. “lift”). “Flaps” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO REVEAL.

26. Hammer slowing down, we hear, working despite action (6-8)

Answer: STRIKE-BREAKING. Solution satisfies both “hammer” – i.e. strike – “slowing down, we hear” – i.e. a homophone of “braking”, and “working despite [industrial] action”.

28. Delicate kick about right for vodka, perhaps? (5)

Answer: DRINK (i.e. “vodka, perhaps”). Solution is DINK (i.e. “delicate kick”) “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: D(R)INK.

29. Look to pen verse fast? (6)

Answer: STARVE (i.e. “fast”). Solution is STARE (i.e. “look”) wrapped around (i.e. “to pen”) V (a recognised abbreviation of “verse”), like so: STAR(V)E.

30. Shoulder behind rugby forward, character in check (6,4)

Answer: RUPERT BEAR (i.e. “character in check” – do a Google Image search on him to see what I mean). Solution is BEAR (i.e. “shoulder”) placed “behind” RU (i.e. “rugby”, specifically Rugby Union) and PERT (i.e. “forward”), like so: RU-PERT-BEAR.

33. Tragedy perhaps, one ripping off accommodating Yank (4-6)

Answer: TEAR-JERKER (i.e. “tragedy perhaps”). Solution is TEARER (i.e. “one ripping off”) “accommodating” JERK (i.e. “yank”), like so: TEAR(JERK)ER.

35. More than one server watches others returning (6)

Answer: SPOONS. Solution satisfies both “more than one server” and “watches others returning” i.e. the word “snoops” reversed.

36. Game: Nazis against Communist (5)

Answer: CHESS (i.e. “game”). Solution is SS (i.e. “Nazis”) placed behind CHE (i.e. “communist”, specifically Che Guevara), like so: CHE-SS.

38. Fixing outside broadcast, man is unexceptional (4,2,8)

Answer: FAIR TO MIDDLING (i.e. “is unexceptional”). Solution is AIR (i.e. “broadcast”) and TOM (i.e. “man”) with FIDDLING (i.e. “fixing”) placed “outside”, like so: F(AIR-TOM)IDDLING.

40. Often it is scattered on couples, primarily (8)

Answer: CONFETTI, which is indeed scattered on couples, primarily. “Scattered” also indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of OFTEN IT placed after C (i.e. “couples, primarily”, i.e. the first letter of the word “couples”).

42. Genteel pursuit planting seeds, they say? (6)

Answer: SEWING. Solution satisfies both “genteel pursuit” and “planting seeds, they say”, i.e. a homophone of “sowing”.

43. Log on, meaning enter resource initially (8)

Answer: REGISTER (i.e. “log”). Solution is RE (i.e. “on”, i.e. regarding) followed by GIST (i.e. “meaning”) and then E and R (i.e. “enter resource initially”, i.e. the first letters of “enter” and “resource”). This nerd approves.

44. Key allowed to be held by banker (6)

Answer: DELETE (i.e. a “key” on a keyboard). Solution is LET (i.e. “allowed”) “held by” DEE (i.e. “banker”, specifically the River Dee – I’ll let you pick which one). This was another one that I had to chew over for a while before figuring out the wordplay. Again, this nerd approves.

47. Virgin Mary in France possibly playing nation’s part (6,5)

Answer: PATRON SAINT (i.e. “Virgin Mary in France possibly”). “Playing” indicates anagram. Solution is a rather nifty anagram of NATION’S PART.

50. Jet in America over the hill, unswerving (3,8)

Answer: OLD FAITHFUL. Solution satisfies both “jet in America” and “over the hill, unswerving”.

52. Hormone is not reproduced in the heart (9)

Answer: CORTISONE (i.e. “hormone”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “reproduced”) of IS NOT placed in CORE (i.e. “the heart”) like so: COR(TISON)E.

53. Criminal stealing perfect earthenware (7)

Answer: FAIENCE (i.e. “earthenware” – no, me neither). Solution is FENCE (i.e. “criminal”) “stealing” AI (i.e. “perfect” – setters like substituting AI with A1 in their solutions), like so: F(AI)ENCE.

54. One length cuts simply put together (5)

Answer: BUILT (i.e. “put together”). I’m not 100% on this, as I can’t think of a sentence where I can substitute “but” with “simply”, or vice versa. Still, for what it’s worth, I’ll suggest this is I (i.e. the Roman numeral “one”) and L (a recognised abbreviation for “length”) placed in BUT, like so: BU(I-L)T.

55. Greene novel inspiring plaudits originally, stand on the table! (7)

Answer: EPERGNE (i.e. “stand on table” – I can’t say I have one knocking about the place. I can’t say the word itself either.) Solution is an anagram (indicated by “novel”) of GREENE placed around (i.e. “inspiring”, if weakly) P (i.e. “plaudits originally”, i.e. the first letter of “plaudits”).

56. German city contributing to business, energised (5)

Answer: ESSEN (i.e. “German city”). “Contributing” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: BUSIN(ESS EN)ERGISED.

57. Alien craft – first of scientists steps in (9)

Answer: SPACESHIP (i.e. “alien craft”). Solution is S (i.e. “first of scientists”, i.e. the first letter of “scientists”) followed by PACES (i.e. “steps”) and HIP (i.e. “in” fashion).

Down clues

1. Early pain starts to creep onward, lasting into childhood (5)

Answer: COLIC (i.e. “early pain”). “Starts to” indicates the solution can be found in the initial letters of Creep Onward Lasting Into Childhood.

2. Reeling initially in private, I validate wrong rate of change (7,10)

Answer: PARTIAL DERIVATIVE, which, in mathematics, is a derivative obtained by letting only one of several independent variables vary, i.e. “rate of change”. Keep up. Solution is R (i.e. “reeling initially”, i.e. the first letter of “reeling”) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “wrong”) of PRIVATE I VALIDATE.

3. Biscuit with salt, excellent thing (11)

Answer: CRACKERJACK (i.e. “excellent thing”). Solution is CRACKER (i.e. “biscuit”) followed by JACK (i.e. “salt” – think sailors).

4. Comedic skill in it, I’m ingenious! (6)

Answer: TIMING (i.e. “comedic skill”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: I(T IM ING)ENIOUS.

5. One complaining about front being removed from pet shop (8)

Answer: RETAILER (i.e. “shop”). Solution is RAILER (i.e. “one complaining”) placed “about” ET (i.e. “front being removed from pet”, i.e. take the first letter from “pet”), like so: R(ET)AILER.

6. Blue square (12)

Answer: CONSERVATIVE. Solution satisfies both “blue” (as in the colour of the Conservative Party) and “square”.

7. Struggle to maintain company that runs on-line? (5,5)

Answer: STEAM TRAIN (i.e. “that runs on-line”). Solution is STRAIN (i.e. “struggle”) wrapped around (i.e. “to maintain”) TEAM (i.e. “company”), like so: S(TEAM)TRAIN.

8. Lay one on authority (5)

Answer: CLOUT. Solution satisfies “lay one on” and “authority”.

9. One moaning about sensitivity in buccaneer (3,6)

Answer: SEA ROBBER (i.e. “buccaneer”). Solution is SOBBER (i.e. “one moaning”) “about” EAR (i.e. “sensitivity”), like so: S(EAR)OBBER.

10. Modified starch often in fried breakfast? (6,5)

Answer: FRENCH TOAST (i.e. “fried breakfast”). “Modified” indicates anagram. Solution is another nifty anagram of STARCH OFTEN.

11. Underwear, very old, is good for you! (5)

Answer: BRAVO (i.e. “good for you!”). Solution is BRA (i.e. “underwear”) followed by V (a recognised abbreviation of “very”) and O (ditto “old”).

12. Elegant wings of starlings filling nest (6)

Answer: DRESSY (i.e. “elegant”). Solution is DREY (i.e. “nest”, specifically that of a squirrel) “filled” by SS (i.e. “wings of starlings”, i.e. the first and last letters of the word “starlings”), like so: DRE(SS)Y.

18. In repose, Bill wears yellowish-beige bloomers etc (10)

Answer: BREADSTUFF (i.e. “bloomers etc”). Solution is AD (i.e. “bill”, as in an advertisement) placed “in” REST (i.e. “repose”), which is in turn placed in BUFF (i.e. “wears yellowish-beige”), like so: B(RE(AD)ST)UFF.

20. Runner made redundant, perhaps, or estate manager (8)

Answer: EXECUTOR (i.e. “estate manager”). I’m not 100% here, but I’m guessing this is a contraction of EXEC CUT (i.e. “runner made redundant”) followed by OR, like so: EXE[C]UT-OR.

22. Article, iron, to keep in boiler – cold, troublesome thing (1,4,6,2,4)

Answer: A FINE KETTLE OF FISH (i.e. “troublesome thing”). Solution is A (i.e. “article”) followed by IN placed in FE (i.e. “iron to keep in”, Fe being the chemical symbol of iron), then KETTLE (i.e. “boiler”), then OFFISH (i.e. “cold”), like so: A-F(IN)E-KETTLE-OFFISH.

23. Tick, one exploiting cat? (6)

Answer: MOUSER. Solution satisfies both “Tick, one exploiting” – i.e. one using a computer mouse to tick a box – well, that’s my take on it anyway; and “cat”.

24. Belligerent comic revises gag (10)

Answer: AGGRESSIVE (i.e. “belligerent”). “Comic” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of REVISES GAG.

27. A sub in form of transport that’s dated (8)

Answer: CALENDAR (i.e. “that’s dated” – a pun after my own heart). Solution is A LEND (i.e. “a sub”) placed in CAR (i.e. “form of transport”), like so: C(A-LEND)AR.

31. London station takes us into school (6)

Answer: EUSTON (i.e. “London station”). Solution is US placed “into” ETON (i.e. “school”), like so: E(US)TON.

32. Vegetable stew in soon, cooker is hot inside (7,5)

Answer: SPANISH ONION (i.e. “vegetable”). Solution is an anagram of IN SOON (indicated by “stew”) with PAN (i.e. “cooker”) and IS and H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”) placed “inside”, like so: S(PAN-IS-H)ONION.

34. Flying around island, one briefly dumping fuel, say? (11)

Answer: JETTISONING (i.e. “dumping fuel”). Solution is JETTING (i.e. “flying”) wrapped “around” IS (a recognised abbreviation of “island”) and ON (i.e. “one briefly”, i.e. the word “one” with the final letter removed), like so: JETT(IS-ON)ING.

36. Furniture item, rope binding pedal? (6,5)

Answer: COFFEE TABLE (i.e. “furniture item”). Solution is CABLE (i.e. “rope”) wrapped around (i.e. “binding”) OF FEET (i.e. “pedal”), like so: C(OF-FEET)ABLE. I think.

37. Weaken county where standards may be lowered (10)

Answer: FLAGSTAFFS, “where standards” – i.e. flags – “may be lowered”. Solution is FLAG (i.e. “weaken”) followed by STAFFS (i.e. “county”, specifically an abbreviation of Staffordshire).

39. Margaret, pioneering female Conservative, and European giant in business (9)

Answer: MEGASTORE (i.e. “giant in business”). Solution is MEG (i.e. a shortened form of “Margaret”), followed by ASTOR (i.e. “pioneering female Conservative”, specifically Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons) and then E (a recognised abbreviation of “European” used in E numbers).

41. Disaster initially in erasing new measurements (8)

Answer: READINGS (i.e. “measurements”). Solution is D (i.e. “disaster initially”, i.e. the first letter of the word “disaster”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “new”) of ERASING, like so: REA(D)INGS.

45. Native American swiftly tethering horse (6)

Answer: APACHE (i.e. “Native American”). Solution is APACE (i.e. “swiftly”) wrapped around (i.e. “tethering”) H (a recognised abbreviation of “horse”), like so: APAC(H)E.

46. Still producer turned up before artist (6)

Answer: CAMERA (i.e. “still producer”). Solution is CAME (i.e. “turned up”) placed “before” RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician).

48. Wrong bottom on sponge cake (5)

Answer: TORTE (i.e. “cake”). Solution is TORT (i.e. “wrong” in legalese) followed by E (i.e. “bottom on sponge”, i.e. the last letter of “sponge”), like so: TORT-E.

49. Topless femme fatale, English goddess (5)

Answer: IRENE (i.e. the Greek “goddess” of peace). Solution is IREN (i.e. “topless femme fatale”, i.e. the word “siren” with the initial letter removed) followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: IREN-E.

51. Drunk was illuminating (3,2)

Answer: LIT UP. Solution satisfies both “drunk” – i.e. inebriated – and “was illuminating”.

So there we go; catching up slowly. I rather liked this puzzle, truth be told, despite a few iffy clues. It was a damn sight more enjoyable than the Boxing Day grid, about which I’ll bore you all in my next post – or at least I will once I’ve trimmed most of the swear words from it.

Yours in lager,


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1356

This was a trickier puzzle than recent weeks, I felt. Indeed, there are a few solutions I’m still not entirely sure about. Here is my completed grid nonetheless, along with explanations where I have them.

Across clues

1. So Electra, being displaced, settles elsewhere (9)

Answer: RELOCATES (i.e. “settles elsewhere”). “Being displaced” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SO ELECTRA.

6. Tories inform country to snub new stars (13)

Answer: CONSTELLATION (i.e. “stars”). Solution is CONS (i.e. “Tories”) followed by TELL (i.e. “inform”) then ATION (i.e. “country to snub new”, i.e. the word “nation” with the letter N – a recognised abbreviation of “new” – removed), like so: CONS-TELL-ATION.

13. Net profit finally extracted to void margins (5)

Answer: TULLE, a delicate thin silk network fabric (i.e. “net”). Solution is T (i.e. “profit finally”, i.e. the last letter of the word “profit”) followed by ULLE (i.e. “extracted to void margins”, i.e. the word “pulled” with the first and last letters – the margins – removed), like so: T-ULLE.

14. Bulbous item – suddenly reveal one held between legs (6,5)

Answer: SPRING ONION (i.e. “bulbous item”). Solution starts with SPRING (i.e. “suddenly reveal”). The remainder is derived by placing I (i.e. “one”) “between” ON and ON (i.e. “legs” – in cricket, leg-side is also referred to as on-side). The solution is therefore SPRING-ON-(I)-ON.

15. Take courage from sniper eliminating Guam’s leader (5)

Answer: UNMAN, which is to deprive of fortitude (i.e. “take courage”). Solution is GUNMAN (i.e. “sniper”) with the letter G removed (i.e. “eliminating Guam’s leader”, i.e. the first letter of Guam).

16. Restraint shown by landlord in fraudulent scheme (5,6)

Answer: CHAIN LETTER (i.e. “fraudulent scheme”). Solution is CHAIN (i.e. “restraint”) followed by (i.e. “shown by”) LETTER (i.e. “landlord”, as in one who lets property).

17. Breathtaking idea? (11)

Answer: INSPIRATION. Solution satisfies both “breathtaking” (i.e. to take a breath) and “idea”.

18. Wages vote taken round Scottish town (7)

Answer: PAYROLL (i.e. “wages”). Solution is POLL (i.e. “vote”) wrapped around (i.e. “taken round”) AYR (i.e. “Scottish town”), like so: P(AYR)OLL.

20. Means to cut film after opening (7)

Answer: HATCHET (i.e. “means to cut”). Solution is ET (i.e. “film”, as in ET The Extra-Terrestrial) placed “after” HATCH (i.e. “opening”), like so: HATCH-ET.

21. Likeable chap becomes swing pioneer (7)

Answer: Benny GOODMAN, dubbed “The King of Swing” (i.e. “swing pioneer”). Solution is GOOD MAN (i.e. “likeable chap”).

23. Noteworthy vicomte, perhaps round bend, needs year to deliver hymn (1,3,2,4,2,7)

Answer: I VOW TO THEE MY COUNTRY (i.e. “hymn”). “Perhaps” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NOTEWORTHY VICOMTE wrapped “round” U (i.e. “bend”) and finished with Y (a recognised abbreviation of “year”), like so: IVOWTOTHEEMYCO(U)NTR-Y. I had to refer to the BBC’s Songs of Praise webpage for this, as my knowledge of hymns doesn’t stretch much beyond the ones we had to sing at school, such as All Things Bright And Beautiful and He’s Got The Whole World In His Pants.

27. Little booze from non-drinker getting round in (3)

Answer: TOT (i.e. “little booze”). Solution is TT (a recognised abbreviation for a tee-totaller, i.e. “non-drinker”) wrapped around O (i.e. “getting round in”), like so: T(O)T.

28. Good Scots side sets standard (6)

Answer: GUIDON, which is a kind of pennant (i.e. “standard”). Solution is GUID (i.e. “Good Scots”, i.e. Scottish word for “good”) followed by ON (i.e. “side” – think back a couple of clues to how leg-side in cricket was sometimes referred to as “on”), like so: GUID-ON.

29. One ancient ruler the other king backed (6)

Answer: XERXES, who ruled Persia 486-465BC (i.e. “ancient ruler”). Solution is SEX (i.e. a bit of “the other”) and REX (i.e. “king”) reversed (i.e. “backed”), like so: XER-XES. Yes, I have Frank Miller to thank for that one rather than any deep knowledge of ancient history.

31. How long it takes to cook in can (5,4)

Answer: DOING TIME. Solution satisfies both “how long it takes to cook” (albeit weakly – I’m not 100% about this) and “in can” (i.e. in prison).

34. Blue joke appearing first warrants severe action (9)

Answer: CRACKDOWN (i.e. “severe action”). Solution is DOWN (i.e. “blue”) with CRACK (i.e. “joke”) “appearing first”, like so: CRACK-DOWN.

35. Stand in science class to give answer (6)

Answer: RETORT. Solution satisfies both “stand in science class” (specifically a retort-stand) and “to give answer”).

36. Prescribed treatment unfinished we hear (6)

Answer: COURSE. Solution satisfies both “prescribed treatment” (e.g. a course of antibiotics) and “unfinished we hear” (i.e. a homophone of the word “coarse”, as in something that is unrefined).

39. Church no longer involved with conspicuously virile chairman (3)

Answer: MAO Zedong (i.e. “chairman”). Solution is MACHO (i.e. “conspicuously virile”) with CH removed (i.e. “church no longer involved with”, CH being a recognised abbreviation of “church”).

40. Book, given hype, outsold historic novel (3,3,9,4)

Answer: THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP (i.e. “book”). “Novel” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HYPE OUTSOLD HISTORIC.

42. Outrageous incident follows outside broadcast (7)

Answer: OBSCENE (i.e. “outrageous”). Solution is SCENE (i.e. “incident”) “following” OB (an abbreviation of “outside broadcast”), like so: OB-SCENE.

43. Enlightened state houses five in north country area (7)

Answer: NIRVANA (i.e. “enlightened state”). Solution is V (i.e. the Roman numeral “five”) placed in N (a recognised abbreviation of “north”), IRAN (i.e. “country”) and A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”), like so: N-IR(V)AN-A.

45. Score after six balls exceed allotted time (7)

Answer: OVERRUN (i.e. “exceed allotted time”). More cricketing wordplay sees RUN (i.e. “score”) placed “after” OVER (i.e. “six balls”), like so: OVER-RUN.

47. Fragrant stuff poet brought round, wife slicing potato (6,5)

Answer: TOILET WATER (i.e. “fragrant stuff”). Solution is ELIOT (i.e. “poet”, specifically T.S. Eliot) reversed (i.e. “brought round”) and followed by TATER (i.e. “potato”) with W (a recognised abbreviation for “wife”) placed inside (i.e. “slicing”), like so: TOILE-T(W)ATER. I’m guessing the editor wouldn’t allow “twat” to be used in the wordplay.

49. Sewer, new one made ridiculously large inside (11)

Answer: NEEDLEWOMAN (i.e. “sewer” – yes, this fooled me for longer than I’d care to admit). “Ridiculously” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NEW ONE MADE wrapped around L (i.e. “large inside” – L being a recognised abbreviation of “large”), like so: NEED(L)EWOMAN.

51. Terry for one feels lie-in occasionally needed (5)

Answer: ELLEN Terry, a Shakespearean actress of old. No, me neither. “Occasionally needed” indicates the solution is derived by taking regular letters of “feels lie-in”, like so: FEELS LIE-IN.

52. Hero outside left understanding or seeking profitable partnership (4-7)

Answer: GOLD-DIGGING (i.e. “seeking profitable partnership”). Solution is GOD (i.e. “hero”) wrapped “outside” L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and then followed by DIGGING (i.e. “understanding”), like so: GO(L)D-DIGGING.

53. City revolutionary the writer cripples? (5)

Answer: MIAMI (i.e. “city”). Solution is I MAIM (i.e. “the writer” – specifically the setter – “cripples”) reversed (i.e. “revolutionary”), like so: MIAM-I.

54. Edict that binds you and me? (13)

Answer: PRONOUNCEMENT. Solution satisfies both “edict” and “that binds you and me” (i.e. “pronounce man and wife”).

55. Worker, way back, engaging volunteers before delivery (9)

Answer: ANTENATAL (i.e. “before delivery”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “worker”, i.e. a worker ant), then ENAL (i.e. “way back”, i.e. the word “lane” spelt backwards) wrapped around (i.e. “engaging”) TA (i.e. “volunteers”, specifically the Territorial Army), like so: ANT-ENA(TA)L.

Down clues

1. Restriction of authority conversing about an investigator (4-7)

Answer: RATE-CAPPING, e.g. when central government limits the council tax charged by local authorities (i.e. “restriction of authority”). Solution is RAPPING (i.e. “conversing”) wrapped “about” A TEC (i.e. “an investigator”, “tec” being an abbreviated form of “detective”), like so: R(A-TEC)APPING.

2. Certainly no song for a wake (7)

Answer: LULLABY. Solution satisfies multiple meanings of “wake”, for example “the state of being awake” and “a vigil beside a corpse”, and how a lullaby would be inappropriate in each case.

3. Quite attentive to personal hygiene (5)

Answer: CLEAN. Solution satisfies both “quite” (as in “rather” or “very”) and “attentive to personal hygiene.

4. Cover with mosaic put up to promote Greek goddess (10)

Answer: TESSELLATE (i.e. “cover with mosaic”). Solution is SET (i.e. “put”) reversed (indicated by “up”) followed by SELL (i.e. “to promote”) and ATE (i.e. “Greek goddess”, specifically Atë, the Greek goddess of mischief), like so: TES-SELL-ATE.

5. Porridge makes good person strain so as to be sick (7)

Answer: STRETCH (i.e. “porridge”, i.e. a stay in prison). Solution is ST (i.e. “good person”) followed by RETCH (i.e. “strain so as to be sick”).

6. Real party animal, one often stirs the muck (8,5)

Answer: CONCRETE MIXER (i.e. “one often stirs the muck”). Solution is CONCRETE (i.e. “real”) and MIXER (i.e. “party animal”).

7. Old age impaired one settled here in Rome (9)

Answer: NEOLITHIC (i.e. “old age”). This one has got me stumped, even after sleeping on it. I can get NEO (i.e. “impaired one”, i.e. an anagram of “one”), but after that I’m buggered.

8. Three card players in silly feminine attire (7)

Answer: TWINSET (i.e. “feminine attire”). Solution is TWIT (i.e. “silly”) wrapped around NSE (i.e. “three card players”, specifically three players in bridge: north, south and east), like so: TWI(NSE)T.

9. Runway, one seen between flights, ahead of take-off? (7,5)

Answer: LANDING STRIP (i.e. “runway”). Solution is LANDING (i.e. “one seen between flights [of stairs]”) followed by STRIP (i.e. to “take off”).

10. Admiring area in appropriate manner, circling a hill (9)

Answer: ADULATORY (i.e. “admiring”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation for “area”) and DULY (i.e. “in appropriate manner”) wrapped around (i.e. “circling”) A TOR (i.e. “a hill”), like so: A-DUL(A-TOR)Y. This took me a lot longer to figure out than it ought to have.

11. A storage unit with two round feet? (5)

Answer: IAMBI, the plural form of “iambus”, which is a foot (a division of a line of poetry) comprising two syllables (i.e. “feet”). Don’t feel too bad if you’re still none the wiser. Unless you are a poet who cares about this stuff you can afford to give less of a shit. Solution is A MB (i.e. “a storage unit”, i.e. a megabyte of computer storage) placed in II (i.e. “two” in Roman numerals), like so: I-A-MB-I.

12. Musical comedy number upset one tenant (2,2,7)

Answer: NO NO NANETTE (i.e. “musical comedy”). Solution is NO (short for “number”), followed by an anagram (indicated by “upset”) of ONE TENANT.

19. Forecast unlikely to require insight? (7)

Answer: OUTLOOK (i.e. “forecast”). Solution is a play on how “insight” could be seen as an opposite of “outlook”.

22. Leading lady in protest accepting short audition (9)

Answer: MATRIARCH (i.e. “leading lady”). Solution is MARCH (i.e. “protest”) wrapped around (i.e. “accepting”) TRIA (i.e. “short audition”, i.e. the word “trial” with the final letter removed), like so: MA(TRIA)RCH.

24. As some layers, over six, on Greek island that ships uranium (9)

Answer: OVIPAROUS, which describes an egg-laying animal (i.e. “as some layers”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket – yes, folks, more cricket!) followed by VI (“six” in Roman numerals) and PAROS (one of around 14 million “Greek islands”) wrapped around (indicated by “that ships”) U (the chemical symbol for “uranium”), like so: O-VI-PARO(U)S. Looking at clumsy wording of the clue, and also considering the words hanging off this solution, it would have been easier for the setter to pick a different word!

25. Relentless non-resident wanting vote (7)

Answer: ETERNAL (i.e. “relentless”). Solution is EXTERNAL (i.e. “non-resident”) with X removed (i.e. “wanting vote”).

26. Open about amount of work experience (7)

Answer: UNDERGO (i.e. “experience”). Solution is UNDO (i.e. “open”, albeit weakly) wrapped around (i.e. “about”) ERG (i.e. “amount of work”), like so: UND(ERG)O.

30. Dissolute Dan, guy with a thirst in time to slake it? (8,5)

Answer: SATURDAY NIGHT (i.e. “time to slake [a thirst]”). “Dissolute” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DAN GUY and A THIRST.

32. My line used in Shakespearean theatre (5,2)

Answer: GLORY BE (i.e. an exclamatory “my!”). Solution is RY (a recognised abbreviation for a railway, i.e. “line”) placed in GLOBE (i.e. “Shakespearean theatre”), like so: GLO(RY)BE.

33. Transport insured with Korean money to carry silver (7,5)

Answer: COVERED WAGON (i.e. “transport” – think of those wagons seen in westerns). Solution is COVERED (i.e. “insured”) followed by WON (i.e. “Korean money”) wrapped around (i.e. “to carry”) AG (the chemical symbol for “silver”), like so: COVERED-W(AG)ON.

34. Old politician, East German, in vulgar and degrading place (7,4)

Answer: COMPOST HEAP (i.e. “degrading place”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) MP (i.e. “politician”) and OST (which is German for “east”) all placed in CHEAP (i.e. “vulgar”), like so: C(O-MP-OST)HEAP.

37. Old plane into spins becoming ever faster (11)

Answer: EXPONENTIAL (i.e. “becoming ever faster”). Solution is EX (i.e. “old”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “spins”) of PLANE INTO.

38. Flame puts one group in dangerous situation (5,5)

Answer: PILOT LIGHT (i.e. “flame”). Solution is I (the Roman numeral “one”) and LOT (i.e. “group”) placed in PLIGHT (i.e. “dangerous situation”), like so: P(I-LOT)LIGHT.

40. Hot tureen needs stir in addition to that (9)

Answer: THEREUNTO (i.e. “in addition to that”). “Needs stir” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HOT TUREEN.

41. Explosive case of vehicle appearing over crest (9)

Answer: CARTRIDGE (i.e. “explosive case”). Solution is CART (i.e. “vehicle”) followed by (i.e. “over”) RIDGE (i.e. “crest”).

43. Female not true after having rebuffed Brown (7)

Answer: NATALIE (i.e. “female” – I’m still not keen on first names being used as solutions, but I guess nothing else fitted the letters given). Solution is TAN (i.e. “brown”) reversed (indicated by “rebuffed”) followed by A LIE (i.e. “not true”), like so: NAT-A-LIE.

44. Minute man flanked by two aces in republic? (7)

Answer: AMERICA (i.e. “republic”). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “minute”) and ERIC (i.e. “man”) placed in the middle of A A (i.e. “two aces”), like so: A(M-ERIC)A.

46. Ruling that Frenchman must come in for good rest (7)

Answer: REMNANT (i.e. “rest”, as in a remainder). This is another one where I cannot work out what the setter is doing, which could indicate I’ve not got this one right. I believe the wordplay suggests we take REGENT (i.e. “ruling”), replace G (i.e. “good”) with… er… yeah. Buggered.

48. Current despondency interminable in White House (5)

Answer: IGLOO (i.e. “white house”). Solution is I (which represents electrical “current”) followed by GLOO (i.e. “despondency interminable”, i.e. the word “gloom” with the last letter removed), like so: I-GLOO.

50. Ladies obtained in marriage with embrace for me (5)

Answer: WOMEN (i.e. “ladies”). Solution is WON (i.e. “obtained in marriage”) “embracing” ME, like so: WO(ME)N.

So that’s it for another week. This was not a classic, for my money, as there was a little too much reliance on cricket and – I suspect – using foreign words to get the job done. Still, each to their own.

And now a message from The Department of Getting One’s Excuses In Early: I won’t be as quick with the next couple of grids – if I get around to them at all – as I’ll be spending most of the Christmas period getting fabulously pissed. I’m sure you can cope.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1355

The Times, like any daily, has a team of setters for their crossword puzzles. There are usually between a dozen and sixteen setters responsible for the sixtyish jumbo puzzles published during the year (if the compendia I keep buying are any judge). Not only does this help maintain the relative sanity of their setters, but it also helps keep the puzzles fresh and to keep solvers on their toes. If the same person was to set a puzzle every week, it wouldn’t take long for solvers to pick up on all their tells.

The downside of having a team of setters, however, is that you run the risk of seeing the same solution appearing in close-successive puzzles, which is what has happened this week. The clue even uses the same wordplay to derive the solution, which is a bit of an editor-fail. Still, it’s always nice to be given a head-start!

Anyway, enough yakking. Here’s my completed grid for this week’s puzzle along with explanations of my solutions. Enjoy!

Across clues

1. Limit firm replacing golf in area (11)

Answer: RESTRICTION (i.e. “limit”). Solution is derived by replacing the letter G (i.e. “golf”, which is G in the phonetic alphabet) in the word REGION (i.e. “area”) with STRICT (i.e. “firm”), like so: RE(STRICT)ION.

7. Thwart European concealing British weakness (6)

Answer: FOIBLE (i.e. “weakness”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “British” used, say, in honours such as OBE, MBE etc) inserted (inferred by “concealing”) into FOIL (i.e. “thwart”) and E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”, e.g. the EU), like so: FOI(B)L-E.

10. Foxtrot follows this contribution by fine choreographer (4)

Answer: ECHO. In the phonetic alphabet, “Foxtrot” (F) follows “Echo” (E). “Contribution by” also indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: FIN(E CHO)REOGRAPHER.

14. One in black, Parisian mother briefly hugs old vessel (7)

Answer: MOURNER (i.e. “one in black”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and URN (i.e. “vessel”) both inserted into (inferred by “hugs”) MER (i.e. “French mother briefly” – the French for mother is “mère” – “briefly” tells us to remove the final letter), like so: M(O-URN)ER.

15. Protest with a thug defending work closure (7)

Answer: WALKOUT (i.e. “protest”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”), then A, then LOUT (i.e. “thug”) wrapped around (inferred by “defending”) K (i.e. “work closure”, i.e. the last letter of the word “work”), like so: W-A-L(K)OUT.

16. Agitate to acquire right support in Derby? (7)

Answer: STIRRUP (i.e. “support in Debry”, a support for a horse-rider’s foot). Solution is STIR UP (i.e. “agitate”) wrapped around (inferred by “to acquire”) R (a recognised abbreviation for “right”), like so: STIR(R)UP. Sound familiar?

17. Men on board rave about Elizabeth’s old cavaliers (7-6)

Answer: KNIGHTS-ERRANT, who were knights who travelled in search of adventure(i.e. “old cavaliers”). Solution is KNIGHTS (i.e. “men on board”, i.e. knight chess pieces) and RANT (i.e. “rave”) wrapped around (i.e. “about”) ER (i.e. “Elizabeth”, specifically Elizabeth Regina). Echoes of last week’s puzzle can be heard here too.

18. Exact use oil rig might be put to? (9)

Answer: RELIGIOUS, (i.e. “exact”). “Might be put to” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of USE OIL RIG.

19. Cardigan’s gesture of indifference (5)

Answer: SHRUG. Solution satisfies both “cardigan” (a shrug is a woollen garment) and “gesture of indifference”.

21. A boy opens chart with another boy, poorly suited (10)

Answer: MALADAPTED (i.e. “poorly suited”). Solution is A LAD (i.e. “a boy”) placed in (inferred by “opens”) MAP (i.e. “chart”) and then followed by TED (i.e. “another boy”), like so: M(A-LAD)AP-TED.

23. Like some dynasties at home with money, so I’ve heard (6)

Answer: INBRED (i.e. “like some dynasties”). Solution is IN (i.e. “at home”) followed by BRED (i.e. “money, so I’ve heard”, i.e. a homophone of the word “bread”), like so: IN-BRED.

25. Phone about island rally (8)

Answer: MOBILISE (i.e. “rally”). Solution is MOBILE (i.e. “phone”) wrapped around (inferred by “about”) IS (a recognised abbreviation of “island”), like so: MOBIL(IS)E.

26. Opposite case that’s set out for customer in shop? (14)

Answer: COUNTEREXAMPLE. Solution satisfies both “opposite case” and “set out for customer in shop” i.e. an example of something set out on a shop counter.

29. Gold dish at front part of range? (7)

Answer: PLATEAU (i.e. “part of (mountain) range”). Solution is PLATE (i.e. “dish”) placed at the front of AU (i.e. the chemical symbol for “gold”), like so: PLATE-AU.

30. Grass covers daughter with worker in flagrante (3-6)

Answer: RED-HANDED (i.e. “in flagrante”). Solution is REED (i.e. “grass”) wrapped around (i.e. “covers”) D (a recognised abbreviation for “daughter”) and HAND (i.e. “worker”), like so: RE(D-HAND)ED.

31. Romeo pursuing county’s first citizen (5)

Answer: MAYOR (i.e. “first citizen”). Solution is R (i.e. “Romeo”, which is R in the phonetic alphabet) preceded by (i.e. “pursuing”) MAYO (i.e. “county”), like so: MAYO-R.

32. Top Mediterranean island showing hostility (5)

Answer: ICILY (i.e. ” showing hostility”). Solution is SICILY, a Mediterranean island, with the initial letter removed (i.e. to “top”).

34. Study involving apartment ten’s collapse (9)

Answer: DEFLATION (i.e. “collapse”). Solution is DEN (i.e. “study”) wrapped around (i.e. “involving”) FLAT IO (i.e. “apartment ten”), like so: DE(FLAT-IO)N.

37. Withdrawn do-it-yourself recipe for tongue (7)

Answer: YIDDISH (i.e. “tongue”). Solution is DIY reversed (i.e. “withdrawn do-it-yourself”) followed by DISH (i.e. “recipe”).

39. They convey good wishes regarding sects abroad (9,5)

Answer: GREETINGS CARDS (i.e. “they convey good wishes”). “Abroad” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of REGARDING SECTS.

41. Sick young conservatives having to stop passing round pot in camp (8)

Answer: BILLYCAN (i.e. “pot in camp”). Solution is ILL (i.e. “sick”), Y (a recognised abbreviation of “young”) and C (ditto the Conservative Party) placed in (inferred by “having…passing round”) BAN (i.e. “to stop”), like so: B(ILL-Y-C)AN.

43. Carried round keys in the past (6)

Answer: BEFORE (i.e. “in the past”). Solution is BORE (i.e. “carried”) wrapped around E and F (i.e. musical “keys”), like so: B-E-F-ORE.

44. Morph image grotesquely using this old copier? (10)

Answer: MIMEOGRAPH (i.e. “old copier”). “Grotesquely” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MORPH IMAGE.

45. Invalidate yearbook’s missing article (5)

Answer: ANNUL (i.e. “invalidate”). Solution is ANNUAL (i.e. “yearbook”) with the second A removed (i.e. “missing article”).

48. Running this French cooker at home as before (4,5)

Answer: ONCE AGAIN (i.e. “as before”). Solution is ON (i.e. “running”) followed by CE (i.e. “this French” – the French for “this” is “ce”), then AGA (i.e. “cooker”) and IN (i.e. “at home”), like so: ON-CE-AGA-IN.

49. Girl and boy defend sceptical doctor (13)

Answer: DIAGNOSTICIAN (i.e. “doctor”). Solution is DI and IAN (i.e. “girl and boy”) wrapped around (i.e. “defending”) AGNOSTIC (i.e. “sceptical”), like so: DI-AGNOSTIC-IAN.

51. Shock sets back belfry every so often (7)

Answer: STUPEFY (i.e. “shock”). Solution is PUTS (i.e. “sets”) reversed (indicated by “back”) and then followed by EFY (i.e. “belfry every so often”, which is to say regular letters in the word “belfry”, i.e. BELFRY), like so: STUP-EFY.

52. Change in Honduras reduced power in US city (7)

Answer: LEMPIRA, which is the currency of Honduras (i.e. “change in Honduras”). Solution is EMPIR (i.e. “reduced power”, which is to say the word “empire” with the final letter removed) placed in LA (i.e. “US city”), like so: L-EMPIR-A. Wikipedia tends to be my go-to place for far-flung currencies beyond my ken.

53. A bad habit masking a Republican’s cupidity (7)

Answer: AVARICE (i.e. “cupidity”, which is another word for covetousness – something I’ve learned today). Solution is A VICE (i.e. “a bad habit”) wrapped around (inferred by “masking”) A R (i.e. “a Republican” – R being a recognised abbreviation for the Republican Party), like so: A-V(A-R)ICE.

54. Spot undercover agent (4)

Answer: MOLE. Solution satisfies both “spot” and “undercover agent”.

55. Steer right round close to white plants (6)

Answer: OXEYES, which are wild chrysanthemums (i.e. “plants”). I had to look this one up given I mainly grow chillies and weeds. Not sure on the solution to this one, but I’ve a feeling it’s OX (i.e. “steer”) and YES (i.e. “right” – yeah, a bit weak) wrapped around E (i.e. “close to white”, i.e. the last letter of “white”), like so: OX-E-YES.

56. New acting chairman, heading off visitor (11)

Answer: NONRESIDENT (i.e. “visitor”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”), followed by ON (i.e. “acting”) and RESIDENT (i.e. “chairman, heading off”, i.e. “president” with the initial letter removed), like so: N-ON-RESIDENT.

Down clues

1. Weeds, maybe, surround larger space for new versions (7)

Answer: REMAKES (i.e. “new versions”). Solution is RAKES (i.e. “weeds”) wrapped around EM (i.e. “larger space” – this seems to be a printing term denoting a space that is the width of a lower-case “m”. Not quite sure if that’s sufficient to qualify for a “larger space”, though), like so: R(EM)AKES.

2. Country’s small car with a first rate lock in reverse (5,6)

Answer: SAUDI ARABIA (i.e. “country”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by AUDI (i.e. “car”), then A, then AI and BAR (i.e. “first rate” and “lock”) “in reverse”, like so: S-AUDI-A-RAB-IA.

3. Farm managed cash margins (5)

Answer: RANCH (i.e. “farm”). Solution is RAN (i.e. “managed”) followed by CH (i.e. “cash margins”, i.e. the first and last letters of the word “cash”), like so: RAN-CH.

4. Duff description of corpulent Santa? (9,7)

Answer: CHRISTMAS PUDDING. Solution satisfies both “duff” (a kind of pudding) and “description of corpulent Santa”.

5. Secretly, for no special reason, suppressing new conflict (8)

Answer: INWARDLY (i.e. “secretly”). Solution is IDLY (i.e. “for no special reason”, e.g. idle curiosity) wrapped around (i.e. “suppressing”) N (a recognised abbreviation for “new”) and WAR (i.e. “conflict”), like so: I(N-WAR)DLY.

6. Invalid sister keeps everyone up, free with 500 very old papers (4,3,4)

Answer: NULL AND VOID (i.e. “invalid”). Solution is NUN (i.e. “sister”) wrapped around ALL reversed (i.e. “everyone up”), then the whole lot followed by D (Roman numeral for 500), V (a recognised abbreviation of “very”), O (ditto “old”) and finally ID (i.e. “papers”), like so: NU(LLA)N-D-V-O-ID.

7. Bob’s put forward (5)

Answer: FLOAT. Solution satisfies both “bob” (i.e. a fishing float) and “put forward” (e.g. to float an idea).

8. Mutually reliant nine pretended to work on time (14)

Answer: INTERDEPENDENT (i.e. “mutually reliant”). “To work” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NINE PRETENDED followed by T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”).

9. Stand on banks of Liffey to finish (6)

Answer: LASTLY (i.e. “to finish”). Solution is LAST (i.e. “stand”) followed by LY (i.e. “banks of Liffey”, i.e. the first and last letters of “Liffey”), like so: LATE-LY.

11. RAC put up a trophy designed to hold gallons for 25 down (11)

Answer: CARTOGRAPHY (the solution to 25 down is MAPPING). Solution is CAR (i.e. “RAC put up”, i.e. reverse the letters RAC) followed by an anagram (indicated by “designed”) of A TROPHY wrapped around (i.e. “to hold”) G (a recognised abbreviation of “gallons”), like so: CAR-TO(G)RAPHY.

12. Sat after work and disputed (7)

Answer: OPPOSED (i.e. “disputed”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, short for “operation”) placed before POSED (i.e. “sat”), like so: OP-POSED.

13. Sort of creeper that gets stuck in pipe (8)

Answer: VIRGINIA. Solution satisfies both “sort of creeper” (i.e. Virginia creeper) and “gets stuck in pipe” (i.e. Virginia tobacco).

20. Museum’s good way to conserve rarities initially (7)

Answer: GALLERY (i.e. “museum”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and ALLEY (i.e. “way”) wrapped around (indicated by “to conserve”) R (i.e. “rarities initially”, i.e. the first letter of the word “rarities”), like so: G-ALLE(R)Y.

22. Asian animal genes turn up in Pennsylvania (5)

Answer: PANDA (i.e. “Asian animal”). Solution is AND (i.e. “genes turn up”, i.e. the letters DNA reversed) placed in PA (the code for the US state Pennsylvania), like so: P(AND)A.

24. Potential killer surprisingly delighted with a shandy (6,10)

Answer: DEADLY NIGHTSHADE (i.e. “potential killer”). “Surprisingly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DELIGHTED and A SHANDY.

25. Plotting software in China (7)

Answer: MAPPING (i.e. “plotting”). Solution is APP (i.e. “software”) placed in MING (i.e. “China”), like so: M(APP)ING.

27. Deserve to retain article made of clay (7)

Answer: EARTHEN (i.e. “made of clay”). Solution is EARN (i.e. “deserve”) wrapped around (i.e. “to retain”) THE (i.e. “article”), like so: EAR(THE)N.

28. Academic colleague’s caught sitting topless for money (14)

Answer: PROFESSIONALLY (i.e. “for money”). Solution is PROF (i.e. “academic”) and ALLY (i.e. “colleague”) wrapped around (i.e. “caught”) ESSION (i.e. “sitting topless”, i.e. the word “session” with its initial letter removed), like so: PROF-(ESSION)-ALLY.

31. Intend shortly to hide drab innards of plant  (7)

Answer: MEDULLA, which is the inner portion of an organ, hair or tissue (i.e. “innards of plant”). Solution is MEA (i.e. “intend shortly”, i.e. the word “mean” with the last letter removed) wrapped around (i.e. “to hide”) DULL (i.e. “drab”), like so: ME(DULL)A.

33. Actually, posh leader hides answer, producing poor results (11)

Answer: INEFFECTUAL (i.e. “producing poor results”). Solution is IN EFFECT (i.e. “actually”) followed by U (i.e. “posh” – the letter “U” can be used to denote the upper-class) and L (i.e. “leader” – my Chambers doesn’t offer L as an abbreviation of “leader”, but I’m guessing this is what was meant) wrapped around (i.e. “hides”) A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer”), like so: IN-EFFECT-U(A)L.

35. Acre yielded sisal for one (5)

Answer: AGAVE, an aloe-like plant found in the desert (i.e. “sisal for one” – sisal is a type of agave). I have Fallout: New Vegas to thank for that one. See, video games aren’t all bad. Anyway, the solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “acre”) followed by GAVE (i.e. “yielded”).

36. Anger as modern state conceals excavation (11)

Answer: INDIGNATION (i.e. “anger”). Solution is IN (i.e. “modern”) and NATION (i.e. “state”) wrapped around (i.e. “conceals”) DIG (i.e. “excavation”), like so: IN-(DIG)-NATION.

38. Motivate trendy one in TV scene I shot (11)

Answer: INCENTIVISE (i.e. “motivate”). Solution is IN (i.e. “trendy”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “shot”) of TV SCENE I, which is wrapped around I (indicated by “one in”), like so: IN-CENT(I)VISE.

40. Endanger trio sheltering at noon (8)

Answer: THREATEN (i.e. “endanger”). Solution is THREE (i.e. “trio”) wrapped around (indicated by “sheltering”) AT, and then followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “noon”), like so: THRE(AT)E-N.

42. Preserve article in deep container (8)

Answer: MAINTAIN (i.e. “preserve”). I’m not 100% sure about this one, but I reckon the solution is AIN’T (if this counts as an “article”) placed in MAIN (i.e. “deep”, both words can be taken to mean “the sea”), like so: M(AINT)AIN.

43. Thrive with or without a couple of sons (7)

Answer: BLOSSOM (i.e. “thrive”). Solution is BLOOM (i.e. another word for “thrive”) wrapped around SS (i.e. “a couple of sons” – “s” being a recognised abbreviation of “son”), like so: BLO(SS)OM.

46. Easygoing fast time touring eastern part of UK (7)

Answer: LENIENT (i.e. “easygoing”). Solution is LENT (i.e. “fast time”) wrapped around E (i.e. “eastern”) and NI (i.e. “part of UK”, specifically Northern Ireland), like so: L(E-NI)ENT.

47. A rook getting stuck in cat’s throat part (6)

Answer: LARYNX (i.e. “throat part”). Solution is A R (i.e. “a rook”, “r” being a recognised abbreviation of “rook” used in chess) placed in (i.e. “getting stuck in”) LYNX (i.e. “cat”), like so: L(A-R)YNX.

49. Male broaching party’s depressed state (5)

Answer: DUMPS (i.e. “depressed state”). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”) placed in (i.e. “broaching”) DUPS (i.e. “party’s”, specifically the Democratic Unionist Party), like so: DU(M)PS.

50. Current TV quiz includes artist, one from Middle East (5)

Answer: IRAQI (i.e. “one from Middle East”). Solution is I (a symbol used to denote electrical “current”) and QI (i.e. “TV quiz”) wrapped around (i.e. “includes”) RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician), like so: I-(RA)-QI.

Right. Time to do something else. TTFN!


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1354

Another Saturday sees another Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword! This was one of those annoying puzzles where it took me nearly as long to settle on the final two solutions as it did to solve the other fifty-eight! Assuming I’ve got them right, here’s my completed grid, along with explanations for my solutions.


Across clues

1. Physician became dictator’s prisoner (5)

Answer: MEDIC (i.e. “physician”). “Prisoner” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: BECA(ME DIC)TATOR.

4. Do too little work and prepare to play, given the chance (10)

Answer: UNDERSTUDY. Solution satisfies both “do too little work” and “prepare to play, given the chance” (i.e. how rookie players learn from established teammates).

9. Ran through party on purpose (4,2)

Answer: USED UP (i.e. “ran through”). Solution is USE (i.e. “purpose”) followed by DUP (i.e. “party”, specifically the Democratic Unionist Party).

14. As fruit cut by length four times (9)

Answer: QUADRUPLE (i.e. “four times”). Solution is QUA (i.e. “as” – qua means “in the capacity of” and, yes, I did get my Chambers out for that one) followed by DRUPE (i.e. “fruit” – a drupe is “any fleshy fruit with a stone”, and, yes, I did get my Chambers out for that one too) wrapped around (i.e. “cut by”) L (a recognised abbreviation for “length”), like so: QUA-DRUP(L)E.

15. Is financing it in a new way not worth considering? (13)

Answer: INSIGNIFICANT (i.e. “not worth considering”). “In a new way” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IS FINANCING IT.

16. Confused report of more profound times (2,1,4)

Answer: IN A DAZE (i.e. “confused”). This is one of the two clues I really struggled with, and even now I’m not 100% sure I’ve cracked it. I’m guessing we’re dealing with homophones (indicated by “report”) of “inner” (i.e. “more profound”) and “days” (i.e. “times”).

17. Holes in long-haul craft (9)

Answer: SPACESHIP (i.e. “long-haul craft”). Solution is SPACES (i.e. “holes”) followed by “HIP” (i.e. “in”, i.e. popular).

18. Chief heading off westward quaffing island’s wine (5)

Answer: RIOJA (i.e. “wine”). Solution is ROJA (i.e. “chief heading off westward”, which is to say MAJOR (i.e. “chief”) with its initial letter removed (i.e. “heading off”) and the letters reversed (i.e. “westward”)) wrapped around I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”), like so: R(I)OJA. A lot of work for such a short solution!

19. Couturier’s accessories causing a sensation (4,3,7)

Answer: PINS AND NEEDLES. Solution satisfies both “couturier’s accessories” and “a sensation”.

22. Detecting online espionage? (7)

Answer: ESPYING (i.e. “detecting”). Solution is a play on how words are often prefixed with an “e” to identify them with the internet, in this case E-SPYING for “online espionage”.

25. Trouble after an invention puts off Tesla’s foremost supporter (10)

Answer: AFICIONADO (i.e. “supporter”). Solution is ADO (i.e. “trouble”) preceded by (i.e. “after”) A FICION (i.e. “an invention” – A FICTION – “puts off Tesla’s foremost” – remove T), like so: A-FICION-ADO.

27. Normal rugged sort – old actor (6,6)

Answer: MARLON BRANDO (i.e. “actor”). “Rugged” indicates anagram. The first part of the solution is an anagram of NORMAL. The remainder is BRAND (i.e. “sort”) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”). Crossword nerd fact: The Times only allows real people to be solutions to their crossword clues if they are dead.

30. Find fault with batsman’s innings (5)

Answer: KNOCK. Solution satisfies both “find fault with” and “batsman’s innings” (cricket).

31. Collaborator getting slower taken in by shrink (2-6)

Answer: CO-WRITER (i.e. “collaborator”). Solution is RIT (i.e. “getting slower” – rit is an abbreviation of “ritardando”, a musical term meaning “with diminishing speed” – another word I had to look up!) slotted into (i.e. “taken in by”) COWER (i.e. “shrink”), like so: CO-W(RIT)ER.

32. Sound measure by which to rank European city (8)

Answer: BELGRADE (i.e. “European city”). Solution is BEL (i.e. “sound measure” – ten decibels make a bel, a fact I’m not sure I’ll retain after this week is out) followed by GRADE (i.e. “to rank”).

35. No clergy, only Mae West in disguise (8)

Answer: LAYWOMEN (i.e. “no clergy” – “lay” relates to people who are not members of the clergy). “In disguise” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ONLY MAE and W (a recognised abbreviation of “west”). Sneaky. I like it.

36. German governor critical after contrary strike (8)

Answer: MARGRAVE (i.e. “German governor”). Solution is GRAVE (i.e. “critical”) preceded by (indicated by “after”) MAR (i.e. “contrary strike”, i.e. the word RAM reversed), like so: MAR-GRAVE. This was my antepenultimate solution for quite a while, mainly because I couldn’t look past “LANGUAGE” given that “German” was in the clue and I had the letters: _A_G_A_E. In the end I had to use a solver to find other words fitting the letters. I regret nothing!

37. Attractive female player’s first to go in eliminator (5)

Answer: CUTIE (i.e. “attractive female” – I’ll let the internet field that one). Solution is CUP TIE (i.e. “eliminator”) with P removed (i.e. “player’s first” – P – “to go”).

39. Thought’s being restricted again, as it were (12)

Answer: DELIBERATION. Solution satisfies both “thought” and “being restricted again, as it were”. Regarding the latter, if one was freed from restraint only to be restrained once more, this would be a DE-LIBERATION.

41. Potential catch by fishing port barely mentioned (6,4)

Answer: SKATED OVER (i.e. “barely mentioned”). Solution is SKATE (i.e. “potential catch”, which is basically indicating a fish) followed by DOVER (i.e. “fishing port”).

43. Search suspect, male, ahead of time (7)

Answer: RUMMAGE (i.e. “search”). Solution is RUM (i.e. “suspect”) followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”) and AGE (i.e. “time”).

45. Philosopher Latinises text I mistranslated (14)

Answer: EXISTENTIALIST (i.e. “philosopher”). “Mistranslated” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LATINISES TEXT I. I spent more time than I’d care to admit thinking this was going to be the name of one of approximately 100,000 philosophers. I’m too cynical for my own good sometimes.

48. It often goes with “cheers”, and audible countercheers (5)

Answer: BOOZE. Solution satisfies both “it often goes with ‘cheers'” and “audible countercheers”. In the latter, “audible” indicates a homophone, with BOOZE sounding like “boos”.

49. Teach music abroad, ditching posh teaching method (9)

Answer: CATECHISM, which is to instruct, especially in the Christian faith, by question an answer (i.e. “teaching method”). “Abroad” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEACH MUSIC with U removed (i.e. “ditching posh” – U can be used to denote the upper class).

51. Scoffer joins press, producing crude output (3,4)

Answer: PIG IRON, a mass of unforged metal as first extracted from the ore (i.e. “crude output”). Solution is PIG (i.e. “scoffer”) followed by (i.e. “joins”) IRON (i.e. “press”).

53. Not being alone at work is essential (3-10)

Answer: NON-NEGOTIABLE (i.e. “essential”). “At work” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NOT BEING ALONE.

54. Coming to littl’un exhausted granny to start with (9)

Answer: TOTALLING (i.e. “coming to”). Solution is TOT (i.e. “littl’un”) followed by ALL IN (i.e. “exhausted”) and G (i.e. “granny to begin with”, i.e. the first letter of “granny”).

55. Cover for Oriental bowl of some antiquity (6)

Answer: OLDISH (i.e. “of some antiquity”). Solution is OL (i.e. “cover for Oriental”, i.e. the first and last letters of the word “Oriental”) followed by DISH (i.e. “bowl”).

56. Top working girl in bodyguard benefits initially (4,6)

Answer: HEAD STARTS (i.e. “benefits initially”). Solution is HEAD (i.e. “top”) followed by TART (i.e. “working girl”) placed in SS (i.e. “bodyguards” – SS was short for Schutzstaffel, which translated to “protection department”), like so: HEAD-S(TART)S.

57. Son in confinement lashed out (5)

Answer: SPENT (i.e. “lashed out”, to spend extravagantly). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) followed by PENT (i.e. “in confinement”).

Down clues

1. Resistance from foreign noble deprived of his own? (6)

Answer: MAQUIS, French guerrilla resistance forces operating during the Second World War. Solution is MARQUIS (i.e. “noble”) with R removed (i.e. “deprived of his own” – R is a recognised abbreviation of several titles within the nobility, such as Rex (king) or Regina (queen)).

2. Wilde resorted to this club after eventful year (8,5)

Answer: DRAMATIC IRONY, a situation in a play in which the irony is evident to the audience but not the characters, (i.e. “(Oscar) Wilde resorted to this”). Solution is IRON (i.e. “club”, as in golf) preceded by (i.e. “after”) DRAMATIC (i.e. “eventful”) and proceeded by Y (a recognised abbreviation of “year”), like so: DRAMATIC IRON-Y.

3. Fine provincial force once set up court abroad (5)

Answer: CURIA, which is the court of the papal see (i.e. “court abroad”). No, me neither. Solution is AI (i.e. “fine” – a play on the 1 of “A1” looking like an I) followed by RUC (i.e. “provincial force once”, specifically the former Royal Ulster Constabulary), and the whole lot then reversed (indicated by “set up”), like so: CUR-IA. This was the other clue that took me for-faffing-ever to solve, chiefly because all I had to go on was C_R__, the last letter being snared up in 16a’s I_/A/___E, which I was also struggling with. This almost reduced the C section of my Chambers to tatters!

4. Politician needs support of course within global alliance – plenty given (7)

Answer: UMPTEEN (i.e. “plenty”). Solution is MP (i.e. “politician”) followed by TEE (i.e. “support” for a golf ball) and the whole wrapped “within” UN (i.e. “global alliance”, specifically the United Nations), like so: U(MP-TEE)N.

5. Drink, getting into gear before lecture? (8,4)

Answer: DRESSING DOWN (i.e. “lecture”). Solution is DOWN (i.e. “drink”) with DRESSING (i.e. “getting into gear”) placed “before” it.

6. One sorcerer with scarlet cloak portrayed again (8)

Answer: REIMAGED (i.e. “portrayed again”). Solution is I MAGE (i.e. “one sorcerer”, with 1 made to look like an “I”) placed in (i.e. cloaked in) RED (i.e. “scarlet”), like so: RE(I-MAGE)D.

7. Pinch mistress’s bottom in gallery (5)

Answer: TASTE (i.e. a “pinch”). Solution is S (i.e. “mistress’s bottom”, i.e. the last letter of the word “mistress”) placed in TATE (i.e. “gallery”) like so: TA(S)TE.

8. A top-of-range gadget for boxer’s trainer, perhaps (3-7)

Answer: DOG-WHISTLE, which is a high-frequency whistle inaudible to the human ear and is used in dog-training.

10. Run in to rouse support for equestrian (7)

Answer: STIRRUP, a support for a horse-rider’s foot (i.e. “support for equestrian”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation for “run” used in a number of sports) placed in STIR UP (i.e. “to rouse support”), like so: STIR(R)UP.

11. Oppressive form of greeting rebounded on Scot? (9)

Answer: DRACONIAN (i.e. “oppressive”). Solution is CARD (i.e. “form of greeting”) reversed (indicated by “rebounded”) and followed by ON IAN (i.e. “on Scot” – setters do like using Scot to represent IAN in their clues – all the Scottish “Ians” I’ve known spelled their name “Iain”), like so: DRAC-ON-IAN.

12. Ruined city’s favourite artist (5)

Answer: PETRA, an ancient Jordanian city that was largely ruined by a fourth-century earthquake. Think of that place at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There you go. Anyway, the solution is PET (i.e. “favourite”) followed by RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically the Royal Academy of Arts).

13. Stormy petrels in Times account may attract it (6,8)

Answer: SIMPLE INTEREST, which is interest calculated on the capital only (i.e. “account may attract it”). “Stormy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PETRELS IN TIMES.

20. Liquid (black) in small vault whence pong emanates (5,4)

Answer: STINK BOMB (i.e. “from whence pong emanates”). Solution is INK (i.e. “liquid”) followed by B (a recognised abbreviation for “black” used in chess). This is then inserted into S (a recognised abbreviation for “small”) and TOMB (i.e. “vault”), like so: S-T(INK-B)OMB.

21. Can’t grasp what happens during fall (6,2)

Answer: LEAVES GO. Solution satisfies both “can’t grasp” and “what happens during fall” (i.e. autumn).

23. Bird we’re told put six feet under bush (10)

Answer: GOOSEBERRY (i.e. “bush”). Solution is GOOSE (i.e. “bird”) and BERRY (i.e. “we’re told” – indicates homophone – “put six feet under” i.e. bury).

24. Recidivist bets on queen wearing hat (10)

Answer: BACKSLIDER, which is someone who slips back in their faith, morals or work (i.e. “recidivist”). Solution is BACKS (i.e. “bets”) followed by LID and ER (i.e. “queen” – ER, short for Elizabeth Regina – “wearing hat” – i.e. preceded by LID), like so: BACKS-LID-ER.

26. Note: United explicit about player making a pile (7,7)

Answer: NUCLEAR REACTOR, which is sometimes referred to as a “pile”, a term originating from the graphite blocks used in part of its construction. Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “note”) followed by U (a recognised abbreviation of “united”), then CLEAR (i.e. “explicit”), then RE (i.e. “about”) and finally ACTOR (i.e. “player”).

28. One detective force intercepts sovereign trying to kill his relative? (9)

Answer: REGICIDAL, regarding the act of killing a king. Solution is I (i.e. “one”) followed by CID (i.e. “detective force”, specifically the Criminal Investigation Department). This is then placed in REGAL (i.e. “sovereign”), like so: REG(I-CID)AL.

29. Stimulant mostly taken after capital pasta (8)

Answer: RIGATONI (i.e. “pasta”). Solution is RIGA (i.e. “capital”, specifically the capital city of Latvia), followed by TONI (i.e. “stimulant mostly”, i.e. the word “tonic” with the final letter removed).

33. Moving ceremony to celebrate engagement (6,7)

Answer: ACTIVE SERVICE (i.e. “engagement”). Solution is ACTIVE (i.e. “moving”) followed by SERVICE (i.e. “ceremony to celebrate”).

34. Spooner’s assessing safe charging point for motorist (7,5)

Answer: PARKING METER (i.e. “charging point for motorist”). Solution is a Spoonerism of MARKING (i.e. “assessing”) and PETER (a slang word for a “safe”).

38. Canny, by the way? (10)

Answer: STREETWISE. Solution satisfies both “canny” and “by the way” (“way” being another word for “street”, so “by the way” is another way of saying “by the street”, or “street-wise”).

40. Mincing man with poodle ridiculed (9)

Answer: LAMPOONED (i.e. “ridiculed”). “Mincing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MAN and POODLE.

42. Spades and fork, rough but penetrating (8)

Answer: STRIDENT, which is of a voice that is loud and grating (i.e. “rough but penetrating”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “spades” in cards) followed by TRIDENT (i.e. “fork”).

44. Even dons like exams (1,6)

Answer: A LEVELS, (i.e. “exams”). Solution is LEVEL (i.e. “even”) wrapped in (i.e. “dons”) AS (i.e. “like”), like so: A-(LEVEL)S.

46. Drive times up, unfortunately (7)

Answer: IMPETUS (i.e. “drive”). “Unfortunately” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TIMES UP.

47. Cavalier almost impaling himself, in brief (6)

Answer: KNIGHT (i.e. “cavalier”). Solution is NIGH (i.e. “almost”) placed in KT (a recognised abbreviation of “knight”, i.e. “impaling himself, in brief”), like so: K(NIGH)T.

48. Writer rejected one indoor game for another (5)

Answer: BINGO (i.e. “indoor game”). Solution is NIB (i.e. “writer”) reversed (i.e. “rejected”) and then followed by GO (another “indoor game”), like so: BIN-GO.

50. Juvenile journalist particularly cut up (5)

Answer: CUBED (i.e. “particularly cut up”). Solution is CUB (i.e. “juvenile”) followed by ED (i.e. “journalist”).

52. Red Guard primarily holds sway, having ousted leader (5)

Answer: GULES, which is the heraldic colour “red”. Solution is G (i.e. “Guard primarily”, i.e. the first letter of the word “guard”) followed by ULES (i.e. “holds sway, having ousted leader”, i.e. the word “rules” with the first letter removed), like so: G-ULES.

So there you have it. I have a feeling I’ll see the words “margrave” and “curia” popping up all over my reading during the next couple of months. It’s weird how that sometimes happens.

Till next time.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1353

Here’s this week’s Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword for any crossword nuts out there, along with explanations of my solutions. This was a noticeably easier puzzle than the previous few. It’s either that or I’ve found a setter I’m in tune with. This sometimes happened when I used to do The Guardian cryptic crossword during lunch breaks, back when I used to have such things as lunch breaks. Some setters’ puzzles I could do in the space of three cigarettes, back when I used to smoke such things as cigarettes. The fondly-remembered Araucaria, however, was a setter who would stump me every time – I’d be lucky to solve more than a handful of his clues. The Times don’t seem to credit their setters, which is a shame.

Anyway, enough misty-eyed blathering. Herewith my solution.

Across clues

1. Smash-hit person who sells more albums than anyone else, say? (6-7)

Answer: RECORD-BREAKER. As you can see, the solution satisfies the hints in the clue.

8. Withdraws bad marks (9)

Answer: SCRATCHES. Solution satisfies both “withdraws” and “bad marks”.

13. Flap, being emotional in extremis after drink (5)

Answer: LAPEL (i.e. “flap”). Solution is EL (i.e. “emotional in extremis”, i.e. the first and last letters – the extremes – of the word “emotional”) preceded by (i.e. “after”) LAP (i.e. “drink”), like so: LAP-EL.

14. Men going round part of church taking time, as one might normally expect (2,7)

Answer: ON AVERAGE (i.e. “as one might normally expect”). Solution is OR (i.e. “men”, specifically “other ranks” in the military… I can hear the internet sharpening their knives already) surrounding (i.e. “going round”) NAVE (i.e. “part of church”), then followed by (i.e. “taking”) AGE (i.e. “time”), like so: O(NAVE)R-AGE.

15. Order the whole lot to go to battle site (7)

Answer: SUMMONS (i.e. “order”). Solution is SUM (i.e. “the whole lot”) followed by MONS (i.e. “battle site” – The Battle of Mons was an early battle of the First World War)

16. Club prices to change – it’s an element of economic management (6,6)

Answer: PUBLIC SECTOR (i.e. “an element of economic management”). “Change” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CLUB PRICES TO.

17. Goods in cube, wrapped in cheap paper, in iron case (10)

Answer: FREIGHTAGE (i.e. “goods”). Solution is EIGHT (i.e. “cube”, i.e. a cube number, in this case 2 x 2 x 2 = 8) surrounded by (i.e. “wrapped in”) RAG (i.e. “cheap paper”, as in a cheap newspaper) which is itself surrounded by FE (i.e. “in iron case”, Fe is the chemical symbol of iron), like so: F(R(EIGHT)AG)E. A valid, albeit slightly overengineered clue.

18. Fire ultimately provided in one prison when it’s very cold (3,3)

Answer: ICE AGE (i.e. “when it’s very cold”). Solution is E (i.e. “fire ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of the word “fire”) placed in (i.e. “provided in”) I CAGE (i.e. “one prison”) like so: IC(E)AGE.

19. After prayer, maybe render hymn that’s well liked (8)

Answer: PLEASING (i.e. “well liked”). Solution is PLEA (i.e. “prayer”) followed by SING (i.e. “render hymn” – I guess not many words ended with “hum-hum-hum” or “stare at the stained glass windows”).

21. Not connected to e.g. Oxford? (6)

Answer: UNSHOD. The solution hangs on Oxford being a type of shoe, and so to not be connected to an Oxford is to be “unshod”.

24. Audacity? It is, briefly, to nick vehicle for jaunts (10)

Answer: GALLIVANTS (i.e. “jaunts”). Solution is GALL (i.e. “audacity”) followed by IT’S (i.e. “it is, briefly”) wrapped around (i.e. “to nick”) VAN (i.e. “vehicle”), like so: GALL-I(VAN)TS.

26. Fanciful description of Ramanujan is unexpected period of flourishing (6,6)

Answer: INDIAN SUMMER. Solution satisfies both “Fanciful description of Ramanujan” and “unexpected period of flourishing”. Srinivasa Ramanujan was an Indian mathematician who lived during the British Rule of India, making him an “Indian summer”. I’ve only just looked that up, and I admit it made me smile. I thought my puns were bad.

29. Benefit through work finally (4)

Answer: PERK (i.e. “benefit”). Solution is PER (i.e. “through”) followed by K (i.e. “work finally”, i.e. the last letter of the word “work”).

30. One paid to get channels for items to be sold? (8)

Answer: PRODUCTS (i.e. “items to be sold”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “one paid”) followed by DUCTS (i.e. “channels”). For some reason, despite having the letters P_O_U_T_, it took me longer to figure this one out than most of the other clues.

31. A steerer out of control, someone grabbed by the cops? (8)

Answer: ARRESTEE (i.e. “someone grabbed by the cops”). “Out of control” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A STEERER.

34. Mischievous like Conservative in political gathering? (8)

Answer: RASCALLY (i.e. “mischievous”). Solution is AS C (i.e. “like Conservative” – C is a recognised abbreviation of the Conservative Party) slotted in RALLY (i.e. “political gathering”) like so: R(AS-C)ALLY. Only when typing this blog did I realise my first attempt, “rascable” was not only incorrect, but it wasn’t even a word. No wonder I couldn’t get the clue to fit!)

35. Nothing right in the country? That’s one sort of view? (8)

Answer: PANORAMA (i.e. “one sort of view”). Solution is O R (i.e. “nothing right”) slotted into PANAMA (i.e. “country”), like so: PAN(O-R)AMA.

36. Seen among them, utter idiot (4)

Answer: MUTT. “Seen among” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, i.e. THE(M UTT)ER.

39. Travel unresolved – get agitated? (2,2,2,3,3)

Answer: GO UP IN THE AIR. Solution satisfies both “travel unresolved” (i.e. “travel” – GO – followed by “unresolved” – UP IN THE AIR) and “get agitated”.

40. Cover protecting the female after protest is broken up (10)

Answer: DEMOLISHED (i.e. “broken up”). Solution is LID (i.e. “cover”) surrounding (i.e. “protecting”) SHE (i.e. “the female”) and preceded by (indicated by “after”) DEMO (i.e. “protest”), like so: DEMO-LI(SHE)D.

43. Group for the favoured few that may be a pest (6)

Answer: INSECT (i.e. “that may be a pest”). Solution is IN-SECT (i.e. “group for the favoured few”, which is riffing on the term “in-crowd”).

44. Anger facing blokes in television that’s about financial transaction (8)

Answer: VIREMENT, which is an accountancy term meaning an “authorised transference of a surplus to balance a deficit under another heading”. Don’t say I never learn you nuffink. Solution is IRE (i.e. “anger”) followed by (i.e. “facing”) MEN (i.e. “blokes”) surrounded by VT (i.e. “television that’s about”, i.e. the abbreviation TV reversed), like so: V(IRE-MEN)T.

45. Figures protecting university’s prestige (6)

Answer: STATUS (i.e. “prestige”). Solution is STATS (i.e. “figures”) wrapped around (i.e. “protecting”) U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) like so: STAT(U)S.

49. A city endlessly lauded sadly filled with bitterness (10)

Answer: ACIDULATED (i.e. “filled with bitterness” – this seems a little at odds with my Chambers, which suggests the word means “to make slightly acid”.) “Sadly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A, CIT (i.e. “city endlessly”, i.e. the word “city” with the last letter removed) and LAUDED.

51. Eat these – gain energy attending functions (12)

Answer: PROFITEROLES (i.e. “eat these”, indicating food). Solution is PROFIT (i.e. “gain”) followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) and ROLES (i.e. “functions”).

53. Full of endless craving, I was first to be exploited (3-4)

Answer: ILL-USED (i.e. “exploited”). Solution is I LED (i.e. “I was first”) wrapped around (i.e. “full of”) LUS (i.e. “endless craving”, i.e. the word “lust” with the last letter removed), like so: IL(LUS)ED.

54. Performance has elegance, we hear – one will get folk into an arena (9)

Answer: TURNSTILE (i.e. “one will get folk into an arena”). Solution is TURN (i.e. “performance”) followed by STILE (i.e. “elegance, we hear”, i.e. a homophone of “style”).

55. A community in Herts is well-informed (5)

Answer: AWARE (i.e. “well-informed”). Solution is A followed by WARE (i.e. “community in Herts”, the town of Ware is located in Hertfordshire).

56. Trade union woman, leader of Left, dealing with figures (9)

Answer: NUMERICAL (i.e. “dealing with figures”). Solution is NUM (i.e. “trade union” – specifically the National Union of Mineworkers, which is still a thing if in vastly reduced form) followed by ERICA (i.e. “woman”) and L (i.e. “leader of Left”, i.e. the first letter of “Left”).

57. Lack of elegance that is evident when no thanks are offered for meal? (13)

Answer: GRACELESSNESS. Solution satisfies both “lack of elegance” and “that is evident when no thanks…” – i.e. no saying of grace – “…are offered for meal”.

Down clues

1. Having less colour coming up, grass is getting worse (9)

Answer: RELAPSING (i.e. “is getting worse”). Solution is RELAP (i.e. “having less colour coming up”, i.e. the word PALER reversed) followed by SING (i.e. “grass”, as in to grass someone up).

2. Accomplished office assistant housed in tower (7)

Answer: CAPABLE (i.e. “accomplished”). Solution is PA (i.e. “office assistant”, i.e. a personal assistant) placed in (i.e. “housed in”) CABLE (i.e. “tower”), like so: CA(PA)BLE. I’m not 100% about this one as I cannot see how a tower can be a cable or vice versa.

3. One helps cook stretch out part of the food supply (7, 3)

Answer: ROLLING PIN. Solution satisfies both “one helps cook stretch out” and “part of the food supply”. I’m guessing the latter means a rolling pin on a conveyor belt.

4. Black parasite found in garment (6)

Answer: BLOUSE (i.e. “garment”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “black” used in chess) followed by LOUSE (i.e. “parasite”).

5. I’m one captain at sea – some hope for the slaves! (12)

Answer: EMANCIPATION, the act of setting free from restraint, i.e. “some hope for the slaves”. “At sea” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I’M ONE CAPTAIN.

6. University maiden may be sounding faint (4,4)

Answer: KEEL OVER (i.e. “faint”). Solution is KEEL (i.e. “university…may be sounding”, i.e. a homophone of Keele University in Staffordshire) followed by OVER (i.e. “maiden” – a maiden over in cricket is one where the batting team scores no runs).

7. Old coin not counterfeit (4)

Answer: REAL. Solution satisfies both “old coin” (a real was an old Spanish coin) and “not counterfeit”).

8. Formally admitting wickedness, inwardly sporting (8,2)

Answer: SWEARING IN (i.e. “formally admitting”). Solution is SIN (i.e. “wickedness”) with WEARING (i.e. “sporting”) placed inside (i.e. “inwardly”), like so: S(WEARING)IN.

9. Country game needing short pole (6)

Answer: RUSTIC (i.e. “country”). Solution is RU (i.e. “game”, specifically Rugby Union) followed by STIC (i.e. “short pole”, i.e. the word “stick” with the final letter removed). This was the last clue I solved, and for a while I was teetering between “rustic” and “Russia” as both fitted the given letters and “country”. It only clicked when I finally figured out what “RU” stood for.

10. US magazine given award in accordance with well-established tradition (4-8)

Answer: TIME-HONOURED (i.e. “in accordance with well-established tradition”). Solution is TIME (i.e. “US magazine”) followed by HONOURED (i.e. “given award”).

11. One house and another being erected – a commotion (3-2)

Answer: HOO-HA (i.e. “commotion”). Solution is HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”) followed by OH (i.e. “and another [house] being erected”, i.e. HO reversed) and A, like so: HO-OH-A.

12. Let Ben dress up unconventionally – wearing this, in drag? (9,4)

Answer: SUSPENDER BELT, an item of clothing a person in drag might wear. “Unconventionally” indicates anagram. Solution is a neat anagram of LET BEN DRESS UP.

20. Contains nuts, OK?

Answer: SANCTION (i.e. to “OK”). “Nuts” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CONTAINS.

22. Passionate woman grabs this person to present unpalatable fact (4,5)

Answer: HOME TRUTH (i.e. “unpalatable fact”). Solution is ME (i.e. “this person”) wrapped in (inferred by “grabs”) HOT RUTH (i.e. “passionate woman”), like so: HO(ME)T-RUTH.

23. Hotel obstruction after pop politician presents brochure (8)

Answer: PAMPHLET (i.e. “brochure”). Solution is H (i.e. “hotel”, which is the letter H in the phonetic alphabet) and LET (an archaic word for “obstruction”) preceded by (i.e. “after”) PA (i.e. “pop”, both terms for “father”) and MP (i.e. “politician”), like so: PA-MP-H-LET.

25. Incentive to delve into birds and plants (9)

Answer: LARKSPURS (i.e. “plants”). Solution is SPUR (i.e. “incentive”) placed in (i.e. “to delve into”) LARKS (i.e. “birds”), like so: LARK(SPUR)S.

27. Reporter Rex rushed up a hill (8)

Answer: NARRATOR (i.e. “reporter”). Solution is R (i.e. “Rex”, another word for king, abbreviated) and RAN (i.e. “rushed”) reversed (indicated by “up”) and then followed by A TOR (i.e. “a hill”), like so: NAR-R-A-TOR.

28. Escape from trouble? One man up for breaking law (3,1,4)

Answer: RUN A MILE (i.e. “escape from trouble”). Solution is I MAN (i.e. “one man”) reversed (indicated by “up”) and placed in (i.e. “breaking”) RULE (i.e. “law”), like so: RU(NAM-I)LE.

29. Wandering of person half lost, say, traveller finally joining one country (13)

Answer: PEREGRINATION (i.e. “wandering”). Word of the week for me, and one where I got the solution some significant time before I got the wordplay that led to it. Here goes! Solution is PER (i.e. “person half lost”, i.e. the word “person” with the latter half removed) followed by EG (i.e. “say”, i.e. “for example”), then R (i.e. “traveller finally”, i.e. the last letter of “traveller”) and then I NATION (i.e. “one country”), like so: PER-EG-R-I-NATION. Phew!

32. Manoeuvring bear in circus – a sort of craft (5,7)

Answer: CABIN CRUISER (i.e. “a sort of craft”). “Manoeuvring” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BEAR IN CIRCUS.

33. Government bureau not working, restricted by obvious formality (6,6)

Answer: PATENT OFFICE (i.e. “government bureau”). Solution is OFF (i.e. “not working”) placed in (i.e. “restricted by”) PATENT (i.e. “obvious”) and ICE (i.e. “formality”, i.e. a coldness of manner), like so: PATENT(OFF)ICE.

37. King, say, one mad about fighting unit (10)

Answer: REGIMENTAL (i.e. “about fighting unit”). Solution is R (i.e. “king” – another word for king, as noted earlier, is “Rex”, which can be abbreviated to “R”) followed by EG (i.e. “say”, i.e. “for example”) then I (i.e. “one”) and MENTAL (i.e. “mad”).

38. Past masters? (10)

Answer: HISTORIANS. Solution satisfies the hint dropped in the clue, i.e. people who are rather knowledgeable about the past.

41. Terrible mishaps when rubbish is dumped on plants (9)

Answer: DISASTERS (i.e. “terrible mishaps”). Solution is DIS (i.e. to “rubbish” something – both “dis” and “diss” are recognised words meaning to disrespect or to treat with contempt) followed by (i.e. “dumped on”) ASTERS (i.e. “plants”).

42. Mostly modern dance music gathers support in part of America (8)

Answer: NEBRASKA (i.e. “part of America”). Solution is NE (i.e. “mostly modern”, i.e. the word “new” with the last letter removed) and SKA (i.e. “dance music”) with BRA (i.e. “support”) in between (indicated by “gathers”), like so: NE(BRA)SKA.

46. Work on the land as prisoner wearing hat (7)

Answer: TILLAGE (i.e. “work on the land”). Solution is LAG (i.e. “prisoner”) surrounded by (i.e. “wearing”) TILE (i.e. “hat” – a tile is a slang word for a hat – not one I am familiar with, I would add), like so: TIL(LAG)E.

47. Poet’s pub – order outsiders to leave (6)

Answer: BARDIC, another word for a poetaster, or a petty “poet”. Solution is BAR (i.e. “pub”) followed by DIC (i.e. “order outsiders to leave”, i.e. the word “edict” with the first and last letters removed.)

48. Chemical drug followed by the same again (6)

Answer: ETHENE (i.e. “chemical”). Solution is E-THEN-E… E being an abbreviation of the drug “Ecstasy”, THEN the same again, E.

50. Form of belief conveyed by rabbi’s lamentation (5)

Answer: ISLAM (i.e. “form of belief”). “Conveyed by” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: RABB(I’S LAM)ENTATION.

52. Vessel burning with characters regularly escaping (4)

Answer: BRIG, a two-masted “vessel”. Solution is derived by removing regular letters from the word “burning” like so: BURNING.

Right, that’s all for now. And, yes, I know, I really, really, really should be writing.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1352

Following last week’s post, here’s my completed grid for this week’s Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword, along with explanations for the solutions where I have them. As ever with these things there were a few WTF solutions in there and a couple of clues that still leave me scratching my head, but overall this was easier than last week’s puzzle. At least it didn’t keep me up until 1am trying to solve it. And to think there are crossword kings and queens out there who can crack these things in an hour or two. Sheesh!


Across clues

1. Unfunny art park regularly shows something outstanding in white (7)

Answer: NUNATAK, a point of rock appearing above a surface of land ice, (i.e. “something outstanding in white”). If you ever needed proof that everything has to have a name, there it is. Solution is derived by removing every other letter (i.e. “regularly”) from UNFUNNY ART PACK.

5. Father’s returned with little desire for food? (8)

Answer: APPETITE (i.e. “desire for food”). Solution is AP (i.e. “father’s returned”, i.e. “pa” reversed) followed by PETITE (i.e. “little”).

9. Chap has shortly to cut weight (6)

Answer: GRAHAM, (i.e. “chap”). Solution is HA (i.e. “has shortly”, i.e. the word “has” with the last letter removed) inserted into (inferred by “to cut”) GRAM (i.e. “weight”), like so: GRA(HA)M. As noted in last week’s post, I’m never keen when the setter has to rely on given names to get the job done. It’s even worse when the entire solution is a given name.

13. Physics device compresses matter in a strange way (4, 13)

Answer: MASS SPECTROMETER (i.e. “physics device”). “In a strange way” indicates an anagram. Solution is rather a neat anagram of COMPRESSES MATTER.

14. Woody material needs straightening with edges removed (6)

Answer: LIGNIN, “a complicated mixture of substances deposited in the thickened cell walls of plants, making them rigid”, i.e. (“woody material”). So another everyday word then! The solution is ALIGNING (i.e. “straightening”) with the first and last letters removed (i.e. “with edges removed”). Needless to say this is one of those solutions I got from the wordplay rather than a deep knowledge of… er… “woody material”.

16. Dutiful round patient’s place in hospital that is not empty (8)

Answer: OBEDIENT (i.e. “dutiful”). Solution is O (i.e. “round”) followed by BED (i.e. “patient’s place in hospital”) then IE (i.e. “that is”) and finally NT (i.e. “not empty”, i.e. the word “not” with its middle letter removed).

17. An objection over a large orchestral piece? (4)

Answer: TUBA (i.e. “large orchestral piece”). Solution is A BUT (i.e. “an objection”) reversed (inferred by “over”).

18. I flirt awfully after tea – something that could get one suspended? (9)

Answer: CHAIRLIFT (i.e. “something that could get one suspended”). Solution is IRLIFT (an anagram of I FLIRT, as indicated by “awfully”) preceded by (inferred by “after”) CHA (i.e. “tea”).

20. Form of soya planted in river that’s no longer running? (3, 2, 3)

Answer: OUT OF USE (i.e. “no longer running”). Solution is TOFU (i.e. “form of soya”) inserted into (i.e. “planted in”) OUSE (i.e. “river” – the River Ouse in North Yorkshire), like so: OU(TOFU)SE.

21. Public speaker, warm and adept (11)

Answer: TOASTMASTER (i.e. “public speaker”). Solution is TOAST (i.e. “warm”, as in “as warm as toast”) followed by MASTER (i.e. “adept”).

24. Not giving in, city guards survive one (9)

Answer: INELASTIC (i.e. “not giving”). Not entirely sure about the solution for this one, but I reckon it’s IN (as in the “in” in the clue, if you get what I mean) followed by the letters EC (i.e. “city” – though quite which city I couldn’t say) wrapped around (inferred by “guards”) LAST (i.e. “survive”) and I (i.e. “one”), like so: IN-E(LAST-I)C.

25. Taking on a lecturer without work – half time (8)

Answer: ADOPTION (i.e. “take on”). Solution is A DON (i.e. “a lecturer”) wrapped around (inferred by “without”) OP (i.e. “work” – “op” being a recognised abbreviation for operator or operation) and TI (i.e. “half time”, i.e. the first half of the word “time”), like so: AD(OP-TI)ON.

26. Crack bringing head of safety into aircraft (4)

Answer: JEST (i.e. “crack”, as in a wisecrack). Solution is S (i.e. “head of safety”, i.e. the first letter of “safety”) placed into JET (i.e. “aircraft”), like so: JE(S)T.

29. Philharmonic took in composer audibly a lover of French timbres? (11)

Answer: PHILATELIST, a stamp collector. Solution satisfies the wordplay in both “Philharmonic took in composer” and “a lover of French timbres”. Regarding the former, the solution reads PHIL-ATE-LIST, i.e. Phil (short for “Philharmonic”) ate (i.e. “took in”) list (i.e. a homophone (inferred by “audibly”) of composer Franz Liszt’s surname). Regarding the latter, the French for stamp is “timbre”, so solution is a lover of stamps.

31. Notes country is keeping one Conservative and tame (11)

Answer: DOMESTICATE (i.e. to “tame”). Solution is DO and ME (i.e. “notes”, taken from the do-re-me-fa-so-la-te scale – your spellings may vary from those of the setter!) followed by STATE (i.e. “country”) wrapped around (inferred by “keeping”) I (i.e. “one”) and C (i.e. “Conservative”, C being a recognised abbreviation of the Conservative Party), like so: DO-ME-ST(I-C)ATE.

33. Get annoyed with aim for decoration (11)

Answer: NEEDLEPOINT (i.e. “decoration”). Solution is NEEDLE (i.e. “get annoyed”) followed by POINT (i.e. “aim”).

36. Leave – it holds wild panic for one who’s involved (11)

Answer: PARTICIPANT (i.e. “one who’s involved”). Solution is PART (i.e. “leave”) followed by IT wrapped around an anagram of PANIC (i.e. “it holds wild panic”), like so: PART-I(CIPAN)T.

38. Twisting old street in Paris – and what one needs to buy there (4)

Answer: EURO, the currency used in France. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “twisting”) of O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and RUE (i.e. “street in Paris” – the French for street is “rue”).

39. Overstep the mark and move twelve inches back, right? (2, 3, 3)

Answer: GO TOO FAR (i.e. “overstep the mark”). Solution is GO (i.e. “move”) followed by TOOFA (i.e. “twelve inches back”, i.e. the letters of “a foot” reversed) and then R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: GO-TOOFA-R.

41. American male working where ships unload in remote country (9)

Answer: BOONDOCKS, a slang North American term describing wild or remote country. Solution is BO (i.e. “American male”, “bo” being an American slang word for a man) followed by ON (i.e. “working”) and DOCKS (i.e. “where ships unload”).

44. Sportsman leapt the net excitedly (11)

Answer: PENTATHLETE (i.e. “sportsman”). “Excitedly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LEAPT THE NET.

45. Memorise poem for discussion (8)

Answer: CONVERSE (i.e. “discussion”). Solution is CON (an archaic word meaning “study”) followed by VERSE (i.e. “poem”).

48. Crossing a line in pursuit of writer of farces (9)

Answer: TRAVERSAL (i.e. “crossing”). Solution is A and L (i.e. “a line”, “l” being a recognised abbreviation of “line”) following (i.e. “in pursuit of”) TRAVERS (i.e. “writer of farces”, specifically Ben Travers).

49. Word no peacekeepers needed (4)

Answer: NOUN, a naming “word”. Solution is NO and UN (i.e. “peacekeepers”, i.e. the United Nations). Tsk. It seems there’s nothing the Russians won’t hack these days.

50. Heaven is being trapped in a row of shops (8)

Answer: PARADISE (i.e. “heaven”). Solution is IS inserted into PARADE (i.e. “is being trapped in a row of shops”), like so: PARAD(IS)E.

52. A bachelor told to go away (6)

Answer: ABSENT (i.e. “away”). Solution is A and B (i.e. “a bachelor”, “B” being a recognised abbreviation of bachelor) followed by SENT (i.e. “told to go”).

53. I sing idiot patter, arranging conjuring tricks (16)

Answer: PRESTIDIGITATION, a sleight of hand (i.e. “conjuring tricks”). “Arranging” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of I SING IDIOT PATTER. I had to dig the Chambers out for this one, though I suspected it would start with something like “prestige” thanks to the Christopher Priest novel. A great word!

54. Worker in house or outbuilding (4-2)

Answer: LEAN-TO, a shed or suchlike propped up against the side of a property (i.e. “outbuilding”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “worker”, as in a worker ant) surrounded by LEO (i.e. “house”, i.e. a division of the horoscope more often called a sign), like so: LE(ANT)O.

55. Old soldier about to finish Territorial Army feud (8)

Answer: VENDETTA (i.e. “feud”). Solution is VET (i.e. “old soldier”, short for “veteran”) wrapped around (indicated by “about”) END (i.e. “to finish”) and then followed by TA (i.e. “Territorial Army”), like so: V(END)ET-TA.

56. Colour of a red elm when worked (7)

Answer: EMERALD (i.e. “colour”). “When worked” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A RED ELM.

Down clues

1. Some variation, perhaps, in bedroom – both upside down? (6)

Answer: NIMROD, specifically Variation IX of Elgar’s Enigma Variations. You’ll know it when you hear it. Solution is a reversal of both IN and DORM (i.e. “in bedroom”) as indicated by “both upside down”.

2. New monster turned up, killing English military designer (6)

Answer: Major Peter Norman NISSEN, who invented prefabricated huts of corrugated steel (i.e. “military designer”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviated form of “new”) followed by ISSEN (i.e. “monster” – Nessie – “turned up” – i.e. reversed – “killing English” – i.e. remove end “E”).

3. A routine gets to be fixed over singer’s vocal range (9)

Answer: TESSITURA (i.e. “singer’s vocal range”). This was another solution I got from the wordplay rather than actually knowing the word. Solution is A RUT (i.e. “a routine”) followed by IS SET (i.e. “to be fixed”) and the whole lot then reversed (indicated by “over”).

4. Unfortunately it’ll betoken a four-dimensional concept (5, 6)

Answer: KLEIN BOTTLE (i.e. “a four-dimensional concept” – trust me, it is). “Unfortunately” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IT’LL BETOKEN.

5. Singer taking part in abysmal Tosca (4)

Answer: ALTO, a high falsetto male voice (i.e. “singer”). “Taking part in” suggests the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: ABYSM(AL TO)SCA.

6. Sticking out in favour of underground rave (11)

Answer: PROTUBERANT (i.e. “sticking out”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “in favour of”) followed by TUBE (i.e. “underground”, specifically the London Underground rail network) and RANT (i.e. “rave”).

7. Final statement is exam – at least as far as these clues go? (3, 4, 4)

Answer: THE LAST WORD (i.e. “final statement”). As for the rest of the clue, I haven’t the foggiest idea what the setter is going on about! Anyone?

8. Cutting song after resistance during number (9)

Answer: TRENCHANT (i.e. “cutting”). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation for electrical resistance) with TEN wrapped around it (i.e. “during number”) and followed by CHANT (i.e. “song”), like so: T(R)EN-CHANT.

10. American line is to complain bitterly with Republican over a Democrat (8)

Answer: RAILROAD (i.e. “American line”). Solution is RAIL (i.e. “to complain bitterly”) followed by recognised abbreviations of the remaining words, i.e. “Republican Over A Democrat”.

11. Be uncertain with short tapestry on a zodiac subject (4, 2, 3, 7)

Answer: HANG IN THE BALANCE (i.e. “Be uncertain”). Solution is HANGIN (i.e. “short tapestry”, i.e. the word “hanging” with the final letter removed) followed by THE BALANCE (i.e. “a zodiac subject”, specifically Libra, the scales).

12. Check up on men having second egg to begin with (7)

Answer: MONITOR (i.e. “check”). This is another clue that has me shrugging my shoulders. I’m guessing that “men having second egg” means replacing the second letter of “men” with an O, but, frankly, after that the setter has lost me.

15. Careful with parking for university being critical (8)

Answer: CAPTIOUS (i.e. “being critical”). Solution is CAUTIOUS (i.e. “careful”) with U (for “university”) replaced by P (for “parking”).

19. Vegetable with unknown feature put in dutchie regularly (8)

Answer: ZUCCHINI, a courgette (i.e. “vegetable”). Solution is Z (i.e. “unknown” – the letters X, Y, and Z are often referred to as “unknown” in clues) followed by CHIN (i.e. “feature”) placed in UCI (i.e. “dutchie regularly”, i.e. every other letter of DUTCHIE), like so: Z-UC(CHIN)I.

22. VIP’s a bit out of date? (8)

Answer: SIXPENCE. Solution satisfies the wordplay of both “VIP” and “a bit out of date”. Regarding the latter, a “bit” is another name for a coin (e.g. a “threepenny bit”), and a sixpence is a coin no longer in circulation, i.e. “a bit out of date”. As for “VIP”, it took me ages to realise the setter had used Roman numerals, i.e. VI-p => 6p => sixpence. Well played.

23. Name eater associated originally with sardine? (13, 3)

Answer: MEDITERRANEAN SEA. And so from a great clue in 22d we come to one that is somewhat woollier. “Originally” indicates an anagram. Essentially the solution is an anagram of NAME EATER and SARDINE.

27. Surprise event is had with European paper (8)

Answer: TREATISE (i.e. “paper”). Solution is TREAT (i.e. “surprise event”) followed by IS and then E (i.e. “European”).

28. Bird seen in sky, big owl? Tit? (4)

Answer: KIWI. Solution is derived from the middle letters (i.e. “seen in”) of SKY, BIG, OWL and TIT.

30. Rod has beer around ten (4)

Answer: AXLE (i.e. “rod”). Solution is ALE (i.e. “beer”) wrapped around X (i.e. “ten”), like so: A(X)LE.

32. Dying to tease in bank? (8)

Answer: MORIBUND (i.e. “dying”). Solution is RIB (i.e. “to tease”) inserted into MOUND (i.e. “bank”), like so: MO(RIB)UND.

34. Rugby player – he’s unknown to see forwards (8)

Answer: PROPHESY (i.e. “see forwards”). Solution is PROP (i.e. “rugby player”) followed by HE’S and then Y (i.e. “unknown” – as mentioned earlier, setters like to use “unknown” to represent the letters X, Y or Z).

35. Fees often do upset snobbish (6-5)

Answer: TOFFEE-NOSED (i.e. “snobbish”). “Upset” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of FEES OFTEN DO.

36. Skydiver has ruined haircut in times gone by (11)

Answer: PARACHUTIST (i.e. “skydiver”). Solution is PAST (i.e. “times gone by”) wrapped around an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of HAIRCUT like so: PA(RACHUTI)ST.

37. Not working in musical show I have to follow troupe’s lead (11)

Answer: INOPERATIVE (i.e. “not working”). Solution is IN OPERA (i.e. “in musical show”) followed by T (i.e. “troupe’s lead”, i.e. the first letter of “troupe”) and I’VE (a contraction of “I have”), like so: IN-OPERA-T-IVE.

40. Rather obese on account of swilling lager (9)

Answer: OVERLARGE (i.e. “rather obese”). Solution is OVER (i.e. “on account of”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “swilling”) of LAGER, like so: OVER-LARGE.

42. Scorn girl’s passion after a year (9)

Answer: DISPARAGE (i.e. “scorn”). This is another clue where I’m not on the same page as the setter. I’m guessing “girl’s” is DI’S, “passion” could be RAGE and PA is “a year”, as in “per annum”, but it doesn’t feel right.

43. Obscure large cask turning up for fruit (8)

Answer: HAZELNUT (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is HAZE (i.e. “obscure”) followed by both TUN (i.e. “cask”) and L (recognised abbreviation for “large”) reversed (indicated by “turning up”), like so: HAZE-L-NUT.

44. Difficulty is mine, following everything (7)

Answer: PITFALL (i.e. “difficulty”). Solution is PIT (i.e. “mine”) followed by F (recognised abbreviation of “following”) and ALL (i.e. “everything”).

46. Compound’s a mix of calcium, sulphur, lithium and iodine (6)

Answer: SILICA (i.e. “compound”). “A mix of” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of CA (chemical symbol for calcium), S (sulphur), LI (lithium) and I (iodine).

47. Wrote how sheep are sometimes treated (6)

Answer: PENNED. Solution satisfies both “wrote” and “how sheep are sometimes penned”.

51. Girl taking a university exam (4)

Answer: VIVA, a type of university exam students can take if they are on the brink of achieving a particular grade. Solution is VIV (i.e. “girl”) followed by (i.e. “taking”) A.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1351

I’m always keen to improve my vocabulary. It helps me make fewer visits to the dictionary when a writer slips a weird and wonderful word into their work, plus it helps to save me from embarrassing moments of catachresis (he says, slipping a weird and wonderful word into his work).

One way to improve one’s vocab is to indulge in word puzzles. My particular poison is the cryptic crossword. I’m as fascinated by the many weird and wonderful techniques setters use to misdirect and generally baffle their victims solvers as I am astonished by the variety and number of bizarre and seldom-used words and phrases that pepper their grids.

In recent weeks I’ve made serious attempts at completing the Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword, instead of sacking it off the moment I feel I’ve done as much as my aching brain can handle. So here’s this week’s Times Jumbo Cryptic, along with my solutions and explanations, where I have them. If you’ve ever wondered how cryptic crosswords work then perhaps this post can help. Just watch you don’t become addicted too!


Got there in the end, I think!

So here are the clues, along with my explanations of my answers:

Across clues

1. Vivacity initially held back mischief maker (6)

Answer: SPRITE, an imp or impish person (i.e. “mischief maker”). Solution is ESPRIT (another word for “vivacity”) with its initial letter E placed at the end.

5. Artist’s medium discomfort after short illness (7)

Answer: GOUACHE, an opaque watercolour-like paint (i.e. “artist’s medium”). Solution comprises GOU (“short illness”, i.e. GOUT with the final letter removed) followed by ACHE (“discomfort”).

9. Meandering soldiers put in charge (8)

Answer: INDIRECT (i.e. “meandering”). Solution is RE (“soldiers”, specifically Royal Engineers) placed in INDICT (another word for “charge”), like so: INDI(RE)CT. I spent way too long thinking “meandering” was an anagram indicator. (Shakes fist at the setter.)

13. It’s evident prison transmuted a modern criminal (4, 4, 13)

Answer: QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM, or, in English, “which was to be demonstrated”, (i.e. “it’s evident”). Solution is QUOD (another name for “prison” – no, me neither) followed by an anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of TRANSMUTEDAMODERN. One’s Chambers came in handy here.

14. Chinese finally sought after car dealer (8)

Answer: MERCHANT (i.e. “dealer”). Solution is HAN (i.e. “Chinese”) and T (i.e. the last letter of “sought”) placed after MERC (i.e. “car”), like so: MERC-HAN-T.

15. Satellite rattles when blown about (7)

Answer: TELSTAR, a satellite that was launched in the 1960s. “When blown about” indicates an anagram. Solution is anagram of RATTLES.

16. Sweet nothing with husband being ace (6)

Answer: NOUGAT (i.e. “sweet”). Solution is NOUGHT (i.e. “nothing”) with the letter H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) replaced by the letter A (“ace” as it appears on a playing card).

17. Sharp stuff from fault-finder having delayed resistance with drug (6,4)

Answer: CITRIC ACID (i.e. “sharp stuff”). Solution is CRITIC (i.e. “fault-finder”) with the letter R (a recognised abbreviation for electrical resistance) put back a few places (i.e. “having delayed resistance”), followed by ACID (i.e. “drug”).

20. Tense one working and failing (12)

Answer: IMPERFECTION (i.e. a “failing”). I can’t say for certain how the setter has arrived at this clue. I’m guessing the idea is something like “I am” (tense one) and “perfection” (working). If so, this is weak. Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s perfect. If that was the case, I’d be typing this on a Windows 1.0 PC running Netscape Navigator.

23. Evens out site of a portico (4)

Answer: STOA, an ancient Greek portico or covered colonnade. Solution is derived by taking the even letters out of SITE OF A.

24. River bird one’s seen on a ship (8)

Answer: TAFFRAIL, a rail seen around the stern of a ship. Solution is TAFF (a river in Wales) followed by RAIL (a variety of bird). This is one of those handy words I wish I’d known earlier.

26. Sacked on Thursday, was very sore? (8)

Answer: THROBBED, (i.e. “was very sore”). Solution is TH (a recognised abbreviation of “Thursday”) followed by ROBBED (i.e. “sacked”).

29. Totter up with beer, welcoming old musical style (12)

Answer: COUNTERPOINT, a melody that is added to another (i.e. “musical style”). Solution is COUNTER (i.e. “totter up”) followed by PINT (“beer”) with O (recognised abbreviation of “old”) placed inside, like so: COUNTER-P(O)INT.

30. School subject one grasped by quiet determination (12)

Answer: RESILIENCE (i.e. “determination”). Solution is RE (i.e. “school subject”, specifically Religious Education) followed by SILENCE (“quiet”) with I (“one”) placed in the middle, like so: RE-SIL(I)ENCE.

32. Man stops erring by a crude vice (10)

Answer: DEBAUCHERY (i.e. “vice”). Solution is HE (i.e. “man”) placed in the middle of (indicated by “stops”) an anagram (indicated by “erring”) of BYACRUDE, like so: DEBAUC(HE)RY.

34. Riding train, the setter’s giving nothing away (12)

Answer: INEXPRESSIVE (i.e. “giving nothing away”). Solution is IN EXPRESS (i.e. “riding train”) followed by I’VE (as in “belonging to the setter of the puzzle”).

36. Bit by bit, returned animals with good sense (8)

Answer: STEPWISE (i.e. “bit by bit”). Solution is PETS reversed (i.e. “returned animals”) followed by WISE (“good sense”), like so: STEP-WISE.

38. Referred to broadcast, ignoring one’s daughter (8)

Answer: ADVERTED (i.e. “referred to”). Solution is ADVERTISED (i.e. “broadcast”) with IS removed (i.e. “ignoring ones”), and then followed by D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”).

39. Ball and function from the right country club (4)

Answer: NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (i.e. “country club”). Solution is O (i.e. “ball”, because the letter O looks like a ball) followed by TAN (i.e. “function”, specifically tangent, a trigonometrical function). The letters are then reversed (i.e. “from the right”).

41. For high tea, do supply alcohol (4, 2, 3, 3)

Answer: HAIR OF THE DOG, which is to cure a hangover by drinking more booze. A sneaky solution this, as the anagram indicator “high” (i.e. gone off) is part of the anagram itself. Solution is an anagram of FORHIGHTEADO.

43. Fake news to support a leaderless country (10)

Answer: PROPAGANDA (i.e. “fake news”, the spreading of often false information to help bring about change). Solution is PROP (i.e. “to support”) followed by A and then GANDA (i.e. “leaderless country”, specifically UGANDA with the leading letter removed.), like so: PROP-A-GANDA. (I spent way too long thinking this was going to end in ARANCE.)

44. He won’t accept obsolete coin (6)

Answer: DENIER. Solution has a double-meaning, satisfying both “he won’t accept” (being one who denies) and “obsolete coin” (being an old small French silver coin).

46. Live in perfect tower (7)

Answer: MINARET, a mosque tower. Solution is ARE (i.e. “live”) placed in MINT (i.e. “perfect”), like so: MIN(ARE)T.

48. On the point of retirement, cut expenditure (8)

Answer: OUTGOING. Solution has a double-meaning, satisfying both “on the point of retirement” and “cut expenditure” (cut=out; going=expenditure). Expenditure is also referred to as an outgoing.

50. Very effusive towards semiotician, with hard journey nearly done (3, 4, 3, 3, 8)

Answer: ALL OVER BAR THE SHOUTING, i.e. (“nearly done”). Solution is ALL OVER (i.e. “very effuse”), followed by BARTHES (i.e. Roland BARTHES, a French philosopher and semiotician – what do you mean, “Who?!”), then H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard”, used in grading pencils) and finally OUTING (i.e. “journey”).

51. French novel all told briefly after the beginning (8)

Answer: GERMINAL, a 19th century French novel by Emile Zola. No, I’ve not read it either. Solution is INAL (i.e. IN ALL with final letter removed, i.e. “all told briefly”) preceded by GERM (i.e. “the beginning”, e.g. the germ of an idea).

52. Article by poet is going slowly (7)

Answer: ANDANTE, a musical term – because it wouldn’t be a Times crossword without including at least one of approximately 20,000 musical terms – meaning to move slowly. Solution is AN (i.e. “article”, specifically the indefinite article used before vowel sounds) followed by DANTE (i.e. “poet”, specifically the ever-cheery Dante Alighieri).

53. Revealing hypocrisy in empty society (6)

Answer: SCANTY (i.e. “revealing”). Solution is CANT (i.e. “hypocrisy”) placed in the middle of S and Y (i.e. “empty society”, being the word “society” with its middle letters removed), like so: S(CANT)Y.

Down clues

2. Announcer’s maximum annoyance (5)

Answer: PIQUE. Solution is a homophone of “peak” (i.e. “announcer’s maximum”), being PIQUE (i.e. “annoyance”).

3. Press impatient with a current political barrier (4, 7)

Answer: IRON CURTAIN, a political barrier between the former Soviet bloc and the West. Solution is IRON (i.e. “press”) followed by CURT (i.e. “impatient”), then A (“with a”), then IN (i.e. “current”).

4. Agreed to don rotten cheat’s pirate garb? (8)

Answer: EYEPATCH (i.e. “pirate garb”). Solution is an anagram of CHEAT (i.e. “rotten cheat”) with YEP (i.e. “agreed”, informally) placed inside (i.e. “to don”), like so: E(YEP)ATCH.

5. President with the heart for angry demagogy (5)

Answer: GRANT, i.e. Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth President of the United States. Solution is G (i.e. “heart for angry”, i.e. the middle letter of the word “angry”) followed by RANT (another word for “demagogy”). This is comfortably my favourite clue of this puzzle. Very fitting and well played!

6. Modernised vans from urban parade went out together (7)

Answer: UPDATED (i.e. “modernised”). Solution is U and P (i.e. “vans from urban parade” – van is a recognised abbreviation of vanguard, i.e. at the forefront, so we want the initial letters of “urban parade”) followed by DATED (i.e. “went out together”).

7. Appeal in protest, offering help (11)

Answer: COMPLAISANT (i.e. “offering help”). Solution is SA (i.e. “appeal”, specifically “sex appeal”. No, I can’t say I’ve seen it written like that either) placed in the middle of COMPLAINT (i.e. “protest”).

8. Artist is in Paris, taking in Rodin on vacation (5)

Answer: ERNST, i.e. Max Ernst, a prolific surrealist artist of the 20th century. Solution is EST (i.e. “is in Paris” – the French for “is” is “est”) with RN placed in the middle (i.e. “Rodin on vacation”, being “Rodin” with the middle letters removed, or “vacated”), like so: E(RN)ST.

9. Pen triter works to read (9)

Answer: INTERPRET (i.e. “to read”). “Works” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of PENTRITER.

10. Dog’s head drops down (5)

Answer: DRAIN. I’m guessing here that the clue is “down”, as if to down a drink, i.e. drain it. Solution is D (i.e. “Dog’s head”, i.e. the first letter of “dog”) followed by RAIN (i.e. “drops”).

11. Increase housing bill, inspiring fear (11)

Answer: REDOUBTABLE (i.e. “inspiring fear”). Solution is REDOUBLE (i.e. “increase”) with TAB (i.e. “bill”) placed inside (i.e. “housing”), like so: REDOUB(TAB)LE.

12. Recalled old party host holding English stringed instrument (7)

Answer: CEMBALO, being an alternative name for a harpsichord (i.e. “stringed instrument”). Bear with me here. Solution is O (i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “old”), followed by LAB (i.e. “party”, i.e. the Labour Party) then MC (i.e. “host”, specifically Master of Ceremonies) with E (i.e. “English”) in the middle (inferred by “holding”). The whole lot is then reversed (i.e. “recalled”), like so: C(E)M-BAL-O. You’re welcome.

18. A shy person, traveller stops between races (9)

Answer: INTROVERT (i.e. “a shy person”). Solution is ROVER (i.e. “traveller”) placed in the middle of (i.e. “between”) IN and TT (i.e. “races”). I know that TT is the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race. I’m guessing that IN is the Indy 500, but I could be wrong.

19. Fish caught by one in paper, wriggling (7)

Answer: CRAPPIE, a small sunfish found in North America. Not exactly a name that whets the appetite. Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in cricket) followed by an anagram (indicated by “wriggling”) of PAPER with I (i.e. “one”) included, like so: C-RAPP(I)E.

21. Animal in parable, or in another form (5, 4)

Answer: POLAR BEAR (i.e. “animal”) “In another form” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of PARABLEOR.

22. Recruiter in French car (8)

Answer: ENROLLER (i.e. “recruiter”). Solution is EN (i.e. “in French” – the French for “in” is “en”) followed by ROLLER (i.e. “car”, specifically a Rolls Royce).

25. Female to get around breezy, fantastic place (9)

Answer: FAIRYLAND (i.e. “fantastic place”). Solution is AIRY (i.e. “breezy”) surrounded by F (i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “female”) and LAND (i.e. “to get”), like so: F(AIRY)LAND.

27. Old wine unruly adolescent brought up (9)

Answer: EXCAVATED (i.e. “brought up”). Solution is EX (i.e. “old”) followed by CAVA (i.e. “wine”) and TED (i.e. “unruly adolescent”, specifically a Teddy Boy).

28. Covering king and a couple of leaders (8)

Answer: KERCHIEF, a square piece of cloth worn over the head, i.e. “covering”. Solution is K (i.e. “king”) followed by ER and CHIEF (i.e. “a couple of leaders”, specifically ER, or Elizabeth Regina, and… er… a chief.)

31. Boss has drink, on second (7)

Answer: SUPREMO (i.e. “boss”). I’m not sure how the setter has arrived at this. I get that “sup” covers “has drink”, but if REMO is supposed to be a type of drink (i.e. “on second”) I’ve not heard of it. I see there’s a San Remo cocktail, but, frankly, any bartender can knock up a cocktail and slap a name on it.

33. According to girl I don’t know, this is a sprinkler (11)

Answer: ASPERGILLUM, a holy-water sprinkler. So now you know. Solution is AS PER (i.e. “according to”) followed by GILL (i.e. “girl”, as in a girl’s name – yeah, I never like it when they drop first names into solutions either) and then UM (i.e. “I don’t know”).

34. Lively home by Spanish city esteemed highly (11)

Answer: INVIGORATED (i.e. “lively”). Solution is IN (i.e. “home”), VIGO (i.e. “Spanish city”) and RATED (i.e. “esteemed highly”).

35. Visitor for Christmas day, one around US resort (5, 6)

Answer: SANTA MONICA (i.e. “US resort”). Solution is SANTA (i.e. “visitor for Christmas”) followed by MON (i.e. “day”, “Mon” being a recognised abbreviation of Monday), I (i.e. “one”) and CA (i.e. “around”, i.e. “ca” being a recognised abbreviation of circa.)

37. Passing border in record time, heading for Laos (9)

Answer: EPHEMERAL (i.e. “passing”). Solution is HEM (i.e. “border”) placed among EP (i.e. “record”, an Extended-Play single – ask your parents), ERA (i.e. “time”) and L (i.e. “heading for Laos”, i.e. the initial letter of Laos), like so: EP-(HEM)-ERA-L.

40. Trust man to train pets (8)

Answer: TANTRUMS, another word for pets or huffs. “To train” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of TRUSTMAN.

42. Mean, say, to be getting on (7)

Answer: AVERAGE (i.e. “mean”). Solution is AVER (i.e. to assert, or “say to be”), followed by AGE (i.e. “getting on”).

43. Technique for selling new design (7)

Answer: PATTERN (i.e. “design”). Solution is PATTER (i.e. “technique for selling”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”).

45. Flier’s welcome in armed service (5)

Answer: RAVEN (i.e. “flier”, or a bird). Solution is AVE (i.e. “welcome”, or an archaic form of address) placed in the middle of RN (i.e. “armed service”, specifically the Royal Navy).

47. US cities hosting a creature from Africa (5)

Answer: NYALA, a South African antelope. Solution is A being placed between NY and LA (i.e. “US cities hosting a”).

48. Missile launch site shelters right in the shade (5)

Answer: OCHRE, an earthy colour (i.e. “shade”). Solution is R (i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “right”) placed amid OCHE (i.e. “missile launch site”, being the line behind which darts players must stand when throwing). This clue made me smile when I got it.

49. Almost time for parting word (5)

Answer: NIGHT (i.e. “parting word”, shortened form of “goodnight”). Solution is NIGH (i.e. “almost”) followed by T (i.e. recognised abbreviation of “time”).

So there we have it. This puzzle was a bit of a stinker with a few clues I’m still unsure about. If anyone can clue me in on the reasoning behind 20a (IMPERFECTION) and 31d (SUPREMO) that would be lovely.

Oh, and, yes, it’s been a while. Hello again, world!


NaNoWriMo 2015: Winner (just)!

Crikey, didn’t November fly by? One minute it was Halloween and we were all sitting in the Forum exchanging plots and twists and character bios for NaNoWriMo, the next it’s the eleventh hour, St Andrew’s Day, and I’m adding the last however many words needed to get over the line. But get over the line I did – 50,164 words in 30 days. Presenting cheesy grin!

So that’s all very nice. Even nicer was witnessing a lot of happy WriMos throughout various newsfeeds and write-ins, and a buddy’s page that was liberally peppered with purple ‘Winner!’ bars.

Nicer still, now NaNoWriMo is done, I don’t feel like taking Year Zero and shoving it through a shredder, or at least not yet anyway. Instead, I’m rather keen to keep adding to it. I’ll aim for 1,000 words per day, similar to when I was finishing The Floors, although this time I won’t be working to a silly self-imposed deadline. Again, feel free to crack the whip if you see me slacking.

I’m still none the wiser how long Year Zero will be. Given what I’ve written so far, plus the scenes I still want to write, not to mention the plot, lest we forget, the story could hit 225,000 words if I’m not careful (that’s in the region of 750 paperback pages, folks). I fear it could put Year Zero at risk of being junked unseen by agents or publishers. (Mind you, given some of the rates I’ve seen offered of late, I don’t imagine I’d have any problem finding someone out there to edit the thing!)

Luckily I have a number of red pens left over from editing The Floors. I’ve a feeling I might need them. Let’s get a first draft done before all of that, eh?