Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1405

Another relatively straightforward affair this week, lightly peppered with a few exotics to keep things interesting. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

Before we get cracking, a spot of housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword that has left you jiggered then my Just For Fun page might be of some use. If you dig on book reviews, then I have a bunch on my Reviews page.

To the solutions then. TTFN!


Across clues

1. Successful entertainment bursts out with energy in rush (3,4)

Answer: POP STAR (i.e. “successful entertainer”). Solution is POPS (i.e. “bursts”) followed by TEAR (i.e. “[to] rush”) once the E has been removed (indicated by “out with energy”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “energy”), like so: POPS-TAR.

5. Novel about Churchill’s bunker? (3,6)

Answer: THE WARDEN (i.e. “[Anthony Trollope] novel”). When read as THE WAR DEN, the solution also satisfies “Churchill’s bunker”.

10. House warming’s ending with a fine foxtrot (4)

Answer: GAFF (i.e. “house”). Solution is G (i.e. “warming’s ending”, i.e. the last letter of “warming”) followed by A then F (a recognised abbreviation of “fine”) and F (“foxtrot” in the phonetic alphabet).

14. Put off edited satanic report (13)

Answer: PROCRASTINATE (i.e. “put off”). “Edited” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SATANIC REPORT.

15. Two toys are nearly maximum price (3,6)

Answer: TOP DOLLAR (i.e. “maximum price”). Solution is [spinning] TOP and DOLL (i.e. “two toys”) followed by ARE with its last letter removed (indicated by “nearly”), like so: TOP-DOLL-AR.

16. Outfit with green energy (3-2-3-2)

Answer: GET-UP-AND-GO (i.e. “energy”). Solution is GET-UP (i.e. “outfit”) followed by AND (i.e. “with”) and GO (i.e. “green”, as in traffic lights).

17. No time for sexy poetry after hard alexandrines (6,5)

Answer: HEROIC VERSE (i.e. “alexandrines” – a kind of poem). Solution is EROTIC VERSE (i.e. “sexy poetry”) with the T removed (indicated by “no time for…” – T being a recognised abbreviation of “time”) and the remainder placed “after” H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils), like so: H-EROIC-VERSE.

18. Wife aggressively masculine, daughter not born (5)

Answer: DUTCH, which is Cockney rhyming slang for “wife”, supposedly after the Duchess of Fife. No, me neither, but then I had to have “Alans” explained to me in the phrase “calm down, keep your Alans on”. Knickers, in case you were wondering, after Alan Whicker. Anyway, I digress… Solution is BUTCH (i.e. “aggressively masculine” with the D replaced by B (indicated by “daughter not born” – D being a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”; B being a recognised abbreviation of “born”).

19. Hatred of how much senior management take (10)

Answer: EXECRATION (i.e. “hatred”). When read as EXEC RATION, the solution also satisfies “how much senior management [executives, or execs] take”.

21. Sea wall gone extremely rapidly in a storm (6)

Answer: GROYNE (i.e. “sea wall”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “in a storm”) of GONE and RY (i.e. “extremely rapidly”, i.e. the first and last letters of “extremely”).

23. Chief steward brought round tea for customer (9)

Answer: PURCHASER (i.e. “customer”). Solution is PURSER (i.e. “chief steward”) placed “round” CHA (i.e. “tea”), like so: PUR(CHA)SER.

25. Girl half rejecting modern times (5)

Answer: DONNA (i.e. “girl”). Solution is “half” of ANNO DOMINI (i.e. “modern times”) once reversed (indicated by “rejected”) like so: INIMO(D ONNA).

26. Piled up, a sea enveloping a ship (7)

Answer: AMASSED (i.e. “piled up”). Solution is A MED (i.e. “a sea”, specifically the Mediterranean) wrapped around or “enveloping” A SS (i.e. “a ship” – SS is a recognised abbreviation of “steamship” or “screw steamer”), like so: A-M(A-SS)ED.

28. What some loose women had on highly embarrassed landlord? (7,6)

Answer: SCARLET LETTER. Solution satisfies “what some loose women had on” – being “a scarlet-coloured letter A worn by women convicted of adultery in the Puritan communities of New England” (thank you, Chambers) – and “highly embarrassed landlord” – a landlord being one who lets property.

31. Poet’s good book very cheap? (4,5)

Answer: EZRA POUND (i.e. “poet”). Taking EZRA to be one of the books of The Bible, and POUND to be an amount of currency, the solution also satisfies “good book very cheap”.

33. Flag officer goes by state during round of duty (9)

Answer: TRICOLOUR (i.e. three-coloured “flag” e.g. of France). Solution is COL (i.e. “officer”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “colonel”) placed after RI (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Rhode Island), and both placed in or “during” TOUR (i.e. “round of [military] duty”), like so: T(RI-COL)OUR.

35. Sympathetic as firm friend admits strong agitation (13)

Answer: COMPASSIONATE (i.e. “sympathetic”). Solution is CO (i.e. “firm”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “company”) and MATE (i.e. “friend”) wrapped around or “admitting” PASSION (i.e. “strong agitation”), like so: CO-M(PASSION)ATE.

37. A number working across one’s back for stiffness (7)

Answer: TENSION (i.e. “stiffness”). Solution is TEN (i.e. “a number”) and ON (i.e. “working”) wrapped around or placed “across” I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: TEN-(S’I)-ON.

38. Affair takes one out of office work (5)

Answer: FLING (i.e. “affair”). Solution is FILING (i.e. “office work”) with the first I removed (indicated by “takes [Roman numeral] one out of…”).

40. Think about where to move: coast (9)

Answer: FREEWHEEL (i.e. “[to] coast”). Solution is FEEL (i.e. “think”) placed “about” an anagram (indicated by “to move”) of WHERE, like so: F(REEWH)EEL.

42. Lock up enclosure ahead of time (6)

Answer: ENCAGE (i.e. “[to] lock up”). Solution is ENC (a recognised abbreviation of “enclosure” used in formal correspondence) followed by AGE (i.e. “time”).

44. Piles on underclothes one may get down to (5,5)

Answer: “…one may get down to” BRASS TACKS. Solution is STACKS (i.e. “piles”) placed after BRAS (i.e. “underclothes”), like so: BRAS-STACKS.

46. Very much gas around – died (2,3)

Answer: NO END (i.e. “very much”). Solution is NEON (i.e. “gas”) reversed (indicated by “around”) and followed by D (a recognised abbreviation of “died”), like so: NOEN-D.

48. One will go for a spin, churning up terrible mud (6,5)

Answer: TUMBLE DRIER (i.e. “one will go for a spin”). “Churning up” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TERRIBLE MUD.

50. Soldier at attention; Marlowe, for example (7,3)

Answer: PRIVATE EYE (i.e. “Marlowe, for example”, as in Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled and immensely readable shamus – seriously, The Big Sleep should be near the top of your TBR pile if you’ve never read it, with Farewell, My Lovely placed underneath it). Solution is PRIVATE (i.e. “solider”) followed by EYE (i.e. “attention”, as in “to have one’s attention”).

52. Angry reaction engulfing small character (9)

Answer: BACKSLASH (i.e. a typographical “character”). Solution is BACKLASH (i.e. “angry reaction”) wrapped around or “engulfing” S (a recognised abbreviation of “small” used in clothing sizes), like so: BACK(S)LASH.

53. Said to have gone out wearing fleece, unlikely to change? (4-2-3-4)

Answer: DYED-IN-THE-WOOL (i.e. “unlikely to change”). “Said” indicates homophone, so the solution could be read as DIED IN THE WOOL, satisfying “to have gone out wearing fleece”.

54. Austen novel’s central characters take a step back for another woman (4)

Answer: ELLA (i.e. “woman” as in a woman’s name – a little disappointing given we’ve already had a name used as a solution, but there you go…) Solution is EMMA (i.e. “Austen’s novel”) with the “central characters” MM replaced by LL (indicated by “take a step back” – L immediately precedes M in the alphabet).

55. Frightfully secretive after short retreat (9)

Answer: HIDEOUSLY (i.e. “frightfully”). Solution is SLY (i.e. “secretive”) placed “after” HIDEOUT (i.e. “retreat”) once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “short”), like so: HIDEOU-SLY.

56. Tried to get help after letter read out (7)

Answer: ESSAYED (i.e. “tried”). “Read out” indicates homophones. Solution is ESS (i.e. “letter”, specifically the letter S) and AID (i.e. “help”) when spoken together.

Down clues

1. Immature creature raised in a year (4)

Answer: PUPA (i.e. “immature creature”). Solution is UP (i.e. “raised”) placed “in” PA (i.e. “a year”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “per annum”), like so: P(UP)A.

2. One in favour of street rioting? (9)

Answer: PROTESTER. Solution is PRO (i.e. “in favour of”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “rioting”) of STREET, like so: PRO-TESTER. Within the context of the clue, a protester could be one in favour of street rioting. I’m sure some are peaceful, though.

3. Story in the Mirror? (7,3,7,5)

Answer: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, a “story” by Lewis Carroll. A “mirror” is also called a looking glass (ignore the misleading capitalisation). You get the idea.

4. Deer’s round bottom, reddish (7)

Answer: ROSEATE (i.e. “reddish”). Solution is ROE (i.e. “deer”) placed “round” SEAT (i.e. “bottom”), like so: RO(SEAT)E.

5. What master mason has leads to serious questioning (5,6)

Answer: THIRD DEGREE. Solution satisfies “what master mason has” – relating to the three degrees or stages of Freemasonry, that of amateur, journeyman and master – and “serious questioning”.

6. Besotted with slinky demeanour (9)

Answer: ENAMOURED (i.e. “besotted”). “Slinky” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DEMEANOUR.

7. Drink at pub for leading character (5)

Answer: ALEPH, which is the first letter of the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets (pats Chambers). So, “leading character”. Solution is ALE (i.e. “drink”) followed by PH (i.e. “pub”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “public house”). One I got purely from the wordplay, to be honest.

8. Go off outside, denied kiss during tryst (11)

Answer: DETERIORATE (i.e. “go off”). Solution is EXTERIOR (i.e. “outside”) with the X removed (indicated by “denied kiss”) and the remainder placed in or “during” DATE (i.e. “tryst”), like so: D(ETERIOR)ATE. An easier get than it should be, the solution having also appeared in last week’s grid as near as dammit.

9. A need for baby, so sleep with cousin (6)

Answer: NAPKIN (i.e. “a need for baby”). Solution is NAP (i.e. “sleep”) followed by KIN (i.e. “cousin”).

11. Good to move down exhibition hall showing sensitivity (7)

Answer: ALLERGY (i.e. “sensitivity”). Solution is GALLERY (i.e. “exhibition hall”) with the G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) “moved down” a number of notches – this being a down clue.

12. Police perhaps paid to break hunger strike? (5-4)

Answer: FORCE-FEED (i.e. “to break hunger strike”). Solution is FORCE (i.e. “police perhaps”) followed by FEED (i.e. “paid” – a bit weak, but the usage is in the dictionary, so there you go).

13. Having run down, rare warmth envelopes players (13,9)

Answer: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (i.e. “players”). “Having run” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DOWN RARE WARMTH ENVELOPES. Rather well worked.

18. Start to type one’s newspaper article up, to put by for later (7)

Answer: DEPOSIT (i.e. “to put by for later”). Solution is T (i.e. “start to type”, i.e. the first letter of “type”) followed by I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”) then OP-ED (i.e. “newspaper article”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “up”, this being a down clue), like so: DE-PO-S’I-T.

20. So much French booze leads to furious scene (7)

Answer: TANTRUM (i.e. “furious scene”). Solution is TANT (i.e. “so much French” – “tant” is French for “so” or “so much” – Google Translate kind of backs it up, I guess (shrugs and gets on with life)) followed by RUM (i.e. “booze”).

22. Around part of eye, note the foreign pattern of stitches (4,4)

Answer: FAIR ISLE, a type of knitwear design (i.e. “pattern of stitches”). Solution is FA (i.e. “note”, in the do-ray-me style) and LE (i.e. “the foreign”, as in the French for “the”) placed “around” IRIS (i.e. “part of eye”), like so: FA-(IRIS)-LE. Another I got purely from the wordplay.

24. Arrange fielding position for critical moment of match (3,5)

Answer: SET POINT. Solution satisfies “arrange fielding position” in a game of cricket, and “critical moment of match”, e.g. in tennis.

27. One bowing to audience in Buddhist shrine (5)

Answer: STUPA (i.e. “Buddhist shrine”). “To audience” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of STOOPER (i.e. “one bowing”). Chalk one to my Bradford’s here.

29. Chinese perhaps like Scotsman? (5)

Answer: ASIAN. Solution satisfies “Chinese perhaps” and, when written as AS IAN, “like Scotsman”. Setters do like using “Ian” to mean Scotsman, which I’ve always thought a little weak.

30. Alarms heard when no poisonous gas remains in cans (7)

Answer: TOCSINS (i.e. “alarms” – a new one on me, but it’s there in the dictionary). Solution is O CS (i.e. “no poisonous gas” with O representing zero. Hmm, I’d say CS gas was more of an irritant than poisonous. Yes, I’m splitting hairs. What of it?) placed “in” TINS (i.e. “cans”), like so: T(O-CS)INS.

32. Fought – as road was widened – to be heard? (7)

Answer: DUELLED (i.e. “fought”). “To be heard” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of DUALLED (i.e. “road was widened”, as in a single carriage road being widened to become a dual carriageway).

34. Judge vase one to discard, house being this? (11)

Answer: REFURNISHED. Solution is REF (i.e. “judge”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “referee”) followed by URN (i.e. “vase”) then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and SHED (i.e. “discard”). Within the context of the clue, you may well discard a vase when refurnishing one’s house.

36. Power to arouse emotion when one collapses fifty and active (11)

Answer: AFFECTIVITY (i.e. “power to arouse emotion”). “Collapses” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FIFTY and ACTIVE.

37. Soprano suppresses a tear regularly, not beyond recovery (9)

Answer: TREATABLE (i.e. “not beyond recovery”). Solution is TREBLE (i.e. “soprano” – it’s in the dictionary, non-musos) wrapped around or “suppressing” A and TA (i.e. “tear regularly”, i.e. every other letter of TEAR), like so: TRE(A-TA)BLE.

39. Obtained work on ship to produce magazine perhaps (2,2,5)

Answer: GO TO PRESS (i.e. “produce magazine perhaps”). Solution is GOT (i.e. “obtained”) followed by OP (i.e. “work”, being a recognised abbreviation of “opus”; also “operation” if you fancy) then RE (i.e. “on”, both taken to mean “about” or “concerning”) and SS (i.e. “ship” – as mentioned before, this is a recognised abbreviation of “steamship” or “screw steamer”), like so: GOT-OP-RE-SS.

41. All energy, extremely desirable at first in youth (9)

Answer: EVERYBODY (i.e. “all”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) followed by VERY (i.e. “extremely”) and D (i.e. “desirable at first”, i.e. the first letter of “desirable”) once it has been placed “in” BOY (i.e. “youth”), like so: E-VERY-BO(D)Y.

43. Throw speaker’s aid into burner, causing scream? (7)

Answer: COMICAL (i.e. “causing scream [of laughter]”). Solution is MIC (i.e. “speaker’s aid”, being a recognised abbreviation of “microphone”) placed “into” COAL (i.e. “burner”), like so: CO(MIC)AL.

45. To keep off alcohol, mostly locked away port (7)

Answer: SEATTLE (i.e. “port”). Solution is TT (i.e. “off alcohol”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “teetotal”) “kept” in SEALED (i.e. “locked away”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “mostly”), like so: SEA(TT)LE.

47. Sorcerer initially hated terrible old curse (6)

Answer: SDEATH (i.e. “old curse”, supposedly short for “God’s death” – I love it, but I strongly suspect this wasn’t the first solution the setter put in the grid…). Solution is S (i.e. “sorcerer initially”, i.e. the first letter of “sorcerer”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “terrible”) of HATED, like so: S-DEATH. One of those times where I jumped into the dictionary hoping to see a word – any word! – that began with SD. Happily, there it was.

49. Travelled over for round-up (5)

Answer: RODEO (i.e. “round-up”). Solution is RODE (i.e. “travelled”) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket).

51. Happy to wander round lake (4)

Answer: GLAD (i.e. “happy”). Solution is GAD (i.e. “to wander”; also one of my favourite words because you needed to know that) placed “round” L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”), like so: G(L)AD.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1404

A gentler puzzle this week – much more my speed! A number of well-constructed clues made for a pleasant grid fill, all told. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

Before we get stuck in, a spot of housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword that’s left you baffled, then you might find my Just For Fun page of some use. Meanwhile, if you have a soft spot for horror stories, I have a bunch of reviews conveniently placed on my Reviews page. I’m (slowly) working my way through Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror anthologies. 10 down, 19 to go…

Anyway, that’s quite enough blathering from me.



Across clues

1. Brightly coloured hat? We hear you are wearing that (5)

Answer: LURID (i.e. “brightly coloured”). Solution is LID (i.e. “hat”) which is wrapped around or “worn by” U and R (i.e. “we hear you are”, i.e. homophones of “you” and “are”), like so: L(U-R)ID.

4. Sound from above? This is missing below (7)

Answer: THUNDER (i.e. “sound from above”). Solution is THIS with the IS removed (indicated by “is missing”) and followed by UNDER (i.e. “below”), like so: TH-UNDER.

8. Husband considered “never good” in retrospect, showing a certain sort of fake concern (9)

Answer: GREENWASH, which is to make an insincere show of concern for the environment (i.e. “fake concern”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) followed by SAW (i.e. “considered”) then NE’ER (poetic form of “never”) and G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “in retrospect”), like so: G-REEN-WAS-H. A new word on me, but I rather like it.

13. Specialist element said to be backing police investigator (9)

Answer: TECHNICAL (i.e. “specialist”). “Said to be” indicates homophones. Solution is NICAL (homophone of NICKEL, a chemical “element”) placed behind or “backing” TECH (homophone of TEC, a shortened form of detective, i.e. “police investigator”), like so: TECH-NICAL.

14. Team falling apart? That’s very funny (13)

Answer: SIDESPLITTING. Solution satisfies “team falling apart” (when read as SIDE SPLITTING) and “very funny”.

15. Singer thus embracing musical work took off (7)

Answer: SOPRANO (i.e. “singer”). Solution is SO (i.e. “thus”) wrapped around or “embracing” OP (i.e. “musical work”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “opus”) and RAN (i.e. “took off”), like so: S(OP-RAN)O.

16. Numbers in financial documents – one number therein multiplied by five (7)

Answer: AMOUNTS (i.e. “numbers”). Solution is ACCOUNTS (i.e. “financial documents”) with the CC (which is 200 in Roman numerals) replaced by M (which is 1000 in Roman numerals), as indicated by “one number therein multiplied by five”.

17. One that may go through wood in county with endless wonder (7)

Answer: BUCKSAW (i.e. “one that may go through wood”). Solution is BUCKS (i.e. “county”, specifically Buckinghamshire) followed by AWE (i.e. “wonder”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “endless”), like so: BUCKS-AW.

18. Total entertainment – everything being enjoyed by blondes? (3,3,3,2,3,4)

Answer: ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR. Solution satisfies “total entertainment” and “everything being enjoyed by blondes” – blondes being said to be fair-haired.

21. After victory you initially like a drink in the bar? (4)

Answer: WINY (i.e. “like a drink in the bar”). Solution is WIN (i.e. “victory”) with Y (i.e. “you initially”, i.e. the first letter of “you”) placed “after” it, like so: WIN-Y. Of all the words that could have fitted _I_Y, the setter picked this one?!

23. Criminal ten gaoled, given a stretch (9)

Answer: ELONGATED (i.e. “given a stretch”). “Criminal” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEN GAOLED.

25. Fierce folk, initially getting into rows (6)

Answer: TIGERS (i.e. “fierce folk”. Also animals, I’ve heard). Solution is G (i.e. “initially getting”) placed “into” TIERS (i.e. “rows”), like so: TI(G)ERS.

26. Move your hips without hesitation – thanks to me? (6)

Answer: PHYSIO. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “move”) of YOUR HIPS once the UR has been removed (indicated by “without hesitation”). Within the context of the clue, physiotherapy could see you move your hips. (The “thanks to me” refers to the solution, not the setter, which threw me a bit.)

28. Agriculturalists at the cutting edge who hope to do well from investments? (12)

Answer: SHAREHOLDERS. The intersecting letters also fit “stakeholders”, who would also “hope to do well from investments”, but I reckon “cutting” indicates a sharing of sorts. (“Edge” seems a redundant word included to make the clue scan better. I could be wrong.) HOLDERS, meanwhile, can be farmer types i.e. “agriculturalists”. You get the idea.
[EDIT: Thanks to Margt and Mick in the comments for shedding some light on this one. The gist of the clue hangs on the concept of ploughshares, being all agricultural n’ all. Ploughs have a “cutting edge” too, which explains the presence of “edge” in the clue. Thanks, both! – LP]

30. One given go-ahead sign, beginning to travel east in splendid emergency vehicle (4,6)

Answer: FIRE ENGINE (i.e. “emergency vehicle”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by GREEN (i.e. “go-ahead sign”) once the G has been placed to the end (indicated by “beginning to travel east” – this being an across clue). Both are then placed in FINE (i.e. “splendid”), like so: F(I-REENG)INE.

33. Verbiage used by fashionable folk in London location (10)

Answer: PADDINGTON (i.e. “London location”). Solution is PADDING (i.e. “verbiage”) followed by TON (i.e. “fashionable folk” – the definition is there in the dictionary, but seldom used. Catnip for crossword setters, then).

34. Mean person who achieves little success as a pickpocket? (5-7)

Answer: PENNY-PINCHER. Solution satisfies “mean person” and “[one] who achieves little success as a pickpocket”.

37. Celebrity and agent in front of truck (6)

Answer: REPUTE (i.e. “celebrity”). Solution is REP (i.e. “agent”, as in a shortened form of “representative”) placed “in front of” UTE (i.e. “truck”, short for “utility vehicle”).

39. Love, very good, had to be seen in one man’s view of religion (6)

Answer: OPIATE (i.e. “one man’s view of religion”, specifically Karl Marx, who considered religion to be the opiate of the people). Solution is O (i.e. “love”, being a zero score in tennis) followed by PI (i.e. “very good”, as in a shortened form of “pious” – setters have used this a few times, so I’m a little wiser to this now) and ATE (i.e. “had”, as in consumed).

40. Original equine measure – from the horse’s mouth? (5-4)

Answer: FIRST-HAND (i.e. “[news] from the horse’s mouth”). Solution is FIRST (i.e. “original”) followed by HAND (i.e. “equine measure”).

42. Country refugee’s claim about what he or she did? (4)

Answer: IRAN (i.e. “country”). When written as I RAN, the solution also satisfies “refugee’s claim about what he or she did”.

43. Re Lent: Christianity constructed basic set of beliefs (6-4,8)

Answer: THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES (i.e. “basic set of beliefs”). “Constructed” indicates anagram. Solution is a rather neat anagram of RE LENT CHRISTIANITY.

46. In saint one recognises someone who prays lyrically? (7)

Answer: INTONER (i.e. “someone who prays lyrically”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: SA(INT ONE R)ECOGNISES.

47. Combed and scrubbed (7)

Answer: SCOURED. Solution satisfies “combed” and “scrubbed”.

48. Periodical facing difficulty, having nothing that provides spark (7)

Answer: MAGNETO (i.e. “that provides spark” – the prefix magneto- can denote something that is magneto-electric, i.e. something that generates electricity through the use of magnets). Solution is MAG (i.e. “periodical”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “magazine”) followed by NET (i.e. “difficulty” – not the most immediate definition, but it is in the dictionary) and O (i.e. “nothing”).

50. A scholar, I get excited when there’s buried circle? (13)

Answer: ARCHAEOLOGIST. “Excited” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A SCHOLAR I GET, which is wrapped around or “burying” O (i.e. “circle”). Within the context of the clue, an archaeologist may well get excited about finding a buried circle. Something like that.

51. What you may see with photograph of mum and computer? (9)

Answer: MAINFRAME (i.e. “computer”). When written as MA IN FRAME, the solution also satisfies “what you may see with photograph of mum”).

52. Game plan to engage one who’s willing to take high-level risks (4,5)

Answer: TEST PILOT (i.e. “one who’s willing to take high-level risks”; high as in altitude). Solution is TEST (i.e. a “game” of cricket) followed by PLOT (i.e. “plan”) once it is wrapped around or “engaging” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: TEST-P(I)LOT.

53. With worker having little energy, movement is slow (7)

Answer: ANDANTE (i.e. “[musical] movement is slow”). Solution is AND (i.e. “with”) followed by ANT (i.e. “worker”) and E (i.e. “little energy”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “energy”).

54. Very little support given to American city (5)

Answer: TEENY (i.e. “very little”). Solution is TEE (i.e. “support [for golf ball]”) followed by NY (i.e. “American city”, specifically New York).

Down clues

1. Group of dreamers tolerates us working (5-6)

Answer: LOTUS-EATERS (i.e. “group of dreamers [in Greek myth]”). “Working” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TOLERATES US.

3. Sign in with teeth sadly amiss – to see the likes of us? (6,10)

Answer: DENTAL HYGIENISTS. “Amiss” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SIGN IN and TEETH SADLY. Within the context of the clue, you well “see the likes of” a dental hygienist if one’s “teeth [were] sadly amiss”. You get the idea. A clue that scans rather well.

4. Rebuke coming from country bumpkin losing head, interrupting smart gent (4,3)

Answer: TICK OFF (i.e. “rebuke”). Solution is HICK (i.e. “country bumpkin”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “losing head”) and the remainder placed in or “interrupting” TOFF (i.e. “smart gent”), like so: T(ICK)OFF.

5. Without guidance, without merit, without knowledge (9)

Answer: UNLEARNED (i.e. “without knowledge”). Solution is UNLED (i.e. “without guidance”) wrapped around or placed “without” EARN (i.e. “merit”), like so: UNL(EARN)ED. Probably my favourite clue of the puzzle. Very well worked.

6. Unease that could be engendered by sitcom if rude (12)

Answer: DISCOMFITURE (i.e. “unease”). “Engendered by” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SITCOM IF RUDE.

7. Managing school and boosted by success (6,4)

Answer: RIDING HIGH (i.e. “boosted by success”). Solution is RIDING (i.e. “managing”) followed by HIGH (a kind of “school”).

8. Non-English visitors – they may breeze in (5)

Answer: GUSTS (i.e. “they may breeze in”). Solution is GUESTS (i.e. “visitors”) with the E removed (indicated by “non-English”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “English”).

9. From collection of old politician, by chance not complete (2-6)

Answer EX-LIBRIS (i.e. “from collection”). Solution is EX (i.e. “old”) followed by LIB (i.e. “politician”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a Liberal Democrat) and RISK (i.e. “chance”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “not complete”), like so: EX-LIB-RIS.

10. See old books with pleasant binding (6)

Answer: NOTICE (i.e. “see”). Solution is OT (i.e. “old books”, specifically the Old Testament) placed in or “bound” by NICE (i.e. “pleasant”), like so: N(OT)ICE.

11. Like position of sailor maybe, well away from port? (9)

Answer: AMIDSHIPS. Clue riffs on how “port” can refer to the left of a ship. A sailor placed amidships can be said to be “well away from port”. You get the idea.

12. Why each dog must be trained – one included for walkers etc. (7,4)

Answer: HIGHWAY CODE (i.e. “for walkers etc”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “must be trained”) of WHY EACH DOG, which is wrapped around or “including” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”).

19. Man is fat – very many years getting stuffed (7)

Answer: LEONARD (i.e. “man”). Solution is LARD (i.e. “fat”) which is wrapped around or “stuffed” by EON (i.e. “very many years”), like so: L(EON)ARD.

20. Strange female, old, having time in office (7)

Answer: FOREIGN (i.e. “strange”). Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) followed by O (ditto “old”) and REIGN (i.e. “time in office”).

22. To have low opinion of modern technology? That matters not a bit! (5,7,2,2)

Answer: THINK NOTHING OF IT. Solution satisfies “to have a low opinion of modern technology” – IT being a recognised abbreviation of Information Technology – and “that matters not a bit”.

24. For all that is hard inside, it is hard outside (6)

Answer: THOUGH (i.e. “for all that”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils) with TOUGH (i.e. “hard”) placed “outside” of it, like so: T(H)OUGH. Another well-worked clue.

27. One sad little person, boy getting lost (6)

Answer: WEEPER (i.e. “one sad”). Solution is WEE (i.e. “little”) followed by PERSON once the SON has been removed (indicated by “boy getting lost”), like so: WEE-PER.

29. Careless type in drive policeman caught out (7)

Answer: DROPPER (i.e. “careless type”). Solution is DR (a recognised abbreviation of “drive” used in street names) followed by COPPER (i.e. “policeman”) once the C has been removed (indicated by “caught out” – C being a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games), like so: DR-OPPER.

31. Outcast somewhat masculine, from what we hear (7)

Answer: ISHMAEL, who was turfed out into the wilderness by his father Abraham because the Almighty said so. That all-loving Almighty, eh? Anyway, “outcast”. Solution is ISH (i.e. “somewhat”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “from what we hear”) of MALE (i.e. “masculine”), like so: ISH-MAEL. One I got from the wordplay, what with me not being terribly religious n’ all.

32. Terrible English editor getting told off got worse (12)

Answer: DETERIORATED (i.e. “got worse”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “terrible”) of E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and EDITOR, which is then followed by RATED (i.e. “told off” – a sense of the word “rate” is to scold or berate), like so: DETERIO-RATED.

33. Some old company worker quietly interrupts active member (11)

Answer: PARTICIPANT (i.e. “active member”). Solution is PART (i.e. “some”) followed by ICI (i.e. “old company”, specifically Imperial Chemical Industries, which was bought out in 2008) and ANT (i.e. “worker”) which are wrapped around or “interrupted” by P (i.e. “quietly”, being a recognised abbreviation of “piano” in musical lingo), like so: PART-ICI-(P)-ANT.

35. Hellish situation in rescue operation? Find that’s not new (11)

Answer: REDISCOVERY (i.e. “find that’s not new”). Solution is DIS (i.e. “hellish situation”. Dis was “a name for the god Pluto, and hence the infernal world” (Chambers). You’ll also find the fictitious city of Dis, situated across the lower circles of Hell, in Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy) placed “in” RECOVERY (i.e. “rescue operation”), like so: RE(DIS)COVERY.

36. Woman who went up barely making an impression? (4,6)

Answer: LADY GODIVA, a noblewoman who – according to legend – rode naked or “barely” through the streets of Coventry on horseback. You get the idea. There might be something cleverer at play, but I’m not seeing it.

38. Procedures involving amounts charged when only part of play is screened (9)

Answer: PRACTICES (i.e. “procedures”). Solution is PRICES (i.e. “amounts charged”) wrapped around or “screening” ACT (i.e. “part of play”), like so: PR(ACT)ICES.

40. WC, maybe “Gents”, for cricketers (9)

Answer: FIELDSMEN (i.e. “cricketers”). Solution is FIELDS (i.e. “WC, maybe”, referring to 1930s American comedian and actor WC Fields) followed by MEN (i.e. “gents”).

41. Fuel must be cleaner – firm beginning to abandon oil finally (8)

Answer: CHARCOAL (i.e. “fuel”). Solution is CHAR (i.e. “cleaner”) followed by CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”, i.e. “firm”) then A (i.e. “beginning to abandon”, i.e. the first letter of “abandon”) and L (i.e. “oil finally”, i.e. the last letter of “oil”). Another clue that scans really well.

44. A home in the capital offers a sort of lettuce (7)

Answer: ROMAINE (i.e. “sort of lettuce”). Solution is A and IN (i.e. “home”) placed “in” ROME (i.e. a “capital” city), like so: ROM(A-IN)E. Chalk one to my Bradfords here. In terms of lettuce varieties, after “iceberg” I’m goosed.

45. Head of government spots uprising – answer is to make a settlement (6)

Answer: ENCAMP (i.e. “to make a settlement”). Solution is PM (i.e. “head of government”, specifically the Prime Minister) followed by ACNE (i.e. “spots”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “uprising” – this being a down clue), like so: ENCA-MP.

47. Explorer lodging in this cottage (5)

Answer: Robert Falcon SCOTT, popularly known as Scott of the Antarctic. “Lodging” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: THI(S COTT)AGE.

49. Cheer brought by counselling service, right away (5)

Answer: ELATE (i.e. “cheer”). Solution is RELATE (i.e. “counselling service”) with the R removed (indicated by “right away”, R being a recognised abbreviation of “right”).

Review: Best New Horror 10

(Before we jump in, if you would like to read reviews of the previous books in the Best New Horror series, you can find links on my Reviews page.)

Best New Horror 10 collects nineteen horror shorts published during 1998. Sadly this tenth anniversary edition of the series represents one of the weakest entries so far. Despite boasting a number of award winners and nominees in its pages, there are only a few stories that stand out from the pack.

Also, don’t let the cover fool you, vamp fans. There are no Goddam Draculas to be found in this book. What is there goes a little like this:

Also collected in Fowler’s “Personal Demons”

Learning To Let Go – Christopher Fowler (3/5 – Three old friends meet up at the start of a train journey. They drink, they bicker, they tell stories and they invite their fellow travellers to do likewise. Darkness descends and they notice the train slowing to a stop. The heating fails. The lighting too. When they venture outside, it seems their carriage has become uncoupled from the train. Or, having served its useful purpose, did the train simply disappear? This deconstruction of a horror story closes Fowler’s collection Personal Demons and, according to his introduction here, he wrote it as his farewell to the genre. (He’d be back, of course. They always come back…) This heads-up was perhaps key to me enjoying the story more than I would have done had I read it cold. In a way it reminded me of Jonathan Carroll’s The Dead Love You (Best New Horror 2), though, thankfully, Learning To Let Go treats the reader with a little more respect.)

Also collected in Gaiman’s “Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions”

The Wedding Present – Neil Gaiman (3/5 – Gordon and Belinda are writing thank you cards for all the wedding presents they’ve received, when they happen across a strange gift in a manilla envelope. It is a single sheet of paper with a delightful description of their wedding day. When they check the document some time later, however, they find the text has changed, now describing a version of their marriage they cannot quite reconcile. This was pretty good, told in Gaiman’s wonderful story-telling way, until the moment you sense you’ve heard it before. Gaiman acknowledges The Picture of Dorian Gray within the story, but it isn’t the get-out-of-jail-free card he perhaps hoped it would be.)


Also collected in Atkins’ “The Wishmaster and Other Stories”

Adventures In Further Education – Peter Atkins (3/5 – Throughout his life, a man keeps count of the number of times he taps a pen against his desk, believing it will at some point sink straight through the surface and unlock the metaphysical secrets of the universe. Which, of course, happens. Fans of flash fiction might get a kick out of this one, being a mere two pages long. I’ve often found the format a tough sell, and this did nothing to win me over.)






Also collected in Koja’s “Extremities”

Bondage – Kathe Koja (3/5 – A couple dip their toes into bondage, taking turns to wear a featureless gimp mask while they’re doing the nasty. Turns out they rather like it. Good for them. Not quite sure where the horror lies in this one, if I’m honest. Answers on a stamp-addressed dildo, please.)

The Keys To D’Espérance – Chaz Brenchley (3/5 – A young war veteran reaches his lowest ebb. He settles his affairs and initiates plans for his suicide, but then receives the keys to a large country pile. Upon arriving there he happens across a large disused bathhouse. In the process of bringing it back into operation, he is brought to recall the tragic circumstances surrounding the fates of those he loved. This is one of those tales that favours mood ahead of Telling The Bloody Story. It gets there in the end, but I nearly didn’t. Probably not one for animal lovers either.)

Also collected in Laws’ “The Midnight Man”

The Song My Sister Sang – Stephen Laws (4/5 – Dean is helping in the aftermath of an oil spill on Tynemouth beach. He spots a seabird struggling in one of the sluices running from a disused open-air swimming pool nearby. It’s a pool that holds tragic memories for Dean, being the place where his little sister drowned as a young girl. Dean finds the pool choking with oil and hundreds of dead birds… and someone seeking his help. Few can match Laws when it comes to building up tension within a story, and there were a couple of terrific scenes here that really set the nerves a-jangling. This story bagged a British Fantasy Award back in the day. I can’t argue with that.)

Also collected in Newman’s “Unforgiveable Stories”

A Victorian Ghost Story – Kim Newman (4/5 – Within the oak-panelled splendour of a gentlemen’s club, members are taking turns to tell ghost stories over cigars and brandy. Ernest Virtue, fresh from making a killing on the Stock Exchange, relates to the gathering a recent and singular experience of his where a regular London pea-souper opened up to reveal a hidden ghostly world. This is a 4/5 from me, but only just. Though enjoyable, thanks largely to Newman’s exquisite writing, the story didn’t really go anywhere, amounting to little more than “a funny thing happened to me on the way to the…”)

Also collected in Rogers’ “Wind Over Heaven and Other Dark Tales”

The Dead Boy At Your Window – Bruce Holland Rogers (4/5 – Ah, this is more like it! Set such pesky things as logic and the real world aside for a moment and enjoy a short, bittersweet, Stoker-winning story of a dead little boy who, in the course of being bullied one day, finds a unique calling between this world and the next. It’s all rather lovely.)

Also collected in Campbell’s “Ghosts & Grisly Things”

Ra*e – Ramsey Campbell (4/5 – Another good showing from Campbell in a novelette that explores the fallout following the rape and murder of a teenage girl, and the rage that builds within the victim’s mother as the police fail to unearth any clues. Campbell assembles a cast of mostly unlikeable characters around the victim, leaving the reader in no doubt where their sympathies should lie. Despite this, and some clunky dialogue, the story still succeeds.)


Also collected in Watt-Evans’s “Hazmat and Other Toxic Stories”

Upstairs – Lawrence Watt-Evans (3/5 – The upstairs neighbours are making an awful racket, so Jack goes up to have a word. It doesn’t end well for him. Another piece of flash fiction that failed to win me over.)


Also collected in Kiernan’s “Two Worlds and In Between”

Postcards From The Prince Of Tides – Caitlín R. Kiernan (3/5 – Three twentysomethings are travelling back from Seattle along Highway 101 when their car breaks down. While Tam seeks to have the car repaired, Lark and Crispin go wandering. They find billboards for a nearby attraction promising wonderful sights of mermaids and sea serpents and more besides. Hoping for use of a phone, Lark and Crispin seek the place out. This was okay, with some great descriptive touches as we visit through each of the Lovecraftian exhibits. The strange geometry at play within the trailer housing all of the beasties was another pleasingly subtle nod. But Kiernan overuses wordwank concatenation to the pointmoment it soswiftbecomes bastarddistracting. On top of that, if I was Tam, I’d have probably drowned both Lark and Crispin in Lake Union and travelled back alone. #MisanthropyYay)

Also collected in MMS’s “More Tomorrow and Other Stories”

Everybody Goes – Michael Marshall Smith (3/5 – Three boys are gadding about in the summer sun, much like how kids used to before Fortnite came along and enslaved them all. Jim keeps catching glimpses of a man watching them from afar. When Jim gets home, the man approaches and introduces himself. This was another readable story from MMS, as they so often are, but this time the payoff was weak.)

Yellow And Red – Tanith Lee (5/5 – Gordon Martyce is a middle-age fuddy-duddy who inherits an old house away from the hustle and bustle of London. His Uncle William was the last occupier of the house, passing away some three months ago. Indeed, it seems the house has been unkind to all the Martyces who have lived there, each suffering and eventually succumbing to ill health. While poring over some old photographs in the house, Gordon accidentally splashes some whisky onto the images, spoiling them with splodges of yellow and red. When Gordon checks the photographs again, he finds a chilling truth developing in those colourful splodges. In her introduction to this story, Lee cites M.R. James as an influence she felt was perhaps only evident to herself. Ehhhhh, no. This is a story that would quickly fill any Jamesean bingo card. It reminded me a little of The Mezzotint, which was no bad thing. Either way, this was an excellent read. Comfortably one of the best stories in the book.)

Also collected in SRT’s “Out of the Dark: A Storybook of Horrors”

What Slips Away – Steve Rasnic Tem (4/5 – Taylor is working on home improvements and has been for quite some time. In fact, this near-Sisyphean task has consumed his money, his marriage, every scrap of his time and that of his father and his father’s father before him. Not that anyone would notice. The place still seems an unfinished wreck. It’s a stinking hot summer outside, certainly not the kind of weather to be hefting and humping hardware around the house. Indeed, it seems several of his fellow Do-It-Yourselfers have Overdone-It-Themselves and gone to the great hardware store in the sky. Maybe Taylor should ease up a bit and take stock of things. This is one of SRT’s straighter stories and a good one at that. Any story that uses a murderous shade to reinforce my belief that DIY should be left strictly to the pros gets a thumbs-up from me.)

Also collected in Etchison’s “The Death Artist”

Inside The Cackle Factory – Dennis Etchison (3/5 – Lisa Anne has recently started working at a research firm that gauges the reactions of test audiences to TV programme pilots. It is her job to help shepherd audience members to where they need to be. She tries her best to inveigle herself into the affections of Marty, her manager, impressing him with her knack for thinking up anagrams of TV shows and people’s names. But to what end? Why is Lisa Anne so keen to entrench herself into the company? And why does the company seem to take a heavy-handed approach to any unwelcome outsiders? The answers, frankly, are barely worth the effort. This was nominated for an International Horror Critics Guild award back in the day, but I fail to see the merit. This was one of those stories that seemed panel-beaten to deliver the ending the writer had in mind. In other words, it was as over-engineered as Lisa Anne’s tiresome anagram schtick. Eminently skippable.)

Also collected in Link’s “Pretty Monsters”

The Specialist’s Hat – Kelly Link (3/5 – Claire and Samantha are twins who discover that their babysitter used to live in their big rattly old house. The babysitter professes to know a good deal of the house’s secrets: of its little cubbyholes and hiding places, of its large attic space, and of the creepy teeth-covered Specialist’s Hat that hangs up there, waiting for them. I wanted to like this rather more than I did. The cut-up structure of the story was refreshing, and the little asides into rhyme added to the eerie atmosphere rather nicely, but the nebulous ending was a let-down. That said, this story bagged a World Fantasy Award at the time so we’ll perhaps chalk this up as one that simply wasn’t for me.)

The Boss In The Wall: A Treatise On The House Devil – Avram Davidson & Grania Davis (2/5A Précis On The House Devil may have been a more appropriate subtitle, given that this 70-odd page novella was originally a 600+ page manuscript that Davidson struggled to sell. Sadly, it shows. Worse still, the story has barely survived Davis’s heavy cutting. It’s a shame as the story starts off rather well. We are introduced to a clandestine network of academics who all share a desire to capture, study and understand the revenant-like “Paper-Men” that live in the walls of old houses across the US. We witness an attack on a family by one such creature. And then, for the remaining 60 pages, we are mostly subjected to lots of people stroking their chins and discussing Paper-Men as if they’re all Sir David Bloody Attenborough. Then, three pages before the end, a limp climax is sticky-taped to the whole affair. But the horrors don’t end there. Despite Davis hacking away 85% of the original novel she retains far too many incidental characters, each starved of story-time and whose opinions, comments and actions feel shallow and unearned. Then are there are passages that often read like screenplay outlines, juxtaposed, bizarrely, with lengthy tracts of mostly pointless info-dumping. All of which makes for a frustrating and uneven read. But perhaps the real tragedy here is that The Boss… smacks of a writer having a great idea but never quite figuring out how to turn it into a great story.)

Also collected in Ellison’s “Can & Can’tankerous”

Objects Of Desire In The Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear – Harlan Ellison (3/5 – Lieutenant Francine Jacobs is investigating the death of an old man and the bizarre circumstances in which he was found: shoeless, his throat cut so severely he was almost beheaded, and surrounded by three supermodels dressed up to the nines, each wailing to the darkening skies. The riddle of the old man’s lack of shoes is soon solved. The fact that he was over a hundred years old, possessed of two sets of organs within his body, both male and female, and was pregnant at the time of his death… well, that might take some explaining. This was okay. Ellison is as readable as ever, and, as you can see, he certainly wasn’t wanting for ideas, but the twist in the tale was weak and unearned, and felt somewhat tacked-on.)

Also collected in Straub’s “Magic Terror”

Mr Clubb And Mr Cuff – Peter Straub (4/5 – Straub closes another volume of Best New Horror with an award-winning novella; one that nabbed a Stoker, an International Horror Critics Guild award and a World Fantasy Award nomination back in the day. So, as you can imagine, it’s pretty bloody good. In Mr Clubb… we visit upon a wealthy businessman as he hires Messrs Clubb and Cuff – Private Detectives Extraordinaire – to punish his wife and lover after receiving evidence of their affair. What our man doesn’t count on are the detectives’ deeply unusual if not downright intrusive and consumptive working methods. Mr Clubb… sees Straub in an unhurried mood. The story is the literary equivalent of a seven course meal followed by a seat by the fire with cognac and fine cigars. Every aspect is given ample time to help flesh out the tale, and Straub brilliantly keeps the reader gripped throughout. Ultimately it’s Straub’s unhurried approach that begins to unsettle you. He makes no secret that Clubb and Cuff are bad men, and it’s clear something awful is going to happen. It must therefore follow that Straub is going to be equally unhurried and expansive in telling us all about it. If I had one quibble it would be with the ending, but then, in a way, it did rather suit the hyperreality of what went before. Either way, Mr Clubb… is definitely worth a read and made for a great closer to the book.)

And that concludes another review of Best New Horror. You should be able to find second-hand copies of the book on eBay, Amazon and the like should you fancy a look. You can also purchase the book on most eBook platforms if you prefer to keep things digital. The book images above will link to their respective pages on Goodreads, should you want to explore an author’s work a little more.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll pop by later for another.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1403

This week’s puzzle can be summed up in four words: too tenuous, too often.

While the setter seems to have tested every rickety bridge of their thesaurus and explored the most remote definitions of their dictionary in composing the clues to this puzzle, the general overreliance on weak links to get the job done made for an increasingly joyless grind. Putting this post together hasn’t exactly been fun, as you’ll probably detect the longer you read.

Still, at least Max Ernst didn’t appear this time.

Anyway, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. Be warned: 47d is a pure guess, so if you’ve subscribed to receive these answers via email I’d recommend checking back on this post later in the week in case anything comes to light. [EDIT: The answer to 47d seems correct after all, thanks to a stellar comment from zouzoulap. Huzzah! – LP]

Some housekeeping before we begin. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic showing a few gaps then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If you like the odd book review then I have some odd ones here. I’ll put a review of Best New Horror 10 up shortly, if only to banish this puzzle from my sight.

Anyway, that’s quite enough grumping from me. To the answers!


Across clues

1. Maybe Kentish tribe providing sheltered seat for travellers (5)

Answer: SEDAN (i.e. “sheltered seat for travellers”). Solution is SE (i.e. “Maybe Kentish”, referring to how Kent is in the South East of England) followed by DAN (i.e. “tribe” – it’s backed up by my Bradfords, but isn’t clear why. My best guess is that tribes can be deemed classes or divisions of people, and you get dans in martial arts to classify proficiency in their use. Any better suggestions are welcomed. Let’s call this Overly Tenuous Clue #1.)
[EDIT: Thanks to Mick and Flossie in the comments for clarifying DAN as one of the twelve tribes of Israel described in the Hebrew Bible. Time to expand my reference library! – LP]

4. Damning evidence from NZ expert on harmful addiction (7,3)

Answer: SMOKING GUN (i.e. “damning evidence”). Solution is GUN (i.e. “NZ expert” – it’s backed up by my Chambers, but a new one on me) preceded by SMOKING (i.e. “harmful addiction”).

9. A far-reaching current (6)

Answer: ABROAD. Clue riffs on how abroad can mean far-flung or “far-reaching”, and “current” (again, backed up by my Chambers, but I’m struggling to readily work it into a sentence).
[EDIT: Thanks to Clive in the comments for suggesting a better fit for this one, being A followed by BROAD (i.e. “far-reaching”). As mentioned earlier, “current” is one of the letter-visited definitions of “abroad”. – LP]

14. Badly outclassed Democrat quits futile campaign (4,5)

Answer: LOST CAUSE (i.e. “futile campaign”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “badly”) of OUTCLASSED once the D (a recognised abbreviation of “Democrat”) has been removed. A clue that scans rather well.

15. Antipodean version of Harry Potter film? (3,6,2,2)

Answer: THE WIZARD OF OZ. Clue riffs on how OZ is often used to describe Australia (i.e. “Antipodean”) and how “Harry Potter” is a WIZARD. You get the idea. Though both originated in books, I’m guessing the setter has added “film” to the clue because L Frank Baum never wrote a book explicitly called The Wizard of Oz.

16. Fish mostly taken by corporation cart in Revolution (7)

Answer: TUMBRIL (i.e. “cart in [French] Revolution” – they were used to cart prisoners to the guillotine. Also used to carry dung, in case the prisoner’s day wasn’t off to a bad enough start already.) Solution is BRILL (i.e. “fish” – did a Google Image search… Yup. Fish.) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) which is preceded by TUM (i.e. “corporation” – a lesser-used definition of the word, and hence loved by setters, is the large belly of something), like so: TUM-BRIL. A variant spelling of this solution, tumbrel, appeared in a recent puzzle, which didn’t help my decoding efforts. Only a “hang on, let’s just look in Chambers” moment revealed the intended spelling. Ugh!

17. Painter upset almost everyone around arrival time (9)

Answer: PERINATAL, which relates to a period from the seventh month of pregnancy through to the first month of the wee bairn’s life (i.e. “around arrival time”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “upset”) of PAINTER followed by ALL (i.e. “everyone”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “almost”), like so: PERINAT-AL.

18. Silver-grey article that woman wears (5)

Answer: ASHEN (i.e. “silver-grey”). Solution is AN (i.e. “article”) that is wrapped around or “worn” by SHE (i.e. “that woman”), like so: A(SHE)N.

19. Running dodgy affair within walls of prison, evacuating agent (6,8)

Answer: LIQUID PARAFFIN, which can be used as a kind of laxative (i.e. “evacuating agent”). Lovely! Solution is LIQUID (i.e. “running”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “dodgy”) of AFFAIR once it has been placed “within” P and N (i.e. “walls of prison”, i.e. the first and last letters of prison), like so: LIQUID-P(ARAFFI)N.

22. Having mastery over new spinner, given the necessary for protection (2,3,2)

Answer: ON TOP OF (i.e. “having mastery over”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and TOP (i.e. “spinner”, as in a spinning top… ask your great-grandparents, kids) placed in or “protected” by OOF (i.e. “the necessary” – informally this can mean cash, and oof is a Yiddish slang word for money), like so: O(N-TOP)OF. I think we can all agree this comfortably qualifies as Overly Tenuous Clue #2.

25. Maintenance shed put up on circuit (10)

Answer: ROUNDHOUSE (i.e. “maintenance shed” – matches a few definitions, but I’ll plump for “an engine house with a turntable” (Chambers)). Solution is HOUSE (i.e. “put up”) preceded by ROUND (i.e. “circuit”).

27. Bread merchant from Germany chosen at random, not having succeeded (5,7)

Answer: MONEY CHANGER (i.e. “bread merchant” – riffing on “bread” being a slang word for “money”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “at random”) of GERMANY CHOSEN once the S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) has been removed (indicated by “not having…”).

30. One can’t tolerate hot drink, tossing off whiskey (5)

Answer: HATER (i.e. “one can’t tolerate”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”) followed by WATER (i.e. “drink”) once the W has been removed (indicated by “tossing off whiskey” – “whiskey” being W in the phonetic alphabet).

31. Exhaust Spooner’s 18 individual (8)

Answer: TAILPIPE (i.e. “exhaust [of a motor vehicle]”). The solution to “18 [across]” is ASHEN. An ashen “individual” would be a PALE TYPE. The spoonerism of this, i.e. swapping the sounds of the initial letters, gets you TAILPIPE. The pernickety side of me would have preferred some kind of homophone indicator here. C-minus, setter. See me.

32. Eponymous royal in danger, having swallowed 100 tablets (8)

Answer: PERICLES (i.e. “eponymous royal” – after some digging around, this seems to refer to the chief magistrate in various ancient Greek city states – the eponymous archon – though if Wikipedia is any guide (I know, I know) Pericles seems only to have been the man behind the man, or, later, a de facto ruler.) Solution is PERIL (i.e. “danger”) which is wrapped around or “swallowing” C (i.e. “[Roman numeral] 100”) and followed by ES (i.e. “tablets”, as in ecstasy pills), like so: PERI(C)L-ES. Is it just me, or does “royal” feel like a poor fit here? I think this qualifies as Overly Tenuous Clue #3.
[EDIT: Thanks to Mick in the comments for suggesting a better fit for this clue. The “royal” element references a Shakespeare play called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. – LP]

35. Dogs as a body featured in writing (8)

Answer: MASTIFFS (i.e. “dogs”). Solution is A STIFF (i.e. “a [dead] body”) placed or “featured in” MS (i.e. “writing”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “manuscript”), like so: M(A-STIFF)S.

36. Further amend register at the last moment (8)

Answer: READJUST (i.e. “further amend”). Solution is READ (i.e. “[to] register”) followed by JUST (i.e. “at the last moment”).

37. Girl from the east making appearance before noon (5)

Answer: MARIA (i.e. “girl”). Solution is AIR (i.e. “appearance”) followed by AM (i.e. “before noon”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “from the east” – this being an across clue), like so: MA-RIA.

39. Confuse Lorna’s boss at the office (2,4,4,2)

Answer: DO ONE’S HEAD IN (i.e. “confuse”). Solution is DOONE’S (i.e. “Lorna’s”, as in Lorna Doone, an 1869 novel by Richard Doddridge Blackmore) followed by HEAD (i.e. “boss”) and IN (i.e. “at the office” – though setters more often use “home” to describe IN, it can also mean “at the office”). A small admission from the setter, do you reckon?

41. Pack in position respecting request to see back (3,1,4,2)

Answer: PUT A STOP TO (i.e. “pack in”). This took some getting, but the solution is PUT (i.e. “position”) followed by AS TO (i.e. “respecting”) and PTO (i.e. “request to see back”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “please turn over”).

43. Ruthless criminal, right to go for his pursuers? (7)

Answer: SLEUTHS. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of RUTHLESS once the R has been removed (indicated by “right to go”, R being a recognised abbreviation of “right”).

45. Advantage when treating possible side-effect of pub brawl (10,4)

Answer: BARGAINING CHIP (i.e. “advantage”). When read as BAR GAINING CHIP it also satisfies “possible side-effect of pub brawl”. It doesn’t really qualify as an Overly Tenuous Clue, perhaps, but nor does it qualify as a great one. Moving on…

48. Like Tom or Charlie, always keeping dry? (5)

Answer: CATTY (i.e. “like tom” – ignore the misleading capitalisation, unless, of course, you’re a fan of Tom and Jerry cartoons). Solution is C (i.e. “Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by AY (variant form of “aye”, i.e. “always”) once it has been wrapped around or “keeping” TT (i.e. “dry”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “teetotal”), like so: C-A(TT)Y.

49. La Scala habitué typically rebuffed sailor: time to express hesitation? (9)

Answer: OPERAGOER (i.e. “La Scala habitué typically” – La Scala is an opera house in Italy, while habitué is a habitual frequenter). Solution is PO (i.e. “sailor”, specifically a Petty Officer) which is reversed (indicated by “rebuffed”), then followed by ERA (i.e. “time”), then GO (i.e. “express” – not getting anything here, to be honest. They could both tenuously describe something quick, perhaps, but this is as weak as an eighth-pint piss), then ER (i.e. “hesitation”), like so: OP-ERA-GO-ER.
[EDIT: Thanks to Rodney in the comments of my About page for shedding light on this one. “To express hesitation” is to say or GO ER… which is a much better fit – LP]

51. Planet’s orbiting tracks in heavens (5,2)

Answer: GLORY BE (i.e. an exclamatory “heavens!”). Solution is GLOBE (i.e. “planet”) wrapped around or “orbiting” RY (i.e. “tracks”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), like so: GLO(RY)BE.

53. Call dad in to stop super FA squad (7,6)

Answer: CRYSTAL PALACE (i.e. “FA squad” – FA being Football Association). Solution is CRY (i.e. “call”) followed by PA (i.e. “dad”) once it has been placed “in” STALL (i.e. “to stop”), and then followed by ACE (i.e. “super”), like so: CRY-STAL(PA)L-ACE.

54. Most garrulous companion, one interrupting witness (9)

Answer: CHATTIEST (i.e. “most garrulous”). Solution is CH (i.e. “companion”, specifically a Companion of Honour) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) once it has been placed in or “interrupting” ATTEST (i.e. “witness”), like so: CH-ATT(I)EST.

55. Queen and I fancy one at Ascot, maybe (6)

Answer: EQUINE (i.e. “one at Ascot, maybe”). “Fancy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of QUEEN and I.

56. Robotic men endlessly stalked round province (10)

Answer: MECHANISED (i.e. “robotic”). Solution is MEN with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and followed by CHASED (i.e. “stalked”. Hmm. I’m no huntsman or creepy incel, but if you find you are chasing after something then I’d argue you’ve made a complete Henry Halls of stalking it. I call bullshit on this, so cue Overly Tenuous Clue #4…) once it has been placed “round” NI (i.e. “province”, specifically Northern Ireland), like so: ME-CHA(NI)SED.

57. Pick up, being extremely short of energy (5)

Answer: RALLY (i.e. “pick up”). Solution is REALLY (i.e. “extremely”) once the E has been removed (indicated by “short of energy”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “energy”).

Down clues

1. Prepares portions of peaches (6)

Answer: SPLITS (i.e. “prepares portions”). A lesser-used sense of the word “peach” is to accuse or inform against, or to betray, which represents a split of sorts.

2. Clarifies fluid a bigamist used (13)

Answer: DISAMBIGUATES (i.e. “clarifies”). “Fluid” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A BIGAMIST USED.

3. Subtler comrade initially in control after uprising (5)

Answer: NICER (i.e. “subtler” – both descriptive of something more delicate). Solution is C (i.e. “comrade initially”, i.e. the first letter of “comrade”) placed “in” REIN (i.e. “control”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “after uprising”, this being a down clue), like so: NI(C)ER.

4. Filthy hat with short band on top (7)

Answer: SQUALID (i.e. “filthy”). Solution is LID (i.e. “hat”) preceded by (indicated by “on top”, again this being a down clue) SQUAD (i.e. “band”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “short”), like so: SQUA-LID.

5. Person eager to form crew, trying to stay ahead (3-9)

Answer: ONE-UPMANSHIP (i.e. “trying to stay ahead”). Solution is ONE (i.e. “person”) followed by UP (i.e. “eager”, a remote definition of “up” is “with vigour” – a bit weak if I have it right, but then “tenuous” is this week’s watchword) and [to] MAN SHIP (i.e. “to form crew”).
[EDIT: Thanks to Steve in the comments for suggesting a better fit for UP/eager, as demonstrated here… anyone UP for a slightly easier Times Jumbo Cryptic next week? – LP]

6. Swimming trainer introducing wife in twenties or thirties? (8)

Answer: INTERWAR, in this case the period between the two World Wars (i.e. “in [nineteen-]twenties or thirties”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “swimming”) of TRAINER wrapped around or “introducing” W (a recognised abbreviation of “wife”), like so: INTER(W)AR.

7. Inexperienced politician (5)

Answer: GREEN. Solution satisfies “inexperienced” and “politician”, as in a member of the Green Party.

8. Chance participant in an Anglo-French engagement? (10)

Answer: UNINTENDED (i.e. “chance”). “Engagement” in this case relates to being engaged to marry one’s INTENDED. “Anglo-French” indicates the engagement would be between an English person and a French person. French for “one” is UN, so the solution could be read as UN INTENDED. You get the idea.

10. Contrary girl coming out quickly obliged to lie (7)

Answer: BEDFAST (i.e. “obliged to lie [in bed]”). Solution is DEB (i.e. “girl”) reversed (indicated by “contrary”, as in the opposite or inverse) and followed by FAST (i.e. “coming out quickly”), like so: BED-FAST.
[EDIT: Rodney added a comment to my About page offering a better explanation for this one. A “girl coming out” would be a debutante, an informal form of which is DEB. This is reversed and then followed by FAST for “quickly”. Thanks, Rodney! – LP]

11. Is dry laundry taken thus ready to wear? (3-3-3)

Answer: OFF-THE-PEG. Solution satisfies “dry laundry taken thus” and “ready to wear”. A recent repeat.

12. Drop off note that twelfth man’s completed? (5)

Answer: DOZEN (i.e. “that twelfth man’s completed” – twelve makes a dozen). Solution is DOZE (i.e. “drop off”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “note”). While I’ve rather whaled on this week’s setter all through this post, I do rather like how DOZEN has been slotted in 12 down.

13. Manchester-based players intent on scoring? (5,9)

Answer: HALLE ORCHESTRA, which are based in Manchester. “Scoring” in this case relating to musical scores, and “players” being musicians. That’s about it, I guess, unless I’ve missed something clever.

20. Ashes here often getting a bad press (5,4)

Answer: UNDER FIRE. Solution satisfies “ashes here often” and “getting a bad press”.

21. They stole to pay for accommodation (8)

Answer: FOOTPADS, an archaic word for a highwayman (i.e. “they stole”). Solution is FOOT (i.e. “to pay for”) followed by PADS (i.e. “accommodation”).

23. Signal the person behind, after warning from driver (10)

Answer: FORESHADOW (i.e. “signal”). Solution is SHADOW (i.e. “the person behind” – again, weak, bordering on overly-tenuous) placed “after” FORE (i.e. “warning from driver”, as in someone teeing off in golf).

24. Ancient Greek, sound as a bell, died in his god’s embrace (10)

Answer: ARCHIMEDES (i.e. an “ancient Greek”). Solution is CHIME (i.e. “sound as a bell”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “died”) placed “in” ARES (i.e. “his god’s embrace”, Ares being the Greek god of war whose arse you eventually get to roundly kick in the excellent and entirely historically accurate God of War), like so: AR(CHIME-D)ES.

26. Dead dead good? (3,2,4,5)

Answer: OUT OF THIS WORLD. Solution satisfies “dead” and “dead good”.

28. A team order visiting international clubs accepted (9)

Answer: AXIOMATIC (i.e. “accepted”). Solution is A followed by XI (i.e. “team”, XI being eleven expressed in Roman numerals), then OM (i.e. “order”, specifically the Order of Merit), then AT (i.e. “visiting”), then I (a recognised abbreviation of “international”) and finally C (ditto “clubs”, used in card games), like so: A-XI-OM-AT-I-C.

29. Prompter’s page cutting more off (8)

Answer: SPEEDIER (i.e. “prompter”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “page”) placed in or “cutting” SEEDIER (i.e. “more off”), like so: S(P)EEDIER.

33. Peer can shut up government official (4,5,4)

Answer: LORD PRIVY SEAL (i.e. “government official”, specifically one that has served no function for centuries and yet still attracts a ministerial salary. Nice work if you can get it, eh?). Solution is LORD (i.e. “peer”) followed by PRIVY (i.e. “can”, both taken to mean “toilet”) and SEAL (i.e. “[to] shut up”).

34. Fall over copper, oddly curious going round plant (6,6)

Answer: AUTUMN CROCUS (i.e. “plant”). Solution is AUTUMN (i.e. “fall”) followed by CROS (i.e. “oddly curious”, i.e. the odd letters of CURIOUS) placed or “going round” CU (chemical symbol of “copper”), like so: AUTUMN-CRO(CU)S.

38. Type of rock bun? (6,4)

Answer: MARBLE CAKE (i.e. “bun”). Clue riffs on marble being a “type of rock”. That’s about it, I guess.

40. I’m all attention, blasted voyeur too (4,2,3)

Answer: OVER TO YOU (i.e. “I’m all attention” – it feels weak but works if you think of it in terms of, say, debating or playing a game against someone). “Blasted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of VOYEUR TOO.

42. Early 17th century Frenchman astride a horse (8)

Answer: JACOBEAN (i.e. “early 17th century”). Solution is JEAN (i.e. “Frenchman”) wrapped around or “astride” A COB (i.e. “a horse”), like so: J(A-COB)EAN.

44. Test the water – with a new costume? (3,2,2)

Answer: TRY IT ON. Solution satisfies “test the water” (taken figuratively not literally) and “test…a new costume”.

46. Scrooge’s raised spirit bore up (7)

Answer: NIGGARD (i.e. a miser or “Scrooge”). Solution is GIN (i.e. “spirit”) reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue) followed by DRAG (i.e. “bore”, as in someone who is dull) also reversed (indicated by “up” – again, this being a down clue), like so: NIG-GARD.

47. Using the other side of racket, almost efficiently (6)

Answer: NEATLY (i.e. “efficiently”). A pure guess, I’m afraid. I cannot get a fix on this one at all, so it has every chance of being incorrect. Given the umpteen words that fit the letters _E_T_Y, combined with the setter’s tiresome overreliance on tenuous links, this could be anything. GENTLY? DEFTLY perhaps?
[EDIT: A huge thank you to zouzoulap in the comments for shedding light on this one. The solution is NEARLY (i.e. “almost”) with the R replaced by T. This is inferred by “using the other side of racket”, i.e. use the last letter of “racket” instead of the first letter. I don’t recall seeing this kind of wordplay before, but it does fit the tortu(r)ous nature of this week’s puzzle. Even so, bloody hell, setter, have a word… -LP]

48. Pine as base for cold store (5)

Answer: CACHE (i.e. “store”). Solution is ACHE (i.e. “pine”) placed below (indicated by “as base for” – this being a down clue) C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold”), like so: C-ACHE.

50. Humble seaman remains (5)

Answer: ABASH (i.e. to strike with shame or to “humble”). Solution is AB (i.e. “seaman”, specifically Able Bodied) followed by ASH (i.e. “[cremated] remains”).

52. Fox terrier bit armpit (5)

Answer: OXTER (i.e. “armpit” – no, me neither, but it’s in the dictionary). “Bit” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: F(OX TER)RIER.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1402

A toughie this week, though one whose (manifold) exotics lay just on the right side of annoying. A few mysteries remain – time is getting on as I edit this, and my brain has gone soggy. Also, is it just me or did the setter leave most of the exotics for the down clues? I mean, look at some of them! Sheesh!

Anyway, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

[EDIT – I’ve updated the grid, changing 31a to ENLISTEES, following John’s helpful explanation in the comments of my ‘About’ page, and 41d to INTERVENE, as this is a much better fit. – LP]

A little housekeeping before we begin, in time-honoured fashion. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s left you baffled then my Just For Fun page could help you. Failing that, hey, about some book reviews? No? Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on…

Still no?

Fine. To the answers, then!


Thanks to John in the comments for correcting 31a. – LP


Across clues

1. Accomplices having fun after eleven? (9)

Answer: SIDEKICKS (i.e. “accomplices”). Solution is KICKS (i.e. “fun”) placed “after” SIDE (i.e. “eleven”, as in a football team, among others), like so: SIDE-KICKS.

6. Chose hotel on vacation, purely randomly, as temporary resting place? (4,9)

Answer: HOLY SEPULCHRE, the tomb in which the body of Christ was placed after the crucifixion. (i.e. “temporary resting place”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “randomly”) of CHOSE, HL (i.e. “hotel on vacation”, i.e. the word “hotel” with all of its middle letters removed) and PURELY. One of several clues in this puzzle that scans rather well. Somehow, I’ve managed to get through this blog post resisting all the while adding BATMAN! to the end of HOLY SEPULCHRE. I’ve changed, man, I’ve changed…

13. One who has depression after losing daughter (5)

Answer: OWNER (i.e. “one who has”). Solution is DOWNER (i.e. “depression”) with the D removed (indicated by “losing daughter”, d being a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”).

14. Chin disfigured with gunshot – or something else entirely (2,4,5)

Answer: NO SUCH THING (i.e. “something else entirely”). “Disfigured” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CHIN and GUNSHOT.

15. Preserving agent’s bulletin: it recommends contracting (5)

Answer: NITRE, also known as saltpetre (i.e. “preserving agent”). “Contracting” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: BULLETI(N IT RE)COMMENDS.

16. Declaration when going to part of Sicily, for example (11)

Answer: ARRIVEDERCI, which is Italian for farewell. Incidentally, also Brad Pitt’s best line in Inglourious Basterds. Anyway, “declaration when going to part”. The “of Sicily” indicates the Italian angle. You get the idea.

17. General manager, at first opening in French, is puzzling people (11)

Answer: ENIGMATISTS (i.e. “puzzling people”). Solution is GM (a recognised abbreviation of “general manager”), AT and IST (i.e. “first”, the I representing a 1) placed in or “opening” EN (i.e. “in French”, i.e. the French for “in”) and IS, like so: EN-I(GM-AT-IST)S.

18. Gift of mobile phone, with time exchanged for pounds (7)

Answer: HANDSEL, which is an inaugural “gift”, such as a coin placed in the pocket of a new coat. Solution is HANDSET (i.e. “mobile phone”) with the T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) replaced by or “exchanged for” L (ditto “pounds”). One I got from the wordplay and a check in my Chambers, if I’m honest. Nice word, though. I like it.

20. Protective gear appropriate for post-holder (7)

Answer: MAILBAG (i.e. “post-holder”). Solution is MAIL (i.e. “protective gear”, as in chain mail) followed by BAG (i.e. “[to] appropriate”).

21. Proceeds awkwardly, stopping for one to turn and look (7)

Answer: GLIMPSE (i.e. “look”). Solution is LIMPS (i.e. “proceeds awkwardly”) placed in or “stopping” EG (i.e. “for one”, as in “for example”) which has been reversed (indicated by “to turn”), like so: G(LIMPS)E.

23. No matter what is drunk with alcohol, emerge healthier (extremely) (4,4,2,4,5)

Answer: COME HELL OR HIGH WATER (i.e. “no matter what”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “drunk”) of WITH ALCOHOL EMERGE and HR (i.e. “healthier (extremely)”, i.e. the first and last letters of “healthier”). A clue I can get on board with.

27. Little friend, we hear, to bear regret (3)

Answer: RUE (i.e. “regret”). “We hear” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of ROO, (i.e. “little friend … to [Pooh] bear”).

28. Occasion to be poorly attended by specialist medical department (6)

Answer: ENTAIL (i.e. “occasion” – a little tenuous, but it’s backed up by my Chambers Thesaurus). Solution is AIL (i.e. “to be poorly”) placed “by” ENT (i.e. “specialist medical department”, specifically Ear Nose and Throat), like so: ENT-AIL.

29. Old African film – and welcome theatre performance (6)

Answer: ETHIOP (i.e. “old African” – it’s tagged in the dictionary as an archaic term). Solution is ET (i.e. “[Spielberg] film”) followed by HI (i.e. “welcome”) and OP (i.e. “theatre performance”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “opus”).
[EDIT: Skeggis in the comments offers an alternative for OP, with “theatre performance” referring to a surgical procedure, which seems a better fit. Thanks, Skeggis! – LP]

31. Recruits ultimately neglectful in returning without shirts (9)

Answer: ENLISTEES (i.e. “recruits”). I haven’t got a Scooby on this one, so watch out. “Ultimately neglectful” could be L, as in its final letter, but after that I’m snookered. Some kip is needed, I reckon.
[EDIT: A big thank you to John in the comments of my ‘About’ page for this one. The answer is ENLISTEES (not ENLISTERS as I’d had it), being L (i.e. “ultimately neglectful”, i.e. the last letter of “neglectful”) being placed in SINE (Latin for “without”, e.g. sine die, meaning “without a day”) which is reversed (indicated by “in returning”) and followed by TEES (i.e. “shirts”), like so: EN(L)IS-TEES. Flippin’ ‘eck, I would never have gotten that one! – LP]

34. Books and a sticker collected by mostly hard-up party organisers (9)

Answer: POLITBURO (i.e. “[Soviet] party organisers”). Solution is LIT (i.e. “books”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “literature”) and BUR (i.e. “sticker”, as in those sticky plant seeds that cling to your clothes – also spelled “burr”) placed in or “collected by” POOR (i.e. “hard-up”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “mostly”), like so: PO(LIT-BUR)O.

35. Axes absorbing old reference work that’s not remained constant (2-4)

Answer: YO-YOED (i.e. “that’s not remained constant”). Solution is Y and Y (i.e. “axes [of graphs]”) wrapped around or “absorbing” O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and followed by OED (i.e. “reference work”, specifically the Oxford English Dictionary), like so: Y(O)Y-OED.

36. Love early Dad’s Army I see in theatre (3,3)

Answer: OLD VIC (i.e. “[London] theatre”). Solution is O (i.e. “love”, as in a zero score in tennis) followed by LDV (short for Local Defence Volunteers, i.e. “early Dad’s army”), then I and C (i.e. “see”, as in the third letter of the alphabet).

39. Succeed, after going back regularly a bit (3)

Answer: ECU (i.e. “a bit”, as in a coin. Over the years an ecu has been an old French coin as well as a precursor to the euro, as in the European Currency Unit). “Regularly” indicates the solution can be derived by taking every other letter of SUCCEED once it has been reversed (indicated by “going back”), like so: DEECCUS.

40. Fiction by people put out for religious festival (9,2,3,5)

Answer: INVENTION OF THE CROSS, a “religious festival” observed on Star Wars Eve. Solution is INVENTION (i.e. “fiction”) followed by OF THE CROSS (i.e. “people put out”). One I got from the wordplay, to be honest.

42. Threat from deep from one football team, way back (7)

Answer: TSUNAMI (i.e. “threat from deep”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by MAN U (i.e. “football team”, i.e. Manchester United) and ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”), all reversed (indicated by “back”), like so: TS-U-NAM-I.

43. Jewish court risked row after hours (4,3)

Answer: BETH DIN (i.e. “Jewish court”). Solution is BET (i.e. “risked”) and DIN (i.e. “row”) once it has been placed “after” H (a recognised abbreviation of “hours”), like so: BET-H-DIN. Chalk one to my Bradfords here. Most everything religious in my brain has been claimed by adaptive memory over the years.

45. Chap coming from game left public house after party (7)

Answer: RUDOLPH (i.e. “chap”, as in a man’s name). Solution is RU (i.e. “game”, specifically Rugby Union), and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and PH (ditto “public house”) once they’ve been placed “after” DO (i.e. “party”), like so: RU-DO-L-PH.

47. Place irises all round person in a field (11)

Answer: SPECIALISER (i.e. “person in a field”). “All round” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PLACE IRISES.

49. Which sees gas production at its peak? (6,5)

Answer: SUMMIT TALKS, e.g. those confabs between the G7, the G20, etc, which provide wonderful photo opportunities for those world leaders in attendance, eye-watering bar bills from their entourage and precious little progress for the world in general. Clue riffs on how “gas production” can refer to talking, and how “peak” is another word for “summit”. You get the idea.

51. Immigrant lives west of Southwark area (5)

Answer: ISSEI – off to my Chambers for this one: “a Japanese immigrant in the USA … after 1907, who did not qualify for citizenship until 1952”. So an “immigrant” then. Solution is IS (i.e. “lives”) followed by SEI (i.e. “Southwark area”, i.e. the post code area SE1). Relevant aside: I keep picking up James Ellroy’s Perfidia in Waterstones, especially now he’s followed it up with This Storm – it’s a sure sign I’ll buy them both at some point. Fun fact: my to-be-read pile can now be measured in mid-sized Waterstones stores.

52. State goal of female to acquire son (11)

Answer: NETHERLANDS (i.e. “state”). Solution is NET (i.e. “goal” in various sports) followed by HER (i.e. “of female”), then LAND (i.e. “to acquire”) and S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”).

53. Founder of Academy of Sport, just about closed (5)

Answer: PLATO (i.e. “founder of [the Platonic] Academy”). Solution is PLAY (i.e. “sport”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “just about”) and followed by TO (i.e. “closed”, as in leaving a door closed to), like so: PLA-TO. I’m not 100% here, so I’m open to alternatives.

54. A number of just people isolated? (4,3,6)

Answer: ONLY THE LONELY, a song or musical “number” by Roy Orbison. Solution also satisfies “just people isolated”.

55. Coffee percolator – at last – light and modern! (6-3)

Answer: LATTER-DAY (i.e. “modern”). Solution is LATTE (i.e. “coffee”) followed by R (i.e. “percolator – at last”, i.e. the last letter of “percolator”) and then DAY (i.e. “light”).

Down clues

1. Stand with one outside hospital to make complaint (11)

Answer: STOMACHACHE (i.e. “complaint”). Solution is STOMACH (i.e. to bear or “stand”) followed by ACE (i.e. “one” in  cards) once it has been placed “outside” of H (a recognised abbreviation of “hospital” used on maps), like so: STOMACH-AC(H)E.

2. Nervy conductor in retreat, humming endlessly (7)

Answer: DENDRON (i.e. “nervy conductor”, relating to elements of one’s nervous system). Solution is DEN (i.e. a study or “retreat”) followed by DRONE (i.e. “humming”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”), like so: DEN-DRON. Chalk another one to my Bradfords here.

3. Put out verse about Irish dancers (5)

Answer: KIROV Ballet, also known as the Mariinsky Ballet, over yonder in Russia, i.e. “dancers”. Solution is KO (i.e. “put out”, as in to knock out) and V (a recognised abbreviation of “verse”) placed “about” IR (ditto “Irish”), like so: K(IR)O-V. No, me neither. One I got purely from the wordplay and a quick Google to confirm.

4. May a surrealist work fifty years to produce something blooming orange? (6,4)

Answer: CANADA LILY, a plant that produces yellow or orange heads (i.e. “something blooming orange”). Did a Google Image search – ooh, pretty. Solution is CAN (i.e. “may”) followed by A, then DALI (i.e. “surrealist work”, as in an artwork produced by Salvador Dali), then L (i.e. “[Roman numeral] fifty”), then Y (a recognised abbreviation of “years”), like so: CAN-A-DALI-L-Y. Another one gotten purely from the wordplay.

5. Spies, close to cot, strange old rattle (7)

Answer: SISTRUM, “an ancient Egyptian wire rattle used in Isis-worship” (Chambers again.) Solution is SIS (i.e. “spies”, specifically the Secret Intelligence Service, more commonly known as MI6) followed by T (i.e. “close to cot”, i.e. the last letter of “cot”) and RUM (i.e. “strange”). A combination of wordplay and brute-forcing Chambers was needed here.

6. Two hotels, one mythic icon, transformed Asian port (2,3,4,4)

Answer: HO CHI MINH CITY (i.e. “Asian port”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “transformed”) of H, H (i.e. “two hotels”, H being “hotel” in the phonetic alphabet), I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and MYTHIC ICON. An easy get, having appeared before.

7. One dropping paper’s new setters? An error! (9)

Answer: LITTERBUG (i.e. “one dropping papers”). Solution is LITTER (i.e. “new setters” – badgers live in setts, so a litter of badger cubs would be “new setters”) followed by BUG (i.e. “an error”).

8. Hold in position large drink bottles for stealing (7)

Answer: SWIPING (i.e. “stealing”). Solution is PIN (i.e. “hold in position”) placed in or “bottled” by SWIG (i.e. “large drink”), like so: SWI(PIN)G.

9. Irrational general secretary with power and cunning? Unlikely! (4,5,3)

Answer: PIGS MIGHT FLY (i.e. “unlikely”). Solution is PI (an “irrational” number, being one that cannot be expressed as a fraction with an integer numerator and denominator), followed by GS (a recognised abbreviation of “general secretary”), then MIGHT (i.e. “power”) and FLY (i.e. “cunning”, as in being pretty fly (for a white guy)).

10. Going on more trips up Rhine, get beyond lake (9)

Answer: LENGTHIER (i.e. “going on more”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “trips up”) of RHINE GET which is placed after or “beyond” L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”), like so: L-ENGTHIER.

11. African race issue, tough to bring up every so often (5)

Answer: HUTUS (i.e. “African race”). “Every so often” indicates the solution can be derived by taking every other letter of ISSUE TOUGH, once reversed (indicated by “bring up” – this being a down clue), like so: HGUOT EUSSI

12. Quits flat, base for assignment in Rugby (4-7)

Answer: EVEN-STEVENS (i.e. “quits”). Solution is EVEN (i.e. “flat”) followed by T (i.e. “base” – a guess here, but I’m plumping for a recognised abbreviation of “tare”. This goes back to my days helping in my grandparent’s shop, where you would tare or zero the weighing scale once the pan had been placed on it. You could then measure whatever it was you wanted to weigh. (Often sweets.)) once it has been placed or “assigned in” SEVENS (i.e. a variant form of “rugby” – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: EVEN-S(T)EVENS.
[EDIT: Thanks to Mark in the comments for pointing out a much more straightforward explanation for T, being the last letter or “base” of the word “assignment”. That’s better! – LP]

19. For old chancellor, that is hard, halfway through his time in office? Erm, no (7)

Answer: Helmut SCHMIDT (i.e. “old [German] chancellor”). Solution is SC (i.e. “that is”, being a recognised abbreviation of the Latin scilicet, meaning “namely” – a new one on me) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard”) and MIDTERM (i.e. “halfway through his time in office”) once the ERM has been removed (indicated by “erm, no”), like so: SC-H-MIDT. Chalk one to my Bradfords, here, as this guy was a little before my time.

22. OAP, overly disposed to speak French (9)

Answer: PARLEYVOO (i.e. “to speak French”, riffing on the way “parlez-vous” is spoken – yes, it’s in the dictionary! Yes, I was surprised too). “Disposed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OAP OVERLY. One I solved only when I’d gotten most of the intersecting letters.

24. Satisfied large cuts augur badly for popular seventies track (9)

Answer: METALGURU (i.e. “popular seventies track [by T Rex]” – surely this is two words? I’ve checked Google, Spotify, even Wikipedia goddammit, and it’s two words. Yellow card, setter. (Explodes in typical internet nowtrage.)) Solution is MET (i.e. “satisfied”) followed L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) once it has been placed in an anagram (indicated by “badly”) of AUGUR, like so: MET-A(L)GURU.

25. In St Nazaire, where a couple of sailors dated (7)

Answer: OUTWORN (i.e. “dated”). Solution is OU (i.e. “in St Nazaire, where”, i.e. the French for “where”) followed by TWO (i.e. “a couple”) and RN (i.e. “sailors”, specifically the Royal Navy).

26. From which enemy corps have we initially recoiled? (7)

Answer: WHEREOF (i.e. “from which”). Solution is FOE (i.e. “enemy”) followed by RE (i.e. “corps”, specifically the Royal Engineers) and H and W (i.e. “have we initially”, i.e. the first letters of “have” and “we”), which are all reversed (indicated by “recoiled”), like so: W-H-ER-EOF.

30. Where estate maybe would show evidence of early settlement? (3-3-7)

Answer: PAY-AND-DISPLAY. Clue riffs on how an “estate” can be a car, and how you would prominently show a pay-and-display ticket on your car to show you’ve pre-paid a parking charge, i.e. “evidence of early settlement”. I actually groaned when this finally clicked. I like it.

32. Wed Dec 1: records sent up (7)

Answer: SPLICED (i.e. “wed”). Solution is DEC I (i.e. “Dec 1”) and LPS (i.e. “[long-play] records”) all reversed (indicated by “sent up” – this being a down clue), like so: SPL-I-CED.

33. Under this, almost certain to conceal weapon? (12)

Answer: SURVILLANCE. Solution is SURE (i.e. “certain”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”) followed by VEIL (i.e. “to conceal”) and LANCE (i.e. “weapon”). In the context of the solution, under surveillance, you would conceal a weapon rather than flash it about. A clue that scans rather well.

34. Quietly topping others, manned satellite, if you ask me, is most speedy (11)

Answer: PRESTISSIMO (i.e. “most speedy” in musical lingo). Solution is P (i.e. “quietly”, also in musical lingo, being a recognised abbreviation of “piano”) followed by or “topping” (this being a down clue) REST (i.e. “others”), then ISS (i.e. “manned satellite”, specifically the International Space Station) and IMO (i.e. “if you ask me”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “in my opinion”). Musical terms have lately been something of a motif for these puzzles, haven’t they?

37. One doctor may look up to, say, corrupted with riches (4,7)

Answer: CASE HISTORY (i.e. “one doctor may look up”). “Corrupted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO SAY and RICHES.

38. My old chair? That’s without doubt in the end the place to be! (5,3,2)

Answer: WHERE IT’S AT (i.e. “the place to be”). Solution is WHERE I SAT (i.e. “my old chair”) wrapped around or placed “without” T (i.e. “doubt in the end”, i.e. the last letter of “doubt”), like so: WHERE-I-(T)-SAT.

40. Creative person from newspaper opposed to blocking film (9)

Answer: IMAGINIST (i.e. “creative person”). Solution is the I (i.e. “newspaper”, launched in the UK in 2010) followed by AGIN (i.e. “opposed to”) once it has been placed in or “blocking” MIST (i.e. “film”), like so: I-M(AGIN)IST.

41. Get involved in a day to celebrate trainee nurses (9)

Answer: INTERVENE (i.e. “get involved”). Another where the setter has lost me, so watch out. Again, perhaps some sleep will help.
[EDIT: I’m changing my answer to INTERVENE (not INTERFERE). My solution is INTERNE (i.e. “trainee”) which is wrapped around or “nursing” VE (i.e. “a day to celebrate”, as in Victory in Europe), like so: INTER(VE)NE. Got there in the end! – LP]

43. Southern African graduates, and nothing but (7)

Answer: BASOTHO, a Bantu people of Lesotho (i.e. “Southern African”). Solution is BAS (i.e. “graduates”, specifically Bachelors of Arts) followed by O (i.e. “nothing”) and THO (i.e. “but”, as in an informal, contracted form of “though”). A little brute force of my Chambers was necessary when I couldn’t panel-beat “Lesotho” into the letters I had. Or the clue, for that matter.

44. In theory plan I’m only partially up for (7)

Answer: NOMINAL (i.e. “in theory”). “Partially” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “up” indicates the solution has been reversed – this being a down clue – like so: P(LAN I’M ON)LY.

46. Old reformist that makes me crack up and blubber (7)

Answer: the LOLLARD movement, which was a pre-Protestant Christian religious movement that existed from the early 14th century to the English Reformation. No, me neither. Adaptive memory, see? Anyway, “old reformist”. Solution is LOL (i.e. “crack up”, as in “laugh out loud”, a popular acronym among interwebbers) followed by LARD (i.e. “blubber”). Another win for the Bradfords, here.

48. Drawing support and comfort first from lover (5)

Answer: EASEL (i.e. “drawing support”). Solution is EASE (i.e. “comfort”) followed by L (i.e. “first from lover”, i.e. the first letter of “lover”).

50. Tent peg found outside gym (5)

Answer: TEPEE (i.e. “tent”). Solution is TEE (i.e. “peg”) placed “outside” of PE (i.e. “gym”, as in Physical Education), like so: TE(PE)E.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1401

Or should I now start calling these Times Jumbo Max Ernst Crosswords? Hey, why not? He appears nearly every week in these puzzles. It’s like he’s got a sodding residency.


Max Ernst aside, this wasn’t too bad a puzzle, all told, though the setter didn’t half like using people’s names. And islands. (Shrugs shoulders.) You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

As ever, a spot of housekeeping before I let you go. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Max Ernst Crossword that’s showing a few gaps then try seeing if ERNST fits in any of them. You never know! If that fails, then you might find my Just For Fun page a useful resource. If book reviews tickle your fancy, have a wander over to my Reviews page. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 10 up shortly. Well, shortly-ish. Ehhhh, give it a while.

Right, that’s enough blatheration for now. Onto the answers. Till next time, TTFN.


Across clues

1. Snow vehicle made by fellow with a lot of skill (9)

Answer: BOBSLEIGH (i.e. “snow vehicle”). Solution is BOB (i.e. “fellow”, as in a man’s name) followed by SLEIGHT (i.e. “skill”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “a lot of”, as in “most of”), like so: BOB-SLEIGH.

6. Garden plot you and I returned to sprinkle with water (5)

Answer: BEDEW (i.e. “to sprinkle with water”). Solution is BED (i.e. “garden plot”) followed by WE (i.e. “you and I”) reversed (indicated by “returned”), like so: BED-EW.

9. Bully tried, we hear, to be an animal minder (7)

Answer: COWHERD (i.e. “animal minder”). Solution is COW (i.e. “[to] bully”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of HEARD (i.e. “tried”, as in a court case), like so: COW-HERD.

13. Language used by girl in Gothenburg (5)

Answer: LINGO (i.e. “language”). “Used by” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: GIR(L IN GO)THENBURG. A bit weak, in my less-than-humble opinion.

14. Masterminds terrible crimes ultimately looked into by court (7)

Answer: DIRECTS (i.e. “masterminds”). Solution is DIRE (i.e. “terrible”) and S (i.e. “crimes ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “crimes”), “into” which is placed CT (a recognised abbreviation of “court”), like so: DIRE-(CT)-S.

15. Soldiers protected by a welcome treaty (9)

Answer: AGREEMENT (i.e. “treaty”). Solution is MEN (i.e. “soldiers”) placed in or “protected by” A and GREET (i.e. “welcome”), like so: A-GREE(MEN)T.

16. Not working in music drama, Victor invested in formal wear (11)

Answer: INOPERATIVE (i.e. “not working”). Solution is IN, followed by OPERA (i.e. “music drama”) and TIE (i.e. “formal wear”) once it has been wrapped around or has “invested” V (“Victor” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: IN-OPERA-TI(V)E.

17. New gal on deck we indicate recognition of (11)

Answer: ACKNOWLEDGE (i.e. “indicate recognition of”). “New” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GAL ON DECK WE.

18. Fairly easy on the eye (6)

Answer: PRETTY. Solution satisfies “fairly” and “easy on the eye”.

19. Crazy about novelties at first, like some religious paintings (8)

Answer: MADONNAS (i.e. “religious paintings”). Solution is MAD (i.e. “crazy”) followed by ON (i.e. “about”), then N (i.e. “novelties at first”, i.e. the first letter of “novelties”) and finally AS (i.e. “like”).

21. What may carry wine from a service in church (6)

Answer: CARAFE (i.e. “what may carry wine”). Solution is A and RAF (i.e. “service”, specifically the Royal Air Force) placed “in” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: C(A-RAF)E. A clue that scans rather well.

25. Positions on network set up by spinners? (8)

Answer: WEBSITES (i.e. “positions on network”). Clue riffs on how spiders are “spinners” of webs. You get the idea.

26. Capital speech revised finally by this US general? (7,7)

Answer: ESTUARY ENGLISH (i.e. “capital speech”, as in wot awl em Cockerneys bubble, innit?). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “revised”) of Y (i.e. “finally by”, i.e. the last letter of “by”) and THIS US GENERAL.

28. Host’s decoration for gallantry mentioned in speech (5)

Answer: EMCEE (i.e. “host”, as in a master of ceremonies). “In speech” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of MC, or Military Cross (i.e. “decoration for gallantry”).

29. Sweltering temperature not initially disagreeable (6)

Answer: TORRID (i.e. “sweltering”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”) followed by HORRID (i.e. “disagreeable”) once its first letter has been removed (indicated by “not initially”), like so: T-ORRID.

30. From which we may observe vehicle pulling timepiece behind? (10)

Answer: WATCHTOWER (i.e. “from which we may observe”). Solution also satisfies “vehicle pulling timepiece behind”, as in a WATCH TOWER (as in towing something behind you).

33. Fantastic hour we secured in model generating plant (10)

Answer: POWERHOUSE (i.e. “generating plant”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “fantastic”) of HOUR WE placed or “secured in” POSE (i.e. “[to] model”), like so: PO(WERHOU)SE.

35. Blokes in US city originally translating funeral song (6)

Answer: LAMENT (i.e. “funeral song”). Solution is LA MEN (i.e. “blokes in US city”) followed by T (i.e. “originally translating”, i.e. the first letter of “translating”).

36. Scent ultimately left by wading bird (5)

Answer: TRAIL (i.e. “scent”, e.g. a trail of clues). Solution is T (i.e. “ultimately left”, i.e. the last letter of “left”) followed by RAIL (i.e. “wading bird”).

38. Sick of rude Brit, find illicit pleasure (9,5)

Answer: FORBIDDEN FRUIT (i.e. “illicit pleasure”). “Sick” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of OF RUDE BRIT FIND.

40. Local woman keeping a fabric for making coats (8)

Answer: BARATHEA (i.e. “fabric for making coats” – no, me neither. Chalk one to my Bradfords, here.) Solution is BAR (i.e. “local”, as in a hostelry) and THEA (i.e. “woman”) wrapped around or “keeping” A, like so: BAR-(A)-THEA.

42. Set free, once a ship has fuel (6)

Answer: ASSOIL (i.e. “set free”). Solution is A SS (i.e. “once a ship” – SS is a recognised abbreviation of a steamship) followed by OIL (i.e. “fuel”). A new word on me. I’d have guessed an entirely different meaning for it!

43. Old adversary giving up work as interpretive artist (8)

Answer: EXPONENT (i.e. “interpretive artist”, among other definitions). Solution is EX OPPONENT (i.e. “old adversary”) with the OP removed (indicated by “giving up work” – op being a recognised abbreviation of “operation” or, more likely, and as a previous commenter kindly highlighted, “opus”), like so: EX-PONENT.

44. Girl oddly eager to enter baccalaureate, say (6)

Answer: DEGREE (i.e. “baccalaureate, say”). Solution is DEE (i.e. name of a “girl”) wrapped around or allowing “to enter” EGR (i.e. “oddly eager”, as in the odd letters of EAGER), like so: D(EGR)EE.

47. Expensive-sounding Society speech-maker’s peaked cap (11)

Answer: DEERSTALKER (i.e. “peaked cap”). Solution is DEER (i.e. “expensive-sounding”, i.e. a homophone of DEAR) followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “Society”) and TALKER (i.e. “speech-maker”), like so: DEER-S-TALKER.

50. Objets-d’art I see in choir trips (11)

Answer: CHINOISERIE – over to my Chambers here: “(a decorative or fine art object) in a style of design or decoration that uses or copies Chinese motifs or methods”. Fair enough. Anyway, “objets d’art”. “Trips” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I SEE IN CHOIR. The wordplay was obvious, but I had to brute-force the solution once I’d had enough intersecting letters.

52. Genuineness, as it is revealed in certain lines (9)

Answer: SINCERITY (i.e. “genuineness”). This took some figuring, but the solution is SINCE (i.e. “as”) followed by IT once it has been placed or “revealed in” RY (i.e. “certain lines”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), like so: SINCE-R(IT)Y.

53. European heading off W African or Russian, perhaps (7)

Answer: IBERIAN (i.e. “European”). The clue plays on how you can derive the solution by taking the “heading off” LIBERIAN (i.e. “W African”) or SIBERIAN (i.e. “Russian, perhaps”).

54. Split with first of boyfriends in Gt London borough (5)

Answer: BRENT (i.e. “Gt London borough”). Solution is RENT (i.e. “split”) preceded by B (i.e. “first of boyfriends”, i.e. the first letter of “boyfriends”), like so: B-RENT.

55. Mechanic having rest over in Irish islands (7)

Answer: ARTISAN (i.e. “mechanic”). Solution is SIT (i.e. “rest”) reversed (indicated by “over”) and placed “in” ARAN (i.e. “Irish islands”), like so: AR(TIS)AN. This was an easier get than it ought to have been thanks largely to the solution appearing only a couple of weeks ago. And a couple of months before that.

56. Prestige finally attained by university in Aegean island (5)

Answer: KUDOS (i.e. “prestige”). Solution is U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) and D (i.e. “finally attained”, i.e. the last letter of “attained”) both placed “in” KOS (i.e. “Aegean island”), like so: K(U-D)OS.

57. Resident in Bow primarily employed in role of carer (4,5)

Answer: EAST ENDER (i.e. “resident in Bow”, referring to them Londoners again, innit?) Solution is E (i.e. “primarily employed”, i.e. the first letter of “employed”) followed as AS TENDER (i.e. “in role of carer”).

Down clues

1. Spicy dish served by restaurant finally in Indonesian island (5)

Answer: BALTI (i.e. “spicy dish”). Solution is T (i.e. “restaurant finally”, i.e. the last letter of “restaurant”) placed “in” BALI (i.e. “Indonesian island”), like so: BAL(T)I.

2. Try one’s hardest, having man support proteges around town (4,4,9)

Answer: BEND OVER BACKWARDS (i.e. “try one’s hardest”). Solution is BEN (i.e. “man”, as in man’s name), BACK (i.e. “support”) and WARDS (i.e. “proteges”) placed “around” DOVER (i.e. “town”), like so: BEN-(DOVER)-BACK-WARDS.

3. Waterside plant, most unrestrained, widely encountered (11)

Answer: LOOSESTRIFE (i.e. “waterside plant”). Solution is LOOSEST (i.e. “most unrestrained”) followed by RIFE (i.e. “widely encountered”). One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

4. Single chap touring North Dakota, one from Mumbai, perhaps (6)

Answer: INDIAN (i.e. “one from Mumbai, perhaps”). Solution is I (i.e. “single”) and IAN (i.e. “chap”, as in a man’s name) wrapped around or “touring” ND (i.e. “North Dakota”), like so: I-(ND)-IAN.

5. Scold desperate man ousting Rex’s son? (8)

Answer: HARRIDAN (i.e. “scold”, as in “a scold” rather than to scold). This was another one that took some figuring, but the solution is “Rex” HARRISON – Doctor Doolittle, people! – with the SON removed or “ousted”, and replaced with DAN (i.e. “desperate man”, as in Desperate Dan of The Dandy).

6. Composer’s joint function held after turning up for 44 (12)

Answer: BACHELORSHIP (i.e. “degree”, which is the solution for “44” across). Solution is BACH’S HIP (i.e. “composer’s joint”), which is wrapped around or “holding” ROLE (i.e. “function”) once it’s been reversed (indicated by “after turning up”), like so: BACH(ELOR)’S-HIP.

7. Superior female attorney protecting son almost entirely (10)

Answer: DISDAINFUL (i.e. “superior”, as in being above it all). Solution is DI (i.e. “female”, as in a woman’s name) and DA (i.e. “attorney”, as in a District Attorney) wrapped around or “protecting” S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”), and then followed by IN FULL (i.e. “entirely”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”), like so: DI-(S)-DA-IN-FUL.

8. Share wallop (5)

Answer: WHACK. Solution satisfies “share” – the full whack, for example, being the whole thing – and “wallop”.

9. Scroll-like ornament needing attention outside area in Rugby (9)

Answer: CARTOUCHE (i.e. “scroll-like ornament”). Solution is CARE (i.e. “attention”) placed “outside” of TOUCH (i.e. “area in rugby”, as in the game – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: CAR(TOUCH)E.

10. His products may be employed in revolutionary activity (11)

Answer: WHEELWRIGHT. Clue riffs on how “revolutionary” relates to the action of a wheel, the “product” of a wheelwright. You get the idea.

11. Some of them endeavour to improve (5)

Answer: EMEND (i.e. “to improve”). “Some of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: TH(EM END)EAVOUR.

12. Vacillate, disheartening a digger of trenches (6)

Answer: DITHER (i.e. “vacillate”). Solution is DITCHER (i.e. “a digger of trenches”) with its middle letter removed (indicated by “disheartening”).

18. Authority framing key advert for cosmetic applicator (6,4)

Answer: POWDER PUFF (i.e. “cosmetic applicator”). Solution is POWER (i.e. “authority”) wrapped around or “framing” D (i.e. “[musical] key”), and then followed by PUFF (i.e. “advert”, e.g. a puff piece, puffery, that kind of thing), like so: POW(D)ER-PUFF.

20. One who is barely recognisable running in a public place (8)

Answer: STREAKER. Clue riffs on how “barely” means nakedly, and how streakers are often “running in a public place”. You get the idea. This was the last clue I got, after 19a, and I have to admit it made me smile.

22. Infer warder is involved with a thief, an unreliable acquaintance (4-7,6)

Answer: FAIR-WEATHER FRIEND (i.e. “unreliable acquaintance”). “Involved” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of INFER WARDER and A THIEF.

23. Chap in Albert Square who audibly identifies a species of penguin? (6)

Answer: GENTOO (i.e. “species of penguin” – no, me neither. Chalk another one to my Bradfords.) Solution is GENT (i.e. “chap”) followed by OO (i.e. “[chap] in Albert Square who audibly identifies” – okay, work with me here. This riffs on how Londoners are buggers for dropping their aitches, so to hear one say “who” – indicated by “audibly” – one would hear OO), like so: GENT-OO. A convoluted clue for a solution that was made to fit, madam? Why, we have just the thing…

24. Break for sailors and soldiers on meadow in southern resort (5,5)

Answer: SHORE LEAVE (i.e. “break for sailors”). I’m not getting much of a hook on this one, so watch out. “Soldiers” could be OR, as in the Other Ranks of the British Army, and LEA could be “meadow”, and I guess S could be a recognised abbreviation of “southern”, but I can’t quite decode the rest, or stitch them together in any meaningful way.
[EDIT: Thanks to Verity and Mick in the comments for highlighting HOVE as a resort and RE as being soldiers. The solution is therefore S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”) and HOVE (i.e. “resort”) wrapped around RE (i.e. “soldiers”, specifically the Royal Engineers) and LEA (i.e. “meadow”), like so: S-HO(RE-LEA)VE. – LP]

27. Spirit of quiet home this writer had abandoned (8)

Answer: PRESENCE (i.e. “spirit”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, which is “quiet” in musical lingo) followed by RESIDENCE (i.e. “home”) once I’D has been removed (indicated by “this writer had abandoned” – from the point of view of the setter, “the writer had” would be “I had”, contracted to I’d), like so: P-RESENCE.

31. Doze setting up solider, possibly, in beret (6)

Answer: CATNAP (i.e. “doze”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “soldier”) reversed (indicated by “setting up”) and placed “in” CAP (i.e. “beret”), like so: CA(TNA)P.

32. Undergarment, one thieves reportedly deposited at bottom of river (12)

Answer: CAMIKNICKERS (i.e. “undergarment”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and KNICKERS (i.e. “thieves reportedly”, i.e. a homophone of NICKERS), placed below or “at bottom of” CAM (i.e. a “river” running through Cambridge) – this being a down clue – like so: CAM-I-KNICKERS.

34. State of decay our sinuses suffer around November (11)

Answer: RUINOUSNESS (i.e. “state of decay”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “suffer”) of OUR SINUSES which is wrapped “around” N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: RUI(N)OUSNESS.

36. List including partygoers that can be passed over (11)

Answer: TRAVERSABLE (i.e. “that can be passed over”). Solution is TABLE (i.e. “list”) “including” RAVERS (i.e. “partygoers”), like so: T(RAVERS)ABLE.

37. Having possessions, appeared at last with appropriate connection (10)

Answer: PROPERTIED (i.e. “having possessions”). Solution is D (i.e. “appeared at last”, i.e. the last letter of “appeared”) preceded by PROPER (i.e. “appropriate”) and TIE (i.e. “connection”), like so: PROPER-TIE-D.

39. Dog frantically tailed a man dumping drug (9)

Answer: DALMATIAN (i.e. “dog”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frantically”) of TAILED A MAN once the E has been removed (indicated by “dumping drug” – E being a recognised abbreviation of ecstasy).

41. Popular female in east holds it to be eternal (8)

Answer: INFINITE (i.e. “eternal”). Solution is IN (i.e. “popular”) followed by F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”), then IN and E (ditto “east”) which together “hold” IT, like so: IN-F-IN-(IT)-E.

45. Poems by Tasso regularly turning up in Ukrainian port (6)

Answer: ODESSA (i.e. “Ukrainian port” – one I knew, which is a rarity!). Solution is ODES (i.e. “poems”) followed “by” AS (i.e. “Tasso regularly”, i.e. every other letter of TASSO), which is reversed (indicated by “turning up”, this being a down clue) like so: ODES-SA.

46. Aims to get tips? (6)

Answer: POINTS. Solution satisfies “aims” – as in to point at something – and “tips”.

48. He painted birds of prey, wasting energy and time (5)

Answer: Max ERNST (i.e. “he painted”). I know I bitched about this in the intro, but bloody hell I’m getting sick of seeing this guy. Is there some kind of pact between the setters? Or is this a “last setter to work ERNST into their puzzles is a sissy” kind of thing? Ugh. Anyway, ERNST has been derived this time from PERNS (i.e. “birds of prey” – did a Google Image search – you’re not missing much) with the P removed (indicated by “wasting energy” – P being a recognised abbreviation of “power”) and the remainder followed by T (ditto “time”), like so: ERNS-T. Join me next week as I unpick how another setter manages to crowbar ERNST into their grid! I bet you can’t wait.
[EDIT: Thanks to Verity in the comments who offers a cleaner approach. An ERNE is a sea eagle. E is a recognised abbreviation of “energy”, so drop the second E from ERNES, then add T for “time”. – LP]

49. Inuit canoe seen going up and down (5)

Answer: KAYAK (i.e. “Inuit canoe”). “Seen going up and down” indicates the solution is a palindrome.

51. Go into hospital department, about to get rise (5)

Answer: ENTER (i.e. “go into”). Solution is ENT (i.e. “hospital department”, specifically Ear Nose and Throat) followed by RE (i.e. concerning or “about” – think email replies) once it has been reversed (indicated by “to get rise”, this being a down clue), like so: ENT-ER.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1400

A relatively simple affair this week, albeit one with a few weak or niggly clues. [EDIT: a few were cleverer than I first thought. Fair play to the setter. – LP] You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

Before we get into the meat of it, some housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword that’s left you jiggered, then you might find succour in my Just For Fun page. If book reviews are your thing, then my Reviews page might also interest.

And so to the solution! See you next time, all being well.


Across clues

1. Clinging drunk associated with southern family (4-5)

Answer: SKIN-TIGHT (i.e. “clinging”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”) followed by KIN (i.e. “family”) and TIGHT (i.e. “drunk”).

6. Structure made with cunning technique (7)

Answer: ARCHWAY (i.e. “structure”). Solution is ARCH (i.e. “cunning”) followed by WAY (i.e. style or “technique”).

10. Move slowly, having stomach and large behind (5)

Answer: CRAWL (i.e. “move slowly”). Solution is CRAW (the “stomach” of animals generally, as my Chambers has it) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”).

13. Believe lover creates restriction on finances (6,7)

Answer: CREDIT SQUEEZE (i.e. “restriction on finances”). Solution is CREDIT (i.e. “believe”) followed by SQUEEZE (i.e. “lover”).

14. Diplomacy round breaks ice after time in game Yanks play (3,3,3)

Answer: TIC TAC TOE, what our American cousins would call a game of Noughts and Crosses (i.e. “game Yanks play”). Solution is TACT (i.e. “diplomacy”) and O (i.e. “round”) placed in or “breaking” ICE. The whole is then preceded by or placed “after” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: T-IC(TACT-O)E.

15. Soft cheese where little kipper could be devoured by girl (7)

Answer: RICOTTA (i.e. “soft cheese” – chalk one to my Bradford’s here as I’m not big on different types of cheeses). Solution is COT (i.e. “where little kipper could be”, as in a baby sleeping) placed in or “devoured by” RITA (i.e. “girl”), like so: RI(COT)TA.

16. Corpse found in vehicle crossing channel (7)

Answer: CADAVER (i.e. “corpse”). Solution is CAR (i.e. “vehicle”) wrapped around or “crossing” DAVE (i.e. “[UK TV] channel”), like so: CA(DAVE)R. This clue is a little too native for my liking. Then again, I could be being a touch hypercritical. Maybe Dave is broadcast across the world, and I’m not aware of it. Maybe Dave is helping to unite warring nations through repeats of Top Gear and Only Fools and Horses. Hmm, maybe. Also, if Dave goes through another rebranding in the next couple of years, this clue will be meaningless when it’s eventually republished in The Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword Book 22. Speaking of which, if you are reading this in the year 2023 or beyond, hello! I hope the inevitable zombie apocalypse wasn’t too bad for you.

17. Something sweet rascal occasionally placed in box? (7)

Answer: TREACLE (i.e. “something sweet”). Solution is ACL (i.e. “rascal occasionally”, i.e. the alternate letters of RASCAL) “placed in” TREE (i.e. “box” – one of its many definitions is a shrub or small tree), like so: TRE(ACL)E.

18. Separate from partner in the underworld? (12)

Answer: DISASSOCIATE (i.e. “separate”). Solution also satisfies “partner in the underworld” as in a DIS ASSOCIATE – Dis is “another name for the god Pluto, and hence the infernal world” (Chambers).

20. Where certain marathon runners are, no matter what? (2,3,5)

Answer: IN ANY EVENT (i.e. “no matter what”). I’m guessing the solution also satisfies “where certain marathon runners are” – a marathon being an athletic event – but this seems very weak. I could be missing something here.
[EDIT: Having slept on this, I can see the clue was cleverer than I first thought. The solution can also be read as IN A NY EVENT, referring to the New York Marathon. – LP]

23. Better to avoid extremes – gentle stroll results (5)

Answer: AMBLE (i.e. “gentle stroll”). Solution is GAMBLER (i.e. “better”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “to avoid extremes”).

24. Broadside showing America badly in decline (9)

Answer: FUSILLADE (i.e. “broadside”). Solution is US (i.e. “America”) and ILL (i.e. “badly”) placed “in” FADE (i.e. “decline”), like so: F(US-ILL)ADE.

25. Oxfordshire town worker splits pay (7)

Answer: WANTAGE (i.e. “Oxford town”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “worker”) placed in or “splitting” WAGE (i.e. “pay”), like so: W(ANT)AGE. One I got from the wordplay, if I’m honest.

26. Eight fooled cast in sitcom (3,4,4)

Answer: THE GOOD LIFE (i.e. “[UK] sitcom”). “Cast” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EIGHT FOOLED.

28. Footballer once slim was willing (7,4)

Answer: OUTSIDE LEFT (i.e. “footballer (once?)”). Solution is OUTSIDE (i.e. “slim”, as in an outside chance) followed by LEFT (i.e. “was willing”, as in having left something in one’s will).

30. Kinswoman of marvellous masculine variant (11)

Answer: GRANDMOTHER (i.e. “kinswoman”). Solution is GRAND (i.e. “marvellous”) followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “masculine”) and OTHER (i.e. “variant”).

32. We stop to eat exotic vegetable (5,6)

Answer: SWEET POTATO (i.e. “vegetable”). “Exotic” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WE STOP TO EAT.

34. Old canine bizarrely beginning to talk (7)

Answer: ANCIENT (i.e. “old”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “bizarrely”) of CANINE followed by T (i.e. “beginning to talk”, i.e. the first letter of “talk”), like so: ANCIEN-T.

36. Bones find peace at last in green hillside (9)

Answer: VERTEBRAE (i.e. “bones”). Solution is E (i.e. “peace at last”, i.e. the last letter of “peace”) placed between or “in” VERT (i.e. “green” – back to my Chambers again: “in forest law, all greenery in a forest that may serve as cover for deer”. Alternatively “vert” is green in French, though there’s no French indicator in the clue) and BRAE (a Scots word for a sloping bank or “hillside”), like so: VERT-(E)-BRAE. A clue that scans rather well, all told.

38. One must put out second fire in room (5)

Answer: INGLE, a Scots word for a hearth or fireside (i.e. “fire in room”). Solution is SINGLE (i.e. “one”) with the S removed (indicated by “must put out second” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “second”). I remembered this from a relatively recent grid, if I’m honest.

39. Global section of border company providing connections present (10)

Answer: HEMISPHERE (i.e. “global section”). Solution is HEM (i.e. “border”) followed by ISP (i.e. “company providing connections”, i.e. an Internet Service Provider) and HERE (i.e. “present”).

41. Appropriate recognition informally given in Garbo’s career? (7,5)

Answer: ACADEMY AWARD. Another clue where I could be missing something clever, but this seems to riff on how Greta Garbo, famed actress of 1920s and 1930’s cinema, received an honorary Academy Award, having missed out on a Best Actress gong on three previous occasions.
[EDIT: A big thank you to MNM in the comments, who highlights that “given” indicates “Oscar” is hidden in GARB(O’S CAR)EER, an Oscar being an informal name for an Academy Award. A cunning line break between “Garbo’s” and “career” in the original puzzle made this a tricky one to spot. – LP]

45. Girl is deceitful, we hear – examine closely (7)

Answer: ANALYSE (i.e. “examine closely”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of ANNA LIES (i.e. “girl is deceitful”).

46. Unrated article by father with covering letter (3-4)

Answer: TAX-FREE (i.e. “unrated”, as in a rate of tax). Solution is TEE (i.e. the “letter” T) wrapped around or “covering”) A (i.e. “article”), X (i.e. “by”, as in the multiplication symbol) and FR (a recognised abbreviation of “Father”), like so: T(A-X-FR)EE.

47. Disease is to claim one hundred peasants (7)

Answer: RUSTICS (i.e. “peasants”). Solution is RUST (i.e. “[a plant] disease”) followed by IS once it has been wrapped around or “claiming” C (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one hundred”), like so: RUST-I(C)S.

49. Moves perhaps from A to B without stopping? (9)

Answer: GLISSANDI, which is the plural of glissando, the effect produced by one running their fingers along a keyboard or strings. So, in this case, A and B would be musical notes. Another clue that seems a little weak unless I’m missing something clever.

50. Particle detector close to big mountain opposite (6,7)

Answer: GEIGER COUNTER (i.e. “particle detector”). Solution is G (i.e. “close to big”, i.e. the last letter of “big”) followed by EIGER (i.e. “mountain”) and COUNTER (i.e. “opposite”).

52. Contesting teams to bring fish aboard? (5)

Answer: SIDES. Solution satisfies “contesting teams” and, cryptically, “to bring fish aboard” – an IDE is a kind of fish, and is placed in or “aboard” SS (a recognised abbreviation of “steamship”), like so: S(IDE)S. That’s my take on it, anyway.

53. Brain perhaps working – there’s logic to this (7)

Answer: ORGANON, which is “a method of investigation” – no me neither. File this under “made to fit”. Anyway, “there’s logic to this”. Solution is ORGAN (i.e. “brain perhaps”) followed by ON (i.e. “working”).

54. Crisis to develop with Conservative lying in state (9)

Answer: EMERGENCY (i.e. “crisis”). Solution is EMERGE (i.e. “to develop”) followed by C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”) once it has been placed or “lying in” NY (i.e. “state”, specifically New York), like so: EMERGE-N(C)Y.

Down clues

1. Children keeping dog that’s fast (7)

Answer: SECURED (i.e. “fast”, as in locked up). Solution is SEED (i.e. “children”) wrapped around or “keeping” CUR (i.e. “dog”), like so: SE(CUR)ED.

2. Outrageous old copper furious lesbian detains (11)

Answer: INEXCUSABLE (i.e. “outrageous”). Solution is EX (i.e. “old”) and CU (chemical symbol of “copper”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “furious”) of LESBIAN, like so: IN(EX-CU)SABLE.

3. Corruption in Britain today (5)

Answer: TAINT (i.e. “corruption”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: BRI(TAIN T)ODAY.

4. Old police make move receiving directions to bug (7)

Answer: GESTAPO (i.e. “old police” of Nazi Germany). Solution is GO (i.e. “make move”) wrapped around or “receiving” E and S (i.e. “directions”, being East and West on a compass) along with TAP (i.e. “to bug”), like so: G(E-S-TAP)O.

5. Mostly stressed foreign consonant (3)

Answer: TAU (i.e. “foreign consonant”, i.e. the nineteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding to the letter T). Solution is TAUT (i.e. “stressed”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”).

6. Tale can do with alteration as story (9)

Answer: ANECDOTAL (i.e. “as story”). “With alteration” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TALE CAN DO.

7. Chop stick? (6)

Answer: CLEAVE. Solution satisfies “[to] chop” and “[to] stick” or adhere to something. Good clue!

8. Weather turned bad – game becomes forgotten event (5,5,3,6)

Answer: WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE (i.e. “forgotten event”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “bad”) of WEATHER TURNED followed by BRIDGE (i.e. “[card] game”).

9. Mexican state feline found in many fens? (7)

Answer: YUCATAN (i.e. “Mexican state”). Solution is CAT (i.e. “feline”) placed or “found in” YUAN (i.e. “many fens”, referring to Chinese currency. 100 fens make a yuan. Clever. I rather like it), like so: YU(CAT)AN.

10. Unreliable character arrived carrying hotel sign with name (9)

Answer: CHAMELEON (i.e. “unreliable character”). Solution is CAME (i.e. “arrived”) wrapped around or “carrying” H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet), then followed by LEO (i.e. “[star]sign”) and N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”), like so: C(H)AME-LEO-N.

11. Diplomatic incident? That could get the papers carried away! (7,4)

Answer: ATTACHE CASE. Solution satisfies “that could get the papers carried away”, as in a case in which one could carry some papers, and “diplomatic incident” – ATTACHE being another word for “diplomat” and CASE being “incident”.

12. Vassal for example tucking into pork pie (5)

Answer: LIEGE (i.e. “vassal”). Solution is EG (i.e. “for example”) placed or “tucked into” LIE (i.e. “pork pie”, being Cockney rhyming slang for a lie), like so: LI(EG)E.

16. Lofted shots and all needed in play (5,4,10)

Answer: CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING, a 1962 “play” by Arnold Wesker. No, me neither. Solution is CHIPS (i.e. “lofted shots”, e.g. in golf or football) followed by WITH (i.e. “and”) and EVERYTHING (i.e. “all”).

19. Drug member of rock group losing head (7)

Answer: STEROID (i.e. “drug”). Solution is ASTERIOD (i.e. “member of rock group”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “losing head”). A clue that scans rather well.

21. Cardinal travelled in Irish county without resistance (6-3)

Answer: TWENTY-ONE (i.e. “cardinal”, referring to a cardinal number, or what most people would simply call “a number” – weak again, for my money). Solution is WENT (i.e. “travelled”) placed in TYRONE (i.e. “Irish county”) once the R has been removed (indicated by “without resistance” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “resistance”), like so: T(WENT)YONE.

22. Not about you in French dialect (6)

Answer: PATOIS (i.e. “dialect”). Not having done French since school, and even then rather badly, I’m guessing PATOIS is either a concatenation or homophone of “not about you” once it has been translated into French. Google Translate kind of hints this might be the case, but I could be wrong.
[EDIT: MNM comes to the rescue in the comments, who points out that PAS is “not” in French, while TOI is “you”. “About” indicates one is placed around the other, like so: PA(TOI)S. Thanks, MNM! – LP]

23. One’s handle in one’s hand? (9)

Answer: AUTOGRAPH. A “handle” can refer to one’s name. When one signs their name, they could be said to have their handle in their hand. You get the idea. Ugh. Next.

24. Diminishing sound of clairvoyant uncertain when heard (4-3)

Answer: FADE OUT (i.e. “diminishing sound”). “When heard” indicates the solution is a homophone of FEY (i.e. “clairvoyant”) and DOUBT (i.e. “uncertain”).

25. Cockney’s suit in stretch to accommodate good man (7)

Answer: WHISTLE (i.e. “cockney’s suit”, a “whistle and flute” is a suit in Cockney rhyming slang). Solution is WHILE (i.e. “stretch [of time]”) wrapped around or “accommodating” ST (i.e. “good man”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “saint”), like so: WHI(ST)LE.

27. Mistakes from Mister Rorschach (6)

Answer: ERRORS (i.e. “mistakes”). “From” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: MIST(ER RORS)SCHACH.

29. Time invested in symphony and certain literature? (7)

Answer: EROTICA (i.e. “certain literature”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) placed or “invested in” Beethoven’s EROICA (i.e. “symphony”), like so: ERO(T)ICA.

31. Partnered ace clubs comedian being funny about piano (11)

Answer: ACCOMPANIED (i.e. “partnered”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “ace” in cards) followed by C (ditto “clubs”) and an anagram (indicated by “being funny”) of COMEDIAN once it has been wrapped “about” P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano” in musical lingo), like so: A-C-COM(P)ANIED.

33. Republic in which dog is brown (11)

Answer: AFGHANISTAN. Solution satisfies “republic” and “dog is brown”, i.e. AFGHAN IS TAN.

35. Incomplete system is as unstable for writers (9)

Answer: ESSAYISTS (i.e. “writers”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unstable”) of SYSTEM, once its final letter has been removed (indicated by “incomplete”), and IS AS.

37. About ninety in euros converted – enough for trip (9)

Answer: EXCURSION (i.e. “trip”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “converted”) of IN EUROS wrapped “about” XC (i.e. “[Roman numerals] ninety”), like so: E(XC)URSION.

40. Eat heartily in Oz, when one from Germany stuffs spicy duck (3,4)

Answer: HOE INTO (i.e. “eat heartily in Oz” – not in my Chambers, this, but my Cassel’s Dictionary of Slang has this Australian phrase as “to begin a task with energy and enthusiasm”, which kind of fits). Solution is EIN (i.e. “one from Germany”, i.e. the German for “one”) placed or “stuffed” in HOT (i.e. “spicy”) and O (i.e. “duck”, being a zero score in cricket), like so: HO(EIN)T-O.

42. Amazing motorway chase involving learner (7)

Answer: MIRACLE (i.e. “amazing”). Solution is MI (i.e. “motorway”, as in the M1) followed by RACE (i.e. “chase”) once it has been wrapped around or “involving” L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”), like so: MI-RAC(L)E.

43. One having to leave departs ancient city ruin (7)

Answer: DESTROY (i.e. “ruin”). Solution is DIES (i.e. “departs”) with the I removed (indicated by “[Roman numeral] one having to leave”) and followed by TROY (i.e. “ancient city”), like so: DES-TROY.

44. Second in command co-ordinates facts – it’s inspired (6)

Answer: OXYGEN (i.e. “it’s inspired”, i.e. it’s inhaled). Solution is O (i.e. “second in command”, i.e. the second letter of “command”) followed by X and Y (i.e. “co-ordinates”) and GEN (i.e. “facts”).

45. Serviceman in rising tide finds protection (5)

Answer: AEGIS (i.e. “protection”). Solution is GI (i.e. “serviceman”) placed in SEA (i.e. “tide”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “rising”, this being a down clue), like so: AE(GI)S.

48. Wounded animal rolls over under stone (5)

Answer: STUNG (i.e. “wounded”). Solution is GNU (i.e. “animal”) reversed (indicated by “rolls over”) and placed “under” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “stone”, as in a measurement of weight) – this being a down clue – like so: ST-UNG.

51. Listened to melody before (3)

Answer: ERE (a poetic form of “before”). “Listened to” indicates the solution is a homophone of AIR (i.e. “melody”).

Review: Best New Horror 9

(If you would like to read reviews of previous books in the series, hop on over to my Reviews page.)

Best New Horror 9 contains nineteen horror shorts published during 1997; those halcyon days shortly before the Millennium Bug came along and destroyed everything. In the sand-blasted world in which we now serve Our Beneficent and Most Glorious Robot Overlords, it’s good to look back every once in a while during the generous 90-second breaks afforded us every now and again to imagine, and for some of us to still remember, what life was like back when horror used to be a made-up thing.

In keeping with previous volumes in the series, Best New Horror 9 presents a jumble of the good, the brilliant and a healthy showing of the not-quite-so-good-but-still-okay-I-guess. Overall, it’s a 4/5 from me, but only just. And so, without any further blathering, to the stories:

Also collected in Schow’s “Zombie Jam”. Love the cover!

Dying Words – David J. Schow (4/5 – Schow kicks things off with a knowing, twisty-turny slice of metafiction starring two of his pseudonyms. Oliver Lowenbruck has been commissioned to write a zombie story and he’s getting nowhere. He asks his friend, Chan McConnell, to help him out. Before heading over to Oliver’s place, Chan takes a call from his girlfriend, Michelle, who works at the local hospital. Michelle is seeing a lot of crazed, brain-hungry patients being rushed in all of a sudden. Paging Doctor Irony… This has no right to work as well as it does! It’s over-engineered, it’s disjointed and the characters act wholly in service to the plot. And yet there’s a confidence and irresistible energy to this story that powers it through. Impressive stuff.)

Also collected in Williams’s “Use Once, Then Destroy”

The Windmill – Conrad Williams (4/5 – Claire has taken a week off work to travel around Norfolk with Jonathan, her other half. They stop by a rustic hostelry for a drink and inevitably get weirded out by the locals. It’s an inauspicious start to the holiday, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. This just about scraped a 4/5 for me. The story shares a few too many genes with several other “holiday horror” tales. Williams seems conscious of this, at least, devoting a significant chunk of story-time to the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Claire and the walking bell-end that is Jonathan. It makes for a compelling read, as other people’s break-ups often can be, and carries the story along to a decent if slightly throwaway conclusion.)

Also collected in Burke’s “We’ve Been Waiting For You and Other Tales of Unease”

The Right Ending – John Burke (3/5 – A mysterious woman approaches Martin Paget, a successful novelist, at his book signing. The woman seems familiar, but Paget cannot place her. She comments that Paget’s latest novel, though convincing, didn’t have the right ending. She promptly vanishes, leaving Paget to wonder what she meant. As far as he was concerned the novel ended just how he wanted, thank you very much. When the woman appears again at Paget’s home, claiming once more that he wrote the wrong ending, it becomes clear she’s not going to let it go. This was okay, delivering some humorous observations from the other side of fandom, but the story was too slight to truly satisfy.)


Also collected in Clark’s “Salt Snake and Other Bloody Cuts”

Swallowing A Dirty Seed – Simon Clark (4/5 – A retired solicitor gets to grips with his new house out in the country. Not least of his troubles is the house’s erratic electricity supply. The moment he finally manages to settle down to an evening meal he is interrupted by a knock at the door. A visibly distressed couple plead for food and shelter, which our man selflessly provides. He grows concerned when he learns there was a third member of their party, however, and his unease deepens when the two refuse to discuss what happened to him. A good one, this, eventually playing out like a modern-day Brothers Grimm tale.)


This Is Your Life (Repressed Memory Remix) – Pat Cadigan (4/5 – Renata returns to the family home following the recent death of her father. She is urged to watch a confessional video of the old man in which he begs her forgiveness for the horrible things he did to her as a child. This is all news to Renata, and she is having none of it. She wants out of the house immediately but the rest of the family have other ideas. This is a disturbing entry that cleverly toys with the reader. The title would suggest that Renata has suppressed awful memories of her childhood, while Cadigan’s introduction – in which she details a tragic, real-life instance of False Memory Syndrome – offers an alternative explanation.)

Christmas Forever – Christopher Fowler (3/5 – A new ice age has dawned (which is a little odd seeing as though we’re technically still in the midst of one… #PedantsYay). Britain is frozen solid. London suffocates under a thick blanket of snow and ice. The winds are fierce, the blizzards are lethal. Kallie is worried about Bennett, who’d left some time ago to get supplies. Fearing Bennett has perished, Kallie goes out to find him. This was originally published in a Sunday newspaper back in the day and is less a story than a “what-if” with some characters thrown in. Kallie has little purpose other than being our eyes and ears as we go gadding about this alien, snow-blasted city. While Fowler succeeds in conjuring up some vivid snowscape scenery in this story, it doesn’t rank among his best.)

Four Famines Ago – Yvonne Navarro (3/5 – Paul is senior vice-president of a media company specialising in producing educational films for high schools. He sends Aisha out to Somalia to obtain more up-to-date footage of the ravages of famine being suffered there, complaining that the footage they have was captured “four famines ago”. Aisha is furious at Paul’s flippant remark but begrudgingly complies. When she returns, Paul notices Aisha has lost some weight. After viewing her footage, Paul soon finds he’s losing weight too. This was okay, but something about the story didn’t sit right with me. Though it obviously meant well, the story presented a number of degrees of separation between the reader and the true horror at its heart – that of the famine itself. The impact of the story was dampened as a result. It’s one of those rare occasions I wished a story was longer, adding, say, a section in which we follow Aisha’s time in Somalia. Could just be me, though.)

Also collected in Laws’ “The Midnight Man”

The Crawl – Stephen Laws (4/5It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop – ever! – until you are dead! “Aha!” you cry. “That’s off of The Terminator, that is!” And you’d be right. It’s also a fitting description of this story, and perhaps a few hundred thousand slasher films besides. And yet, despite the overly familiar… well, everything about this story, Laws succeeds by ramping up the tension from the get-go and never letting up. In The Crawl, Gill and Paul are a quarrelling couple driving home when their car is attacked by a sickle-wielding nutcase. Gill struggles to maintain control of the car, bringing it to a shuddering, screeching halt. Paul heads out to give the idiot a piece of his mind but instantly regrets it when said idiot heads his way, full of murderous intent. Gill drives Paul away from danger, but finds she cannot get the car out of first gear. And so a slow relentless chase begins. It’s fun and engaging stuff, though Laws is guilty of using a cheap trick right at the start to generate a good chunk of the tension.)

Serpent Eggs – David Langford (2/5 – Langford catches an unfortunate dose of Lovecraft in a tale which sees Robert, a UFOlogist, stay at a commune up on Drotch Skerry, an island on the edge of the Shetlands. It is said that things have fallen from the sky there. Hmm, maybe. All Robert knows is that the islanders are a balding and pallid-looking lot. Has a sickness befallen the commune, or could there be something extra-terrestrial at work? According to his introduction, Langford made several attempts at writing this story over the course of twenty years, eventually changing the tone, changing the main character and changing the ending. If only he’d changed the style too. A pity, as I’m often drawn to his amusing Ansible Link columns in Interzone magazine. The story can be found in Langford’s collection, Irrational Numbers, published by Necronomicon Press, though you might have a job hunting down a copy.)

Also collected in Etchison’s “The Death Artist”

No One You Know – Dennis Etchison (3/5 – Jeannie receives a phone call from her ex, Michael, and gives him hell for cheating on her. Michael responds by threatening to kill himself, and Jeannie hears him fill up the chambers of his handgun one by one. Jeannie hangs up and calls her best friend Mara, doubting her resolve in ditching his ass. Mara tells Jeannie to forget about him, and in no uncertain terms. But then Mara also receives a call from Michael… This was okay, but, for me, the changes of personality we witness in both Jeannie and Mara were the most unsettling thing about the story, and I’m not entirely sure that was intentional.)



Also collected in Hodge’s “Falling Idols”

The Dripping Of Sundered Wineskins – Brian Hodge (5/5 – Hodge follows his excellent The Alchemy Of The Throat (featured in Best New Horror 6) with another superb novella that deservedly bagged a World Fantasy Award nomination at the time. In Dripping… we follow the life of Patrick Kieran Malone from a young Irish lad who survives a bomb blast, though his troubled time spent as a true stigmatic among the monks and friars of the local Franciscan order, and finally onto his awakening at the hands of his apostate Uncle Brendan and three mysterious goddesses of the land. To go into any more detail would be to rob the story of its impact, suffice to say its middle section, set in the Franciscan order, is astonishing in more than one sense of the word. If you were to read only one story from Best New Horror 9, set an hour aside for this one. Unmissable.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “Teatro Grottesco”

The Bells Will Sound Forever – Thomas Ligotti (4/5 – A man called Crumm takes lodgings at Mrs Pyk’s large and mostly unoccupied hostel. Mrs Pyk places Crumm high up in the house, and on the way up Crumm hears a faint jangle of bells. As he makes himself comfortable, Crumm’s attention is drawn to the door opposite his. It’s a door that leads up to the attic. Perhaps the sound of bells came from up there? This is another story that just scrapes a 4/5 from me, but is boosted by Ligotti’s hypnotic writing. It perhaps didn’t help that certain parts of the story immediately brought to mind Timothy Claypole from an old BBC kid’s TV show called Rentaghost. No bad thing, perhaps, but I doubt that was Ligotti’s intention. It’s worth a read, but in a toss up between this and, say, Roald Dahl’s The Landlady, I’d go for the Dahl every time.)

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

The Word – Ramsey Campbell (4/5 – Given that Campbell appears in nearly every volume of Best New Horror, I knew we would get to a good story of his sooner or later, and here it is! In this Stoker-nominated tale, Jeremy is an embittered genre fiction fan who interviews a writer, Jess Kray, for his fanzine, and is less than flattering in his opinions. Kray shrugs it off, perfectly pleasant, no sweat. Jeremy then witnesses, aghast, the stellar rise of Kray upon the publication of his new doorstopper, “The Word”. It soon takes the world by storm. Everyone is reading it. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone seems to smugly espouse its wisdom. But what is “The Word”? How can nobody pin down exactly what the book is about? What power does it hold over those who read it? There’s only one way for Jeremy to find out, but will it cost him more than his personal pride to read the thing? What could have been a thinly-veiled dig at organised religion and the snarkier elements of fandom is made much more interesting in Campbell’s hands. Good stuff!)

Also collected in Duncan’s “An Agent of Utopia”

The Map To The Homes To The Stars – Andy Duncan (3/5 – Tom and Jack are teenagers with a car and a route around town that lets them check on all the girls they fancy. Creepy, right? Their classmate Anna certainly seems to think so, and wastes no time in telling them. The pair offer Anna a lift, which she accepts. Relegated to the back seat, and giving Anna a neck rub, Jack senses something isn’t quite right. This was okay, but I didn’t really buy into it. The moment Anna’s “erotic” neck rub was clumsily conflated with Jack’s increasingly speedy and erratic driving, the wheels fell off for me.)



Also collected in Kiernan’s “Two Worlds and In Between”

Emptiness Spoke Eloquent – Caitlín R Kiernan (3/5 – A spot of fan fiction from Kiernan as she takes Stoker’s Dracula and, through Mina Harker, explores the lives of its characters in the decades following the end of the book. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I’m not a huge fan of stories that come with prerequisites – and this is most definitely one – but Emptiness… gets a pass for prompting me to fill an embarrassing gap in my reading. It’s an interesting story, and beautifully written, but it didn’t really go anywhere. Perhaps, in a weird way, that was the point. The title is taken from the climax of the novel, where [DRACULA SPOILERS AHEAD] Van Helsing locates Dracula’s vast and empty tomb, buggers about with it to stop Dracs from kipping there, and then proceeds to butcher his brides. In Emptiness… we witness Mina’s life being similarly hollowed out, albeit gradually, as war, time and even love conspires to leave her alone in the world. Of course, I could be overthinking it.)

Also collected in MMS’s “More Tomorrow and Other Stories”

Save As… – Michael Marshall Smith (3/5 – A man walks out from hospital, stunned, leaving behind the bodies of his wife and child following a horrific car crash. He checks into Same Again, a super-hush-hush facility out in a nondescript part of town. It seems the agency’s roof has sprung a leak, but that’s the least of our man’s concerns. All he wants is to revert to a previous backup of his life. But can anything ever be as simple and so free of consequence? Being a fully paid-up nerd, I wanted to like this story more than I actually did. Switch off your logic circuits for half an hour and you might have a better time of it.)

Coppola’s Dracula – Kim Newman (5/5 – More fan fiction this time as Newman flexes his encyclopaedic knowledge of cinema to produce a hugely imaginative novella set in his Anno Dracula universe, speculating what Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula could have been like had he filmed it instead of Apocalypse Now, deep in the darkest part of Ceausescu’s Romania. It’s another story that comes with a string of prerequisites, and I’m not the greatest fan of Apocalypse Now, but I have to doff my stovepipe to Newman for his ambition and skill in putting this together. This is jaw-dropping stuff, and rightly bagged a string of award nominations at the time (Stoker, World Fantasy and International Horror Critics Guild, the latter of which it won.) Amazingly, it doesn’t seem as if this story has been collected anywhere other than here and Jones’s The Mammoth Book of Dracula, in which it originally appeared. Go seek it out!)

Also collected in Jones’s “Grazing The Long Acre”

Grazing The Long Acre – Gwyneth Jones (4/5 – A free-spirited young woman takes to the roads of Poland, travelling with whoever will have her (often in more than one sense of the word). Riding along a particular stretch of motorway she notices a string of prostitutes lining the road. Her companion remarks how a large number have been murdered or have gone missing, leaving behind only bundles of dirty clothing. When they stop at a roadside diner she grows concerned that her companion is trying to offload her onto someone else, and decides to bail. But has she merely jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire? This is a good read, with an unsettling sense of moral ambiguity, but it takes a while to get going. Also, if you read this story in Best New Horror 9, I’d recommend reading it ahead of the author’s spoilerific introduction.)

The Zombies Of Madison County – Douglas E. Winter (3/5 – Having started with a spot of metafiction, Jones ends volume 9 with another, and a novella that bagged nominations for a World Fantasy Award and a Stoker no less. A pity then that it nearly left me as cold as the titular zombies. Winter drops a version of himself into a story within a story: a story of love, loss and a very peculiar love regained. When Douglas Winter’s childhood sweetheart Stacie dumps Douglas Winter while pregnant with someone else’s baby, Douglas Winter is heartbroken but goes off and lives Douglas Winter’s life like a good Douglas Winter does. But when the inevitable zombie apocalypse happens, and trainloads of zombies are shipped off to Madison County to be incinerated, Douglas Winter feels something calling him back home. There Douglas Winter finds a zombified Stacie, trapped in a crowded holding pen, and so begins a bizarre (and gruesome) rekindling of love through the barricades. I imagine your enjoyment of this will depend on your take on supposed Great American Novels. If boggy, overwrought prose does it for you every time then you’ll probably have a better time of this than me. It only just scrapes a 3/5 thanks to a superior framing story.)

Necrology: 1997 – Now, I don’t normally mention the review of horror or the Necrology sections of these books, but an exception is warranted this time around. For those who don’t know, the Necrology is a roll call of those who passed away during the year who had a link, however tenuous, to the horror field, and is compiled each year by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. This entry drew my interest: “Executive producer/financier Dodi Fayed was killed with his girlfriend in a car crash in Paris on 31 August, aged 42.” Some interesting phrasing there: “…with his girlfriend…” Sounds like someone wasn’t a Princess Di fan.

And so concludes another review of Best New Horror. If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading! I hope you’ll pop by for another review soon. In the meantime, if you are tempted to read Best New Horror 9, you should be able to find a second-hand copy on Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks without too much trouble. Alternatively, eBook copies should be available on all major platforms. The book images above will link to their respective Goodreads pages should you want to explore an author’s work further.

Thanks again for reading. All being well, I’ll see you soon in another review.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1399

A relatively easy one this week, though there were still a few exotic solutions to keep me on my toes. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions, where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

As ever, before we jump in, some housekeeping. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic crossword showing a few gaps then you might find my Just For Fun page to be just the ticket. If you dig on horror fiction then I’ve a few things on my Reviews page that could be of interest. I’ll have a review of Best New Horror 9 up shortly, you lucky people. I might also start sticking a couple of stories on here if you’re not careful, so watch out.

Anyway, enough blathering from me. On with the answers. See you next time,


Across clues

1. But mosaic is in pieces of very small size (9)

Answer: SUBATOMIC (i.e. “of very small size”). “In pieces” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BUT MOSAIC.

6. Rum delivery in case (7)

Answer: ODDBALL (i.e. “case”, as in “an odd or humorous character” (Chambers)). Solution is ODD (i.e. “rum”) followed by BALL (i.e. “delivery” in a number of ball games).

10. Talks idly of tears when husband’s gone (5)

Answer: GASES (i.e. “talks idly”). Solution is GASHES (i.e. “tears”) with the H removed (indicated by “when husband’s gone” – H being a recognised abbreviation of “husband”).

13. Quite happy to study wine (7)

Answer: CONTENT (i.e. “quite happy”). Solution is CON (an archaic word for “study” often used by setters) followed by TENT (a deep-red Spanish “wine” – a new one on me. I’ll take a glass, thanks).

14. Casual assistance given to cricket side (7)

Answer: OFFHAND (i.e. “casual”). Solution is HAND (i.e. “assistance”) placed behind or “given to” OFF (i.e. “cricket side”, as in the opposite of on- or leg-side).

15. Mediterranean boat’s fine, but not in Tuscan city (7)

Answer: FELUCCA (i.e. “Mediterranean boat”). Solution is FE (i.e. “fine, but not in”, i.e. the word “fine” with the letters IN removed) followed by LUCCA (i.e. “Tuscan city”). A bit of brute force needed from my Chambers, here, once I had all the intersecting letters.

16. Be hopeful and view the less good single? That’s about correct (4,2,3,6,4)

Answer: LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE (i.e. “be hopeful”). Solution is LOOK ON THE B SIDE (i.e. “view the less good single” – ask your parents, kids) wrapped “about” RIGHT (i.e. “correct”), like so: LOOK-ON-THE-B(RIGHT)-SIDE.

17. Dine on steak, say, but not medium (3)

Answer: EAT (i.e. “dine”). Solution is MEAT (i.e. “steak, say”) with the M removed (indicated by “but not medium” – M being a recognised abbreviation of “medium”).

18. Make material that’s woven by demo (6)

Answer: EMBODY (i.e. “make material”). “That’s woven by” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BY DEMO.

20. Halt alien sea creature (6)

Answer: LIMPET (i.e. “sea creature”). Solution is LIMP (i.e. “halt” – an archaic meaning is to limp or hobble) followed by ET (i.e. “alien”, specifically an Extra-Terrestrial).

21. A fatal preparation of polonium’s working on defector (3,6)

Answer: RAT POISON (i.e. “a fatal preparation”). Solution is RAT (i.e. “defector”) followed by PO (chemical symbol of “polonium”) and IS ON (i.e. “working”).

23. One selling company of men in pursuit of £51 a time (10)

Answer: LIQUIDATOR (i.e. “one selling company”). Solution is LI QUID (i.e. “£51” – the Roman numerals LI equate to 51, and British pounds are often referred to as quid) followed by A and T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), then finished by OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army).

25. Reason for being editor – earns fantastically (6,5)

Answer: RAISON DETRE (i.e. “reason for being”). “Fantastically” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EDITOR EARNS.

29. Fish, angler’s first in northern lake (5)

Answer: LOACH (i.e. “fish”). Solution is A (i.e. “angler’s first”, i.e. the first letter of “angler”) placed “in” LOCH (i.e. “northern lake”), like so: LO(A)CH.

30. Cast in one broadcast on “Columbo” misses uniform (8)

Answer: MONOBLOC (i.e. “cast in one”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “broadcast”) of ON COLUMBO once the U has been removed (indicated by “missing uniform” – U being “uniform” in the phonetic alphabet). A bit of a guess, this, as the word doesn’t feature in my Chambers. It feels about right, though.

31. Move downwards is concerning Papal ambassador (8)

Answer: RELEGATE (i.e. “move downwards”). Solution is RE (i.e. “concerning” – think email replies) followed by LEGATE (i.e. “Papal ambassador”).

34. What’s amusing in key National Executive Committee notes (8)

Answer: ANECDOTE (i.e. “what’s amusing”). Solution is A (i.e. “[musical] key”) followed by NEC (i.e. “National Executive Committee”) and DO and TE (both “notes” in the do-ray-me style).

36. Poor Indian chap without an article (8)

Answer: INDIGENT (i.e. “poor”). Solution is IND (a recognised abbreviation of “Indian”) and GENT (i.e. “chap”) wrapped around or placed “without” I (i.e. “an article”, which are things like “a”, “an” and “the”), like so: IND-(I)-GENT.

37. Place to stay right after golf? (5)

Answer: HOTEL (i.e. “place to stay”). In the phonetic alphabet, HOTEL (i.e. H) will be “right after golf” (which represents G).

39. Speeding up wrecked oral cadence (11)

Answer: ACCELERANDO (i.e. “[music] speeding up”). Last week we had RALLENTANDO (slowing down), so why not? Anyway, “wrecked” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ORAL CADENCE.

41. Who’s uninterested in the narrow catalogue of species groups? (10)

Answer: GENERALIST (i.e. “who’s uninterested in the narrow”, i.e. the opposite of a specialist). Solution also satisfies “catalogue of species groups”, as in a GENERA (plural of genus) LIST.

43. Quiet speaker with his quiet and repeated signs of hesitation (9)

Answer: WHISPERER (i.e. “quiet speaker”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) followed by HIS, then P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano”, which is “quiet” in musical lingo), then ER and ER (i.e. “repeated signs of hesitation”).

45. Went down, to come back gathering oxygen is empty (6)

Answer: DEVOID (i.e. “empty”). Solution is DIVED (i.e. “went down”) reversed (indicated by “to come back”) and wrapped around or “gathering” O (chemical symbol of “oxygen”), like so: DEV(O)ID.

47. Mostly odd echo with large chimney near bridge? (6)

Answer: FUNNEL (i.e. “chimney near bridge”, referring to the funnels one might see on steamships). Solution is FUNNY (i.e. “odd”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”), followed by E (i.e. “echo” in the phonetic alphabet) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “long”), like so: FUNN-E-L.

49. Doctor covering up a breach (3)

Answer: GAP (i.e. “breach”). Solution is GP (i.e. “doctor”, specifically a General Practitioner) wrapped around or “covering up” A, like so: G(A)P.

50. Variety of round cogwheel which has some falling out (10,2,7)

Answer: DIFFERENCE OF OPINION (i.e. “falling out”). Solution is DIFFERENCE (i.e. “variety”) followed by OF, then O (i.e. “round”), then PINION (i.e. “cogwheel”).

52. Sound the alarm as “whiskey” is adopted for a time for Scots emblem (7)

Answer: WHISTLE (i.e. “sound the alarm”). Solution is THISTLE (i.e. “Scots emblem”) with the initial T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) replaced by W (“whiskey” in the phonetic alphabet). The wording of the clue kind of suggests the solution should be the other way around (i.e. THISTLE instead of WHISTLE), but this clashes with 43d. (Shrugs shoulders, whistles and moves on.)

53. Off-colour and casual about old Balkan area (7)

Answer: ILLYRIA (i.e. “old Balkan area” – no, me neither. Chambers bailed me out here once the first few letters became apparent). Solution is ILL (i.e. “off-colour”) followed by AIRY (i.e. “casual” – a bit of a motif for this puzzle) which has been revered (indicated by “about”), like so: ILL-YRIA.

54. What some dancing fools hold – bishop must take steps to realise it (7)

Answer: BLADDER. In Morris dancing, a fool would carry a short stick with a pig’s bladder attached to it, it says here (i.e. “what some dancing fools hold”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “bishop”) followed by LADDER (i.e. “steps”).

55. Stiff and cold, putting off female (5)

Answer: RIGID (i.e. “stiff”). Solution is FRIGID (i.e. “cold”) with the F removed (indicated by “putting off female” – F being a recognised abbreviation of “female”).

56. Where all may go on a trip with style (7)

Answer: HIGHWAY (i.e. “where all may go”). Solution is HIGH (i.e. “trip”, as in getting high) followed by WAY (i.e. “style”, as in a way of doing things).

57. Clear former mate and English sailor returning outside unit (9)

Answer: EXONERATE (i.e. “clear”). Solution is EX (i.e. “former mate”), with E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and TAR (i.e. “sailor”) which are both reversed (indicated by “returning”). These are then wrapped around or placed “outside” ONE (i.e. “unit”), like so: EX-(ONE)-RAT-E.

Down clues

1. Supposed codes all must be broken (2-6)

Answer: SO-CALLED (i.e. “supposed”). “Must be broken” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CODES ALL.

2. House with rubbish container on drive (5)

Answer: BINGO (i.e. “house”, as in the game of chance). Solution is BIN (i.e. “rubbish container”) followed by GO (i.e. “drive”).

3. Firm bird around ruined lodge (3,4,4)

Answer: THE GOLD RUSH (i.e. Charlie Chaplin “film” of 1925). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of LODGE with THRUSH (i.e. “bird”) placed “around” it, like so: TH(EGOLD)RUSH.

4. Speechless about a temperature change (6)

Answer: MUTATE (i.e. “change”). Solution is MUTE (i.e. “speechless”) placed “about” A and T (a recognised abbreviation of “temperature”), like so: MUT(A-T)E.

5. Plug suiting that’s figure-hugging (5-7)

Answer: CLOSE-FITTING (i.e. “figure-hugging”). Solution is CLOSE (i.e. “[to] plug”) followed by FITTING (i.e. “suiting”).

6. Test for fixing promotion has ended (5,2)

Answer: OFFER UP. Solution satisfies a joinery term for “test for fixing”, and “promotion has ended”.

7. Swallow perched initially on housetop avoiding gusts of wind (15)

Answer: DRAUGHTPROOFING (i.e. “avoiding gusts of wind”). Solution is DRAUGHT (i.e. “[to take a] swallow [of some liquid]”) followed by P (i.e. “perched initially”, i.e. the first letter of “perched”) and ROOFING (i.e. “housetop”).

8. Financial record of motor company on Tourist Trophy track (5,5)

Answer: AUDIT TRAIL (i.e. “financial record”). Solution is AUDI (i.e. “motor company”) followed by TT (a recognised abbreviation of “Tourist Trophy”, held on the Isle of Man) and RAIL (i.e. “track”).

9. That’s it! Fellow running from the right is where he’s at (7)

Answer: LEFTIST. “Is where he’s at” hints that the solution is hidden in the clue, while “running from the right” suggests the solution has been reversed, like so: THA(TS IT FEL)LOW. In the context of the clue, a leftist could be one running from the right. Except on Twitter, of course, in which case the gloves come off and impotent rage and death threats spew forth from all sides. #YayModernPoliticalDiscourse

10. Good vintage single turning up, cut out for evergreen (6,5)

Answer: GOLDEN OLDIE (i.e. “evergreen”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) followed by OLD (i.e. “vintage”), then LONE (i.e. “single”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “turning up”), then DIE (i.e. “cut out”), like so: G-OLD-ENOL-DIE.

11. Connector on television which needs a wrench to use (6,3)

Answer: SOCKET SET (i.e. “which needs a wrench to use”). Solution is SOCKET (i.e. “connector”) followed by SET (i.e. “television”).

12. Hardy box bark (7)

Answer: SPARTAN (i.e. “hardy”). Solution is SPAR (i.e. “[to] box”) followed by TAN (i.e. oak “bark” used for tanning).

19. Body of troops commanded to carry equipment (7)

Answer: BRIGADE (i.e. “body of troops”). Solution is BADE (i.e. “commanded”) wrapped around or “carrying” RIG (i.e. “equipment”), like so: B(RIG)ADE.

22. What shows movement of old building and every other one in theory (8)

Answer: ODOMETER (i.e. “what shows movement”, as in the clock that shows the distance your car has gone). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) followed by DOME (i.e. “building”) then the alternate letters (indicated by “every other one”) of THEORY, like so: O-DOME-TER.

24. Mischievous sprite contrived woe for old goblin (5,10)

Answer: ROBIN GOODFELLOW, also known as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (i.e. “mischievous sprite”). “Contrived” indicates anagram. Solution is a nifty anagram of WOE FOR OLD GOBLIN.

26. Exhaust excessively visible, leading to anger (8)

Answer: OVERTIRE (i.e. “exhaust excessively”). Solution is OVERT (i.e. “visible”) followed by or “leading to” IRE (i.e. “anger”).

27. Waugh, perhaps, has name coming up constantly (6)

Answer: EVENLY (i.e. “constantly”). Solution is EVELYN (i.e. “Waugh, perhaps”) with the N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”) “coming up” a couple of notches, this being a down clue.

28. Mountain animal covering Andes, primarily (6)

Answer: ALPACA (i.e. “mountain animal”). Solution is ALP (i.e. “mountain”) followed by the initial letters (indicated by “primarily”) of ANIMAL COVERING ANDES. A nice bit of recursion, there.

32. Insides of parts list covers article needed for mechanic? (7)

Answer: ARTISAN (i.e. “mechanic”). “Insides of” indicates a chunk of the solution can be found in the middle letters of PARTS LIST, followed by or “covering” (being a down clue) AN (i.e. “article”).

33. Gave interior reworking to lend a new vitality (12)

Answer: REINVIGORATE (i.e. “lend a new vitality”). “Reworking” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GAVE INTERIOR.

35. Broken-down and obsolete covers one circuit I had (11)

Answer: DILAPIDATED (i.e. “broken-down”). Solution is DATED (i.e. “obsolete”) wrapped around or “covering” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by LAP (i.e. “circuit”) and I’D (i.e. “I had”), like so: D(I-LAP-I’D)ATED.

37. See things mostly stopped when Roman goddess enters (11)

Answer: HALLUCINATE (i.e. “see things”). Solution is HALTED (i.e. “stopped”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and wrapped around (indicated by “enters”) LUCINA (i.e. “Roman goddess [of childbirth]”), like so: HAL(LUCINA)TE.

38. Diner being given wrong order, a cause of some illnesses (10)

Answer: INBREEDING (i.e. “a cause of some illnesses”). “Given wrong order” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DINER BEING.

40. Fretting under constant and disastrous undermining (9)

Answer: CRIPPLING (i.e. “disastrous undermining”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “constant”) with RIPPLING (i.e. “fretting”) placed “under” – this being a down clue.

42. Casual walking enthusiast around Lake Erie (8)

Answer: FLANERIE (i.e. “casual walking” – no, me neither). Solution is FAN (i.e. “enthusiast”) wrapped “around” L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”) and ERIE, like so: F(L)AN-ERIE.

43. Worker’s pay was cut back, right? Be belligerent (4,3)

Answer: WAGE WAR (i.e. “be belligerent”). Solution is WAGE (i.e. “worker’s pay”) followed by WAS with he last letter removed (indicated by “cut back”), then followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: WAGE-WA-R.

44. Update reference concerning small hotel (7)

Answer: REFRESH (i.e. “update”). Solution is REF (a recognised abbreviation of “reference”) followed by RE (i.e. “concerning” – think email replies) then by S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) and finally H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet”), like so: REF-RE-S-H.

46. Governor’s wicked behaviour over chap (7)

Answer: VICEROY (i.e. “governor”). Solution is VICE (i.e. “wicked behaviour”) followed by or placed “over” – this being a down clue – ROY (i.e. “chap”).

48. Reserve volume endlessly in error (3-3)

Answer: BOO-BOO (i.e. “error”). Solution is BOOK (i.e. “reserve”) and BOOK (i.e. “volume”) both with their final letters removed (indicated by “endlessly”). I rather liked this one when I twigged it.

51. Home help turned up in a state (5)

Answer: INDIA (i.e. “state”). Solution is IN (i.e. “[at] home”) followed by AID (i.e. “help”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “turned up”, this being a down clue), like so: IN-DIA.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1398

A tougher puzzle for Bank Holiday Monday (aren’t they all?) with a few exotic solutions to keep the pages of one’s Chambers warm and a few other toughies to test the grey matter. Sadly, there were a few too many repeats as well. Can’t have ’em all, I guess.

You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic showing a few gaps then you might be interested in my Just For Fun page. If you can be tempted into a spot of horror fiction then you’ll find a few bits and pieces on my Reviews page.

Right, on with the show. Nearly caught up. Till the next one, laters.


Across clues

1. Systematically examine barbarian, uncivilised (2,7)

Answer: GO THROUGH (i.e. “systematically examine”). Solution is GOTH (i.e. “barbarian”, as opposed to those with a fancy for eyeliner and a spot of Black Lace black lace) followed by ROUGH (i.e. “uncivilised”). Aaaa-gaaa-doo-doo-d<gunshot sound>

6. Indication of scores seeing one good character going on by (4,9)

Answer: TIME SIGNATURE (i.e. “indication of [musical] scores”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”) and NATURE (i.e. “character”) with TIMES (i.e. “by”, as in multiplication) placed at the beginning, like so: TIMES-I-G-NATURE. The first of several repeats in this grid.

13. Not going anywhere yet (5)

Answer: STILL. Solution satisfies “not going anywhere” and “yet”.

14. Dog bites kit from behind, getting rear of United supporter (3,6)

Answer: BOX GIRDER (i.e. “supporter”). Solution is BOXER (i.e. “dog”) wrapped around or “biting” RIG (i.e. “kit”) which is reversed (indicated by “from behind”) and followed by D (i.e. “rear of United”, i.e. the last letter of “United”), like so: BOX(GIR-D)ER.

15. Manage poem in ode lacking content (7)

Answer: OVERSEE (i.e. “manage”). Solution is VERSE (i.e. “poem”) placed in OE (i.e. “ode lacking content”, i.e. the word “ode” with the middle letter removed), like so: O(VERSE)E.

16. Why leaves aren’t green? (5,6,4,2,5)

Answer: MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES. Solution riffs on how “green” can describe the colour of leaves on a tree as well as money. I loved this clue when I finally got it. Very cool.

18. In discovery of the swine, Poirot ultimately messes up (8)

Answer: TRUFFLES (i.e. “discovery of the swine”). Solution is T (i.e. “Poirot ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “Poirot”) followed by RUFFLES (i.e. “messes up”).

20. Lady in colonial India – shame I’m cavorting with bishop (8)

Answer: MEMSAHIB (i.e. “lady in colonial India”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “cavorting”) of SHAME I’M followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “bishop” used in chess), like so: MEMSAHI-B. I got the last half but had to brute force the first.

21. Look to think tank, some stupid conclusions being reflected (5)

Answer: DEKKO (i.e. “look” – I’ve never heard this one before, but it’s in the dictionary. I’m more of a shufti person, myself). “Conclusions” indicates the solution is hidden in the final letters of TO THINK TANK SOME STUPID, while “being reflected” indicates those letters have been reversed.

23. Theological teachings in study brought up (6)

Answer: REARED (i.e. “brought up”). Solution is RE (i.e. “theological teachings”, specifically Religious Education) placed “in” READ (i.e. “[to] study”), like so: REA(RE)D.

24. Infiltrating pack briefly, track animal (6)

Answer: BRUTAL (i.e. “animal”). This took a bit of figuring, but the solution is RUT (i.e. “track”) placed in or “infiltrating” BALE (i.e. “pack”) once its final letter has been removed (indicated by “briefly”), like so: B(RUT)AL. A nice bit of misdirection by the setter, though I didn’t think this at the time.

25. Receptive about daughter, OK for a change? (9)

Answer: AMENDABLE (i.e. “OK for a change”). Solution is AMENABLE (i.e. “receptive”) placed “about” D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”), like so: AMEN(D)ABLE.

28. Fascinated by period in chains, say? (10)

Answer: SPELLBOUND (i.e. “fascinated”). Solution also satisfies “period in chains, say”, as in a SPELL during which one was BOUND.

29. Winger, one’s granny (4)

Answer: KNOT. Solution satisfies “winger” – a KNOT can be a bird – and “granny”, as in a granny KNOT. Another one that took some figuring. I was weighing this and GNAT up for most of the puzzle, which seems a bit daft in hindsight.

30. Breakfast for those in bed? (7)

Answer: KIPPERS (i.e. “breakfast”). Solution riffs on how those asleep or kipping in bed can also be referred to as KIPPERS. A simple clue, but one that made me smile when I got it.

32. Team arrives finally in stadium late for kick-off? (7)

Answer: ARSENAL (i.e. “[English football] team”). Solution is S (i.e. “arrives finally”, i.e. the last letter of “arrives”) placed “in” ARENA (i.e. “stadium”) and followed by L (i.e. “late for kick-off”, i.e. the first letter of “late”), like so: AR(S)ENA-L.

34. Hooligan left unconscious (4)

Answer: LOUT (i.e. “hooligan”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) followed by OUT (i.e. “unconscious”).

35. Everyone knows this pretence, so shaky (4,6)

Answer: OPEN SECRET (i.e. “everyone knows this”). “Shaky” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PRETENCE SO.

38. A tramp originally occupying some wood, in consequence was begging (9)

Answer: ENTREATED (i.e. “was begging”). Solution is A and T (i.e. “tramp originally”, i.e. the first letter of “tramp”) placed in or “occupying” TREE (i.e. “some wood”), which in turn is placed “in” END (i.e. “consequence”), like so: EN(TRE(A-T)E)D.

39. Wonderful shiner came up shortly after punch, stuffing knocked out (6)

Answer: PHAROS, which is a lighthouse or beacon (i.e. “wonderful shiner”). A new one on me, but it’s there in the dictionary. Solution is AROSE (i.e. “came up”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “shortly”) and placed “after” PH (i.e. “punch, stuffing knocked out”, i.e. the word “punch” with the middle letters removed), like so: PH-AROS. A clue that scans rather well.

40. No starter with Chinese food – or a huge plateful? (6)

Answer: OODLES. Solution is NOODLES (i.e. “Chinese food”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “no starter”). In the context of the clue, a huge plateful could be deemed oodles of noodles. Another cool clue that made me smile.

43. Artist inspired by modern style (5)

Answer: Max ERNST, an “artist” who’s appeared in another grid relatively recently. He also showed up late last year. Ho hum. “Inspired by” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: MOD(ERN ST)YLE.

45. Chinos primarily shipped out of heaving workplace where cords once manufactured (4-4)

Answer: ROPE-WALK, which is a long narrow shed for twisting threads into rope (i.e. “where cords once manufactured”). Good grief, this took me forever to decode! The solution is an anagram (indicated by “heaving”) of WORKPLACE once the C has been removed (indicated by “chinos primarily shipped out of…”, C being the first letter of “chinos”).

47. Artist leaving bride’s package unopened (8)

Answer: Henri ROUSSEAU (i.e. “artist”). Solution is TROUSSEAU (i.e. “bride’s package”, as in the clothes collected by the bride for her marriage (taps Chambers)) with the first letter removed (indicated – I guess – by “unopened”, though I can’t quite visualise why).

49. M. Monroe: celeb sure acting badly in O’Neill play (8,7,7)

Answer: MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA (i.e. “[Eugene] O’Neill play” – no, me neither, though the name rang a bell). “Badly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of M MONROE CELEB SURE ACTING. One of those clues where I took one look and thought, “Sod that. Hello, Google”. I have literally no shame.

52. Capital city the Balkan ideal, Ljubljana in Slovenia is always first (7)

Answer: TBILISI (i.e. “capital city” of Georgia). “Always first” indicates the solution is hidden in the initial letters of THE BALKAN IDEAL LJUBLJANA IN SLOVENIA IS. What a convoluted mess, but at least that made the wordplay a little easier to spot.

53. Plan arrived, stress picked up? (9)

Answer: INTENTION (i.e. “plan”). Solution is IN (i.e. “arrived”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “picked up”) of TENSION (i.e. “stress”), like so: IN-TENTION. Regular readers of my crossword posts may have noticed I’ve given up bleating about non-words being used as homophones. “King” and “Canute” spring to mind.

54. Weariness in recollection of current athlete, unlimited (5)

Answer: ENNUI (i.e. “weariness”). Solution is RUNNER (i.e. “athlete”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “unlimited”) and followed by I (a recognised abbreviation of “[electrical] current”). The whole is then reversed, indicated by “recollection”, like so: ENNU-I.

55. Cutting device, something sharp college tries (7,6)

Answer: PINKING SHEARS (i.e. “cutting device”). Solution is PIN (i.e. “something sharp”) followed by KINGS (i.e. “college”, located – you guessed it – in London) and HEARS (i.e. “tries”, as in a court of law).

56. Pygmy shot remarkably small creature (5,4)

Answer: GYPSY MOTH (i.e. “small creature”). “Remarkably” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PYGMY SHOT.

Down clues

1. Going over top of roost, egg possibly broken by very big tank (9)

Answer: GASOMETER (i.e. a storage “tank” for gas). Solution is R (i.e. “top of roost”, i.e. the first letter of “roost”) upon which (indicated by “going over” – this being a down clue) is placed GAMETE (i.e. “egg possibly”) once it has been wrapped around or “broken by” SO (i.e. “very big”, as in that is soooooooo gnarly, dude), like so: GA(SO)METE-R. SO could also be OS reversed (being a recognised abbreviation of “outsized”) but I can’t see a reverse indicator to bring it into play.

2. Great aunt Lily not half struggling to get into some sort of shape? (11)

Answer: TRIANGULATE (i.e. “to get into some sort of shape”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “struggling”) of GREAT AUNT and LI (i.e. “Lily not half”, i.e. the first half of “Lily”).

3. Improve demo (5)

Answer: RALLY. Solution satisfies “improve” and “demo”.

4. A foreign relation, knowledge complete (8)

Answer: UNBROKEN (i.e. “complete”). Solution is UN (i.e. “a foreign”, i.e. the masculine form of “a” in French) followed by BRO (i.e. “relation”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “brother”) and KEN (i.e. “knowledge”).

5. Sweet thing, old lover in stockings (6)

Answer: HEXOSE (i.e. “sweet thing”, being a sugar with six carbon atoms to the molecule). Solution is EX (i.e. “old lover”) placed “in” HOSE (i.e. “stockings”), like so: H(EX)OSE. One I got purely from the wordplay, to be honest.

6. Unlucky date maybe to be hit with the rent, unfortunately (10)

Answer: THIRTEENTH (i.e. “unlucky date maybe”). “Unfortunately” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HIT and THE RENT.

7. After defamation, forcibly remove swimmer for slippery practice (3-9)

Answer: MUD-WRESTLING (i.e. “slippery practice”). Solution is MUD (i.e. “defamation”) followed by WREST (i.e. “forcibly remove”) and LING (i.e. “swimmer”, a ling is a kind of fish).

8. Spread half of this well! (7)

Answer: STREWTH (i.e. an exclamatory “well!”). Solution is STREW (i.e. “spread”) followed by TH (i.e. “half of this”, specifically the first half of “this”).

9. Pioneering, seismic shifts? (6-8)

Answer: GROUND-BREAKING. Solution satisfies “pioneering” and is a possible result of “seismic shifts”.

10. Prayer a shade beneath king, it’s said (7)

Answer: AVERRED (i.e. “said”). Solution is AVE (i.e. “prayer”) and RED (i.e. “a shade”) once it has been placed “beneath” R (i.e. “king”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “Rex”), this being a down clue, like so: AVE-(R)-RED. One of those words I would have spelled with a single R, which shows what I know.

11. Would Trappist’s thoughts be so shocking? (11)

Answer: UNSPEAKABLE (i.e. “shocking”). Solution riffs on how Trappist monks have sworn a vow of silence. I rather liked this one when I got it.

12. Lookers ultimately attractive, I agree (4)

Answer: EYES (i.e. “lookers”). Solution is E (i.e. “ultimately attractive”, i.e. the last letter of “attractive”) followed by YES (i.e. “I agree”).

17. County, an outstanding place – that’s about right (8)

Answer: SOMERSET (i.e. “county”). Solution is SOME (i.e. “outstanding”, as in “that’s some dungeon you’ve got there, Mr Poll”) and SET (i.e. “[to] place”) both placed “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: SOME-(R)-SET.

19. Fish in the Seine, perhaps, labouring here and there? (9)

Answer: FREELANCE (i.e. “labouring here and there”). Solution is EEL (i.e. “fish”) placed in FRANCE (i.e. “in the Seine, perhaps” – taken in the context of the clue, our fishy friend could find himself in France), like so: FR(EEL)ANCE.

22. Happy sound from sty came first (8)

Answer: GRUNTLED (i.e. “happy”). Solution is GRUNT (i.e. “sound from sty” as in the sound a pig makes) followed by LED (i.e. “came first”). The word was coined by P.G. Wodehouse in The Code of the Woosters: “…I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled”. One of my all-time favourite Wodehouse lines, though the fact the word is now recognised in the dictionary spoils the joke a tad!

25. Nation a little upset about public hangings at first – sentence noted? (8)

Answer: ANTIPHON, which is alternate chanting or singing (i.e. “sentence [musically] noted”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “a little upset”) wrapped “about” P and H (i.e. “public hangings at first”, i.e. the first letters of “public” and “hangings”), like so: ANTI(PH)ON. Another repeat, which made this an easier get than was perhaps envisaged.

26. Like flies in soup, tired swimming (9)

Answer: DIPTEROUS, which describes an insect or fly with two wings (i.e. “like flies”). “Swimming” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SOUP TIRED. This was a brute force job once I had the first three intersecting letters.

27. Linen dry, then wet – messy practice? (6-8)

Answer: TOILET-TRAINING (i.e. “messy practice”). Solution is TOILE (i.e. “linen” – chalk one to my Bradford’s here) followed by TT (i.e. “dry”, being a recognised abbreviation of “teetotal”) and RAINING (i.e. “wet”).

28. Height of water almost entirely maintained by raising of flood barriers (3,5)

Answer: SEA LEVEL (i.e. “height of water”). Solution is ALL (i.e. “entirely”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and placed in or “maintained by” LEVEES (i.e. “flood barriers”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “raising of”), like so: SE(AL)EVEL. A clue that scans rather well.

31. Something explosive brewing? (9,3)

Answer: GUNPOWDER TEA. Yes, it does exist. Clue riffs on how gunpowder is an “explosive”. This was another recent repeat, disappointingly, which made for an easy get.

33. Launch proposal after group elected (3,2,6)

Answer: SET IN MOTION (i.e. “launch”). Solution is MOTION (i.e. “proposal”) placed “after” SET (i.e. “group”) and IN (i.e. “elected”).

36. Wrinkly old nan, later slowing down (11)

Answer: RALLENTANDO (i.e. “[music] slowing down”). “Wrinkly” indicates anagram. Solution is anagram of OLD NAN LATER. Chalk one to my Bradford’s. The anagram indicator was obvious but, as with the thousands of musical terms out there, you either know them or don’t.

37. Every quarter covered by British writers (10)

Answer: BALLPOINTS (i.e. “writers”). Solution is ALL POINTS (i.e. “every quarter”) preceded or “covered by” – this being a down clue – B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”).

41. English invading, native American quick to recoil in horror (9)

Answer: SQUEAMISH (i.e. “quick to recoil in horror”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) placed in or “invading” SQUAMISH (i.e. “native American”, specifically the not-quite-four-thousand indigenous Squamish people of British Colombia in Canada, as opposed to the not-quite-seven-thousand indigenous Suquamish people of Washington state a bit further down – I bet they’re forever getting each other’s mail), like so: SQU(E)AMISH.

42. Brief rest might lift God (5,3)

Answer: POWER NAP (i.e. “brief rest”). Solution is POWER (i.e. “might”) followed by PAN (i.e. “God”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “lift”, this being a down clue).

44. Number fed by service industry initially, then one stops (7)

Answer: TERMINI (i.e. “stops”). Solution is TEN (i.e. “number”) wrapped around or “fed by” RM (a recognised abbreviation of Royal Marines, i.e. “service”) and I (i.e. “industry initially”, i.e. the first letter of “industry”). The whole is then followed by another I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: TE(RM-I)N-I.

46. Nonsense incarcerating extremists in gulag, I mean (7)

Answer: PIGGISH (i.e. “mean”). Solution is PISH (i.e. “nonsense”) wrapped around or “incarcerating” GG (i.e. “extremists in gulag”, i.e. the first and last letters of “gulag”) and I, like so: PI(GG-I)SH.

48. Expedition leader heading for Russia in essence (6)

Answer: Vitus BERING (i.e. “expedition leader”). Solution is R (i.e. “heading for Russia”, i.e. the first letter of “Russia”) placed “in” BEING (i.e. “essence”), like so: BE(R)ING.

50. Rival in gym energetically doing a backflip (5)

Answer: ENEMY (i.e. “rival”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “doing a backflip” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: G(YM ENE)RGETICALLY.

51. On playing out the Alamo, heads raised (4)

Answer: ATOP (i.e. “on”). “Heads” indicates the solution is derived by the initial letters of PLAYING OUT THE ALAMO, while “raised” indicates those initial letters are reversed, this being a down clue.