Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1424

It seems we’re heading towards stinkerdom again with a grid riddled with exotic solutions and a bunch of dead guys, not to mention a handful of overly vague and tenuous clues. Hardly my favourites. Now that the dust has settled, though, I can’t say this one was too bad. We’ve certainly seen worse.

Anyway, before we get all misty-eyed and I pull up a chair to talk some more, let’s get down to why you’ve come here. The answers! You’ll 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 hawking before we jump in. If you’ve got a pesky Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s eluded your grey matter lately then you might find some satisfaction in my Just For Fun page. If you’d like to give an old alter-ego an ego boost, you could do a lot worse than browsing a few book reviews knocking about the place, or, if you’ve got 20 minutes to kill, a short(ish) story of mine.

Anyway, before I start pulling out the family photos and you get all eyeing-the-exits, let’s get down to why you’ve come here.

To the answers!


Across clues

1. Supporters, British, stopping Polish players (5,4)

Answer: BRASS BAND (i.e. “players”). Solution is BRAS (i.e. “supporters”) followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”) once it has been placed in or “stopping” SAND (i.e. “[to] polish”), like so: BRAS-S(B)AND.

6. Minor injury certainly no handicap (7)

Answer: SCRATCH. Solution satisfies “minor injury” and “no handicap” – golf players with no handicap will start from a zero score, i.e. start from scratch. “Certainly” seems a redundant word, so there might be something extra I’ve missed.

10. Elm in court outside a hotel (5)

Answer: WAHOO (i.e. a variety of “elm”, it says here). Solution is WOO (i.e. “[to] court”) wrapped around or placed “outside” of A and H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: W(A-H)OO.

13. Poor parrots: they’ve no more fun! (3,6,4)

Answer: THE PARTY’S OVER (i.e. “no more fun”). “Poor” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PARROTS THEY’VE.

14. Mole dwells across river bank (5,4)

Answer: LIVER SPOT (i.e. “mole” – too tenuous for me. While they are both marks found on the skin, I’d argue moles and liver spots are not the same. You don’t see many kids with liver spots, do you?) Solution is LIVES (i.e. “dwells”) wrapped around or placed “across” R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”) and followed by POT (i.e. “bank”, as in a pot of money), like so: LIVE(R)S-POT. Ho hum.

15. Recalled church matter being out of place (7)

Answer: ECTOPIC, meaning “in an abnormal position” (i.e. “out of place”). Solution is CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England) which is reversed (indicated by “recalled”) followed by TOPIC (i.e. “matter”), like so: EC-TOPIC. One gotten from the wordplay and a brute force of my Chambers.

16. Ring to cancel film (7)

Answer: ANNULET (i.e. “ring”). Solution is ANNUL (i.e. “cancel”) followed by ET (i.e. “film”, specifically ET: The Extra-Terrestrial).

17. Ball game, I sense, doing massive harm (7)

Answer: RUINOUS (i.e. “doing massive harm”). Solution is RU (i.e. “ball game”, specifically Rugby Union) followed by I and then NOUS (i.e. “sense”).

18. New arrangement for writers bears fruit (12)

Answer: STRAWBERRIES (i.e. “fruit”). “New arrangement for” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WRITERS BEARS.

20. Meeting place in New Zealand at first overused, sadly (10)

Answer: RENDEZVOUS (i.e. “meeting place”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “sadly”) of NZ (i.e. “New Zealand at first”) and OVERUSED.

23. Secret miscreant kept from head (5)

Answer: INNER (i.e. “secret”). Solution is SINNER (i.e. “miscreant”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “kept from head”).

24. Hours in science laboratory being oddly ignored put out Soviet leader (9)

Answer: Konstantin CHERNENKO (i.e. “Soviet leader” immediately before Gorbachev). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hours”) placed “in” CERN (i.e. “science laboratory”, specifically the European Organisation of Nuclear Research. Also the birthplace of the world wide web, thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee) and followed by EN (i.e. “being oddly ignored”, i.e. the word BEING with the odd letters removed) and then KO (i.e. “put out”, as in to knock someone out), like so: C(H)ERN-EN-KO. One gotten from the wordplay.

25. Share personal perspective on what’s expected (7)

Answer: PARTAKE (i.e. “share”). Solution is TAKE (i.e. “personal perspective”) placed after PAR (i.e. “what’s expected”), like so: PAR-TAKE.

26. We cancel short journey to find convenience store (3-4,4)

Answer: ONE-STOP SHOP (i.e. “convenience store”). Solution is ONE STOPS (i.e. “we cancel”) followed by HOP (i.e. “short journey”), like so: ONE-STOPS-HOP.

28. In a way, uproar something we can learn from (11)

Answer: INSTRUCTION (i.e. “something we can learn from”). Solution is IN followed by ST (i.e. “a way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a “street”) and then RUCTION (i.e. “uproar”).

30. Follower of popular opinion, note, Strasbourg politician with letter (11)

Answer: TIMEPLEASER (i.e. “follower of popular opinion”, often cynically). Solution is TI (i.e. “note”, in the doh-ray-me fashion) followed by MEP (i.e. “Strasbourg politician”, specifically a Member of the European Parliament) and then LEASER (i.e. “letter”, both descriptive of a landlord). Cool word. I like it.

32. Salesman sulks, cross, turning to see waiting journalist? (11)

Answer: DOORSTEPPER (i.e. “[door-to-door] salesman”). Solution is PETS (i.e. “sulks”) and ROOD (i.e. “[Christ’s] cross”) both reversed (indicated by “turning”). That get’s me DOOR-STEP. As for the PER bit, I’m knackered. Anyone know why this would be “to see waiting journalist”?
[EDIT: Thanks to Gareth in the comments for clarifying this one. It turns out I’d misread a clump of definitions in my Chambers, and that a DOORSTEPPER was a “waiting journalist”. Salesman would therefore be a REP, which, when reversed with the others, gets you DOOR-STEP-PER. Thanks, Gareth! – LP]

34. Place for young and old train staff: Home Counties line? (7)

Answer: NURSERY (i.e. “place for young”). Solution is NUR (i.e. “old train staff”, specifically the National Union of Railwaymen, dissolved in 1990) followed by SE (i.e. “home counties”, i.e. the South East of England) and RY (a recognised abbreviation of “railway”, i.e. “line”).

36. Recovering, if diminished: lampoon them endlessly (2,3,4)

Answer: ON THE MEND (i.e. “recovering”). “If diminished” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: LAMPO(ON THEM END)LESSLY.

38. Shackles press with these (5)

Answer: IRONS. Solution satisfies “shackles” and “press with these”.

39. One predicting a storm, perhaps, if indeed listened to (7,3)

Answer: WEATHER EYE (i.e. “one predicting a storm, perhaps”). Solution comprises homophones (indicated by “listened to”) of WHETHER (i.e. “if”) and AYE (i.e. “indeed”).

41. Win big game following exclusive article (5,3,4)

Answer: SCOOP THE POOL (i.e. “win big”). Solution is POOL (i.e. “game”) placed after or “following” SCOOP (i.e. “[newspaper] exclusive”) and THE (i.e. “article”). I get the phrase but can’t recall seeing or hearing its use all that often.

45. Appropriate company to tour capitals presenting opera (7)

Answer: NABUCCO (i.e. “opera” by Verdi. No, me neither.) Solution is NAB (i.e. to steal or “appropriate”) and CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”) wrapped around or “touring” UC (i.e. “capitals”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Upper Case), like so: NAB-(UC)-CO. Made. To. Fit.

46. Cunning US president with backing of forty on the left (7)

Answer: FOXLIKE (i.e. “cunning”). Solution is IKE (i.e. nickname of “US president” Dwight Eisenhower) with both OF reversed (indicated by “backing”) and XL (i.e. “[Roman numerals] forty”) placed “on the left” of it, like so: FO-XL-IKE.

47. Moslem doctrine to be poorly interpreted at first (7)

Answer: ISMAILI (i.e. “Moslem”, specifically “one of a sect of Shiite Muslims that recognises Ismail, son of the sixth imam, as the true seventh imam” (Chambers). So there you go.) Solution is ISM (i.e. “doctrine”) followed by AIL (i.e. “to be poorly”) and I (i.e. “interpreted at first”, i.e. the first letter of “interpreted”). One gotten purely from the wordplay.

49. Lasting mark left by short old Greek composer (9)

Answer: SCARLATTI (i.e. “composer” – there are a few to choose from, it seems). Solution is SCAR (i.e. “lasting mark”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and ATTIC (i.e. “old Greek” – Attic being of Attica, the region around Athens) once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “short”), like so: SCAR-L-ATTI. Another gotten partially from the wordplay, once I’d started typing “composer scarl” into Google. Who needs knowledge, eh, folks?

50. In this selection process keen that woman should block top illustrator? (13)

Answer: CHERRYPICKING (i.e. “selection process”). Solution is CRY (i.e. to mourn or “keen”) wrapped around or “blocked” by HER (i.e. “that woman”) and followed by PIC KING (i.e. “top illustrator”, PIC being short for “picture”), like so: C(HER)RY-PIC-KING.

52. Wed, perhaps, without dread, vacuous PA (5)

Answer: DADDY (i.e. “pa” – ignore the misleading uppercase text). Solution is DAY (i.e. “Wed, perhaps”, being a recognised abbreviation of Wednesday) wrapped around or placed “without” DD (i.e. “dread, vacuous”, i.e. the word “dread” with all its middle letters removed), like so: DA(DD)Y. One of those clues that has you facepalming the moment you twig it. Well played.

53. City, close to championship, continue to be relaxed? (7)

Answer: PRESTON (i.e. “city”). Solution is P (i.e. “close to championship”, i.e. the last letter of “championship”) followed by REST ON (i.e. “continue to be relaxed”).

54. Henry abused his power to punish severely (9)

Answer: HORSEWHIP (i.e. “punish severely”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “Henry”, a unit of measurement we’ve seen used in another grid recently) followed by an anagram (indicated by “abused”) of HIS POWER, like so: H-ORSEWHIP. A clue that scans rather well.

Down clues

1. Prepares for fried dish or buffets (7)

Answer: BATTERS. Solution satisfies “prepares for fried dish” and “buffets”. Another well-worked clue.

2. Leaves stripper to run after a lowdown female (5,6)

Answer: AGENT ORANGE, a defoliant used as a chemical agent in the Vietnam war (i.e. “leaves stripper”). Solution is TO and R (a recognised abbreviation of “run” used in several ball games) placed “after” A and GEN (i.e. “lowdown”), then followed by ANGE (i.e. “female”, being a shortened form of Angela), like so: A-GEN-TO-R-ANGE.

3. Maidenhead maybe wanted in exchange for Slough (5)

Answer: SWAMP (i.e. “slough” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is M (i.e. “Maidenhead”, i.e. the first letter of “maiden”) placed “in” SWAP (i.e. “exchange”), like so: SWA(M)P.

4. A Conservative out to break with EU prompt! (7)

Answer: AUTOCUE (i.e. “prompt”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to break”) of A, C (a recognised abbreviation of “Conservative”), OUT and EU. Cleverly done.

5. Some French boy (3)

Answer: DES. Solution satisfies “some French”, i.e. the French for “of the” or “some”, and “boy”, as in a boy’s name. My French extends little beyond un, deux, trois and Le Piat D’or, but this feels like another tenuous clue.

6. A number spotted, happening to be paying visit (9)

Answer: SEVENTEEN (i.e. “a number”). Solution is SEEN (i.e. “spotted”) wrapped around or being “paid a visit” by EVENT (i.e. “happening”), like so: S(EVENT)EEN.

7. Hardly ever is gran’s meat lean (6)

Answer: RARELY (i.e. “hardly ever”). Another where the setter loses me, so watch out. I get that meat can be prepared “rarely”, but that about all the heat I’m getting from this one.
[EDIT: Gareth comes to the rescue again here, pointing out that the solution is RA-RELY, comprising RA (i.e. “Gran’s meat”, i.e. the middle letters of “gran”) and RELY (i.e. “lean [on]”). Thanks, Gareth! – LP]

8. An age to cultivate some neat approach in (4,3,4,4,4)

Answer: TILL THE COWS COME HOME, denoting a long time (i.e. “an age”). Solution is TILL (i.e. “to cultivate [land]”) followed by THE COWS (i.e. “some neat” – an alternative meaning of “neat” covers cattle such as cows and oxen) then COME (i.e. “approach”) and HOME (i.e. “in”, as in “at home”).

9. Hung around with over-edacious hosts (7)

Answer: HOVERED (i.e. “hung around”). “Hosts” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: WIT(H OVER-ED)ACIOUS.

10. With place for page, it’s a sound organ or piano! (9)

Answer: WURLITZER (i.e. “organ or piano”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) followed by URL (i.e. “place for [web]page”, short for a Uniform Resource Locator) then a homophone (indicated by “sound”) of IT’S A.

11. 3 lovers of trendy music and books in need of foreign friend (11)

Answer: HIPPOPOTAMI (i.e. “3 lovers” – the answer to 3d is SWAMP. Another one that is too vague for my liking). Solution is HIP (i.e. “trendy”) followed by POP (i.e. “music”), then OT (i.e. “books”, specifically the Old Testament of The Bible) and AMI (i.e. “foreign friend” – the French for “friend” being “ami”). Next!

12. Grass is overheard identifying conspirator (5)

Answer: Titus OATES, who fabricated a plot to kill Charles II (i.e. “conspirator”). “Is overheard” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of OATS (i.e. “grass”). A well-worked clue, but I’d no idea who this was. (Pats Google gently.)

16. Book is bio my foster father and I twice reworked (1,5,7,2,4)

Answer: A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (i.e. a well-known “book” by Professor Stephen Hawking). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “reworked”) of BIO MY FOSTER FATHER, I and I (indicated by “I twice”).

19. Monitor calls on regulator to support women’s group (7)

Answer: WIRETAP (i.e. “monitor calls”). Solution is RE (i.e. “on”, i.e. about – think email responses) and TAP (i.e. “regulator”) both preceded (indicated by “to support” – this being a down clue) by WI (i.e. “women’s group”, specifically the Women’s Institute), like so: WI-RE-TAP.

21. It’s something in S Africa to catch wild bears with nets (9)

Answer: STEENBRAS (i.e. “it’s something in S Africa to catch”, namely a kind of fish. Big buggers too, if Google Images is any judge.) “Wild” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BEARS and NETS. The wordplay was fairly obvious, but only gotten once I’d solved all the intersecting letters.

22. Way of paying complete with pen and pad, finally (2,4)

Answer: IN KIND (i.e. “way of paying”). Solution is INK IN (i.e. “complete with pen”) followed by D (i.e. “pad, finally”, i.e. the last letter of “pad”).

23. Pass papers on, and empty textbook, immediately (1,4,4)

Answer: I DON’T KNOW (i.e. “pass”). Solution is ID (i.e. identification “papers”) followed by ON, then TK (i.e. “empty textbook”, i.e. the word “textbook” with all of its middle letters removed) and NOW (i.e. “immediately”).

24. Like some metal to get hold of annually? (7)

Answer: COPPERY (i.e. “like some metal”). Solution is COP (i.e. “to get hold of”) followed by PER Y (i.e. “annually”, with Y being a recognised abbreviation of “year”, i.e. per year).

25. Put out of pub, ancient one associated with The Sun’s top journalist (7)

Answer: PHRASED (i.e. “put”). Solution is PH (i.e. “pub”, specifically a Public House) followed by RA (i.e. “ancient one associated with the sun” – ignoring the misleading capitalisation – referring to the sun god Ra) then S (i.e. “the sun’s top”, i.e. the first letter of “sun” – a nice bit of recycling) and ED (i.e. “journalist”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of an “editor”).

27. Potentially even state celebration should involve one (6)

Answer: PARITY (i.e. “potentially even state”). Solution is PARTY (i.e. “celebration”) wrapped around or “involving” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: PAR(I)TY.

29. Shift from English – earlier try to abandon science (7)

Answer: CHEMISE (i.e. “shift”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) with CHEMISTRY (i.e. “science”) placed “earlier” once the TRY has been removed (indicated by “try to abandon”), like so: CHEMIS-E.

31. Middle-of-the-road leader on the right dismissed hawk (6-5)

Answer: MORTAR-BOARD (i.e. “hawk” – this can be a board upon which plasterers hold plaster or mortar while they work. Hmm. You learn something every day in this game.) Solution is MOR (a recognised abbreviation of “middle-of-the-road”) followed by STARBOARD (i.e. “on the right [of a ship]”) once its initial letter has been removed (indicated by “leader…dismissed”), like so: MOR-TARBOARD.

33. Still to determine its outcome? (5,6)

Answer: PHOTO FINISH (i.e. “outcome”). Solution riffs on how photographs or “stills” are used “to determine” who won a race. You get the idea.

35. European city hall condemned, rightly (9)

Answer: ETHICALLY (i.e. “rightly”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “condemned”) of CITY HALL, like so: E-THICALLY.

37. A mathematician’s large audience excited (9)

Answer: EUCLIDEAN (i.e. “a mathematician’s”, i.e. pertaining to the Ancient Greek mathematician Euclid). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “excited”) of L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) and AUDIENCE.

40. Wretched uprising, frequently coming in place of protest? (7)

Answer: ROOFTOP (i.e. “place of protest”). Solution is POOR (i.e. “wretched”) reversed (indicated by “uprising” – this being a down clue) and wrapped around or allowing to “come in” OFT (i.e. “frequently”), like so: RO(OFT)OP.

42. Excursionist, one setting off? (7)

Answer: TRIPPER. Solution satisfies “excursionist” and “one setting off [an alarm]”.

43. Confined to bed – but no more stories? (5,2)

Answer: LYING UP. Solution satisfies “confined to bed” and “no more stories”, i.e. no more lies.

44. Missile briefly guided northwards, and across France (6)

Answer: EXOCET (i.e. “missile”). Solution is COXED (i.e. “guided”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and the remainder reversed (indicated by “northwards” – this being a down clue) and followed by ET (i.e. “and across France”, i.e. the French for “and”), like so: EXOC-ET.

45. Edged forward and picked up bouquet? (5)

Answer: NOSED. Solution satisfies “edged forward” and smelled, i.e. “picked up bouquet”.

48. Exam’s ending with long, hard paper (5)

Answer: MACHE (i.e. “hard paper”). Solution is M (i.e. “exam’s ending”, i.e. the last letter of “exam”) followed by ACHE (i.e. “long”).

51. Cheer swift runner coming up – not quite to the echo (3)

Answer: RAH (i.e. “cheer”). Solution is HARE (i.e. “swift runner”) with the E removed (indicated by “not quite to the echo” – echo being E in the phonetic alphabet) and the remainder reversed (indicated by “coming up” – this being another down clue).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1423

A welcome one-off switch to the 27×27 jumbo grids of old as The Times celebrates 90 years of their cryptic crossword. This one was very well done, with a lot of clues and solutions themed around the number 90 or the year 1930 or crosswords in general.

You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful. A little housekeeping before we jump in. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s showing a few gaps then my Just For Fun page is the place to head. If horror stories are your bag then I have a few Reviews knocking about the place, and even a story of my own.

Right, that’s enough gabbing. To the answers! Meanwhile, after rattling out over 4,000 words of solutions over the last however many hours, I’m going to place these aching fingertips of mine into an ice bath. TTFN!


Across clues

1. The number for today’s 45? (5,8,2,3)

Answer: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU (i.e. a song or “number”). The solution to 45d is TIMES CROSSWORD, and this puzzle celebrates its 90th birthday. The first of many themed clues.

10. Ninety-ton load originally transported with great diligence (8)

Answer: INTENTLY (i.e. “with great diligence”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “transported”) of NINETY, T (a recognised abbreviation of “ton”) and L (i.e. “load originally”, i.e. the first last of “load”). Themed.

16. Miss, perhaps, loch, with fog to the west (5)

Answer: HAZEL (i.e. “miss, perhaps”, i.e. a girl’s name). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “loch”) with HAZE (i.e. “fog”) placed before or “to the west” of it, like so: HAZE-L.

17. Came out with partner once requested? (9)

Answer: EXCLAIMED (i.e. “came out with”). Solution is EX (i.e. “partner once”) followed by CLAIMED (i.e. “requested”). Note the XC in the solution, being the Roman numerals for 90.

18. Drag couple, pushing wife back (3)

Answer: TOW (i.e. “drag”). Solution is TWO (i.e. “couple”) with the W (a recognised abbreviation of “wife”) sent to the “back”.

19. Carbon copy perfectly covers a composition (7)

Answer: TOCCATA (i.e. “composition”). Solution is CC (i.e. “carbon copy”) placed in or “covered by” TO A T (i.e. “perfectly”) and followed by A, like so: TO-(CC)-A-T-A. An easier get thanks to this solution appearing relatively recently in puzzle 1417.

20. Times cryptic has bagged large one (9)

Answer: MILESTONE. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “cryptic”) of TIMES wrapped around or “bagging” L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) and followed by ONE, like so: MI(L)EST-ONE. In the general context of the puzzle, the Times crossword can be said to have passed a significant milestone. Good clue!

21. Piano master given one month by notorious landlord (11)

Answer: Sergei RACHMANINOV (i.e. “piano master”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and NOV (i.e. “month”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of November) both preceded “by” Peter RACHMAN (i.e. “notorious landlord”, who exploited and threatened his tenants to such an extent that his name became synonymous with the practice), like so: RACHMAN-I-NOV. Helpfully, today’s Times feedback column contained a piece on the accepted spelling(s) of Rachmaninov. Which was nice.

23. See, in singular working method, way to extend playtime (3-2)

Answer: SLO-MO (i.e. “way to extend playtime”). Solution is LO (i.e. “see”, as in “lo and behold”) placed “in” between S (a recognised abbreviation of “singular”) and MO (i.e. “working method”, or Modus Operandi), like so: S-(LO)-MO.

24. Flash detective with Latin touch (7)

Answer: MODICUM (i.e. “touch”). Solution is MO (i.e. “flash”, both descriptive of a short period of time) followed by DI (i.e. “detective”, specifically a Detective Inspector) and CUM (i.e. “with Latin”, i.e. the Latin for “with”).

25. In short, why you can’t ring chemist (5)

Answer: Alfred NOBEL (i.e. “chemist”). Solution is NO BELL (i.e. “why you can’t ring”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “in short”).

26. Forward social security packs for one (5)

Answer: SASSY (i.e. “forward”). Solution is SS (a recognised abbreviation of “social security”) placed in or “packing” SAY (i.e. for example or “for one”), like so: SA(SS)Y.

28. Advance payments: one way to get by (7)

Answer: SUBSIST (i.e. “to get by”). Solution is SUBS (i.e. “advance payments”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”).

29. “Meet in Colorado” – I like this clue! (4,6)

Answer: COME ACROSS (i.e. “meet”). Solution is CO (a recognised abbreviation of “Colorado”) followed by ME (i.e. “I” from the point of view of the setter) and ACROSS (i.e. “like this clue”, this being an across clue).

31. Running to ground, maybe, voracious predator turning on swallow (8)

Answer: DOWNFLOW (i.e. “swallow”). This feels a bit weak to me – I’d argue swallowing is a positive action and a downflow to be passive. I could also be overthinking this. Either way, watch out. My solution is DOWN (i.e. “running to ground, maybe” – if you are running prey to ground then you are downing them) followed by WOLF (i.e. “voracious predator”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “turning”), like so: DOWN-FLOW.
[EDIT: Thanks to Mick in the comments for offering a better explanation of this one. The operative phrase here is “running to ground, maybe”, not “swallow”, as in water flowing or running down to the ground. The solution is therefore DOWN (i.e. “swallow”) placed before WOLF, as described above. – LP]

33. Grand performance’s finale for circus clown (7)

Answer: AUGUSTE (i.e. “circus clown”). Solution is AUGUST (i.e. “grand”) followed by E (i.e. “performance’s finale”, i.e. the last letter of “performance”).

35. Cricket team after hotel (5)

Answer: INDIA. Solution satisfies “cricket team” and “after hotel”, referring to the phonetic alphabet where Hotel is H and India is I.

37. Hard test occurring at regular intervals (5)

Answer: HORAL, which describes something happening every hour (i.e. “at regular intervals”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in pencil grading) followed by ORAL (i.e. “test”). One gotten through the wordplay, if I’m honest.

38. Children’s doctor lacking energy to work out (4)

Answer: SUSS (i.e. “to work out”). Solution is children’s author Dr SEUSS (i.e. “children’s doctor”) with the E removed (indicated by “lacking energy”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “energy”). A small nod to the theme, given how solvers suss cryptic clues.

39. Touching, moving letters from dog trainer (2,6,2)

Answer: IN REGARD TO (i.e. “touching [on]”). “Moving letters from” indicates anagram. Solution is anagram of DOG TRAINER.

41. Hot, wearing kit attached to mat – it’s 90 degrees! (5-5)

Answer: RIGHT-ANGLE (i.e. “it’s 90 degrees” – a nod to the puzzle’s theme again). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”) placed in between or “wearing” RIG (i.e. “kit”) and TANGLE (i.e. “[to] mat”), like so: RIG-(H)-TANGLE.

43. Extravagant Times clue for “Einstein”? (7,8)

Answer: NAUGHTY NINETIES, referring to the 1890s, not the comparatively staid 1990s. Anyway, “extravagant times” – ignore the misleading capitalisation. “Clue for ‘Einstein’” indicates the solution forms a cryptic clue for “Einstein” – an anagram of NINETIES, with “naughty” being an anagram indicator. Clever stuff. I like it.

46. Some of our best, and biggest, friends win dosh and flourish, unexpectedly (5,10)

Answer: IRISH WOLFHOUNDS (i.e. “some of our best, and biggest, friends” – referring to dogs being man’s best friend and how Irish wolfhounds are big old buggers. I’m not much of a dog person, but I have always had a soft spot for Irish wolfhounds. I’d get one but its kennel would be bigger than my house.) “Unexpectedly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of WIN DOSH and FLOURISH.

49. Singles that are old: at least 90 (5-5)

Answer: FORTY-FIVES (i.e. “[vinyl record] singles that are old” – ask your parents, kids). Solution also satisfies “at least 90”, 90 being the first multiple of 45. Another nod to the puzzle’s theme, there.

53. Country girl left a party held by Queen Victoria (2,8)

Answer: EL SALVADOR (i.e. “country”). Solution is ELSA (i.e. “girl”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) and A DO (i.e. “a party”) once it has been placed in or “held by” VR (i.e. “Queen Victoria”, or Victoria Regina), like so: ELSA-L-V(A-DO)R. After clean missing GABON in last week’s puzzle, I was pleased to quickly nail this one.

54. What solvers are keen to fill? Not quite keen, on reflection (4)

Answer: GRID (i.e. “what solvers are keen to fill”). Solution is DIRGE (i.e. “keen” – an alternative definition describes this as a “lamentation over the dead” (Chambers)) with the last letter removed (indicated by “not quite”). The remainder is then reversed (indicated by “on reflection”). Another good clue, and another small nod to the theme.

56. Live outside Rugby by backward out-of-town area (5)

Answer: EXURB (i.e. “out-of-town area”). Solution is BE (i.e. “live”) placed around or “outside” of RU (i.e. “rugby”, specifically Rugby Union) and X (i.e. “by”, as in the multiplication symbol), and the whole reversed (indicated by “backward”), like so: E(X-UR)B. One gotten solely through the wordplay. Cool word, though.

58. Film for setter? (5)

Answer: LAYER. Solution satisfies “film” and “setter”, as in one who sets or lays something.

60. For a song in Italian, what a carry on! (7)

Answer: CHEAPLY (i.e. “for a song”). Solution is CHE (i.e. “in Italian, what”, i.e. the Italian of “what” – thank goodness for Google Translate, eh, folks?) followed by A and PLY (i.e. to make one’s way or “carry on”).

62. Sanction attendant to find a place for 45, most days (4,4)

Answer: BACK PAGE (i.e. “a place for 45, most days” – another themed clue, the solution to 45d is TIMES CROSSWORD, which is often found on the back page of the newspaper). Solution is BACK (i.e. “sanction”) followed by PAGE (i.e. “[boy] attendant”).

63. Explains and edits a clue after revision (10)

Answer: ELUCIDATES (i.e. “explains”). “After revision” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of EDITS A CLUE. Another nicely worked little nod to the crossword theme.

66. Charged to company blessed person’s expenses! (7)

Answer: ONCOSTS (i.e. “expenses”). Costs, then. Anyway, solution is ON (i.e. “charged”) followed by CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”) and ST’S (i.e. “blessed person’s”, being a recognised abbreviation of “saint” made possessive).

68. Sudden attack, somewhat uncivil, ungentlemanly (5)

Answer: LUNGE (i.e. “sudden attack”). “Somewhat” indicates solution is hidden in the clue, like so: UNCIVI(L UNGE)NTLEMANLY.

70. Place mostly full of parasites to get caught in (5)

Answer: LOCUS (i.e. the “place” of something). Solution is LOUSY (i.e. “full of parasites”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and the remainder wrapped around or “getting” C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in several ball games), like so: LO(C)US.

71. Roughly holds sibling’s body (7)

Answer: CHASSIS (i.e. “body”). Solution is C (i.e. “roughly”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) followed by HAS (i.e. “holds”) and SIS (i.e. “sibling”, being a shortened form of “sister”).

73. Mostly when jumbo appears easy, oddly is gratifying (5)

Answer: SATES (i.e. “is gratifying”). Solution is SAT (i.e. “mostly when jumbo appears” – keeping with the theme of the puzzle, this refers to a shortened form of Saturday, when the Times Jumbo is usually published) followed by ES (i.e. “easy, oddly”, i.e. the odd letters of EASY). Another good clue!

74. It’s change you must accept from extremely lovable female carer! (5,6)

Answer: LEGAL TENDER (i.e. “it’s change you must accept”). Solution is LE (i.e. “extremely lovable”, i.e. the first and last letters of “lovable”) followed by GAL (i.e. “female”) and TENDER (i.e. “carer”). Another good ‘un.

76. Plant from study picked up at front of shop (4,5)

Answer: REED GRASS (i.e. “plant”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “picked up”) of READ (i.e. “study”) placed in “front of” GRASS (i.e. to “shop” someone to the police).

78. Like 9 and 0, for instance – neither one thing nor the other to Shakespeare (3-4)

Answer: ODD-EVEN. Solution satisfies “like 9 and 0, for instance” (I’ll let the debate about whether 0 is an even number rage elsewhere) and “neither one thing nor the other to Shakespeare”, referring to a quote from Othello about midnight: “at this odd-even and dull watch o’ the night”.

79. House-sitter concealing a plot (3)

Answer: MAP (i.e. “plot”). Solution is MP (i.e. “house-sitter”, specifically a Member of Parliament who sits in the House of Commons) wrapped around or “concealing” A, like so: M(A)P.

80. (Ad)dressing down? (7-2)

Answer: TALKING-TO. Solution satisfies “dressing down” and, without the hyphen, “addressing”.

82. One appearing in drag – one in Pirandello? (5)

Answer: LUIGI “Pirandello”, Italian dramatist. No, me neither. Solution is LUG (i.e. “drag”) with I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) “appearing in” it and then followed by another I (ditto “one”), like so: LU(I)G-I. The second “in” seems unfairly misleading here, suggesting solvers also squeeze the second I into LUG. Either way, not a classic.

83. Senior women, old, long in post, going back (8)

Answer: DOYENNES (i.e. “senior women”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and YEN (i.e. to yearn or “long” for) placed “in” SEND (i.e. “[to] post”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “going back”), like so: D(O-YEN)NES.

84. What’s seen end of Romanov – our one irrefutably cryptic! (8,10)

Answer: FEBRUARY REVOLUTION (i.e. “what’s seen end of Romanov [dynastic rule in Russia]”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “cryptic”) of V (i.e. “end of Romanov”, i.e. the last letter of “Romanov”) and OUR ONE IRREFUTABLY. Nicely played.

Down clues

1. Gases with unpleasant smell in flat (2-3)

Answer: HO-HUM (i.e. uninteresting or “flat”). Solution is H and O (i.e. “gases”, specifically chemical symbols for hydrogen and oxygen) followed by HUM (i.e. “unpleasant smell”).

2. Revolutionary poser with unknown values being tried for Brain-teasers’ World (9)

Answer: PUZZLEDOM (i.e. “brain-teasers’ world” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is MODEL (i.e. “poser”) followed by Z and Z (i.e. “unknown values” – setters love referring to X, Y and Z in their solutions as “unknowns”), then UP (i.e. “being tried”, i.e. being up in court). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “revolutionary”), like so: PU-ZZ-LEDOM.

3. Bag for yellow sock lay abandoned (4,3)

Answer: YOLK SAC (i.e. “bag for [egg] yellow”). “Abandoned” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SOCK LAY.

4. Fateful day when leader’s abandoned pair flanking demo? (4,2,5)

Answer: IDES OF MARCH (i.e. “fateful day” for Julius Caesar). Solution is SIDES OF MARCH (i.e. “pair flanking demo”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “leader’s abandoned”).

5. What could be long under end of snout (5)

Answer: TACHE, a contraction of “moustache”, i.e. “what could be … under end of snout”). Solution is ACHE (i.e. to “long” for) placed “under” T (i.e. “end of snout”, i.e. the last letter of “snout”), like so: T-ACHE. Another clue nicely played.

6. Tirade sent up charity race (8)

Answer: DIATRIBE (i.e. “tirade”). Solution is AID (i.e. “charity”) reversed (indicated by “sent up” – this being a down clue) and followed by TRIBE (i.e. “race”), like so: DIA-TRIBE.

7. Regularly sampled syrup, my, that’s tasty! (3)

Answer: YUM (i.e. “that’s tasty”). “Regularly sampled” indicates the solution is derived by taking every other letter of SYRUP MY.

8. What solver may refer to when looking up identical medical conditions (7)

Answer: OEDEMAS (i.e. “medical conditions”). Solution is OED (i.e. “what solver may refer to”, specifically the Oxford English Dictionary) followed by SAME (i.e. “identical”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “when looking up” – this being a down clue), like so: OED-EMAS. One gotten purely through the wordplay.

9. Many Times newspaper plugs unsettled one (5)

Answer: OFTEN (i.e. “many times” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is FT (i.e. “newspaper”, specifically the Financial Times) placed in or “plugging” an anagram (indicated by “unsettled”) of ONE, like so: O(FT)EN.

11. Locals show up in nanoseconds! (7)

Answer: NATIVES (i.e. “locals”). Solution is EVITA (i.e. musical “show”) which is reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue) and placed “in” NS (a recognised abbreviation of “nanoseconds”), like so: N(ATIVE)S.

12. A case perhaps for charging, out of old tax, interest on deposit (6,7)

Answer: EXCESS BAGGAGE (i.e. “a case perhaps for charging”). Solution is EX (i.e. “old”), followed by CESS (i.e. “tax” – a new one on me, but it’s there in the dictionary), then BAG (i.e. “interest”, as “reading horror stories is my bag”) and GAGE (an archaic word for a pledge, i.e. “deposit” – another new one on me). Another solution with the numerals XC (i.e. 90).

13. Is to cease manufacturing warm coats for mothers-to-be? (3,6)

Answer: TEA COSIES (i.e. “warm coats for mothers-to-be” – this refers to a popular phrase “shall I be mother” when someone’s pouring a cuppa). “Manufactured” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IS TO CEASE.

14. 1930 for Chinese show in Birmingham with parts exchanged… (4,2,3,5)

Answer: YEAR OF THE HORSE (i.e. “1930 for Chinese”). Solution is HORSE OF THE YEAR (i.e. “show in Birmingham”) with the YEAR and HORSE “parts exchanged”. Another nod to the puzzle’s theme.

15. …This year keen for some cricket? (6-6)

Answer: TWENTY-TWENTY. This seems a triple-header, being “this year” (i.e. 2020), “keen” (relating to 20-20 vision, perhaps) and “some cricket” (being the popular short-short form of the game). Most of these Jumbo Cryptics will be collected and republished in a few years’ time, so this clue might not work so well in future.

22. Insensitive request for a ring – receiving different sort (7)

Answer: CALLOUS (i.e. “insensitive”). Solution is CALL US (i.e. “request for a ring”) wrapped around or “receiving” O (i.e. a “different sort” of ring), like so: CALL-(O)-US.

24. Host nabbing posh family to help out (4,2)

Answer: MUCK IN (i.e. “to help out”). Solution is MC (i.e. “host”, specifically a Master of Ceremonies) wrapped around or “nabbing” U (i.e. “posh”, being a recognised abbreviation of the upper class – another favourite tell of some setters) and followed by KIN (i.e. “family”), like so: M(U)C-KIN.

25. Overheard refusals to touch kid’s hankie (4,3)

Answer: NOSE RAG (i.e. “hankie”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “overheard”) of NOES (i.e. “refusals”) placed beside or “touching” RAG (i.e. “[to] kid”).

27. Only be doing this having put away volume (4)

Answer: SOLE (i.e. “only”). Solution is SOLVE (i.e. “be doing this” from the point of view of us solvers when faced with this clue) with the V removed (indicated by “having put away volume” – V being a recognised abbreviation of “volume”).

30. Crawling out, mostly quiet (5)

Answer: AWASH (i.e. “crawling”). Solution is AWAY (i.e. “out”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) and followed by SH (i.e. “quiet”), like so: AWA-SH.

32. Feeds small numbers at college, in High School (4-3)

Answer: NOSH-UPS (i.e. “feeds”). Solution is NOS (i.e. “small numbers”, i.e. a contraction of the word “numbers”) followed by UP (i.e. “at college” – another favourite of some solvers) once it has been wrapped around or placed “in” HS (a recognised abbreviation of “High School”), like so: NOS-H(UP)S.

33. The last word? Just what one needs? Yes, primarily (7)

Answer: AMENITY. Pure guess this, as I’ve no idea what the setter is playing at here. Amenity is a pleasantness or pleasing characteristic, neither sense of the word I can seem to crowbar into this clue. You might want to take this with a pinch of salt. My solution is AMEN (i.e. “the last word”) followed by IT (i.e. “just what one needs” – I mean, yeah, kinda, I guess I see it, but…) and Y (i.e. “yes, primarily”, i.e. the first letter of “yes”). There’s probably some quotation or something clever I’m missing that sheds light on this.

34. A game for the 45’s birthday party? (6)

Answer: CLUEDO (i.e. “a game”). The solution to 45d is TIMES CROSSWORD, so, when read as a CLUE DO – a do being a “party” – then the solution satisfies the clue.

36. There are stories from Welshman appearing in The Times etc (7)

Answer: DAILIES (i.e. newspapers such as “The Times etc”). When read as DAI LIES the solution also satisfies “stories from Welshman”.

40. Derby game involves four sort of shooting (5-2)

Answer: DRIVE-BY (i.e. “sort of shooting”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “game” as in something gamy or gone off) of DERBY wrapped around or “involving” IV (i.e. “[Roman numerals] four”), like so: DR(IV)EBY.

42. In turning up sibyl, a monastery’s deviant (7)

Answer: ANOMALY (i.e. “deviant”). “In” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “turning up” indicates the solution has been reversed – this being a down clue – like so: SIB(YL A MONA)STERY’S.

43. Less likely to spot one putting on one’s coat? (7)

Answer: NONDRIP. Solution riddles on people being less likely to be dripped on or “spotted” when “putting on” a coat of non-drip paint. That’s it, unless I’m missing something especially clever. Shouldn’t this solution have been hyphenated?

44. Removed from board, sulked (6)

Answer: HUFFED. Solution satisfies “removed from [draughts] board” – according to my Chambers, to huff is “to remove from the board for failing to make a possible capture” (blimey, who knew draughts was so complicated?) – and “sulked”.

45. This enigmatic item’s put out along with news (5,9)

Answer: TIMES CROSSWORD (i.e. “this”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “enigmatic”) of ITEM’S followed by CROSS (i.e. “put out”) and WORD (i.e. “the news”), like so: TIMES-CROSS-WORD. A more obvious nod to the puzzle’s theme.

47. 1930, where fifty percent of history is still (4,4,5)

Answer: HALF PAST SEVEN (i.e. “1930” as shown on a twenty-four-hour clock). Solution is HALF (i.e. “fifty percent”) followed by PAST (i.e. “of history”) then ‘S (a contraction of “is” – not keen on this, but there you go) and EVEN (i.e. “still”). Another themed clue.

48. Base bachelor quite keen for 90-minute affair (8,4)

Answer: FOOTBALL GAME (i.e. “90-minute affair”). Solution is FOOT (i.e. “base”) followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “bachelor”) and ALL GAME (i.e. “quite keen”). Another themed clue.

50. Disturbances after polling bringing change in Russia (7)

Answer: ROUBLES (i.e. “change in Russia”). Solution is TROUBLES (i.e. “disturbances”) after the first letter has been removed (indicated by “polling” – the act of cutting the tops of trees).

51. Ticked over five hundred large – that is five hundred – boxes! (5)

Answer: IDLED (i.e. “ticked over”). Solution is D (i.e. “[Roman numeral] five hundred”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) placed in or “boxed” by IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. er… “i.e.”) and D (again, “five hundred”), like so: I(D-L)E-D.

52. Emergency or upset thus besetting teacher (6)

Answer: CRISIS (i.e. “emergency”). Solution is SIC (i.e. “thus”) wrapped around or “besetting” SIR (i.e. “teacher”) and the whole reversed (indicated by “upset” – this being a down clue – like so: C(RIS)IS.

55. Might the setters pull a fast one? (7)

Answer: DOGSLED. Solution riddles on setters being a breed of dog, though I’m not entirely sure they’d be able to pull a dogsled with much speed! That’s it, unless I’m missing something clever.

57. Stick with this game – a version you’re still saddled with? (7,4)

Answer: BICYCLE POLO. Another riddly clue, this time riffing on how you would have a “stick with this game”. Bikes have “saddles”, as you’d have with horse-based polo. You get the idea.

59. Examine origins of special crossword at ninety (4)

Answer: SCAN (i.e. “examine”). “Origins of” indicates the solution is derived by taking the initial letters of SPECIAL CROSSWORD AT NINETY. Another themed clue.

61. Fervently, finally celebrated elite puzzling across 90 years (9)

Answer: EXCITEDLY (i.e. “fervently”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “puzzling”) of D (i.e. “finally celebrated”, i.e. the last letter of “celebrated”) and ELITE wrapped around or placed “across” XC (i.e. “[Roman numerals for] 90”) and then followed by Y (a recognised abbreviation of “years”), like so: E(XC)ITEDL-Y. Another themed clue.

64. Conductor’s inaction’s outrageous (9)

Answer: Arturo TOSCANINI (i.e. “conductor”). “Outrageous” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of INACTION’S. One I knew, weirdly!

65. Want to leave mark on financial institutions (8)

Answer: SCARCITY (i.e. “want”). Solution is SCAR (i.e. “to leave mark”) followed by CITY (i.e. “financial institutions”).

67. Offend Anglicans, passing round half of lewd gag (7)

Answer: SILENCE (i.e. “gag”). Solution is SIN (i.e. “offend”) and CE (i.e. “Anglicans”, i.e. the Church of England) wrapped “round” LE (i.e. “half of lewd”, specifically the first half of “lewd”), like so: SI(LE)N-CE.

69. Old German prince’s shocking treatment, in part after rising (7)

Answer: ELECTOR (i.e. “old German prince” – no, me neither). Solution is ECT (i.e. “shocking treatment”, specifically Electroconvulsive Therapy) placed “in” ROLE (i.e. “part”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “after rising” – this being a down clue), like so: EL(ECT)OR. One gotten from the wordplay alone. I suspect the next five things I read will be coincidentally stuffed full of electors.

72. Writer in The Guardian, or in Le Monde (7)

Answer: Maya ANGELOU (i.e. “writer”). Solution is ANGEL (i.e. “guardian” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) followed by OU (i.e. “or in Le Monde”, Le Monde is a French newspaper, the French for “or” is “ou”. Another gotten solely from the wordplay and a quick check on Wikipedia.

75. Drinks picked up with ear drop (5)

Answer: LAPSE (i.e. “drop”). “Picked up with ear” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of LAPS (i.e. “drinks”).

76. Like a difficult jumbo, not like the others? (5)

Answer: ROGUE. Solution satisfies “like a difficult jumbo”, as in a rogue elephant, and “not like the others”. Another themed clue.

77. Twig, at last, Times Cryptic Number One’s being recalled! (5)

Answer: SCION (i.e. “twig”). Solution is S and C (i.e. “at last, Times Cryptic”, i.e. the last letters of “Times” and “Cryptic”) followed by NO (a contraction of “number”) and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) once they have been reversed (indicated by “being recalled”), like so: S-C-(I-ON). Another themed clue.

81. Field of grass bound to need cutting (3)

Answer: LEA (i.e. “field of grass”). Solution is LEAP (i.e. “bound”) once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “to need cutting”).

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1422

One for the “okay” pile, spoiled for me thanks to a couple of irritating clues. Then again, it might just be me being grumpy. Either way, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them.

Before any of that, though, a spot of housekeeping. If you’ve come to grief at the hands of a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic then you might find enlightenment in my Just For Fun page. While I’ve got you here, I’ll also take this opportunity to thrust a few mostly horror-related book reviews under your nose, and even a short story, because I’m self-interested nice like that.

That’s all, folks. You can scroll down now.


Across clues

1. Foodstuff succeeded with the best amongst us? (4,5)

Answer: SOUR CREAM (i.e. “foodstuff”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) followed by OUR CREAM (i.e. “the best amongst us”).

6. Fake pictures provided here for Jean and Alan (10)

Answer: ARTIFICIAL (i.e. “fake”). Solution is ART (i.e. “pictures”) followed by IF (i.e. “provided”), then ICI (i.e. “here for Jean”, Jean is a Frenchman’s name, the French for “here” is ICI) and AL (shortened form of “Alan”).

12. Part of UK without long road, strip in capital (7)

Answer: NAIROBI (i.e. “capital” of Kenya). Solution is NI (i.e. “part of UK”, specifically Northern Ireland) placed around or “without” AI (i.e. “long road”, specifically the A1 motorway) and ROB (i.e. “strip”), like so: N(AI-ROB)I.

13. Source of alcohol, two hits left at the end (5-4)

Answer: PUNCH-BOWL (i.e. “source of alcohol”). Solution is PUNCH and BLOW (i.e. “two hits”) with the L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) placed “at the end”.

14. Man on pitch backing team to be secure again (5)

Answer: REFIX (i.e. “secure again”). Solution is REF (i.e. “man on pitch”, specifically the referee) followed by XI (i.e. ” team”, specifically the Roman numerals for eleven) once it has been reversed (indicated by “backing”), like so: REF-IX.

16. Poet expresses grief vocally in modern development (6,6)

Answer: MILTON KEYNES (i.e. “modern development”). Solution is John MILTON (i.e. “poet”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “vocally”) of KEENS (i.e. “expresses grief”).

17. He requests appeal, one about to break safe (10)

Answer: PETITIONER (i.e. “he requests”). Solution is IT (i.e. “[sex] appeal”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and ON (i.e. “about”, as in “this book is on the subject of…”), all wrapped in or “breaking” PETER (a slang name for a safe – I remembered this usage from a previous puzzle), like so: PET(IT-I-ON)ER.

19. Home help with pets is arranged for evildoer (14)

Answer: MEPHISTOPHELES (i.e. “evildoer”). “Arranged” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HOME HELP and PETS IS. Another I remembered from a previous puzzle.

22. Swallowing drug, hassle at an end for peers (3,5)

Answer: AGE GROUP (i.e. “peers”). Solution is AGGRO (i.e. “hassle”) wrapped around or “swallowing” E (a recognised abbreviation of the “drug” ecstasy) and then followed by UP (i.e. “at an end”, as in “your time is up”), like so: AG(E)GRO-UP.

24. Like director’s second try to knock out Western (4,2)

Answer: TAKE TO (i.e. “[to] like”). Solution is TAKE TWO (i.e. “[film] director’s second try”) with the W (a recognised abbreviation of “Western”) removed (indicated by “to knock out…”).

25. Alcohol reporter’s failed to notice in a haze (6,4)

Answer: SCOTCH MIST (i.e. “haze”). Solution is SCOTCH (i.e. “alcohol”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “reporter’s”) of MISSED (i.e. “failed to notice”).

26. Agile new figure, not feminine (5)

Answer: NIFTY (i.e. “agile”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) followed by FIFTY (i.e. “[numeric] figure”) with the first F removed (indicated by “not feminine” – F being a recognised abbreviation of “feminine”), like so: N-IFTY.

29. Possibly spots daredevil (4)

Answer: RASH. Solution satisfies “possibly spots” and “daredevil”.

30. Trash, always separate (8)

Answer: DISSEVER (i.e. “separate”). Solution is DISS (i.e. “[to] trash”) followed by EVER (i.e. “always”). One gotten through the wordplay.

32. No longer stocking fruit that’s past it (3,2,4)

Answer: OUT OF DATE. Solution satisfies “no longer stocking fruit” and “past it”.

34. Bound to keep Hanoverian king in a state of distress (9)

Answer: CHAGRINED (i.e. “in a state of distress”). Solution is CHAINED (i.e. “bound”) wrapped around or “keeping” GR (i.e. “Hanoverian king”, specifically the initials for Georgius Rex) like so: CHA(GR)INED.

35. Dissolute clergy look around for sweet stuff (8)

Answer: GLYCEROL (i.e. “sweet stuff”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “dissolute”) of CLERGY followed by LO (i.e. “look”, as in “lo and behold”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “around”), like so: GLYCER-OL.

36. Stop pouring wine, having enough now for starters (4)

Answer: WHEN (i.e. “stop pouring”). “For starters” indicates the solution is derived by taking the initial letters of WINE HAVING ENOUGH NOW. Nicely worked.

39. Make confused request about Italian playmaker (5)

Answer: BEFOG (i.e. “make confused”). Solution is BEG (i.e. “request”) placed “about” Dario FO (i.e. “Italian playmaker” – no, me neither), like so: BE(FO)G.

40. Obstruct clerk maybe storing one statue (10)

Answer: FILIBUSTER (i.e. “obstruct”). Solution is FILER (i.e. “clerk maybe”) wrapped around or “storing” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and BUST (i.e. “statue”), like so: FIL(I-BUST)ER.

42. Indian’s rule about summer month, reversing car (6)

Answer: JAGUAR (i.e. “car”). Solution is RAJ (i.e. “Indian’s rule”) wrapped “about” AUG (i.e. “summer month”, specifically August) and the whole “reversed”, like so: JA(GUA)R.

44. Are they adapted for the chase? (8)

Answer: CHEETAHS. “Adapted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of THE CHASE. In the context of the clue, cheetahs can be said to be well adapted for the chase, being a bit nippy. Nice clue.

46. Striving to enter agreement, clever for sure (14)

Answer: UNQUESTIONABLE (i.e. “for sure”). Solution is QUEST (i.e. “striving” – should that have been “strive”?) placed in or “entering” UNION (i.e. “agreement”) and followed by ABLE (i.e. “clever”). Not great.

48. Caul nun put awry with no respect for time (10)

Answer: UNPUNCTUAL (i.e. “with no respect for time”). “Awry” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CAUL NUN PUT.

49. Carry a dog with hip injured for medical procedure (12)

Answer: CARDIOGRAPHY (i.e. “medical procedure”). “Injured” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CARRY A DOG and HIP.

53. Musician’s muted then, touring ring road (5)

Answer: SORDO (i.e. “musician’s muted”, i.e. muted in musical lingo). Solution is SO (i.e. “then”) wrapped around or “touring” O (i.e. “ring”) and RD (a recognised abbreviation of “road”), like so: S(O-RD)O. One gotten from the wordplay.

54. Belief of US parent guarding wayward minors (9)

Answer: MORMONISM (i.e. “belief”). Solution is MOM (i.e. “US parent”) wrapped around or “guarding” an anagram (indicated by “wayward”) of MINORS, like so: MO(RMONIS)M.

55. Meal which a large driver might need, it’s said (4,3)

Answer: HIGH TEA (i.e. “meal”). “It’s said” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of HIGH TEE (i.e. “which a large driver might need” – driver, in this case, referring to a golf club).

56. People’s mood around English seaside resort (10)

Answer: FOLKESTONE (i.e. “seaside resort”). Solution is FOLK’S TONE (i.e. “people’s mood”) wrapped “around” E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: FOLK(E)’S-TONE.

57. He brings in crop top during race by river (9)

Answer: HARVESTER (i.e. “he brings in crop”). Solution is VEST (i.e. “top”) placed in or “during” HARE (i.e. “[to] race”) and then followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”), like so: HAR(VEST)E-R.

Down clues

1. Spades work on the land in silence (5)

Answer: STILL (i.e. “in silence”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “spades” used in card games) followed by TILL (i.e. “work on the land”).

2. Medics run into spacecraft experts without force (10)

Answer: UROLOGISTS (i.e. “medics”). Solution is UFOLOGISTS (i.e. “spacecraft experts”) with the F removed (indicated by “without force” – F being a recognised abbreviation of “force”) and replaced by R (a recognised abbreviation of “run”).

3. Chirpy sorts caught disease (8)

Answer: CRICKETS (i.e. “chirpy sorts”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games) followed by RICKETS (i.e. “disease”).

4. Sentry regularly maintaining redcap’s a dead man (5)

Answer: EMPTY (i.e. “a dead man” – referring to the informal name “dead men” given to empty beer bottles or cans – not one I’ve used myself, but it’s there in the dictionary). Solution is ETY (i.e. “sentry regularly”, i.e. every other letter of SENTRY) wrapped around or “maintaining” MP (i.e. “redcap” – a nickname for Military Police), like so: E(MP)TY. Tricky bugger!

5. Move daintily, satisfied about a food mixture (9)

Answer: MINCEMEAT (i.e. “food mixture”). Solution is MINCE (i.e. “move daintily”) followed by MET (i.e. “satisfied”) once it has been placed “about” A, like so: MINCE-ME(A)T.

6. Long hours in one’s embrace (4)

Answer: ACHE (i.e. to “long” for). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hours”) placed in ACE (i.e. “one” in cards), like so: AC(H)E.

7. Digger may have one phone, ringing bank (6)

Answer: TROWEL (i.e. “digger may have one”). Solution is TEL (i.e. “phone”, as in an abbreviated form of “telephone”) wrapped around or “ringing” ROW (i.e. “bank”), like so: T(ROW)EL.

8. By the way, you’ll find this bit of pie rank (7,7)

Answer: FILLING STATION (i.e. “by the way, you’ll find”, referring to how you’ll find filling stations at the sides of roads). Solution is FILLING (i.e. “bit of pie”) followed by STATION (i.e. “rank”).

9. Nick raving lunatic with iron blade (7,5)

Answer: CARVING KNIFE (i.e. “blade”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “lunatic”) of NICK RAVING followed by FE (chemical symbol of “iron”), like so: CARVINGKNI-FE.

10. Too welcoming female working for Spaniard (7)

Answer: ALFONSO (i.e. “Spaniard”, i.e. a Spanish man’s name). Solution is ALSO (i.e. “too”) wrapped around or “welcoming” F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”) and ON (i.e. switched on or “working”), like so: AL(F-ON)SO.

11. Name remote switches for gauge (10)

Answer: ANEMOMETER (i.e. “[wind] gauge”). “Switches” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NAME REMOTE.

15. King rising excitedly to hype desert plant, say (9)

Answer: XEROPHYTE (i.e. “desert plant, say”). Solution is REX (Latin for “king”) reversed (indicated by “rising” – this being a down clue) and followed by an anagram (indicated by “excited”) of TO HYPE, like so: XER-OPHYTE. Cool word.

18. Allow Henry coats of armour gamely? It suggests no go (8)

Answer: LETHARGY (i.e. “it suggests [having] no go”). Solution is LET (i.e. “allow”) followed by H (a recognised abbreviation of “henry”, a unit of measurement used in physics – ignore the misleading capitalisation – a new one on me, I’ll admit) and then the first and last letters (indicated by “coats of”) ARMOUR and GREATLY, like so: LET-H-AR-GY.

20. Handle fish on southern British river (9)

Answer: PIKESTAFF (i.e. “handle”). Solution is PIKE (i.e. “fish”) followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”) and TAFF (i.e. “British river”).

21. Sets of animals go off, one perhaps on horse (10)

Answer: PACKSADDLE (i.e. “one perhaps on horse”, referring to an item of riding gear). Solution is PACKS (i.e. “sets of animals”) followed by ADDLE (i.e. “[to] go off”).

23. What cooks have is pretension when cooking (3,7)

Answer: TIN OPENERS (i.e. “what cooks have”). “When cooking” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PRETENSION.

27. Second cry goes up – it’s very illuminating (5,4)

Answer: FLASH BULB (i.e. “it’s very illuminating”). Solution is FLASH (i.e. “second”, both short periods of time) followed by BLUB (i.e. “cry”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “goes up” – this being a down clue), like so: FLASH-BULB.

28. Good to stop paper’s error, which shows a trend (4,2,3,5)

Answer: SIGN OF THE TIMES (i.e. “trend”). Solution is SIN OF THE TIMES (i.e. “[news]paper’s error”) wrapped around or “stopped” by G (a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: SI(G)N-OF-THE-TIMES.

31. See Bill grabbing country drifter (8)

Answer: VAGABOND (i.e. “drifter”). Not 100% on this one, so watch out. I get that V is “see” (being a recognised abbreviation of “vide”, Latin for “see” – I’ve seen this in a few puzzles now) and BOND can be “bill”, ignoring the misleading capitalisation. The wordplay would suggest “country” is then placed between these (indicated by “grabbing”), like so: V-(AGA)-BOND, but I can’t see why AGA would be “country”. Nothing’s jumping out at me in my Chambers or Oxford. My Bradford’s is dry on this one too, plus AGA isn’t a recognised three-letter code for a country. Even Wikipedia shrugs its shoulders. So, yeah, jiggered.
[EDIT: Thanks to Steve in the comments for bailing me out of this one. The country in question was GABON, with AD (i.e. short for advertisement, i.e. “bill”) wrapped around it. V was as I had it above. The solution is therefore V-A(GABON)D. One of those ones where I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Thanks again, Steve! – LP]

33. Murder story in book woke Peter? (8,4)

Answer: BRIGHTON ROCK (“murder story” by Graham Greene. Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “book”) followed by RIGHT ON (i.e. “woke”) and ROCK (i.e. “peter” – ignore the misleading capitalisation – it’s not backed up by my Chambers or my Oxford but it is listed in my Bradford’s – I guess as a shortened form of saltpetre, spelled saltpeter in the US).
[EDIT: Hat-tips to a number of commenters who highlighted that Peter = Rock on account of a quote from the Bible, specifically in Matthew 16:18. Thanks, all! – LP]

34. Swiss bank firm plugging reductions for youthful members (3,6)

Answer: CUB SCOUTS (i.e. “youthful members”). Solution is UBS (i.e. “Swiss bank”) and CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”, i.e. “firm”) placed in or “plugging” CUTS (i.e. “reductions”), like so: C(UBS-CO)UTS.

37. Gardener cultivated runners around May, oddly (10)

Answer: NURSERYMAN (i.e. “gardener”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “cultivated”) of RUNNERS which is wrapped “around” another anagram (indicated by “oddly”) of MAY, like so: NURSER(YMA)N.

38. Vehicle producer in decline? True, so we hear (10)

Answer: WAINWRIGHT (i.e. “vehicle producer”). “So we hear” indicates homophone. Solution comprises homophones of WANE (i.e. “in decline”) and RIGHT (i.e. “true”).

41. Delicate silk initially that French put on some Protestants (9)

Answer: SQUEAMISH (i.e. “delicate”). Solution is S (i.e. “silk initially”, i.e. the first letter of “silk”) followed by QUE (i.e. “that French”, i.e. the French for “that”) then AMISH (i.e. “some Protestants”).

43. South American dictator briefly seizing lead in Latin American game (8)

Answer: PINOCHLE (i.e. “American [card] game” – backed up by my Oxford, but Wikipedia begs to differ, suggesting the game was only popular in America, not invented there). Solution is Augusto PINOCHET (i.e. “South American dictator”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and the remainder wrapped around or “seizing” L (i.e. “lead in Latin”, i.e. the first letter of “Latin”), like so: PINOCH(L)E.

45. Greenery some pasture’s part of (7)

Answer: ESPARTO (i.e. “greenery”). “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: PASTUR(E’S PART O)F. One gotten from the wordplay and a quick check in my Chambers.

47. One involved in puzzling over style (6)

Answer: HAIRDO (i.e. “style”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed or “involved in” HARD (i.e. “puzzling”) and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket), like so: HA(I)RD-O.

50. Object that’s not quite proper (5)

Answer: DEMUR (i.e. “[to] object”). Solution is DEMURE (i.e. “proper”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “not quite”).

51. Old man’s half-hearted sales pitch (5)

Answer: PATER (i.e. “old man”). Solution is PATTER (i.e. “sales pitch”) with one of the middle Ts removed (indicated by “half-hearted”).

52. Learner given literary work that’s a rich source of material (4)

Answer: LODE (i.e. “rich source of material”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) followed by ODE (i.e. “literary work”).

Review: Best New Horror 12

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

After reading the introductions to several stories in Best New Horror 12 you’d be forgiven for thinking this was less the best horror fiction published during 2000 and more a collection of writers’ B-sides, rejections and side projects. There’s entertainment to be had still, don’t fret, but it’s telling that there were no award winners or nominees among the running order. Overall this is a 4/5 from me, but only just.

Best New Horror 12 contains twenty-two stories, and runs as follows:

Castle in the Desert – Kim Newman (4/5 – Newman kicks off proceedings with a playful short set in his Anno Dracula universe, the first of two stories in this book that would eventually go on to help form his novel Johnny Alucard. It’s 1977 and a private detective is asked to look into the death of his ex-wife, Linda, found at the bottom of a swimming pool with an iron spike through her head. Meanwhile Linda’s daughter has gone missing, feared to have fallen in with a bunch of vampires. When a chance meeting pairs our gumshoe with 400-year-old vampire (and erstwhile Anno Dracula heroine) Geneviève Dieudonné, the trail of breadcrumbs leads to a commune holed up in a reconstructed castle out in the Californian desert. Best they go take a look then. Best New Horror 5 featured Newman’s story The Big Fish, which placed a Marlow-esque private detective in a Lovecraftian Los Angeles, but Newman spoiled the story by going way overboard on the Hollywood references. Castle in the Desert, in which a Marlow-esque private detective is placed in an Anno Dracula Los Angeles, is written with comparative restraint and reaps the rewards as a result. A pity then that Newman goes and makes the exact same mistakes again in around 270 pages’ time. If you fancy a read of Castle in the Desert, check out the following web archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20120511055609/http://johnnyalucard.com/fiction/online-fiction/castle-in-the-desert/)

The Keeper of the Rothenstein Tomb – Iain Sinclair (3/5 – As described in the story’s introduction, this is a companion piece to a book Sinclair wrote with artist Rachel Lichtenstein called Rodinsky’s Room which explored the real-life disappearance of a Jewish man, David Rodinsky, whose room then lay untouched for twenty years. For this story we’re placed in the mind of a paranoid writer, Norton, who is tasked to write an article about an antique hand mirror said to hold a view of Rodinsky’s room the longer one looks into it. Norton’s taskmistress believes the item could shed some light on what happened to the man. Their investigations lead Norton to seek an old man paid to tend a single tomb in an unknown cemetery. Like Sinclair’s Hardball (Best New Horror 8) this is a story that demands a bit more from the reader than most. Come to it cold, like I did, and you may come away nonplussed by Sinclair’s oblique writing and Norton’s frequent digressions into such wilfully narrow subjects as the different shapes and sizes of people’s philtrums or the acceptable plural word for Pokémon. Read a bit more into the story’s background, however, and a re-read rather improves matters. All this is fine if you have the patience for it. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m not often keen on stories that come with prerequisites and The Keeper… does nothing to alter that view.)

Also collected in Garris’s “A Life in the Cinema”

Forever Gramma – Mick Garris (4/5 – A teenager recounts a horrifying episode from his younger years. Back then he loved his dear old Gramma and would always come running to her house whenever he smelled her signature peach cobbler cooking. Our young lad is devastated when Gramma passes on, and is suspicious of Mr Cooperman, the local store owner, when the man offers to prepare her body for the funeral. Though Cooperman has undertaken this task for several other of the townsfolk over the years, the boy knows something is off. He knows Cooperman had a crush on Gramma. When our lad ventures out one night to check on creepy old Cooperman, he is disturbed to smell peach cobbler as he nears the man’s house. Sick bags at the ready, folks! If you’re thinking, “Ah, isn’t that lovely? Mr Cooperman found a way to bring his sweetheart back to life and they’re sitting down to a nice bowl of peach cobbler…” then you might want to skip over this one. This is a story that… er… goes there. And then, not content with getting there, decides to keep going. And going. Aaaaaand going! It’s a good read if you’ve got the stomach for it.)

Also collected in Fowler’s “The Devil In Me”

At Home in the Pubs of Old London – Christopher Fowler (4/5 – An artist details his visits to each of thirteen pubs dotted around Old London. What starts out as a mini review of each establishment turns significantly darker when we realise our man is meeting a different woman in each place, and that some of the women seem awfully tired by the end of the evening. This oddment started life as a spoken piece Fowler was commissioned to write by the proprietors of the (now-closed) Filthy McNasty’s bar in London. The story works well on paper, but I would love to have heard it live.)

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


In the Water Works (Birmingham, Alabama 1888) – Caitlin R. Kiernan (4/5 – A short Lovecraftian number from Kiernan in which we follow Henry S. Matthews, a geologist who is asked to consult upon a blasting operation at Red Mountain, Alabama. The idea is to reroute a river through the ridge and thus channel millions of gallons of fresh water to the nearby city of Birmingham. Partway through the operation, however, the blasting has ceased. The foreman is keen for Matthews to offer his expertise upon a strange hollow they’ve inadvertently blasted into, and to witness what lies within it. Several of HPL’s stories fell into the “field reports from the unknown” category, and all too often they were spoiled by lengthy tracts of boring exposition and meagre characterisation. Kiernan flips this around and succeeds with less than half of HPL’s usual word count. A few annoying writerly tics remain, unnecessarily concatenating words to describe things as “crystalwet” for example, but this remains a satisfyingly chilling slice of the palaeontological weird.)

Bone Orchards – Paul J. McAuley (3/5 – McAuley revisits the world of Mr Carlyle, psychic detective, last seen in the imaginative and enjoyable Naming the Dead (Best New Horror 11). While sitting out and about one day Carlyle espies an old woman leaving a note on a grave. Intrigued, he retrieves the folded paper only to be met with the ghost of a potty-mouthed young girl who is annoyed at Carlyle for taking what was meant for her. Initially assuming the young girl to be the old woman’s daughter, Carlyle is surprised to discover the grave is more than fifty years old. This was a marked drop in quality from Naming the Dead, sadly, thanks in part to an unnecessarily and jarringly sweary little girl (and I’m no prude – indeed, I appreciate and heartily practice most forms of creative swearing). Matters aren’t helped by a plot that most armchair Poirots would have sewn up before the halfway point. McAuley’s writing, however, gets you over the line.)

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

No Strings – Ramsey Campbell (3/5 – A late-night phone-in radio host locks up after his show and heads out to his car. On the steps outside the studio he is met by a busker wearing a suit that’s one size too big for him. The busker strikes up a violin and begins to walk away. The radio host follows, eventually getting to his car. The busker, still playing, approaches and enters a nearby abandoned building. The playing ends abruptly and our man hears a bloodcurdling scream coming from inside. Naturally, he heads on in to investigate. This was okay, especially once we get inside the building, but it perfectly demonstrates how Campbell can be guilty of overengineering his stories. It’s an accusation I’ve made in several previous reviews, so let’s take No Strings as an example of what I mean. In order to make his story work, Campbell needs his protagonist to enter a building alone and in the dead of night after hearing a scream. Most people in that situation would say “sod that” and leg it. Campbell therefore needs his protagonist to be a naturally caring person, someone who would run toward danger rather than away from it. People might think of a nurse at this point, and it wouldn’t take too much in the story to have said nurse returning to their car alone at night. Campbell, on the other hand, plumps for a phone-in radio host, and therefore has to jettison a whole bunch of inconvenient personnel from the story such as producers, technicians, security, etc so he can have said host left alone at night to lock up a radio station. I mean, come on! It’s a shame because the ending, when or if you get there, is properly creepy.)

Also collected in Ptacek’s “Looking Backwards in Darkness: Tales of Fantasy and Horror”

The Grotto – Kathryn Ptacek (3/5 – Ceil Wallace is dying. She ups sticks from New Jersey to Tuscany, reverts to her maiden name and sets about spending her remaining days reconnecting with her ancestry. Breaking off from a tour of San Damonio, her family home for countless generations, Ceil returns to her lodgings and the company of its proprietor, Ventaglio, and his son, Marco. The old man insists Ceil takes in several of the surrounding areas, while Marco, wrapped in the spirit of the conversation, unwisely recommends a nearby grotto. Ventaglio is far from keen on the idea, claiming the grotto to be no place for a lady. Later, a man introducing himself as Laurence San Damonio hears of Ceil’s interest in the grotto and offers to take her there. Good idea, no? Seasoned horror fans will have read stories like this a number of times before, not least here in the pages of Best New Horror. It’s a well-written piece, but doesn’t break much fresh ground and, for this cold-hearted sod at least, it seemed that Ceil felt sorry for herself once too often.)

Merry Roderick – Geoffrey Warburton (4/5 – Hayshott is a sprawling manor house stuffed to the rafters with three centuries’ worth of interesting junk. Its present owner has hired a number of experts to help catalogue and assess its treasures. On a previous visit to the manor grounds, one such expert, Laura, had stumbled across an L-shaped alcove, at the end of which hung an unnervingly realistic painting of a squat and not especially jolly jester. Now commissioned to work at Hayshott, Laura is having trouble finding the alcove again, and discovers the portrait may have been destroyed some years before. Worse still, a short hooded figure prowls Hayshott, one with its sights seemingly set on Laura. This is another story that will have a familiar chime to it for horror fans, but I am a sucker for dusty old places filled with curios. Your mileage may vary.)

Also collected in Lamsley’s “Dark Matters”

Climbing Down From Heaven – Terry Lamsley (4/5 – Lamsley serves up a healthy slab of English gothic in a tale which sees two close-knit sisters find their way of life upset by the arrival of a new neighbour: a man! (Swoons melodramatically.) Harriet is the breadwinner of the household, a driven go-getter who likes to have her breakfast on the table when she gets up and her tea ready when she gets in from work. Millie, her older sister by three years, looks after the house in Harriet’s absence, and, in her downtime, comes to develop a growing fascination for the to-doings of their new neighbour, Eden H. Wychammer. How come every time Millie looks out onto Eden’s garden, some work seems to have taken place without her noticing? Why do most of the rooms remain empty days after he moved in? And what was the deal with the enormous mirror the removal men had taken such care to deliver? When Harriet visits upon Eden to introduce herself, Millie is alarmed to find her sister return much later all aglow of their new neighbour, an altogether different kind of fascination for the man that will soon take a dark and fanatical turn. Lamsley’s stories are often a highlight of Best New Horror and this is no different. This is an absorbing read that is only let down slightly by the ending.)

Empty Stations – Nicholas Royle (3/5 – Gareth Sangster is a freelance journalist with a thing for lost films about London. The one he’s really keen to get his hands on is Nine South Street, and with good reason: he starred in it. His co-star in the film, Ash, rings him to say he’s got a lead on its possible location, stirring Gareth into action. But Ash is an unreliable bugger, given to heavy drinking and drugtaking. The two join up at a station on the London Underground and ride the tube. When it becomes clear Ash is stringing our man along, Gareth storms off at the next stop, a seemingly empty station. An ultimately unfulfilling story, sadly, which is a shame given the intriguing setup and interesting characters Royle puts together in barely half a dozen pages. A jolting change of perspective near the end gets readers’ hopes up that there may be some kind of resolution to the story, but it soon becomes clear we are going to meet a similar dead-end to that facing our man.)

Flesh of Leaves, Bones of Desire – Charlee Jacob (4/5 – A strange old man visits the town of Simonville selling cardboard skeletons for people to hang from the trees. They sell like hot cakes, and soon almost every tree in town has one flapping in the breeze. But then, as night falls, the cardboard bones begin to gather form, a breeze whipping up skins of dead leaves upon each skeleton. Soon newly formed tree-folk are walking the streets, and tonight, with a simple call of “trick or treat”, they lust for life. This was a good read that packed an impressive amount of bonking into its short run time, though the descriptions of frenzied arboreous lovemaking are more likely to make most people flinch and hiss through their teeth than get them all hot and bothered. Ouch!)

Also collected in Lebbon’s “As The Sun Goes Down”

The Repulsion – Tim Lebbon (3/5 – The almost mandatory Holiday Horror story in Best New Horror focuses on Dean and Maria as they enjoy/endure a break in Amalfi, Italy. The holiday is a last-ditch attempt by the pair to rekindle their loveless relationship, and things get off to a dismal start. Dean momentarily loses Maria during a wander through Amalfi’s labyrinthine streets, eventually finding her again in the town square. Somehow it seems Maria has become even more distant from him. Can Dean be sure she is even the same Maria? This was okay, but not one of Lebbon’s best. I felt nothing for the two central characters. Their lack of chemistry – their lack of anything, really – made them drab and uninteresting, leaving the heavy lifting of the story to the sights and sounds of Amalfi itself.)

Also collected in Etchison’s “The Death Artist”

The Detailer – Dennis Etchison (4/5 – We’re in Los Angeles, the city where the car is king and where its people sure love their cars. Paulino works at a garage as a detailer, the kind of guy who knows his carnauba from his Turtle Wax, a guy who can get a car looking as good as the day it rolled off the forecourt, if not better. He’s a nice guy too who thinks the world of his regulars, often going the extra mile for them. When he spies the metallic grey Lexus of one such regular, Paulino is surprised to find Mr Ellsworth behind the wheel and not his trophy wife, Suzie. Mr Ellsworth demands the works for the Lexus, inside and out. Paulino feels this a little odd, given Mrs Ellsworth had asked him to give the car a full detail only a few days earlier. And where is Mrs Ellsworth, anyway? This story goes pretty much in the direction you’d expect from one paragraph to the next, but its success lies in the brilliantly readable character Etchison creates in Paulino.)

Coming Home – Mark Morris (3/5 – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and the Graingers are gearing up for the birth of their first child. Jane is counting down the days till she pops, wondering whether junior will make an appearance before Santa Claus. She wakes from an afternoon nap to hear gross, sludgy breathing uncomfortably close by. She catches a fleeting glimpse of a figure at her window – the last thing she wants when her nearest neighbour lives more than a mile away. Gerry, her husband, is typically rubbish about the situation because men, and so it’s down to Jane to face up to the nightmarish visitations haunting her every move. Is she being stalked by a ghost of Christmas past, or a Christmas yet to come? Morris doesn’t waste a word in this one, cramming a lot of story into barely seven pages, but its brevity ultimately starves the tale of the atmosphere it needs for the horror to succeed. This was one of those rare occasions when I’d have preferred for the story to be longer.)

The Hunger of the Leaves – Joel Lane (4/5 – Lane swaps his usual ultra-bleak Midlands reportage for an entertaining jaunt through Clark Ashton Smith’s far-future Zothique universe. (The story was written for a themed anthology in the style of pulpy fantasy adventures.) Three hardened villains seek their fortune in the heart of a forest. It is said that a sorcerer lives deep within the woods, and our men are determined to do the old codger in and help themselves to his loot. But the further the men push through the forest the more dangerous their wicked quest becomes. If it’s not dryads pricking at their manly desires then it’s the forest itself, carpeted with dead and unusually barbed leaves… and a staggering number of bones. Be twice warned, fair traveller, this be a fantasy story so charge thine Aegis of Clarity and steel yourself for battle against hordes of silly names. Skim over the gobbledegook and you’ll likely have a good time with this one.)

Also collected in “25 Years in the Word Mines – The Best Short Fiction of Graham Joyce”

Xenos Beach – Graham Joyce (4/5 – We’re on holiday again, this time with a man keen to get away from it all following the end of his marriage. Armed with a battered old guidebook he takes to the Greek islands, hopping from one to another until his wanderings eventually land him on Xenos – Greek for “stranger”. A number of tattered and sun-bleached tents stand empty as if in defiance of the sea, but there is no sign of anyone around who may still be using them. A passing priest warns our man that the island is dangerous for holidaymakers, that the currents are too strong for swimming. When our man accidentally adds incense-heavy mastic bushes to his evening’s fire he wakes from his stupor the next morning to find a few others have joined him on the beach. According to the author’s notes in his retrospective collection 25 Years in the Word Mines, the setting for this story was inspired by a real-life stay he’d had with his wife on Chios beach… tattered tents and all. Me, I’d have been off like a shot! I’m a big fan of Joyce’s writing, as has been noted in a number of my reviews, and this is another winner. Very much worth your time.)

At Eventide – Kathe Koja (4/5 – Another strange and unsettling offering from Koja sees a damaged woman called Alison carving out a living for herself making wooden totemic boxes, each unique and specific to the person commissioning them. What the client did with their box, what they put into it and why was entirely up to them, but the work was always personal and accomplished with the utmost sincerity, and thus was born a steady demand for Alison’s craft. Her profile is instantly boosted one day when someone sells their box to an art gallery. The newfound fame is the last thing Alison wanted, however, for the man who’d once held her captive and had so viciously abused her is now free from prison and on her trail seeking a box of his own. Koja shows everyone how it’s done, setting up a genuinely tense showdown between Alison and her abuser and then delivering a payoff that is ((-chef’s kiss-)). The darkest story of Best New Horror 12 is also the best.)

Also collected in SRT’s “City Fishing”.

Pareidolia – Steve Rasnic Tem (3/5 – Blake is a fifty-something man-child attending a funeral for the first time in goodness knows how long. He’s not exactly dressed for the occasion, and the near constant wailing of a baby somewhere is driving him to distraction. An old man walks among the funeralgoers and places a comforting hand on the shoulder of the bereaved. Though the old man is familiar to Blake, he cannot place him and so he follows the old man outside. Sheltering from a sudden rain shower, the old man gives Blake cause to open up on thoughts about his own mortality in a most unexpected way. I loved the potential of this story – pareidolia being a sensation of recognising people or things in everyday stuff, such as seeing a dancing elephant among the clouds or a vision of Piers Morgan in a slice of toast – but, as harsh as it sounds, I can’t help wishing someone other than SRT had taken a stab at this. For the most part the story is well-written, nailing the sombre thoughts of a man beginning to lose the battle against ageing, but ultimately the story underdelivers and has to weird things up in lieu of an ending. A misfire for me, sadly.)

Also collected in Ligotti’s “My Work Is Not Yet Done”

I Have a Special Plan For This World – Thomas Ligotti (4/5 – The workers of the Blaine Company have been a stressed lot ever since their offices were relocated to “Murder Town”; stressed to the extent that their collective anxiety has somehow manifested in everyone not being able to see more than a couple of feet ahead of themselves. Staff are understandably bumping into one another as they hare about the place, which doesn’t do much to help stress levels. Management at the Blaine Company exists solely to ensure these stress levels never dip, and their failure in this capacity, real or perceived, is met with the ultimate punishment: slaughter in the smog-filled streets of Murder Town. Can all this extreme tension and brutal behaviour be blamed on the thickening yellow fog choking the streets of Murder Town, and now slowly seeping into the office building, or does the real threat to the Blaine Company and its employees lie a little closer to home? Ligotti takes a less-than-subtle satirical swipe at the corporate world but mostly gets away with it. The writing is as sumptuous as ever, and the way he manages to walk a tightrope throughout the story, veering neither too far into black comedy nor outright horror, is impressively done. You might guess what’s going on ahead of time, like I did, but this is still well worth a read.)

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

The Handover – Michael Marshall Smith (3/5 – A sombre read from MMS in which we visit a small rundown settlement and its dwindling population. Eldorado was once a prosperous mining town during the Gold Rush era, but now, on the cusp of a new millennium, with its mines long stripped of anything of value, the town lies on the brink of extinction. In a place where the children stopped coming, and where nobody seems capable of moving on, all that remains is for the townsfolk to watch as nature slowly reclaims building after building, street after street, and citizen after citizen. We focus on Bill, chowing down a bowl of filthy chilli in Maggie’s Bar one snowbound evening, when he is visited upon by Jack. The old man’s wife is close to death, and he asks Bill – no spring chicken himself – to assist him in what needs to be done. This started off really well, almost like a companion piece to MMS’s exemplary The Man Who Drew Cats. The story is filled with brilliantly phrased observations on the effects of ageing, and is sprinkled with atmospheric descriptions of a town on its last legs. The trouble is the story goes on for too long, going off into Eldorado’s history and those of the story’s key players with little justification for doing so. Had it been half the length, this would probably have been my pick of the book.)

The Other Side of Midnight – Kim Newman (3/5 – Clocking in at nearly 90 pages, this novella follows on from Castle in the Desert and sees Geneviève Dieudonné, now a fully-fledged private detective in 1980s Los Angeles, hired by Orson Welles to dig up some dirt on a mysterious producer by the name of John Alucard. It seems Alucard’s pockets run deep, financing several projects across Tinseltown, but they all seem to be about the same thing and nobody seems able to describe the man, let alone say they’ve met him. When the body of an acquaintance is dumped on Genè’s doorstep, it seems someone doesn’t want her on the case. Newman plays to the cinephiles of his audience again, which is lovely if you’re into that kind of thing, but this left me coughing politely and checking how long was left before the end credits. When left unchecked like this, Newman has a habit of not only going overboard with his first love but doing a quadruple somersault and a backflip in the process. Cineastes may applaud his shooting scripts and umpteen different casting configurations for theoretical cinematic productions of Dracula, but most other people will wonder where on earth the story has digressed to this time. Speaking of which, the story, slight as it is considering its length, is okay, and Newman does a great job of breathing life into Orson Welles, but way too much of the runtime is given over to crowbarring as many fictional worlds into his Anno Dracula universe as possible, from The Big Lebowski to Columbo, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (here embarrassingly renamed Barbie). Newman clearly had a blast writing this, but it isn’t a story I’ll be rushing back to re-read.)

And that wraps up another monster review of Best New Horror. As with most books in the series, you should be able to find a second-hand copy of this on Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks without too much trouble. If eBooks are your bag then you’ll also find this available on most major platforms. Finally, clicking on the images above will take you to the relative page on Goodreads should you want to dive a little deeper into an author’s work. (The link to Steve Rasnic Tem’s City Fishing will take you to its page on Smashwords.)

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading! Do drop by again for a whizz through Best New Horror 13.


Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1421

Another good one this week – probably the best one in quite a while, with several well-worked clues and a couple that raised a titter. More like this please, setters!

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 jump in, please excuse me while I get the old lemonade stand out for a bit. If you dig on horror stories then you might want to swing by my Reviews page, where I’m (slowly) working my way through Stephen Jones’s Best New Horror series. (I’ll have a review of BNH12 shortly after posting this, as it’s been a while.) I’ve even stuck one of my own stories on here somewhere. If you’re here for the answers to a few past Times Jumbo Cryptics, then my Just for Fun page is the place to head.

Right then, to the answers!


Across clues

1. Feel wobbly and empty, sick inside (9)

Answer: VACILLATE (i.e. “feel wobbly”). Solution is VACATE (i.e. “[to] empty”) with ILL (i.e. “sick”) placed “inside” like so: VAC(ILL)ATE.

6. New charger perhaps needs constant plugging in to central point (5)

Answer: FOCAL (i.e. “central point”). Solution is FOAL (i.e. “new charger perhaps”, referring to a young horse) wrapped around or “plugging in” C (a recognised abbreviation of “constant”), like so: FO(C)AL.

9. It’s no use if it’s flat as a pancake? (7)

Answer: BATTERY. Solution satisfies “it’s no use if it’s flat” and “as a pancake”, typically made from batter. One of several clues that made me smile when I clocked the solution.

13. Minister taking on Brussels after U-turn – it’s a bit of theatre (5)

Answer: REVUE (i.e. “it’s a bit of theatre”). Solution is REV (i.e. “minister”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “Reverend”) followed by EU (short for the European Union, often informally referred to as “Brussels”) which is reversed (indicated by “after U-turn”), like so: REV-UE.

14. Shady relative joining leader of anarchist resistance (7)

Answer: UNCLEAR (i.e. “shady”). Solution is UNCLE (i.e. “relative”) followed by the initial letters or “leaders” of “anarchist” and “resistance”, like so: UNCLE-A-R.

15. Opener of Irish county’s team (9)

Answer: CORKSCREW (i.e. “opener”). When read as CORK’S CREW the solution also satisfies “Irish county’s team”.

16. Back after divorce in a flash (5,6)

Answer: SPLIT SECOND (i.e. “in a flash”). Solution is SECOND (i.e. “[to] back”) placed “after” SPLIT (i.e. “divorce”). A repeat from last week, which is a little disappointing.

17. Exactly where to press? (2,3,6)

Answer: ON THE BUTTON. Solution satisfies “exactly” and “where to press”.

18. Court maintaining right of possession for customer (6)

Answer: CLIENT (i.e. “customer”). Solution is CT (a recognised abbreviation of “court”) wrapped around or “maintaining” LIEN (i.e. “right of possession”), like so: C(LIEN)T. Another repeat from last week with rather a similar clue, which is a little more disappointing.

19. Quickly take off Mel’s bra after fiddling with catch at first (8)

Answer: SCRAMBLE (i.e. “quickly take off”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “after fiddling”) of MEL’S BRA and C (i.e. “catch at first”, i.e. the first letter of “catch”). A clue that scans rather well.

21. Angel dust haul abandoned by a copper (2,4)

Answer: PC PLOD (i.e. “copper”). Solution is PCP (a drug with the street name “angel dust”) followed by LOAD (i.e. “haul”) once the A had been removed (indicated by “abandoned by a”), like so: PCP-LOD.

25. Took off gripping comedian in the end, receiving undemanding pap? (8)

Answer: SPOONFED (i.e. “receiving undemanding pap”). Solution is SPOOFED (i.e. copied or “took off”) wrapped around or “gripping” N (i.e. “comedian in the end”, i.e. the last letter of “comedian”), like so: SPOO(N)FED.

26. Ruthless traders like places with tourists (5,9)

Answer: ASSET STRIPPERS (i.e. “ruthless traders”). Solution is AS (i.e. “like”) followed by SETS (i.e. “places”) and TRIPPERS (i.e. “tourists”). Another clue that scans really well.

28. Gourmand leaving starter to get thin (5)

Answer: REEDY (i.e. “thin”). Solution is GREEDY (i.e. “gourmand”) with its initial letter removed (indicated by “leaving starter”). Another good ‘un.

29. I’ll be seized by hallucinatory experiences after knocking back mescal? (6)

Answer: SPIRIT (i.e. “mescal” – other booze is available). Solution is I placed in or being “seized by” TRIPS (i.e. “hallucinatory experiences”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “after knocking back”), like so: SPIR(I)T. Again, good!

30. Gets into difficulty at dance that stays open late? (6,4)

Answer: CORNER SHOP (i.e. “that stays open late”). Solution is CORNERS (i.e. “gets [one] into difficulty”) followed by HOP (i.e. “dance”).

33. Bronze pater with child bust (5,5)

Answer: THIRD PLACE (i.e. “bronze [medal]”). “Bust” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PATER and CHILD.

35. Go along with scam by scoundrel (6)

Answer: CONCUR (i.e. “go along with”). Solution is CON (i.e. “scam”) followed by CUR (i.e. “scoundrel”). Another clue that scans well.

36. Party to identify with opposition? (5)

Answer: BEANO (i.e. “party”). When read as BE A NO the solution also satisfies “identify with opposition”.

38. On the other hand, I may be captivated by startled hooting call of birds (14)

Answer: ORNITHOLOGICAL (i.e. “of birds”). Solution is OR (i.e. “on the other hand”) followed by I once it has been placed in or “captivated by” an anagram (indicated by “startled”) of HOOTING CALL, like so: OR-N(I)THOLOGICAL.

40. Raise a miserable, tailless entrant for Crufts? (8)

Answer: COCKAPOO, a cross between an American cocker spaniel and a miniature poodle (i.e. “entrant for Crufts”). Solution is COCK (i.e. “raise” – wahey!) followed by A and POOR (i.e. “miserable”) once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “tailless”), like so: COCK-A-POO. A rather fitting clue.

42. Ruins girl entering high society with gentleman after rejection (6)

Answer: DEBRIS (i.e. “ruins”). Solution is DEB (i.e. “girl entering high society”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “debutante” – something I remembered from a previous puzzle) followed by SIR (i.e. “gentleman”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “after rejection”), like so: DEB-RIS.

43. Macho types going topless by day? Correct (8)

Answer: EMENDATE (i.e. “[to] correct”). Solution is HE-MEN (i.e. “macho types”) with the initial letter removed (indicated by “going topless”) and followed by DATE (i.e. “day”), like so: EMEN-DATE.

44. I would love to interrupt hostile folly (6)

Answer: IDIOCY (i.e. “folly”). Solution is I’D (a contraction of “I would”) followed by O (i.e. “love”, being a zero score in tennis) once it has been placed in or “interrupting” ICY (i.e. “hostile”), like so: I’D-I(O)CY.

47. State legislator and detective ringing space station repeatedly, before one (11)

Answer: MISSISSIPPI (i.e. “[US] state”). Solution is MP (i.e. “legislator”, specifically a Member of Parliament) and PI (i.e. “detective”, specifically a Private Investigator) wrapped around or “ringing” ISS and ISS (i.e. “space station repeatedly”, ISS being the International Space Station) and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) like so: M(ISS-ISS-I)P-PI.

50. Unorthodox religions embraced by established church advisor (11)

Answer: CONSIGLIERE (i.e. “advisor”, especially to a Mafia godfather). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unorthodox”) of RELIGIONS placed in CE (i.e. “established church”, specifically the Church of England), like so: C(ONSIGLIER)E.

52. Put slant on appeal: one’s encapsulated by Lewis’s girl (9)

Answer: ITALICISE (i.e. “put slant on”). Solution is IT (i.e. “[sex] appeal”) followed by I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”) once is has been placed in or “encapsulated by” ALICE (i.e. “Lewis [Carroll]’s girl”), like so: IT-ALIC(I’S)E.

53. Literary festival town collecting listeners’ gossip (7)

Answer: HEARSAY (i.e. “gossip”). Solution is HAY (i.e. “literary festival town”) wrapped around or “collecting” EARS (i.e. “listeners”), like so: H(EARS)AY.

54. Places for audio visual experience (5)

Answer: SITES (i.e. “places”). “Audio” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of SIGHTS (i.e. “visual experience”). Another good clue.

55. Taser perhaps hurt one (4,3)

Answer: STUN GUN (i.e. “Taser perhaps” – other brands are available in your local self-defence superstore). Solution is STUNG (i.e. “hurt”) followed by UN (i.e. “one”, as in a young ‘un or a wrong ‘un).

56. Sample of titbit as temptation? (5)

Answer: TASTE (i.e. “sample”). “Of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: TITBI(T AS TE)MPTATION.

57. Star to write signature and stuff (9)

Answer: PENTAGRAM (i.e. “star”). Solution is PEN (i.e. “to write”) followed by TAG (i.e. “signature”) and RAM (i.e. “[to] stuff”).

Down clues

1. Corrupting influence of Lenin initially on Russia (5)

Answer: VIRUS (i.e. “corrupting influence”). Solution is VI (i.e. “Lenin initially”, referring to the initials of his forenames, Vladimir Ilyich) followed by RUS (a recognised abbreviation of “Russia”). Another good clue.

2. King endorsed this polite refusal (5,12)

Answer: CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. Clue refers to Martin Luther “King’s endorsement” of civil disobedience during the civil rights movement in the United States. Solution is CIVIL (i.e. “polite”) followed by DISOBEDIENCE (i.e. “refusal”).

3. Place property to get commission (11)

Answer: LIEUTENANCY (i.e. “commission”). Solution is LIEU (i.e. “place”, as “in lieu of”) followed by TENANCY (i.e. “property”).

4. Perception of area combined with space (6)

Answer: ACUMEN (i.e. “perception”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “area”) followed by CUM (i.e. “combined with” in Latin) then EN (i.e. “space”, referring to a printer’s term for a space that is the width of an “n”).

5. Invade enclosure with fish (8)

Answer: ENCROACH (i.e. “invade”). Solution is ENC (a recognised abbreviation of “enclosure” used in formal correspondence) followed by ROACH (i.e. “fish”).

6. Shrink underwear? Could be a revealing error (8,4)

Answer: FREUDIAN SLIP. Solution satisfies “could be a revealing error” and, humorously, “shrink underwear”, referring to famous psychiatrist or “shrink” Sigmund FREUD. Well, I thought it was funny.

7. Cook could be on top of ratings – such a one? (6,4)

Answer: CORDON BLEU, a chef or “cook” of the highest excellence (i.e. “on top of ratings”). There’s probably something clever I’ve missed here.
[EDIT: Thanks to zouzoulap in the comments for shedding light on this one. “Cook” turns out to be not only the operative word of the clue but an anagram indicator, specifically of COULD BE ON and R (indicated by “top of ratings”, i.e. the first letter of “ratings”). Cleverly disguised. I like it! – LP]

8. Sparked up around Jersey etc – it’s legal (5)

Answer: LICIT (i.e. “legal”). Solution is LIT (i.e. “sparked up”) wrapped “around” CI (i.e. “Jersey etc”, referring to the Channel Islands), like so: LI(CI)T.

9. Glance up captivated by stripper, one working in pub? (9)

Answer: BARKEEPER (i.e. “one working in pub”). Solution is PEEK (i.e. “glance”) reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue) and placed in or “captivated by” BARER (i.e. “stripper”), like so: BAR(KEEP)ER.

10. It may be useful for coverage of present time to publish Times, say (6,5)

Answer: TISSUE PAPER (i.e. “it may be useful for coverage of present”). Solution is T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) followed by ISSUE (i.e. “to publish”) and PAPER (i.e. “Times, say”).

11. Water bird lifted out of detergent (5)

Answer: EGRET (i.e. “water bird”). “Lifted out of” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue. There is no reversal indicator, however, which is a bit off. Anyway, you can see the solution reversed in the clue, like so: DE(TERGE)NT.

12. Unknown number in flight going off course (6)

Answer: YAWING (i.e. “going off course”). Solution is Y (i.e. “unknown number” – setters love using “unknown” to represent the letters X, Y or Z in their solutions) followed by AWING (i.e. “in flight”).

18. Players getting restricted food allocation having nuts taken away (10)

Answer: CASTRATION (i.e. “having nuts taken away” – being the massive child I am, this made me chuckle when I got it and it still makes me chuckle as I type this). Solution is CAST (i.e. “players”) followed by RATION (i.e. “restricted food allocation”). Excellent clue!

20. Settle North and South Carolina, held by English formerly (8)

Answer: ENSCONCE (i.e. “settle”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “north” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and SC (ditto “South Carolina”) placed or being “held by” E (ditto “English”) and ONCE (i.e. “formerly”), like so: E-(N-SC)-ONCE.

22. Display tool that’ll forecast costs? (8,9)

Answer: OVERHEAD PROJECTOR. Solution satisfies “display tool” and something that’ll project overheads or “forecast costs”. Another that made me smile when I twigged the solution.

23. Sly type overhearing cunning plan will (6)

Answer: WEASEL (i.e. “sly type”). “Overhearing” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of WHEEZE (i.e. “cunning plan”) and ‘LL (a contraction of “will”). (Makes so-so gesture.)

24. Hopes dashed by record held by party lacking skill in political science (10)

Answer: PSEPHOLOGY (i.e. “political science”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “dashed”) of HOPES along with LOG (i.e. “record”) both placed in or “held by” PY (i.e. “party lacking skill”, i.e. the word PARTY with the ART removed), like so: P(SEPHO-LOG)Y. I had a feeling this would be a word beginning with “ps”, so luckily it didn’t take much finding in my Chambers.

27. Reveal record miss (8)

Answer: DISCLOSE (i.e. “reveal”). Solution is DISC (i.e. “[vinyl] record”) followed by LOSE (i.e. “miss”).

31. What might indicate direction to Arctic strait (6)

Answer: NARROW (i.e. “strait”). When read as N ARROW, the solution also satisfies “what might indicate direction to Arctic” – N being a recognised abbreviation of “north”. For most of this puzzle, I’d mistakenly had this down as BERING. It didn’t help.

32. To show deference, say, play second fiddle with diminishing level of skill (3,3,6)

Answer: BOW AND SCRAPE (i.e. “to show deference”). Solution also satisfies “play…fiddle with diminishing level of skill”, referring to how one would play the fiddle badly with a bow. Something like that, anyway.

34. Deciding to put off fossil fuel production? (11)

Answer: DETERMINING (i.e. “deciding”). When read as DETER MINING, the solution also satisfies “put off fossil fuel production”.

36. Drastic potential result of global warming’s course (5,6)

Answer: BAKED ALASKA (i.e. “[dessert] course”). Solution riffs on how global warming would cause Alaska to heat up. You get the idea.

37. Party defeats Greens? (4,6)

Answer: SIDE DISHES (i.e. “greens” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Bloody hell, this took some figuring, especially when you only have the letters _I_E/_I_H_S to work with. The solution is SIDE (i.e. “party”, e.g. one side or “party” of a transaction) followed by DISHES (i.e. “defeats”. I thought this might have been to “dish” someone in a game of eight-ball pool, which is win leaving all your opponent’s balls on the table, but it seems this usage isn’t supported by any dictionary I have. My Oxford did have “to dish” as to soundly to defeat someone, so there you go).

39. Sob, racked with noises showing infatuation (9)

Answer: OBSESSION (i.e. “infatuation”). “Racked” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SOB and NOISES.

41. Fails to meet to pay for drink (6,2)

Answer: STANDS UP (i.e. “fails to meet”). Solution is STAND (i.e. “to pay for”) followed by SUP (i.e. “drink”).

45. Filth put up with always initially in communications (6)

Answer: EMAILS (i.e. “communications”). Solution is A (i.e. “always initially”, i.e. the first letter of “always”) placed “in” SLIME (i.e. “filth”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “put up” – this being a down clue), like so: EM(A)ILS.

46. African party member lifting vote against (6)

Answer: LIBYAN (i.e. “African”). Solution is LIB (i.e. “party member”, specifically a member of the Liberal Democrats) followed by NAY (i.e. “[a] vote against”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “lifting” – this being a down clue), like so: LIB-YAN.

48. United supporters turning up for typical shambles (5)

Answer: SNAFU (i.e. “typical shambles” – referring to a US Military acronym that stands for Situation Normal All Fucked Up). Solution is U (a recognised abbreviation of “united”) followed by FANS (i.e. “supporters”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “turning up” – again, this being a down clue), like so: SNAF-U. Apologies if you caught some inappropriate language picked up by our dictionaries just then.

49. Fuel contains lead in Laos, one’s gathered (5)

Answer: PLEAT (i.e. “one’s gathered”). Solution is PEAT (i.e. “fuel”) wrapped around or “containing” L (i.e. “lead in Laos”, i.e. the first letter of “Laos”), like so: P(L)EAT.

51. Course of salts? (5)

Answer: EPSOM. Solution satisfies “[race]course” and “salts”.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1420

Here’s my completed grid for this week’s Times Jumbo cryptic, along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. If you have a previous Jumbo that’s given you sleepless nights chewing over a few pesky clues, then my Just For Fun page might help you out. While I’ve got you here, I might as well hawk a few other things to help idle away a quiet half hour, such as my reviews page or a short story. Hey, a guy’s gotta try!

And so to the answers….


Across clues

1. Material provided by trader, £50 being spent by gullible person (10)

Answer: SEERSUCKER (i.e. “material” – not one I’m overly familiar with). Solution is SELLER (i.e. “trader”) with the LL removed (indicated by “£50 being spent” – a cheeky one this: L is the Roman numeral for 50, meanwhile L is also a recognised abbreviation of “pounds”, albeit pounds of weight rather than currency) and the remainder followed by SUCKER (i.e. “gullible person”), like so: SEER-SUCKER. One gotten through the wordplay only.

6. Best performances at athletics stadium in lists of achievements (5,7)

Answer: TRACK RECORDS. Solution satisfies “best performances at athletic stadium” and “lists of achievements”.

14. Native beginning to settle in Lincoln (9)

Answer: ABORIGINE (i.e. “native”). Solution is ORIGIN (i.e. “beginning”) placed or “settling in” ABE (i.e. “Lincoln”, specifically Abraham Lincoln), like so: AB(ORIGIN)E.

15. Top name for chocolate? (5)

Answer: BROWN (i.e. “chocolate”). Solution is BROW (i.e. “top”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”).

16. Son and friend holding City of London area to be remarkably good (7)

Answer: SPECIAL (i.e. “remarkably good”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) and PAL (i.e. “friend”) wrapped around or “holding” ECI (i.e. “City of London area”, i.e. the postcode area EC1), like so: S-P(ECI)AL.

17. Problematic jumbo, one of those things being ignored in Chambers! (8,2,3,4)

Answer: ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, being an obvious problem that people do not wish to acknowledge. Clue riffs on “jumbo” being another word for an elephant, and “chamber” being another word for a room. You get the idea. A clue that reads rather well, given its context.

18. 15 out of practice? (5)

Answer: RUSTY. Solution satisfies “15” – the solution to 15a being BROWN, the colour of rust – and “out of practice”.

19. More than one group in Paris is absorbed by gangs (7)

Answer: SESTETS, which are “groups” of six. The “more than one” indicates the solution is a plural. Solution is EST (i.e. “in Paris is”, i.e. the French for “is”) placed in or “absorbed by” SETS (i.e. “gangs”), like so: S(EST)ETS.

21. Fellow not upper-class embraces girl void of expression (6)

Answer: GLASSY (i.e. “void of expression”). Solution is GUY (i.e. “fellow”) with the U removed (indicated by “not upper-class” – U being a recognised abbreviation for the upper-class) and the remainder wrapped around or “embracing” LASS (i.e. “girl”), like so: G(LASS)Y.

22. Command to surrender one’s arms (8)

Answer: ORDNANCE (i.e. “arms”). Solution is ORDINANCE (i.e. “command”) with the I removed (indicated by “to surrender one” – I being the Roman numeral for “one”).

24. Foolish African dictator, old and twitching (7)

Answer: IDIOTIC (i.e. “foolish”). Solution is IDI Amin (i.e. “African dictator”) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and TIC (i.e. “twitching”).

26. Bear, say, getting caught in elaborate trap, oddly (8)

Answer: TETRAPOD (i.e. “bear, say”, along with a sizeable chunk of the animal kingdom). “Caught in” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: ELABORA(TE TRAP OD)DLY. This was the last clue I solved and took a while for me to spot what was going on. Nicely played.

27. Old city goddess appears in street, looking back (6)

Answer: THEBES (i.e. “old city”). Solution is HEBE (i.e. Greek “goddess” of youth) placed “in” ST (a recognised abbreviation of “street”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “looking back”), like so: T(HEBE)S.

30. Use video device to show rugby player moving rapidly (4-7)

Answer: FAST-FORWARD. Solution satisfies “use video device” and “rugby player moving rapidly”.

32. Mother has performing career with that US writer (5,6)

Answer: DAMON RUNYON (i.e. “US writer” – no, me neither). Solution is DAM (i.e. “mother”, usually of cattle, horses etc – again, me neither) followed by ON (i.e. “performing”), then RUN (i.e. to sprint or “career”) and YON (i.e. a poetic “that”). Sheesh!

33. Organise office, beginning to end, providing areas for growth (11)

Answer: PLANTATIONS (i.e. “areas for growth”). Solution is PLAN (i.e. “organise”) followed by STATION (i.e. “office”) once its first letter has been placed at the end (indicated by “beginning to end”), like so: PLAN-TATIONS.

35. Adriatic resort almost the best for a very brief period (5,6)

Answer: SPLIT SECOND (i.e. “very brief period”). Solution is SPLIT (i.e. “Adriatic resort”) followed by SECOND (i.e. “almost the best”).

37. Everything serf wanted after end of enslavement (3,3)

Answer: THE LOT (i.e. “everything”). Solution is HELOT (i.e. “serf” – a word I’m wise to now it’s been used a few times) placed “after” T (i.e. “end of enslavement”, i.e. the last letter of “enslavement”), like so: T-HELOT. Another clue that scans really well.

38. Misunderstanding of French hero going round America (8)

Answer: DELUSION (i.e. “misunderstanding”). Solution is DE (i.e. “of French”, i.e. the French for “of”) followed by LION (i.e. “hero”) once it has been placed “round” US (i.e. “America”), like so: DE-L(US)ION.

39. Trendy type greeting Bill, exuding love (7)

Answer: HIPSTER (i.e. “trendy type”). Solution is HI (i.e. “greeting”) followed by POSTER (i.e. “bill” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) once the O has been removed (indicated by “exuding love” – “love” being a zero score in tennis), like so: HI-PSTER.

42. Designer of home – bit of a hole with nothing right (8)

Answer: INVENTOR (i.e. “designer”). Solution is IN (i.e. “[at] home”) followed by VENT (i.e. “bit of a hole”) then O (i.e. “nothing”) and R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”).

44. At end of loud game girl is restrained (6)

Answer: FRUGAL (i.e. “restrained”). Solution is F (a recognised abbreviation of “forte”, which is “loud” in musical lingo) followed by RU (i.e. “game”, specifically Rugby Union) and GAL (i.e. “girl”). The “at end of ” bit seems a bit redundant, so I might not have this 100% right.

46. Town sending family member round the twist (7)

Answer: SWINDON (i.e. “town”). Solution is SON (i.e. “family member”) wrapped “round” WIND (i.e. “twist”), like so: S(WIND)ON.

48. Hooter’s small cry of pain? (5)

Answer: OWLET, a baby owl (i.e. “hooter”). The “small cry of pain” jokingly hints at an “ow!”, using the suffix -let to indicate a little ‘un.

49. Working group that may be sitting, despite what you may think? (8,9)

Answer: STANDING COMMITTEE (i.e. “working group”). Clue plays on how “standing” and “sitting” are opposites. You get the idea.

51. What’s large and icy, endlessly moving? (7)

Answer: GLACIER (i.e. “what’s large and icy”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “moving”) of LARGE and ICY, once the last letter Y has been removed (indicated by “endlessly”). Nicely played.

52. Secret societies? They pick up things (5)

Answer: TONGS. Solution satisfies “secret [Chinese] societies” and “they pick up things”.

53. Loony ran up tree in delight (9)

Answer: ENRAPTURE (i.e. “delight”). “Loony” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RAN UP TREE.

54. Frenchman understood the thing about article editor dealt with afresh (12)

Answer: RENEGOTIATED (i.e. “dealt with afresh”). Solution is RENE (i.e. “Frenchman”) followed by GOT (i.e. “understood”) then IT (i.e. “the thing”) once it has been wrapped “about” A (i.e. “article”), and finally finished with ED (a recognised abbreviation of “editor”), like so: RENE-GOT-I(A)T-ED.

55. It’s imprudent, not having more than one part, we hear (10)

Answer: INDISCREET (i.e. “imprudent”). “We hear” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of INDISCRETE (i.e. “not having more than one part”).

Down clues

1. Head of school was worried – dead body – terribly frightened! (6,5)

Answer: SCARED STIFF (i.e. “terribly frightened”). Solution is S (i.e. “head of school”, i.e. the first letter of “school”) followed by CARED (i.e. “was worried”) and STIFF (i.e. “dead body”).

2. Escape as European heading north, then east (5)

Answer: ELOPE (i.e. “escape [to marry]”). Solution is POLE (i.e. “European”) reversed (indicated by “heading north” – this being a down clue) and followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “east”), like so: ELOP-E.

3. Most modest learner in expression of frustration over exam? (9)

Answer: SLIGHTEST (i.e. “most modest”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “learner”) placed “in” SIGH (i.e. “expression of frustration”) and followed by TEST (i.e. “exam”), like so: S(L)IGH-TEST.

4. Customers more or less right? Foremost of trusty shoppers (7)

Answer: CLIENTS (i.e. “customers”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “circa”, i.e. “more or less”) followed by LIEN (i.e. a “right” to hold another’s property) and the initial or “foremost” letters of “Trusty” and “Supporters”, like so: C-LIEN-T-S.

5. When the light goes down, say, with poison being swallowed (7)

Answer: EVENING (i.e. “when the light goes down”). Solution is EG (i.e. “say”, as in “for example”) wrapped around or “swallowing” VENIN (i.e. “poison”), like so: E(VENIN)G. Chalk one to my Bradfords for the poison bit.

7. Deployed soldier had to protect northern state (5,6)

Answer: RHODE ISLAND (i.e. “[US] state”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “deployed”) of SOLDIER HAD wrapped around or “protected” by N (a recognised abbreviation of “northern”), like so: RHODEISLA(N)D.

8. Insincere talk about country’s division (6)

Answer: CANTON (i.e. “country’s division”). Solution is CANT (i.e. “insincere talk”) followed by ON (i.e. “about”).

9. Herb’s woman (8)

Answer: ROSEMARY. Solution satisfies “herb” and “woman”. Also my benefactress for a few reference books used in these blog posts. (Tips hat.)

10. Acting before moving home, maybe, one deals with financial matters (8,5)

Answer: CLEARING HOUSE. Solution satisfies “acting before moving house” and “one deals with financial matters”.

11. Stops wickedness after period of monarchy, not good (5,2)

Answer: REINS IN (i.e. “stops”). Solution is SIN (i.e. “wickedness”) placed “after” REIGN (i.e. “period of monarchy”) once the G has been removed (indicated by “not good” – G being a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: REIN-SIN.

12. Lousy essay son’s penned badly in period not taken seriously? (5,6)

Answer: SILLY SEASON (i.e. “period not taken seriously”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “lousy”) of ESSAY SON wrapped around or “penning” ILL (i.e. “badly”), like so: S(ILL)YSEASON.

13. Taken away, being scatterbrained (10)

Answer: ABSTRACTED. Solution satisfies “taken away” and “scatterbrained”.

20. Well-presented fruits eaten by quiet zoo animal? (9)

Answer: SHIPSHAPE (i.e. “well-presented”). Solution is HIPS (i.e. “fruits” of a rose) placed in or being “eaten by” SH (i.e. “quiet”) and followed by APE (i.e. “zoo animal”), like so: S(HIPS)H-APE.

23. Supporting one of Ireland’s heads, offering a solution (8)

Answer: FORMALIN (i.e. “solution”). Solution is FOR (i.e. “supporting”) followed by MALIN (i.e. “one of Ireland’s heads”, and the most northerly part of the island of Ireland, it says here). Chalk another one to my Bradfords here.

25. Minister – scoundrel and mischief maker (6)

Answer: CURATE (i.e. “minister”). Solution is CUR (i.e. “scoundrel”) followed by ATE (i.e. “mischief maker”, referring to Ate, the Greek goddess of mischief).

26. Rips around socks? Hard to avoid that in prickly plants (3,5)

Answer: TEA ROSES (i.e. “prickly plants”). Solution is TEARS (i.e. “rips”) placed “around” HOSE (i.e. “socks”) once the H has been removed (indicated by “hard to avoid” – H being a recognised abbreviation of “hard”), like so: TEAR(OSE)S.

28. Ostracised son sent to bed, young lout as was (9)

Answer: BOYCOTTED (i.e. “ostracised”). Solution is BOY (i.e. “son”) followed by COT (i.e. “bed”) and TED (i.e. “young lout, as was”, short for a Teddy boy).

29. Tin deposited on long grass (6)

Answer: SNITCH (i.e. “grass”). Solution is SN (chemical symbol of “tin”) followed by ITCH (i.e. to yearn for or “long”).

31. Offer made by generous tailor is no good at all (3,3,7)

Answer: FIT FOR NOTHING. Solution satisfies “offer made by generous tailor” and “no good at all”. A clue that scans rather well.

33. State of bewilderment in domesticated and wild animals gets one quibbling (11)

Answer: PETTIFOGGER (i.e. “one quibbling”). Solution is FOG (i.e. “state of bewilderment”) placed “in” PET (i.e. “domesticated…animal”) and TIGER (i.e. “wild animal”), like so: PET-TI(FOG)GER.

34. Social activity after nine maybe, old tribe attending church (6,5)

Answer: SQUARE DANCE (i.e. “social activity”). Solution is SQUARE (i.e. “nine maybe”, referring to the square of 3) followed by DAN (i.e. “old tribe [of Israel]” – I remembered this from a previous puzzle) and CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England”).

35. Smart head – one concealed lack of generosity (10)

Answer: STINGINESS (i.e. “lack of generosity”). Solution is STING (i.e. “smart”) and NESS (i.e. “head”, as in the geographical feature) wrapped around or “concealing” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: STING-(I)-NESS.

36. Ten men raged, out to create disorder (11)

Answer: DERANGEMENT (i.e. “disorder”). “Out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEN MEN RAGED.

40. Oration of Greek character delivered with insolence – listener’s choice (9)

Answer: PHILIPPIC (i.e. “oration”, and a particularly angry one at that). Solution is PHI (i.e. “Greek character”, specifically the twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet) followed by LIP (i.e. “insolence”) and PIC (i.e. “listener’s choice”, i.e. a homophone of the word PICK). Another I remembered from a previous puzzle, if I’m honest. Hmm. Looks like I’d spelled it incorrectly back then too. (Facepalms oneself.)

41. Spar bends on rough trip (8)

Answer: BOWSPRIT (i.e. “spar [of a ship]”). Solution is BOWS (i.e. “bends”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “rough”) of TRIP, like so: BOWS-PRIT.

43. Scoundrel is outwardly conceited, inwardly wicked (7)

Answer: VILLAIN (i.e. “scoundrel”). Solution is VAIN (i.e. “conceited”) placed “outwardly” of ILL (i.e. “wicked”), like so: V(ILL)AIN. Another clue that reads well.

45. Hannibal? Carthaginian finally making a stand (7)

Answer: LECTERN (i.e. “stand”). Solution is “Hannibal” LECTER, a character featuring in several Thomas Harris novels, followed by N (i.e. “Carthaginian finally”, i.e. the last letter of “Carthaginian”).

46. Old city captured by fantastic Masai warrior (7)

Answer: SAMURAI (i.e. “warrior”). Solution is UR (i.e. “old city”, a favourite of setters) placed in or “captured by” an anagram (indicated by “fantastic”) of MASAI, like so: SAM(UR)AI.

47. Popular phrase – snare for a bloke, almost (6)

Answer: MANTRA (i.e. “popular phase”). Solution is MAN-TRAP (i.e. “snare for a bloke”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”).

50. End of the short uprising, break from hostilities (5)

Answer: TRUCE (i.e. “break from hostilities”). Solution is E (i.e. “end of the”, i.e. the last letter of “the”) followed by CURT (i.e. “short”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “uprising”, this being a down clue), like so: TRUC-E.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1419

Another good ‘un marks the end of a busy period of Jumbos. I much prefer puzzles that have me thumbing through a good dictionary as opposed to an atlas or a Who’s Who of dead people, so for the most part this one ticked several boxes. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.

A spot of housekeeping before we crack on. If you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s left you cold then you might find some joy in my Just For Fun page. Meanwhile, if book reviews tickle your fancy then I’ve got a bunch here. I’ll stick a review of Best New Horror 12 on here shortly(ish), now things are settling down again after New Year. If you’d like a short story then I’ve got you covered too.

If you’re here just for the answers then I guess I’d better hop to it. Tuck in!


Across clues

1. Name – a girl’s by the sound of it (7)

Answer: MONIKER (i.e. “name”). “By the sound of it” indicates homophone. Solution is also a homophone of MONICA, a “girl’s” name.

5. Flyer produced by petulant Head (9)

Answer: CROSSBILL (i.e. “flyer”, as in a bird – did a Google image search… appropriately named!). Solution is CROSS (i.e. “petulant”) followed by BILL (i.e. “head” – both words can mean a piece of land that juts out into the sea).

10. Sword Europeans found outside gym (4)

Answer: EPEE (i.e. “sword”). Solution is E and E (i.e. “Europeans” – E being a recognised abbreviation of “European”) placed “outside” of PE (a recognised abbreviation of Physical Education, i.e. “gym”), like so: E(PE)E.

14. Rugby players – 75% of them? (5-8)

Answer: THREE-QUARTERS (i.e. “75% of them”). When read without hyphenation, THREE QUARTERS also satisfies “[three] rugby players”).

15. Picking up little brat going walkabout (9)

Answer: IMPROVING (i.e. “picking up”). Solution is IMP (i.e. “little brat”) followed by ROVING (i.e. “going walkabout”).

16. Back soldiers at start of this temporary transfer (10)

Answer: SECONDMENT (i.e. “temporary transfer”). Solution is SECOND (i.e. “[to] back”) followed by MEN (i.e. “soldiers”) and T (i.e. “start of this”, i.e. the first letter of “this”).

17. Terence, Leo and I contrived to campaign politically (11)

Answer: ELECTIONEER (i.e. “to campaign politically”). “Contrived” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TERENCE, LEO and I.

18. Boy – head of class, as it happens (5)

Answer: CLIVE (i.e. “boy[‘s name]”). Solution is C (i.e. “head of class”, i.e. the first letter of “class”) followed by LIVE (i.e. “as it happens” – think live sports coverage). I’m seldom happy when forenames are used to plug awkward gaps in grids, so you can imagine my… er… delight with this one, especially considering the numerous other words that could have fitted the intersecting letters. Harrumph, etc.

19. Army corps’s pressing need largely beginning to expedite rebirth (10)

Answer: RESURGENCE (i.e. “rebirth”). Solution is RE’S (i.e. “army corps’s”, specifically the Royal Engineers) followed by URGENCY (i.e. “pressing need”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “largely”) and E (i.e. “beginning to expedite”, i.e. the first letter of “expedite”), like so: RE’S-URGENC-E.

21. A new aim holding back a SW African state (6)

Answer: ANGOLA (i.e. “SW African state”). Solution is A followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and GOAL (i.e. “aim”) once the A has been shifted along (indicated by “holding back a”), like so: A-N-GOLA.

23. Policy declaration of teams in turmoil (9)

Answer: MANIFESTO (i.e. “policy declaration”). “Turmoil” indicated anagram. Solution is an anagram of OF TEAMS IN.

25. Western poem originally naming Anglo-Saxon god (5)

Answer: WODEN (i.e. “Anglo-Saxon god”). Solution is W (a recognised abbreviation of “western”) followed by ODE (i.e. “poem”) and N (i.e. “originally naming”, i.e. the first letter of “naming”). One gotten solely through the wordplay, to be honest.

26. Failed to find “glove” in dictionary (7)

Answer: OMITTED (i.e. “failed”, e.g. omitting to mention something important). Solution is MITT (i.e. “glove” placed or “found” in OED (i.e. “dictionary”, specifically the Oxford English Dictionary), like so: O(MITT)ED.

28. Gloucester’s son’s directions accepted by noble poet (6,7)

Answer: EDMUND SPENSER (i.e. a “poet” whose ye olde spellyngs and definitions litter dictionaries to this day). Solution is EDMUND’S (i.e. “Gloucester’s son’s” – referring to Edmund, a character in Shakespeare’s King Lear, who was the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester) followed by NS (i.e. “directions”, specifically recognised abbreviations of “north” and “south”) once it has been placed in or “accepted by” PEER (i.e. “noble”), like so: EDMUND’S-PE(NS)ER. A nod to Google for this, as I’ve never been much of a fan of Shakespeare.

31. Deal with prime disturbance of the cuticle (9)

Answer: EPIDERMAL (i.e. “of the cuticle”). “Disturbance” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DEAL and PRIME.

33. Secret flight bound to disturb fellows in film (9)

Answer: ELOPEMENT (i.e. “secret flight”). Solution is MEN (i.e. “fellows”) placed “in” ET (i.e. “film”, specifically ET: The Extra Terrestrial). LOPE (i.e. to “bound”) then “disturbs” or is placed inside of this, like so: E(LOPE)(MEN)T.

35. Making little impact where security may be found around tiller (13)

Answer: UNDERWHELMING (i.e. “making little impact”). Solution is UNDER WING (i.e. “where security may be found”, as in being taken under someone’s wing) wrapped “around” HELM (i.e. “tiller”), like so: UNDER-W(HELM)ING.

37. Implement he recognised in Paris after decades with university (7)

Answer: UTENSIL (i.e. “implement”). Solution is IL (i.e. “he recognised in Paris”, i.e. the French for “he”), placed “after” U (a recognised abbreviation of “university”) and TENS (i.e. “decades”), like so: U-TENS-IL.

38. A sorcerer may practice it, partly to be a hardman (5)

Answer: OBEAH, which is “witchcraft or poisoning practiced in the West Indies, Guyana etc” (Chambers) (i.e. “a sorcerer may practice it”). “Partly” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: T(O BE A H)ARDMAN. Three words: Made. To. Fit!

40. Like delicious drink only initially imbibed by random centaurs (9)

Answer: NECTAROUS (i.e. “like delicious drink”). Solution is O (i.e. “only initially”, i.e. the first letter of “only”) placed in or being “imbibed by” an anagram (indicated by “random”) of CENTAURS, like so: NECTAR(O)US.

42. Lasciviousness originally rare at East Sheen? (6)

Answer: LUSTRE (i.e. “sheen” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is LUST (i.e. “lasciviousness”) followed by R (i.e. “originally rare”, i.e. the first letter of “rare”) and E (a recognised abbreviation of “East”).

44. Part of army finally serving in Europe, perhaps (10)

Answer: CONTINGENT (i.e. “part of army”). Solution is G (i.e. “finally serving”, i.e. the last letter of “serving”) placed in CONTINENT (i.e. “Europe, perhaps”), like so: CONTIN(G)ENT.

46. Extol Labour leader feeding black horse? (5)

Answer: BLESS (i.e. “extol”). Solution is L (i.e. “Labour leader”, i.e. the first letter of “Labour”) placed in or “feeding” BESS (i.e. “black horse”, specifically Black Bess, Dick Turpin’s horse), like so: B(L)ESS.

48. The writer’s one shedding tears about small naval vessel (11)

Answer: MINESWEEPER (i.e. “naval vessel”). Solution is MINE (i.e. “the writer’s”, taking the point of view of the setter) and WEEPER (i.e. “one shedding tears”) placed “about” S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”), like so: MINE-(S)-WEEPER.

50. Dishonest activity practised by carpenters? (10)

Answer: CHISELLING. Solution satisfies “dishonest activity” and “practiced by carpenters”.

52. Fruit can deteriorate ultimately, inspiring rage (9)

Answer: TANGERINE (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is TIN (i.e. “can”) and E (i.e. “deteriorate ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “deteriorate”) wrapped around or “inspiring” ANGER (i.e. “rage”), like so: T(ANGER)IN-E.

53. Examine attorney more protractedly about male spreader of gossip (13)

Answer: SCANDALMONGER (i.e. “spreader of gossip”). Solution is SCAN (i.e. “examine”) followed by DA (i.e. attorney, specifically a District Attorney) and LONGER (i.e. “more protracted”) once it has been placed “about” M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”), like so: SCAN-DA-L(M)ONGER.

54. 1950s youth going over English millennium building (4)

Answer: DOME (i.e. “millennium building”, specifically the Millennium Dome in London, now known as the O2 Arena). Solution is MOD (i.e. “1950s youth”) reversed (indicated by “going over”) and followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: DOM-E.

55. Onlooker volunteers to feed unpopular police officer? (9)

Answer: SPECTATOR (i.e. “onlooker”). Solution is TA (i.e. “volunteers”, specifically the Territorial Army) placed in or “feeding” INSPECTOR (i.e. “police officer”) once the IN has been removed (indicated by “unpopular”, as in not being “in”), like so: SPEC(TA)TOR. Good clue!

56. Private room in hospital used by leader of city corporation (7)

Answer: SANCTUM (i.e. “private room”). Solution is SAN (an old slang word for a sanitorium, i.e. “hospital”) followed by C (i.e. “leader of city”, i.e. the first letter of “city”) and TUM (i.e. “corporation”, an archaic word for a tummy or belly – setters love using this).

Down clues

1. A widow’s gift could possibly – so to speak (4)

Answer: MITE. Solution satisfies “a widow’s gift” – referring to a widow’s mite, which is “a small offering generously given” (pats Chambers) – and also “could possibly – so to speak”, referring to a homophone of MIGHT.

2. One overwhelmed by new organ composition, like Grieg (9)

Answer: NORWEGIAN (i.e. “like [Edvard] Grieg”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed in or “overwhelmed by” an anagram (indicated by “composition”) or NEW ORGAN, like so: NORWEG(I)AN.

3. Hope for success, but ruin one’s piano recital? (4,4,7,7)

Answer: KEEP ONES FINGERS CROSSED. Solution satisfies “hope for success” and “ruin one’s piano recital”. I did smile at this when I twigged it.

4. Canon upset about contribution to team’s score (7)

Answer: ROUNDER (i.e. “contribution to team’s score” – do they score runs in rounders or do they score rounders? (Shrugs)). Solution is ROUND (i.e. “canon” – one of its definitions is “a type of vocal or instrumental musical composition in which the melody is repeated by one part following another in imitation” (Chambers again); meanwhile one of round’s umpteen definitions is “a canon sung in unison” – score one to my Bradford’s here, as I would never have made the connection) followed by RE (i.e. “about” – think email replies) which is reversed (indicated by “upset” – this being a down clue), like so: ROUND-ER.

5. Basis of cereal a person formerly consumed (11)

Answer: CORNERSTONE (i.e. “basis of”). Solution is CORN (i.e. “cereal”) and ONE (i.e. “a person”) wrapped around or “consuming” ERST (i.e. at first or “formerly”), like so: CORN-(ERST)-ONE.

6. Public argument about Hutton’s first poor return? (9)

Answer: OVERTHROW (i.e. “poor return” – think a fielder overthrowing the ball in cricket). Solution is OVERT (i.e. “public”) and ROW (i.e. “argument”) placed “about” H (i.e. “Hutton’s first”, i.e. the first letter of “Hutton”), like so: OVERT-(H)-ROW.

7. Soiree regularly gatecrashed by American girl (5)

Answer: SUSIE (i.e. “girl[‘s name]” (sighs)). Solution is SIE (i.e. “soiree regularly”, i.e. every other letter of SOIREE) wrapped around or being “gatecrashed” by US (i.e. “American”), like so: S(US)IE.

8. Shimmering effect encountered at first in relaxed scenic ride (11)

Answer: IRIDESCENCE (i.e. “shimmering effect”). Solution is E (i.e. “encountered at first”, i.e. the first letter of encountered) placed in an anagram (indicated by “relaxed”) of SCENIC RIDE, like so: IRID(E)SCENCE.

9. Literary island identified by a set in Los Angeles? (6)

Answer: LAPUTA (i.e. “literary island”, specifically one found in Gulliver’s Travels). Solution is A and PUT (i.e. “set [down]”) both placed in LA (i.e. “Los Angeles”), like so: L(A-PUT)A.

11. Instruction book on old card game (7)

Answer: PRIMERO (i.e. “card game”). Solution is PRIMER (i.e. “instruction book”) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”). Can’t say I’ve played it.

12. Decorate artist brought up in part of UK (9)

Answer: ENGARLAND (i.e. “decorate”). Solution is RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) reversed (indicated by “brought up” – this being a down clue) and placed “in” ENGLAND (i.e. “part of UK”), like so: ENG(AR)LAND.

13. Bomb eastern warehouse, heavy and lacking buoyancy? (2,4,4,1,4,7)

Answer: GO DOWN LIKE A LEAD BALLOON (i.e. “bomb”). Solution is GODOWN (i.e. “eastern warehouse” – no, me neither) and LIKE A LEAD BALLOON (i.e. the riddle “heavy and lacking buoyancy?”). Not a classic.

18. Accomplished Liberal turned out to take part (7)

Answer: COMPETE (i.e. “take part”). Solution is COMPLETE (i.e. “accomplished”) with the L removed (indicated by “Liberal turned out” – L being a recognised abbreviation of “Liberal”).

20. Put up with outcome, entertaining daughter on river (7)

Answer: ENDURED (i.e. “put up with”). Solution is END (i.e. “outcome”) wrapped around or “entertaining” D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) and URE (i.e. a “river”), like so: EN(D-URE)D.

22. Early Stone Age hero regularly landed on this once (8)

Answer: EOLITHIC (i.e. “early Stone Age”). Solution is EO (i.e. “hero regularly”, i.e. every other letter of HERO) followed by LIT (i.e. “landed on”) and HIC (i.e. “this once”, i.e. the Latin for “this”).

24. Like nuns, perhaps, knowing about revised rites (8)

Answer: SISTERLY (i.e. “like nuns, perhaps”). Solution is SLY (i.e. “knowing”) wrapped “about” an anagram (indicated by “revised”) of RITES, like so: S(ISTER)LY.

27. Characters in steamship meticulous about speeds (5)

Answer: TEMPI (i.e. “speeds”). “Characters in” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, while “about” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: STEAMSH(IP MET)ICULOUS.

29. Creature makes lowing sound on top of escarpment (5)

Answer: MOOSE (i.e. “creature”). Solution is MOOS (i.e. “makes lowing sound”) followed by E (i.e. “top of escarpment”, i.e. the first letter of “escarpment”).

30. Trainee in breeding establishment overlooking hospital department (7)

Answer: STUDENT (i.e. “trainee”). Solution is STUD (i.e. “breeding establishment”) followed by ENT (i.e. “hospital department”, specifically Ear, Nose and Throat).

32. They’re versed in the law, getting poets beheaded (7)

Answer: LEGISTS (i.e. “they’re versed in law”). Solution is ELEGISTS (i.e. “poets”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “beheaded”). LEGIST doesn’t feature in my Oxford dictionary, but does appear in Chambers.

34. Atmospheric layer primarily recognised in eccentric peer’s photo (11)

Answer: TROPOSPHERE (i.e. “atmospheric layer”). Solution is R (i.e. “primarily recognised”, i.e. the first letter of “recognised”) placed in an anagram (indicated by “eccentric”) of PEER’S PHOTO, like so: T(R)OPOSPHERE.

36. Camera accessory selection finally sold in more stylish setting (11)

Answer: RANGEFINDER (i.e. “camera accessory”). Solution is RANGE (i.e. “selection”) followed by D (i.e. “finally sold”, i.e. the last letter of “sold”) once it has been placed “in” FINER (i.e. “more stylish”), like so: RANGE-FIN(D)ER.

37. Member briefly in football team, not subject to restrictions (9)

Answer: UNLIMITED (i.e. “not subject to restrictions”). Solution is LIMB (i.e. “member”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and placed “in” UNITED (i.e. “football team”), like so: UN(LIM)ITED.

39. Skill required to fix both taps on floating platform? (9)

Answer: HANDCRAFT (i.e. “skill”). Solution is H AND C (i.e. “both taps”, i.e. recognised abbreviations for “hot” and “cold”) followed by RAFT (i.e. “floating platform”).

41. Top man at Camelot, we hear, throughout a dark period? (9)

Answer: OVERNIGHT (i.e. “throughout a dark period”). Solution is OVER (i.e. “top”) followed by a homophone (indicated by “we hear”) of KNIGHT (i.e. “man at Camelot”), like so: OVER-NIGHT.

43. Reported malefactor? Shakespearean colonel? It means the same thing (7)

Answer: SYNONYM (i.e. “it means the same thing”). “Reported” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of SIN ON HIM (i.e. descriptive of a “malefactor”). The “Shakespearean colonel” bit likely refers to a line containing the words SIN ON HIM, but, as mentioned, Shakespeare isn’t my bag. Sorry.
[EDIT: Thanks to several commenters here and on my About page for shedding light on this one. “Shakespearean colonel” refers to Colonel Nym, a character who appears in Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor, a wrong ‘un with a penchant for stealing. This would make him SINNER NYM. Thanks all! – LP]

45. Archer hugging climber at last on island where climbers are trained (7)

Answer: TRELLIS (i.e. “where climbers are trained”). Solution is William TELL (i.e. “archer”) wrapped around or “hugging” R (i.e. “climber at last”, i.e. the last letter of “climber”) and followed by IS (a recognised abbreviation of “island”), like so: T(R)ELL-IS.

47. Brainbox principally interested in taxonomic group (6)

Answer: GENIUS (i.e. “brainbox”). Solution is I (i.e. “principally interested”, i.e. the first letter of “interested”) placed “in” GENUS (i.e. “taxonomic group”), like so: GEN(I)US.

49. Exam I entered among others (5)

Answer: RESIT (i.e. “exam”). Solution is I placed in or “entering” REST (i.e. “others”), like so: RES(I)T.

51. Englishman in Oz absorbing start of royal concert (4)

Answer: PROM (i.e. “concert”). Solution is POM (i.e. “Englishman in Oz”, preferring to how Aussies refer to Englishmen) wrapped around or “absorbing” R (i.e. “start of royal”, i.e. the first letter of “royal”), like so: P(R)OM.

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1418

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

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

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


Across clues

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

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

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

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

9. Famous people touring eastern island (7)

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

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

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

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

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

16. Unexciting way to get help (5)

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

17. Ultimate misfortune dogs a colony (7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25. Does understand others partly (4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

37. Followers of star, glossy one (4)

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

38. Confusing reflections in garbled Oldie article (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

51. Bend double at start of exercise (5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Down clues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Virtuoso, drunk when partnered? (5)

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

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

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

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

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

13. After a job (4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27. Drawer made of carbon fibre (6)

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

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

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

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

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

33. Fray garment that collapses in bits (11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

44. Central European translating English novels (7)

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

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

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

48. Crack up without reversal of fortune (5)

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

50. Almost cutting island (4)

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

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1417

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

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


Across clues

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. Withdraw renegade’s empty pamphlet (7)

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

14. Determined Armada man took ships (7)

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

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

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

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

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

17. For Inquisition, the one priest (3)

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

18. Begin meal without start of anchovy (6)

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

20. Wild and free in Spanish city (6)

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

21. Unmarried mum sensible under different conditions (9)

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

23. Horsemen completely irritated returning by taxi (10)

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

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

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

29. Tried to get boss across river (5)

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

30. Tool one wants repaired (5,3)

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

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

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

34. Female cross going round wide forest (8)

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

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

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

37. Hollow black blocks arrive (5)

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

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

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

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

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

43. Vivacious former queen? (9)

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

45. Count shocked King Edward (6)

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

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

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

49. Female finished where any number disqualified (3)

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

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

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

52. Boy consuming egg and bones (7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

56. Indonesian fellow pens a poem sung (7)

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

57. Memorable revolutionary character (3-6)

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

Down clues

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

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

2. Scorer required in Johannesburg match? (5)

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

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

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

4. Learnt to play the horn (6)

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

5. Dispatch order? (5,7)

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

6. Small mobile home or Beetle? (7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26. Peculiar proposal for paying poets? (8)

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

27. Examiner perhaps coming in quite stern (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

35. Wife put in ground viridescent shrub (11)

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

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

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

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

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

40. Working method Pasteur devised for cheese (9)

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

42. One obstinate and indeed singular philosopher (8)

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

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

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

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

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

46. Complaint made about this classical style (7)

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

48. Made to smile with a thought (6)

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

51. No secret hole on green (5)

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

Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1416

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

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

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


Across clues

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

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

6. Anarchist finally does away with aristos (5)

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

9. Gets round about fifty cracking GIs (7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28. Go round and round at speed (5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

44. Short drink in unspecified French town (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

55. Receiver of French visits informed (7)

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

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

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

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

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

Down clues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. African city rarely gets rain (8)

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

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

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

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

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

8. Reservoirs in time avoided by foxes (5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Comic that is requiring much paper (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23. Juliet, one dispensing milk shake (6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

51. Wood spirit not on alcohol promotion (5)

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