23,446 – Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Solving time : 28:50, of which about 20 mins on the six starred clues; one mistake (13dn)

Had a bad start, eventually getting going with 12ac, but thought I was going to get away with this one until I hit a wall after 8 mins with six clues left. After a hiatus of over 10 minutes I almost cracked it, but fell down on 13dn. Some tricky classical references but a very good puzzle.

Beginners’ tips of the day: ‘province’ = NI (Northern Ireland), ‘of Parisian’ = DE, ‘note’ = TI or TE, or DOH, RE, MI etc.

1 BOTTOMLESS – Today’s easier Shakespearean reference. Other characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I think I’ve seen in the Times are Puck (the fairy), Oberon (the fairy King) and Titania (the fairy Queen).
6 [l]IMPI[d] – Zulu warriors could hardly be anything else, but ‘endlessly’ used to mean ‘without the first and last letters’ is rare. I may be wrong, but I think I can recall seeing this in a couple of Monk’s puzzles in the Independent (or were they ‘signed’ Times puzzles?), which makes me wonder if he is today’s setter.
15 TEE + (REGAN) reversed – King Lear’s regularly-seen daughters were Regan, Cordelia and Goneril.
17* APPL(I+QU)E – My last correct solve. APPLIQUÉ was a new word for me, and apparently means a work (e.g. of metalwork or lace) laid on another material, from the French ‘appliquer’ meaning to apply. I knew Blenheim could be a palace or a dog, but not an apple, which made this clue extra difficult and I only got it by looking for any feasible word that fit the pattern ??P?E. ‘Starts to X’ meaning ‘the first two letters of X’ is unusual; but for the Q, I would probably have tried to take the initial letters of ‘question in’.
24* BRED / “BREAD” – A common homophone that I should have got much faster, even with no crossing letters – very nearly tempted by SENT / “CENT”, but luckily I failed to convince myself that ‘send’ could mean ‘raise’ in any sense or that ‘cent’ could really be clued as ‘cash’.
26* ER (monarch) + ST (way) – The two wordplay elements are absolute basics (though in reverse order), but the definition ‘of old’ (as an adverb) is very subtle and had me looking for an old monarch like Edwy, Cnut or John.
27 DE + “TERENCE” – He of ‘fortis Fortuna adiuvit’ fame.

1* BO(L)D – Thanks to PB I had heard of Ben Battle but it didn’t help me here! I was reduced to a trawl through the alphabet which luckily ended at ‘D’, though ‘fellow’ = BOD isn’t that difficult really.
2 “TITAN” – Cronus ate his children in Greek mythology.
3 OSTEN[d] + (A TI) inside (TO US) – Tricky wordplay, I solved this from the definition with a couple of crossing letters. Hovered over the I, wondering if ‘-teous’ was a possibility, but I think this ending is always pronounced with a hard T, e.g. righteous, courteous, and never a ‘sh’ sound.
4 LARKIN[g] – Philip is rarely clued any other way.
13* IMPALPABLE – After several minutes of looking for possibilities I plumped for ‘immappable’, which (it transpires) isn’t a word. The Hamlet quotation is ‘A hit, a very palpable hit‘ which is said during Hamlet’s fencing match with Laertes, with which I was sadly unfamiliar.
18* PROCESS – Double definition. This was my ‘breakthrough’ clue of my last 6, which I eventually solved via ‘course of action’ = ‘procedure’.
20 EP + SILO + N – Is ‘new start’ = ‘N’ fair, or is there another interpretation that I am missing?

9 comments on “23,446 – Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”

  1. After cautiously working out that IMPALPABLE was the most plausible option (didn’t know the quote), I stupidly rushed into EAST at 26 to continue a hideous run.

    You’ll see more MND folk – Times setters traditionally love to use the occupations of the “rude mechanicals” (e.g. Snug = joiner) and/or their roles in the play within a play (e.g. Snout = Wall). And the fairies like Cobweb and Mustard-seed come up too. As it’s one of the most frequently performed Bard plays, it’s hard to object. Is it Monk? I don’t think so – don’t think he uses this much literature.

  2. I don’t feel so bad about my own effort after reading Talbinho’s harrowing account. After speedy progress I too got stuck for ages on IMPALPABLE and APPLIQUE (I thought a Blenheim was a pear, and I was suspicious of “starts to question” for QU so was looking to parse in a different way.
    In answer to the query about N=new start, I think you are correct about that…

    I must say I’ve never liked “province” for NI particularly. Strictly speaking Northern Ireland is only 6 of the 9 counties of the province of Ulster, although it is one of those things that IS seen in real life not just in crosswords.

    1. I had the enormous benefit of being able to bring to mind “A palpable hit!” within 5 or 10 seconds of reading the clue. Had it not been for two-and-a-half minutes spent finishing off PROCESS (PROCEED looked equally good/bad to me) and ERST, I would have had a very enviable time indeed. 7m20s as it was.

      I have a feeling that though in Irish terms, the six counties are only part of the province of Ulster, in UK terms Northern Ireland is a province (just as Wales is a principality and Scotland a … country?). So ‘province’ = NI is OK for me, though I do think ‘Ulster’ = NI is factually incorrect – though regularly used IRL in the manner fgbp suggests.

  3. 8:14, which is pretty good for me. I was in confident mood and put in both “ostentatious” and “appliqué” from the definitions (and from expecting a q in the latter) without troubling to work out the word-play. And the Shakespeare references were familiar. Would have been about a minute faster, but I had to go through the alphabet to get “erst”.
  4. My efforts today were abysmal. After 20 minutes I was left with the SW corner, 4 unfilled solutions and – perhaps most tragically – some rapidly cooling soup.

    There’s always tomorrow.

  5. Meant to say that with ?M???P???? at 13d I tried to make ‘It’s very fine’ give both SMALLPRINT and EMERYPAPER, even pretending that the latter might be unhyphenated, like the lost walker descending into the wrong valley denouncing his broken compass.

    It’s interesting to read others’ accounts & times, even (perhaps especially) on days like today when I got whipped, so I’ll try to post times/comments more regularly.

  6. Bought the Times just before boarding a plane at Aberdeen, and hoped that the one hour flight would be just enough time to complete the crossword….sadly not though, as I was completely stumped by 13 down, mostly..and the linked acrosses. (as with EMERYPAPER, I even wondered if SMALLPRINT was one word!)
    Blenheim also got the better of me, but perhaps because of my environment I immediately thought of “plane” Well, PLANIQUE did sound awfully ornamental!


  7. My first complete failure for a while. I was left with four to get after 30 minutes and gave up after 36 with 13D and 14A still unsolved.

    I hope this does not sound like sour grapes, but wasn’t 13D tantamount to one of the “old-style” quotation clues? If you did not know the quote then “unlike Hamlet’s hit!” meant nothing, and the definition was not exactly obvious (or helpful – my dictionary says “fine-GRAINED” – but that would not have made it any easier for me!).

    I know that I should have been able to work it out from the checked letters (even with ???A?P?B?E there is only the one possibility), but I compared it to 1D, where again I did not know the (Ben Battle) reference, but the wordplay enabled me to solve the clue with just the checking L. Those that did know the reference would still have had an advantage, but at least ignoramuses like me still had a chance!

  8. 9a Crew employed by comparatively underweight bargee = LIGHTERMAN (where crew = man = verb to take on staff?)
    10a Godess with cow’s horns lives on island= IS IS (lives = to be = IS and island also = IS)
    12a Nasty surprise as (late-night sit-in)* is disrupted = STING IN THE TAIL
    19a Cheerful conductor’s signal = UPBEAT
    22a Improper (response)* about Channel Four’s profitability = PRO DUCT IV NESS
    25a Cool consuming stewed (pear)* and cheese = C AERP HILLY

    5d Taken by surprise, working girl is run over by toboggan = S TART LED
    7d Horse is obliged to hover round East End = MUST ‘ANG (any reference to Bow, East End or Cockney – but not Dick Van Dyke – usually means a dropped H)
    8d Parochialism (ruins Italy)* unfortunately = INSULARITY
    11d Girl exercises right to tour island, one that’s close = PENNY PINCHER (close = tight, island = inch and exercises = PE)
    21d Disinclined to put European states first = AVERS E
    23d It was once plucked in hilLY REgions = LYRE

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