23,467 – some much-loved favourites

Solving time : 5m40s – remarkably just about my slowest this week, though it felt like a good time for this puzzle. Again almost a pangram (just K & V missing, and they’d have been easy to get in at 23 & 24); once you see a word like FUZZBOX you know there’s been at the least an attempt by the compiler’s subconscious… Some nice clues overall and plenty to get a grip on (mainly thanks to the well-rehearsed “flower”, “church”, “lunchtime” etc). Strangely several isolated answers had to be finished off at the end, for me.


5 TIP-OFFS, 2 defs – An unusual sport to be referenced in the Times. Chambers lists the two meanings under different headwords, making the answer excellent fodder for this clue.
9 PIN NUMBER, pun – as in ‘one who numbs your pins’, ho ho. PIN NUMBER is a bugbear for many pedants who dislike the fact that the N in PIN already stands for Number.
13 WAIT A BIT, 2 defs – I did not know the various plants that go under this name, but it was an extremely confident guess.
15 HO + AXE + R – a reference to the ‘finder’ of Piltdown Man
17 ”NECKED A” – a classic Times homophone that doesn’t work for rhotic accents.
19 MEDIA in CON – I was having trouble with this until I slowed down and worked out CON and the meaning of ‘cracking’.
22 SOT APPEARS TOO, anag – Long anagrams give setters a chance, but this clue works really well. Excellent.
25 I DEAL, pun – a very obvious treatment that has of course been used before, but I like this working of it a lot.
26 PRONOUN + CE – A very neatly written clue – though I wish I could articulate why I feel “As an example, he” should only be used to define a whole answer rather than a bit of wordplay.
28 PRESENT, pun – I don’t like this one: a weak pun, not using very different meanings of ‘present’ (same headword) or indeed ‘register’


1 RIPE, 2 defs – the second def as in ‘risqué’. I dislike ‘though’ (or ‘but’) as a linkword
2 JAB in PUNI(c) – Can ‘the wars’ define PUNIC?
6 POP + SEEN SO (anag) – a very amusing phrase in its own right, well worth inclusion.
7 FUZZ + BOX – I could not have said what a fuzzbox was, and would have made a poor guess.
8 MATTER in SING – ‘shop’ is always likely to mean sing/grass/squeal etc, but it always surprises me – nice clue.
12 N + U(niversity) in SWAPPING – another great phrase, lending itself to an insertion clue.
21 EX in SPOT – last one for me today; I was toying with a TEAPOT as something hot, but should probably have been thinking about the possibility of an unusual unch.
23 AT ONE, pun – an old faithful.
24 LEFT, 3 defs – unusual but straightforward.

5 comments on “23,467 – some much-loved favourites”

  1. I thought this was a great puzzle, but couldn’t finish without cheating. I found 25a and 23d particularly difficult, described by Magoo as “very obvious” and “old faithful”. Sometimes this blog makes me feel like a Padawan being instructed by a Jedi master.
    1. I feel a bit Padawanish today too – over 10 minutes, so I’ll happily vote with “good time for this puzzle”. I shared Magoo’s botanical ignorance, Punic grumblings, and concluding TEAPOT thoughts. But a bit of cross-instrument music knowledge helped with “fuzz box”. Was happy with the stuff for PRONOUN though.

      Not being into Star Wars, I had to look up padawan. I was slightly horrified but not really surprised to discover that there are alternative Wikipedia-style universes for Star Wars and Star Trek.

  2. All I can say is that SEXPOT was the first I got. Which obviously means something.

    Other than that, took the usual 45′ for the rest. I actually read 17A as an &lit as nectar=”necked her” — which I’m sure was a way of rationalizing it with my rhotic (thanks for the new term!) accent.

  3. I gave up after 10-15 mins or so with two still missing. Having seen the answers, I don’t think I’d have got WAIT-A-BIT or SWAN-UPPING if I’d tried all night, but then we did have our Christmas lunch today (hic).
  4. I was interested to see the English translation for the Afrikaans wag-‘n-bietjie at 13a. The wait-a-bit bush is a rambling acacia that can be used as an eco-friendly alternative to razor wire.

    Here are the old favourites, chestnuts and obvious ones that not all of us are familiar with …

    1a One relaxing, about to be given puzzle = RE POSER
    10a Square, but not a round dish = PIZZA – pi(a)zza
    11a So totally unsighted by a closing of eyelids? = AS BLIND AS A BAT – to bat ones eyelids = to close them albeit briefly?
    27a One fired having to head for home, cosy in retreat = GUNSHOT – to h snug backwards

    3d Initially, Some Quite Ugly Adolescent Boys fancied young bird = SQUAB – a young pigeon I fancy
    4d Eccentric (brain)* keeps (B)ishop (I)n (C)harge of religious instruction = RABBINIC – the IC is part of the anagrist and part of the definition so a partial &lit?
    5d Torrent of abuse keeps one in line = T I RADE – trade = line as in line of work
    14d God holds up old flower for religious leader = A YAT O LLAH – o Tay upside down in Allah – at least it is the correct version of God. Flower can be river as in “the river flows, flows to the sea…”
    16d Piano thus a piano, though flatter = SOFT SO A P – the first piano is Italian for soft and thus = so with a (p)iano as in musical notation – also soft but shortened to P. Don’t get me started on Pianissimo…
    18d Shorten (line so)* variable beneath constant = C LOSE IN – a bit of an obscure literal shorten = close in?
    20d Great current under pressure = INTENSE – that appears to be the only fit for the crossers but an obscure DD for me?

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