23,470 – True Blue

Solving time: 12:34

Sometimes, if you do something regularly at a particular time in the day, and you then try to do it at a different time of day, it’s harder to get into the right way of thinking. I normally do The Times in the evenings, but today I did the puzzle first thing. This had two major effects: firstly, I attempted the clues in a haphazard order, with the result that I didn’t even look at several of the easier clues until I’d struggled through most of the rest of the puzzle; secondly, I was completely incapable of solving any anagrams.

Across
10 M(A + C + MILL)AN – Harold was Conservative Prime Minister from 1957-63. I’m not totally convinced by this &lit; ‘system’ = MILL (in the figurative sense, I suppose) is a little stretched, but more importantly ’embracing’ seems to require a past tense in the definition reading.
11 TATE + R – the London gallery is named after Henry Tate. Clever clue, and I’m glad I had the middle ‘T’ before looking at this or I might have been tempted by ‘tudor’, though ‘King Edward’ rather than (e.g.) ‘King Edward VI’ or similar is a big clue.
12 “C” – the last clue I solved.
13 (PER THIS CLUE)* – this took me far too long to spot.
14 MID-AIR
16 [b]EAR MARK[et] – clever wording (“Gamble about this…“) which I didn’t fully understand until after stopping the watch; when solving I just spotted the hidden word and wrote it in.
19 [b]RIGHTON – where the Conservative Party’s annual conference is held.
20 AT (engaged in) + WILL[iam]
25 RAY – a very difficult cricket reference: marvellous. Ray Lindwall played for Don Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’ in the late 1940s. A beamer is a ball bowled at a batsman’s head, though you don’t need to know that to solve the clue.
26 (A SLAB) reversed.
27 A + DAM + SMIT + H – Adam Smith will apparently appear on the new English £20 note.
Down
2 PACK AGING – I was sure this was going to start ‘PROP’ or end in ‘WING’, with a ‘T’ somewhere in the middle, and as a result this was my penultimate solve.
3 [a]T WILL – and the clue number referenced appears as a digit in the online edition!
5 (ALTERNATIVE CUP)* – a disaster for me, I had the initial ‘V’ but was fully expecting ‘cup’ to be the definition and was fooled into thinking ‘Varsity’, especially since today is the Varsity rugby match.
6 ROTTEN (rank) + ROW (rank) – Rotten Row is a track adjacent to Hyde Park in London where the other half used to ride horses.
7 AITCH – cryptic definition.
8 TURN + PIKE
9 (REMOTE CLINICAL)* – my third anagram catastrophe. I initially looked for TELE-something, then (once I had -A-L in the second word) ‘something CALL’.
15 (AT THE FARM)* – yet another fairly straightforward anagram I struggled with, though at least the definition (‘second crop’ – an AFTERMATH can mean a ‘second mowing of grass in the same season’) is harder here.
17 ALL(ERG)IES
18 CROSS BOW – as in a warning shot from a ship, which might be fired across the bows of an enemy ship.
21 HYPHEN (as used in ‘work-out’)
23 PALE + R – a ‘pale’ is a vertical stripe in heraldry. Other useful heraldic terms include BEND (a diagonal stripe), CHIEF (the upper part of a shield), FESS (a central horizontal stripe) and ORLE (a border); there are plenty of others.

6 comments on “23,470 – True Blue”

  1. I find I’m best either first thing in the morning or last thing at night – e.g. last night between 11:00 and 12:30 I solved both the weekend’s Azed and EV puzzles.

    Unfortunately apart from Saturdays I normally do the Times at my desk at work with multiple other distractions going on. Today’s took me nearly half an hour, although I’d estimate that half of that time I wasn’t fully focused on the crossword.

    Funny about today’s anagrams – I didn’t get 9d until very late, despite the fact that it was a good &lit definition and I’m an IT professional.

    1. The clue for 16ac is: Gamble about this distinctive characteristic in bear market (7)

      The answer is EARMARK, which is a distinctive characteristic. The wordplay says: putting BET (= ‘gamble’) around EARMARK (‘this distinctive characteristic’) gives you B(EAR MARK)ET.

      This is quite a tricky construction which I have rarely, if ever, seen in a daily crossword. It’s more common in thematic cryptics; Pieman (one of the editors of The Magpie) is a particular fan. This clue is a slightly watered down version, in that ‘bear market’ is written en clair, but it’s still a difficult clue for a daily crossword.

    2. “bear market” is BET around EARMARK…I didn’t understand it until afterwards either, in fact I only “got it” when I logged in here.
  2. I also struggled with 9D, thinking it was “something call”. Funny how easily you forget that “e” actually means “electronic”.

    I did about half a dozen clues quickly, then absolutely nothing for about 20 minutes, then finished it all off in another 10mins. Weird.

  3. My last-one-in was the erroneous PYTHON at 21d – could do better. I solved the others OK though including these “easies” omitted from the blog …

    1a Ruth, after being at university, is so arrogant = UPPITY – one goes “up” to Oxford or Cambridge. I’m not sure I ever went “up” to Southampton nor indeed the Open University for my studies …
    4a Finished with actors? That’s not fair = OVER CAST – not fair as in description in shipping forecast?
    22a What film actor would like to get above the line = SUPERSCRIPT – I spent ages trying to find something to do with profits!
    28a (Holy Writ)* reinterpreted in laudable way = WORTHILY
    29a Fruit mother and child gathered together = DAM SON – where mother is not Ma, Mom nor Mater

    1d Reveal (man’s)* misrepresented in our country = U NMAS K
    24d Try a hard case = TEST A – biological name for a seed case?

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