23,487 – A very English crossword

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 5:35

This might have been trickier for overseas solvers, with references including Lewis Carroll [sort of!], Gilbert & Sullivan and (naturally) cricket.

Beginners’ tips of the day – ‘garland’ = LEI, ‘stolen’ = HOT, ‘measure of work’ = ERG.

* = anagram.

1 IN GENERAL; (LEARNING E[nglish])* – an example of a clue where you have to turn a word into its abbreviation before solving an anagram…
6 AMONG; O (= love) inside (G[ood] MAN)* – …and another one, trickier because the definition (“Surrounded by”) looks like part of the wordplay.
9 PE + TIT – the accurate definition is “Insignificant amount of”.
10 DI (= 501) + VISIBLE – wasted time here trying to do something with ‘treble’ or ‘triple’, and this was my penultimate solve.
11 (ILL-BRED MONARCH A)* [corrected to include ‘A’ – see comments] – the LORD CHAMBERLAIN is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the UK. Excellent anagram!
12 BUCKS + HOT – ammunition used in shooting deer. I like the cunning definition (“I’m loaded”), less so ‘but’ as a superfluous link word.
21 EGG + AND (= with) + SPOON (= kiss?) + RACE (= people) – according to the Compact OED, ‘spoon’ can mean ‘behave in an amorous way’.
23 COCK + ROACH – this time ‘or’ is the superfluous link word, though I prefer this to ‘but’ in 12ac.
25 HOOK + A – as smoked by caterpillars. Captain Hook was eaten by a crocodile in Peter Pan.
26 P + ERIL – the lira (plural ‘lire’) is the monetary unit of Turkey here, not the former currency of Italy.
27 DET(ERG)ENT – a ‘detent’ is a kind of catch mechanism.
1 rev. of LE(PM)I – ‘garland’ is almost always LEI.
3 NO(TIC = twitch = 16dn)ES
5 rev. of O(BA)VAL – my last solve. I’m not overly keen on ‘visiting’ as a containment indicator. The Oval is Surrey’s cricket ground in London.
8 GREEN BELT (double definition)
12 A PIG IN A POKE; (A KING A POPE I)* – I knew the phrase but not quite what it meant. Apparently it comes from the old/dialect word ‘poke’ meaning ‘pocket’.
13 BUTTERCUP – I wrote this in from the checking letters and ‘meadow’, but it took a while afterwards to discover that ‘Little Buttercup’ (Mrs Cripps) was ‘A Portsmouth Bumboat Woman’ in HMS Pinafore by Gilbert & Sullivan. Her song is here.
15 RICOCHET = (THE CROC I)* – a word I learnt in 1990 from Paul Parker (about 1’35” in).
17 C + ENT[h]RAL
20 [th]IS LAND[scape] (hidden)
22 ENACT; rev. of CANE + T
24 CUR[t]

10 comments on “23,487 – A very English crossword”

  1. A couple of quibbles with the clues. First, in 26A, I think lire is distinctively Italian. The plural of the Turkish lira is liras. And as you imply, if it is Italian it is out of date.

    Second, I can’t find a way of making ‘order’ in 22D mean the same as ‘enact’. It is true that they both have something to do with making rules, but their grammar is entirely different. You order someone to do something: you enact a system of rules by means of legislation. Am I missing something?

    And one quibble with your intro: I think you mean a J M Barrie reference, rather than a Lewis Carroll one.

    1. Agreed on all counts. I remember something about ‘enact’ troubling me while solving but then forgot about it. According to Chambers, Shakespeare used ‘enact’ as a noun, meaning ‘enactment’, but this is fairly obscure. And I guess ‘lire’ must be the obsolete Italian currency after all.

      The “Carrollian” references were ‘hooka’ (25ac) and ‘Alice’ (14ac), though of course neither is really, they just stuck in my mind as such. Barrie would have been a better selection, though he was Scottish!

      In the same vein, does anyone know whether the terms ‘green belt’ and ‘egg-and-spoon race’ are used outside the UK?

      1. Green belt is familiar to me (as the token american). I was familiar with egg-and-spoon race as well, but I’m beginning to think I’m just remembering it from my English youth. “Spoon” certainly can mean to kiss or make out in the sexual sense over here.

        I thought that DI+VISIBLE was a brilliant clue… made a bit complicated when you do that kind of clue online since you never know if the spelled-out numbers refer to clues or themselves!

  2. Is a cur the same thing as a coward? Not according to Chambers (which I know The Times doesn’t use).

    And anyway, isn’t it CUR(B)? To curb is to cut I think, but cut (adj.) is hardly curt.

    Wil Ransome

    1. No, but ‘short’ is CURT so ‘cut short’ is CUR – though your reading seems equally good. Collins says a cur is ‘a despicable or cowardly person’ (see here).

      Thanks to Peter for clarifying ‘enact’ – see sense 3 of ‘ordain’ here for confirmation.

  3. Chambers and Collins give the plural of lira as both lire and liras, for Italy and Turkey. Of course both are out of date since the currency of Turkey is now the New Lira.

    Colin (anonymously)

Comments are closed.