23,490 – Ee bah gum

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 11:48

I didn’t find this easy, partly because there were a few words or references that I didn’t know, partly because some of the clues were beautifully misleading, but I’m not sure which was the main factor. Would be interested to know how others got on.

* = anagram.

1 DESICCANT; (ACCIDENTS)* – a most unlikely anagram which I didn’t even consider on first look but which delighted me when I spotted it.
9 LAO(I)S – an Irish county I didn’t know, but the wordplay couldn’t really give anything else.
10 DOLL (= pretty girl) inside CORNY (= OLD HAT) – a CORN DOLLY is a decorative figure made of the last handful of corn cut.
11 hidden in [con]SULT AN A[uthority] – expertly concealed. I immediately parsed this as: definition = consult, wordplay = (fruit) inside (authority); totally wrong.
12 ARTEMIS; “ART A MISS” – Artemis was Goddess of the Wild in Greek mythology, her Roman equivalent being Diana.
13 ANTIDEPRESSANT – cryptic definition, as in ‘a weight off your mind’.
17 BROAD IN THE BEAM – one plain, one cryptic definition. Not a phrase I knew, I wrote in ‘broad as the beam’ at first and later changed it to ‘broad in the face’ before finally getting it right.
23 FATEFUL – cryptic definition, ‘lot’ = ‘fate’. This took me far longer than it should have, I thought of ‘fatal’ but couldn’t get to ‘fateful’, trying to find some wordplay which wasn’t there.
25 PROSECUTE – because you might assess a ‘twee novelist’ as writing ‘cute prose’, but I think this probably deserves a question mark.
26 A + VA(S)T – an order at sea meaning ‘stop’.
27 PA + DUA[l] – this city is near Venice in Italy, standing on the Bacchiglione River (not one I’ve ever seen in a crossword).
1 DALESMAN; rev. of LAD + (NAMES)* – someone from the Yorkshire Dales.
2 SHOAL – two meanings, the second (‘[area of] shallow water’) less common than the first, but known to me via Ocean Colour Scene’s album Moseley Shoals.
3 CASSANDRA – very difficult clue (for me anyway), especially as I wasn’t at all convinced about the last crossing ‘A’ from ‘BROAD’ in 17ac. Eventually I wrote it in from all checking letters, but didn’t understand it. It transpires that Cassandra Austen is Jane’s sister, while today’s second Greek mythology lesson is that a different Cassandra was daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, and on whom a lovestruck Apollo firstly bestowed the gift of prophecy, then (when she rejected his love) placed a curse so that noone would ever believe her.
4 ARC LAMP – this took a while to understand after finishing; ARC = A RC = A Roman Catholic. I like that!
6 C(AD)ET – definition not too hard here but wordplay once again very devious: CET = Central European Time. Again, I didn’t understand that until after finishing.
7 ALLEMANDE; [h]ALLÉ + (NAMED)* – luckily I knew this word (though dithered over the spelling, ALLE- vs ALLA-, briefly), but I’m not so keen on this clue. The HallĂ© is an orchestra, not a band (which in ‘classical’ music terms almost always refers to a group without a string section); also, ‘replacement’ as a nounal anagram indicator will probably raise some objections.
8 F(EYES)T – I thought ‘fey’ meant something like ‘fickle’ so I wrote this in lightly to start with. Collins confirms ‘fey’ = ‘visionary’ is fine (see sense 2 here).
14 THRESHOLD; TOLD around (HER)* + SH (= quiet)
15 SWEPT + BACK – a weaker clue as ‘back’ is the same in definition and wordplay. ‘Swept back’ describes the position of an aeroplane’s wings such that they point not sideways but diagonally backwards; these are usually used on supersonic aircraft to reduce drag and shock wave effects. See here for a full explanation, here for a picture of an F-14 with swept wings and here for a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s with their wings swept back.
16 O + MELE(TT)E – the ‘having’ at the beginning of the clue is a little unfairly superfluous; I solved this from the likely double T given by ‘one abstaining’.
18 IN [god we] TRUST – America’s equivalent of ‘Dieu et mon droit’.
19 TAFFETA; rev. of ATE (= had meal) + F + FAT (= rich) – a common fabric in crosswords.
22 O MEG (= address to Margaret) + A – omega is a long ‘O’ sound, whereas omicron is a short ‘O’ sound.
23 FLASH – double definition. Badges on military uniform are known as ‘flashes’, especially ‘DZ’ (drop zone) flashes like this one which are used to help airborne troops congregate into sections after a massed parachute drop.

12 comments on “23,490 – Ee bah gum”

  1. I found this really tough – solved in 39 mins.

    Re 25 Ac, read this, when finally tumbling to it, as assessment is “PROSE CUTE”. LAOIS, I’

  2. LAOIS, I’ve not seen in a UK crossword before but the wordplay is friendly. It’s the normally used name of this county, originating in the Irish (Gaelic) language. Agree that SULTANA was cunningly concealed – a great moment when I found it and then, with Times guidelines of a max of one hidden, knew there would be no more.
  3. Thanks for stepping in Neil. 7:10 for me – a nice change after a couple of 13:something ones.

    7D: “Band” is a slippery word. You can certainly have a “string band”, and colloquially, “band” = any group of musicians, including a symphony orchestra. I think “Halle band” was a fairly term for the Halle Orchestra in the past.

  4. I didn’t find it any harder than average, but I wasn’t able to concentrate much on it today – work was annoyingly busy and I had to keep glancing at a couple of clues at a time, so no idea how long it would have taken.

    I put in BROAD IN THE FACE at first, which slowed me up a bit on 7 and 16 down (especially as 7 obviously ended in an anagram of named – A???MENDA perhaps, some dance I’d never heard of?). I got Cassandra from the mythical part, didn’t know which Jane it was on about. Couple of other clues which I got from the definition without bothering to figure out the wordplay (10a, 6d). Definitely agree with your comments about 1a and 4d!

  5. Shouldn’t 28A have been enumerated as (5, 4? — I can’t find a reference to TRACKSHOE as a single word. Not a huge deal while solving given that it’s shortcake*.

    I didn’t fully understand the wordplay for CADET and ALLEMANDE until I read this. Should have got CET but[h]ALLE doesn’t surprise me.

  6. I enjoyed this one but got held up in the NW corner by initially solving 1D as NORSEMAN – a problem I didn’t resolve until cracking the anagram of accidents* at 1A. I still think NORSEMAN is a valid solution, only shown to be incorrect by resolution of cross checking clues.

    I guess that disproves for me, temporarily at least, the theory that 1D is the best place to start!

  7. I also confidently entered NORSEMAN as my first solution – it’s a perfectly valid solution, just happens not to be right! I finished with LAOIS, on the basis that nothing else fitted the wordplay. Final time about 12 mins, which is slightly above average for me.

    Mike Grocott

  8. I’ve heard classical musicians, in an apparently jokey or at least colloquial way, refer to an orchestra as a band. So this clue seems perfectly OK.

    Wil Ransome

  9. Rather a late comment from me. I didn’t complete 3 clues in the NW corner on the day, and have avoided reading comments until now. I very carelessly entered DESICCANT as DESSICANT, which rather screwed me up with 3 down, but I’m not sure that I’d have got that from the clue anyway. While acknowledging some very clever clues, I think that there were several questionable ones. I do not accept “replacement” as an anagram indicator of “named”, though I can’t say it held me up on that clue. I’m sorry to see more and more instances of nounal anagram indicators creeping into The Times puzzles, which were refreshingly free of them at one time. I agree with talbinho that 25 across should have had a question mark after the clue. And I don’t think the pun of 21 across works well; in the second definition “last out” is a noun phrase, therefore should be “one to turn out the lights”. The question mark does not rescue it from this grammatical infelicity for me, especially as it could have been easily worded to be accurate.
  10. Another Yank here — I found this puzzle much Englisher than the “very English puzzle” of a few days ago.

    Words I wouldn’t have known except for British reading: Dalesman, c(h)aff, corn dolly, flash and terrace (we call them “row houses”). I greatly enjoy this, though — makes me feel like a successful visitor.

    “Broad in the beam,” however, was familiar to me (though I too had “broad in the face”) so maybe it’s an American expression?


  11. I imagine that “broad in the beam” is a naval expression to describe a boat although it can equally be applied to a sturdy person. Therefore neither UK nor US necessarily?

    I also started with Norseman at 1d until the rest of the crossers became unsolveable.

    The “easies” – some of which are discussed above and therefore maybe did not qualify as beneath consideration for the blog:

    6a In greasy spoon, hot fodder = C H AFF
    21a Survive – to turn off the lights? = LAST OUT
    28a Cooked (shortcake)* assumed to go fast = TRACKSHOE
    5d Houses joined in contest after school period, losing marks = TER (M) RACE
    20d Slopping drink across cheek is a mistake = S LIP UP

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