23,493 – Fine until the 22dn

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: About 8 minutes with a 45 minute power nap half way through (it’s been one of those days…).

Most of this was fairly straightforward but 22ac and 12dn stumped me at first.

* = anagram.

1 LUM (= chimney = smoker) + BAG (= take) + O – rheumatic pain. ‘Lum’ seems to be a Scottish word but I don’t know if it’s still used.
9 IN + JU(ST)ICE – ‘the way’ seems a bit specific for ‘ST’.
13 EGYPTIAN; E + GYP + (AIN’T)* – very slow on this one, ‘ain’t bad’ could hardly be anything but an anagram so the definition has to be at the start of the clue, and ‘Mummy’ (rather than ‘Mum’ or ‘Mother’) is fairly transparent.
17 ODIOUS; rev. of DO + IOUS – good surface!
19 MEN-OF-WAR – ME + rev. of (RAW + F + ON)
22 ELEPHANT + GRASS – the first of the two I fell asleep trying to get. The first word looked likely to end -ING, but luckily I remembered that ‘elephant’ was a size of paper (before metrication).
27 TREADLE; (RELATED)* – well hidden, I knew this anagram (and a third alternative, ALTERED) but it still fooled me.
28 NO(NAG)ON – as in ‘high noon’.
1 [b]LAIR – ‘guillotined’ is a better word than ‘executed’ for ‘with the first letter removed’. Eric Blair was George Orwell’s real name.
2 MAJESTY; (JAMES)* + T (= fourth letter of ‘Scotland’) + Y (= unknown) – ‘unlikely’ is an unusual anagram indicator; I’m not completely convinced it’s fair.
4 ORIE(N(T)A)L – Oriel is a college at Oxford.
6 IPSO FACTO; 1p SOFA + (CTO)* – a useful Latin phrase to know, meaning something like ‘by that very fact’, which isn’t quite what the clue says.
12 DENOUEMENT (cryptic definition) – my last solve, so this is probably just sour grapes, but I think this is a weak cryptic definition. The dénouement of a novel might be the unravelling of the mystery, but I’m not sure “The unravelling of a yarn” quite works.
18 IT + E + RATE
20 WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) – I got this straight away, but quite possibly only because I saw this answer in another paper a couple of weeks ago.
21 INSOLE(NT) – ‘Oxford’ in the Times often refers to the shoe.
22 ASPEN – a tree and a ski resort in Colorado. A guess for me.
24 ERIN (hidden backwards) – an old name for Ireland.

9 comments on “23,493 – Fine until the 22dn”

  1. Denouement is a straight borrowing of a French word, itself derived from the verb “nouer” to knot. The primary meaning of the French word (and perhaps also of the English borrowing) was the untying of a knot (in yarn, e.g.); this attempted play on words, which I like for its subtlety, is largely, alas, lost today because of the runaway success of the figurative use at the expense of the literal one.
    1. Thanks – I didn’t know the French nouer and this revises my opinion of this clue somewhat.
  2. For 1A, I assume you meant to type:

    LUM (=chimney = smoker) + BAG (=take) + 0.

    I occasionally hear the word “lum” still, but normally in jest, or in the phrase “Lang may yer lum reek”.

  3. I didnt like the liberties taken with tenses in this puzzle. The future “will be” strikes me as awkward in 13 across, and the past “needed” in 25 across seems inappropriate in a charade leading to a word that is still current, even if the muse is part of the past’s mythology.
  4. In 13A, seems like an “e.g.” was missing — i mean if you’re egyptian you’re not necessarily a mummy, likewise if you’re a mummy, you’re not necessarily egyptian, no?


    1. Clue: Mummy will be given drug, then pain ain’t bad (8)

      The definition is ‘Mummy will be’ (though as comments above suggest, something like ‘Mummy probably would be’ might be more accurate!

      The wordplay is:

      drug = E = ecstasy
      pain = GYP (as in ‘my knee is giving me gyp’)
      ain’t bad = anag. of ain’t = TIAN

      ‘Drug’ = ‘E’ is standard in The Times. H (for heroin) and C (for cocaine) are also possible. So are several short words, like pot, LSD, hash, snow, coke, horse… in fact, as I realised last week I’ve learnt far more about drugs from crosswords than any other source!

  5. As I did not study Latin at school I only know some Latin words from disparate sources – mainly crosswords.6d “Ipso Facto” features in the Monty Python song “Eric the Half a Bee” that includes the line “who, ipso facto, must half not be”. A good example of improved retention of knowledge from things that are humourous.

    Anyway – the omitted “easies”:

    5a First of riders on horseback goes on to rouse his supporter? = STIR R UP – a semi &lit?
    10a Lose the fat, given pressure to tighten one’s belt = SKIM P
    11a Survey two gardens, but don’t choose either = SIT ON THE FENCE
    15a Openings of All Concerti Ideally Delivered In C sharp = ACIDIC – good example of “lift and separate” where the key of C# is misleading – the “C” is part of the cryptic and “sharp” is the literal or definition. The answer is nothing to do with the musical surface of the clue at all.
    25a Long time needed to find poetical inspiration = ERA TO – the most frequent Muse visitor to x-word land. How about more of Polyhymnia, Terpsichore & Melpomene setters?
    26a Defeat, (or we prove)* to be beaten = OVERPOWER

    3d Strength shown when firm = AS SET
    5d Read article, and be incensed = SEE THE
    14d Spot deal, perhaps, with any luck = TOUCH WOOD

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