23495 – Hard cheese

Solving time : 14:07 

Felt like hard work this morning, though no individual clue is especially obscure. 

Not so many cultural allusions as usual, but English Lit references all the way from Shakespeare to Andy Capp. Great reversal at 5D. 


1 F + A + KIR – Naturally, before I had even finished reading the clue I was looking for 5-letter words beginning ST or S.
9 OVER(SIGH)T – “in public” is a neat way of indicating that the sigh is to be contained in OVERT (=public (adj))
10 PRISE – a penny rise being the smallest possible increase
11 (met) RO’S TRA(ins) – “too long” is not one of the most obvious hidden indicators, and it gives a good surface reading
12 URBANITY, being BRA* in UNITY – this one took me a long time, partly because the link word “showing” had me looking for an adjective or adverb, rather than an abstract noun
19 W(IC(y))K
20 BLUE + R(ugby) + I(nt’l) + BAND – Cleverly written to give a consistent sporting surface
22 GARLANDS, being RAG(rev) + LANDS
23 B + EAT UP
26 BREAD (=”bred”)
28 ON THE TROT, being N (= any number) in HOT* + TORTE(rev)
29 GELID (= “jellied”)


1 FLOOR SHOW, being OR (= troops) in FLO’S + HOW – I don’t remember seeing an allusion to the wife-beating, drunk cartoon character in the Times before. Somehow, his wife’s name was tucked in the back of my brain somewhere
2 (S + PEEK) (rev)
4 SA(xifra)GE
5 (DESSERT TUB)(all rev) – brilliant. I shall now look out for a reversal that is longer than 10-letters, but I expect to wait some time
6 APPEAL, being A + “peel” – “expressed in words” strikes me as an unsatisfactory homophone indicator, for exactly the same reason I dislike “verbal”, viz: writing also uses words. I expect I am in a minority on this, but I think the clue would be better if it stopped two words earlier.
7 PRIM + I + PARA – I didn’t know this word, and spent some time trying to find a way of spelling “primigravida” with nine letters
8 E + LEG + (german)Y
15 RE (= on) + CURRENT (= stream)
17 BED (= Bachelor of EDucation) + SPREAD – that is “spread” in the sense of a big meal
18 WIDENING, being 1 DEN in WING
21 BADDIE, being ID (rev) in BADE
22 GOBBO, being the initial letters of gondola or boat etc – Although he starts the play as Shylock’s servant, Launcelot Gobbo is about to run away when we first meet him
24 TRIAL, being RI(v)AL after T(he) – this took me a long time to work out (after finishing) – “he is dismissed from the” is an extravagant way of indicating a letter T. Perhaps “model test” seemed too trite.
25 SCOT(t) – Sir Walter was indeed Scottish

11 comments on “23495 – Hard cheese”

  1. I’m fairly sure PRIMIPARA was in a crossword recently, but it might have been in The Listener, not The Times daily; unfortunately I’d forgotten it and had to wait for a few letters in place.
    I’m sure that HARD CHEESE and SCOT have appeared very recently with very similar clues.
    I agree that “expressed in words” is a very poor homophone indication in 6a. Otherwise I liked the surfaces in this puzzle.
    1. HARD CHEESE was in a Rufus back in November — clued as: “It’s bad luck if you prefer Brie”. (I only remember this because I did the writeup).
  2. Screwed up PRIMIPARA, putting PRIMAPARA. Repeat 100 times: “One” in the Times puzzle is always I and never A. As a result got into a total panic with 12A and only realised my error after resorting to a Chambers CD-Rom searc for ?R?A?A?Y.

    So mostly my fault, but can’t resist an old gripe. How does “A worn by B” in 12A imply that B contains A?

      1. I hope this means you agree with me. “fashion bra” = RBA is supposedly worn by UNITY. For me, UNITY is being worn by RBA, not the other way round.
        1. in=wearing is in the dictionary, so A (e.g. a coat) worn by B (e.g. me) means that I’m in the coat, so A contains B.

          I can’t think of anything I might wear that would be described as in or inside me!

  3. Well a tongue stud or similar is partly inside and partly outside, but the pacemaker is definitely inside and “wear a pacemaker” does seem to be the expression used by some people, even though it doesn’t quite sound right to me. So about 25 years ago, I “wore” an intramedullary rod to fix a broken femur.
  4. An internet seach for the ghastly coinage “semordnilap” will find this. I don’t know of any longer ones – the nearest seems to be BOOBYTRAP.
  5. In complete agreement with the comments about 12a – how can UNITY be wearing the RBA in URBANITY when it is clearly the other way round? It had to be the answer though!

    Only 3 “easies” omitted from this blog:

    4a Loans sufficient for small part of population = SUBS AMPLE
    This is where a ridiculously small subsample of a population is used to predict something representative of the whole population. I predict that a Conservative Prime Minister will do this to conclude that a Euro Exit referendum will result in a “remain” vote in 2016.
    16a Preserve second-class post = JAM B

    3d Confine wild (critters)* = RESTRICT

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