23,496 – Lift & separate

Solving time : 6m10s – Felt like a good time, as the NW corner particularly took some (fast) concentrated thought to deduce. One or two references, and odd words, that I knew (and one word that I didn’t), but overall a good mix of clues. Very helpful to separate two-word phrases in this one: Spice Girl, took issue, long range, hill stations, turned round, mail bomb, low degree – none of them ‘mean what they say’ here.


1 OVER in POPS – The word I didn’t know and not easy to figure out a likely candidate, even with all but the first of the checked letters. After stopping the clock, I had a momentary panic that PAPAVERS might be a real word that I’d heard of (and PA/PAPA a bona fide father), but quickly deduced that the contents couldn’t be accurate. It turns out Papaver is the poppy genus so presumably can’t be pluralised. POPOVER is “a thin hollow cake or pudding made from batter”.
5 NUT + ME + G(irl) – A good rule of thumb is to try and see phrases with spaces in (e.g. Spice Girl) as only their constituents. In fact, many compilers will actually try to use such phrases to mislead so they’re quite likely to contain definition and a bit of wordplay. The Times rule about not referring to living people is useful here too.
11 NAME (rev) + ATE – Last one for me, probably due to not following my advice above and separating out “took issue”.
12 KITCHEN, cryptic def – in the sense that a long range (Aga etc) would be one that went all round the kitchen. Hmm
18 LATHI, hidden – “stations” is great for the surface, but I’m less convinced as a hidden indicator.
20 COTTON + ON – If you know golf, that Times rule about living people is very useful here; I’m sure there’s more famous live golfers than dead ones…
25 OFF + BEAT – “turned” as in “the butter’s turned”; “beat” as in “the constable’s beat”.
26 HOAGY CARMICHAEL, anag incl a(ssociated) – Not sure if I knew Hoagy was a songwriter specifically. &lit fans will be disappointed to know he didn’t come from Omaha. Can I shock some music-lovers by saying that until it came 2nd in a recent radio poll of best songs ever, I had never heard (of) “Stardust”?
27 WIND UP, 2 defs – I was tempted for some seconds by PENT UP, but it didn’t have the necessary distinct definitions.
28 THIRD EYE, anag – I think this is a brilliance, both in discovery and application


1 PACKET, 2 defs – I decided while solving that this might be a loose 3 defs, but now understand that “boat carrying mail” is just more accurate than I had expected. “Bomb” as in “making a bomb”.
2 PEA J(anag) + (r)ACKET – my one best tip for reading material to improve your vocabulary for crosswords is naval novels, especially Hornblower.
3 VILLA + IN – lovely & deceptive use of two types of “home”.
4 EH? + TAR (rev) – for some reason the ‘archaic’ (or ‘Milton’) RATHE turns up reasonably often in crosswords, even of this type. I find it very peculiar that it’s permissible.
7 MUN(i)CH – Nice use of “champ” – I was lucky to plump for the right German city instantly.
8 GREEN + FLY, a kind of inferred cryptic definition, as if the setter is saying “if greenfly are both green and fly, which characteristic predominates?” A bit odd.
9 W(est) + E(ast) + A(ce) + K(ing) + SPOT – lots of bits & pieces to put together from “bridge players” and “high cards”. I had to spend some seconds preventing myself from filling in WEAK LINK.
14 ESCHEWAL, anag incl w(ith) – This screamed ‘anagram’, but with=W is so hard to spot it wouldn’t come quickly.
16 OPERA in COTE – I had to really stop & think to realise Hansel & Gretel was a musical work. I knew COT for ‘cottage’ but not COTE, and on checking I think this may be ‘wrong’. A COTE can be a shelter for sheep or doves obviously but Chambers doesn’t give it in the required sense, though Collins (which also has ‘Yorkshire pudding’ under POPOVER) does.
21 (n)ICE(e) in OFFER – a very deliberately deceptive feminine.
24 I in PLAN – lovely definition concealed in “one not striking”
25 MOO (rev) + pH – “Raise”, “low” and “degree” are cleverly combined given that their senses are all separate in reality.

8 comments on “23,496 – Lift & separate”

  1. Good time – beating 10 minutes felt pretty good to me (unsure of exact time as phone went). SE corner was my slow bit, with OOMPH, OFFBEAT and finally the THIRD EYE / ATTLEE crossing taking a few minutes. Wondered about some kind of Nina with the P(EAJ)ACKET pairing at 1/2D, but can’t see anything. Have seen “popovers”, but only in the US – one of those food vocab differences that abound over there – like “hoagie”, on of their many words for “filled baguette” which comes to mind from Mr Carmichael.

    8D: I think the idea is that GREEN=gullible is five letters, but FLY=smart is only three.

  2. two questions:
    8D: why plural pests? the clue seems fine as: “pest more gullible than smart?

    4D: what role does “blooming” play? Chambers has rathe as early for both Spenser and Milton. I don’t see either a botanic or an invective meaning.

    1. Try the New Oxford, which gives a specific meaning of plants etc. blooming or ripening early in the season.

      Harry Shipley

    1. It’s not logical, but it’s a long-established crossword convention, which setters would not wish to see disappear, I think.


  3. Isn’t the word play ITCH=long with KEN, which can mean range according to Chambers, around it?

    Harry Shipley

    1. When I decided the answers to 12A was kitchen I immediately recalled “Beyond Our Ken” – a nostalgic clue for me. ‘Ken’ is, indeed, a range of knowledge. I better not say too much about 6A, but I solved it as soon as I read the first two words and saw that there were 6 cells in the grid.
  4. I_am_Magoo
    Thinks the word clerihew
    Is an “easy” to know
    It’s not – see below

    The omitted easies:

    10a Writer of (E)uropean (tract on brothel)* arrangements = CHARLOTTE BRONTE – who didn’t normally include houses of ill repute in her books?
    13a Beauty said to be profound on fell = SKIN DEEP – I get deep for profound but I am missing how you get skin from fell.
    15a Chap initially taken in by double of Wellington = DU C AL
    23a Sally or (sortie)* possibly involving platoon leader = RI P OSTE

    6d Poorly regarded but not censured = UNRATED – a sort of DD
    17d Funny lines minister shortly wants to cut = CLERI HEW – an amusing biographical ditty – the first one featured Sir Humphrey Davy according to Wiki. My humble offering featuring our esteemed blogger above.
    19d Expression of criticism from setter and solver, without question! = I ASK YOU
    22d Campaign not started but finished by English PM = (B) ATTLE E

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