23,499 – Something For The Weekday

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 6:41

This wasn’t as hard as my first, fruitless minute suggested. The top left was probably my slowest corner, so anyone who managed to get either 1ac or 1dn on first look may well have notched a very quick time today: there seem to be several fairly straightforward double definitions (e.g. BRIDGE, PLOT) and lots of long words or phrases just broken into their components for wordplay (e.g. CONTRABAND, SQUARE DEAL, CAST DOWN amongst others).

Beginners’ tips of the day: ‘fisherman’ = ROD, ‘players’ = CAST, ‘bill’ = A/C (account)

1 DOCK (= ‘cut off part of’) + SIDE (= ‘port, say’)
5 PARSEC; (SPACE R[ight])* – the distance (just over 3 light years, or 2 x 1013miles) to a star which appears to move one arcsecond (1/60 of a degree) when viewed against a near star at opposite extremes of the earth’s daily orbit. This was the first clue I solved, I knew it was a semi-&lit as soon as I read it (partly because of the question mark) but was still slow to spot the answer.
10 UNGODLINESS; (SINS LONG DUE) – good anagram and &lit!
12 CONTRA + BAND – defined as an adjective. The contra movement in Nicaragua was supported by President Reagan.
18 CATWALK (double, cryptic, definition) – my slow final solve. I think this is a pun on ‘strut’, referring to the supports for the physical catwalk and the way a model might walk across it. [Or more likely, just a straight cryptic definition referring to the model walking across the catwalk and back again: see comments.]
23 DORY; (rev. of ROD) + Y – one of these; I’ve met the dory in crosswords before, but never in the chippy.
24 HALF-NELSON (double definition) – this went in with barely a pause thanks to the definition and enumeration, but I didn’t understand the wordplay. It’s actually simpler than I thought, as a ‘nelson’ is 111 (so a half-nelson is 55.5) – a fact known to cricket fans (but surely few others?!) because the English umpire David Shepherd always used to stand like this when the score was 111, 222 etc, apparently because 111 looks like a set of cricket stumps with the bails removed.
26 EQUILATERAL; (ALL ARE QUITE) – in geometry a diamond is the same as a rhombus which has four sides of equal length.
27 GUT (double definition) – all violin strings used to be made of sheep gut, and some still are. A gut can also mean any narrow passage, including of water, like The Gut on the Cam.
29 DOORSTEP (rev. of PETS ROOD) – clever semi-&lit which purists might object to, but I think the question mark is adequate warning.
1 DEFACE – all letters from A to G, i.e. a ‘collection of notes’. Nearly entered ‘defect’ which would have been mighty careless.
4 DOG’S BREAKFAST – double definition, the first referring cryptically to a boxer dog.
7 STEAMER – double definition; I think the ‘no’ part just suggests that a cook wouldn’t be in charge of a steamship. [Others think, quite rightly, that this is a reference to Captain Cook – see below. I really should be wise to initial capitals by now.]
11 DANTE’S INFERNO; (DONNE’S FINE ART)* – a poem I was introduced to through a Listener by Hellphire. Inferno is the first part of The Divine Comedy, after which Neil Hannon’s band is named – they wrote and performed the theme tune to Father Ted, and some better stuff like Something For The Weekend.
14 BESTSELLER – unless I am missing something, this is just a double definition (referring to the phrase ‘sell like hot cakes’), but the two definitions seem almost identical.
17 A/C + ID(T)EST – nice to see ‘that is’ indicating something other than I.E. or SC. for a change.
19 THROUGH = “THREW” (= cast)
22 UN’S TOP – some might say that the building isn’t really the ‘UN’.

8 comments on “23,499 – Something For The Weekday”

  1. I assumed that this was a reference to Captain Cook, who certainly didn’t sail around in a steamer. Hence the “no”.

    And isn’t the double strut on the catwalk that the model struts down, poses, and struts back again.

    — paul

  2. I took “Cook’s vessel? No” as a reference to Captain Cook who I believe explored in a sailing ship, whereas “Cook’s vessel? Yes” refers to a steamer used in a food preparation.
  3. There is well-known story of a BBC news reader who announced “Yorkshire 232 all out, Hutton ill. I’m sorry, Hutton one hundred and eleven.” Pity the great Yorkshire batsman (Sir) Leonard Hutton was not available for the last Ashes series, but he died in 1990.
  4. I had a different interpretation of “port, say”, based on the Egyptian city of Port Said. But your explanation is more convincing!
  5. This reminds me of a story I heard on Test Match Special once about Don Bradman. During the 1997 Ashes series in England, Sir Don was asked how he thought he would fare against the current crop of England bowlers. He replied that he hoped he might score ‘the odd 50’. ‘Oh come now,’ said the interviewer, ‘your Test batting average was 99.94! Surely you would score more heavily than just the odd 50?’ To which Sir Don replied, ‘Well, I am 89, you know…’.
  6. I am slowly completing these blogs because I have been consulting them for quite some time now when stuck on the parsing of clue in a “back number”. Quite often it has been one of the missing clues that I was stuck on. Usually a DOH! moment when you see it. This one was nearly no exception as my LOI was 9a – a 3 letter answer – that took ages for the penny to drop about parsing the clue:

    9a Tree hard to cut down = FIR (M) – simple really! DOH!
    13a Surrounded by a large number of Romans I had contracted = A M ID – where M is Roman for 1000 aka K in some other clues.
    15a Join in game = BRIDGE – short clue – DD.
    28a Island (that I)* confused with another = TAHIT I

    2d Public official in awkward situation hiding nothing = COR O NER
    3d Fair trade providing old-fashioned wood = SQUARE DEAL – “square” being an old-fashioned 1950s-1960s term for old-fashioned.
    6d Landed in centrAL ITaly = ALIT – HA.
    8d Discouraged players with county = CAST DOWN
    21d Understanding popular attraction for tourists = IN SIGHT
    25d Make map of piece of land = PLOT – longer clue but still a DD!

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