23,502 – I’m grinding MY teeth

Solving time : 9m54s – this crossword frustratingly kept me at bay – a lot of the answers, when I eventually got them, showed no reason why they should have taken so long from the clues. Though there were one or two unusual words amongst the answers – and a couple I didn’t know at the end – many of the ones I struggled with I did know. Constantly I felt that with just a bit more skill at cold-solving, I could have got the one or two extra checking letters to let me rattle through the rest, but it never quite happened. A very good crossword in this respect, and I will be intrigued to see the times recorded by other good solvers.


1 TUT + (w) ORSHIP – I could see TUT immediately, but just couldn’t come up with the right TUTORING/TUTELAGE type word. When I eventually forced the R and got the answer, I groaned. Should have been able to get there from either definition or wordplay, though it’s a nice use of a common word (WORSHIP) pronounced differently from the spelling expectation.
6 COS(s)ET – a technical term I didn’t know, though a plausible word. I had convinced myself foolishly that ‘group’ = CO followed by SE(e)K or PE(e)R etc, so this took a long time.
9 STEINER (anag) – an obvious anagram, and I had the S, but infuriatingly couldn’t come up with a plausible name (I didn’t expect to know the name as an educationalist). I moved on, thinking “it’ll be something Germanic” and wish I’d taken that thought a few seconds further. It appears that the answer refers to Rudolf Steiner, who Wikipedia lists as an educator inter alia. I was guessing the relevant first name was Gloria but must have been thinking of a famous feminist
10 RAN + GOON – over 9 minutes had elapsed before I even read this clue for the first time. A pity as I could have solved it instantly at any time. The “once” is because Rangoon capital of Burma is now Yangon, largest city of Myanmar.
11 (m)AGENT(a) – I’ve seen this construction the other way round (clueing MAGENTA) a lot.
13 HAS + “TINGS” – to claim that the Irish say TH as T is to underestimate the phonetic subtleties. I believe there is a phonemic distinction in Irish accents between TH- and T-, however I accept that the sounds are phonetically similar (to most listeners, including those who have these accents – hence the potential for ‘overcorrection’ as when a friend of my wife visiting London knowledgeably pointed out the “Themms” river). A part of me wonders if an analogy could be drawn with Chinese/Japanese L/R distinctions, now proscribed in responsible publications’ crossword clues presumably on the grounds of political correctness/racism rather than due to phonetic revisionism.
14 E + vol (rev) – Apologies for omitting this one out first time restored by popular demand – see comments. I acknowledge that ‘precious’ is a cruel adjective-seeming definition (nobody expects a vocative!) and that if you don’t see the ever-so-slightly tenuous VOL for ‘book’ immediately, then as usual you can lose your reason staring at blank-vowel-blank-E.
17 AVOW (from AVON) – the sort of answer that I can’t get ‘cold’, and yet couldn’t get any checking for for ages. Very frustrating.
18 FAIRNESS, 2 defs – I was tempted by the right answer for some time before I risked it – I just wasn’t thinking clearly enough about the interpretation of ‘just’.
21 Br + “a zillion” – a humorous pun, especially if one hasn’t heard it before. I remember a joke in which George W Bush pauses for a moment of respect when his cabinet meeting is informed that three Brazilians in the UN forces have been killed, and then whispers “How many exactly is a Brazillion?”
27 PET + ERSHAM (anag of MAH(l)ER’S) – really should have got this quicker having used PETERSHAM in a Listener clue for RIBBON. For most non-haberdashers, this must be a pretty tough definition.


2 THERE IS NO SAYING, pun – The one thing you can be sure ‘gnome’ in a clue won’t mean is ‘garden ornament’, but it could be the banker or the adage. Still and even with –A-I-G at the end, I couldn’t come up with this, largely I suspect because I didn’t know that THERE IS NO SAYING was an accepted phrase (Chambers lists THERE’S NO SAYING, which makes me happier)
3 RINGTAIL (anag) – Another anagram that I couldn’t do till I got some checking – again I didn’t actually know that RINGTAIL could be a noun, and it turns out to refer to a raccoon-type animal that I knew as the cacomistle rather than the lemur I expected.
4 HER(m)ITAGE – Why couldn’t I think of the right gallery? I’m no art buff, but even I have heard of this one.
5 A RAM in PO – last answer, and entered with some trepidation. I just felt I’d have heard of the word if it existed, and was sure I hadn’t. It means “a bare windswept elevated plain in South America”, and was very clear from the wordplay, but there could have been a river I wasn’t thinking of, or even a sheep…/td>
7 SHOWED ONE’S TEETH, pun – I filled in “…ONE’S TEETH” but didn’t come up with SHOWED till much later. Clearly BARED wouldn’t fit, and I was tempted by GROUND, but again I couldn’t claim to have known this was a phrase that had gone beyond metaphor to its own entry, and again Chambers supports me by not listing it.
8 TENDER + ERS(e) – I found this very difficult, and the checking didn’t really narrow the field enough for me.
15 MAIN + MAST(er) – I haven’t commented much yet on the felicitous clues, so let’s start here: this is a very neat juxtaposition of similar ideas, but always avoiding using the same meanings in wordplay and answer.
16 PRO + “MOTOR” – the answer must of course be spelled PROMOTER, as “on the radio” has become a conventional alternative to “we hear”.
19 AXIS (rev) + IN – a rare success for me, as I luckily read this clue with all the checking in place and knew the word.
23 EPSOM, anag – simple for one who was at school there!

15 comments on “23,502 – I’m grinding MY teeth”

  1. Politically-correct or not, I`m sure that most people will have solved 13Across with a smile on their faces!

    Surprised to see no mention of the last clue I solved, 14Across. WAS it “Love”?…I spent the last few minutes looking for an adjective!


  2. 14A was the only one I didn’t get so I was pleased you posted your comment. I had not even considered that meaning of “precious”.
  3. I came here looking for the answer to 14ac too! As for the rest I went through similar thought processes to Magoo for a lot of the answers (although quite a bit slower, around 25 mins).

    RINGTAIL came up in my last blog entry for Jumbo 676 as an anagram of “trailing”. I got it instantly then, but couldn’t see it for ages today.

    I emailed the clue to 13ac to a couple of Irish girls here at work – they weren’t amused – “We don’t talk like t’at!” 🙂

  4. Like Magoo I felt I should have solved this more quickly than I did. I didn’t get STEINER immediately, and with Montessori on my mind as I mentally went through a list of educationists I thought the answer might end in I. I did get PARAMO immediately but didn’t have the courage to write it in until I had some letters confirmed, and AVOW was the last answer to go in. I kept wondering if it was AVER and if there was a river AVEL (even though I already had the O from NO in 2 down).
  5. Managed to get everything except 14a – tried everything but did not see “love” – eventually put in “boje” which fitted the wordplay anyway. Seems to have been a sticking point with a few people. A bit of a pain after getting all the difficult ones.
  6. I’m a member of the 14a club as well — eventually I plumped for TOME (it’s a book, and a “bon mot” could be… well… sort of precious!).

    1. Apologies to all for the omission of 14a – now added. When I got to that one I realised I had commented on all the clues so far and shouldn’t take up too much of your valuable time. Bad place to start thinking that, apparently…
  7. On Wednesday evening someone suggested I return to reporting my times each day. When said that would mean a comment on every puzzle, I was reminded that I comment on most anyway! So let’s start with a slow one. I found this very tough, esp. PARAMO, HASTINGS (kept wanting it to have IS in it), HEADBOARD and LOVE. Interrupted once, but call it 20 mins. Best excuse for taking so long – long downs clued with puns.
  8. Is this really all there is to it (simply a double-definition)? It looks as if the setter is trying to get a bit more in: f (= fine I think) + air (= dry) + Ne (= state – Nebraska) … but then it peters out, or does it? Can “ss” in some way mean “of the weather”? Surely not.

    Wil Ransome

  9. I agree this was tough. I’m surprised nobody mentioned 19 down, which I gave up on. Appears to be SIXAIN (usually SIXAINE?) Re BRAZILIAN, I still don’t get why takes = R: said somewhere to be a chess usage, but I’ve never come across it in 50 years of playing the game. QxP or d1xd5 is standard notation.
    1. R = take (not “takes”) comes from Latin “recipe” = take. I believe the abbrev. was used in old-fashioned prescriptions. I’ve seen the chess notation explanation too but as you say it’s nonsense.
  10. I did all except 14a in about 10 minutes and then agonised for several more minutes over 14a. I thought of LOVE reasonably quickly but was worried that there might be a better answer based on a book from the Bible. Surely there couldn’t be a word BOJE or SOHE meaning “precious”, but what about all those books I couldn’t think of straight off. This is the sort of clue I dread in a championship puzzle.
  11. Quite a tricky one. It had to be LOVE at 14a but I’m glad Mr Magoo has had a go at explaining PRECIOUS = LOVE. Still some other “easies” omitted:

    12a US magazine article that sounds the alarm? (9)
    22a In a pool, time for some rhythm (5)
    ME T RE. Where a mere can be a pool – although Windermere is a very big one.
    24a Woman’s a great pain (7)
    A BIG AIL.
    25a Performer about to make comeback introducing extract from Hair (7)
    26a Like getting home to eat heartily (3,2)
    DIG IN

    1d Having little time, Hammerstein fails to finish musical work (5)
    T OSCA (R).
    6d Party food is served up out of saucEPAN ACtually (6)
    CANAPE. Rev hidden.
    13d Panel wanted to take charge of decision-making body (9)
    20d As tonic, take tablet if laid up (6)
    FILLIP. PILL IF upside down.

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