23,504 – An enjoyable caper

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : 41 minutes
A pretty quick time for me today – a mix of standard wordplay that I am quite used to now, and some good surface readings that weren’t too confusing. I particularly liked the clues at 5a, 22a, 7d, 18d.
Below I have listed those answers that I got quickly…



5 P(A,GOD)A – having already got 6d, I correctly guessed A GOD would be at the centre of this and felt pretty certain that Pennsylvania=PA
8 NOCTURNAL – anagram of ‘to Canal Turn’ minus ‘at’
9 MOT(=test),IF(=provided)
11 RO(B)OT – I wasn’t too sure about the wordplay at first but I guess it is ROOT=nose (e.g. a pig using his snout to find food) around B=black. Luckily there aren’t many synonyms for android.
12 WITH A WILL – reference to Anne Hathaway (not the actress much admired by teenage girls)
13 DUTY FREE – anagram of ‘featured’ after changing a=area for y=variable
19 PLUMB(=exactly),BOB(=builder) – the plumb bob is the weight at the end of a plumb line.
22 REC,TANGLE – REC is short for ‘recreation ground’ – I used to go to the rec a lot when I was younger, I don’t hear the term so much now
23 PUR(E)R – this was the penultimate answer to go in; quite simple really – I think I was looking for something to do with piety…
24 T(I)ARA – reference to the home (not home town – see Richard’s comment) of Scarlett O’Hara
25 A,BO(MIN)AT,E – took a little while over this, wondering which of the many vessels was required – turned out to be one of the more obvious
27 NO MINE,E(=expose finally) – second meaning of nominee


2 SACK(=fire),BUT(=save) – the sackbut is one of the many instruments I’ve come to know from doing crosswords
4 REN(OWN)E,D(=dislike initially) – I watched an episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo! yesterday (I had not seen it for years), so René was quick to come to mind. I had not seen particular=OWN in crosswords before – perhaps one to remember
6 GYMNASIUM – anagram of ‘my amusing’ – I often get confused by the ‘…’ linking clues, wondering if I’ve missed something – I guess in this case they are they are just the setter capering amusingly.
7 DETAILS – I=one in the reverse of SLATED=criticised
10 FO,LIES,BERGERE – last one I got and I had to use a dictionary. I had worked out FO=fool half + LIES=sprawls, but I have not heard of BERGERE (a type of chair) or FOLIES BERGERE
14 F(I,REAL)ARM – quite easy to get but I wouldn’t say FARM is an agricultural building – normally a farm is some land and a number of buildings, isn’t it?
16 BLUE(=depressed),JOHN(=chap) – I had heard of blue john, but thought it was some kind of brand name rather than a mineral!
18 NICTATE=”nicked eight” – eight as in rowing
21 AGA(H)S,T(=start to tour) – I considered AGHAST immediately and thought I wouldn’t be surprised if AGA=military commander – and indeed it is – see the second meaning of aga
23 PR(=pair),ISM – I was reminded of Ismism, one of my favourite albums of years gone by…

9 comments on “23,504 – An enjoyable caper”

  1. I finished this fairly quickly, but without understanding a number of answers, so thanks for the explanations, especially of 12 and 22.

    I was held up a little by entering HONOURED at 4D, going for Honoré rather than René as the Frenchman. I should have realised that “U” for “particular” was a bit of a stretch, but I was going fast and trusting to luck.

    One quibble. In Gone with the Wind, Tara is the name of a house and its plantation rather than a town.

    1. Thanks for the comment on Tara. Having not read Gone With The Wind and only seeing the film years ago, I relied on the final line of the film:
      “Tara. Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow is another day. “
      I remember now that it is her home, rather than a town.
  2. I’ve faced this problem of defining FARM myself, but one can’t always write an essay as a definition and I’m glad to see that the crossword editor has allowed a sensible compromise
  3. Waking up a pretty old discussion, I suspect:

    NICT sounds like NICKED is an example of a device very commonly used. I find that few people pronounce a final ED on a word as T. Is that most people’s experience?

    I’m also not too happy about ATE = EIGHT. ETT is a very common pronunciation of ATE.

    Some puns work devastatingly well, but I don’t like their use in clues unless the pronunciation of both parts is (?almost?) universally exactly the same.

    1. I don’t pronounce NICT exactly the same as NICKED – I just recorded myself to check (just kidding) – but it is close enough for me not to be too bothered about it.
      As for ATE=EIGHT, in the case of 18d it is eight=>ATE, the final syllable of NICTATE: I don’t think it is pronounced NICT-ETT. If we were given ate=>EIGHT, I might share your unhappiness.
      1. ED as T: It depends on the word = specifically on the last consonant. If it’s unvoiced, -ED (of which the E is of course usually not pronounced) becomes -T. So NICKED sounds like NICT, and RAPPED sounds like RAPT. If you try to say “RAPD” with a D sound, you have to make yourself do it. There are no -PD words in Chambers, compared to about 160 -PT words. There are also no -BT words (silent B’s excepted) – if the vowel is voiced, you do use a D sound. (That said, only “unshrubd” is there for -BD!). What hours of harmless fun you can have with the CD-Rom version …

        On eight=ATE/ETT, I trot out my principle that if a fair number of BBC newsreaders would say “ATE”, you have to work very hard to avoid having at least heard this version. I suspect there are others who (like me) say ETT when in a hurry, but ATE when talking slowly and carefully. And I’m happy to see the occasional one that doesn’t work for me, like AUNT=ANT a few days ago.

        Time for puzzle: 8:50 – partly from thinking of the even more antiquated QUAD as the playground.

  4. This took me 61 minutes, but 2 minutes per clue is not bad going for me. 12 across seems very oblique unless I’m missing some subtlety. Does “put up with” imply “tolerate” or “share a home”? By the way, the Anne Hathaway link doesn’t seem to work.
    Richard S
  5. I queried agricultural building for FARM when I solved 14 down, but I have since consulted Collins, Oxford and Chambers and all give farmhouse or installation for storage as possible meanings.
  6. Having been to the Blue John cavern in Derbyshire and knowing that it is a rather attractive variety of Fluorspar, I was disappointed not to get this … but the literal “used to make vases” was too obscure for me. I thought it must be some kind of clay. Not getting NOMINEE at 27a did not help – a nominee as a shield also beyond my ken. Foggy did list most of the “easies” as the ones put in “quickly” but still did not explain them for those who might need it. Here they are:
    1a Making (his mark)* somewhat shakily in a disputed area = KASHMIR. Also a lot of peoples’ favourite Led Zeppelin track.
    15a Time to publish paper = T ISSUE. A pack of lies I say.
    17a Criticise sample in store = PAN TRY.

    1d Having like-minded companion, (drink red – sip it)* after decanting = KINDRED SPIRIT.
    3d The height of a horse = MOUNT. Short clue – think DD. As in Mount St Helens and the racehorse.
    20d Lawyers reach an understanding = BAR GAIN.

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