23507 – parse mildly livid

Solving time : 15:24

A very enjoyable crossword. Clever surfaces (eg 1A, 1D, 14) and mainly economic cluing – by my counting only ten of the clues have linkwords. I don’t object to linkwords, but there is an elegance to avoiding them.

I don’t have a paper copy to hand, so I don’t know if some of the cross-reference numbers (in 5, 23, 2) were shown as numerals in the original. In the online version the numbers were spelled out so that it is more difficult to tell if they are cross-references or not. I think this can make it more fun. In 5, I got as far as multiplying three and a quarter by 27. And in 23 I thought of PAIRO as an answer before spotting that “two” was a cross-ref to 2D.

5 PARSE + C (= about) – I have a feeling I will now remember how long a parsec is, something that never stuck in my head before
11 VIOLA(tions)
12 BE + EP – I was throughly misled into looking for a homophone of a word meaning “live” that would mean “record”
13 AX(e) + MINSTER
15 IRRELEVANT, being I + ERR(rev) + LEVANT – took a little time to accept that East might not be E
19 A TAD (all rev) – I hadn’t known until I looked it up just now that the word “tad” started as a contraction of “tadpole”
20 LEGAL EAGLE, being GALE (= outburst) in LEAGLE, being LEAGUE (=class) with the U (university) replaced by L (left). Clever construction, but I don’t get the surface – how can you be in class if you have left for University?
22 A LICE BAND – If such insects did form a group, wouldn’t it be more natural to refer to it as a “louse band”?
24 MILD – because M, I, L and D are Roman numerals (= old cardinals)
26 LIVID – as 24. My impression is that when two clues are run together with ellipses, they are usually unrelated cryptically but are combined to make a good surface. So there is a lag for me when, as here, the connection is more serious
27 LIGHT YEAR, being (I + LETHARGY)*
28 S(ORB)ET – I can’t immediately think of a phrase where “band” and “set” can be naturally substituted – a set of robbers? a band of cutlery? – but they can both mean group and so there probably is one


1 HIYA, being every second letter in a HaIrY mAn
3 CLO(u)D + POLE – I don’t think I knew this word, though it’s not difficult to guess. But I am not sure that “Is this thick” is a good definition. If “thick” is a noun in the cryptic reading, couldn’t the clue have started there?
4 MEDI(n)A
8 CHA(I)RWOMEN – the last clue I solved, mainly because I was breaking it down into more than three components. I am still not sure that the words “set of” are serving a purpose
9 EG + OMANI + A(rea) – that Omani is getting to be a regular visitor. I am sure he was around yesterday. This search might help to explain his popularity
16 VIEWABLE, being WE(rev) in VIABLE – I liked the way that “with feasible housing” meant “housed by VIABLE”
18 T(h)E (h)AMSTER – Quite a surprise. I had started looking for anagrams of the letters before realising there was no need to rearrange them
23 DOG + gettin(G) + O – “Two” means 2D (GOLDEN RETRIEVER). Some purists prefer to see an indication (“eg” or “say”, say) when a category word like dog is clued by an example. I think this one is better without
25 EROS, being SORE (rev) – the reversal being indicated by “to go north”, this being a down clue. We always accept the convention that north is up.

6 comments on “23507 – parse mildly livid”

  1. Screwed up my timing today. Quite a few minutes spent on the last 7 or so clues, so I’d guess that Richard beat the “Half as long again as Peter B” mark – maybe 12 minutes in total. Also fooled by BEEP for a while, and a stranger to CLODPOLE though I knew CLODPOLL. Good example of “trust the wordplay rather than what you know”.
    1. After a good(ish) start to the week I’ve got progressively slower – 17:17 today. Like you I knew CLODPOLL but not CLODPOLE (and then only as a noun) and so agonised for a long time since I couldn’t (and still can’t) really see a satisfactory definition in the clue. You could be right about “trusting the wordplay”, but I tend to take precisely the opposite tack and only enter words I don’t know in desperation – which accounts in part for why I’m so darned slow.
  2. “Set of” seems necessary because otherwise you would have a singular adjective (“one”) qualifying a plural noun (“runners on board”). Hence the addition of “set of” maintains the clever surface reading and the grammar.

    John M

    1. I agree the surface wouldn’t work without “set of”. But they seem redundant in the cryptic reading. The wordplay clearly ends at “one”. And I don’t think they are part of the definition. In the weird world of crosswords, “chairwomen” could just about be defined by “runners on board”, but surely not by “set of runners on board”?
      1. I’m with John M on “set of”. The clue might not win a prize in a competition but I’d have thought “set of runners on board” was a reasonable definition for “chairwomen”.
  3. I don’t think that I’ve seen the two longest answers left out as being too easy for comment before. They are pretty easy though. Here they are with their shorter friends:

    1a Outrageous extravagance in tents on Everest?(4,4)
    HIGH CAMP. OK that was easy.

    10a Follow after cowardly, contempible person (6,3)
    YELLOW DOG. Easy cryptic but I’m not familiar with the term.

    17a Keen on badmINTOn to some extent (4)

    29a Having (your fees)* adjusted is an insult (4,4)
    FOUR EYES. I have been tetrocular since needing reading glasses at fiftysomething. Haven’t been insulted thus as far as I know.

    2d Ten that’s one of our best friends (6,9)
    GOLDEN RETRIEVER. Ten is Yellow Dog so an example of one “easy” referencing another one.

    6d Adapted hollowed out opening for arrival (6)
    AD VENT.

    7d A fair range of camerawork and artwork (8,7)

    14d (Dribbles at)* terrible diners for a lark?

    21d Sell a bit of bike on the phone (6)
    PEDDLE. SL Pedal.

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