23,524 – nothing on St Valentine’s day

Solving time 4:49

Probably the easiest puzzle I’ve written about since we changed to a team blog. Got 1A and 4 straight off and never really looked back except for a silly initial guess at ‘canvas bag’ for 15 and a bit of slowness on some easy downs. The plant name was one I knew, so that eliminated one of my weak spots. Nothing noticeably related to today’s date, except possibly the nakedness at 1A and 9 (a tiny bit of Christmas instead at 20D).

Beginners’ tips:

  • “into changing” or “changing into” as a strong indicator of a -TION word
  • commander etc. = AGA
  • Conspirator = CASCA or CINNA (from Julius Caesar)
  • Know your reindeer (and the seven dwarves too).
1 NUD=rev. of dun=brown,1ST, &lit.
10 S(LAUGH)TER(n) – corpse = laugh (colloq.)
12 TO THE BITTER END – bit in (rodent teeth)*
16 PICK(E.R.)ING – I can’t have been the only one looking for S in a 7-letter synonym for opting. Head of state = E.R. is crafty but perfectly fair.
26 SLOWCOACH -(W(e)lsh cocoa)*
28 (mel)ODIOUS
2 DRAFT – 2 defs
5 BERE(f)T
17 CHEPSTOW – (the cops)*,W=Welsh – one of those times where the definition appears to overlap the wordplay – it’s not “Welsh town” but just “town”.
19 SAV(EL)OY – a very pink sausage in an orangey-red skin, served in fish and chip shops. The kind of food you try about once a decade, thinking “haven’t had one of those for ages” and immediately realise why.
20 PRANCED – ref. Prancer, one of the reindeer in that song.
22 CASCA(de)

8 comments on “23,524 – nothing on St Valentine’s day”

  1. I found this very easy but 1 across was the one clue that held me up as I was menatlly locked into TAN for “brown”.
    I’m not all that sure about it’s quality as &lit; “all” is strictly superfluous to the cryptic reading (and arguably misleading since only one word is reversed), and there are female nudists.
    1. Let’s have the clue for clarity: “Is he brown all over first? (6)”

      In this context, I can’t see how you could interpret “all over” as relating to more than one of the two components DUN and 1ST, so I don’t buy “misleading”. Strictly superfluous, yes – but for me not unfairly so – all of DUN is reversed, so if “dun over” (pardon the expression) is OK, why not “dun all over”? “Is he” as an inaccurate implication that all nudists are male: I’m perfectly happy for “he” or “she” to be used for a person who can be male or female.

      Surely the point of the “rules” is to make sure that the clues are solvable and that you know when you’ve got the right answer. This one seems OK to me on both counts. And it raised a smile!

      1. I didn’t say the clue was unfair. When I got it I knew I had the right answer. When the solver has got the two components, “all” clearly refers to only one of them. Until that point “all” could refer to all the words “is he brown” and therefore could mislead, though not necessarily unfairly, which I didn’t say. I just didn’t think it was all that good a clue, particularly as &lit, though my slowness in solving it was all to do with my fixation on TAN and nothing to do with the clue.
        1. Fair do’s – though if someone bothers to say that a clue is misleading, that suggests “unfairly misleading” to me, given that misleading is part of the game!
  2. Clocked 5.00 but it didn’t feel too simple to me. But as I went round the grid roughly clockwise, I did find I was coming back to easy ones and wished I’d gone the other way…
    You probably WERE the only one looking for S in a 7-letter word at 16, I was looking for S in an 8-letter word.
    1. Touch√© – beats Magoo at Times and RTC on the same day, but can’t count.

      Simplicity: sub-5 is rare enough for me these days to think it must be an easy one when it happens. This was probably just a case of getting enough right early on to get some decent momentum going – choosing 19 answers to comment on should have told me something.

  3. I was pretty slow on this one (8:13) for reasons which will become apparent if you read my RTC3 blog entry, but found it very enjoyable nonetheless. I particularly liked 6d, whose clever wording took me some time to parse correctly; and I found 1a quite acceptable, despite the fact that it took me ages (in a state of extreme tiredness, I felt I had to make sure I’d really understood every clue for fear of making some stupid mistake).
  4. I bunged in PRANCER for 20d without reading the clue properly – then re-read it, realised my mistake, and noted the correct answer was PRANCED. But I failed to correct the entry in the grid. Therefore, my last one in was 28a ODIOUS after far too long trying to get something for *R*O*S. DOH!

    Some omitted “easies” for us bunnies:

    4a Steal Jack’s land (8)

    11a A national course (5)
    A SCOT

    14a Understood That All Children Instinctively Think with their heads (5)

    20a Conceited type embracing popular young beauty (3,2)
    P IN UP. I have not encountered conceited type = pup before but that did not delay solving the clue with a shrug. Meh!

    25a Telling stories about people, wilL I BE Lying? To some extent (5)

    27a Unpleasant character, (Moneybag)*s endlessly splashing out (8)
    BOGEYMAN. I quite like Raymond Brigg’s Fungus the Bogeyman though!

    1d Scent for following, so crawling along? (4,2,4)
    NOSE TO TAIL. This clue brought to mind dogs getting to know each other rather than the traffic. The M25 will never be the same again.

    7d Island’s holy day (9)

    8d Carry toddler to back of queue (4)
    TOT E

    23d State “I had a house” (5)
    I’D A HO

    24d Staff in union (4)

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