23,546 – Well, nobody’s perfect

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : Just over an hour
I didn’t get off to a great start today. I smiled at a few clues and learnt a few pieces of useless information along the way.
The NE corner held me up at the end – I wasn’t confident enough to write in MARRY at 8d initially, and I spent too long thinking about the wrong kind of birds at 7d.


1 FORD – nice easy one to start off – I don’t know any other Madoxes
4 SUBSTRATUM; rev of ‘TART’S BUS’ UM – we’ve had a few tarts recently.
10 AYE,R – I knew he was a philosopher, now I know he was a proponent of logical positivism – what a precise definition.
11 MAL(A,W)I – I thought about Hawaii for a while, but was fairly sure there wasn’t a state called Haii.
12 O,RANGER,Y – I’d not seen yen=Y before in crosswords
15 GOODY-GOODY – a couple of The Goodies
20 SOME=”sum” – Some like it hot.
21 SL(AVON)IC[k]
24 BORE – a bore is a tidal wave; I’d heard of the Severn bore
25 BIOLOGICAL; BIO=odd letters of BrItOn – encountering the word ‘logical’ a few seconds before made this quite an easy one.
26 LAWBREAKER made by substituting BREAK for Y in LAWYER.
27 YO-YO – referring to the Yo, Blair incident; I’ve seen this use of YO in another crossword recently – I wonder how long it will hang around.


7 THYME=”time” – bird, meaning a time in prison, comes from birdlime, rhyming slang for time.
8 MARRY – I looked this up after finishing – I didn’t know that MARRY was an exclamation of surprise.
13 RUDIMENTARY; DIME inside RUNT,A,RY – I think. Is ‘permanent way’=railway=RY?
18 IGNOBLE; GI reversed and NOBLE, an English coin, which I didn’t know before today
19 E,NAM(O)UR – I’d heard of the city of Namur and reckoned it was probably a province as well.
21 SIBYL, two characters switched from SYBIL Thorndike – a sensible guess here and then I looked up both SIBYL and Sybil Thorndike

10 comments on “23,546 – Well, nobody’s perfect”

  1. Would have been quite an easy one except I didn’t know MARRY as an expression of surprise, I had to look up MADOX (I’ve never even heard of FMF)and I put HAWAII instead of MALAWI out of last minute desperation even though I was pretty sure it was incorrect. I’ve had many worse starts to the week though.
  2. It occurred to me that the clue to FORD at 1ac was blindingly obvious if you’ve heard of FMF and probably utterly baffling otherwise.


    1. I only though of the painter, Ford Madox Brown, who it turns out was his grandfather. So I was half baffled, since Brown = crossing doesn’t work.
  3. Can’t help feeling that 1d would be better as “Carmen, Latino possibly,” etc. As it is, either CARMEN = OPERA with no qualification, or WORKING is doing double duty as an a.i. for Latino and as part of the definition.

    Incidentally, was I the only person who wondered how KIN could be something to write with in 4d? Doh!

    Richard Saunders

  4. Having S in place as the first letter of 21d (Charmer switching two of Thorndike’s characters (5)), I spent far too long working on the assumption that one of these characters was going to be Dr SYN from Russell Thorndike’s books. Russell was Sybil’s brother, and references to his novels used to crop up regularly in the Times puzzle in days gone by, but I suppose he’s too little known now – either that or the puzzle has been dumbed down so far that this sort of knowledge is no longer considered reasonable. A slow 8:25, but at least I’m able to remember which is which of SIBYL and SYBIL just from the look of the words.
  5. I made a quick start on this since the references were very familiar. I know only one Madox reference, so FORD came instantly, as did AYER, “Language, Truth and Logic” having been compulsory reading on my Introduction to Philosophy course at University.
    In general I liked the clues, but I was not keen on “output” as an anagram indicator in 17 A. The only way I can interpret it as an anagram indicator is to read it in non-Ximenean fashion as equivalent to “put out”. Or is it intended as a nounal anagram indicator (in which case there’s little sense of movement)? Any other interpretations?

    Doesn’t 27A breach The Times rule banning references to living people other than the Queen? Perhaps an oblique reference is OK.

  6. I liked the carmen clue involving opera and latino and the word play in university medic in scottish town
  7. Hearing the name Ford Madox Ford always reminds me of “Dent Arthur Dent” in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy :

    Slartibartfast: Come along or you’ll be late.
    Arthur Dent: Late? Late for what?
    Slartibartfast: Late as in “the late Dent Arthur Dent”.

    Must add FMF’s “The Good Soldier” to my Kindle Classics Reading List so that maybe I can quote him as well as Douglas Adams?

    A few omitted “easies” from this blog:

    14a Aromatic plant in perfect condition (4)
    MINT. Double definition.

    17a (Value Benin)*’s output, receiving no appreciation (10)
    UNENVIABLE. Does “receiving no appreciation” = unenviable? Or have I got wrong end of t’stick?

    23a Former pupils taking salt to part of UK (6)

    2d Carmen, possibly (Latino)*, working satisfactorily? (11)

    5d How piracy or villany may be practised, somehow! (2,4,2,2,5)

    16d (Boy rustic)’s strange inconspicuousness (9)

    22d It may indicate a school for East Enders (5)
    ‘ARROW. I always think of Barbara Windsor when considering a “Cockney” clue. Not sure it helps.

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