23,548 – Nutcracker rides again

Solving time 6:30

Quite a few novel words as answers or used in wordplay, but clued so that I didn’t have any big hold-ups. Possibly fairly quick because there’s no significant general or literary knowledge needed – hence no links to Wikipedia.

1 A BON(MARCH)E – French for “cheap”, listed in Collins
7 MACH – from supersonic being, precisely, more than MACH 1
9 T(OILS)OME – I’m sure others pondered …(ART)…
10 ARSINE – hidden word – a poisonous gas containing arsenic. One for Cyclops – there must be a clue about farts in there somewhere.
14 GREENBOTTLES – flies like bluebottles, and ref. the song “Ten green bottles, standing on a wall”.
20 COMPL(A)IN(e) – compline is the last of the daily services in a monastery.
22 GAR(n)ISH – a fairly well-worn path for beginners to note.
23 A,B,SOLUTE – wasn’t sure about {absolute = certain}, but ‘… as in “the absolute truth” ‘, says Collins.
25 DEF(ea.)T
26 NUTCRACKER – cryptic def. Feels like the third time I’ve written about nutcrackers in about four weeks.
2 BOOKLORE = Spoonerism of “look bore”
5 CRES(t)SET – a load of burning stuff in a metal basket on a stick, I think.
6 ENAMELLER – cryptic def., about as easy as they come.
8 CON,FIT – “obsolete form of comfit” says Chambers, but my COD and Collins just the dish of (usu.) duck. But the wordplay is simple enough.
12 GREASEPAINT – theatrical makeup – pagentries*
15 BALD,A CHIN – a canopy over an altar or shrine – esp. in ornate RC churches on the continent.
16 (vin)AIGRETTE – a vinaigrette is a little bottle, apparently. aigrette = spray ? Well both are bits of jewellery, one representing a feather or feathers, the other “flowers, leaves, etc.” – I guess it qualifies by way of the “etc.”
19 FOR(AG)E – van = front = fore
21 POS(h)ER – posh = smart/elegant/fashionable as well as wealthy.
24 LAC(king) – a resinous substance secreted by “lac insects”, used for making shellac

Gossip: A report on last Saturday’s Listener dinner mentioned that Neil Talbott, who currently writes about Sunday Times puzzles here, had his first all-correct Listener year, at just 25 years old – believed to be a record. If I’m right about the identity and age of the youngest Times championship winner (Guy Haslam in 1992 – 29 years old), Neil probably has three or four shots at a “youngest ever” double (no pressure Neil …). Magoo was all-correct for another year, but that’s rather less of a surprise.

9 comments on “23,548 – Nutcracker rides again”

  1. 16D defeated my lunchtime solve – I ended up scouring my electronic Chambers.

    The definitions I was short of were:

    vinaigrette n a box or bottle for aromatic vinegar or smelling salts.

    aigrette n a spray of jewels.

    So, a fair clue but utterly outside of my vocabulary.

    1. I started from a very vague notion of what aigrette meant and vin = French wine. The bottle def for vinaigrette then seemed plausible so in it went. Probably a case when all those Sundays spent with Azed pay off.
    2. 16D: What’s in my vocabulary and has been since childhood is “vinaigrette bottle” so this completely threw me. I have never heard of “vinaigrette” meaning the container itself. I have also never heard of “aigrette”.

      20A: The clue relies on knowing the (according to Chambers) secondary spelling of “complin” i.e. “compline” in order to omit the “e” and justify “deficient”. To anyone like myself who only knew the first spelling the clue doesn’t work or make sense.

      6D: I agree with the point somebody else made about “white” being misleading.

      Not a very happy bunny today as I struggled enough with several easier clues and didn’t need further hindrance from the compiler.

  2. I put in AIGRETTE fairly early; came back to it to work out the wordplay; rubbed it out because I couldn’t justify it; and then wrote it in again because I couldn’t see any other answer.

    I found 6D very difficult, so I found your “as easy as they come” a bit galling. I think it would have been easier and more accurate without the word “white”. Except in the context of teeth (where it is not put on by workers), there is no reason why enamel should be white, is there?

    Overall it took me 19:14, with the last four minutes spent agonising over 16D.

    1. ENAMEL: You’re right about the colours of course. I guess I thought of white mugs and baths first. The main reason I thought it was easy was the rather odd “to out on” phrasing, which made it fairly clear that it wasn’t white coats as worn by expert chemists and the like that we were after. I wonder now whether “Workers who put on white coats” would have been a better clue (ignoring the colour issue).
  3. As someone who has done quite a bit of chemistry, may I nit-pick your comment on 10A – ARSINE. This is a compound of arsenic (and hydrogen), and does not contain any arsenic in the sense that the arsenic is not free to react as the uncombined element would.

    Harry Shipley

  4. ENAMELLER was the last I solved after looking at it for ages. AIGRETTE was completely new to me too and the subtractive clue made it v hard. I was thinking of French wines that might end in -ETTE.
  5. No pressure at all if I continue in this vein: SIBYL wrong on Monday, painfully slow in the bottom half yesterday (especially on LO AND BEHOLD) and another mistake today (on AIGRETTE), with a couple of fluky guesses as well (‘compline’ & ‘baldachin’ both new to me).


  6. I don’t understand the chemistry lecture above? The highly toxic gas AsH3 may not be poisonous in the same way that the element arsenic is but it is still very poisonous and definitely contains arsenic!

    A bit of a French feel to this one with 1a, 5d (my version) and 16d. Thanks to PB for the explainations to the wordplay for 5d – for which I biffed CREUSET and therefore got it wrong – and 16d where I got AIGRETTE by taking le VIN away from the salad dressing but did not know why.

    There are some “easies”:

    11a Land becoming scorched (6)
    ALIGHT. A DD of “to land” = alight and “on fire” = alight.

    13a Hurry to get (set point)* , smashing (4,2,2)
    STEP ON IT. Nice tennis surface – grass possibly?

    17a I’m by myself in the art studio maybe (4-8)

    21a Writer’s essay showing lyrical quality (6)

    3d Duck’s at home turning over on lake (3)
    NI L. Great – another cricket reference – duck = nil.

    4d Close to having a fit (5)
    A BOUT

    7d Wrongly get hold of girl with trick being admitted, right? (11)

    18d Hanging brings gasp with death intervening (7)

Comments are closed.