23588 – got in a MESS and took AGES

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time : 2 hours + a bit (in a few sessions)

I really struggled to get into this and spent a long time staring at the paper, questioning my ability and my sanity. I was pleased that I stuck it out though – if I wasn’t blogging this, I’d have probably given up.

Got the two long ones and the Spoonerism straight away.
Last to go in were TREND and DAILIES.


1 PO,M(P)AN,OS=’over sized’ – got this quite late – I correctly guessed it would be a fish I didn’t know and so it was a right effort to break it down.
12 STEARIN; TEAR in SIN – I didn’t know this word
13 ROA[d],STING – I liked this clue; I was misdirected all over the place here.
15 SA(B)LE
18 T(R)END; The R being ‘the end of her’ – really good surface and I thought for ages the definition was nurse – I tried to make ‘treat’ fit.
23 C,ASHIER – this means to fire (as in Alan Sugar) from the armed forces – happily remembered from a previous crossword.
25 FOR,MATE – I read the word ‘salt’ and thought of sailor! Then changed tack and guessed it would end ‘mate.’
26 AMERICANISATION – anagram of ‘a nice animator is’ – very good clue, I thought.
28 STARTERS – cryptic definition; I liked this one but it took a while to get – the ‘brought in’ had me looking for a container and contents.


1 POP[u]LAR; U representing the upper classes – this took a long time.
2 MILLSTONE; ‘still moan’
3 A QUIN,AS – ‘Dumb Ox’ being the nickname of Saint Thomas Aquinas (see GK Chesterton’s book) – I knew this but it didn’t come as quickly as it should have. ‘One of five’ = quin could also have come a bit quicker.
6 HO’S TESS – clever little clue, I thought.
8 DI,SINTER – this took ages, not knowing the word ‘sinter.’
9 MESS,AGES – ‘going for the messages’ means going shopping in Scotland.
14 I’M PERI,AL – I was sure it would end -AL and I even thought of PERI but dismissed it on first attempt!
16 BARB,ARISE – I pencilled in ‘brutalise’ but couldn’t get it to work, unsurprisingly!
19 DAI(LIE)S – very clever clue. It gave me a few problems: I thought of ‘alibi’ and wondered about ‘alibies’ as an alternative plural. Then ‘dais’ suggested itself and I momentarily considered ‘daisies’ (!) before it all came together.
21 CORSAIR=”coarse air”
24 S,HEEP; refers to Uriah Heep from David Copperfield.
25 F,LINT – first thought was ‘flick’ thinking about a lick being a dressing down. Or something. It all seems a long time ago now!

15 comments on “23588 – got in a MESS and took AGES”

  1. 1d. Clue refers to Nancy Mitford’s essay, “U and Non-U” (upper-class vs non-upper-class usage.) So “not for the nobs” = “non-u”, which is slightly neater than foggyweb’s version. Clever clue–it made me laugh.
  2. Thought I was on for a very good time here, especially as I knew POMPANOS, but I spent ages at the end looking for better alternatives for MESSAGES, STEARIN and DISINTER, none of which I was at all confident of, and also trying (and failing) to get 28ac (STARTERS). I didn’t try reading it as a cryptic definition, which was remiss, but like Richard I’m not keen on this clue.
  3. Some unfamiliar words – pompanos, macer, sinter – and unlike foggyweb I didn’t much like the clue for 28A (Nags certain to be brought into line). Was lucky with 9D (messages) having recently been reading Ian Rankin’s REBUS novels, mostly set in Edinburgh. Could only think of FERRATE for 25A which is a salt but doesn’t work. About 2 hours and a bottle of La Crema Pinot Noir (excellent, unless you’re trying to solve crosswords).
    R. Saunders
    1. Yes, rather too many unfamiliar words for my taste but the only one I eventually cheated on was POMPANOS which I looked up in a solver.

      What was so annoying was that having done this I realised I had considered all the various elements of the solution but hadn’t fitted them together because I didn’t know the word.

      I managed to work out MACER, STEARIN, AQUINAS and(DI)SINTER and looked them up afterwards.

      Unlike Foggyweb I did not like the clues to STARTERS and ROASTING. I’m not happy with anything where having got the correct answer I’m still not sure that it’s right.


  4. Very disappointed with my efforts today; there were several words I didn’t know, but there were a few I should have got but didn’t.
    I was unimpressed by 28A and 6D, but I did like 2D – mind you, whenever Spooner comes up I like it.
  5. I found this very tough going – especially for a Monday – and failed to finish a few clues off, but I’ve picked up a few new words to add to the crossword arsenal, so all good!


  6. blogger-gossip: hard puzzle: glad I didn’t manage to convince foggyweb to swap his Monday for my Tuesday (as it is, just about to get on a plane… hope that Tuesday is gentler for my substitute blogger!)
  7. I find this blog extremely useful. Since I am not a native English speaker, most of the time I don’t understand the answers even after looking at them (am I dumb or what?!) So I really appreciate the explanations in this blog. I have a suggestion – on the day after, could you post the explanations for the clues that are left out (eg. O-ZONE, (OP)POSE etc.) Btw, I didn’t understand STARTERS 🙂
    1. If not a native English speaker, you’re a brave soul for even attempting the puzzle. I don’t really want to saddle the bloggers with effort on two successive days, so if you don’t understand a clue that we didn’t cover, just put a request in the comments like “Please explain 5A and 16D” – as soon as you like. You will usually get a response from someone in an hour or two. Or you can take up the explanation offer on my web-site at: http://www.biddlecombe.demon.co.uk/puzzles.html.

      STARTERS: Clue: Nags certain to be brought into line? – just a cryptic definition (i.e. no ‘wordplay’), based on the fact that horses (‘nags’, informally) at the start of a race are in a line across the track, either because they’re in starting stalls or because the starter has waited for them to be lined up. Sometimes the latter procedure looks very approximate indeed…

  8. Oh dear! I hadn’t had time to tackle this puzzle until just now, but thought I’d have a go at it even though I felt very tired – it’s a Monday puzzle, so surely it can’t be that difficult. But I made incredibly heavy weather of it, with POMPANOS taking me seven or eight minutes despite the fact that I’d come across it recently somewhere – in a Listener puzzle? I have to hope that that was due to tiredness, and not creeping (or should that be galloping?) Alzheimer’s, but it gave me my first time over 20 minutes this year (22:15), which was a grave disappointment.
  9. A bit of a Scots feel to this one – although Macers isn’t really a corner shop in Edinburgh – or is it?

    Despite the general agreement that this was a bit of a toughie there are quite a few omitted “easies”. A bit on the late side for our non-native English speaking friend (above) I fear but not for the back-number practising bunnies?

    5a Charlatan journalist brought into disrepute (6)

    10a Make a determined effort to give calves warmer environment? (4,2,4,5)
    PULL UP ONES SOCKS. In answer to Anon’s comments above – it is the version of the saying to use if ending a sentence with a preposition is somthing up with which one cannot put.

    11a Want to increase someone’s fondness (7)
    ABSENCE. Someone’s heart at least?

    27a Resist work and put on airs (6)

    4d Element above stretch of land – it’s form there? (5)
    O ZONE. I don’t understand this definition. The wordplay is clear enough but why O3 over land – presumably as opposed to over sea?

    7d Scottish official presenting one of his compatriots to the Queen (5)
    MAC ER. Simple enough wordplay but the word itself is surely obscure enough to include in the blog?

    17d (Toccata’s) misinterpreted – not to be played legato (8)
    STACCATO. I like these musical ones. They finally make sense of all those Saturday morning piano lessons that I was so relieved to lose when they conflicted with school rugby matches.

    22d Some girlS IN NETball turned up for another game (6)
    TENNIS. I only spotted this reverse hidden answer (RHA) after more than a decent amount of time trying to make a sport out of 3 of the abbreviations for netball positions – GA, WA, GK etc. Doh!

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