23638 – “Very easy today”, said Peter Cartwright

Solving time 4:30

I think that’s the appropriate quote from Reggie Perrin after ripping through this one on the train – personal best material for someone, perhaps. And nice for me to know after a fairly slow few weeks that I can still rip through an easy one. Apologies for forgetting the placeholder for early birds, though I doubt you had many questions.

1 AEROBIC – (bore in CIA)<=
10 (bu)N,ICER
12 NYASALAND – (Ann’s a lady)* – now Malawi
14 ORDINARY SEAMAN – abbreviates to OS which is also ‘outsize’
17 CABINET PUDD(l)ING – to puddle is presumably to mess about.
21 POTPOURRI – (irru(O)pt,Op.)<=
23 S(1’S)AL(t) – it’s a fibre – used to make ropes I think
25 T(HE’S)AURUS – house = sign of the zodiac
3 BARB,ARIAN – Arian must be ‘born under Aries’, which is a month or two before Taurus
4 COT,ONE,ASTER – one of those Times xwd favourite plants like “Hyde ranger” and love-in-idleness
13 AS YOU LIKE IT – “piece” must mean a work of drama as well as music.
15 ECDYSIAST – probably the hardest clue today if you don’t know the word. It’s a fancy Greek term for a stripper. File with ‘osculatory’ for kissing and knowledge of the link between fornix = arch and ‘fornication’.
16 ACAPULCO – make the charade AC,PAUL,CO and then move the P on the basis of ‘quietly sinking’.
18 BATH,TUB=but<=
19 NO.’S,TRIL(l)
22 O,MEGA(n) – who I thought was Irish. Cue the old gag about a Welshman being an Irishman who can’t swim (or vice versa).
25 TED – the 50’s yobbo and ‘to dry hay in the sun’

9 comments on “23638 – “Very easy today”, said Peter Cartwright”

  1. How remarkable that the day after one of the hardest puzzles for ages, we should get one of the easiest. For me this was a just-one-cup-of-coffee puzzle, which is unusual, though ecdysiast did need a dictionary check.

    Incidentally, I notice that yesterday’s cryptic included every letter of the alphabet at least once, which I suppose passes for a Nina.

    Getting the actual page in place well before 9.30am is even better than a placeholder, Peter 🙂

    1. Every letter: that’s the ‘pangram’ that was mentioned. It’s one of the most popular grid stunts, though only more difficult variations get much credit these days – e.g. every letter in a checked square, or a double pangram – every letter twice. No-one has yet persuaded Richard Browne to accept a triple pangram grid.
  2. 7 minutes for this one, so I’m clearly not a threat to Peter at Cheltenham. I got off to a racing start, but was then slowed down by the anagrams for NYASALAND and ECDYSIAST (nice clue!), both of which words only rang distant bells (would have helped to spot that the country was XXXXXLAND though). COTONEASTER I have come across before, but I needed to wait for a few checking letters – I’m not good on plants usually. I wasn’t familiar with PUDDLING, although I could imagine it. And I wasn’t really sure that STRIDENT could be defined by “Tumultuous”, although the dictionary just about confirms it. Jason J
    1. I think the chance of a puzzle like this at Cheltenham is pretty slim. Even if we do get one, two or three minutes gained by doing an easy puzzle quickly can easily be lost elsewhere – it’s your speed at the tough ones that really matters (plus getting them right, of course).
  3. This annoys me every time I see it: a sign of the zodiac isn’t a house (or vice versa). I know there are other such examples and we accept them as convention, but it still rankles.

    About 12′ – good for me, so shouldn’t be too ungracious!


    1. I think I see what you mean – astrological houses turn out not to be exactly the same as zodiac signs if you read articles like this.

      The defs of ‘house’ in Chambers and the Compact Oxford reflect this – they refer to twelve divisions of the heavens but not explicitly to zodiac signs.

  4. I had to use the Chambers on-line help to get this last clue despite having all the correct checking letters in place. For some reason I thought it was one letter short of an anagram. But I was solving at 5:00 A.M. so possibly still half asleep (that’s my excuse anyway). It’s a delightful word; I can’t imagine how I have not come across it before.
  5. I felt too tired to do this one yesterday evening (or rather in the early hours of this morning), and was glad a left it until today (Thursday) as I had a clean sweep in 6:21. I suppose if I’d gone hell-for-leather and not cared if I made a mistake, I’d have been a minute or more faster; but I’m reluctant to do that, which accounts for the slowish time for what was a very easy puzzle – but at the same time a very enjoyable one. I particularly liked 15dn, but wonder if I’ve seen it before?
  6. Quite a few “easies” today as the quick ‘uns were very quick – especially our esteemed founder and today’s blogmeister. An NPBULL XI Teamsheet:

    5a Pong certain to be spread about by this bone (7)
    HUM ERUS. Indirect anagram fodder in (SURE)* = certain.

    9a Helpful chap (at marina’s)* sacked (9)

    11a Island producing whisky, foremost among alcohols (5)
    MALT A. No, not Islay.

    24a Not inflexible – stilL IT HElps a bit (5)

    26a Safely ensconced among directors (2,5)

    27a To match perfectly (7)

    1d Don (amuses)*, clowning about (6)

    5d Layer of Humus Encourages New heads (3)
    H E N

    6d Chap picked up an unexpected windfall (5)
    MAN NA

    7d Remarkable (miracle)* required to make a recovery like this (7)

    20d Loud insect circling tree (6)
    FL ASH Y

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