23664 – A Dickens of a puzzle

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A fairly straightforward Friday puzzle, with a couple of unusual words
thrown in to make it a bit of a challenge. Took me just under ten
minutes – 9:53

9 ANTI-GONE – Oedipus’s daughter and the subject of a play by the French writer, Anouilh, which I had to study at Uni
10 Lam.-A – Lamentations, that is
13 P(S(li)M)ITH – Rupert, a character in a few Wodehouse novels. He started out as a secondary character in “Mike”, but eventually became the hero of three more books.
14 MA(EST)O-SO – EST=(set)* – a musical term meaning “to be played majestically”
20 MANGROVE – worked this out from the checked letters, can’t work out the wordplay
23 NORTH SHIELDS – in North Tyneside – Lord North was PM from 1770 to 1782.
27 SWEEPING – as in a “sweeping statement”
2 PHARISEE – (he pairs)*-E(vening)
4 C(choi(R))ATCH IT – Bob Cratchit from “A Christmas Carol” by
5 SAT-SUM-A – a healthy snack that I can’t eat at work, because it would be decidely unhealthy for one of my colleagues who would have a severe allergic reaction the moment I broke the peel.
6 STIFLE – (itself)* – the joint betweeen the femur and the tibia on a horse or similar animals
8 PEN-ELOPE – the ultmate “her indoors”, who waited 10 years for the return of Odysseus
15 DI-MINI-SH – are Popsy and dish synonymous?
17 RESOLUTE – (lets euro)*
19 BE(TIM)ES – (Tiny) Tim being the son of Bob Cratchit (the answer to 4dn)
21 (j)OUSTER – a strange word meaning “ejection”

18 comments on “23664 – A Dickens of a puzzle”

  1. Took me 8:50. I had forgotten that meaning of STIFLE, and it took me a while to work out the wordplay for MANGROVE (which I didn’t dare to fill in without working it out). I have never been a great fan of Dickens, so I always feel vulnerable when he comes up, but even I know the characters mentioned in this one! For the most part this seemed a fairly straightforward, workaday sort of puzzle. Jason J
    1. I was hoping there would be an explanation for MANGROVE.

      Also why is London=UP in 1 across? Is it considered to be in the north of UK?

  2. Can anyone explain how “Ejection” = “Ousted” assuming the latter is correct? Or maybe I’m reading the clue wrongly.
    1. It’s OUSTER – one of those funny legal words. The tournament bloke is a jouster. If you get something you can’t understand ending -ED, it’s worth pondering -ER as an alternative ending. 5:44 here – PSMITH and PENELOPE were the last two to go in.
      1. Thanks. All is now explained! I was fixed on Ed being the man in the joust and hadn’t considered Jouster. I think I may have come across Ouster before but obviously it didn’t stick.
  3. After spending a loooong time on CRATCHIT and SATSUMA, I have given up on this.
  4. Thanks. But it’s not my lucky day. After debating between UP STICKS and UP STACKS, I filled in the latter. Didn’t understand the wordplay for either of them 🙂
    1. UP = to London (old railway jargon)
      STICK = “don’t move”
      S = South

      I guess you didn’t know the expression “up sticks” meaning to move (house). AFAIK ‘up stacks’ isn’t a recognisable phrase.

      1. Ah, makes sense now. Pete, thanks for explaining this. You are right about my not being familiar with UP STICKS – a good addition to my collection of chiefly British idioms.
  5. MANGROVE – propose = MOVE, “to plant” is a rather flowery inclusion indicator, virtually wild = ANGR(y).

    Popsy: reconised this as informal for ‘attractive woman’, but COD says it originated from ‘poppet’ in the nineteenth century, so it’s maybe old-fashioned.

  6. One of those frustrating ones where I got stuck on PSMITH, CRATCHIT and BETIMES, not helped in the last case by (a) not having got CRATCHIT and (b) the online version STILL after eons of complaints refuses to print clue references as figures rather than words.
    And stuck I stayed, I’m afraid. My worst effort since I started keeping count!

    1. Psmith and Cratchit pstumped me too, as literary figures are wont to do. That makes 7 (sorry, seven) wrong/missing answers this week, which is probably my worst run for a year – ideally timed to coincide with my first Cryptic RTC entry. At least I avoided ‘besides’ at 19dn, just.
  7. Thanks to Peter B for explainng the cryptic reading of “mangrove”, which had completely eluded me.

    I’ve no doubt Peter B is right about the legal provenance of “ouster”, but the word is also commonly used in American English, particularly by journalists, who will write about “the ouster of Idi Amin”, meaning his forcible removal from power, which sounds distinctly odd to British ears.

    “Popsy” seems to me perfectly acceptable as a synonym for the more contemporary “dish”, as slang for an attractive woman, though I think it has the additional connotation (not shared by “dish”) that the person so described is sweet-natured as well as sexy. But definitely old-fashioned. I can recall my late Uncle Arthur, who was something of a ladies’ man and died in the arms of one of them ten years ago at the age of 80(way to go), referring to a woman who had caught his eye as “a real popsy”.

    1. I think POPSY was already dying out in my younger days (I’m now in my 60s), which suggests that one of the older setters might have been responsible.

      (8:40 for me, but would have been significantly faster if I hadn’t typed in DIMIHISH for 15D. I made a clean sweep of the top half until I came to PENELOPE (eventually the last answer to go in), but wasted a few seconds trying to work out why 7dn should be LOAD, which was my first thought working from the wordplay.)

  8. Actually found today’s quite tough in places – mangrove, stampede and ouster took a long time, and I didn’t manage to get steppe without recourse to the internet. Penelope and Psmith went in straight away, though – strange.
  9. Had to consult Mr Google for the PGW character I’m afraid as neither of the 6-letter possibilities I had could possibly fit. There are 8 “easies” left out of the blog:

    11a In great shape to be orchestra leader? (3,2,1,6)
    FIT AS A FIDDLE. Or Lead Violin to be exact.

    15a Let down level in river (7)

    16a Abundant academic employment (7)

    22a Plain measure of speech (6)

    25a Power to smell, a feature of camel (4)
    HUM P. Smell with power more like. Bit of a liberty with the clue word order there?

    3d Business not strong, but one wants it to be green (7,5)
    TRAFFIC LIGHT. Far too much time trying to over complicate this and fit ECO into it somewhere. Doh!

    7d Cow called, we heard its feelings (4)
    MOO – (e)D. Do you think bovine types get moods?

    24d Salesman pockets a cut (4)
    RE A P

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