23678 – pons pontis

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time of 36:19

Pretty straightforward overall, although some wordplay to think about.
I got the two long ones quickly and finished off the LHS fairly quickly – last to go in were 20D and 28A.
New words were REP and LEAT.
I think I might be missing something in 5D.


4 BARKEEPER – TaBARd is the barkeeper and The Tabard is a famous old inn – it was vaguely familiar.
9 TRUMP,ED,UP – The last trump is what is sounded to awake the dead on Judgement Day.
11 IN,DO,OR(=other ranks)
12 PLATIN[g],UM(lump with sides peeled off)
13 GAR,LANDED – GAR is one of those fishes useful to crossworders.
16 SPIKE – both a nail and an ear (e.g. of corn) – thought that was right but looked up to check.
17 P,LEAT – P is sheep finally, a LEAT is a trench for bringing water to a mill, etc. I needed to look that one up.
19 OVER,RULED – initially thought about overboard, with a board game being one you play with your hands!
21 FOUNTAIN, i.e. MOUNTAIN with F in place of M. It’s interesting that in English we have fountain (from the Latin fons fontis) and mountain (mons montis) but not pountain (pons pontis), which I think would be a lovely word for a bridge.
26 HOT POTATO – a Lancashire hotpot is covered in potatoes.
27 THEM AND US – anagram of NAMED in THUS.
28 FLOSS – refers to the river in ‘The Mill On The Floss’


3 (c)AMPHOR,A – camphor, a solid oil I probably came across in pretty much the same clue previously!
4 BO(D)Y
5 ROPE LADDER – A rope ladder might have got someone up into a tree – a rope ladder is also stranded. I think there might be more going on – any ideas?
6 EOLITHS – anagram of ‘hotel is’
7 P(E,RENNI)AL – INNER,E reversed in PAL.
8 RECOMMENDATIONS – anagram of ‘comedian’s mentor’
18 TITAN,1,A – Titan, the largest moon of Saturn; Titania, the fairy queen in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’
20 REP,ROOF – hadn’t come across the material rep before.
23 IDAHO, hidden word.
24 ETAS=”eaters” – I didn’t know what trenchermen were, but thought this a reasonable guess.

16 comments on “23678 – pons pontis”

  1. 4:30 – toughest part was the NE corner, with SPIKE last to go in, and 4A rather slow.
  2. 5D: I think you’ve seen all there is to see.
    21A: Pontoon (the bridge rather than the card game) is the word that might have been ‘pountain’.
  3. Unattributed limerick from a quick Google search:

    I learnt that “fons” was a fountain
    And I learnt that “mons” was a mountain.
    But the system broke down,
    I thought with a frown,
    As “pons” is a bridge, not a pountain.


  4. Until I saw Peter B’s time I wasn’t too disappointed with my 8:35, as I thought there were one or two tricky clues, but in retrospect I spent far too long trying to fit BARTENDER into 4A, and there were others where I obviously should have been faster, e.g. 28A (FLOSS) which I think I’ve met before with similar wording. I particularly liked 9A (TRUMPED-UP), which led me nicely down the wrong track.
    1. 27A Clue: “Named components in conflict, so externally pulled apart? (4,3,2)”: I read this as just about an “&lit” – the whole clue is the def. – ‘them’ and ‘us’ are names of conflicting and separated groups. Then you have “named components in conflict” giving an anag. of named, and “so externally pulled apart” giving TH/US outside it.

      1D: “Firmly resisting boxing promoter’s job (7,2,1,5)” – just 2 defs – to put up a fight is to resist, and to put up = present a fight is what the boxing promoter does.

      1. This seemed to me quite an ugly &lit clue – rather awkward, and things seemed to be in the wrong place. In fact, there wasn’t anything particularly inspiring that I can recall. I too spent a while trying to make 4a ‘bartender’, and had 12a ending ‘ngum’ for quite a while.
  5. 11A Fashionable = IN, function = DO, men = OR (other ranks) with “in chambers?” as the rather oblique definition. Three hardy old chestnuts for the price of one!
    Richard Saunders
    1. ADONIS is the handsome boy; M is the maiden; HE’D is ‘he would’ and ADMONISHED is ‘get given a slap on the wrist’
  6. Late thought: as Titania is a moon of Uranus, 18D could just be a cryptic def rather than a charade – but both ways work.
  7. The Tabard Inn (Harry Bailey, fl. 13??, prop.) is where the Canterbury Pilgrims stopped in Southwark on their way out of town. If they hadn’t picked up Geoffrey Chaucer, who explains that he happened to be staying there, we’d be poorer by a lot of stories.


  8. I had BEEFEATERS biffed in 4a ‘cos they wear TABARDS for work don’t they? Then when I sussed EOLITHS at 6d I changed it to BARTENDER – that could arguably fit the wordplay once I’d realised what it was. It was only when I finally got 7d to be PERENNIAL that the real 4a made an appearance as BARKEEPER. Such fun!

    Just the 7 “easies” missed from the blog – so this one was perhaps a bit more tricky than folk are making out?

    1a Food with which old man gains a stone (5)
    P A ST A

    10a Song chirpily played but not hip (5)
    LYRIC. Anagram of chirpily minus hip.

    22a Run second edition (6)

    25a Character one found in old person (5)
    GRA 1 N

    1d Firmly resisting boxer promoter’s job (7,2,1,5)

    2d Group of soldiers beginning to storm courtyard (5)
    S QUAD

    15d Train again (due – create)* if put out (2-7)
    RE-EDUCATE. For a change the hyphen is in the anagrist!

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