23684 – ok today

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Time: 38:30 — I am well pleased with this time. It is the first time I have completed a Times puzzle on the train to London (42 mins), although I have completed a couple of Independent puzzles on this journey.

Getting 3D took a while – too many phrases that mean stand or stand firm. Wasn’t sure about the wordplay for 20A at first.
Last to go in were 7D and 11A. Some new words – pleased to see that my guesses of PICOTEE and ASTRAKHAN were correct.


1 DUTCH UNCLE – dutch is wife – I thought of this straightaway, but wasn’t entirely sure what a dutch uncle is, although it felt right.
10 INSUL[t],1,N
11 PICOTEE – PICT=”picked”, O=nothing, EE=”ease” – I’d never heard of a picotee before.
12 THE(BOWER)Y – have come across The Bowery in a couple of songs. Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream: “I walked by a Guernsey cow/who directed me down/to the Bowery slums/where people carried signs around/Saying,’Ban the bums.'” Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand: “Through the ghettos and the barrio and the bowery and the slum.” A bower is a shaded, leafy shelter.
13 [s]OFTEN – to temper means to soften e.g. the tone of an article.
20 HA[l]TED – HALTED (stopped) losing side of leg (L)
23 LA(MP)B,LACK – lampblack is a new word to me (it is a type of carbon black obtained from the soot of burned fat, oil, tar, or resin). This was ok from the wordplay – MP= Metropolitan Police.
26 HEAT,HEN – woman=HEN seems to crop up a fair bit.
27 NOSE=”knows”
28 AT,TEN,DANT(e)’S – Train here refers to e.g. a retinue.


1 D(=finally repaired),RIFT
2 TA(STELE)SS – TASS was the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union
3 HOLD ONES GROUND – HOLD ON + anagram of guerdons – I played around for a bit with this one before it clicked.
4 NAN,KEEN – a nankeen is a buff cloth – easy if you know the word, there aren’t many synonyms for Grandma.
5 LIP-SYNC – initial letters – I didn’t actually read the whole clue before writing in.
7 MO,TET – Tet is the New Year clebration in Vietnam.
14 O,VERB,LOW,N – verb is the first part of speech I considered, so it came pretty quickly.
16 A,STRAKHAN(anagram of shrank+A+T) – I wasn’t sure about this but it looked the most plausible given the wordplay. Astrakhan comes from the fur of newborn or fetal lambs, originally from the Russian city of Astrakhan.
18 I(LLIC1)T – LLIC1= ‘one cill’ reversed – cill is an alternative spelling for sill.
22 NEGUS – negus is a hot wine and Negus was a title of emperors in Ethiopia. I once taught a boy called Negus who taught me this second meaning!
24 KINGS – A king is an honour card in e.g. bridge. First and Second Kings are books of the Old Testament. I am reminded of a favourite joke from my Sunday School days: What is the first Bible verse to mention cannibalism? 2 Kings 8:1.

18 comments on “23684 – ok today”

  1. 7:33 for this. Top half seemed harder than the bottom as with quite a few lately. 11 was a new word for me but OK from wordplay and checking letters, once I’d remembered (in 7D) Tet = New Year – in Vietnamese I think – I seem to remember a “Tet Offensive” in the Vietnam war. 1A took a while as I’ve never really understood ‘Dutch Uncle’. And stop = ‘hold on’ was quite clever in 3D as a way of disguising what had to be anagrammed.
  2. I though this refreshingly easy (27:10) compared to what was a fairly nighmarish last week. For me. And The only unfamiliar word PICOTEE was pretty easy to workout frmo the wordplay.
  3. There’s a problem with the online version. 17A should read “Soigné, gay, relaxed and carefree (4-5)” but the e-acute has been lost.
    1. Yes it was fortunate that soigne came up in a Times puzzle last week so it was fresh in my mind. Had to look up four that I didn’t understand having got the right answers (cill, for example, was new to me), and I still have one unexplained; I’ll wait for Foggyweb before querying it.
  4. 23A (LAMPBLACK) and 24D (KINGS) took me a full seven minutes after I had solved all the others in about 10 minutes. I don’t really know why. Like you, I eventually got it from thinking of MP for police (though I think that it is Military Police rather than Metropolitan (which could be MET)).
    1. I remember looking up MP some time ago when it came from police in a clue. Both Chambers and Collins have Metropolitan Police listed before Military Police under MP – as they list entries with most common first, I took that to be the more likely.
  5. I seem to be lacking stamina today. As with the T2 puzzle the top half went in like a flash (PICOTEE is an old friend from past Times puzzles), but I made heavy weather of the bottom half (not helped by stupidly putting in ATTENDANCE for 28A) and eventually finished in 7:44 – almost exactly the same time as for Saturday’s puzzle, but both of them were just the sort of puzzle I like, and I should have been so much faster. (Sigh!)
  6. I must be very dim, since nobody has explained these clues, so presumably they are very simple. In 13A how does “lost” indicate that the first letter of SOFTEN is missing? And in 28A how does “the fifth poet’s missing” indicate that the fifth letter of DANTE’S is missing?
    1. “Temper” = “soften” and with “s” lost = “often”.

      AT TEN DANT(e)S – the fifth letter of Dante is “missed”.

      1. 28 A. ATTENDANTS. That is how I interpreted the clue, but I really did not like it. The cryptic syntax is very tortured (Germanic, some would say) for “the fifth poet’s missed” to mean “poet’s with the fifth letter missing”.
        1. I thought “TEN O’CLOCK” for “TEN” was quite cheeky. I suppose it’s a sort of abbreviation 🙂
    2. actually 13A is quite nice “temper’s lost frequently” so the def is “frequently” and “‘s” is lost from soften (“temper”). “temper is lost frequently” wouldn’t work quite as well”


    3. actually 13A is quite nice “temper’s lost frequently” so the def is “frequently” and “‘s” is lost from soften (“temper”). “temper is lost frequently” wouldn’t work quite as well”


  7. why no answer for 14 across…this really frustrates us when this happens please help
    1. OBES+E – OBE is Officer of the Order of the British Empire (a UK honour), E is the first letter of even. Both obese and round can mean fat.

      It is often the case that what one person finds easy, another finds difficult. I sometimes see people missing out the clues that I’ve struggled with. But ask for an explanation and you’ll usually get one.

  8. A few enquiries about unblogged answers above. There are 10 of these and here they are together:

    6a Complacent with lots of sweets around (4)
    SMUG. Or GUMS backwards. Wine Gums perhaps?

    14a Honours even at first in this round (5)
    OBES E. The medals O.B.E.s followed by the first letter in (E)ven. Nice sporting surface to distract us.

    15a What is required (as scenery)* changes? (9)

    17a (Soigne, gay)*, relaxed and carefree (4-5)
    EASY GOING. The e acute at the end of Soigne is a Polish style Z thingy on my printed copy but you can work back to the E for the anagrist from the answer!

    20a Having lost side of leg, stopped, and couldn’ty stand (5)
    HA (L) TED

    21a It’s instrumental in getting embargo applied to little woman (5)
    BAN JO

    25a (Go in car?)* that’s bad with carbon involved (7)
    ORGANIC. For once the C for Carbon is not part of the anagrist.

    8d Jealous, like the yellow god (5,4)
    GREEN EYED. Based on a poem by John Milton Hayes. Twas evidently situated to the north of Kathmandu.

    9d How chess players see each other in all cases (6,3,5)

    19d US detective going on foot? (7)
    GUMSHOE. A slang name for a detective from the USA that you either know or you don’t. Times X-word GK is like that. You do now so stop complaining!

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