23,723 – Mornington Crescent

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 11:24

A welcome allusion to everyone’s favourite radio show at 16D. A choice few of Humphrey Lyttleton’s comments on Samantha’s activities are given in the ISIHAC Wikipedia article

(I have just looked at the early comments before posting. A couple of people think Samantha is unlikely to be an ISIHAC reference, but I can’t think of anything else. And the suggestive surface of the clue seems to fit perfectly. Other suggestions welcome.)

The puzzle was fun, and seemed easier than the last couple. I have a couple of minor quibbles or queries below, but indicating TICK by “insect” at 13D is simply a mistake. (On edit: Oh no it isn’t. Thanks to Foggy for pointing out that although the word tick means mite, it is also applied to various parasitic insects, including the crossword-friendly “ked”.)


8 LU(TEN 1)ST – held up by assuming “number one” would provide the final IST
11 P(A PAVER)INE – I could see there would be a paver involved, but I needed crossing letters to work out the rest
12 BEE’S KNEES – ho-ho
14 REBEC(ca) – in commenting on “theorbo” in March, I predicted that there was a rebec just around the corner
17 EQUAL – hidden. I think “is defective” is a tricky containment indicator
22 MARSHAL + SEA – I guess there was no need to indicate that it is a “former” or “old” prison?
24 ST + RING – that’s “tier” in the sense of “something that ties” (though on reflection string is more tied against than tying)
25 GO + TOT + OWN, OWN being NOW* – not keen on “wanting” as a link word
26 OMSK – initial letters. It took me a few seconds’ struggle to avoid writing in AMOK as the only word that fitted


2 OUT + RAG + E(xcite)
13 SLAPS TICK – except that a tick is not an insect
15 CUP WINNER – hard to classify. Not quite a cryptic def, not quite two meanings.
16 SAMANTHA, being (T A MAN HAS)*
18 QUANTUM – two meanings, cleverly combining the precise and loose meanings
20 DROP OUT – I guess this is two meanings, but I am not sure about the “kick”. There are drop-kicks. But where does the OUT fit in? On edit: A 22-metre drop out is a perfectly normal rugby term. Thanks to Foggy, Peter and Harry’s wife for exposing and correcting my ignorance

25 comments on “23,723 – Mornington Crescent”

  1. 7:01 for this – lost time to a ‘policeman’ misreading at 6D and resulting search for ?E?E(?) as the Cornish project. Then made a wrong initial stab at totter rather than teeter for 27A, leading to thoughts of the equally daft TOTTAXITER and TOTCARTTER. Mystified by Sam at 16D (though tickled by the Sorry I Haven’t a Clue idea) and hoping that Richard’s literary strength will fill this one in.
  2. Struggling to get over flu, took the very unwise trip into work for the first time this week. And paid for it. Mulled over this puzzle while also tackling what turned out to be an almost untouched breakfast. After 20-30 minutes, maybe three quarters of the answers in, but then the mind gave up.
    1. After 3 hours the office sent me home – come back on Monday!
      The return journey gave me chance to finish off; very nice puzzle and not surprised the delightful Samantha was so well-received. We’re told she always goes down well. Sole concern was OMSK (although it was solved quickly on first pass) – grammatically, is “in front” right for the construction?
    1. On reflection I suppose “scored” indicates a reference to the old song of the same name – a hit for Kenny Ball IIRC amongst many others. Shame. But I’d like to think the setter was also aware of the extra possibility even though it may go against the conventions of Times crosswords.
    2. After being properly grumpy yesterday the reference to ISIHAC put a smile on my face.

      Of course, it made my colleague grumpy (apparently anything on Radio 4 is ‘obscure’).

  3. 29:32 here – much easier than yesterday which took me well over an hour.
    MARSHALSEA and REBEC went in quickly – both words I had encountered recently in crosswords – I certainly didn’t know a year ago.
    I also thought immediately of ISIHAC when looking at 16D. In 24A I thought of rank as in first string + second string – didn’t consider ‘something that ties’ until looking here.
  4. Time was 8:19. Doubtful about SAMANTHA, although maybe it makes sense to some radio listeners? OMSK caused me some delay, although it’s unusual letter pattern makes it a relatively frequent crossword city I suppose. Jason J
  5. My wife assures me this is a well-known rugby term, when the ball is kicked from the 22m line after a touch down behind the line by the defence.

    Harry Shipley

  6. I agree entirely with Richardvg that Samantha is a reference to the fabled scorer (in all possible senses of that term) in ISIHAC. The suggestion that it might be an allusion to an ancient Kenny Ball song is – pace Anon – absurd. Apart from anything else, the clue has “scores”, not, as Anon says, “scored”, which might just make his/her interpretation possible, if unlikely.
    1. “The suggestion that it might be an allusion to an ancient Kenny Ball song is – pace Anon – absurd”

      It was only a suggestion, there’s no need to be so dismissive about it. It struck me at the time that it was more likely to be a reference to a song from a very famous Cole Porter score (High Society) than to a somewhat tacky radio show. OK, so the grammar didn’t quite fit and I made a typo.

      1. Unless I’m missing something, there’s nothing to connect the Samantha song from High Society with the clue except the name. On this basis, any other 8-letter girl mentioned in any equally well-known song would be a valid answer too.

        Although the ISIHAC reference is rather surprising, it fits much better, so in the absence of anything better, it’s the best candidate.

  7. I’ve finally decided to de-lurk, having been an avid reader of this blog since it started.

    I raced through this, completing all but 22a and 16dn in just under 8 minutes (very quick for me). The final two took another 5 minutes of brain-straining before the answers finally came. Why it took me so long to realise that 16d was (T A MAN HAS)* is a mystery. May I add my vote to the ISIHAC explanation.

  8. Looked up tick in Collins – its 3rd defn: “any of certain insects of thedipterous family Hippoboscdae….”
    Not what one would first think of, but maybe not a mistake?
  9. Mrs de Who? I don’t ever recall seeing REBEC before (though I think I must have) and couldn’t get this. What a sorry week.
    1. Rebecca de Winter is the main character in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, probably best known from the Hitchcock film version. Other words to remember: Manderley, Mrs Danvers.
  10. I got through this in one sitting, probably 12 minutes or so. Tick is a very common term for an insect in Australia and the US, I’ve only visited the UK once, so I had no idea about Samantha, I was thinking a female composer, but it was the only female name that stuck out from the anagram. Much easier than Tuesday or Wednesday.
  11. Peter, Samantha indeed has me totally bewildered!

    But am still not happy with the ‘halved’ in 5d, and agree with Richard on the use of ‘defective’ in 17a. Maybe ‘deficient’ would have worked better?

    About 30 minutes.


    1. “When” halved = EN. I don’t see the problem. According to Chambers “to halve” can mean reduce by a half which seems exactly what the solver is required to do here to “when”.
  12. Belatedly a thank you to Richard for the link to the Wikipedia article on the funniest radio programme of all. Very interesting, and some good links too.

    As for the crossword, it was a relief after the previous day’s, which I found hard and took ages to finish.

    1. The published solution to Jumbo 719 reminds me that one needed to know the radio character Eccles in order to solve and explain the clue 29D. So Samantha was not the first example of such a reference.
  13. A boat crew of “easies” not in the blog:

    6a White wine in bag (4)

    9a Scoop one browses selectively (6)

    10 (What)* terrible spring weather? (4)

    19a Annoyed, window being so opaque (7,2)

    23a Bread I put on compost (4)
    ROT I

    1d Friend gets a restaurant booking – it’s good to eat (9)

    3d Fat and sweaty (8)

    5d Salad plant when halved has to go into water (6)
    (wh)EN DIVE

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