Solving time: 14:38

A mistake at 20d held me up for a while and I’m glad I knew the literary reference at 14d and was able to guess 17a without knowing much about the opera otherwise I would have struggled some more with those. COD is probably 21d.

1 (EARS)* in PHD – I really liked this clue, although it took me a while to spot PHD for “what doctor may have”.
10 GAMB[-i]A – the Viol da GAMBA
11 MOMENT OF TRUTH – I wasn’t really convinced by the spin-doctor bit of this. Surely spin-doctoring is more than just avoiding the truth?
13 HATH,AWAY – given that this is the Times crossword, this must be a reference to Shakespeare’s wife rather than the still-living star of The Devil Wears Prada (Incidentally, my brother-in-law is rather fond of going up to people in well-known tourist locations and asking in an American accent: “Is this the way to Anne Hathaway’s
15 A in NIM[-r]OD (reversed)
17 TA,PING – a guess for me as I don’t know the opera well enough. Perhaps someone who does can explain the reference?
19 CO[-st],US,CO[-st]US – the last one in for me but probably only because I made a mistake at 20d so I was
looking for something that fit ?O?S?I?S
26 (LUST OR ONE)* – TURN LOOSE. Well hidden anagram.
28 SEL[-f] in DENY
2 READMIT – I don’t really get why this is a cryptic clue.
3 SALE,M – the name used before “Jerusalem”.
14 (ENERGY GAS)* – I’ve always thought, rightly or wrongly, that the Times puzzle requires a little more Eng.Lit. knowledge than the other cryptics and it’s this kind of clue that confirms that – for me, at least. “Acton” is a reference to Acton Bell, the psuedonym that Anne Bronte published under (Charlotte was Currer and Emily was Ellis) and AGNES GRAY was her first novel (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall being the other.)
16 DOGE,[-d]ARED
18 P,A,LAVER – “laver” is an edible seaweed, used to make – surprise surprise – laver bread.
20 SH in O,NORE – I would have solved this puzzle a lot quicker but for a mistake here. I filled in INSHORE
without really knowing why and thinking “I’ll work it out later”. When I couldn’t get 19a I looked at it again and decided that ONSHORE was right but again I didn’t know why (apart from the definition I mean). A bit of Googling revealed this, which explained the “scene of mutiny” bit .
21 APT in LOP
23 ASLAN[-t] – the lion in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
24 DE[F for IT]Y


17 comments on “23,795”

  1. Something of a struggle again today in two sessions so I lost count of the time but I doubt it was much under an hour. The long holiday may be taking its toll now.

    And I still have at 5 clues not fully explained so I’m rather glad it’s not my Friday for writing the blog or I should have to get busy with the reference books.

    Additionally I have a couple I think I understand but don’t much care for unless there’s something I’m missing. I shall wait for Neil’s blog before voicing my doubts.

    Nothing leaps to mind as COD so far, though I quite liked 19.

  2. A bit harder today. 45 minutes to solve. Guesses at 17 across, 14 down and 20 down. The comments about the Times and literaty references is well founded. It used to be worse when they did those literary quotation clues “To be or … to be” only rather more obscure. I still think they lack balance with insufficient scientific/maths references. In amongst a lot of good clues I rather liked 9 across with “one being shelled” = snail. Jimbo.
  3. 17: Apparently Ping and Pang and Pong are the names of officials who organise Turandot’s wedding. I suppose they might qualify as ministers if one knows the story better than I do.

    I still don’t understand the reason for “welcome” in 2.

  4. A very nice puzzle today I thought. My own COD: 22ac (WALLS HAVE EARS).
    I’m proud to say that I’ve never heard of the other Anne Hathaway, despite seeing a bit of that “Prada” film over the holiday. I won’t be rushing out to buy the DVD 🙂
  5. Forgot to add that I don’t understand 2D either.

    Also, since I’m still locked out of the Times site, they won’t answer the phone and the nearest they’ve come to answering my emails is to tell me to re-complain if the problem hasn’t magically sorted itself out during the holiday (!), if anyone who can get into it could post a link to this week’s Listener one when it comes up, I’d be much obliged.

    1. I’ve just managed to get into the Times site for the first time in ages. It involved a re-registration (no extra money required) but it does now seem to work!!!! Jimbo.
      1. Won’t let me even re-register Jimbo. Keeps directing me to the thing where it sends you an email, then says the email has expired.
        Did you re-register under a different username then, and still connect to the crossword club?
        1. I sent an e-mail complaining just before Christmas. I got a reply today saying try again. I did and used my usual username and password. Instead of once again telling me it didn’t recognise my details it directed me to a new registration screen, already filled in with my details. I re-entered my password and it accepted me back into the fold. Hope you have some success. Heavens knows what they’ve been doing. Jimbo.
  6. I rather liked COUSCOUS which when being asked if you’d like any in the middle-east allows you to answer “only a half a portion” which I think works in both Arabic and Hebrew. What half of COUSCOUS means is a 4 letter word in English.
  7. I also have been locked out of the Times puzzle site for some time, and only got today’s puzzle via finding a link on the 12/12 page of this blog, from Paul. (That 12/12 puzzle appeared in the NY Post on 12/27, and I was checking my answers on that day’s posting.)Thank you Paul. I’m going to keep using your link which gets me the daily puzzle without needing to log in at all. I’ve already paid them, after all.
    I don’t understand 2D either, and my favorite was 22A. Happy New Year.
  8. I’m fairly sure 2D is just a cryptic definition, with a jocular allusion to a familiar phrase from what used to be ITV.

    This was pretty tough overall, but there are some very nice clues and I enjoyed the checking of STRETCH and SALOON. I agree with someone above and choose 21D as COD.

    The references in 17A and 20D were beyond me, but the clues were solvable.

  9. Didn’t do this one as cannot get onto site – have been unable to do so since before Christmas. I too get the ‘please click on link’ thing which is immediately no longer valid. I registered in December as was going away for Christmas, It worked fine until the day I went away. Are they always like this? I am back in UK day after tomorrow, so I expect I will be able to log on at exactly the same time as I am able to buy a Times again. Very angry.


  10. 14:29 for me, with DENSELY and DEFY holding me up for a couple of minutes at the end. I parsed 10A wrongly and wasted time trying to remember what GABION meant, and whether it could really be an old instrument.

    I can’t see 2D being just a cryptic definition (unless I’m missing something obvious), at least not in 2007, though I’d have been quite happy with it 50 years ago. The best I could come up with was the idea of readmission to hospital after breaking a bone, but I didn’t find it very convincing. (“Welcome back after a break” would suit that interpretation better, but would lose the ITV allusion.)

    Apart from the mysterious 2D I found this a most enjoyable puzzle, and choose 13A as my COD (very neat, and I don’t recall seeing it before).

  11. Featuring old instruments Viola de … at 10a and apparently a double dose of Arabic naughtiness at 19a.

    There are a boat-load of “easies” not in the blog:

    5a Make to go further in sort of limousine (7)

    9a Slow delivery of armour to one being shelled (5,4)

    25a Current holder of licence doesn’t get started (5)
    (D) RIVER

    27a Run into Ben – yes, run! (5,2)

    1d Pretentious-sounding bunch (4)

    4d Approach tense listener (4,4)

    5d Car’s appeal to idiot (6)
    S.A. LOON

    12d Conversations have value in house (10)

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