23813 Hammered again! (well not quite)

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

 Oh dear! Another difficult one for me today and I suspect that Peter and some others may have finished before I had even put my first word in as that took me at least 5 minutes. Having broken the ice I made steady progress and completed most of it pausing only to check several answers or words in wordplay that were new to me. I felt on the whole that the clues were fair apart from a couple of queries I have mentioned below, but possibly there are details here that I haven’t quite grasped. 

On another tack, I received an e-mail yesterday from worldpay.com advising that Times Newspapers have cancelled my Regular Future Pay agreement which must relate to the Crossword Club. Has anybody had similar?

1 HAMMER – Double meaning. I hoped that incompetence at the one might lead to the other but apparently not. Another typo here in the on-line version “thletic” for “Athletic”.
5 LE(MONAD)E – Glad I had a dictionary handy to look up MONAD – the unit of which reality consists. New to me.
9 MATCHMAKER – (1+10)*
10 TACK – Double meaning again. The less obvious one being a course of action or poilcy.
12 TA,HIT,I – TA= I’m grateful + HIT=encounter + I(sland)
13 R,HEA(r) – I don’t see the purpose of “song” here
15 CAM,I,SOLE – CAM=mac (rev)
19 (tor)RENT – I had not quite sussed this one. I thought it was (b)RENT but couldn’t confirm it. Thanks to Conrad for pointing out that it derives from “torrent”. Where’s that boot?
21 A,SH(L)AR(p) – Another word I’ve not met before. It can also be spelt with an E instead of the second A but the wordplay makes it an A here. I note “An” in the clue becomes “A” in the solution – is this okay?
23 ETERNITY – I can’t see any wordplay here so I assume there’s some literary allusion that I just don’t know. 10:24 I just found it. It’s by William Blake:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour
26 SECOND HOME – Hmmm. Two meanings I suppose. Is a second home necessarily a holiday home?
28 THE LOT – What’s under the hammer – a reference back to 1A. Please, Mr Times Crossword Editor or your type setter, could we have numerals OR words to cross reference other clues and not both in the same puzzle as today on-line.
2 A,MA(1)N – Another word new to me
3 MA(CHINA)TE – Two mixed up pals
4 RE,M1,ND
7 NOT,C.H. – NOT=ton-up. Nice one! My COD for that.
8 DECATHLON – (can the old)*
14 H(AIR_S)PRAY – AIRS as in pretentious airs and graces aka side
16 SCRUNCHIE – (chic nurse)* – another new word to me. I had fun with this one and it was my last to go in
20 BEN(N(ois)E)T – A reference to the Bennet daughters in Pride and Prejudice
24 TEMPO – Hidden word

35 comments on “23813 Hammered again! (well not quite)”

  1. 19A i think goes thus Torrent = mountain stream leaving Tor (=peak) gives Rent (=breach). I was misdirected too in 28A by the ‘one’.
    Congratulations to Michael Macdonald Cooper the 1991 X xword chshp winner who won 8 straight games on Countdown this week. alanjc
  2. Another 40 minute job but not so enjoyable today. I share jackkt’s reservations expressed above. I don’t see the purpose of “song” at 13 across and I found the SE corner very difficult. I don’t understand 23 across so thank goodness for this site, where somebody will know the answer. At 26 across we are surrounded down here by “second homes” that are permanently let out as investments, precious little to do with holidays. And even my wife has never heard of a scrunchie. I liked both 7 and 8 down. Jimbo.
  3. Where’s that boot? Here! – looked for a first-letter subtraction from a mountain stream at 19, and failing to find it, ended up with a 50/50 guess between REND (vb) and RENT (noun). Inevitably I picked the dud. When I later thought of tor=peak I felt very thick indeed, for not thinking either of “if it’s not this wordplay it must be something else”, or ” ‘peak’ would only really work as a first-letter indicator for a down answer”. A good ‘practice what you preach’ story for the course tomorrow. I wrote the right answer at 28 but was baffled by “one” so well spotted, jackkt! (And plea seconded, though the xwd ed doesn’t seem to get much say in what happens on the club site.)

    13A: I think “catch song of” is being equated with “hear” (‘of’ is supposed to be a ‘one-way’ linkword so can’t be a def/wordplay link in this clue [follow the ‘tips&tricks’ tag link if this makes no sense to you]). This seems fair, but the clue would also work with just “catch bird” at the end. Perhaps “catch song of” was considered a more precise def.

    23A: Thank goodness for Google too – a search for “eternity hour” finds this from ‘To See Things’ by Blake, which I should have remembered:

    To see a World in a grain of sand,
    And Heaven in a wild flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour

    Well done anon for mentioning Michael Macdonald-Cooper, who found some very good words in the shows I saw. He’s one of the ten or so people you expect to make the final every time they compete at the Times champs, but clearly enjoys the chatting just as much as the competition.

    1. Thanks for the explanation Peter. I guess I could have gone to Google myself. I don’t recall ever seeing this verse before. Is it well known?

      Good luck with the course tomorrow. Anybody coming from down here will likely need a boat to reach you. The local rivers are all over the place. Jimbo.

      1. Thanks for the flooding heads-up – we have one couple making a long trip but they just confirmed that they’re travelling today and should be OK. The quote seemed vaguely familiar but if Tony didn’t know it, perhaps not.
        1. The quotation must be well known; even an ignorant Aussie like myself recognised it. For those who enjoy cinema you may have noticed it in the (second?) Tomb Raider movie…
  4. Perhaps I have missed it but I don’t remmeber seeing anyone say that “Sort of ring…” = an eternity ring? As the definition?

    Request: have the blogs for M 2470 (clues 24 ac (erica) and 1 d (suitcase) in particular) and for J 734 come out yet? I couldn’t find them here. What about J 736 – or is that too early? (Some of us still can’t get on to the site – after a month!)

    Thanks in advance

    1. 23A: I don’t mind ‘sort of ring’ for eternity, wedding, engagement, etc.

      J 734 report appeared on 11th Jan. The others (overdue M2470 and J736 due today) are my responsibility. I hope to find J736 in the paper rack and write about it, but will have to solve M2470 so that may be a day or two.

  5. 11:20 here for another enjoyable puzzle. I hadn’t come across the word SCRUNCHIE before, and I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t come across the ETERNITY quote either, though I guessed the answer from the initial E.

    At least I got RENT right: I thought for a moment it was going to be derived from “brent”, which has mountainous connotations, but then realised it came from “torrent”. (It’s nice to beat the champ on both speed and accuracy once in a while – I think I’ll make 19A my COD ;-).

    Like others, I made heavy weather of THE LOT, but wonder if “one” (as a word rather than a number) wasn’t deliberate. (How did it appear in the paper version?)

    1. In the paper version it appeared as a figure all on its own. The line anded at “the” so the next line down appeared as just “1?” My eyes aren’t what they used to be and distinguishing it from a capital I was not that easy. Luckily I already had HAMMER so it wasn’t difficult to work out the answer once I decided the setter meant 1 across.

      I feel better about Blake now that I know you had to guess it as well. I’m sure we read Blake at school but I don’t recall this particular verse. Jimbo.

      1. I’ve read some Blake, both at school (I remember having to learn The Tiger by heart!) and since, and am familiar with a lot of his art from various exhibitions (particularly at Tate Britain), but I don’t recall that particular verse either, though it’s well enough known to be included in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.
  6. the poet palmed in an hour?
    family with five daughters?

    I’ve moaned enough this week. Roll on Monday!

  7. I agree with comments about ETERNITY & BENNET, not because they were overly obscure but because they were fairly so AND happened to intersect each other, adding an unnecessary level of difficulty.
    Last to go in was BRAN and I struggled for ages with it, kicking myself a little since BRA has been garment of choice on several recent occasions.
    Refreshing to see a new – and effective – treatment of 5A LEMONADE, avoiding the A in LE MONDE chestnut, and it gets my COD vote.
  8. Still don’t know what a scrunchie is but it fitted so in it went. I too couldn’t work out 19a but went for rent as “makes breach” would really have to equate to rends rather then rend? No?
    I was also prepared to complain about the “song of” in rhea clue but now that it’s explained….
    17 minutes – could have been a lot slower as I wasn’t sure of a lot of the answers when I put them in
    1. A Scrunchie is an elasticated hair band, covered in a soft fabric. My wife uses one to tie her hair back when it’s long enough. The rest of the time it seems to get worn around her wrist, for some bizarre reason.


      1. It’s in Collins but not Chambers. My grand’daughter knew it immediately and gave me one of those looks that suggests she thinks I’m completely beyond the pail. Jimbo.
        1. I meant “the pale” of course. So far as I’m aware my grand’daughter did not mean to imply that I had not only kicked the bucket but passed beyond it. Jimbo.
    2. Breach can also be a verb, meaning ‘to make a breach in’ = rend. If only I hdan’t known that…
  9. Thank you for info. Could not complete crossword because for 21A stear(ic) acid led to stelar, and could not work out 14D.
    1. It’s always worth bearing in mind that “shortly” in the Times, or “briefly” etc or any indication of truncation, will almost always mean just the last letter missing. Also always worth asking oneself if the indefinite article is present for a reason, as here. … hence A + SHAR(P). Not easy!
      1. The other way to avoid STELAR: the possible def “in stone” seems weak if you know that stelar means “relating to stelae”, and that these are specifically stone blocks/columns. (This said despite the recent “It’s tough” for gutta-percha, and the “piece of stone shaped for a particular purpose” meaning of stone – in this case the clue looks as if it could be adapted fairly easily to refer to blocks of stone.)
  10. A very tough crossword, I thought. I happened to get the Eng. Lit. pair in the SE quickly, but then took ages to get SCRUNCHIE. This makes me feel very old. Didn’t know ASHLAR at all, so couldn’t finish. I don’t think ‘jog’=REMIND (4D); I believe that my memory may be jogged, while I may be reminded – but perhaps Collins/Oxford say differently?
    1. Collins (1991) is on the fence: it has “remind, stimulate” as a transitive vb. meaning of jog, but then gives the example “please jog my memory”, which fits ‘stimulate’ but not ‘remind’. On the other hand, it seems to only be one’s memory that can be jogged, so “remind” is clearly in the right area.
  11. Maybe the scrunchie originated over here, but it was very familiar and seemed pretty easy. That allowed me to solve ‘eternity’, because I’ve never heard of either the ring or the verse, but it fit the crossing letters. I absolutely do not understand 5D, though, even after seeing the explanation above. Regards.
    1. I didn’t include 5D in the blog. On reflection it’s not really a very good clue because unless one knows the expression “like a scalded cat” (meaning very quickly) one can’t work it all out by other means.

      “Take to” gives LIKE and “a pet” might suggest A…CAT but that’s the limit.

      Overall it works of course but only if one knows the expression to start with.

      1. Yes, I went for ‘like a whipped dog’ for a long time, despite realising quite early on that it didn’t mean ‘quickly.
      2. Thanks very much jackkt for the clear response, but I confess now to bad typing. 5D isn’t familiar in American, but I figured it out. What confuses me still is 6D, NOTCH. ( Many apologies to jackkt for going to the trouble of the explanation. Kick me here!)Thanks again.
        1. No problem. Others may have been wondering about 5D anyway.

          A “ton-up” is (or perhaps was) an expression much used by bikers to refer to achieving a speed of 100mph on their machines. For our purposes ton up = NOT, then add CH for Companion of Honour and “nick” = NOTCH of course.

  12. Wow, I struggled with this, and I don’t think it’s all due to staying up all night to watch the third Test. Ashlar came quickly (see my blog of Mephisto 2467), scrunchies used to be popular in the US a few years ago, not so much now. Retroactively got hammer (thinking there was something to the online misprint) from tack and crossing letters giving me either watchmaker or matchmaker for 9ac. But it took some referencing to get the whole lot done, phew. Maybe I’ll be awake for next week.
  13. Bit like Times of old with two literary references – knew BENNET and guessed the other (ETERNITY) from ring. Thanks for explaining (TOR)RENT – I’d never have got that. Liked the cross references re MATCHMAKER, THE LOT etc.
  14. 1 AC: thletic activity thus deformed toe (6)

    This reminded me of
    Might etrol be? (4-4)
    in 23798 – which was not a typo …

    Clive Tooth

  15. Quite a tricky one this. The worst thing about it was my LOI ASHLAR at 21a that I had never heard of before. A masonry term for a shaped piece of stone. My excuse is that I am a geologist and not a stone mason.

    I was OK with the literary crossers at 23a and 20d because I knew about the Bennet girls in P & P and had heard about Eternity rings even if I was not familiar with Blake’s poem.

    There are half a dozen omissions from the blog. Some have been discussed a bit above but here they are together:

    25a Refuse to add name to garment (4)
    BRA N. Nice to know I have rubbish flakes for breakfast.

    27a Prepare theatre program in the usual parts (8)
    TYPE CAST. It took me ages to see this one but it seems to work OK.

    5d Very quickly take to a pet that’s in pain (4,1,7,3)
    LIKE A SCALDED CAT. The literal is “very quickly” and the cryptic is “take to” (LIKE) “a pet that’s in pain” (A SCALDED CAT).

    6d It’s the moment for some gospel, but fail to come forward (4,4)
    MARK TIME. Not JOHN or LUKE HOUR. Matthew is right out.

    17d In a state (as banker)* goes bust (8)
    NEBRASKA. Not Scotland for a change.

    22d Thrust head out of dive (5)
    (P) LUNGE

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