23,835 – challenging but still lovely

Solving time: 12:54

Hardest of the month so far I think, but also one of the best. Had to wait until about 14A for my first answer, and then needed a minute or two on 22A at the end. Lots of very well-made clues here – I liked 1A ,6A, 23, 24 and 26 but wouldn’t be surprised if Anax picks 5 others for the poll.

1 CORNFLOWER – wolf rev. in corner = buttonhole (vb.)
6 HASH – well-disguised 2 defs – pot in the drug sense is easy enough in principle, but putting it with the meat and veg worked well.
8 MA(IDE)NLY – swimmer = IDE – a kind of fish
9 GUIDER = “guyed a”. The group leader of some Girl Guides
10 NEMO = (O,men) rev. The Captain in Jules Vernes 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
11 SU=”US-backed”,R(PR=pair)ISING
12 HANDS DOWN – 2 defs, one from the school classroom.
14 FRAYS – 2 defs
17 SPITZ – T in zips rev.
19 TWENTY-ONE – twice eleven (a team in cricket/soccer/hockey), less one. Same game as pontoon – check the etymology for pontoon to see why.
22 JOLIE LAIDE – (O,lie) in jailed* – “a woman who is attractive despite having ugly features”.
23 ODER = (re,do) rev. I used to object to banker = river, but then discovered that the -er suffix has many meanings
24 CUT=version of film,EST=is French
25 INCH=island,OATE(s) – Captain O. of “I am going outside and may be some time”.
26 B,OUT – one of those ones with a misleadingly precise apparent def. “Boxing match” looks like the def., but ‘boxing’ is part of the wordplay so the real def. is just “match”.
27 HIGH=drunk,MINDED=objected to
1 C/O,MANCHES(ter)
2 RAI(L)MEN(t)
3 LANDSIDE = (lad dines)*
4 WHY ARE WE WAITING – traditional disgruntled chant of Brits subjected to an unexplained delay (sung to tune of ‘O come all ye faithful’). Cryptic def. punning on ‘waiting’.
6 HAIRSPRAY – 2 defs
7 STEPNEY = (yen, pets) rev.
15 SPEARHEAD – H.E. (His/Her Excellency) in parades*
18 PROF.,UM,O – John P, the 1960s Secretary of State for war who fell into disgrace and gave Private Eye one of its first big stories. “Penitent” fits as he did voluntary work for charity for the rest of his life.
21 GLIT(z),CH. – I was looking for a verb “to find fault with”, but the “find” is a Times crossword-ism for “find this answer”.

18 comments on “23,835 – challenging but still lovely”

  1. Much the same story as yesterday with most of the puzzle falling into place quite quickly for me (well under 30 minutes) but then I became bogged down in the SW quarter. I don’t know how I could have lived so long without knowing the term JOLIE LAIDE, but even when I had worked it out from the word play it meant nothing to me whatsoever.
  2. 16:48 here, so I found it easier than yesterday’s. Took far too long to get DETRIMENT and PROFUMO, which then unlocked the wordplay for JOLIE LAIDE, which I had heard of before. Last to go in was GLITCH, as I was also looking for a word meaning “find fault with”.
  3. If that’s the toughest of the month I’m quite pleased to have finished it in about 40 minutes.

    NE corner held me up for ages at the end.

    Some answers I got from the wordplay without being familiar with the answer (spitz, jolie laide) and others from the definition without being able to work out all the wordplay (didn’t know that ide was a fish and hadn’t heard “guyed” as “made fun of”.

    12 would be my nomination for COD.

    1. Well, linxit’s time suggests I might have exaggerated the difficulty a bit, but I’d say that was very good solving with relatively little experience of Times puzzles. Getting stuff right from partial understanding is a very good sign.
  4. After my time at the trough, I was left with 3 again. I don’t know why I didn’t get 24a, probably one of the easiest of the lot. I was convinced that 21d ended in AT CH, and JOLIE LAIDE just beat me. Is there any point me complaining that “guider” doesn’t sound like “guyed a”?. Some quite good clues but nothing outstanding.
      1. Don’t you believe it my friend. We talk funny down here as well let alone overseas. Jimbo.
      2. Folks, let’s not get into homophone wars! There are three reasonable positions on homophones:

        1. They must work in all conceivable varieties of English. This is the end result of many people saying ‘they must work for me’.

        2. No. 1 is impossible, so never ever use them!

        3. They must work in some ‘reference pronunciation system’ – usually the pronunciation given in the reference dictionaries, or R.P./BBC English, which usually amounts to the same thing.

        All three make perfectly good sense. I go for number 3, which is nice for me as it’s what most xwd eds seem to do. But I’ll admit to some bias, never having lived north of Peterborough or west of High Wycombe.

  5. Like many I was left with 22 across and 21 down to figure out at the end. Stopping myself from writing in KVETCH helped me get there eventually, though I couldn’t stop myself seeing it as the only possible solution to “find fault with” for a good long while.
  6. I found this one good fun but quite straightforward and finished in 35 minutes. Like most others had to guess JOLIE LAIDE from the wordplay and was pleased to log on and see it is correct. Other than the homophone no gripes and no particularly outstanding clues either. I guess STEPNEY may be a bit difficult for overseas solvers and of course I lived through dear John P and Ms Keeler so knew that straightaway. Jimbo.
  7. Ack! Two days in a row, and today it was “guider” that undid me. Slow start, fast middle, crawl to the end, sounds like the story of my life.
  8. Good grief, didn’t get the NE corner, missing 7, 9 and 14, the latter of which I kick myself for not solving. The other two, well, I utterly absolve myself, having never heard of Stepney, or these uses of either ‘guyed’ or ‘guider’. So I agree with Peter on his original difficulty rating. Hoping for better tomorrow, regards to all.
  9. I’ve only just done this one, and found it most enjoyable.

    I felt my 12:38 was desperately slow. I made heavy weather of the NW corner, particularly CORNFLOWER, but am blest if I can see why now that I look back at it.

    I’ll go for 12A as my COD – another clue that I should have solved far quicker than I did.

  10. Parsing is: PROF,U,MO not PROF,UM,O.
    RP = “Received pronunciation”.


  11. I’m with our esteemed blogmeister on this one. Dodgy homophones are a mainstay of Times crosswords and will for ever be complained about. The RP = received pronunciation is a load of twaddle as far as I am concerned. We all say stuff a bit different – long may it continue.

    As for Hash = Pot that is a bit of a dodgy DD – I agree with Vinyl1. The HASH is a drinking club with a running problem. End of.

    This was another cracker. It is evident in the blog with only 3 left out:

    5d Look for respect (5)

    16d Means of transmitting messages installed in teleprINTER COMmonly (8)

    20d Gothic script expert (3,4)

Comments are closed.