Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 39 minutes
Got off to a flyer. Held up with the NE corner – 8,10,11,15 the last to go in – then I worked out the long one at 7.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I always scan crosswords to see if there are any bird clues – so I solved 13 first. I didn’t think much of that clue so was expecting a not-very-good puzzle, but there are some very neat clues. It is also (on the whole) quite straightforward. A decent start to the week.


10 CHAR,A,BAN,C – daily is another word for charwoman. I think I first came across CHARABANC a few years ago in The Decemberists’ song The Legionnaire’s Lament – they are quite a literary band.
11 POL,TROON – POL=LOP reversed.
12 LITT(L)E[r]
25 TAL[e],ON


2 1,M,ALL RIGHT,JACK – I thought this was a very good clue, although I needed the J of OBJECT before I got it.
7 CASTEL GANDOLFO – anagram of ‘good clean flats’ – I hadn’t heard of this and waited until I’d done the rest before playing around with the letters.
19 TERENC,E – TERENC=anagram of RECENT.
22 OATS – sounds like Oates OATES – sounds like OATS – thanks for pointing out the error, maximus_mouse – well, this was easy – I solved this while eating porridge and I was reading about Titus Oates just a couple of nights ago!
23 S,TOW

32 comments on “23989”

  1. 8:54 – got Castel Gandolfo after about 5 checking letters were in – it’s the Pope’s Balmoral. Struggled with 2D and also 17D, which should have been easy.
  2. At first I thought this was going to be very easy as some of the clues were hardly worth bothering with. But after 20 minutes I had completed only about half of it and had lots of gaps hampered as I was by the two long down answers remaining conspicuously absent.

    After 30 minutes I had completed all but 7, 12 and 15. Eventually I guessed CASTLE GANDOLFO for 7 though I had no idea why other than it was an anagram. This quickly gave me LITTLE at 12 but also the unsolvable ?T?E?N at 15. At 40 minutes I spotted STOLEN and concluded that the first word of 7 must be CASTEL.

    Not a very satisfying puzzle I thought, with 7 being the root of my problems as it gave little or no indication of which summer residence it might refer to, indeed at one point I misread the anagram material and thought we might be in Lord Of The Rings territory with Castle Gandalfo!

  3. 15 minutes – about as quick as I can get. Castel Gandolfo and poltroon last to go in.
  4. 9 minutes, give or take a few seconds. A rare dip under 10 minutes, so it can’t have been that tough. Indeed, the 1s were about as inviting as a start gets. But there were some tricky little things thrown in to make it interesting, and some sublime surfaces. 2d reads beautifully, and is one of those that makes you wonder in hindsight why it took you so long (well, it did me). And TALON at 25 is just funny. CASTEL GANDOLFO is bound to be a talking point (and there’s only one thing worse than being talked about), but I loved it, just for the image of His Holiness having to watch while his towering (and yes, Tolkienesque) summer retreat gets turned into holiday flats for middle managers from Crawley.

    Definitely at the easy end of the spectrum, but it strikes me as both a perfect introduction to Times crossword solving and a nice civilised start to the week for those on the 7.15 to London Bridge.

  5. Filled most of the grid in 17 minutes, but then it took me a while to arrange letters to form CASTEL GANDOLFO, and I wasn’t sure of the answer when I put it in. 2d also took me ages to solve. I thought the maiden was going at the beginning of the second word to make MIGHT. For some reason the answer to the easy 20a eluded me until near the end; once solved the J gave me the answer to 2d. 28 minutes in the end.
  6. At just over 5 minutes this may be my fastest time, but I was helped in no small measure by knowing CASTEL GANDOLFO because I visited the place last year – and, of course, the name stuck in my head because of the resemblance to GANDALF. So, this puzzle was a case of my time being determined pretty much by how quickly I could write. The only sticking point was a bit of thinking for 2D.
    Very easy, but Sotira is spot on – this kind of puzzle is perfect for giving nervous beginners some solving confidence. Difficult to pick a COD because the best clue examples need a little bit of self-kick once the penny drops. Of those which might cause a few head-scratching moments I’d pick 10 as the smoothest.
  7. 45 minutes, with 2d / 7d causing the most problems. The wordplay confusing me in the former case, the unfamiliarity of the Pope’s summer residence in the latter. My determination that it was CASTLE something also gave me a minute or two longer than was strictly necessary on 15ac. COD 7d.

    BTW – shouldn’t 22d in the blog be OATES, not OATS?

  8. And of course, foggy, who can forget the equally literary musical use of CHARABANC in “Peaches” by The Stranglers: “Oh s***, there goes the charabanc”. Some sort of genius.
  9. Is ‘standing’ there simply for the surface? I can’t think what else it’s doing.
  10. Yikes, I struggled with this and come to find most people ripped through it. I’d never heard of CASTEL GANDOLFO, but eventually guessed it from the anagram, never heard of POLTROON, but lucky-guessed it, I knew Troon was where the British Open was played a few times, so I guess there’s a resort there. I’m ALL RIGHT JACK is a Peter Sellers film that came to mind when I got the J from OBJECT. 24 minutes and a sigh of relief.
  11. Certainly seems to have delayed a few solvers, and it got me into thinking I’ve seen a convention in some papers – maybe even the Grauniad? – for including apostrophes in the enumeration. I may be wrong, but feel sure I’ve seen examples such as SHOULDN’T enumerated as (7’1).
    Or am I just imagining?
    1. I think stuff like 7’1 was used in the past in some papers, but something like 15 years ago it was changed in the Guardian – I remember being surprised by (7,6) in that paper for opera title “L’Elisir d’Amore”.
  12. I wouldn’t describe this puzzle as “straightforward” because of CASTEL GANDOLFO defined simply as “summer residence” with no indication as to whose, nor that it’s actually a town containing that person’s summer residence which is actually called something else, nor that it’s in a foreign country so one might expect part of its name, a common English word, to be spelled differently from usual.

    Moan over!

  13. Found this pretty easy in general with a good proportion of the answers coming immediately.Would have been under 6 minutes but for having put castle instead of castle which made 15 harder than it was. I also didn’t see 2 until I got the checking J from object – I thought it was going to be ‘in all….’
    6.13 today
  14. An easy one for me solved in the opticians waiting 20 minutes whilst my wife had her eyes tested. I think Anax is showing his age remembering apostrophes being shown in Grauniad puzzles. I can show my age by admitting that my grandmother used to take me horse racing in a CHARABANC excursion trip! I guess you either know CASTEL GANDOLFO or you guess. No way to work it out and I have some sympathy with the complaints about a rather loose definition.
  15. Got everything but the 2 long ones and ‘Rochester’ in about 20 minutes, then solved 7 by fiddling with the anagram fodder. I had heard of Castel Gandolfo, so it eventually clicked. Unfortunately, I had to resort to google for English castle/cathedral towns (it worked!), and I still couldn’t be sure of 2d, so googled that also. This begs the evident question: why, in the UK, does ‘I’m all right Jack’ mean ‘never mind the others’? Not to mention the other question: why is ‘Jack’ a ball?
    1. I seem to remember hearing that the phrase I’m all right, Jack comes from the navy and highlights the attitude of senior officers toward sailors (jacks). Happy to hear of other ideas…

      A jack is the small white ball used in bowls.

        1. I think your bowls is like a sort of cross country boccie, isn’t it? When we play that over here, it’s usually because we have some Italian-Americans around, so ‘boccie’ is the term used, and the little ball you throw first is called something like the ‘pallina’ by them. So that’s what I usually call it, but now that you mention it, the word ‘jack’ is used.
          1. boccie/bode/bocci is similar to what we know as boules or petanque – the game played on stony courts close to the Mediterranean. Our bowls is on grass and different because the bowls are rolled across the ground rather than thrown through the air. They’re also wooden rather than metallic, and have one side heavier than the other so that they follow a curved path.
            1. You live and learn. I always thought bocci was an Italian dish, which explains why, last time I ordered it, the waiter just brought me a bowl.

              I’ll get my coat.

    2. Kevin, I think the full phrase is “Pull up the ladder, – I’m all right Jack” and I believe I have heard the “Pull up the ladder” portion of it used in the US. We shorten it to “I’m alright Jack”
      1. Interesting, thanks Jimbo. We do use ‘pull up the ladder’ over here to mean something like that, as in ‘pull up the ladder, we’re getting the heck out of here no matter what’.
    3. And you could always go watch the New York Lawn Bowls Club in action in Central Park (or go to their website at http://www.nybowls.com – further proof that civilisation may finally have reached the colonies).
      1. Good Heavens! And in NYC right under my nose! Actually, I have seen lawn bowling in Central Park, and also in Florida, but I didn’t know it was the same thing as bowls. Live and learn. Congrats to fgbp on the blazing solve time.
        1. Yes, congrats to fgbp. Although that time isn’t fast – it’s positively obscene. I’m contacting WADA to demand a blood test.
  16. As others have quoted some fast times I feel less big-headed about recording my own PB after *&&% knows how many years of doing the puzzle of 3:19. Every few months I have a brainstorm where the answers go in without really looking at the clues.
    I think CASTEL GANDOLFO is one of those ones where you either don’t know it or the def “Summer residence” gives it away immediately.
    Off to pub quiz to celebrate 🙂
  17. With a bit of help from a couple of crossword solver’s books (The Complete Crossword Companion 3rd Edn by Jeremy Howard-Williams and Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary 4th Edn) and a thesaurus I almost completed the crossword in about 15 hours (off and on over a month!) but, like Peter, I put down ‘castle’ instead of ‘castel’ and had to come to this page to spot my mistake and then ‘stolen’ was obvious. I am getting there. I should be down to 39 minutes sometime in the next 10 years!
  18. A pretty easy run after yesterday – about 14 mins which is about as good as it gets for me. Liked 2D, 7D and 19D. 7D was obviously an anagram, and it fell into place once I had -A-T-L as I had heard of the place (I seem to remember one of the popes was left lying there dead in the height of the Italian summer and had to be buried double quick when the body started to “hum”)
  19. I had Castle for the (5) in 7d and then got the GANDOLFO from the remainder of the anagrist which caused me to change CASTLE to CASTEL. I had to come here to find out that it is the Pope’s summer residence but it was lurking in the back of the brain somewhere.

    This was sooooo easy that half the puzzle is left out of the blog:

    1a Thriving business’s current worry (5,7)

    9a Transport to school (5)

    13a Spasmodic bird-watcher? (8)

    17a Familiar with a hospital featured in large book (2,4)
    A T H OME

    20a Aim to lodge a protest (6)

    21a Judge first half or recipe book (8)

    26a A Wimbledon umpire should be well informed (4,3,5)

    1d Decline to visit planter? (2,2,3)

    4d One penning chapter finished a quick read? (4-4)

    5d Talk about bowler, say (4)
    C HAT

    6d Practical articles reproduced about electric current (9)

    14d Tell all to turn up fresh (4,5)

    16d Investigation may give her scare (8)

    17d A plank on yacht maybe (6)

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