Solving time 15:12

Made pretty good progress with most of this, but was left with about three answers or pairs of answers, with 21/30 th last to fall. With TIFFIN, Indie, BLUEBOTTLE, CARDIFF, CHELSEA, shut-eye, a reversed owt, and maybe the military version of CASHIER and educational SET, I suspect this will be pretty tough for American solvers.

1 HAM=bad player=actor,MOCKS – “supporters for lying” is a nicely deceptive def.
6 VICTOR = V = second in ‘event’ in the radio alphabet
10 NETTLE = be annoying,RASH=silly
11 INTRODUCED – R in deduction*
14 PATHLESS – S in (the Alps)*
16 TIFF,IN – a snack in colonial India
18 T(E)ASER, E being a (compass) point
20 INDI(CAT)E – Indie = the Independent newspaper, whose free online cryptic crossword is highly recommended if you want to add an extra puzzle to your daily diet.
22 LULU – 2 defs, one the opera left incomplete by Alban Berg but finished since.
24 HARD CHEESE – Camembert being a soft one, most memorably in Monty Python’s Cheese Shop sketch – “I think it’s a bit runnier than you’ll like it Sir”.
26 BLUEBOTTLE – 2 defs, one slang for a policeman
28 SLAM – 2 defs, one from door closing, one from bridge, where the contract is major=important rather than major=spades or hearts.
29 STREAK – 2 defs again
3 M(ON)ARCH – on=supported by, march=moving demonstration
4 CANED = dance*
5 S(O)T
8 ON=working,SET=group of students
12 CASHIER – 2 defs, one = dismiss from military service
15 EARTHWORK – a military excavation – I assume charges are military ones here
17 INTE(r)=almost put in grave,STATE=situation
19 SHUTE YE – Neville Shute of ‘A Town Like Alice’ is the writer, though ‘Australian’ by adoption as he was born in Ealing. Ye is the ‘old article’. I won’t bother you with the details of how it came about or sounded.
21 CHELSEA – punning on ‘Chelsea bun’ and the football club
23 UN(L)IT
27 TWO as in “two’s company, three’s a crowd”, and owt = Northern English dialect for “anything”.

24 comments on “23991”

  1. I had lots of answers dotted around after 20 minutes but no quarters fully complete and it took me a further 20 minutes’ steady slog to fill in all the gaps. No quibbles today but I thought having “out” in the clue to 30 was a bit feeble. I had marked 27 as my COD early in the session but when I finally solved 21 I laughed out loud so that has to be the winner.
  2. Agreed, a straightforward but pleasant enough puzzle. About 30 minutes to solve. I also laughed out loud at 21D but can’t imagine how overseas solvers are going to get it or what Mr Abramovitch might think of it!

    There are some good clues such as 4,5,6 and 8 down but also a tendancy to include what appear to be spurious padding words such as “hard” in 2D.

  3. My ‘par’ score of 17 minutes for this.

    Like Jimbo, I felt there were a few bits and piece left over – like putting together an Ikea wardrobe (but the instructions were better). 10a, in particular, feels stodgy. I enjoyed HAMMOCKS and VICTOR (which felt topical). CHELSEA is a hoot. My favourite is UNLIT for its evocative surface.

    ‘Lulu’ as ‘an outstanding person or thing’ was new to me, but the checking letters didn’t allow for much else. Fair puzzle.

  4. One of my fastest ever at 7:00 but still thought I could have been faster. I had a lull in the bottom half and then took far too long over my last two, 6a and 7d. However, mustn’t grumble. I thought there was plenty of good stuff going on. Like others I laughed at 21d but I’ll nominate 6a as my COD. I may need the self-kickers but I can only see the “opera” definition of Lulu and can’t see “outstanding person”
    1. dictionary.com gives the example “His black eye is a lulu”. Sounds vaguely familiar, probably from episodes of Minder.
  5. Agree with most of the above. About 45 mins for me, which means it must (and evidently was) pretty easy for the speed merchants. 21 dn was the last to go in, which is also my choice of COD. I also liked 6 dn, which combined a beautiful surface sense with a classic sequential cryptic reading, but it was perhaps a shade too obvious for COD.

    It seems to me – pace jimbo – that “hard” can be justified in 2 dn for the purpose of producing a smooth surface and is not therefore spurious. “Hard worker” is a reasonable synonym for ANT, and, although “worker” would have done as well on its own, the compiler needed the adjective in order to be able to insert the adverbial qualifier “very” (= V).

    Michael H

  6. I’m one of the slower ones today – just under 20 minutes and, in most cases, held up for right reasons. Against the grain I had a question mark at 21; Chelsea = a type of bun, yes, but if bunny = like a bun I’m not sure how Chelsea (which is a bun) can only be like one.
    Other picky moments were 11 which should have a question mark if “what’s” is part of a question, and 22 which is one of those “you either know it or you don’t” clues.
    But there was plenty of very good stuff as well and I think the above are pretty minor quibbles, on balance. Like PB I thought 1A very nicely worded, similarly 15D is pleasantly deceptive, but my COD is 5D SOT, a fantastic contruction for such a short word.
    Q-3 E-8 D-8
    1. “Chelsea = a type of bun, yes, but if bunny = like a bun I’m not sure how Chelsea (which is a bun) can only be like one.”

      I read it that Chelsea (which is a club) is like the bun because they share the name, not the other way round.

  7. I was making good progress this, quite relieved that I was onto a better day than yesterday, until I came to a grinding halt with 6ac / 7d / 22ac / 19d / 30ac / 25d / 21d all unfilled after 45 minutes. I’d thought 7d must be CARDIFF, but couldn’t say why, and having pencilled in NETTLESOME rashly (!) for 10ac, I was pretty doomed in that corner. LULU was quite hard, I thought, both definitions being fairly obscure…
  8. Another day of guesswork and luck… NETTLERASH a guess from wordplay, LULU from part definition, BLUEBOTTLE from listening to repeats of the Goon Show on overnight radio when I was a teenage insomniac, EARTHWORK because it fit in the spaces, SHUT-EYE from part definitions (I don’t think Australians really called Shute one of our own), CHELSEA from part definition. 20 minutes.

    I really liked the double def at 20.

  9. I had only associated lulu with something impressive for the wrong reasons – i.e a howler so briefly considered guru as I went through the alphabet.
    I am sure Damon Runyon is* always using ‘Lulu’ in his marvellous short stories (* I know he is no longer around but if you’ve read him you’ll know why I didn’t say ‘was’ – please try them if you haven’t already)
    13.35 today
  10. I groaned out loud at 20 down which is always a good sign. This after 26 across had me saying involuntarily “He’s fallen in the water”. Fortunately I was at home, and alone, rather than at work, where anyone watching might have considered my behaviour odd.
  11. Sorry for missing yesterday, and late entry today, but working for a living kept me away from the computer. I thought Tuesdays, which took me about an hour, was tough and full of too many UK-isms, but, Peter B is on the money, today’s takes the cake, and I am stumped by 7, 13, 15, and 21. Got the rest in an hour plus. Never heard of ‘tiffin’, but just looked it up and there it was. I understand the Chelsea reference from reading people’s comments here, but never would have solved it. I didn’t know Cardiff was a capital, but I had put in ‘bite’ for 13, so I wasn’t getting the crossing 7d anyway. I now see the correct 13 is ‘iota’. Ah well. I’ll give it another whirl tomorrow, regards to all.
  12. 10ac seemed to be this, although of course I’d never heard of it, so the excellent 5dn was a bit of a problem. Until I got 5dn and then 10ac became clear.
  13. Curiously I found this harder than yesterday’s puzzle, which seems at odds with comments above. Didn’t get 21D – although I have heard of Chelsea buns the association with a football club eluded me. Also missed 30A as a result of having “tod” at 27D (a “dot” representing “anything” and “on one’s tod” – yes, I know it doesn’t quite work, but I was desperate!). Got 20A although “Indie” is quite new to me. In Australia by the way a “bluebottle” is neither a policeman nor a fly but a stinging jellyfish with an airbag, rather like a Portuguese man-o-war.
    1. Thanks for checking in – if you do so it may be a solo conversation some of the time, but at least some writers of the original report have the option that tells them about all comments by e-mail, and may come back to you. On 27D: we all know the desperate feeling, but try to resist!
      1. Very kind of you to drop the note.

        I had previously started posting some “Anonymous” comments from Australia but thought I might as well register. I did not seriously expect any UK solvers to return to long-forgotten puzzles but was rather hoping that a few Australian addicts might bite. Only the smallest nibble so far.

        We can’t really add much to the analysis which is pretty well covered by the time we get to it but can perhaps add an Australian slant from time to time.

        If I end up talking to myself all the time I will probably have to subscribe to the on-line version to keep up to date – the trouble is that my only crossword time is on the train to work in the morning!

        Kind regards


        1. The online version does offer a Print button, which gets you a reasonably well-presented copy. Most important feature: unless you’ve got a huge font size set up in your browser, puzzle fits on one sheet of A4.
            1. I’m not 100% that the cheaper of the two membership options will give you the print button. The ‘premier’ version gives you a bigger range of puzzles, and most usefully, the archive which contains puzzles back to about 2000.

  14. As HFC is “The Bulls” then let CFC from here on be “The Bunnies”! Nice one setter.

    Just the 2 littlies today:

    9a Still in uniform (4)

    13a A little piece taken from audiotape (4)
    IOTA. Hidden in aud IOTA pe.

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