A nicely tough work-out. For me the tricky clues were at the bottom, with the last few saolved being 22/24, 17, 16,27,15. COD for me was 5D. A very minor weakness is that one=1 and one’s = 1’S appear three times between them.

Solving time 17:47

4 ARM(AG)ED,DON – a nice clue from the usual ARM AGED DON carve-up of this fairly frequent grid denizen.
9 LONG(WIN,D)ED – land (vb.) = win
10 MAR=RAM rev.,X
11 SI = one’s back (one’s = 1’S),LENT
12 M(EEKN=keen*)ESS
15 BEV(v)Y – the ‘bevy or bevvy’ for a drink is restricted to Chambers, so if Collins and Concise Oxford are still the official dictionaries, it’s the drink = BEVVY explanation, though it matters little.
17 WOR=row rev. = “on reflection rank”,DS=Detective Sergeant = detective,MITHS=”myths”
20 AJAX – ajar with X replacing R
21 A=area,SAW,HOLE
23 Y,EAST(=bridge player),Y – saw the Y(…)Y construction immediately but hastily dismissed it as not fitting any English words
24 GRIP – 2 def’s – though I nearly said GRIP(e) with gripe (as in “my gripe”) = interest – I also toyed with GAIN, but didn’t write it in the grid, as only ‘bag’ made sense.
26 SO=note (var. of soh),OTH(SAY)ER = as = say = for example
27 inDUSTry – I agree with commenters that the surface is a bit clunky, but not that “Hopes to” should be replaced by “Hopes can” – hopes turning to a sector of industry doesn’t work for me any better than “hopes to …”.
2 ODORIFEROUS = (1,does for our)* – a classic example of Times-style slightly amended anag. fodder (one => 1) which fortunately I saw quickly, and my mental anag. muscles kicked in before writing a letter-jumble
4 AR(1’S)T.O/S
5 MAD,A.(ME)B.,UTTER(F)LY – &lit – not my favourite Puccini, but my mental image of Pinkerton (the cad who leaves the pregnant Butterfly in Japan and returns married to Kate – one of the most thankless parts in any Opera), has him in a sailor’s uniform.
6 GODS,END – gallery=>gods is one for the Times beginner’s notebook
7 DRAKE – refers to the famous bowls game on Plymouth Hoe which there was time enough to finish and “thrash the Spaniards too”. Brief temptation to think of Grace who I think bowled a bit, but he didn’t fit.
8 N.(EX-)U.S.
13 SUN DA(YTI= (p)ity rev.)MES – for any baffled overseas solvers, Page Three girls are topless models in the Sun newspaper.
19 SHY,STER(n) – a crooked lawyer – solved by a bizarre route – thinking of TAPSTER = the wrong kind of bar person, then seeing how much of the wordplay worked and how much needed replacing.
21 ‘ANG US – Eastenders being residents of London’s East End and therefore Cockneys who for xwd purposes drop aitches
22 AMIGO – (lOnG fIlM wAs) rev. – China = china plate = mate – Cockney rhyming slang.

35 comments on “24003”

  1. It took me a while to get onto this setter’s wavelength and I was 6 minutes in before I entered my first word, AJAX at 20ac. But I stuck with it and gradually it all started to fall into place so that on the dot of 60 minutes I wrote in ARISTOS at 4dn to finish it off. I was pleased that there were no obscurities or meanings to check on arrival at work and I have no gripes or grizzles about anything else.

    17 is my COD
    QED 0,8,7

  2. Got disturbed half way through so about 40 minutes. Just one, for me, dubious clue/solution at 14 – why “one very” ?
  3. About 40 minutes today with some difficult but rewarding clues. A very nice puzzle. I like 5D as well as 17A. In amongst all the roses, 21D is disappointingly corny and I have a problem with 27A. Wouldn’t “Hopes can turn to this” be better?
    1. Yes, I thought the same on 27A: ‘Hopes can/may…’ without the ? seems better to me. I also fell for GAIN in 24A, after which it was hard work. I choose 4D as COD.

      Tom B.

  4. Tough for the man on the Clapham omnibus. Had a few clues in after 15 min, and then succumbed to on-line assistance. Not helped by the fact that the shorter the answer, the more devious the clue. Nonetheless, an entertaining hour. COD for me was the cleverly constructed 5Dn.
  5. The way I see the solution is that both bevy and bevvy mean a drink, and you take the one having a single v, i.e. bevy, a large group.
  6. 20.25 – tough but enjoyable. I gave myself a real problem by putting in GRAB at 24 – it still seems a valid answer, with “bag” in the sense of “to seize”, and Chambers gives the definition “to impress or interest” for GRAB. This gave me A_A_O at 22d, which I looked at for a while in increasing misery. Was there an epic war film called Alamo? Or was this an exotic kind of porcelain I’d never heard of? Eventually I saw how the clue worked and was able to correct the mistake.
    1. I’ve changed my mind. It must be GRIP – which is a BAG and means INTEREST GREATLY (or A LOT)
  7. This one looked pretty innocent, but by the time I dredged up WORDSMITHS 26 minutes had passed (I thought it was going to by my warhorse moment from yesterday). I loved the image conjured up by 11
  8. …it all falls apart – amazing how quickly the catch-the-wavelength skills dull when you have a few days away from the puzzle. Proof, as if it were needed, of how valuable our crossword is for keeping the brain in trim.

    So I spluttered home after 45 minutes, much of it spent staring rather blankly at the grid. Nowt wrong with the clues as far as I could see; just very slow on the uptake for this blogger.

    Oddly, GRIP was a fairly early entry and one of the least troublesome for me, but 1, 9, 17, 26, 27, 3, 16, 19 and 21 all took far too long.

    COD for me is 5D; brilliant &lit based on long wordplay.

    Q-0 E-8 D-9 COD 5D

  9. I also have amigo and gain, but do not full see the ‘- a lot’ in 23 ac. Please explain.
  10. Ditto. I put gain originally, but then had a rethink and changed it to grip, which I am sure is correct, for the reasons explained.
  11. 29 minutes. I surprised myself by enjoying this, despite a lot of the sort of complex wordplay that usually has me tearing my hair out and cursing the setter. I must be spending too much time on this site. But what won me over was the rich vocabulary of the solutions – full of the sort of words that make a person fall in love with language. From the top line ‘Come Armageddon’ to the soothsayer foretelling how it will end – dust – the whole thing is rather poetically Apocalyptic. And I loved the second row pairing of ‘long-winded Marx’ (he sure is). Below that is the silence of meekness. Being reminded of words like ‘nexus’, ‘aristos’ and ‘yeasty’ is one of the reasons I do crosswords.

    There was a lot of satisfaction in solving (eventually) the likes of SUBEDITING, WORDSMITHS and SOOTHSAYER, and, of course, the brilliant MADAME BUTTERFLY. I agree with George about 11ac – I love the idea of someone having a secret life as a librarian. I made exactly the same mistakes as Sabine, pencilling in ‘grab’ and ‘alamo’ at 24 and 22, before the light dawned on 22.

    Is there a specific literary reference for hopes turning to dust? I thought perhaps it was TS Eliot but apart from the ‘handful of dust’ line, I can’t see it. Biblical? Proverbs?

    1. “Is there a specific literary reference for hopes turning to dust?”

      The only reference I have been able to find is in The Kolbrin (often referred to as the Kolbrin Bible). The third paragraph in Chapter 25 of the Book of Scrolls is:

      ‘O live my soul, awaken, hear me. Let not my love and my sacrifice be in vain, let not all my hopes turn to dust within the tomb. Can love become soil and hope become sand? Never, for the grave is not the destination of the sublime attributes which ennoble the nature of man.


      1. Thank you, GRM. Interesting stuff, though I gather the Kolbin Bible may well be “a literary hoax, albeit brilliantly conceived and very well written”.
      2. I don’t think we need a literary ref – if you Google for the phrase “hopes turn to dust” you find various newspaper headlines and the like, with “China and Liu’s medal hopes turn to dust” the most recent example – presumably from a press agency, judging by the wide range of papers that used it.
    2. Sotira has, I suspect unwittingly, unearthed the obscure NINA for pop addicts/fans of Morrissey only 🙂
      1. I am actually a Smiths/Morissey fan (guess when I went to university) but I hadn’t made the association. Well spotted.
  12. 40 minutes or thereabouts and this felt more like a chore than a pleasure.

    Despite Peter’s best efforts to explain I can’t see how as = say in 26. Can someone come up with a substitution example?

    Q=0, E=4, D=9

    Were I familiar with the plot of Madame Butterfly I’d probably have picked 5 as COD, but I’m not, so I won’t.

    1. I struggle to remember as = say, as I don’t use it that way. Collins gives “Capital cities, as London”, so I guess “Capital cities, say London” is my substitution example, though “Capital cities – London, say” seems more natural to me.
    2. ‘As’ meaning ‘for instance’ definitely occurs, but very rarely (I think lawyers might have a fondness for it). The only examples the OED Shorter can offer are from Addison – “I pluck’d about Five different Sorts… as Wild-Time, Lauender, etc” and JP Donleavy (a somewhat convoluted piece of dialogue). I think you hear the echo of it in the compound ‘as when’, introducing an example.
  13. Didn’t appreciate the convoluted wordplay of a lot of clues until after completion. Slow start and definitely found the setter to be on a different wavelength from standard. Made it all the more enjoyable for me. 5d my COD among some other good ones – a couple of iffy ones as well.
    13.54 today
  14. a tough but fair wednesday puzzle. it took me a long time 75 mins but finished with Wordsmiths and wa satisfied…COD Madame Butterfly
  15. A brilliant puzzle, I thought, especially with no obscure words among the answers, but skilful misleading wordplay, always fair when light dawned.
  16. Nobody (not even Peter in his blog) mentioned 25ac, which I thought was the COD. Magnificent clue.

    I also liked 5dn and thought it was very good, but it seems to be marred by the ‘snared’, when ‘snares’ would do just as well for the def. and improve the wordplay. Or am I missing something?

    1. The sailor snared Butterfly in the opera. In this sense the past tense is best, since emotional crux of the opera is that the sailor has gone away leaving Butterfly heart-broken.

      The present tense works better at the other level where “me” is pulled into place in the construction. I wont quibble though, since I cannot recall a similar clue there you get a definition and a set of assembly instructions from the same string of words without any redundancy.

      A thing of beauty!

  17. Agreed, it’s a good &lit clue and the wordplay is very accurate, but in what language is that the title of the opera? The Italian title is Madama Butterfly and it’s usually rendered in English as Madam B.


    1. If you Google “madame butterfly” you get 1,380,000 hits vs 202,000 for “madam butterfly”, so I would take this as the valid English. I deplore the fact but have to concede that Google is going to become the great leveller when it comes to defining the English language.

      We will all be using “color” and “thru” by the end of this century.

      (And the spell checker has just thrown out “leveller” – stuff them!)

      1. Ah yes, why rely on the authority of Grove (condensed version, admittedly) when we have Google at our disposal?


  18. I did this a day late, having left it behind yesterday when I went to my usual solving spot (so tackled the Bank Holiday Jumbo instead). I had similar experiences to those above, torn between GAIN and GRIP, but eventually seeing the latter fitted the whole clue. I was held up in the SW corner by writing in AFTERSCORE (FORECASTER*), thinking it might be some sort of musical note. 5d is COD for me, but I liked a number of others, notably 4a, 11, 26, 2d, 4d. In fact, a pretty good set of clues all round.

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