24017 – Quirky

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Time taken to solve: Don’t ask!

I got off to a flying start in the NW corner and thought it was going to be an enjoyable if quirky ride; just the sort of puzzle I love. But it didn’t take long for me to grind to a halt and I soon found myself slogging very slowly through it and placing lots of queries in the margins on things I didn’t quite understand or agree with. Most of these are now resolved but not all. I shall be interested to read how others got on.

6 S(ail),COW
9 BUD,GE(RIG)AR – Shoot=bud. Drugs=gear. Equipment=rig.
10 RIGA – A GIR(l) rev. The capital of Latvia.
12 LOVE-IN-IDLENESS – This was a real pain in the neck. I can’t find anything in the dictionaries to support Puck=pansy=love-in-idleness but it’s in Wiki and elsewhere on the interweb. Its name comes from an incident in A Midummer Night’s Dream apparently. On edit: I was wrong about Puck=pansy. I’ve now posted the reference in the thread below.
14 S(T(errace)E)P IN
15 PO(INCA)RE – Henri of that name apparently. Never ‘eard of ‘im.
17 IN,DIAMAN(te) – It’s a ship from the days of the Raj. Quarter here means two of eight letters.
19 RUMP(o)LE – He who must obey She
25 BAR,ONE,T,AGE – It can be an annotated list of baronets apparently. I didn’t know this secondary meaning.
26 NOSE – Sounds like “knows”
27 CON,DESCEND- I can’t quite get my head round this one. It seems to be a reference to court procedure where the judge, or an official, orders the prisoner just sentenced to be taken down to the cells. And one might condescend to do someone a favour I think, although I can’t actually find this saying in the dictionaries. I wonder if I’ve missed something here because it really doesn’t work for me.
1 COB,B – Jimbo will enjoy this one on his hols, but for many people the Cobb at Lyme Regis in Dorset will be known mainly for its association with  Meryl Streep as The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
2 TAD,POLE – Young Kermit indeed!
4 ORIANA – Hidden.
5 G.R. AND, SON – If I have followed this clue correctly I assume George III must have been George II’s grandson.
16 CA(STRA)TO – (Star)* inside the Roman censor.
18 DU(CH)ES,S(olvent) – Dues = subscription here. Not sure about Duchess= great lady though. Grand maybe
20 PRE,SAGE – Another odd one that makes me wonder if I’m missing something. The wise man has yet to arrive so we are pre-sage? If that’s it, I don’t think much of it.
21 H(A,R(ex)OLD
23 FEUD – Sounds like “Few’d” as in “Few would”. A feud is a prolonged quarrel but is it really without end? I was looking to knock some letters off something but apparently this is not required.

39 comments on “24017 – Quirky”

  1. 17:55 for this. Also found it very hard, just getting three four-letter answers (10/24/26) on my first look through the acrosses. Did much better with the downs and got most of the left side done in around 7 mins, then battled through to the rest, with 20/27 the last pair.

    12: A lit. ref. that you and I don’t know? Maybe in MND, Puck fetched this flower for someone – dropping ‘puck fetched’ from the clue leaves a charade: nothing, being lazy = LOVE,IN IDLENESS. The friendly checking letters make it a stock (floral pun!) answer, so those with good memories for Times answers may have thought “4-2-8? Surely not Love-in-idleness again!”.

    27: I think you’re looking for something too subtle – Man just sentenced = CON, to = link-word, be taken down = DESCEND, the rest is the def.

    20: I think sage is an adjective here, often applied to the old and wise, so it’s one’s wisdom that has yet to arrive.

    COD: 9A, now that I actually understand it – when solving, checkers plus def. and ‘RIG’ seemed like enough proof.

    Edited at 2008-09-12 07:37 am (UTC)

    1. 2: Yes,here’s the reference pinched from Wikepedia

      Love-in-idleness is one of the many old names for the pansy. Shakespeare uses the name in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 2, Scene 1) where Oberon (Fairy King) takes revenge on Titania (Fairy Queen) and sends Puck to retrieve the flower:

      Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
      It fell upon a little western flower,
      Before, milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
      And maidens call it love-in-idleness.

      The juice of the magical purple Love-in-idleness flower, when dripped into someone’s eyes, was reputed to cause that individual to fall in love with the next person they see (or, in Titania’s case, the next creature).

    2. You are probably right, Peter, but I don’t think that reading accounts for “just”.

      And “be taken down” = “descend” is certainly not something that springs immediately to my mind, though I can see that it might fit in the right context.

      On reflection, if it hadn’t been for “just” I would have bought it all without question.

      1. “man sentenced” is of course enough to get you to CON. For me, elaborations like “man just sentenced” are permissible to improve the surface. There is a school of thought that says that once you’ve got enough words to define CON, no more should be added. To me this is over-fussy. After all, you could say that “Man” should be “Person” as a con=convict could be female.
        1. I took ‘just’ here to be in the sense of impartial, righteous, perhaps referring to the ‘Twelve just men and true’ traditionally making up a jury. Although as far as I know it’s actually the judge rather than the jury that sentences,

          Tom B.

          1. Ingenious thinking, but it doesn’t quite work as those twelve men are usually “good” rather than “just”.

            This leads on to some musing:

            A book on maths that I really will read properly one day talks about two halves of a mathematician’s brain. Paraphrasing, one half does insights – thinking of things that could be true. The other does proofs – it’s cautious and doubting, to make sure they really are true. It’s easy to think that mathematicians are good at one or the other, but the great ones are good at both – the two halves are “not at war, but in conversation with one another”.

            Most of you will have already guessed my view that solvers need a similar two halves working together – the “how about this for an answer?” half, and the “does it all fit?” half.

            BTW: In the book, you only need to reach p.57 to come across Poincaré.

            1. The book’s worth sticking with. I’m no mathematician but could understand enough to get some sense of the beauty they’re trying to bring out. Best taken in small doses, however (unless you’re a mathematician).

              Tom B.

        2. Point taken. I suppose one’s POV may be influenced by how easily one solved the clue. If one sees the most likely answer quickly then bungs it in and hopes for the best, then that’s fine. But if one is really struggling with it, as I did with this, one looks at every word in the clue as a possible key to the solution. It’s a bit galling later to find that one has been agonising over a word had no relevance at all.
  2. At last. A puzzle on my wavelength. I don’t record times, but probably about 15 minutes. And no cheats.
  3. Sorry this was horrible beyond belief. Did not enjoy it all. Couldn’t get started. 0/10 for the setter.
  4. I sailed through half of this one then ground to a halt and almost gave up – I was eventually very pleased with a time of about 16 mins. I thought barrister = RUMPOLE might be a bit obscure for some solvers (does Rumpole travel outside the UK?) though he’s always been a favourite of mine. Opted for GRANDDAD rather than GRANDSON initially at 5D, through careless clue analysis, which stopped me getting POINCARE until I realised the mistake.
    1. Rumpole of the Bailey is a familiar character on public television here (PBS). He who noted that “she [who] must be obeyed…”.
  5. What the heck happened to easy Friday?

    About 27 minutes for me, but I goofed on the pansy. I just couldn’t bring the reference to mind and ended up with NONE-IN-IDLENESS. Jackkt’s reference to the plant’s purported (and, to say the least, high-risk) magical powers brought it all back. No complaints about the clue, though. It’s a lovely, evocative name. Shame on me for forgetting (I must start wearing garlands of forget-me-nots, never to forget my love-in-idleness).

    23d – FEUD. Where’s Jimbo? Call that a homophone? I’m pretty sure “few’d” is two syllables for most people.
    Quibble #2 – Unless people are protecting me from some terrible news, Kermit is plainly still living.

    When I solved it, I thought PRESAGE was a wrong’un. Then thought about it some more and realised it’s brilliant. But I’ll give my COD nod to the budgie on drugs, just for the image.

    QED – 1, 8, 8 A clever, interesting puzzle.

        1. And I have to say, Sotira, that I eagerly scan each blog to read your entries – they always raise a smile and I thank you for it.
  6. …had me staring at PISA for 10, i.e. <A S(L)IP, thinking “Oops” – had moved on to a number of other clues before I realised the mistake was mine.

    The only other real trouble spot was the pairing of 13/14, the latter especially because I saw “ends of terrace” as CE, which inevitably led to futile head-scratching.

    This was a very good mental workout with few ha-ha moments but plenty of challenge. 15 would I fear be too obscure for most (I guessed it) but, after a 20 minute struggle, I got there and felt quite chuffed.

    Q-1 E-7 D-8 COD 8 (not brilliant, but deceptively tough fodder to unravel)

    The quibble is the comparatively obscure POINCARE which could have been replaced with something easier.

  7. Too clever for me! 6 clues in half an hour was all the punishment I could take, before coming here for enlightenment. Perhaps the Saturday Prize Crossword will be easier?
  8. 10.52, with the SE corner last to crack. I think I was lucky here to be on the same sort of wavelength as the setter.

    Didn’t see RUMPLE immediately, and was concerned there was going to be some Dickensian lawyer Id never heard of called Jumbole or something equally unlikely.

    Like Penfold I was very tempted by LIMA at 10a for a while, possibly semi-subconsciously led astray by that “Peruvian” in 15a, just three clues further down. The name Poincaré was familiar though I didn’t think he was a mathematician, but it turns out there were a few well-known people in the family and I think the one I’d heard of was the politician.

  9. 43 minutes and I don’t think I’d have been able to finish it without wikipedia and word wizard.

    I had Lima in for 10 for a while but taking Peter’s adage “if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t” I tried to think of more capitals and the penny dropped. Lima nearly worked being part of Camilla reversed with al (a pound) missing at one end but the instruction to drop the C wasn’t there.

    An enjoyable challenge on the whole, with some interesting clues.

    Q-0, E-8.5, D-9, COD 16 (he said in a high-pitched voice).

    1. Penfold, you have reminded me I didn’t put a QED score as I usually do. I’d go for 2-8-9.

      I felt the setter intended to compose a quirky (sorry, it’s the third time I’ve said this today) puzzle and to some extent achieved this but something went wrong along the way and it lurched into the odd obscurity and dodgy clue.

      But if I have to face a difficult puzzle on my day for blogging I would far prefer a lively beast like this rather than one where my mind shuts down through boredom.

  10. I can’t quote a time due to completely disrupted day, but I did enjoy this one more than most people seem to have. I think POINCARE’s fair game (more so than 12A) and have no problem with few’d sounding like feud.

    Tom B.

    1. I toyed with ‘PHEW’ sounding like ‘FEW’ (not many) and equal to quarrel = FEUD without the end (i.e. FEU).

      Not my day!

  11. Like Sotira, I went for NONE IN IDLENESS. Guessed INDIAMAN, had an advantage on the budgie. I liked 5d and 20d nice breaking up of the words, but ultimately done in by not brushing up on my shakeyspeare.
  12. The most noticeable thing about this one is the range of difficulty ratings – all the way from “couldn’t get started (no. of solutions not explicitly stated)” and “6 in half an hour”, to “on my wavelength” from a couple of solvers, with roughly “average daily puzzle” times.

    No great surprise – this often happens with harder puzzles, and the Times Crossword Champion each year is possibly the person whose “on-the-wavelength rating” was highest for the harder puzzles.

    A downside of this blog is that it tempts you into the “I can’t do this so I’ll look at the blog” option a bit too easily. Try to go for the “I can’t do this so I’ll have another go later” option instead, or “I can’t do this so I’ll ask a friend to look at the blog and give me a few answers, and then carry on”.

    Tip on the (LOVE or NONE)-IN-IDLENESS choice: I claim, without doing any legwork except remembering JACK-BY-THE-HEDGE, that hyphenated plant names all start with nouns or maybe verbs (‘none’ is pronoun / adj. / adv.)

    1. George and I were obviously thinking of Saxifraga Umbrosa – the None-so-pretty, which may be the exception that tests the rule.

      There’s a lovely digitized 1886 book at
      It’s full of poetry. Just scroll down a little from the link to see Love-in-a-mist, Love-lies-bleeding… and, of course, Love-in-Idleness.

  13. More than 90 minutes for me and I didn’t get POINCARE despite being a mathematician myself. Shame, shame. Put LIMA instead of RIGA. Couldn’t quite get to grips with the Georges for a long time. I had to guess the LOVE-IN-IDLENESS once I had most of the crossovers.
    And that BUDGERIGAR took simply ages (Canberran? Aborigine? Marsupial…?!)

    Best Regards, Nico.

  14. Too tough for me – definitely one for the 45+ solver.

    Interesting thoughts on the bipartite mind of the Mathematician, Peter. Kinda related – I see that you are / were a good runner – I’ve often thought of long distance running as a kind of physical analogue to the mental challenge of xword (noble solipsism or some such…). What is your 10K PB (PB)?

    1. This is all a long time ago! Can’t remember a 10k PB, but ran something like 25:10 for a 5 mile race on a course that was about 100 yds short. So 32:00 should have been on the cards, but I think reality was closer to 33.
  15. I had three goes at this and finally finished (after many long pauses) at 830 this evening…around 90 minutes…some jolly clever clues but also some rather tricky ones. the NW corner was quite easy -we have had baronetage before either in the Daily or the Jumbo….thought Feud was a bit weak…and Rumple quite hard…Clue of day for me was 15 across….or maybe 16 down….i thought Friday was supposed to be easy!
    1. “thought Friday was supposed to be easy!”

      Answering this a bit late: if you ask the current Times xwd ed, he will tell you that no day is intended to be any easier than any other.

      Some people think that the Times puzzle has the same kind of progression as the New York Times one, from an easy puzzle on Monday to a stinker on Saturday. This hasn’t happened at the Times in my experience (1976 onwards), and as far as I know never happened. It doesn’t happen at any other papers, though the ones (notably the Telegraph) who have the same setter on each day of the week will have easy days and hard days.

      There are two traditions about days of the week at the Times:

      Monday has traditionally been an easy puzzle, and at least one previous editor has stated this publicly. This tradition has apparently been ditched, though some of us still think that Monday is a bit easier on average. Some other papers make Monday easy, possibly by reserving it for Roger Squires (Rufus at the Guardian, and I think ‘Mr Monday’ at the Telegraph) whose puzzles are usually on the easy side.

      Saturday is supposed to be a “good puzzle of its kind”, which may mean it’s difficult because it’s got original ideas in it, or may mean it’s “easy but good fun”. I believe this tradition is still going. For me, Saturday is the puzzle most likely to take more than 20 minutes.

      From my knowledge of the editing process, the ordering of puzzles is intended to ensure that the same material (including the grid) doesn’t appear on successive days. I suspect there’s an attempt not to have lots of really hard or very easy puzzles in succession, too.

  16. Put me amongst those who rather liked this crossword. Nothing too demanding, so far as I could see. I thought the Georges clue was excellent, although I can’t see what ‘together’ does. It seems to read perfectly well, and be quite sound and no harder, without it.

    But I’m lost on the love-in-idleness clue. Where is the definition? Surely not ‘Puck fetched’?

  17. A really good puzzle but I had to resort to aids to complete it. I don’t mind this as I learn something along the way and have no 13ds to be in the Championship under test conditions. This did not help with the “SWAMP” at 10a where I BIFD LIMA with a shrug – it did not fit the wordplay and I failed to follow PBs advice. RIGA – of course. I am frequently foiled by a last remaining SWAMP of 4 letters.

    There are 5 “easies” not in the blog:

    22a Men certain rain will fall – one nearly died of thirst (7,7)
    ANCIENT MARINER. Anagram of (men certain rain). Bit of a dodgy anagram indicator in “will fall”. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Not such an easy clue because of the dodgy anagrind?

    24a Finished off cake found thus in freezer? (4)
    ICED. Meh.

    3d Considered deep matter I’d worked out (12)
    PREMEDITATED. Anagram of (deep matter I’d).

    8d Oversaw the collapse of all types (10)
    WHATSOEVER. Anagram of (Oversaw the).

    13d With which to announce Hammer’s first goal (10)
    ASPIRATION. Which is not used by many of their supporters down the ‘AMMERS. It is not used much at ‘EREFORD either. The biggest FA Cup gate at Upton Park – 42,000 plus – was a 5th round cup replay in 1972 – West Ham 3 – 1 Hereford United. It was on a Monday – I was there with many of my school mates much to the annoyance of our Headmaster.

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