27262 Thursday, 31 January 2019 Can I do you now, sir?

Thursday, 31 January 2019
Another pleasant Thursday stroll accomplish in 15.47, making sure of the wordplay elements perhaps marginally extending the time. I abandoned that search for certainty with the very last clue, though it turns out it’s much easier than I thought. Funnily (morbidly?) enough, I have recently been using today’s Latin phrase (hopefully well enough known) with reference to the potentially lethal device I carry for the sole purpose of maintaining an upright posture (see below). I was very nearly caught out by the most common of abbreviations masquerading as a proper word at 10a. There are a couple of literary references to test the unwary, though both can be guessed if not known.
For your delight and enlightenment (unlikely, but you never know, I present my SOLUTIONS with their clues and definitions below.

[All will be revealed]


1 Daughter with cosmetic obscuring face, one concealed under bonnet? (8)

DIPSTICK D for Daughter, add LIPSTICK with its “face” obscured. For the benefit of our colleagues across the Western Sea, a bonnet is what you call a hood.
5 Severely criticise event (6)
HAMMER Two definitions, the latter an event if field athletics
9 Small change disrupting her plans (8)
SHRAPNEL An anagram (“disrupting”) HER PLANS. To be honest, I thought this was one of those private definitions known only to family or friends, but ODO has it: simple enough, of course, small bits of metal those annoying, virtually useless small coins cluttering your pocket.
10 Turning away dogs, room’s cleaner (3,3)
MRS MOP Reverse POMS for dogs (Pomeranians) and RM for room. That MRS took me ages to see in my last entry, something of a perennial blind spot. The Mrs Mop referenced in my heading was from ITMA and had two p’s, though how you could tell on steam radio I could not say
12 Switching parties in America, proof leads to strong protest (13)
REMONSTRATION Proof is DEMONSTRATION, change the D(emocrat) to R(epublican)
15 Bowled some rubbish, I sweep (5)
BESOM Perhaps the least well known of the three B4letters words for a sweeping device, this one formed either by tying twigs to a stick or attaching B(owled) (today’s cricket) to a “rubbish” version of SOME
16 Mental disturbance? Black out in ferocious weather (9)
RAINSTORM Take B(lack) out of the mental disturbance of BRAINSTORM.
17 Penetrating eye, walking round hospital (9)
THREADING As in threading a needle, TREADING for walking round H(ospital)
19 Still very warm in river (5)
PHOTO That sort of still, with HOT (certainly very warm) dunked into the River PO, one of the setters’ most useful rivers.
20 One perhaps blue enjoying such delight? (1,5,2,1,4)
A WHALE OF A TIME I think this is a kind of cryptic definition, inviting you to connect blue with whale.
22 Say, two or three rupees for coat (6)
PRIMER  Two and three are both PRIMEs, add R(upee) to produce your (under)coat
23 Pasta ration in mess, about one gram (8)
RIGATONI The medium sized tubes of pasta, made from a mess of RATION placed around 1 G(ram)
25 Deny secret agent’s returned, cover blown (6)
NEGATE I like this one, the surface being very pretty defying you to spot it’s a reverse hidden in secrET AGENt
26 Look again for university job (8)
RESEARCH A nice ‘n’ easy twin definition

1 Hand out from court not available in area on island (10)
DISTRIBUTE The area is DISTRICT, from which the C(our)T is made unavailable. The island is BUTE, somewhere north of Watford.
2 Knock up a good score (3)
PAR Knock RAP is “up”. In proper golf, I concur it represents a good score in that I’ve only ever beaten it once in proper golf. Jim?
3 Highest-ranking corporal finds love in Sevenoaks, say (7)
TOPONYM “A place name”, which Sevenoaks is. Our corporal is NYM from Henry V; being highest ranking he is TOP with 0 for love. A mildly better version of the clue might have had him find love in Eastcheap, home to the Boars Head Tavern and landlady Nell Quickly: I don’t see why Sevenoaks is the selected place other than serendipity.
4 Caught scarlet woman on meadow in town (12)
CHESTERFIELD  That’ll be HESTER PRYNNE, the adulteress from The Scarlet Letter. C for Caught (cricket 2) and FIELD for meadow. A slightly jarring image: while undoubtedly liaisons of a rumpy pumpy nature may happen in meadows, meadows are rarely found, if at all, in urban settings. Unless of course you know different.
6 A bug is initially stopping contactless transaction (3,4)
AIR KISS Mwah! A bug: IRK IS plus the first letter of Stopping.
7 Police arresting people over room wrecked with one skull perhaps (7,4)
MEMENTO MORI “remember that you must die”. Police are the MET, people are (in approximately 50% of cases) MEN, ROOM “wrecked” gives the O MOR bit and one the – um – I. My daughter recently purchased a walking stick for me with this memento mori on it
8 Not very good as a painter? (4)
ROPY Another double definition, the second a bit of Uxbridge “rather like a rope/painter”
11 Two types of reserve, including chief, not attending (6,6)
TAKING NOTICE The two types of reserve are the ever helpful Territorial Army and ICE, the chief is a KING, and not is NOT. Assemble.
13 Badly handling fog on river — worrying (11)
MISTREATING Fog is MIST (for our purposes, ignoring distinctions), river is R, and worrying is EATING as in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
14 Beggar’s roguish clothing finished with (10)
IMPOVERISH That’s beggar as verb, as in beggar my neighbour. Roguish supplies IMPISH, which surrounds OVER for finished with
18 One probes a part of body most painful (7)
ACHIEST  One I crops up for the third time, this time “probing” CHEST for part of the body. A appears as itself to commence proceedings.
19 Pressure to produce milk, short of time? Calm down! (7)
PLACATE P(ressure) and LACTATE for produce milk, minus its T(ime)
21 Spread pate, leaving half in tin (4)
SPAN Half of PAte in SN (or if you’re being pedantic, Sn) for tin.
24 Poet’s finished — please reply, omitting verb (3)
O’ER (Though you can’t put the apostrophe in). All it is, I think, is radiospeak OVER for please reply minus its V(erb). Took me ages post solve to work out how you got from RS(V)P to o’er. Shouldn’t have bothered.

53 comments on “27262 Thursday, 31 January 2019 Can I do you now, sir?”

  1. And it took me long enough not to finish, too, especially as I kept dropping off for multisecond catnaps. Anyway, I could make no sense of 11d, although TAKING NOTICE was actually one of the many phrases that I toyed with. No stroll for me in any case, several clues–10ac, 17ac, 7d, 21d, among others–taking a good deal of time. After yesterday’s ‘army’, I was better prepared for ROPY, although it certainly didn’t pop into my mind at once.
  2. I liked this (other than the lower left, see below), particularly the pleasing grid fodder of Memento Mori and Air Kiss. Like z, I had thought that Shrapnel had limited distribution.
    Otherwise, all I can say in my defense is that Mismanaging only has two mistakes – one too few a’s in Miasma (fog on river) and one too few g’s in nagging (worrying) – but if you ignore that it hits all the crossers but one. It took me a quite a while to give up such an obviously close error. Nice blog, z, and thanks to the setter
  3. I had DRY MOP, though I couldn’t see how that might work. I got a good start on this, chaining words in this order: ACHIEST, A WHALE OF A TIME, MEMENTO MORI, PLACATE, REMONSTRATION. At least I finished, which I failed to do (first time in quite a while) yesterday (I didn’t regret not wasting more time on that one, when I saw the answers I’d omitted).

    Edited at 2019-01-31 06:08 am (UTC)

  4. I went for DRY MOP too, as the only thing I could fit although I couldn’t see how YRD was a dog. Took me far too long to get my LOI TAKING NOTICE, I was sure I was looking for a phrase like “playing truant”. I liked ROPY, but after yesterday’s puzzle had a couple like that, I was thinking on that wavelength.
  5. Like Guy, I , too, had DRY MOP.
    As far as I was aware, the abbreviation for Rupee was Re, Rs or INR and not just R.
    Thanks, Z, for NYM and HESTER.
    After the devastation wrought by the 1987 hurricane, the joke was that the town was renamed ONEOAK.

    Edited at 2019-01-31 05:40 am (UTC)

  6. 40 minutes after struggling for at least 10 of those with 11dn as my LOI. Assumed I would find out why NYM and HESTER if I looked them up but as it’s not my bogging day I didn’t bother to do so. Intrigued that ‘Mrs Mop’ (sic) ‘informal, a cleaning lady’ is the one and only term under ‘Mrs’ in the Collins dictionary.

    Edited at 2019-01-31 06:09 am (UTC)

  7. A DNF in 32 minutes. Number four (so far) for ‘dry mop’ with a few others unparsed including corporal NYM, the scarlet HESTER and I missed the HAMMER (throw).

    No ‘Switching parties in America’ needed, ‘proof’ is ‘strong protest’. Only trouble is, it’s the wrong answer.

    Favourites were the bland ‘attending’ def for the tricky 11d (my LOI) and the word BESOM, though it’s even better in the sense of a lazy or impudent (usually) woman.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  8. This made my brain feel as thick as my slightly-over-done porridge this morning. 46 minutes, most of it spent floundering around looking for a stride to hit.

    Enjoyed 17’s “penetrating eye”, the reverse-well-hidden 25 NEGATE, the nicely-misdirected definition at 11, and 15’s BESOM (had me looking for an improbable hidden.) DNK Nym or Hester, but as our esteemed blogger observes, that’s not too much of a handicap today.

    Overseas solvers might be helped towards random UK town names in future by knowing that both “chester” (e.g. CHESTERFIELD, Manchester) and “caster” (e.g. Lancaster, Doncaster) are common in place names here as they derive from “castra”, a Roman military camp.

  9. I think a little more than a place name, taking its name from a topographical feature, which Sevenoaks presumably did. Undone by ropy and mrs mop, thanks Blogger and Setter.
  10. 10:15. My main problem today was seeing that 12ac was a play on R/DEMONSTRATION, identifying the last word of the clue – protest – as the definition and confidently putting in DEMONSTRATION. After a few minutes struggling with 1dn I had another look and realised my mistake.
    I happened to know everything else, other than why Hester was Hester, which wasn’t really a problem.
    Add me to the list of people who didn’t realise SHRAPNEL was so widespread. Since the advent of contactless payment I find I never carry it. You don’t even need it for parking meters now.

    Edited at 2019-01-31 08:05 am (UTC)

  11. You must remember this… I said it on 24 Aug, when we had MWAH.
    40 mins with a pain aux raisins. Hoorah.
    After yesteday’s Nappy and Army, when I saw Ropy I thought ‘uh-oh’. Then I thought the CHester must be CHarlot for too long.
    Mostly liked: Primer, Negate and Span.
    Thanks setter and Z.
    1. One of my favourite cafes here in NZ has just ben taken over by some French people and they now sell their own ‘pain aux raisins’. Hoorah, indeed!
  12. DRY MOP and SAVING NOTICE were my last minute guesses before my self-imposed 30 minute limit kicked in. Liked PRIMER, SPAN and ROPY. Thanks Z8 for filling the gaps.
  13. 13.55 – managed to avoid the DRY MOP trap, spotting MRS soon enough. Also a groan at ROPY, after yesterday wasn’t even looking out for that device again (obscure French artist anyone?)

    LOI was TAKING NOTICE, although had SAVING for the first word for a while, but in the end couldn’t justify SAVING NOTICE as a thing so had another look.
    I’ve used Shrapnel for a good number of years so that was a write in given the fodder.

    Thanks for the parsing at 1d Z, I didn’t have the foggiest what was going on there but it couldn’t have been anything else.

  14. a challenging puzzle. Much enjoyed even though it took me 55 mins. Off to a flying start but the the North East Polar Vortex same into play.

    FOI 2dn PAR (more golf!)

    LOI 6dn AIR KISS

    COD 5ac HAMMER with silver to 19ac PHOTO there were plenty of bronzes too!

    WOD 9ac SHRAPNEL we get plenty in Shanghai but strangely Beijing eschews small change and small notes are all the go in the capital!

    Didn’t 7dn MOMENTO MORI hang himself from Blackfriars Bridge, or was that his brother?

    Edited at 2019-01-31 08:45 am (UTC)

    1. Ah. You may be thinking of another victim of Italian terminal politics. The Blackfriars Bridge suspense story was Roberto Calvi, whose Banco Ambrosiano was allegedly involved in cleaning money by channelling it into rice pudding. Aldo Moro was the Italian Prime Minister whose tenure on life was terminated by the Red Brigades in revenge for siphoning off mafia money to support his growing chain of cheap retail stores bearing his first name disguised by one letter. Mehmet Mori (Memento to his friends) was his Turkish cousin. Information gleaned from Wonkipedia.
  15. I found this fairly challenging in parts with some tricky definitions such as ‘event’ for HAMMER and ‘contactless transaction’ for AIR KISS. I might have found ROPY more difficult if I hadn’t recently taken a sailing exam, because of which painter immediately made me think of rope. LOI TOPONYM which I wasn’t confident about, not knowing the word, but I couldn’t think of anything else which fitted.
  16. The Meadows in Edinburgh (and Falkirk) are both pretty urban, I’d say (and I’d imagine there have been more than a few scarlet women caught in flagrante in both).
    1. I knew this fine company would come up with examples. Are the Meadows so described still grassy enough for discreet fumbling?

      1. The Meadows in Edinburgh covers 36 acres, and plentifully grassy, though you’d be wise to check for Richards before adopting the position. It was at one time a bit of a danger spot for muggers after dark, but is safer now. And besom, as a nasty girl, is common throughout Scotland.
  17. 28 minutes with LOI TAKING NOTICE. Penultimate was ROPY, the second definition none too clear to me. I got CHESTERFIELD without knowing who HESTER was. Of course, the spire will correct itself the next time a virgin marries there. I put in TOPONYM trusting that there was a Corporal Nym. But the spark for MEMENTO MORI did come from Muriel, so I did use one unintended literary reference. ITMA and Can I do you now, Sir? were still in my childhood culture, so the tricky MRS MOP was easy with the crossers. I hadn’t realised she had two p’s though, Z. We have a BESOM, whose utility has been sadly displaced by the gardeners’ leaf blower. They blow them next door and charge me, then go next door and blow them back again. I enjoyed this today. Thank you Z and setter.
    1. A virgin ? In Chesterfield ? Well, I suppose they wouldn’t want to lose their prime tourist attraction.
  18. MRS MOP no problem for me either – remember the radio show.

    Very enjoyable puzzle that was a steady top to bottom solve. Liked 25A – excellent construction. Nice blog z8

    My under PAR gross scores z8. I’ve been fortunate enough to have 2 holes in one, 2 eagles on par 5 holes, and a lot of birdies but then I have been playing for nearly 40 years!

    1. I’ve had three, Jimbo, unfortunately one was in a President’s prize with a field of 130 or so. Expensive round. The steward said Sir Pip we are insured for that, you only have to pay the first £50, give me the bill; that was 25 years ago I’m still waiting for the cheque.
      Never broken level par gross, although equalled it a few times. Won’t happen now I fear.
  19. Liked this puzzle, a vast improvement on yesterday. All went in smoothly in 25 minutes, with HESTER an unknown lady and NYM also not fully copped. LOI was 11d TAKING NOTICE which took an age to see even with all the checkers. Was hung up on ‘not attending’ being the definition. As our friend from Bolton says, ROPY went in quickly after yesterday’s ARMY UED entry.
    CoD for me was PRIMER.
  20. Yet another dry mop, so annoying as the clue’s perfectly straightforward. The mind shies away from the improbable (letter arrangement). Just over the half-hour but with the error. Otherwise 20 with some nice twists on long words.
  21. Far off the wavelength for me. I’d have left “dry mop” in had I not been having so much trouble with some of the others that I went back and looked. And I was getting too literal with the rupees and thought it might be “paises” although I couldn’t see how that worked either (luckily). Did a full rehearsal of 4-letter artists before that one sunk in. DNK that usage for SHRAPNEL and thought the clue had a misprint for “charge”. Felt a bit of a 1a and was glad to get away with no more that 23.29
  22. ….(B)RAINSTORM, and entered “air miss” thus ensuring a waste of just over 15 minutes. What a DIPSTICK ! I’m still happier with today’s DNF in a quality puzzle than I was with a successful solving of yesterday’s poor fare.

    One of my former partners, a daughter of Musselburgh, would berate her teenage daughter as “a wee BESOM”. I suspect it’s very much a localised idiom.

    FOI SHRAPNEL – a common word in the taxi trade around these parts. I used to keep a Tupperware box full of it in the luggage bay. We had a really annoying regular customer who would invariably tender a £20 note for his £3 journey to get change for his ongoing tram fare. He never tipped, and I would take great delight in telling him I had no fivers, and only four pound coins, sending him on his way with an ample supply of silver (and copper if I was in a particularly evil frame of mind). If he remonstrated, I would remind him “There’s only one rule with money : can I spend it ?”

    LOI HAMMER – spent a long time thinking of the wrong sort of event.


    TIME N/A

    1. “There’s only one rule with money : can I spend it ?”

      That might be in UK, but down here in the colonies we have rules, enshrined in the Currency Act (1965).
      Coins are legal tender up to:
      20c, for 1c and 2c coins;
      $5.00, for 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c coins;
      $10 for $1 coins;
      $20 for $2 coins.
      More than those amounts are not considered legal tender.
      https://banknotes. rba. gov. au/legal/legal-tender/
      with spaces to be rmoved after the full stops.

  23. Very enjoyable (he said with the smug air of someone who had all the necessary knowledge somewhere near the front of his brain for once). Amazingly, I got MRS MOP without any checkers, as I have frequently been caught out by MR and MRS, which are hard to recognise as patterns when you’re trying to fill gaps.

    In the pub trade, as in taxis, shop talk often used to be about cash handling (presumably these days it’s about contactless card machines), so SHRAPNEL was a write in. A colleague used to point out when regulars were “coppering up” at the end of the month i.e. had obviously been digging in piggy banks and down the back of sofas to gather the wherewithal for a pint.

    1. If any setters are reading this, just be aware that we will now be ready for “copper up”
    2. I went to a pub in Brixton just before Christmas that had stopped accepting cash altogether.
  24. 13:55. I didn’t know why Hester was Scarlet and had half-forgotten NYM and ROPY but that didn’t stop me finishing.

    I actually preferred yesterday’s puzzle to this one.

  25. My difficulty in finding a word to fit 1d made me revisit my Demo and all became slightly less foggy. I spent ages on TAKING NOTICE and THREADING, but got there in the end. MRS MOP came on the scene quite early, as did AIR KISS and ROPY, so yesterday’s trip to Uxbridge was quite helpful. For a while I was trying to start 4d with CRED, but it didn’t work. When CHESTERFIELD became inevitable, I remembered a girl called Hester from my student days in Durham. She had bright red hair, so I smiled an moved on. PRIMER, ACHIEST and NEGATE all provoked a clatter of the SHRAPNEL, which is a term I’m quite familiar with. In Teesside another common term for small change is “slag” presumably after the small bits of metal that flew around the blast furnaces. PAR and BESOM were my FOIs and TOPONYM my last, as a vague memory of the corporal stirred in the depths. An enjoyable puzzle. 42:47. Thanks setter and Z for the excellent, chuckle inducing blog.

    Edited at 2019-01-31 01:30 pm (UTC)

  26. Seem to have been a bit slow on this one today, getting a bit stuck (as have most of you it appears) on MRS MOP and ROPY.
  27. Well, I seem to have managed a hat-trick of failures, with one error in today’s. I completely failed to understand why HAMMER could be an event (d’oh!), and was pretty sure that ROPY should have an E in it. It was therefore with sheer grumpth that I put them in. Having done so, I felt that investing more in 10ac would be good money after bad, and put in “dry mop” which, of course, it is not. Ah well.
    1. As you have been getting much quicker recently, I have to satisfy myself with a sense of smug satisfaction when I get home with an ‘all correct’ even when my time is slower.
    1. The apostrophe doesn’t only represent possession (The Beggar’s Opera) but also a missing letter or letters: the beggar’s cheated me, beggar’s a verb. The last version is in use here: (To) beggar is (to) impoverish. The rest takes advantage of the confusion to present the wordplay in a rather smooth, but misleading, surface.
  28. Reclaiming my Mr (mildly) Grumpy moniker, I still don’t understand 8d. And 10a is a bit ropey too tbh (pun intended). Is Poms really an accepted abbreviation for Pomeranians? And even if it is, it’s a bit random isn’t it? As mentioned elsewhere, rupee isn’t ‘R’. Rand is though, so why not use the obvious? And I thought that we had dispensed with TA as ‘reserve’ now-both in actuality and in crossword land? Mr Grumpy
    1. Ropy / ropey = bad, poor, inferior in the sense you have used it; painter is a rope or line for tying up boats, so ‘as a painter’ = ‘ropy’ in cryptic crossword-speak.

      Pom = a Pomeranian dog is in the Shorter Oxford.

      R = rupee is in Collins. It’s not a setter’s job always to go for the obvious.

      TA was the abbreviation for Territorial Army from 1921 to 2014 with a break of 12 years (1967-1979) when Volunteer Reserve was added and it became TAVR, so it was well-established and is still perfectly acceptable in a historical context even if the organisation it represents has changed its name to something else.

  29. A bit late to the party, but I had a curtailed lunch break so didn’t get time to do all 3 Times crosswords and comment as well. I was glad not to be a 1A and make any foolish mistakes, although I failed to parse 1D (but encouraged by the island) 3D (lacking the required literary knowledge for NYM), 6D (where I smiled as I biffed the answer) and 11D (my LOI, with a shrug) Thanks Z for explaining. Possibly hyperbolic to claim I had a 20A, but will not be making any 12A. COD to 9A. Yep I use that word in that sense. Thanks setter for the fun and Z for the great blog, as ever. 23:17.

    Edited at 2019-01-31 08:48 pm (UTC)

  30. 55:40. Home late after a session in the pub. I enjoyed this one with shrapnel, Mrs Mop, besom and air kiss all highlights. Got inexplicably bogged down in the various corners with besom and toponym, air kiss, Mrs Mop and Ropy (I was still hunting for a Dutch master post solve until I suddenly twigged it was that kind of painter) and finally span and primer where chemical symbols and prime numbers were far from my thoughts.
  31. Thanks setter and z8b8d8k
    Found this old puzzle in a heap of photocopied ones from days of yore. Took two fairly longish sittings and a fair bit of referential help at the end to get it completed. Finished with what looks like most others with ROPY and TAKING NOTICE – both of which took even more time to actually seeing how they worked properly.
    SHRAPNEL was commonly used down here for loose change and was entered during the first half of the solve. First one in was SPAN after battling with SPAM for some reason for too long.
    TOPONYM was a new term and then had to confirm that SEVENOAKS was so named.

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