27838 Thursday, 3 December 2020 Pink lemonade

I felt I made heavier weather of this than it warranted, taking a neat 23 minutes, but since that’s less than three Vs it may be more taxing that that. There are also an appreciable number of single mistake entries, though I can’t see a likely candidate for a common error.
I’ll give credit to the setter for making sure the musical term in 3d is the process of reaching a loud noise rather than the more common solecism of the loud noise itself, though I suspect that’s one of the error in language that will become accepted through much use. Otherwise, and with the probable exception of 1ac, there is little to tax the vocabulary of most of this company, and in a few cases the wordplay borders on the simples.
I have produced a rundown of the entries and how to get there, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS.
1 Tree so great shelters the old woman (6)
SUMACH You can be forgiven for not knowing this tree, even if it is “any tree or shrub of the genus Rhus, esp R. coriaria; the leaves and shoots used in dyeing.” I can’t find any previous appearance even in MCS  and Mephisto. So trust the wordplay: you know the old woman is MA and scratch around for SUCH as equivalent to “so great”, then assemble. Apparently, some varieties of sumac(h) fruit can be ground and used to make a form of pink lemonade
4 One coming in to cite holy writ, the result of division (8)
QUOTIENT I (one) is entered into cite: QUOTE and NT will do for the (back end) of holy writ.
10 Two sides bordering study covered in pleasant flowering plant (6,3)
GOLDEN ROD So not Aaron’s rod, then. Two sides are L and R, placed either side of study: DEN and then planted in GOOD for pleasant.
11 Exist as a dissenter in the party (5)
BEANO If you act as a dissenter you would BE A NO.
12 Face a revolutionary’s self-assurance (7)
PANACHE I got the revolutionary first, because it’s almost always Ernesto Guevara , known to his mates as CHE. PAN is slang for face, and the A is there in plain sight.
13 Situation for highest-level worker? (7)
ROOF-TOP Barely cryptic definition.
14 Polish novel given English translation finally (5)
SHEEN See novel, think Rider Haggard’s SHE. Add E(nglish) and “finally” translatioN.
15 Metal objects in club with damage through use reportedly (8)
IRONWARE a golf club, and the sound (reportedly) of WEAR for damage though use.
18 Gent, sorry when falling short, working to be sturdier (8)
STRONGER Much easier than I thought. An anagram (working) of GENT SORRY with the Y chopped as it falls short.
20 Old king left some of the food offered by butcher? (5)
OFFAL You old king is OFFA, he of the dyke, add L(eft)
23 Truck carrying litres for one who likes a drink or two? (7)
TIPPLER The truck is a TIPPER, the inserted L comes from L(itres)
25 Dodgy cult with unique feature for those buying into it (7)
SUSPECT Cult is SECT and the rest put into it is Unique Selling Point
26 Football club has managed to save money in Switzerland? (5)
FRANC  Still used in Switzerland, so no messing about with “former”. The F(ootball) C(lub) has RAN for managed saved.
27 Discovered part of Peru near the desert (9)
UNEARTHED Well hidden in PerU NEAR THE Desert
28 Time in coastal location where wild flowers can prosper? (3-5)
SET-ASIDE Part of the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe meant that farmers were paid not to grow stuff on set-aside land leaving it open to nature’s own efforts. Just put T(ime) into SEASIDE as the simplest of coastal locations, and add a hyphen
29 Number bunked off in gutless endeavour (6)
TWENTY Take the guts from TRY for endeavour, and you get TY. Insert WENT for bunked off.
1 Highlight what PA would ask boss to do before email? (8)
SIGNPOST I suppose this means that, before the boss retreats into the daily trawl through emails, the PA would ask them to sign to snail mail stuff so that they could entrust it to the pillar box. Or maybe our setter has electronic signing in mind: don’t email until you do. Maybe.
2 This writer leads the way, penning good collection (7)
MELANGE This writer: ME comes before the way: LANE with a G(ood) inserted.
3 Second race, with number two going badly as the roar goes up? (9)
CRESCENDO First take out the number 2 (letter) of RACE, then run the remains and SECOND through your randomiser (going badly).
5 Hundreds in Europe sadly having no exercise and lacking good food (14)
UNDERNOURISHED An anagram (sadly) of HUNDREDS IN EUROPE. [I forgot to mention that you need to remove the PE from the end of EUROPE – because it “lacks exercise” – before throwing the letters into the mixer. Thanks Vinyl]
6 Out putting label on ducks (5)
TABOO That meaning of out. Label: TAB plus two 0’s masquerading as letters.
7 Bringer of law, measure that performer must follow (7)
ENACTOR EN is the measure (of type space) and performer is ACTOR
8 One band or another being heard (6)
TROUPE What it says it is, sounding a lot like TROOP
9 See nerd undergo big change in place fostering new ideas? (8,6)
BREEDING GROUND Another long anagram (change) of NERD UNDERGO BIG. Both Collins and Chambers prefer the term as an environment generating undesirable rather than the more anodyne “new” developments. Universities are a breeding ground for the corona virus – who’d have thought it?
16 Forest’s team in domestic fixture (9)
WOODSCREW Quite literally something which fixes in domestic (and of course other) situations. It’s just forest’s: WOOD’S team: CREW
17 Running behind time, heading off with great excitement (8)
ELATEDLY I assume this is just BELATEDLY beheaded.
19 For prominent one on board, tribute entertaining political leader (7)
TOPMAST A political leader is what our current PM might like to be. Tribute: TOAST is what we need to “entertain” him with. Whatever keeps him happy.
21 Soldiers shut up in the bog get spruced up? (7)
FRESHEN  Soldiers RE plus shut up: SH placed in bog: FEN
22 County workers in a number of offices? (6)
STAFFS Short for the county of Staffordshire, and also the people who occupy several offices.
24 Place offering food for preacher John — without end (5)
LOCUS Preacher John is the Baptist, who dined healthily on LOCUSTs and wild honey. Remove the end from the crunchy bit of his diet.

79 comments on “27838 Thursday, 3 December 2020 Pink lemonade”

  1. I was getting chancy with it when I clicked Submit, as I definitely had a few that were unparsed. But, a very good time for me, as I seem to excel with puzzles that depend more heavily on wordplay, but with rather more *known* pieces. Definitely didn’t know what was going on with SUSPECT or SET-ASIDE, so thanks to Z for that. Several others elicited a shrug (like SUMACH), but I just followed the wordplay.
  2. Quite enjoyed that, especially the soldiers shut up in the bog. Can I offer my error as a possible place for an error: ironwork. To work something is (almost) to wear it out, and lack of concentration allowed me to completely ignore the homophone. Sumac spelt wrongly also got a bit of a shrug, and had no idea what set-aside was about. Or what a CAP is, though I remember reports of butter mountains and wine lakes from the 70s – is that the CAP? USP deduced, but NHO.
  3. I failed since I’d never heard of SUMACH (just sumac the Iranian spice, although maybe there’s a connection). But I didn’t see SUCH and went for SICK as “so great” although that doesn’t sound quite Timesey. I had no idea about the second half of the clue for LOCUS. I don’t think I knew what he dined on. I have been to the place on the Jordan where he supposedly did his baptising thing.
  4. Something of a Dr. Fell for me. Knew SUMAC, mainly because of poison sumac, and finally assumed that it’s also spelled with an H. For me (and for ODE) GOLDENROD is one word, and that slowed me down. DNK SET-ASIDE but wotthehell. ELATEDLY=’with great excitement’? Happiness, yes, but excitement?
  5. 33 minutes. I wasn’t sure about PAN as ‘face’ but thought it was familiar from somewhere; now that I’ve given it more thought, of course it knew it from ‘deadpan’.

    I didn’t quite see the significance of the last two words in 1dn and even having read the blog and comments I’m not sure I ‘get’ it. I don’t have a problem with the boss signing post rather than letters as it has been common enough expression in the offices I have worked in.

    As for 1ac I vaguely recognised the name of the tree from previous puzzles and if it has only appeared in the past as the alternative SUMAC I had misremembered it, which was fortunate for me today as I just wrote it in and moved on.

    Edited at 2020-12-03 05:38 am (UTC)

    1. The significance of the last two words is just that people don’t send, and therefore sign, letters, so the ritual of a PA presenting the boss with a pile of letters to sign just doesn’t happen any more. It’s very rare that I receive a piece of signed physical correspondence at work these days.
  6. Further, PAN-STICK is basic theatrical facial make-up.

    10ac GOLDEN ROD is two words in UK, Kevin.

    34 minutes

    FOI 20ac OFFAL

    LOI 24dn LUCAS

    COD 28ac SET ASIDE


    Q. When was the last Coup d’Etat in the USA?

      1. Or any of the other usual reference dictionaries (Colins, Chambers, even the OED!), none of which has as two words, even as a secondary spelling.
        1. OK Lord K, but I am with the setter. Colins – should that not be Collins? Two new dictionaries in one day!

          Edited at 2020-12-03 10:01 am (UTC)

    1. I also had LUCAS as a possibility, John Lucas was a philosopher at Oxford who died earlier this year. Maybe could have been called a preacher. He interviewed me when I applied to Merton. I failed, but that’s another story.
  7. Never heard of SET-ASIDE but seemed it could be little else from the wordplay. I knew SUMAC well enough from past appearances (at least once as the novelist reversed) but didn’t know the alternative spelling, and could only sort of see SUCH as ‘so great’. Therefore another submitted with not much confidence and I was happy with the pink-less grid after 47 minutes.

    I took 1d to refer to the diminishing amount of hard copy mail needing to be signed in offices these days, with much correspondence being done by email or online. I ask in ignorance, but do PA’s even still exist?

    1. Yes, I have a PA. Ours get called ‘executive assistants’ and we share them. Technology has rendered much of the work they used to do (including the letter-signing ritual) unnecessary. Younger people would find old habits like dictating letters and other documents (when I started work people still used dictaphones to do this) very odd.

      Edited at 2020-12-03 08:42 am (UTC)

      1. I don’t know if you have the latest release of the Microsoft suite but you can now dictate your own letters straight onto the page.

        I have access to a PA too but she’s leaving at the end of the month and not being replaced.

        1. I type pretty quickly so I’ve never felt the need for dictation software, but I haven’t tried it for a while and no doubt it gets better all the time.
          1. I dictated this response directly into word, copied it and pasted into here so judge for yourself. Just for a bit of fun let’s try some tricky bits: beerbohm tree went to the ancient city of earth to look for sandpipers. He saw one roosting in a sumac tree. Alberta camels would have been pleased
                1. Yes, I did notice that, but if that’s the only thing it got wrong (Beerbohm!) it’s pretty impressive.
  8. Only my second true solve of the 15×15, and on my birthday, too.

    Held up with unknown spelling of SUMACH, my LoI. BEANO appeared with similar clueing in the QC last week, the QC is my usual Breeding Ground. Two long anagrams right in the middle unlocked the puzzle for me.

    Many great clues today, thanks setter and blogger.

    I complained about novel=SHE on this blog a couple of weeks ago. I still don’t like it.

    I was not able to parse LOCUS, although I was aware of the diet, and his apparel (camel hair) but I thought the em dash in the clue was a placeholder for a surname, I was close to googling if John Locust was a lesser known associate of John Wesley.

    SETASIDE, my COD has been in the news this week as Brexit means the unwinding of programs like this. Paying farmers to not actually farm.

  9. Thanks for explaining SUMACH and CRESCENDO, Vinyl.
    I’ve seen SUMAC before but not with the H on the end. I seem to remember SUMAC being clued as Camus in reverse.
    I’ve also seen the device in 1d before but I like it so SIGNPOST is my COD.
  10. Steady solve, but SUMACH took a while, only vaguely heard of the unrelated spice.

    Wondered for a while whether ROOSTER was the top of the pecking order. I read Rider Haggard as a boy, was most impressed.

    SET-ASIDE leads to so many questions about capitalism, French policy on inheritance, crop rotation, etc. Anyone care to discuss the New Deal?

    Oh, and locusts probably weren’t the prolific insect, but some sort of plant.

    16′ and a bit, thanks z and setter.

    1. My parents live in France, and there is a little bit of land next to their house that has been passed down through numerous generations without anyone ever doing anything about it, so that now it is owned by an unknown number of people, none of whom can be traced. The law says that in these circumstances, if you put a physical boundary round the land and use it, it becomes yours after a certain amount of time (a decade I think). So that’s what they’ve done.
      1. I owned a house in Bristol once which backed on too a Council owned recreation ground. Our boundary fence had been set a foot or so encroaching on to the ground. When we came to sell it was determined that the fact that the encroachment had been unchallenged for (I think) 21 years meant that the ownership of that strip of land wen with the house. It was, of course, completely useless.
        1. My parents park their car on this little patch of land so it’s pretty useful to them. It would be completely useless to anyone else, which is presumably why it’s never been claimed!
      2. Lack of primogeniture in inheritance law was one of the causes of the French Revolution. The landholdings eventually became too small to be farmed economically leading to food shortages, and an impoverished peasantry.

        Britain on the other hand, had primogeniture and was thus able to maintain the size of its great estates, farm them economically, and take the produce to market for a profit using free landed labourers on a wage, not a subsistence. Mr Grumpy

        1. I believe the laws forbidding the disinheritance of children (which are the relevant ones here) were introduced by Napoleon.
          1. Yes, you are correct. I’ll get my coat. . .! I’ve spent 40 years under a misapprehension. Can I have the bit about Britain though please?
            1. There’s an argument that we didn’t have a revolution at the time because we’d got ours out of the way relatively peacefully a century earlier… with a little help from our friends in Europe!
  11. I’ve enjoyed Stag’s Horn SUMACH in a couple of gardens around here over the autumn—lovely colours—so that wasn’t too tough, though I had to start with 2d MELANGE and come back to it, having been distracted by the idea that “the old woman” might be clueing a YEW of some kind.

    More of a flow that yesterday’s, gradually progressing through the grid mostly top-to-bottom and finishing off with 19d TOPMAST after 35 minutes. SET-ASIDE vaguely remembered from either the news, geography lessons or The Archers; I couldn’t tell you which for sure. No idea what was going on at 24d but at least the crossers were kind.

  12. I was torn three ways with the tree. Take sumac, which I knew, and stick another letter on the end. Parse it as SO-MA-ACE and throw away one of the redundant As with no good reason. Or follow the modern vernacular and go with sick for great giving SIMACK. Like paulmcl I went for the latter with much reservation. Such for so great never crossed my mind.

    I was reminded that a year or two back one of my young work colleagues said that a particular footballer was sick and I genuinely asked what was wrong with him. Thus proving I’m clearly not down wiv da yoofs.

    1. These things seem to go in cycles. My youngest (12) says ‘sick’ but my eldest (17) doesn’t. She would say ‘lit’. I am of a ‘wicked’ generation. It’s hard to keep up!

      Edited at 2020-12-03 09:19 am (UTC)

  13. 23:07 DNK SUMACH with an H on the end, but it had to be. A bit of a slow burner for me, this one, with the pennies not dropping very fast, although there is nothing too hard in retrospect. LOI WOODSCREW after TWENTY. I liked the hidden UNEARTHED.
  14. 23 minutes with LOI SUMACH. COD to QUOTIENT. I liked ELATEDLY and SET-ASIDE too, and also the reminder of the old HP sauce bottle. Decent puzzle without being over-taxing. Thank you Z and setter.

    Edited at 2020-12-03 08:16 am (UTC)

      1. I chart the nation’s loss of moral fibre as corresponding with the replacement of HP Sauce by Tomato Ketchup.
        1. I just googled the sauce to remind myself of this and was directed to a YouTube clip of Marty Feldman singing it in the style of Jacques Brel.
  15. 30 mins.
    Too many liberties for me. No ticks, one question mark and six crosses.
    Thanks setter and Z.
  16. Struggled pretty much throughout which is the sign of a crossword of consistent difficulty. Held up by the SW corner with no clue about John’s locusts (yuk!)
      For this the LOCUS of my last
      But no cause for BEANO
      I SUSPECT you will know
      This MELANGE was not solved very fast
  17. 13:39, very close to average for me. Knew SUMAC but not this spelling, and ‘so great’ for SUCH isn’t obvious so that held me up a bit. No idea about the second half of LOCUS.
    CRESCENDO for ‘loudest point’ is now thoroughly accepted, as all the usual dictionaries show.
  18. Did not feel too difficult to me, but I got CRESCENDO without understanding why. I agree with Keriothe above about the correct definition. Nothing “rises to a crescendo”, grrr.
  19. Faster than average for a slightly more difficult than average crossword, so a good result. NHO SUMACH with an H on the end, but had heard without so assumed that was it.

    MER for TWENTY, is it OK to have the indirect reference to try?

    COD: SHEEN, simple and clean.

    Previous answer: the Wife of Bath is the last Canterbury tale in alphabetical order.

    Today’s question: TWENTY is the first number to contain a Y, what is the first to contain a D?

    1. Four anD twenty blackbirds….
      “Two anD twenty now he’s rising” — Pirates of Penzance
      “When I was one-anD-twenty…” — Houseman
    2. On my first trip to Sydney I’m sure I heard a local say noindy foive. (With apologies to our antipodean bloggers).
  20. 33.25. Stumbled through this puzzle getting very stuck in the SE quadrant. Couldn’t convince myself woodscrew was right as I thought 29 across must have e and r as the first and last letters of a gutless endeavour.
    Belatedly getting 17 dn finally helped and the last three went in in a whirl.

    FOI quotient, LOI twenty. Liked sheen, beanie and locus in particular.
    Guessed sumach on the basis of using sumac occasionally as a flavouring!

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    1. I fear the battle between crescendo and climax has been lost (and crescendo is the looser (sic)).

      Ah, well. I will still fight anyone who says that the proof is in the pudding, though.

      1. They will live quite happily alongside one another, as will the two meanings of crescendo.
        ‘The proof is in the pudding’ is different. There is no logic to what words do or don’t mean, but you can at least make a case that expressions like that ought to make sense.
  21. For some reason the easiest of the week for me, probably due to the fact we had a sumach tree in the garden when I was growing up, the incomparable Bob Newhart’s Walter Raleigh routine and the fact that I married into a farming family so Golden rod and set aside were write ins. I always enjoy Z’s blogs so thank you and thank you setter.
  22. SUMACH was last one in, with fingers lightly crossed. As always, the acid test for these ones is “did I get it right, having worked out what it must be from the wordplay?” and if the answer is Yes, what’s my problem?

    I haven’t listened to The Archers for years, but I had a sudden flashback when it came to the SET-ASIDE, and recalled how the scriptwriters back then weren’t afraid to discuss the hot agricultural talking points of the day.

  23. ….did check the NHO SUMACH existed before submitting. It seemed possible with S_M(A)C_ in place but wanted to avoid the pink.

    Pencilled in GARDEN as the first word of 10a until MELANGE hoved into my thoughtspace, afterwhich GOLDEN ROD seemed obvious.

    PANACHE was one of my first in, PAN = face as in ‘deadpan’.

    ROOFTOP was a bit vague but clear with all checkers in place.

  24. I can’t understand why some people are quite happy with GOLDEN ROD. If all the dictionaries quoted give it as one word, without even the option of it being two, where is the chapter and verse for two?
  25. I certainly struggled with this. SUMAC(h) is the tree in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn that every middle school child in NY has to read. They sprout in just about every vacant lot, as does ragweed which looks very much like GOLDEN ROD and makes a lot of people sneeze. No idea about the SET ASIDE. 24.07
  26. Topped off 36 chewy minutes with the inexcusable “ironwork” and a sigh of short-lived satisfaction.
  27. Another IRONWORK here, frustrating after a good session. Nice of the setter to present us with an obscure spelling of a tree, but I guess it couldn’t be anything else.
  28. for the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell… Though I was equally nostalgic for the old ‘firewood, ironware and cheap tin trays’, which I half expected myrtilus to have nabbed. Mis-set timer so no time though felt more than usually slow, finishing in relief rather than elatedly. Looking through am struck by a number of good workaday clues, sure enough, but where are your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? (Too much poetry soz.)
  29. Another SIMACK here, thinking the setter might be a bit hip. NHO SUMAC so a DNF. Bah. Otherwise a decent challenging offering I thought. Re SIGNPOST, I thought that maybe an e-mail could be a post, and the boss could be asked to sign it, no? Probably not….


    Thanks Z and setter.

  30. TABOO and BEANO were my first entries. Then I was becalmed for a while. A biffed CAPTAIN held me up in the SW until SET ASIDE put me right. The SE was my biggest hold up as I was convinced 29a was going to start with E and end in R. After an age, SUSPECT allowed me to see ELATEDLY and TWENTY. WOODSCREW was then my LOI. 1a held me up too as I only knew the tree as a reversed CAMUS, so guessed at the alternate spelling. QUOTIENT and TROUPE were more hold ups. Not my finest hour, well 56:51. Thanks setter and Z.
  31. Needed two goes to get this out, with SUMACH a fingers-crossed moment (actually, so was GOLDEN ROD, but in that case the cluing left little room for doubt). Didn’t know pan as slang for face, but PANACHE couldn’t have been anything else. 19d had me thinking of chess for far too long before seeing the other meaning of “on board”.

    FOI Taboo
    LOI Troupe
    COD Undernourished

  32. That’s the name of the marijuana strain I vaped while working this!
    Got off to a flying start, with UNEARTHED and then both the long anagrams, and for a while then I worked the NW and SE quadrants symmetrically.
    However, a sudden need to sleep overcame me when I was three answers from finishing. I finally put in STRONGER this morning and still didn’t realize for a while that the clue was an anagram! Didn’t know that spelling of the tree, but found it.
  33. ….were what gave the team behind the loathsome “I’m a Celebrity” the idea for the bush tucker trial.

    Thanks to Z for parsing UNDERNOURISHED – I’d run out of patience by then. It seems to be happening with increasing frequency.

    FOI STRONGER (another slow start)
    LOI SUSPECT (because I almost “finished” without it !)
    COD QUOTIENT (stretched the brain cells)
    TIME 11:55 (on paper – I was interrupted as the clock ran down, and submitted on line in 12:09, which hasn’t helped my SNITCH rating !)

  34. 40 minutes exactly, not really very inspiring ones mostly. Held up at the end by ROOFTOP since I couldn’t believe that more wasn’t involved in the clue and frantically looked for alternatives before giving up (on looking for alternatives).

    Edited at 2020-12-03 07:15 pm (UTC)

  35. 20.26. Quite a bit of sorting out needed in this one. Didn’t know the meaning of set-aside, that spelling of sumach or the reference to JTB in 24dn. Spent some time wondering if see was part of the anagrist in 9dn and big change the anagrind. An easy clue to solve but the image of the itinerant duck labeller raised a smile.

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