Club Monthly 20200 May 2017 – failed again..

Solving Time: Well the good news is that this is well up to the usual high standard, and it took me about the usual length of time, around the 50 minute mark in two sessions. The bad news is that I seem to have one wrong, as do a number of others. I can’t spot a typo – never straightforward anyway, with this crossword! – so I can only hope that something turns up that will give me a 11ac moment, as I’m writing the blog… (it did, see 24dn)

Please note that the closing date for entries for this prize crossword is the last Thursday of each month …

Dictionaries: The Club Monthly uses several dictionaries. The main ones are the Concise Oxford Dictionary (COD), Collins, and Chambers. I use Chambers, the online Collins dictionary, and the ODO.  I use the online Oxford English Dictionary occasionally too (OED), for background.

If I have not explained an answer fully enough, do please ask…

cd = cryptic definition, dd = double definition, rev. = reversed, anagrams are *(–), homophones indicated within “”


1. Syringe applied to unpleasant growth on the bottom (9)
hyponasty – HYPO (syringe) + NASTY (unpleasant)
6. Blast from Frenchman after old woman remains in distillery (5)
mazut – MA (old woman) + ZUT .. blast, as in “Zut alors”
9. Point well away from satellite rigged up alone (7)
apolune – *(UP ALONE) .. the opposite of perilune, as Neil Armstrong (or better, Michael Collins) would know.
10. Engine-driver’s deep sleep breaking endless hunger (7)
locoman – COMA (deep sleep) in LON(g) (hunger)
11. How slow should you march at the back? (3)
duh – last letters of: shoulD yoU marcH
12. Compound having better reduced part to perform earlier in the day (11)
caprolactam – CAP (better) + ROL(e) + ACT + AM
14. Reportedly elevated member’s spheres of influence (6)
hylegs – sounds like “high legs.” The ruling planet at the hour of birth, or some such guff. Also one of the words Chambers accidentally omitted from the 13th edition… if the answer was hilegs that would be my one wrong but I find no support anywhere for that spelling
15. Form of servitude, left for days in active retirement? (8)
thirlage – THIRD AGE (active retirement) with L for D
17. Rushing disastrously into reflective Tavener adagio (8)
gadarene – hidden, rev. in TavENER ADAGio. A biblical reference with a not uncommon callous disregard for life, demonic or anserine
19. Loud buzzers made of beryllium alloy, black inside (6)
bembix – BE MIX, or more accurately Be mix, with B(lack) in it. Beryllium is a desirable but rare and somewhat toxic metalloid. Wiki has Bembix but not bembex, Collins has bembex but not bembix, Chambers has both .. but the mix is surely right
22. Ultimately vast scope of tax changes applying retrospectively (2,4,5)
ex post facto – *(vasT SCOPE OF TAX)
23. China to Glamorgan, Washington state to California? (3)
wus – well, the West coast of the USA runs from Washington State down to Baja California, so I assume it’s just a dd. But for some reason this felt like a poor clue, to me. Apparently wus/wuss means “mate” in Welsh dialect, as well as its rather more common meaning
25. Writer, excellent producer of material for alternative soap (7)
quillai – QUILL (writer) + AI (excellent). Alternative? There are lots of different ways of making what we call soap, and this is one of them. So I suppose all soaps are alternative, in that sense
27. Emoji of lynx I try, now and again, to represent legendary striker (7)
mjolnir – alternate letters of eMoJiOfLyNxItRy .. kudos to successfully finding any phrase whatever that works here, regardless of how unlikely it might be. Not a very convincing surface reading, though!
28. Forces to drink, employing ecstasy and dope (5)
enews – from Chambers: “enew: to drive or plunge into water.” This has happened to me more than once, baptism included
29. Associate Charlie with swell clothing for figure scary in places! (5-4)
gallycrow – ALLY + C(harlie) in GROW (swell)


1. Announce summer finally has departed, as weavers do? (5)
heald – HERALD (announce) with the (summe)R removed. The OED has this only as a noun, but Chambers has it as a verb, an alternative to heddle.
2. Name of substance once proposed for your old-fashioned Liberal (7)
prothyl – PRO (for) THY (your, old-fashioned) + L .. a name proposed for what turned out to be a mythical substance
3. Organised lunch gratis for women dancing (6-5)
nautch girls – *(LUNCH GRATIS)
4. Performance-enhancing drug supporting female farm worker in Canterbury (6)
sheepo – SHE + EPO, drug of choice for athletes the world over. Canterbury is the NZ (or Australian) one not the Kent one I expect
5. Cries from Lowlands pasture rising over local waters (8)
yellochs – LEY (pasture) rev. + LOCHS (local waters) .. not precisely sure what the lowlands is doing there, is it the cries or the pastures?
6. Son of PC (3)
mac – dd, mac as in MacDonald means “son of,” and a Mac is a PC, of a sort
7. Unknown measure reformed vast assemblies (7)
zemstva – Z (unknown, along with X and Y) + EM (measure) + *(VAST). A sort of Russian county council
8. Tie man’s worn — wearing dinner jacket, that would be preferable (4,5)
tant mieux – *(TIE MAN) in TUX, a US item of clothing approximating to a dinner jacket
13. Unusual birth of male unsatisfactory, years after arrival (11)
arrhenotoky – ARR (arrival) + HE (male) + NOT OK (unsatisfactory) + Y(ears). A neat clue
14. As French writer’s hardly understood at first, leaves that for his compatriots (9)
hugoesque – H(ardly) + U(nderstood) + GOES (leaves) + QUE (Fr. for that) – another neat clue referring to Victor Hugo, he of les Miserables fame
16. Straining to contain Pole letting off steam (8)
snifting – N (pole) in SIFTING (straining). Surely we’ve all operated a snifting-valve at some time or another..
18. Chemical product: did dash upset fish? (7)
depside – SPED (did dash) rev., + IDE (inedible freshwater fish, invaluable to setters)
20. Who would be landed with extra rand to go round? (7)
bywoner – hmm, not easy .. I think it is WON (landed) in BYE (extra, ie cricket) + R(and). Also an &lit
21. Godwit allegedly from Norfolk once turned up in central Yugoslavia (6)
scamel – CAME (turned up) in ( yugo )SL(avia)
24. Provider of poor tips in Kent, perhaps betting on weight (5)
sprew – SP (betting, ie starting price) + RE (on) + W(eight). I carelessly put “screw,” which can indeed mean a stingy or mean person .. but how I would have parsed, it is a mystery! One measly letter, and the prize is gone for yet another month.. sigh..
26. No longer talking up failure, in brief (3)
los – LOS(s), talking up “no longer” as the word is obsolete. It is not in the OED, though it is in Chambers & Collins.

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

2 comments on “Club Monthly 20200 May 2017 – failed again..”

  1. My error was with the bembix, for which I used the E spelling with apparently no idea where it came from. But my longest hold up was my last one in, SHEEPO, perhaps the easiest clue in the set, given the antipodean tendency to stick an O on the end of anything and turn it into a job. I think I was looking for the female of the species, but more likely it was the impact of the final A I saddled APOLUNE with. It sounded and looked more likely, whatever the anagrist might say.
    There were a lot of single error entries for this one. It’ll be interesting to see whether it’s a mistake in common. So far, it aint.
    I sympathise with yours: when you’ve struggled with the arcanities of the rest of the entries,you get what looks like a plain and easy one and your guard drops, a bit like when England put Root on to bowl.
    Thanks for pushing all the way through this one!
    1. It is a labour of love, because I see this crossword as consistently the best of The Times fine crop. Though I don’t often stray into Listener territory. Perhaps this month it just had more clues with catches, than usual. I can’t see a pattern either, which means it must be our fault, and not the setter’s 🙂

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