Cryptic No 27298 Thursday, 14 March 2019 Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate

I found this quite sticky and, even allowing for time taken to lovingly extract the full measure of each clue (except the troublesome 27 across), my 32.48 is unlikely to set the world on fire. But I think it’s a goodie, with some inspired definitions scattered throughout: I particularly liked the country home, and the &lit at 12 down. At the other end of the scale, perhaps, I found 8 down problematic, with the definition being more of an allusion, though I’m open to persuasion. Most of my slower stuff came in the top left corner, never a good place to find trouble. Perhaps it was Mrs Z watching Masterchef on catch-up that dulled my senses.
While it’s not really crawling with ants, there are two of them in the grid, a mildly unusual feature.
My attempt to unravel the tangled skein of thought is  embellished below with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS. Click on Ah, there it is to reveal all

[Ah, there it is]


1 Orchestral movement not working, give in (4-3)
DOWN-BOW To draw the bow across the violin starting with the nut or bottom end. Not working (the computer’s ) DOWN, give in BOW (to the inevitable, May be)
5 Farewell speech originally without conclusion? (7)
SENDOFF Hyphenated in Chambers. Speech’s first letter (originally) plus END OFF suggested by without conclusion.
9 Overpriced establishment, bit common (4,5)
CLIP JOINT Not that I’ve ever thought of it that way, but a place where you get clipped, ripped off. I think CLIP as in a bit of film, and (more convinced) JOINT as in held in common
10 Fine total (5)
SHEER One of those swinish double definitions where both words have multiple possibilities.  Fine gives you SHEER if you think of 10 denier and therefore practically see through stockings (a gentleman would think thus only fleetingly, of course), total as in SHEER madness.
11 I speed up and give impromptu, impressing conductor finally, Italian maestro (8,5)
GIUSEPPE VERDI Responsible for the music for the latest Audi advert, the one that goes whump boom whump boom whump boom whump boom dee da dee…  “Impromptu” is your anagram indicator, sort out I SPEED UP GIVE as your fodder, slip in the R from the end of conductor.
13 In sport, time is going fast (8)
HURTLING Once you remember that HURLING is actually a sport (iománaíocht in its native Irish, believe it or not) sticking a T(ime) in  is a simple exercise
15 Doctor on call : exactly the same? (6)
CLONAL “Doctor” (verb) the letters ON CALL
17 Country, note, surrounded by water (6)
POLAND The note is LA, the water is POND. I would do my usual thing of citing the Do, a deer thing, but Hammerstein ran out of imagination at that point and just called it “a note to follow So”
19 Fix trouble — check parts fit (8)
DOVETAIL Clever wording (if I’ve sussed it right). Fix gives DO, trouble is a crossword staple AIL Check is VET, which parts the other two bits. Extra points for dawdling long enough to work that out
22 Inexperienced competitor on river, is one’s concern great? (13)
INDUSTRIALIST An inexperienced competitor is a TRIALIST (sometimes with LL, but not here) which leaves the INDUS for the river.
25 Old king and tiresome infants initially play together (5)
TUTTI Musical Italian. TUT is the old king, more formally known as Tutankhamen (other spellings are available). T and I from the initials of the Tiresome Infants
26 Snatch and rip off fastener (9)
CHINSTRAP You need to spot that “off” presages anagram and that SNATCH and (again that intrusive coupler) RIP are your bits. I suppose it fastens the helmet/busby to the head, but it’s a bit loose (as a definition, that is)
27 Plant life no better, all ending the wrong way for animal (3,4)
ROE DEER Ah, right, got it. The plant is REED, then just all the endings of lifE nO betteR, all reversed. Not sussed while solving.
28 Through the ear, visitor took a shot (7)
GUESSED Probably from the Golden Treasury of Homophones Through the Ear 1948 edition. Guest.

1 Avoid nothing (4)
DUCK Can’t believe this was almost my last in. Today’s (faintly)  cricket reference for the second definition
2 One complaining when footballer’s grabbed hard (7)
WHINGER A splendidly contemporary clue, echoing three such incidents in British football in the last week. But the footballer’s a WINGER, and H(ard) the grabbed letter.
3 Desirable to roll up sail, out to drop anchor? (5)
BIJOU Easy (-ish) to see that the “rolled up” sail is a JIB, the you have to assume the OU comes from out with the T designated as the word’s dropped anchor. Hmm
4 Insect finding crumb on each set of books (5,3)
WHITE ANT The termite, I believe. WHIT for crumb, EA for each, and NT for our regular scriptural set of books visitor to these parts.
5 Some training relative needs to pen sheep (3-3)
SIT UPS A relative SIS(ter) pens the TUP, a useful (to  setters) form of sheep.
6 Architect left residing in loathsome country home? (9)
NASHVILLE We’ll take John NASH, responsible for just about every decent bit of Regency Architecture, add VILE for loathsome with an L(eft) residing therein
7 Stretch too far above ladder (7)
OVERRUN Above: OVER, ladder: RUN as in those 10 denier stockings.
8 Expect trouble — from a catfight? (3,4,3)
FUR WILL FLY There may be trouble ahead. There are variations on the phrase in most dictionaries. The feline allusion is obvious enough
12 One moving quickly to secrete objects, petty larcenist primarily? (10)
SHOPLIFTER A brilliant &lit. SHIFTER interprets one moving quickly, hiding the objects which are the first letters of Petty Larceny  Gothick Matt points out you also need the O from objects to make the wordplay work. Cheers!
14 Overwhelming success gets recounted ultimately in fiction (9)
LANDSLIDE The innocent “gets” is there to provide LANDS, the fiction is a LIE, and the remaining D comes from the ultimate letter of recounteD
16 Coming across fish, old mog fed (8)
LOCATING O(ld) CAT (or mog) is fed to the fish LING in a reversal of normal practice
18 Case of demoiselle being into drink, is this? (7)
LADETTE I don’t think an instance of a demoiselle quaffing a drink of LATTE is particularly ladettish behaviour, but hey, this is a crossword clue, and the case of DemoisellE is just DE
20 Star soldier, God of war (7)
ANTARES Soldier is our second ANT du jour, and ARES the (Greek) god of war. And this is the fabulous Uhura singing “Beyond Antares” just for the trekkies among us.
21 Trader more vulgar, might you say? (6)
GROCER More vulgar? GROSSER, sounds like.
23 Problem children (5)
ISSUE A neat little double definition, probably another vintage clue
24 Small and sweet, one’s eyed (4)
SPUD S(mall) and PUD for sweet.  Eyes are the growing points on potatoes (but you knew that)

43 comments on “Cryptic No 27298 Thursday, 14 March 2019 Va, pensiero, sull’ali dorate”

  1. Two-thirds of it went fairly quickly, but then… I put in SEND OFF without fully getting the END OFF part, which, on reflection, wasn’t the most difficult thing here. And I didn’t see what “life no better” was doing in ROE DEER either. But I was getting tired. Fun anyway. LOI was DOVETAIL, which I did parse!
  2. 13:33 but I can’t spell GIUSEPPE.
    Otherwise I found this fairly straightforward apart from the SE, where I read 26a like vinyl and came up with CLIPSCREW, which is a perfect answer in all aspects other than existence. Eventually I worked out that 24dn had to be SPUD and rethought it.
    I wasn’t happy with definition at 8dn when I solved the clue because I thought ‘expect trouble’ must mean ‘believe that FUR WILL FLY’. But on reflection ‘[you should] expect trouble’ as a statement equates perfectly.

    Edited at 2019-03-14 04:45 am (UTC)

    1. Glad to be in good company. Having laboured successfully through the rest in under 50 mins, I was disappointed in myself for failing to accurately count the Es and Is in the anagram fodder.

      Otherwise quite a fun, if tricky, puzzle for me.

  3. I got there. My non-existent anagram was TRANSCHIP (which has the right letters, but isn’t a fastener…or indeed anything at all). I thought “Doctor on call” was very smooth. I had trouble with FUR WILL FLY even with most of the crossers, mostly since it “obviously” started FOR or FAR.
  4. I struggled with some of this and even more so to parse some of the clues. After completing the grid last night I gave up on the explanations and returned to them with a fresher mind this morninig when I managed to finish them off with ROE DEER as the last one to fall. I don’t know what I thought a CLIP JOINT was, but I certainly didn’t know it had to do with overpricing.
  5. Would have been more like 20′ had I not flung in CLEAR at 10ac. Clear=fine, fine; total? I’ll get back to it, he thought, naively. So I wasted bags of time trying to recall an architect named NECK or NOCK or … I also forgot Doctor Anagrind for a lesser time-waster. DNK TRIALIST, but didn’t really have to.
    1. I had CLEAR too, written in with some confidence, but the the country home at 6dn eventually put paid to it. I considered NECK and NOCH as the architect.

      Edited at 2019-03-14 09:23 am (UTC)

  6. ….Jim Green does not equal GUuseppe Verdi!
    In 3d, BIJOU, I believe we are meant to see the lower case t in ‘out’ as resembling an anchor. Or not as the case may be. Well, it sorta, kinda looks like one.

    Edited at 2019-03-14 07:48 am (UTC)

      1. You’re right, of course, Kevin. I must have been thinking of his hitherto unknown brother, Giacomo…..
  7. I found that extraordinarily tough. Spent ages on Clip Joint and Fur will Fly. I would love to berate the setter but, looking back, there is nothing to complain about. Excellent challenging puzzle.
  8. Not the day to be short of time. Excellent and difficult crossword let down by the truly awful VERDI clue.
  9. 53 minutes, with the bottom half of the puzzle still missing after 40 minutes. It then all DOVETAILed into place. FOI Joe Green, eventually correctly spelt. I just assumed DOWN BOW was a term after the crossers made it likely. My Grannie had an old heavy Victorian sideboard always referred to as Tut’s Tomb. I doubt if I’d have got TUTTI otherwise. I was doubtful of the CLIP in CLIP JOINT but I did know the term so happily put it in. The capital of country music was briefly Wrenville before the penny dropped. Never heard of CLONAL but the crossers and anagram fodder left little doubt. ‘There will be trouble’ would have helped me see FUR WILL FLY quicker. A tough but overall a worthy challenge. COD to NASHVILLE. Thank you Z and setter.
  10. Much the same as most others – a difficult puzzle that I struggled with at times, never really tuning in to the setter which always makes life difficult. Thank you devious setter and well blogged z8
  11. After a very good run of solves I ran into a brick wall with this. After 30 minutes I still had nearly a third of the grid blank and felt like I was solving a puzzle in an unknown foreign language. Can’t say I was enjoying the experience.

    I would never have got BIJOU as I had gone with Guiseppe, but I wouldn’t have got it anyway, not being aware of any bijou/desirable equivalence.

    I thought DOWN BOW was one word (it is in Chambers), so rejected that.

    I’m going to disagree with Z8 about the brilliance of the SHOPLIFTER &lit def — more crosswordese than English. I did eventually biff the ROE DEER clue but that surface leaves my head spinning.

    All in all, not my cup of tea at all.

    1. You’ve reminded me I was going to query that as I don’t see it at all and haven’t found support for it in any of the usual sources. It can mean small and elegant but that doesn’t necessarily make it desirable in my view
    2. I always see BIJOU being followed by Apartment, as in an Estate Agent’s window, presumably intended to convey the impression that it is similar to Marie-Claire’s off the Boulevard Saint-Michel rather than one without the space to swing a cat around. So, I had no trouble seeing BIJOU as desirable. You’re no doubt right though: having been involved in buying first properties for two of my children in London recently, cat ownership has been out of the question.
  12. Struggled for nearly an hour with this one. Would have helped with 2d if I had spelled Giuseppi correctly first time. LOI dovetail.

    Tim Moorey is giving a talk to our group in Kent on Monday evening. If anyone would like to join us to meet him, let me know.

  13. No time for this one—I’m on the Night Nurse for my cold, and when I hadn’t got much filled in after a quarter of an hour this morning, I cancelled my timer and decided to apply another cuppa and a more leisurely approach.

    All I know, therefore, is that it took me a long while, but I did finish, with an un-confident CHINSTRAP biffed in while completely missing the anagram. FOI 2d WHINGER, COD 19a DOVETAIL.

  14. PS: Z, unless I’m missing something, the “O” of “objects” needs to be included in the first-letters run in 12d. And thanks for the parsings of the several others I missed!
  15. As the time suggests, you can add me to the camp which failed to get on the right wavelength. Most trouble in the NE corner, and when I worked out what 8dn must be, I’m afraid it wasn’t a penny-drop moment, more a cry of exasperation. To my mind, yes, of course it suggests the answer, but that’s not the same as a definition, whichever way you slice it. Some nice stuff elsewhere, but felt too much like hard work for me, I’m afraid.
  16. …but I used to work with somone whose surname began GIU…..and who was exasperated with the numerous wrong spellings. COD to 6d. Off to listen to Bob again.

    29′, thanks z and setter.

  17. It just so happened that I used this word to describe a “des res” in London’s Kensington in an email to JerryW just recently – it was one of my mother’s favourite terms of derision. I took a very long time to see SENDOFF because of the lack of hyphen and only parsed ROE DEER post-submit. There was once a pet grooming establishment on Lexington Avenue that called itself the CLIP JOINT – I think the owners had no idea of the derivation. Yes, this was quite a challenge. 25.16
    1. I bet they did; and if they didn’t, I bet most of the other Clip Joint proprietors across the land do.
  18. Resigned at 25 minutes, beaten by the SHOPLIFTER/HURTLING junction. If I’d seen the down answer, I’d have biffed “hurdling” which I tried to justify for a while, so it was always going to be a DNF.

    I knew I was in trouble early (FOI TUTTI) and was never anywhere near the wavelength. CLIP JOINT, ROE DEER, and LANDSLIDE were all biffed (thanks Z).


  19. Phew, pleased to get through this one unscathed! Got off to a slow start, eventually postulating that 4d might end E ANT, and then seeing the WHIT for crumb. The E than gave me good old Joe Green almost immediately, with a cautious counting of Es and Is de rigueur. The rest of the previously intractable NW then fell easily, unlike the rest of the puzzle. ANT BEAR got me nowhere but eventually the deer emerged from the water plants. I saw the split anagrist for CHINSTRAP quickly. Once I’d discarded VILLA for country house and saw vile, Mr. Nash hastened into view. Great clue! I never did fully parse SENDOFF, instead seeing the END bit and shrugging off the OFF. 8d was a bit of a “what the dickens” moment, but does work if you look at it from the instruction point of view. Liked SHOPLIFTER and LOCATING. Last one in was DOVETAIL after some serious cogitation finally revealed the parsing. Nice puzzle. 40:18. Thanks setter and Z.

    Edited at 2019-03-14 12:06 pm (UTC)

  20. I struggled with this and was relieved to get there in the end. I’m another who was loth to discard CLEAR at 10a, so I spent ages looking for an unknown architect. I couldn’t parse ROE DEER (Got the deer but not the roe)and dithered between it and RED DEER until the LADETTE came to help me. LOI was DOVETAIL. 47 minutes. Ann
  21. Got in just under the hour with several ‘hit and hopes’. My LOI was SHEER as I couldn’t see the Total sense of it and there are so many possibilities for s.e.r. It was a case of ‘got half the answer but don’t get the other half’ for several of these, esp CLIP JOINT and DOWN BOW. COD to SHOPLIFTER. very clever.
  22. Wow, what a stinker. Loved it! Nashville – country home! Brilliant. Doubly so, because with the letters v and l, I assumed it ended in villa! Many thanks for a happy infuriating hour.
  23. ….one wrong. Went for ANTEROS which is one of Gemini’s stars. Took me well over an hour but a great crossword for relying on checkers to prompt an answer. Last in – CLONAL.
  24. Glad it wasn’t my turn to blog, as a Windows 10 update, or a Chrome update has rendered the puzzle unable to be shown in Chrome. I reinstalled Firefox and it worked OK – 14:43
  25. Finished but resorted to aids towards the end as I got tired/frustrated – so it’s a technical DNF.
    Never heard of “Clonal” and “Down Bow” was a bit esoteric but, overall, fair challenge.
  26. This one was a real tough nut to crack. None of the across clues went in on a first read. FOI 1dn. After an hour my grid was still lacking down bow (unknown), clip joint, bijou and white ant. Tidied those up in another 10 mins after work. Dovetail and Nashville my favourites I think.
    1. One of those occasions when the paternal pressure to learn the violin came in useful!
  27. Beaten by ANTARES, which is irritating since I know it. Somehow I ended up with Asteros, which is a word but only just.

    I am indebted to out blogger for highlighting one of Lt. Uhura’s remarkable talent, being able to sing one song whilst apparently lip-syncing to another.

  28. Catching up a few days late, but isn’t 5ac Farewell Speech outside (without) End Of ? Invariant
    1. Ingenious, but I think farewell is doing duty as the definition, and I don’t think the clue quite works as an &lit. That said, I think from “without conclusion” to “end off” needs a bit of a squint, and in the end only the setter knows what was intended. Since you have found a way to the answer from your reading, I can only say “and why not?”

      1. Thanks for replying. On reflection, I think mine is too much of a stretch and that End off (missing) is good enough for without conclusion. My wife tells me I’m starting to take these things too seriously… or words to that effect.
  29. Thanks setter and z8b8d8k
    Found this very tough, taking over 90 minutes across a number of sittings to get it done. Hat off to the setter as he/she was able to do this without using any obscure words, so all in the trickery of the clues. The best example of this, I think that was NASHVILLE, with the deliciously delectable definition of ‘country home’ that completely misled me for ages. CHINSTRAP was another clever clue with its generalist definition and a well disguised anagram.
    Finished in the SW corner with ROE DEER (that was easy enough to guess the answer but took a while to see how the word play worked), SHOPLIFTER an excellent &lit clue) and POLAND (a country that hid itself out to the end).
  30. Thoroughly enjoyable. We always relish these chewy ones. Some brilliant double definitions. Particularly savoured “Nashville” – on realising the country music aspect after reading the blog! Initially thought it might be an obscure English country mansion; perhaps a lesser known Blenheim or similar! Doh!
    60 minutes over brunch on a beautiful spring day in Wandering, Western Australia.
    Thanks to setter and blogger.

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