QC 1255 by Hurley – Bookends Theme

Doctor! Doctor! I feel like a pair of bookends!

Punchlines on a postcard please. Or a posted comment will do.

It’s just that I have realised (I suppose it is pretty obvious really) that having done my first ever blog on Monday 1st January, I am now also doing my final one of the year on Monday 31st December. Which sort of makes me feel like a pair of bookends to 2018.

I wish I had time to sit and try and dream up a punchline myself but I haven’t. I am afraid that this blog is being written in very rushed and chaotic circumstances as my mother has just had another fall and I’ve had to oversee her admission to hospital and the looking after of her dog and the updating of the family as to her condition etc etc so necessarily this is being squeezed into a few multitasking minutes. I therefore have no reliable record of my time although it definitely felt on the easy side, with quite a few anagrams and at least two hidden words slipping into position without any trouble at all.

So many thanks to Hurley for providing a puzzle that was not too difficult for me to blog on this day when I really don’t have a lot of time to devote to it. FOI was 7A because it sort of jumped out to me as a straight write-in, even though 3A was not far behind. I believe in fact that the solve was so smooth and went so according to plan that the LOI was 21D just as God intended. COD is difficult as none of the clues held me up for very long, and none of them quite had the ideal combination of smooth surface with neat device, but I think I’ll go with 3A. I also liked 1D for the neat internal definition of ‘LENT’, but as referred to above the surface felt a bit strained and unconvincing to me.

Expecting some possible external trimmings on this last day of the year, I did deploy my NATRAF (Nina And Theme Radar And Filter) but unfortunately it didn’t bleep at all.

Hope you all had an excellent Christmas and don’t take the foot off the gas until early on Tuesday morning! A happy and enjoyable New Year to all!

Definitions are underlined, and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can manage.

3 Gauche — after time play fewer roles? (8)
TACTLESS – T (time) + ACT LESS (play fewer roles). Not like Michael Caine then if you have been listening to his autobiography “Blowing The Bloody Doors Off” on the radio recently. A wonderfully felicitous title in my humble opinion.
7 Given food — or a hat! (6)
FEDORA – pretty much what it says: FED (given food) + OR + A.
8 Warning doctor in front of Northern Ireland Conservative (8)
MONITORY – MO (Medical Officer (an army doctor)) + NI (Northern Ireland) + TORY (Conservative).
9 Supporting daughter, means to cross river (4)
FORD – FOR (supporting) + D (daughter). ‘Means’ here is in the sense of ‘way’.
10 Regret trick, sending out son (3)
RUE – RUSE (trick) minus (‘sending out’) S (son).
11 Describing part of car raised unexpectedly in northeast (8)
NEARSIDE – EARSID = anagram of RAISED (‘unexpectedly’) in NE (northeast). Might have been a neat twist if it had appeared in the NE corner of the crossword, but in fact it is in the NW.
13 Republican one backed in Nevada city (4)
RENO – geography was my worst subject at school and geography clues are therefore amongst those that I fear most in crosswords. No problem with this one though as even I have heard of it. R (Republican) + ENO (ONE ‘backed’).
15 Finally gets sweet juice from part of plant (4)
STEM – take the last letters (‘finally’) of getS sweeT juicE froM.
17 Before game, referring to male in plot (8)
PREMATCH – RE (referring to) + M (male), placed in PATCH (plot).
19 President’s gamble, ignoring odds (3)
ABE – ABE (Abraham Lincoln) is probably the most frequent presidential visitor to Crossword Land. Ignore the odd letters of gAmBlE and there he is.
22 Small brick carrier in trainers? (4)
SHOD – S (small) + HOD (brick carrier). There is a question mark at the endof the definition as alternative varieties of footwear are available.
23 Substitute with good reputation (8)
STANDING – STAND IN (substitute) + G (good).
24 Like carrier not in correct path (6)
ASTRAY – AS (like) + TRAY (carrier).
25 Purveyor of nonsense botched weld: drat! (8)
TWADDLER – straight anagram (‘botched’) of WELD DRAT.
1 Suggestive of embarrassed-looking love, provided for time (8)
REDOLENT – RED (embarrased-looking) + O (love) + LENT (provided for [a] time).
2 End row for a change? That’s amazing! (6)
WONDER – straight anagram of END ROW.
3 Part of operetta, mediocre, uninspiring (4)
TAME – hidden word: operetTA MEdiocre.
4 Building material firm, new, supported by Greek island (8)
CONCRETE – CO (firm: in Crossword Land no distinction is made between the technically separate legal entities of a Co. (company) and a firm (partnership), although I do know people who use the terms interchangeably in the real world as well so maybe it’s just my anal legal background kicking in) + N (new) + CRETE (Greek island).
5 Reformer left university over article? Right (6)
LUTHER – L (left) + U (university) ‘over’ (in this down clue) THE ((definite) article) + R (right).
6 Island story’s beginning with Biblical boat (4)
SARK – more geography. But luckily another place I have heard of. S (Story’s beginning) + ARK (Biblical boat).
12 Referring to British measures, air mile, pint at first changed … (8)
IMPERIAL – straight anagram (‘changed’) of AIR MILE + P (Pint ‘at first’). Stones, pounds, ounces, hundredweight, tons (as opposed to tonnes), furlongs, rods, chains and perches and also grains, scruples and gills and a lot of other lovely words besides were all part of our lamented (but thankfully not entirely late as yet) Imperial weights and measures system.
14 … inch also, recollected guy (8)
NICHOLAS – straight anagram of INCH ALSO (‘recollected’).
16 Girl received by Managing Director supplied with staff (6)
MANNED – ANNE (girl) ‘received’ by MD (Managing Director).
18 When classes show items worth having (6)
ASSETS – AS (when) + SETS (classes).
20 Difficult situation in street our group brought up (4)
STEW – ST (street) + EW (WE (our group) reversed, i.e. ‘brought up’ in this down clue).
21 In bag, a recommended seaweed product (4)
AGAR – hidden word: bAG A Recommended. A type of jelly derived from seaweed and much-used as a neutral culture medium in microbiology and also as a thickener in certain foodstuffs (but hopefully not both at the same time).

28 comments on “QC 1255 by Hurley – Bookends Theme”

  1. 11:37 today for a fairly straightforward puzzle.
    I lazily put in ASSESS at 18d as I was going quite quickly and could have finished in 10 minutes. But it took me a while to get STANDING and then I tried to work out why Astray was wrong. It wasn’t of course. So LOI was Assets.
    I think the word Twaddler is new to me and I was reminded of the Sark lark which I understand involved setting companies up on Sark for sound commercial reasons of course. David
  2. A nice gentle start to the week I thought – not a PB but not far off and only slowed down at the end by Nearside.
  3. Enjoyable and smooth sailing today. Looking forward to next year’s challenges.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Well, you have been left on the shelf for some time.

      Cheer up – it’s better than being spineless.


  4. A couple of unusual words in MONITORY and TWADDLER, but nothing too difficult. COD to FEDORA. 5:51.
  5. A nice gentle end to an interesting year of QCs. Thanks to Hurley (and to astartedon for parsing a couple of my biffs). My time of 11.27 is better than some of my SCC efforts of late. TWADDLER seemed a bit uncomfortable but it couldn’t have been anything else given the clear anagram and some crossers. LOI MONITORY which is a new word to me but it was only a question of which vowel to put as the second letter (and the familiar ‘admonitory’ gave it credence). Like johninterred, I think FEDORA is a worthy COD. I look forward to what our esteemed setters will offer us in 2019. John M.

    Edited at 2018-12-31 09:39 am (UTC)

    1. Well done, OB. 15.39 for me, solid SCC. However, I was on for a very similar time to yours before also putting in ASSESS (ditto lazily, above) which caused me to spend a good 5 mins on last 3 – 17, 18 and 24. Resolution: to keep aiming high (fast) without worrying if it doesn’t happen!
      1. Thanks, soj. I think we both fluctuate from day to day but we seem to be doing so around a pretty similar mean time.
        My aim in 2019 is simply to continue to complete every QC (as I have managed to do since nimber 1, thanks to the Times app) but not to be as concerned about my times as I sometimes appear to be. That said, it would be nice to beat some of the whizz-kids occasionally.
        A happy new year to you and to all of the regular setters and bloggers. John M.
  6. This went in smoothly from top to bottom but I did have to pause at the end to convince myself that MONITORY was a real word – but the wordplay meant it couldn’t be anything else. TWADDLER was also new to me but again the clueing was kind. Completed in 10.56 with LOI 24a.
    Thanks for the blog
  7. About 30 minutes, but reasonable allowing for the cold temperature and vodka consumption.

    dnk monitory or agar. Loi astray. Cod tactless.

    Happy new year! 🍾

  8. ….or, as it’s traditionally known, “stag night” or “hen party”. You’ll note my hyphen. Chambers doesn’t list this one at all, but I personally think the single word looks clumsy. The pedant in me refuses to award it COD.

    COD MONITORY (although “Ulster” would possibly improve it).
    TIME 4:18

    1. prematch is given in Concise Oxford though referring to sports events rather than nuptials!

      Though one does hear the usage used loosely, “Ulster” and “NI” are not actually equivalent as some parts of Ulster eg Donegal are not in NI.

      Many thanks to the blogger and best wishes to his mother after her unfortunate fall.

      Happy New Year

  9. Nice puzzle for the end of the year, completed in 7:46. Never heard of Monitory, but it had to be. Thanks to Hurley and Don.

    A Happy New Year to all of you!

  10. MONITORY and TWADDLER were unfamiliar but were happily entered from word play. Liked FEDORA. Nothing to frighten the horses. 10:24. Thanks Hurley and Don. Happy New Year to all. Hope your Mother makes a speedy recovery Don.
  11. Messed this up – having biffed MINATORY at 8ac (which almost works but for a reversal flag) didn’t go back to have another think after taking several minutes on 17ac – the checkers seemed impossible until it occurred to me that a hyphen would help. Then forgot to check for typos before submitting, so finished almost last 🙁

    Edited at 2018-12-31 12:04 pm (UTC)

    1. It’s just the setter indicating that the surfaces of the clues are linked as they both indicate imperial measures, but has nothing to do with actually solving the clues in
      this instance, although I believe in certain circumstances, it might be relevant.
  12. 24mins, with the same issues as others re Twaddler and the unknown Monitory. I was a bit on the slow side with Standing as well, but then 1d and 19d went in a bit quicker than expected, so no complaints overall. I quite liked 24ac, Astray, so that gets my CoD vote. Happy New Year to one and all. Invariant
  13. 8:01 finishing on twaddler and stew. The slightly unusual words were clued easily enough so quite a pleasant romp today – thanks Hurley and, of course, the mighty astartedon.
  14. A slow start as I didn’t have any idea about the first four clues and then I hit 10a and I was away. For me I was steaming and had all but about five after 13 minutes. I thought I might be on for a pb (just under 20) but sadly I was undone by both the astray/assets and redolent/ford combinations and eventually came home in 32:27. Didn’t know monitory or WOD twaddler, which should definitely be in more common usage as there’s certainly no shortage of them. Happy new year to all.
  15. A slow solve with a few biffs 11a NEARSIDE, 17a PREMATCH and 12d IMPERIAL all went in unparsed. I also put in 8a MONITORY and 21d AGAR from the wordplay as neither sprung to mind from the definition which is quite shocking given I frequently used AGAR during my university studies. 15:27

    Happy new year to all.

  16. New Year’s day solve, as travelling yesterday. Start was not promising with FOI 13a RENO, but then everything started falling into place, giving me a straightforward solve in 24 minutes, a PB for those puzzles I’ve timed exactly. Like others, didn’t know monitory, but imagined that it was related to monitor so seemed reasonable. COD Fedora.

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