QC 2015 by Jalna

Hi Jalna, I don’t think we have ever met before, but thank you for this elegant offering which took me back to one of my favourite works of literature (Ulysses) and managed a slyly topical reference (or was it just a coincidence?) at 7D. Either way, very entertaining.

FOI was 1A and LOI was I think 8A because my mind was trying to parse ‘born right’ as NEE or NE + R until I had finished everything else. As soon as I revisited it I realised it was much simpler than that. Although I greatly enjoyed 5D and 6D I think my COD goes to their neighbour, the aforementioned 7D, for its neat topicality although the wordplay was fairly straightforward.

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

1 Less rapid fluid distribution (9)
DISPERSAL – straight anagram (‘fluid’) of LESS RAPID.
6 Rope caught with skill (5)
CABLE – C (caught) + ABLE (with skill).
8 Antelope born right at the end of season (9)
SPRINGBOK – B (born) + OK (right) ‘at end of’ SPRING (season).
9 Area of France featuring in some documentaries (5)
MEDOC – hidden word: ‘in’ soME DOCumentaries.
10 On camera I prepared a hot drink (9)
AMERICANO – straight anagram (‘prepared’) of ON CAMERA I.
12 Yellow bird at front of cage (6)
CRAVEN – C (‘front of’ Cage) + RAVEN (bird).
13 Stolen files ultimately erased (6)
SWIPED – S (fileS ‘ultimately’) + WIPED (erased).
16 State of heightened activity concerning campaign push (9)
OVERDRIVE – OVER (concerning) + DRIVE (campaign push).
18 Took horse round for cowboy event (5)
RODEO – RODE (took horse) + O (round).
19 Rugby player tucked in, devouring a good spread (9)
PROPAGATE – PROP (Rugby player) + ATE (tucked in) ‘devouring’ A + G (good).
21 Reference book finally abridged (5)
ATLAS – AT LASt (finally ‘abridged’).
22 Europeans from San Marino, possibly (9)
ROMANIANS – straight anagram (‘possibly’) of SAN MARINO.
1 Prepare fish? Fresh eels and dace, mostly (7)
DESCALE – anagram (‘fresh’) of EELS and DACe (DACE ‘mostly’).
2 Guard spotted protecting both ends of corridor (6)
SCREEN – SEEN (spotted) ‘protecting’ CR (both ends of CorridoR).
3 Boredom reining us in from time to time (5)
ENNUI – rEiNiNg Us In ‘from time to time’.
4 Replacement transport heading north (3)
SUB – BUS (transport) reversed (i.e. ‘heading north’ in this down clue).
5 Vigorously enjoy vintage footwear? (4,3,5)
LIKE OLD BOOTS – LIKE (enjoy) + OLD BOOTS (vintage footwear). Not a phrase I consciously knew but it was there on the edge and it couldn’t be anything else. I say consciously because it seems that it appears in Ulysses which I have read many times, but it is impossible to remember all of Joyce’s ramblings: “Gob, he golloped it down like old boots and his tongue hanging out of him a yard long for more.” I thought from the sound of it that it must be from the Cyclops episode, and so it proved. Didn’t someone once say: “Dear Reader, Joyce remembered more than you have ever forgotten”. Or something like that. Very apt.
6 Fail to show up a hairdresser? (4,1,7)
COME A CROPPER – COME (show up) + A CROPPER (cryptically someone who crops, i.e. a hairdresser).
7 Playful banter is hurtful in time (8)
BADINAGE – BAD (hurtful) + IN + AGE (time). Neatly topical if you’ve been following the Yorkshire cricket ‘you lot’ incident.
11 Lops head off plant (8)
ASPHODEL – straight anagram (‘off’) of LOPS HEAD.
14 Was hiding in this place, however (7)
WHEREAS – WAS ‘hiding’ HERE (in this place).
15 Detectives carrying around a bug (6)
CICADA – CID (detectives) ‘carrying’ CA (circa, round) + A.
17 Pipe close to overhead shower (5)
DRAIN – D (close to overheaD) + RAIN (shower).
20 Electrical unit erected inside farmhouse (3)
OHM – SI unit of electrical resistance. Reversed (i.e. ‘erected’ in this down clue) hidden word: ‘inside’ farMHOuse.

51 comments on “QC 2015 by Jalna”

    1. Or Clogs, for that matter. Poor clue IMO — very obscure phrase, with inadequate wordplay in the clue to distinguish between legitimate-sounding answers. And I say that as someone who guessed correctly!
    2. Couldn’t find BOOTS or SHOES when cheating, and plumped for SHOES. Unkind that those 2 adjacent letters are unches.
      On a retry I found:
      Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary
      Like old boots (slang) vigorously, heartily
  1. 10 minutes for this one. Jalna’s first QC appeared in August 2019 and he has set us only 10 puzzles so far. I didn’t fare well with the early ones but achieved my target last time and today. I considered SHOES at 5dn but BOOTS rang a faint bell. Brewer’s has LIK EOLD BOOTS meaning ‘greatly / vigorously’ but doesn’t offer any explanation of how it came into use, nor when.

    Edited at 2021-11-29 05:49 am (UTC)

  2. BOOTS is much better, when you come to think of it. Merde.
    I didn’t remember it from Ulysses either. Damn!
  3. So far, all the SHOES are from Americans (plus George, who’s been there for years). Difference in usage when referring to footwear that doesn’t extend above the ankle?
    1. We also have Boots the Chemist, another National Treasure – this one from Nottingham.

      Edited at 2021-11-29 08:47 am (UTC)

  4. I would put this down as a generational thing. My everyday language was courtesy of my maternal grandparents and LIKE OLD BOOTS was common vernacular. Thus my vocabulary happily extends to pre-Edwardian Times. Doth it shew?

    FOI 10ac AMERICANO YET another coffee break!

    LOI 17dn DRAIN laughed like a




    Time: a poor 14:45 and I did not enjoy Mr. Jalna’s grid — we could have two more clues!

  5. I’m a shoes too — but I didn’t associated with with doing things vigorously. I also missed ‘off’ as anagram indicator for the unknown plant and I’ve forgotten BADINAGE before. Horrible grid, tough crossword.
  6. Pleased with 8.39, less so with the pink squares. Another (Brit) shoes. Only know “tough as old boots”.
  7. I always seem to have a bit of trouble with Jalna’s puzzles. I dithered over 5D, my LOI. I had SHOES then changed it to BOOTS as it seemed more likely although I didn’t know the phrase. I’m not sure why it took me so long to see SCREEN and SPRINGBOK. All in all that took me to just over the 7 minute mark.
  8. I went boots because of the phrase ‘fill your boots’ Took me 27 minutes despite quick start. Held up be Failing to see anagrind at 11d and craven not coming to mind. Thanks as always to Jalna and Don

  9. My grandmother’s liver and bacon was ‘like old boots’ – as per Charlie Chaplain – ‘The Tramp’. So my COD – also a mention for Asphodel. I see WOD has made it Glossary.

    Edited at 2021-11-29 09:17 am (UTC)

  10. No problem with OLD BOOTS or SPRINGBOK and I managed to dredge ASPHODEL from somewhere deep in memory after getting some crossers. I agree this was an unhelpful grid but I managed it all correct and parsed in just 2 mins over target and enjoyed the journey.
    A very good, clever puzzle with a couple of clues including COME A CROPPER that might trip up those who did not grow up in UK. Difficult to select a COD from so many fine ones. Many thanks to Jalna and Don. John M.

    Edited at 2021-11-29 02:02 pm (UTC)

  11. Another shoes. Fair enough, chuck in an obscureish phrase, but for those without the GK or antediluvian turn of phrase, clue it a little more directly.

    Otherwise, I quite liked it — especially ASPHODEL, which strikes me as a Tolkeinish word. A quick google confirms that is where I have seen it before, and it also symbolises the underworld and death in Greek mythology.

    8:41, but.

  12. I needed all the checkers except the L from 5d before I saw DISPERSAL, then the LHS came together. I was eventually left floundering in the SE with LIKE tentatively entered at 5d. Then OLD joined it when AMERICAN and SWIPED confirmed it. Ante-POI, ATLAS finally emerged, then I spotted the anagram indication for ASPHODEL, leaving me with the conundrum, BOOTS or SHOES. The expression invoked no hint of recognition either way, but I fortunately opted for BOOTS. 11:38. Thanks Jalna and Don.
  13. Not particularly literate but LIKE OLD BOOTS sounded the more likely — never read Ulysses — not the best clue….

    Found this in wordsandphrasesfromthepast.com:

    • LIKE OLD BOOTS adv. 1. quickly, swiftly …1850 sl.
    adv. 2. vigorously, thoroughgoingly …1865 sl.

    Edited at 2021-11-29 09:59 am (UTC)

  14. … though with an aid before I plumped for Boots — viz Mrs S, who is seldom if ever stumped by a QC clue but confessed she had not heard of the expression. We went with Boots largely because, like Sonofjim, we had heard the phrase “old boots” as in “tough as …”, and could not think of any usage of “old shoes” at all.

    Rest of puzzle less controversial, though the number of times 3D Ennui has come up recently is becoming, er, boring, and I was a little surprised to see the Times use the American English bug for a Cicada, when I would call it an insect. But I accept that insect would have made the surface less smooth.

    Did anyone else get misled by the cluing for 7D Badinage? “Playful banter is …” looked so like an anagram, and with the B from 6A Cable already in place I was well led astray. But with Banister (about the only word I could make out of the letters) not looking very likely, I backtracked before too much time wasted.

    Many thanks to Don for the blog.

  15. Bit of a disaster.
    Now you mention it, I do vaguely remember the phrase LIKE OLD BOOTS but I put Shoes.
    Did get CAME A CROPPER and even ASPHODEL but wasn’t on the wavelength.
    Thanks, Don.
  16. I was SHOES first, then changed to BOOTS on nothing more than a whim. I have read Ulysses, but made no conscious connection with the phrase, which still fires no synapses. Maybe I unconsciously recognised it? Otherwise, no major problems. I thought the Setter missed a trick by not cross referencing the rugby players in 5a and 19a, although cross referenced clues / answers can be like a red rag to a bull for some of us. I didn’t much like the grid (like Horryd), and my last one in was ATLAS at last. My time was a disappointing 17 minutes.
    1. Dear Rotter, thanks for last week’s award of a Silver Star for my clue. You will notice that in today’s QC I have a Gold Star: that is because there is no Silver Star on this site’s emojis. As a person of influence can you please arrange for a Silver Star to be available?

      Your penultimate line would better read, ‘Like Horryd, I did not much like the grid….’ Otherwise it sounds as if you don’t much like Horryd! Or perhaps that is what you intended!?

  17. 12:36 I made heavy weather of this and my two guesses resulted in two errors i.e. SHOES and ASPHeDoL instead of ASPHODEL. Also didn’t fully parse CICADA. Not an easy start to the week.

    Edited at 2021-11-29 10:36 am (UTC)

    1. Not gentle enough for me, sadly. The 15×15 was a good puzzle and I finished OK but took quite a long time.

      Edited at 2021-11-30 09:35 am (UTC)

  18. I am another of the failures to get LIKE OLD BOOTS -NHO in this definition. NHO ASPHODEL either – help needed for this one. Took quite a while to do the rest, too. Not a comfortable start to the week.
  19. Shoes also, and misspelled ASPHEDAL which I DNK. Tough puzzle where legitimate guesses didn’t pan out.


    15×15 was easier today

  20. but I found it very helpful if and only if you get 1d DESCALE, an easy anagram as they go, and 14d WHEREAS, not a hard one IMHO. The double unch in 5d was a bit of a bugger, but did no harm in 6d.
  21. 5:10 this morning, which I was surprised to see put me in a flattering position on the leader board pro tem. I quickly realised several solvers had made one error.
    I had to visit this site to become aware of the troublesome clue, which at the time I had quickly filled in, being vaguely aware of the phrase from somewhere in my distant past and luckily blissfully unaware of the various perfectly reasonable alternatives.
    Otherwise I thought this was a well compiled puzzle from Jalna with several clues that required a bit of thought.
    Slightly delayed by 17 d “drain”, until I realised that in my haste earlier I had misspelt 19 ac “propagate”, although the wordplay was perfectly clear.
    COD and LOI 15 d “cicada”, where I had to take a little time to analyse the wordplay. Since cicadas can annoy one by keeping one awake at night, I thought the use of “bug” was quite appropriate.
    Thanks to Don for the blog and to Jalna for a pleasant start to the week.
  22. never heard of ASPHODEL, but vaguely remembered LIKE OLD BOOTS. one of the advantages of having had victorian grandparents.
  23. I’ve had 2 weeks off the QC due to work commitments and a DRIVE to get my taxi back on the road before winter.

    Unfortunately I felt very out of practice this morning! A bit of a shocking performance with around 50% of the clues unanswered.

    I most probably could have worked out at least another few clues if I had spent a little more time on this, but once I had become resolute that I wasn’t going to be able to solve the remainder of the puzzle, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and it’s game over.

    This felt very much like the attitude I had a few months back, before I was trying the QC on a daily basis. Hopefully by the end of this week I can get back into the right mindset again.

  24. I also had shoes — but after 30 mins still didn’t have 7dn “Badinage” nor 12ac “Craven. I’ll hold my hands up to the first one, but the latter I should have really got.

    Overall, a fairly tricky start to the week from Jalna, although there were some nice clues amongst the head scratchers.

    FOI — 4dn “Sub”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 15dn “Cicada”

    Thanks as usual!

  25. Thanks to all who’ve commented so far.

    This may be one of those situations where the setter and editor are familiar with a phrase and therefore don’t realise it’s actually fairly obscure, I dunno. A quick search online and in dictionaries seems to back up the obscurity bit, and I appreciate that the double-unched grid isn’t helpful. Apologies if this bruised anyone’s leaderboard stats.

    1. I wonder if, like many expressions, it depends on which part of the country one grew up in? It was a familiar expression to me (and to my wife) but we grew up in the NW of England.

      Edited at 2021-11-29 05:56 pm (UTC)

    2. I don’t see any need for an apology.
      It doesn’t do any of us solvers any harm to get something wrong occasionally.
      Not everything in life is black and white.
      A very good puzzle — thanks. John.

      Edited at 2021-11-30 09:36 am (UTC)

  26. We were shoes too (and we’re British!). Great puzzle though. Took us ages to solve 15D because we were convinced that the word started with “DIS” — and we couldn’t think of any suitable insects 🤣. We finished in 15 minutes despite not sticking the BOOT in….


    Thanks to Astartedon and Jalna.

    Edited at 2021-11-29 02:12 pm (UTC)

  27. 10 minutes to complete everything bar the last word of 5d and after a minute and a half of staring blankly at it I chucked in SHOES from the checkers – bit of a GR in my opinion.
    Other than that a decent puzzle.
    Thanks to astartedon
  28. ….as OLD BOOTS (which I biffed correctly), but sufficiently so to take me over my target.

    FOI DISPERSAL (nice anagram)
    LOI ASPHODEL (should have got it earlier !)
    COD CRAVEN (first thought obviously ‘canary’)
    TIME 5:13

  29. Well they walked all over me! Definitely dragged my heels to say the least as this turned out to be a Ulyssean challenge to complete under 2xSCC.
    NHO Asphodel. Never warmed to Botany but of late have been successful propagating basil in profusion to make pesto.
    Enjoyed CICADA but unlikely to hear any buzzing tonight with another 0C night ahead.
    Thanks Jalna and Astartedon
  30. Well I enjoyed this until I got down to three to go. I managed to get CABLE although I didn’t quite see how able meant skill until I came on here and saw it was “with skill”, but the last two, 5d and 7d completely foxed me. I gave up after 39 minutes knowing I was unlikely to get the plant and suspecting (correctly) that BADINAGE was a word I hadn’t heard of. Strangely I had little trouble with LIKE OLD BOOTS. It’s not a phrase I’ve heard of, but I have heard of “tough as old boots” so I assumed it was some kind of variant of that. Anyway, tomorrow is another day, but thanks to Jalna and Astartedon.
  31. A quote from Ulysses seems very unfair for the QC, ditto a plant generally unknown. Are you trying to put off newcomers? Another sad DNF for Dave and Sal
    1. I don’t think it was really meant to be a quote from Ulysses, I just thought I’d heard it somewhere and it turned out that that was probably where. As the setter himself posted above, it was probably just an unfortunate coincidence of both setter and editor knowing the phrase reasonably well and so assuming that it was fair game for the rest of us.

      As others have pointed out there was no way of differentiating the footwear from others that fit the checkers such as SHOES and CLOGS. I simply said “it couldn’t be anything else” in my blog because the BOOTS version was the first phrase that occurred to me and although I wasn’t 100% sure of it I was sure enough and when I put it in it was OK. Having had the other options pointed out after the event though BOOTS still just sounds a lot more ‘right’ to my ear so even if I had though of the other possibilities I think I would still have gone with BOOTS. But it felt right enough for me not to go looking for other answers anyway.

  32. Not a good start to the week. Dare not reveal my time, but only one error. Managed to put Remonians in 22a. Had San Remo in mind and didn’t appreciate it was an anagram!
  33. Ninja-turtled my way to all green in my hotel bar thanks to an Army chum who regularly says “f*** my old boots”. 10:34

    Thanks all

    Templar still in the throes of trial

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