QC 2396 by Orpheus: An Engimetta

A fair outing from Orpheus, which I completed in good time without too much trouble.

22A was a NHO, a pleasing word that was guessable. Perhaps the 3 minute bursts of song at Eurovision could be so described. Adding ETTA on to words gives pleasing neologisms. (Skimpy Nightwear: Pyjametta)

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, [deletions] in square brackets.

1 Way to travel on horseback, perhaps, or walk purposefully (6)
STRIDE – ST (way) + RIDE (travel on horseback)

The “perhaps” seems a bit unnecessary, clue is not cryptic or whimsical. Michael Macintyre has a good riff on the use of “horseback” where “horse” is sufficient.

4 High-scoring fighter pilot concealing source of his pain (4)
ACHE – ACE contains H[is]

The official definition of an ACE is an aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft.

9 An entertainer rates it badly (7)
ARTISTE – (rates it)*, anagram indicated by “badly”
10 Small rodent originally mating by river (5)
MOUSE – M[ating] + OUSE (river)
11 Boy attendant admitting fire raising in the vicar’s place (9)
PARSONAGE – PAGE (boy attendant) contains ARSON (fire raising)

A Vicar’s place is strictly a vicarage. Vicars are parsons, but not all parsons are vicars (they might be a rector or chaplain). And there’s the archdeacon lurking at 6d, he’s not a parson.

12 A wee dram for a wee kid? (3)
TOT – Double definition

COD for me. I think both words are more common in Scotland than England, and “wee” is a clever indicator of such.

13 Relax about dad’s meal (6)
REPAST – REST (relax) contains PA (dad)

The kind of word that is only used ironically these days, along with “thespian” “perchance” etc. Called “Wardour Street” by Fowler.

15 Chap with a couple of females creating public disturbance (6)
AFFRAY – RAY (Chap) preceded by A + FF (couple of F[emales])
17 Scam no Conservative backed (3)
CON – NO + C[onservative] reversed
18 One who’s behind time fixing metal core (9)
LATECOMER – (metal core)*, anagram indicated by “fixing”
21 Damp end of zoo shrouded in thin fog (5)
MOIST – MIST (thin fog) contains [zo]O
22 Short song, a treat I organised (7)
ARIETTA – (a treat I)

NHO, but guessed on the basis of operetta, sinfonietta etc. In Italian, -etta can be added to a feminine noun as a diminutive.

23 Fat youth eating third of burgers (4)
LARD – LAD (youth) contains R ( third letter of burger )
24 An orderly town in Northern Ireland (6)
ANTRIM – AN + TRIM (orderly)
1 Run about briskly, initially seeing holidaymaker’s vehicle (7)
2 Revolver primarily required on rocky peak (5)
ROTOR – R[equired] + O[n] + TOR (rocky peak)
3 CD playing in the small hours? It makes us dejected (12)
DISCONSOLATE – DISC (CD) + ON (playing) + SO LATE (in the small hours)
5 Bar established by European nobleman and English king (7)
COUNTER – COUNT (European nobleman) + E[nglish] + R (king)

The Bar in a pub is a kind of COUNTER. Although we don’t have Counts in the English peerage, the wife of an Earl is called a Countess (as in Downton Abbey where the wife of Earl Grantham is called the Countess)

6 Occurrence involving archdeacon in film (5)
EVENT – VEN (archdeacon) inside ET (film)
7 Greek cheese originally feeding Greek character (4)
FETA – F[eeding] + ETA (Greek character)
8 Your compiler’s tense about accepting one’s shortcoming (12)
IMPERFECTION – IM (Your compiler’s) + PERFECT (tense) + ON(about) containing I (one)

I think this is right, IMPERFECT is a tense as well of course.

14 Basket a girl carried in park regularly (7)
PANNIER – ANNIE (girl) inside P[a]R[k]
16 Part of sailing vessel detectives equip? (7)
YARDARM – YARD (detectives) + ARM (equip)

Scotland Yard is abbreviated to “Yard” to mean the CID. “We need to bring the Yard in here, guv”

17 Beast of burden arrived on lake (5)
CAMEL – CAME (arrived) + L[ake]
19 Part of it’s a residence for an old emperor (4)
TSAR – Hidden in it’s a residence
20 Drive fast ultimately in heathy upland (5)
MOTOR – MOOR (heathy upland) contains [fas]T

“Fast” is part of the cryptic, so “motor” needs to stand on its own, as a noun. The verb “to motor” happens to mean “drive fast”, so this took a bit of untangling.

69 comments on “QC 2396 by Orpheus: An Engimetta”

  1. No problems, although I needed the checkers for LOI ANTRIM. 3:26. Is that ‘enigmetta’?

    1. I can’t even read the clues that quickly, let alone come up with the answers! You are amazing…

  2. 9:48 Pretty straightforward, PANNIER was vaguely remembered and while ARIETTA was NHO it seemed the likeliest word from the given letters. Looking at it in hindsight I suppose it could be “a little aria.”

      1. I think it’s my second time under 10 minutes. Now I can truthfully claim that first occasion wasn’t just a fluke!

  3. There are other ways to RIDE than on the back of a horse, which to my mind explains the “perhaps.”

    With MOTOR, it seems Collins does the disentangling for you, with MOTOR meaning simply to travel or transport by vehicle (i.e., drive) although it also means, informally, “to move fast, make good progress.”

    AFFRAY struck me as unusual, even quaint, and I see that Merriam-Webster marks it as archaic (for this sense, as well as another) in the US but still current in the UK.

    1. AFFRAY is a legal term under UK law, and one can be charged with causing it, or the intention of causing it . It’s described as a ‘breach of the peace’ which causes someone else to fear for their safety. The term was bandied about a lot in discussions following the controversial arrest of some of the protesters on Coronation Day.

  4. 8:35. I found DISCONSOLATE and IMPERFECTION the two most difficult ones. Crossers and the short anagram helped with the just remembered ARIETTA. Maybe it was meant to be deliberately misleading, but I wasn’t a fan of 17a for which the correct answer CON could just be bunged in as a mis-parsed abbreviation of ‘Conservative’ in the wordplay.

    I now know much more about “how C of E ministers work” thanks to the encyclopaedic explanation from Merlin.

    Thanks again to him and to Orpheus

  5. Nuts – went for the wrong word soup for what should have been the NHO ARIETTA. 13m.

  6. 8 minutes, and I would have been quicker had I not recklessly biffed ASTAIRE at 9ac assuming it was an anagram of ‘rates it’ but without taking the trouble to confirm it. The faulty checker this provided delayed me solving the long answer at 3dn which in turn deprived me of checkers to assist with answers further down the grid.

    1. ASTAIRE is a great answer. I’d definitely have banged it in if I’d thought of it.

    2. Same for me too; and I thought I was being so clever. Luckily I realised the error of my ways quite quickly.

  7. The rain here in the Greek islands is biblical and rounds off howling gales and a sleep-deprived night plagued by mosquitoes, so at just inside the 20 minute mark I am quite pleased to have avoided the SCC.
    Despite having been a music teacher for many years I’ve never heard of an ARIETTA, (and neither does my spellcheck), but it makes sense. I especially liked DISCONSOLATE and ANTRIM. PARSONAGE made me smile quietly to myself.
    I’ve now managed to blow all the electrics reboiling the kettle and can’t access the fuse board to fix it. (I told Mrs ITTT, still in the land of nod following our disturbed night, that this was all a mistake.)
    Happy solving all 👍

  8. All done in 7:30, including the cross-my-fingers ARIETTA that I’d never heard of but seemed very plausible. AFFRAY was a bit odd with no indication that the couple of females preceded today’s random male.

  9. I found this the easiest puzzle for quite some time, and my LOI was the only thing that prevented a top to bottom solve. I knew ARIETTA from somewhere – Mephisto or AZED more than likely.

    TIME 3:14

  10. 8’29” with, like others, a biffed ARIETTA.

    Makes sense though with Merlin’s ‘operetta’ the best example of why. I’m sure loads more will now come to mind during the day.

    Few problems otherwise with DISCONSOLATE my other handbrake

    Thanks Orpheus and Merlin.

  11. 13:29 … very enjoyable as saw Orpheus’s name and was ready to dig in. Avg. time for his first seven QCs of the year 38mins with 4DNFs yet today and last one (18:44) have been escapes. Long may it continue.

    Well judged for the QC as had 6-7 on first pass with a couple of anagrams available for unravelling, so not entirely biffable and joining the NHO ARIETTA club. LOI ANTRIM took a minute and not helped by being unsure of the ending to IMPERFECT… which I couldn’t parse.

  12. A gentle offering completed without any undue delays – the unknown ARIETTA made sense as Merlin explained in his excellent blog.
    Finished in 5.20 with LOI DISCONSOLATE and COD to LARD

  13. 8 minutes, Arietta the only unknown but easy to guess. Which in the spirit of the day is my postetta (or commentetta).

    Many thanks Merlin for the blog

  14. A very neat puzzle with some clever, but accessible, clues. Like others, I needed the crossers for ANTRIM and for my LOI ARIETTA which was logical, if unknown to me. I finished smoothly in just over 12 mins which is a relief after yesterday.
    Thanks to both, John M.

  15. Easy enough but trying too hard to fit some variation on “discontent” into 3d, plus not seeing the SCAMPER/REPAST pair, cost me a fast time. I’m another guesser of ARIETTA.

    All done in 07:33 but that is 2.1K and so this has to go down as a Poor Day. COD to LARD. CON was rubbish, wasn’t it?

    Many thanks Orpheus and Merlin.


  16. At last, a very friendly one. Should even have started a stopwatch – all done in about 20 minutes, a PB. First nine across clues all went in in sequence. ARIETTA no problem for a musician (title of the very last movement of all the Beethoven piano sonatas, for example); LOI LATECOMER. Thank you, Orpheus!

    1. Congrats on the PB 💪

      Advise you stay away from the stopwatch. It’s a slippery slope down the road to keeping a spreadsheet … 🤣

    2. Thank you all (above) for your encouragement – most kind. I still have far to go to deserve your company!

  17. 8 minutes for me including time to write out the letters of ARIETTA and assemble it.
    As others have said, the easiest for some time; but a welcome and enjoyable test.

  18. 4:35

    Possibly could have finished this easier grid much more quickly if my fingers hadn’t decided to work at a much slower speed than the little grey cells. Nothing unknown except for ARIETTA though having typed it in, it does seem familiar.

    Thanks Orpheus and Merlin

  19. A straightforward solve for one of the easiest puzzles for a while, crossing the line in 6.06. I was delayed only by working out ARIETTA which as others have said was a NHO.

  20. Pretty much a top to bottom solve, with a few hesitations, including ARTISTE and ARIETTA. That’s very unusual for me so a happy start to Tuesday. LOI LARD for a green finish in 17:12. Took a while to parse PANNIER, thinking ANN or ANNE was the girl – endless viewings of “Annie” with my kids should have disabused me of that thought much quicker. Thanks Orpheus and Merlin

  21. NHO Arietta, but confidently entered as I thought it was the name of the girl in The Borrowers, and assumed it was an Italian diminutive, which it is. After all musical names are common, eg Carol. However the characters are Pod, Homily and ArriettY.

  22. Well I fair MOTORed through this in sub-10 minute time. The only clues I needed to look at more than once were the NHO ARIETTA and YARDARM, both of which came quickly on second viewing. I completely finished the top half before even looking at the bottom. Thanks Orpheus and Merlin.

  23. 19 mins…

    Felt this should have been quicker, but got bogged down in the SE corner trying to fathom 24ac “Antrim”, 16dn “Yardarm” and 22ac “Arietta” – and had a few issues parsing some of the others.

    FOI – 1ac “Stride”
    LOI – 22ac “Arietta”
    COD – 23ac “Lard” – made me chuckle.

    Thanks as usual!

  24. 6:57 (Whitby Abbey founded by St Hilda).

    All but three of the across clues done on first pass, followed by all of the downs. LOI was ANTRIM. NHO of Arietta, but assumed it had to be a short aria.

  25. Got straight into my STRIDE and SCAMPERED around the grid, finishing in the NE with an ACHE! 6:44. Thanks Orpheus and Merlin.

  26. 12:08 More biffable than yesterday though I biffed SCARPER before deciding it really didn’t make any sense. ARIETTA seemed vaguely familiar and then I remembered The Borrowers but as andyf noted she was actually Arrietty. I did like DISCONSOLATE.

  27. 6.06

    Needed to write out the grist for ARIETTA

    Neat and tidy puzzle overall

    Thanks Merlin and Orpheus

  28. Just about made target. I dithered over ROTOR (I think of TOR as a hill as opposed to a rocky peak so was trying to make a word from the letters r,p,e,a,k) and my penultimate solve was YARDARM which sounded right but post solve I looked at an image to understand it’s function and location on a ship. LOI was the NHO of ARIETTA in 8:40.

    1. The yardarm’s main function was to indicate the time of day when it was socially acceptable to enjoy one’s first drink. As long as the sun was over it, you were okay to make a start.

      1. The important thing is that there are yardarms all over the world, so at any given time there must be at least one yardarm which the sun is over. Hic …

  29. Am I the only one to initially put NIP for 12a? It parses as a wee dram and also as a wee kid with nip short for nipper. Fortunately the crosser from EVENT made it obvious this was incorrect and TOT soon followed.
    A nice and much appreciated straightforward puzzle all solved in 48m.
    Appreciated the blog too

  30. Late to this today due to pesky work getting in the way.

    Good job it was a straightforward one, but as with Jack and one other I think – I went for ASTAIRE, which made me think for too long on DISCONSOLATE.



  31. A nice crossword for this resident of the SCC. As with many others NHO ARIETTA but gettable as an anagram.

  32. I found this very straightforward with all but one of the across clues being write-ins, and ditto the down clues. But stuck over 1d which I just couldn’t see until after taking the dogs out for a run. Yet to tackle yesterday, but deduce it was not straightforward.
    FOI 1a stride
    LOI 1d scamper
    COD 8d imperfection

  33. Found this fairly straightforward except for 22a arietta, but an obvious anagram.

  34. Nothing really to frighten the horses, even for this habitual resident of the SCC, given that NHO ARIETTA could be deduced with reasonable confidence. Personally I enjoyed DISCONSOLATE which I thought might receive more COD nominations – maybe that kind of wordplay just appeals to my sense of humour!

  35. Finished in 14 minutes but put ‘acne’ in at 4ac meaning to go back and look at it again, because obviously I couldn’t parse it. However I then forgot all about it, which was a shame because everything else was fairly straightforward including the NHO ‘arietta’. Nice crossword – thanks Orpheus.

    FOI – 1ac STRIDE
    LOI – 22ac ARIETTA
    COD – 3dn DISCONSOLATE. Also liked 23ac LARD

  36. Had to dash out this morning, so no chance to post until now. I agree with others that this was a friendly QC, with a comfortable sub-20 only slightly threatened by loi Arietta. Leaving 3d Disconsolate until I could be sure of the ‘anagrist’ turned out to be a masterstroke/fortunate choice. . . CoD was all set to be 1ac, Stride, but 24ac Antrim nosed ahead on the line. Invariant

  37. 7:07. A late visit this evening after a busy day. I thought this was very user-friendly and, as I was solving, kept my fingers crossed that more recent strivers enjoyed it too. I had vaguely heard of ARIETTA. It too reminded me of Arrietty from The Borrowers -a series of books I loved as a child. I wonder if today’s children know the stories?
    FOI Stride LOI Arietta COD Affray
    Thanks Orpheus and Merlin

        1. Congrats all round. A nice one today after some recent struggles. 🎉🥳🍾

    1. Penny B, the BBC made a TV film of The Borrowers in 2011 starring Stephen Fry and Victoria Wood, and I gather there’s a new 52-part animated series currently in production. Things like this tend to encourage demand for the books and perhaps newly published editions. The author, Mary Norton, lived most of her childhood and teenage years in the town where I live, Leighton Buzzard, and the house that features in the books is based on her home there, long since converted into a school. It has a prominent position at the bottom of the High Street near the church.

  38. Finished in 10 mins, with most clues being write ins. Held up a bit by IMPERFECTION and ARIETTA. Was particularly careful with the latter as I didn’t want a DNF, so thought it out. Would have beaten 10 mins otherwise!

    In the spirit of earlier comments, do I get a rosetta?

    Thanks for the blog.

    PS Affray is a criminal offence under s3 of the Public Order Act (1986). Breach of the peace is not an offence as such, but the police have the power at common law to take steps to prevent a breach of the peace from occurring (such as dispersing a meeting or making an arrest).

    1. 🌹🌹🌹 – nearest I could get to a rosette/a! But yes, you definitely deserve one 👏👏👏

    2. 🏵 is apparently the rosette emoji! Well done that man. Fab time 💪

      1. Thanks L-Plates. Not getting ahead of myself, but the 2 hour goal remains a possible. Like you, I was surprised at the generosity of the QC today, given some previous experiences with this setter.

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