QC 2446 by Wurm: Singin’ in the Wind

A good puzzle from Wurm but with one bit of vocab that is definitely 15×15 level, where it was sighted last week.

Got off to a great start in the NW corner but things slowed a bit towards the end for a time of 11:22.

Our random names this week are ED and ADA. VI and DI got the day off, and this ED is apparently not a journalist.

The Tftt appeared in the main section of the paper again on Saturday, in the occasional column from Mick Hodgkin, Times Puzzle Editor, regarding our discussion about the use of BROAD in the clue in QC 2437 Bloggers The Lady in the Window, Templar and Doofenschmirtz achieve immortality by appearing in the column.

Definitions underlined in bold, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} in curly brackets: other stuff in parens and quotes.

1 Dwelling in wood, book taxi home? (3-5)
LOG-CABIN – LOG (book) + CAB (taxi) + IN (home)

Nice gentle one to kick us off. This works best if “book” is considered as a verb, as in “Can you book the evidence in”.

5 Very long shot by European (4)
EPIC – E{uropean} + PIC (shot)

The OED doesn’t equate EPIC with “very long”. It can be  “like an epic poem”, “heroic and arduous endeavour; grand in scale or ambition”, or (US Colloq) “excellent, outstanding”. So I think the clue would be better as “Heroic shot…”

8 Staff leave fruit …(5)
MANGO – MAN (staff) + GO (leave)
9 … under tree? Splendid! (7)
SUBLIME – SUB (under)  LIME (a tree)

These two clues are linked together via ellipsis, the only reason seems to be to make a nice surface.

11 Excellent beginning of reggae song (3)
AIR – A1 (Excellent) + R{eggae}
12 Unusual instances happening all the time (9)
INCESSANT – (INSTANCES)* – indicated by “unusual”
13 Sailor posted away (6)
ABSENT – AB (Sailor) + SENT (posted)
15 Black spice in mixture builds muscle (6)
BICEPS – B{lack} + (SPICE)* indicated by “in mixture”
18 Tries to stop genuine practice session (9)
REHEARSAL – REAL (genuine) contains HEARS (tries).

“Hear” as in a Judge who hears (tries) a case,

19 Summit just too much for this climber? (3)
PEA – PEA{K} (summit) loses last letter (too much)

I always try IVY for climber, then remember that PEA often meets this definition.

20 Mistake by sappers — fall back (7)
RELAPSE – RE (Royal Engineers) + LAPSE (mistake)

The Royal Engineers are called Sappers because the term comes from the French word “saper”, which means “to undermine”. In the 17th century, sappers were soldiers who dug trenches and tunnels to undermine enemy fortifications.

21 Husband in food shop makes capital (5)
DELHI – DELI (food shop)  contains H{usband}
22 Fat contributing to vascular deterioration? (4)
LARD – Hidden in “vascular deterioration”
23 Friend put down small carpet in gym (8)
PLAYMATE – PE (gym) contains LAY (put down) MAT (small carpet)
1 Sheepish youngster and girl dance (7)
LAMBADA – LAMB (Sheepish youngster) + ADA (Random girl)
2 Person beyond help — individual in Greece (5)
GONER – GR{eece} contains ONE (individual)
3 Pariah alone playing stringed instrument (7,4)
AEOLIAN HARP – (PARIAH ALONE)* – indicated by “playing”

This was a write-in for me, but only because I came across the AEOLIAN HARP just last week in the 15×15. It caused me great trouble then, and I expect that it will to many today. Not least because its vowels look very unlikely. The blogger, jack, provided this great link.  You can hear and learn more about Aeolian Harps here.

4 Crawler popular with cult (6)
INSECT – IN (popular) + SECT (cult)

Not all insects crawl (many fly or jump) and not everything that crawls is an insect (eg a baby), so maybe this def is not great.

6 Soldier hardly gregarious? (7)
PRIVATE – Double def, a private person is not usually gregarious
7 Some of quiche staying in box (5)
CHEST – hidden in “quiche staying”
10 Time to celebrate a quiet man in alcove (8,3)
BASTILLE DAY – BAY (alcove) contains A + STILL (quiet) + ED (random man)

This was celebrated a couple of weeks ago , 14th July. Mercifully with just fireworks rather than the burning cars of the weeks previous.

14 Academic clash or wrangling (7)
SCHOLAR – (CLASH OR)* – indicated by “wrangling”
16 Suspect disease in coastal area (7)
SEASIDE – (DISEASE)* – indicated by “suspect”
17 Everyone securing three points in addition (2,4)
AS WELL – ALL (Everyone) contains SWE (Three points of the compass)
18 Artist taking in Ur left country (5)
RURAL – RA (artist) containing UR + L{eft}
19 Dance partner for Dot often? (5)
POLKA – Whimsical clue. POLKA and DOT often go together.

No-one seems sure why “polka dot” came to be used. Maybe it was simply a way of describing the polka dance’s simple, repetitive pattern.

68 comments on “QC 2446 by Wurm: Singin’ in the Wind”

  1. Straightforward. I don’t know why LOG-CABIN has a hyphen. No problem with EPIC. Biffed AEOLIAN HARP & BASTILLE DAY. I liked SUBLIME. 5:22.

  2. Nice wurk by Wurm, it took me 8.36 with LOsI SUBLIME and BASTILLE DAY. The latter’s wordplay took quite a bit of unravelling, as did LOG CABIN (for me anyway). Like Merlin I suspect many will be undone by aeolian harp if (a) it’s a NHO or (b) they didn’t do the 15×15 last week. Fitting five vowels into a 7-letter word is a challenge. Just to keep us on our toes Greece was GR today and GK in yesterday’s biggie, to give us Gdansk. Don’t mind EPIC for long, saw Oppenheimer on the weekend and the glass of red I bought to see me through was classified as epic-sized. I probably needed two. Always thought of BICEPS as being plural, but if not what is? He’s got very big bicepses?

    1. The plural of ‘biceps’ is ‘biceps’. Greece is GR; yesterday it was ‘Greek’–>GK.

    2. You only get a plural if you’re referring to both arms. They’re a single muscle properly called “biceps brachii” – the “biceps” part is because they have two heads attaching them to the bone. Of course, we still need to discuss the “biceps femoris” you have in the front of your thighs …

  3. 12:31. Yes, thank goodness for last week’s AEOLIAN HARP in the 15×15. Otherwise I needed the crossers for PLAYMATE and BASTILLE DAY and had the same problem as several others in trying to stop thinking of “ivy” for 19a and “dash” for 19d.

    Thanks to Wurm and Merlin

  4. Back to reality! Despite this taking over 30 minutes, and being undone in the end by the nho AEOLIAN HARP which I so nearly guessed it correctly, (maddening really since I’ve been acquainted with the Aeolian Mode since my ‘O’ Level Music days), I really quite enjoyed this one.
    I thought PEA was a good clue, biffed BASTILLE DAY and prevaricated for far too long over the ‘is it BICEP or BICEPS?’ issue.
    Thank you Wurm and Merlin for brightening the start to what looks like a fairly grey day down here in Dorzetshire.

  5. 6.48

    PEA and POLKA also brought up the rear

    Quite liked the MANGO SUBLIME combo

    Thanks Merlin and Wurm

  6. Initially put APE(x) for the summit climber thinking it was a convoluted clue as knew it didn’t quite parse. But once I got seAside, it couldn’t be. PEA/POLKA were my last pair too.

    AEOLIAN-HARP had well placed checkers … I was left needing to slot A,E,L into A-O-I-N … the L had to go in the middle, AAO- seemed unlikely as the starter. Did toy with ripping up the whole thing as not being a harp which I had seen from the first pass but crossed the fingers and went with it.

    Biffed an unparseable “recurrent” before seeing the incessant/instances anagram and BASTILLE-DAY really was critical for that side of the grid and was a mystery until I thought of BAY=alcove.

    I’ll happily take 16:16

    Edit: looking again at APE(x) not sure why I thought it doesn’t parse, it does 🤔

    1. Snap! I was held up by having APE(x) too, until SEASIDE made me think again leading to PEA and POLKA. COD to REHEARSAL. Nice puzzle. Thanks Wurm for that and Merlin for the blog. 4:54.

    2. Another great performance! 👏👏👏

      If you can solve that in 16 mins, you must now be an ex-member of the SCC.

      I found it hard and was astonished to see some great times on here. That only reinforces my belief that I am going backwards with these puzzles.

      1. Definitely getting quicker at them – I should hope so after a year and a half. Getting a lot of practice elsewhere is helping.

        But today’s CQ took almost as long as this at 14:27 – such a difference to yesterday’s.

    3. I also went for APE(x) at first, and cobbled together AEOLIAN out of the remaining letters on the shaky ground that it looked a bit Greek-ish.

      A tricky one for me, today. I was held up most by the combination of SUBLIME and BASTILLE DAY, which together probably took me ten minutes of the total 34:17.

      Thank you Merlin!

      1. I feel we are in great company with JohnI also plumping for the APE(x) initially 👍

  7. Delighted to see my alias appear in blog at 8a and pleased with 8’20” for puzzle completion. Needed to wrangle with all the letters before AEOLIAN went in but otherwise I bounced round the grid with BASTILLE and PRIVATE last ones in.

    I enjoyed PLAYMATE in particular, for the clueing, not the Hugh Hefner connotations I assure you.

    Thanks Wurm and Merlin

  8. Breezeblocked at the end by BASTILLE DAY, where I was sure that the “quiet” was indicating “sh” so that it began “bash”. A trawl eventually sorted me out. I liked SUBLIME, POLKA and COD PRIVATE.

    All green in 06:43 for 1.3K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks to the Wurm and the Wizard.


  9. A quick start in the NW but some chewy clues later on took me over target.
    Had to resort to pen, paper and much pencil chewing to work out the harp and I was slow to see the anagram for SEASIDE. INCESSANT, PRIVATE and EPIC drew things to a close with a couple of nice PDMs.
    Particularly enjoyed SUBLIME and PLAYMATE and finished in 10.43.
    Thanks to Merlin for the blog and for the link to the article.

  10. I found this on the trickier side, and negated my 4:26 submission by fat-fingering “lammada”. COD to SUBLIME.

  11. I teetered on the edge of the SCC today. Some good clues, some chewy offerings. SUBLIME was my COD and my LOI was SEASIDE (d’oh). In a rush so…
    Thanks to both. John M.

  12. Another quickie for me. That’s two in a row, quite rare. Didn’t see the judicial connotation of HEARS but it had to be. Liked PLAYMATE because it fitted together, NHO an AEOLIAN HARP but it was the only way to make sense of 5 vowels in a 7 letter word.
    Thanks Wurm and Merlin. No thanks to Jackkt for planting a very irritating ear worm!

    1. “Tries” or “Judges” to give Hears is a connection setters are very fond of, so much so that it is the first thing I think of when I see either. A case of a clever trick the first time you see it, but at risk of being overused I think.

  13. Needed to check spelling of AEOLIAN and struggled to parse BASTILLE DAY and REHEARSAL, but got there in about 25 minutes. Quite pleased to do so!

  14. 9 minutes for this enjoyable puzzle, in which I had no trouble with the Lambada and happily entered Aeolian harp, but then got held up on the Epic/Private cross. No idea why I couldn’t see Private, not the most challenging of DDs ever, and without the P, Epic just didn’t come. Still not completely overjoyed with the connection “Epic = very long”; I watched a rugby league match over the weekend which was a very good candidate for the epithet “epic” despite being exactly the same length as any other RL game.

    Many thanks to Merlin for the blog

  15. 16:21 (Plymouth colony celebrate first Thanksgiving)

    I found this harder than most of you. BASTILLE DAY held me up for a long time – I was expecting “a quiet” to be AP or ASH, so did not see STILL. LOI was SEASIDE, which with hindsight should have been obvious. No trouble with AEOLIAN HARP, which went right in, albeit followed by a careful count of the letters to check I had the spelling right.

    Thanks Merlin and Wurm

  16. Fairly straightforward from Wurm, save for the vowel shuffling Harp and the French national holiday. Bastille Day was in fact my loi, and I was so pleased to finish with a comfortable sub-20 that I completely forgot to parse – I’m not too sure I would have got it. Either way, a welcome 18mins after recent struggles, with CoD to 17d, As Well. Invariant

  17. I’m in the harder camp today.

    SUBLIME (had pencilled in PINE) and BASTILLE DAY were last two in, but PEA and POLKA also took a little while.


  18. I was held up by BASTILLE DAY and most of the SE corner. Took ages to see that 16d was an anagram, but that finally got me going, with PEA and POLKA last 2 in. 10:00. Thanks Wurm and Merlin.

  19. 15m
    I thought I was on for a fast time but got bogged down by biceps, epic, polka (dash as per vinyl), seaside and pea (unparsed didn’t twig just too much).

    COD seaside.

  20. Unstrung by the HARP. FOI LOG CABIN, and LAMBADA, then solved in fits and starts and PDMs.
    Cd not parse POLKA, GONER.
    Thanks all, esp Merlin. Interesting our discussion featured in the paper.

  21. Hard. 28 minutes. Only got aeolian harp as anagram. Pleased to have been able to finish.

  22. Another over-target solve at 16 minutes for two in a row. I was also very dim at the bridge club last night, so maybe my infradian / circa-lunar rhythms are out of kilter just now. No problems with the HARP except spelling it, and the French holiday came quickly with a couple of checkers, but I slowed myself down by spelling DELHI wrong, which delayed POLKA and PEA. Last two in were PRIVATE and EPIC which two should have been easy. Many thanks Wurm and Merlin. I read the article at the weekend, and enjoyed the references to our fellow commentators.

  23. My LOI, POLKA, took over 5 minutes to appear – no idea why, when Dot should have been an instant giveaway. Apart from that it was mostly a steady solve. FOI LOG-CABIN (I don’t understand the hyphen, either). I was also slow to spot the SEASIDE anagram. It was only after the P of HARP was in place that I realised I was repeating my error from the 15×15 in thinking the musical instrument would be a HORN of some kind – memory like a sieve! Liked SUBLIME and PLAYMATE but COD probably REHEARSAL. Thanks Wurm and Merlin.

  24. I managed to finish below target at 8.38 but it seemed tougher to me than my time suggested. Perhaps I was just on good form. My major hold up, in company with others, was to put APE in for 19ac and it held me up in solving 16 and 19dn. Eventually I twigged what was going on, but even so my LOI was BASTILLE DAY which took my overall time over the eight minute mark.

  25. 16.25 Off the wavelength today. I spent far too long trying to read 8 and 9 as a single clue. PEA and POLKA went straight in but EPIC, PRIVATE, BICEPS, BASTILLE DAY, MANGO, SUBLIME, PLAYMATE and SEASIDE all waited until the final couple of minutes, and I didn’t notice the latter’s anagram until it was done. Thanks to Merlin and Wurm.

  26. Started fast but must have slowed down quite a bit and was in the end slightly disappointed by a time of 17 minutes. Parsed everything except PLAYMATE (thanks Merlin). Only managed to get BASTILLE DAY after I thought of ‘bay’ for alcove – probably spent longer on this than any other. No problem with 3dn after I spotted ‘harp’ although I needed to be careful with the spelling. An enjoyable puzzle from Wurm, for which my thanks.

    FOI & COD – 1ac LOG-CABIN.. Also liked LARD and POLKA for the surfaces
    LOI – 9ac SUBLIME

  27. Enjoyable mix of straightforward and slightly more challenging today I thought. FOI LOG CABIN. Liked MANGO/SUBLIME. LOI REHEARSAL after I rather belatedly biffed BASTILLE DAY. ‘Aeolian’ sounded right paired with ‘harp’ although I’m not sure why – definitely needed to write out the anagrist for this one. Very enjoyable. Thanks Wurm and Merlin (derivation of sappers particularly interesting). R

  28. Solved on a phone in th3 car with over a supermarket meal deal. Decided to build answers from answered clues rather than doing all in turn at first so grew diagonally down from FOI LOG CABIN. Slowed at the end by BASTILLE DAY, PLAYMATE and SUBLIME. Knew the harp once I saw it was an anagram but hard to juggle those letters when you’re penless! Brought up the ‘congratulations’ in 14.01. Haven’t done yesterday’s yet – pesky work!

  29. 6:21, and in only two passes, which is unheard of for me! Fortunately I knew the AEOLIAN HARP last week in the biggie and here too, so it didn’t cause too much trouble. In fact, I’d say that this was surprisingly unwriggly for Wiggly Woo, but very entertaining. Quite a few anagrams but all well hidden in the surfaces – I particularly liked INCESSANT and BICEPS. And although I’m not usually a fan of linked clues, I thought the combined surface for MANGO and SUBLIME were excellent. LAMBADA was rather sweet – memories of teenage dances and parties 😊
    FOI Log cabin LOI and COD Seaside
    Thanks Wurm for the fun and Merlin for – as usual – the very interesting blog

  30. A DNF as I needed help with my dancing today: LAMBANA was the wrong girl’s name and spelling DELHI as DEHLI made POLKA rather elusive without aids. Apart from that all finished in under an hour.
    Thanks Würm for an enjoyable puzzle at just the right level and Merlin for the blog.

  31. I needed all of the checkers to guess AEOLIAN which gave me a lot of trouble (I don’t do the 15×15). BASTILLE DAY was another that needed most of the checkers. I was then very slow to work out the clues for SUBLIME, PRIVATE and LOI EPIC in the NE corner. Not a great day 11:06

  32. DNF as 19a and 19d beat me. I did think PEA but dismissed it. I was unaware a pea was a climber. That prevented me from answering 19d. I originally wanted to answer with SALSA, but could not link it to dot. My kind kept wandering over to a Wizard of Oz connection.

  33. 9.23

    Another below-par performance here. While I love holidays, my solving skills have been washed out with seawater. Nothing too difficult though prob wasted time on Bastille Day rather grabbing more checkers…

    Nice to see that piece on suspect words with a few namechecks.

    Thanks Wurm and Merlin

  34. Given today’s setter – I find only Teazel more challenging – I thought my time of 32 minutes might be quite competitive, … until I came here and saw how well everyone else had fared. Still, I’m not complaining as I enjoyed the challenge, didn’t get seriously held up anywhere and learnt of a new instrument. Overall, this was pitched at just the right level for me. Sufficiently challenging, not too obscure and relatively quick.

    Many thanks to Wurm (I am hoping to see Rick Wakeman play Starship Trooper at The Dome in Brighton next February) and Merlin (perhaps he’ll play that AS WELL).

  35. Nearly spilt my cuppa when I came across the reference to the Tftt in Saturday’s newspaper! A family member kindly told me I am too woke for this and should be doing the Grauniad. Sadly I’m not clever enough.

    I enjoyed today’s puzzle. Lots of clues made me smile and had great surfaces. I was thrown by 5A. I thought a POLE might be a very long shot by a European!

    Love the dance references, makes a change from sport.

    The anagrams always amaze me, whoever knew that SEASIDE is an anagram of DISEASE?

    Thanks Wurm and Merlin.

    1. The weekly Quiptic in the Guardian is on par with this Quick Cryptic I think – although, like this, it does have its days.

      1. Yesterday’s Quiptic was much tougher for me than this. I gave up at 45-mins with 3-4 left albeit a mistake blocking one of those, a “should have got that” along with one particularly terrible clue IMO.

        Was very helpful for at least one clue here though!

        Definitely worth doing every week along with Sunday’s Everyman I’ve found.

        PS Izetti sets under the name Pasquale over there. I usually finish his over there because he is less obscure.

  36. I was pleased to complete this in just over 30 mins, but that soon evaporated when I came here and saw the times posted by others. It perhaps shows just how poor I now am that a puzzle I found difficult and was delighted to finish should be so easy for so many. Hard to sum up how deflated I feel. I don’t even have the excuse of a long day at work this week as I’m on holiday.


    Thanks for the blog. Seems it was easier for some than you thought!

    1. Dear Mr A,
      Please don’t fret. I did 32 minutes and I’m not at all deflated.

      1. Thanks Mr R. You are right. I will take satisfaction from having completed the QC. Like you, I find Wurm rather tricky.

    2. You were faster than me, if that helps! Granted, being faster than me is quite a widespread achievement, but at least you’re not at the bottom of the leaderboard.

      1. Thanks Wombat. You are making great progress and will be climbing that leaderboard in due course!

    3. It’s not *that* bad of a time GA. I thought there were some thorny bits in there mostly hanging off BASTILLE-DAY.

      My times for Wurm have bounced between sub-20 and around 50mins this year – just one in between at 28mins. A strange challenge I’d say.

      In all honesty, I think you have to reset your solving expectations. Look at where you’re genuinely at and then build up your confidence from there. To use a sporting metaphor (as I tend to do on occasion) let’s say you are currently playing in the Scottish Championship; it doesn’t matter that you were playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League last season – the challenge now is to stabilise and achieve promotion …

      1. Thanks L-Plates. I appreciate the metaphor. Can’t think where that came from🤣🤣

        Yes, I need to be more realistic and, as you say, achieve some kind of stability. Just over 30 mins for Wurm is one of my better efforts. He is a varied setter, but usually tough. I never quite get on his wavelength.

        Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

        1. BTW you might recall I said I get lots of little, meaningless coincidences in life … this afternoon turned over the page in the book I was reading and the next chapter was titled “Polka” 🤷‍♂️

          (Weird coincidence of the past week – four different Sheryl Crow songs appearing in various places)

      1. Reflation underway!

        Keep at it Ian. There were some useful abbreviations/synonyms to take from the blog today.

  37. I struggled to start -FOI was RURAL -and struggled to finish with the last two being POLKA and SEASIDE (COD to that).
    In between I was quite quick with a total time of 14 minutes.
    I generally liked it but thought EPIC a stretch.

  38. 18 mins…

    I thought of Epic = “very” rather than “very long”, as in the modern parlance of its “great/big”, especially as long shot could still be a “pic”.

    Overall, I enjoyed this, but the “Aeolian Harp” was a fingers-crossed guess.

    FOI – 1ac “Log Cabin”
    LOI – 19ac “Pea”
    COD – 10ac “Bastille Day” – enjoyed the surface on this.

    Thanks as usual!

  39. I thought the best observation in Saturdays paper was in Letters where someone quoted Roger McGough ‘Got up, shaved did the Times Crossword, shaved again’ (or v similar). Domes I find the QC like that…

  40. Personally I’d find it stressful to watch the time I take or worry about it. I prefer to finish in a day and if I don’t I keep it for the weekend when sadly there is no QC. Please Puzzles Editor change this and also please give a Super Fiendish Sudoku on a Friday!!

    At the weekend I also tackle the previous Monday’s Quiptic and like L-Plates have found Pasquale more accessible than Izetti. Weird.

  41. I had SPEC ar 5a from ‘long shot’ = ‘on spec’ with European possibly to sme NHO Balkan location

  42. Late Entrant re Insects. Bugs like babies also crawl but not all insects are bugs which I recall need to have 6 legs and bodies in 3 sections. Also usually 2 antennae and 2/4 wings. But again not all insects with bugs in their names are technically bugs. The more knowledgeable will both be able to edit and add more. It’s a subject of growing if intermittent fascinating with my grandsons!

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