QC number 2643 by Felix

A very enjoyable puzzle today, with some lovely surfaces and the required GK (eg the empire in 3D) mainly gentle, and possibly only one word (the answer to 8A) that could be considered even slightly obscure.  10:20 on the clock when the last clue went in, so at the more approachable end I think for a puzzle by Felix.

COD for me was 18D.  Did anyone else try to get Fri for Friday into the answer here?

Many thanks Felix for the puzzle – I expect there will be some quite fast times on this one.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Standard refusal to meet Royal Marines (4)
NORMNO (refusal) + RM (Royal Marines).  My FOI and it is always good to start by getting 1A.
4 Lady-killer, heroic, as an ovation shows (8)
CASANOVA – A hidden, in heroiC AS AN OVAtion.  After my comment in my blog a fortnight ago that hiddens across four words are rare, here is another – though the idea of anyone calling Casanova heroic, let alone giving him an ovation for his nocturnal deeds, is an odd one, to say the least.
8 Saint, disturbed at Magi revealing marks on his body? (8)
STIGMATAST (Saint) + (at Magi)*, with the anagram indicator being “disturbed”.

Stigmata (ancient Greek στίγματα) is the plural of stigma (στίγμα); stigma has the generic meaning ‘mark, spot, brand’, but stigmata as now used in English has the specific meaning of marks echoing those reputed to be on Christ’s body from his crucifixion. So a very nice surface with the religious connotations of Stigmata echoed by reference to the the marks being on a saint.

9 Miss Marple’s middle man (4)
MALE – The construction is MArpLE, ie Marple missing the two middle letters of the word.  A clever surface, as one has to look beyond Agatha Christie’s lady crime-solver Miss Marple, and also separate middle from man.
10 Female soldier in US, going to right and left (4)
GIRLGI (soldier in US) + R + L (right and left).  Another lift and separate clue: we are not looking for women soldiers here.
11 State of pasta when mixed with ink (8)
PAKISTAN – (pasta ink)*.  A straightforward enough anagram, indicated by “mixed”, but it took me longer than it might have to see it as I first checked all 50 US states.
12 Notices Charlie has long hair (6)
CLOCKSC (Charlie in the NATO alphabet) + LOCKS (long hair). The meaning of “to clock someone” as to notice or see them is mid-20th century slang, but there seems to be no agreement that I could find on where the phrase originally comes from.  Ideas please!
14 Fly perhaps from trendy religious faction (6)
INSECTIN (trendy) + SECT (religious faction).  The “perhaps” in the clue is to indicate that this is a DBE, a fly being an example of an insect.
16 Capone, say, providing weapons is scary! (8)
ALARMINGAL (Capone) + ARMING (providing weapons).  The “say” is because there are presumably other Capones, even though the only one we ever meet in Crosswordland is Gangster Al.
18 Side of the hollow — a metre (4)
TEAMTE (“the hollow”, ie “the” without its middle letter) + A + M (metre).  The surface is perhaps a little clunky, but the wordplay is straightforward enough.
19 VAT applied to a brass instrument (4)
TUBATUB (a vat) + A.  A clever clue, using the UK/EU sales tax known as Value Added Tax to make a very smooth surface.
20 One politician obeying the law: that goes without saying (8)
IMPLICITI (one) + MP (politician) + LICIT (obeying the law).  My first thought on reading the clue was that the answer was Implying – what that says about our respect for our politicians that one immediately thinks of MPs lying is another matter.
22 Most bogus calls taking one in? Tons! (8)
PHONIESTPHONES (calls) with I inserted into it (“taking one in”) + T (Tons).  This was my LOI; there are a surprisingly large number of words that fit the four checkers.
23 Not easy to get river pilot at first (4)
DEEPDEE (the river Dee, of which there are at least four to choose from in the UK) + P (pilot “at first”).  Slight hesitation about Deep meaning Not easy; to me it means more “insightful, complex, not simplistic”.  I suppose this could be said to imply that deep thoughts are “not easy to understand”, but it is perhaps a bit of a stretch.

Edit: The definition should be “Not easy to get”, as New Driver has pointed out below.  I nearly got there with my “not easy to understand” …

2 Liar not, unusually, before a judge? (2,5)
ON TRIAL – (liar not)*, with the anagram indicator being “unusually”.
3 I’m tough, ugly, oddly overlooked old emperor (5)
MOGUL – Every other letter of i’M tOuGh UgLy – the indicator to take every other letter is “oddly overlooked”, and we are indeed overlooking, ie ignoring, the odd-numbered letters.

The Mogul or Mughal Empire covered most of what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan between 1526 and 1857.  In its heyday it was one of the most powerful and culturally developed states of its time, ruling over 100-150 million people, and one which many Indians today look back on with justifiable pride.

4 About to consume hot tea (3)
CHACA (about, ie circa) with H (hot) inserted into it.
5 Fizzy spirit drink taken across recreation ground (9)
SPARKLINGSLING (spirit drink) with PARK (recreation ground) inserted in it.

A sling is a generic spirit-based drink, traditionally with sugar in it, with the word dating from the 18th century.  These days we more often use the word cocktail for such drinks and the word sling is little used except in the Singapore Sling, a cocktail invented at the Raffles Hotel, Singapore in 1915, and still served there in great quantities.

6 Vengeful female upset blokes with English sibling! (7)
NEMESIS – An IKEA clue, with the construction being NEM (Men, ie blokes, upset, ie reversed) + E (English) + SIS (sister, sibling).  In ancient Greek mythology, Nemesis was the goddess of revenge and retribution; these days one’s Nemesis can be male or female – or even an inanimate object.
7 Country house in Virginia, poorly kept (5)
VILLAILL (poorly) inserted into VA (standard abbreviation for the US state of Virginia).
11 See CID tip off killer in field? (9)
PESTICIDE – (see CID Tip)*, the anagram indicator being “off”.
13 Hanging that appears at end of play? (7)
CURTAIN – A straightforward cryptic clue, with the final curtain indicating the end of a show.
15 Shrouded in secrecy: an ideal murder weapon? (7)
CYANIDE – Our second hidden, in secreCY AN IDEal.  It took me a moment to think of poison as a weapon, but even though it is is not the most common linkage, it works for me.
17 Roar coming from Irish lake that has taken a second (5)
LAUGH – The Irish lake is a LOUGH, and we replace the second letter O with an A to get LAUGH.
18 After Thursday, one doctor turning up behind two others? (5)
THIRDTH (Thursday) + I (one) + RD (Dr, ie doctor, “turning up”).  And if you come behind two others you are indeed third in the sequence.
21 Mine’s an untidy place on reflection! (3)
PITTIP (an untidy place) reversed (ie “on reflection”).

63 comments on “QC number 2643 by Felix”

  1. … And we’re back! I finished a puzzle, 12:33.

    I liked a lot of the surfaces (and some were iffy, like TEAM)

    just gotta remember that it I have no idea what the clue is on about, it’s either a hidden or an anagram.

    1. Wow well done Tina! Hope you’re recoveries continue! I fell hook line and sinker for Miss Marple, absolutely not seeing the Miss as an instruction.

      1. I have a few pains but maybe I’m also milking it a little bit because it’s nice to have the men in my house take over all of the chores. Shh don’t tell.

  2. 12:25. I had SOUGH at first for LAUGH thinking to replace the L in lough with an S(second) and thinking the soughing of wind in trees might be a kind of mini-roar. Oh well, crossers meant that theory was shot. MALE was very clever with the separation needed in Miss Marple. Thanks, Cedric, for interesting MOGUL, STIGMATA, and SLING info.

  3. Just over 8 minutes. Not many obscurities for me either, with DEEP for ‘Not easy’ being the one I took longest to see, appropriately enough. I parsed CURTAIN as a double def but see that it also works as a cryptic def. As far as the ‘notices’ sense of CLOCKS goes, the OED has it as “slang (originally U.S.)” with the first quotation from the NYT (Magazine) in 1911, whereas the ODE and Collins have “(Brit. informal/slang)”, so who knows. Favourite was the surface for PHONIEST.

    Felix just about always has a theme +/- Nina but as usual I haven’t been able to spot it.

    Thanks to Felix and Cedric

  4. 11 minutes.

    This being a Felix puzzle I looked for a theme or Nina. 9ac is the pointer to it as it mentions Miss Marple, created of course by Agatha Christie.

    References in answers are 12ac CLOCKS – The Clocks being a 1963 book featuring Hercule Poirot. Christie followed that in 1966 with 18dn/10ac THIRD GIRL and in 1975 The CURTAIN (13dn) was Poirot’s last appearance.

    At 5dn and 15dn we have SPARKLING CYANIDE, another Christie book published in 1944. That title featured one of Christie’s lesser known detectives called Colonel Race but the story was based on a short story published in 1939 as Yellow Iris when Poirot had been in charge. For the David Suchet TV series they used the original title and Poirot instead of Col. Race.

    There may be more I haven’t spotted.

    1. Nemesis is the title of a Miss Marple novel. And country houses abound, and on trial, and I wouldn’t be surprised if insecticide featured somewhere.
      Any more?

      1. ON TRIAL could be a reference to Witness For The Prosecution a short story made into a stage play that still does the rounds from time to time.

        There’s a short story called Wasps’ Nest that certainly featured a PESTICIDE.

        We have The Hollow in 18ac – another Poirot title.

        Other non-specific references in clues are: CID tip off killer; hanging that appears at end of play; ladykiller; judge; murder weapon.

    2. Well done at finding the theme. Two others I have spotted are N or M? (1941) and NEMESIS A Miss Marple story (1971). Any more, anybody?

      1. I’m less familiar with NEMESIS so I can understand missing that one, but I really should have spotted N OR M. That was a 1941 novel featuring ‘Tommy and Tuppence’ lesser-known Christie regulars. Their adventures were made for TV under the title Partners in Crime.

    3. thanks for pointing out the theme – I read all of Ms Christie’s books about three decades ago – and should have spotted this but didn’t.

      1. I never spot themes – indeed I didn’t even mention the possibility of one in my blog, despite Felix being known for them, as “Statherby fails to spot the theme” is the very definition of “not news”. But on this occasion I really ought to be just a little embarrassed, as I have not only read nearly all of them, but when I was studying for English Literature AS level I actually wrote my major coursework essay (which one did as part of the course in those days) on “the detectives created by Agatha Christie”, comparing their style etc. It was one of her skills as a writer that the various detectives were all so distinct and different.

        Ah well, my only excuse is that it was over 50 years ago …

  5. Thank you Cedric and Felix. Stigmata is also used in the medical world. Stigmata of chronic liver disease being spider naevi, jaundice and palmar erythema amongst others. All marks on the body.

  6. I fair ripped through this one in 14 minutes only to be undone by the lazily biffed LOUGH instead of LAUGH. (I know you can ‘roar’ with laughter but is ROAR really used as a synonym to laugh?) All in all though a very nice QC and worthy of the title, and for once I can enjoy a weekend without extra homework.
    Thanks to Cedric and Felix for their efforts and y’all enjoy your weekend.
    (Apparently it’s going to be warmer here than in Lisbon, so that’s one in the eye for them Portuguese. We will just have to close our eyes and try to imagine the sparkling waters of the Tagus gently lapping edge of the buzzing Praca do Comercio under azure skies while we dine beneath parasols on freshly caught sardines washed down with a cheeky glass of chilled Encruzado……)

  7. Really enjoyed this one and I thought the two hiddens – CASANOVA and CYANIDE were top quality – as was MALE.
    Started with NORM and finished with DEEP in an averageish 8.09.
    Thanks to Cedric for the excellent blog and Jackkt for spotting the theme.

  8. 4:54. Quite gentle for a Felix. Thanks Jackkt for spotting the theme, which I tried to find but failed. I liked the hidden CYANIDE. Thanks Felix and Cedric.

  9. What a good puzzle. Elegant clues, hard enough but not too hard, and a theme to boot. Great stuff.

    I got everything first time and in order, except PAKISTAN (where I was trying for a US state, like Cedric), TEAM and LOI/COD MALE. However, as I am too nervous to biff and thus have to parse as I go, it wasn’t that speedy and I clocked a pretty standard 08:06.

    Thoroughly enjoyed, then enjoyed the excellent blog too. Many thanks Cedric and Felix.


  10. I finished this fairly quickly, though I don’t time myself. I wasn’t convinced by Roar being a synonym for LAUGH. Favs were STIGMATA and PHONIEST. Thanks all

  11. I couldn’t get to grips with this, and crept inside my target by a bare six seconds. I didn’t spot the theme (as usual) but felt I should have done.

    LOI CYANIDE (which should have been easy)
    TIME 5:54

  12. No fast time from me, I’m afraid. 38 minutes for the second day in a row (and a whopping 4hrs 37 mins for the week). I sincerely hope next week brings some respite. At least my week didn’t include any DNFs.

    Unfortunately, other than the first four clues up in the NW corner, very little came easily today. My grid was largely a sea of blank cells after my first pass, so I really had to graft. My L2I were VILLA and MALE. I’m off now to do something else and to forget all about crosswords for a while.

    Thanks to Felix and Cedric.

  13. Dnf…

    23 mins – but put “Mule” for 9ac – although I couldn’t parse it. Now that I’ve seen the answer, it’s a good clue, so I’m kicking myself.

    I also enjoyed 18ac “Team” and 18dn “Third”.

    FOI – 1ac “Norm”
    LOI – 22ac “Phoniest”
    COD – 19ac “Tuba”

    Thanks as usual!

  14. Finished and much enjoyed. Very fast. Was only held up a little by LAUGH which took me a while to work out.
    Thanks vm, Cedric.

  15. I am not convinced by Lough. There is nothing that tells you to take the O out, and so the clue would seem to lead you to a word like Laough, which neither exists nor fits. I also agree that Roar as a synonym for Laugh is somewhat of a stretch. Otherwise it was a very enjoyable puzzle.

    1. I had similar misgivings about LAUGH but eventually persuaded myself that if read as ‘(lough) has taken A (as its) second (letter)’ that just about works as an instruction to replace rather than add it in.

  16. 9.07

    Loved MALE and LAUGH. And still missed the theme despite reading most of them when younger. Smooth clever stuff

    Thanks Felix and Cedric

    Ps On the subject of the Mughal Empire reading The Anarchy by William Dalrymple. Eye opening and recommended

  17. Never thought of roar for laugh, so didn’t understand the clue and ended up with LOUGH, which seemed unlikely, being in the centre of the clue. Otherwise quick and all parsed.

  18. Off topic: I wonder if any of our US or Canadian friends will be able to experience the eclipse on 8 April.

    1. There is quite a bit of excitement about the eclipse, especially around the Niagara Peninsula, but for myself, as a senior trying to stay active, I will be playing the current rage in sports, Pickleball, over the time in question. I will certainly monitor the increasing then decreasing darkness out the windows though.

  19. 7:30

    Forgot that Felix was our nina specialist. Although I have read all 76 of Agatha Christie’s books (in my teens and twenties) bar her romantic novels (as Mary Westmacott), the nina completely passed me by, so thanks for the reminders. Reasonable pace around the grid – had to check myself with LOUGH/LAUGH to make sure that the correct vowel was entered in position 2. Liked TUBA best. LOI PHONIEST.

    Thanks Felix and Cedric for the entertaining commentary

  20. Enjoyed this a lot, finishing in 14:13. LOI was DEEP, by which I am not entirely convinced, but the rest of it was lovely. Thank you for the very informative blog!

  21. My brain was obviously out of gear today as I made heavy weather of this one. No real issues in the top half, apart from MALE which took a while to parse, but I got stuck on LAUGH, PHONIEST, PESTICIDE and CYANIDE for quite a while. Missed the theme as usual. 13:01. Thanks Felix and Cedric.

  22. Just missed out on a sub-20 thanks to loi Phoniest, which I’m embarrassed to say needed an alpha-trawl (it’s been one of those weeks). I also completely missed the Nina, but like Cedric nothing at all unusual in that. CoD to 9ac, Male, for the parsing.
    Slightly disappointed that 10ac wasn’t Gigi – I only saw the film once, a long time ago, but I remember it well. . . Invariant

  23. Many thanks for the weekend duty.

    I completely failed to read Miss Marple’s middle as an instruction, and also couldn’t parse LAUGH so thanks for the explanation, that’s a tough bit of wordplay and knowledge for the Quickie!

  24. First time in a while that I’ve been able to sit and do a puzzle on the day of publication and to actually finish it was a real bonus 😁. My wife is a Agatha Christie fanatic which made it even more enjoyable. Off to have a go at Friday’s QC now.

  25. 12:30

    Nothing too tricky here. Sadly parkrun was very slow as I get over a chest infection. Combined QCPR 47 minutes.

    Edit. Huge Christie fan but completely missed the Nina until reading the comments.

  26. 17:18, another pretty fast time by my standards, and some very witty clues. Along with the popular MALE, my faves were INSECT, CLOCKS and IMPLICIT (if only it did go without saying!). LAUGH caused difficulties for me as it did for some of you, not because of the definition, which I thought fair, but for the absence of an indication to lose the O.

    The biggest laugh of the puzzle, though, came from my own weird thought processes on 3D MOGUL. As a fairly new and non-British solver, I frequently have to try to remember or even imagine some usage that’s completely foreign to my idiolect. As I was pulling alternate letters from “I’m tough ugly”, my attention slipped and I got MOGGY. Ok, it seems to me that “moggy” has showed up for “cat” somewhere in my reading. Put it in, then try to imagine that “emperor” is somehow common Britspeak for cats. Thank goodness GIRL was straightforward and rescued me from this idiocy.

    Also I want to know how in the world our blogger had time to check all 50 US states on 11A and still finish in 10 minutes! An amazing mental feat.

    Thanks to Felix and Cedric.

    1. Oh I’m constantly making up new words that I’ve decided are English slang from 50 years ago.
      I know so little that everything seems reasonable!

  27. 17:07 – seems I was slow. But I approached tentatively given it was a Felix. Slightly surprised to have the first 6 clues in the NW done in under a minute but after that it was tougher going. For some reason VILLA just wouldn’t come to mind, tried to do something penne pasta in the PAKISTAN clue and tacked on a little time at the end starting at the PHONIEST checkers.

    Spotted the Agatha Christie when SPARKLING went in, having already put in CYANIDE and stumbled over the Miss Marple “MALE” clue. But it was no use outside of those. I’ve finished watching the BBCs adaptation of Murder is Easy a couple of nights ago which was okay but I felt there was no chance of spotting the murderer which to me is the appeal of these things. Generally like a bit of AG and have a book of her collected short stories that is somehow still unfinished since I bought it circa 2006! Still three to read …

    QCpr managed to get under 45mins while I took it easy accompanying my daughter round. Poole parkrun celebrated its 600th run today and it’s 13th anniversary. We had 65 runners on the first one, 905 today which is down on our record of 1300+ on Christmas Day.

    As for the overall week – one of my best ever. First time for 5 SCC escapes and scraped under the 2hr mark at 1hr56. Given other solvers of my level regarded it as a tough week, I feel it went well. And has dragged me back to 50% escapes for the year – 42/84

  28. Cedric – excellent blog as always.

    Regarding DEEP – I had the definition as “Not easy to get” as opposed to “Not easy” on its own. Your commentary actually seems to back this up by mentioning “not easy to understand”.

  29. Off the pace today, held up in the SW in particular by LAUGH and PHONIEST, finishing somewhere around the 14 1/2 minutes mark. As ever, we join Cedric in obliviousness to the theme. Sorry, Felix!

  30. Annoying typo with CURTAAN at 13D. Finished in 10.36 which is very fast for me. 9A is my my favourite clue of the year so far. Having read most of Agatha Christine’s books I should have got the Nina but did not.
    First in Norm
    Last Phoniest

  31. 8.58 Late to this one too. A nice puzzle. Quite gentle but I hesitated over LAUGH and MALE took a minute at the end. Thanks Cedric and Felix.

    1. Hi Clare – I use it to mean a clue where you have to assemble the answer from various (usually several) components, like a piece of IKEA furniture. I’ve heard others call such clues Meccano clues too.

      I don’t think it has reached the status of being included in the official Glossary, but I have seen other bloggers use it too.



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