Quick Cryptic 1964 by Felix

Well, well. Looks like we have another Dickens Nina. Barnaby Rudge is not a book I’m particularly familiar with, but a quick consultation with Professor Wikipedia yields GORDON, CHESTER, MAYPOLE, DOLLY VARDEN, GRIP… any more? Some chewy bits, more because of the nina than in spite of it, e.g 1dn. A bit over target for me at 9 minutes. I did like 13dn.


1 Gordon Riots, involving a mounted infantryman (7)
DRAGOON – Anagram (‘riots’) of GORDON + A
7 Remove lead from centre of rung? Exactly! (7)
UNPLUMB – UN (centre of ‘rung’) + PLUMB
9 Disappointment, what Rapunzel’s done to her hair! (7)
LETDOWN – double definition
10 Cathedral city where box given to queen (7)
11 Some hero yearned to return long ago (4)
YORE – backwards hidden word: hERO Yearned
12 Call into a post office and public house with a set of books (9)
APOCRYPHA – CRY inside A + PO + PH + A
14 Become exhausted in rush to visit daughter (3,2,4)
16 Prison commotion (4)
STIR – double definition
17 Painter of geologer oddly missed out green (2,5)
EL GRECO – ELGR (alternate letters of ‘geologer’) + ECO
20 Hen laid, shifted, and drew breath (7)
INHALED – Anagram (‘shifted’) of HEN LAID
21 Throws, around lord, protective barriers (7)
SHIELDS – SHIES with LD inside
22 Might E European dance around this? (7)

1 Vern’s old lady’s fancy women’s hats (5,7)
DOLLY VARDENS – Anagram (‘fancy’) of VERNS OLD LADY. A type of decorated straw hat named after the Dickens character. Never heard of it.
2 Pudding served with a French skin lotion (8)
3 Tom boozes regularly, producing a bit of wind (4)
OBOE – alternate letters of tOm BoOzEs
4 Carmelite, maybe around ten, finding Pope’s representative (6)
NUNCIO – NUN + C (around) + IO. A word I only know from doing crosswords
5 Seemed to be copied eating fruit (8)
APPEARED – APED with PEAR inside
6 Give up, indeed, finishing early (4)
QUIT – Short for QUITE
8 Dickensian bad guy, barren, destitute (7,5)
BARNABY RUDGE – Anagram (‘destitute’) of BAD GUY BARREN. It might have been an &lit, though I’m not sure BR was a bad guy.
12 A lovable eccentric, primarily (5,3)
ABOVE ALL – Anagram (‘eccentric’) of A LOVABLE
13 Mobile can disturb poor alto (8)
PORTALOO – Anagram (‘disturb’) of POOR ALTO
15 Concern for oneself, say: nothing is mentioned at first (6)
EGOISM – EG (say) + O + IS + M (first of ‘mentioned’)
18 Bag is right one for GP to possess (4)
GRIP – R + I inside GP
19 Those people with eyes peeled? (4)
THEY – hidden word: wiTH EYes

59 comments on “Quick Cryptic 1964 by Felix”

  1. Tricky today. Took 22m and a bit of willpower to stick with it. Had to break off to check DOLLY VARDENS was going to be right and also APOCRYPHA — both emerged from the wordplay but it was tough. Don’t think I’ve heard of NUNCIO, I’ll try to commit it to memory so it can become “only known from crosswords” for me too. Not helped by trying to force X in there UNPLUMB caused trouble too. This hasn’t convinced me ninas are worth the effort!
  2. All I remember from ‘Barnaby Rudge’ was that the Gordon Riots were involved, but I didn’t make a connection between ‘Gordon Riots’ in a clue and BARNABY RUDGE. Also had forgotten where DOLLY VARDEN came from. NHO AFTERSUN. 6:34.
  3. … which caused more than a few head-scratchings on the way, as Felix not only pursues a Dickensian Nina but also the occasional Dickens-era vocabulary. 1D Dolly Vardens certainly needed checking in the reference books — I read that this was a popular form of women’s outfit in the period 1869-75, in which the main element was a voluminous and brightly patterned dress, with an optional hat accompanying it. An ancillary piece of an outfit fashionable for 6 short years about 150 years ago surely makes this a strong contestant for “most obscure reference in a QC this month”, and I strongly suspect I will not be the only person who has NHO it.

    I’m not sure Felix will have convinced those of our number who dislike Ninas to change their mind with this one, but at least the wordplay was usually very clear, even if the vocabulary wasn’t always.

    Many thanks to Curarist for the blog, and a good weekend to all

  4. A slow end to a slow week. NHO DOLLY VARDENS so was very pleased to get away with a biff. Took us forever to solve 21A and this resulted in a 25 minute solve and, as usual, we completely missed the Nina.


    Thanks Felix and Curarist.

  5. One of the few Dickens novels I’ve never read, and the Nina passed me by. I really enjoyed the puzzle, though, which just goes to show that a Nina need not come at the expense of the vocabulary!

    FOI DRAGOON (I have a son going into the Light Cavalry; he did this puzzle at Sandhurst this morning, having started a QC Club in his intake, and was very pleased with 1ac!), LOI DOLLY VARDEN (which I knew only as a trout), COD – so many to choose from but I’m going for APOCRYPHA, time 09:20 for 1.4K and a Good Day.

    Many thanks Felix and curarist.


  6. After a 15.10 PB yesterday, a 41.20 today. Yesterday’s was all classic clueing and the Nina today was obvious when Barnaby popped up and a NHO hat, already forgotten. I added apocrypha to my vocabulary but don’t expect to use it much in conversation. COD NUNCIO, remembered from Da Vinci Code which is just about the only thing I can remember. Thanks Felix and Curarist.
    Last day of exhibition today. Not many visitors from abroad which is no surprise, no sign of masks or distancing. Glad I am not there.
  7. A Dickens nina from Felix – enough said.

    I had DOLLY DANVERS down for a while, which seemed like a reasonably plausible punt at an unknown hat, but eventually RUN TO SEED cured me of that delusion. Also struggled with APOCRYPHA and SHIELDS. Highlights were the PDMs for AFTERSUN and PORTALOO.
    Finished in a tardy 16.46 with the aforementioned hat bringing up the rear.
    Thanks to curarist

  8. 10 minutes for me.

    Yes, Felix continues his run of puzzles with Charles Dickens themes, #1698 David Copperfield, #1763 Pickwick Papers, #1797 Oliver Twist, #1834 Nicholas Nickleby and #1854 The Old Curiosity Shop.

    You have all the references I spotted, Pete, but I learned that GRIP was Barnaby’s loquacious pet raven and The MAYPOLE was a tavern. There were two CHESTERs, Edward and Sir John, and Lord George GORDON was an actual historical character after whom ‘The Gordon Riots’ mentioned in the clue at 1ac were named and they feature in the story. These took place at Newgate prison so we might include STIR at 16ac in our theme.

    Edited at 2021-09-17 07:17 am (UTC)

      1. Must be something in the air on the other side of the pond this week! I expect it’ll turn up before long. It’s only 04:30 a.m. there at the moment.
  9. I found this one very difficult, coming within a whisker of my one hour time limit. Aids were used 7 times today.
    Anything over three aids always makes me feel as though I might as well of looked up the answers. Not a DNF, but perhaps should have been one.

    Never heard of Dolly Vardens, and I doubt there are many people who have. I was not familiar with El Greco; sounds more like an organised crime boss than anything else.

    I’ve seen Barnaby Rudge in previous crossword clues.

    My LOI was 21a. SHIELDS. Took me forever and a day to get that one.

  10. ….the NINA, but knew there would be one. How tiresome. Again forced to use words like UNPLUMB to fill the spaces !

    I obviously knew the novel at 8D, didn’t see the “subtlety” of GRIP although I knew the raven, and knew the hat but not its Dickensian connection.

    At least I didn’t waste too long over the puzzle, and it was actually worth the effort for the COD below.

    TIME 4:17

  11. 15:09 which felt good as there was some tough vocabulary today, as always on Ninaday. UNPLUMB is certainly an obscurity, as was DOLLY VARDEN which I approached tentatively. APOCRYPHA was help up by my assumption that “set of books” would be NT or OT. Nice misdirection.

    I did not quite read ‘oddly missed out’, and just saw ‘oddly’ which leads to the other set of letters from ‘geologer’ GOOE, and then some head scratching.

    WOD PORTALOO, it’s a great word, rhyming with Waterloo, back formed from the earlier PortaCabin. And does what is says. It’s a proprietary name in the UK, but it’s such a good word that the trademark owners will struggle to keep it being used generically.


    1. At school there were two – known as “portackybins”.
      Peterloo was a riot, Waterloo a battle and Porterloo a registered trade mark, since 1966, when Bobby Moore ascended The Throne.
  12. I rather liked this one, taking about 25 mins. For reasons unclear to me I knew but where did I ever learn the name of the hat? Strange what the brain tucks into its recesses.
    Despite having heard of the APOCRYPHA it was not springing to mind initially but the clueing was clear once I had a few letters in. PORTALOO evaded parsing until I saw what “can” was doing there. DRAGOON was a neat surface.
    Must remember that IO can = ten. Pleasant end to the week.
    1. Ah, Bob Harris! He once described my favourite band (Mostly Autumn) as “the best band you’ve never heard of”. They’re a 7-piece indie prog band from York — formed in 1995/6 and have just released their latest album, Graveyard Star (inspired by the pandemic). Guitars, keyboards, flute, celtic pipes, drums, female and male lead vocals — a fabulous mix — and they write all their own stuff. Worth a listen.
  13. I went a couple of minutes over target but the last few minutes were spent (wasted?) tiddling around trying to get DOLLY VARDENS (NHO). The Nina caused the usual distortions and came close to spoiling an otherwise good puzzle.
    I agree with Phil Jordan and also agree with his COD — PORTALOO (but APOCRYPHA and EL GRECO came close). Thanks for the blog, curarist. John M.

    Edited at 2021-09-17 09:33 am (UTC)

  14. Took ages, NHO the hat.

    I think that’s twice I’ve doubled my target this week.

    I did like the image of the poor alto being irritated by someone’s phone going off.


  15. I knew Apocrypha and El Greco, so I had some luck with this latest Nina offering from Felix, but an anagram for a 19th century hat. Really? Invariant
  16. Back to eighteen minutes for this one. FOI dragoon, LOI Dolly Vardens, NHO, had to get all the checkers in for Varden. Thought it might be Danvers. Looked it up in the dictionary in the end. Failed to see the Nina as usual, so thank you for pointing it out. Enjoyed all the clues but would never have got Dolly’s surname without looking it up. Thanks, Curarist, and Felix. GW.
  17. Failed miserably with the hat unknown and also failed to spot the anagram. Liked PORTALOO. 18:18 with one wrong. Knew B.R. But haven’t read the book so the rest was wasted on me. Thanks Felix and Curarist.
  18. A fail from me too. I managed to get NUNCIO- you hear about these people when a Pope is being elected- and EL GRECO. Never heard of DOLLY VARDENS. Given the SNITCH level, I won’t be wasting my time on the 15×15, as my wife will give me looks.
    I await Monday’s offerings
    Have a good weekend!
    Thanks for the blog and puzzle
  19. Eventually done in just over 25 minutes this morning. Was on course for 12 or 13 minutes before DOLLY VARDENS (NHO), SHIELDS (always forget that Lord can be abbreviated to LD as well as simply L), and LETDOWN completely bamboozled me.
  20. A fair bit of biffing today. I couldn’t parse SHIELDS, EL GRECO or UNPLUMB.
    Obvious, when I read the blog. No problem with NUNCIO or APOCRYPHA and I did know of El Greco. A bit of a MER at RUN TO SEED for exhausted.

    I was also in the DOLLY DANVERS camp until it wouldn’t fit so I had to use an anagram tool to get it. Definitely LOI ..

  21. 5:55 this morning, with the final minute spent on an alphabet trawl for 6 d “quit”. “Where there’s a U, first try a Q” is something I made up to deal with such circumstances and still manage to forget in the heat of the solving process, as was the case today!
    As ever, I didn’t see the Nina but not too surprising since I’ve never read this Dickens novel. A fair degree of GK required for a speedy solve and like one or two others I had “Dolly Vardens” tucked away in some neural lay-by but have no idea how it got there in the first place.
    I thought that 3 d “oboe” was ironically a rather brassy clue. And COD 13 d “portaloo” brought a little light relief (?)
    Thanks to Curarist for a succinct blog and to Felix for a witty puzzle to end the working week.
    1. You mentioned this little rhyme a while back, and I remembered and used it today. So, thankyou very much!
  22. After 30 mins only had 1dn and 21ac left — but even though I knew the former was an anagram, I just couldn’t get it.

    Another tricky, Nina infused puzzle from Felix. 12ac “Apocrypha” was a lego clue that just appeared when I constructed it from its parts. Now that I see the “can” reference for 13dn this makes more sense as well.

    FOI — 3dn “Oboe”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 3dn “Oboe” — love a good old flatulence reference.

    Thanks as usual!

    1. You are, of course, perfectly correct. As the resident pedant on here (or at least one of them) I should have said as much when I first posted. Quite frankly I detest themed puzzles/NINA’s almost as much as I hate puzzles with cross referenced clues. Anybody foolhardy enough to have attempted Paul’s 15×15 in today’s Grauniad will know exactly what I mean. I was a 30 second DNF.
  23. With so many unknowns the best thing I can say is that I managed to finish it without aids. DNK APOCRYPHA, EL GRECO, DOLLY VARDENS and NUNCIO. Needless to say I have not read BARNABY RUDGE but at least I know of the book title. I’m not a fan of this type of QC.

    Edited at 2021-09-17 12:21 pm (UTC)

  24. … but today, I finished unaided in 43 minutes. Amazing! Especially after a very slow start (hardly any done after 10 minutes).

    I have never read BARNABY RUDGE, had NHO DOLLY VARDENS, and DNK APOCRYPHA. I have failed before (quite recently, I think) on NUNCIO, GRIP and QUIT, but remembered all three this time. In fact, I also remembered pitcathlie’s rhyme about ‘QU…’ (see above), so thankyou Mr P.

    My FOI was YORE, and my last two in were QUIT and UNPLUMB. My WOD has to be PORTALOO. Overall, very tricky, but also very satisfying to have completed it successfully.

    Many thanks to Felix and curarist.

  25. Can I say what everyone’s (ie me 😀) thinking? An obscurity clued as an anagram is bad enough in the main fare. In the quickie it’s a no no. That clue imho shouldn’t have escaped the editor’s attention.

    Maybe distracted by the excellent PORTALOO

    Thanks Felix and Curarist

      1. If so, he really should know better (in my opinion).
        If not, the editor might have raised an eyebrow.

        Edited at 2021-09-17 07:43 pm (UTC)

  26. Same as everyone else — DOLLY who? Like Plett, RUN TO SEED disposed of a possible Miss Danvers so I tried VARDEN but I was so disillusioned by then that I resorted to aids to find 21a — I always forget shy for throw. At least the pointer to the nina was obvious, but as I’m not a Dickens fan, it was still wasted on me.
    Having said that, I was thoroughly enjoying the puzzle until those last moments. Started off well by getting 1a straightaway — that’s quite rare, and there are a fair few smiles and ticks, especially for MAYPOLE and OBOE, but 13d got a LOL. I’m clearly channelling an 8 year old boy today 😅
    FOI Dragoon
    LOI Shields (with aid)
    COD Portaloo
    DNF in 20 minutes
    Thanks Felix and Curarist
  27. Weirdly DOLLY VARDENS also came into my head almost straight away which helped with LHS.
    BARNABY RUDGE was also a PDM. Ditto APOCRYPHA.
    The Papal NUNCIO is an ambassador for the Pope. There used to be a joke that George Brown in his cups asked the Papal Nuncio to dance at a diplomatic ball not noticing that he was a bloke in a long garment, but, come to think of it, one can’t joke about these things nowadays, not that it was all that funny in the first place. I may have got the punch line wrong.
    By far the funniest today was PORTALOO which made me laugh out loud.
    LOsI QUIT , OBOE. Also hesitated about UNPLUMB.
    The Nina or theme passed me by.
    Thanks all, esp Curarist.

    Edited at 2021-09-17 03:07 pm (UTC)

    1. This joke about George Brown and the Papal Nuncio is told much better in the FT if you google.
  28. Disadvantaged by never having read Barnaby Rudge (although I knew the title) and never having heard of Dolly Vardens (not exactly an expert on women’s hats). Eventually finished in a slow 31 mins having googled the hat to make sure. Not surprisingly never saw the nina.

    FOI – 11ac YORE
    LOI – 6dn QUIT
    COD – 13dn PORTALOO

    Thnaks to Felix and Curarist

  29. Tricky offering today – pleased with my efforts nonetheless with 7 clues unanswered after one hour, including the more obscure NUNCIO, APOCRYPHA, BARNABY RUDGE.

    A lot of the wordplay I wouldn’t have seen a few months back, although I should have been able to work out the easier clues today; GRIP, QUIT, SHIELDS & UNPLUMB.


    The Sun crossword yesterday featured DRAGOON so was fresh in my mind. It also featured El Cid whom I NHO, which led me on a Wikipedia trawl via EL GRECO! Handy.

    Thanks Felix and Curarist

  30. I did not know 1d or 12a. Correctly guessed 1d but failed on 12a. However 13d is my clue of the year so all forgiven.
  31. Sorry, but the combination of an anagram and an utterly obscure term is pretty unfair. Makes the setter look really clever, though.


  32. For anyone who ‘has trodden the boards’, 1dn DOLLY VARDEN was a write-in! A DV is also a type of salmon in the US and a cake tin. Has to be my WOD – No not Dolly Partons as originally biffed by Mr.Jordan!


    LOI & COD 6dn QUIT

    1. Trodden the boards ?

      The setter of the clue for ‘Dolly Vardens’ should be made to walk the plank.

  33. A whole eleven minutes – as Dolly Vardens were quite unkown and I carelessly entered Run To Seed at 12ac and not 14ac! And I was having a haircut. COD 4dn NUNCIO
  34. Looked at this after golf and a lunch. About 30 minutes to get to the end not knowing DOLLY VARDENS.
    I have not (yet) read Barnaby Rudge but might do.
    I’m reminded of the Irishman who thought the Vardon grip was a suitcase. Was that in the nina?
    Tough puzzle, but I enjoyed it.
  35. Finally stopped the watch on 34:30 today after spending a good few minutes seeing if I could get something recognisable to put in 1d instead of DOLLY DARVENS. Eventually decided that I’d gone for the most likely option, given that I’d had to abandon my original thought of DOLLY DANVERS when I got 14a. I totally agree with Invariant that clueing an obscure term with an anagram is at best a tad unsporting. Other than that, it was an enjoyable but chewy puzzle, so thanks to Felix and Curarist.
  36. Flew through the first half but never having heard of a dolly varden it was pot luck rearranging the anagram correctly. None of which helped with El Greco or shields and the SW corner alone took 10 minutes.
  37. So many people NHO Dolly Varden. Am I the only one to recognise her as a previous visitor to Crosswordland? Most recently, Cryptic Jumbo 1484 last February, described by the blogger (Verlaine) as: A flat straw hat trimmed with flowers and ribbons named after a character in Barnaby Rudge. I feel I must have seen this more than once to (vaguely) remember, but I can only see other references that must be before my time. Nevertheless, just saying, she has been here before, in her hat, so we may well be seeing her again some time
  38. Frank Hornby (of the clockwork trains) had a range of dolls houses and accessories for the young ladies (and of course lads) who preferred them to railways; this was back in the 1920s and 30s. The dolls house range was called ‘Dolly Varden’s’. I preferred the trains — honestly!

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