Quick Cryptic 2004 by Oink

I rattled through this in about 4 minutes, but it contains a lot of crossword staples that less experienced solvers might not be so familiar with. There’s at least one whole clue that I’ve seen before. I’ll be interested to see how you all get on.

8 Artist has returned with article from desert (7)
SAHARAN –  RA (artist – Royal Academician) + HAS, both backwards + AN
9 Ancient, a little like an aristocrat? (5)
EARLY – i.e. like an earl.
10 Cockney injured with a knife? (5)
ARMED – HARMED said by someone who drops their H’s, e.g a cockney
11 Order an Aga perhaps on the phone (7)
ARRANGE – sounds like A RANGE, e.g an Aga, the £20k oven you can’t turn off. Originally designed for blind people don’t you know.
12 Solemn quality a drunkard lacks? (9)
SOBERNESS – self-explanatory
14 Settle back and gossip (3)
YAP – PAY (settle, as in a bill) backwards.
16 Go quickly, as crab might? (3)
NIP – double definition
18 French heads holding a private conversation (4-1-4)
TETE-A-TETE – Tête is french for head, obvs.
21 Drunken prince guzzling first of oysters like a pig (7)
PORCINE – anagram (‘drunken’) of PRINCE O
22 Danger for each individual on vacation (5)
PERIL – PER (for each) + IL (‘individual’ having been ‘vacated’, i.e. insides removed)
23 Promiscuous ladies and gents beginning to embrace (5)
24 Secret agents capturing city group (7)
SPECIES – SPIES with EC inside, EC being the postcode of the City of London. ‘City’ in crosswordland can mean EC, NY, LA, or UR (ancient Sumerian one).

1 Dangerous customer two idiots elected (8)
ASSASSIN – ASS x 2 + IN (elected)
2 A criminal organisation? Old boy’s supporting them (3,3)
THE MOB – THEM + OB (old boy)
3 Raised money, did you say? (4)
BRED – sounds like ‘bread’
4 Destroy a French force (6)
UNMAKE – UN + MAKE. My LOI – easy enough wordplay, but not the most obvious synonym of ‘destroy’
5 Bankers destabilised a US state (8)
NEBRASKA – anagram (‘destabilised’) of  BANKER + A
6 Bishop has passionate spirit (6)
7 Old instrument players occasionally taking ecstasy (4)
LYRE – alternate letters of pLaYeRs + E for ecstacy
13 Fee paid for a servant (8)
RETAINER – double definition
15 Sleepers somehow beyond compare (8)
PEERLESS – anagram (‘somehow’) of SLEEPERS
17 Priest who’s soft on crime (6)
PARSON – P + ARSON. Seen this before
19 Article on first believer in god (6)
20 I grew desperate, eating a bug (6)
EARWIG – anagram (‘desperate’) of I GREW + A
21 Run and hide (4)
PELT – double definition
22 Sigh of relief not many heard (4)
PHEW – sounds like FEW

59 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2004 by Oink”

  1. As usual did this on my phone, which doesn’t indicate the setter. PORCINE settled that. I like Oink’s puzzles and this was no different.

    I thought it was medium rather than v easy but his/her trademark smooth pleasing clues.

    Had GAS for YAP (sag backwards) which seemed reasonable so that delayed me a bit until the spirited bishop hove into view

    Thanks Curarist and Oink and have a good weekend all

    1. I had GAS (sag reversed) as well to begin with, but got in a mess and keyed in “assassii” which earned me a frustrating pinko.
  2. I wondered about YAP (=gossip?), and RANDY=passionate, but they didn’t slow me down. What did was trying to rearrange (A US STATE). 6:10.
  3. 13:54, not a big fan of this one today. Certainly a high chestnut count, such as PARSON ARRANGE EARLY.

    LOI UNMAKE. I actually hit pause, went to sleep and came back to it. Not sure it is a really word. Any student who translated Carthago delenda est as “Carthage must be unmade” would have got more than a MER from my Latin teacher.

    I wouldn’t equate YAPping with gossiping, little dogs do it, angry parents tell kids in the back seat not to do it. Can’t think of it as ever being used for gossip.

    I tried to make SPECIAL work at 24a with spies=CIA in there. Fitted my checkers nicely, too.

    Smooth surface for THEIST makes it my COD.

        1. Then you probably don’t dig freestyle-rap – RAP-YAP! YAY!

          Edited at 2021-11-13 04:39 am (UTC)

  4. Rattled through in breakneck speed leaving 4D until last. With UN-A-E and repeated alphabet trawls and contemplation of synonyms and units of force, I could not accept that UNMAKE = Destroy, so, sadly decided to DNF which is disappointing. Realised setter was Oink when porcine dropped in. I do wish setter’s name appeared on phone app. COD ASSASSIN which is probably a chestnut but raised a smile. Thanks Curarist. Have a good w/end everyone.
    1. Also DNF because of UNMAKE. Force equals make? I guess in the sense of “force something to fit” equals “make something to fit”? Ho hum. Dave
  5. Sped through this with gentle but enjoyable offering from Oink. Thought I might be on for a very rare sub 5 minute solve until running into LOI UNMAKE, which felt a bit clunky. NEBRASKA wasn’t the first US state to spring to mind but with all checkers in place it revealed itself. COD to EARLY as it made me smile. Finished in 6.27.
    Thanks to curarist
  6. I got the dread red for entering PELL, which can mean hurry and a hide. If it was a triple ‘Fling, run and hide’, it would undoubtedly be PELT!
    1. I had PULL. Run like a loose thread, and hide like withdraw from publication. I knew it was a stretch.


  7. 10 minutes, another solver delayed by GAS for gossip at 14ac but having found the right answer eventually I have no problem with YAP for gossip as suggested in a comment above. Both are idle chatter.
  8. Like Dvynys I had GAS rather than YAP to begin with, and think it fits the clue better, but didn’t fit the grid once the downs started to go in. Didn’t like UNMAKE as others have said. Trying to persuade myself that there must be a better answer took me to 24 mins. Liked ASSASSIN.
  9. Oink’s in town again with Porcine at 21ac. “Phew! I was armed and in on ‘The Mob’s tete-a tete – y’know, earwiggin’ on ‘the yap’ on that ‘heist with that ‘nip’ assassin, Nebraska Joe!” Runyanesque? My COD The Mob.
  10. This was a 15 minute drag for me – just couldn’t get up to speed!

    FOI 14ac YAP

    LOI 4dn UNMAKE – it’s in all the dictionaries!

    COD 5dn NEBRASKA I too looked for an anagram of ‘a US state!’

    WOD 21ac PORCINE – Oink! Oink!

    Edited at 2021-11-12 09:05 am (UTC)

  11. Great puzzle with lots to enjoy. We were all done in 9 minutes with UNMAKE taking at least a couple of minutes to solve.


    Thanks Curarist and Oink.

  12. Oink led me a bit of a dance today. I did not find it as easy as curarist et al. and ended up a couple of minutes over target. For once, the short answers gave me more trouble than the longer ones — YAP, NIP, BRED (d’oh), and my LOI PELT.
    Some good clues but a few that seemed a bit desperate — UNMAKE? SOBERNESS? (I have never heard anyone use this word. Normal folk would say sobriety, surely?). Not a smooth solve and not quite up to Oink’s usual standard IMO (and, sadly, with only one porcine reference.) Thanks, anyway, to both. John M.

    Edited at 2021-11-12 09:14 am (UTC)

    1. Soberness …
      I actually started putting in Sobriety before realising it was a letter short and switching to Soberness with a shrug. In Oink’s defence the word does exist, but as you say it’s not the natural choice.
  13. A shade under fifiteen today. A slow start that improved then faded. Held up on BRED for some reason but it was UNMAKE that held out to the end — I got to ‘make’ from ‘force’ pretty quickly, after that I just need the courage to submit with an unknown word in the grid

    Hope Jeremy pops by to tell us about his 3.55.

    Edited at 2021-11-12 09:21 am (UTC)

  14. I thought I was in for my best time yet until unmake at 4DN took an extra 3 minutes to get, pushing me up to 11. Like Oldblighter I raised an eyebrow at soberness and wanted to put sobriety in. Also agree it would be nice to see the setters on the phone app, feel like this would be easy to fix.
    FOI Saharan
    LOI Unmake
    COD theist

  15. Gentle for a Friday …
    … and all done in just under 10 minutes — after the challenging set of puzzles 2 weeks ago or so we seem to be in the middle of a less demanding set.

    Not much to add to others’ comments; my LOI was also 4D Unmake and in my book it ties with 12A Soberness for WCOD — worst clue of the day.

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

  16. Similar story here with 12 minutes, LOI UNMAKE, MER at SOBERNESS, etc. I justified UNMAKE in the end by thinking of an unmade bed, a la Tracey Emin. There did seem to be a high chestnut count today, but still enjoyable. Thanks both.
  17. I started off in the desert and worked my way through the crossing letters and on around the grid, apart from 4d, which I came back to at the end. I justified it as did Rotter, with an unmade bed. Surely someone has to UNMAKE it! Held up by NEBRASKA, as I saw the K and biffed ARKANSA. Fortunately I noticed it disarranged ARRANGE and made EARLY impossible. 6:53. Thanks Oink and Curarist.
    Just had a message from Live Journal telling me it’s now 10 years since I joined this forum!

    Edited at 2021-11-12 10:45 am (UTC)

  18. Middle-range difficulty – fifteen minutes. FOI tete-a-tete, ten on first pass, LOI early which I had seen before but couldn’t equate with ancient for a while. Otherwise, it’s all been said. Best wishes for the weekend, everyone, thanks, Curarist and Oink.
  19. As nouns the difference between sobriety and soberness is that sobriety is the quality or state of being sober, while soberness is the state or quality of being sober minded but not connected to intoxication.

    Edited at 2021-11-12 10:22 am (UTC)

  20. Still convinced Oink is getting harder as I seemed to take ages to get going. Saying that, I completed in 15 mins with my LOI being the unsatisfactory 4dn “Unmake” which result in an audible “meh”.

    Struggled to parse 22ac “Peril”, forgetting the use of “on vacation” for eviscerating a word.

    FOI — 8ac “Saharan”
    LOI — 4dn “Unmake”
    COD — 6dn “Brandy” — just made me smile.

    Thanks as usual!

  21. DNF for me. I only managed to answer about two thirds of the clues.

    I always do far better on the Daily Mail cryptic, and it tends to have more clues and is not a “QC”. The only issue there is that there is, as far as I am aware, no blog like this for the DM. So when I get an answer but cannot see how it was obtained from the clue, I am rather stuck.

    Clues unanswered: 11a, 12a, 16a, 21a, 1d, 4d, 6d, 13d, 17d, 21d

    However, no aids used for the clues I did manage to answer.

    1. This ‘parade of ignorance’ and inability is of little encouragement to those of us who come to this site for inspiration.
      1. A little harsh, Anon, especially when you are being anon about it. I agree, the site is a great source of information and encouragement. You can always ignore PW’s comments if you find them discouraging.
      2. I’m grateful to those who share their frustrations on difficult days. Seeing others’ struggles is reassuring sometimes.

        PW is one of the contributors I miss most when they don’t drop by one day.

        PW — may next week bring plentiful visits to the candy store.

      3. This is not a forum for putting other posters down and is made even worse by your having posted anonymously. Any future postings in this vein will be deleted.
        1. If I might just add ‘Poison Wyvern’ and everyone here, including your good self, is actually anonymous. PW, whoever he is, puts himself down on an almost daily basis – not I. And, he has stated more than once, he would rather be with the Daily Mail. This is hardly loyal or inspirational.
          1. You may notice that PW puts himself down.
            You made the error of putting him down.
            Now you’re on a warning.
            1. We also notice that you only came here to deliver your put down! Where’s the rest of your contribution!?
  22. But a steady solve hopping about the grid starting mostly in SE. FOI SOBERNESS then TETE A TETE helped a lot. LOOSE made me smile, as did BRANDY and EARLY. PDMs with SAHARAN, ASSASSIN. Also liked PELT, PARSON, NIP, BRED. Could not parse PERIL.
    LOI UNMAKE took ages.
    Thanks vm, Curarist.
  23. I did finish in 9 minutes but then revisited – yes – UNMAKE, which bumped the overall time up a minute or so. As I was solving this, I felt it wasn’t as witty as Oink’s puzzles often are, but on rereading the clues, I thought that actually there’s a lot to enjoy with some great surfaces, even if some are quite familiar. LOOSE, NEBRASKA and EARWIG made me smile.
    FOI Soberness
    LOI Unmake
    COD Porcine
    Many thanks Oink and Curarist
  24. Finished this one much more quickly than my usual, rather leisurely, time. Maybe, I think like a pig? Would have been quicker still, apart from UNMAKE.
  25. A nice end to the week although I couldn’t work out 17dn and 23ac. Biffed PARSON and LOOSE without being fully convinced and was pleasantly surprised to find they were correct, reading the Blog and the parsing of these two clues made me smile! Thanks to Oink for some clever clues and to Curarist for the explanation.
  26. A struggle. Like many others I did not see UNMAKE = destroy, but nothing else fitted. PELT took some time to get. COD LOOSE.
  27. Completed in 45 mins. But I was delighted to finish for a change.
    I’m sure someone made a comment about AGAs being designed for blind people but I could not find the post. I checked Wikipedia and found that the AGA was designed by Dr Gustaf Dalén who was indeed blind.

    It is not true, however, that the architect who designed the Manchester Arndale centre was savaged to death by his guide dog.

    Have a good weekend, everyone.


  28. Sorry I’m probably being a bit of a curmudgeon but I didn’t enjoy this. I didn’t like either YAP or UNMAKE. The latter pushed me well over target as I did several alphabet trawls looking for something better.
  29. 4:35 this morning. An enjoyable puzzle as usual from Oink, slightly easier than average I reckoned.
    Like many others, I wasn’t terribly impressed with 12 ac “soberness” and 4 d “unmake” but I got them fairly quickly and stuck with them.
    COD 21 ac “porcine” , trademark clue and quite amusing.
    Thanks to Curarist and Oink
  30. A steady solve to end the week. Some clues a little too easy to be satisfying, such as “tete-a-tete”, but be careful what you wish for, I guess. On the other hand some very enjoyable clues, such as “loose”, “early” and “arrange”. These may be staples, but not to me, yet.

    “Unmake” was easy to see once I equated Make with Force but I think “destroy” has a sense of not caring about the consequences for the thing being destroyed whereas to unmake something suggests being quite meticulous about it.

    FOI 8a, “Saharan”, LOI 23a, “loose”, COD 7d, “lyre”.

    Thanks to Curarist and Oink.

    1. I’m struggling to think of one example where it would be used in everyday writing or speech. That’s not to say it isn’t a word per the dictionary, but it has an odd, modern feel to it, like “misspoke” or “uncoupling”.
        1. Definitely has a “deflective” feel to it 😀 — so must be popular with celebrities and politicians
  31. Nearly avoided the SCC, but like others an early stab at Gas for gossip made a mess of the anagram for 15d. Still, 22min gives me a window seat, so I get a view. Apart from that, same comments as everyone else. CoD to 2d, The Mob. Invariant
  32. Under target, and would have been more so, were it not for the puzzling over UN_A_E.

    The “drunken prince” for Oink’s sig made me chortle.


  33. Enjoyed many clues, yap went in straightaway. Yapping women was one of my late father’s favorite comments, common in those days, I am afraid. No time as we were interrupted by a doctor’s telephone consultation.
  34. Unmake and Destroy can mean the same, why not, but ‘make’ = ‘force’ is rather different. Can anyone truly explain? I doubt if any maker would want to force something. So after an hour I refused to believe Unmake and Did Not Finish, leaving three blank letters on my … newspaper.
    1. If you make someone do something, you force them to do it. I was ok with that. My MER is still destroy = unmake

      Edited at 2021-11-12 06:01 pm (UTC)

  35. Went through most of this very quickly, but was delayed for a while over PELT and even longer over RETAINER. It’s probably come up before, but I don’t remember seeing a servant referred to as such. Despite that, as soon as I thought of the word, I somehow knew it was right. Stopped the watch on 20:37, so not one of Oink’s easiest, but about par for me. COD to SPECIES. Thanks Oink and Curarist.
  36. Another one that was going in quickly only to be held up for an age by the last 3. In this case I’d convinced myself that priest was an anagram of spirit, which stopped me getting arrange and unmake. Only when I saw my error did it fall into place.
  37. Many thanks for your help. As soon as I opened the dictionary, Destroy is the first meaning of Unmake, and of course Force is one of the very many meanings of Make.

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