Quick Cryptic 2154 by Mara


Another orgy of anagrams, which took a little while to get going, but flowed well after that.  It’s also a gentle introduction to the concept of the inconspicuous definition e.g. IN for 22ac and OUT for 6 dn – little words you might skim past when trying to solve. In the extreme examples of this genre the definition can be a punctuation mark. Bang-on par 6 minutes for me, COD 2dn or 6dn.


1 Effect backfiring in art gallery thus far (2,4)
TO DATE – DO (effect, verb) backwards in TATE
4 Author in dreadful strop penning introduction to Ulysses (6)
PROUST – anagram (‘dreadful’) of STROP with U inserted
8 Guns and other weaponry, eleven in London (7)
ARSENAL – double definition
10 Price one’s willing to pay rotten, sovereign (5)
11 Girl beyond cruel, originally kind (5)
CLASS – C (first letter of CRUEL) + LASS
12 Smith trashed Sinatra (7)
ARTISAN – anagram (‘trashed’) of SINATRA
13 The pig sat twirling food in long strands (9)
SPAGHETTI – anagram (‘twirling’) of  THE PIG SAT
17 Story of wife and skipper (7)
WHOPPER – W for wife + HOPPER
19 Refuse place: leave house (5)
20 Rent since collected by general (5)
LEASE – AS inside (General) LEE
21 Measure of noise coming from celeb I’d beaten up (7)
DECIBEL – anagram (‘beaten up’) of CELEB I’D
22 In den, try cooking (6)
TRENDY – anagram (‘cooking’) of DEN TRY
23 Show-off regrets work that’s been rejected (6)
POSEUR – RUES OP backwards
1 The aforementioned thing above church, covering for roof (6)
2 Cold bum sanitised with soap (13)
3 Inuit as translated in African country (7)
TUNISIA – anagram (‘translated’) of INUIT AS
5 Perch set up in fact, so ordinary (5)
ROOST – backwards hidden word: facT SO ORdinary
6 Upper-class Albion fan he’s turned out (13)
UNFASHIONABLE – U + anagram (‘turned’) of  ALBION FAN HE’S
7 Seat launched, did you say? (6)
THRONE – sounds like ‘thrown’
9 Metal outside in that place struck with force (9)
14 Boat off, head of consolidating company leaves (7)
TOBACCO – anagram (‘off’) of BOAT + C for consolidating + CO
15 Fool around like ingenues initially, in semi-darkness (6)
TWILIT – TWIT outside L[ike] + I[ngenue]
16 Cricketer’s hat? (6)
BOWLER – double definition
18 Petition some people admired (5)
PLEAD – hidden word: peoPLE ADmire

78 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2154 by Mara”

  1. Bum as an anagram indicator is a new one on me and DISPASSIONATE held up until second from last, even with all the checkers. THATCH was my actual LOI, where for some reason after ‘slate’ I drew a complete blank on roofing materials. UNFASHIONABLE and TRENDY made me think I might have spotted a nina while solving for the first time but the wait goes on. All green in 14.

    1. I had the same thought about ‘bum’. Clever one. At one time somebody was collating a list of all the anagram indicators words they had come across. Does that list still exist and what is the total to date?

      1. If you visit the cryptics ‘dot’ fandom website, under ‘anagram indicators’ I think that there are hundreds.

    2. Hi
      I’m sure it’s just me but I can’t see how to comment. Only to reply.
      I’m pretty new to Cryptics & working my way slowly but enjoyably through ‘The Times Quick Cryptic Crossword Book 1’ published in 2016.
      Crossword No.1 in the book is much the same as March 10th 2014 Quick Cryptic 1 but 2, 3 & 4 are completely different puzzles.
      What am I doing wrong?
      I find it frustrating when I get the correct answer but don’t understand why & when I give up, check the answer at the back of the book & can’t work out why it’s the answer!
      Any help with tracking down explanations for the Quick Cryptics in Book 1 would be appreciated.
      Also how to post a new comment rather than a reply.
      Thank you

  2. 20 minutes from FOI: THATCH to what I thought was my LOI: WHOPPER until I noticed 11ac needing its unches so Cruel LASS added another minute.

    Favourite OFFER.

    Just realised I BIFD DISPASSIONATE never going back to parse.

  3. Something slowed me down, I can no longer remember what. 12ac is a DBE. 7:36.

  4. 12 minutes, so yet another target missed, (sigh) . ARSENAL jumped out at me but didn’t go in at that stage because the parsing took some working out.

  5. 20 minutes from ARSENAL to WEST BROM via SPAGHETTI Junction.

    FOI 5dn ROOST
    COD 8ac Woolwich ARSENAL the Gunners/Gooners
    WOD 17ac WHOPPER! A Pinnochio!

    The longuns did for me!

  6. 39-mins for me. Wasn’t in the mood for anagrams this morning, even when I could spot them.

    Dithered over UNFASHIONABLE until I got out a piece of paper and crossed the letters off. Put it in, took it out, put some letters in came back to it when the left side was complete in 25-mins.

    Lot of defs where the surface sent me in the wrong direction eg kind=class, house=bingo, tobacco=leaves.

    The great thing about being slow is you have time to go back and parse everything. Which is why my last few are usually BIFD. ROOST was the only one today that I couldn’t parse.


    Thanks to Curarist for the blog and Mara for the puzzling.

    Decent week for me … Mon 30min solve, Tues 50min -4 left, Weds 22mins with 2 corrected, Thurs 1hr05 – 1 wrong, Fri 39mins solve. Tues and Thurs were the tough days. All done in around 3-1/2hours !!

    1. The idea is to get done and dusted in under 20 in under minutes each day. I find your catalogue of failure rather less than worthy of note. This week I was all done in 55 minutes but nothing to write home about. Jonquil

      1. The key words in L-Plates’ last para are surely “for me”. He/She is quite entitled to be happy with 3 1/2 hours if it is better than usual or expected!

        There was a time when to finish even one of the week’s crosswords in under an hour would have me beaming all over, and 3 1/2 hours in total for the week was beyond my experience. On the other hand there are those who consider they have done badly if they tick over the 5 minute mark …

        1. For me ‘L-Plates’ is unquestionably at the tail-end of the SCC. So why not allow him/her to become a blogger? Wouldn’t that be more inclusive and hasten her/his progress?

      2. “The idea is to get done and dusted in under 20 in under minutes each day.”

        I’ve no idea where you’ve got this from Jonquil, as people can take as long as they want.

        This forum is inclusive of all levels of solving so references to someone else’s so-called ‘catalogue of failure’ are not helpful.

        1. Indeed Jack .”For me” this week has been something of a catalogue of failure with one non-completion and a typo in the first four days – and I wouldn’t have the patience to spend 20 minutes on a QC ! Everybody sets their own targets, some more ambitious than others – but in the end it’s about enjoyment.

        2. I couldn’t agree more, Jack – and I think L-plates is doing really well, considering s/he only started a few months ago. I’d say his/her progress and honesty are to be celebrated, and should give hope to others! Some people round here might consider 20 minutes a bit of a failure 😅 For others it’s a comfortable target – there’s no right or wrong .

        3. Jonquil has a point though – the scores are based on a time limit of 20 minutes, and any time over that doesn’t count for anything

          Of course, it may be that the scoring system that TT uses is just dumb

          Don’t get me started

          Oh no

          Too late

          1. Lou

            I’ve no idea what you are referring to, perhaps you would care to expand or post a link that I can have a look at?

            1. On the crossword club -https://www.thetimes.co.uk/puzzleclub/crosswordclub/
              – you’re awarded a score for completing a crossword: a theoretical 900 points for completing in 0 seconds, going down to 600 points for anything longer than 20 minutes (60 minutes for the regular crossword, 2 hours for a jumbo). If your solution is incorrect, your score is 600 minus the percentage of incorrect answers.

              1. Thanks, Lou. I’d worked it out in the meantime that this was a reference to the Club league table. I never solve on-line so I’m not particularly familiar with its workings.

      3. Personally I’d prefer to spread my enjoyment out over 3.5 hours than rush through it in less than 1 hour. L-Plates times are better than mine, but I’m in no hurry either.

    2. The key thing is simply to enjoy the experience – those who ‘solve’ without even reading the clue are, imho, missing half the fun.

      1. Absolutely correct – and I’d add that one should always go back through the clues, especially with help from this blog, and appreciate what the setter has done. This is five or ten minutes well spent, and should improve one’s future solving skills.

        1. Totally agree. For me the fun is in appreciating the cleverness of the clues and parsing the answer which always adds 10 mins to my time.

    3. Luckily – I’m very difficult to offend!

      Thanks for the supportive comments. More than happy to accept my times are decidedly mediocre but as Kipling said, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same”, you come to realise it’s all about the experience.

      Existentially speaking, none of it really matters unless it’s a peak experience – maybe we should only let people post when they PB?! I doubt anyone can tell you about their solve in mid-June five years ago because it simply doesn’t matter. In fact, I doubt anyone cares about their solve from last Friday – so what makes today so special that all of us post here about it? It’s a way to pass the time and congratulate/commiserate with each other while hopefully broadening our life experience a little further.

      I appreciate not everybody wants to hear my wafflings so by all means skip past and ignore them. They’re far from boasting just a retelling of my day. I hope my openness encourages a few more of the lurkers and SCC to post on here and not feel embarrassed about being slow.

      1. Thanks for posting this, L-plates. A perfect response. My concern is that more sensitive souls have been driven away in the past by negative postings and sarcastic follow-ups.

      2. I love your comments L-plates so thank you for posting them. I am a little ahead of you in experience, maybe was in your current zone this time last year. Your posts remind me of how much fun I’ve had getting to this point, and how I am still improving.

        If we only posted PBs it would be very dull!

        If I can clear the desk of stuff and the room of people I can reliably do Monday’s puzzles in around 16m. When I started I couldn’t finish any without using the iPad checking tools or a dictionary. I still use those for the harder ones and normally can be done in 25m (with those assists in extremis)!

        My progress is very satisfying, and reading about yours very enjoyable. Please keep commenting!

      3. I too enjoy your comments, and candour. I am totally behind the supportive comments here. I’ve been at this longer than you (both in terms of date started, and also the time I generally take!). ‘If it ain’t fun, stop doing it’ has been a happy maxim for me throughout my life, 76 and counting. These days I usually solve in the late afternoon or evening as a winding-down exercise, and sometime have to finish it off before lights out, so my commenting has reduced, but all the postings get read and are enjoyed.

      4. Well, as a QC blogger, the thing I most enjoy is getting the comments from people like yourself, reminding me of when I, too, struggled to complete but learnt from this blog and the community that contributes to it. I absolutely support your openness in sharing your experiences and encouraging lurkers and SCC to post here too. By the way, you seem to have lost your lovely avatar. If you are struggling to upload it I can transfer it from your LJ account if you like.

        1. Thanks for the offer John. I hadn’t signed up previously as I was able to post easily using the standard Comment/Reply box. All done now. Hoping the avatar is sized a little better this time.

          Temporary name change for the weekend 😀

      5. As a committed SCC member, I am delighted that you are enjoying the journey without worrying about how long it takes. Some like the speed challenge, some – like me – are happy just pottering through in as long as it takes. Enjoy.

    4. Hi L-Plates, I was there once with those results too but with perseverence and the support of the wonderful members of this blog I can now regularly complete it in under 30 mins, sometimes under 20 mins. You are doing brilliantly, keep going! I think you’ll find that after a while the cluing devices come round again and you will recognise more and more so those ones just go straight in.

    5. Good for you and well done.

      I’m nowhere near as quick as many and for me getting the QC completed is a cause for celebration!

    6. Dear Mr Plates,
      A 5-0 week for me, which is unusual, and almost exactly the same overall time as you – 3hrs 32 mins (25, 44, 37, 79, 27). Wednesday’s and Friday’s puzzles involved ridiculously long waits for my LOI to arrive. Thursday’s was just ridiculous throughout. Good luck next week.
      Mr Random

      1. Nice work Mr Random. I recall you favour the correct solution over a quick solve and 5-0 is reward for that.

        I’ve been missing your updates, you haven’t posted as regularly since moving sites. All ok?

        Mr Plates

        1. Dear Mr O’Failure,
          Thankyou for your concern. All is OK here. House full of visitors and other commitments meant I got behind with the QC. However, I have now cauggt up and will try again to post my thoughts each day.
          Mr Random

  7. Lots of write ins, but lots of more chewy ones too.

    TOBACCO was probably my favourite, or CLASS.


  8. Solving on phone (where you can’t see the setter) I thought this was an Oink from the pig in 13a. But there’s no monopoly on swine! Pretty steady clockwise solve, only getting stuck on my LOI (where I failed to spot the cleverly concealed anagram for ages).

    FOI THATCH, LOI&COD DISPASSIONATE, time 08:31 for 1.15K and an Excellent Day.

    Many thanks Mara and curarist.


      1. I do all of the crosswords on a phone, and it’s more accurate to call it fat-thumbing. Only a fool would attempt to use all ten digits.

        It’s not as bad as you’d think though; because typos are so frequent, you sort of correct them as you go. Haven’t had a pink square from a typo in a while.

    1. Oink’s been strangely quiet recently – hope he reappears soon as I enjoy his puzzles.

      Posted before reading Cedric’s comment below.

    2. I am definitely with the plodder fraternity and prefer to fill the precious 20 to 30 minutes leisure time, at the start or end of my day, which I allocate to savouring the clues and admiring the immense skills of the setters which challenge and entertain me while enjoying reading of others’ experiences in this blog. I admire the times of the speedsters but admit neither envy nor embarrassment for my pedestrian pace. I enjoy the puzzle and the satisfaction of a correct completion and the enlightenment of the bloggers who turn my mental gymnastics into the blindingly obvious with a sigh and a wry smile. For me a biff is a mark of frustration rather than a need for speed.
      Lots to like today. Thanks Mara, Curarist and all.
      24 minutes to my comfy chair in the corner of the SCC with a glass of fine Bordeau for a change.

  9. Like Templar I also wondered if this was one from Oink, partly because of the piggy spaghetti but also because we don’t seem to have seen him so much recently and an Oink special is perhaps overdue.

    Just under 10 minutes for me and all eventually parsed, though the short definitions Curarist highlights in his blog slipped me by completely on first reading – as no doubt they were meant to. A nice puzzle and for once I found the long anagrams at 2D and 6D yielded quite quickly. The clue that gave most unexpected trouble was 11A Class – with the C checker in place I spent some time looking for a girl’s name with 4 letters before the Penny dropped.

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

  10. Very pleased to finish this in 8.03 as it seemed tougher than my time suggests. I particularly liked 8ac and 17ac, the latter being my last one in. I was slowed a little by 2dn, not realising that bum was an anagram indicator. If this device has been used before I don’t remember it

  11. 6:41 but I carelessly fat fingered TEILIT and managed to get 2 errors with the already entered WHOPPER changed to EHOPPER. %^**£$! Thanks Mara and Curarist.

  12. Enjoyed this one too, though LOsI BINGO and TOBACCO took a bit of working out. Oh, a PDM, was just about to ask why ‘eleven in London’ when I see the football team. ARSENAL was one of my early biffs because of the weapons. Liked THRONE, WHOPPER, the long anagrams and many others once solved.
    Dimly I missed the hidden ROOST, though biffed it.
    Thanks vm, Curarist. Was baffled by Bum.
    Funny how some crossword weeks go better than others. Guess it is the elusive Wavelength factor.

  13. A tricky end to the week, with Mara’s ‘gentle introduction’ to inconspicuous definitions already too subtle for this solver: Loi (and CoD) 19ac, Bingo, had me wondering if Banjo was a new term for flying the nest. . . Given my hit and miss form with anagrams, I was grateful to spot the two long ones without too much trouble, and I think leathered has come up recently in the 15×15, so my 25min solve could very easily have been much longer. Invariant

  14. An interesting puzzle – a mix of easy (a few), quirky, and some quite difficult clues. Like others, I started steadily but accelerated quite nicely. Most of the long anagrams just popped into my head, given a crosser or three.
    I was interrupted 3 or 4 times and should have used a stop watch. I was slightly over target, though. Funny old week!
    Thanks to Mara and Curarist. John M.

  15. Didn’t find this much easier than the 15×15 today.
    Will be commuting to London again next week for the first time since 2009 so lets see what impact that has on my times .
    Liked spaghetti and the cold bum.

    1. If these rail strikes go ahead, you could have more time on your hands than expected! Good luck with the commuting – so glad I don’t have to do that any more 😊

  16. “Hey, Harry – you wanna pick up the extension ? It’s Nutty Walt again” (Bob Newhart : ‘Introducing TOBACCO to Civilization’). Just brilliant !

    No real problems – and blessedly free of typos for a redemptive end to the week.

    FOI ARSENAL (a while since they were FOI in football terms)
    TIME 4:11

  17. IN and OUT in about 8 minutes, so that was a good end to the week. I thoroughy enjoyed this one, and as Phil says, going back to savour the clues was well worth it. I did jot down Oink next to 13a – about time we had one of his / her highly entertaining puzzles! WHOPPER and OFFER got ticks, and, although it was a bit violent, DECIBEL tickled me – it was my daughter’s nickname when she was a toddler for obvious reasons (her name ends in Bel)
    FOI Proust LOI Unfashionable COD Proust (never read any though😅 )
    Many thanks Mara and Curarist

  18. 30 mins – so bang on my cut off for another tricky, but enjoyable, puzzle.

    Main issues were the NE – where I couldn’t see 5dn “Roost” for ages and 6dn took a lot of buttock clenching and squirming until I finally fathomed the inevitable anagram (it wasn’t some kind of nickname for West Brom after all).

    As above, DNK “bum” as an anagrind.

    FOI – 1dn “Thatch”
    LOI – 7dn “Throne”
    COD – 14dn “Tobacco” (one of many with cleverly hidden definitions)

    Thanks as usual!

  19. 6.42

    Nice puzzle and a par sort of time (I always solve on my iphone (other makes available) and I get the fat fingered thing but probably got used to it now. Interesting whether there would be a difference now if I printed and used treeware.)

    Anyway some nice clues here – thought the cold anagram was excellent

    Thanks Mara and Curarist

  20. 20:14. Out,cold and leaves all clever definitions that had me looking for too long at wrong end of clue. Like others enjoyed bum as anagrind. COD to WHOPPER. Don’t understand BINGO as house. Didn’t get effect as do because I misread it as ado. Thanks for clearing that up and rest of blog!

      1. Short for ‘full house’ (a completely filled game card) when playing bingo, I think.
        (Or ‘housy housy) in some places.

    1. In a game of bingo, when one has a line of numbers all marked, one calls “house” or “bingo” 🙂

  21. Off the pace today and it felt like a bit of a slog as a result. Not spotting the anagrams on the 2 long down clues didn’t help – needed all the checkers for both before seeing what was going on.
    Finished in 14.14 with LOL UNFASHIONABLE and COD to WHOPPER.
    Thanks to Curarist

  22. 22 mins fully parsed and sitting in the sun with a beer so I’m happy to be over my 20 min target. I found this an excellent puzzle with lots of clever clues. The use of ‘kind’ for CLASS held me up a bit, but made me smile when I got it. ‘Bum’as an anagram indicator also brought a smile.

    Lots of candidates for COD such as UNFASHIONABLE, DISPASSIONATE, but my choice is TOBACCO.

    Lovely puzzle Mara and thanks Curarist for the blog.

  23. Had crass for 11a, not seeing the connection between kind and class. Otherwise a steady pleasant solve. Nice puzzle. Thanks Mara.

  24. A real mix of difficulty for me today, but all the more enjoyable to get one straight away after spending too long on a hard one. FOI 4a Proust. LOI 23a Poseur. COD the LOL 13a Spaghetti. Also liked W-Hopper. Slowed myself down wanting 9a as lambasted until forced to reapply myself to get leathered. Very enjoyable puzzle and appreciate the comments in the blog.

  25. Liked this one a lot, finished in 16:45. Utterly baffled by 2d until I came here and found that I’d misread the clue: it was “bum”, not “burn”! Not sure it would have made a lot of difference to my time, but must remember to check for “m” vs “rn” in future!

  26. I must admit to being very childish and smirking every time I see burn here today, because it does look like bum on my screen, and it would be a pretty good anagrind too 😅 If we can have pants, why not?

  27. Although I struggled with this QC, I got there in the end and thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Some brilliant deceptions had me muttering ‘You crafty blighter’ (or words to that effect) more than once.

    Congratulations to L plates who I enjoy reading. We have much in common! Ignore the jibes and keep going.

  28. 24:32

    A struggle today. The SE corner took ages until BOWLER unlocked the rest but the real holds ups were DISPASSIONATE and LOI LEASE.

  29. This was a good one for me at 24 mins, but more to the point I did that without checking or Googling. I don’t often manage that. I read the comments on L-plates piece with interest. I think it’s wonderful that so many people support him/her. On a related issue – I wanted to add a comment to the thread but couldn’t work out whether I should reply to the original L-plates comment or to the final comment on the thread. I can just about work out where one thread ends and another starts. Help please!

    1. 24-mins, well done.

      It’s your choice where you post. Whoever you reply to will be notified. So if you wanted to add support to my post, reply to me; if you wanted to comment on Jonquil’s reply to them. Or if you’re in agreement with some of the replies to Jonquil, add it on the end of the replies that are indented below it.

      The indents line one in from whoever was replied to. So where they are in line, it means multiple people have replied to a post.

      Hope that helps. Quite difficult to explain without knowing specifically what you wanted to say, to whom and therefore where best to place it. (I chose to put my second post as a reply to myself so it would be a general thank-you of the support).

      (Mr) L-Plates

      1. Thank you for that. I think I’ve got it now. I just wanted to add my support.

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