Quick Cryptic 2304 by Hurley

Not the most elegant puzzle, but I found this pretty straightforward if clunky at times. Loads of fairly clearly indicated anagrams, some of the them quite clever, such as 8dn. Solving time: 6 minutes.

1 Excitedly say “wow” at finding hidden traveller (8)
STOWAWAY – anagram (‘excitedly’) of SAY WOW AT
5 Enthusiastic singer recalled (4)
AVID – DIVA backwards
9 Mock food rations (5)
SCOFF – double definition
10 Girl men recollected as source of bad luck (7)
GREMLIN – anagram (‘recollected’) of GIRL MEN
11 Bevvies taken regularly the night before (3)
EVE – alternate letters of bEvViEs
12 Frank, missing outsiders, dates person sitting exam? (9)
CANDIDATE – CANDID (Frank) + ATE (DATES minus the ‘outsiders’)
13 Helpful hint about container for vegetable (6)
TURNIP – TIP outside URN
15 Animal sound in south, pleasing to the ear (6)
SMOOTH – MOO inside STH. Less common than S but a valid abbreviation for south.
17 Money mart turned out to be short-lived (9)
MOMENTARY – anagram (‘turned out’) of MONEY MART
19 Cunning political group removing extremists? (3)
ART – PARTY minus the extreme letters
20 Racecourse employee, one looking fixedly (about time) (7)
STARTER – STARER outside T for time
21 A temptation, by the sound of it, to diminish (5)
ABATE – sounds like A BAIT
22 Cook, most important, I dropped off (4)
CHEF – CHIEF minus I
23 Meant to be home at ten, delayed, late, behindhand in the end (8)
INTENDED – IN + TEN + last letters of delayeD latE behindhanD
1 Surmise religious group will accept us provisionally at first (7)
SUSPECT – SECT with US + P inserted
2 Love area’s clean, bracing air (5)
OZONE – O + ZONE. I love this idea that ozone is clean and healthy. If you can smell it, you are either being poisoned by industrial pollution, or being sucked out of an aircraft at 40,000ft.
3 Loving fat fee with action settled? (12)
AFFECTIONATE – anagram (‘settled’) of FAT FEE ACTION
4 Gas somewhat dear, go nuclear (5)
ARGON – hidden word: deAR GO Nuclear
6 Volume company supports, including article that’s hot stuff in it? (7)
VOLCANO – VOL + CO with AN inserted
7 Social occasion’s proud ancestry to some extent (5)
DANCE – hidden word: prouD ANCEstry
8 Happy-go-lucky, calm, ready — I’ve changed! (5-3-4)
DEVIL-MAY-CARE – anagram (‘changed’) of CALM READY IVE
14 Right morning leaf storm (7)
16 Oath he’d let loose — excitable guy (7)
HOTHEAD – anagram (‘let loose’) of OATH HED
17 Pleasing sound from Greek characters in charge (5)
MUSIC – MUs (greek characters) + IC
18 Protective clothing in airport area (5)
APRON – double definition, the latter being the bit you park the planes on.
19 A charge for medal, say (5)
AWARD – A + WARD (as in ward of court)

69 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2304 by Hurley”

  1. 11 minutes, taken over my target 10 by the 5ac/6dn intersection. For ‘singer’ I was looking for the name of a bird, and the hot stuff was going to be some sort of chilli pepper. Talk about over-complicating things!

  2. I liked this puzzle which felt a bit easier than some. ‘Only’ 24 mins which is a good time for me though my wife who doesn’t do crosswords biffed Apron over my shoulder grrr. The anagrams fell out for me. COD 8d. LOI Dance – spent some time looking for an ending for Do
    In awe of all the speed solvers. I do the puzzle on my phone with the light down. It would probably take me 5 mins to read the clue and type the answer if it was given to me. Hoping for sub 10 mins one day. Thank you Curarist and Hurley.

    1. I continue to be baffled by people who can solve on their phones in super quick times. I only do the puzzle on my phone in emergencies, as I find it very difficult. Small print, fat finger syndrome and too much scrolling between clues makes for a tricky solve in my book. So all power to you 😊

  3. 6.29

    Bit more on the wavelength today. Liked AFFECTIONATE.

    Thanks Curarist and Hurley

  4. DNF today with ‘spoof’ for SCOFF. Not that surprised by the pink squares but still couldn’t work out what the right answer was until Curarist told me – not completely unfamilar but would probably only have come to me while doing something else much later in the day. Is it military slang? Thought of Blighter as MUSIC went in – hope ‘pleasing sounds’ soothes you after yesterday’s ‘noise’. Held up at the end by the crossing AWARD and ABATE, with ‘allure’ and for some reason ‘abate’ taking up all the brain space. Not all green in 16.

    1. I also had SPOOF for another Pink day. Giles Coren uses “scoff” as a noun for food in these pages.

      1. I remember ‘scoff’ was popular school slang for food to be found in the pages of Billy Bunter books etc. According to SOED it comes from Afrikaans, so was perhaps imported into English at the time of the South African wars.

    2. More common military slang for food is SCRAN, which reportedly comes from bins of Sultanas, Currants, Raisins And Nuts in ships galleys, used to fight scurvy. I’m not sure of the veracity of that story though. SCOFF is certainly used, but I’m not aware of a specifically military origin.

      1. Almost all derivations claiming to be from initialisms are bogus. Using initials in this way is a very modern invention. Don’t tell me, it was stencilled on the side of a carton. Like POSH was supposed to be on a ticket, POM on a transportee etc.

  5. 24 minutes.
    FOI: STOWAWAY BIFD checking the anagrist after.
    LOI: INTENDED after AWARD both needing attention to wordplay.
    Favourite: CANDIDATE.

  6. A rare DNF today, getting stumped by AWARD and ABATE in the SE corner. Otherwise, a steady solve taking about 12 mins for the rest.

    Thanks to Hurley and Curarist.

  7. A fair and enjoyable QC to end the week. I was content to be a few seconds under target at 14.45 (all parsed) but thought I had been quicker.
    I finished in the NE with VOLCANO and AVID and wondered why the latter answer didn’t come to me earlier.
    Thanks to both. Like curarist, I have always been bemused by the idea that ozone is anything other than a poison (to humans and the planet). John M.

  8. I agree with Curarist that this seemed a bit on the clunky side, but nevertheless a straightforward 17min solve. However, I forgot to go back to an unparsed Spoof at 9ac, so a DNF to end the week. An unparsed answer should always be a red flag. CoD to 12ac, Candidate, where I took the bait and tried to shoehorn ran into the answer. Invariant

  9. Thus ends the first week of me keeping a spreadsheet (having seen some other contributors discussing this earlier in the week), and my average for the week is just over the top end of my target range at 6:39.

    No real holdups here, except the AWARD and ABATE (LOI) crossers, and I’m glad I went back to SPOOF which I had biffed after seeing the F at the end.

    The topical surface for ARGON made me smile.


  10. Fairly gentle offering but then I saw all the anagrams (bar DEVIL MAY CARE) straightaway. Only hold up was the final pair of ABATE and AWARD. Misparsed ART by knocking off the uneven ends of cartel and thinking it looked a bit iffy, so happy to be put right.
    Finished in 6.54
    Thanks to Curarist

  11. Very much on wavelength for a finish in just over 7 minutes, which given comments above I am pleased with. Anagrams all fell into place and I saw Scoff fairly quickly – perhaps British schoolboy slang of 50+ years ago? One has memories of Billy Bunter saying things like “Wizard scoff, mater” as his mother arrives at Greyfriars bearing food.

    I see what Curarist means about the puzzle being a bit clunky and tend to agree – to have Date in both the clue and part of the answer for 12A struck me as less than elegant while doing it, and several of the surfaces don’t really sing. Including Smooth, described as “pleasing to the ear” – well, maybe, but touch is the sensation one thinks of more for smoothness (or taste if one is having pâté).

    Thus ends the first week of 2023, a week which saw QCs most resemble the month of March: “in like a lion, out like a lamb”. The first two of the week were challenging, the latter three I found more approachable. Many thanks to Curarist for the blog, and a good weekend to all.


    1. Sorry Cedric, I mentioned Billy Bunter re scoff in a reply above before I had seen your comment.

    2. I think Smooth is probably OK for hearing. Smooth Radio is presumably named in the hope that it is pleasing to some.

  12. 11 minutes for me including two on LOI ABATE.
    But I see I also fell into the SPOOF trap. Thought I should return to it, but forgot! So DNF for me.
    A good QC; COD to TURNIP.

  13. 13 minutes, all correct. FOI STOWAWAY, LOI SCOFF (needing all the checkers), misdirected by CANDIDATE where I wanted it to start with fRANk, but otherwise no major problems. Thanks both.

  14. Have to say that I really did not like this puzzle. I found it quite difficult in places. My last answer was 19a. I had A-T. I had no idea and so just stuck in ART from a list of 6 words I obtained from an alphabet trawl.

    I did not understand how OZONE could be considered as “clean bracing air”. However, I put it in as it was obviously the answer. On completion I looked up ozone in Chambers which did in fact state:

    “An allotropic form (O3) of oxygen present in the atmosphere, once regarded as health-giving, but toxic in concentrations”

    Completed but not without help from the cat. 🐈


  15. 37min dnf. Thought that was hard for a Hurley.

    Only had 4 on first pass so it was all a grind and long anagrams can be tough without checkers. Finished up in NW and as per our blogger’s comments, I was surprised OZONE is a valid definition of clean air and SCOFF, I don’t think of as mocking more of a rejection of something. But I’m sure it’s valid.

    DNF due to putting ABAsE earlier instead of ABATE. Couldn’t be bothered to alphabet trawl A-A-E and having failed to parse APRON, INTENDED and struggled with a bunch of other clues, I just assumed I didn’t know enough.

      1. ABATE is a word I could define but I doubt I’ve ever used. But I have seen “bait” as temptation before so need to stick that in the memory palace.

        I’m realising there may be a nasty contradiction in my mindset … on the days when I’m on for a good time I don’t want to alphabet trawl … and on the days when it’s a grind …. 😀

  16. Not a lot to say about this. I finished with VOLCANO (having abandoned finding a word ending in CO like TABASCO) and then DIVA taking me to an average time of 5:26 – very close to my average for 2022…
    After the conversation earlier this week I set about analysing my own times for 2022. FWIW this was the result…

    Setter Ave Time Puzzles
    Marty 04:36 1
    Trelawney 04:41 8
    Tracy 04:42 13
    Orpheus 04:50 24
    Hurley 05:04 23
    Oink 05:15 12
    Hawthorn 05:17 5
    Kenny 05:19 1
    Izetti 05:34 24
    Pedro 05:34 11
    Mara 05:35 24
    Rongo 05:38 3
    Juno 05:42 4
    Teazel 05:42 25
    Corelli 05:45 4
    Jalna 05:47 9
    Breadman 05:48 16
    Joker 05:53 24
    Beck 06:00 1
    Alconiere 06:02 4
    Felix 06:07 7
    Wurm 06:25 11
    Alfie 07:39 3
    Parkin 08:04 1

    I was surprised to see Wurm so far down the list, but one puzzle that took me over 12 minutes bumped up the average quite a lot.

    1. Nice list John – thanks for sharing 👍

      Seeing some correspondence between your list and mine with Trelawney and Hurley on the quick side, Wurm, Joker, Felix on the slower

  17. 18 mins fully parsed so a pleasing end to the week and avoidance of the SCC for me. LOI was ABATE which also gets my COD.

    In fairness to Hurley, ozone gas does have a sweet, fresh smell. It is often an indicator of rain about to arrive hence the ‘clean, bracing air’ is ok as a definition.

  18. Luckily the long clues came quickly so my fastest this week but enjoyed nonetheless. FOI STOWAWAY, the longest to solve while I tried to recall Columbus and his ilk, LOI CHEF, COD GREMLIN, what a surface! Did not even think about SPOOF , NHO STH as abbreviation for SOUTH, but won’t complain as it prevented a probable delay on HOTHEAD. Not into geegees so NHO STARTER in that context, but sopposed they must have one. Many thanks, Hurley and Curarist

  19. Just scraped inside target time at 9.58 for this one, held up only by 16dn and 19dn because I had forgotten to return to the biffed SLY as the answer for 19ac. I think I need to spend a little more time on parsing certain answers before moving on, although I do return to them eventually of course before stopping the clock.

  20. Found this hard going, especially the SE corner. Had a MER at OZONE, which, as has already been pointed out, is anything but clean air. LOI APRON, which I failed to parse as I didn’t know or had forgotten the airport meaning of the word. COD to 19d. Time was just over 30 minutes. Thanks Hurley and Curarist.

  21. The top half went in without much trouble, but I found myself having to think harder down below. FOI, STOWAWAY, LOI, CANDIDATE. 7:57. Thanks Hurley and Curarist.

  22. A pretty steady solve, apart from the ART/AWARD pair in the SE corner. I agree with Curarist about the clunkiness of a few clues.

  23. 13:34. Sluggish again today, taking a while to build up any sort of momentum. I liked SCOFF; there’s been a recent discussion elsewhere about SCOFF and (as mentioned by TheRotter) “scran”, which I hadn’t come across till then. I also liked STOWAWAY which remained ‘hidden’ for too long.

    Thanks to Hurley and Curarist – given your pseudonym, there’s a clue of relevance to you in the 15×15 today

  24. 20 mins…

    Have to agree, I thought this was very clunky – 23ac “Intended” a prime example of this – with a lot of inelegant surfaces.

    Apart from Ozone being poisonous, it is also technically not air.

    FOI – 11ac “Eve”
    LOI – 8dn “Devil May Care”
    COD – 13ac “Turnip” – a much maligned vegetable.

    Thanks as usual!

  25. A poor end to the week. I mislaid my anagram hat. I struggled particularly with the anagrams GREMLIN, AFFECTIONATE and DEVIL MAY CARE. Having said that, my LOI wasn’t an anagram but the SpOoF/SCOFF clue . 11:07

  26. This is perhaps the most enjoyable Hurley I have attempted. I know it’s all a question of personal taste, but I didn’t find it clunky. I thought most of the clues were smooth and pitched at the right level.

    I was around the 20 min mark for the third day in a row.

    FOI – EVE

    I hope everyone has a good weekend.

    Thanks as always for the excellent blog.

  27. Look at today as 9 victories-learn what you can from the others then leave them behind.

  28. I started quickly (spotted Stowaway in seconds) and many fell without too much trouble – then got stuck on the Ozone Scoff couple for some time.
    14 minutes all done and correct for a very pleasing day.
    Thanks all

  29. While ozone is toxic (briefly – it quickly degrades) it’s association with clean and bracing is legit. It is used to sterilise operating theatres, and is a pleasant-smelling alternative to chlorine in swimming pools.


  30. Solved over two sittings – the first being a nowadays rare visit to a Costa Drive-Thru where the seating was very busy – maybe WFH/TWaTs (see recent Times2 article) types? So noisy I’d rather be in an office! I suppose that’s one benefit of hearing aids – mine can be ‘muted’. So finished off at home. Thought this would be harder than it turned out. No problems with Scoff as I already had the second F. A bit slow to resolve some of the anagrams but the middle word in 8d seemed possible and soon the PDM came.
    FOI 10a Gremlin
    LOI 21a Abate – actually a DNF as I opted for ABASE
    COD 12a Candidate

  31. I want to cry. I have never achieved an unbroken run of 20 successfully solved QCs, but I was on 18 this morning and (naturally) very hopeful of achieving a new milestone on Monday. Alas, after agonising for 20 minutes over my last two (2d and 9a) I put OZONE and SpOoF. Despite alphabet trawling extremely carefully, SCOFF simply never arrived in my brain, even though I sometimes use the word myself. So, instead of being a celebration, Monday can only see me off the mark once again.

    Mrs Random arrived back from her German conversation group just as I was reaching my last two, nonchalantly solved all 26 clues and went off to do something else – all before I had made any further progress. That’s how it goes in this house.

    Many thanks to Hurley (except for 9a) and Curarist.

    1. Take consolation from the fact that your posts are something many of us look forward to reading each day!

      A frustrating day for you but bear in mind the progress that had been made.

      1. Actually, with Mrs R around and about I had to man-up quickly. I achieved this by going into the kitchen and having some SCOFF – a boiled egg and Marmite soldiers. Just the job!

        1. I bet the egg was as fresh as could be! What bad luck, but look on it as 18/18. MrB is trying to come up with some soothing (if not SMOOTH) MUSIC for you – he suggests Apollo by Brian Eno. I don’t know it so can’t comment 😅

  32. 18 minutes all parsed. By no means a straightforward solve as I had to jump all over the grid knocking off the easier answers until I built up enough crossers for some of the anagrams. I too thought that some of the clues were a bit clunky (esp 23ac where I had no idea what was required on first reading) but everything was fairly clued and there were no obscurities. I’m not qualified to enter the OZONE debate but remember as a child being told that the sea was good for me because of its ozone content.

    FOI – 1ac STOWAWAY
    LOI – 19dn AWARD
    COD – 1ac STOWAWAY for the surface

    Thanks to Hurley and Curarist

  33. I never got out of second gear, and needed a third pass to mop up the last clue.

    TIME 4:48

  34. I started quickly – 7 or 8 in the first minute or so – but then was interrupted, and somehow that knocked me off the wavelength. I had TEMPORARY instead of MOMENTARY until I checked the clue more carefully, and DEVIL-MAY-CARE took me a long time to see. Finished in 15:05, just outside my target time.

    Thanks to Hurley & Curarist.

  35. When I was a child we were told that Ozone is prevalent on seashores, hence presumably the clue “clean and bracing”. We were encouraged to breath in deeply on windy British beaches. Apparently this is completely wrong and attributable to misinterpreting smells given off on beaches. Even if it were true, O3 combines with haemoglobin in preference to O2 and can’t be processed so this was not the cleverest idea!

    1. Just add that to the list of other things we were told were fine and safe to do as kids, only to find out later it was a load of old rubbish 😃

  36. 9.45, my first sub-ten for a couple of weeks. I nearly solve most grids in under ten minutes, but I often get stuck on a couple of clues at the end which drags out the time, occasionally by hours. But not today. An enjoyable puzzle.

  37. I too felt this was a bit clunky – there were a few odd surfaces, I felt, but I did also put a few ticks alongside clues, including MOMENTARY and AFFECTION, so rather a curate’s egg of a puzzle for me.
    Not much else to say! 10:30. FOI Avid LOI Abate COD Devil-may-care
    Thanks Hurley and Curarist

  38. Bit of a mer about party as there is no indication about cunning.
    Apart from a comment about our current MPs not sure about this

  39. DNF

    Biffed SPOOF for mock and pressed the button too quickly. Otherwise pretty straightforward today and well under target time with LOI ABATE.

    1. Ditto! Ignored the little voice telling me SPOOF wasn’t right but pushed the button after ABATE.

  40. Just escaped the SCC at 19:12. Nothing too tricky I thought. LOI by a very long way was CANDIDATE, although I’m not so sure why. AVID also too a while as I was looking for a bird backwards… Enjoyable and doable. Many thanks all.

  41. I thought this was just right for a QC, perhaps because this resident of the SCC finished happily. And SCOFF is part of my vocabulary, probably indicates my age!

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