Quick Cryptic 2411 by Hawthorn


I found this tricky in places and was held up a few times before eventually finishing in a bit over 11 minutes.  Some anagrams helped as did the double def at 9a. Favourite was ZEPPELIN – easy to bung in from the def but harder to parse.

I know it’s probably been done to death, but whenever I see the 15d answer, I always think of the “Two girls, one on each knee (7)” clue by Roger Squires (his two millionth) and the title of the crossword book by Alan Connor.

Thanks to Hawthorn

Definitions underlined in bold. Deletions shown as strikethrough

1 Harvest queen captured by Constable (4)
CROPR (‘queen’) contained in (‘captured by’) COP (‘Constable’)
3 Unknown mix of people deprived of oxygen in airship (8)
ZEPPELINZ (‘Unknown’ in a mathematical sense) anagram (‘mix’) of PEOPLE (‘people deprived of (O for) oxygen’) IN (‘in’)
9 Gift’s here (7)
PRESENT – Double definition

A gift indeed

10 Release toy that’s time consuming (3,2)
LET GOLEGO (‘toy’) containing (‘consuming’) T (‘time’)
11 Irish county’s lake borne in mind (5)
CLAREL (‘lake’) contained in (‘borne in’) CARE (‘mind’)

We’ve had the county town Ennis in a couple of crosswords lately

12 Become exhausted and leave quickly (3,3)
RUN OUT – Double definition
14 Decline leadership to shock constituency (4,1,4,4)
TAKE A BACK SEATTAKE ABACK (‘shock’) SEAT (‘constituency’)

I initially thought a constituency was just the body of voters in a parliamentary seat or electorate but the district or seat itself of course is another sense.

17 Broadcast famous cook showing how eggs may be prepared (6)
BEATEN – Homophone (‘Broadcast’) of BEETON (‘famous cook’)

Mrs. Isabella Beeton, author of “Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management” or “Mrs. Beeton’s Cookery Book”. She has been discussed here before and I believe was not responsible for creating most of the recipes published in her magnum opus. I didn’t know that she had died aged only 28.

19 Electrical engineer’s shocking tales (5)
TESLA – Anagram (‘shocking’) of TALES

The surface could be read as referring to the Tesla coil

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), famous Serbian-American inventor and ‘Electrical engineer’ who amongst many other innovations, helped to develop alternating current (AC) for the supply of electricity

22 Doctor abridged column for her stand-in? (5)
LOCUM – Anagram (‘Doctor’) of COLUMN (‘abridged column’)
23 Charm of some French antiques (7)
ENCHANT – Hidden (‘some’) in ‘FrENCH ANTiques’
24 Individual imitates backsliding judge (8)
SEPARATESEPA (‘Imitates backsliding’=reversal of APES) RATE (‘judge’)

Individual as an adjective, not as a noun as I’d first thought

25 The reason to drink last of horrible watery residue (4)
WHEYWHY (‘The reason’) containing (‘to drink’) E (‘last of horrible’=final letter of ‘horriblE’)

Sounds like it too

1 Volume of reduced car parking by a large town (8)
CAPACITYCAR (‘reduced car’) P (‘parking’) A CITY (‘a large town’)
2 Norma, perhaps, gets a rope tangled (5)
OPERA – Anagram (‘tangled’) of A ROPE

The setters’ favourite opera and an easy one for us to remember.

Anyway, gives me an excuse to include a music link: “Variations on ‘Casta Diva’ from Bellini’s Norma” by Arban, played by Alison Balsom, trumpet

4 Broken internet meant making up leisure activities (13)

Apt surface.

5 Tower of nameless synthetic material put under pressure (5)
PYLONNYLON (‘nameless synthetic material’=N (name) deleted) beneath (in a down clue) (‘put under’) P (‘pressure’)
6 Permit union organisation before everyone finally leaves (7)
LETTUCELET (‘Permit’) TUC (‘union organisation’) E (‘everyone finally’=last letter of ‘everyonE’)

A bit of a chestnut but sucks me in every time. Could have been cos, rocket, salad, tea or cha(r) on another day.

7 Back-to-back refusals for a time (4)
NOONNO and NO (‘Back-to-back refusals’), with the second NO reversed to place the two O’s (the ‘back’ or second letter of NO) next to each other (‘Back-to-back’)

I see what’s going on, but it’s hard to explain and I’m not sure I have this right, particularly ‘back’ as a last letter v reversal indicator.

8 Avenge bombing in Swiss location (6)
GENEVA – Anagram (‘bombing’) of AVENGE
13 Secretive and quiet, grabbing duck and coot’s tail (8)
STEALTHYSHY (‘quiet’) containing (‘grabbing’) TEAL (‘duck’) and T (‘coot’s tail’ = last letter of ‘cooT’)
15 Bone Ken fractured with backward step (7)
KNEECAP – Anagram (‘fractured’) of KEN followed by ECAP (‘backward step’=reversal of PACE)
16 Tacky set of clothes for sport before school (6)
KITSCHKIT (‘set of clothes for sport’) SCH (‘school’)
18 Device for measuring minutes in a row (5)
TIMERM (‘minutes’) contained in (‘in’) TIER (‘row’)
20 Laceration made by small whip (5)
SLASHS (‘small’) LASH (‘whip’)
21 Papa left us a sign (4)
PLUSP (‘Papa’ in the NATO alphabet) L (‘left’) US (‘us’)

74 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2411 by Hawthorn”

  1. 9.45 for me. LOI was STEALTHY. I managed to avoid the all-too-common occurrence of racing through the whole crossword and coming to a halt on one last clue that takes forever to see.

  2. Biffed ZEPPELIN, parsed post-submission. Don’t see a problem with NOON. 7:13.

  3. 14:55. Took a while to see TAKE ABACK for shock, TEAL for duck and LETTUCE for leaves. NOON was clear but for some reason I couldn’t see it till I’d tried anon and nano first. Didn’t know Mrs Beeton and I vaguely remember not knowing her a few months ago too. Thanks for Variations-very pleasant!

  4. I really liked this one and jogged home in a leisurely 23 minutes. I thought LETTUCE was an especially satisfying clue.
    As usual, the final couple of clues slowed me down, in today’s case STEALTHY and KNEECAP, assuming that ‘Bone Ken fractured…’ was an anagram of some sort of trendy dance move I’ve never heard of (it could only be KNEEBOP) which meant it took an age to get the very straightforward LOI – LOCUM! Doh!
    Yet another sunny, sunny morning here. Please send us at least a little rain! 🌧

  5. I did it in 8.48, delayed at the end when I failed to concentrate properly and thought they wanted Mrs Beeton’s name, for which there are not many feasible options so that was briefly annoying. I too initially thought an anagram of Ken bone was the key to that one. BR I know what you mean about noon, we’re probably both overthinking it. I took it as being like two people back-to-back, facing different directions. I think you’ll have to help us with the clue you referenced, no idea here…

      1. Oh, right. I thought he was giving us another clue for kneecap and was getting nowhere!

  6. Solve of two halves for me with the top flying in but the bottom putting up some resistance.
    STEALTHY required all the checkers and LOI BEATEN needed a, mercifully short, alpha trawl as I’d buried the cook very deep in the memory banks.
    Thought the surface for ENTERTAINMENT was particularly good.
    Finished in 7.56
    Thanks to BR

  7. Mostly fast but properly stuck on ZEPPELIN (thought the definition was “unknown” durr), KNEECAP, STEALTHY (thought the duck was going to be an O) and LOI TAKE A BACK SEAT (thought “leadership” was going to be “head”).

    So well beaten today by a cracking puzzle. COD to GENEVA because I am now off to advise a Swiss client. All done in 10:23 for 1.4K and an Indifferent Day.

    Many thanks Bletchers and Hawthorn.


  8. A neat puzzle. No marks on my copy except a LOI by TIMER. I liked TESLA, ENTERTAINMENT and TAKE A BACK SEAT. Thanks Hawthorn and BR. 5:17.

  9. Like others, I found the top half very straightforward but I came to grief in the lower half. I found the two long answers approachable (14a was helped by the K of KITSCH which hit me when the T of TESLA was in place). However, I took ages to see BEATEN, SEPARATE, STEALTHY. My LOI WHEY was obvious once the Y was there. Just a bit slow today….
    I had thought I was on for a quickie early in my solve but these last trip wires had me stumbling over the line and into the SCC.
    Thanks to both, John M.

  10. After the thrill of my sub10 solve yesterday I am back home in the SCC today. Like others, the top half held out the promise of a brisk-ish day, but I was much slower in the lower part although ENTERTAINMENT gave me a useful foothold, and was a nice clue.
    Liked LOCUM, once I could parse it, and KNEECAP was elusive too. I could have been faster as biffing wasn’t as difficult as parsing for various, but I enjoy the puzzling more than speed, and overall I enjoyed the challenges today.

  11. A DNF due to failing to see Beaten. Not so much that I haven’t heard of Mrs Beeton, but that I had a mental blank over the expression beaten eggs. Not a good day, though I was going alright through the puzzle till then.

    I note that is 4 DNFs in the last fortnight after only 6 in the first 5 months of the year. Not sure what has happened here …

    Many thanks BR for the blog

  12. No problem here finishing fairly quickly in 8.25. I had to carefully check the parsing to spell ZEPPELIN correctly, and spent more time on my final two clues STEALTHY and LETTUCE than I would have liked. Very politically correct of the setter to refer to the LOCUM as a she I thought!

  13. This was a steady solve for me 8 or 9 I think, and very enjoyable so thanks setter and blogger. Slight hesitation with stealthy – I would say that someone who is shy may well be quiet but quiet doesn’t mean shy or vice versa imo.

  14. Bottom right was my “undoing” today, trying to think of a generic electrical engineer fitting tales*, inability to think of whip=lash, which thankfully gave me WHEY immediately, then a good long stare at LOI ?T?A?T?Y, where duck =/ O, but I wanted it to.

    ENTERTAINMENT excellent clue.


  15. DNF for me, failing to get 11a, 25a, 8d and 13d, should of got the anagram for GENEVA, just didn’t see it!

    Biffed BEATEN and LOCUM, thanks for the explanations on those ones.

  16. Some clever clues, finished in just below averyage time. I thought a combination of tricky clues where I was luckily on the wavelength and easier clues which still took some time, an example ofthe latter being that 1a was my LOI! FOI Zeppelin COD KNEECAP. I remember kicking myself some time ago when solving PATELLA after ages. Thanks Hawthorn and BR

  17. Taken a few seconds into the SCC today, where I have found the regulars very welcoming – I’ll almost certainly come back again. I was very slow with ZEPPELIN, STEALTHY, LETTUCE and WHEY. TESLA also gives his name to the SI unit of magnetic flux density (how powerful a magnet is), which is how I know him best. Many thanks both.

    1. You are very welcome. I was hoping to be LET GO for the day but I wasn’t STEALTHY enough as I attempted to RUN OUT and got caught at the last moment, so I, too, am PRESENT in the SCC.

      1. Luckily, the SCC bus always has SPARE CAPACITY for those who don’t quite keep up with the TIMER. Just climb aboard, TAKE A BACK SEAT and enjoy the ENTERTAINMENT.

        1. ENCHANTED by your comment! I was going to PYLON the agony by continuing this thread but the threat of the KNEECAP (even though it’s against the GENEVA convention) was enough to make me admit I’ve been BEATEN.

          1. This thread may still have a WHEY to go but it’s past NOON and all’s CLARE to me, so LETTUCE call it quits (until tomorrow, at least).

            1. A brilliant exchange between you two. What a pair of wordsmiths!


              1. And thank you, too, although I may have to disagree with your comment. I’ve just returned from seeing Tennessee Williams’ wonderful play A Streetcar Named Desire at Pitlochry Theatre and I’m almost lost for words. A great play that makes one very aware of one’s own prejudices/sensibilities/judgements and in this production wonderful acting, particularly by Kirsty Stuart in the lead role as Blanche, a wonderful design that drew you in and seemed to make you an intimate part of the play, as well as direction that moved the action at huge pace without ever seeming to invoke anything other than laid-back Southern US style. Brilliant.

  18. I started with OPERA. Trying to rearrange Ken bone held me up for a while, otherwise no particular problems until I arrived at LOI, STEALTHY. Took a while until TEAL resolved it. 8:04. Thanks Hawthorn and BR.

  19. 7:05

    The first row reminded me of the CROP circles on the cover of Led ZEPPELIN’s Remasters album and I wondered whether it might be a theme for this grid (can also see PRESENT – one of their albums was called Presence, but I think that might be as far as it goes…).

    Left with three to get when the ‘phone rang – on returning BEATEN, TESLA and STEALTHY all fell in quickly.

    Thanks Hawthorn and Bletch

  20. Threw in the towel after an hour and a half – defeated by STEALTHY and WHEY. Thanks for the blog. I particularly enjoyed ZEPPELIN.

  21. Down to earth after yesterday’s stroll in the park. Slow, but getting there until I reached my last two – 13d and 25ac. I know teal as a colour but not a duck, so there had to be an O in there somewhere. Whey was one of those things I had heard of, as in ‘curds and …’ though I was not sure exactly what it was. The clue’s ‘last of horrible watery residue’ convinced me it contained e, y and e. A DNF, though an enjoyable QC.

    1. I also tried the E Y E route, but just couldn’t quite make it work.

  22. Mostly a steady solve, with the top half a bit quicker than the bottom. Slowed down toward the end and (unlike Paul) came to a complete stop for over 5 minutes before LOI STEALTHY arrived. I had been so focussed on finding an O. Despite that, an enjoyable QC with some really nice surfaces. Into the SCC with 24:19. Thanks Hawthorn and BR.

  23. 9 mins…

    Funny old world – can’t seem to do the QC for what seems an age, and then one day it just rattles in.

    Luckily I had heard of Mrs Beeton, so 17ac wasn’t an issue.

    FOI – 3ac “Zeppelin”
    LOI – 13dn “Stealthy”
    COD – 10ac “Let Go”

    Thanks as usual!

      1. Becoming as rare as hen’s teeth – but I’ll take one when I can 😀

  24. FOI CROP and LOI SEPARATE in an on target 7:45. I might have been marginally quicker had I not misread imitates as irritates when trying to parse SEPARATE. COD to ENTERTAINMENT.

  25. An entertaining puzzle, causing a few head scratchings but got there in the end. LOI STEALTHY and puae for thought with KNEECAP and CAPACITY.

  26. Mostly straightforward but, as BR notes, with a few tricky ones thrown in for good measure. I was fortunate enough to spot Take a Back Seat with just a couple of crossers in place, and that certainly helped with the bottom half of the grid, though loi Stealthy (with no O !) took an age before the Teal pdm. CoD to 24ac, Separate, for the parsing. Finished just into the SCC, only to find that Rotter had pinched the seat next to the driver. What a cad 😉 Invariant

  27. I was able to solve the first four across clues without having to move on, but normality returned at that moment. The next six came and went before ENCHANT added to my tally and I soon had to move onto the down clues. Progress thereafter was steady-ish until I engaged in battle with my last four, namely PYLON, STEALTHY, WHEY and SLASH (my LOI). Nothing too difficult, but sufficiently tricky for me.
    Time = 35 minutes.

    SEPARATE needed all of its checkers and I couldn’t parse it until afterwards. LETTUCE also was written in before parsing occurred.

    Mrs Random is well behind with her QCs at the moment (gardening takes precedence at this time of year), but she should have no problems with 3a when she catches up. She studied German at university and spent her year abroad in Friedrichshafen, the town where ZEPPELINs were made.

    Many thanks to Hawthorn and BR.

    1. Zeppelin was a write in for me as we (Mr MM too) have just booked to travel in one (from Friedrichshafen) next May. A present from my son for my 70th birthday this May. Very exciting! Geneva was also mentioned. That’s where we fly to when we visit said son. MM

  28. 8.04

    Thought this was quite quirky for some reason. Some nice surfaces and thought LET GO was rather good. Liked it.

    Thanks all

  29. Nice mix of gentle and some more challenging clues today. Particularly liked TAKE A BACK SEAT and KNEECAP. LOI WHEY, after much head-scratching over STEALTHY. All parsed along the way apart from LOCUM (thanks to BR for explaining). Pleased to remember TESLA and Mrs Beeton. Thanks Hawthorn. Pitched just right for a QC.

  30. 15.17 plus a few seconds. Having struggled with STEALTHY I hit submit without realising I still hadn’t done CROP. Back to my usual form so it wasn’t the magnesium.

  31. Beaten was LOI. I have heard of Mrs Beeton but I didn’t have her in the cook camp, plus I see she died more than 100 years before I was born and after scrambled, poached and boiled I had to work hard for how eggs are prepared. Ended up all green in 13. Another good puzzle!

      1. . . .the really lucky ones make it all the way to Oeufs en Meurette 😋

  32. Jet lag had me reaching to a 3am local time, sub 15 minute finish, before lapsing back to sleep with just WHEY and STEALTHY left to finish, desperately trying to cram a ‘O’ where none would fit. Took 10 minutes to get while pondering over a coffee, so, still back to my usual corner seat in the club which is looking rather convivial today with welcome occasional joiners. Blue sky and sunshine in abundance.
    Thanks Bletch and Hawthorn. Suitably prickly.

  33. No idea of time because of interruptions.
    But some nice clues (zep, enchanted, geneva, and kneecap) but COD to let go.

  34. An enjoyable offering from Hawthorn, and nothing to add to the observations of other satisfied customers.

    TIME 4:11

  35. 12:21 – a similar experience to yesterday, when I zipped along quite quickly to start with and then slowed right down for my last few! It didn’t help that I put TAKE A BACK STEP in at 14a, which made LETTUCE and STEALTHY quite difficult 😅 I like Hawthorn’s puzzles – they always make me smile. Ticks went next to BEATEN, ENTERTAINMENT and WHEY, although that one also made me feel just a little bit icky.
    I too always think of the clue / book whenever I see KNEECAP or patella. I did a search for the book at my local library and they had no record of it! However, it is available in my local Waterstone’s – maybe I’ll just have to splash out.
    FOI Zeppelin LOI Lettuce COD Take a back seat
    Many thanks Hawthorn and BR

  36. Lovely and clever puzzle to dawdle over whilst enjoying an Italian sandwich lunch in Market Harborough. FOI 9a present. LOI 3a zeppelin. COD 1a crop.

    1. That’s the best way to complete a crossword. Your lunch sounds interesting, where was it?

  37. Similar time as yesterday loi 1a crop. No real holdups and within our 30m target.

  38. 9 minutes – didn’t immediately see the parsing of LOCUM but no problems. ZEPPELIN was fine but I didn’t get teal as a duck for a little while in STEALTHY. Thanks for the blog.

  39. A late start to the week for me as didn’t feel mentally up to doing yesterday’s QC at the time, so started at 6pm on Tuesday on a pleasantly full stomach.

    Flew through Myles QC from yesterday in 15.16 – thought I was going to have a PB and first sub-10 but was stopped by my last three.

    Then onto this Hawthorn. Again I flew into it. Helped by remembering CAPACITY (big confab when it came up last year as Orpheus had defined it as “dimensions”), getting PRESENT and GENEVA. Luckily had seen PYLON in a crossword I did in the last day or so. Biffed TAKE-A-BACK-SEAT and STEALTHY as couldn’t parse them, had to get the pen&paper out for ENTERTAINMENT and LOI was BEATEN – bloody food&drink 🙄

    Finished in 14.59 … that’s four consecutive SCC escapes to start June 😮😮😮

    1. As you have been instructed on several occasions, get rid of those plates as they’re no longer needed 🤣🤣

      Best of luck for five escapes on the bounce tomorrow 🤞🤞

  40. Slow going for me, eventually coming in at 25:35. Wasn’t helped by reading ‘inmates’ instead of imitates. Thought I’d come across a somewhat derogatory new term for prisoners, but actually just more evidence that the time for going to Specsavers might be drawing near. Not yet though, I can hold out a while longer. Thanks Hawthorn and BR.

  41. An excellent QC with some great surfaces and word play.

    I should be happy with 18 mins, and yet I feel dissatisfied with my performance. Having got KITSCH, stupidly put in TASER for 19ac without reading the clue properly. This led to significant issues with STEALTHY before the penny dropped (also not helped by thinking duck meant O).

    It was an SCC escape but too much biffing and not enough parsing.

    43 mins is ok for Monday/Tuesday, but harder challenges are surely to come.

    Excellent blog BR and hat tip to SRC and Mozbadel for some brilliant repartee! Congrats also to L-Plates for a stunning start to June and to James for a brilliant return to form. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

    1. Well done GA – not too far behind me with your times this week 👍 The sub-2 possibility exists – I actually have a rolling 5-day 1hr36 total!

      There’s almost certainly something harder down the road this week but hey, let’s just enjoy today’s escapes 🥳

      1. Wise words! That’s a fantastic rolling time.

        Nice to get out of the SCC. I’m having a celebratory 🍷tonight.

  42. Enjoyed this one. Finished after dinner due to busy day. Managed to spend only about £35 on plants at Wisley – beautiful as ever.
    I actually own a copy of Mrs Beeton’s oeuvre. Full of ENTERTAINMENT.
    FOI CROP, LOI STEALTHY, unparsed.
    Thanks for much needed blog, BR.
    Congrats to all for above group wit!

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