Quick Cryptic 2609 by Orpheus


I enjoy tackling an Orpheus puzzle and this was no exception. With 6d on the left and 12a and 13a across the middle of the grid it did make me wonder if Orpheus was trying to tell us something but otherwise I couldn’t identify any theme.

I needed to get out the Allen key out for several flat pack clues here such as 8a, 22a, 6d and 14d. Thankfully we only live in the crossword world and once assembled, everything stood up properly and stayed together for a correctly completed grid in 10:37.

Thanks to Orpheus

Definitions underlined in bold, deletions indicated by strikethrough.

1 Person enlisted to study handwriting (9)
CONSCRIPTCON (‘to study’) SCRIPT (‘handwriting’)
6 Fruit, penny apiece (5)
PEACHP (‘penny’) EACH (‘apiece’)
8 A new piece of advice in respect of hors d’oeuvre (9)
ANTIPASTOA (‘A’) N (‘new’) TIP (‘piece of advice’) AS TO (‘in respect of’)
9 Hastened to protect extremely vulnerable bird (5)
RAVENRAN (‘Hastened’) containing (‘to protect’) VE (‘extremely vulnerable’=first and last letters of ‘VulnerablE‘)
10 Singer left in badly torn coat (9)
CONTRALTOL (‘left’) contained in (‘in’) anagram (‘badly’) of TORN COAT
12 Miserable male, one leaving without difficulty (6)
MEASLYM (‘male’) EASILY (‘one leaving without difficulty’=EASILY with I deleted)
13 Tedious procedure for making hole (6)
BORING – Double definition
16 It nourishes teachers introducing old verse books (9)
NUTRIMENTNUT (‘teachers’) RIME (‘old verse’) NT (‘books’)

NUT as abbreviation for National Union of Teachers (another one to think about when ‘teachers’ comes up is BEDS for Bachelors of Education), RIME as old spelling/form of rhyme or ‘verse’ and NT for New Testament

18 A brief hearing in the courts once (5)
ATRIAA (‘A’) TRIAL (‘brief hearing’=last letter of TRIAL deleted)

The word (singular atrium) is still used today of course for a (usually large) entrance hall, but the ‘courts once’ refers to “An open-roofed entrance hall or central court in an ancient Roman house” (ODE). The chamber of the heart use of the word has also come from this sense.

19 Bad season for children (9)
OFFSPRINGOFF (‘Bad’) SPRING (‘season’)

I was convinced this was going to be an anagram with ‘Bad’ as the indicator.

21 Senior citizen squaddie perhaps shaved? (5)
OLDIESOLDIER (‘squaddie perhaps shaved?’=first and last letters of SOLDIER (‘squaddie perhaps’) deleted)
22 Junior officer’s regular payment to change name (9)
SUBALTERNSUB (‘regular payment’) ALTER (‘to change’) N (‘name’)
1 Opportunity to go over large part of church (7)
CHANCELCHANCE (‘Opportunity’) L (‘large’)

I always get my chancels, transepts, naves and apses mixed up. Everyone else will know, but in the probably vain hope that this will finally make me remember, the chancel is the “part of a church containing the altar, sanctuary, and choir, usually separated from the nave and transepts by a screen” (Collins).

2 Observing deficiency in action of bell? (6)
NOTING – Definition with cryptic hint. If there was a ‘deficiency in action of bell?’ there would be NO TING

Very good. My last in.

3 Dubious activity of primate disturbing current king (5)
CAPERAPE (‘primate’) contained in (‘disturbing’) CR (‘current king’)

CR for Charles Rex; there was a discussion here not long ago but whether CR stood for Carolus Rex. I can’t remember what the outcome was but looking at a few authoritative sources (eg The Sun website) it looks like Charles Rex is correct.  ‘Primate’ here in the simian, not the ecclesiastical sense as perhaps Orpheus was hoping we would think.

4 Conditions originally ideal for skiing (3)
IFS – First letters (‘originally’) of ‘Ideal For Skiing’
5 Meticulous cabbie’s passenger in public highway (12)
THOROUGHFARETHOROUGH (‘Meticulous’) FARE (‘cabbie’s passenger’)

FARE as in “I ‘ad that… in the back of my cab once”.

6 Miserly minister snatching this writer’s promissory notes (12)
PARSIMONIOUSPARSON (‘minister’) containing (‘snatching’) IM (‘this writer’s’) IOUS (‘promissory notes’)

OK, I admit it, I initially biffed this one on the basis of ‘minister’ and the number of letters.

7 Endlessly recommend imbibing a liqueur (8)
ADVOCAATADVOCATE (‘endlessly recommend’=last letter deleted) containing (‘imbibing’) A (‘a’)

I knew it was Dutch but not that it contained eggs, sugar and brandy. I remember once being very naughty and having a sip from a bottle smuggled into school by a friend; the experience put me off it for life.

11 Having free time, idles casually round Yorkshire river (8)
LEISURED – Anagram (‘casually’) of IDLES containing (’round’) URE (‘Yorkshire river’)

I didn’t know that the River Ure eventually becomes another of crossword land’s favourite rivers, the River Ouse, before flowing into the Humber estuary.

14 Figure of old Charlie — with label attached (7)
OCTAGONO (‘Old’) C (‘Charlie’) followed by (‘with’) TAG ON (‘label attached’)
15 Excellent environment for the Spanish cat (6)
FELINEFINE (‘Excellent’) containing (‘environment for’) EL (‘the Spanish’)

The human mind is a strange thing. This was not a difficult clue but I became so stuck on “nice” for ‘Excellent’ that it took me several minutes. ‘Environment for’ is an interesting containment indicator.

17 Drive in Mercedes passing elegant Lotus first of all (5)
IMPEL – First letters of (‘first of all’) of ‘In Mercedes Passing Elegant Lotus’
20 Girl primarily broadcasting false information (3)
FIBFI (‘Girl’=short for Fiona) B (‘primarily broadcasting’=first letter of ‘Broadcasting’)

68 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2609 by Orpheus”

  1. Enjoyable puzzle after yesterdays DNF helping me through the small hours of the morning. Finished in c.60mins which is around my norm. Needed our bloggers help to understand some random girls name but FIB was the obvious fit. Don’t get why CON = “to study”?

    1. CON is a crossword land word for “to study”, marked in Chambers and Collins as “archaic”.

      1. That meaning of con is (per Chambers) “To direct the steering of” and has a different etymology to the study meaning.

  2. 12:44. Liked this one a lot. Did a double-take when NUTRIENT had one letter too few for 16a, but dredged up the version with the M from somewhere in deep storage and then spotted RIME, so was pretty happy with that. COD to IFS: I was nowhere near it until I had I_S, at which point the penny dropped.

    Thanks to BR and Orpheus.

  3. I found this really easy until it suddenly wasn’t. DNF I had nho of Nutriment or Subaltern, and didn’t know the courts meaning of Atria but hoped for the best.

    Fi for a girl is a bit tricky imo, the whole nut and rime thing I nho.

    1. Agree that Fi is tricky, but it’s a particular favourite of setters. So it eventually becomes one that you look out for after Di has been eliminated.

    2. SUBALTERN may be better known in the UK courtesy of Betjeman’s poem “A Subaltern’s Love Song”, which begins “Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun”. At least, I studied it for O-Level English Lit and there are others round these parts who may have done so too.

      1. I only heard this word, subaltern, on Friday night watching Masters of the Air. I still didn’t get this answer tho!

    3. Likewise, that’s two days in a row that I’ve had a strong start and then crashed into a wall towards the end.

  4. 5:26. Pretty straightforward today. Slightly held up by reading “Spanish car” so FELINE was my LOI.

    Enjoyed NOTING. Thanks Orpheus and Bletch.

  5. 10 minutes.

    I don’t know if I had already seen and solved the clue to FELINE but because of the problems distinguishing ‘m’ and ‘r n’ (with no space) in Times clues I at first read ‘torn coat’ in 10ac as ‘tom cat’. Elsewhere, parsing at speed in my head I had thought of NOT {r}ING as the bell deficiency. But neither of these careless oversights lost me more than a few seconds.

    I remember when Prince Charles succeeded to the throne some scholarly pundits saying that his cipher ‘CR’ would stand for Carolus Rex but it soon became clear that he was to adopt Charles Rex. Historically the full Latin job is usually taken to refer principally to Charles XII of Sweden.

    1. I think the four 20th century kings, Edward VII and VIII and George V and VI, latinised their names, for example on their coins (Edwardus and Georgius respectively; not exactly names known to Cicero), and Victoria didn’t need to, as it was already Latin of course. But Queen Elizabeth II refused, the concocted Elizabetha (presumably) being ridiculous and Elizabeth being a long enough name as it was. And if Charles has now eschewed latinisation too, all to the good.

      Interestingly William IV’s royal cypher was definitely W IV R for William, despite him following the tradition of a latinised inscription on his coins (where he was Gulielmus IIII).

  6. Three pinkies for me this morning after I’d pondered long and hard over NUTRIMENT and eventually guessed the M wrongly. I’ve never heard of it and couldn’t fully parse it. ATRIA eluded me too and although I’ve heard of it I thought it a little obscure.
    So another DNF for me today. I liked the rest of the puzzle though and thought THOROUGHFARE, ADVOCAAT and PARSIMONIOUS were the most satisfying.
    Thanks to Orpheus and Bletchers.

  7. 8.48

    A long time on NUTRIMENT, even starting to wonder whether there was an error, rather than just trying to solve it! Definite NHO for me.

    Thanks all

  8. All bar one in 19 which was very satisfying. Atria held out for another 3 mins before the PDM of trial being hearing so had to be atria although NHO that definition.

    We slow built nutriment with nut sitting on its own for a while and trying nutrition and other forms first. Also had a smile at our COD noting.

    Also liked oldie being middle of soldier. I wonder, do the setters put in the words then come up with the clues or the other way round? Both I guess??

  9. Stalled badly with NUTRIMENT and FELINE left – and after I’d bunged in FIB. At that time I also had to look for my duaghter’s friend’s water bottle in the car. It wasn’t there. All green in 16. Lots to enjoy here – special mention to ADVOCAAT because I used to work in the Babycham factory – where they used to make Snowball.

    1. I stalled as you did, which swept me through the portals of the SCC. Annoyed not to have seen feline quicker, but became very bogged down with finding a NUTRI…. solution which parsed and fitted. No “ting” for me today, but a good puzzle.

  10. Yay! All green in 23 mins, so will enjoy a rest in the SCC, sipping an ADVOCAAT, a delicious celebratory treat in our family since before I can remember. Best served with lemonade, though we never used lime juice which would make it a Snowball.

    Chuckled at NOTING.

    Happy Tuesday, Pi

  11. Some headscratching in places but overall nothing held me up for too long.
    Unusually I started in the SW as my first entry into the grid was ‘ious’ at the end of 6d and worked my way up from there.
    Finished with the strangely stubborn FELINE in 7.45 with COD to NOTING.
    Thanks to BR

  12. Excellent crossword, all green in just under 8 minutes. Nutriment took me the longest, both to fill in (I tried Nutritious at first but (a) it did not parse and (b) it did not fit) and then subsequently to work out what was going on; having done so, my COD simply for getting Rime in there (as in Ancient Mariner – are there any others?)

    I have fallen into the Antipasto/Antipasti trap before and took care to parse this one before deciding we were limited to just one little morsel not a full feast.

    Many thanks BR for the blog

  13. DNF. On finding that NUTRI-ENT was a letter too short, I picked T as the extra letter, although a rite is not usually a poem.

  14. 26:45 … felt like I was a beginner again with about half the grid empty at around 17-18mins then a rush of answers leaving ‘only’ left 7 to get as I entered the SCC. Looking back I missed some easy ones but equally there’s 8 words I’ve never found need to use in my life and probably never will. SUBALTERN added to my list of 24NHOs thus far in 2024 although maybe it’s a VHO really. Pleased to finish what I consider to have been a toughie. Off to run hills for fun!

  15. 15:10
    About 10 mins to do everything except subaltern (dnk), feline, and LOI nutriXent.
    Had a break and saw rime. The clue is a bit hard for a quickie.

  16. Today’s QC reminded me of my old geography teacher’s mnemonic for the main Yorkshire rivers which flow into the Ouse: SUNWACD (think sunwhacked!) – Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder, Don. The northern four particularly have great walking territory. Thanks to Orpheus for the fun QC and BR for the informative blog.

    1. Me too, A Level Geography! Finally living near the river Swale, I find it a useful piece of general knowledge, when negotiating the roads and finding places.

  17. I got rather stuck on two of the downs, FELINE (where I didn’t twig that “environment for” was a containment indicator) and LOI PARSIMONIOUS (where I was trying hard to work in REV and/or MY). Otherwise fairly brisk business for 07:02, which today is 1.2K and a Very Good Day. Lovely puzzle, COD to NOTING which made me chuckle.

    Many thanks Bletchers and Orpheus.


  18. A pleasing solve in which I completed all the clues in strict order, across and down – it can be done! Still took 7 minutes, which is mostly a reflection of my typing speed.

    1. Congrats! This is a “life goal” for me, I might try with a couple of old puzzles, as in the interest of speed, if I don’t “get” how a clue works immediately, I move on to get more checkers.

      1. Indeed, it’s not necessarily the quickest way of solving, and can easily lead to pinks as you enter the downs barely reading the clues!

  19. Slightly breezeblocked on LOI MEASLY, where I thought of the word, but for some reason, couldn’t make it work for half a minute or so. Should have biffed it and pressed submit!

    As with Cedric, RIME known from the Ancient Mariner, though for me – via the Iron Maiden song, rather than Coleridge’s work…

    I liked PARSIMONIOUS.& of course No Ting!


  20. Pennies dropped slowly today. DNF x 1 . – ATRIA. Pity Halls weren’t mentioned.
    FOI PEACH but then crawled along. LOI FELINE.
    Lots of socialising with SUBALTERNs in my youth, though not as good at tennis as Joan Hunter-Dunn. Thanks for the memories.
    Blog much needed, BR.

  21. Very pleased to finish this fairly difficult puzzle. ATRIA, FELINE, SUBALTERN my last 3 in after various pennies dropped.

  22. Started off very quickly with the top half solved in double quick time, but the lower half not so speedy. Nevertheless a pretty quick time overall for me at 7.22, with my LOI FELINE requiring three readings before solving. An enjoyable offering from Orpheus.

  23. 5:23

    Pleasant romp through the brain of Orpheus – no real issues though I did initially bung in ICY at 4d – quickly corrected with the arrival of ANTIPASTO. Last two in were MEASLY and ATRIA both of which took a few extra moments to come to mind. As with HopkinB, I know RIME more from Iron Maiden’s version of Ancient Mariner more than Coleridge’s.

    Thanks Orpheus and Bletch

  24. First ten minutes fine; then I struggled on my last few with CONSCRIPT LOI after 14 minutes.
    The other struggles were NOTING, MEASLY and NUTRIMENT ( I thought the word was Nutrient).
    A good QC. COD to PEACH; also SUBALTERN good.

  25. Same issues as some others in the SW. Slow to spot FELINE because of the unusual (to me) containment indicator. SUBALTERN was only vaguely known but eventually seemed to fit. Biffed PARSIMONIOUS but then pondered the parsing. Not sure why IM = this writer’s. ‘My’ makes more sense. I’m clearly missing something. Could someone help me out? Biffed then parsed NUTRIMENT after nutrient was too short. NOTING was COD. Many thanks br and Orpheus.

    1. You are not the only one looking for a ‘my’. I even checked the spelling of parsimonious to see if there was an archaic version that gave a better fit.

  26. A good start (at last), with Conscript and Parsimonious going in without too much delay (see above), but a real struggle at the end with Measly and especially Nutriment. Measly eventually came to mind, but nutriment remained stubbornly out of reach long enough for me to concede a DNF. CoD to Oldie for the construction. Invariant

  27. I started with CONSCRIPT then tackled the rest of the across clues in order before looking at the downs. I had a few gaps, but they soon filled up on the next pass after some crossing letters appeared. I needed OFFSPRING before the penny dropped on FIB. FELINE was LOI and I was sidetracked by EL GATO until I had the crossers. 6:27. Thanks Orpheus and BR.

  28. I found this very challenging and feared the worst for a long time. Fortunately, CONSCRIPT came to mind as I was considering throwing in the towel and NOTING, IFS and THOROUGHFARE tumbled from my slow brain as a result. My LOI was LEISURED, which I can still barely accept is a real word. I had LoIteRED written in faintly and spent ages in vain trying to make it parse.

    Mrs R also struggled today, but sneaking across the line one minute ahead of me, she secured the family point yet again.

    Thanks to Orpheus and BR.

  29. This felt a bit like a suitably approachable puzzle with a few clues that fell out of the 15×15 by mistake.

    Thank you for the much-needed blog!

  30. 26 mins…

    Tricky, but enjoyable, with a number of clues that I didn’t know but could still obtain (primarily Atria and Subaltern). However, the main hold up was the final combo of 16ac “Nutriment” and 15dn “Feline”.

    Of the rest, I liked 4dn “Ifs”, 7dn “Advocaat” (snowball anyone?) and 19ac “Offspring”.

    Sure I’ve said this before, but I used to live quite near to where the River Ure miraculously became the River Ouse – just south east of Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, near to the old Linton-on-Ouse RAF base.

    FOI – 3dn “Caper”
    LOI – 15dn “Feline”
    COD – 2dn “Noting” – sometimes it’s the simple ones that make you smile.

    Thanks as usual!

  31. Whew! Back to par time today so I must be getting over whatever afflicted me yesterday. A very pleasant solve with not too many loooong ponders, but some challenges.

    Why in the world CONSCRIPT didn’t just fly in I can’t imagine. But cryptics are like that. A slow start until ANTIPASTO gave me a way in. I’m not quick with synonyms so had to wait for some crossers to get PARSIMONIOUS as I cycled hopelessly through rector, priest, vicar, and curate. It didn’t help matters that I was looking for MY instead of IM. ATRIA went in last based on “courts once” and the crossers. Then I stared for a while and finally saw TRIAL.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Bletchley!

  32. 14:30 Lots of enjoyable clues that were fun to build up-PARSIMONIOUS, ANTIPASTO, and OCTAGON especially. OLDIE and OFFSPRING were other favourites. Enjoyed blog too!

  33. Sometimes I’m surprised how little time is on the clock by the time I reach my LOI but today the opposite was true. I didn’t think I was held up anywhere in particular but I had nearly 8 mins on the clock before I solved the NHO SUBALTERN. Perhaps it was the ending of the semi parsed ANTIPASTO/I or the incorrectly biffed NUTRItion and I had to check that SUBALTERN was indeed a word before submitting. 8:20

  34. 10.11 An entertaining solve. The last two in, NOTING and IFS, required the checkers. Thanks BR and Orpheus.

  35. 10:25. I did a lot of semi-biffing / parsing today, but didn’t realise quite how much until I read the blog! That meant that I didn’t really enjoy the clues as much as I could have while I was doing them, but several were pretty good in retrospect, including everyone’s favourite – NOTING – and the one that seemed to have caused a few problems -NUTRIMENT. I just put them in and moved on – what a waste! IFS caused most trouble – even though I was looking at the initial letters, I couldn’t make sense of them 😅
    FOI Peach LOI Ifs COD Feline
    Thanks Orpheus and BR

  36. Apart from a slight wobble at ANTIPAST- A/I/O all proceeded swimmingly until hold ups at the end with NUTRIMENT and ATRIA. All done in 8:20 for a very happy solve.

  37. DNF here thanks to the NHO NUTRIMENT and the should have got ATRIA.

    Never mind, made up for by NO TING! And FELINE.

    Thanks Orpheus and BR.

  38. Another appalling performance.

    36 horrible minutes. Took ages to semi-guess NUTRIMENT (forgivable), but no excuse for failing to get FELINE immediately. Then spent 10 mins plus on ATRIA, which was a very simple clue. As an ex-lawyer, this should have been a
    write in, and it would have been if I had one ounce of ability.

    Every time I make a bit of progress, I end up back at square one. Why am I so incapable of solving these wretched puzzles in a time that I don’t find embarrassing?

    I feel exhausted, frustrated and inadequate. I expect to fail and I usually do. I would love to be positive but there’s no point when I am this bad. I will persevere, but how to derive any satisfaction from this remains a complete mystery to me.


  39. Pretty tough but all correct in 27:27. Attenborough used to like using NUTRIMENT, so I’d heard of that, even if never anywhere else until now. NHO of SUBALTERN though, so that was my LOI. Thanks all.

  40. DNF, as had bunged in a half-parsed RATING instead of NOTING, my mind being filled with the massive great big church bells I campanologised as a kid, which definitely ring and don’t ting! I may have also been distracted by the RN’s name for an ‘enlisted person’ (see below). But admittedly a good clue.

    This error meant I was never going to get the crosser CONSCRIPT, although I have to take issue with this clue’s definition. A enlisted man/person is anyone below NCO level. Whether someone chose to join or not is not relevant. And conversely, social status allowing, one could be conscripted as an officer and would not therefore be an enlisted person. So I didn’t like that clue, sorry!

    But otherwise fun -thanks both.

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