Quick Cryptic 2651 by Oink


Today, Oink uses a one of his signature pig clues after other setters muscle in on his patch. In other news, I blew my recent run of good times by making a mess of the FOI, 1a.

Definitions underlined in bold , synonyms in (parentheses) (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, other wordplay in [square brackets] and deletions in {curly} brackets.

1 The pain of a guerilla leader? (4)
ACHE – A + CHE (guerilla leader)

I had AGUE here, as in A + GUE{rilla}. An Ague is certainly painful, and this led to a total breakdown in this corner, as I didn’t consider the possibility this might be wrong.

3 MP’s niece surprisingly becoming a model (8)
9 Petty case involving Victor and me (7)
TRIVIAL -TRIAL (case) contains V{ictor} and I (me)
10 Charlie soon to become a clergyman (5)
CANON – C{harlie} + ANON (soon)
11 Head of Latin at school makes you squeal (3,2)
LET ON – L{atin} + ETON (school)

I am sure I get ETON each time I blog, just so I blow a fuse.

Not such a common phrase these days, the OED has it as to reveal, divulge, disclose, or betray a fact by word or look.

12 Smart to celebrate with Conservative on way back (6)
CLEVER – C + LEVER [REVEL (celebrate) reversersed]
14 Foreign pastor certain to drag his feet? (13)

Brilliant anagram, so smooth I didn’t see it at first. “certain” often means “sure” which is a handy set of letters. And “Foreign Pastor” contains 13 letters with a helpful “-ing” in there. Plenty of scope for misdirection here.

17 Marriage is hateful, confining female entertainer (6)
GEISHA – Hidden in “Marriage is hateful”

“Female Entertainer” covers a lot of ground. The OED has :

A Japanese performance artist who has undergone training to provide entertainment, dance, song, etc., and act as a hostess, generally to men. The word has sometimes been understood to refer to prostitutes.
19 Be rude to commanding officer in club (5)
DISCO – DIS (be rude to) + CO

DIS, is short for disrespect. Appeared in rap music in the 1990s, went mainstream a decade later, and now probably passé.

22 Conscious of fighting in A&E (5)
AWARE – WAR (fighting) in A + E

I so wanted this to be AWAKE, but could not find any reason for WAK to mean fighting. Western Australia Karate club maybe.

23 Picture silver in island repository (7)
IMAGINE – I{island} + MINE (repository) contains AG (silver)

Metaphorical use of “mine”, as in a “mine of information”.

24 Spaniel barking at government leader? Good! (8)
PLEASING – (SPANIEL)* + G{overnment}

Anagram indicator is “barking”, because this can mean “foolish or irrational”.  In fact this usage was only added to the OED in 2021.

25 Reportedly mailed some money to an American (4)
CENT – Homonym [reportedly] for SENT (mailed)

Klaxon warning, its easy to put the wrong one in here, as the S/C is unchecked. General rule, the definition is at the start or end of the clue, and “mailed” is not.

1 Run off with social worker, horny creature (8)
ANTELOPE – ANT (social worker) + ELOPE (run off)

Social worker was BEE last week, but nine times out of 10 it’ll be ANT,  because those letters are so handy.

2 Raise army to cross India (5)
HOIST – HOST (army) contains I{ndia}

Host for army is common in crosswords, even though it hasn’t been used in a military sense since ancient times.

4 Where to see a Constable? (6,7)
POLICE STATION – Is this even cryptic?

I spent quite a bit of time trying to convince myself that this was correct. I know the capital C is meant to make us think of the painter, but it’s a pretty weak effort.

5 Set aside funds for the auditor (5)
CACHE – “for the auditor” indicates a homonym for CASH (funds)

The metaphorical meaning of “auditor” is of course much more common than the almost obsolete primary meaning of “one who hears” In the OED, one who hears or listens, especially : one who is a member of an audience.

6 African leader needing staff from French city (7)
MANDELA -MAN (staff) + DE (“from” in French) and LA (Los Angeles, a city)

That DELA took a bit of chasing down. The African leader could have been MANCAEN, MANNICE or MANLYON for all I know. I even looked to see if there was a town in France called Dela.

7 Grandma an idiot? (4)
NANA – Double def.

Nana can be a silly person, it comes from “banana”. and to be “off ones nana” is Australian slang for losing one’s temper, I think. Our early posters from Oz can comment.

8 Article in German about pub meal (6)
DINNER – DER (German Definite article) contains INN (pub)

We English have one form for “The”, the Germans have six (der, die, das, des, dem, den). In crosswords you will certainly see the first three of these. Oh yes, Catalan? They have 10.

13 Control device overlooking street furthest away (8)
REMOTEST – REMOTE (Control Device) contains [overlooking] ST{reet}

What do you call it in your house? The clicker, The remote, The Channel-Changer, The zapper, The Doofer. Something else?

15 Hold forth about exercise function (7)
OPERATE – ORATE (hold forth) contains PE (exercise)
16 Popular girl, a native originally of Mumbai? (6)
INDIAN – IN (Popular) + DI (a random girl) + A + N{ative}

In Crosswords DI is a Popular girl, that’s for sure.

18 They help you see the detailed requirements (5)
SPECS – Double def

For glasses, OED has usage from 1800s (including a quote from an ancestor of mine, R.D. Blackmore). The second definition, “technical specifications”, only from the 1960s.

20 On farm one might find this small drink (5)
SWINE – S{mall} + WINE (drink)

And breathe. Oink is back.

21 His Majesty quietly eating a fish (4)
CARP – CR (His Majesty) contains [eating] A + P (quietly, in music)

And the clue could have been reworked as

His Majesty has a quiet bowel movement (4)

72 comments on “Quick Cryptic 2651 by Oink”

  1. Oink is my friend again. I completed this in about 11 minutes though I had to concentrate very hard over S/CENT and also wondered if there was a French city named DELA after I biffed MANDELA.

    I was hoping for a really cool explanation for POLICE STATION. I was ready to learn something new, because surely it’s not so straightforward?

    I think rappers are continuing to lay down diss tracks (but I’m sure it’s spelt with a double s).

    I don’t have any comment on NANA, it does sound like something my 70yo bogan father in law might say?

    Very pleased to have finished for a change!

    1. I like to give myself airs and pretend I’m not a bogan but I’ll occasionally say “He did his NANA”. And I wear moccasins – no I don’t, well not any more anyway.

    2. Re POLICE STATION. I gave OINK the benefit of the doubt on this one……after all we don’t see them on the beat (walking around the area) in the UK anymore.

  2. Not often I’m third to comment but I’m in Calgary on holiday so it’s only evening over here.
    Finished this reasonably straightforward puzzle in 28 minutes, though would have preferred NANA to have been GAGA.
    LOI was 20d SWINE helped by remembering the setter. Thanks Oink.
    And thanks Merlin for an enjoyable blog. The remote is always ‘the doofer’ in our house.

  3. Was going very well then stuck on DISCO/SWINE for 10 minutes to end up around my average time. They don’t look difficult now, but I had to do a long alphabet trawl for SWINE; even though I had worked out how the clue worked I just couldn’t come up with the right drink. It was the same for DISCO, I had D__CO but never considered DIS, and was surprised to learn it’s not spelt DISS.
    When writing out the anagrist for PROCRASTINATE I wrote PROACRSTINATE which made the solution quite simple!
    COD to ANTELOPE just a fun clue. I also was bemused by POLICE STATION.

  4. 7.20, no special problems. Don’t know that nana ref, it sounds to me like an excerpt from the extended coda of Hey Jude. I think the only cryptic part of 4dn is the capital C on constable. I was thinking that the mine in IMAGINE does not necessarily have to be metaphorical, ie a silver mine is a repository of silver until they dig it out. Maybe. Whenever I see LET ON I think of the Dylan line from Just Like A Woman: when we meet again, are introduced as friends, please don’t let on that you knew me when, I was hungry, and it was your world. But I guess that was 1966. Thanks Oink and Merlin, COD to Merlin’s effort at 21dn.

  5. Well, at around 19 minutes I thought I was going to escape the Special Table for a second day in a row only to be wrong-footed by SWINE, (for which I put SLIME – which kinda works. I’m especially annoyed because it was my LOI and I should’ve known there’d be a porcine clue in there somewhere. Doh!). Still, this was yet another very nice puzzle worthy of the QC moniker, IMHO.
    I especially liked MANDELA, (although shouldn’t it have been ‘former’ African leader?), and ANTELOPE. The NHO NANA I didn’t like much.
    Thanks to OINK and Merlin.

    1. I don’t think it’s necessary to qualify Mandela as a former leader, otherwise every historical figure would need to be clued as such, which would become tedious. They need to be dead to get into Times puzzles anyway so they couldn’t still be in office.

      1. Exception for the Monarch, CR, at 21d, of course. And I think we’ve seen ER clued as former queen now.

        1. Yes, it’s useful to remind newbies about the living monarch rule.

          I cringe every time I see ER clued as ‘former monarch’ as it’s unnecessary, and I’m pleased to note that many Times setters choose to ignore the trend.

  6. 10 minutes. I lost time parsing MANDELA as I solved although he answer had gone straight in.

    We’ve had NANA as a fool or idiot before and there’s an example of it with this meaning in the lyric to Lonnie Donegan’s My Old Man’s a Dustman:

    Oh, my old man’s a dustman
    He wears a dustman’s hat
    He wears cor-blimey trousers
    And he lives in a council flat

    He looks a proper nana
    In his great big hobnail boots
    He’s got such a job to pull them up
    That he calls ’em daisy roots.

    ‘Nana’ is a child’s version of ‘banana’, a word that as our blogger has pointed out can be associated with madness in one form or another.

  7. No major dramas but I spent time looking for a city at 6d and my last pair put up a bit of resistance until I remembered the adage about hiddens to find GEISHA. Had similar reservations to our blogger about POLICE STATION but decided not to overthink it.
    Started with SPECIMEN and finished with SPECS in 7.57 with COD to PROCRASTINATE.
    Thanks to Merlin

  8. A typical 27.13 for us. Took 30 seconds to link farm to oink and swine was then a given😀

    We liked nana which Mrs RH got straight away (she is one of the definitions ) and was a phrase my dad used about me a lot, prefixed by proper!

    COD to specs. Also thought dela might be a French city and thanks Merlin for parsing of cache, didn’t read auditor for homophone.

  9. Most enjoyable: good surfaces, tick; fast finish (8 minutes), tick; “Congrats” screen is back, tick; Oink’s signature is back, tick tick. And the sun is shining on the second day of a short holiday. Happy days.

    We call the remote the “button box”, and I see your Catalan with 10 forms of the article and raise you, as Icelandic has (at least) 14. And I am sure someone will beat that too.

    Many thanks Merlin for the blog

  10. I laboriously fumbled my way through this in 32m. Don’t know why I was so slow, seeing the other times. However, my mood lifted when I saw Merlin’s bowel movement clue suggestion. Still giggling.

    Happy Tuesday. Pi

  11. 11’50” with GEISHA and SPECS LOIs. Didn’t really like NANA until Jackkt’s post above reminded me that I DID know the idiot reference. Now I like the clue a lot.

    I get the point of the quibbles over POLICE STATION, but I was briefly distracted trying to come up with a 6 letter GALLERY, so that counts as misdirection for me.

    Thanks Oink and Merlin – although, much as I wish it did, the suggested alternative for 21D doesn’t actually work in this grid with A of AWARE as the second letter.

    1. Similar to you on POLICE-STATION .. I initially went to bif PICTURE GALLERY.

      Personally I have no issue with it being in here from the perspective it gives the newbies a foothold into the grid by providing many checkers.

  12. Just under 10 minutes. I thought I’d be the only one to go hunting for the name of a ‘French city’ at 6d but seems I was in good company. Sad to say, that capital C in ‘Constable’ at 4d fooled me and I wondered about an NHO art gallery until I had a re-think.

    Favourite was PROCRASTINATE for the reasons given by Merlin.

    Thanks to Oink and to Merlin for a rare double – blogger and COD.

      1. The Tower is where you can actually find a Constable: Constable of the Tower of London, one of those odd honorary titles that still give an excuse for some old guy to wear a fantastical uniform and hat at the Lord Mayor’s Show.

  13. This was a day when it would have been nice to be able to see the setter on your phone (🙄) since I spent a long time trawling for LOI SWINE. It would have been faster if I’d known it was an Oink!

    Lovely puzzle; great to see Merlin get ETONed again 😁; had to trawl for CLEVER too so pushed out to 08:01 for an OK Day. We call the remote Frank (Zappa – look it up, kids).

    Many thanks Merlin and Oink.


  14. 4:55. I enjoyed the joke played on the more seasoned solvers by POLICE STATION not being an art gallery and the barking spaniel. LOI CACHE, but nothing too tricky here. I wonder if our editor picks QCs with ETON in when its your blogging duty just to wind you up, Merlin? I wouldn’t put it past him! Thanks Oink and Merlin.

  15. A BreezeBlock solve with the culprits being the hidden GEISHA and then SPECS. It’s all in the detail! I did also briefly wonder what a Shock was used for on a farm. 8:08 and currently next to Plett and Templar on the leaderboard. I smiled at the use of ETON and laughed when I saw that Merlin was our blogger. Thank you.

  16. I laboured on this for some reason even though everything was perfectly gettable. I slowed to a crawl in the se corner where imagine and disco were a long time coming. My LOI was SWINE, by which time I’d forgotten who set the puzzle. Eventually the penny dropped after a long alphabet trawl, followed by a Doh! Staggered over the line eventually in 13.56.

  17. 8:43 (Kenneth MacAlpin crowned on stone of destiny, as first King of combined kingdom of Picts/Scots).

    I share the doubts about the cryptic nature of POLICE STATION.

    I knew LET ON from “Poor Jud is dead” in Oklahoma, which contains the lines
    “He loved everybody and everything in the whole world!
    Only he never let on, so nobody ever knowed it.”

    Thanks Merlin and Oink

  18. Around average time, which seems to be in tune with the difficulty according to QUITCH.

    Enjoyed LET ON, both for almost inevitable inclusion of the famous school to annoy our blogger, but also for the reminder of my own school days – we would swap places when a particular Latin teacher had his back turned writing on the board, which would drive him nuts, and he would start launching chalk and board dusters at the culprits, which would indeed make us squeal. ‘Orrible little scrotes that we were.

    LOI was SWINE, which fortunately didn’t take too long.


  19. Relatively quick until I got down to my last few, annoyingly clustered around the still missing Procrastinate. I mean, it’s only a (very) short walk from the back to the front of my brain, but procrastinate was foot dragging personified today. The upshot was standing room only by the time I reached the SCC. CoD to 5d, Cache. Invariant

  20. 08:48
    Merlin, we need reave for 22a and then we are good to go for the bowel movement.
    LOI and COD swine.

  21. 9 minutes but with SLIME for 20d. It didn’t feel right so I invested two further minutes and found Wine. So all is well. I did not get round to looking for porcine clues and don’t normally bother in case Oink is playing a trick on us.
    An enjoyable QC. COD to MANDELA -tricky parsing.

  22. 7:31

    Steady solve of a very enjoyable puzzle. LOI GEISHA took over 1” aaagh!

    Thanks Oink and blogger

  23. Steady speed and enjoyable. POLICE STATION seemed too easy, but it helped along with PROCRASTINATE. Slower in NE as I couldn’t get the anagram SPECIMEN at first. After a PDM, that corner fell into place.
    Liked LET ON, ANTELOPE, CLEVER, REMOTEST, SPECS (COD) and, of course, SWINE. Yes, I looked for a French city, but fortunately MANDELA sprang to mind. Thanks vm for blog, Merlin, as I biffed a lot as usual.

  24. Zipped through today pausing only for MANDELA, CLEVER and CARP (I have zero fish knowledge and initially biffed ‘crap’ – I like your alternative clue for this answer Merlin). Pleased to see a piggy reference again and glad to spot the hidden GEISHA straight away – a rare occurrence. NANA still much in use in our extended family and we call the remote rather menacingly ‘the controller’. Thanks all.

  25. 13:07 … an enjoyable puzzle from Oink which mostly went in quickly now that I’m becoming decent at these things. Held up towards the end by REMOTEST and the NE where NANA went in with a shrug as couldn’t see what else it might be and wasn’t going for an alphabet trawl to check alternatives.

    I thought DE=”of” in French. Foreign prepositions outside de l’articles are my gripe.

    Great blog from Merlin too 👍

  26. 8.26

    Think I spent a minute at the end puzzling over GEISHA including trying to work out what the reverse hidden was. *shakes head*

    Excellent fare as always from Oink

    Thanks Merlin

  27. I have to say, I found this puzzle to be rather dull, and it took an effort for me to find the motivation to carry on. It wasn’t that it was particularly difficult, I just found it boring.

    I thought 4d was a very poor clue with little effort put into its creation. In fact, I think it’s really pushing at the boundaries of being classed as a cryptic clue. Really didn’t care for it at all.

    There were some clues here that required assistance from the Orange one, but even he yawned when helping me.

    Sorry, Oink, but not one of your finest QCs. Far from it.


    My verdict: 😴
    Pumpa’s verdict: 💤

  28. 17 mins…

    Generally straightforward and it was nice to see the porky reference return (even if I initially thought it was Stile). 4dn “Police Station” was so obvious I was looking for a catch – mainly around art galleries – but perhaps that was the initial cryptic element with the capital “C”. Only other slight hesitation was 5dn “Cache”.

    FOI – 1ac “Ache”
    LOI – 5dn “Cache”
    COD – 20dn “Swine” – purely for the return of the pig 🐷

    Thanks as usual!

  29. I had to make several passes before the grid started to fill up. ACHE was FOI. Like others, thought POLICE STATION was a bit weak. Took a while and needed the final A to spot GEISHA. PLEASING was LOI. 7:28. Thanks Oink and Merlin.

  30. Under 10 minutes for the first time. Quite straightforward although both NANA and POLICE STATION seemed too obvious and not difficult enough. FOI ACHE, LOI OPERATE, COD MANDELA.

  31. 9:04

    Snitch of 93 would suggest a time of around 8 mins for me so I seem to have been off-wavelength. Not really sure that anything was too difficult. Minor halt with half a dozen left, freed up suddenly and finished in a rush with REMOTEST. Ho hum.

    Thanks Merlin and Oink

  32. A second successive SCC escape. I’m starting to get agoraphobic out here. 18 minutes again and a great start to the week. Beware tomorrow!

    My favourite clue was CARP, for its great surface. I could just IMAGINE our Charlie quietly scoffing his fish.

    Many thanks to Oink and Merlin.

  33. Happy days – what a terrific crossword from the pigling today. In no way can it be described as bland!
    This was quick for me – 7:57. But WOE – a silly error – even though I knew it was CENT, I scrawled an ‘S’. More haste, less speed 😥
    I didn’t even mind the obligatory mention of Slough Grammar – it fitted the clue so well. Although I did wonder briefly if squeal was a nod to pigginess! Pleased to see SWINE in there, and I chuckled at ANTELOPE (to rhyme with Penelope, as my uncle insisted) . Hard to choose a COD today, although it definitely wasn’t POLICE STATION.
    FOI Canon LOI Disco AOD Procrastination COD Pleasing – sums up the whole experience really despite the error 😅
    Many thanks to Oink for the fun and Merlin for the entertaining blog – I hope your fuse has been fixed!

  34. 9:23. I liked MANDELA, PLEASING, and IMAGINE. I first thought “at school” might lead to UP but DINNER meant that UP was not possible. I think squeal is a little strong for “LET ON”. With a shock also meaning sheaves of grain I’m glad I saw SWINE first so I didn’t get diverted. I think the two different senses of “see a Constable” make the clue cryptic enough for me.

  35. Another day another typo. Two in fact. I blame solving on a phone – not that that should stop me reading what I’ve typed. All green in spirit in a shade under 20.

  36. Was clearly on the wavelength of the setter today – all in and correct in 18:46 which is pretty swift for me.

    POLICE STATION is one of those cryptic definitions which some people are going to spot the intended meaning before the “trick” one, but no objections with such things occasionally appearing in the QC since it gives beginners a foothold.

  37. 10.46 My long departed grandfather always called his remote “the buttons” and it stuck. A gentle solve. MANDELA and REMOTEST were the last two. I was briefly distracted by French cities and faeces. Thanks Merlin and Oink.

  38. Biffed NANA, but the Dustman song cleared it up! Didn’t see GEISHA until I got SPECS – last two in. A really neat puzzle and good to see the porcine reference back!

  39. 22:07 Whew! I must be on the mend at last. Almost got myself excluded from The Club but lard a-mighty, I just never seem to learn about hiddens, so fooled around with 17A for a good long time. POLICE STATION certainly gave me pause, I guess that was the idea.

    Somehow, of all the surfaces, 21D gave me the most vivid image, so my COD. Combine with 24A and it’s a bit sad-comic.

    Thanks Oink and Merlin (condolences on the school).

  40. 21:54

    Completely fooled by auditor so CACHE was only possible once the checkers were in. Otherwise not too bad but annoyingly took too long to spot the hidden word for LOI GEISHA.

  41. Got caught by ague which held up hoist but got there in the end.
    Mind you if not held up hoists fall down

  42. Not sure why we struggled quite so much today. Enjoyed ourselves a little too much at lunch perhaps. 17:17 it was though with LOI CACHE. Kicked ourselves for taking so long to see the hidden but it, like many of of the others was a good clue. Groaned at the inclusion of DI and smiled at Merlin’s reference to it. It’s going to be difficult to keep a straight face if we ever do meet someone in real life who uses that diminutive! Thanks, Merlin, especially for the parsing we missed in 23a and thank you, Oink.

  43. 20ish mins to finish. Nearly biffed Picture Gallery for Police Station until I saw letter count was wrong. Nearly had Niny instead of Nana. Grateful for Jacks parsing of Indian as I was upset in behalf of all Diane’s about the bad spelling.

    Thx Oink

  44. In danger of a run finishing 2 on the trot. LOI was GEISHA which was guessed from the crosses and then saw the hidden. Guessed IMAGINE AND needed Merlin’s help to get the parsing. Otherwise relatively straightforward and another comfortable 45 min puzzle – thanks Oink 😁

  45. Very slow to spot SWINE even though I was looking out for an ‘oink’ answer! Enjoyed CARP. Thanks Oink and Merlin.

  46. 18 minutes

    Nowhere near good enough, because I was generally on the wavelength and could easily have had a great time. Well done to those of you who did 👏👏.

    I made a few daft errors and, as ever, failed to spot immediately some pretty straightforward answers (ACHE, CARP, NANA, DINNER).

    I really didn’t think this was hard and I am cross at my inability to get rid of these silly hold-ups. A sub-15 (possibly even a sub-12) was there for the taking today and I blew it. Yes, I know it’s an SCC escape, but that isn’t much consolation.

    The time I wasted will doubtless come back to haunt me by the end of the week.

    Did ok on Quintagram for once.

    Thanks for the informative blog.


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