Quick Cryptic 528 by Joker. And a Happy St Patrick’s Day.

A smoothly crafted puzzle with good surfaces.  With one possible exception it shouldn’t produce any hiccups and there are no real obscurities.  The exception is an anomaly in 21a which I don’t recall having seen before (that’s assuming my parsing is right), but the answer is easy enough to arrive at from the definition so it shouldn’t hold anyone up.  6.11.  I can’t grow shamrocks so the herbal userpic will have to stand in for them.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.

1.  Old PM, bluff character from Wuthering Heights (10)
HEATHCLIFF.  The old PM is Ted HEATH.  CLIFF=bluff.  Gypsy foundling, played by Laurence Olivier in the 1930s movie, who becomes the soulmate of Cathy Earnshaw.  I do occasionally re-read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, but I’ve never felt inclined to revisit Emily’s WH.
8.  Char caught missing old fat? (7)
CLEANER.  C[aught].  LEANER=missing old fat.
9. Be sparing with power to move slowly (5)
PINCH.  P[ower]. INCH=to move slowly.
10.  Average chap consumes Ecstasy (4)
MEAN.  MAN=chap containing (consumes) E=ecstasy.  The drug of choice for setters, although you do occasionally see H for “heroin” or “horse”.
11.  Second printing of book brings incitement to disorder (8)
SEDITION.  S[econd].  EDITION=printing of book.
13. Share address, but not a ring at the start (6)
RATION.  [o]RATION=address, dropping the O (not a ring) from the start.
14.  Weak charge leaked away, mostly (6)
FEEBLE.   FEE=charge.  BLE[d]=leaked away leaving off the D (mostly).
17.  Lion’s out, running for way out? (8)
SOLUTION.  Anagram (running) of LION’S OUT.  Slighty tricky because “running” isn’t a run-of-the-mill anagram indicator, and “way-out” is nicely misleading in that what is needed is not an exit per se but the way out of a difficulty.
19. Shopping centre entirely chasing millions (4) 
MALL.  ALL=entirely following (chasing) M[illions].
21.  Old, in what’s not quite a record, run off to marry (5)
ELOPE.  A long-playing record (how that does date some of us!, although I hear vinyl is coming back into style) is usually called an LP in crosswords and elsewhere.  But here, if I’m correct, the setter has been more creative and it is an EL PEE, phonetically as it were.  Has anyone seen this device before?  So we have not quite a record – ELPE [e] containing O[ld]. 
22.  Sacked elder MD who is always interfering (7)
MEDDLER.  Anagram (sacked) of ELDER MD.  Rather nice.
23. Girlfriend, perhaps, knitted the sweater (10)
SWEETHEART.  Anagram (knitted) of THE SWEATER.  I liked the note of uncertainty with the “perhaps”.

2.  Note limb on insect is graceful (7)
ELEGANT.  E=note. LEG=limb.  ANT=insect.
3.  Bleep, perhaps from time unit (4)
TONE.  T=time.  ONE=unit.
4. Bent or put right round top of vase (6)
CURVED.  CURED=put right around V[ase].
5.  I’ve a partner that’s disabled (8)
IMPAIRED.  I’M=I’ve.  PAIRED=having a partner.
6.  Truffles?  There’s great pleasure to be had with good one (5)
FUNGI.  FUN=great pleasure.  G[ood].  I=one.
7.  Opportunity to wind up university head (10)
CHANCELLOR.  CHANCE=opportunity.  ROLL=wind, reversed (up).
8.  Company urged to keep motorway contracted (10)
COMPRESSED.  CO=company.  PRESSED=urged.  Containing (keep) M=motorway.
12.  Re-rope it after damaging door curtain (8)
PORTIERE.  Anagram (damaging) of RE-ROPE IT. Not perhaps a word in daily use but clear from the wordplay.
15.  Street fighter runs into one shouting (7)
BRAWLER.  BAWLER=one shouting, containing R[uns].
16.  Design benefitting rug (6)
FORMAT.  FOR=benefitting.  MAT=rug.  Nice succinct clue.
18. Appearances in bordello ok, somehow (5)
LOOKS.  Containment clue [bordelLO OK S[omehow].  Amusingly distracting.
20.  Margin shown centrally in ledger (4)
EDGE.  And another containment clue (shown centrally).  [l]EDGE[r].  Easy but neatly done.

14 comments on “Quick Cryptic 528 by Joker. And a Happy St Patrick’s Day.”

  1. Some very nice surfaces, like 5d, 7d, 10ac. In 5d, does IM=I’ve? Or is it rather that “I’m paired” equals “I’ve a partner”? I never know what to call various clue types, but I don’t think we’ve seen many of this type in the quickies; or I’ve just not noticed. I wondered about 14ac myself, and can’t recall any similar examples–certainly not in the quickies. And I’m not sure I like it, given that I’ve never seen ‘elpee’ as a variant of ‘LP’ (cf. okay/ok). Liked 14ac; would ‘Weak charge mostly leaked away’ not have been better, though? 5:35.
    1. Yes you’re right about the “I’ve/I’m” thing Kevin and I’ll fix it when I think of something a bit better.
  2. I’ve written a lot elsewhere today so this will be quick. 11 minutes was an improvement over my two 14-minute solves this week but I still missed my 10-minute target.

    PORTIERE from wordplay only. “Elpee” was news to me too but it’s in whichever dictionary first came to hand and I didn’t check the others.

    Edited at 2016-03-17 06:22 am (UTC)

  3. Biffed 21ac but I’m sure your parsing is right Olivia. I vaguely remember having seen elpee before .. think it’s just a rarish word rather than an innovative cluing device as such
  4. This was my fastest finish for some time at 25 minutes, with just 21a un-parsed. ‘Portiere’ was a new word but it sounded right and it was in Chambers, as was ‘elpee’ (looked up after reading the blog).
  5. Thought I was going to finish in record time but was delayed by portiere and compressed- just couldn’t see it. Took me 12 mins.


  6. Bit of a struggle at this end, despite having come across the Heathcliff clue recently enough to recall it. LOI was 5d, which I had to cheat with. 21ac was also unparsed, not surprisingly. Invariant
  7. I thought Joker was being quite benevolent today – I usually find him one of the tougher setters, 35 minutes to complete is at the lower end of average for me. Like others I couldn’t make head or tail of the parsing for 21a. Particularly enjoyed 5d and 13a
  8. Thank you for the blog, Olivia. 5d works fine for me. I’m happy that ‘I have a partner’ is the direct equivalent of ‘I am paired’.

    ‘Elpee’ is scratching some long defunct memory cells from my Grauniad solving days, possibly a device of Paul or Bunthorne or one of their equally devilish co-setters.

  9. I’m very pleased that today I could, by and large, get the answers quite quickly to come in around 35 mins. Yesterday was a disaster – it took almost two hours. I’m sure it’s a question of getting on the same wavelength as the setter. I particularly liked 16d when the penny dropped – it was obvious when I saw it but it made me smile.
  10. Thanks to all for the comments. Much appreciated. Ant is quite right about the wavelength thing. When it’s not there for you, you just have to hack the answers out of the coalface. Today’s 15×15 was an example of this – very hard and it tripped up quite a few experienced solvers.

    St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekday this year so it’s been a lot quieter than it sometimes is on the UES of NYC where the parade is held. Some years ago I had a favourite short belted denim coat in a subtle shade and as I was about to walk out the door for work on March 17th my husband said – Are you absolutely crazy going out like that? It was orange…

  11. Agree Joker benevolent today. Probably an hour again but split over a couple of goes as the day permitted. 21a seemed to be EP and LP and then it clicked as elope, as I’m innocent of ELPEE. Thx for the helpful blog. I do like solving clues like 2d – they are so economical.
  12. I made a fast start with the familiar Heathcliff and was not slowed down much to finish in about 20 minutes. Getting 1a quickly seems to inspire confidence.
    It wasn’t all easy and there were some nice clues. I had to guess at Portiere and could only see Elope as the answer for 21a but couldn’t parse it -so thank you Olivia. LOI was 5d. David
  13. A few clues short today, didn’t see the clever IMPAIRED, and forget that ‘runs’ indicates R in 15d. Thanks for the solution, Olivia. I was happy wth PORTIERE and liked the surface read of 1a. And E for ecstasy shows that our setter today is up to date.

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