Quick Cryptic No 2598 by Trelawney


Lots to like here from Trelawney. I found it a mixed bag: most of it went in quickly, with only three outstanding, but then those three took me as long as the rest combined. I finally finished in 17:20, outside my target by a bit, but I enjoyed it anyway. Now I look at it again, I can’t really explain what took so long. I suspect there will be some fast times posted today.

Definitions underlined, synonyms in round brackets, wordplay in square brackets and deletions in strikethrough.

1 Unconscious king once known as fool (4-4)
KNEE-JERK – K (king) + NEE (once known as) + JERK (fool).

This was my last one in. I was looking at K-E-J-R- for ages before something whispered “could be ‘JERK'” into my inner ear. Ah well.

5 Grand, in the manner of festival (4)
GALA – G for Grand, A LA (in the manner of).

I tried and discarded both MALA and KALA. Thought I’d have to brush up on my Festivals Of All Religions knowledge, until the idea of just using G for grand dawned on me.

Put yourself in the novels of Raymond Chandler with people who spit out of the side of their mouths: “He owed me a hundred Gs, he had it comin’.” You’re welcome.

8 Assemble a church service (5)
AMASS – A + MASS (church service).
9 Touch European pond creature (7)
TADPOLE – TAD (touch, as in “little bit”) + POLE (European).
11 Game with tiny, subtle signals (11)
TIDDLYWINKS – TIDDLY (tiny) + WINKS (subtle signals).

What a good surface. This one got a smiley face on my paper.

13 Confront a head of compliance with price (6)
ACCOST – A + Compliance [head of compliance] + COST (price).
14 His pre-match ritual? (4,2)
STAG DO – A cryptic definition, the match in question being a wedding, of course.
17 A sailor, a philosopher, and a dog (4,7)
JACK RUSSELL – JACK (sailor) + (Bertrand) RUSSELL, a philosopher.
20 Monkey and donkey close to bridge creating gridlock (7)
IMPASSE – IMP (monkey) + ASS (donkey) + bridgE [close to bridge].
21 Make it to car he wrecked (5)
REACH – Anagram [wrecked] of CAR HE
22 Draw river? Piece of cake! (4)
TIER – TIE (draw, as in sport) + R for river.

Wedding cakes and the like have multiple tiers.

23 Forceful chimp ate bananas (8)
EMPHATIC – Anagram [bananas] of CHIMP ATE.
1 Asian ruler smuggled in by deck hand (4)
KHAN – Hidden in [smuggled in by] “decK HANd“.
2 Stretchy lace, it’s weird (7)
ELASTIC – Anagram [weird] of LACE ITS.
3 Dismissive description of eg Libya’s fair punishment? (4,7)
JUST DESERTS – “Libya? It’s just desert.” + the S from “‘s”.

I think adding the ‘S’ like this is fair enough. It’s no different than the ‘A’ in 8a or 13a.

4 Unnerve queen and prime minister briefly (6)
RATTLE – R for queen (as in ER) + ATTLEe (prime minister briefly).

Clement Attlee, a frequent visitor to these parts.

6 Nut on car shattered (5)
ACORN – Anagram [shattered] of ON CAR.
7 Strong dislike of Verona is crazy (8)
AVERSION – Anagram [crazy] of VERONA IS.

The surface is also true. I spent Christmas in Verona a couple of years ago and enjoyed it immensely.

10 Unpretentious TV abbey mostly covers dirt (4-2-5)
DOWN-TO-EARTH – DOWNTOn Abbey (TV abbey mostly) + EARTH (dirt).
12 Musician to prohibit supporter? (8)
BANJOIST – BAN (prohibit) + JOIST (supporter).

I’m not sure I’ve ever come across this word before, but it makes complete sense.

15 Lass with large insect is brave (7)
GALLANT – GAL (lass) + L (large) + ANT (insect).
16 She finally joins up to get respect (6)
ESTEEMshE [she finally] + MEETS (joins), reversed [up, since this is a down clue].
18 Police beginning to explore thicket (5)
COPSE – COPS (police) + Explore [beginning to explore].
19 Young bird without tail is fashionable (4)
CHIC – CHICk (young bird) [without tail].

99 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2598 by Trelawney”

  1. 13:55. JACK RUSSELL, JUST DESERTS, and KNEE-JERK were great fun. STAG DO, TIDDLYWINKS, and BANJOIST weren’t far behind!

      1. I’m hearing footsteps- time to get serious, tighten the belt, and start reading the dictionary an hour or two a day!

  2. Like the Doof, I was looking at a fast time until I hit the Bermuda Triangle of KNEE JERK, JUST DESERTS and RATTLE which pretty much doubled my time to 10.27. Some good clues here from Trelawney, I liked the dog and the game and the muso. Given the plight of poor Imran, perhaps the KHAN clue should have read ‘jailed by deck hand.’

  3. RATTLE did it for me, I was on for a pretty quick time but spent 5+ minutes, eventually getting it after an alphabet trawl, after which I did recall seeing ATTLEE in a QC recently I think?!
    I thought there were plenty of relatively simple clues here, but also enough tricky ones. Some nice surfaces too, although I’m glad I had checkers for STAG DO, JUST DESERTS, JACK RUSSEL, etc.

  4. I too spent as much time on the last two or three as the rest. I didn’t have KHAN and I never wrote it in but was tempted by TSAR (S for smuggled in TAR for deckhand). But S for smuggled seemed pretty dubious and although Russia extends into Asia (I think) St Petersburg is firmly in Europe; Finally I got KNEE-JERK and realized KHAN was hidden. Doh! RATTLE is one of those answers fairly easy for a Brit (Atlee was the prime-minister after the war when all the nationalization and the creation of the National Health Service was going on)…but probably hard for anyone else such as when obscure early US presidents show up in a clue.

    1. Attlee no problem for me, anyway, or Vinyl or Guy; he shows up often enough, and he should be part of one’s GK. I think you should recognize, say, Truman, his oppo. (Polk or Pierce is something else.)

      1. Sure, but I don’t count Truman as an “early” president. Of course I’ve heard of him due to the atomic bomb if for no other reason.

  5. I am so tired I could barely do any of this. I revealed most of it and sometimes still didn’t get it like.. Banjoist.. Ban jo-ist. What is a jo-ist, is that like classist, racist etc? No Tina, it’s a freaking Joist, one syllable, ya nong

    Also Today I Learned that the phrase is Just Deserts and not Just Desserts. It’s pronounced like Desserts right? I thought it meant you receive the sweets at the end that you deserve.
    Why is it pronounced like desserts if it’s deserts – is it a verb? I’m so confused, I’m also very out of it today so I might face palm when I re read tomorrow.

    I’m trying to remember Atlee, I promise I am. But it didn’t happen today.

    1. Deserts are what you deserve; the empire declined/the decline of the empire; the remains of the day, yada yada. The stress pattern is usually like object/object, I grant you; maybe Vinyl can explain.
      If you were from San Francisco you’d know Just Desserts:

    2. I really enjoyed this, but needed the blog for JUST DESERTS as I too thought it would be spelt DESSERTS 🍨🍰🥧 for the same reason. But it’s there in the dictionary so just one of those things.

      There must be other examples. I remember a while ago ‘for all intent and purposes’ being heard as ‘for all intense purposes’. Sneak peek / sneak peak. Don’t even go near ‘specifically’ becoming ‘pacifically’ 🤐

      Hope you get some sleep Tina – tomorrow is another day!

      1. The fashionable nonsense on even respected current affairs programs is confusing “incident” and “incidence”, leading to the outrageous “incidences”.
        I love it . . .


        1. There’s a whole subreddit for this stuff called r/boneappletea where the original thought that one said Bone Apple Tea before tucking into a meal 🙂

  6. 13 minutes for this because I insist on parsing as I solve. KNEE-JERK was an odd one because I thought of it as an answer that fitted the K and J checkers and spaces available but I took a while to see how it was defined or the wordplay.

  7. Some great surfaces and a steady solve to 22,14 for us. Delayed by same problem as Tina wondering who/what a Jo-ist is. Today’s ear shattering PDM

    Btw I think Libya could have more than one desert so just desserts is fine ??

    COD tiddlywinks.
    MER for unconscious = knee jerk which like others needed all the crossers and a lot of alphabet trawling. We do get it but think it needs something to say unconscious action?

    Thanks Trelawney and Doofs

    1. I tend to agree about KNEE JERK. I’m sure somebody will come up with an adjectival application that makes sense but for me it doesn’t quite work. We talk about a knee-jerk reaction, but wouldn’t say an unconscious reaction. Is a knee-jerk decision also an unconscious one? Nope, I reckon…

      1. A knee-jerk reaction is a reflex reaction, made without conscious thought beforehand. It comes from one of the tests made by doctors to check reflexes – tapping a crossed leg with small hammer just below the kneecap and resulting in a kicking motion if the reflexes are in order.

  8. Hoorah! My first success of the week, and in around 17 minutes this will result in a brief respite from the SCC.
    JUST DESERTS slowed me down, not that I couldn’t parse it but because it felt like it should have been JUST DESSERTS – as Tina contested. (Even my spell checker keeps correcting it back to 2 ‘S’s!) I can see it now that I’ve read the blog but still don’t like it. KNEE JERK also took an inordinately long time to see.
    TADPOLE made me chuckle and I very much liked TIDDLYWINKS and BANJOIST too.
    I’ve just noticed, not without a frisson of alarm, that it’s Valentine’s Day today and am hoping that the still recumbent Mrs ITTT might have forgotten too. There’s a delicate balance to be struck at our stage in a relationship between being a little over-fresh but still making them feel a bit special. Sadly it’s something I’ve yet to master even after 40 years together. Wish me luck!

    1. I made an error with Valentine’s Day this year. I presented Mrs R with her card a day early. That alarmed her temporarily as she thought she had failed by forgetting to give me mine.

      1. I’ve given MrB a card that I bought in your local card shop last year! It was worth the wait – he really liked it.
        37 years to the day since we met 😊

  9. Reading Doof’s blog, I realize that I did a lot of biffing (I was in a hurry to get to the gym, and didn’t spend much time thinking): KNEE-JERK, TIDDLYWINKS, JACK RUSSELL,EMPHATIC., RATTLE. Like Vinyl, U didn’t know STAG DO, but DO=party, so in it went. BANJOIST definitely a winner. 4:47.

    1. For some reason the terminology seems to be ‘stag do’ for men, whilst the female equivalent is ‘hen party’.

    2. That’s interesting. I didn’t know a STAG DO wasn’t a thing in the US. What is an equivalent pre-wedding party called in your part of the world?

      1. In Oz they say stag night and hen night, and both can be either civilised or utterly disgusting

        1. Admittedly I don’t attend as many as I used to, but surely “buck’s party” is still way more prevalent than “stag night”?

          1. Oh for sure, though usually it’s a buck’s night. From here on I might make it ‘buck’s do’, even though I’m several decades beyond the relevant cohort…

  10. My parents had a cat called Clement, named for Attlee, followed by Ramsay (dog), Hugh (dog), Kier (cat), Harold (cat), Lloyd (cat) and Aneurin (d0g). My Mum wouldn’t allow Barbara so we had Florence (Nightingale, cat) and now Edith (Cavell, dog). There was also Indie (dog) but she came with a name. So RATTLE went in OK so did JACK RUSSELL as my dog Bertie is named after Bertrand Russell – he came to us after the sad demise of Maynard the cat. Enough nostalgia! Enjoyed this – a late tussle with KNEE JERK and JUST DESERTS took me over 10m on an all green day. Enjoyed BANJOIST and GALA for the PDMs.

        1. Well, not that hilarious but if you have a dog with an odd name you might sound strange yelling for it to come back. I knew a child called Romeo and nearly lost him in a shopping centre…..People stared at me when I called out to him.
          Moral: beware quirky names for dogs and kids.

          1. Before we settled on Bertie my youngest daughter wanted to call him Fatman. That was vetoed for exactly that reason- plus he was already Bertie, this isn’t a democracy.

  11. Pride comes before a fall.
    I saw Trelawney’s name at the top of the puzzle and prepared for a speedy solve as I generally find him the gentlest of setters but I found this quite chewy. Similar problems to others by the sounds of it with KNEE JERK, JUST DESERTS, JACKRUSSELL and LOI and COD BANJOIST putting up the most resistance.
    Finished in 9.07
    Thanks to Doofers for the blog and Trelawney for the entertainment/work out.

  12. I was on for a spectacular (for me) time until I got massively held up by KNEE-JERK and TIER. I just squeaked in at 19.27 today for a rare SCC or DNF escape. Happy with that, though.

    Happy Wednesday all. ❤️

  13. I shot myself in the foot with 11a. Having the T, N and S, I smugly biffed ‘tabletennis’ without bothering to parse. This caused no end of problems

  14. 11:44 (Geoffrey Plantagenet conquers Normandy)

    Very slow to get started, with the down clues proving easier than the across clues. Wasted time trying to fit Truss into 4d.
    Bertrand Russell is not mentioned by Monty Python, which delayed 17a.

    Thanks Doofers and Trelawney

    1. Monty Python had never let me down on philosophers, until today. Who knew there were others…. 😳. I shall have to create a new verse! Otherwise, just into the SCC.

  15. Ah i had all but the NW done in 4 mins and was sure I was on for a new PB, in the end I managed 11 mins which is quick for me but no PB. I think if id noticed I hadnt even read 2D quicker I might have managed a much faster time as that was the key for me

  16. Another victim of all the J clues here.

    Good struggle. Wouldn’t have picked it as a Trelawney (you can’t see the setter on your phone); AMASS made me think it might be Izetti.

    Got there in 10:14 for 2.2K and a Bad Day; I’m having a slow week.

    Many thanks Doofers and the Squire.


      1. 2.2 times Kevin’s time. For some time, a few of of us have been measuring ourselves against Kevin G as he is one of the early posters, a custom started by Templar. This plus lots more info about the blog is in the glossary which you’ll find under Useful Links. Well worth reading!

        1. Thank you. We have looked at the glossary but it’s been a while and forgot about that!

  17. Not a breeze, but finished and much enjoyed this witty QC. Lots of clever clues like KNEE-JERK, GALA, BANJOIST, JACK RUSSELL, RATTLE.
    TIDDLYWINKS, COPSE and DOWN TO EARTH were early solves. STAG DO helped by the crossers.
    LOI TIER. Had to think about the spelling of DESERTS!
    Thanks vm, Doofers.

  18. I was also wrong footed by a trickier than usual Trelawney.

    Lots to like though – KHAN, BANJOIST, KNEE JERK.

    LOI was TIER.


  19. 5:21. I didn’t find this as easy as some, with the J answers being a bit slow to come. LOI STAG DO needed the checkers. I liked ELASTIC best, but also JUST DESERTS. Thanks Trelawney and Doofers.

  20. 13:45
    Definitely benefitted from taking a break with the NW corner holding out. Returned a few hours later (I’m on US time at the moment). AMASS went in and the others rapidly fell. LOI JUST DESERTS

    COD BANJOIST, also was thinking if a Jo-ist was something like a Taoist or Jainist.

  21. Solved steadily, but held up by KNEE JERK like several others. Some witty clues. COD BANJOIST.

  22. 17.11. Last five in: Banjoist (the j then providing) Jack Russell (helping with deserts for) Just Deserts (making more obvious) Knee-jerk and LOI Khan (which in retrospect I should have spotted at the outset.

    Whenever I hear or see, rarely, the word joist I am reminded of the anecdote of an Irishman applying for a job on a building site. The gruff English site manager asks, by way of a tough interview question “What’s the difference between a girder and a joist?” where upon the Irishman replies (spoken in an Irish brogue): “Ah, that’s easy. Girde’ wrote Faust and Jois’ wrote Ulysses!” (Presumably he very soon became site manager himself.)

  23. 9:06. Same comments as made by others. STAG DO was my favourite with our canine friend at 17a not far behind.

    I found a website which lists George Formby as one of the 15 greatest ever BANJOIST(s), along with Steve Martin – yes, that one – and Pete Seeger amongst others.

    Thanks to Doofers and Trelawney

  24. 11 min…

    Surprisingly quicker than I thought, but I was lucky in getting 1ac “Knee Jerk” and 3dn “Just Desserts” almost straight away. Had an odd brain moment where I didn’t recognise “imp” as a monkey – kept thinking of ‘Chimp” and wondering where the clue removed the first two letters.

    Anyway, one to help my average time, which has been tracking ominously over the 20 min mark since the start of the year.

    FOI – 2dn “Elastic”
    LOI – 14ac “Stag Do”
    COD – 11ac “Tiddlywinks” – definitely brought a smile to my face this one.

    Thanks as usual!

  25. I always get on well with Trelawney – I think he is a good example of being on the same wavelength – which I take to be breaking down words in the same way and coming up with synonyms in the same order.

    So I was rather surprised by my slow start and not having that much on my first pass. Yet as I put in my last-but-one of GALA which was right beside the timer, I could see I was at 10mins. Frustratingly it was then another 33+% of my time to get TIER which took me out to 15:32.

    ACORN once again proving my complete inability to unravel 5-letter anagrams – this time until I had the –O-N checkers in place. Wasn’t overly keen on the clue for JUST-DESERTS.

    But all good and pleased to complete within my sub-20 time – currently just keeping my head above water at 20/39 for the year.

  26. Didn’t have too much trouble with this one, most answers coming fairly quickly. I managed to parse each one as I went without biffing anything with the exception of my LOI JUST DESERTS which I needed to read a few times before I got Trelawney’s drift. A good day for me finishing in 6.15. COD for me goes to 12dn BANJOIST.

  27. All done and parsed in 18 and pleased with that. Many smilies on mine, KNEE-JERK, STAG DO, IMPASSE all fabulous clues.

    Like others I have always thought the phrase was ‘just desserts’ but that was a knee jerk assumption based on the typical pronunciation. In parsing I assumed that the plural on ‘deserts’ is because of the ‘eg’ Libya meaning there are many desert areas like it.

    Thanks Doofers for blog.

  28. A stiffer Trelawney than some, I thought, and took me just over 11 minutes. Much of that was on my L2I, Knee-jerk and Khan: not a good sign when 1A and 1D hold out for so long.

    I briefly wondered why a king (presumed male) should be née not né before I managed to suppress my inner pedant and tell it to separate “king” and “once known”.

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

  29. 18 minutes here. I got very few acrosses on my first run through and thought it might be a DNF but the downs went in more easily. Esteem was my LOI bizarrely – I just couldn’t see it for a few minutes.

    Tina, I also learned that it’s not just desserts today. My spellcheck is trying to correct it to deserts. I’m off to find the etymology of it now.

    I loved Banjoist. It’s a word I may never have used but the wordplay was lovely.

  30. A slow crawl over the line today. KNEE-JERK was POI and still it took an age for the penny to drop with LOI KHAN. I seem to have totally forgotten my mantra – if it doesn’t make any sense it might be a hidden… That aside, lots to like including IMPASSE and BANJOIST. Also interesting to learn that desert in JUST Desserts is a noun meaning something deserved (thanks Kevin) and nothing to do with a pudding. Many thanks for the blog D and thanks to Trelawney.

    On edit: autocorrect keeps correcting deserts to desserts!

  31. Regarding Bletchley Reject’s comment regarding a website saying George Formby was a banjoist- I was under the impression that he was a leading exponent of the ukulele .

    1. I am definitely not an expert on George Formby but the (I think US-based) website I’ve linked says he was a “…banjolele player, ukulele player, songwriter, and banjo player”. His Wikipedia page says he was “… usually playing the ukulele or banjolele” so you may be right that he was better known for playing the ukulele.

      1. Agree completely – note the refrain to one of his songs ‘with my little ukulele in my hand’….

  32. Perhaps it helped that KNEE JERK was my second one in after KHAN as I did find this QC very straight forward. I misparsed ACCOST thinking the AC referred to an accountant (correctly abbreviated it would be CA or ACA so my logic was well and truly flawed). I rather liked the imagery in the clue for IMPASSE so that gets my COD. My LOI was BANJOIST in a swift 6:25 (nearly 4 times slower than Verlaine).

  33. Since I failed utterly to see KNEE-JERK or JUST DESERTS until the end, I thought my time might be way off, but my 9.28 is pretty normal.
    A pointer for -um- setters. A JACK RUSSELL is a fine, eccentric wicket keeper or a scraggy bundle of hairs with teeth, of which the entire lupine heritage is deeply ashamed.

  34. Whizzed through this quickly enough, but was delayed a touch at the end by SLOI KNEE-JERK. BANJOIST is a chestnut to 15 x 15 solvers, but a nice clue at QC level where I doubt it’s been seen before.

    TIME 4:16

  35. 7.06

    As others liked BANJOIST, wondering how a jo-ist could be a support. D’oh!

    KNEE JERK was slow to arrive and LOI

    Thanks all

  36. 10.38 Mostly very quick but RATTLE, KNEE JERK and KHAN took several minutes at the end. A hidden is frequently my LOI and I’m not getting any better at spotting them. An enjoyable puzzle though. Thanks Doofers and Trelawney.

  37. A tip of the hat to anyone who started with 1ac, Knee Jerk – a good example of a clue that looks like utter nonsense until the inevitable pdm. I had to settle for Gala as foi, and a steady clockwise solve thereafter. A comfortable sub-20 then became a toss of the coin thanks to the Banjoist/Tier (!) combination, but that was probably payback for spotting Tiddlywinks very early on. CoD to 14ac, Stag Do, for the smile. Invariant

  38. Enjoyed this, lots of clues to like. POI and COD KNEE-JERK. LOI KHAN for which we missed the hidden until just after entering. 10:53.

  39. I enjoyed this one and didn’t find it too difficult.

    Like many others I always thought it was Just Desserts, which held me up for a little while.

    I usually do these by printing them out, but today I used the online version. On completion I had a red square, yet everything appeared to be okay. Perhaps the last letter you type in always shows as a red.

    Time for completion: 35.23

    Ask Pumpa: Nil

    My verdict: Gentle
    Pumpa’s Verdict: None. He’s out looking for girl cats.

  40. 6:50

    Liked KNEE-JERK and BANJOIST. Nothing to scare the horses particularly though I’m another that would have spelt DESERTS with an extra S, but see that it means ‘what one deserves’ which has only one S at the point of contention.

    Thanks Doofers and Trelawney

  41. Absolutely miles off the pace today. I do find it strange that some puzzles just click whilst others are like wading through treacle. Hopefully better luck tomorrow

  42. I found this hard going at first having to keep looking at the grid. Once I got a couple the others followed so I did complete in one sitting.

    A very enjoyable solve as so many PDMs – STAG-DO, ACORN, BANJOIST (kept trying to think of BAND – – – – ) ESTEEM and COPSE oh so that’s it!

    FOI 2D
    LOI KNEE JERK/RATTLE somehow I wanted KING JOHN there – Why???

    Thanks Doofers and Trelawny.

  43. isn’t this a strange game? I saw the setter’s name and hoped (even expected) a fast time as, on the whole, I find Trelawney fairly kind. After 5-6 minutes, however, I had spent time on all of the across clues and managed to solve only two of them – ACCOST and REACH. Most of the others seemed like gobbledegook.

    Switching to the Down clues seemed then to trigger an avalanche and, most surprisingly, I reached my last clue with just 16 minutes on the clock. LOI-itis kicked in, of course, and KNEE-JERK took me a further three minutes before I could cross the line. Total time = 19 minutes, so a rare SCC escape and a spring in my step for the rest of the afternoon.

    Many thanks to Trelawney and Doofers.

  44. Took ages to see the hidden in 1d to get KHAN which then unlocked KNEE JERK. taking me over the hours. Nevertheless finished what was a very enjoy puzzle.

  45. Started slowly, accelerated through the middle and then slowed right down again. However I finished in what I consider a satisfactory 15 minutes. Couldn’t parse BANJOIST for the same reason as others and only parsed RATTLE after completion.

    FOI – 9ac TADPOLE
    LOI – 4dn RATTLE

    Thanks to Trelawney and Doofers

  46. My first timed online finish and therefore a PB of 16.06.

    Anagrams leapt off the screen. Needed Doof to parse Rattle for me

    LOI Esteem.

  47. 18:51

    Was going fine but then got stuck at both the top and bottom. Only got KNEE JERK and KHAN after realising Attlee was the PM to give RATTLE. Then another couple of minutes on LOI TIER. Obvious with hindsight.

  48. A lot of children are learning the banjo rather than the recorder these days. Not sure which sound will be worse.
    Medium difficulty but all done

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