Quick Cryptic No 2622 by Joker


A very enjoyable puzzle, with a good mixture of clue types and difficulties. I started off at a gallop, getting 3 of the first 4 acrosses in seconds, but then I slowed down. A lot. I ended up finishing in 23:31, with SERPENT and MIRE being the last two in, and probably accounting for a good 5 minutes of that time.

The stand-out clues for me today were FLASHLIGHT, SHELLFISH, MIRE (eventually!) and PROFOUND.

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

1 Name of monarchs, primarily John, Anne, Mary, Elizabeth and Stephen (5)
JAMES – First letters [primarily] of John, Anne, Mary, Elizabeth, and Stephen.

A gimme to get started.

4 Delighted to do work cleaning Mediterranean (7)
CHARMEDCHAR (to do work cleaning) + MED (standard abbreviation).
8 Dragon exhausted eating queen quite recently (7)
SERPENTSPENT (exhausted) containing [eating] ER (queen quite recently).

This was one of my last 2 in: I had the second E as a crosser, so I was trying to find words that matched S___ERT.

9 Trainee acted strangely (5)
CADET – Anagram [strangely] of ACTED.
10 Isolated state of country after a deception (10)
ALIENATIONNATION (country) after A LIE (a deception).
14 Stay with mother in control (6)
REMAINMA (mother) in REIN (control).
15 Holiday worker lacking occupation (6)
VACANTVAC (abbreviation for vacation: holiday) + ANT (worker).

“Lacking occupation” as in “not occupied”.

17 What can relieve the gloom of strike during journey by air (10)
FLASHLIGHTLASH (strike) inside [during] FLIGHT (journey by air).

What a great clue. The surface reading is so smooth.

20 Typical guest unable to be regularly ignored (5)
USUAL – Every other letter [to be regularly ignored] of gUeSt UnAbLe.
22 Baseball player in jug (7)
PITCHER – Double definition.

Making sense of the surface reading depends on knowing that “jug” can mean “jail”.

23 Suspect male reader is one into fantasy (7)
DREAMER – Anagram [suspect] of M for male and READER.
24 Child’s first with yen for American sweets (5)
CANDY – First letter of Child [Child’s first] + AND (with) + Y (abbreviation for yen, the currency).
1 Only fair (4)
JUST – A double definition.
2 Notes area of boggy ground (4)
MIREMI + RE (two notes in the do-re-mi naming of notes).

And now I’ve got Julie Andrews stuck in my head. This was my last one in: I was trying to get A for Area at the end, but when the R from SERPENT came, the penny dropped.

3 Food Molly Malone sells she will char? (9)
SHELLFISHSHE’LL (she will) + FISH (char, a type of fish).

From the song “Molly Malone”: “She wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow, crying ‘cockles and mussels, alive-alive-o'”. Cockles and mussels being shellfish.

4 Strange cult with alien food (6)
CUTLET – Anagram [strange] of CULT + ET (alien, from the film).

Oh dear. It took me an embarrassingly large number of attempts to assemble the fairly obvious parts into a word that actually meant some type of food. “cluttet, culett…”

5 Source of light in the middle of equinox month (3)
ARC – the middle letters of MARCh, a month that contains an equinox.

A two-step solve, first getting the month and then taking the middle letters. We don’t often see clues like this in the Quickie, but the crossers were very friendly.

6 Mostly Spanish city girl’s song (8)
MADRIGALMADRId (Spanish city) [mostly] + GAL (girl).
7 Go off assignation outside school (8)
DETONATEDATE (assignation) outside ETON (school).
11 A hepcat? It is awful cool (9)
APATHETIC – Anagram [awful] of A HEPCAT IT.

That’s “cool” in the sense of “not interested”, not in the “stylish” sense.

12 Demanding deep study on behalf of institute (8)
PROFOUNDPRO (on behalf of) + FOUND (institute, as a verb meaning to start).
13 Naive admission of older age (8)
16 What’s cured  sleeper (6)
KIPPER – Another double definition.

A bit of a chestnut, but I still needed all the crossers.

18 Fine item’s not quite finished (4)
THINTHINg (item) [not quite finished].
19 Soldiers being very foolish (not British) (4)
ARMYbARMY (very foolish) [minus B for ‘not British’].
21 Los Angeles motorway hit hard (3)
LAMLA (Los Angeles) + M (motorway, as in M1).

84 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2622 by Joker”

  1. Finished this close to my average time and quite enjoyed it overall.
    NHO Molly Malone, so I left until I had checkers and biffed SHELLFISH, I saw SHE’LL but forgot about CHAR = FISH.
    I originally put MESA for 2d since it’s a geographical word and two notes were ME’S! I have now learnt that it’s MI not ME….

  2. Hmmm. I wrote and thought I posted a comment after David, some time ago, but it is clearly not there. Without going over it all again I’ll say enjoyable puzzle, some tricky bits, 8.03, thanks to the Joker and the Doof.

  3. 11 minutes. I lost time by not thinking clearly about 3dn. I considered SEASHELLS, then when I remembered who Molly Malone was I thought of ‘cockles and mussels’ neither of which fitted the enumeration. Only then did I arrive at SHELLFISH. Must have wasted 3 minutes on that one alone.

    According to the published answer I had an error at 2dn where I put MERE, but I claim it as a valid alternative as the third note of the musical scale can be spelt ME, and SOED has MERE as ‘marsh or fen’. Collins has ‘marsh’ too. Okay it’s qualified as ‘archaic or dialect’ but if it’s a meaning you happen to know and think of first does that make it any less valid?

    1. I also had MERE for the reasons you state – though with a MER as I entered it, as I would regard a mere as a lake rather than boggy ground. I should have listened to my MER, if that’s possible.

      A nice quickie – thank you Joker and Doof

  4. I’m never on the wavelength, or would be if there was such a thing, but at least made no errors. MADRIGAL took me too much time, as I somehow didn’t think of Madrid (‘Name a Spanish city.’ ‘Um, Vigo? Cadiz?’), and was thinking of specific girl’s names. But I got there in the end, and the end it was. 6:37.

  5. As still relative newcomers we don’t yet know many of the chestnuts. For us a laugh out loud moment when thinking of things that could be cured and coming up with kipper, brilliant! Our COD.

    A nice steady solve to little over target of 28.21.
    Thank you Mr D for the blog, we biffed and couldn’t parse dreamer, immature or profound. As you say, a nice mix of clues. Spent too long with pencil and paper trying to unravel apathetic only to discover I had written is instead of it, d’oh.

    Thanks Joker

  6. 5:19 but…

    …blasted through this but somehow managed to type IMMMATUE for 13d which gave me 4 pink squares and screwed two other clues as well. Nothing more to say but Grrr.

    Thanks Joker and Doofenschmirtz

  7. 15:08
    Off to a good start when my own name appeared as 1a, although not a great clue.

    “Institute” as a verb caught me out in PROFOUND,

    2d ended up being last in, also tempted by MESA. I never know how to spell these, and I’m a singer as well and have never heard any choir master or choir member refer to them. And how do they work with accidentals? Mi-sharp?


    1. Dealing with accidentals in tonic sol-fa is far more complicated than learning to read music. I count myself lucky I’d had piano lessons from the age of 7 so when I got to a school where my classmates were being taught tonic sol-fa I simply ignored the whole thing and read the notes.

      1. Yes, agreed on complexity of accidentals. Our choir director recently taught us the hand signals that go with it too, makes my brain hurt to sing and signal at the same time!

  8. Parsed the notes but spelled ‘mi’ and ‘me’, wondered if a lake was really boggy ground and I was doomed from there. NHO Molly Malone but once I’d let go of ‘floodlight’ for FLASHLIGHT it seemed inevitable. Just under 20 but with a pink square.

  9. Pretty close to my average solving time, so a well pitched puzzle to my mind.
    I couldn’t remember who Molly Malone was so needed all the checkers and once I got the answer I figured out what the song must be. Struggled with LOI MIRE where I wasn’t sure if the musical note was spelt ‘me’ or ‘mi’ and in the end plumped for the correct answer on the basis that I only know of meres being lakes.
    Finished in 8.20 with COD to FLASHLIGHT
    Thanks to Doofers

  10. In the 80s Irish rugby fans had their own version of Molly Malone, in which she was singing “Ireland, Ireland!”. Like Jack it took me a while to see how that one parsed – CHAR is working hard in this puzzle!

    I was surprised to come here and discover that this was a Joker, because it felt reasonably straightforward. I enjoyed the MADRI(d)-GAL in particular, so she gets COD from me.

    All done in 06:48 for K+ and a Very Good Day. Many thanks Joker and El Doofo.


  11. 5:39. Just over average time for me for a fine puzzle. “Only fair” was a great two word double definition. I flirted with CONFOUND for 12D until REMAIN showed me the error of my over-hasty ways. LOI THIN. Thanks Joker and Doofers.

  12. Like our blogger I started very fast but found the latter clues more challenging. Home eventually in just over 11 minutes, but without parsing my LOI Profound – did not think of institute as a verb. Otherwise no major hold-ups though I’m rather glad I thought of mi for the note in 2D as had I thought of me first I’d have followed Jack with every confidence that mere was a good answer.

    The jug=jail reference completely passed me by in the clue for Pitcher – I was just very pleased as someone not from the US to get a baseball-related clue. Does not happen often!

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

  13. I found this tricky but doable, coming home in 24.49, so you’ll find me reclining by the fire in the SCC today, where I usually am, if I’ve not been summarily ejected due to a DNF.

    SHELLFISH and CUTLET held me up most. CANDY always makes me think of the terrifying film Candyman. Even now, when I look in the mirror, my shoulder devil often makes me say “Candyman” out loud two times before the shoulder angel screams “DON’T say it again!”. I’ve now infected my kids with this terror, though it has served me well in the past when trying to get them to go to bed on time. Am I a bad person?

    Happy Wednesday, all. Pi

  14. 21:45

    Brain on go slow today as struggled to see Madrid, lie, army which are about as obvious as these things get. Understandably slower on PROFOUND, FLASHLIGHT and APATHETIC.

  15. 8.27 with another MERE.

    FLASHLIGHT was good. I liked the simplicity of DREAMER too

    Thanks Doofers and Joker

  16. 15:19
    Same pattern as is usual recently, romp through and get stuck on a few, today flashlight, profound, and LOI kipper.
    Didn’t really like profound = demanding deep study.

    COD kipper.

  17. Slowed by initially putting CUTTLE remembering the cuttlefish my mother gave our budgerigar. Otherwise a straightforward enjoyable solve. Thanks Joker and Doofers

  18. Enjoyed the mix of clues. Like others I had a tussle with the ‘serpent’ ‘mire’ crossover but was pleased with a 34 minute finish.
    Couldn’t parse ‘mire’ or ‘profound’ and missed the anagram for ‘dreamer’. Thanks for the blog.
    COD: ARC.

  19. Just under 10 minutes. Reassuring to see I’m not the only one who has trouble with the spelling of MI (or is it ME; I’ll probably have forgotten by tomorrow). Like Yorkshirelass I just about put in CUTTLE for ‘food’ at 4d, most likely influenced by the previous clue.

    SERPENT and ALIENATION were the two that I found most difficult and therefore most satisfying to solve.

    Thanks to Joker and Doofers

  20. 12:00 (Llewelyn the Great gains control of Gwynedd, and agrees a treaty with King John).

    My LOI was MIRE, seeing it as a marsh, but taking ages to see the two notes. Luckily, MERE never came into my head.

    Thanks Doofers and Joker

  21. That identity of dragon with SERPENT is pretty specialised, I think. I’d venture it only really occurs in the Revelation: “the great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan…” I expect you lot to prove me wrong (Milton doesn’t count, it’s derivative!) but in both the real and fantastic worlds they’re distinct beasties.
    Like others (special sympathy to Jack with MERE) I was hampered by 2d’s array of possibilities: would “two notes” have made it fairer? I even toyed with MISO (you should see some of my oriental cookery) but ended up with MIRE once SERPENT metamorphosed from dragon.

    1. If you ever make the mistake of browsing the Tolkien sites, you can have your pick of discussions about dragons and great serpents.

    2. Have to agree. At first I was thinking of Smaug and all sorts of different dragons. Never equated it with serpent.

  22. 8.25

    As a recent addition to the blog, I’m just starting to observe accurate stopwatch solving times, and this seems about average.
    Another with joint LO’sI SERPENT and MIRE.
    Thanks all.

  23. I just crept inside target at 9.41 which I would imagine is about my average time for a Joker puzzle. I would have been quicker if it were not for 3dn where I banged in SEASHELLS without a moments hesitation, convincing myself that an anagram was in there somewhere. It was only when I couldn’t get some of the crossers to work that I realised it was wrong. SHELLFISH eventually became my LOI when all the corrected crossers made the answer obvious.

    1. My first thought was seashells, probably because in my head I’d conflated Molly Malone with ‘she sells sea shells by the seashore’, rather than ‘crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-oh!’

      1. Unfortunately, the whole Molly Malone thing was going around my head for quite a while. I often wonder if setters put in specific words/phrases/names to mess with your head and distract, not just in terms of the clues as written, but subliminally.

  24. My only surprise with this was being unable to find any kind of trick or hidden, and then not discovering anything through the blog either. I tend to think of a mere as a pond, so never thought of the alternative spelling of Mi. All fairly smooth.

    1. I’m sure others will correct me if I’m wrong, but Joker doesn’t to tend hide ninas or themes. Felix, on the other hand, and any other name* our editor solves under, is the one to watch out for!
      * There are really quite a few!

  25. I wasn’t concentrating whilst (also) doing this, but I didn’t find it easy. I’m in the SCC, again. I was a MERE until I reviewed it, SERPENT needed several crossers, I’m not a bible reader and I didn’t equate the two at all. SHELLFISH seemed obvious but took a while to parse, but I liked it once I had.
    Having had his football team included yesterday, my brother in law was 1A today. I have asked him to let me know where and how he is appearing tomorrow – a family sin on Oink, perhaps!

      1. I’m not sure now what word I was typing… 😳 Sin wasn’t it! I blame autocorrect…. And me not proof reading before I post. Must be a lot of pig rustling though, haven’t seen one on our street for ages.

  26. Probably one of the easiest 1ac/d starting combinations you could wish for. Others might also say that about my last pair in the opposite corner, but the (B)army Candy cost me a window seat in the SCC, albeit abetted by earlier struggles with Profound and Immature. I was also another who went for Mere (thanks, Julie) at 2d, but if it’s good enough for Jackkt. . . CoD to 17ac, Flashlight, and, as noted by Doofers, its superb surface. Invariant

  27. A good mix of clues today. It took a while to see cutlet. I had the C and ET but still couldn’t see the word. I even went off at a tangent wondering if the first part of the word was an anagram of sect! Thanks to Joker and Doofers for an enjoyable blog.

  28. Thanks Doof for explaining the Molly Malone clue. I somehow got her confused with the she who ‘sells seashells on the seashore’ tongue twister. I found the QC relatively undemanding with the exception of my LOsI. My penultimate solve was ALIENATION after eventually coming up with nation for country and my LOI KIPPER required an alphabet trawl. 7:56

  29. Some trickier clues in here, leading to a 22 minute solve. I couldn’t parse MIRE and only put it in because I had rejected mere as an answer. Otherwise I found the SW corner the hardest with much head-scratching over both 12 and 13 down.

    FOI – 1ac JAMES
    LOI – 2dn MIRE
    COD – I enjoyed many of the shorter clues today – CADET, PITCHER and IMMATURE. JUST was the shortest of the lot but a bit of a chestnut.

    Thanks to Joker and Doofers

  30. Had to look up Naive to get IMMATURE. Struggled through the rest OK. 1a, 1d, and NE easy , then I slowed mightily.
    PITCHER helpful. I did get MIRE as I thought Mere was a pond or indeed a lake.Liked FLASHLIGHT, CANDY, PROFOUND (LoI).
    Remembered Molly but could not fit in cockles or mussels, then had PDM.
    Thanks, Doofers.

  31. I didn’t notice that I had transposed the first two letters of APATHETIC, so the 20+ minutes I spent trying to fit something into _L_E_p_I_N was a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, that spoilt an otherwise enjoyable crossword.

    I also wasted around 5 minutes trying to parse MIRE before bunging it in and moving on.

    Result = DNF (2 errors) in 45 minutes.

    Many thanks to Joker and Doofers.

  32. 9:48 MIRE was LOI as I kept being diverted by marsh, morass, mud and other M words-didn’t think of mere though. Also took me a while to see ARC as a source of light and why PROFOUND needed 3 words to define it instead of just one- deep.

  33. A tricky puzzle from Joker as usual. Took some time to finish after struggling with PROFOUND, REMAIN and MIRE.

  34. I rarely enjoy Joker’s QC, and this was no exception. Some of the clues were an utter nonsense to me until I came here.

    DNF as I lost interest in it, but managed to answer all but four.

    My verdict: 🤮
    Pumpa’s verdict: ☔️

  35. Enjoyed this QC from Joker. Nice mix of clue types and a couple of head-scratchers thrown in. Last two for me were also SERPENT/MIRE. Luckily never thought of mere. Didn’t parse IMMATURE but now I get it it’s COD. Not sure I really knew the ‘light’ meaning of ARC but wordplay generous. Remembered learning Molly Malone song at primary school but still thought of seashells before running the song through in my head. Enjoyable. Many thanks D.

  36. Good puzzle I thought, which I completed in around my average time.

    LOI ARC – I wasn’t sure of the definition, but eventually getting the right solstitial month put me right. Favourite was FLASHLIGHT.


  37. MERE not MIRE let me down, but feel a bit cheated as alternative seemed to fit. Hit 30min target quite easily, which is okay for me, but somewhat pathetic in blogger context.

  38. Surely pitcher is a type of jug and nothing to do with jail?
    Enjoyed this with a nice mix of difficulty.

  39. Dnf…

    25 mins, but made a bit of a cock up with the NW corner – putting the made up word of “Spenert” for 8ac (I would never have thought of a dragon as a serpent), which meant 2dn “Mire” wouldn’t come.

    The rest I enjoyed though.

    FOI – 1ac “James” – nice to have one’s name as an answer for once.
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 17ac “Flashlight”

    Thanks as usual!

  40. I failed on Profound after being stuck on that bottom left corner for a while. Very much enjoyed the rest and particularly liked flashlight.

  41. Just crept in under 14 minutes with LOI IMMATURE. No difficulty with MIRE, as someone said maybe mere is more of a northern thing. Needed the crossers for ARC. Thanks, Doofers, for the explanation of jug/jail which had completely passed us by and thanks to Joker for a nicely pitched crossword.

  42. Saw it was a Joker and looked forward to an amusing but tricky puzzle. Then the astonishingly kindly start put me in a good mood for a pleasant stroll, finishing in 21:33, a very decent time for me. I must be learning since a couple of chestnut-y clues were instantly recognizable.

    I ended up in The Club due to (1) had to struggle with myself to remember that ET is a frequent visitor to the QC in order to get CUTLET; (2) bARMY isn’t really part of my vocabulary, so I had to say “self, think: you need a 4-letter collective noun ending in Y for a group of beings that can be described as soldiers, oh, you dummy!”; and (3) not only do I only vaguely understand that a KIPPER is a smoked fish of some kind, but “kip” as “sleep” might once have entered my consciousness, somewhere, long long ago.

    A very entertaining solve, but perhaps too short. I guess that’s why they call it Q. Thanks Joker and Doof!

  43. Well, between getting up, having had morning coffee, being summarily dispatched to Bristol by Mrs ITTT (to bail out daughter), visiting B&Q and doing some flat repairs for her I finally came in all green in a nice coffee shop by the river in just over 9 hours. So not too bad.
    My God, Bristol is a nightmare for driving in!
    Thanks for the blog Doofers, and for the QC Joker.
    Now for the drive home…….

  44. In retrospect I agree with Vinyl, this was fair and reasonably straightforward.

    Except I did not find it so.

    Nearly 8 1/2 minutes when my target is five.

    Simply not on the wavelength at all.

    Another one who initially went for cuttle instead of cutlet.

    I didn’t take much longer on the 15 x 15.
    Hey ho!

  45. 14.38 I found the bottom half mostly much easier than the top half. Last three were SERPENT, MIRE and THIN, which should have been obvious but took several minutes. The meres in these Midland parts are all lakes so that didn’t tempt me. Thanks Doofers and Joker.

  46. I also had MERE. Got stuck for ages thinking cuttle might also be human food and not just for budgies until the penny dropped and saw cutlet.
    COD – 3d, although it took me a while to realise it was generic shellfish and not a cockle, mussel or any other shellfish!
    Thanks Joker and Doof.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *