Quick Cryptic No 2634 by Orpheus


Some slightly uncommon vocabulary in this puzzle from Orpheus. I just beat my target time of 15:00, stopping the clock at 14:57.

My FOI was LINEN, and I’d guess I got about half on my first pass.  There was some general knowledge that was new to me, such as the peahen – pheasant relationship and the Jordanian port.

After the first few solvers, the QUITCH is showing this as a little on the easier side (currently at 94), but it felt trickier than that to me.

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

1 Modicum of news ultimately of importance (10)
SMATTERINGnewS [ultimately] + MATTERING (of importance).
7 Legal right to stock new bedding (5)
LINENLIEN (legal right) holding [to stock] N.
8 Way Republican president once is for industrial action (6)
STRIKEST (Street: Way) + R (Republican) + IKE (nickname of Eisenhower, president once).
10 Pointless, giving up one’s commercial vehicle (3)
VANVAiN (pointless), giving up I.
12 Helicopter, say, used by good participant in shoot (9)
EGGBEATERE.G. (say) + G (good) + BEATER (participant in shoot).

I hadn’t come across this meaning of ‘eggbeater’, but once my mind gave me the right sort of ‘shoot’ (“oh, not a photo-shoot, then”), it couldn’t be anything else, since I already had the leading E and needed to get the G for Good in there somehow.

13 Suggestion to leader of expedition — move stealthily (6)
TIPTOETIP (suggestion) + TO (errr, to) + Expedition [leader of].
14 Writer consuming a governor’s pheasant (6)
PEAHENPEN (writer) with A + HE (His/Her Excellency)

It’s worth remembering HE for governor: setters seem to reach for it quite often.

I had to take it on trust that a peahen is a type of pheasant. Looking it up, I find that “Pavo is a genus of two species in the pheasant family. The two species, along with the Congo peafowl, are known as peafowl.” [wikipedia] So there you go.

17 Sadly I spoilt an artist’s materials (3,6)
OIL PAINTS – Anagram [sadly] of I SPOILT AN.

This anagram was made easier for me by the presence of “OIL” in the anagram fodder.

19 Huge Arabian bird’s tail not seen on stone (3)
ROCROCk (stone), without its last letter [tail not seen].

As featured in the story of Sinbad the Sailor in the Arabian Nights.

20 In this way delicate fabric brings comfort (6)
SOLACESO (in this way) + LACE (delicate fabric)
21 Boredom in French island engulfing Greek character (5)
ENNUIEN (French for ‘in’: ‘in French’) + I for island around [engulfing] NU (Greek letter / character).

I biffed this one and then immediately thought, “but wait, French for ‘island’ is ‘ILE'”. So I didn’t trust that this was right until I’d got all the crossers and then I re-parsed, attaching ‘French’ to ‘in’ instead of to ‘island’.

23 Teacher in biblical story deserving forgiveness (10)
PARDONABLEDON (teacher) in PARABLE (biblical story).
1 Drooling of one covered by divine deliverance (10)
SALIVATIONI (one) inside [covered by] SALVATION (divine deliverance).
2 Bristle Labour leader removed from grassy area (3)
AWNlAWN (grassy area) without the leader [first letter] of Labour.

I couldn’t have defined AWN if you had asked me to when I started the puzzle. But somehow there it was when I needed it, after I had rejected GlEN, tried lAWN and thought, “aha, that’s it”.

3 Fruit foreign to a glen (7)
TANGELO – Anagram [foreign] of TO A GLEN.
4 Stop working on indicator board perhaps (6)
RESIGNRE (on) + SIGN (indicator board perhaps).
5 Like ancient Scandinavia, and not the Kent area (5)
NORSENOR (and not) + SE (south east, where Kent is in the UK.)

NOR as in “Neither this nor that”, which is equivalent to “not this and not that”.

6 Person drawing small sailing vessel with hesitation (8)
SKETCHERS (small) + KETCH (sailing vessel) + ER (hesitation).
9 Copy out letters from crest in bar (10)
TRANSCRIBE – Anagram of [letters from] CREST IN BAR.

I debated whether the definition should be just “copy” and the anagram indicator “out letters from”, but I think this way works better. Feel free to disagree.

11 Emperor in France not carrying a big stick! (8)
NAPOLEONNON (not, as in non-functional meaning not working) holding [carrying] A POLE (a big stick).

I initially parsed this with NON being French for “no”, but that pesky “t” on “not” meant that didn’t work: French for “not” is “pas”.

15 Asian plant in European town ultimately (7)
EASTERNASTER (plant) in E (European) + towN [ultimately].

Asia is east of the UK. Solvers in other parts of the world would go in different directions to reach Asia.

16 Trendy exploit? Absolutely (6)
INDEEDIN (trendy) + DEED (exploit).
18 Question a graduate south of a Jordanian port (5)
AQABAQ (question, as in Q1) + A BA (a graduate), all after [south of] another A.

I was reasonably sure I’d heard of Aqaba, although I didn’t know that it was in Jordan nor that it was a port. So add two more to the count of things I’ve learned today. Three more, if you include the spelling, which the clue made clear.

22 Writer’s book supporting part of UK (3)
NIBB (book) beneath [supporting] NI (Northern Ireland, part of the UK).

75 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2634 by Orpheus”

  1. No problems. ‘huge Arabian bird’ is rather a giveaway, even for a QC. Re NAPOLEON: the definition is ’emperor’; NON is ‘in France not’. ‘not’ translates as either ‘(ne) pas’ (il ne parle pas, he’s not speaking), or ‘non’ (non-croyant, non-believer). 4:38.

    1. But if the definition is just “emperor”, then “in France” is redundant, since there’s no need to resort to French to find an equivalency between “not” and “non”.

      1. I had it like Kevin – but my fluent-in-French son, who happens to be sitting here, tells me that you’re right about “non” not equating to “not”, so your parsing is more accurate, I think.

        1. Je crois que non/I think not Il faut manger pour vivre et non pas vivre pour manger/one should eat to live and not live to eat

          1. I had the same thoughts as to which language was indicated, but ultimately, the clue works either as French emperor, which he was, or French not – both are equally valid with regards to the parsing.

    2. Hold on a minute, Kevin.
      This QC was solvable but not a gimme.
      This was the first one I have finished correctly for a while.
      Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

  2. 5:45 for me, so very easy. Except I mistyped TRANSCRIPE so a technical DNF. I’m sure I must have heard of AQABA before, but it was lost deep in the cobwebs of my brain. I didn’t even know Jordan had a coastline. I see AQABA is at the top of the red sea near Eilat in Israel.

  3. I still remember AQABA from Lawrence of Arabia, so it must have made quite an impression on me. Orens! No prisoners! Thanks to Orpheus and the Doof, a fun puzzle with no particular problems, 7.10.

  4. 12 minutes. All but EGGBETAER and RESIGN in 8 minutes, but they delayed me another 4. I was annoyed with myself over the helicopter because I know a slang term existed but though of ‘egg-whisk’ which of course didn’t work and I was unable for a while to think past it.

    With regard to geography of navigation east and west, this is measured internationally from the Prime Meridian which passes through the UK at Greenwich, so in those terms Asia remains ‘in the East’ even if one is bang in the middle of it.

    1. I was puzzled as a boy hearing about my uncle flying westward from Vancouver en route to the Far East.

      1. I know very little about air travel but I believe that many intercontinental routes involve flying north over the pole rather than west or east, but of course they arrive west or east of where they started from.

  5. Once again I’m the first to have found this anything other than easy! I was doing OK until I was defeated by AQABA after about 26 minutes, a port I’ve never heard of, having pondered long and hard over the also NHO EGGBEATER and the rather nicely clued PARDONABLE. So one pinkie earned and my feet yet again ensconced under today’s Special Table from where I can only marvel at the prowess of the clever clogs at the front.
    So that’s 0/3 so far this week, albeit only by just one unheard of clue each day.

  6. Solved this on a train rather than the usual kitchen table and on a phone not a laptop so couldn’t see the setter.

    Surprised to see it was Orpheus, during solving I was sure it was a new setter trying too hard. Made it but with some head scratching – and two trips to make sure the words that fell out the cryptic existed. Ate up 17m of my journey.

  7. Steady progress to a quick for us 21.00 after resorting to a Google of Jordanian ports.

    Did not know Roc came from Arabian nights but the name was somewhere in the back of my head (eventually).

    Some great surfaces, like solace but COD to pardonable

    Thanks Orpheus, and Mr D for the parsing of ennui, we also started looking at ile!

  8. All done in just under 10 minutes, but with aids to find the NHO Eggbeater. I see it is US military slang from the 1930s, so I can perhaps be excused for not knowing the reference – indeed even eggbeater is new to me (the term I am familiar with is eggwhisk). Add in Tangelo, Roc, Awn and Aqaba and, with that meaning, Peahen, and one can only say that Orpheus was certainly rummaging around in the less frequented nooks and crannies of the English language. Whether that makes for a better crossword I am not so sure – it is in theory nice to meet new vocabulary, but as many setters show, it is possible to compile excellent puzzles using only the more frequented parts of the dictionary.

    Ennui features increasingly often, most recently, in the puzzle for 9 March (QC2619 by Beck) that I blogged. We might become bored of the word …

    Many thanks Doofers for the blog

  9. Found this tricky in places so was surprised to finish in a time fairly close to my average (maybe that’s a sign of a good puzzle).
    Needed all the checkers for the NHO EGGBEATER, despite an early thought that it might end in beater and AQABA would have put up a lot more resistance had it not been for Lawrence of Arabia.
    Started with STRIKE and finished with SOLACE in 8.23.
    Thanks to Doofers

  10. I took 10:39 on this one, which is longer than I’ve taken recently, so either I was slower or the puzzle was a little harder, I think the latter…

  11. I found this quite tricky, and biffed SALVATION, NAPOLEON, and EASTERN, in addition to my LOI. All were parsed quickly afterwards.

    TIME 5:14

  12. 8:29. Another fast one.

    Also did not know Jordan had a coastline, so really tried to get the only place in Jordan I had heard of AMMAN, it has MA for graduate and a spare A, and is probably a port on the River Jordan. Eventually gave up and found more checkers. I had vaguely heard of AQABA.

    AWN was disturbing. NHO, and looked unlikely. I don’t come across many NHO three letter words in crosswords, I thought setters had mined them out.

    I am bored of ENNUI.

  13. I did not find this easy at all. I (unusually) allowed myself 36 mins to get this done. NHO AWN, EGGBEATER and PEAHEN (I knew the bird, not the definition as a pheasant, though they are clearly related).

    Not a great time, but I got there.

    Happy Wednesday. Pi

    1. Was this designed to cause sadness (other words available) to those who live in the SCC? A whole collection of unused words (AWN, EGGBEATER, AQABA, PEAHEN). And EGGBEATER being 1930s US slang??. At least I knew ROC.and ENNUI, but only from previous crosswords.

  14. 5:37

    Not too much to scare the horseys – momentarily puzzled over what 2d could be until both checkers were in – anags at 9d and 17a both took a little extra thought (didn’t think of OIL even though as Doofers says, it appears in the anagrist). Pulled the Jordanian port out of the air before parsing it. LOI was SOLACE.

    Thanks Orpheus and Doofenschmirtz

  15. This looked tough, but I managed to struggle through to complete it after finally guessing EGGBEATER , AWN (NHO either) and LINEN (NHO LIEN). Definitely on the harder side.

  16. 10:50 (Macbeth goes on pilgrimage to Rome.)

    Dredged AQABA from the depths of my memory. NHO EGGBEATER for helicopter, but it made sense. Did not know that pheasants were peafowl. LOI was RESIGN.

    Thanks Doofers and Orpheus

  17. 11:55

    Held up by smattering, awn, and LOI transcribe.

    I wanted to visit Aqaba after seeing Lawrence, it is ok, didn’t get to go diving.
    COD Transcribe

  18. 5.44

    Didnt get the EGGBEATER instantly but it did ring a bell after being perplexed a few times in the past when it’s come up

    Tganks Doofers and Orpheus

  19. I don’t often comment although I read the blogs daily.

    I found this most enjoyable from FOI AWN to LOI LINEN.

    Like the blogger, I bunged in ENNUI and then sorted the cryptic after.

    When there are unknowns I always enjoy getting the answer from wordplay as was the case with AQABA and it wasn’t much of a leap to equate EGGBEATER with helicopter also helped by wordplay.

    That to me is the wonder of the cryptic crossword the ability to get an unknown answer from wordplay and why I enjoy them so much.

  20. Not on the same planet today – yesterdays main puzzle was easier for me than this – thanks though!

  21. 9 mins.
    I think we had eggbeater in the 15×15 fairly recently. Awn is a regular in crosswordland, it seems.
    Thanks, D.

  22. Anyone who hasn’t heard of Aquaba should watch Lawrence of Arabia. The version starring Omar Sharif (1962) is a particular favourite

    1. Oh is that the one directed by David Lean and starring Peter O’Toole? People say it’s quite good…

  23. 11:25

    Off the pace with QC’s all week. Took an age to put the ‘say’ in the correct position mentally and to stop trying to fit ‘actor’ into LOI EGGBEATER.

    All fair though: frustration with self, not setter.

    Thanks all

  24. I expected to come here and find howls of anguish, so perhaps it’s just me, but I thought this was really tricky. I don’t think I’ve heard Eggbeater for helicopter since I was a boy, and that’s a long time ago. We will have to watch out for flying bedsteads (as in jump jet) at this rate. . . I also thought ‘mattering’ was more than a bit iffy in 1ac: perhaps someone can come up with a suitable sentence ? Overall, this seemed like a double shift at the coalface. Invariant

    1. People in a mattress factory need to feel a sense of importance/mattering! although the “of” is a bit of a filler.

  25. Dnf…

    33 mins for what I thought was pretty tough puzzle – so I was surprised when I saw some people finding it straightforward. NHO of “Eggbeater for 12ac, but took an educated guess from the parsing. However, I was undone by the Jordanian port and ended up putting “Asama”, my initial squeezing in of “Ask” causing issues with 20ac.

    FOI – 17ac “Oil Paints”
    LOI – 1ac “Smattering’
    COD – 1dn “Salivation”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. Bunged in EGGBEATER from the checkers and the cryptic. Nice to see the beaters getting a mention. Guessed AWN must be a word. Was then left staring at A-A-A. The blanks were clearly Q and either B or M. Cryptic indicated Q in second place so now it’s AQAMA or AQABA. Fifty fifty, no audience to ask, guessed right. Slightly unsatisfactory to use an ambiguous phrase like “graduate” when cluing a relatively esoteric piece of GK.

    Really liked LINEN and TIPTOE, my COD. All done in 06:50 for 1.6K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks El Doofo and Orpheus.


  27. There seems to be a curious mixture of those that found it easy today, and others who found it quite tough. The divide seems broader than usual. I must say I found it fairly straightforward, as my time of 7.22 attests. I’ve never heard of EGGBEATER being a slang term for a helicopter, but the clueing was generous and it couldn’t be anything else.

  28. I thought this was a grown-up challenge with obscure words which I had to grind out of the cryptics: Eggbeater, Awn and Aqaba. Like the 15×15.
    The rest weren’t that easy and this took me 23 minutes in total without any aids. LOI was RESIGN.
    I finished yesterday’s 15 x 15 and this was of a similar level.
    COD to TIPTOE; also liked SMATTERING.

  29. I found it somewhere in the middle!

    Mostly OK, but I’m reverting to daily breezeblocks. Today’s was self inflicted though – I biffed SALIVATING, which gave me N?L as the first word of the artist’s materials. I tried to make an anagram with NIL as the first word for too long before going back to the drooling. I had AMMAN for a short while too, before deleting it. SOLACE LOI.


  30. I have actually been to Aqaba, as well as seeing Lawrence of Arabia, 1962 version. Saw Aqaba from Eilat when I was there on honeymoon some 30+ years earlier. It looked romantic, but wasn’t. However “rose red city of Petra, half as old as time” was worth the trip.

  31. Yes, I’ve been to AQABA too. Amman not on the sea, by the way!
    DNF x 4. Failed on EGGBEATER (NHO re helicopter), SMATTERING, RESIGN (doh), TRANSCRIBE (doh again).
    A struggle.
    Thanks vm, Doofers.

  32. Louise’s comment re “Lawrence of Arabia”- the version starring Omar Sharif (I’m not sure what Peter O’Toole might have thought of that !) ? I didn’t know there were other versions.

  33. Ended up revealing the NHO EGGBEATER although it was entirely solvable from the wordplay (doh). Also held up by RESIGN. Otherwise all good. I parsed NAPOLEON as blogger. Thanks D and Orpheus.

  34. Started with AWN and was 75% through when the Morrisons delivery arrived with food and wine. Interruption dealt with, I finished off with SOLACE. Helped that I’d seen EGGBEATER ina 15×15 a while ago. Didn’t know the that PEAHEN and PHEASANT were classed together. 5:59. Thanks Orpheus and Doofers.

  35. 5 mins over 30mins target. AQUABA ok thanks to Lawrence of Arabia. Never heard of AWN, all in all quite tricky, so quite pleased with self

  36. 20:02

    …and was breezing along until I hit one of those unaccountable brain freezes on RESIGN and TIPTOE. Enjoyable puzzle, and really liked PARDONABLE. Maybe PARDONable, SALiVATION, EGGbeater, tANGELo, EASTERn, are enough for a Holy Week theme?

  37. I had to check whether the unknown port was AQABA or AQAmA as I haven’t actually seen more than a snippet of Lawrence of Arabia. I remembered AWN = Bristle from a previous QC (apparently Hurley 2490 last September). Like jackkt I was held up at the end by RESIGN and EGGBEATER with the beater part taking the longest time. 8:13 for an OK day.

  38. I was sailing through this thinking I was on just the right wavelength though I had to look in the dictionary to check that AWN was a word (NHO). Then I ground to a complete halt with 4d and 13a. I thought the cluing for 13a was very far from clear. Was a helicopter an example of some kind of transport beginning with E? Was a good person a ST? What kind of shoot – a safari, a film shoot, firing a gun? I resorted to aids. I hadn’t really heard of EGGBEATER for helicopter but it was clearly the answer and then RESIGN was obvious. I thought a peahen was a female peacock and I just had to assume they are the same family as pheasants. So a mix of easy and tricky. Well done, Steel City, for spotting all those Easter references.

  39. 15.18 I’m another who found this tricky. I had no recollection of AWN from last September and I thought the port was ACABA but the Q had to go somewhere. SMATTERING and SALIVATION needed most of the checkers and were followed by the NHO EGGBEATER, RESIGN and LOI INDEED, which I’d overlooked. Thanks Doofers and Orpheus.

  40. About par for the course – I seem to be stuck round the 11-12 minutes mark these days. I had seen EGGBEATER before, but it did not come to mind very quickly – that took a minute or two on its own. I liked TRANSCRIBE and TANGELO made me smile. AWN – a word I didn’t know until I started doing crosswords, but now easily brought to mind, and very useful in a recent game of Scrabble!
    FOI Linen LOI Eggbeater COD Tiptoe 11:17
    Thanks Orpheus and Doofers

  41. Challenging, but ultimately doable. 31 minutes, which is about average for me nowadays.

    I can’t remember which clue got me started – VAN, I think – but I didn’t make much progress until I was well through the Downs. I enjoyed TIPTOE and ENNUI seems to have come up quite a lot recently.

    I had to trust the clue for the spelling of AQABA, and I DNK the meaning of AWN and hadn’t heard of a TANGELO. My last three in were SOLACE, ROC and TRANSCRIBE.

    Many thanks to Orpheus and Doofers.

  42. A manually timed 30 min completion. Didn’t really get going until I tackled the downs, Salvation, Awn, sketcher, and many others were almost write ins giving lots of checkers. Every time I see boredom in a clue I write in ennui without Parsing. It’s a word rarely used outside of crosswords and one great Steve Martin film.

    LOI Pardonable. Needed Doofs blog to parse that

  43. Didn’t find this much fun, and hard-going in places. Some nice clues – 12a/14a/23a and some not worth persevering. So a DNF on 15d Eastern (should have got that) and 18d Aqaba where I just chucked in some letters to end the 21a.
    FOI 10a Van
    LOI n/a
    COD 23a Pardonable.

  44. 21:29

    A real struggle with RESIGN and EGGBEATER. Never did figure out what that had to do with helicopters. LOI the innocuous looking AWN. Again, obvious from the wordplay but didn’t know the word itself.

  45. 19 mins

    A QC aimed squarely at the ‘Premier League’ solvers.

    Very hard for the rest of us, although I thought AQABA might have been quite well known.

    NHO AWN/EGGBEATER. Too much guessing to be enjoyable, although a SMATTERING of satisfaction in avoiding SCC.

    It still depresses me when I see solvers saying how easy it was. I know one shouldn’t compare, but…..

    Thanks for the blog.

    PS Completely butchered the Quintagram (as per usual)

    1. You not only escaped the SCC, but you did in almost half my time. I aspire to your times, Gazza!


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