Quick Cryptic No 2707 by Izetti – goodness gracious!

The Don has given us a witty and approachable puzzle today, with no obscurities and a masterclass in smooth, economical cluing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was only really held up by having to trawl for LOI 23a on my way to 06:05. Hope you all liked it too.

Definitions underlined in bold.

1 Food communications that are unwanted (4)
SPAM – double definition. The pink stuff you used to get at school, that was a bit like meat but wasn’t, was apparently originally called “spiced ham” but the manufacturer launched an internal competition to rename it – the winner came up with SPAM and got $100. The word later came to mean unwanted electronic communications, as a reference to the Monty Python “spam” sketch in which every dish on the menu comes with more and more spam, whether you like it or not.
4 What operator of cannon will do as a lively person (8)
FIREBALL – if you let off a cannon you would FIRE a BALL. Ho ho! Was it Bertie Wooster who got his Old Testament in a muddle and said that Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day but a ball of fire by night?
8 Communications taking a long time to get to army room? (8)
MESSAGES – MESS is an army room; AGES are a long time.
9 Some start showing skills (4)
ARTS – hidden (“some”) inside “start showing”.
10 One in vehicle is conceited (4)
VAIN – I inside VAN.
11 Be in pain, landing ashore (8)
BEACHING – BE for “be”, ACHING for “in pain”.
12 Hesitation after beloved becomes more expensive (6)
DEARER – ER for “hesitation” after DEAR for “beloved”.
14 Tragic king’s about to go to India or some other country (6)
ISRAEL – King LEAR’S our customary tragic royal and he gets to use this week’s silent apostrophe. He goes backwards (“about”) to give us SRAEL, which then meets I for India (Nato alphabet). Thus we get “some other country” (ie a country which is not India). Clever and smooth; COD from me.
16 Friends knocked over by explosive sound immediately (4-4)
SLAP-BANG – “friends” are “pals”; reverse them (“knocked over”) and you get SLAP, followed by BANG for “explosive  sound”. Collins does give “In a violent, sudden or noisy manner”  for SLAP-BANG so I suppose “immediately” is OK as a definition but it felt a bit of a stretch because I’ve only come across this in the phrase “slap bang in the middle of” something or somewhere.
18 Swimmer enveloped in surf is happy (4)
FISH – hidden inside “surf is happy”. This was a lot easier than the clue for the same word in a recent Big Puzzle, that’s all I’m saying.
19 City is huge, look! (4)
OSLO – OS (outsize) for “huge”, LO for “look”.
20 Home with no money is guiltless (8)
INNOCENT – IN for “home”, NO CENT for “no money”.
22 Prisoner punished and locked up (8)
CONFINED – CON for “prisoner”, FINED for punished
23 Come down — listen to group of players (4)
TEEM – aural wordplay (© jackkt) between TEEM/team. I found this really hard and trawling for the LOI with the clock ticking gives me brain freeze! I was looking for homophones first for musicians, and then for actors. Sports players for once took a long time to come to mind, and even then I had to think twice about why TEEM meant “come down” (“teeming rain” is of course why).
2 Creep tremulously round female with a few words to start with? (7)
PREFACE – anagram (“tremulously”) of “creep”, going “round” F for “female” and A. Sneaky definition.
3 Mum has boy who may belong to secret society (5)
MASON – MA has a SON.
4 Tedious job in the Smoke (3)
FAG – I wondered whether this was a double definition but I decided that FAG couldn’t be “the smoke”, it would only be “a smoke”.  Shades of Kipling’s “The Betrothed” here – when the narrator’s fiancée gives him a choice between her and his tobacco, he reasons his way through the pros and cons and concludes “a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke”.
5 Anger with ship at sea — fresh design results (9)
RESHAPING – anagram (“at sea”) of “anger” and “ship”. RESHAPING is to be understood as a noun here – “the results of a fresh design”, if you like.
6 Foolish talk — see bishop foam (7)
BLATHER – B for “bishop”, LATHER for “foam”. I’m more familiar with as “blether” for “foolish talk” but that turns out to be Scottish.
7 Reveal learner joining college (3,2)
LET ON – L for “learner”, ETON for our favourite educational establishment. Calm down everyone, we’ve had Harrow several times recently, it’s Eton’s turn.
11 Wicked man undermining pub, West Indian (9)
BARBADIAN – BAD IAN is the “wicked man”, and he comes after (“undermining”, in a down clue) BAR for “pub”. Lovely.
13 Disapproval concerning strength of spirit (7)
REPROOF – RE for “concerning”, PROOF for “strength of spirit”. Such a neat clue.
15 Eastern scenes, weird in basic quality (7)
ESSENCE – anagram (“weird”) of “scenes” + E for “eastern”. The ESSENCE of something is its most basic quality.
17 Girl given ring? It’s ropy! (5)
LASSO – LASS for “girl”, O for “ring”, jokey definition.
18 Feature a church in newspaper (5)
FACET – A + CE for “a church” (Church of England), going inside (“in”) the FT for “newspaper”. Very elegant cluing.
21 Fellow turning up gets gesture of acceptance (3)
NOD – a “fellow” in a university is a “don”; reverse him (“turning up” in a down clue) and you get the answer.

72 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2707 by Izetti – goodness gracious!”

  1. 11:41 BARBADIAN, TEEM, and ISRAEL were my favourites. I only ever remember hearing SLAM-BANG. As a boy in Ontario I enjoyed some SPAM-like products called Kam and Klik. The mouth waters at the memory.

  2. This was probably the easiest Izetti puzzle for me that I can remember.
    My eyebrows just about shot off my face at 4d which I just couldn’t believe could be an answer, eventually deciding it just must be. It’s a slur here in Australia, and wouldn’t be used in a newspaper I’m sure. I assume it doesn’t have the same connotations in the UK?

    1. It’s still in use by older generations for a cigarette, and even older Public School types for informal servitude.

    2. It’s only offensive if used directly to a person, and as such doesn’t belong with the other two much older definitions used here by Izetti. It rankles with me that FAG is not a permitted entry on Words With Friends in spite of this. This sort of woke crap jars with many of us older solvers.

      1. I have removed a reply to Phil because it was rude to him. Please remember to maintain the spirit of civility much cherished on this blog.

  3. 37 minutes and 22 seconds, record for me and Mr. Struggling_On, even though it’s much harder now that we’ve lost the assistance of Struggling_On Snr. Couldn’t parse 4D and 19A. Really enjoyable – thank you Izetti!

  4. 8 minutes. Easy for a puzzle by Izetti.

    Templar, a little further down the entry in Collins there is slap-bang – directly or immediately.

    SPAM used to feature quite a lot in school-dinners. Disguised as spam-fritters and served with baked beans in was very popular.

    BTW, ‘aural wordplay’ is not © jackkt as I pinched it from somebody posting at Fifteensquared, but I’m pleased to see it catching on amongst one or two of the bloggers here.

  5. 12:02
    Pleased with that, some tough ones in there. Very uneasy with LOI TEEM. I thought it meant multitudes. Teeming rain just being one example.

    Tempted by BERTHING, for landing ashore at the 11a.


  6. Good fast progress except in the NE – where BEACHING, BLATER and RESHAPING all took time – and with ‘Bad Ian’ where I couldn’t parse and was split between ‘Barbarian’ and BARBADIAN before inexplicably entering ‘Barbabian’. Not all green in what would have been a speedy 7.29.

  7. A generally easy offering from Izetti, although I needed to alpha-trawl my LOI.

    TIME 3:59

  8. All done in 27.37, pretty good for the Don. Stumped for a while in the NW having put rephasing rather than reshaping, only found with a grid check when nothing seemed to be coming. Also spent too long trying to fit the answer for 18a into 16a 🤨

    Lots to like and COD probably to Israel but spam hot contender. Amazing how integrated Monty Python is to our daily lives 😉 I do remember spam fritters in school dinners, just oozed grease as soon as you put a fork any near them, hideous!!

    Thanks Templar for the detailed blog and for that meaning of teem. Got it from the aural word play but only knew the usual definition as in teeming with fish.

    At last the sun is out!!!

  9. I didn’t find this as easy as some and I think I must have worn out my anagram hat yesterday as I took an age to see that RESHAPING was an anagram. I also couldn’t get ‘slap dash’ out of my head at 16a even though it didn’t fit the definition or parse, but other than that it had a lot going for it!!
    I was interested to see COD BARBADIAN appear as I always thought that someone from Barbados was a Bajan, but I see that both appear in the dictionary.
    Started with SPAM and finished with RESHAPED in 8.05.
    Thanks to Templar – top blog as always.

  10. 3:36. Very neat and gentle from Izetti. I liked the wicked West Indian and happy swimmer best. Thanks Izetti and Templar.

  11. Fairly straightforward by Izetti’s standards, resulting in an 18mins top to bottom solve – followed by a couple more to parse 2d Preface. A headslap pdm when I finally saw the Creep anagrist, but I’m still counting it as a sub-20. CoD to 16ac, Slap-Bang, albeit with a smile and a nod to XL5 at 4ac. Today’s ear worm for those old enough to remember the theme tune. Invariant

      1. We didn’t have a record player in those days (early 60s), but I did have a Fireball XL5 model with a built in red and white parachute. You could catapult it into the sky and watch it float back down. For a seven or eight (?) year old it was pure bliss. . . not too sure the neighbours fully appreciated it though 😏

  12. Easy for an Izetti. Like many others my LOI was TEEM since I saw the “team” homophone but I couldn’t see why TEEM meant come down. But there was no third way to spell “team” so it had to be. I was tempted for a time by BARBARIAN for the wicked man,but it didn’t fit the wordplay so I kept looking.

  13. 4.49

    Also liked the BAD IAN and the happy swimmers. Izetti on form today.

    Thanks to him and Templar

  14. From SPAM to BARBADIAN and then BEACHING in 6:50. I was a little slow to see RESHAPING but got TEEM straight away. Very approachable for an Izetti.

  15. I also have only heard of SLAP-BANG in the middle of something, but it was the only answer that fitted. Otherwise quite straightforward for an Izetti I thought. Liked the image of a smiling fish in the surf. Thanks Templar for great blog.

  16. Ah I wrote a big comment about how 4D is a slur in Australia and makes me very very uncomfortable during my crossword fun time

    (but also that I didn’t know rain could teem)
    But I accidentally deleted my post 🙁

    Izetti is getting easier I feel.

    1. It’s not in common use as a slur in the UK, Tina. It’s one of those words that just has different meanings in different cultures. When we lived in south London we once had some American guests who were overjoyed to discover that down the road was a place called Tooting -to them it was slang for farting. So I drove them around and they gleefully photographed signs for Tooting Common, Tooting Primary School and their two favourites – All Saints Tooting and St Mary’s Tooting.

      1. A work colleague was secretary of a running club in a village near Bradford. She used to get lots of requests from Americans who wanted to be members of the Idle Running Club.

      2. Yeah my longer comment did make mention that I don’t know how it’s taken in the UK but did just want to point out that it is a slur in Australia, which is why it made me (very) uncomfortable!

        I don’t expect to be catered to (lol if I did I would be very disappointed) just thought it was worth mentioning

    2. It took me a long time to write in the answer for 4d for the same reason, I couldn’t believe it would be accepted in a crossword and also did not enjoy that it was the answer.

      1. I don’t know where you are in the world, David – if you’re across the pond then I quite see that FAG would have that association for you. But as Collins says, the offensive sense is “mainly US and Canadian”, and its primary meanings here are cigarettes and tedious jobs. It’s just not a bad word here – as one example, there’s a long-running and award-winning BBC Radio 4 sitcom called “Fags, Mags and Bags” about events in a convenience store of that name. There are shops all over the UK called “Fags & Mags”. I don’t think setters of UK crosswords have to avoid words which are in general non-offensive use in the UK, just because they are offensive elsewhere.

        1. I’ve looked in Brewer and fag-end was originally the selvedge or coarse end of a piece of cloth – hence fag-end of a conversation. As children, if someone came in on a conversation we had been having and got something wrong, we would shout “Fag-ends!” And there is of course the servant in The Rivals by Sheridan. What is he called? Fag.

  17. 9:27 (Æthelstan receives the submission of several kings, including Constantine II and Hywel Dda)

    A very enjoyable puzzle. Only hold-up was my LOI TEEM, where I could not see how it meant “come down”.

    Thanks Templar and Izetti.

  18. 8 minutes. I found this to be Izetti in a benign mood. Luckily TEEM came without much trouble today, but I’ll probably be mystified by a similar clue tomorrow. I liked the idea of our ‘bishop’ spluttering with rage in BLATHER.

    Thanks to Templar and Izetti

  19. 6:13, one of my fastest times ever for a qc I think, so yes I found this very straightfoward also
    PS just like BR just above TEEM was my LOI!

  20. “No obscurities”, you say? NHO look = LO; in what context is that valid, please? TEEM was just too difficult. And BARBADIAN is a bit obscure (biffed BARBARIAN, of course). Otherwise all fine.

        1. “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” (Luke 2:9)

          1. Well, yes – but you see that’s curious. I was all for accepting AndyPandy’s example, but in yours “look” hardly works as a substitute. And yet I’m on a loser there; the dictionary bears you out (as we would expect).

  21. I thought I was on for a super quick time with three quarters of the puzzle completed, but I was slowed by the north east corner where BEACHING and BLATHER caused me problems. Eventually the light dawned, and I crossed the line in a still respectable 8.03.

  22. 7 minutes on a very approachable puzzle, and quite surprised to find it was set by Izetti when I came here. I can’t remember taking as little as 7 minutes on one of his puzzles before. LOI was TEEM, like for several others, no real holdups and much to like.

    Many thanks Templar for the blog

  23. 5:35

    Pleased with that. No particular holdups but didn’t see FIREBALL on first pass so last three were 4d, 5d, 6d.

    Fine puzzle and blog.

    Thanks all.

  24. 16 minutes, all parsed. Happy with that for an Izetti. I thought I was going to struggle at first when I failed on the first few across clues but after that the answers started to flow. After once through the acrosses and the downs I only had to go back and pick off the stragglers which went quite quickly until I got to my last, ISRAEL, which I spent a good 3 minutes on.

    FOI – 9ac ARTS
    LOI – 14ac ISRAEL
    COD – 11dn BARBADIAN

    Thanks to Izetti and Templar

  25. Got Barbadian easily but they actually call themselves Bajans. The island is also known as Bim.

  26. I found this one tough and need help from Pumpa to complete it. Even though I did manage to finish it (slowly), I was left feeling it wasn’t a particularly good QC.

    TEEM = come down. I have to say I don’t like this. I feel there perhaps should have been another word to send us in the right direction for his use of TEEM. Simply saying “come down” was pretty poor clueing in my opinion.

    FAG = Tedious job? Really? Another poor clue I felt.

    However, I did manage to complete it. That’s something I suppose. I have seen far better from Izetti in the past. I was left feeling disappointed with this one.

    32:00 (with 1 incorrect answer).

    My verdict: 🤔
    Pumpa’s verdict: 😼

  27. Fairly gentle overall. Took a while to see the BALL part of FIREBALL but it fell easily enough once I had BLATHER. Accidentally revealed LOI TEEM which I’m not sure I would have got otherwise (sports team just wasn’t on my radar). Liked BEACHING. Many thanks Templar and Izetti.

  28. In a big hurry today so failed with a couple of bad biffs Barbarian and Restaging (sp?).
    Enjoyable puzzle. Liked many inc SPAM, VAIN, SLAP BANG, PREFACE.
    Thanks vm, Templar.

  29. For what it’s worth – there is a Spam Museum in Austin, Minnessota (the home of Hormel Foods). One of the exhibits includes a continuous repeating loop of the Monty Python sketch.

  30. Biffed TEEM without trying that hard to get to bottom of it, apart from a few corrected spelling errors all fairly straightforward

  31. Finished correctly in 56 minutes.
    Quite a tough one, I thought.

    17 Down – “Lasso”. Luckily I have this on my list of difficult to spell words.
    4 Across. “Fireball”. Did not know this could mean a lively person. Would have associated this with stories of spontaneous combustion.
    23 Across – “Teem”. Usually meaning a lot of rain coming down. I live in Bolton so I know all about that.

  32. Took me a while to see RESHAPING and BEACHING, otherwise a slam dunk. FOI was SPAM, LOI was TEEM which also took some musing. 7:21. Thanks Izetti and Templar.

  33. Another very nice Izetti and I will forgive the slight against my name in 11d.
    I initially had ‘junk’ for 1a until it didn’t fit with the checkers. It seemed like a perfectly good answer.
    All finished in 43.37 with LOI like others being TEEM.

    1. Indeed; there can be no such thing as a “bad Ian” – but I finished it anyway! Friendly for an Izetti but took me into the SCC, enjoyably.

  34. 17m
    Didn’t find this easy but then I’m streaming with a cold and didn’t sleep well.
    Questions marks next to the see in 6d and slap bang.
    Had rephasing which didn’t help with messages.
    COD fireball.

  35. Fun and approachable was my verdict, with facet and teem my LOIs. The rain’s coming down – it’s teeming! I biffed Caribbean for 11d at first, but innocent and beaching put paid to that. I enjoyed Eton sub-dividing to be let on: fun. As for 4d, tiresome chores have been a fag throughout my seven decades, and more recent (offensive) slang usage can’t really undo that. Smoke is the clue. So I don’t think anything remotely offensive was intended!

  36. 13:09, a fast time for me and a pleasant morning diversion.

    Lots of good clues with great surfaces. COD 11d BARBADIAN, oh that bad Ian! Also liked 14a ISRAEL. FOI 1a SPAM, of course. LOI 21d NOD because I forgot to read the clue. Just before that was 23a TEEM because NHO “teeming rain” and couldn’t parse it.

    Thanks to Izetti for another fine puzzle and to Templar for the blog. Lot’s wife 🤣

  37. 9:13 here, a rare sub-10 minute finish, particularly for an Izetti. Very much enjoyed this, with too many candidates to pick a COD. Finished in the NE corner with the BLATHER / BEACHING nexus.

    Thanks to Izetti and Templar.

  38. 13.48 Mostly straightforward but with five minutes spent on TEEM at the end. I thought of teem from the wordplay but didn’t think of teem meaning rain or come down meaning rain until I’d completed a fruitless alphabet trawl. Thanks Templar and Izetti.

  39. The expression ‘teeming it down’ (meaning raining heavily) was familiar to me from my youth (up north) so that went in quickly once we had the checkers. BEACHING and ISRAEL were our POI and LOI to finish in 9:41, pretty quick by our standards.

  40. 16:31. Poor Ian, I feel that he is grievously misunderstood. Didn’t think much of TEEM’s definition but otherwise enjoyed it. Thank you for the blog!

  41. An enjoyable solve, made more so by a fast time (for me) – 22 minutes.

    My two favourite clues were BARBADIAN and SLAP BANG. Slightly fortunate to reconsider and correct BARBArIAN and FoG before writing them in firmly.

    Many thanks to Izetti and Templar.

  42. A gentle offering from the usually tricky Izetti. Solved steadily after yesterday’s disaster.

  43. Maybe it’s the cumulative effect of my sleep deprivation but the recent puzzles by some setters I usually find ‘more challenging’ have seems much smoother and def quicker than usual. Perhaps some over-thinking barriers are down and I am seeing the clues more directly… This was full of Izetti’s trademark elegant surfaces and a joy to solve. Took a while to get started while in the dentist’s waiting room, finished later in Costa with a breeze-blocked LOI 23a where it took the short drive home for the PDM to occur – ‘teeming with rain’ followed by a rush to enter it just for the sake of seeing a completed grid on my printed out puzzle.
    FOI 9a Arts
    LOI 23a Teem
    COD 22a Con-fined – lovely.

  44. Nobody is forcing you to read this….

    Total humiliation.

    Put FOG instead of FAG for a 28-minute DNF. Complete failure to understand the clue. What an idiot! Inept, incompetent, incapable.

    I am unable to do the QC in anything approaching an acceptable time. I never improve and I feel absolutely useless just reading the other times. This is a game for people with better brains than me. If this QC was gentle, I am wasting my time and delusional if I think I will ever achieve a modicum of respectability here.

    Three DNFs in 5 days is bad beyond belief. I am at a loss to understand how the rest of you all get better whilst I get worse. I overthink everything and finish the QC stressed, angry and frustrated.

    Thanks for the blog.

    My computer is now going off!

  45. 11 mins…

    Finished this yesterday, but due to football related escapades never got around to writing it up. Definitely in the more straight forward end of Izetti’s range. Enjoyed the simplicity and wittiness of clues such as 4ac “Fireball”, 11dn “Barbadian”, 8ac “Messages” and 22ac “Confined”.

    FOI – 1ac “Spam”
    LOI – 22ac “Confined”
    COD – 20ac “Innocent”

    Thanks as usual!


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