Saturday Times 23791 (Dec 22)

Solving time 12:15

Quite a lot of Brit references in this one that may have had overseas solvers scratching their heads, e.g. ISA, TA, D = old money, “Smoke’s part”.


4 BI(PART,ISA)N – ISA stands for Individual Savings Account. I like this sort of construction, where the containment is clued cryptically rather than just indicated.
9 HIGH,TA,I,LIT – TA = Territorial Army.
11 RETINA – RETAIN with the A moved to the end.
12 S(WAN)LAKE – which is a four-act ballet by Tchaikovsky.
14 FI(r)ST – great definition, “Punch dispenser”.
15 L(EMONG,R)ASS – i.e. R, GNOME (adornment for garden) rev. inside LASS.
17 C(H,ICKENO=in coke*)UT – always confusing when supply is used as an adverb anagram indicator in the cryptic grammar but as a verb in the surface reading.
25 PALM,SUNDAY – “sundae”
26 B(AREL=real*)EGGED
27 S,O,H,O – Soho is a district of London (The Smoke), made up of the chemical symbols of sulphur, oxygen, hydrogen and oxygen again.


2 ABIDE WITH ME – I was puzzled by “final” in this clue until I looked it up – the composer wrote it while dying of tuberculosis, and only lived three weeks after its completion. [Actually, jackkt’s explanation in the first comment is far more likely!]
5 PULL SOMEONE’S LEG – nice cryptic definition.
7 S(C)UB,A
13 KISS OF DEATH – cryptic def. If you plant a kiss of death it will be a source of ruination to the recipient, I guess.
16 RINGTONES (resting on)* – nice &lit.
18 ES(CAPE)E – the Home Counties are SE, so the eastern part would be ESE. Cape Province is part of South Africa, although I don’t think it really exists any more.
21 MCJOB – first letters of Mare’s Colt Jumping Over Big. Slang for a dead-end job e.g. working in a burger bar. I couldn’t find it in any of my dictionaries, surprisingly.

4 comments on “Saturday Times 23791 (Dec 22)”

  1. According to this link MCJOB has been in the OED since 1986 and is now subject to a campaign by MacDonald’s to have it removed. It’s not in the latest Chambers or Collins.

    On 2D, I think your explanation would go beyond the assumption of knowledge that setters might expect of solvers of a Times cryptic. Abide With Me is (or was) standard fare for community singing at the FA Cup Final. If this is the correct explanation then it’s yet another British reference to add to your list.

    1. Abide With Me is very much still a part of Cup Final day, although the Community Singing went years ago in favour of such modern classics as “There’s only one team in *** ” (Insert town of choice as appropriate)
      I popped into McDonalds to use the toilet (if that’s not a tautology) a few months ago and the anti-Mcjob petition was in full swing. Sadly I resisted the temptation to add my opinion.

  2. I was unaware of this term for a “non-career” type job. Perhaps if it is often defined as “rotten post” it is not surprising that Big Mac is trying to uninvent it. It is in my lexicon now so I’m afraid it will be used at some time in the near future.

    There are 10 “easies” not in the blog:

    1a Miss a celebration (4)
    GAL A

    10a Finance sport with old money (4)
    FUN D. D is old pence as in £ S D.

    20a Turn on green light in corner (4)
    NO OK

    23a (DIY nut)* relocated missing order (6)

    24a I have to judge dance (4)
    J. I’VE

    3d Heathen (is cheat, it)* turns out (9)

    6d School over, soak and shower (7)

    8d Jogger may start to go naked? (5)
    NUD G E. Start of G(o) in (the) NUDE.

    19d Radio’s administrative body with restrictions on members (7)
    TRUSSED. Sounds like TRUST.

    22d Duke has superior way of passing port (5)
    D. OVER

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