Saturday Times 24789 (5th March)

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
Solving time 16:33. A very mixed bag consisting of a lot of very easy clues interspersed with some very hard ones with tortuous wordplay or obscure vocabulary. Still, there was a bit of science in there – an astronomer and a mathematical term.

1 RIDICULE – RILE around DI (female) + CU (copper).
5 COPTIC – COMIC with the M from Monsieur replaced by PT (point). An old Egyptian language that used the Greek alphabet.
9 PEA – PEA(t).
10 ATMOSPHERIC – cryptic definition.
12 CHEW THE FAT – double definition, the second from the old nursery rhyme:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so, between them both, you see
They licked the platter clean.

13 BOOR – BOO + R.
15 DEARTH – D(iamonds) + EARTH (what the most demanding person wants, e.g. in the phrase “to cost the earth”).
16 DRUMLIN – DIN(ner) around RUM + L(eft). A small hill or mound formed by a glacier.
18 TOMBOLA – A LOT (many) reversed around OMB (large sum – BOMB (as in “to cost a”) – see 15ac), without the first B).
20 NATIVE – NAIVE around T
2 AIRY – double definition. The astronomer is George Airy (1801-92), whose main claim to fame was setting up Greenwich as the prime meridian.
24 SALAMANDER – RED, ALAS reversed around MAN. In ancient myth it’s a lizard-like spirit whic lives in fire.
26 PROFITEROLE – (poor trifle)* + E (last thing onE needs).
27 NAG – hidden in aNAGram.
28 DWELLS – (roa)D + WELLS (a cathedral city in Somerset).
29 HEADCASE – double definition, the first from the 1985 book by Oliver Sacks. I’m sure someone will manage to find themselves offended by such a description, but what the hell…

1 REPACK – E.P. inside RACK.
2 DEADEYE – double definition, one of which might be totally inaccurate, as you can’t be an expert marksman without being able to see! The sailing equipment is “a round, flattish wooden block with a rope or iron band passing around it, and pierced with three holes for a lanyard.”
3 CHATTERBOX – HATTER (mad person) in CB (Citizens’ Band radio) + OX (beast).
4 LAMBETH PALACE – (capable at helm)*. The official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
6 OCHE – O CHE! (appeal made to guerrilla). This is the line behind which a darts player stands when throwing.
7 TURMOIL – T.U. (union) + R.M. (Royal Marines – body of jolly types) + OIL (means to reduce grinding).
8 CICERONE – IRON (club), inside C.E. (church), around C.E (church). A museum guide. Very tricky wordplay for a fairly obscure word.
14 SUBTRAHEND – (shade burnt)* . Not a word I was familiar with, but there weren’t too many alternatives once the crossing letters were in.
17 STRAPPED – double definition.
19 MARLOWE – LOW inside (night)MARE. I expect the setter was thinking of Elizabethan dramatist Christopher Marlowe, although there are other more recent possibilities.
21 VEDANTA – V(ery) + ED(ition) + A + N.T. + A.
22 BROGUE – double definition, an old chestnut.
25 VIAL – VI(t)AL

11 comments on “Saturday Times 24789 (5th March)”

  1. An absolute nightmare for me. After an hour I resorted to aids and needed to cheat on seven clues in order to finish. And even then I managed to get one wrong at 23ac where I had plumped for AURA and forgot to go back and look the astronomer up.
  2. I did this in bed this morning with my first cup of tea. I thought I’d never get it finished! There was some unfamiliar vocabulary in the SE. I’d never heard of VEDANTA or SUBTRAHEND, though both became obvious when the checkers were in. I’d vaguely heard of AIRY and I knew OCHE from the pub and CICERONE from reading historical novels. (They were the guides who accompanied rich young men on the Grand Tour) Last in HEADCASE – I was looking for some archaic word for a helmet and was fooled by a simple double definition. Finally made landfall in 65 minutes. Whew!
  3. I found this incredibly difficult to finish: I had all but COPTIC, DRUMLIN, CICERONE and SUBTRAHEND after about 40 minutes, but those four took me the rest of the weekend in a number of stints. The intersection of the obscurities made it particularly difficult to get a foothold. VEDANTA and DEADEYE were also unknown to me. Last in SUBTRAHEND, constructed painstakingly once all the checkers were in.
  4. 43 minutes, with the NE causing the most trouble. I’d never heard of OCHE, but as Vinyl said, what else could it be? If asked, ‘Who was AIRY?’ or ‘What’s a TOMBOLA?’, I would have given one of those blank stares of incomprehension for which I’m so well known among my acquaintance, but they were lying around in my memory somewhere, as was DRUMLIN (which I would have associated with archeology not geology–Stonehenge or kitchen middens or some such). And SUBTRAHEND, of all things, which I got almost right off. When I was a schoolboy learning arithmetic, they actually taught us these words: addend, minuend, subtrahend, multiplicand. Miss Aldrich would be delighted to know I finally put the knowledge to use. (PS: it’s Dick Deadeye, not Deadeye Dick.)
  5. Deadeye Dick and his accomplice Mexican Pete feature in an altogether bawdier work, attributed by some to Noel Coward. Readers of a sensitive disposition should not follow the link.
  6. 14:37 for me. I found this quite tricky in parts as well. I spent a few minutes at the end agonising over 23ac, vaguely remembering the astronomer, but then wondering if he was actually spelled AERY or whether AURA could be possibly be an appropriate term from astronomy. Fortunately in the end I managed to convince myself that AIRY was the answer.
  7. Glad to see some regulars found this difficult. Or as Monty Python might have said, “A Subtrahend has eaten my vedanta”. Took me AGES and then still managed to get two wrong. Forget what I put but not COPTIC nor CICERONE.
  8. Took me ages, too, and got three wrong in the end, AIRY, OCHE and COPTIC. I got CICERONE only because my Italian step-daughter did a stint as one in a local museum, so I had heard of it as an Italian word. Gradese

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