Saturday Times Cryptic 26652 – February 18, 2017. Don’t cry for me Richard Nixon.

I’m just temping here, alternately with Brnchn (Bruce), for the next few weeks while our new boss Vinyl finds a permanent replacement for the irreplaceable Linxit (I believe B is continuing).  Some vintage American material here with a soupcon of political content, some geography, some music and some mythology – all giving us a highly entertaining puzzle.  The two long down clues were very helpful and I was on the wavelength for this one at 15.07.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.


1.  Groom has small furry animal schooled (7,2)
SMARTEN UP.   S[mall].  MARTEN=furry animal.  UP=schooled, i.e. up at university.
6. Magnate wants a cracking new hairstyle (5)
NABOB.  N[ew] A witht BOB=hairstyle.  And see 13A infra.
9.  Answer several letters in order to protect an Asian currency (7)
AFGHANI.  A, followed by FGHI (letters in order) containing (to protect) AN.
10.  Best man gets old mate round (7)
OPTIMAL.  TIM=man, surrounded by (round) O[ld] PAL=mate.
11.  Mike, popular American, makes negative point (5)
MINUS.  M=mike (in Nato alphabet).  IN=popular.  US=American.
12.  No good to succeed FBI boss, one sucking up (9)
HOOVERING.  The infamous J. Edgar, once upon a time Director of the FBI with N[o] G[ood] vacuuming up 1=one.  Excellent!
13.  Maybe Agnew thus entertains religious right (5)
SPIRO.  SO=thus, containing (entertains) PI=religious R[ight].  Neat one.  He was Richard Nixon’s VP who resigned in disgrace, to be replaced by Gerald Ford who then became president when Nixon resigned in disgrace.  One of his best known catchphrases, referring to the media, was to call them the “nattering nabobs of negativism”.  It was in fact his speech-writer William Safire who coined the phrase and then went on to become a highly respected columnist for that bastion of “negativism” the New York Times.  See 6A.
14. Toeing establishment line brings chaos in revolutionary Genoa (2,7)
ON MESSAGE.  MESS=chaos in anagram (revolutionary) of GENOA.  Something of a theme here.
17.  Loire seething with fish in continental location (9)
CHARLEROI.  Anagram (seething) of LOIRE with CHAR=fish.  Belgian city which played a significant role in the dispositions for the Battle of Waterloo.
18.  Tedious talk of flower power begins (5)
PROSE.  P[ower].  ROSE=flower.  It’s not always tedious when written but as talk it may be.
19.  Scorer ordered pork with duck and five bananas (9)
PROKOFIEV.  Sergei.  If you have the long down clues solved, there aren’t all that many words that we know that end in I*V.  Anagram (bananas) of PORK, O=duck and FIVE.  The scorer is, as is often the case in these puzzles, a composer.  He can be tricky to spell (I always think the F in the middle should be a V) but the setter has given us all the necessary.
22. Port has delays — nothing allowed in (5)
LAGOS.  Nigerian mega-city and seaport.  LAGS=delays, containing O.
24.  Song complete about Minoan daughter (7)
ARIADNE.  ARIA=song with END=complete, reversed (about).  In Greek mythology the daughter of King Minos of Crete.  She helps Theseus escape the Labyrinth and the Minotaur.
25.  See the writer is Swift, using name for Lilliput’s leader (7)
IMAGINE.  IM=writer of the puzzle is AGILE=swift, swapping the L in Lilliput for n[ame].
26.  All fingers and thumbs?  Or finding settled course? (5)
TENOR.  We’ve got ten of these digits altogether with OR.  As in the “noiseless tenor of their way” in Gray’s Elegy.
27.  Delicacy that may complement sour vegetable?
SWEETMEAT.  Yes indeed, a sweet meat would be a good pairing, as the food writers might say.


1.  Did butterfly, say, crossing river move as many insects do (5)
SWARM.  SWAM=butterfly swimming stroke.containing (crossing) R[iver].
2.  Country chap, cultured, entering yacht station, having month off (9)
ARGENTINA.  GENT=cultured chap surrounded by (entering) [m]ARINA=yacht place with M[onth]removed.
3.  One spotted in woods?  Amphibian’s also seen by lake (9)
TOADSTOOL.  TOADS=amphibian’s.  TOO=also.  L[ake].
4.  Behaviour of the kind shown by script in soap opera (15)
NEIGHBOURLINESS.  Reference is to long-running Australian/UK tv series.
5.  Teacher or parent maybe well prepared to read aloud list of charges (8,7)
PROFORMA INVOICE.    Commercial term. PROF=teacher.  OR. MA=parent.  IN VOICE=ready to read aloud.  In the US “pro forma” is usually two words.
6.  Money raised on explosive component (5)
NITRE.  NIT=tin (money) reversed (raised).  RE=on.
7.  Famed fawn in tropical grass loves to leave island (5)
BAMBI.  Remove the OO (loves) from bamboo and replace with I[sland].  At my first boarding school someone had the bright idea to show this famous Disney movie the first weekend of the September term.  I was 9 and the memory remains.
8.  Doctor at centre in Amsterdam keeps diary — it’s saucy! (9)
BOLOGNESE.  BONES=doctor (from “sawbones”), surrounding LOG=diary with E=middle letter in [Amst]E[rdam].
13.  Crawler‘s second year chap, not fresher (9)
SYCOPHANT.  S[econd] Y[ear] with anagram (fresher) of CHAP NOT.
15.  Begging to take place of boxing instructor initially (9)
SUPPLIANT.  SUPPLANT=take the place of containing (boxing) I[nstructor] (initially).
16.  What’s hypotenuse next to? (9)
ALONGSIDE.  The longest side of a right triangle.  Double definition and nice Pythagorean pun.
20. Hunter ahead snaring S. American banker (5)
ORION.  ON=ahead containing (snaring) RIO=river (banker).  He was the hunter in Greek mythology, now perhaps better known for the constellation named for him and highly visible in the night sky.
21.  Ruling class (5)
ORDER.  Succinct double definition.
23.  Sons given little money for bouquet (5)
SCENT.  S=sons with CENT=little money.  This would also have worked with “son” singular.

19 comments on “Saturday Times Cryptic 26652 – February 18, 2017. Don’t cry for me Richard Nixon.”

  1. Nice blog, thanks Olivia. I’d never heard of a “proforma invoice”‘, with or without a space after “pro”. Sounds like a fancy name for a price list. My turn next week.
  2. I can’t remember what made this so difficult for me, but I imagine there were 2 or 3 clues that I couldn’t crack, since otherwise I’d normally stop at 30 minutes and finish it over my preprandial Scotch. Anyway, COD to TENOR. Highly respected, Olivia? By whom?
    1. Well actually respected by me, among others, Kevin. Despite disagreeing with him on practically everything I always read his columns because he was a very good writer. He had a weekly column in the Sunday Times magazine called “On Language” that was excellent.
      1. Well, I’ll grant you the good writer part. (And the politics part.) I used to read him in the NYT or the Intl. Herald-Trib, but it’s been years and I don’t remember any specifics. I do remember thinking he had nothing to say worth reading about language.
  3. I was 14ac ON MESSAGE and wavelength.

    Agree – the two long down clues were of great assistance.

    COD for me was 26ac TENOR – with a liking for the bananas 19ac PROKOFIEV I always think of the F as a P!

    WOD SYCHOPANT the crazed Jumbo.

  4. Not on the wavelength, and the two long ones were among the last in. I know a proforma invoice as a list of values for the customs people when shipping internationally, not a list of charges.
    Seemed to be a lot of proper nouns today – 8 or 9 answers plus Tim, Agnew and Hoover in the wordplay.Even so, no real holdups and an enjoyably average 21 minutes.
    Answer to spot the deliberate mistake: Abuja is the capital of Nigeria.
    1. I know a PROFORMA INVOICE as one they send you ahead of the real invoice so you can agree what’s on it. In my case what I’m usually agreeing to is that while I’m getting less of the wines I want than I did last year, the price has gone up to compensate.
  5. Yet again, I forgot to tear this out and save for a week. I remember finishing in just over the half hour with no problems. COD and LOI ALONGSIDE, initially baffled why ADJACENT or even OPPOSITE didn’t fit. There’s only one FBI Director I’ve ever known the name of, the butt of jokes in the years after Marilyn Monroe died.The teller could select which of the Kennedy boys could have killed her, but the punch line always had J Edgar sweeping it under the carpet. Nice blog title, Olivia, though perhaps the truth did leave Richard Nixon on occasion.
  6. Welcome to Saturdays, Olivia, albeit only temporarily.

    Slogged my way through this and fell at the last hurdle with the unknown CHARLEROI. I had all the checkers and guessed the fish, so quite how I failed with the missing two letters and had to resort to aids remains a mystery. Maybe I wasn’t convinced about the fish.

    Sudoku addicts may be aware of 24ac from “Ariadne’s thread”, a solving technique to employ when one gets really stuck and all else has failed.

    Edited at 2017-02-25 09:41 am (UTC)

  7. 12:12. I was grateful for clear wordplay in a couple of places: PROKOFIEV, where like Olivia I always want the F to be a V, and ARIADNE. I’ve heard of her but I can never remember who’s related to who in these stories (same goes for Shakespeare’s comedies) so the definition wasn’t much help.
    On the other hand ‘maybe Agnew’ is about as helpful a definition as you’re going to get. I actually find it quite comforting these days to remember that contemptible political leaders are nothing new, and it doesn’t have to end in catastrophe.

    Edited at 2017-02-25 10:35 am (UTC)

  8. Fine puzzle, nice blog Olivia, 20 minutes for me, was going to point out the capital of Nigeria isn’t Lagos but isla3 got there first.
  9. Gave up temporarily after my hour, and went back later to spend another half an hour finishing off. Found this tough, with fair few unknowns, like the PROFORMA INVOICE and SUPPLIANT.

    Glad my assumption that CHARLEROI must be some place named after a King Charles turned out to be right. It also helped that about every other woman in Crete—where my parents live—is called ARIADNE.

    I first learned of SPIRO Agnew from a mildly rude anagram of his name in one of Nigel Rees’s graffiti books. I hesitate to reproduce it under such an erudite blog, but anyone who wants to know can probably find it by googling “Spiro Agnew anagram”.

  10. Normally I make a start on the Saturday puzzle and then come back to it during the week. For this one I made good initial progress and managed to finish it on the day-with a few hopeful guesses at the end. The guesses were: Charleroi, Ariadne and Orion. But I was pretty confident in them. It helped I could remember Spiro -but had forgotten about his demise.
    An enjoyable puzzle.
    Thanks very much for the blog. David
  11. Good blog – I am embarrassed I didnt parse ORION straight away and forgot to go back to check it. I, too, was a fan of William Safire’s writing, especially his ON LANGUAGE series.
  12. Nice blog, Olivia. Thanks. I’m with you regarding Wm Safire. I think Safire also created ‘the silent majority’, whom the nattering nabobs insisted on ignoring. In the puzzle, the couple American give aways were offset by the unknown Belgian city, so i got through to a usual time finish of a bit more than 45 min.
  13. lsla3,l think there’s nothing wrong with LAGOS as the definition is ‘port’ though Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria.COD 13d.Ong’ara,Nairobi.

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