Sunday Times 4655 by Jeff Pearce

Quite a tricky offering, I thought. 27a was unknown to me, although the wordplay and cross checkers made it accessible (unless, like me, you had mysteriously slammed in Post at 23d!)

Plenty of fun and some inventive clues – particularly liked 6a, 16d and 24a. 19d was easy enough to solve, but I struggled to get the definition.

Many thanks to Jeff for an amusing, challenging puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–)

1 Horrible smell I detected in dry part of prison – one painter required! (10)
BOTTICELLI – BO (horrible smell) + TT_I_CELL (I detected in dry part of prison) + I (one)
6 Help Nancy and Jack first (4)
ABET – AB (Able Seaman = Jack Tar) + ET (‘and’ in Nancy, France). Very neat
9 Mad hired gun starts to draw six-shooter and gets us all of a quiver (10)
SHUDDERING – *(HIRED GUN D S) – first letters (starts to) Draw and Six-shooter included in the anagrist – with “mad” as the anagrind
10 What’s meant to be funny about 19s? (4)
GAGA – 19s (plural) being BANANAS (as in nuts). Answer also constructed from A GAG (what’s meant to be funny) reversed (about). Some might say a bit tasteless, others might say “thank goodness the ST remains a PC free zone” – take your pick…
12 Stiff drink – tin’s knocked back by organisation’s employee (6)
COGNAC – COG (organisation’s employee – a cog in the wheel) + CAN reversed (tin’s knocked back)
13 Move at speed with hint of mania? (8)
STAMPEDE – *(AT SPEED) with M (hint of mania) also thrown into the mix, and “move” as the anagrind – & Lit (I believe – always a bit shaky on these things!)
15 Triumph – revolutionary machine carrying a lady to Thailand (11)
ACHIEVEMENT – *(MACHINE) with “revolutionary” as the anagrind, including EVE (lady) + T (abbreviation of Thailand)
18 Wasted model left crumpled purses around (11)
PURPOSELESS – POSE (model) + L (left) with *(PURSES) ‘around’ (“crumpled” being the anagrind)
21 Perhaps Lassie trains behind Grimethorpe? (8)
COLLIERY – COLLIE (Lassie the showbiz collie dog) + RY (trains) ‘behind’, giving the colliery known as much (if not more) for it’s brass band as its coal. Happened to see a re-run of Brassed Off recently – what a delightful movie…
22 Had food with local native (6)
INNATE – INN (local – as in pub) + ATE (had food)
24 Slip covering one? (4)
BOOB – As Woody Allen observed, “these things usually go around in pairs”. Cue wardrobe malfunction… Fine clue, and a Sunday Times special
25 Driving fast? It’s the Italian way! (10)
AUTOSTRADA – Cryptic clue giving us the Italian version of the autobahn
26 Oliver looking embarrassed about Bumble’s finale (4)
REED – RED (looking embarrassed) ‘about’ E (Bumble’s finale)
27 Short French novelist is with guru for preview (10)
VERNISSAGE – VERNE (short French novelist – Jules of that ilk) + IS + SAGE (guru). Unknown to me, but gettable from the wordplay and cross checkers (once I’d realised I’d got 23 dn wrong…!)
1 Strike-breaker is imprisoned for raising principles (6)
BASICS – SCAB (strike-breaker) ‘imprisoning’ IS all reversed (indicated by ‘raising’)
2 Plod takes time on old British motorbike (6)
TRUDGE – T (time) + RUDGE (a renowned motorbike brand which had its heyday in the first half of the 20th century)
3 Hip girl supported by most of European city (12)
INDIANAPOLIS – IN (HIP) + DIANA (girl) + POLISH (most of European). No doubt as intended, I spent a fair while hunting for a European city until enough cross checkers emerged to set me straight
4 Bit of wheat primarily needed to make bread (4)
EARN – EAR (bit of wheat) + N (primarily Needed)
5 Spun out German article two guys penned (10)
LENGTHENED – LEN and NED (two guys) ‘pen’ G (German) and THE (article). More cunning misdirection – I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hunting for a Der, Die or Das..,.
7 Black treacle ruined jewellery (8)
BRACELET – B (black) + *(TREACLE) with “ruined” as the anagrind
8 Burlesque? Go without an item of underwear (8)
TRAVESTY – TRY (go) outside (without) A VEST (item of underwear)
11 Copies some painters might make (12)
IMPERSONATES – *(SOME PAINTERS) with “might make” as the anagrind
14 King initially made mistake – nearly imprisoned by massive terrorist organisation (5,5)
KHMER ROUGE – K (king), then HUGE (massive) ‘imprisons’ M (initially Made) with ERROR (mistake – nearly). Took a bit of unravelling…
16 Key opening part of court (5,3)
SPACE BAR – SPACE (opening) + BAR (part of court). I needed a penny drop moment to think in terms of keyboards rather than locks – neat clue, I thought
17 Writer dipping bread in booze (8)
TROLLOPE – ROLL (bread) ‘dipping’ into TOPE (booze)
19 Handkerchief concealing daughter’s hand, partly (6)
BANANA – The wordplay was obvious enough: BANDANA (handkerchief with the D – daughter – concealed). The definition, however, puzzled me: I think a bunch of bananas is sometimes referred to as a “hand” of bananas, so a single banana would be ‘part’ of a hand. But then again I might have missed something here…
20 Have words with British judge about term of sentence (6)
BERATE – B (British) + RATE (judge) ‘about’ E (term of sentencE)
23 Book an office (4)
JOHN – DD: the biblical book of John, and both ‘office’ and John being slang for toilet (although I’ve never actually come across anyone using the ‘office’ term in real life)

17 comments on “Sunday Times 4655 by Jeff Pearce”

  1. an idiotic typo at 24ac (Woody Allen didn’t say it, actually; the local sheriff in the movie did). Maybe my superego taking over control of my fingers. I’d thought ‘john’ was an Americanism; I dropped it from my idiolect after becoming friends with 3 Johns in the space of a couple of months. DNK RUDGE, but it was pretty much unavoidable. Also DNK VERNISSAGE. You’re right about ‘hand’, Nick; a word I learned from one of these cryptics. COD to ABET.
  2. Tough this. Didn’t know office for lavatory, and my mental run of 5-letter French novelists ended at the one I had read, viz Camus.

    My jury is still out on the Woody Allen clue. If an &lit is an ‘all in one’, does that make this a ‘half in one’? Interesting to see what others feel about what could well turn out to be a Vegemite clue.

  3. At 10ac I had HAHA: on some very strange (gaga?) pretext that there’s “funny peculiar” (bananas) and another one … “funny haha”. Was about to blame the setter, until I realised that I was the one with the twisted brain. Surprise?

    During the week, I learned from the resident maths guy at the Groan that “metagrobologize” can mean to puzzle (mystify) or to puzzle out (solve). So I was metagrobologized by 25ac and couldn’t metagrobologize it. Not the best clue in the puzzle.

  4. 27ac was very familiar as we live in France and my wife is an artist who has had a vernissage or two of her work! 23d was also my downfall. I, too, had never heard of ‘office’ as a euphemism for toilet and stuck in ‘noun’ as ‘book’ and ‘office’ are both nouns. I once knew of a yacht called ‘The Office’!
  5. I felt some of this strayed into “trying a bit too hard” territory with 24ac at the top of my list in that respect. There were several unknowns including the motorcycle and the preview. I also toyed with HAHA at 10ac but never succumbed to it, however I was quite confident of POST at 23dn so it went in early and gave me a lot of problems later in the proceedings. This took me considerably longer than Dean Mayer’s offering published today, which is a bit of a turn-up.
  6. A pretty good offering from Jeff Pearce. The book and the BOOB posed no problem and ABET and GAGA were very neatly clued but I didn’t know the motorbike. The Oliver equals REED type of clue is always rather weak. A minor blemish, though.
  7. 31:31, so definitely at the tricky end of the spectrum, especially for a Jeff Pearce puzzle. I was held up for ages at the end with just 19dn and 10ac left, and I’ve no idea why it took me so long to see BANANA. But it did.
    ‘Office’ for the loo (or in that case LAV) came up in May (puzzle 26099) and triggered quite a lot of discussion at the time.
  8. My take on the route to banana: a “hand” or assistant is a “second banana” so……..hand, partly.

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