Sunday Times 4667 by Jeff Pearce – Cakes and Ale

Plenty to enjoy here. Not too hard but no pushover either – just about right for me. Nothing obscure (other than an unknown model – but that probably says more about my personal lack of engagement with the world of the catwalk than anything else), some elegant surfaces (hats off to 29a, 13dn, 24 & 25dn) and a nice hidden at 22.

COD to 7dn, which I thought was very neat and full of masterly misdirection. Thanks to Jeff for a fine puzzle.

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

1 Tried a politician in Northern town with Department’s head (7)
SAMPLED – MP (politician) ‘in’ SALE (Northern town) + D (Department’s head). The “a” in the clue threw me somewhat to start with, but I think it is probably just redundant.
5 Show without skirts makes you blush (7)
CRIMSON – CON (somewhat archaic usage meaning to teach – thus ‘show’) goes around (without) RIMS (skirts)
9 Clerk has to write guide about opening of Parliament (9)
PENPUSHER – PEN (to write) and USHER (guide) go around (about) P (opening of Parliament)
10 Plan a large collection at end of round (5)
DRAFT – RAFT (a large collection – as in “there’s a raft of old golf magazines in the loft”) follows D (end of rounD)
11 Blue soil at end of rockery (6)
EARTHY – EARTH (soil) + Y (end of rockerY), with a blue joke being earthy humour
12 Endlessly complain about odd lingo in the country (8)
MONGOLIA – MOA[n] (endlessly complain) goes around (about) *(LINGO) with “odd” as the anagrind
14 Sunday Times displayed in explosive meeting! (10)
TOURNAMENT – OUR NAME (Sunday Times) ‘displayed’ inside TNT (explosive)
16 Nothing more than pool (4)
MERE – Straightforward DD
18 See 3 (4)
GEAR – See explanation at 3 down
19 Sort of hand shuffled etc (3,2,5)
AND SO FORTH – *(SORT OF HAND) with “shuffled” as the anagrind
22 Some slander sensationalist author from Denmark (8)
ANDERSEN – Hidden (indicated by ‘some’) in slANDER SENsationalist. Hans Christian, pure as the driven snow – or was he? An alternative take is explored in this article (those who wish to preserve their pristine image of him intact should probably not click on the link…)
23 Messy person’s extremely small cooker (6)
SLOVEN – SL (extremes of SmalL) + OVEN (cooker)
26 Girl loses pound for bolt (5)
ELOPEPenELOPE – girl loses PEN (pound – as in animal holding area)
27 Seized strange instrument (5,4)
SNARE DRUM – SNARED (seized) + RUM (strange)
28 Temptingly display many fishes (7)
DANGLES – The clue should read “displays” – as Peter Biddlecombe graciously acknowledged in the Forum in response to comments… D (many – Roman numeral for 500) + ANGLES (fishes)
29 Hint of nausea follows foul-tasting bird (7)
BITTERN – N (hint of Nausea) ‘follows’ BITTER (foul-tasting), giving us the bird that booms – happily undergoing something of a resurgence in the UK these days
1 Taking food in hospital to suppress temperature is wise (7)
SAPIENT – PIE (food) inside SAN (hospital – short form of sanatorium) + T (temperature)
2 Island’s an alternative to a big house (5)
MANOR – MAN (island) + OR (an alternative to)
3 & 18A. Drunk most of huge gin with a large mug [two-word answer] (8)
LAUGHING GEAR – *(HUGE GIN A LARGE) with “drunk” as the anagrind, giving slang term for the north & south much used by The Sun and Australian rugby league commentators
4 Model initially looks hurt and desperately upset (4)
DAHL – First letters (initially) reversed (upset) of Looks Hurt And Desperately leading us to former model Sophie. With apologies to the lady in question, I must admit I had not had the pleasure of encountering her before, but she appeared clearly enough from the wordplay. Coming in at six foot tall and with striking good looks, she should not be too hard to spot.
5 Actors into playing Scarfe, say (10)
CARTOONIST – *(ACTORS INTO) with “playing” as the anagrind, with the wonderful Gerald Scarfe being selected by our setter as the exemplar of the noble art form
6 By spade there’s old plant (6)
INDIGO – IN DIG (by spade – don’t quite follow this, but anyway…) + O (old) giving us the shrub that provides the dye
7 It won’t go down well with sponge trifle! (5,4)
SMALL BEER – DD, the first being somewhat cryptic and turning on “sponge” meaning an old soak / heavy drinker (who would not be impressed with a small beer), the second being the more standard metaphorical usage. Lovely clue, I thought, with all sorts of misdirection happening.
8 Suet can ruin fruitcake (7)
NUTCASE – *(SUET CAN), with “ruin” as the anagrind
13 Asian menus translated by stenographer (10)
AMANUENSIS – *(ASIAN MENUS) with “translated” as the anagrind – rather elegant, I thought
15 Happy with fluffy hair being crinkled? (2,3,4)
UP AND DOWN – UP (happy) + AND (with) + DOWN (fluffy hair). Crinkled as the definition gave me a bit of a pause for thought, until I contemplated the contours of a crinkle-cut chip (as one does absent more engaging visual stimuli)
17 American female – elegant and wealthy (8)
AFFLUENT – A (American) + F (female) + FLUENT (elegant – as in elegant prose)
18 Ambitious boss visits Indian state (2-5)
GO AHEAD – GOA (Indian state) + HEAD (boss)
20 He suspends word game (7)
HANGMAN – DD, the first being a slightly dark cryptic definition, the second bringing back happy memories of a game that could well be the start point for many kids on the road to Crosswordland
21 Starts to detest examiner during verbal test (6)
ORDEAL – DE (starts to Detest Examiner) inside (during) ORAL (verbal)
24 Gaelic volume’s introducing poetry (5)
VERSE – ERSE (Gaelic language) preceded by V (volume’s introducing)
25 Innocent girl leaves sexy dance (4)
LAMB – ADA (girl) ‘leaves’ LAMBADA (sexy dance), with the lamb amongst wolves as the innocent. Very nice surface on which to finish (and any reminder of the lambada is always most welcome).

10 comments on “Sunday Times 4667 by Jeff Pearce – Cakes and Ale”

  1. … puzzle from this setter. We all have our dislikes. Ulaca, if he did it, would probably cringe at the self-reference in 14ac; so common in another place but rare in many incarnations of The Times.

    Here are my irks.

    1ac: Don’t like the nugatory A in “a politician”. I had this debate with Dean (Anax) on TfT a while ago where he argued that dictionary definitions typically supply the article. “CLOG: a wooden shoe …”. He was probably right; but then crossword “definitions” (literals) are rarely on the model of dictionary entries. But who am I to argue with the gods?

    29ac: “Hint of” signalling the first letter. Jimbo tells me it’s common in Mephistos and the like. But I find it ugly and open to so many more alternatives. No doubt the good Jim will be back to chastise me. Once bittern, twice shy?

  2. I wasn’t particularly irked, but I was struck by the number of clues indicating a terminal or initial letter: 1ac, 9ac, 10ac, 11ac, McT’s 29ac, 21d. What I was irked by, on the other hand, was not having the vaguest hint of an idea what 3, 18 was about. I got the LAUGHING from checkers, but GEAR was too much for me. DNK Scarfe, but no prob. Never heard of CON in that usage, but it was biffable. Hadn’t occurred to me to equate fluency with elegance, of prose or otherwise, which slowed me up some on 17d.
    1. Scarfe might be taken as another self reference as the cartoonist’s work was published in the Sunday Times for many a year. I’ve lost track of whether he still contributes on occasion.

      This was mostly straightforward and I completed it just within 30 minutes which is unusual for me for a Sunday puzzle. I didn’t know the required meaning of CON or get the DAHL/model reference.

      Edited at 2015-11-15 06:56 am (UTC)

        1. The style is similar to that of Ralph Steadman, who is perhaps better known internationally for his work with Hunter S. Thompson.
      1. I don’t have to post now; the two of you perfectly articulated everything I had to say
  3. My time on the clock for this is 18:29, but I think I was distracted by breakfast-making and other activities.
    I didn’t understand CRIMSON when solving: CON seems a bit obscure but the answer was clear. I thought 7dn was decidedly odd, because I didn’t know this meaning of ‘sponge’, so thanks for clearing that up.
    I also thought it was a bit odd to refer to Sophie DAHL rather than her more famous grandfather, but I suppose it makes the surface work a bit better… and it is Sunday after all!

    Edited at 2015-11-15 10:51 am (UTC)

  4. Snap Nick. So far you’re the only other person who thought the A in 1a was superfluous and confusing (I also mentioned this on the club forum where I got no reaction!). Same as Vinyl on “laughing gear” but TonyS sent me a clip of a Heineken commercial (an Eliza Doolittle/Prof. Higgins spoof) which included it. Blink and you’ll miss it. 19.17

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