Sunday Times 4677 by Dean Mayer

A tough one as far as I was concerned, but most enjoyable. Some great stuff (11ac, 2dn and 4dn all excellent, I thought). An error in 21dn but the required answer was clear enough once the cross checkers were in place.

1 Boy about to correct one’s disloyalty (8)
SEDITION – SON (boy) surrounds EDIT (correct) + I (one)
5 Still difficult to sit in silence (6)
SMOOTH – MOOT (difficult – as in moot point) ‘sits’ in SH (silence)
10 Middle of appendix given severe cut (7)
ENGRAVE – Middle of appENdix + GRAVE (severe)
11 Farm worker drinks kind of port (7)
HUSBAND – HAND (worker) takes in (‘drinks’) USB (kind of port – IT term).
12 Pipe blown as letter’s read out by Spooner (5,7)
PENNY WHISTLE – how the reverend would sound if stating WHEN EPISTLE (as letter). Hmm…
15 Lying, possibly natural but not right (2,3)
IN BED – IN BRED loses its R (not right)
17 Sharp or blunt (9)
TRENCHANT – DD – not much to add
18 Great big fish (5-4)
HUNKY DORY – HUNKY (big) + DORY (fish – John of that ilk probably being the best known but there are others in the family, including Rose). Great as definition is in the sense of “Fine!” Very nice clue, and a timely nod to the late lamented David Bowie
19 Turn right round, and the queen’s got it (5)
ROGER – GO R (turn right reversed – ’round’) + ER (queen)
20 Left again for NYE – lost touch (3,1,6,2)
LAY A FINGER ON – * (AGAIN FOR NYE) with L (Left) also in the mix: “lost” as the anagrind
24 Filling for calamari – cottage cheese (7)
RICOTTA – Hidden (indicated by ‘filling’) in calamaRI COTTAge
25 Show pawnbroker unfinished wood (7)
UNCLOAK – UNCLe (pawnbroker unfinished) + OAK (wood)
26 Crack on slate in storeroom (6)
PANTRY – PAN (slate – as in criticise) with TRY (crack – ‘have a go’) ‘on’ it
27 We’ll regularly put out boxes, free of pests (8)
DELOUSED – DOUSED (put out) ‘boxes’ EL (wE’lL regularly)
1 Sorry, the piglets don’t have nightmares! (5,5)
SLEEP TIGHT – *(THE PIGLETS) with “sorry” as the anagrind. Obvious once you get it, but took me a while to spot what was going on here. Very nice.
2 Gear for one version of “London Calling“? (3,3,4)
DOG AND BONE – To make a call you need a phone, and in Cockney rhyming slang (i.e. London) that might be to “get on the dog…” Lovely stuff, with plenty of misdirection happening and a nod to The Clash always appreciated…
3 Emotional start to the new year (5)
TEARY – T (start to The) + *(YEAR) with “new” as the anagrind
4 The reason why money became my missed opportunity? (3,4,3,4)
ONE THAT GOT AWAY – Answer clear enough from “missed opportunity”, but have to confess I needed a hand from one of our senior colleagues to parse this one (thanks JackT). Take the “ONE” out of MONEY and you are left with MY – “why money became my”. Very cunning…
6 Vehicle fitted with ABS? (6,3)
MUSCLE CAR – Upper case ABS misleads us into thinking about brakes, whereas we need to think lower case abs (muscles). Had not heard this phrase before, but apparently widely used in North America to refer to high performance cars. Cunning disguise…
7 Nothing to talk about? Fine (4)
OKAY – YAK (to talk) + O (nothing) reversed (about)
8 Screen two thirds of sitcom (4)
HIDE – 4/6 of HI DE HI, the Butlins spoof show from the ’80s
9 Now then – my virtue is shaky (4,4,6)
THIS VERY MINUTE – *(THEN MY VIRTUE IS) with “shaky” as the anagrind
13 Dance around soggy ground not acceptable (3,7)
GAY GORDONS – *(AROUND SOGGY) with the U being taken out of the mix (not acceptable – i.e. non U) and “ground” as the anagrind
14 Cutting through wound not covered in some places (5-5)
START NAKED – TART (cutting) inside (through) SNAKED (wound) giving us a regional variation (in some places) of the more familiar stark… Tricky, but all the components are there to make it a very fair clue, I thought. Quite where this local variation is heard I have no idea – any offers?
16 Old trader‘s carts – not a change (3-6)
DRY SALTER – DRAYS (carts) without the A – ‘not a’ + ALTER, giving us the trader in ingredients for dyes and salt for preserving meat etc. New to me…
21 Wall Street character good on City floor (5)
GECKO – Reference to Gordon Gekko in the Wall Street movie – but unfortunately the required answer is misspelt (error graciously acknowledged on the ST Forum – a simple instance of a Homeric nod). Anyway, the required answer is constructed from G (good) ‘on’ EC (City – postcode for square mile) + KO (floor – knock out).
22 Bag endless grouse (4)
GRIP – GRIPE loses its E (endless grouse)
23 Son could easily study (4)
SCAN – S (son) + CAN (could easily)

21 comments on “Sunday Times 4677 by Dean Mayer”

  1. I had START-NAKED (why the hyphen, I wondered), and simply couldn’t believe it, so went with ‘stark’; more fool I. But it was just as well, I suppose, as I couldn’t remember what kind of Gordons it was so had to look it up. (I watched a bit of one on YouTube; rather dull looking for ‘gay’.) Couldn’t parse 4d, or 8d (never heard of the sitcom),couldn’t understand 2d, so these were biffed from checkers. All in all an unsatisfying demi-solve; but I loved 1d.
  2. 80 minutes of hard but mostly enjoyable work. I didn’t spot the error re GECKO because I’d never heard of the Wall Street character and didn’t get round to looking him up. Never heard of START-NAKED either but relied on wordplay and got it right.

    I might well have arrived here today with 4dn unparsed as I didn’t see it at the time and it was only when I received Nick’s request for assistance that I looked at it again and figured it out.

    I thought 23dn was a bit feeble as CAN doesn’t imply ‘easily’ in my book. If ‘could’ needs ‘easily’ as a modifier then so does ‘can’.

    Edited at 2016-01-24 06:52 am (UTC)

    1. I wondered about this too, and think Dean may be thinking of contexts such as requests for help, where the response “I can do it” might be seen as equivalent to “I could easily do it”, while “I could do it” – with one more degree of remoteness – suggests that the person being canvassed is less amenable to the request.
    2. I read the definition as “(to) easily read”, meaning that the cryptic is S + CAN (could).
      Didn’t like 14d. Never heard of it and neither has Mr. Google.
        1. You think not? (Sorry I meant “easily study”).
          Looking at the various definitions, (and there is some support for my interpretation) the word SCAN is interesting in that it has two contrary meanings: to look at something in detail but also to take a broad view. So it seems like a Humpty Dumpty word “when I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean…”
          1. I might be able to accept ‘easily read’ to mean something like ‘read in a lazy way’, but if this is the required sense then ‘easily study’ seems like a contradiction in terms.
  3. I didn’t spot the misspelling and would have spelt it GECKO if asked. Didn’t fall for the START-NAKED trap either, so all square. 4dn is a great clue among many others in a very fine crossword.
  4. Checked on this as wasn’t at all happy about it at first but it’s the original expression which may have clung on regionally. ‘steort’ (from memory) is OE for rump or tail , as in our old crossword pal the redstart. So it’s the equivalent of US ‘butt-naked’
  5. I look forward to Dean’s crosswords so much and this did not disappoint.
    Tough, of course.
    COD to 4d
  6. 26:20, but with an error at 14dn. I spotted the trap and identified the correct wordplay, so I realised that I was looking at either an unknown variant of STARK-NAKED or an unknown word – TARK – meaning ‘cutting’. In the end I decided that an obscure gardening term was more likely than an unknown variant of such a well-known phrase, but I was irritated at being forced to make this sort of choice even before I knew that I’d got it wrong. Harrumph.
  7. 23:59 … how sweet it was to get START-NAKED, a whole Sunday’s worth of Schadenfreude. No doubt I’ll get my comeuppance soon enough.

    The usual (what an albatross that must be) terrific Sunday entertainment from DM, with SLEEP TIGHT and HUNKY DORY likely to stay in the memory. PENNY WHISTLE is absolutely excruciating. I love it.

    1. At school we were given a boring sentence and asked to write an essay. Why were we never given:

      How sweet to get start-naked, a whole Sunday’s worth of Schadenfreude ….

    2. Funny the way the mind works. PB and I discussed changing to STARK-NAKED and re-clueing, but wound=snaked was too good to lose and the balance TARK wasn’t nice. Even so, had I begun with STARK-NAKED and PB had pointed out that START-NAKED would have neutrino-zapping potential I’d have jumped at it.
      As it turned out the process was sort of the other way around, but with the same (probably) result.
  8. Great blog Nick – thank you.
    With foul-ups like 21D all I can do is apologise and desperately scrabble around for positives. In all the emails I received which mentioned it, correspondents said that if they were taking part in a pub quiz and had to name the Wall Street character they’d have spelt it the same way. So I think we should blame the film.
    Best wishes all, and here’s to a fault-free next one.
  9. Figured out the Gekko typo before it hurt me, but didn’t figure out the Start/Stark trap. And took forever to correct Dog And Pony – I assumed it referred to a Clash song I couldn’t remember. As an American of a certain age, Muscle Car went right in. Agree with all the above that One That Got Away is stellar. Thx Anax, Thx Nick
  10. Excellent crossword as always from Dean/Anax, but although 4dn was very nice I was a bit doubtful about ‘The reason why …’ Surely it isn’t the reason why, it’s the means by which, which is not the same thing.
    1. Taking a memorable race as an example, what was the reason why John Ngugi of Kenya won the 1988 Olympic 5000m? Strictly speaking, it was the fact that he crossed the line first, without getting disqualified. But the real reason was the same as the “means by which” – a piece of brave front running that for once didn’t turn out to be over-optimistic, possibly combined with the reluctance of anyone else to chase him until it was too late. If you ask someone who remembers the race “Why did Ngugi win?”, that’s what they’ll tell you about.

      Edited at 2016-01-29 06:24 pm (UTC)

      1. I don’t wish to cast dispersions, as that chap in Shakespeare said, on your editing Peter and of course they are very similar and if you allow it then fine. Although they’re not really the same thing, as I’m sure you’d agree, they are I suppose interchangeable in some contexts and in crosswordland that’s enough. If I’d been setting the clue I’d have started with some phrase that is equivalent to ‘the means by which’. But I’m not Dean Mayer and perhaps that shows.

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