Sunday Times 4700 by Jeff Pearce – cushty

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
9:59. Pretty straightforward stuff from Jeff Pearce this week, but enjoyable for all that: I thought this was a very neatly put-together puzzle. Some easy clues, but also a smattering of things that were new to me at least, and all very fair.

At 12ac we have another instance of what seems to be Peter Biddlecombe’s “anything goes if it’s in Collins” policy on abbreviations. This is quite different from the policy in the daily puzzles, and gives the puzzles a bit of a Mephistoish feel: when solving a barred-grid puzzle you have to be aware that more or less any word might be abbreviated to its first letter, and I now approach these Sunday puzzles in something of the same spirit. It doesn’t bother me at all, particularly now that I’ve got used to it, but it might not be to everyone’s taste.

1 Being careless connected pair likely to slip
10 Fool sent back to court for occupying heavy tree
SATINWOOD – reversal of NIT (fool), WOO (court) inside SAD (heavy, as in a heavy heart).
11 Dart back and check collar
PINCH – reversal of NIP (dart), CH (check, of the chess variety).
12 After a kip return beer for pack-leader
AKELA – A, K, reversal of ALE. ‘Kip’ here is the currency of Laos, and the abbreviation is in Collins.
13 Before end of conference politician takes in the Spanish horror movie and Muse
MELPOMENE – EL (the Spanish) contained in MP (politician), OMEN (horror movie), conferencE. I had to construct this from wordplay, which was a little bit tricky. I hate horror films, and The OMEN is one of the few I’ve seen. It scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid.
14 Plant’s shoot behind bird
LARKSPUR – LARK (bird), SPUR (shoot). The word ‘plant’ induced the usual panic in me here, but it turned out to be one I had heard of.
16 Little girl’s fib about donkey
LASSIE – L(ASS)IE. A very easy clue.
19 Greet large cook outside
20 Nervously admire extremely big pheasant
GAME BIRD – (ADMIRE, BiG)*. An unindicated definition by example here, which could arguably have done with a question mark. I suppose the example leads pretty directly and naturally to the category though.
22 Drunk homes in on hooch
24 A hunk carried back wood
BALSA – reversal of A SLAB.
25 Hooter I carried making this?
NOISE – NO(I)SE. I think I would call this a semi-&Lit: the definition is the whole clue, but part of it is also wordplay. In a full-fat &Lit the wordplay also makes up the whole of the clue.
26 Soldier at sea eats fish spread
27 Hear Ted is distraught!
BROKEN-HEARTED – a reverse-wordplay number where the answer is a cryptic indication for the wordplay: if you break HEARTED you get HEAR TED. Neat.

2 See building here?
CATHEDRAL – CD: a ‘see’ is of course a bishopric, usually Ely.
3 European country — one replacing established old region of Asia Minor
IONIA – take the EST (established) out of ESTONIA and replace it with I. Part of what is now Turkey.
4 Fat opera singers run at sight of short rodent
ENORMOUS – ENO (opera singers), R, MOUSe. ‘Sight of’ is rather superfluous from a wordplay perspective, but if you read it as something like ‘where you see’ it makes sense. And of course it contributes greatly to the surface reading.
5 Slightly drunk artist prodding newlywed in the guts
TIDDLY – the middle letters (‘in the guts’) of ‘artist prodding newlywed’.
6 Criminal starts to read copy of a will
REPROBATE – REad, PROBATE. One of the meanings of PROBATE is ‘the probate copy of a will’ (Collins), which was news to me.
7 Present for Romans?
NONCE – ‘Romans’ are NON-CE. A rather archaic word that barely survives in the expression ‘for the NONCE’.
8 Governing body reorganise NHS timetables
ESTABLISHMENT – (NHS TIMETABLES)*. I’m not sure I’d describe the ESTABLISHMENT as a ‘body’.
9 Meat hunter catching fresh Eel, Deer and Trotter?
WHEELER DEALER – WHALER (meat hunter) containing an anagram of EEL DEER. A reference to Derek Edward Trotter of Only Fools and Horses fame.
15 Lush large visor, as it were
SO TO SPEAK – SOT (lush), OS (large), PEAK (visor).
17 Type of painting not influenced by any movement?
STILL LIFE – not very cryptic definition.
18 Curly kale I put in before lots of water
21 Racehorse trainer put pressure on Italian staff
PITMAN – P, IT, MAN (staff). I thought this was a word for a racehorse trainer I hadn’t come across before, but I think it’s a reference to someone called Jenny PITMAN, a trainer and novelist.
23 Head off for seller of tights — it’s Twiggy!
OSIERhOSIER. The OSIER is a variety of willow whose twigs are used in basket-making. It pops up quite regularly in crosswords.
24 Old couch providing support for Bishop and former leader
BLAIR – LAIR beneath (providing support for) B (bishop). COUCH is an archaic word for the ‘lair of a wild animal’ (Collins), which was news to me.

9 comments on “Sunday Times 4700 by Jeff Pearce – cushty”

  1. It was nice to see MELPOMENE; she doesn’t get much press compared to some of her sisters. I biffed it from ‘politician’ and ‘the Spanish’, and worked out the wordplay later. Like Keriothe, I tend to panic when ‘plant’ appears in a clue; but LARKSPUR is a suburb of my home town San Francisco, so I knew it, indeed long before I knew it was a plant. I also assumed that a PITMAN did something with horses; if it’s DNK J. Pitman, that would make the clue rather TLSish, no? Isn’t ‘couch’ old ‘lair’ rather than the reverse, as the clue has it?

    Edited at 2016-07-03 05:13 am (UTC)

    1. I think it works either way. The ‘lair’ meaning is an old incarnation of ‘couch’.
  2. 35 minutes with several biffed. I’m glad I never blog on Sundays so I don’t have to spend time hunting down the occasional obscurities, nuances or shades of meaning that have now become obligatory, as I really can’t be bothered. Well done for making the effort, keriothe.
  3. Linguists use ‘nonce words’–words coined for a particular (experimental) purpose, as in Jean Berko’s classic ‘wug test’, where kindergarteners were induced to provide e.g. the plural of ‘wug’ or the past tense of ‘rick’. And my ODE says that ‘nonce’ is also an informal British term for a sexual offender, especially for an offense against a child.
    1. Thanks Kevin. I knew the term ‘nonce word’, but didn’t make the connection. Duh.
    1. A dart is a dart in clothing. It’s what you make when you “nip and tuck”.

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