Sunday Times 4705 by David McLean – The Entertainer

Must admit I’ve come to expect a bit of a “slug-fest” with Harry’s puzzles, but this one was a lot lighter in tone and a barrel of laughs whilst still offering a tricky challenge. Some lovely stuff – the Spoonerism was a cracker, 4dn very elegant, and 25ac was a superb surface (one of several in fact).

Grateful thanks to Harry for a most enjoyable offering.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Plot theft at sea with criminals (10)
CONSPIRACY – CONS (criminals) + PIRACY (theft at sea)
6 Large and mischievous kid without energy (4)
LIMP – L (large) + IMP (mischievous kid)
10 Game learner getting into playing the violin (7)
BOWLING – L (learner) gets into BOWING (playing the violin)
11 Close as Walford’s Phil and Grant Mitchell? (7)
AIRLESS – {H}AIRLESS – like the bald bruvvers from EastEnders. Maybe a bit of a mystery to those who don’t watch goings on in Albert Square.
12 Going through changes leads to rage if unchecked (9)
SEARCHING – *(CHANGES) – with first letters of (leads to) Rage If also thrown into the mix – and “unchecked” as the anagrind
13 One on The Post recording undercover encounters? (5)
NOTCH – Slightly cheeky cryptic referring to the ritualistic vandalising of bed posts to tally up sexual encounters. Personally I think the more furniture-friendly approach of Anthony Powell’s character who took a small cutting of his lover’s pubic hair following each coupling in order to eventually stuff a cushion has much to be said for it.
14 Angry Birds will entertain son when wife’s out (5)
CROSS – CROWS (birds) has the W (wife) substituted by an S (son)
15 Listening device lawman refines over time (9)
EARPHONES – EARP (lawman – Wyatt of that ilk) + HONES (refines over time)
17 Animal trader with pig in need of treatment (9)
PARTRIDGE – *(TRADER + PIG) with “in need of treatment” as the anagrind. Must admit I don’t generally think of birds as animals, but seems I’m out of step with the usual sources so I’ll just climb back into my box…
20 The shark that’s seen in harbour for a while? (5)
NURSE – To nurse someone is also to ‘harbour them for a while’. I started out putting this down as a DD, then an overall cryptic, but neither seemed quite right – in any event, it’s an “all roads lead to Rome” situation…
21 Pants tune delivered by Mike Tyson (5)
THONG – Apparently the ear-chomping pugilist has a famous lisp and might therefore pronounce SONG thus. Figured as much from the clue and checkers, but needed to validate this afterwards. I somehow doubt that he gets teased much about it.
23 New tips on arresting CIA specialists on sight (9)
OPTICIANS – *(TIPS ON) – with “new” as the anagrind – going around (arresting) CIA
25 Acquired a word defining friend from Chambers? (7)
LEARNED – My learned friend being a barrister, typically found hanging out in chambers – a witty and beautifully constructed clue. Again, from a parsing perspective this presented me with a similar predicament to 20 across (DD, cryptic?), but (based on gut feel rather than any level of certainty) plumped for the cryptic on this occasion. Then again…
26 List quite miserly offers (7)
ITEMISE – Hidden in quITE MISErly (indicated by ‘offers’)
27 Student group long to finish earlier than usual (4)
YEAR – YEAR{N} (long) minus its last letter (to finish earlier than usual)
28 Continual pettiness tormented boxing king (10)
PERSISTENT – *(PETTINESS) – with “tormented” as the anagrind – going around (boxing) R (king)
1 Live in cold American blocks (5)
CUBES – BE (live) ‘in’ C (cold) US (American)
2 Bit of a party girl in next cubicle Spooner’s spoken of! (3,6)
NEW LABOUR – As homophonic (spoken of) Spoonerisms go, NEW LABOUR for LOO NEIGHBOUR (girl in next cubicle) is probably about as inventive and droll as it gets – hats off. I did spend some time pondering the role of “girl” in the clue, and eventually concluded it was probably something to do with the fact that in a Ladies’ set up, one’s neighbour would inevitably be in a cubicle, whereas in a Gents they might not be – or maybe it’s just that “party girl” provides a better surface than “party guy”.
3 Press centre in fits about grand royal (8,6)
PRINCESS REGENT – *(PRESS CENTRE IN) – with “fits” as the anagrind – plus G (grand) also in the mix
4 Music paper and magazine (7)
RAGTIME – RAG (paper) + TIME (magazine). Very neat. References to this musical genre always cause your humble blogger to enjoy a quiet chuckle recalling Duke Ellington’s observation about Lady Macbeth – “though she was of noble birth, I always felt she had a little ragtime in her soul…”
5 What Bow cop said he’d do to girl caught stealing dish (7)
CHARGER – The East End (Bow) cop may well inform the female malefactor that he will “charge ‘er”
7 Still awkward to see Penny turning Republican (5)
INERT – INEPT (awkward) has its P replaced by an R (Penny turning Republican)
8 Pa gets drunk with shots, having drained three at once (9)
POSTHASTE – *(PA SHOTS) – with “gets drunk” as the anagrind – plus ThreE (drained three) added. Clever surface and construction, I thought
9 Pole held by Parisian can-can dancers in minimal clothing? (6,8)
FRENCH KNICKERS – N (pole) added into (held by) FRENCH KICKERS (Parisian can-can dancers). Lovely.
14 Best friend hosting relations in a fine manner (9)
CAPITALLY – CAP (best – as in the verb) + ALLY (friend) ‘hosting’ IT (relations – of the horizontal folk dancing variety)
16 Royal traitor written into unsophisticated story (9)
NARRATIVE – R (royal) + RAT (traitor) ‘written into’ NAIVE (unsophisticated)
18 Perhaps access exit with dogged determination (2-2-3)
DO OR DIE – DOOR (perhaps access) + DIE (exit)
19 Records soldiers guarding base going topless (7)
ENTRIES – {S}ENTRIES – ‘soldiers guarding base’ lose their first letter (topless)
22 Bit of a pig to get around in outskirts of Oklahoma City (5)
OMAHA – HAM reversed (bit of a pig to get around) ‘in’ O and A (outskirts of OklahomA)
24 Delightful hotel accommodation for auditors (5)
SWEET – Homophone (signalled by ‘for auditors’) of SUITE (hotel accommodation)

16 comments on “Sunday Times 4705 by David McLean – The Entertainer”

  1. Pretty sure it’s a double def; one being “acquired” (as in “learned behaviour”).

    Edited at 2016-08-07 04:09 am (UTC)

  2. Good Sunday fare which I didn’t find quite as difficult as this setter’s last couple of offerings. Initially thought the Spoonerism didn’t work all that well, but on a second look today I agree it’s a good one. I parsed both 20 and 25 as dd’s. Enjoyed POSTHASTE, FRENCH KNICKERS and especially NOTCH, my COD.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  3. Only 37 minutes so this must have been on the easy side for this particular setter. I took the Tyson lisp on trust as I doubt I’ve ever heard him speak and I’ve never heard mention of it. Isn’t there a recent English boxer who is more renowned for this speech defect? I wasn’t too sure about the explanations for NOTCH and NURSE but having read Nick’s blog it seems I was on the right lines with both.

    Edited at 2016-08-07 05:07 am (UTC)

    1. Yes, this confused me because the boxer with the lisp I knew was Chris Eubank. I remember people taking the mickey on British comedy shows when I was a kid. I probably haven’t heard anything about boxing since, including Tyson’s voice, but at least it was pretty guessable…
  4. Lost my printout but I remember about 20 minutes of pleasure, not as tricky as some. As above, liked the loo neighbours clue.
  5. According to my notes, I got the majority of this finished in my hour, then ploughed on (hurray for Sundays!) to grind through the rest, finishing with POSTHASTE. 11a has three exclamation marks next to it, which suggests I rather liked AIRLESS as an answer. Certainly it felt like more of a slog than today’s, but a very worthwhile slog…
  6. 20 minutes of pure pleasure. Thank you, DM2.

    I love the Spoonerism, and I agree with Nick about the Chambers clue. Top notch.

    Talking of notches, thanks for alerting me to Anthony Powell’s startling variation on bedpost notches. It strikes me as appallingly unhygienic, not to mention the potential for misunderstanding when the scissors come out. But full marks for creativity.

    1. It might take a while to stuff the cushion given the current trend for the Grant brothers’ “airless” . The TV seems to be wall to wall Brazilians at the moment.
      1. We stumbled across a Brazilian Day march in New York City in 2008. Closest I ever came to an anti-Bush demonstration.
  7. Thanks for an entertaining blog, Nick. I’ve never read any Anthony Powell so I’ll add that one to my stock of trivia to be trotted out on some suitable occasion. I’ll go against the grain and admit to not liking the NEW LABOUR clue. That’s mostly because I failed to spot the solution but also because of the presence go “girl”.
    I wonder where Duke Ellington met Lady Macbeth? On the A-Train perhaps?
    1. Best of luck finding a suitable occasion Martin. And loved your A Train gag!
  8. Nice blog, Nick. Nice puzzle.
    I fell for the misdirection at 22d: “Omaha is two States away! Nebraska, not Oklahoma, you twit!!”
    … “Ooops”.
    The East End was a different kind of geography, but you’re right about the value of Google.
    Hard to pick a COD, as I liked almost all.
  9. Another excellent offering by Dirty Harry, but I’m glad we don’t often get clues mocking an individual’s speech impediment.

    Thanks setter and Nick.

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