Sunday Times 4715 by Jeff Pearce

After the last couple of weeks’ offerings from the DMs that were enough to drive a man to drink even more than usual, it was a pleasant relief to get something that was significantly more attainable to the solver on the Cricklewood omnibus (viz. your humble blogger).

Which is not by any means to say this was a pushover. But, Jeff served up an enjoyable puzzle with his usual mix of some quite tricky stuff tempered with some more generous fare that enabled those of us further down the food chain to get a strong foothold and complete the solve within a feasible timescale, so grateful thanks to our setter.

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

1 Small and flipping serious bunkers are things to catch drivers (5,5)
SPEED TRAPS – S (small) + reversal of DEEP (flipping serious) + TRAPS (bunkers – the sand traps that have a mysterious magnetic attraction for golf balls)
6 Influential company take month off work (4)
OPUS – {OCT}OPUS. October leaves (take month off) the organisation whose tentacles spread everywhere in search of global domination. Must admit I’d not come across ‘octopus’ before as a term of art for a large organisation, but the metaphor was compelling and apparently it is a well recognised usage.
9 Whip up fruits (6,4)
RIDING CROP – “Up” is a term for being on horseback (hence RIDING) + CROP = fruits. Answer went in with some confidence, but needed to do a post-solve check on the “up” usage.
10 About to introduce museum’s fizzy drink (4)
CAVA – CA (about – circa) goes in front of (introduces) VA (museum), giving us the Spanish bubbly
12 Soldiers struggle with magazine? (6)
REVIEW – RE (soldiers – our old pals in the Royal Engineers) + VIE (struggle) + W (abbrev. with)
13 Nutty guys start to talk during act (8)
DEMENTED – MEN (guys) + T (start to Talk) ‘during’ DEED (act)
15 You’re supposed to go off in this carriage (8,3)
SLEEPING CAR – Barely cryptic cryptic – unless I’m missing something far more subtle…
18 After end of series rotten show travels — but not very far (6,5)
STONES THROW – S (end of serieS) followed by (after) *(ROTTEN SHOW) with “travels” as the anagrind
21 Being this 1 Down ’ad too many! (3-5)
RAT ARSED – *(SARTRE) – 1 Down – + ‘AD also in the mix, with the anagrind being the fact that J-P had enjoyed one over the eight. No idea how to categorise this clue – it’s a bit ‘cryptic & Lit’ but not… Anyway, answer was clear enough once 1 Down was in place. The answer seemed to provoke a bit of eyebrow action amongst some of the more conservative types hanging out on the Times Forum. Personally I think it’s a great bit of contemporary colloquial English, but then again no one I know would ever regard me as an arbiter of good taste.
22 One villain in California is a chirpy type (6)
CICADA – I CAD (one villain) ‘in’ CA (abbrev. California)
24 Last in Oaks? You can have a punt on it but it’s a fiddle! (4)
SCAM – S (last in OakS) + CAM (river where punters stand at the correct end of the vessel)
25 Solitary carp, an aquatic creature (6,4)
HERMIT CRAB – HERMIT (solitary) + CRAB (to carp / whinge)
26 Extravagant oil, primarily (4)
OTTO – OTT (over the top – extravagant) + O (Oil primarily) referring to the perfume essence more usually called Attar from the Damask rose. Apparently. Extravagant seems to be doing double duty, as does oil in giving us the second O. The required answer was clear, but the full parsing left me a bit baffled and I will leave it to the senior pros here to comment further. Semi & Lit crossed my mind but I don’t think it is…
27 Evil test with beagle is something some folk find creepy (4,6)
STAG BEETLE – *(TEST + BEAGLE) with “evil” as the anagrind
1 Reject a lot of rubbish about writer and philosopher (6)
SARTRE – TRAS{H} reversed (reject a lot of rubbish) + RE (about) for the thinker who missed out on inclusion in the Bruces’ Philosophers’ Song (tricky rhyming material) but featured in the priceless Python sketch in his honour which can be viewed here for anyone with eight minutes to spare.
2 Plant that might be put in joint (6)
ENDIVE – EN (put in – as in something en croute) + DIVE (joint – as in dodgy bar). A suitably curly clue.
3 Opener in dry season bats for ages (7,5)
DONKEYS YEARS – KEY (opener) ‘in’ *(DRY SEASON) with “bats” as the anagrind
4 Royal has brilliant career (4)
RACE – R (abbrev. Royal ) + ACE (brilliant)
5 Sporting promoter occupies gym for the moment (3,7)
PRO TEMPORE – *(PROMOTER) – with “sporting” as the anagrind – inside (occupies) PE (gym), giving us the full version of the more common pro tem.
7 Rehearsal for short part of play, postponed? (8)
PRACTICE – PR{O} (‘for’ short) + ACT (part of play) + ICE (postponed – as in “on ice”). I think the “ice” bit needs to be viewed in the context of this being a Down clue – i.e. PRO and ACT are above – ‘on’ – ice, hence the question mark indicating something a bit cryptic is going on.
8 The usual flag (8)
STANDARD – After the intricacies of the previous clue, a refreshingly straightforward DD
11 Cage: “Why listen?”, blasting this instrument (5,7)
PENNY WHISTLE – PEN (cage) + *(WHY LISTEN) with “blasting” as the anagrind for this apparently inflation-proof device
14 Clear soldiers, with time, from the village (10)
SETTLEMENT – SETTLE (clear – as in a debt) + MEN (soldiers) + T (time)
16 Journalists in Spain, therefore getting black coffee (8)
ESPRESSO – PRESS (journalists) ‘in’ ES (Spain) + SO (therefore)
17 Make smaller type of bridge (8)
CONTRACT – Another generous DD
19 Repeat the usual claptrap (6)
PARROT – PAR (the usual – or not, in my case, when on the golf course) + ROT (claptrap)
20 It’s good to wander in a punt (6)
GAMBLE – G (good) + AMBLE (to wander)
23 Superior adhesive’s used up (4)
SMUG – Reverse of GUMS (adhesive’s used up)

13 comments on “Sunday Times 4715 by Jeff Pearce”

  1. PS

    21ac fyi RAT-ARSED can be categorised as ‘vulgar’

    and please note that conservative types do not ‘hang out’-

    not even in Brent Cross!

    1. Obviously an allusion to J.-P.’s philosophical work, Being Out Of It and Nothingness.
      In Chapter 22 (“Bad Faith and Reverting to Type”) he notes that a classic symptom is leaving double carriage-returns between lines of text — often noted among certain minor poets.

      Edited at 2016-10-16 05:45 am (UTC)

  2. re- 1dn life is too short

    re 6ac OPUS this was the company Jessica Leeds kept on an aeroplane a few years ago.

    26ac OTTO (or ATTAR) is an ‘extravagent’ oil per se.

    horryd Shanghai

  3. This being a Sunday cryptic, I wasn’t particularly surprised by 21ac; or wouldn’t have been if I’d known the term. As it was, it took a while, and all the checkers. Memory trouble at 10ac, finally overcome, but I think it was my LOI. ‘The Octopus’ was a once famous muck-raking novel (1901) about California farmers fighting the Southern Pacific Railroad (the octopus). COD RIDING CROP.
  4. There are a couple of clues that don’t follow every letter of modern Ximenean clue-writing rules. But in both cases, my assessment was that the clue was solvable, so in the absence of an easy change to make it strictly “correct”, I let it stand. 21A as “vulgar”: in Collins dictionary, it’s now counted as simply “slang”. And so far, any comment by letter or email from the “ordinary solvers” who don’t look at blogs seems to be completely absent. It’s also a fact that “arse” as part of Marseille in Tim Moorey’s final puzzle raised no adverse comment, here or by post.
  5. Not that keen on 21a – not because I’m squeamish but because I don’t think it works – or 2d, which I think is a bit too clever for its own good. But, altogether an enjoyable puzzle. 30 minutes.
  6. 44 minutes for this enjoyable puzzle. FWIW I think I’d go for semi &lit at 26ac. I’m no expert on that type of clue but I can’t see that “primarily” plays any part in the definition. “Oil” does obviously, and the Wiki entry for “Attar of Roses” (aka OTTO) mentions that one of its features is that it’s costly to produce in its natural form so “extravagant” seems pertinent to the definition in addition to giving us OTT as wordplay.
  7. No time for this one: I had to deal with a minor domestic emergency half-way through and left the timer running.
    As Peter says 21ac doesn’t quite conform to strict Ximenean rules: the definition would have to be ‘too many’, which doesn’t really work. However as he also says the required answer is pretty clear and the overall idea is very neat, so strict Ximenean rules be damned. Likewise the definition in 26ac (which I take to be &Lit) is a bit odd but what the hell.
    ENDIVE was my last in, very sneaky.
    All in all I enjoyed this one a lot, and thought it all the better for the unconventional touches.
  8. God save us from Ximenes and Ximeneans.. his “rules” were useful in their day but just a creative straitjacket now. Good work Peter, and Jeff, please keep the inventiveness coming
    1. Skip if you’ve read me on this before …

      I’m happy to follow Ximenean rules most of the time, and ones like “there must be a definition” all of the time. The historical context is that in 1966 when his book appeared, and even more so in about 1949 when Afrit produced a much shorter set of principles, there were clues in most if not all the major newspaper cryptic crosswords with missing definitions, partial wordplay and other features that in most papers would never be seen today, and would be likely to cause unsolvability / unexplainability if they did. I’m happy to save our solvers from those. But there are some Ximenean rules these days which seem to be “what we believe X would have wanted, or what his successor Azed has said” rather than what X wrote. Any puzzle that uses a cryptic definition clue without other wordplay is non-Ximenean in one way, so insistence on all the other rules can seem inconsistent.

  9. For 16d, there aren’t enough esses in espresso to account for all the bits of the clue: es + press+ so.
    1. E can also be used as an abbreviation for Spain, according to something called the European System of Social Indicators. If you do that it works.

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