Sunday Times 4723 by David McLean

An enjoyable puzzle from Harry which I managed to complete in a couple of leisurely sessions interspersed by an outing to the cinema to see ‘Paterson’, which I thoroughly recommend as an off-beat but charming movie.

Nothing particularly remarkable to report – a steady solve.

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

1 Rubbish race for the more slap-headed? (10)
BALDERDASH – BALDER (more slap-headed) + DASH (race). Very nice opener. Whether “slap-head” for a bald bloke has made it across the Atlantic (or indeed elsewhere outside this sceptred isle) I know not, but it’s long been one of my favourite terms.
6 Work, drink, love — then it’s all over! (4)
OPUS – SUP (drink) + O (love) reversed (then it’s all over)
10 A deal-breaker sore general stores rejected (7)
RENEGER – ‘Stored’ – backwards (rejected) in soRE GENERal
11 Foreigner former PM initially dismissed (7)
ISRAELI – Benjamin loses his first letter (initially dismissed). Probably just a personal quirk of mine, but I’ve never been overly happy with the idea that ‘foreigner’ can be used as a definition for anyone other than a UK citizen in Times crosswords. But then again I guess it is a UK newspaper. Not making any kind of political point here – just seems a tad loose.
12 It breaks with no triad custom (9)
TRADITION – *(IT + NO TRIAD). Initially I thought ‘custom’ was doing double duty here serving both as our definition and also the anagrind for ‘no triad’ (with IT being interjected into – breaking – the resultant anagram). But, on writing up this blog, I think ‘breaks’ covers all the anagram action. Anyway, all roads lead to Rome…
13 Sprogs that can be a problem (5)
ISSUE – The first of two DDs…
14 Couple that can be a problem (5)
HITCH – …and here’s the next one. (Couple here being used in the verbal sense of getting hitched / becoming a couple)
15 European Union to block one masculine element (9)
GERMANIUM – GERMAN (European) + U (union) getting in between (blocking) I (one) + M (masculine).
17 Islanders Dominica evacuated in high numbers (9)
BERMUDANS – DA (DominicA evacuated) inside *(NUMBERS) with “high” as the anagrind (think stoned)
20 Long period of time ending in frustration (5)
YEARN – YEAR (period of time) + N (ending of frustratioN)
21 Sort of Sunday dinner making a universal stir (5)
ROUST – The A in ROAST (sort of Sunday dinner) is replaced by a U (making a universal). Took a while for the penny to drop here.
23 Patsy’s Catholic primate, lecherous sort (9)
SCAPEGOAT – S (from the ‘s) + C (abbrev. Catholic) + APE (primate) + GOAT (lecherous sort)
25 Drug aiming at quelling the first sign of gout (7)
ASPIRIN – ASPIRIN{G} – first letter of Gout is removed (quelled). Neat surface, neat clue.
26 European politician in examination storm (7)
TEMPEST – EMP (European politician) inside TEST (examination)
27 Pull in topless bar surrounded by topless men (4)
EARN – {b}AR ‘surrounded by’ {m}EN – both components being ‘topless’. Simple when you see it, but I spent an age looking for something more complex.
28 Change new schedule that’s upset Dynamo? (10)
ALTERNATOR – ALTER (change) + N (new) + ROTA reversed (schedule that’s upset)
1 Republican cutting vegetable cap in France? (5)
BERET – R (Republican) inside (cutting) BEET (vegetable)
2 Cavalryman cordoning off a street in a UK city (9)
LANCASTER – LANCER (cavalryman) circumscribing (cordoning off) A ST (a street)
3 Exotic Al might undress? Hot stuff! (7,7)
ENGLISH MUSTARD – *(AL MIGHT UNDRESS) with “exotic” as the anagrind
4 Precious Liberal getting under Reckless’s skin? (7)
DARLING – L (abbrev. Liberal) inside DARING (getting under Reckless’s skin)
5 Wrongdoer nicks piano for a revolutionary ball (7)
SPINNER – SINNER (wrongdoer) takes P (nicks piano) giving us the off break / leg break / googly etc.
7 The papers state two at the top must leave (5)
PRESS – {EX}PRESS (state) with first two letters removed (two at the top must leave)
8 Saw a chap being reported as suited vigilante (9)
SPIDERMAN – Sounds like SPIED A MAN (saw a chap being reported), giving us the bloke in the arachnid outfit who takes out the baddies. Super homophone, great surface. Debates may rage about whether it should be hyphenated, but the surrounding media releases etc. seem somewhat ambivalent about the punctuation so fair enough.
9 This sailor is a reason I’m randy at sea (8,6)
ORDINARY SEAMAN – *(A REASON IM RANDY) with “at sea” as the anagrind. And a very jolly surface.
14 Breathe in easily and sleep for a while (9)
HIBERNATE – *(BREATHE IN) with “easily” as the anagrind
16 Staff to turn on sign in Italian shortly (2,1,6)
IN A MOMENT – MAN (staff) reversed (to turn) ‘on’ OMEN (sign), all inside IT (abbrev. Italian)
18 Football team behind City with northern back (7)
ARSENAL – ARSE (behind) with LA (city) + N (Northern) reversed (back). A Sunday special.
19 Land ringing a city in north-west America (7)
SEATTLE – SETTLE (land) is going around (ringing) A
22 In an excited state, having taken a stimulant (5)
UPPER – UP (in an excited state) + PER (a – as in “ten quid a/per head”)
24 Royal supporting art gallery — King Edward, perhaps (5)
TATER – R (abbrev. royal) under (supporting) TATE (art gallery) giving us the British slang term for the spud – the King Edward variety being arguably the best roaster (although I reckon the Desiree is pretty good too).

10 comments on “Sunday Times 4723 by David McLean”

  1. Seems to me that IT (unbroken) breaks an anagram of NO TRIAD, but trying to use the unbroken IT left me without an anagrind. This must be why the clue says “breaks with,” not just “breaks.” For that to work, the IT that breaks with NO TRIAD must not be the unbroken one in tradITion but the other T and one of the other Is in TraditIon. In any case, this is not a great clue, and I’ve now spent too much time thinking about it.
  2. Odd quibble at 11ac – PC plod! My COD.

    FOI 13ac ISSUE LOI 21ac ROUST – 45 minutes

    PATERSON seems worth a miss – nothing happens apparently!

  3. Did not expect to breeze through a Harry production; but breeze I did, even though I didn’t know what ‘slap-headed’ meant, and even though I read ‘Al’ as ‘AI’ at 3d. LOI and I suppose COD BERMUDANS.
  4. 31 minutes is probably a record for me for one of DM’s puzzles but evidently I was on the same wavelength on this occasion.

    I can’t see a problem with the way 12ac works. It puts me in mind of the recent clue to SISYPHEAN where two rogue letters had to be included in the anagrist to arrive at the answer, rather than being inserted as a pair. That WAS an unsatisfactory clue in some respects, although I now imagine it was included in the Championship puzzle to test the spelling of the participants and weed out a few of the contestants.

  5. 11:05. No problems really, although it took me a while to see what was going on with ROUST too. No problems with 12. ‘X breaks with Y’ seems like a perfectly good way of indicating an anagram of X and Y.
  6. Happy with my 38 minutes—I think that’s a Sunday record for me.

    COD 3a, WOD BALDERDASH, QOD (quibble of the day) SPIDERMAN, where many of my more comical friends would insist on the hyphen.

  7. What the chances are that H/DM and Ed deliberately left the hyphen out of Spider-Man in an attempt – apparently successful – to put us off our usual form regarding homophones.
    1. I used to collect the comic book. It was one of the first I bought with the new increased price of 12 instead of 10 cents. I think the hyphen should be mandatory, but agree with your surmise as to why it was omitted.

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