Sunday Times 4749 by Dean Mayer

A highly enjoyable puzzle (as usual) from Dean, although I found it to be slightly less tricky than some of his offerings. The surface of 8a alone was worth the price of admission, and I’m sure Ringo himself would have loved the deadpan, nonchalant delivery of such a bizarre image.

An intriguing cast of characters cropped up in one way or another – the Beatle, the poet, the knight and the comedian – and nice to see an oblique nod to Roger Moore who sadly took his final bow just a couple of weeks ago.

Some witty, beautifully concise cluing (24a and 4d being standouts in my book). 17d had me somewhat flummoxed in terms of understanding the definition, and I fear I may have gone off the rails there – we shall see.

Thanks to Dean for a most enjoyable Sunday special – here’s my best attempt at unravelling it all.

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

1 Highest price to pay when initially cut (3,5)
TOP WHACK – TO + P W (Pay When initially) + HACK (cut)
5 When talking, take off jumper (4)
FLEA – Sounds like (when talking) FLEE (take off)
8 Ringo Starr involved with breast feeding group (6,9)
STRING ORCHESTRA – CHEST (breast) ‘feeds’ (into) *(RINGO STARR). As gloriously surreal images go, this surface takes some beating…
10 Garment to take to the cleaners (6)
FLEECE – DD (and a somewhat generous one at that)
11 Bond completely frozen, and almost trapped (8)
ALLIANCE – ALL ICE (completely frozen) with AN{D} inside (and almost trapped)
12 Lip balm’s first applied to lip (4)
BRIM – B (Balm’s first) + RIM (lip)
14 A rather round one’s a bonus (10)
PERQUISITE – PER (a) QUITE (rather) going ’round’ IS (one’s)
16 In one second, Italian lady reverses old age (4,6)
ANNO DOMINI – IN I MO (in one second) + DONNA (Italian lady) all reversed.
19 A, B, C, D, F or G (4)
NOTE – NOT E (the one missing from the series of musical notes). Cunning cryptic…
21 A tackle cuts returned cross (8)
SWASTIKA – A KIT SAWS (A tackle cuts) all reversed (returned)
22 Reject most of panel in Lincoln (6)
ABJURE – JUR{Y} (most of panel) in ABE (Lincoln)
24 Partyfree do? (3,4,4,4)
LET ONES HAIR DOWN – DD, with the second being a droll reference to liberating ones hair-do
25 Views of earth all right (4)
EYES – E (earth) + YES (all right)
26 Poet X’s name — curious, on reflection (8)
TENNYSON – TEN (X) + N (name) + NOSY reversed (curious, on reflection)
1 It’s grabbed by ultra weird puppet? (7)
TITULAR – IT included in (grabbed by) *(ULTRA) with “weird” signalling the anagram. The definition caused me to hesitate initially, but a ruler in name only is likely to be a puppet.
2 Love the sound of noses (5)
PRIZE – Sounds like PRIES (noses)
3 It will blow up, presumably (4,9)
HIGH EXPLOSIVE – Cryptic definition. Maybe I’ve missed something more subtle here, but I think this works simply on the connection between “high” with “up”
4 “Blue sky”, said pirate (7)
CORSAIR – Sounds like (said) COARSE (blue – as in rude) + AIR (sky)
6 Old comic sold as new comic (3,6)
LES DAWSON – *(SOLD AS NEW) with “comic” as the anagram indicator. Not sure how well-known the former purveyor of (somewhat tasteless, it has to be said)mother-in-law jokes is outside the UK. If you haven’t come across him, I personally wouldn’t recommend spending too long digging… His one-liner “I used to sell furniture for a living. Trouble was, it was my own” is probably about as good as he gets.
7 A jar full of mostly mellow fruit (7)
APRICOT – A POT (a jar) ‘full of’ RIC{H} (mostly mellow). At least, I think that’s how it works, although the rich/mellow equation left me with a sense of unease around the parsing.
9 I pick a horse up on country trip (13)
HALLUCINATION – I CULL A H reversed (I pick a h{orse} – up) ‘on’ NATION (country)
12 Pig runs away, seeing snake (3)
BOA – BOA{R} pig lose3s its R (runs away)
13 Partners cutting low quality feldspar (9)
MOONSTONE – N and S (partners – in bridge) going between (cutting) MOO (low) and TONE (quality). One where I had to trust the wordplay as I was not familiar with feldspar, although subsequent research suggests I probably should be, as it relates to “the most important group of rock-forming minerals”: live and learn…
15 The day before still hasn’t finished (3)
EVE – EVE{N} (still hasn’t finished)
17 One present is not two presents (7)
NOWHERE – the wordplay is clear enough – NOW and HERE can both mean ‘present’ (i.e. two presents). The definition, however, had me somewhat flummoxed and I fear I may have gone off the rails. Best I can come up with is that if someone is present then they are here – as opposed to (not) “nowhere” – but that seems a bit tortuous… Looking forward to enlightenment from the assembled crew.
18 Wilfred’s house in one part of windmill (7)
IVANHOE – HO (abbrev. house) ‘in’ I VANE (one part of windmill), Wilfred of Ivanhoe being the chap more generally known simply as Ivanhoe (at least to those of us who grew up with the TV series of that name – which was the late Roger Moore’s first starring role). I originally thought “house” might be doing double duty here (serving as part of the definition – Wilfred of the House of Ivanhoe) and also giving us the HO in the wordplay, but on reflection I think the definition is just Wilfred. Either way, a timely nod to a great screen actor.
20 Add lightweight fences to scrap (5,2)
THROW IN – THIN (lightweight) goes around (fences) ROW (scrap)
23 Traitor not quite right to frame lawyer (5)
JUDAS – JUS{T} (not quite right) goes around (to frame) DA (lawyer – i.e. District Attorney).

22 comments on “Sunday Times 4749 by Dean Mayer”

  1. Probably the best I’ve ever done on a Dean cryptic. DNK TOP WHACK, but WHACK seemed the only possibility. And DNK the comedian, although an over-quick look at the anagrind suggested Len Dawson, which kept me from getting 8ac for a time. Knew feldspar, didn’t know it was the same as MOONSTONE. As always, a number of lovely clues, e.g. 8ac and 14ac, but COD to 24ac.
  2. I tussled with this for 61:07 before getting my LOI, TOP WHACK. I think my FOI was PRIZE. Some great clues. I also struggled to get my head around NOWHERE even though I could see it was the answer. I chuckled at 8a too. I didn’t know Ivanhoe’s Christian name, but the wordplay was clear, once the crossers were in. A lot of fun. Thanks Dean and Nick.
  3. Superb crossword by our Sunday tormenter,never heard of LES DAWSON but anagram then google helpful.
  4. 64mins 25secs which is not bad for me on a DM puzzle, even one at the easier end of the spectrum. Couldn’t see much after FOI 19ac, and the easy-ish 12dn and 15dn. Had to chisel away getting bits of answers like the “I” “nation” bits of 9dn (even if I did then spend time wondering how “peregr” equated to “pick a horse up” before finally seeing the light. LOI 2dn. I also enjoyed the Ringo Starr, Roger Moore and Les Dawson clues. In defence of Les Dawson, he used to have me in stitches on Blankety Blank (guess I was probably about ten at the time). I wasn’t sure why Anno Domini in 16ac was specifically “old” age. Thanks to the blogger for the parsing of 17dn, I am sure you have it correct, I just biffed because I couldn’t see what was going on there at all. Lots of good clues as usual. I’ll single out 26ac as COD.
    1. Id hope there’d be no need to speak in defence of Les Dawson who was a comic genius and very gifted as a writer in several different genres.
      1. Yes, it’s all a matter of taste of course but I still quite like some of the mother-in-law jokes: You could always tell when the mother-in-law was coming round, the mice would start throwing themselves on the traps (better with the great man’s delivery) and I don’t think the furniture selling one-liner is truly representative of his lyricism delivered with that world weary, defeated air.
      2. Fair cop Jack, I bow to your superior knowledge – had no idea about his writing skills (just found his M-I-L stuff tedious and somewhat boorish)
    2. I just wish I could play the piano like Les Dawson. Sometimes I manage it quite accidentally but he was perfection!
  5. 15m. Relatively gentle for a Dean, but typically enjoyable. No idea who Wilfred was, but it didn’t really cause a problem. I knew that feldspar had another name that I was familiar with, but I couldn’t remember what it was until I had a few checkers.
    I think you have 17dn right Nick.
    1. Thanks for validating my 17dn analysis K – was really struggling with that one!

      I also had no idea Ivanhoe had the Wilfred handle. With all due respect to any Wilfreds out there, it seems an unlikely name for a heroic knight – when I checked it out, I couldn’t help but think about those old gags that used to circulate on the theme “things you’ll never hear said” – such as “does that Porsche in the car park belong to the banjo player?”, and “I’d like to introduce you to our chairman Nobby”…

      Edited at 2017-06-11 07:04 pm (UTC)

  6. 22 mins or so. Brilliant fun, as usual. I’m with you, Nick, in loving the Ringo Starr image. The EVE clue has a sweet surface, too.

    Cheers, all. Happy Sundays.

  7. 24 minutes says my print out, agree Sotira. good fun, Happy Sunday. Too hot to go outside so watching Nadal hammer Stan the Man who hasn’t turned up yet.

    Nick I think I agree with your 17d theory, can’t see a better one.

    1. Thanks Pip – was very unsure of that one (not least because it seemed a bit cumbersome for a Dean clue).
  8. I found this on the easier side, too, at a short hour. I had NOWHERE as my cod – and I did it the way Nick laid out: one who is neither here nor now is nowhere. Top Whack gave me some pause, because I think of it as US slang and our setters are usually good about keeping the non-Brit usage to non-slang. Maybe it is in wider use than I thought. Thx N, thx D
    1. Interesting re. Top Whack – dunno why, but I’d always assumed it to be an English phrase (rather than US) – possibly on the basis that anything involving “whack” I intuitively link to this country’s heritage of caning naughty schoolboys (Bunter, the TV show “Whacko!” etc. etc.).
  9. Thank you very much for a lovely blog Nick, and thanks to all for your comments.
    The logic of the ‘nowhere’ definition was more physical than linguistic (twisted/extended, I admit) in that a person who is present certainly can’t be nowhere. Not saying it absolutely works, of course, just that it was my thinking at the time.
    1. Thanks very much for the explanation Dean and also for your kind comment. I now fully see the remorseless logic of the clue and agree it works just fine (of course – I should have known better…!)
  10. Agreed with blogger except for his somewhat withering comments on Les Dawson. Strongly disagree – a real trouper. His deadpan two-handers with Roy Barraclough (who died but a few days ago) ran and ran.

    He could play the piano rather well however, on stage deliberately added hideously wrong notes into classical pieces at random(Moonlight Sonata being a favourite), without hesitation – quite hilarious and very clever.

    Perhaps he appealed more to his older, less PC northern audiences. A cross between W.C. Fields and Peter Kaye.

    “I asked our chemist: ‘Can I have some sleeping pills for the wife?’ He said: ‘Why?’ I replied: ‘She keeps waking up.’”

    35 minutes

    Edited at 2017-06-12 03:48 am (UTC)

  11. I came in under the half hour on this. Is Dean getting easier or am I getting better? Very enjoyable. (And I won’t hear a word against Les Dawson, my favourite piano virtuoso. Possibly non-piano-players don’t appreciate how difficult it is to deliberately play in 2 or more keys at the same time!)
    1. Having read all the comments, I clearly need to reappraise totally my assessment of that The Talented Mr. Dawson!
  12. ………if you like really clever wordplay, Dawson is your man. In a complicated monologue about how to get Forfar Athletic to win away matches he turns

    “Way down upon the Swanee River, far far away” into

    “Weigh down upon the Swami’s liver, Forfar’s away”

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