Sunday Times 4750 by David McLean

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
17:12. I’m writing this on a train from Cardiff to London immediately after solving the puzzle, so unlike last time I can actually remember something about it. I started quite quickly, and after five or six minutes I had about half of it done. It was quite striking at that point that I had solved everything in the lower left half of the grid (everything below a diagonal line from top left to bottom right) and almost nothing (just 8 down) in the upper right. This half of the puzzle proved significantly more tricky.

Quite a topical puzzle, this, with numerous political references: 6ac, 10ac (arbuably), 11ac, 20ac, 24ac, 26ac, 8dn, 13dn.

Another very good puzzle from Harry. There were a couple of things I hadn’t come across before, and one or two things I thought a little loose or oblique but this were minor nits that didn’t hamper my enjoyment.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*.

1 Strikers on the line striving for a goal?
PICKETERS – CD. The ‘line’ here is a picket line, of course. ‘Striving for a goal’ is a little bit tenuous as it relates to striking workers: its there for the football-related surface reading.
6 It’s full of conservative jerks
TICS – TIS (it’s) containing C (conservative).
9 A chopper base fool whirls around
GUM – reversal of MUG. Nice definition!
10 Choice of local wanting change at the top
ALTERNATIVE – NATIVE (local) with ALTER (change) at the front/top.
11 I’m precious and work with a Liberal
OPAL – OP, A, L.
12 What a shoplifter does in and out of jail?
TAKE STOCK – two definitions here, one literal (taking a shop’s stock), the other a reference to how a shoplifter might spend his or her time reflecting on where it all went wrong.
14 I display my bloomers to potential punters
FLORIST – it took me ages to see this: my first thought for ‘bloomers’ was bread, so I was looking for a word for a baker or similar.
15 A group of toughs plagued by problems
HARD SET – two definitions, the first cryptic only in the sense that it doesn’t define a recognised phrase.
17 Denied pistol? Want to get around that?
NEGATED – NE(GAT)ED. A GAT is a gun, a pistol is an example of a gun. The definition by example is indicated by the question mark.
19 Pan of exceedingly low quality?
20 A dissident stoical about Tory cuts
22 Beastly sound of lout holding note
24 Completely sane, but likely to vote Tory?
RIGHT-MINDED – two definitions, one very mildly cryptic.
25 Having lost heart to wife, I must pay
OWE – ONE (I) with the middle letter changed to W.
26 Just no time for Blair, leader of left admitted
27 I thought dessert a shambles (cold inside)
DESCARTES – (DESSERT)*, C. Je pense, je suis.

1 Folk with a loft full of Homers?
2 Get cracking taco meal on gourmet wraps
COME ALONG – contained in ‘taco meal on gourmet’.
3 At least two times a second soldier reflected on the front?
ERAS – AS with a reversal of RE (soldier) first.
4 Determine the value of quarry?
EXTRACT – DD. This induced a bit of head-scratching, because I hadn’t heard of the first meaning. ‘to determine the value of (the root of a number)’ according to Collins.
5 Squeal of companion under some rocks
SCREECH – SCREE, CH. Companion for CH (Companion of Honour) is a crossword staple.
6 Take down crest in bar after a revolution
7 About one, staff finally departed capital
8 Wobbly? Then take a week off with son
13 A fifth Tory smacked in the mouth near Fife
FIRTH OF TAY – (A FIFTH TORY)*. I’m not sure I’ve ever come across the words FIRTH OF without ‘Forth’ as the next word, but this wasn’t exactly a leap.
16 I end up opening beer? Go on!
SPIT IT OUT – STOUT containing a reversal of I TIP.
18 Wasted time in league, having drawn ahead
DALLIED – ALLIED preced by D for ‘drawn’, the latter in a sporting context of some sort. There has been some discussion here in the past about whether W/L/D stands for ‘win/lose/draw’ or ‘won/lost/drawn’ but I can’t remember the conclusion. I can’t say it keeps me awake at night.
19 Is the chairman dismissing quiet lives?
21 One accompanying a bride up the aisle we hear?
23 I love to write off Republican plan

25 comments on “Sunday Times 4750 by David McLean”

  1. I can’t remember what slowed me down, although I do have marginal notes about 6ac, 9ac, and 25ac, all of which K has kindly cleared up for me. COME ALONG was an impressive hidden clue, which I like all the more as I spotted it early on. A gat is a pistol, not just any old gun. I’d still have the question mark for a more natural reading.
  2. Liked the puzzle. K’s blog cleared a couple things up for me, but I still don’t see what “to potential punters” has to do with the clue or the answer – or is it just to make the surface interesting?
  3. Hard work but very enjoyable. On reflection it looks easier but the diffculty lies is getting onto this devious setter’s wavelength.

    SOED has GAT as “revolver or other firearm”, so not necessarily a pistol, but there seems to be some long-standing controversy over the termininology. It comes from the name R J Gatling whose main claim to fame is as the inventor of the Gatling gun, an early type of automatic machine gun. Knowing this it’s odd to find that it can also be spelt GATT.

    1. Odder still, ODE defines gat as a ‘revolver or pistol’, and defines revolver as a type of pistol!
  4. Got COME ALONG from def and just realised it was a hidden word,bravo,setter.
  5. I loved 27ac! I’ve always seen the Latin version of “I think therefore I am” rather than the French one but Wikipedia hedges a bit about whether he wrote all of that in French, Latin or a mixture.

    Edited at 2017-06-18 05:48 am (UTC)

    1. Both, I expect. We covered it at school and I remember some question as to whether the word donc/ergo could legitimately be included but I don’t remember the conclusion. The main thing I remember is that my philosophy teacher was always drunk.

      Edited at 2017-06-18 09:08 am (UTC)

  6. So it is. I even looked it up to check, but only in Chambers, which it turns out is the only dictionary to define it just as a ‘gun’ (although it also says revolver).
  7. A punter can be a customer generally, or more specifically a prostitute’s client, so it contributes to the misdirection of the surface reading.
  8. I found this fairly easy going for the most part but then shot myself in the foot by bunging in “superlative” instead of “alternative” at 10ac meaning it took a fair while longer to sort out that one and 3dn and 4dn. My LOI was 3dn which I entered rather hesitantly based on the definition because I can’t remember seeing RE stand for a lone soldier rather than a whole regiment of soldiers in a crossword before. A lot of nice stuff as ever, an audaciously lengthy hidden and a fair bit of fun served up at the expense of our politicians.
  9. Excellent puzzle and blog – thanks both.

    We seem to be missing 15a?

    15a A group of toughs plagued by problems (4-3)

    Re GAT = gun – I always assumed(apparently totally wrongly) that this was an abbreviation of Gatling Gun – the forerunner of the machine gun. As GAT is a pistol then this must be way off the mark. Thanks for the enlightenment everyone.

    1. Well spotted, thanks for that. Now added.
      According to the usual dictionaries GAT is an abbreviation of Gatling gun.

      Edited at 2017-06-18 11:20 am (UTC)

      1. GAT may well have been an abbreviation of Gatling gun, but it isn’t; it’s a (pretty much outdated) word meaning pistol. 1930’s hoods didn’t carry 19th century machine guns in their pockets; they carried pistols.
        1. All the dictionaries I’ve looked in disagree. I don’t see why an abbreviation of ‘Gatling gun’ couldn’t be used for a pistol, in an ironic/humourous sort of way.
          Some sources also suggest that the word was originally used for the Thompson sub-machine gun (Tommy gun) used by Prohibition-era mafiosi.
          It’s not so outdated, either: quite common in rap lyrics, reflecting modern gang parlance (I assume).

          Edited at 2017-06-18 02:23 pm (UTC)

  10. I’ll draw a veil over my written comments for this one. Suffice it to say that there was some swearing involved rather than a time written down. However, I did get there in the end. Thanks for the parsings on the few I had question marks against!

    Did anyone else manage to stymie themselves in the NE by thinking “work with a liberal” meaning something precious must be “go” + “LD” for “gold”? Took me a while to untangle that one, especially as the capital “H” on “Homer” in 1d completely threw me…

  11. I wasn’t very keen on this puzzle at the time, but I’ve mellowed a little towards it a week later.

    I’m still not very keen on 1ac: “… striving for a goal?” is so weak that it made me doubt whether PICKETERS could really be right after all.

    1dn is interesting. It took me a little while to twig why anyone might have a loft full of Homers (with a capital H), since neither the Greek poet nor the head of the Simpson family seemed appropriate. However, I then remembered Winslow Homer (one of my wife’s favourite artists), and I assume his paintings are the “Homers” referred to. I’m wondering (given modern-day solvers’ general ignorance of anything relating to fine art 😉 how many people “got” that. Or am I missing a more obvious explanation?

    1. I thought it had to do with homing pigeons. Homer mainly did seascapes, no? Don’t see the connection.
      1. The homing pigeons provide the cryptic definition; but the clue needs a decent surface reading (which makes use of the capital H), and I think Winslow Homer provides it.

        Seascapes were certainly an important part of his work, but there was much else besides.

        1. Homers in the loft? Sounds like pigeons to me, rather than works of art. And of course the capital H is permitted.
          1. You need to be able to read cryptic definition clues in (at least) two different ways. The classic example is “The Charge of the Light Brigade (11,4)” where the obvious (surface) reading leads you to Tennyson’s poem or to some history book (perhaps Cecil Woodham-Smith’s The Reason Why if you belong to my generation), while the cryptic definition leads you to ELECTRICITY BILL.

            This rule applies here. You need a surface reading that makes use of the capital H in “Homer” (otherwise why have a capital H at all?) as well as the cryptic definition.

          2. As Tony says, the clue needs a reading other than the literal pigeon-related one, or it’s not cryptic. He may be right about Winslow Homer: a loft full of paintings makes a bit more sense than a loft full of books, but I confess I didn’t think that hard about it.
            1. In South Ruislip (where my sister lives), the natives display a fantastical collection of Christmas decorations every year, and these have been known to include inflatable Homer Simpsons. I imagine they store these in their lofts from January to November.

              Perhaps that’s the sort of image the setter had in mind.

              1. Irrespective of what Harry intended, this is how I now choose to read the clue!
  12. 42:43 with PICKETERS LOI. The capital H at 1d didn’t even register, as PIGEON FANCIERS went straight in. Liked DESCARTES. Thanks setter and K.

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