Sunday Times 4797 by Dean Mayer

Reluctantly I have informed Vinyl that I need to stand down from this blogging gig (and also my QC slot).  I’ve recently taken on a new job which is all-consuming (I really should know better at my age) and I have been struggling of late to make the time – let alone find the mental energy – to do justice to the blog.  So, it’s high time I passed on the baton.  A quick peek at the archives shows that my first ST blog was number 4631 back in March 2015, so I’ve notched up about 80 or so, which is not too bad given that my original appointment was a somewhat bold experiment by Linxit who was keen to give an ST blogging slot to a recent graduate from the ranks of the QC solvers.

Thanks to everyone for their support and (mostly) kind comments and feedback over the last three years.  It has been a terrific learning experience for me, and frequently forced me to buckle down to solve puzzles that (as Keriothe once memorably put it), had it not been for the prospect of public humiliation, I would have simply consigned to the too hard basket.  Anyway, without more ado, I shall move on to the main business of the day.

I found this one hard.  Very hard.  There were some (relatively) easy pickings which got me off to a reasonable start – the composer at 7a, the curry-free US city at 7d, the sure-footed quadruped at 14a and the present at 16d – but things then started getting sticky and after an hour or so I only had about a quarter of the grid filled.  The giddy social round of the bank holiday weekend then meant I had to pout the puzzle aside until Tuesday, and I then spent a couple of days chipping away at it at odd moments until I eventually was left with 5d – where I had absolutely no idea what was going on, despite having all the cross checkers in place – and 26a which I had biffed (always a dangerous game with Dean) but which I could not parse.  For the first time in many months I had to phone a friend to get things sorted out.

All that said, I thought it was an excellent puzzle.  In particular, it reinforced the need to consider every word of the clue – even apparently innocuous little fillers such as “Will” at 24a and “is” at 15d.  24a had me fixated on the Peter Cook “one leg too few” sketch and it took an awfully long time before I looked at the other end of the clue for the definition: similarly, 12a similarly had me  looking for ages for a returnee rather than a word meaning waste.  And so it went on.  But, by and large got there in the end…

So it only remains for me to say thanks to Dean for a top notch puzzle – love your work!

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

1 Say money changing’s substantial (3,7)
FOR EXAMPLE – FOREX (money changing) + AMPLE (substantial)
7 Composer‘s time to leave group (4)
BACH – T (time) leaves BA{T}CH (group)
9 Result of punching farmer? Split fences (5,3)
THICK EAR – TEAR (split) goes around (fences) HICK (farmer)
10 Level crossing I’ll support (6)
PILLAR – PAR (level) goes across ILL (I’ll)
11 With luxury, no husband needed (4)
PLUS – PLUS{H} (luxury without the H – no husband needed)
12 I came back and consumed waste (8)
EMACIATE – I CAME reversed (I came back) + ATE (consumed)
14 One can deal with raised levels of exposure, surely? (8,4)
MOUNTAIN GOAT – cryptic definition based around mountain goats being renowned for their sure-footedness when in their elevated habitats
17 Well-equipped writers (8,4)
FOUNTAIN PENS – Another cryptic definition based on a fountain being a source of bounty.  Or something like that, unless I’ve missed the point entirely…
19 Scratch plain fabric (8)
CASHMERE – CASH (scratch – slang term used in crosswordland but never in real life in my experience) + MERE (plain)
21 Mass brawl (4)
RUCK – DD.  Must admit I was a bit unsure of the ruck / mass equation (it kind of rang a bell, but…): however, subsequent checking suggests it’s a well-recognised usage meaning “the mass of ordinary people or things”
23 Tasteless gear’s given award (6)
KITSCH – KIT’S (gear’s) + CH (award – as in Companion of Honour)
24 Will jump to avoid sword pinning one with one leg (8)
VOLITION – I (one) is inside (pinned by) VOLT (fencing term meaning a sudden jump to avoid your opponent’s weapon) + I (one) + ON (leg – cricket term leg side / on side)
25 Just about to have lavatory emptied (4)
ONLY – ON (about) + L{avator}Y (lavatory emptied)
26 Faceless spy in old document, rewritten (10)
PALIMPSEST – {G}LIMPSE (spy – faceless) ‘in’ PAST (old), giving us the somehow unlikely looking word for a document on which later writing has been superimposed
2 Frozen veteran standing outside new house (2,4)
ON HOLD – OLD (veteran) goes around (standing outside) N (new) + HO (house)
3 Tax collector‘s old name, as written up (9)
EXCISEMAN – EX (old) + NAME SIC (name as) reversed (written up).  The AS / SIC equation troubled me to start with, but on reflection I think it works OK
4 Top ten record, one from the bottom (4)
APEX – X (ten) + EP (record) + A (one) all reversed (from the bottom)
5 Fourth or fifth, maybe, or the best of the rest? (7,8)
PERFECT INTERVAL – PERFECT (the best) + INTERVAL (the rest).  Music buffs will no doubt understand the definition, but this was completely beyond my ken.  Having subsequently researched it, I’m still not game to essay a pithy explanation here.
6 Drove home, reduced speed in seaside resort (10)
EMPHASISED – MPH (reduced – as in abbreviated – speed) ‘in’ *(SEASIDE) with “resort” signposting the anagram
7 US city needs no more curry (5)
BALTI – BALTI{MORE} (the US city without its MORE)
8 Hot air from hand on mouth (8)
CLAPTRAP – CLAP (hand – as in “give them a good hand”) + TRAP (mouth)
13 Eucharist disrupted quiet clergyman’s office once (10)
CURATESHIP – *(EUCHARIST) – with “disrupted” indicating the anagram – + P (quiet).  I assume the “once” bit of the definition means that the office of curate no longer exists – but I’ve not been able to verify that.
15 Wind, mostly commonplace, is causing illness (9)
GASTRITIS – GAS (wind) + TRIT{E} IS (mostly commonplace is)
16 Party people are present (8)
DONATION – DO (party) + NATION (people)
18 Over a cold, cold sea (6)
ACROSS – A C (a cold) + ROSS (cold sea – being a bay in Antartica which would be distinctly chilly)
20 Quick way to get into bed? (5)
HASTY – ST (way – as in street) is put ‘into’ HAY (bed – as in “hit the hay’)
22 Cracking sound you’ll hear (4)
PLUM – Sounds like (you’ll hear) PLUMB (sound – as in take a sounding), with the definition referring to cracking meaning “excellent”

61 comments on “Sunday Times 4797 by Dean Mayer”

    1. Yes, that’s essentially where I ended up, although I got there via “thus” (which I’d always thought of as the meaning of sic).
  1. DNF to all intents and purposes, anyway; I desperately flung in RACK and GLAM, I have no idea why, after spending several minutes staring at the clues. I biffed PALIMPSEST from the definition; unfortunately, I took the definition to be ‘old document, rewritten’ (they typically are old), which made the clue totally opaque to me; not that I would have been likely to parse it anyway. (Gore Vidal’s memoirs of his first 40 years is called “Palimpsest”.) DNK VOLT. DNK PERFECT INTERVAL, but I knew INTERVAL, and the wordplay was kind. (‘best of the rest’ is neat.) I especially liked DONATION & CASHMERE, two examples of Dean’s trademark concise clues with smooth surfaces.
    I’m sorry to see you have to stop blogging, Nick; I hope you’ll still be joining us commenters, at least. Thanks for the three years.

    Edited at 2018-05-13 05:41 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks for the kind comments Kevin. I’ll certainly be dropping in to comment from time to time.
  2. Extremely difficult as Nick says. I had to resort to “aids” to get PALIMPSEST and I bunged in RUCK because, after running through the alphabet several times, that was my best shot. Fortunately it proved correct; not so SLAM (for PLUM). Just couldn’t work that one out.
    On the other hand, I enjoyed BALTI but COD goes to “well-equipped writers”. All the desks at my old school had ink wells.

    I’m sorry you are leaving the ranks of bloggers, Nick. I’ve enjoyed your contributions but as Kevin says, I hope you will remain as a commenter.

    1. I was under the impression that the fountain pen’s ink reservoir was called a well; hence my comment above (I suppose these days they all have cartridges; I haven’t used a fountain pen in decades). But I don’t find it in ODE, although I do find it in my Japanese-English dictionary. It seems to me that this definition is necessary for the clue to work, though, since a desk’s inkwell, or any inkwell outside of a fountain pen, wouldn’t make the pen itself ‘well-equipped’.

      Edited at 2018-05-13 05:55 am (UTC)

      1. I don’t think the fountain/well equivalence needs to be anything to do with pens at all, Kevin. ODO says under well: “1. A water spring or fountain.” Thus any fountain pen could be rather fancifully described as well-equipped
        1. Yeah, I tend to agree with you and Jack. At the time, I certainly didn’t find anything odd about the clue. I would like to know how I got it in my head that fountain pens have wells, though. (Or how my Japanese dictionary got it in its head.)
      2. I don’t see that ‘well’ has to be specifically defined as the reservioir of a fountain pen for the clue to work. A well is a supply of something, pens in the old days depended on wells of ink and then fountain pens had their own supply of ink built in so they were so to speak ‘well-equipped’ which surely passes muster in a cryptic clue? It might also help that a well can be defined as a fountain – it’s in SOED.
        1. It sounds to me as if you’re essentially saying what I’m saying–viz. that a fountain pen is a writer that is equipped with a well (or in your case, a ‘well’). I was under the impression that ‘well’ was actually a term denoting the ink reservoir, you’re saying that the clue uses the term metaphorically. My impression is fast fading, as my only evidence is my own vague memory and a Japanese dictionary (the word doesn’t appear in the Wikipedia entry sv ‘fountain pen’).
    2. Thanks very much Martin. Plum, I thought, was very neat and typical of the masterly deception on display from our tormentor in this puzzle – with “you’ll hear” rather than “sound” indicating the homonym, which in turn threw me off the scent as I was looking in the wrong place for the definition…
  3. I’m looking for sympathy. RIOT seems to fit the two definitions perfectly: a mass of bloom, for the first one. But of course that made 18dn impossible.
    1. Sympathy here! I ran through the alphabet several times before settling on RUCK. I was not so fortunate with 22d. I couldn’t fathom that one and ended up with SLAM.
  4. Very sorry to see you go, Nick and thanks for all your hard work. I hope you will drop in to comment occasionally if only to keep in touch.

    I was unable to finish this without resorting to aids for two answers. I’m not ashamed in the slightest to have had to “cheat” on PALIMPSEST but I am absolutely gutted (as the saying has it) to have done so to arrive at PERFECT INTERVAL. Apart from having a degree in music, my first paid employment was working for the London Borough of Hounslow teaching rudiments and theory of music for ABRSM examinations which required my students to know all about PERFECT INTERVALs (fourth, fifth and octave) at Grade I level.

    Several other clues (to CASHMERE, RUCK and VOLITION) went partially unparsed.

    Edited at 2018-05-13 05:27 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks very much for your kind comments John. You’ve personally been a great source of support and kindly guidance to me over the years – which I have truly appreciated. I’ll certainly continue lobbing in the odd comment from time to time.
  5. 75 minutes with ACROSS penultimate, which forced out a biffed ‘riot’ and led to RUCK. I think I knew the Ross Sea but I needed to solve the clue first. I did know PALIMPSEST but it still took quite a while to parse it. I biffed VOLITION, guessing that ‘volt’ must be a fencing term, perhaps from the same derivation as ‘vault’. Overall, I found this a tough puzzle. BLACK EYE came into my mind and wouldn’t leave until ON HOLD revealed THICK EAR. COD CLAPTRAP and I liked the MOUNTAIN GOAT too. I didn’t really know PERFECT INTERVAL but crossers and the general drift of the clue somehow revealed an answer. Thank you, Dean, for the challenge. All the best, Nick, with your new job and thank you for making Sunday morning such a pleasure while I waited for the next ST to plop on the mat.
    1. Thanks BW. THICK EAR also caused me major problems – not least because I tend to think of farmers as super-smart characters driving the development of the Internet of Things rather than as “hicks”!
    1. oh just realized – that phrase is not actually in the dictionary. Rats.
  6. I found this one to be at the higher end of Dean’s toughness scale and needed a couple of goes at it to finish. I did think some of his definitions pushed the boundaries a little – the fountain pens for example, and the mountain goats – but I enjoyed the crossword as much as I invariably do with Dean’s efforts.
    Good luck in your new job Nick, and many thanks for being a contributor..
  7. For some reason I didn’t find this as hard as some, and most enjoyable. Half an hour, with PLUM the one biff ed and not quite understood. Didn’t think of that meaning of sound.

    Sorry nick to see you go, a novice no longer that’s for sure, keep with us when you can.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Pip. Whatever I’ve learnt has been directly attributable to reading bloggers such as your good self.
  8. Good stint, Nick!

    I found this a lot easier than the other w/e puzzle last week, but had to cheat to get PALIMPSEST, which is a word you need to know/be able to remember in order to crack the clue. I failed to remember it.

    Curateships are now called curacies, methinks.

    Edited at 2018-05-13 07:30 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks U. Curacies is an unlikely looking word – if it was the answer to a clue I don’t think I would ever have got it even with a bunch of cross checkers!
  9. 39 minutes, but resorted to aids to check the last couple, RUCK and PALIMPSEST. I wrote “Hard!” on my paper copy. VOLITION my favourite for the nicely disguised definition. Sorry to see you go Nick-the-experienced, your blogs have always been entertaining and instructional. Good luck with the job!
  10. I found this hard but fair and overall an excellent puzzle. I nearly gave up a few times but persevered and eventually got there – in 1 hr and 7 secs, with one wrong and one typo. I wasn’t sure whether to go with Rock or Ruck and I went with the former. My typo was Emppasised.

    I biffed Thick Lip even though I knew it didn’t work – but it worked a lot better than the Black Eye I considered giving myself but which just couldn’t be right. So that held me back for a while. I knew of Palimpsest from Gore Vidal’s memoir and recalled that it was some sort of a manuscript.

    COD 17 across: Fountain Pens. I didn’t get the cryptic definition until coming here.

    Thanks very much to nick_the_novice for his sterling work on our behalf and best wishes for the future. Thanks also to Dean Mayer for a fine crossword puzzle.

    1. Thanks astonvilla. Sounds like our solving experience was pretty similar – except mine took about six times as long in aggregate!
  11. 29:06. Very hard, but I got it all sorted out eventually. For some reason I had the most trouble with the short words: BACH, RUCK, PLUM.
    I knew the word PALIMPSEST but I would be surprised and impressed if anyone who didn’t managed to get this one from the wordplay.
    Sorry to see you go, Nick. As others have said I hope you will still pop in to comment. All the best for the new job.
    1. Thanks very much K. I’ll continue to follow your blogs, which I’ve always regarded as a model to which I should aspire.
  12. 1hr 27mins. Crikey! A bit of a humdinger this one. Once you’d cherry-picked the few easy ones there wasn’t anything here that was going to fall without a struggle. Very satisfying to finish. I noted COD against 8dn but now I’m not so sure. I have trouble with the surface reading. The way it’s written hot air must either be coming from the hand or from the hand on the mouth, neither of which make sense to me. Surely the hot air would be coming from the mouth? I’m probably not seeing it properly.

    Thanks for all the blogs Nick. They’ve enlightened and entertained in equal measure. I hope you’ll comment when you can.

    1. I read it as [The answer, CLAPTRAP, is a word meaning] Hot air [constructed] from [a word meaning] hand on [top of a word meaning] mouth.

      Edited at 2018-05-13 09:44 am (UTC)

    2. Thanks special_bitter. Re. CLAPTRAP I read it exactly the same as Jack (although I could not have explained it as pithily).
  13. Thanks for the blogs, Nick. I’m always pleased to see some people writing the reports who have only started finishing puzzles relatively recently.
    1. Thanks very much Peter – and in particular for consistently delivering such a fantastic puzzle week after week.
  14. Four letter double definitions are often the ones that stump me. My LOI was RUCK at 21a. I did, at least, get it right in the end. Perhaps my Rugby Union past put me off as a ruck is a loose scrum with the ball grounded (it is a Maul with the ball off the ground) and the objective is to win the ball and NOT to have a mass brawl. That sometimes did happen though.

    Thanks for your blogs Nick. One of your greatest attributes IMHO is to admit when something has beaten you. This is a great comfort to those of us who also experience this regularly.

    1. Thanks very much. I imagine it must be quite tedious to be able to whistle through these puzzles without being castled on a regular basis!
  15. For me solving more than half a Dean puzzle counts as a good result. Once I got into this one I did pretty well,biffing away at times, until I got stuck in the SE.
    At 14a I had Mountain Bear (bear=deal with).This played havoc with my Gastritis.
    Volition went in without parsing. The anagram at 26a -SPYINOLDMS- did not yield Palimpsest but something starting Poly looked on. Plum and Across also defeated me.
    Many thanks to Nick for all his excellent blogs. I can recommend retirement-if you can afford it. David
    1. Thanks very much David. Retirement sounds mighty attractive – but sadly I need a final 3 or 4 year blast to make the numbers work!
  16. I struggled with this puzzle for an hour and a quarter before giving up and looking up 26a. Despite that I still managed to enter PALYMPSEST, and was unable to parse it. Of course with M as the spy, I was never going to sort it out! Like others I considered BLACK EYE and THICK LIP before sanity reigned. I worked out VOLITION, but didn’t know the fencing term, and took it on trust. No problem with the musical term or FOUNTAIN PEN. A toughie! Thanks Dean, and many thanks to Nick for his great series of Blogs. Hope to see you here commenting though.
    1. Thanks very much John. Yes, I’ll certainly be hanging around in the future…
  17. I always looked forward to your blogs – your “sometimes struggle” was a great learning tool and encouraging for other novices. Thanks to Dean for a challenging puzzle
    1. Thank you whoever you are – most kind. Glad I helped in some small way.
  18. Nick, thank you for your excellent blogs.

    Dean is my favourite setter by far as I have said many times. This however was too tough for me and so just gave up and googled the answers (which is not really what I want to to do with a bottle of wine sat in the garden on a Sunday).

    1. Thanks very much Sawbill. I think my struggles with it were also attributable in no small degree to the constant need for further refreshment whilst attempting to solve!
  19. PERFECT INTERVAL was my FOI. Whih goes to show that one person’s hard clue is another’s write-in. But it was a slow solve after than. Clocked out at 46 minutes with one wrong – GEAR instead of GOAT at 14a. I thought of GOAT but preferred the alternative. I thought it referred to all-weather clothing or some sort of low gear on a vehicle. Sorry Nick has to stop blogging. I’ve enjoyed his contributions. Many thanks. Ann
    1. Thanks for your kind comment Ann. I salute anyone who got PERFECT INTERVAL as their FOI!
  20. I’ll miss the blogging, Nick! Glad you’ll still be with us in the comments section.

    I agree this one was tough. In fact my notes say “Tough but fair. No time–some hours!” On the plus side, I did get there in the end, though I was almost waylaid like some others by a RIOT at 21a, not to mention nearly getting a BLACK EYE at 9… Very glad I’m on chapter 13 of Beginning Acoustic Blues Guitar; I could have spent a lot longer on this one had I not got 5d fairly quickly.

    As a fountain pen aficionado, I’d say the bit that holds the ink is the reservoir, not the well, so I tend toward the “well”/”fountain”-equivalence explanation, but at least the answer was unlikely to be anything else, either way…

    Lots of question marks by the sides of other clues, so glad to come here for explanations. FOI 1a FOR EXAMPLE (luckily I’d heard of FOREX) LOI the un-understood 18d ACROSS. COD 9a THICK EAR.

    Edited at 2018-05-13 05:11 pm (UTC)

  21. Many thanks for the blog, Nick, and thanks for all of the excellent blogs you’ve given us in the past. You’ll be missed, but delighted to know you’ll continue to contribute.
    Enjoy your retirement!
    1. Thanks very much Dean, appreciate your kind words. I’ve really enjoyed blogging your puzzles and will continue to relish attempting to solve them in the future. The barmaid with the large bust remains my all-time favourite clue from any setter and will, I’m sure, never be surpassed from my personal point of view!
  22. I couldn’t finish it on my first try… or my second, but finally got through. For 26a, I, too, had M in my head, but he’s not been “faceless” in the Bond films; I also thought the word might start with PY… Even after the definition and subsequent crossers made the answer plain enough, it still took me an unaccountably long time to parse it.

    It’s something to see 56 comments on a Sunday-puzzle blog! But that’s largely because everyone is expressing gratitude to Nick, to which chorus I am now adding my voice. Beau travail !

    Edited at 2018-05-13 09:40 pm (UTC)

    LOI 7dn BALTI
    COD 18dn ACROSS
    WOD 23ac KITSCH
    Time 1.25hrs

    Edited at 2018-05-16 07:10 am (UTC)

  24. I’m a day late and a dollar short as usual. Very sorry you’ve got to take a leave of absence. But when you come back it will be as Nick the Maven!
    1. Thanks for your kind words Olivia. And yes, I had to run to my dictionary to check “Maven”!
  25. ……….Nick for all your excellent blogs.

    Good luck in your new posting.

    With my talent, no luck required we hear you cry. ;>) ;>)

    Jan Fralick and Tom McGuirk


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