Sunday Times 4798 by David McLean

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
17:18. I felt I made very heavy weather of this. I solved about half of it very quickly indeed, but then slowed to a crawl. Broadly speaking I found the north-east a lot easier than the south-west, but in many cases I was making problems for myself (I had TITTILATE for quite a long time) and/or being very slow to twig things that seem simple in retrospect. GODIVA, for instance, was my last in and I kicked myself hard when the penny finally dropped.

So I wonder if it was just me, or if others found this a bit trickier than it now seems. From my point of view any difficulty involved certainly didn’t come from the use of obscurity. LEONIDAS isn’t the first king to come to my mind, but I’m sure he’s come up before, and everything else was perfectly familiar. And as we’ve come to expect from Harry the whole thing was very entertaining.

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

1 There’s no place for mild bitter
4 Book with hot photo takes the biscuit
9 In the past, I got up out of habit
10 King unhappy one Christmas after a turn
LEONIDAS – reversal (after a turn) of SAD, I, NOEL. King of Sparta, killed at the battle of Thermopylae by the Persian army led by Xerxes, who also appears here from time to time.
11 Vulgar party game for swingers?
BASEBALL – BASE (vulgar), BALL (party), then a cryptic definition.
13 Get a dry drop of Amarone at home
ATTAIN – A, TT (teetotal, dry), Amarone, IN (home).
14 Replace heads of old left in African state
CALIFORNIA – (Old, Left, In AFRICAN)*. This one took me ages to see. It seems simple in retrospect but perhaps it’s not completely obvious how the wordplay works. So much so in fact that I got it wrong. Thanks to anon below for correcting me.
16 Clue guide
LEAD – DD. The first definition is the kind of LEAD a detective might get.
17 Correct turning point for reversing
EDIT – reversal of TIDE. In this case a high or low one: the sort which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.
18 It’s a little odd and tickles a little
20 Not just as brown mops are?
UNFAIR – two definitions, one slightly cryptic. A ‘mop’ is hair, of course.
21 Fruit works with, say, grapefruit starter
EGGPLANT – PLANT (works) preceded by EG, Grapefruit. The people who insist that an aubergine is a fruit no doubt adopt the same position on the tomato. Don’t eat their fruit salad. You should probably avoid their ratatouille too, come to think of it.
23 Man in silk changing foreign capital
HELSINKI – HE, (IN SILK)*. Somewhere I will be going a lot less when I leave my job in a couple of weeks.
24 Brood on times I left to go to The East
LITTER – reversal of RE (on), TT (times), I, L.
26 Writer’s stuff is unmoving on radio
STATIONERY – sounds like ‘stationary’. Chestnut.
27 Perhaps a school in need of turning around
NOTE – reversal of ETON. Cunning definition.

2 My love wants company in the van
COO – O (love) with CO (company) in front of it (in the van).
3 Ambition to succeed? It’ll be a long shot
DRIVE – DD. The second definition wasn’t necessarily accurate when I played golf.
4 Swagger shown by upcoming lawyer with excellent case
BRAVADO – BRAV(AD)O. The reversed (upcoming) lawyer is a DA.
5 Where sleepers might be found at every point
ALL ALONG THE LINE – two definitions, one a mildly cryptic reference to railway sleepers.
6 Small scene in play is Iago’s first and last
7 Can I still cast piece of little substance?
SCINTILLA – (CAN I STILL)*. The small piece is almost always evidence, but it is almost always absent.
8 Babe in a car collecting a new coffee-maker
ARABICA BEAN – (BABE IN A CAR, A)*. The wordplay suggests that strictly you have to insert the A into BABE IN A CAR and then make an anagram. Where you insert the A is up to you.
12 A group of dudes close to arrest for desertion
ABANDONMENT – A, BAND, ON, MEN, arresT. You have to separate each element here to get ON from ‘of’. I don’t really understand how the two are equivalent though: Chambers gives ‘on’ as a definition of ‘of’ but I can’t think of a sentence where you can substitute one for the other. Can you?
15 Out of order train isn’t on its way
18 Piece from editor on touristy city abroad
TORONTO – contained in ‘editor on touristy’. Somewhere I will be going a lot more when I leave my job in a couple of weeks.
19 Large ship must give European a lift by law
LEGALLY – L, GALLEY with the E moved up (given a lift) to the beginning.
22 Language seen in loo left by King and Earl
25 Have seconds in new cafe by the front in Torquay
EAT – second letters in ‘nEw cAfe’, Torquay

40 comments on “Sunday Times 4798 by David McLean”

  1. I got off to a very slow start, with not a single across solved on the first pass; but then things picked up. GODIVA was my LOI, too, and I think my COD. I had a question mark at NOTE, not having found the definition; very cunning, indeed. I didn’t notice the of/on problem in 12d; maybe, say, the discussion of/on post-Brexit England? You retiring, K? Defalcating with enough to sustain your current lifestyle? Congratulations in any case.
    1. Thanks Kevin, I think that must be it.
      I am not retiring just yet, but I am not allowed to work for a year, so I will be getting a taste of it.

      Edited at 2018-05-20 07:20 am (UTC)

      1. Enjoy your year off. I left 60% of my job at the beginning of the month and I’m enjoying working just Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  2. My last one in was also GODIVA however the penny never did drop of its own accord as I had to resort to aids having run out of steam and got bored with trying to work it out.

    I think Kevin has cracked “on/of” question but before reading his contribution I was go to say that I’ve heard people say “What do you think on that?” rather than “…of that?” although it always grates as it sounds wrong to my ear.

    Edited at 2018-05-20 04:49 am (UTC)

  3. 42 minutes, as with others starting in a sprint and finishing in a crawl. I didn’t notice the musical note of 27 across until coming here. LOI was GODIVA, needing all crossers before spotting the pithy reportage. Sometimes the answer to a crossword clue makes you realise that you’ve lived life not asking the right questions. LEGALLY went in easily enough, and then I realised that I had never before adequately reviewed the distinction between the ship rowed by slaves and the kitchen of a ship. Did I think that the slaves were down below slicing up the onions for the nutritious stew before coming up aloft for their stint on the oars? HELSINKI also held me up as I went through the currencies of the world first. Thank you K for the blog and David for this artful puzzle.
  4. Strange, that Leonidas and Godiva should be so close together in the same grid, both being well-known Belgian chocolate brands.
    Re of/on, Collins has: “of: on or at (a specified day, time, etc.) he came of a Friday”

    Eggplants are American. I call them aubergines, as in “Aubergines are as dull as ditchwater”

    1. I considered this meaning but I don’t think it works. Firstly it’s ‘of a’, not ‘of’, and secondly ‘of a Friday’ and ‘on Friday’ mean quite different things.
      Aubergines, or eggplants, are delicious. Quite possibly my favourite vegetable.
      1. Seems OK to me.. “He comes of a Friday” or “He comes on a Friday..” Perhaps you have to come from Norfolk or something, not that I do
        1. Hmm. Maybe. I’m not sure I’ve heard ‘on a Friday’ used like this (it would normally be ‘on Fridays’) but if someone said it I’d know what they meant.
      2. For what it’s worth:

        Falstaff’s honour speech, Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 1

        What is honour? A word. What is in that word “honour”? What is that “honour”? Air. A trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday.

        Shows how severe beatings in school concentrates stuff in the memory.

        Tom (and Jan)


  5. 41 minutes for me, with the SE corner taking the last ten, for no good reason I can see now.

    FOI 1a (always a nice start) LOI 24a LITTER. It was helpful that I knew I can never spell TITILLATES so used the anagram to make sure, otherwise I’m sure I’d have been up the same creek ask K for a while.

    I wonder if EGGPLANT being fruit will (a) stick in my memory, and (b) ever come up again. Fairly sure that if one happens, the other won’t.

  6. As per Gothick Matt it would have served me far better to have splelt this correctly in the first place. DoH!

    9ac GODIVA was not my LOI as was tous le rage – the operative word ‘up’was spotted early amongst the vagueness – my LOI was 11ac BASEBALL, stupid clue!

    FOI 25dn EAT (as it printed out)
    COD 14ac CALIFORNIA clever misdirection of the Sanctuary State
    WOD 10ac LEONIDAS we are no longer on speaking terms.

    Time 90 mins! 5dn ALL ALONG THE LINE really held me up even though I twigged the sleepers. (Doh II!)

    Today’s Sunday ST should see a few records go as should Saturdays 15×15 – simples – leaving plenty of time to mow the clover and watch the wedding!

  7. 17 minutes and like (almost everyone) else GODIVA my last. And, even as CDs go, my favourite.
    Is a BRANDY SNAP a biscuit? Does it come in other forms than that cannelloni shaped confection stuffed (at its best) with cream?
  8. 30:03 for an entertaining puzzle. Like Anon above I was left scratching my head over the apparent extra “N” in the anagrist for California. FOI 1ac. LOI Godiva, took a while to pick up on the “up”, when I did, the “out of habit” then fell into place.
  9. In 14a, is there not an N left over after anagramming L+O+IN+AFRICAN?

    Or am I missing something? It wouldn’t be the first time.

    1. Ah yes, thank you anon for spotting my – ahem – deliberate mistake. I will correct the blog.
  10. 20:18 with one wrong. Abarica Bean. Like some others here I got off to a great start and had most done in less than 10 mins before struggling over the last few. Godiva LOI and COD.

    The clue which I offered yesterday morning had a topical theme and the answer is revealed below. It did require some detailed knowledge of horse racing! I have added the word royal to make it a bit fairer.

    Royal spouse nearly married himself (6)

    1. Markle. The clue was posted before she had become a spouse. Well, before she became a spouse for the second time actually. M is married and the great NH chaser Arkle was affectionately known as “Himself”.
      1. Someone has to tell you – that is beyond obscure and wholly lacking in intercity! Desist!
          1. “intercity”: the quality of being perpetually between two things, such as Swindon and Didcot Parkway.
  11. Unfortunately TITTILATE was one of my later entries and I didn’t notice that LEGALLY had become IEGALLY before submitting. Eeejit! GODIVA was my LOI too, with a metaphorically smacked forehead. Didn’t know LEONIDAS but worked him out and looked him up later. 27:25 with 2 wrong. Nice puzzle. Thanks Harry and K.
    1. No problem with Leonidas for me as Leonidas II is one of the horses in Totopoly – a favourite family board game across the generations.
      1. Does anyone else remember singing in school (primary in my case):
        “Leonidas is combing his hair, his hair.
        King of Persia, beware, beware,
        For Leonidas is combing his hair!”
        as a round? I have no idea what we made of it then, but it stuck and is currently earworming.
  12. 24:37. Did no-one else think there was an error 24a? Going from the left to the right is going to The West, surely? Or have I missed something?
    14a took me ages to spot too. Thanks for explaining LEAD, K, I had a questionmark over why it was a synonym for clue.
    1. 24a: clearly an error in the clueing. So to be clear, going from the left to the right (as in normal script) is going to The East, and would give you RETTIL. To get LITTER, you’d have to go to The West. It’s annoying, but is the kind of mistake you see all the time, so we just have to make a habit of reading things both ways.
      1. Doh. I described it wrong. I meant right to left is going to The West, of course.
        1. Well spotted – I must have worked on the basis that if a direction is mentioned, there must be a reversal (not quite certain, but somewhere around 99%).
  13. So I did miss something.

    That doesn’t surprise me.

    Thanks for enlightening me.

  14. Not just as brown mops are? No one has mentioned another meaning of mop – a yearly fair when new servants were hired.

    AW Bham

  15. Another enjoyable puzzle from DM.
    I managed to solve it correctly bar 9a. Trying to find something, I went for a variety of Toga -the Togina (worn by women in Rome?).It has IGOT up in it. Clever.. but not right.
    I was another with Tittilates for a long time until I finally got Legally. David

Comments are closed.