Sunday Times 4808 by Jeff Pearce

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
15:21. A bit of an odd puzzle, this. Most of it is extremely easy: for me there were several clues that were immediate write-ins based on either obvious definitions or very standard wordplay. However I then got completely stuck on two clues, which more than doubled my time. I spent over 5 minutes on 13ac alone.

The most important problem I had with 13ac was that I’ve never heard of the chemical in question, so I was almost entirely reliant on wordplay. However the other major problem I had was that the indication ‘you start’ to indicate Y is not one we are used to seeing. Ximenes had strong views on this sort of thing: he inveighed against indications like ‘leading republican’ for R for instance and I’m not sure he would approve of this. I think it’s OK, actually – on the basis that you might say ‘race start’ to indicate the start of a race – but I am so unused to seeing this formulation that I initially considered and rejected it as a possibility, which left me with no idea what was going on. The indication ‘smell of toilet cleaner’ for PINE, which just strikes me as utterly bizarre, slowed me down further. All in all a rather curious clue.

The other one that I struggled with was 5dn: I’m aware that emery boards are a thing, but I don’t remember seeing this version before.

So all a bit curious, but not without some nice touches. I particularly like 1ac. What did you think?

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

1 Does polish make such goods better?
SHOP-SOILED – (DOES POLISH)*. A curious clue to kick off with: an anagram without an obvious anagram indicator, and no identifiable definition. And yet it works. Quite a neat trick.
6 Representative attends flower ceremony
POMP – PO (flower, river), MP (representative). A combination of crossword staples.
9 Served senior politician and top journalist
MINISTERED – MINISTER, ED. Another combination of crossword staples.
10 Something seen in crane’s tree?
NEST – contained in ‘crane’s tree’. An &Lit somewhat spoiled by the fact that cranes don’t nest in trees.
12 Refuse a stretcher
13 You start to deliver piercing smell of toilet cleaner in this pungent liquid
PYRIDINE – Y (you start), RID (deliver) contained in PINE (smell of toilet cleaner).
15 Startling sea lions at aft of ocean wreck
18 US agents kidnap Egyptian as part of gross contract
ARRANGEMENT – ARRANT (gross) containing G-MEN (US agents), which in turn contains E for Egyptian.
21 Judge gets a lift when carrying pages
22 What we’re talking about is a lawyer holding information
24 I love old Italian school book
AMOS – AMO (Italian for ‘I love’), S. S for school is an unusual abbreviation but it’s in Collins which we know from past comments is good enough as far as Peter Biddlecombe is concerned. Whether we should be expected to know Italian is open to debate, but even I have heard of this particular minor prophet.
25 Trueman not playing in matches
26 Piece of wheat needed initially to make bread
EARN – EAR (piece of wheat), Needed.
27 Coe backed narrator without initially spotting Rowling? (10)
BESTSELLER – reversal of SEB (Coe, now Lord, former athlete and politician), T(Spotting)ELLER. Definition by example indicated by the question mark.

1 Demonstration somewhere in Greater Manchester includes local politician
2 Flashy gold kind of string around bronze back
ORNATE – OR (gold), E (kind of string: there are two on a standard-tuned guitar for example) containing (around) a reversal of TAN (bronze).
3 Relatives get nun at home to cut salad
4 I live with cross mountain dweller
IBEX – I, BE, X.
5 Like an ale lacking head? – Composition containing hint of malt to make it smoother
EMERY PAPERbE(Malt)ERY, PAPER (composition).
7 Honour Princess Hospital department? – It’s well-trained
OBEDIENT – OBE, DI, ENT. The department in question is officially known as otorhinolaryngology these days, but I doubt many ordinary punters call it that.
8 Bank ring head of Yorkshire corporation
POTBELLY – POT, BELL, Yorkshire. POT for ‘bank’ is a bit odd. The best I can do is that it’s a verb meaning to win or secure something, but it strikes me as a bit loose. Perhaps I’m missing something?
11 Cooked up strange diet including one crumble
14 Highlight usual placement of conductor’s stand
UNDERSCORE – one straight definition and one slightly whimsical one.
16 Shell makes vehicle fast
17 Bit upset and cross about magician’s exit
TRAP DOOR – reversals of PART (bit) and ROOD (cross).
19 A foreign coin from long ago? Incredible!
UNREAL – UN (a foreign), REAL (an old Spanish coin)
20 Mum entertains son’s teacher
23 Wear away part of guitar

53 comments on “Sunday Times 4808 by Jeff Pearce”

  1. I took AMO to be ‘I love OLD ITALIAN’ i.e. Roman/Latin; and we all know amo/amas/amat.

    Edited at 2018-07-29 12:08 am (UTC)

    1. Oh yes, you must be right. At some point I must have dropped the ‘old’ in my mind.
      I don’t know amo/amas/amat, having never been taught Latin. Now that you point it out though I must say that describing Latin as ‘old Italian’ is, IMO, awful ahistorical nonsense.
      1. I never took Latin, either; but one of the forms–usually amo or amat–shows up frequently in the NYT (as does ‘esse’). As for ‘old Italian’, it seemed OK as a crossword def; after all, we call Anglo-Saxon Old English.

        Edited at 2018-07-29 12:30 am (UTC)

        1. When I learned Old English we just called it Old English, but whatever you call it there is a linguistic link between the old and the new that doesn’t exist between Latin and modern Italian.
          1. Actually, I don’t think ‘Anglo-Saxon’ is used anymore, at least by linguists. But if one were to deny a link between the old and new–and I wouldn’t in either case–I would think it’s more evident in Latin/Italian than in OE/ModE. The philologist Mario Pei claimed to have as a schoolboy written a poem in Latin that could also be read as Italian; whereas OE is incomprehensible without training.
            1. Of course there’s a link in both cases, but Latin is as much the root of French or Spanish: the link between old and modern English is more direct if only because it’s more recent.
              The other point is that the area in which Latin was spoken was much smaller than any notion of Italy. Of course this is also true of Old English.
              1. I also wondered about the apparent “Old Italian” for Latin, but as “amo” means the same in present-day Italian as it did in Latin, I’m happy to believe that it meant the same in older versions of Italian too.
  2. I left no comments on my copy, other than noting that I parsed BESTSELLER post hoc; it took me a while to remember Coe’s first name. PYRIDINE was vaguely familiar for some reason, and PINE seemed likely for the smell. I wondered about ‘bank’, too; I think I thought of the pot in a poker game, or something (but that’s not a bank). Liked 1ac.
  3. Thank you for a fine blog but please would you include the number of letters in the clue, for reference, as most of us don’t retain the original a week after publication. Many thanks.
    1. Hi Anon, thanks for your kind words. I deliberately delete the number of letters: I don’t see the point of including it. You can count the letters in the answer!
      1. Actually there is. On the one’s I couldn’t get at the time I like to revisit the clue knowing from the blogger which is the definition and which the wordplay.. Once you’ve counted the letters, you’ve seen the answer. Thanks
  4. I think I had to cheat a little for PYRIDINE, and certainly had never heard of it before.

    I’m not sure “better” is the anagrind for SHOP-SOILED; I think it is “make” (these two words make…).

    This is sort of an &lit.… I think. Never heard of Mr. Seb, thanks!

    1. On reflection I think we’re both right: the anagrind is ‘make better’.
      1. Ah. None of that bothered me because I eventually biffed shoe-shines (does polish) and didn’t worry about how it worked.
  5. 59m 00s
    Thanks, keriothe for your blog, particularly for 1ac. I couldn’t make sense of 1ac and ended up with SHOE-SHINER. I never picked it as a nanagram. In my notes I also had several question marks against both PYRIDINE and ORNATE, so I’m grateful for your explanations, particularly about the string in ORNATE.
    My notes also had “clever” against UNDERSCORE, ARRANGEMENT and UNREAL but my COD goes to UNDERSCORE for its whimsicality.
    1. And I successfully got through PYRIDINE and ORNATE, and share your COD, and went for SHOE-SHINES at 1a! After an hour and five minutes I wasn’t in the mood for thinking any harder about my question-marked clues…
    2. Thank you Martin.
      I forgot to mention it in the blog but ‘string’ for E struck me as unusual at the time.
      1. The first! Of course, a nanagram was a deliberate misspelling* but you are spot on; a nanagram represents a new collective noun: a jumble of grandmothers!

        *Meet Miss Spelling, our new English taehcer!

        Edited at 2018-07-29 11:42 pm (UTC)

  6. I needed aids to finish this off at 13ac as I also didn’t know PYRIDINE and was unable to arrive at it from wordplay.

    Toilet cleaners these days have all manner of different smells but I seem to recall from my childhood that pine was the most popular, and possibly only odour of disinfectant available. I have a vague memory of Izal Pine Disinfectant, and they also made the shiny brand of toilet paper that was not actually fit for purpose, as is this clue in my view.

    Thinking back to the same era when I was taught Latin at prep school (which had shiny Izal in the Stink Room, but I digress), ‘Amo, Amas, Amat’ was the first example of a verb that we encountered and we learned to decline it (if that’s the right word) by rote so that I can still say it all the way through to this day. I’ve a feeling it was on an early page in Kennedy’s Latin Primer, a text book widely used across the board. Similarly the first noun featured was Mensa.

    No problem with EMERY PAPER as I remember it along with the more familiar sandpaper.

    Edited at 2018-07-29 05:58 am (UTC)

    1. Why does your reference to the ‘stink room’ immediately bring to my mind the fat owl of the remove? I never attended any kind of prep school, and I have never read Billy Bunter.
      This sort of inexplicable associative knowledge is what you get from solving crosswords.
      It’s all a bit Habakkuk if you ask me.
      1. I don’t associate ‘stink room’ with Bunter although they are probably of the same era. Nicknames such as that were handed down from generation to generation in that type of school which in this case in some ways stood comparison to Dotheboys Hall. I’ve also heard ‘stinks (pl) room’ for ‘chemistry lab’, not that we had one of those.
    2. I think its “decline” for nouns and “conjugate” for verbs. Amo, amas, amat and mensa, were my first latin words too.
      1. Or adjectives. Mark Twain once remarked that most people would rather decline two drinks than one German adjective.
    3. My late grandfather used to have Izal toilet paper in his flat. The first time I encountered it (as a child), it made me reconsider whether I actually knew what toilet paper was for.
    4. As has been widely chronicled on these pages over many years my entire knowledge of the classics could be written out on a single sheet of Izal with a fat chinagraph pencil but I did know AMO AMAS AMAT from somewhere. Jennings maybe.
  7. 52 minutes with LOI PYRIDINE. I got the YRID eventually and then saw PINE. I think other smells are available, as is bleach, so didn’t care for this. Conversely, proud of my 1961 Latin O level, I liked the ahistorical ‘amo’ for AMOS, a literary prophet. I’d made POT BELLY COD before i read your remarks, K. I saw POT as the bank, such as in the family card game of Newmarket we’d play at Christmas as a child. I’d get so excited if I was about to go ‘chips’, which is probably why I never graduated to Poker. Quite tough. Thank you K and Jeff.

    Edited at 2018-07-29 06:47 am (UTC)

  8. 14:27. Faster than our blogger? Blimey! That’s a first, I think. Clearly I had no difficulties, although PYRIDINE was my LOI and took a while to surface from my dust-laden knowledge of chemistry. Don’t ask me to say what the chemical formula is, though. I enjoyed EMERY PAPER once I saw the parsing, but also UNDERSCORE and the neat surface for EARN. Thanks K and Jeff.
  9. Another in an uncomfortably long line of DNFs. I used aids to get emery paper and pyridine. Hoping for better next week.
  10. 30:28 with PYRIDINE LOI. I think I started with POMP. I actually missed the use of string for E in 2d, but am now surprised not to have seen it before, as I have 3 guitars with 2 E strings each and a violin with one. I liked AMOS where I assumed AMO to be Latin. AMO was the first verb I was taught, however the first noun was Bellum. Nice puzzle. Thanks Jeff and K.
  11. Italian for ‘I love’ is normally ‘amo’, as it is in Portuguese (not ‘eu amo’) and Spanish (not ‘yo amo’) and Latin (not ‘ego amo’).
    1. Oh is that right? I stand corrected. I still suspect that Latin is the intention otherwise the word ‘old’ is redundant.
      1. Well, yeah; that’s what I said at the beginning of this thread! French is the odd man out of the Romance languages (well, I don’t know about Romanian) in not allowing subject-dropping (‘pro-drop’ as it’s often called); where ‘io/eu/yo amo’ is unusual, ‘aime’ is impossible.
          1. Evidently Romanian also is a pro-drop language, leaving French as the Romance odd man out. You might be interested to know–stop yawning!–that Old English often dropped the subject, e.g.:
            Nu ___ scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
            now pro must praise heaven.kingdom’s guard
            ‘Now we must praise the lord of the heavenly kingdom.’
            1. Presumably at some point I did know that, but like more or less everything else I learned at university it is long-forgotten.
  12. was indeed a horryd stinker at 13ac! So a DNF – otherwise 20 mins. Izal Pine flavour? Luxury! We had Bronco!

    FOI 4dn IBEX (sound like toilet paper)

    COD 1ac SHOP SOILED (another scatalogical reference?)

    WOD 13ac has to be PYRIDINE but it spoilt my Sunday which doesn’t really exist here in China.

    Today’s hateful ‘Double H’ grid has a nasty hole in it!

    1. Crikey that must have taken some finding, but these birds don’t sound much like cranes: ‘they are about two feet tall and do not have long legs’.
      1. Honestly, not – I wasn’t that determined to prove you wrong. But the word ‘fact’ in your notes worked on me like a bright bulb flashing from a lighthouse.

        Perhaps it was a pot-bellied crane?

        Edited at 2018-07-31 02:06 am (UTC)

  13. A bit late coming here as on holiday in the UK. Traditional weather -gales and heavy rain!
    I recall finding this puzzle mostly easy apart from a couple of clues; so like everyone else.
    I had noted Emery Paper but as I had only heard of boards, rejected it.
    And I thought of Pine but had never heard of Pyridine and would never have got it.
    Was also pleased to be reminded of Amo Amas Amat from school. David
    1. Having spent a lot of my youth repairing car body damage, I used to buy different grades of emery paper by the shed-load for rubbing down filler etc.
      1. It sprang to my mind fairly quickly as I bought some just a couple of weeks ago for gently re-shaping and smoothing the nib of a new fountain pen.
    2. Yes, I also thought PINE was an excellent descriptor for loo cleaner. Perhaps K uses something altogether more sophisticated ablutions wise?
      1. I certainly prefer something more sophisticated than loo cleaner for my ablutions.
        1. Not his one, surely: 1.2 the ablutions British (in army slang) a building or room containing washing facilities and toilets.
  14. A small quibble, which probably amounts to nothing: In 6ac ‘Representative is used to clue ‘MP’, and on the very same line, in 1dn, ‘local politician’ is used to clue ‘MP’ again.

    Edited at 2018-07-30 10:30 am (UTC)

  15. I did research this particular fact before committing myself, and I don’t feel that our Texan friend is a reliable enough source for me to change my view. A sort of ornithological Patrick Minford.
  16. It’s been more than 55 years since I last used pyridine but I still remember its pungent smell. It sprang out given the cross checkers, long before we parsed it.

    The shiny bum-fodder I remember was made by Jeyes and smelled of Jeyes Fluid.

    Tom. (of Jan and Tom, Toronto)

  17. Forgot to mention, pyridine is used to give Methylated Spirits its offensive odour.


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