Sunday Times 4812 by Dean Mayer

13:18. I’ve had something of a hectic week this week so I can’t remember much about this puzzle I’m afraid. One thing that did induce a raised eyebrow was the politically controversial usage at 14dn. It reminds me of a puzzle a while back that referred to the West Bank as ‘disputed territory’. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the situation, the word ‘disputed’ in that context (as opposed to ‘occupied’) is, well, heavily disputed. Similarly in the context of this week’s clue ‘one saving baby’ (as oppposed to, say, ‘one interfering with a woman’s bodily autonomy’) is politically charged. These are subjects that are so sensitive that the mere choice of vocabulary means taking sides. If I were a crossword setter I’d probably try and steer clear.

Other than that, a fine puzzle at the easier end of the spectrum for this setter, so thanks to Dean and here’s how I think it all works…

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

1 Problem over antique promotion? Well I never will be fooled
SOLD A DUMMY – SUM (problem) containing OLD (antique), AD (promotion), MY (well I never).
6 Hotel employee’s companion returned iron
CHEF – CH (Companion of Honour), reversal of FE (iron).
10 Go on and hack
NAG – DD, the second a reference to a horse.
11 Went into details about monarch being banished
12 Firm chasing flexible trade style
ART DECO – (TRADE)*, CO (firm).
13 Last bit of water to slip away in sink
15 Approach that we have in executive group
17 Celebration of a marriage on the rocks?
21 Want what the attendant doesn’t have
ABSENCE – two definitions, the second slightly cryptic on the basis that if you are attending something then you aren’t absent.
22 Fruit drink blocked by the Spanish
TANGELO – TANG(EL)O. The drink here being a revolting carbonated one that may not be familiar to solvers outside the UK.
23 Nancy’s pain
FRENCH BREAD – Nancy being a city in France, of course, and ‘pain’ being French for bread.
25 I see Tonya Harding’s content
AHA – I initially put YAH in here, perhaps thinking of this.
26 Fancy a twin?
27 Determined forward grabbing goals is not forward!
PERSISTENT – PERT (forward) containing a reversal of NETS IS.
1 Kid, outlaw from North Carolina, into ice cream
SUNDANCE – insert the Tar Heel state into SUNDAE.
2 Fairly easy work?
LIGHT DUTIES – a barely cryptic CD based on the fact that ‘fair’ means ‘light’.
3 Perennial idiot without setter’s energy
4 Police nab couple on run with drug? Hard to say
UNPRONOUNCEABLE – (NAB COUPLE ON RUN, E)*. An unusual anagram indicator.
5 One’s vital in case salt mine wears it out
7 Welcome time to find success
HIT – HI, T.
8 More rum after fine food
9 Nameless wild flower
14 One saving baby that’s swallowed mushroom
16 Blind soldier in retreat, and not another soldier?
IGNORANT – reversal of GI, NOR (not), ANT (soldier?).
18 Where to find rich male, on account of ditching female
MONACO – M, ON, A/C, Of.
19 Uncovers study used for revision
20 Just 50 and very poor
24 Unopened petition that scares me!

37 comments on “Sunday Times 4812 by Dean Mayer”

  1. NHO 1ac, so looked it up, and then carelessly entered SELL not SOLD. DNK the drink at 22ac, but it had to be. I missed the 2d meaning of ABSENCE, but one was good enough for me. And I failed to see the crypticity of 2d. Definitely 14d is problematic, not only the definition, but the term ‘pro-lifer’ (why are so many of them in favor of the death penalty?). A pity this clue appeared.
    1. And against gun control of course. Life is sacred, but a well-regulated militia is sacreder.

      Edited at 2018-08-26 01:10 am (UTC)

  2. I have to disagree with Lords Keriothe and Kevin on his views on the 14dn clue.

    It is the Americans who have politicised these issues. It is hardly used in the native English vocabulary perhaps over in Ireland – but that is declining.

    Crosswords over the years have been used for political purposes. Entry to work at Bletchley Park (The Telegraph) for example, and even for sending messages to allies during WWII (The Times). Today Private Eye’s Crossword is politically loaded but is hardly revolutionary.

    My recent attempts to gently satirise POTUS have met with stern rebuke from our American quarter (bar one), who do appear to take life rather seriously. One reader even thought my efforts were pro-Trump!! And what of my First Ammendment rights? Oh! I forgot we Brits only have free speech – and no irony-bypass.

    Please remember, early responders, that American politics isn’t British politics and British humour isn’t American humor. And this is The London Times not The ‘failing’ New York Times!

    FOI 25ac AHA




    Mood Meldrovian

    1. I can assure you horryd that abortion is a still a controversial political issue in the UK too.
      1. Abortion was legalised in Britain in April 1968 I’ve just got back from UK (six weeks) and the subject was not raised in The Times or on any television programme in that time. There was a spike in October 2017 when anti abortionists protested outside Westminster (50 years since the passing of the act in 1967) however it was reported that American activists, mainly from Pennsylvania, were to the fore – so it got a lot of coverage in the US.

        Abortion was opposed by 17% of British women in the last MORI poll (2011)

        In Ireland the laws will change on 1 January 2019. (12 week max. requirement).

        Assurance with facts, please. Sorry but it is not a controversial issue in the UK presently keroithe. In America it is. In Northern Ireland is somewhat confused.

        Edited at 2018-08-26 03:40 pm (UTC)

        1. It may not be as controversial as in the US, horryd, but it is undoubtedly still a controversial subject. The recent change to the law in Ireland prompted a lot of discussion and op-eds on either side of the debate.
  3. Re 22ac, I thought there was a ban on brand names in Times puzzles but perhaps I am wrong about that, or maybe it just doesn’t apply to the Sunday Times.

    Whatever one’s views on the subject I fail to see how the clue at 14ac is making a statement or taking a stance on anything.

    Edited at 2018-08-26 07:11 am (UTC)

    1. (Robert E.) LEE has been clued a couple of times, I believe, by ‘general’; what if he were clued by ‘traitor’? Which is what he was, of course, but I would not like to see that clue.
      1. At least in that context we have the neutral ‘general’: language like ‘traitor’ (or ‘hero in a lost cause’) can be avoided. My point about subjects like abortion or Israel/Palestine is that it’s quite hard to discuss them without taking sides, so politicallly loaded is the language.
        1. Right, K, and we’re on the same page so I won’t go on (too much), but MY point was that a ‘traitor’ clue would be taking a stance, and similarly for ‘prolifer’.
          1. Well indeed. You can make almost any subject controversial if you choose your language carefully enough. I like to try, anyway.

            Edited at 2018-08-26 01:10 pm (UTC)

    2. 14dn, Jack. I don’t think there is a ban on brand names, I have seen a number of them in the past. I remember ribald comments when “Sky” used as a brand name came up, it being The Times parent company.
  4. Solved in two sittings, pre and post Church, last Sunday morning. I took about 50 minutes. Did not parse COURSE OF ACTION or PERSISTENT, so I’m grateful to K for the explanations. COD to the neat AGELESS with a nod to the smile from SUNDANCE. ‘Police’ as an anagram indicator caused more than a moment’s thought. PROLIFERATE caused a mixed reaction, with me both thinking that it’s a clever clue and that it’s using words lightly on a complex issue. But if Dean is happy to set the clue, then I’m happy to solve it. I’m a middle-of-the-road Anglican! Thank you K and Dean.
  5. Thanks, keriothe, for COURSE OF ACTION, ABSENCE and PERSISTENT. Initially I queried NETS = goals but, of course, the two are just about synonymous. Nice to see GEL for ‘setter’ and not ‘me’.
    No problem with Nancy as we have seen that usage many times.
    Surprisingly straightforward for an Anax puzzle. 49m 58s
  6. Very enjoyable crossword, that. I would agree that 14dn is a bit controversial but I really don’t dislike the odd controversial clue.. especially using words that are after all in common usage. It would not surprise me if Dean didn’t include it specifically to generate a comment or two.

    Thinking about the West Bank K, it seems more controversial to me to call it occupied, which implies that the occupiers have no right to be there (which may be true) than to call it disputed, which seems incontrovertibly true, or why all the fighting?

    1. Taken out of context ‘disputed’ might sound harmless but the context is important. Under international law these territories are considered to be occupied, illegally so in fact. The phrase ‘disputed territories’ is specifically and deliberately used by those who would deny this legal status. So if you use it you are, whether you like it or not, taking sides.

      Edited at 2018-08-26 12:38 pm (UTC)

  7. My normal experience for a Dean puzzle is look long and hard, solve about 6 clues and give up.Having been beaten by the previous Saturday puzzle, I expected nothing different, got 7 clues and was about to give up. But I managed to see how 5d worked and that opened things up. Gradually it fell into place and, after a good while, LOI was Ageless ( I was looking for the name of a plant).
    I enjoyed this. The favourite crossword fruit was a help and I remembered the Nancy device. Could not parse Violet – so obvious when you see it explained. Thanks for that. David
  8. 45:56 which, for me, is decent for a DM puzzle. I spent far too long wandering up the garden path looking for a plant at 3dn. I liked the misdirection at 12ac and the anagram at 5dn. The possible controversy at 14dn did not occur to me when solving. I rarely pick up on things of that ilk in the context of a cryptic crossword solve. FOI 6ac. LOI 2dn. No disrespect to this excellent setter but for, ahem, personal reasons COD to:

    I chose LP I’d collected (10)

  9. Took me 30 minutes – not sure why, though I remember trying to solve LAWFUL from the wrong end.
    I accepted “PROLIFER” with a cross between amusement and yeuch. It is, of course, a divisive issue, with touchy feelings everywhere. I would not want to claim not to be pro-life (who would?) any more than I would want to claim not to be pro-choice. Taking offence is easy, not taking offence is preferable but increasingly rare. In crosswords, we are always being asked to make word associations, some of which will make us wince, and the ST setters in particular are unlikely to blush too much over such sensitivities. I do hope we can remain an oasis of live and let live, enjoying the fantastic flexibility of the English language rather than trying to police it.
    1. Mind you, all that said, and on reflection, I wouldn’t be too pleased with “pro choice” being clued by “baby killer”.
      1. This is exactly the point, z. If a pro-lifer is ‘saving a baby’ then by implication a pro-choicer is doing the opposite. Whatever your view, the language is loaded.
  10. As has been noted, a less difficult example of Dean’s puzzles, which nevertheless gave value for money. I think I started with HIT, but can’t remember where I finished: possibly the controversial 14d was my LOI, although it didn’t generate any adverse reaction from me. 36:07. Thanks Dean and K.
  11. Whilst I admit to being guilty of the occasional comment myself, I wish posters would stop trying to turn this place into a political forum. There are plenty of dedicated places on-line to discuss these matters if they wish.

    I would stress that I have no official role around here so others are free to take a different view, but as far as I’m concerned it’s all getting too much, back and forth all day long.

    Edited at 2018-08-26 01:31 pm (UTC)

    1. Since describing a ‘pro-lifer’ as ‘one saving a baby’ is an overtly political statement it seems quite natural to discuss the politics. Language is sometimes political, I don’t see the point in ignoring it.

      Edited at 2018-08-26 01:46 pm (UTC)

      1. I agree. If the compiler takes a stance, which here he has done but shouldn’t have been allowed to by his editor, then red rag to a bull. Dean’s a great compiler, but that’s a personal view creeping in. Not acceptable.

        Edited at 2018-08-26 06:38 pm (UTC)

        1. In Dean’s defence I think it’s unlikely he intended to force a controversial personal view on us. I expect he was just thinking of the deceptive wordplay possibilities. Still, it’s loaded political language and at the very least worthy of comment IMO.
          1. Well okay. Being more even-handed there would have wrecked the surface. Probably.
  12. I liked the Anax-like Denudes and the cute deconstruction at Course Of Action.

    I would have been happier with a non-appearing “an attendant” rather than “the attendant” – I think I know why but it’s too complicated to write down. In the US we have Diamond Wedding Anniversaries, but not Diamond Weddings, and since Dean is notable for being precise I used light pencil there, too, for a while. And, like z8 I fell for the trap of too quickly seeing the wrong 50vin Lawful.

    I’ll weigh out of the disputed territiory of pro-life/choice and pro/anti POTUS.

    Edited at 2018-08-26 03:54 pm (UTC)

  13. Mr Grumpy here. About 45 minutes with aids. 21a doesn’t really work though does it? If ‘attendant’ is meant as ‘someone attending’, then that should be ‘attendee’. And an unaccounted for apostrophe ‘s’ at 3d made me slightly grumpy too
    1. Both Collins (‘a person who is present’) and ODO (‘a person who is present on a particular occasion’) support this usage. Chambers doesn’t, and is characteristically sniffy about ‘attendee’: ‘used in the sense of ‘attender”.
      The ‘s in 3dn is an abbrevation of ‘has’. [Setter has energy] gives GELE.

      Edited at 2018-08-26 07:42 pm (UTC)

Comments are closed.