Sunday Times 4838 by Dean Mayer

11:50. I found this pretty easy for one of Dean’s, but it is typically brilliant in a way I’ve tried to highlight below.

Significantly though this week’s puzzle isn’t one of Jeff Pearce’s: as Peter Biddlecombe (Sunday Times crossword editor and founder of this site) told us last week Jeff has decided to retire from setting the Sunday Times puzzles.

I always used to think of Jeff’s puzzles as the easy ones, and there’s nothing wrong with that: the art of producing an elegant but accessible puzzle is a fine one and Jeff was always a master of it. In the last couple of years though it seemed to me that he decided – from time to time – to produce a harder puzzle, and occasionally a real stinker. I don’t know that this was deliberate, but some of these difficult puzzles were masterpieces and they enhanced my appreciation of Jeff’s setting. So for the full range of puzzles he produced I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jeff personally for many years of solving pleasure.

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

1 Chemist quick to bandage injury
5 One third of twelve still an odd number
ELEVEN – one third of twelve is twELve (why that third, you might ask, well why not?), then EVEN is ‘still’
10 “Town” planes try to bomb
PORT STANLEY – (PLANES TRY TO)*. I assume the quotation marks in the clue are there because the town is officially known as Stanley. It was generally referred to as ‘Port Stanley’ during the Falklands war, I remember.
11 See how business starts to yield high return
LOB – LO, Business. Great clue.
12 Alcoholic spirit?
DUTCH COURAGE – CD. Not for the first time with this setter, I find myself thinking, this is – in retrospect – so obvious, someone must have come up with it before. It’s one of those clues that seems found rather than written.
15 Sweep area, say, as for cigars
PANATELLAS – PAN (sweep), A, TELL (say) AS.
16 Liking one, and possibly not
INTO – I, (NOT)*.
18 Hands clapped themselves?
CREW – this is another brilliant clue. Chapeau.
19 In French, France, for example
NOM DE PLUME – CD. France was the NOM DE PLUME of François-Anatole Thibault. I’ve already used ‘chapeau’… bravo!
21 Equine business, large one, super-secure
24 Very good English dish
PIE – PI (very good), E. There is some debate as to whether PI means ‘very good’ or ‘seeming very good’ but both are apparently in usage (I have never personally heard either) so get used to it.
25 Corn and peanuts
CHICKEN FEED – DD, the second figurative.
26 Mock workers at Zurich houses
ERSATZ – contained in ‘workers at Zurich’.
27 Expedition finding that thing in green

1 A young creature growing up?
PUPA – reversal of A PUP. &Lit.
2 It’s a pity lines are asymmetrical
AWRY – AW (it’s a pity), RY (railway lines).
3 Fly low across southern desert
MOSQUITO – MO(S, QUIT), O. Hands up if you weren’t trying to think of the name of a desert.
4 Essays about to turn up in university office
CHANCELLORSHIP – CHANCES (essays) containing (about) a reversal (up because this is a down clue) of ROLL (turn), then HIP (in). This is a wordplay masterpiece. What comes after ‘bravo’?
6 Floor plan
LAY OUT – another very neat one. Not a double definition for me because the ‘plan’ version is one word.
7 Bad seat among house’s contents
VILLAINOUS – I think for this one we have to read ‘seat’ as VILLA (which seems a bit of a stretch to me but is not unreasonable and justified if you compare the dictionary definitions), then we have IN with hOUSe.
8 No screwed up sign for ladies?
NOBLEWOMEN – NO, BLEW (screwed up), OMEN (sign).
9 Weightlifter’s bar with handle
BLOCK AND TACKLE – BLOCK (bar), AND (with), TACKLE (handle).
13 Dance back to front? Take off clothes in the end
APOCALYPSE – APE (take off) clothes (surrounds) CALYPSO (dance) with the O (back) taken to the front. AP(OCALYPS)E. Very tricky.
14 Steve Irwin staggered audiences
INTERVIEWS – (STEVE IRWIN)*. The rule in the daily puzzles is that people shouldn’t be used until they’re dead. This for me is an example of the opposite: it’s too soon. No doubt it’s just me and my kids of a certain age but his death was a shock.
17 Plenty of blubber to cut at one time
OPULENCE – O(PULE)NCE. Pule, mewl, greet, keen, remember these obscure words for crying.
20 Playwright from Britain, the real thing
22 Truck is holding me up
SEMI – reversal of I(ME)S.
23 Golf director always welcome in Australia
GDAY – G, D, AY.

51 comments on “Sunday Times 4838 by Dean Mayer”

  1. I agree PLAN as a noun would be LAYOUT, as one word. But perhaps as a verb, it would be OK as two words?
  2. Thanks keriothe, particularly for APOCALYPSE, VILLAINOUS and CHANCELLORSHIP. I had question marks against those three in my notes.
    At the time I noted that PUPA was also in the Concise last Sunday.
    Regarding Steve Irwin, Americans loved him. I used to work for an American cargo airline and all the aircrew thought he was great but many Aussies thought he was too ‘ocker’. It was only when he died that he became something of a sainted figure. I was living in Australia at the time and a book I read on various Aussie characters made that very point in a chapter on him.
    My COD was NOM DE PLUME.
  3. 7dn VILLAINOUS I reached by another method –
    seat = to place the contents of hOUse and IN in another house VILLA’S (possessive) and (some double duty) – Well I’m sure it is wrong but it got me there quickly and villa as ‘seat’ is, as you say, a bit of a stretch!

    FOI 1dn PUPA




  4. I remember early on thinking this was on the easy side for a DM puzzle but slowed to a crawl later in the solve and needed 2 minutes short of an hour to complete the grid. I had the same take on VILLAINOUS as our blogger but didn’t think it too much of a stretch.

    Edited at 2019-02-24 06:27 am (UTC)

  5. clue 18 across: Hands clapped themselves?
    Answer: Crew
    Blogger explains this as: this is another brilliant clue. Chapeau

    1. To crow is to applaud oneself; crowed/crew is applauded. So if the crew crew, the crew crowed, the crew clapped themselves. But you might have asked a bit more politely!
      1. rolytoly matey – in fairness, our esteemed bloggist did not attempt explain the answer, which is apparently the idea! Poor Barbara was only using a few CAPS in her obvious frustration. Chapeau? Choupette!?
        1. Well I indicated the definition, and thought the second half of the clue was self-explanatory. Obviously not but rolytoly has explained it perfectly.
      2. To Rolytoly: Sorry you were offended by my impoliteness, but I believe the
        silly notion that using capital letters is rude is outdated, and has finally died a natural death, for which I’m thankful.
        Apparently when sending messages via computer began sometime during the last century, somebody decided that there was something wicked or obscene about using upper case letters. To that foolish extent, some people never used any upper case at all, and eschewed punctuation as well.
        1. No offence taken, and I have no particular issue with capital letters, but writing in telegram can come across as unnecessarily curt when you’re not being charged by the word.
        2. No, using capital letters is DEFINITELY RUDE! See?
          Punctuation, not to mention spelling, is a separate issue. But the random use of capitals HAS NOT DIED a natural death as you claim 😉
    2. Excuse my stupidity but I fail to understand the reference to chapeau which is French for cap.
  6. Several minutes spent parsing 7d and on my LOI 27ac gave me scant change from the hour, but it was all very well spent. Great mix of riddle and wordplay mastery, and excellent blog to match – nicely said also about Jeff Pearce. Will be interesting to see the new setter, and if they pitch the difficulty similarly to Jeff to provide a similarly broad range of difficulty for the ST puzzles.

    I will try to remember those words for crying. I think what is more likely, given how the memory works in this age of information overload, is that I remember *how* to retrieve four obscure synonyms for crying: type “opulence” into the TftT search bar. It’s not cheating, it’s efficiently locating little used information on an external memory drive. I just need to remember the search word now, but that’s easy with a good ironic mnemonic, and a figurative definition of the word is “abundance of mental resources or power.”

  7. I was just over the hour on this. VILLAINOUS and APOCALYSE caused me the most parsing pain. Ever since Cy Grant sang his topical calypso on the Tonight programme in the fifties, Calypso has meant a song to me. For OPULENCE, I invented the word PULE from a combination of mewling and puking, so it was nice to see that it does exist. I biffed LOI SEMI, assuming it was semi-articulated, but I would have preferred a full definition! There were some great clues too. COD to LIVERY STABLE. Thank you K and Dean.
  8. On Friday Bolton Wanderer and I managed to get tickets for the St Albans leg of the Fairport Convention tour (finishes in Banbury tonight -thanks to John Dun for mentioning it earlier in February). In crosswords when you see a rare plant defined , the heart often sinks. We were lucky enough to see the very rare Robert Plant as the “secret” support act with his new band Saving Grace. An excellent night all round.
    I spent a long time on this puzzle. FOI was GDAY, then Chicken Feed which helped. I was going to give up with about six left but a final flourish got me home. CELERITY was LOI, APOCALYPSE an unparsed guess. David

    Edited at 2019-02-24 08:16 am (UTC)

        1. Great. There was an Irish Duo singing with them at Stockton. I got their 50:50@50 CD at the concert and there’s a track with Robert Plant singing on that(Jesus on the Mainline). I’ve just finished reading Ralph McTell’s autobiography, As Far As I Can Tell, and am about to start Off The Pegg, which I also acquired at the Stockton gig.
  9. Half an hour for this fine puzzle. didn’t manage to parse APOCALYPSE (is calypso a dance, I thought it was a song or style of music?) and never heard of Steve Irwin, not that it mattered.
    Thanks as ever keriothe for blog.
  10. Steve Irwin was an Australian naturalist and daredevil zookeeper who hosted a lot of shows on TV. He was very unfortunate to be killed by a stingray on the Great Barrier Reef in 2006. It mistook him for a tiger shark. He was stabbed by its barbed tail – ‘hundreds of times in just a few seconds.’ I believe his daughter has carried on his good works on the conservation front.
    1. I was very surprised to learn that Irwin died in 2006: I thought it was much more recent than that. My eldest son went through a phase of loving him but given his age this must have been after Irwin’s death. This sort of mangling is quite typical of how my memory works, or rather doesn’t.
  11. I thought this was Dean Mayer at his best, a few obscurities but all solvable from the wordplay or with an educated guess. Didn’t know PULE. I liked MOSQUITO (of course I went through a list of ‘southern desert(s)’) but CREW was the standout for me.

    Sorry to hear about Jeff Pearce. Yes, I wonder who we’ll be getting as his replacement? No offence meant, in fact quite the reverse, but for the sake of a bit of free, non-crossword time on Sunday, I only hope it’s not John Henderson!

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  12. I didn’t recognize Steve Irwin by name but now I remember reading about him and the stingray. And I didn’t understand the quotation marks for PORT STANLEY but it couldn’t have been anything else (Keriothe I think you mean “quotes” not “question”). I see I clocked in at 17.10 which is much faster than my usual for an Anax. You’re quite right that Jeff Pearce had some much harder ones recently. CREW conjured up the image of D Trump who always seems to appear clapping himself.

    P.S. BW reminded me of Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man, who starts out as an infant “mewling and puking in its nurse’s arms”!

    Edited at 2019-02-24 11:41 am (UTC)

    1. I’m coming up to the “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything” stage now! A good English master lasts a lifetime, and that’s what Peg-leg Wakefield was.
  13. I enjoyed this puzzle and was amazed to find I’d completed it in 35:42. I totally failed to parse CHANCELLORSHIP, but apart from that and not knowing that there actually was a writer whose pen name was France, I was pretty much on the wavelength. MOSQUITO finally came in a doh! moment when I stopped looking for deserts. CREW was my LOI with a similar inspiration. Lots to like. Thanks Dean and K.
  14. 42:50. FOI 16ac. LOI 17dn. Dnk about Anatole France so didn’t quite understand the nom de plume clue. Loads of terrific stuff. Dutch courage, crew, chicken feed, opulence. Chancellorship etc etc. Chapeau indeed!
  15. I didn’t know SEMI as a truck but it was gettable from the clue. I was amazed that such a neat anagram was possible from the name of the famous crocodile hunter. Very enjoyable – as usual with Dean’s puzzles. 27 minutes. Ann
  16. Quotes in the clue for Port Stanley are because it’s called “Town” by the locals, in the “nearest big settlement” sense that gets various places called “town”.
    1. That seems very odd to me. Stanley is hardly unique in this sense: in fact it applies to pretty much any town. And if this is all there is to it then the quotation marks are entirely superfluous and detract from the surface reading.
  17. I thought this was a very fine crossword indeed, probably the best I’ve solved, so far this year. Thank you Dean
  18. Thank you for a super blog, Keriothe, and I’m really glad that so many of you found this enjoyable. We setters never take reviews/responses for granted, and positive feedback like this is far more important than you might think. It’s nice to feel nice, so thank you all again.
  19. I got through this in about 45 minutes, over three sittings – quicker than normal, because I managed to remember that with Dean’s clues it sometimes helps to stop and examine carefully only the first, or only the last, word. I liked Mosquito and Dutch Courage – spent a long time with the more obvious to me Nom de Terre (which France definitely is, though I’m not sure we’ve had a proper France since 1793) mucking up my crossers. Nice blog, K, nice puzzle anax

    Edited at 2019-02-24 11:39 pm (UTC)

    1. The answers and explanations for 4839 will appear next Sunday, as this is a competition puzzle. Speaking as the founder of this blog, though no longer with the ability to delete inappropriate comments, I expect your comment (and this reply) to disappear soon.
      1. You were a couple of minutes ahead of me!
        To Alison: come back next week and all will be revealed.

        Edited at 2019-02-25 02:17 pm (UTC)

        1. ok thanks – only just noticed that it is a prize crossword so that makes sense

          not sure how I delete my silly question but feel free to do so


          1. No problem Alison, not a silly question at all. I expect there will be some discussion of that clue next week.
  20. G’day all. Following on some of the above comments regarding upper case letters and punctuation.
    Does this also apply to words abbreviated with apostrophes.
    As an Australian who refuses to use the American abomination of “Hi” as a greeting in emails, I always use the good old Aussie greeting of G’day, which is always spelt with the apostrophe.
    1. I’m not sure what the question is but there is no prohibition against expressions like G’DAY appearing. Obviously the punctuation gets excluded because there’s no way of putting it into the grid, and for number count purposes they are treated as single words.
      Another recent example was COTE D’AZUR (4,5) in Jumbo 1366.
      1. Was just clearing up the usage here. I have seen crosswords that would have listed “g’day”, (1’3) just as “cote d’azur” would be (4,1’4). This would seem logical to me given that hyphens are indicated (4-5) and two separate words by (4,4).
        Do enjoy the crosswords and the blogs each week.
        1. I’m not sure why it’s done the way it is but if apostrophes were included it might make the answers a bit too obvious.
  21. Thanks setter and keriothe
    Nice to see that the Sunday Times puzzles are only a couple of weeks earlier than are published here. Was able to finish this quite quickly for me – 28 min. Maybe it was the couple of references to Australia that set me on the right wave length.
    Lots of really clever and economic clues – think that INTO was a classic case with the clever misdirection added in as well. There were many instances of this throughout.
    Was very pleased to unpick APOCALYPSE – it was my second to last in, followed by the excellent CREW.
  22. Loved the Aussie clueing steve:
    1D A YOUNG creature growing up – Angus Young AC/DC guitarist

    14D STEVE IRWIN staggered audiences

    23D golf director always welcome in AUSTRALIA

    Poss 3D reference to Aus in SOUTHERN DESERT?

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