Sunday Times 4938 by Robert Price

12:15. A fun puzzle that didn’t cause me many problems. My only real pause was over 7dn, where I couldn’t figure out how the wordplay worked. In the end I just bunged it in and didn’t get round to working it out until I came to write up the blog. I hesitated slightly over 14ac too, where the definition was unfamiliar.

Some lovely clues in here: the &Lit at 12ac, for instance, or the aforementioned 7dn where the reason for my bafflement turned out to be the flawless misdirection of the surface reading. Top notch stuff.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

1 Become dispirited, say, and stop trying
GIVE UP THE GHOST – two definitions, one whimsical.
10 Block of firm, rolled lead encasing deuterium
OCCLUDE – reversal (rolled) of CO, CLU(D)E. ‘Lead’ in the sense of something a detective might follow.
11 Bread and butter portion maybe dunked in tea
12 What’s lost, again being recollected?
13 Linen worker finishing early
14 Pretentious like Proust periodically looking back
TURGID – reversal of DIG (like), pRoUsT. The definition of TURGID in Lexico is ‘(of language or style) tediously pompous or bombastic’. I would associate it mostly with the ‘tedious’ aspect of this, so ‘pretentious’ struck me as a bit odd. The Collins definition says ‘pompous and high-flown’, so perhaps this is just me.
15 Something played during wine tours
CLARINET – CAR(IN)ET. IN = during with wine ‘touring’ it.
18 Go around ridge altering line of descent
PEDIGREE – PEE (go) containing (RIDGE)*.
20 Articles about drink causing illness
23 Press agency’s ultimate paradox
IRONY – IRON (press), agencY.
25 Like some maths idea uncle cooked up
26 Instruments I put on pile with German backing
TIMPANI – reversal of I, NAP (pile), MIT (with German).
27 Learn something new about string
28 What you may do to show edits add variety
RING THE CHANGES – I think the first part of this refers to the fact that an editor might ring (perhaps with a blue pencil) the parts of the text that he or she has edited. I thought the normal thing was to make some sort of mark in the margin but I await my fellow Sunday blogger’s professional view on the matter. The expression in the definition comes from bell-ringing.

2 Lead part in biting, ironic plays about society
INCISOR – (IRONIC)* containing S (society).
3 In imitation of English language, fool is entertaining
4 Word taken from page shortened book
5 Journalist with competence open to online attack
HACKABLE – HACK, ABLE (with competence).
6 Labour provided leaving gift for airmen
GRAFT – GIFT, with the IF (provided) ‘leaving’ and being replaced by RAF.
7 Address at which stars gather
ORATION – OR(AT)ION. Super clue: it took me a while to work out the wordplay, the surface is so natural. Some people might argue that the cryptic grammar requires the word ‘stars’ to be treated as singular, so the clue should say ‘which [the word] stars gathers‘. However I think it’s fine to treat ‘stars’ as a collection of five letters, so ‘which [the letters s, t, a, r and s] gather’ works. The vast majority of people won’t notice or care, but doing so is the burden we Crossword Rules FusspotsTM bear on your behalf.
8 Parents planning this may get a little potty
TOILET TRAINING – CD. Both the surface and cryptic meanings are highly apt. The two things I learned about potty training bringing up four kids were 1) different kids will get it at wildly different ages and 2) there is absolutely no point in forcing the issue. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
9 Suggest tip for racehorse
16 Famous dog fodder finally in a metal container
RIN TIN TINfoddeR, IN, TIN (metal), TIN (container). If you don’t lift and separate you may think you’re short of a tin! I knew the name of this dog, but wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything about him. In fact I wouldn’t have been 100% sure he was a dog.
17 Jeans and shirt put outside to air
19 Hotel worker, old, inactive, mostly sits around
21 Do repeats of it start to earn respect?
ITERATE – IT, Earn, RATE. I think you can include or exclude the word ‘of’ in the definition according to taste.
22 What singers do from my school cloisters
SCORCH – S(COR)CH. COR = my. People who singe, not people who sing.
24 When put into still it helps make alcohol
YEAST – YE(AS)T. Fermentation being the result of this stuff acting on sugar.

27 comments on “Sunday Times 4938 by Robert Price”

  1. Lovely puzzle. I had the same MER with TURGID, but ODE supports Robert. Like Keriothe, I put in ORATION because it was ORATION, but I just now looked at it again–it was my only unparsed clue–and the light dawned. COD, replacing PEDIGREE and NOSTALGIA. I don’t see a problem with ‘gather’; Orion is a bunch of stars. (And I don’t see how s,t,a,r,s helps.) But then I’m not a CRF.
    1. In the wordplay it’s not the stars that are gathering the word ‘at’, but the word ‘stars’. The fact that it’s a plural is irrelevant, as is the fact that it’s a noun. For wordplay purposes it’s just a word – or a collection of letters.

      Edited at 2021-01-24 01:52 am (UTC)

        1. Yes sorry I should have said ‘a word meaning stars’. It’s still a single word. But on reflection I think I agree with you that treating it as a group of letters doesn’t really help. The answer is no doubt just not to worry about it.

          Edited at 2021-01-24 02:02 am (UTC)

  2. I don’t remember too much about this although it was what I think of as a Robert Price puzzle: not too hard but with some really well-disguised definitions and unusual wordlplay.
  3. 48:26 – time well spent. Faster than the 60 minutes so I’m pleased with that. FOI 1ac GIVE UP THE GHOST so off to a good start. Got sidetracked with RIN TIN TIN trying to put AT LAST into CAN, not that CAT something was ever dog food. And I tried to fit DENIM into TE_E_I_ E but it had to be LEVIS. Another brand name to add to the list. Not of concern to our CRFs?

    And I learned something new. I looked up TOILE and confirmed that it is indeed linen, used to make clothing prototypes. I had thought it was a light wispy fabric, Pete and Dud style. In the process I learned about TULLE. It is used to make tutus. One day I’ll be glad I know that.

    I couldn’t get OVATION out of my head until I saw stars. COD by a long way SCORCH. Great fun.

    Edited at 2021-01-24 07:53 am (UTC)

    1. There is no rule banning brand names. I think there was once in the daily puzzles but they appear fairly regularly these days. I don’t think there’s ever been such a rule in the Sunday Times, certainly not in the Biddlecombe era.
      1. Thank you. I don’t have a problem with brand names. I often quite like them. So I’m happy with your response.

        But it left me wondering why I (and others, to judge from comments from time to time) thought there was a rule against them. It certainly never occurred to me that The Times and The Sunday Times might have different rules. I’ve just spent some time looking through the links. The issue is covered in the Glossary which makes it clear that (certain) brand names are fine. So, that’s settled.

        It is intriguing though that Tips and Tricks includes a note by petebiddlecombe, dated 4 January 2008, titled Times Crossword House Style, which says:

        Brand names
        As far as I know these are not allowed.

        Who is this guy? What does he know?

        Now. What was I supposed to be doing this morning?

        1. Interesting. It may have been a rule in the past, but at some point in the intervening 12 years it has clearly been dropped.
  4. A pleasant solve with the NW extending my time to 19 minutes. Like others, that’s not how I use TURGID. I biffed ORATION and parsed after the event in a light bulb moment so, under my self-imposed rules, that can’t be COD. I’ll give that to RING THE CHANGES, also liking NOSTALGIA. In the 57 years since my introduction to Indian cuisine at the Taj Mahal in Oxford, I’ve only once ordered a CHAPATI, usually having POPPADOMS as a pre-starter and PARATHA as a main course accompaniment. Thank you Robert for this good puzzle and K for the excellent commentary.
    1. I remember once stopping at a little takeaway near Slaithwaite when returning from Leeds with the M62 shut. I ordered a curry and asked if they had disposable cutlery – they didn’t, and recommended I have a CHAPATI and use it like a spoon. I ate it in a nearby layby – wonderful !
      1. Whilst at College, back in the sixties (just after the aircrash), on Monday lunchtimes – ‘Our Neil’ and I used to drive up Stockport Hill for a curry, which we ate with plastic forks, in his blue mini-van. It was ever turmeric chicken with rice. The windows fogged; our chins yellowed and ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly’ was the music of the day or Joe Cocker. We then drank Robinson’s Mild at ‘The Nelson’. It too was wonderful!
        Phil – once all this Covid has gone we should do an Oxford/Slaithwaite/Stockport Hill Reunion Curryfest, with the lad from Bolton. Get Peter Kaye along an’ all!

        Edited at 2021-01-24 11:13 am (UTC)

        1. Happy days indeed. One of the first things I’m looking forward to after lockdown is a few beers in Stockport.

  5. 7dn ORATION was straightforward enough, wasn’t it!?

    CRF is not the Glossary.


    LOI 10ac OCCLUDE

    COD 14ac TURGID Edward Wall’s ‘Monody on the death of Prince Albert’ – the turgid verses. No turgid MER hereabouts.

    WOD 16dn RIN TIN TIN a real dog rescued from a WWI battlefield in 1918. Became a Warner Bros. superstar and died in 1932. ‘Rinty’ made German Shepherds popular in America – Hitler reversed the process with Blondi and Bella.

    Time 35 mins- scorchio!

    Edited at 2021-01-24 09:20 am (UTC)

  6. …..the Eurovision Song Contest, so I’m not at all sure how Scooch found their way into 22D before RETRAIN pointed out my stupidity. I looked them up on Wikipedia later, and their 2007 effort finished in the bottom 3, but was a Top 5 UK single. I remember when the charts were full of decent music !

    It took me a while to parse TURGID, and I took the unfamiliar meaning on trust. I had no problems with ORATION as can be seen below.

    FOI GIVE UP THE GHOST (after an exorcism, does one feel dispirited ?)
    LOI TELEVISE (tried too hard to work around “denim”)
    COD ORATION (“Orion, won’t you give me a star sign” as Jethro Tull sang)
    TIME 13:59

  7. I enjoyed this puzzle. I can’t remember where I started but I do remember pondering for some time over my last 2 in, ORATION and TURGID. I never did parse ORATION until it was pointed out to me afterwards. Very clever!. Loved SCORCH. 24:46. Thanks Bob and K.
  8. Heavy snow as I write; the first we’ve seen here for ages.
    My FOI was RIN TIN TIN which came to mind remarkably quickly. Memory is a remarkable thing; listening to the song Poetry in Motion on Radio 2 yesterday, I discovered I knew all the words. But a bonus point for anyone who can remember-without Wiki – who sang it.
    I was quite quick on this with 5 left at 1230. My final three were INCISOR,OCCLUDE and inevitably 14a.This was very much LOI and I constructed TUREIS from the clue wording. TURGID never occurred to me.
    So one wrong in another enjoyable puzzle from Robert. My favourites were SCORCH and YEAST.
  9. I had to look it up once to sort out the difference between turgid and turbid.
    I never managed to parse 22d SCORCH, and now see what a good clue it is.
  10. I don’t think I understand this discussion at all. For me it was just the constellation ORION (stars) “gathering” AT.
    1. That’s exactly it but in the wordplay the word ‘stars’ is just that, a word. Compare the structure of 15ac:
      > {a word for during} [which] {a word for wine} tours
      The structure of 7dn is arguably the same:
      > {a word for at} which {a word for stars} gathers
      The form of the word in the second set of curly brackets is irrelevant: it could in theory be a verb or adjective, here it’s a plural but from a wordplay perspective it’s just a word.
      But really this is just me being over-picky!

      Edited at 2021-01-24 12:53 pm (UTC)

      1. OK. Thanks. But to me the need for the surface to be grammatically correct trumps such a nicety. Good fusspotting, though! I’m glad I never had you as a reviewer when I was writing proposals.
        1. Indeed. And there’s no need to take such a rigidly mechanistic approach to wordplay. ORION is gathering the word AT, and ORION = stars. As I said in my original comment, I think it’s fine, it’s just something I noticed.
  11. 16:16 with 3 minutes at the end on TELEVISE not thinking of the brand name. Lovely stuff. * clues have appreciative ticks on my copy. I’ll go for the great &lit NOSTALGIA for my COD. Thanks Robert and K.
  12. Thanks Bob and keriothe
    A typical solid workout from this setter, solved across a couple of sessions in just under the hour. Didn’t resolve any of the perimeter clues until around the midway mark which probably stretched the time out a little.
    The top half gave the most problems, but actually finished down the bottom with RING THE CHANGES (clever) and SCORCH (even more so with its brilliant definition) the last couple in. Enjoyed both of these clues along with the beautifully clued NOSTALGIA.

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