Sunday Times 4986 by Robert Price

18:26. I hope everyone has had a good Christmas, or as good as possible with Omicron interference. What a bore. At least we have challenging and delightful puzzles like this one to distract us. Lots of lovely clues in here but I particularly liked the two cryptic definitions at 21ac and 5dn. This form of clue divides opinion but when they’re good they are (in my opinion) very very good, and these are good.

A couple of things I didn’t know: the bone and the specific scientific meaning of 19ac. The former was clearly clued though and I managed to deduce the latter from checking letters and the word ‘tension’.

How did you get on?

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

1 In shock as crack and heroin found in bunk
GOBSMACKED – GO (try, crack), B(SMACK)ED.
6 Petty row about drums
TAPS – reversal of SPAT.
9 Quick learner filling more than one pad
10 Part of the skeleton uniform in grotesque carnival
NAVICULAR – U in (CARNIVAL)*. ‘A small boat-shaped bone of the wrist or foot’.
12 Swear one is not trained by a musician
PERCUSSIONIST – PER (a), CUSS, I, (IS NOT)*. Tricky wordplay!
14 Awful player ignoring his first boss
15 Head first for Newquay, going swimming
NOGGIN – Newquay, (GOING)*.
17 Thrill felt inside without remorse
TREMOR – contained in ‘without remorse’. I thought this definition was a bit strange but Collins has ‘a trembling sensation caused by fear or emotional shock’, which seems close to ‘tremor’.
19 Evidence of tension in the Tube?
MENISCUS – CD. This was my last in by quite a distance because I didn’t know or think of the tube connection, which is confirmed by the definitions in both Collins and Lexico.
21 One takes a turn for the better
ROULETTE WHEEL – CD, and an excellent one.
24 Witness in tense trial guarded by a soldier?
25 Unattached ladies and gentlemen last to dance
LOOSE – LOOS, dancE.
26 Charges got out of by a revolutionary worker
SERF – reversal of FaRES.
27 Enticing and arresting new role backed by chaps in film
ENTRAPMENT – ET (film) containing N, reversal of PART, MEN.
1 Present provided in good time
2 Device to alert European that British outcast is around
3 Transport company brought in rooms to rest after work
4 Trickster’s trick on the foreman?
CONJUROR – CON, JUROR. ‘Foreman’ here is a definition by example, indicated by the question mark.
5 Subordinate Clauses?
ELVES – another very good CD.
7 Day off hanging around and making friends
8 Check small container during voyage
11 Moving line excerpt one found gripping?
CROCODILE CLIP – CROCODILE (moving line, of schoolchildren for instance), CLIP (excerpt from a film).
13 Correct tests to trap one’s leaders
16 Spooner’s little one ordering something undrinkable
SEA WATER – spoonerism of ‘wee sorter’.
18 Defining line from a quote about Romeo
20 Food around Lazio once, regularly missed
CALZONE – CA (around), LaZiOoNcE.
22 A writer or two from the past
TWAIN – DD. A man who wrote a lot of quotes, including many he didn’t.
23 Following a number around by backtracking
NEXT – reversal (backtracking) of T(X)EN where X = (multiplied) by.

27 comments on “Sunday Times 4986 by Robert Price”

  1. I was looking forward to this blog to find out what was going on at 11d, 16d, and 19ac. DNK CROCODILE CLIP, DNK CROCODILE. I knew MENISCUS, but could make nothing of the clue, and of course lacked two of the checkers. I managed not to think of SEA, but if I had I probably wouldn’t have chosen it, as in my dialect ‘[s]orter’ is grossly non-homophonic with ‘[w]ater’.
    [On Edit]: This isn’t directly relevant, but there’s a spam posting in one of the Saturday blogs, and I thought I’d try the new ‘Complaint’ option. I was offered a set of choices–spam, obscene, etc., and clicked on ‘spam’; to be told that the number of complaints had been exceeded.

    Edited at 2021-12-26 01:58 am (UTC)

    1. Looks like someone else deleted it before I got there… unless you mean the standard LiveJournal posting about the entry’s placing in the popularity ranks (we must have a lot of lurkers), which the blogger has an option to Unscreen, which I probably have occasionally done, on purpose or otherwise…
        1. Oh, that guy! Sounded at first like he was talking about a cryptic!
          OK, I screened that, and then looked at the page in Incognito mode to make sure it wasn’t screened just for me.
          1. Guy, you have Moderator rights here so if a message is posted like this one that’s clearly spam you can just delete it. In making that decision you might click on the user name if there is one as sometimes (as on this occasion) that will confirm the true purpose of the posting. It’s probably better not to click on any of the links that may be contained there though.

            I have deleted this one now and banned the user from posting again.

            1. Thanks. I assumed that I could delete it, but didn’t find that option offered. It would have been much more satisfying to DELETE! Zap! Poof! I was logged in, too, so dunno…
              1. I don’t know what device you are using, but on a PC if you hover the mouse pointer over the date under the username a row of symbols should appear including a dustbin. Click on that for various Delete options, select and confirm.
                1. Yes, I know. I can see the dustbin under my own posts, but only under them. I’m on an iMac, latest model… I’m logged in, and at the top of the page, it says, “You are the moderator.” Really, now?

                  1. Okay, I’m not sure TBH. I’ve never used iMac so I can’t help you with that, but common sense suggests that if you have been given Moderator level rights by Jonathan (and I can see you have) the system should allow you to moderate. I know you are in contact with him outside of the forum so perhaps you could have a word and see if he can suggest anything.
                    1. I’m not exactly how the permissions work but I think I have the same status as GDS and I am only able to delete entries in my own blogs. I think Jonathan changed this some time back to limit the number of people with full editing rights to a sensible number.
                      1. Thanks, k. Yes, I’ve tested it now and you are quite correct. The access rights headings are misleading in that the Moderator setting doesn’t allow the blogger to moderate across the board. For that one needs Maintainer rights and there are currently 6 people with these.
  2. A long time ago, I used to use alligator clips; I imagine that’s much the same thing… I realized, eventually, that “sorter” must be intended by the Spoonerism clue, but Americans, y’know, don’t all pronounce even “water” the same way… Didn’t know BLEEPER was Britspeak for “beeper” so that held me up a bit…
    1. Same in England – let alone the UK. Many different ways to pronounce water, including the ubiquitous Estuary English glottal stop version.
  3. but entered PEE WATER for 16d. ‘Wee sorter’ just doesn’t sound right to me.
    3d was a clever anagram, I thought.
    FOI: GIFT, which was just that.
    LOI: SERF which was one of my two CODs, the other being ELVES.
  4. Thanks, keriothe (and thanks more, Robert). I’m with you, k, that Elves and Roulette Wheel were just nice. I liked the Spoonerism, too, though I did have to work my mouth around it a little before I was sure. Best Christmas cheer, now a little late, to everyone
  5. I usually write my comments on the day of completion – or not! – to post here a week later, but seem to have overlooked it last week for this. I did complete it, but I know it was a struggle. I never quite get a handle on where Robert Price is coming from, which is where this blog offers essential illumination, needed for 26ac, 2,7 & 23d, my LOI. My usual refrain of got the answers but no idea why, so thanks, all, for the continuing lessons.
  6. I see from my notes that I had a protracted tussle with this. Only 9 clues solved in a long first session. FOI GIFT. GOBSMACKED followed quickly and I thought I was on a roll.
    Much later, after 9pm, I got LOI 23d NEXT where REST had been stubbornly in my mind. Prior to that SERF, a nice PDM.
    So I thought I had it all correct but did wonder about the Spoonerism with both first letters the same- an ironic Spoonerism perhaps? Anyway it turns out that WEE WATER was wrong. I’m quite relieved actually. I thought standards were slipping.
  7. ….that Robert has set us so far, and I needed help to complete it in about 25 minutes. I didn’t submit the puzzle.

    I originally entered ‘spat’ at 6A, which didn’t help at all in seeing 7/8D. I would have entered ‘Dee water’ at 16D, but had to thank Bolton Wanderer for guiding me gently to the correct solution.


    1. I simply couldn’t get 26ac, and had a very odd se[a]r[che]s, no good at all: searches aren’t charges and serc doesn’t exist. I nearly always disapprove of CDs and feel they shouldn’t be there at all, but 5dn was just so good that OK then. Just once …
  8. No time to offer as I was distracted by the cricket. Now I’m infuriated by it. This was a toughie, but a good puzzle.. I took a long time parsing CALZONE. COD to MENISCUS with its clever reference to a tube and surface tension. I liked ROULETTE WHEEL too, along with the CROCODILE CLIP and the Spoonerism. Thank you Robert and K.
  9. Spooner’s little one is his ‘wee daughter’, hence I put DEE WATER as something undrinkable. I imagine there are few English rivers with potable water. Admittedly it leaves the ‘ordering’ superfluous, but I thought it might be just to improve the surface ( reiterating that Spoonerisms have the first letters re-ordered) Unlike Phil, I didn’t have Bolton Wanderer to put me right. 33:00 with the pink protest
    1. Hmm. ‘Ordering’ is, as you say, superfluous, and if it were indicating the jumbling of initial sounds it would surely 1) be re-ordering, 2) indicate somehow what was being reordered and 3) then make ‘Spooner’s’ redundant. I’m afraid that if I were a betting man wouldn’t put too much on a successful appeal here, to be honest.
  10. Thanks Robert and keriothe
    Pretty hard work but immensely satisfying and enjoyable and can only endorse the comments on the two wonderful cryptic definitions for ELVES and ROULETTE WHEEL.
    A couple of new terms in NAVICULAR and MENISCUS whilst BLEEPER was a variation of the more commonly used BEEPER. The SEA WATER Spoonerism caused no problems and was an early entry and only the W in place.
    Had a couple of false starts with DANGLING at 7d and TROT at 26a.
    Finished in the SW corner with TREMOR (well hidden), EDITORIAL (that version of ‘leader’ gets me most times) and the repaired SERF as the last one in.

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