Sunday Times 4990 by David McLean

15:33. I enjoyed this tricky and rather quirky puzzle, but there are a couple of things I found a bit puzzling (see 5ac, 23ac, 6dn). Any elucidation welcome. Nothing that caused me undue difficulty, although 2dn is arguably a bit of a Gallic double-obscurity so may have caused some problems for the less Francophile solver.

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

1 Key worker first seen on state-run TV, say
ORGANIST – ORGAN, IST. None of the definitions of ORGAN in the usual dictionaries exactly cover the concept of state TV, but the general idea of media attached to a political party gets you close enough.
5 American boozer in state — in Tennessee
TAVERN – T(AVER)N. I am mystified by the qualification ‘American’ here, for a word that has been in continuous use in English since the 13th century. From my office in London I can be having a pint at any of three taverns inside ten minutes.
9 Defensive structure in support of lock
FORTRESS – FOR, TRESS (lock in the hair sense).
10 Music producer puts work into hit
12 State broadcasts to be reviewed, Yard admitted
SYRIA – reversal of AIRS containing Y.
13 Plant a gentile cultivated with nitrogen
14 People trying to convert house after work
MISSIONARIES – MISSION, ARIES (house in the zodiac sense).
18 Was seedy hand out to have a fast time?
21 Shortly, naval deserter will meet an old lover in Italy
INAMORATA – IN A MO, RAT (leaving a sinking ship), A.
23 Red trousers around twenty pounds
SCORE – S(C)ORE. This was my last in, and still puzzles me. Something that’s sore might be red, but the words aren’t, as far as I’m aware (or as far as any of the dictionaries I’ve consulted are concerned), synonymous. I was also unsure about SCORE for twenty pounds, although it seemed perfectly plausible of course. Edit: having checked again I see that ‘sore, inflamed’ is one of the definitions of RED in the American edition of Collins.
24 Test grasping bishop showing group loyalty
25 Stealthily getting as high as one can?
ON TIPTOE – two definitions, one that is cryptic in that it isn’t the sense in which the word is normally used, but is actually more literal than the literal!
26 Chaps involved in junk trade tease cats
RAGMEN – RAG, MEN (dudes, cats). I would have though a rag-man was involved in the rag trade but it turns out to be another word for rag-and-bone man.
27 Bill split by diplomat and party member?
ADHERENT – AD, HE (His Excellency, diplomat), RENT. The question mark is part of the definition, which is by example. You can adhere to things other than a party.
1 Uncouth old swimmer hogging second of lanes
OAFISH – O(lAnes), FISH.
2 French department stores finally promote minor painter
GERARD – G(promotE, minoR)ARD. I hadn’t heard of this painter, who was one of Jacques-Louis David’s many pupils, but fortunately I was aware of the French department.
3 A heartless reporter cracking national’s account
4 Liars with witness strained relations
6 Like our man Newton? It’s the ruddy opposite!
ASHEN – AS, HE, N. I’m not sure what the word ‘our’ is doing in this clue other than helping the surface.
7 Clear blue
EXPLICIT – DD, the second a reference to smut.
8 Rhubarb side, bit of nauseous feeling eating it
NONSENSE – N(ON), SENSE. The ‘on’ side is what’s also known as the leg side in cricket.
11 Novel obtained and sold with Gore on its cover?
15 A rampant wild boar will find water
ADAMS WINE – A, reversal of MAD, SWINE. I think ‘rampant’ here is used in the heraldic sense of an animal standing on its hind legs. I didn’t know this term for water but it was easy enough to deduce from the equivalent ale.
16 Flight safety device airline inters in error
17 Doing cocaine and becoming excited
19 Reportedly like a kid’s facial hair
GOATEE – sounds like ‘goaty’.
20 Scoff after agent provides quote, perhaps
REPEAT – REP (salesman, agent), EAT. If you quote someone you are repeating what they said.
22 Winner might do this if Oscar went to Speed
ORATE – O, RATE. This is either semi-&Lit if you think the definition ‘winner might do this’ is inadequate to indicate speech-giving, or not semi-&Lit if you don’t.

46 comments on “Sunday Times 4990 by David McLean”

  1. I can see SCORE but I agree, keriothe, that TAVERN isn’t particularly American.
    I wasn’t particularly happy with ASHEN either but that was because I don’t think you can necessarily make the leap from Newton to N. (Shades of “ashen-faced Ron Knee”!)
    I thought there were some clever clues here. In 10ac I was looking for a musical instrument not a composer. I really liked BANISTER, a word which always takes me back to the Goon Show.
    In 9ac my first thought was buttress.
    Thanks for NONSENSE, keriothe, and for the blog as a whole.
    LOI and COD: CHEATING. I was looking for the definition at the end, not the beginning.
    1. Newton is a term from physics, abbreviated N (cf. henry=H). ‘Our man’ struck me as odd; as K suggests, it’s there for the surface–‘Like man Newton’ wouldn’t do–but I thought e.g. ‘that man’ would have been better.
    2. p = mf or f = ma, depending on how much younger you are than me, Martin. 1 Newton abbreviated as N, is the force required to give a 1 kg mass an acceleration of 1 metre per second squared. If you are as old as me, you will have first learnt the formula with dynes as the unit of force, the mass in grams and the distance in centimetres. The seconds were in the same units.

      Edited at 2022-01-23 08:33 am (UTC)

      1. Thanks, B.W.. I think we are of roughly the same age. I remember the FA Cup Final when your avatar shoulder-charged the United goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, into the net, ball and all and the ‘goal was given’! I was a young Busby Babes fan at the time.
        Alas, I went to a grammar school where, after the Third Year, we all had to make a choice between arts and sciences so I went down the arts route. Never did get to study physics and chemistry. You mention dynes; the only reason I know that word is because “The Dynes” were the schoolboy pop group that played at the school dance where I met my first serious girlfriend!
        1. Prompted me to watch it on YouTube. Great goal! But then again I’m from a rugby background.
          1. These days Lofthouse would probably get an instant red card and quite possibly a prosecution for assault! As I remember it, Gregg had to be revived with smelling salts!
  2. I didn’t care much for this one, largely because of the clues that Keriothe points out: ORGAN was poorly defined; ‘American’ was unjustified, as, so I thought, was ‘pounds’ (at the time, I didn’t mind red=sore for some reason). ‘rampant wild’=MAD reversed never occurred to me. I thought of, but NHO, Gérard, and knew, but didn’t remember, GARD. 21ac has to be INAMORATA, but that means ‘an’ is A, and ‘old’ is part of the definition; but ‘inamorata’ doesn’t mean ‘old (female) lover’, it means ‘(female) lover’. Which would give us INAMORATO, which I think I had until I got BLOODSTAINED.
      1. The full definition is “old lover in Italy”, and “old” is an editorial intervention, because you can no longer use “inamorata” to mean “lover” in Italy – the modern spelling is “innamorata”.
        1. I wasn’t aware that the Italians ever spelled it with one N. Nevertheless, it’s a currently used word (w one) in English… the language of this puzzle. I don’t think we’re expected to know the history of Italian.

          Edited at 2022-01-23 10:57 am (UTC)

  3. Re 23a, in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary and Oxford online, red is one of the synonyms of sore.
    American in 5a obviously enhances the surface, but Collins Dictionary implies that tavern is more contemporary in the US than it is here (and Chambers tags it as usually archaic or literary), so that might have been the thinking behind it.
    I didn’t know Gerard but guessed it right, and had a very tentative Cleaning at first for 23d, seeing as that also fitted the definition, but revised it soon after.

    I still have trouble with variations on Review as a reversal indicator – it doesn’t make much sense to me. Am I the only one?

    Enjoyable puzzle from DM as usual.

    – ‘Twmbarlwm’

    1. ^ 17d, not 23d, sorry. Forgot to thank Keriothe for the blog as well.
      My faves were BANISTER and ORATE, by the way

      – ‘Twmbarlwm’

      1. Yes, I can see that to look back on is one of its meanings (and I think ‘looking back’ is fine as a reversal indicator), but I’m not convinced that that particular meaning of review conveys a backward movement. Reminiscing and reassessing could also be looking back. As I say, it seems to be generally accepted so I’m not criticising, just wondering about the logic.

        – ‘Twmbarlwm’

  4. No problems, really. Red=SORE didn’t bother me, and I figured “our man” was just a more original way of saying “the dude we’re talking about,” i.e., HE. I had heard of the painter, and I also have a friend from and now back in le Gard, whom I’ve visited there.

    I didn’t question Tavern as American, having not been over there for ages and remembering so well Pete’s on Irving Place…

  5. 40 minutes with time lost distracted by ‘American’ and ‘our’ as already mentioned by others. And technically a DNF as I required help with the unknown GERARD.

    There’s no shortage of pubs called ‘taverns’ in the UK. For one, the famous pub opposite the Houses of Parliament is called ‘St Stephen’s Tavern’, and until very recently there was a large pub chain called ‘Punch Taverns’ which has since been absorbed into an even larger group.

  6. 45 minutes. Same queries as others and I also had a ? for ORATE. I thought the ‘our man’ in 6d was there for us solvers, HE often being clued as ‘man’ in crosswords.

    I also wondered if the ‘old’ in the def for INAMORATA might be meant to indicate that this is rather an old-fashioned term for ‘lover in Italy’, though it’s not marked as archaic in the dictionaries I looked at either. The Italian derivation is acknowledged in Chambers and the OED but it is not specified as an alien word so you could argue the toss about whether ‘in Italy’ is necessary – still, fair enough to indicate that’s where the word comes from.

    I’d NHO SCORE for twenty (or twenty-one) pounds in weight. The OED has “esp. used in weighing pigs or oxen”.

    Favourite was the ‘Flight safety device’ def and surface for BANISTER.

    Thanks to setter and keriothe

    1. SOED has the livestock meaning but also £20 sterling which I’d have thought was what the setter had in mind. It can also be $20.
  7. 39 minutes with LOI GERARD, who I just assumed was a painter. That was after I saw why it was ORGANIST. I think we’ve had ADAM’S WINE before, but it was always Adam’s Ale or Corporation Pop in our neck of the woods. In fact, I think I remarked something similar then. The SE took its time as I tiptoed through the tulips. COD to BANISTER. Surely, Shakespeare referred to the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eastcheap. Is that just off Sunset Boulevard? Some great clues but one or two that left me wondering. Thank you K and David.

    Edited at 2022-01-23 10:41 am (UTC)

  8. My paper copy of this survives. ADAMS ALES was clearly not going to work and WINE never occurred to me. I failed to get ON TIPTOE which was too clever for me. And at 2d I had GERERS, another unknown painter. Four letter departments of France starting with G? GERS immediately came to me. I should have been on my guard.
    Otherwise there was lots to enjoy as mentioned but the American boozer also held me up.
    1. My initial reaction to this was ‘no it isn’t’, but you are right that in Italian the word is spelled with two Ns. So not only is the qualifier ‘in Italy’ unnecessary, it arguably makes the clue inaccurate!

      Edited at 2022-01-23 09:14 am (UTC)

      1. Er, see comment further up (the Italian word had one N when English borrowed it) …

        Edited at 2022-01-23 09:30 am (UTC)

        1. Yes, our comments crossed. I must say it strikes me as a bit odd to be relying on archaic spellings of foreign words for wordplay in an English crossword! Especially as any reference to Italy is superfluous anyway.
          1. Well, the deserter in the surface story could have just met an unspecified “lover”. But as the clue already included Italy, I liked the idea of adding something that made that reference more accurate without damaging the story.
  9. A score is £20 in cockney rhyming slang, but I can’t think what the red trousers is, may be red knees to readies. Readies is also money and so would bring it to score again.
    1. “trousers” is the insertion indicator for putting C in SORE, using the slang verb meaning “trouser” = “take”.

      PS “score” is not Cockney rhyming slang, but an old word (or old meaning of “score”) which survives mainly in slang. It means twenty in the old expression “threescore years and ten” = seventy years.

      Edited at 2022-01-23 09:40 am (UTC)

      1. It never occurred to me to think that ‘score’ was slang for anything; I’ve always thought it meant ‘twenty’. Any American, of course, would know ‘Four score and seven years ago…’
        1. And most people have heard of ‘three score years and ten’ as the nominal span of a human life, which has its origins in the King James bible.
        2. It’s the £20 version that’s slang. And apart from memorable expressions, that’s the main version of score = “twenty” in present-day British English.
  10. I’ve just seen that Collins has ‘sore, inflamed’ as a definition of SORE in its American dictionary. I still think it’s odd but this justifies it. I will amend the blog.
  11. On the only query not covered by other comments: I think I mistook “our man” in 6D for the Hiberno-English “your man”, which is an alternative to he/him, but as Collins only has “your man” meaning “the person needed”, as in “If you want a tricky clue explained, he’s your man”, I probably shouldn’t have allowed that either.
    1. Yes that makes sense. I thought of ‘our hero’ and similar, which is a similar usage but I don’t think you’d see ‘our man’ in this context.
  12. Liked it (ie finished it in a decent time for me 🙂).

    LOI ON TIPTOE which I just couldn’t see and needed a lot of trawling — didn’t think of the second word being composite so it was only when I got to “o” between the “t” and the “e” that the light dawned. Also not helped by being vaguely unhappy with the definition for REPEAT even though the w/p was clear.

    Wanted the Department to be LOT but the correct one finally rang a bell

    Biggest miracle was getting the plant — will now see what it looks like..

    Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle and the usual informative blog

  13. Found this really tricky, and as usual took a punt at several of the answers while unable to work them out from the clues, so, again as usual, very appreciative of blogger’s explanations. Not sure I’ll ever get my brain to perform such contortions! FOI 4ac SISTERS-IN-LAW, LOI – a long time later – three last resort guesses, 5Ac TAVERN (why particularly American boozer?), 26ac RAGMEN – though debated ROGUES, and 8d NONSENSE. I get the rhubarb bit, but the rest? However, thanks, both setter and bloggers all.
  14. I also wondered about “our man” and “American boozer” but shrugged and moved on. Took me a long time to make the leap from ADAM’S Ale to his WINE. Liked BANISTER. LOI was GERARD. I don’t know any French Departments, so I looked at a list and selected the most likely one. NHO the painter, but he seemed a possibility. 35:01. Thanks Harry and K.
  15. I didn’t enjoy this, far too many queries and shrugs for my liking.
    With a battery of dictionaries, and input from our worthy editor, I’m sure it can all be technically justified, but still .. not my cup of coffee.
    1. Having tried three times to ‘like’ Jerry’s posting, and failed, I’ll post this and see if it shows up.
  16. I rattled this home in just under 40 minutes – with almost no queries. 2dn is correctly Baron Gérard, France’s most decorated painter – both Mr. & Mrs. Napoleon stood and sat for him. François was actually born in the ‘Papal States’. Are we further expected to know the history of Italian born artists? It helps.

    FOI 4dn SISTERS-IN-LAW – Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg for example

    LOI 5ac TAVERN!?

    COD 7dn EXPLICIT! ‘Blue’ is ‘yellow’ here in China.

    WOD 16dn Q. What is the secret of longevity? A. The BANISTER!

    Edited at 2022-01-23 01:38 pm (UTC)

  17. So from memory my time was erm.. let’s say 20 minutes with my COD 14ac Missionaries. WOD Ash Wednesday.

    On edit: crossword print-out turned up time 17:44 mins. LOI Score.

    Edited at 2022-01-23 11:10 pm (UTC)

  18. I notice the “our”, the “red”, and the US tavern — it got me thinking that while pubs and locals are not exclusive to the UK they’re what I’d think of if pushed in that direction, and by the same token saloons are not exclusive to the US, but when pushed I think of John Wayne coming through the swinging shutters before I think of tavern — but none of those really bothered me. I did puzzle at the “old”, and am glad to get PBs and other’s comments to clarify.

    Otherwise, I was unfortunate enough to vaguely know of Paul-Albert Girard, and while the IR doesn’t parse the fact that Girard is a minor artist resonated with the minor in the clue, and also with the level of irritation from the resulting error.

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