Sunday Times 4996 by David McLean

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
15:33. Quite a tricky one from Harry this week, and all the more enjoyable for it. Some fun and quirky definitions, a number of very good cryptic ones, and a particularly brilliant &Lit at 16dn. I had all the required knowledge, although I’m not sure I’ve come across 3dn before and had to deduce it from ‘articulated’, as in lorries. All in all, excellent.

In other crossword news, I took it upon myself – purely for research purposes, you understand – to make a couple of Gin and ITs yesterday evening. It’s a perfectly nice cocktail but as far as I can see its only role, as compared to a proper martini, is to lull you into a false sense of security.

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

1 There may be a dramatic scene between this couple
CURTAINS – a very neat CD.
5 I don’t know you primarily process refuse
PASS UP – PASS (I don’t know), U (you in text-language), Process.
9 Model-type encircled by gawpers and cranks?
STARTERS – STAR(T)ERS. ‘Crank’ is another word for a crank handle, ‘a handle incorporating a crank, used to start an engine or motor’ (Collins). The ‘model-type’ is the Ford Model T.
10 One had to intervene in row to make it more orderly
TIDIER – T(I, ’D)IER. You can read ‘one had’ as an equivalent of ‘I’d’ if you imagine the queen saying it, but ‘one’ doesn’t usually mean ‘I’ so I prefer to read it as one=1=I, and D as a separate abbreviation of ‘had’.
12 Remains in middle of Area 51 close to disc
RELICaREa, LI, disC.
13 Fancy Truss U-turned over judge
ELABORATE – reversal of BALE, O, RATE. One meaning of TRUSS is ‘a bundle of hay or straw, esp one having a fixed weight of 36, 56, or 60 pounds’, which was news to me.
14 Criminal selling amber sculptures
18 Animal bones found in America
VETERINARIAN – CD. ‘Bones’ is slang for surgeon and this is an American word for what we Brits would call a veterinary surgeon, or more commonly just vet.
21 Choppers clandestinely paid for in cash
MILK TEETH – another neat CD, this one a reference to the tooth fairy.
23 Percentage of quota falling short
RATIO – RATIOn. This is a definition by example, so could arguably have done with a question mark, but I don’t think the absence of one is going to cause anyone a problem.
24 Singer right to hug diplomat? On the contrary!
RATHER – RAT(HE), R. RAT=informer=singer, HE=His Excellency=ambassador.
25 Somebody well-built I locked in trunk?
BIG NOISE – BIG (well-built), NO(I)SE.
26 When to provide a home for destitute ducks
AVOIDS – A(VOID)S. One of the definitions of ‘void’ in Collins is ‘destitute or devoid’, and it gives the example ‘void of resources’.
27 One who might value classes Sorbonne hosts
ASSESSOR – contained in ‘classes Sorbonne’.
1 A world-renowned old red shed men put up
CASTRO – CAST, reversal of OR (other ranks, men).
2 Gathering to consume drug? Honestly!
3 Exceptional to get out of head with joints
4 A reason we got drunk with gin drink
6 Familiar with a motorway journey
7 Work outfit edged stone slab up my street
8 How a hit-maker might be paid is improper
PERVERSE – the writer of a hit pop song might be paid PER VERSE, geddit?
11 Fantastic rooms heir had in piles
HAEMORRHOIDS – (ROOMS HEIR HAD)*. I had to pay close attention to the anagram fodder to spell this word right. It’s the O in the middle that usually gets me.
15 Change positions in bottom class
16 Song about extremely venerable old lady
AVE MARIA – A(VenerablE, MA)RIA. &Lit. Great clue!
17 Weapon head of teaching found in new toilets
STILETTO – Teaching in (TOILETS)*.
19 Bands Peel originally supported
STRIPS – STRIP, Supported.
20 Mean to accept old fine? Certainly not
22 Cloth one royal put in Edwardian dresser?
TWEED – T(WE)ED, the royal we contained in a Teddy Boy, whose clothes were inspired by Edwardian dandies.

26 comments on “Sunday Times 4996 by David McLean”

  1. I’ve been doing Times cryptic crosswords for twenty years now and I still haven’t worked out what defines an &lit clue. In this case why is 1ac described as a CD but 16d as an &lit? One example of why I would be hopeless as a blogger as I never know what type of clue I’m looking at.
    I did like “Model type” in 9ac and VETERINARIAN but I have CURTAINS as my COD.
    Another query: in 8d are PERVERSE and ‘improper’ synonyms of each other?
    Thanks for the blog, keriothe.
    1. I was going to comment on that; it struck me as a pretty poor definition.
    2. At the risk of making a fool of myself, a cryptic def is a clue for which the whole clue is the definition whereas an &lit (I think all-in-one is a more understandable term) is a cryptic def in which all of the clue also goes to make up the wordplay for the answer.

      For CURTAINS, the answer comes from the whole clue, in that ‘There may be a dramatic scene between this couple’ refers to CURTAINS, but the wording of the clue can’t be parsed to come up with the answer. For AVE MARIA, the whole clue does give the answer (ie a cryptic def), in that AVE MARIA is indeed a ‘Song about extremely venerable old lady’, but as explained by keriothe, the clue can also be parsed as ‘Song’ (=ARIA) ‘about’ (containment indicator) ‘extremely venerable’ (=VE) ‘old lady’ (=MA), with all of the clue contributing to the word play. “Partial &lits”, in which only part of a cryptic def clue can be parsed as wordplay are seen more commonly than the real deal on display here.

      That’s how I see the difference anyway. If someone says I don’t know what I’m talking about they’re almost certainly right!

        1. bletchleyreject has explained it perfectly. In a CD there is no wordplay: it’s just a straight definition but worded to make you think of something different, in this case a romantically-involved couple. In an &Lit everything is both wordplay and definition. In a semi-&Lit everything is definition but the wordplay only accounts for part of the clue.
          For PERVERSE Collins has ‘deliberately deviating from what is regarded as normal, good, or proper’, which more or less gets you there I think.
          1. One other point on semi-&lits: the part of the clue that isn’t wordplay should also be a definition, though maybe a less helpful one.
            1. Indeed: often the definition is incomprehensible without the rest of the clue.
  2. Went offline and went to lunch, so no time for this, but it took time. I got it all correct, but with SUITABLE, MILK TEETH, & AVOIDS un-figured-out. DNK TRUSS, of course, or NORWEGIAN SEA. Liked RATHER, CURTAINS.
    What’s the difference between Gin and It and a martini? Your research reminds me of Robert Benchley, working late at night in his lab “fooling around with some gin and other chemicals.”
    1. A martini has very little It in it, and is served straight up. Gin & It is half and half with a dash of bitters and served on the rocks. The general idea is similar but a martini is dry, and a bit more honest with you about how drunk you’re going to get.

      Edited at 2022-03-06 08:19 am (UTC)

      1. Half and half? Yech! A martini can be served over as well as straight up, but should be avoided in any case, if one is me, for instance. 007 famously wanted them shaken but not stirred, but Auntie Mame insisted on the reverse; shaking ‘bruises the gin’.
        1. That’s what the recipe I found said. It wasn’t very nice! I have never seen or heard of a martini served on ice, and in the place that serves the best ones I know of (Duke’s Hotel) they neither shake nor stir: they pour a small amount of their house vermouth into the bottom of a frozen glass and then fill it with frozen gin. They won’t serve you more than two, which is fortunate.
          1. It’s been decades since I’ve had a martini, but I remember being asked by the bartender if I wanted it up or over. I can remember various jokes about how to make a sufficiently dry one: pour some vermouth into the glass, pour it out, pour in the gin; pour in the gin, bend over the glass and whisper, “vermouth”, etc.
            1. I’ve never been given the choice.
              Yes, or wave the unopened vermouth bottle near the gin, ho ho. I had dinner with a colleague recently and he employed exactly your first method: put vermouth in the glass, swirled it around, poured it down the sink and then poured in frozen gin. The other classic method it to put vermouth in the shaker with ice, shake it and then drain the vermouth before putting in the gin. It’s all a bit silly: I actually like to taste a bit of vermouth!
  3. 77 minutes. The first of what turned out to be two puzzles from David McLean / Hoskins last Sunday and this was by far the harder. Lots of thought required for many of the clues although eventually everything was parsed. I thought BALE for ‘Truss’ was probably a verb as in to bundle or tie up and didn’t know the specific meaning as a noun. MER at PERVERSE for ‘improper’ too.

    My favourite was VETERINARIAN. Yes, a US term and not exactly how they say it in Yorkshire – VET’N’RY.

    Thanks to setter and keriothe

  4. With 50 minutes on the clock and two clues outstanding I abandoned this one. The answers that defeated me were the perfectly simple words PERVERSE and AVOIDS but they wouldn’t come to mind. I had struggled quite a bit to get as far as I did, not enjoying the experience much, and I was out of mental energy.

    On the Gin & It front, I know very little about that sort of concoction, but my recollection from the days when the drink was fashionable is that ‘G & It’ was usually made with sweet vermouth, so that’s the one to try for the authentic taste of the time.

    Edited at 2022-03-06 06:29 am (UTC)

    1. Yes I think that’s right. Negronis are much more fashionable these days: the same thing but with added Campari.
  5. This took 57 minutes. As so often with David’s puzzles, a pleasant start turned into something much more testing. POI was CURTAINS and LOI NORWEGIAN SEA, once I spotted Fidel. While seeing the SUIT, I still didn’t manage to parse SUITABLE. AVE MARIA was a beautifully constructed clue which I’ve only done justice to after the event. At the time, MILK TEETH and TWEED were the stand-outs. Why is my title like a haemorrhoid? He’s alright if he goes back up but a pain in the arse if he stays down. Thank you K and David.
  6. Really struggled with this one. Complete but with a number of biffs that I was unable to parse, which is never satisfying, eg 5, 12, 13, 24ac & 17d. FOI 17d. After several fruitless passes it was a relief to get out of the blocks but progress was slow and stuttery thereafter. Can’t say I enjoyed this one, but liked 22d. Apologies to David McLean for being a grump! And thank to blogger for illumination.
  7. After an hour I had four left, so I regard this as an accessible puzzle. LOI was CURTAINS which was hard to see but I liked it when twigged. Prior to that CASTRO. The other two were ARTICULAR and STARTERS.
    Another 25 minutes for them.
    I enjoyed this overall.
    Another mention of The Elgin Marbles. They attract regular comment in the papers but very few people seem to view them at The British Museum. It’s free!
  8. Nice one. Just trusted the setter for TRUSS.
    I’m not keen on gin, for some reason—even though I do like other flavored vodka (ha).

    Edited at 2022-03-06 03:46 pm (UTC)

  9. I paused after an hour with three clues left (STARTERS, SUITABLE and AVOIDS), but they all came within about 10 minutes when I took it up again. Not easy, but very enjoyable.
  10. Thanks David and keriothe
    Tough one that took up just under the hour quite late last night – struggled until I made progress with some of the long ones. The cryptic definitions were very good and AVE MARIA, as has been pointed out, was exemplary. Think MILK TEETH tickled my fancy the most.
    Quite enjoyed unravelling some of the more complicated word play as in SUITABLE and PERVERSE.
    Finished in the NE corner with PASS UP (quite tricky), SUITABLE (with a cute definition and a hard second bit of word play) and CASTRO (with a derrrh after the pd) the last one in.

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