Sunday Times 5020 by Robert Price – country and western

8:59. I’m on holiday at the moment and our wifi is extremely dodgy so I’m going to keep this short. Not a difficult puzzle but a model of elegance, as we’ve come to expect from this setter. Lovely stuff.

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

1 Marriage followed by a hefty do, off a TV show
9 Pure ecstasy filling boy next to girl
10 House deposit
11 Content of pop emptied through straw
12 Architect, beastly about large country home?
NASHVILLE – NASH (John, architect), VI(L)LE. Or VIL(L)E. Nashville Tennessee, of course, the home of both kinds of music.
13 Periodical printed in Bavaria and used in state exam
SUNDAY PAPER – S(UND)AY, PAPER. UND being German (in Bavaria) for ‘and’.
16 Sign an auditor’s letter
CUE – sounds like ‘Q’.
17 A piece of thread Sherlock notices
ADS – contained in ‘thread Sherlock’.
18 Celebration, nervy, as Iran is involved
19 Browning fan’s newspaper article accepted by poet, unfinished
SUNBATHER – SUN (newspaper), BA(THE)Rd. Nice definition.
22 Stage play’s latest bloomer
24 Tenor and the rest start in Opera backing group
OCTET – reversal of T (tenor), ETC (and the rest), Opera.
25 Design on paper with name placed in a box
26 Hurt by love, one’s protected by people coming together
1 Test by Henry securing university entrance
2 Accessories of netting on top of silk
3 Plant, entirely lead-free
HOLLYwHOLLY. Not that kind of lead!
4 This heats up Spooner’s curious lover
FRYING PAN – ‘prying fan’.
5 Covers up from middle of the day in Rome
6 One bringing meat to feed animals
7 Sing melody, ripping off male cuckoo
8 Extremely cut off, a city goes under
SEVERELY – SEVER, ELY. ‘Goes under’ is just a positional indicator.
13 Food’s roasting still
SNAPSHOT – SNAP’S, HOT. SNAP is ‘food, esp a packed lunch taken to work’ (Collins). If I’ve come across this term before I had forgotten it.
14 White stone flower made in an experiment?
ALABASTER – or A LAB ASTER, geddit?!
15 TV broadcast with top aria singer
PAVAROTTI – (TV TOP ARIA)*. ‘Singer’ seems a wholly inadequate definition here, even notionally including the words ‘top aria’ is a bit reductive.
16 Wild vicar full of hot air spoilt wedding serenade
CHARIVARI – (VICAR)* containing H, (AIR)*. ‘A discordant mock serenade to newlyweds, made with pans, kettles, etc’ (Collins). A term I have come across before in crosswords but never anywhere else.
20 Church books go on about Old Nick
NOTCH – N(O)T, CH. If I remember the conventions right, X ‘on’ Y always indicates that X comes after Y in an across clue, but this is a down clue so the more obvious positional relationship applies.
21 The way to perform a greeting
HOW DO – HOW (the way), DO (perform).
22 Bar being raised by South Africa’s backs
DORSA – reversal of ROD, SA. A word perhaps most often encountered in its adjectival form applied to shark fins.
23 Territory that borders a country

34 comments on “Sunday Times 5020 by Robert Price – country and western”

  1. “Both kinds of music”!

    I didn’t know the required sense of SNAP either… and didn’t even wonder about it before reading your blog. The wonders of biffing!

    1. Hi Guy, thanks for all the blogs. As newbies (of 30 years standing) we’d often be lost for parsings without you and all the other bloggers.
      I first came across snap in a D. H. Lawrence book and imagine my enchantment when, in Nottingham years later, a friend offered to make me a snap for my train journey to London.

      Tom and Janet, Toronto.

  2. Cryptic comment Guy ……….!?

    21 down!

    Made a right Horlicks of this by entering ‘German Paper’ at 13ac! Doh! So 13dn to give me a DNF.

    FOI 1ac MATCH OF THE DAY with its dreadful intro music! And Gaz n’Allan.
    (LOI) 24ac OCTET – no-no nonet!?
    COD 16dn CHARIVARI – as noted here before, ‘Punch’ magazine was sub-titled in its early days as, ‘The London Charivari’ (a cat’s chorus).
    WOD 9ac UNALLOYED pleasure.

    Perhaps ‘master singer’ might have been a bit more respectful for PAVAROTTI at 15dn.

    1. I was just expressing appreciation for Keriothe’s allusion to an old US-centric joke: someone says they like or—as in The Blues Brothers—play “both kinds of music: country and western.”

    2. I was German Paper too – seemed like something the FO might require by way of a hiring exam for would-be George Smileys

      1. Paul, You are, indeed correct. I was forced to study German for one term at College. Meldrew

  3. 28:19
    Slow going–FOI ADS, followed by WATERMARK, which I never did parse until after submitting. It took me an undue amount of time to figure out __ PAPER and __ OF THE DAY. I actually knew CHARIVARI BC (before crosswords), although I would have pronounced it ‘shivaree’. DNK SNAP. I liked ‘Browning fan’ and ‘that borders a country’, but all in all, as Keriothe says, a model of elegance.

  4. 36 minutes. SNAPSHOT was LOI, due to being slow to see the correct sense of ‘still’ and not knowing SNAP for ‘food’. The rest went in at a gentle pace and I did recognise CHARIVARI this time, like Meldrew helped by the “Punch” association.

    Favourites were NASHVILLE (thanks for the reminder of the “country AND western” line) and SUNBATHER, which was similar to a clue from a few years ago:
    Browning expert is good health practitioner (11)

    Thanks to setter and keriothe

  5. Is there a wedding theme going on?


    37 minutes, no unknowns.

    Elsewhere Peter B has confirmed today’s puzzle is by David McLean although his name does not appear online. No comments on that puzzle allowed until next Sunday of course.

    1. I emailed Peter about the author (which I assumed must be McLean), but haven’t heard back yet. Thanks! Maybe it can’t be fixed online until Monday (if ever)…
      Where is “elsewhere,” though?

      1. In my ‘Newsflash’ topic started earlier in the week about Lexico. I noticed he posted something there late last night so I asked the question and he responded immediately.

          1. FWIW, I can’t see an email from you. If you’re using a address, that’s been dead for a fair while. I think we may be able to update today, though it’s not done by me, on the club site. Some online versions use a snapshot of the puzzle as it was sometime late on Saturday, and are only amended for bigger reasons than xwd bylines.

            1. Thanks, Peter.
              The address for you that didn’t (seem to) bounce had the name
              “Peter Biddlecombe ”
              before the address

              1. Well, the administrator at this blog has been someone else since I got the ST xwd editing job at the end of 2010. I thought that was known to people writing the blog reports.

                1. I knew that, of course, but this address is for the brand-new site, not the old LiveJournal one. It is the same address given for you in the notification I received that you replied to my comment. And the reply from, say, Verlaine is given as from “Verlaine” with the same address. So I thought the system might route the email to you, if you have notifications turned on for comments on this site.

                  I received a reply to my email from John Moody, of

    2. Yes, there is a theme, or Nina really, as it’s just incidental for solving purposes. Someone asked for a commemoration of their first anniversary, which is a “paper” one according to some lists, and the spouse who wouldn’t know about it until the puzzle appeared is apparently a solver. For obvious reasons, once we’d decided to do it, the exact nature of the grid content was not revealed to the requester, but the main message is “Happy (Sunday) Paper Anniversary, Daisy”, with other answers and references thrown in by Robert, among which my favourite was the happy couple Una and Lloyd.

  6. 35m 40s
    As Keriothe says, “a model of elegance”.
    Like others, I didn’t know SNAP in that sense (13d). I smiled at ALABASTER. Thanks, keriothe, for HAPPY, WATERMARK and SUNDAY PAPER.
    Double-plus good marks for HARMONISATION, NOTCH and YUKON with COD to WHOLLY.
    I used to work for an American cargo airline. For many of my colleagues ‘both types of music’ was an article of faith.

  7. DNF just under the 30

    Started last night when a bit tired but finished quickly this morning. Like others liked Browning fan and YUKON

    My downfall was a slightly careless HOW TO. When the pink square appeared I thought “HOW SO”. Wrong again. 🤔

    Thanks for another great Sunday blog and puzzle

  8. A couple of points:

    In ST cryptic crosswords, there is no convention about “on” – that’s something used in Times crosswords but not Sunday Times ones. If “on” can mean “next to” as it must for across answers, “A on B” can logically be A,B or B,A, and I don’t see why only one of the two should be allowed. I know I wrote up a list of Times crossword conventions ages ago, but I sometimes wish I hadn’t. I would like solvers to use their wits rather than detailed knowledge of local conventions.

    Pavarotti: It’s surely some kind of tribute to the man that “singer” seemingly prevented no-one from solving the clue, though I’m sure many were helped by “top ‘aria singer’” which I’m sure was intended rather than “‘top aria’ singer”, as part of an elegant clue.

  9. An enjoyable puzzle and not too difficult. My LOI was OCTET which I had trouble parsing (T=tenor?-where does that occur?).
    I was held up by biffing MUNICH PAPER at 13a and I was late getting SNAPSHOT ( I’m another new to SNAP).
    COD has to be NASHVILLE; it took me ages to see the clever definition.

    1. T=tenor is recorded in Collins (under “English: t.” on the website version), and in real life use, part of SATB as an indication of the commonest parts for a four-part choir.

  10. Such an entertaining/interesting blog this week! The crossword itself is almost incidental. I’m absolutely charmed at the willing cooperation of all concerned in the wedding anniversary tribute. So kind. But back to the crossword…. Nothing untoward to report. My FOI was 1ac, partly enabled by last week’s discussion with JerryW and his pointer that “off” indicates an anagram. So it does! Had heard of SNAP thanks to relatives who, way back, took their snap boxes, snap tins and snap bags with them to their shifts at the Leics coalfaces. Couldn’t figure out 13ac so thanks for the explanation. Otherwise, all done and dusted in my usual slowcoach time of around an hour.

  11. Up t’north working class blokes, miners, draymen etc., had their ‘snap’ (lunch) prepared at dawn by t’missus an’ put in’t ‘snap tin’ – usually an old biscuit or toffee tin. Today there are couple of cafes nostalgically named ‘The Snap Tin’. There’s one Barnsley-Rotherham way and t’other at Poynton, near Stockport.
    One source states it is named because of ‘the snap’ of the tin lid – which is somewhat fanciful and quite ‘iggerant’! Meldrew

  12. I remember SNAP from I think Sons & Lovers by D H Lawrence, 1913 I am told by wiki.

  13. I’ve lost the bit of paper on which I made one or two notes on this, but so far as I remember there were no problems and as always I’m in awe of Robert’s amazing elegance. Every clue tells a nice story, even when it’s very short and simple.

    The reference to Pavarotti as a singer seemed quite OK to me, especially since one was being led towards him by the two preceding words.

  14. Interesting that London Charivari for Punch was an answer in the same day’s GK crossword. Presumably just a coincidence. Didn’t spot the Nina but then I rarely do.

    1. The GK puzzle seems to be a refuge for people who don’t like cryptic crosswords, so it’s good to see that some do both. Robert Price doesn’t write any GKs, so a coincidence it was.

  15. Not hard at all, 32 delightful minutes, at least two of which were spent laughing about SUNDAY PAPER, easy enough to biff, once I understood the wordplay. That would be my COD, unless YUKON is. A very enjoyable and indeed elegant puzzle. Thank you, Peter, for pointing out the nina — how superb!

  16. Nice puzzle. Nice blog. Nice conversation. Wish I’d been here earlier in the day to participate more. BTW, nice avatar pic (“snap”) Peter B

  17. Not all correct, but thoroughly enjoyed! Especially liked PAVAROTTI, CHARIVARI and WATERMARK ( mainly because I had no trouble getting them!); I’m now left wondering who Daisy is??

  18. Thanks Robert and keriothe
    Late to check this one off, but did enjoy it immensely, taking 50 minutes to get the job done. Not used to the Sunday Times puzzles having ninas or themes, so wasn’t even looking for one. That definition of SNAP was new – had figured that the cookie was ‘food’ enough – but good to mark that down in the notebook to keep in mind. Got tangled up with the ‘lead-free’ for a while (keeping saying that tungsten is NOT lead !) until the penny finally dropped – very clever clue.
    Finished in the SE corner with YUKON (another nice clue), DORSA (based on word play and then understanding the word) and DAISY (after realising the clumsy spelling of CHARAVARI).

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