Sunday Times 5044 by Robert Price

23:07. A really tricky one from Robert this week. There were a few things in here I thought a little loose, but in most cases further inspection revealed that I was just missing something. This one managed to be tough without any resort to obscurity, which is generally a mark of quality in my book.

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


1 Nasty girl not right about a single complaint
LARYNGITIS – (NASTY GIRL)* containing I.
7 A creature that’s immature in more ways than one
PUPA – or, if you look at it the other way, A PUP. Neat!
9 Pure fluorine, unregulated
10 Who would place Yankees top?
BETTER – a Yankee is a type of bet on a horse race. ‘Top’ is a verb disguised as an adjective.
11 Hearts captured by author convulse in pain
WRITHE – WRIT(H)E. ‘Author’ is verb disguised as a noun.
13 Leader in being stern inspires the rest
14 Shaky performers leaving corporations exposed
17 Aussie crook on prairies makes easy progress
20 Suspects put by soldiers in strongholds
21 Relaxed on a chair after daughter moved over
SEDATE – SEATED with the D (daughter) moved over.
22 Golf, easy to excuse, but not very sociable
GENIAL – G, vENIAL. I realised from this clue that I didn’t know what ‘venial’ meant. I think I thought it meant something close to the opposite.
23 Clothing of a Cavalier king hiding in trees
25 Animal on a farm without water
NEAT – DD. NEAT is a word for cattle I’ve only encountered in crosswords, but not for a long time.
26 Tourists quote Burns as it is spoken
SIGHTSEERS – sounds like ‘cite sears’.
2 What might irritate some smaller gentlemen
ALLERGEN – contained in ‘smaller gentlemen’.
3 Evergreen character on the radio
YEW – sounds like ‘u’.
4 Birds my sage stuffing is not used in
GEESE – GEE, SagE. Very good.
5 Nuclear accord chief whip initially switched
TEST BAN – BEST TAN with the first letters swapped.
6 Biology classes sure began badly
SUBGENERA – (SURE BEGAN)*. They ended badly too, in my experience. I had a terrible biology teacher at school who made the subject miserable.
7 A dog entering overturned head boy’s side dish
POTATO SALAD – POT(A, TOSA), LAD where POT is a reversal of TOP.
8 Looked annoyed when called out
PEEKED – sounds like ‘piqued’.
12 One connected people in exchange for a living
TELEPHONIST – CD. I didn’t know this term for a telephone operator but it became obvious once I had enough checkers.
15 A deb’s told to get permed locks
DEADBOLTS – (A DEBS TOLD)*. I’m not very keen on ‘permed’ as an anagram indicator.
16 Last on track are twin high jumpers
KNITWEARtracK, (ARE TWIN)*. Unindicated definition by example.
18 Bulge after feeling one needed to eat like a horse
NOSEBAG – NOSE, BAG. I’m not sure how ‘feeling’ is supposed to equate to NOSE. Having a nose/feeling for something I suppose but they’re not quite equivalent in my book. I thought ‘bulge’ for BAG was a bit loose too but it’s literally one of the definitions in Collins!
19 Extreme, almost cut off
SEVERE – SEVEREd. I was puzzled about this at first because the clue could work exactly the opposite way round to indicate SEVER!
21 Fish tested for freshness?
24 Signal that’s pretty timeless

34 comments on “Sunday Times 5044 by Robert Price”

  1. DNF
    Gave up at 34′, unable to get PEEKED or BETTER. I don’t know how much time I spent on them, but it appears that in general the puzzle wasn’t too difficult for me. I should have got PEEKED, but not knowing ‘Yankee’, I had no idea what was going on. I also didn’t know crook=AILING. I had no problem with ‘feeling’/NOSE, but wasn’t cofortable with BAG. Lots of smooth surfaces; I liked ‘Cavalier king hiding in trees’. COD to PUPA.

    1. It seems I should have been a bit more explicit about ‘crook’. It didn’t occur to me that anyone might not know it but I guess Australian idiom is better known in the UK than the US.

  2. 42 minutes. Lots of good clues as highlighted by keriothe. Fortunately remembered ‘Yankee’ as a (to me incomprehensible) type of bet. I had trouble with NOSEBAG too and was interested to see the ‘bulge’ sense for BAG as a verb which I don’t think I’ve come across. “Venal” was a solution to a clue in the QC last week and despite the (V)ENIAL in this puzzle, I probably won’t ever remember which is which.

    Favourites were the ‘Aussie crook on prairies’ at 17a and my LOI NEAT.

    Thanks to Robert and keriothe

  3. Just now looked up “crook” to see that it is indeed AILING in Australian slang. Hadn’t gotten around to that, nor to figuring out what “Yankee” means in the clue for BETTER.

  4. 45 minutes. Didn’t know ‘crook / AILING’. At 23 I wondered, did the Roundheads not wear breeches?

    No problem with ‘permed’ as an anagram indicator. ‘Perm’ can mean ‘make a permutation of’ and was widely used in the jargon of football pools. The setter has cunningly misdirected us with ‘permed locks’ to make us think of the permanent wave hair style.

    ‘Feeling / NOSE’ seems fine to me as both words can mean ‘instinct’.

    1. Ah, thanks, I had no idea. I see Collins only has it as a noun but it’s in Chambers as a verb.
      ‘Feeling/NOSE’ can possibly both be replaced by ‘instinct’ but the meanings are quite different. If you have a feeling for something you’re good at doing it, if you have a nose for something you’re good at finding or identifying it.

      1. In Collins at least, feeling is “intuitive appreciation and understanding”, and nose is “instinctive skill or facility, esp in discovering things”. For something like the kind of ability that people use to discover the answers to cryptic clues, I think both words could be used.

        1. The distinction (at least as far as I use the phrases) is that you would have a feeling for crosswords or clues and a nose for finding the solutions. It’s a pretty subtle distinction to be fair.

      2. I’m surprised that Collins doesn’t have the verb as it’s in Chambers and the Oxfords. The pre-printed football pools coupons used to carry instructions such as ‘perm any 8 from 10 to win’, and similar slogans were also used in newspaper promotions and TV ads. An article on Wiki asserts that the term “perm” was used despite the relevant mathematical operation being combination rather than permutation.

          1. Perhaps not but jackkt’s example of specific verbal usage is IMO more authoritative than any particular dictionary, which is inevitably a partial and imperfect record of how words are used.

  5. 58m 08s
    I must have spent 30 mins or so on my LOI, NEAT. For some reason it just wouldn’t come to me.
    No problem with ‘Aussie crook’ as I lived in Sydney for the best part of 20 years. Doesn’t the word also crop up in the famous Monty Python sketch?
    I share your qualms about NOSEBAG, keriothe and thanks for your explanation of WRITHE.
    My COD was TEST BAN. An initial letter swap without reference to the Rev’d Spooner!

    1. Yes. “bit crook Bruce”. Which meant I knew it was Australian slang, even though I had no idea what it meant.

  6. My parents had a container of “Neat’s Foot Oil” which I think was for rejuvenating leather. The only place I’ve come across “neat” outside a crossword. Lot’s to like in this crossword.

    1. Leather maintenance is right. A long time ago, in Lilywhites near Piccadilly Circus I bought a pair of Adidas Tokyos, an old design even then, but they looked fantastic and are reputedly the lightest track spikes ever made (thus a pretty stupid choice for cross-country races). They were made of seriously thin leather and neat’s foot oil was pretty vital for as long as they lasted.

      (visible on Google images: vintage adidas Tokyo 1964 “track shoes” )

    2. In late autumn in the 1950’s as a boy in Ontario I would rub Neat’s Foot Oil into my baseball glove before putting it away until the next spring.

      1. Also, when the mitt was new,
        step 1 was Neat’s Foot Oil,
        step 2 was spit in it for a while,
        step 3 was put an old ball exactly where you wanted the pocket, then tie the mitt up with string
        step 4 might or might not involve the oven at low temperature or the freezer compartment (in my neighbourhood there was fierce debate on this point)
        but step 5 was definitely wait 3 days, undo the whole thing, and spit in it some more

        These days, there is a for-pay service that major leaguers send their mitts off to which does some, or all, of those important steps

        1. The 5-step plan-well laid out! Good memories- imagine- getting to play baseball morning to dusk all summer. P.S. I used a couple of thick elastic bands to secure ball in glove.

  7. 48 minutes. Enjoyably tricky. I somehow knew the Yankee and the crook. Thank you Jackkt for the explanation of “permed”. I don’t know what the Roundheads wore. I have heard of the sans-culottes but they were something else. I liked GEESE and the Aussie crook. Many thanks for the blog

  8. I spent a lot of time on this but did manage to finish without aids. Last two were BETTER and NEAT.
    COD to NEAT as it works so well; a deceptive clue which is perfectly fair. As Keriothe says, NEAT should be familiar to regular solvers.
    NOSEBAG tough to parse.
    Enjoyable challenge.

  9. Really liked this, tough but entirely fair. Lot to like about it.
    With nose=feeling I can’t help thinking there is a perfect substitution somewhere, but I haven’t been able to think of it. Best I could do was having a nose/feeling for finding hidden contraband or similar.. not quite there though, is it?

  10. Re 23a BREECHES I was at a loss to connect cavaliers with breeches (or even culottes!) but would have thought of large hats with feathers. But Wiki has this:
    “The term “Cavalier” was first used by Roundheads as a term of abuse for the wealthier royalist supporters of King Charles I and his son Charles II of England during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration (1642 – c. 1679). It was later adopted by the Royalists themselves. Although it referred originally to political and social attitudes and behaviour, of which clothing was a very small part, it has subsequently become strongly identified with the fashionable clothing of the court at the time. Prince Rupert, commander of much of Charles I’s cavalry, is often considered to be an archetypal Cavalier.”
    With a portrait of said Rupert in smart maroon breeches.

    1. Thanks for the extensive research. I made a Google image search for Cavalier Roundhead clothing and nothing I found suggests there was any significant difference as to what they wore on their nether regions.

      However it occurs to me now that ‘Cavalier’ is in the clue simply to indicate the historical period in which breeches were worn.

  11. I’m a little surprised at the comments above re difficulty. I must have been on wavelength as I sailed through. Nose, Yankee, neat, crook are all known. No time except that I completed this over a leisurely cup of coffee. Unusual weekend as I found yesterday’s relatively straightforward too.

  12. We had BLUECOAT a couple weeks ago, so I knew that Chas II had started Bluecoat Schools, and he famously slept in the oak tree. Along with having the initial B and the crossing C, my SE took a while to untangle.
    Like keriothe, I knew the difference between venial and mortal sins, but somehow always thought that venial really meant evil, vile, villanous, or similar.

  13. Tough to get started on this, but the FOI BELLY DANCER got me going, until I hit a roadblock. Mainly held up by assuming (bad habit) “girl not right” in 1a was definitely GIL, (even though I knew I was looking for an illness), then ground slowly to a halt after the great PLAIN SAILING hove into view. So, had to cheat to restart on LARYNGITIS, then several other answers followed. NHO Yankee as a bet, or REDOUBTS as strongholds, but very much liked SIGHTSEERS, BREECHES and the well-hidden ALLERGEN. Good Sunday fare.

  14. Thanks Robert and keriothe
    A week later doing this puzzle and there was a lot going on in it. Took 71 minutes across four different sittings to get it out and happy to complete it and unravel all of the word play. With BREECHES – had it as just the riding clothing of any horseman these days and a cavalier as a particular horseman without it needing to be one of Charles 1’s lot – excellent surface reading with it as one of his though !
    Aussie ‘crook’ for ill or AILING was pretty much a gimme, as you’d expect. Thought that both CD’s were excellent – my cousin had a part time job as a TELEPHONIST in days past at a small town near where I lived and can remember listening in on one conversation of a greyhound trainer giving what we thought was a chance to get rich – it didn’t !
    Finished with NEAT (which took a long time to see the second part of the word play for some reason), PUPA (another shorty but a goodie when the penny dropped) and PEEKED (which took longer than it should have to pick up ‘piqued’).

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