Sunday Times 5046 by Dean Mayer

17:23. A tricky one from Dean this week, with a smattering of slightly odd or obscure references that gave it a quirky feel and a few really first-class surface readings.

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

1 Shortened, like everything in numbers
5 Cat straddling small horse — Shetland, perhaps
TOPONYM – TO(PONY)M. ‘Shetland’ is a TOPONYM for a type of pony, which ties the definition and wordplay neatly together. Nice.
9 Of course, these are essential
BRICKS AND MORTAR – CD, ‘course’ in this case being ‘a continuous, usually horizontal, layer of building material, such as a row of bricks, tiles, etc’ (Collins).
10 Close deal over a drink
NIGHTCAP – NIGH (close), reversal of PACT.
11 Being a judge is difficult
13 One bird in each valley? Not quite
15 Boring book about paintings
17 I came and did bad thing for poor US people
MEDICAID – (I CAME DID)*. In the news recently: Republican politicians have reacted with outrage to Joe Biden accusing them of saying things they have been filmed saying.
18 Poem I would finish in twenty lines
IDYLL – I’D, twentY, LL.
20 Big cheese sandwich on chorizo wraps
HONCHO – contained in ‘sandwich on chorizo’.
21 Wrong answer is “consecrates
24 Become distressed?
TEAR ONES HAIR OUT – become dis-tressed, geddit? &Lit. Brilliant.
25 One prays to see article on page
26 Pounds I applied to allowance
PENSION – PENS (pounds), I, ON (applied to).
1 Name on web for an aperitif
DUBONNET – DUB, ON, NET. A favourite of the late Queen’s, I think. I’ve never tried it.
2 One cuts decoration off
GOING – GO(I)NG. As in ‘I’m off!’.
3 Find a way to get over or avoid pettiness?
TAKE THE HIGH ROAD – two definitions, one mildly cryptic.
4 Corrupt deal the result of this?
LEAD ASTRAY – a reverse cryptic in which LEAD astray would give DEAL.
5 Handsome cartoonist
TIDY – DD. Bill TIDY is a cartoonist I had never heard of.
6 It takes time to become such a thief
PROCRASTINATION – I put this in purely from checking letters, as the only word that would fit. It is apparently either a reference to a poem I have never heard of by a poet I’ve never heard of, or something Mr Micawber said, probably in reference to the aforementioned poem.
7 Presumably, I’m any singing game
NUTS IN MAY – another reverse cryptic in which nuts IN MAY gives I’M ANY. The answer is a child’s singing game, vaguely familiar to me.
8 1,000 Iron Age axes on view? Not really
MIRAGE – M (1,000), IRon AGE.
12 Use lights to see what could be picked up
WINDOW-SHOP – CD, ‘lights’ being windows.
14 Fruit garden oddly busy
GREENGAGE – GaRdEn, ENGAGE. ‘Busy’ being a verb.
16 Idiot has not served up seafood
PLANKTON – PLANK (idiot), reversal of NOT. Seafood in the sense of food in the sea, for whales.
19 Pen St
SHUT UP – DD. ‘St’ is an interjection meaning ‘hush’ according to Chambers, if nobody else.
22 I think America should return land to its natives
SUOMI – reversal of IMO (in my opinion, I think), US. Finnish for Finland. Great surface!
23 European in much anxiety

59 comments on “Sunday Times 5046 by Dean Mayer”

  1. ‘Procrastination is the thief of time’: old proverb
    Having just Googled it, I see that it’s from the 18th-century poet Edward Young’s “Night Thoughts”.

  2. This was a superb challenge, even by this setter’s standards. I reckon a lot of us would have recognised it out of context as pure, distilled Anax. So many excellent clues in great variety, pared to the bone.
    SUOMI was probably my favourite, with its well-disguised defintion, although it took a while to get the IMO part, even though it’s ubiquitous on forums. (I can’t stand internet initialisms. I took the toponym at 5a to refer to the Shetland Islands, as in a place name, FWIW. ☺️ )

    1. Re 5a, that’s how I took it took too. A toponym can also be a name derived from a place, but that’s secondary, and if it isn’t taken as such, then the wordplay and definition harmonize nicely but do not actually overlap.

      1. You can take it either way of course, but ‘Shetland pony’ is undoubtedly a TOPONYM, which I think adds something to the clue.

  3. This took me forever. NHO TIDY–glad to see I’m not alone. DNK the singing game, but for some reason the phrase NUTS IN MAY was familiar. DNK PLANK=idiot, although it seemed likely enough. I could make nothing of the ‘St’ in 19d, but luckily there was no need to; Chambers comes through (for the setter) again. COD to SUOMI for that surface.

    1. I have a vague remembrance that Nuts In May was a play (or possibly a film). Maybe that’s why it was familiar to you?

    2. “Here we go gathering nuts in May,
      Nuts in May, nuts in May,
      Here we go gathering nuts in May
      So early in the morning.”
      Nursery rhyme from a million years ago. So, why can’t I ever remember where I left my keys?

      1. The version I heard in the 50s on a BBC kids programme ended “on a cold and frosty morning”, making it even sillier.

  4. I was okay with (Bill) Tidy. I occasionally saw him in Leicestershire when I lived there, the last time at a one-man show about the comedian Frank Randle. Very funny cartoonist and an amusing guy, still with us, thankfully.

    1. My favourite Bill Tidy cartoon was a of a weeping crowd outside a steamship office with a man on a platform reading from a list, obviously the names of those lost from some tragedy at sea. Off to the side is a man with a worried –looking polar bear on a chain. The caption reads: “But is there any news of the iceberg?”

        1. Thanks-I see I’m not the only one to love that cartoon! I also remember really enjoying the Cloggies . Glad to hear Mr Tidy is still with us.

          1. Seconded, re the Cloggies. I enjoy a good Reverse Arkwright to this day ..
            The cartoon I don’t remember seeing before; I think the Punch version is much better than the other..

  5. I found “St” by Googling “St” silence abbreviation. Top result!
    Etymology “imitative,” interjection “expressing a desire for silence.”

    PROCRASTINATION it had to be but I… put off trying to track down a reference. Thanks to Kevin for the citation.

    Never heard of Bill TIDY either!

  6. I don’t have a solving time for this but when I completed it I wrote BLOODY HARD!! on my copy.

    For all that, I managed it with only one resort to aids, my LOI, MEDICAID which I realised was an anagram but still managed not to solve it for myself. If I’d made the healthcare connection I’d have been expecting the answer to be MEDICARE and wondering why it didn’t fit all the checkers or the available anagrist.

    I had no idea what was going on with St at 19dn, something I never heard of or expect to again.

    I knew Nuts in May as a nursery rhyme but not as a game. It’s also the title of superb TV film (officially a Play For Today) by Mike Leigh that’s very funny.

    I remembered SUOMI from stamp-collecting days, but the wordplay took some reverse-engineering.

    I knew Bill Tidy originally from his time at The Daily Sketch.

    1. A lot of nursery rhymes are singing games. Ring a ring of roses, Oranges and lemons, etc. But my first thoughts were what does Mike Leigh have to do with this. I agree it is a superb TV film.

      The Medicare/Medicaid bill was the thing that more or less did for Obama.

      1. That was the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Medicare and Medicaid are much older programs dating from the 60s. (Also I would describe it as his crowning achievement rather than what ‘did for’ him but that’s another conversation!)

        1. He was re-elected, after all! Couldn’t run again.
          (I’d decided not to say anything…)

    2. I don’t know exactly why, but “st” seemed a clear alternative to “psst”. The OED citations for it include “St, st,—said a second,—hush, quoth a third” from Tristram Shandy, which I have read, and a line from Browning’s Pippa Passes, which I haven’t.

      1. Hmm… “Psst!” means “Over here!”—“to attract attention surreptitiously.” I never connected it with “shush!”
        The entry I found cites, rather, hist, which Merriam-Webster defines the same way but Collins and other sources allow can be a call for silence.

  7. 92 minutes. Hard but enjoyable. PROCRASTINATION was my LOI and went in purely from crossers and the ‘takes time’ bit. Never heard of NUTS IN MAY, ‘st’ for SHUT UP or PLANK by itself for ‘idiot’ so I was happy to avoid a DNF and wasn’t fussed about the slow time.

    GREENGAGE seems to be the ‘fruit de l’année’ in crossword land but I don’t remember seeing DUBONNET as an ‘aperitif’ before. [Incidentally, if you’re interested, related to this, for one of the worst (=one of the best) homophones you’re likely to see/hear, have a look at last Wednesday’s Feb 15th Eccles in the Indy, or on the Fifteensquared blog of the puzzle].

    Thanks to Dean and keriothe

  8. St is one of those two letter words you learn for Scrabble, which is not a word game but a mathematical one as you’re not required to know the meanings of words.

    Suomi was my last in because I didn’t realise “I think” = “In my opinion”. I was looking for reasons to justify think =MO (mull over???) I should have realised it was the usual text abbreviation IMO, though at work most of my US colleagues use IMHO.

    Overall I thought this was an enjoyable puzzle but slow to get started.

  9. This was very hard but I managed to finish it late in the evening after several sessions. Not all parsed.
    LOI was LEAD ASTRAY where I wanted Card to be in the answer. Prior to that DIGTAL and NUTS IN MAY (hardly parsed at all).
    I think SUOMI must have occurred somewhere fairly recently as it jumped out at me.
    And I thought for a long time about cartoonists , starting with Leonardo. I knew Bill Tidy was a cartoonist but thought that was pretty narrow GK.
    Overall worth the effort.

  10. This freaked me out

    I got a bit stuck inc 6dn so decided to read for a while. I picked up my book and there staring from the page was “Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!” as pronounced by Mr Micawber
    So as he also said, something will turn up, but I’ll probably be accused of using aids

  11. I’m not sure that 24A is really an &lit – my understanding is that one reading of an &lit provides “construction kit” wordplay. But I’m not aware of any alternative name for clues with multiple other readings of the clue, and TBH not suggesting that anyone tries to invent one, after what happened with “lift and separate”, invented by Mark Goodliffe on this blog but now often used to mean something different.

    1. I hesitated a bit over this but the literal interpretation here (physical removal of hair) is wordplay. I’ve never seen a requirement for &Lit status that the wordplay has to be of a particular type.

      1. As far as I can tell, it was Ximenes who invented “& Lit” as a description of some clues – Chapter 8 of his 1966 book is: ‘“&lit” Clues’, and in its second paragraph he says:
        The term “& lit.” is short for “This clue both indicates the letters or parts of the required word, in one of the ways already explained in this book, and can also be read, in toto, literally, as an indication of the meaning of the whole word, whether as a straight or veiled definition.
        After that he repeats “indication of the letters or parts”, for clarity that now seems unnecessary.

        1. Well I would say that the non-definition aspect of this clue does exactly that. It indicates the parts (of which there happens to be only one) of the required answer (which happens to be more than word) in a way that is not a definition. In other words, it’s wordplay.

          1. Well, I’ve looked at both the Ximenes chapter on &lits and the one in Don Manley’s book. All of the examples given for &lits are identified as using one of the parts of a clue like anagrams, hidden words, first letters, etc which are not definitions. For me, the meaning with dis-tressed is simply another definition – I’m sure I’ve seen examples like “lacking hair?” as the definition part of a clue for “distressed”. But I now think that means the clue IS an &lit, but one corresponding to a double definition clue, which seems to be something unusual enough not to have been mentioned in the two books.

            1. To me ‘dis-tressed’ cannot be a definition because neither it nor the answer are used in the sense required. Even a cryptic definition normally refers to the usual meaning of the answer. So I’m not quite sure what this is, but I am sure it’s wordplay!

              1. I’m sure there have been times when you’ve marked something like “flower” meaning “river” as a definition, even though that’s a whimsically imagined meaning rather than part of English outside cryptic crosswords. If something like that is a definition when combined with anagram or other “construction kit” wordplay, I can’t see why it shouldn’t be called a definition when it’s next to another definition, or when it’s an alternative way of reading a more conventional definition.

                1. A river is something that flows, so ‘flower’ is an accurate definition, just as ‘barker’ would be an accurate definition for a dog. TEAR ONES HAIR OUT is a specific idiom that does not – when used in its dictionary defined sense – refer to a physical act. So you cannot use the physical act to define it correctly.

                  1. Two examples from the “Multiple definitions” chapter in Don Manley’s book:
                    “Sad like the girl who’s had a haircut? (10)” with the answer DISTRESSED. “A double definition, using a cryptic allusion” says Don, adding that the cryptic allusion (which doesn’t match a dictionary meaning of “distressed”) is the reason for the question mark. His next example is a clue for an idiom, which I suspect you’ve seen before, maybe with different wording: “Feeling very happy like the mountaineer who’s climbed Everest? (2,3,2,3,5)” = ON TOP OF THE WORLD, which like Dean’s clue, uses a literal reading of an idiom as an alternative definition.

                    [As I there’s no reply button for keriothe’s response to this, I’m adding that it’s not just Don. I cannot recall any book about cryptic crosswords that says that clues with one straight definition and one cryptic def are not double definition clues, or a setter who makes this distinction when identifying a clue type in one of their puzzles.]

                    1. Well (pace the Don) I would not call these definitions, in a crossword sense. They are cryptic definitions or allusions which is a type of wordplay. ‘Distressed’ simply does not mean ‘deprived of hair’. The definition is ‘sad’.

    2. I would’ve been tempted to call this a CD, but here the apparent sense of the words and the solution mean the same thing. There is wordplay, though, and as that is entirely integrated with the definition, seems an &lit…

      1. That’s where I started. But the apparent (literal) meaning of the words is not the same as the (figurative) one in the definition.

      1. The glossary entries record the meanings I understand, but in the case of “lift and separate”, it’s used quite a lot in other places to describe a trick used in some cryptics, most often for “indeed” needing to be read as “in deed”. I don’t allow it without an indication that the word needs breaking up, and AFAIK it’s not used in Times xwds either. That version is used often enough for me to be wary of using the name for the original meaning, in case people thought I was saying that the “indeed” trick is OK.

  12. I would never have got Procrastination from the clue it’s seems more general knowledge than cryptic
    Still cannot work out Greengage despite the explanations given

    1. Take the odd letters of GARDEN = GRE. Then append ENGAGE, which as a reflective verb is a synonym of BUSY (eg I busy/engage myself with the ST crossword).

      1. Thanks Richard. Dean is always a challenge and on this occasion the clue just didn’t click. It’s annoying as ‘ Greengage’ was obviously the answer
        Crossword 5047 here I come

    2. Sorry if I wasn’t clear Kevin. It’s sometimes hard to gauge how explicit one needs to be in these explanations without being unnecessarily verbose.
      For now a Richard has explained it perfectly I think but please don’t hesitate to ask.

  13. 28.53

    Superb puzzle. There were a few places where I thought I was going to get stuck but pulled the thinking cap down securely and worked out what was going on

    Liked BRICKS AND MORTAR and of course the very good SUOMI and TEAR ONES HAIR OUT.

    Excellent blog as always

  14. Late commenting, as I’ve been in London for the weekend. However, no queries marked on this, bar ST, which now I come to think of it, is what I might expect to hear if I were shushed in France or Spain, though not in this country. I think DIGITAL was the last in, as it’s not crossed off on the paper, and I think I failed to parse it, as Keriothe’s explanation came with a PDM. Probably too exhausted by the marathon to worry about it at the time. I loved TOPONYM once I got it, MEDICAID and TEAR ONE’S HAIR OUT. COD to SUOMI.

  15. Thanks Dean and keriothe
    Started this one whilst waiting for someone to join for brunch – 15 minutes resulted in only TRYING and MIRAGE. Took another three sessions across a rainy Saturday to finally complete the grid with more than average electronic help. Didn’t know MEDICAID, NUTS IN MAY, DUBONNET or the ‘hush’ meaning of st. Had to check on PLANK (as an ‘idiot’) and the real meaning of TOPONYM (after getting the word play).
    Was able to parse everything, apart from the second part of SHUT UP and was happy to get to the end of what was an enjoyable but challenging puzzle. Finished in the NW corner with NIGHTCAP (clever word play that had to be worked out after guessing the definition), GOING (after finally getting the right use of GONG) and BRICKS AND MORTAR (didn’t really know that meaning of ‘course’).

  16. Further to the discussion on the well-known phrase “TEAR ONES HAIR OUT”, in my case it was not just a figure of speech: I did this at a particular point in my life (23 years ago) when events seemed overwhelmingly stressful, and consequently- within a few months – lost the rest of it. It stayed ‘lost’ for the subsequent years, and is only now growing a bit. A puzzle the specialists have not solved…
    Apart from that, I enjoyed what little I did of this, especially the reminder of NUTS IN MAY.

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