Sunday Times 5048 by David McLean

11:19. Not a terribly difficult puzzle but highly enjoyable. Lots of fun clues in this one but by far my favourite thing – and I think my favourite clue of the year so far – is the definition in 25dn. I also like the excruciating homophone in 10ac.

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

1 When skin turns numb
ASLEEP – AS, reversal of PEEL.
5 Devout person gets garment for flasher
9 Try and stop E and smack when out of head
10 Screamed command to get off the blocks?
LEGO – sounds like “leggo!”. A gloriously awful homophone. Our North American friends will know the blocks as LEGOs.
11 Lawyer backing green bill
ADVERT – reversal of DA, VERT.
12 Top tips to play second breaks of service
PIT STOPS – (TOP TIPS)*, S. I think the definition here is referring to the activity (servicing the car) that happens during PIT STOPS.
14 Organ Saracen moved with foremost of props
16 Working sailor came about to enter port
OBAN – slightly convoluted wordplay here, the sailor AB is reversed (came about) and then enters ON (working).
18 List articles for foreign and domestic markets
LEAN – LE, AN. A definite article in French and an indefinite one in English.
19 Truly divine nursing home in the sticks?
HONESTLY – HO(NEST)LY. ‘Home in the sticks’ is good.
21 Seasoned beef done with Smash is half-finished
PASTRAMI – PAST (done with), RAM, Is.
22 In attack, coppers possibly traded knight for rook
CHARGE – swap N (knight) for R (rook) in CHANGE (coppers possibly).
24 Iron put over large and a small jumper
FLEA – F(L)E, A.
26 One who gets under your skin at work?
27 You horse around with lawyer in a state
UGANDA – U, reversal of NAG, DA.
28 First? I will occupy that position!
EGOIST – IST with EGO (I) in 1st position. &Lit.
2 One over the limit cabby makes take a shot?
SPEED CAMERA – CD. Convoluted grammar indicating ‘a thing that is induced to take a photograph by a speeding taxi driver’.
3 Invest in nurse given what is owed
ENDUE – EN (enrolled nurse), DUE.
4 Sketch liberal found in offensive, juvenile annual?
PLANTLET – PLAN (sketch), T(L)ET. The TET Offensive in Vietnam.
5 Place in which empty-bellied piper gets a brownie?
6 A way you could describe Five Children and It?
RELATIONSFive Children and It is a children’s novel by E. Nesbit. ‘Five children’ could also be described as ‘relations’, as could ‘it’ (sex).
7 Work bishop gets around Slough
BOG – reversal of GO, B.
8 Curt Irish cops ruined festival
CORPUS CHRISTI – (CURT IRISH COPS)*. I didn’t know this was a festival but it seemed perfectly feasible.
13 Lassie heads for Spooner’s doorway
PEARLY GATES – ‘girly pates’. The place where you meet St Peter and he tells you the punchline.
15 Force prisoners on to coach
17 Short story one acted out
20 Repeated slogan one in Labour facility sent up
MANTRA – MAN (one in labour, an employee), reversal of ART (facility).
23 Is your setter on leave in China?
25 One raised by wolves about to go in lake, say
LEG – L, EG. I actually laughed out loud when I saw what the definition was here. Brilliant.

23 comments on “Sunday Times 5048 by David McLean”

  1. Yes, 25 is one for the books (I see that I noted “Amazing!”). It was one of my last in, but not the very, that being RELATIONS, since “Five” is quite distracting if you’ve NHO the novel.

    LEGO sounds to me virtually identical to “le’ go!”

    1. I was on the same wavelength as you. NHO the children’s novel. 25 was a peach of clue. LEGO not far behind.
      A most enjoyable crossword

    2. Yes I suppose it’s not really the homophony that’s excruciating, more the use of the non-word ‘leggo’. I’m absolutely not complaining though, I love it!

      1. Not disagreeing with your characterisation of “leggo” as a non-word, but in the ’70s and later there was a series of adverts in the US (only?) for a brand of frozen waffles called Eggo where the tag line was something like “Leggo my Eggo” with leggo used in the same sense as in this clue.

        1. I think the slogan is still in use.

          Just found this tidbit on Wikipedia: “Due to similarity between the contraction leggo and the product name LEGO, in the later 2000s Kellogg’s collaborated with The Lego Group to produce Eggo waffles shaped like LEGO bricks.”

          1. I’m familiar with Eggos because my kids eat them sometimes when we’re in Canada, but they’re not available here. They featured prominently in the TV series Stranger Things.

  2. 35:34
    LEGO was my FOI; it seemed like a perfectly good homophone, certainly anything but excruciating. DNK the Nesbitt novel, but ‘it’ and the checkers sufficed, although it was my POI. LEG a runaway COD, although it was hardly difficult. ‘Lawyer’ clues DA twice (11ac, 27ac), at least once too many.

  3. 47 minutes. Thanks for explaining a few bits such as MAN for ‘one in Labour’ (v. good) which I couldn’t get. I still don’t understand 6d, maybe because I’d never heard of the E. Nesbit novel either which is necessary to make the clue work. If it’s a double def, I’m not convinced by ‘Five children’ being a description for RELATIONS; without reference to the novel, five children aren’t necessarily related to one another.

    Agree about 25d which I appreciated all over again on re-acquainting myself with the puzzle today. EGOIST wasn’t far behind.

    Thanks to keriothe and setter.

    1. In defence of “children”, in all the dictionaries I would normally look at, one meaning of “child” is “son or daughter”.

      1. Indeed. When people ask you how many children you have they aren’t usually asking about your slaveholdings 😉

  4. Agree with our blogger that this was an excellent crossword. The best by David McLean that I can remember. Thank you.

  5. Seconded as regards the best David McLean, in my time, at least. Sometimes having a ten-word clue for a three-letter answer (25D) is infuriating, but in this case it was pure genius, though with the ‘about’ confusing me enough that I wasn’t able to get the answer without UGANDA in place. I’m one who did read Five Children and It as a child myself and loved it, though it was dated then. I’m sad that it no longer appears to be required reading – perhaps children today can’t identify with the world of a child a century ago whereas in the 60s Victorian times didn’t seem that distant.

  6. I agree with comments above, this was an excellent puzzle.
    The surface for SPEED CAMERA was my only frown.
    RELATIONS held me up a lot as did COD LEG.

  7. I got through this but was not on the wavelength so didn’t enjoy it as much as others. It seems agreed that there was something a bit different about it, and whatever this was it was threw me.

  8. 36 but had to rush off so bunged in something completely wrong for LEGO and RELATIONS. The former was very good. Also loved the GATES

    Like Jackkt not sure I would say it was very top of top notchiness but it was a fine puzzle for which thanks and to our blogger too

  9. It took me nearly 50 minutes (less than the average time given on the leaderboard, surprisingly), but this was such a delightful puzzle. I’m not sure if it was David McLean’s best, because they are always excellent (as are those of the other Sunday setters). They are like a savoury dish which is just perfectly spiced: very misleading and witty clues, but fair and solvable if you give them enough thought. And I agree that the LEG* clues are absolutely superb, but Spooner’s girly pates weren’t bad either.

  10. Agree about the wizardry of this puzzle, but sadly a bit too clever for me! I did get about 2/3 of them correct, but trying to untangle the rest lead me into “time out”.
    LEG will go into my book of outstanding clues.

  11. Thanks David and keriothe
    An entertaining puzzle that took 71 minutes across a couple of sittings to nut out. After starting off with FLEA and then getting UGANDA, that LEG went in quite early from the word play, but it was not until later that the bit about the wolf finally dawned – and I think that I also laughed out loud.
    Lots of other interesting and, in places, quite tricky clues which happily filled in a wait at the airport for a flight to Queensland.
    Finished in the NE corner with BOG, LEGO (didn’t twig to the ‘let go’ contraction) and going back over to PLANTLET.

  12. Well, you’re all geniuses compared to me. I managed to figure out pancreas, bog, flea and Corpus Christi and then was stuck. After helping myself to many of the answers in this blog, I was able to add pearly gates and tattooist myself. I didn’t know the Cockney rhyming slang of China plate for mate, so amigo never occurred to me for 23DN.

  13. Was 9-across perhaps a tribute to the last ever episode of Endeavour, the young crossword-solving Morse? The episode (broadcast in the UK on 12 March) includes Morse remarking of a murder victim to Dr De Bryn, ‘Cut off in the middle of finishing a crossword. I should take that hard’.

  14. Isn’t 23 down also a delightful a play on china?

    Cockney rhyming is China plate – Mate = Amigo….

    1. I don’t know about ‘also’ or a ‘play on’: it’s just the definition!

Comments are closed.