Sunday Times 5054 by David McLean – nine o’clock alarm call

Morning all. This was bound to happen at some point – I completely forgot that it was my turn this week. I will have something with you shortly. Apologies!

Here you go. I really enjoyed this puzzle. Witty, amusing, a bit quirky in the style of this setter. How about you?

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

1 Beast she and I mock for pining for the fjords?
HOMESICK – (SHE I MOCK)*. Nice – and original – anagram indicator.
5 Fruit tree finally eradicated by 1000 AD
PLUG – PLUm, G for ‘grand’.
8 Miss announcement in departures leaving Britain for month
OMIT – OBIT with M replacing B.
9 Hot gear can set free one in the closet
11 Judge fools around heading for solicitors
ASSESS – ASSE(Solicitors)S.
13 Series of local calls possibly ended by a blackout
PUB-CRAWL – CD. The second in a week, which is normally inadvisable.
14 One fed-up prisoner with problem about screws
CONSUMER – CON, SUM, reversal of RE.
16 Extremely sublime opening pitches shock producers
17 When to get a hold of large blue permits
19 Put friend last? Do you indeed!
ACTUALLY – ALLY (friend) put last after ACT (do), U.
21 They carry logs in ominous mists for Spooner
FIREDOGS – ‘dire fogs’.
22 A grim main course?
ASTERN – A, STERN. ‘Main’ as in the sea.
23 Met deride criminal taking on new firm
DETERMINED – (MET DERIDE)* containing N.
24 Conservative doctor saves old toothy type in shock
26 Instinct used in casinos effectively
NOSE – contained in ‘casinos effectively’.
27 A chief of police or regular day-tripper?
ACIDHEAD – A CID HEAD. A chief of police, then a regular one. I think. Nonsense. See comments.
1 Biblical figure who’ll show you a bit of leg
HAM – DD. HAM was begat by someone, and no doubt begat someone else.
2 S&M flipping entertains one of two old ladies
MOTHERS – reversal of SM containing OTHER.
3 Belts and hosiery
4 Cat sat by cold and appreciative house-sitter
CLAPPER – C, LAPPER. A slightly odd indication for LAPPER but this is undoubtedly how cats drink. Usually somewhere they’re not supposed to in my experience. The house here is a theatre of course.
6 Those Coke dispenser dispenses outside Arkansas city
LINARES – LIN(AR)ES. LINES here being a drug reference that I know some of our community will object to. Doesn’t bother me.
7 Be wry clowning around with larger kiwi singer
GREY WARBLER – (BE WRY, LARGER)*. Never heard of this bird but it was readily constructable.
10 What an individual on horse might have at home
HABITAT – HABIT, AT. Another drug reference, horse being heroin.
12 Pig on loose trampled over top of trimmed grass
STOOL PIGEON – (PIG ON LOOSE)* containing Trimmed.
15 Abrupt teacher group of students found in bad shape
18 I head Unity
ONENESS – ONE (I), NESS (head).
19 As behind, knock off after finishing off last of work
ARSENIC – ARSE, NICk. ‘Knock off’ means to burgle.
20 Section A?
ARTICLE – DD. A section in a newspaper.
22 More stuffed suffering a power outage
25 Angry noblewoman about to dump earl
MAD – reversal of DAMe.

27 comments on “Sunday Times 5054 by David McLean – nine o’clock alarm call”

  1. 44 minutes. Am I missing something at 1ac? What have fjords got to do with it?

    I’m not sure that the first definition at 20dn works.

    1. It’s a reference to the Monty Python Parrot Sketch (as is my blog title).
      I think I agree about 20dn. A section in a newspaper is a defined thing quite distinct from an article. On the other hand in a very general sense an article is a subdivision – and hence section – of a newspaper. Does the specific meaning override the general? I thought I’d let it slide, particularly as I was in a hurry!

  2. This took well over an hour, including a long time at the end before seeing that PUB CRAWL was a cryptic definition. The use of numbers in the wordplay and the AD capitalisation suggesting a time period for PLUG led me up the wrong path as well. Didn’t remember the Chilean city at 6d and was glad that ‘Arkansas’ wasn’t part of the def – Little Rock is about the only one I know. I had the same explanation for ‘pining for the fjords?’ at 1a as keriothe.

    Another sign of having done too many crosswords: the intended senses of ‘tripper?’ at 27a, ‘Coke’ at 6d and ‘horse’ at 10d all came to mind (too) quickly.

    Favourites were the MOTHERS being entertained by S&M and the economical ‘Section A?’, for which I saw ARTICLE as in eg an Article (=section) of the Constitution.

    Thanks to setter and keriothe

  3. DNF
    NHO LINARES; all I could think of was Benares, which wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Shouldn’t ‘regular’ be underlined?

    1. Ah yes, it should, thanks. I had the wrong end of the stick, which is what happens when you’re in a rush.

  4. I never finished because I had Benares at 6dn, thinking that the (obligatory with this setter it seems) drug reference was to benes, something of which I was unaware but research suggested existed. So the PLUM was beyond me. Can’t see the problem with section = article: in a wide sense an article is a section of a newspaper.

    1. So section = leader, review, arts, books, sport, small ads, politics etc etc ad infinitum? Any of these might be fine with some indication of a reference to newspapers in the clue, but otherwise it seems more than a bit of a stretch to me.

    2. I thought that ‘benes’ might be a variant of ‘bennies’–as in “I Took Three Bennies and My Semi Truck Won’t Start”–but I didn’t think that for long.

  5. 20D: I was puzzled by “article” when solving, but in the dictionaries:
    ODE: a separate clause or paragraph of a legal document or agreement
    Collins: as above with “section” rather than paragraph, and:
    a distinct part of a subject or action

  6. I don’t understand your comment about a “second [CD] in a week.” Though two PUB-CRAWLs in a week would probably be ill-advised, especially if they ended in a blackout.

    1. I meant the second PUB CRAWL in a week: the previous appearance was actually a few weeks ago but the blog appeared this week.

      1. Ah, of course!
        At karaoke one night, one of my friends who had just taken the mic said, “Give me eight bars so I’ll know where I am.” And I said, “After eight bars, I never know where I am!”
        (I think I’m going to draft my blog right away today…)

        1. I’m normally completely aware of when it’s my turn to blog, and I try to at least get a skeleton blog set up immediately on the Sunday of the puzzle. But I didn’t do that last Sunday and then I had a very busy week at work.

          1. I have a fortnight between my jumbos appearing and the blog being published. And I can tell you that it is not at all easy, doing a jumbo blog, 13 1/2 days after you solved the crossword …

  7. I find Mr McLean very steady and reliable: more than half of his clues will be entertaining and clever. The remainder will make you go “Really?” .. as per comments above. Personally, I find some of them definitions push the boundaries too far, but hey. Room for all sorts

  8. As usual on Sundays, I enjoyed this very much, although it did take an hour and a quarter to solve (the last quarter hour spent thinking about possible answers for 4 dn and trying to make them fit the wordplay, finally making the right choice and just barely avoiding a very similar one which was probably not suitable for the Times, anyway). I did eventually catch on to the wonderful tricks in many of the clues (LINARES, although I have never heard of this city, PLUG, HAM and HOMESICK, OMIT). No problems with ARTICLE, although it raised a yellow flag, if not a red one, at first. I’m not sure I like beast as an anagram indicator, though, but one could at least guess that that could be its function in the clue.

    1. ‘Beast’ isn’t in Chambers extensive list of anagram indicators but the dictionary defines it as a verb meaning to subject to extreme tests of stress (military slang), and I’d suggest that might cover it?

  9. Took far too long to twig 19dn. Then I realised that a chemical symbol was lurking as a preposition. Didn’t we have this deception only a few weeks ago?

    Just one thing puzzles me about this clue: why ‘of work’ ?

  10. I’m afraid this post is somewhat abbreviated as, having written my comments, I presses ‘Enter’ and was instantly transported to today’s 15 x 15 blog and I now don’t really have time to say much.

    My FOI was EMBALM and LOI was MAYHEM. I found it quite difficult to get going, but then picked up pace and finished successfully in 22 minutes – fast for me. After finishing I still had to go back to parse JET SET. This took me about 2 minutes, but I decided not to add it to my time.

    Mrs Random knocked it off in 14 minutes and wasn’t really held up anywhere. She is now back out in the garden – pricking out, potting on, dead-heading, digging up, re-planting, sowing seeds and so on.

    Many thanks to Trelawney and Kitty.

  11. Thanks David and keriothe
    Quite a challenging puzzle that took three sittings and around 70 minutes to complete – was pleased to work out all of the answers and the word play of all and only looking up references post solve to check on things like LINARES (and where it was) and the ‘pining for fjords’ phrase. Thought there were a couple of definitions that pushed the boundaries, such as ‘cat’ for LAPPER and ‘course’ for ASTERN. Was comfortable with ARTICLE for ‘section’ when I found the legal term.
    Finished in the NW corner with that CLAPPER, MOTHERS (haven’t heard the term ‘old lady’ for them for many years) and the tricky OMIT the last one in.

  12. Didn’t stand a chance with this one: illness has also stymied my brain function! Even relatively easy write-ins like 3d passed me by. Had to wait to come here to discover HAM (bit of leg? Haunch or flank maybe…), PLUG ( very clever deception in the 1000AD) and couldn’t get ‘fig’ out of my head, and the ‘As’ definition fooled me yet again.
    Tomorrow is another day, and one that may find me a tad sharper.

  13. Got ‘comb’ from ‘toothy type’ and the wordplay but what was the reason for ‘in shock’?

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