Sunday Times 5070 by Dean Mayer

DNF. I had no idea what was going on with 17ac and without any wordplay to speak of I was never going to get it. Frustrating because this term actually appeared in a daily puzzle a few weeks ago. I think on that occasion I must have just put the answer in by following the wordplay, because I obviously didn’t register the concept itself at all.

Other than that I found this pretty tricky and it took me nearly 20 minutes. I have one query at 27ac and the definition at 7dn seems iffy to me, so interested to hear what others think.

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

1 Donkey or train?
DOPE – DO PE, geddit?
3 Dies running after a small ball, like I said
9 Old setters and our boss
USED – US (crossword setters), ED (itor).
10 Ensure tax breaks to keep nothing outside
EXTRANEOUS – (ENSURE TAX)* containing O.
12 Kindle introduces reading support
STIRRUP – STIR(R) UP, or possibly STI(R)R UP. Reading is the only one of the three Rs that actually is.
13 Country house opened by drunk husband
LESOTHO – LE(SOT, H)O. House of the zodiac.
15 Workers can resume hours after a break
17 Where winds become draughts?
HORSE LATITUDES – just a play on ‘draught horse’ I think. The latitudes 30 degrees north and south of the equator, known for calm conditions. Apparently.
20 Riders notice old man’s hidden objective
22 Weirdly, no mice finally die of old age
23 Just escape one couple
25 Kind of party animal
26 Fixing things old pirate gained / lost?
HOOK AND EYE – I assume the HOOK is a reference to the Captain of that name in Peter Pan. I’m not sure about the eye: pirates stereotypically wear eye patches but I’m not aware of a specific historical or literary example.
27 Doctor going for knickers!
DRAT – DR, AT. I can’t work out how ‘going’, or possibly ‘going for’ equates to AT.
1 German book taken from introductory school
2 Investment in modern pub I’m converting
4 It cuts up rotten apple
SEX APPEAL – reversal of AXES, (APPLE)*. Sex appeal is sometimes shortened to SA in crosswords, although nobody has done this in the real world for approximately 65 years.
5 Countryside close to major river
6 Small way to allocate care
7 Metric used by those online
SEO – contained in ‘those online’. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which is not a ‘metric’ in any way that I’m aware of. You can treat the whole thing as the definition if you like here, which makes it a semi-&Lit.
8 “Unsee” oppressor
DESPOT – DE-SPOT, geddit?
11 Big artist pens lines with popular singer
FRANK SINATRA – F(RANKS, IN)AT, RA. RA = Royal Academician.
14 Person causing rage
16 Field of vision surgery, as I see it go
OPTOMETRY – OP, TO ME (as I see it), TRY. Nice definition.
18 Drug on board small craft
19 Bureaucrat beginning to worship god
WALLAH – Worship, ALLAH. This definition seems a bit precise: a WALLAH is just a person in charge of something.
21 Set sights on great holiday destination
24 Sentimentality is mostly fine

41 comments on “Sunday Times 5070 by Dean Mayer”

  1. I finished, but I didn’t get DO PE, just DOPE, wondering if there’s a definition matching “train” in Chambers!
    Had no problem with HORSE LATITUDES, which we had in one of these puzzles not that long ago, when the accuracy of the definition in the clue was discussed, and when I quoted the entirety of the poem/song by that title by Jim Morrison/The Doors. There are a few theories about the origin of the name.

    1. The puzzle appeared on a day when I had other concerns (a dying dog 😢) so I did it a day or two later and missed the discussion.

  2. Re DRAT: My mother was always at me about not making my bed. My mother was always going for me about not making my bed.

  3. Captain Hook gained a hook and lost an eye, did he not? I always imagine him with an eye patch but might be mistaken.
    Tough again from Dean, but most enjoyable. I was drifting in the doldrums for quite some time before entering the horse latitudes.

    1. Captain James Hook of Peter Pan fame lost his hand and replaced it with a hook. He never had to adopt the apparently common piratical accessory of an eyepatch.

    2. To be honest when solving I just assumed the same. It was only when writing up the blog that I actually checked, and it seems not. Long John Silver also seems to have been ocularly intact.

      1. I think ‘old pirate’ is generic rather than specific. Perhaps ‘old pirates’ would have made this clearer.

        1. It’s clearly specific in the case of HOOK but the eyepatch thing does seem to be generic.

          1. I saw it is an old pirate might gain a hook and lose an eye. The allusion to Captain Hook is therefore a pleasant distraction!

          2. I’m not sure it has to refer to that literary character at all. Seems just as stereotypical for a pirate to have a hook as an eyepatch—or, for that matter, a peg leg. Any seaman’s life would have been fraught with peril, and when you add into the mix rum-fueled fights over ill-gotten booty…

            1. Yes – I just found that you can find some (less famous) fictional pirates by googling for “Captain Eyepatch”.

            2. I would argue that the hook is very much associated with, er, Hook and the peg leg with LJS, but it doesn’t really matter.

  4. 1hr 54m 30s. Very hard. The judges and timekeepers had all gone home by the time I staggered back into the stadium.
    I had to use aids to finish the puzzle with my LOI being HOOK AND EYE. I’m familiar with that type of fastening but I had never heard the term before; but now I’ve read keriothe’s and Guy’s comments about Capt. Hook’s lack of a patch, I’m not sure about EYE.
    Other clues I had queries/comments on:
    27ac: DRAT. Thanks to curryowen I can now see ‘at’.
    17ac: HORSE LATITUDES. I think keriothe has it right.
    7d: SEO was a NHO.
    19d: WALLAH. I know the terms ‘dhobi wallah’ for a person doing the laundry/ironing, and punkah wallah, a term I remember from “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum”, but I’ve never associated the term WALLAH with bureaucracy.
    2d: PREMIUM BOND. That clue grated with me. Because my UK bank, Barclays, is closing my account because I no longer have a UK address, I’m in the process of cashing in my Premium Bonds because NS&I will only pay into a UK account. My parents bought me my first PBs in 1957. That, apart from a handful of friends and a long-lost cousin will sever my last connection with Britain….unless you count my Times subscription.
    That said, I enjoyed SEX APPEAL, DESPOT and TRENDSETTER.
    Thank you, keriothe.
    PS….A bit late but you have my genuine sympathies over the loss of your dog, keriothe. One of our Miniature Poodles expired in front of us, and quite unexpectedly, on the vet’s table a few years ago, so I can really feel for you.

  5. Just over an hour and a half. Enjoyable and hard in about equal measure. I’d NHO HORSE LATITUDES until it appeared a few weeks ago. I didn’t know SEO either and only got as far as guessing it was internet related. I couldn’t parse HOOK AND EYE, for which I had ‘Fixing things’ (as a noun) as the def. If the ‘old pirate’ is not generic, since Captain HOOK didn’t lose an EYE, I wonder if the ‘gained / lost?’ bit has something to do with the “an eye for an eye, a …” phrase.

    Thanks to keriothe (sorry to hear about your dog) and to Dean

  6. Too tricky to be enjoyable for me. It’s never a good sign when I am left wondering about so many things even having arrived at (or looked up) the correct answers.

  7. I think 7dn metric refers to the fact that SEO is used as a measure of relative performance of search engines. There is a Google site that discusses tools for improving SEO. Another example is

    Like others I found this quite hard with 7, 17 and 26 being the most troubling.

  8. Loved this crossword! I spent a good half-hour getting nowhere, not a single answer, and then 25ac STAG and 18d SLEIGHT came. And then, the key, I remembered how bloomin’ sneaky Dean is! Reappraised 14d and got TRENDSETTER, and it opened the door. Steady progress through to the finish line, with a LOI of 9ac USED. It may have taken me about 90 minutes overall, but ooh, the satisfaction! Thanks to Dean and to my weekly tutors.

  9. Knew HORSE LATITUDES but I did not think that the clue was Dean’s best. NHO SEO but it was obvious. I agree with Nigel F-H that ‘old pirates’ would have made it clearer that the pirate was generic, and that hooks and eyes were things that they might gain or lose. I also did not get why WALLAH was a bureaucrat, as keriothe says. Still enjoyed the crossword as I always do with Dean.

  10. What Sawbill says, basically; though the eyepatch didn’t bother me, having no clue either way about Capt. Hook.
    Had heard of horse latitudes but the clue seemed a little bit too vague, to me.
    Still one of my favourite setters, though 🙂

  11. Re Wallah I have this from Wiktionary:
    competition wallah (plural competition wallahs)
    (India, historical, colloquial) A member of the civil service who obtained an appointment by the competitive system instituted in 1856.
    Synonyms: competitioner, wallah
    So my guess is that Dean was aware of that.
    Pretty tricky I would say, but I got through it with a little help from cheating.

    1. Sorry, I missed the query about WALLAH or I would have posted this earlier from SOED:

      3 Any functionary doing a routine administrative job; a civil servant, a bureaucrat. colloq. M20.

      It seems to have been used in the days of the Raj for any servant carrying out a specific task (hence punkah-wallah) so it translates nicely to bureaucrats as civil servants.

      1. Oh, I am surprised OED says “mid 20th” for the date when Wiktionary is very specific about 1856. I imagine the soubriquet came shortly after the competition started? So M19?
        On edit; I meant to say SOED not OED.
        I am a bit confused about the ordering of ANSWERS, any hints anyone?

        1. I don’t think the use of “wallah” for someone like a civil servant is certain to belong to the same time as the beginning of the exams involved in “competition wallah”. I can remember a late 1970s schoolteacher using “library wallah” to describe a student who did some work in tge school library. Not that close to a civil servant, but neither was anyone else at the school.

          1. Well wiktionary, and I guess Mirriam Webster, have only Competition Wallah as the def of competitioner, so I am inclined to think that the date should be M19. OK, I am no expert, and it doesn’t matter anyway.
            I left school in 1967 (I think) so never heard of library wallah, but I def knew of punkah-wallahs.
            ON EDIT: Below keriothe I think is suggesting he doesn’t have access to wiktionary. Obv we all do. I might be confused here with the rather odd way that answers get sequenced.

            1. The answers are in order. He is referring to the SEOD, to which Jackkt referred.

      2. Thanks, as always a dictionary I don’t have access to. I ought to buy a copy, it would save you time!

        1. It’s not readily accessible unfortunately – expensive and bulky. Mine came free as an introductory offer when I subscribed to the Folio Society for a while. It included a CD Rom copy that I have loaded to my PC.

          1. The full OED has a similar definition marked as chiefly Australian and New Zealand:
            ‘An official or functionary, esp. in an administration, government, or bureaucracy. Frequently with dismissive or disparaging overtones.’

  12. 43.12

    Maybe not such a bad effort looking at how tough others found this.

    I thought the HORSE LATITUDES clue was going to be a cracking cryptic but it was a bit of a damp squid really. Only got because of its recent appearance and only then with a number of checkers.

    Does the auction house help with the “at” “going for” thing? “The [insert objet d’art”] is at/going for £1M”

    No idea what was going on with DOPE but like it now I know. Also liked AIMED

    Thanks Dean and Keriothe

  13. 1:05, so hard, but I did finish, with HORSE LATITUDES, SEO, and TRENDSETTER my LOIs. HORSE LATITUDES started out as HOUSE L?T?T???s, which got me nowhere until I had the crossing word with the D.

  14. I had forgotten to do this last week, just did it now and obviously can be pleased with 26 minutes. Don‘t think I‘d have been so fast if horse latitudes hadn‘t been fresh in my mind though! Thanks for explaining dope. Cod trendsetter. Now for todays!

    1. Ha! Was surprised to see your comment today, as I have also just finished it, having been away last week! Yes, I did finish, with Mr Ego’s help, and after declaring defeat multiple times. Thank goodness for the recently-encountered HORSE LATITUDES which I would never have got otherwise.

  15. Several ‘look-up’s’ helped me to the finish, but I expect that on a Sunday. My recent exposure to HORSE LATITUDES didn’t stick, where I was working on something to do with checkers (draughts); even though I eventually hit upon……/LATITUDES I still didn’t remember it! Found the short answers the most tricky (DOPE, DRAT, USED) as too punny for me. NHO WALLAH as a beaurocrat, nor SEO as anything, but really enjoyed HOOK AND EYE, PREMIUM BOND (still have an old £1 one dating back to around 1957 – so pretty useless now) and SEX APPEAL (which it doesn’t).

  16. Thanks Dean and keriothe
    Late to this one -finished it on Saturday but only got around to correcting and checking it today. Found it pretty tough going and taking a little over the hour and a half with distractions to get it out. Missed the parsing of DOPE and half heartedly referred to Captain HOOK at 26a. New terms with SEO (although have probably seen it in hindsight), WALLAH and HORSE LATITUDES (obviously haven’t got up to that daily Times Cryptic one yet).
    Came across the use of AT in one of the dictionaries – ‘it’s selling at (going for) four quid’. Finished with that DRAT then up to the NW with DEUTSCH and that DOPE as the last one in.

Comments are closed.