Sunday Times 5084 by David McLean – not so bad

15:22. I found this puzzle enjoyably tricky. There are a couple of rather modern references in here (1dn, 5dn) which I know isn’t to everyone’s taste but I really like it when these puzzles reflect the evolution of the language.

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

1 A possibly essential cut by minister
5 Small peninsula in big bit of Russia
9 Horse or badger
10 Range of trains a chap redesigned
11 For one, seven men abort urinal trips
13 Make fast cash around hardware store
TOOLROOM – reversal of MOOR, LOOT.
15 Deliver dog-eared veg up north
TATTIE – sounds like ‘tatty’.
17 Nervy individual with 500K note
ON EDGE – ONE, D (500) G (1,000, K), E (note).
18 Places surfers go in mesh spectacles, I’m told
WEBSITES – WEB, homophone of ‘sights’ (spectacles).
20 Dreams of properties on the Costa del Sol?
CASTLES IN SPAIN – definition and barely cryptic hint.
23 Give thanks for a Conservative awareness
24 King, perhaps English, rebuffed decline
EBB – reversal of BB (referring to the blues guitarist BB King), E.
25 Expect Spooner’s irritated with charge
FORESEE – spoonerism of ‘sore fee’.
26 Prize plant dry, getting hose finally
1 V and X? Not G and RESPECT!
VENERATION – V, gENERATION. Generation X (the coolest generation) being one of a number, hence the question mark to indicate a definition by example.
2 When high, I often get my wires crossed
TIGHTROPE WALKER – CD. The use of ‘getting’ is a bit odd here since it is the TIGHTROPE WALKER him/herself who crosses the wires.
3 Extremely small comic rocked shows
MICRO(COMIC)*. This quite obviously isn’t an anagram of COMIC! It’s contained in ‘comic rocked’. Thank you to kapietro for pointing out my idiocy.
4 Telltale sailor managed to upset men
NARRATOR – reversal of TAR, RAN, then OR (men). This is a clue without a straight definition, since ‘telltale’ does not mean NARRATOR. So we have a cryptic definition and some wordplay. It’s unusual but there’s nothing wrong with it.
5 Obsessed fan drinking one Sol slurs
STAINS – STA(I)N, S. The word ‘stan’ meaning an obsessed fan comes from the Eminem song of that name. A very modern word, which I always like to see. S is an abbreviation for ‘sol’, a musical term which is equivalent to ‘soh’. Edit: WRONG! See comments below: ‘sol’ here is the currency of Peru.
6 Is hob mean to mess around hipsters?
7 A teenage starlet cast for Broadway job
REAL-ESTATE AGENT – (A TEENAGE STARLET)*. ‘Broadway’ because this is the US term for what we Brits call an estate agent.
8 Mirror son breaks in part of church
12 Rational grounds to get fit
14 Just hit rogues in need of correction
16 What’s left over after taking a note?
19 Gallons consumed by upset mathematician to get fix again
REGLUE – reversal of EULER containing G.
21 Flight path?
22 Army chaplain saves a large beast
CALF – C(AL)F. CF stands for ‘chaplain to the forces’, which was news to me.

76 comments on “Sunday Times 5084 by David McLean – not so bad”

  1. This took me forever; I can’t remember why. I biffed STAINS & TATTIE: NHO ‘stan’ (never to my knowledge heard an Eminem song), and DNK the ‘tatty’ meaning of ‘dog-eared’ (I only knew it as the folding of a page). Didn’t get the BB of EBB, and DNK CF. No problem with TIGHTROPE WALKER; ‘get my wires crossed’ is a causative like ‘get my homework done’, and it makes for a better surface here than ‘cross my wires’ would.
    Speaking of surfaces, what does 1d mean? Iget the wordplay and all, but what does it mean?

  2. “‘Broadway’ because this is the US term for what we Brits call an estate agent.”
    Where do you find that? Never heard it. It’s not in Merriam-Webster, either—not to mention Collins or

    This one was on the tougher side, for sure.
    (But I haven’t yet finished this week’s, though I’ve worked three other puzzles during breaks… ONLINE!)

      1. Oh, you just say “estate agent” instead? Wouldn’t that invite confusion… with cars, or what you leave when you die?

          1. Ha ha! Of course not. I was being facetious (especially in reference to the automobiles). I was making a jocular excuse for my own prior confusion.

          1. I find it very odd that the Americans having (with difficulty) expelled the monarchist Brits they retain Real (meaning Royal) for Estates. In UK in theory King Charles owns the whole country and graciously allows us to use bits of it on terms agreed between we plebs.

            1. I can’t find any evidence that this is the origin of ‘real estate’. OED makes no mention of it and defines it as ‘relating to immovable property’ under the same broad heading as ‘that actually exists’, rather than under the separate entry for the archaic ‘royal’ meaning.

  3. I seem to have discarded my copy of this puzzle and I don’t remember anything about it other than being stumped by STAINS. I NHO STAN, nor Eminem for that matter, and I can’t recall ever seeing single-letter abbreviations for the notes of tonic sol-fa in Times crosswords before so I assume they are out of bounds in the dailies where there is allegedly a restricted list of those that are permitted.

    1. Mm, well, this isn’t notes of a scale, Do, Re, Mi, etc., but the names of the notes on a staff.
      It’s occurred in dailies before. Fairly recently, in Times 28623, the 7th of the June just past (blogged by Pip).
        10 Style of note female swapped with Charlie (5)
        ECLAT – E FLAT being a musical note, replace F by C.

      1. How does this help? The clue says ‘Sol’ (capitalized I suppose to suggest the sun god or Solomon), and we’re to take that as indicating S. The only sol I see abbreviated S is the Peruvian currency.
        What, incidentally, does “Obsessed fan drinking one Sol slurs” mean? Did Sol bad-mouth some beverage?

          1. The currency was meant. Collins has quite a few currency name abbreviations, probably most unusable deceptively as the full name doesn’t mean anything else.

            1. I assumed the musical note because that’s the one that’s in Collins. The currency isn’t, neither is it in the other usual sources (even Chambers!)
              Correction: ah, I see it is in Collins after all. When you click on ‘sol’ in the definition of s in the online edition it takes you to the musical note, so that’s what I assumed. But I see now (I didn’t notice the first time) that it’s actually listed under ‘currency’.

              1. Odd. My experience with Collins was the exact opposite. At first I thought the reference was to the note, but on closer inspection…

      2. We’re probably at cross purposes as I don’t understand this. The example quoted has the musical note E (flat) and it’s perfectly common for notes on the staff A-G to be used as single-letter abbreviations, so I wouldn’t question that for one moment. But I don’t recall ever seeing Do, Re, Mi etc and their alternative spellings (which would include ‘sol’) abbreviated to a single letter prior to this puzzle. Having looked it up, s = sol is in Collins and probably elsewhere, so I am not disputing its validity, only saying I haven’t seen it before in a Times /ST puzzle.

        Sawbill is correct about Sol referring to the Mexican beer brand in the surface reading, which accounts for the capital letter.

        1. I didn’t even connect “Sol” in this clue with the musical note, so jumped the track and was thinking about the other clue (17) that refers to a musical note.

  4. 59m 31s
    22d I had never heard of CF so I’ve learnt something new from solving this puzzle.
    The same applies to 5d STAINS. I have never knowingly listened to an Eminem record but the word STAINS reminds me of an old ‘Round the Horne/Beyond our Ken’ joke
    “Horne: Now here’s Daphne Whitethigh with some handy household hints”:
    “DW: How to get rid of ugly Stain(e)s”
    “Horne: First, blow up the bridge…”

    1. I’d never heard of CF either, come to think of it.
      Apparently, UK chaplains have commonly been called “padre.”

      1. I’ve always thought in terms of ‘padre’ as well. Tom Jones had a hit in the 60s (?) with “The Green Green Grass of Home” which mentions a “sad old padre”.

        1. Porter Wagoner had a hit with it first, on the C&W charts, and Jerry Lee Lewis did it too before the Welshman. It seems not everyone realizes that it’s a very sad song. I once heard the father of the vexatious conservative Democratic senator from my home state of West Virginia (coal baron Joe Manchin), W.Va. Secretary of State James Manchin, bedecked in his usual finery, drunkenly warble that song outside the high school gym in my little home town.

          I’ve always used “padre” in the punch line of the joke that has Henry Kissinger, a priest and a hippie as the last people on a plane with only two parachutes left after the pilot dies. Kissinger speechifies that he is the most important person on the planet and if he doesn’t survive, the world won’t survive and that by rights he should have a parachute and—“Geronimo!”—he’s outta there. And the priest starts waxing philosophical, like, “I’ve had a long life and can go to God secure in my faith.” “Don’t sweat it, padre,” says the hippie. “The smartest man in the world just jumped out of the plane with my backpack.”

          1. Very good! Ah, Henry Kissinger! An interesting subject! I would imagine you might well have read “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” by Christopher Hitchens.

          2. I’ve heard it with Dubya instead of Kissinger, I forget who the other two are. But there should be 2 parachutes for the 3 of them: W/K takes a backpack, leaving the 2 parachutes for the 2 other people.

            1. You wrote that, evidently, before I corrected it, five minutes after first posting. You’re fast!

            2. I first heard it in the early 1980s, well before the reign of W. It’s hard for me to imagine Dubya stating such an overweening opinion of his own intelligence (he was an idiot, yes, but at least seems to have had an inkling of that himself), while it certainly matches Kissinger’s self-appraisal.

  5. The usual mix of the inventive, fun and irritation from Mr McLean. No problem with 1dn but a weird surface, one of several. Less keen on 5dn .. does STAINS = slurs?

    1. Well it didn’t occur to me or I might have stood a chance of solving the clue despite the obscurity of the wordplay, but slur and stain are both black marks on one’s character or reputation.

      1. Interesting use of the word ‘obscure’ – more often applied to dated or specialist language, here applied to a bit of modern slang!

        1. There’s no reason I can see why modern slang shouldn’t be described as obscure, especially in a Sunday Times crossword when it appears for the very first time. And the fact there has been so much discussion about s = sol suggests that part of the wordplay is pretty obscure too.

  6. I was hoping for some respite after a savage workout with Mephisto but it was not to be. I didn’t get the king reference in 24a nor Eminem in 5d – those had to be biffed. However are you sure about s as an abbreviation for sol in music? I nor any of my musician friends have ever encountered that. My interpretation is that SOL=SUN for which S is an acceptable abbreviation (according to Chambers).

    1. I am sure because I looked it up in Collins! It was new to me too. But S is actually referring to the currency.

  7. Since a few of you have mentioned it, you don’t need to know anything about Eminem to know what the word ‘stan’ means. It’s just a quite modern slang word meaning ‘fan’: where it comes from is no more or less relevant than the etymology of any other word. I’m sure a lot of people use it without knowing its origin.

    1. I felt STAN was obscure. Wiktionary suggests it might be from “stalker & fan”, or just that it rhymes.
      I have heard of Eminem but never knowingly listened to anything by them, so stan would always have passed me by. I suppose the S for Sol works whatever Sol means but it is pretty obscure. I’ve been to Peru so must have spent some Sols but of course have forgotten about them.
      ON EDIT – I hear that Eminem do rap, so if they ever came on the radio I would have hit the OFF button PDQ.

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree but I regard these modern terms as a nice counter-balance to the stuff I find obscure, like Latin terms or books of the bible. The important thing is that you can get the answer by another route, which I think you just about can here, although ‘slurs’ for STAINS is a little oblique.

  8. Another tricky offering from Mr McLean, and on my first half-hour at it things didn’t look promising completion-wise. But, slept on it to come back at it refreshed and reinvigorated and, ta-da, whadayaknow, it’s done! I had q.marks at 5d – know of Eminem but never paid attention – and 19d – maths, same – but otherwise made sense of it all. Chuffed, actually. Just don’t ask how long it took. Thanks, all.

  9. I managed to do this in 18 minutes not having much idea of what was going on in the two “rather modern references” but putting the answers in anyway. I must be many, many letters up the alphabet generation wise, though I don’t remember how we got as far as X and Z. As for STAN, I don’t recall Laurel being an obsessive fan of Hardy, but that’s probably closer to my cultural frame of reference. Enlightened on Discord, I actually listened to Eminem’s Stan and faced up to my usual trouble: even with subtitles, it’s hard to appreciate rap.

    1. I don’t find it hard at all! I listened to Paul’s Boutique on my way home in the car yesterday, an album I suspect you would find even harder to appreciate than Eminem, of whom I’m not a particular stan.

  10. I’ve heard the Eminem track many times but never retained the name Stan, despite that being its title. The more interesting part of the lyrics for me is the reference to the urban legend about In the Air Tonight,

    Fully NHOs were 10ac and 20ac.

    Thanks for the blog keriothe, I agree about the coolest generation.

  11. I never did this so can’t comment on it, but reading what people have said prompts me to raise a question: how do the lexicographers know when a word has become mainstream enough to be part of the language? My initial thought after reading the blog was that the word ‘stan’ just appeared in an Eminem song, and that didn’t seem to me to be enough for it to become an accepted word, but now we are told that it’s a quite modern slang word. I’ve never heard it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t mainstream enough.

    1. The short answer is that I don’t know, but I assume it’s a mixture of judgement and some sort of quantitative analysis of how much words are used. It’s clearly not something that you can ‘know’.
      There’s no doubt in my mind that ‘stan’ qualifies: it’s a pretty common word. However it’s obviously a fairly recent coinage (the song was released in 2000) and used more or less exclusively by young people, which explains why most people here haven’t heard of it!

      1. I note that ‘stan’ with this meaning is listed in Collins online but not in my printed copy which suggests to me that it’s a recent addition, perhaps appearing for the first time in the new edition of Collins English Dictionary published in August this year.

        The only useful thing to come out of this is that I have discovered my printed edition is now out of date, not that I shall be forking out £35+ to replace it.

        1. Yes I expect that’s right. Given when the song was released it’s clear that the word is – comparatively speaking – very new. Interestingly the OED has a couple of citations from 2000 and 2001 with a capital S, suggesting that they are a conscious reference to the character in the song. The next citations are from 2013 and 2017 and not capitalised, suggesting that by then it was being used without such a reference.
          I have an old printed edition of Collins too but I can’t see the point of buying a new one when it’s available free online!

          1. Very interesting about the OED citations.
            I had seen “stan” being used on Twitter increasingly over recent years (as verb and noun), and had gradually learnt by context what it meant.
            Just a few weeks ago I finally decided to look it up, but it hadn’t occurred to me to use a “proper” dictionary!
            I used the “Urban Dictionary” website (as I tend to do in those situations) – and although I knew the Eminem song, I’d never made the connection, until I read about it there.
            Looking again at Urban Dictionary, where users submit example sentences that they have created, I see that the change from capital to small “s” matches the dates in the OED.

  12. Some formidable discussions here today. For something different, how about some trivial nitpicking? I can’t believe no-one’s commented on this yet. Here goes.

    Hiddens can be surprisingly hard to see. Sometimes even the Blogger misses one. So. 3dn. MICRO is hidden in coMIC ROcked. It is not an anagram (rocked) of comic.

    Or are you just winding us up

  13. Out of interest, I’ve always known OR is used for men, but not why; is it in the sense of Other Ranks?

  14. 26.27

    Good point that about MICRO. I missed the non existent anagram plus the hidden and bunged it in from the checkers.

    Struggled to get going on this but once the long ones started falling it all came together.

    Liked both 1a and 1d

    Never heard of stan but also like to see new words and modern references.

    Thanks Keriothe as always and DM

  15. Surprised I finished this almost right (one mistake: misinterpreting “deliver dog-eared” I put in TATTLE instead of TATTIE, which I would probably have spelt wrong anyway). It took nearly an hour but it was indeed lots of fun, once I had figured out all of the subtleties.

  16. I flew through this one (for me), but seems I had an advantage in being the only one who spent a year of my life listening to Eminem’s ‘Marshall Mathers LP’ on repeat. Good to see that’s finally been useful…

  17. I found the Crossword somewhat irritating, but the above commentary fascinating. I did manage to parse both 1D and STAINS in the end (my LOI), but only from the name of the fan in the song. I hadn’t realised it had acquired an independent slang usage, so thought it very odd. I’m not a fan of rap generally, but I did think that was a terrific song, not least because of the contribution Dido made of the chorus.

  18. ‘I really like it when these puzzles reflect the evolution of the language.’

    Well, as long as the dictionary isn’t ‘wrong’…

  19. I very much enjoy seeing new language like STAN making an appearance (if it’s in the dictionary, of course).
    I just hope that having the obscure Sol=S in the same clue doesn’t put too many off the concept.

    It’s interesting having a currency abbreviated to S. It would seem to be risking a lot of confusion with 5. I see that in practice, the Peruvians wisely use the forward slash alongside the S.

    A billboard advertising some tech at “S/. 399”.
    A printed Lima restaurant receipt for “S/ 207.00”.

    1. Thank you for reminding me of that. I was in Peru only about 7 years ago and yet, above, implied it was an NHO but the slash brings it all back.

  20. DNF, guessed but didn’t put in SWAINS for 5d. Always turn off rap music, not a user of social media (except here if this counts) so wouldn’t have met Stan/stan. Can’t justify SWAINS anyway.
    My daughter tells me which “gen” she is in but I find it easy to confuse them, and wouldn’t dream of “accusing” anyone of being Gen X or Y or whatever. Managed to solve 1d though, VENERATION. Well done me. Not.
    22d guessed but didn’t complete CALF. Astonished by CF=Chaplain to the Forces. I decided to cheat (obvs) but could find no trace of it in the usual sources. Maybe I am not using Dr Google optimally. Padre let me down by being irrelevant and my only inspiration.

    1. For future reference the best single dictionary source for these puzzles is Collins, which is free online and has CF. Peter Biddlecombe (editor) has said in the past that he won’t generally accept abbreviations unless they are in one of a small number of sources, of which Collins is one. The others (if I remember rightly) are ODE and perhaps the concise Oxford, neither of which is freely available online.

  21. Thanks David and keriothe
    Was able to get this completed in just over the hour and parsed somewhat later, apart from the S abbreviation for the Peruvian sol. A few of the other ones could only be parsed with the help of references – the CF of 22d (actually was trying for ages to make WOLF work until the A crosser finally put that out of its misery), the correct ‘flight’ for the STEPS and STAN (did vaguely remember the term after finding it in the dictionary). Enjoyed the pdm with VENERATION, twigging to the type of ‘surfers’ at 19a and finally seeing the hidden MICRO at 3d.
    Finished with TOOL ROOM (neat definition), RATIONAL NUMBER (another clever definition) and that STAINS as the last one in.

  22. I too had a lot of trouble with STAINS (never having heard of Stan, nor ever willingly listening to Rap), so that was expected. Also NHO CF for the chaplain; was convinced the army chaplain was padre (as in Mash) – so got no further with that. Anything to do with numbers usually defeats me, but the anagrist for 11a was clear enough to work out the answer. Stymied by TOOLROOM – an expression for workshop I’ve never encountered (but obvious enough), but never heard of CASTLES IN SPAIN being synonymous with dreams – thought the expression was “castles in the air”? So all in all not a huge success, but those I did get we worth the entry fee, especially VENERATION, NARRATOR and WEBSITES.

    1. It’s an abbreviation for ‘other ranks’, soldiers or men. Remember it – it’s a very commonly-used abbreviation!

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