Sunday Times 5102 by David McLean

16:55. I found this quite tricky, in a good way. A very enjoyable challenge.

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

1 Tory party close to over … discuss
CONSIDER – CON, SIDE (party), oveR.
6 Crowd upset about a conflict at sea?
COD WAR – (CROWD)* containing A.
9 Banker right to pursue creative work
10 Rotten type of joke and grand type of chair
PUNK ROCKER – PUN (joke), K (grand), ROCKER (type of chair). A reference to John Lydon, aka Jonny Rotten, formerly a member of the Sex Pistols, these days seen complaining about immigrants from his home in California.
11 Life in Spa is extremely routine
12 A little cut by top of pot-bellied stomach
APPETITE – A, P(Potbellied)ETITE.
14 Traveller ultimately with problem getting lift?
HITCHHIKER – HITCH (problem), HIKE (lift), travelleR.
16 Wilted lettuce starter and Sprite
LIMP – Lettuce, IMP.
18 Excellent way to open drink
ASTI – A(ST)I. Slightly odd backwards wordplay here, as ST (way) ‘opens’ AI (excellent).
19 Having a hairpiece on head takes fortitude
RUGGEDNESS – RUGGED (having a hairpiece), NESS (head).
21 Really active
23 Beastly type of agent is great, Spooner says
RED FOX – spoonerism of ‘fed rocks’. The ‘agent’ here is an FBI one.
25 That men act foolishly is fitting
27 Composition mariachi penned
ARIA – contained in ‘mariachi’
28 Stuff matters in life
THINGS – triple definition. Each is specifically given in Collins here
29 Rogue stern dad grounded?
2 Send out for Whoppers for NHS staff
3 Country shows about to screen 3rd of May
SYRIA – reversal of AIRS containing maY.
4 Can you see underwater?
DEPTH CHARGE – CD. I didn’t understand this clue at all and just entered it from the checkers and a vague association with water. It turns out the ‘can’ is specifically a word for a DEPTH CHARGE.
5 Rifle and artillery fire around noon
RANSACK – RA (Royal Artillery) SACK containing N.
6 My heart wants love ultimately
COR – remove lovE from CORE.
7 Group of events the old can put off
8 Republican fills in a permit with it
13 A favourite informant or criminal
PERPETRATOR – PER (a), PET (favourite), RAT (informant), OR.
15 Nice if hat fits head
17 Russian movies cut in a distorted way
20 Paint wall at rear in fancy yellow
GUTLESS – GU(painT walL)ESS.
22 Northern character one sent off of course
24 Diameter on shower tap
DRAIN – D (diameter), RAIN.
26 Hard like bears
HAS – H, AS.

16 comments on “Sunday Times 5102 by David McLean”

  1. Was quite baffled by DEPTH CHARGE, but didn’t investigate. Left that to you!
    I remember this taking longer than I would’ve liked, that night. Impressive, though.
    A “Fed” can be any kind of federal agent—say, one representing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (the standard initialization, ATF, drops the bombs).

    1. I guess that’s technically correct but in the movies it’s invariably the FBI, arriving just in time to turn off the grid and inadvertently allow the bad guys to get into the safe.

      1. Ah, well, but the clue doesn’t reference the movies. I find your assumption unwarranted.
        The New York Times, at least, deploys the term quite widely…
        “Should the Feds Guarantee You a Job?” (Feb. 18, 2021)
        “Only the Feds Could Disqualify Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene” (April 20, 2022)
        “The Feds’ Best-Value Schools” (Feb. 6, 2016)
        “The Feds’ Drug Policy Has Failed; Help the States” (February 12, 2014)
        From “How Bad Was the Silicon Valley Bank Bailout?”: “So the feds stepped in to protect all deposits at Silicon Valley Bank, even though the law says that deposits only up to $250,000 are insured and even though there was a pretty good case that allowing big depositors to take a haircut wouldn’t have created a systemic crisis.” (March 14, 2023)
        “To Stop Bad Prosecutors, Call the Feds” (June 6, 2016)
        “The Feds in My Head” (May 25, 2006): “Scarsdale, N.Y. – I FOUND the federal agent in the living room, listening to the phone messages. When I asked how he hacked my PIN, he laughed. He said not to worry about what specific agency he worked for, because everything was all very fluid now.”

        1. According to Collins, in British English it’s a US slang term meaning ‘an agent of the FBI’, but in American English it’s ‘a US federal agent or officer’. Go figure!

          1. Collins also has “British slang (usually plural) | a police officer.”
            I saw there, also, “The feds are federal agents, for example of the American security agency, the FBI, or of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms | [US informal]”—but that is a COBUILD entry.
   has both “a federal official or law-enforcement officer” and another listing where it’s just an FBI agent.

  2. 26:58
    Rather easy for one of Harry’s, except DEPTH CHARGE; like Guy, I gave up and waited for K to explain.

  3. 44 minutes. Looked twice at ‘tap / DRAIN’ because my first thought was of a bath or sink where a tap fills and the drain drains, but eventually I got my head round it.

    I didn’t know ‘can’ as official slang for DEPTH CHARGE but I’ve seen enough footage in old war films etc showing them being launched and they looked like oil cans, so it seemed a reasonable assumption.

  4. Completed with no errors even seeing the ‘Spoonerism’ but with RANSACK BIFD meaning to return to later. I’m sure if I had I would have seen the parsing before reading the blog.

    Smiley face against PERPETRATOR which I built as I read the clue.

  5. Steady if unspeedy progress saw this one complete in my usual hour. I’ve not written any comments bar a question mark at 12ac which I couldn’t parse – yet it’s so simple! – and an exclam of admiration at 4d DEPTH CHARGE. Neat! Thanks, all.

  6. I found this fairly straightforward. Perhaps I’m at last getting the measure of D. McLean. No unknowns except the appearance of the depth charges – I’ve never seen one, but could readily believe they looked like tin cans. The spoonerism made me smile – I liked the mental image of the Rev Spooner using dated 20thC slang, although it wasn’t as brilliant as yesterday’s ‘ballcocks’. HITCHHIKER was a clever & lit, but COD to PUNK ROCKER, which was a great PDM.

  7. The only one I didn’t understand was PUNK ROCKER. It was K = Grand, which I hadn’t twigged. I assume here that k=kilo=1000=grand

    1. I think it’s more direct than that: when talking about money ‘fifty k’ = ‘fifty grand’.

  8. Not a hope for me! (Too distracted by other concerns…?). Anyway, having cheated on several, I then proceeded to “fill in the gaps”: not a rewarding process! My tally was 12/29, so a definite fail, but hey! Tomorrow is another day – so they tell me. (Don’t know if 4d is entirely fair?)

  9. Thanks David and keriothe
    Found this on the easier side for this setter, taking just over the half hour with no real holdups nor new terms. Did mess up the parsing of the last bit of HITCHHIKER though through carelessness. Liked the cleverly succinct clues such as for HAS, the DEPTH CHARGE (did have to double check that definition of ‘can’) and the neat triple definition for THINGS.
    Finished down the bottom with Spooner’s RED FOX, that THINGS and STRANDED as the last one in.


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