Sunday Times 5108 by David McLean – any given Sunday

9:06. I had no problems with this fun puzzle. How did you get on?

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

1 Solitude-seeker shedding old clothes
GARB – GARBo. Greta Garbo famously said ‘I want to be alone’ in the movie Grand Hotel (1932). I say famously, but I didn’t know this and had never heard of the movie. It wasn’t a stretch to assume something of the kind.
4 Submarine controlled by steward leaving island
UNDERWATER – UNDER (controlled by), WAiTER.
9 I’m a spy ranting about bug
10 Material from entry-level crossword
VELCRO – contained in ‘entry-level crossword’. There’s a rule in Times crosswords whereby in a containment clue like this you aren’t allowed extraneous words, but a hyphenated word counts as one. So ‘entry-level crossword’ is OK but ‘entry level crossword’ is – like five – right out.
11 One tracks bird around about lake
TITICACA – slightly tricky wordplay: I (one) comes after (tracks) TIT (bird), then CA (around), CA (about). TITICACA is an interesting lake, I suggest you google it.
12 I patronise general receiving award
CUSTOMER – CUST(OM)ER. I read on Wikipedia that two of Custer’s brothers, his nephew and brother-in-law were also killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
14 European’s concerning time in prison
15 Pretty pixie captivates ghoul ultimately
17 Civilized leader had bloody class
CATEGORY – Civilised, ATE (had), GORY.
19 Former pupil caught breaking old fence?
OBSTACLE – OB (old boy), STA(C)LE. Definition by example indicated by the question mark.
21 Coat belonging to Afghan or a Kazakh
ANORAK – contained in ‘Afghan or a Kazakh’. There’s a rule in the daily puzzles that you’re not allowed more than one containment clue in a puzzle. The Sunday puzzles are more pragmatic. There’s a slight inelegance here in the asymmetrical absence of the word ‘an’ (an Afghan or a Kazakh would be better) but that would fall foul of the extraneous word rule mentioned above.
23 Item of clothing soprano tarted up
TOREADOR PANTS – (SOPRANO TARTED)*. I can’t be certain but I suspect that I knew of the existence of this particular 1ac from a past crossword.
24 Gold-digger reports cop for corruption
25 Number making a comeback in Salzburg on vacation?
SONG – reversal of NO in SalzburG.
2 Firm fruit
3 A panda car’s banged up during police round
BEARCAT – BEAT containing (CAR)*. The red panda, which is neither a bear, nor a cat, nor a panda. The Holy Roman Empire of the animal kingdom.
4 College class extremely lazy to a man?
5 Rogue sailor son punches gets shiner
6 Rubbish written about a southern cook
7 An example of this would be The Thing
ARTICLE – DD, the first explicitly by example.
8 Simple companion getting gas for SEAT
EASY CHAIR – EASY, CH (Companion of Honour), AIR. Not a car.
13 Banal tour around foreign capital
14 Dozy type in cap parent slapped about
CATNAPPER – (CAP PARENT)*. I am an expert in this discipline.
16 Crashes to do with parts on cars, I’m told
RETIRES – RE (to do with), homophone of ‘tyres’. The homophone indicator would be unnecessary if this were an American puzzle.
17 Smoke coming from red jumper lit at the rear
CHEROOT – CHE (red), ROO (jumper), liT.
18 Reason head of garrison gets ammunition
20 One lifting swish bags close to shopper
CRANE – C(shoppeR)ANE. I wasn’t familiar with this meaning of ‘swish’ but it’s in the usual dictionaries: ‘a rod for flogging or a blow from such a rod’ (Collins).
22 A descendent covering up king’s crime

20 comments on “Sunday Times 5108 by David McLean – any given Sunday”

  1. 24:22
    Quite easy for one of Harry’s. I was puzzled by SEAT, having forgotten that it’s a car; and that’s irrelevant anyway. I put in CRANE (LOI) faute d’anything else, but didn’t know what to make of ‘swish’.

  2. I wasn’t happy with 25, as “Number” is both the definition and part of the wordplay, although the rest of the clue after “Number” has nothing to do with the definition, really, and sticking a question mark on it is just a way to gloss over that flaw. Almost anything can amount to a DBE if one wants to claim to have an &lit, but excuse me if I roll my eyes.

    1. There are three reasons for Salzburg having more of a connection with song than your average town or city that happens to provide the required letters. Home of Mozart for more than half of his life, one of the best known classical music festivals, and most clearly for “song” rather than just music, The Sound of Music. The festival and film locations are both possible parts of a vacation.

      1. Oh, OK. I should have remembered the Mozart connection, but I would never have thought of the Julie Andrews film. As it happens, the New York Times crossword this Sunday has a do re mi… theme and is titled “The Sounds of Music.” (Plural.)

  3. 33 minutes with no queries noted as I solved. I enjoyed being reminded of many a holiday spent in and around Salzburg.

  4. 24.35

    The pants clue took some time. Sorry, the PANTS clue took some time, as did GARB (no o in hermit?). But the puzzle very much not pants – maybe at the gentler end but no worse for that.

    Enjoyable blog as well, as always

  5. Completed with no particular difficulties. Time? Didn’t actually note it but probably the usual 45 mins or so. Got but couldn’t quite parse two: UNDERWATER (didn’t get steward = waiter) and the “one tracks” segment of TITICACA. Hopefully now learned for next time. My mental picture of the compilers expands: zoned out on a cocktail of drugs, cricket whites, birdwatching binos, and now toreador pants… Thanks, all.

  6. usually quite good with anagrams but despite getting Pants couldn’t work out the rest. to borrow a sentiment from Eric Morecambe I had the correct letters but couldn’t get them in the right order

  7. I enjoyed this. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore made hay with Greta Garbo. One of their most famous sketches involved them sharing nonsensical stories about famous film stars, but the lesser-known one (also well worth watching) where we actually hear “I want to be alone” is this:

  8. 1a GARB, the Garbo quote was near the top, along with “is that a gun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?” (Mae West) but I’ve never seen either film.
    9a PReYING MANTIS hurriedly corrected after I checked the anagrist.
    11a TITICACA was interesting; been there got the T-shirt. Recommended.
    13d ULAN BATuR another anagrist correction.

  9. Thank you for the interesting commentary about the two hidden word/containment clues 10ac and 21ac. I hadn’t appreciated the careful wording and use of the hyphen to avoid extraneous words.

    Regarding 20d SWISH, I think it used to be used as an onomatopoeia in the old Beano, when one of our heroes was receiving a caning from a mortarboard-wearing teacher. I can also imagine it being used in the Jimmy Edwards schoolmaster sitcom Whack-O! (which has recently been repeated on Radio 4 Extra). However, when solving I was reminded of some of the more lurid bits from the Philip Larkin biography/letters…

  10. This took me 20 minutes (and one more to proofread), so it was quite uncharacteristically easy for a Sunday, but still very enjoyable. I rather liked CATEGORY. If you are ever in Stockholm, I suggest visiting Greta GARBO’s grave in Skogskyrkogården (the beautiful Woodland Cemetery, a Unesco World Heritage site), where she is in fact alone — her grave has a clearing all to itself, if I remember correctly.

  11. Yes, definitely the easiest Sunday puzzle ever. Either that, or my solving skills have taken a leap forward. As I glanced at the puzzle as it came off the printer, I saw at once that I’m a spy ranting was an anagram of praying mantis, and I was off to the races.

    Time: 20 minutes

  12. On 21D and “an anorak”: I have said to ST setters for ages that I don’t mind if hidden word clue “hiding areas” contain a short extra word. But possibly because many of them write for more than one paper or see what other papers do, very few have ever used the opportunity. If I had remembered this, I might well have put in the “an”.

    A long time after stating this flexibility, I discovered that Ximenes said something similar in “The Art of the Crossword”. On the last page of ch. 6, he says “no word other than an article should occur in the hiding place that doesn’t contain at least one letter of the required word”.

    1. Interesting, thanks Peter. In this case I think the addition of ‘an’ would have improved the surface reading a little, and the endorsement of Ximines must surely be enough for the most die-hard of sticklers!

  13. Thanks David and keriothe
    Surprisingly straightforward puzzle from this setter after doing an old 23 x 23 Christmas puzzle of his at my last attempt – finished in 26 minutes which is way under average time for any Sunday Times crossword for me. Was pretty much able to work my way from the top to the bottom without too much trouble at all. Took a while to twig to the ‘shiner’ definition for DOG STAR (clever misdirection as was looking for another word for a black eye, as was the intention).
    Finished with SONG, CATNAPPER and RETIRES.

  14. Another from Oz here, but with a totally different perspective: I failed – had to look up many. Too distracted by life itself is my only excuse. (May I just interject here that this is possibly the reason why very few women attempt these puzzles: they’re simply too busy!)


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