Sunday Times 5110 by Robert Price – à la recherche de la baleine blanche

6:09. A remarkably gentle puzzle from Robert this week, but none the worse for that.

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

1 Luxury material silver miners extract
ERMINE – contained in ‘silver miners’.
5 Unending fight to save very sick author
9 Fools, perhaps backtracking under pressure
STRESSED – reversal of DESSERTS.
10 Someone nosy sounding out fruit
MEDLAR – sounds like ‘meddler’. Familiar to me because it’s the name of one of my favourite restaurants.
11 Mixing lab acid with oil could be fiendish
13 Time to avoid pithy language
14 British PM once almost crushed in war zone
17 Valet’s sniggering gives offence
20 Plane, for one rolling in money
LOOT – reversal of TOOL. ‘For one’ meaning ‘for example’.
21 Final items of work eaten by dogs
23 Rush job
CAREER – a rather chestnutty DD.
24 Female unit on a camouflaged jet
26 He planned reconstruction entirely on wetlands
MARSHALL – MARSH, ALL. A reference to the Marshall Plan.
27 Writer for American leader on trial
PROUST – PRO, US, Trial.
2 Keep on turning up at pub, disheartened
RETAIN – RE (on), reversal of AT, InN.
3 Circles unevenly scratched in rocks
4 Leisure centre to rally support for art
EASEL – EASE, raLly.
5 Examination claimed to be fixed
6 Prominent position of land bearing fruit
7 River turning south into English Channel eventually
IN DUE COURSE – INDUS (river) with the S (south) ‘turning into’ E (English), COURSE (channel).
8 Trouble over children covering current affairs
LIAISONS – reversal of AIL, SONS containing I (electrical current).
12 Who minds small charges?
BABYSITTERS – a barely cryptic definition.
15 One rubbish bitter served up by a bistro
TRATTORIA – reversal of I, ROT, TART then A.
16 Prospect of gold being found in a country
18 Making money from a gulf in supply
19 Derelict roadhouse cleaned out by maid
REMISS – RoadhousE, MISS. This sense of the word is most often heard in the phrase ‘dereliction of duty’.
22 Fruit, soft and fleshy
25 A couple that’s overly outspoken
TWO – sounds like ‘too’.

25 comments on “Sunday Times 5110 by Robert Price – à la recherche de la baleine blanche”

  1. 36 minutes. Yes, not too difficult but I had trouble finishing off in the NE corner with the tricky parsing of IN DUE COURSE and finally MEDLAR which I’ve never come across as a fruit (or a restaurant for that matter) in real life. I just looked up Clement Attlee’s Wikipedia page and read about his active military service in WWI which gives the surface of 14a some extra meaning.

    Favourite bit was the ERMINE MELVILLE and MARSHALL PROUST across the top and bottom of the grid.

    Thanks to Robert and keriothe

  2. I didn’t find this gentle for some reason, although it looks it now. In fact I submitted off leaderboard w/o finishing. I came back a couple of days later and finished it. Liked BATTLEGROUND, TAILPIECES, RETAIN, LIMELIGHT.

  3. 28 minutes for all but one answer which I was still unable to solve after attempting an alphabet trawl and then resorting to aids, so this was a DNF. The one that caught me out was LOOT at 20ac where misdirection in the clue prevented solution by biffing or wordplay and according to Word Wizard there are 83 possible words that fit ?O?T. Life’s too short to wade through that lot.

    1. LOOT was one of the three I hadn’t done when I submitted. I had done an alphabet trawl before giving up, and then, days later, it hit me; my very LOI.

  4. 28 minutes, finishing with TOOL. Thanks for the restaurant recommendation. May try it out in the summer!

  5. I enjoyed this a lot, and found it pretty straightforward. But I did raise an eyebrow at 12D. Shouldn’t it lead to a singular solution? BABYSITTERS surely ‘mind’, whereas a singular babysitter “minds”. Or am I missing something?

  6. Done, but took time over BABYSITTERS – as per Old Codger’s comment – and LOOT: “plane” caught me out. Medlar familiar from TV gardener Monty Don’s admiration of them! Thanks, all.

  7. The two name plays top and bottom gave me a smile. Quite a tricky one – took me two sittings. TRATTORIA took ages to parse, as ‘bitter’ and ‘tart’ are not the same in my book at all. Tart implies acidic, and in fact there are different areas of the tongue that sense bitterness and acidity, I seem to remember learning at school, so I can’t see how they can be conflated. However, the answer was obvious, more so than LOI ERSE. I’ve not heard of MARSHALL – US history being a blind spot in my GK (the reason the NHO US president the other day caused me a DNF). Still, at least this guy was deducible from wordplay.

    1. The MARSHALL Plan is arguably more European than US history, but that doesn’t alter the fact that if you haven’t heard of it you haven’t heard of it!

    2. The “tart isn’t bitter” complaint comes up, it seems, every few weeks or so. But thesaurus and dictionaries list the two as synonyms, so…

  8. Enjoyable, as per always with Robert. Though I too had a mer at babysitter(s), only reasonable as mer is a term Robert invented. But I did love the top and bottom puns.
    I have both quince and medlar trees in my garden. Not a great deal you can do with the fruit, but the birds like them (eventually!).

  9. Excellent as always from Robert. Until it was pointed out the BABYSITTERS clue didn’t seem unsound, but now it does. Maybe we will hear a defence of it in due course. But what threw me more about this clue was that it seems to be the ‘obligatory’ CD. If it’s going to be this thin, why bother about it at all? When you consider the quality of his other clues, I’m sure he could have done better. I’ve never seen the clever device used at 7dn: ‘turning into’.

    1. I took 12dn as a response to the question posed in the clue: Who minds small charges? For me the natural single word answer would be ‘babysitters’.

      1. Yes if you look at it that way I agree. It’s no doubt how I looked at it when solving but forgot today.

  10. Just looked back and apparently I took 34 minutes, which surprised me as I remembered it as being quite straightforward. But apparently not.

  11. Started last week and finished all bar LOOT and TAILPIECES today. Didn’t really understand the ‘rolling’ bit in LOOT. Can anyone help? Other than that I agree it must have been on the easier end of the spectrum for me to come even close to finishing 😆 many thanks for the blog keriothe.

    On edit: understand the rolling bit now – just a reversal indicator (doh)

  12. 25.15

    Gentle stuff done in no great rush. Couldn’t get bogs and fens out of my head so MARSHALL delayed me which then enabled my LOI PANAMA. Also wondered about BABYSITTERS but like Jackkt’s take on it.

    Usual great combo from Robert and Keriothe – thanks

  13. I see that my LOI was the chestnutty CAREER and POI TOOL, but don’t remember either of them taking any more time than the rest here, all done pretty quickly.

  14. Thanks Bob and keriothe
    Right on average time (45 min) to finish this one this morning after a short session last night. Finished in the SE corner with TAILPIECES, FOUNTAIN and REMISS after a relatively trouble free solve. Remembered that MEDLAR was a fruit but didn’t remember what sort of fruit. Thought that the LOOT word play was clever after landing on the right ‘plane’. Had no issue with BABYSITTERS using the same logic as jackkt. Missed the playful use of the top and bottom rows to further home in on those writers.

  15. A very enjoyable but long solve (56 minutes) and unfortunately a DNF because I had the wrong homophone at 25 dn (TOO, not TWO). I also didn’t see the delightful puns in the top and bottom rows, but they are brilliant. I also had no real problem with BABYSITTERS — the question is asking for a class of people and there’s no problem denoting that class by naming its members (rather than a typical member, who would be, not BABYSITTER, but THE BABYSITTER. Not a very exciting clue, though).


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