Sunday Times Cryptic 4837, 10 February 2019, by David McLean — No sweat!

I don’t remember feeling this one was particularly hard, but I was unstressed and unpressed for time, so no momentary difficulty felt frustrating. There were plenty of chewy bits to savor, including one word that was totally new to me, and finding such by decryption is one of the great pleasures of these exercises.

I do (garnasam)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Wildly belt more radical party member (7,8)
LIBERAL DEMOCRATHey, de Blasio, it’s not nice to hit a woman! (belt more radical)* (Sorry, that was a little local humour.)
 9 Sexy and glitzy, not ugly essentially (7)
10 Praise honourable answer hospital enters (7)
HOSANNA — HO (SAN) N A (“Hon” being “honourable” and A “answer”) This will not take a prize for the most plausible surface.
11 Place key on seat (4)
SITE — SIT is “seat” (believe it or not; English dialect, and we’ve been thru this before), the “key” being E (four sharps!)
12 Vehicle close to crash with lorry (5-5)
ROLLS-ROYCE — (close + lorry)*
13 Sleeping male is surrounded by insects (7)
DORMANT — DOR(M)ANT. That’s the dor beetles. (The Dors?)
15 Can of cocktail? (7)
17 Holy man graduates without mortar board? (7)
MAHATMA — Two Masters of Arts flanking (“without” in cryptic-crosswordese) HAT (the quirk meaning “mortar board” is a DBE)
19 She might have helped with fertility problems found in A&E (7)
ASTARTE — A START (“found”) E
20 Too much of this and she’ll have to stitch up your trousers! (10)
SEAMSTRESS — CD, with a straight definition included—some may call it a semi-&lit, go right ahead
22 Aquatic bird seen briefly over mass of ice (4)
BERG — GREB[-e] <—
25 Swag stuffed aboard transports close to Kiev (7)
BRAVADO — (aboard)* carrying [-Kie]V
26 Smelly old dons hit yours truly after beginning of seminar (7)
NOISOME — NO I is “hit” (“number one”) and “yours truly” is ME, donned by O(ld) after S[-eminar]. This does get the prize for the most convoluted clue today.
27 I turn and circle Crete at sea (8,7)
ELECTRIC CURRENT — (turn + circle Crete)*. Wow, and we have “As” as a definition below.

 1 Young guys protecting European stars (5)
 2 Brow rubbed with cloth, being by this? (9)
BLOWTORCH — (Brow + cloth)* and an &lit, for real! In a way, I just this evening—Blogday Eve—finished solving this one. I got the wordplay easily enough, so I had the answer. But I couldn’t see how the definition was supposed to work. Well, one might rub (the more usual word would be “wipe”) one’s brow with (a) cloth (a handkerchief, say) when exposed to heat and perspiring. And a blowtorch is darned hot. Whew!
 3 Fleece or jumper with a bit of khaki? (4)
 4 A way to punch hooligan and survive (4,3)
LAST OUTRun faster than him? L(A ST[reet])OUT
 5 Old beer in case from Harrods expires (7)
 6 Attentive person in the employ of Eton alumnus? (9)
 7 Hot under collar after giving a lift to queen with long legs (5)
RANGY — “Angry” with R moved forward
 8 Somewhat geared to changes, ultimately adaptive (2,1,6)
TO A DEGREE — (geared to)* + [adaptiv]E
13 Half of France’s gloomy, but fit to be leased (9)
DEMISABLE — DEMI + SABLE (in the sense of “black”). DNK this word. Now I do. Hurray!
14 Witness where cricket side might play six-footer (9)
ATTESTANT — A TEST + ANT (a “test” being a kind of cricket match… but you knew that)
16 Communication system that’s a bit dotty? (5,4)
MORSE CODE — CD. Har har.
18 First-class cases old magistrate deduced (1,6)
19 As Racine’s plays (7)
ARSENIC — (Racine’s)* Excellent clue.
21 A thing seen behind ship tossing and turning? (5)
AWAKE — DD, cleverer than most!
23 Caller made a speculation on radio (5)
GUEST — “Guessed”
24 He might do sailor’s knots and I might draw (4)
TIER — DD. My LOI, although, as four-letter DDs go (the worst kind of clue, am I right?), this is an easy one. I was at first distracted by the different pronouns (why?) for the two parts, and there is no significance to it’s being a particular kind of knot that is specified.

48 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4837, 10 February 2019, by David McLean — No sweat!”

  1. I was pleased to solve this in 30:24 with no pink squares, although I did confirm that the unknown DEMISABLE existed despite being quite confident in its construction. I was also confused as to the actual definition at 2d, but shrugged and moved on. Was also confused by NOISOME, but the definition and checkers brooked no alternative. RANGY was my LOI and caused some serious neuron engagement. Nice to see our QC Don getting a mention at 19a! Thanks Harry and Guy.
  2. I forgot to do 7d, which took another 30 seconds, minus the time taken up with shouting rude words. DEMISABLE rather a Mephistoish word–will anyone besides Olivia know it?–while 16d is rather a QCish clue. TIER was my LOI, too (since RANGY didn’t go I); took me almost 5 minutes. COD maybe to A PRIORI.
    1. Since you mention it Kevin I did know it – thanks to first year struggles with real property law (who knew it would come in handy). The bit that made everyone emit a nervous giggle was when we were informed that in them days you couldn’t demise anything to infants, lunatics and married women. Towards the end of the year I managed to figure out that if you could master the rule against perpetuities (don’t ask) you could pretty much ace the exam no matter what else was in it.
      1. In the Republic of Ireland it’s only within the last 40 years that the law allowing a man to write “his wife” out of his will in favour of the 18yr. old bimbo he’d run off with was changed. Even though she may have owned the house they moved into when they got married. Same with the Law of Criminal Conversation. A court of law could order a straying wife to return to the “marriage bed” without the same recourse being available to a wife with a straying husband. The husband could seek damages from the man with whom the wife had absconded. (The law was obviously written before the possibility of her running of with a woman was even considered). And people wonder why I find the word wife so offensive.

        Thanks for all your blog entries.

        Tom (and Jan, she’s not my wife, she’s my partner in crime) Toronto.

  3. 15:01 with problems at the end over ASTARTE (‘found’ for start took me a while to see) and DEMISABLE. Using ‘gloomy’ define SABLE in a clue for such an obscure word isn’t quite cricket IMO, but there isn’t much else it can be once you have DEMIS_B_E.
  4. 40 minutes with TIER as my LOI. No problems with DEMISABLE as in a former employment I used to have to wade through leases to extract information and the word ‘demise’ in that context cropped up a lot, epsecially in Scottish documents iirc (but it was a long time ago).

    Dean is a week ahead of the usual schedule in today’s ST.

    Edited at 2019-02-17 07:03 am (UTC)

    1. As stated with the puzzle in print, and just now on the club site:

      Jeff Pearce has stood down from the Sunday Times crossword after sending puzzles for about 16 years. A new setter is being recruited, and we expect to print their first puzzle on March 17.

      1. I don’t know if there’s a better place to say it, but I’d very much like to thank Jeff for all the pleasure he’s given us all in setting such excellent puzzles.
        1. Hope it’s not too late to Third and Fourth the motion. We’ve always enjoyed and been challenged by Jeff’s excellent puzzles.

          Jan (Thirder) Tom (Fourther) Toronto.

        1. Ditto.
          One of the things I like about the Sunday puzzle is the difference between the three setters and the consistency of each of them. Jeff has been particularly different, consistent in that difference, and good at setting a nice puzzle, all at the same time.
          Thank you, Jeff
  5. ….so I’ll finish. I found this rather unsatisfactory. Biffed ASTARTE, BRAVADO, NOISOME, DEMISABLE, and TIER. Five biffs is far too many for one puzzle.

    Why did “Eton” need to be specified at 6D ? OB is a common enough usage for alumnus in general terms.

    I thought the clue for BLOWTORCH was poor.

    TIME 15:23

      1. I agree that Eton was not essential. But it seemed OK to me, as an Eton alumnus might count as more likely than some others to have a servant rather than some other employee.
  6. I was on Preston platform yesterday after travelling up to watch North End take on Notts Forest. The BBC sport website noted afterwards that this was the first goalless draw in a league fixture between these two sides since March 1910. My soft shoe shuffle was suitably restrained.
    I had a long struggle with David McLean’s puzzle last Sunday. FOI Liberal Democrat was a big help at the start. Morse Code a gimme. Could not parse Blowtorch but it seemed OK. Remembered Astarte from somewhere (we have a QC blogger with a similar name). LOI was Noisome after Demisable.


    Edited at 2019-02-17 07:28 am (UTC)

    1. Whenever I’m on Preston Station nowadays, I can still hear and smell the pre-Beeching bustle. It’s 1955 and the Lancashire voice on the tannoy is in my head listing the many stations on the different lines to Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, Fleetwood, Southport, Blackburn, Burnley, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow etc, and the urgent shout every hour of ‘London train’ on that central platform nearly a quarter of a mile long. It was a great place for a trainspotter.
      1. No,there wasn’t.
        Interesting that Ian Anderson grew up in Blackpool -where I once saw Jethro Tull play live.
  7. …The Holy City, today’s earworm, sung by George Beverly Shea, I think. Such music co-existed happily with Buddy Holly in my teenage head. Still does. I’m usually a bit slower on Sundays, more mellow after a couple of glasses of red wine the night before. 48 minutes, with two clues of this pleasant puzzle really enjoyed, SEAMSTRESS and ATTESTANT. ARSENIC was good too, but I’m spotting the As ruse now. Doing the family tree research, I came up with a few SEAMSTRESSes, some of whom were SEMPSTRESSes. I’ll give that COD for old time’s sake. I did know DEMISABLE, also from family research. I enjoyed this. Thank you Guy and David.
  8. 22:29. One or two hold ups. NHO DEMISABLE or DOR as an insect. NOISOME my LOI. I liked the No.1 device when I spotted it. As always with David’s crosswords, plenty of clues made me smile. ASTARTE, ARSENIC, AWAKE and ELECTRIC CURRENT also got ticks on my paper copy.

    We seem to be working through the keys, reaching 4 sharps today. How long before we get this one… “Key result of dropping a piano down a pitshaft? (1-4,5)”.

    Thanks Guy and David.

    Edited at 2019-02-17 08:24 am (UTC)

      1. The old ones are the best… and my clue fails as I neglected to flag the homophone. “Key result when dropping a piano down a pitshaft is broadcast (1-4,5)”, is better, perhaps.
  9. Lazy Sunday Afternoon

    FOI 1ac LIBERAL DEMOCRAT – a disappearing species

    LOI 25ac BRAVADO

    COD 19ac ASTARTE


    Time 35 minutes

  10. Found this hard and it took me a long while. (I didn’t record a time.)
    My LOI — and my only cause for a grump — was TIER: could somebody explain to me how/why “I might draw” = TIER?
    Guy’s blog (for which many thanks!) assumes the equation is quite apparent, but I am struggling to see it.
      1. Aha! OK — you’ve pointed out the noun ‘draw’ = ‘tie’ (e.g. in a sports match) and both words work as verbs. It was the fact that the clue required a verb which had me fuddled.

        Many thanks.

  11. 46:03. I got off to a flier with this, 1ac straight in yielding plenty of starters, but found it a bit fiddly here and there and so slowed down considerably towards the end. Needed all my focus to avoid putting randy instead of rangy at 7dn (not sure what that says about me). Had to change 14dn from attendant to attestant to get 20ac. Dnk 13dn but didn’t look like it could be anything else. Saw bravado long before I worked out the parsing.
  12. So far I seem to be the only one who wondered about prior=magistrate. Luckily the answer was obvious. 18.30
    1. I’d love to tell you it was a priori knowledge of a Prior being a Florentine magistrate, but for me it was an a posteriori rationalisation!
    2. No you are not alone. I just neglected to mention it as I never flagged it on my paper copy. I was surprised and looked it up in Chambers to check.
  13. Curious that we had MORSE CODE for 16d here and IDDY-UMPTY in the Mephisto on the same day. Is there some anniversary we are supposed to know about?
    1. Not that I know about. The puzzles are set by different people, so just coincidence as far as I know.
  14. I’ve seen Jethro Tull live half a dozen times, first in 1967, most recently 2010. Ian Anderson’s late uncle (his Mum’s brother) used to be my cobbler, and once showed me his wedding photo where a young kilted Ian was a page boy.
    1. I was trying to find out where he went to school. I had thought it was Arnold but Wiki says Blackpool Grammar, a school I don’t remember.
  15. As someone who’s just done this in today’s Australian, I’m curious that no one has queried “deduced” as the definition of a priori, as I would have thought that it was more “assumed”, i.e. what you argue from, rather than what you argue to. Or, is this just a case of viewing things differently from the other side of the world?

    (While here, I’ll just thank everyone for the blog.)

      1. One of the top definitions in Merriam-Webster, for example, is:
        relating to or derived by reasoning from self-evident propositions

        “Derived by reason…” = deduced

        (I don’t know if anonymous posters get an alert that their question has been answered.)

        Edited at 2019-02-24 10:01 pm (UTC)

  16. Thanks David and guy_du_sable
    Found this quite enjoyable and not too easy not too hard. The only two clues that left me a bit flat were BLOWTORCH and SEAMSTRESS. Couldn’t parse NOISOME fully.
    Like the trick with I and As and happily tend to be able to catch on a little quicker than when they first started to appear – still appreciate them when I see them.
    Finished with the new to me DEMISABLE and the clever ASTARTE.

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