Sunday Times Cryptic 4979, by Dean Mayer — THE DOCTOR IS IN

…last of all, as it happened. Must have heard of this fellow before, though. He was quite an achiever. There is a charming note ending the online Britannica entry that I just had to include here.

This felt fresh, as well as timely—for one thing, the aforementioned physician was a pioneer in epidemiology, and you can’t help but think of COP26 when you work out 21. There’s a good number of CDs (which is fine by me), and even two &lits. Among the several DDs, more fun can be found than such clues often provide.

I indicate (a Sam rang)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Drug about to be taken by referee (8)
 5 Old gentleman is major underworld figure (6)
OSIRIS — O(ld) + SIR, “gentleman” + IS, “is”
10 Bones bend when set the wrong way (5)
SACRA — ARC, “bend” + AS, “when” <= “set the wrong way”
11 Poem about open country, also a drink (9)
12 From study, observes characteristic area linking seas (7,6)
DENMARK STRAIT — DEN, “study” + MARKS, “observes” + TRAIT, “characteristic”
14 Tinkers with damaged cars, unfinished too (7)
RASCALS — (cars)* + ALS[-o] …May have encountered this definition for “Tinker” before in Crosswordland, but it was elusive. Collins: “British informal A mischievous child”
15 Relatively favourable (7)
17 Tired of having standards? (7)
FLAGGED — In the jocular cryptic bit, “standard” of course means FLAG, banner.
19 Conflict over uncooked food (7)
WARFARE — RAW<=“over” + FARE, “food”
21 Green cannot be rural, oddly (6,7)
CARBON NEUTRAL — (cannot be rural)* Quite the clever surface!
24 Old old man (2-7)
EX-HUSBAND — &lit charade: EX, “Old” + HUSBAND, “old man”
25 In part of kitchen, superior variety of wheat (5)
DURUM — D(U)RUM U for “superior” (upper-class) inside a component of an orchestra’s percussion section or “kitchen” in slang. This came up in conversation a few weeks ago after a beloved local musician, the great Michael Evans, passed away and my friend Reuben remarked that Michael’s culinary skills were almost as renowned as his prowess on the drums. I said, “That’s what they call them, right, the kitchen?” and Reuben replied that they’re called that in Brazil. Well, that was news to me, and I haven’t tracked down a firm reference. I knew that in French a drum kit is batterie and the equipment of a kitchen batterie de cuisine, and Portuguese for drums is bateria, so it’s not implausible… (Reuben said it was a Brazilian musician who told him this.)
26 Suggestion — request to refuse a drink (6)
TIPPLE — TIP, “Suggestion” + PLE[-a]
27 Any of the following (8)

 1 New wine is essential (4)
 2 Cracks joke child is about to comprehend (7)
DECODES — COD is the “joke” and SEED the “child” that, reversed (“about”), encompasses (“comprehend”s) it.
 3 Joined Labour party (5,4)
 4 Physician has many methods for treatment (6,8)
THOMAS SYDENHAM — (has many methods)*  Among his long list of accomplishments, this history-making man of medicine (1624–1689) literally wrote the book on fevers. He was also the discoverer of St Vitus Dance (aka Sydenham’s chorea), the disease with which, a few hundred years later, little Andrew Warhola would be afflicted. The Encyclopedia Britannica’s online entry ends with this endearing information: “Derided by his colleagues, Sydenham benefited immensely from a consequent detachment from the speculative theories of his time.”
 6 Lot and Samson lost it (5)
SIGHT — DD… “Lot” in the sense of “a lot,” a great deal; Collins online has this as Dialectal and Old-fashioned—in separate listings—American English (example: a sight better than fighting), though not in the UK lexicon, while Lexico has it as Informal in both (listed as “a sight”—“To a considerable extent; much”).
 7 Show likely to change again (7)
READAPT — READ is “show” as, say, a thermometer does the temperature; APT is “likely.”
 8 Means to see better performances (10)
 9 Using pins, but not in a good way (7,7)
…with a voodoo doll?
WALKING WOUNDED — Another &lit charade: WALKING, “using pins” + WOUNDED, “not in a good way” …The answer is in dictionaries only as a noun (the WALKING WOUNDED), but the clue seems to ask for a verb.
13 Expert wants nice spread in return (10)
PROFICIENT — PROFIT, “return” with (nice)* inside
16 Bird’s split crest (9)
PARTRIDGE — PART, “split” + RIDGE, “crest”
18 He fills it before take-off (7)
AIRSHIP — CD (“He” = helium)
20 Generally free (2,5)
22 A bird you seldom will catch (5)
OUSEL — Hidden
23 Bypass over motorway heading for tunnel (4)
OMIT — O(ver) + M1, yer “motorway” + T[-unnel]

27 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4979, by Dean Mayer — THE DOCTOR IS IN”

  1. Aside from the percussion meaning of “kitchen” being stock material in UK cryptic crosswords for as long as I can remember, it’s a definition for kitchen in the Oxford Dictionary of English. It’s also recorded in The Anatomy of the Orchestra, by the former British conductor Norman del Mar. I think it’s orchestral rather than other band slang.
    1. Yes, as I said, the English word kitchen is slang for the percussion section of an orchestra. This is in Lexico, and elsewhere.

      I haven’t found a reference for an equivalent term in Brazil, which would be Portuguese. But it sure wouldn’t surprise me if there were an equivalent term in that language.

      As I said.

      Its being a regular term in UK crosswords is, no doubt, why I knew it and made the remark to my friend Reuben about the varied talents of our sadly departed mutual acquaintance.

      Edited at 2021-11-07 01:06 am (UTC)

      1. ‘batteria de cozinha’ which my spellchecker altered to ‘bacteria de coziness’!?

        Edited at 2021-11-07 02:56 am (UTC)

        1. Ha! Look out for those!

          So, unsurprisingly, that phrase is quite like its French equivalent (but there’s just one T in bateria).

      2. Well, you could have made things a lot clearer with something like “in British/English speaking slang”, or by introducing your other material with something like “As well as …”.

        It’s hard to say whether the French and Portuguese terms come from the “beating” sense of “battery” as in “assault and battery”, which seems the oldest English meaning, or the “set of related equipment” meaning – OED implies that when we borrowed it, it already meant a set of cannon in French.

        1. I really don’t see any way in which I was less than clear. You somehow got the conversation I related backward.

          I am not sure that it’s just UK slang, actually, nor that I even knew it originally from crosswords. Music was an interest of mine before I ever worked a crossword.

          My friend Reuben is a bass player of some reputation. The point of my remark was that the slang term (widely known, or so I assumed, for ages to musicians) was quite apt in the context of the late Michael’s twin areas of expertise.

          Edited at 2021-11-07 04:15 pm (UTC)

  2. Those chirpy Cockneys of ‘Musicland’ who frequent DENMARK STREET, will be disappointed that 12ac was in fact DENMARK STRAIT – sounds much the same.

    FOI 1dn MUST

    LOI 4dn THOMAS SYDENHAM – the dance teacher


    WOD 25ac DURUM fyi DURHAM, the lovely NW city, was home to the PINK PANTHER

    COP21ac CARBON NEUTRAL by 25

    Edited at 2021-11-07 12:43 am (UTC)

  3. Lovely puzzle. CHAIN GANG and CARBON NEUTRAL both faves. Didn’t recall the physician – LOI but worked it out from the letters I had, which was probably what the setter helpfully intended by making it an anagram.
    One last piffling point: I think OUSEL would still work without ‘will’ (although there are some people who insist it wouldn’t). ~ Twmbarlwm
    1. It would work for the cryptic, but the meaning of the surface would change slightly into a presumption that we are all out there trying to capture our fine feathered friends: We catch other birds, just not this one. As it reads now, it merely says the bird is very elusive, should anyone want to try to nab it.
  4. I can’t remember if anything in particular slowed me down; probably most everything. I was pleased, though, to spot ‘He’ right away; I’m always late to get it, or ‘As’. I never thought of a way to make READ=show, but it had to be READAPT. DNK the strait, DNK ‘tinker’ in the relevant sense. I knew the name SYDENHAM, although I couldn’t have told you a thing about him.
    1. It is, but rarely ventures outside of the Americas – as no one is interested (CRT) and noted by Trump’s ‘sh*t hole’ comment. He did recently try to buy Greenland from Denmark. My COD Denmark Strait.
    2. My contact with today’s students comes almost exclusively through the current cohort of interns working for The Nation. They seem quite well-informed about the world AT LARGE, geographically and otherwise.

      Why do you ask?

      Edited at 2021-11-07 04:05 am (UTC)

  5. POTUS45 only wanted Denmark’s Greenland as global warming was melting the ice-cap and Greenland was fast becoming Greenerland.

    I forgot to mention 11ac ORANGEADE – another old White House favourite

    Edited at 2021-11-07 03:29 am (UTC)

  6. I’m always pleased to complete a Dean Mayer/Anax puzzle in under an hour.
    Thank you, Guy, for READAPT and DECODES.
    Clue of the year for me was CHAIN GANG. I loved that even more than another of Dean’s gems some months back:
    “Likes eating (11): CANNIBALISM.
    The DENMARK STRAIT should bring a chill to all of a certain age as that was where the Bismarck sank HMS Hood with the loss of all but three of its crew.
  7. A long time (close to a couple of hours) to eventually fail on the not difficult WARFARE, for which I had ‘wargame’; well, there’s a sort of dumb logic to it. Dean in very good form yet again, and this was worth the effort, even if it was a DNF in the end. Loved the &littish CARBON NEUTRAL, CHAIN GANG and WALKING WOUNDED. Thanks for the THOMAS SYDENHAM tidbit. I wonder how many people nowadays will benefit from a similar “consequent detachment” from current orthodoxy.

    [Strictly off-topic. After I’d struggled through this last week, I thought I’d wind down by doing the Sunday Independent puzzle, which is usually pretty gentle. No such luck! The puzzle (31/10/2021) by Methuselah, a newish setter, was the hardest Sunday Independent in ages. But be warned, it does have a theme, which will put some Times solvers off and there is also a mistake in one clue: 11a should be “…relieves 30 older…”, not “…relieves 28 older…” as acknowledged by the setter on the Fifteensquared blog. Still, it’s a real challenge and good fun at the same time].

    Thanks to Dean and Guy

  8. 45 minutes. I was back on the chain gang with this after a good run, eyeless in Gaza, but at least I finished eventually. Never heard of LOI Thomas Sydenham and I only got him when I had every other letter. I spent ages on parsing the Helium balloon too. A good puzzle. Thank you Dean and setter.
  9. I managed to solve this without aids but it took me several sessions finishing at 8pm, so at least on the same day.
    FOI OMIT; LOI READAPT where REDRAFT had lurked unhelpfully.
    Late in 2d DECODES caused me lots of problems. Did not know THOMAS but live near Sydenham so the letters formed easily.
    Overall this was great fun and rewarded the hard work.

  10. This was an immensely enjoyable, satisfying puzzle, mainly because Dean Mayer is so creative and yet precise with his clues. COD was 24ac. FOI 14ac RASCALS, LOI 27ac ADHERENT. I couldn’t parse 2d and 18d until calling in here, but that’s more to do with my lack of prowess than his clueing. Done in 45 minutes. Thanks to Dean and blogger.
  11. 13:46. Another nice one from Dean.
    NHO DENMARK STRAIT or the doctor. My grandparents used to live in Beckenham so I’ve been through SYDENHAM many times, which helped a little, but it still took a while to work out the anagram.
  12. ….and I soon got into my stride. NHO the physician, but managed to sort out the anagrist surprisingly quickly. I enjoyed DURUM, ADHERENT, WALKING WOUNDED, and AIRSHIP — all COD candidates.

    LOI DECODES (parsed much later !)
    TIME 14:10

  13. 30.15. Top quality puzzle. Enjoyed walking wounded. Thought chain gang was brilliant.
  14. Nice puzzle. I solved this after breakfast in the dining room of Stableside at York with Beeryhiker and Doublecross (aka Hugh and Angus from 225) assisting. We polished it off in 17:36.
  15. Four CDs out of 28. Lovely if you like that sort of thing, but how much better the chain gang clue (in particular: they’re all nice, but in my opinion only half a clue) would have been if there had been some wordplay as well, in which case people would have been waxing even more eloquent over it. You could argue it’s just the setter being lazy.

    Edited at 2021-11-07 12:36 pm (UTC)

    1. The CHAIN GANG clue plays on double meanings for each word that makes it up. It’s jam-packed with wordplay.
  16. Thanks Dean and guy
    Spent half an hour on this late on Saturday night and finished it off in just under another half hour when I was awake at around 3:00 am on Sunday morning.
    Don’t know if I can think of a better setter of cryptic definition clues than this fellow – CHAIN GANG was a cracker. Also liked the way He was used in the AIRSHIP clue. ‘Old, old man’ also raised a grin.
    Finished in the NE corner with READAPT, OSIRIS and SIGHT (went with both biblical characters becoming blind – the first being plied with alcohol by his daughters and the second with Philistine gouging – the proper parsing of the former was much better of course).

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