Sunday Times Cryptic 4981, by David McLean — Straight, No Chaser

Synchronicity! Not long after I had gotten comfy in front of my SmartTV to work this in my usual unhurried fashion, YouTube offered a video of a Thelonious Monk performance, which you can bet I clicked on immediately and which ended just as I finished. Of course, clue 9 had nothing to do with the man (did you know his middle name is Sphere…!?) or his music; nevertheless, this was an upbeat, jazzy number, displaying plenty of technical expertise and original inspiration.

But my headline, besides being the title of a Monk tune (and album), refers more directly to clue 28.

I indicate (a nag’s arm)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Strike overwhelming a corporation (6)
PAUNCH — P(A)UNCH …Since I’d encountered this sense of “corporation” only in British cryptics, I was thinking of it as specifically UK slang; however, dutifully investigating in my capacity as blogger, I find that it is definition 4 in Merriam-Webster (just as it is in Collins).
 5 One often seen out on the tiles? (6)
ROOFER — CD …I would hope that the person working on your house had gotten a good night’s sleep, rather. I didn’t really know the sense of the idiom, though I did know the so-titled Led Zeppelin song.
 9 Mix gin and slap on some Monk tunes (9)
PLAINSONG — (gin + slap on)* Monophonic, a cappella and rhythmically determined only by the accents of the sung words, all taken from scripture, plainsong was (Wikipedia) “the exclusive form of Christian church music until the ninth century, and the introduction of polyphony.” Here’s an example on YouTube.
10 Quiet chap with salty wife in story (4)
PLOT — P + LOT You know, that guy in the crazy Bible story about lascivious angels and divine retribution… When I visited the Dead Sea (which is disappearing, by the way), I saw the pillar of salt that is named “Lot’s wife” after this legend.
11 Problem getting on, primarily, the web (6)
TISSUE — T[-hej + ISSUE, “problem”
12 Rowdy type seen in Split on holiday (8)
TEARAWAY — TEAR, “Split” + AWAY, “on holiday”
14 Actor finally plays Robert Wadlow? (8)
STALLONE — [-play]S + TALL ONE …OK, I had heard of this dude, but had forgotten his name.
16 Long fish delivered in Billingsgate (4)
ACHE — “’ake” (“hake,” a fish you might find—unaspirated—in the market there)
18 Attend bash (4)
BEAT — BE AT, “Attend”
19 Older egg tossed in trash (8)
DOGGEREL — (Older egg)*
21 Fish tar initially caught in cutter? (8)
22 Might one steal a pound sterling (6)
NICKER — Since to NICK is to purloin… The monetary slang and the other dictionary definition of this word (a horse’s soft whinny) were equally unknown to me.
24 Track missing its opening bar (4)
RAIL — [-t]RAIL …I hesitated here because it seemed “Track” could just as well mean RAIL (though a railroad track typically has two rails).
26 Amazingly epic price drop (9)
PRECIPICE — (epic price)*
27 African seen in Mali by a Nigerian (6)
LIBYAN — Hidden
28 Important to avoid whiskey in old age? (6)
I don’t want to hear such talk!
EIGHTY — [-w]EIGHTY Age is just a number!

 2 Job interview? (11)
 3 Listeners supporting new approaches (5)
NEARS — N(ew) on EARS, “listeners”
 4 Fawning follower of a trapeze artist? (6-2)
HANGER-ON — Sycophant, clued cryptically as an aerialist
 5 Kid American singer with wig on head (3,3)
RUG RAT — RUG is the “wig” atop the RAT, “singer”; apparently this appellation for the little monsters is more common on my side of the pond.
 6 A building housing many wards? (9)
 7 I like you essentially (3)
EGO — EG, or E.G. (“like”: for example; say) + [-y]O[-u]
 8 Town house and stone mills (8-2-3)
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA — (house and stone}* And this week we have a clear winner for my Creative Anagrind Prize! (These are nontangible but also nonfungible!)
13 Dodgy men hate vice act that’s successful (11)
ACHIEVEMENT — (men hate vice)*
15 Recent political event from the right? (9)
LATERALLY — LATE, “Recent” + RALLY, “political event”; could be from any side, hence the “?”
17 Instrument I have in a case (8)
AGENTIVE — AGENT, “instrument” + I’VE
20 Bunk on rubbish relief vessel? (6)
BEDPAN — BED, “bunk” + PAN, “rubbish” (criticize)
23 Stick with fish after chowder starter (5)
CLING — C[-howder] + LING, “fish” …Weirdly, I first bunged in LING for the fish in Billingsgate, above (without knowing if it is particularly long). So later realized that two was probably over the limit.
25 I’m a revolutionary pal of Napoleon (3)
AMI — I’M A <=“revolutionary”

23 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4981, by David McLean — Straight, No Chaser”

  1. NHO Wadlow, but having thought of STALLONE, I made the necessary inference. DNK NICKER. DNK the town, but I got ON-SEA easily enough, which was enough. I never did figure out ACHE, not knowing where Billingsgate is.
  2. Was perhaps 8dn a tribute to the World’s longest sea-side pleasure pier (1.33 miles). It appeared so islolated from the the rest of the grid! It is pronounced ‘Sarfend-on-Sea’ for discerning members of the ‘Kiss-me-Quick’ brigade. Jellied-eels anyone!? My COD.

    At 16ac Billingsgate has strong association. Kevin – this famous fish market is close by the Tower of London and Printing House Square, where ‘The London Times’ was headquartered until Murdoch move it to Wapping in 1982. Billingsgate and Wapping are less than 2km apart. My Grandfather usually had his hake’n’chips wrapped in the pages of ‘The London Times’. As a kid, my haddock’n’chips ever in the ‘Lincolnshire Echo’ – until the practice was made illegal in the early eighties. Very sad!

    FOI 5dn RUG RAT is common enough in UK – as Rugrats was the title of the American Childrens’ TV prog., which ran on Saturday mornings from 1991-2004. Yuk!

    WOD 14ac STALLONE a tribute to Robert Waldow the World’s longest giant.(2.718 metres). That is tall!

    My time was 35.1 minutes – not another a tall story.

    Edited at 2021-11-21 04:27 am (UTC)

  3. Lot of fishy clues today. I failed on a non-fish LOI 18a where my alphabet trawl yielded only MEET, which was perhaps ok for a bash, but dodgy for ‘attend’. It seems so straightforward in retrospect. 20:03 with pink dis2d
  4. Nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative and… AGENTIVE? OK, I believe you, just this once.

    37 minutes. Thanks for looking up ‘Robert Wadlow’ which I was too lazy to do myself. The ‘relief vessel?’ was my favourite bit.

      1. Thanks. Something I’ve learnt. Just looked them up and see that “ergative” is used in languages such as Basque and Eskimo and “essive” is one of fifteen (!) cases in the Finnish language. Makes mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa etc seem pretty easy..
  5. 35 minutes. I didn’t know the tall man so STALLONE was LOI from crossers and alphabet trawl. I knew there was a children’s show answering in the plural to RUG RAT but I didn’t know its meaning before. COD to TEARAWAY. I liked PLAINSONG and ROOFER too. Thank you Guy and David.
  6. ….Wadlow, I saw this off in 9:04 but, alas, fat finger struck again to nullify a decent effort.
  7. FOI 9ac PLAINSONG, through to LOI 16ac ACHE some 60-70 minutes later, though I didn’t understand this one beyond “to long” being “to ache”. Billingsgate relevance? Needed this blog for explanation. Actually started out with LING here, which was wrong, though it then popped up at 23d. I confess I had to look up Robert Wadlow though I’d already biffed STALLONE for 14ac. With thanks to setter and blogger for the entertainment.
  8. I always thought one thing that plainsong didn’t have, was a tune; but I don’t know much about music.

    What I did know was Robert Pershing Wadlow, from avid reading of the Guinness Book of Records, in youth. He still holds the record as tallest man ever, I think.

  9. I also assumed Mr Wadlow’s claim to fame. SOUTHEND ON SEA took me a while despite the fact I spent a lot of time there in the 1970s, as the company I worked for, Burroughs Machines Ltd, had its training centre there, right next to the railway station. Some extremely boozy nights occurred in those years! The journey used to take around 5 hours each way. Homeward bound on Friday afternoon involved the North Circular Road at 4pm. Ugh! No M11 in those days. It was a big relief when the training centre moved to Milton Keynes. I was all done and dusted in 17:54. Thanks Harry and Guy.
  10. 11:32. I knew about Robert Wadlow from Record Breakers. I also knew RUG RAT, whether from the kids’ show I couldn’t tell you. It’s not one of the ones my kids watched but I was aware of it. AGENTIVE was new to me.
  11. Guy – I noticed your lovely 40 years typographical badge yesterday.
    I have taken the liberty of enhancing it, to better show-off the delightful bezel-work etc. If you wish to use it, simply copy it – consider it as a Christmas present.
    Henceforth I will not be using it. horryd

    Edited at 2021-11-21 01:05 pm (UTC)

    1. Gee, thanks, David! That really looks good!
      I don’t even know how you did that.
      That pin is tiny and I had a lot of trouble in the LJ settings trying to center (and RECENTRE) it.
      I was never in the Typographer’s Union International (or otherwise). The woman who hired me at The Nation in 1986 gave it to me, possibly before I was admitted into the Newspaper (now just News) Guild in 1991 (a move she initially opposed!).
      Now let me try it out.

      I didn’t even notice the schmutz on the number, which you somehow managed to remove (I just did it on the pin with my finger).
      I just dragged your image to my desktop… Would it be possible to send a higher-res original that I could upload? “Union” is somewhat faint.
      If so, I’m sandy AT thenation DOT COM.
      If not, this is still fine & dandy.

      Edited at 2021-11-21 04:12 pm (UTC)

      1. I’m so glad you like it. Kool!
        l will be able to improve it a few notches, and get it to you as requested, but please be patient as I am stacked for a couple of days, with copy deadlines for my beloved editor in Maine. horryd
  12. I notice the First Minister of Scotland gets a mention at 21ac, Victor Stallone (Sly) at 14ac and Robert Pershing Wadlow of Alton, Ill., who died at just 22. In UK he would surely have been referred to as Mr. ‘Alton Towers’ My COD.
  13. This was enjoyable I thought. A few QC level clues to get you going and some challenges to finish. DNK Robert Wadlow but managed to guess STALLONE. I knew RUGRAT as a word once I’d thought of it; thankfully Rug Cap was discarded.
    I see from my newspaper copy that 17d is blank. That was LOI and I derived AGENTIVE from the cryptic; not a word I knew before, but it looked like a word.
    I’ll make AMI my COD as, although easyish, it’s very pleasing.
    Not too long overall; an hour or so.
  14. Thanks David and guy
    Took 41 minutes, a bit quicker than average, over a few short stints and with a few answers that had to be corrected – LING to ACHE (as per ‘sbeginner’) and APPLICATION to APPOINTMENT (just being lazy initially).
    A bit of new learning that needed to be checked – ‘Robert Wadlow’, that Billingsgate folk spoke the same way as Cockney ppl and AGENTIVE (grammar not a real strong point). Have become familiar with NICKER being a pound sterling though.
    Finished in the NE corner with ROOFER (neat cd), ORPHANAGE and TEARAWAY the last few in.

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