Sunday Times Cryptic 4997, by Dean Mayer — all in the family

Anything here to effrayer les équidés?

Worked this at a leisurely pace, as usual, taking plenty of time to think, and I found it rather educational. I learned, or at least solidified my knowledge of, a few things. It was really fun to write up, too.

I indicate (Ars Magna)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

1 Primates have been active, primarily in hats (10)
BUSHBABIES — BUS(H[-ave]B[-een]A[-ctive])BIES, BUSBIES being those tall fur helmets such as are worn by certain British guardsmen. BUSHBABIES are jungle relatives of ours, defined by Collins as “any agile nocturnal arboreal prosimian primate[s] of the genera Galago and Euoticus, occurring in Africa south of the Sahara: family Lorisidae [lorises]. They have large eyes and ears and a long tail.”
6 Salesman keeping a cut (4)
REAP — RE(A)P …This is not the definition I first think of, but it’s first in more than one dictionary! Etymologically related to “ripe,” with an Indo-European root meaning “to tear, pull out.”
10 Anchorage area surrounded by bars (5)
ROADS — RO(A)DS, a shortened form of “roadstead” (Collins): “a protected place near shore, not as enclosed as a harbor, where ships can anchor” …My LOI, the singular meaning attached to a seeming plural posing a problem, though I had a vague memory of the term and could make nothing else of the wordplay.
11 One fluked it with English loner (9)
ANCHORITE — ANCHOR, “one fluked” (that is, with those barbed projections on its arms) + IT + E(nglish) …Did you know that the place where a recluse of this sort abides is (sometimes) called an “anchorage”?
12 As tramps, OK to wander (3,5)
TOP MARKS — (tramps OK)* …Brilliant anagrist/grind meld—I knew “As” had to be the definition, but was reading it first as “as”!
13 Badger, deer, tailless horse (6)
HARASS — HAR[-t] + ASS …Gave me pause, but here’s Wikipedia: “The domestic donkey is a hoofed mammal in the family Equidae, the same family as the horse.” And here’s Collins, for “horse”: “any other member of the family Equidae, such as the zebra or ass.” So our setter’s “ass” is covered.
14 Enquiry after dad gets it (4,4,6)
HOWS YOUR FATHER — Literal interpretation of a euphemism for sex or “it”—nudge, nudge, say no more
17 Indeed, without work, nothing new made as well (3,4,7)
FOR GOOD MEASURE — FOR SURE, “Indeed” with GO, “work” + O, “nothing” + (made)* within
21 Loose papers easy to look through? (6)
LIMPID — LIMP, “Loose” + ID, “papers” …Not sure why the question mark was deemed necessary or helpful
22 Two cricket sides, sometimes (3,3,2)
OFF AND ON — “Off” and “on” are of course literally two “sides” in cricket, something I “knew” only from working these things (but I still had to look it up again to remember what that means, precisely).
24 Labour’s aim always stated (9)
ENDEAVOUR — END, “aim” + “ever” …The last vowel is a schwa, of course, just as it is in the American form of the word, despite the pretty addition of the U, a relic of the Norman invasion.
25 Name a song about a horny individual (5)
“Sympathy for the Devil”?
NYALA — N(ame) + A LAY <=“about”—a member of the antelope family (Bovidae)
26 Bomb a military vehicle (4)
27 Me, loosely? (4,2,4)
MORE OR LESS — M[-or]E …My FOI, and COD… hell, COW!

 1 Carpet of grass gathered by worker (6)
 2 Cleaner put on short pants (7)
SHAMPOO — SHAM, “put on” + POO[-r]
 3 Leave for work (7,7)
BUSMANS HOLIDAY — CD …Like if Ralph Kramden took Alice cross-country in a Winnebago
 4 Like coal or oil (5,4)
BLACK GOLD — “Like coal,” BLACK + “or,” French for GOLD …I had to check that “black gold” is not also used in some parts for the highly polluting fossil fuel whose profits have seduced from the path of righteousness a certain senator from my old home state of West Virginia (which would have made this clue utterly banal and noncryptic). I saw the wordplay quite late… zut alors !
 5 A head coach needs time off (4)
 7 What covers stone over old man? (7)
EPITAPH — &lit! E(PIT, “stone”)(PA<=“over”)H, EH being “What” …Until corymbia provided the parsing, I had this marked as a CD, with “covers” instead of “is written on” mainly making it a CD (and solved it’s certainly quite crypt-ic).
 8 Will appeal, certainly (8)
PLEASURE — PLEA, “appeal” + SURE, “certainly”; as in, “at your pleasure”
 9 Alas, a bitter not ordered for him? (5,9)
TOTAL ABSTAINER — (Alas, a bitter not)*, &lit (or semi-such? See below. Discuss among yourselves); a “teetotaller,” which term does have lexicographic status, though I can find our answer only in the louche Urban Dictionary. But maybe it’s in Chambers or the unabridged OED? (Confirmed, for the latter!) …“Alas” might be the projection of a confirmed drinker, whereas the person not partaking is just as, if not more, likely to be quite happy about remaining on the wagon.
15 Make stronger screen for certain shows? (2-7)
RE-ENFORCE — Hidden; synonymous with “reinforce” in some usages, some not entirely current
16 Loaded a firearm, at first easy (8)
AFFLUENT — A + F[-irearm] + FLUENT, “easy”
18 Ahead of nothing, about to drive fast (7)
RAMADAN — RAM, “drive” precedes NADA<=“about”
19 To cut cost, help set up beam (7)
RADIATE — RA(AID<=“set up”)TE
20 History article on news — too brief (6)
ANNALS — A + NN, two “new”s + ALS[-o]
23 Nuts caught in toilet (4)

24 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4997, by Dean Mayer — all in the family”

  1. I really enjoyed this one from Dean. 3d, “Leave for work” was as succinct as “likes eating” (‘cannibalism) once was.
    IOn 1ac, I had it in my head that the headgear were ‘busbees’ but then realised that was because I used to know someone called Busbee.
    Clever mix of ‘anchor’ in 10ac and 11ac.
    I liked HOW’S YOUR FATHER but runner-up to RAMADAN and COD to BUSMAN’S HOLIDAY.
    Finally, LIMPID reminded me of the old Peter Sellers’ classic: ‘Balham, Gateway to the South”: “…the limpid waters of the old drinking fountain”.
    1. I assume you saw corymbia’s comment, below. The surface reading was just so close to the cryptic sense that I didn’t see the wordplay—much like the clue for BLACK GOLD, at first, and another one in a puzzle I blogged recently…
      1. Thanks, Guy, but only after I had read your original decrypt of EPITAPH and commented on it. As I have mentioned before, I struggle to differentiate between CDs and &lits!
  2. I think 7d EPITAPH parses as ‘what’ EH, covers ‘stone’ PIT over ‘old man’ PA backwards, to give the all in one definition.
    LOI, and I agree COD to 27a MORE OR LESS. Good to see the horny 5 letter individual wasn’t a rhino this time.
    Another brilliant offering from Dean.

    Edited at 2022-03-13 01:57 am (UTC)

  3. 62 minutes. The usual top grade puzzle from Dean. I can’t remember if I saw the ‘Like coal or’ wordplay at 4d; it would be nice to think I did, but I probably just bunged it in from the def. Plenty to choose from, but HOWS YOUR FATHER and MORE OR LESS were my favourites.

    EPITAPH being “quite crypt-ic”? Boom-boom. I’m probably missing something, but is TOTAL ABSTAINER (which BTW is in the OED) really a true &lit/all-in-one? It’s a (very good) cryptic def, but how does ‘for him’ contribute to the wordplay?

    Thanks to Dean and Guy

    1. Mm… I saw “for him” as part of the wordplay, indicating that the answer sought by unraveling the anagrist is a noun. There’s nothing to the definition besides this pointer back to the anagrist/anagrind… “Semi-&lit,” maybe?

      Thanks for the OED reference.

      1. Thanks. Yes, I’m hardly an expert in such matters, but it would do as a semi-&lit for me.
    2. “total abstainer” is also in Chambers. I suppose it’s something heard of more around a hundred years ago than now, but I don’t think I felt any need to look it up. Both our main reference dictionaries had “total depravity”, which I would have looked up as I didn’t know it, but I think that has more need for explanation. OTOH, both have “total eclipse” and “total recall”, which seem just as clear from the individual words as “total abstainer”. My honest guess is that there are plenty of multi-word phrases like this that could be included, but some can’t be because a one-volume dictionary doesn’t have enough space.

      Edited at 2022-03-13 08:54 am (UTC)

      1. By one of those surprising coincidences, in between doing this puzzle and now I read the Father Brown story The Quick One, published in the 1935 collection The Scandal of Father Brown, in which a character is described as “the Oriental total abstainer”…
  4. This was brilliant, even for Dean. I’ve got a half-dozen or so clues checked for COD, but EPITAPH (got it early, but it took me forever to parse), HOWS YOUR FATHER, and MORE OR LESS stood out, especially the last. Exhausting fun.
  5. 26 minutes. HOW’S YOUR FATHER, TOP MARKS and BUSMAN’S HOLIDAY were all great clues but COD to MORE OR LESS. My answer to the challenge in 25a was going to be “There’s a moose loose aboot this hoose,” until it dawned on me that Lord Rockingham’s XI were referring to a wee, timorous beastie. The Stones win, Guy. Thank you to you, and Dean for this brilliant puzzle.
  6. This was hard work, but rewarding. I managed to guess the unknown ANCHORITE but failed on NYALA.
    I constructed NRAIA – a horned nymph perhaps.
    My favourite was TOTAL ABSTAINER as it reminded me immediately of Jock, the senior doctor in the excellent BBC series A Very Peculiar Practice from the 1980s (still worth watching and a great theme tune).
  7. A fine puzzle which kept me on my toes for 35:34. I’m a TOTAL FORGETTER of in which order I tackled the clues, but lots of PDMs which made it a pleasure. TOP MARKS was a revelatory case in point! Thanks Sean and Guy.
  8. Excellent puzzle, Dean. Nice blog, Guy. Interesting editorial observation, PB — there really are a lot of phrases which should sufficinetly qualify as “things” to be able to appear in a fair puzzle but which don’t make one of the dictionaries. I liked More Or Less and Epitaph, and I wish i’d seen Busman’s Holiday more quickly.
  9. Although I finished it in 30 minutes (very good for me) it was a superb and challenging puzzle with many excellent clues. My COD would be TOP MARKS, but there were many runners-up (BLACK GOLD, EPITAPH, FOR GOOD MEASURE for good measure).
  10. Many thanks for the informative blog comme d’hab. May I though quarrel with your definition of busby? The five regiments of Foot Guards of the Household Division wear bearskins. Busbies are most commonly seen these days adorning the heads of the Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. Jeffrey
    1. Well, not being an expert in military attire around the world, nor a milliner, I could only go by the definition(s) I found. Collins has, under British English, “1. a tall fur helmet with a bag hanging from the top to the right side, worn by certain soldiers, usually hussars, as in the British Army
      2. (not in official usage) another name for bearskin (sense 2),” and in American English, “a tall fur hat worn as part of a full-dress uniform by hussars, guardsmen in the British army, etc.” and under a second American English heading (why do they do this?), “1. a tall fur hat with a baglike ornament hanging from the top over the right side | 2. the bearskin hat worn by certain British guardsmen.” Lexico’s UK dictionary: “A tall fur hat with a coloured cloth flap hanging down on the right-hand side and in some cases a plume on the top, worn by soldiers of certain regiments of hussars and artillerymen. | ‘There was also a soldier’s ceremonial busby cap.’ | 1.1 popular term for bearskin (the cap)”
      1. Just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read on line or off! And to reinforce that argument, allow me to offer a quotation from that impeccable source Wikipedia:”The busby should not be mistaken for the much taller bearskin cap, worn most notably by the five regiments of Foot Guards of the Household Division (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards). Around 1900 the word “busby” was used colloquially to denote the tall bear and racoonskin “caps” worn by foot guards and fusiliers and the feather bonnets of Highland infantry.This usage is now obsolete.” No offence intended.
        1. I obviously should have written only “a big fur hat.” But “obsolete” doesn’t disqualify a usage for Times cryptics, and in any case there is no such indication in either Lexico or Collins, whose entries were written by lexicographers, who only record usage (one relating to the “bearskin” is marked as “unofficial”), and not by specialists in military attire and nomenclature.

          Edited at 2022-03-14 06:11 pm (UTC)

          1. Reading this late: File with “engineer” meaning “mechanic”, or “crescendo” meaning “a peak of loudness”. However much experts in the field may hate those meanings, they are established in the language, as recorded in dictionaries.

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