Sunday Times Cryptic 4999, by David McLean — and very him

Ingenious and entertaining, with vivid surfaces hiding a variety of devious devices.

I first thought of headlining this “the pusher is in.” One would expect a 5 to do more than sell medication, but of course we know all too well that for some (including shrinks) these days the job often comes down to no more than that (with generous extra remuneration by Big Pharma).

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

 1 Rather like this crossword setter, eh? (8)
SOMEWHAT — SO, “like” (Collins: “in the way or manner shown, expressed, indicated, understood, etc.; as stated or described; in such a manner”) + ME, “this crossword setter” + WHAT, “eh?”
 5 Drug dealer court put under house arrest! (6)
DOCTOR — DO(CT)OR, the “court” put literally in DOOR, “indoor” …which is much more straightforward than my first parsing, and makes much more sense, since a DOOR would “arrest” you, be an “arrest” in your passage, only if it were closed. But this was my last one parsed!
 9 What a gold-digger might do at posh ball for host (8)
LANDLORD — A joking alternate interpretation of the compound word, taken as two, for the clue …For no obvious reason, I first wrote in LANDLADY, which fits the actual definition as well as the male version and which I welcomed in the surface as a nice departure from the prevailing presumption that a “gold-digger” is a female (slight frisson of déjà vu here). But the final crosser showed me that I was dreaming.
10 Look and act like a senior straddling horse (6)
11 Beat unconscious and treat violently (5)
OUTDO — OUT, “unconscious” + DO, “treat violently”—as in Lexico: “Beat up or kill”
12 A pop duet released after 1st of May charted (6,3)
MAPPED OUT — M[-ay] + (A pop duet)* …Gerardus Mercator says he’s going to bed, as he’s all…
14 A switchboard operator? Most office workers have one (4,7)
LINE MANAGER — Clued with a literal reinterpretation …I’d worked for over three decades in an office before I ever heard that phrase. (It has nothing to do with the phones.)
18 Vessel head of research kept at absolute zero (11)
21 Old royal articles worn by police at one time (9)
ANASTASIA — AN, A and A, “articles” covering STASI, East Germany’s Finest—to spell the name of the youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar. As you’ve probably heard, she was slain with her family by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918. This clue encapsulates a poignant history.
23 Tory absolutely in accordance with the law? Well … (5)
RIGHT — Quadruple definition!!!!
24 One with light going around southern Manhattan? (6)
ISLAND — I, “One” + LAND, “light” circling S, “southern”
25 Fish one gets to catch in a wicker container (8)
BASSINET — BASS, “Fish” + I, “one” + NET, “to catch”
26 Artist who might be going round the bend? (6)
TURNER — Clued with a literal reading of his name—and that’s what a lot of people thought once, too! A real pioneer, that William (one of my faves).
27 Pickle student digs in dining room for men? (4,4)
MESS HALL — MESS, “Pickle” + HALL, “student digs”; “men” meaning soldiers

 1 On taking first wife out, gulp down pasty (6)
 2 Tick or similar critter biting Greek character (6)
 3 Tight as a competing body-builder’s quads? (4-5)
WELL-OILED — Clued with a literal illustration of the phrase
 4 Sharp? Sadly I’m no Caruso, I admitted! (11)
ACRIMONIOUS — (I’m no Caruso + I)*
 6 Gross salary originally received by old worker (5)
OBESE — O(ld) + BE(S)E
 7 Utter hard man giving a hug to hard men (8)
 8 One tweeting about daughter getting found (8)
REDSTART — RE, “about” + D(aughter) + START, “found”
13 Parking by a mango tree, about to get fruit (11)
POMEGRANATE — P(arking) + (a mango tree)*
15 People likely to have nothing on after work? (9)
NATURISTS — CD …My favorite clue this week, because… well, I can relate.
16 Dreamy type excited ladies during X-Factor (8)
IDEALIST — (ladies)* within (“during”) IT, “X-Factor”
17 Business concerning private eye and the Queen (8)
RETAILER — RE, “concerning” + TAIL, “private eye” + ER, “Queen”
19 You, according to hearsay, look a state (6)
UGANDA — U, “You” + GANDA, which sounds like “gander”
20 Some academist at a library of New York, say (6)
STATAL — Hidden …This word is not much seen, as “state” tout court functions quite well as an adjective.
22 Having changed top, feel unable to relax (5)
Can’t wait to get home, chérie?
TENSE — [-s, +T]ENSE

24 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4999, by David McLean — and very him”

  1. ….consistent with my time from the previous week of 51m 59s.
    I thought this was a good test and consistent with my average.
    Thanks, Guy, especially for SOMEWHAT, which I never did parse properly.
    In 25ac, I’ve only ever come across BASSINETs on a plane when they have been provided for carriage of infants. None I’ve seen were ever made of wicker.
    In 13d I’m querying ‘about’ as an anagrind. Bit dubious if you ask one!
    COD: DOCTOR (Drug dealer!) & LANDLORD
    I enjoyed the movie, “Mr Turner”. He had a couple of tense meetings with people but what I liked was the elaborate politeness involved: “Good day to you sir” or “Good day to you, madam”!
    Right, off to #5000! I’ve read Peter Biddlecombe’s entertaining article, now to do battle!

    Edited at 2022-03-27 02:09 am (UTC)

    1. Martin, I was going to toss in the actual links of the three top results in a Google search for anagrind lists, but you can verify the experiment yourself. It’s been seen on occasion in these parts. It makes sense taken as the 20th definition from Collins online, “moving around; astir | He was up and about while the rest of us still slept,” or adverbial definition 1 from Lexico, “mainly British Used to indicate movement within an area. | ‘men were floundering about’.”

      Edited at 2022-03-27 03:23 am (UTC)

      1. Thanks for taking the trouble, Guy. I’m a little late in replying because of today’s Cryptic which I paused in order to have my dinner.
    2. Wonderful.
      I’ve forwarded the link to friends… OH WAIT, they’re not subscribed.
      Will copy and paste!
        1. On the website version as I see it, you need to press the “Show more” button that belongs to the “News” section. After doing so, I can see the link on the right under a photo illustrating a piece about wind turbines.
  2. No idea what my time was; long, no doubt. But it seems to have made little impression on me. I put in STRIPPERS at 15d, something, probably RIGHT, made me change. Liked SOMEWHAT & THOROUGH. Thanks for the reference to the Biddlecombe piece, Guy; today’s puzzle merely says there’s an article, which probably would not have provoked me to actually look at it.
  3. …aka Albert Grossman? 46 minutes with WELL-OILED LOI. It was one of those puzzles that looked impossible but then fell into place. I’d put STRIPPERS in at 15d, until the LINE MANAGER revealed it was NATURISTS. COD jointly to LANDLORD and DREADNOUGHT. Good stuff. Thank you David and Guy.
  4. Not a vast fan of this one I’m afraid, I thought several definitions pushed the boundaries ..
    Slightly startled at the fat-shaming in 6dn, and surely a bee is quite likely not to be a worker at all?
    And, statal?
    1. bee=worker is an oldie, no? Not that I’ve ever liked it, but. I never knew that gross=fat; I thought it meant, well, gross. And I’ve never seen ‘statal’ except in ‘parastatal’ (and only in UK contexts); I can’t imagine it used to indicate a US state: ‘Utah has statal control over county legislation’?
      1. Nobody has ever used “statal” as a real word, Kevin. Trust me on this.
        And these days the dictionary definition of obese is “Person who for perfectly sound medical reasons is carrying more weight than they should. Nothing whatsoever to do with MacDonalds”
  5. Not quite the speedy streak of last week, but a solid fill in just under 50 minutes. FOI 1d SALLOW. Went off on the wrong track assuming the “rather” of 1ac signified an “ISH” ending, meaning my anagram at 4d began with an S and was never going to come out! Eventually got myself straight. NHO STATAL at 20d but otherwise managed to work out the how of everything. LOI 5Ac DOCTOR. Thanks to setter and bloggers.
  6. I was held up by STRIPPERS, which delayed DREADNOUGHT, LINE MANAGER, RIGHT and BASSINET. I had a spell in the middle where nothing went in and I was totally becalmed. The logjam was finally broken when I saw BEHOLD, then THOROUGH led to DOCTOR and the rest came in a rush, with ACRIMONIOUS opening up the NW. LOI was LANDLORD. I quite enjoyed this one. 39:12. Thanks Harry and Guy.
  7. Finished in 30 minutes. I spent some time trying to make LANDLORD a triple def but of course to no avail. More than compensated for by the v. good RIGHT quad def. I hope that STATAL has now made its one and only crossword appearance.

    Thanks to setter and Guy

  8. I enjoyed this overall. Had 4 clues left at 1.15pm so fair progress.
    The final group were DOCTOR, REDSTART, BEHOLD and THOROUGH. Can’t remember which was LOI.
  9. 17:54. A tough and enjoyable challenge. I was another slowed down by STRIPPERS, which fits the clue better. I suppose the idea is that NATURISTS would strip off when they get home after a hard day reluctantly wearing clothes.
    1. On the other hand, one might think that a stripper would be naked at, not after, work.
      1. Stripping is their work, so once they’ve done it they will have nothing on. Thinking about it in this sense the word ‘likely’ is superfluous.
    2. “Strippers” never entered my mind. Maybe because ecdysiasts tend to do at least one number after getting their whole kit off.

      Edited at 2022-03-27 01:31 pm (UTC)

  10. Are student halls digs (27ac)? I thought that digs were places where you had a room in a house owned by someone else not connected with the college you were in, or the theatre or whatever. In 19dn I assume we have to make U = you without any indication that it is textspeak, because the ‘according to hearsay’ can’t apply to what comes before it and what comes after it.
    1. Both our reference dictionaries define “digs” with the single word “lodgings”, so could include a room at the Ritz …

      I have a feeling the U=you has been around for ages in xwds, from things like UR18 fake number-plates. Both dictionaries record “you” as a meaning of U, though one says “messaging and social media”

  11. Thanks David and guy
    Was able to get it completed in a single 42 minute session – not bad going for me, starting with the POMEGRANATE at 13d.
    Did think STRIPPERS initially but withheld until I had some crossers – did rush in by writing PROSPECT in at 9a and an unparsed CLEOPATRA in at 21a though. Took a while to convince myself that a DOCTOR was a ‘drug dealer’ and STATAL was new.
    A lot of clues where the parsing had to be unravelled after the definition landed.
    Finished in the NE corner with BEHOLD (liked the original word play here), the oddly defined DOCTOR and REDSTART (where was looking for ‘found’ with a bird around D).

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