Sunday Times Cryptic 5003, by David McLean — Reçu cinq sur cinq !

Wow, I was really on the wavelength for this one!—hence the French expression in my headline, which originated in the vocabulary for radio transmissions: « Employé…pour indiquer le niveau de compréhension des messages transmis, sur une échelle allant de 1 à 5 » (Wiktionnaire). Without a doubt, I’ve never solved a Sunday cryptic so quickly. The hed alludes of course also to my LOI, 19, which at first had me scratching my head: “That’s not really an English word…”

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

 1 I’m disgusted about Left’s claptrap (4)
Is our esteemed setter revealing himself to be a right-winger?
 4 Senate group renowned for giving a hoot (10)
PARLIAMENT — DD, the second being the proper term for a gathering of owls
 9 Do not wed fool or knight or Old Nick (5,2,6)
TOWER OF LONDON — (not wed fool or)* + N, “knight”—some deceptive capitalization here (as in 19, 21 and 22), the landmark originally having been a jail. This week we have a winner for the Creative Anagrind Prize: “Do” in the sense of “beat up”!
10 Analyse and understand river-dwelling fish (6)
11 Furniture maker that girl found by shop (8)
SHERATON — SHE, “that girl” + RAT ON, “shop”
12 Take care of diet in a satisfactory way (8)
FAREWELL — FARE, “diet” + WELL, “in a satisfactory way”
14 Brownie brought over by shrink makes you fat (6)
FLESHY — ELF<=“brought over” + SHY, “shrink”
15 Grounds, say, to go after head of Exxon (6)
I could list a few…
ESTATE — E[-xxon] + STATE, “say”
17 Geek abruptly, after blocking pieces, mates (8)
PARTNERS — NER[-d] interrupting PARTS
19 Communication by Queen in Melody Maker (8)
MESSAGER — MESSAGE + R, to make the name of André Charles Prosper Messager (December 1853—February 24, 1929), a composer primarily of operettas, so not my thing, but melody was really his.
21 Fight Club line used in film retrospective (6)
BATTLE — BAT, “Club” + L(ine) in ET<=“retrospective”
23 Station having trouble with modern display (13)
DEMONSTRATION — (Station + modern)*
24 Banged-up Mini dopes launched across river (10)
IMPRISONED — (MINI DOPES + R)* …No list of anagrinds I found includes “launched,” but it does mean “set in motion,” so… “Banged-up” would make a fine anagrind, of course (same sense as “Do” in 9), but then it would be doing double duty.
25 Large cut in fuel hopefully just the start (4)
GASH — GAS, “fuel” + H[-opefully]

 2 Flexible untruths told by chap with lisp (5)
LITHE — “Lies,” with the speech impediment
 3 Why is that old toilet in Habitat? (3,4)
 4 Go on a brief river excursion at the front (9)
PERSEVERE — PER, “a” + SEVER[-n] + E[-xcursion]
 5 No rubbish dumping close to a lake (7)
REFUSAL — REFUS[-e] + A + L(ake)
 6 United foolish to sub centre for Oscar (2,3)
IN ONE — IN[-a,+O]NE
 7 Moderate cold? Drug will get rid of that! (7)
 8 Nobody else at work up here, not surprisingly (4,5)
NONE OTHER — ON<=“up” + (here not)*
13 Drama set rebuilt with millions in capital (9)
AMSTERDAM — (Drama set)* + M(illions)
14 Troublemaker in bar friend sorted out (9)
FIREBRAND — (bar friend)*
16 A small problem with Queen impersonator? (7)
ASSUMER — A + S(mall) + SUM, “problem” + ER, Elizabeth Regina
17 Meter maid splitting up wordplay for “moralist” (7)
18 Love is a matter lacking any importance (7)
You won’t find many who agree with that…
20 Cottage hospital unit tucked into eggs regularly (5)
GENTS — Every other letter of eGgS wrapping ENT. “Cottage” as slang for a public toilet is found in Collins, whereas Lexico (which also has it as a verb) limits this usage to “the context of casual homosexual encounters.”
22 Bars in which people usually serve Coke (5)

18 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 5003, by David McLean — Reçu cinq sur cinq !”

  1. This took me less time than Harry’s puzzles usually do. I never got ‘do’ as anagrind; I evidently just didn’t think about it. DNK ‘cottage’ (gives ‘love in a cottage’ a new meaning). DNK MESSAGER, which became my LOI, as I was reluctant to accept it until I had to.
  2. Hello! Your entry got to top-25 of the most popular entries in LiveJournal!
    Learn more about LiveJournal Ratings in FAQ.
    1. This is surely an indication of how popular LiveJournal is nowadays.

      Edited at 2022-04-24 01:37 am (UTC)

      1. Yes, but by the looks of it the ratings are split between Cyrillic Services users and others, so I think it may mean that we’re one of the most popular blogs from the group outside LJ’s current core audience…

        (For fairly obvious reasons I’ve cancelled my LJ subscription—I’ve been a paid member since 2005, back when the service was both non-Russian and very popular—but it seems quite a sad note to end on, having been an enthusiastic blogger with a big community of friends on here back in the day…)

  3. Well I had a very different experience from our blogger with this one, but to be fair I have it noted on my print-out that I nodded off more than once so I must have been very tired and my time of 73 minutes does not accurately reflect the time I was actively solving.

    I didn’t find it easy though, otherwise I would probably have stayed awake, and there were a few unknowns or unlikely looking words where I just had to trust the wordplay, MESSAGER and ASSUMER for two.

  4. Some excellent clues, I thought. Thank you Guy…but I believe you are missing the underlining under ‘banged up’ in 24ac.
    On the theme of imprisonment, I missed the ‘do’ anagrind in TOWER OF LONDON….which is where the infamous Kray Twins were briefly imprisoned in 1952 for being late reporting for National Service.
    In 6d, you can make a good case for ‘as one’: take ‘asinine’ and replace the INI with O; but that makes a mess of PARLIAMENT, of course.
    MESSAGER was a tad obscure and we descended into the demi-monde with GENTS and LINES.
    On the plus side, I liked MEDIATE and PERSEVERE but my COD to DECODE. “River-dwelling fish” Very good!
      1. PS….Regarding your headline “Reçu cinq sur cinq”, you may well know that there is a chain of dry cleaners/laundries in France called “Cinq à Sec”, that being a play on the phrase “cinq à sept” which is shorthand for the affair one has after leaving the office and before arriving home.
        1. No, I didn’t know that! Have just looked it up.

          CinqàSec was founded in Marseille in 1968 and is now present in thirty countries, including China. A 2017 article in Le Parisien on the very successful chain ne dit rien sur le double sens, mais peut-être là-bas ça va sans dire. Wiktionnaire a deux définitions pour « cinq à sept » : « Moment de détente entre amis entre le travail et la vie de famille » et « Rendez-vous extraconjugal de fin d’après-midi. »

          Edited at 2022-04-24 04:44 am (UTC)

          1. Very good! Thanks, again, Guy! In my teenage years, there was a TV comedy series presented by Michael Bentine, one of the original Goons. In one episode there is a very funny sketch on the conjugation of the verb être. It involves ‘un rendezvous extraconjugal’ (what a lovely word!) but, alas, I cannot find it on YouTube.
  5. I had no problems with 20 or 22, though I might’ve expected them more from the Grauniad. I had more problems with MESSAGER and ASSUMER, but followed the wordplay and crossed my fingers. LOI was 4d, where I had to write out my guess to tease out the wordplay. FOI 2d LITHE.
  6. 17:59 with BLAH FOI and MESSAGER LOI after FAREWELL. I considered BAKEWELL too. Liked PARLIAMENT, which also fixed my (not quite parsed) AS ONE. Thanks Harry and Guy.
  7. 20minutes, but with BAKEWELL. I must have been feeling hungry that day. I never think they should be baked too well anyway. They’re better puddingy. I deduced what the Gents may be called in some circles in 20d and also in innocence what the drug industry trades. It’s as well the universe of furniture makers I know is two. A witty puzzle. Thank you Guy and setter.
  8. I’m pleased that it wasn’t just me with Bakewell. Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle – I have 10/10 written on my copy (rather than 5/5). Loved ‘Do’ and ‘Refusal’. Took an age to get why cottage was the definition and put in ‘messager’ without any idea how it worked – so thanks for clearing that up.
  9. 15:27. I enjoyed this one. 20 and 22 didn’t bother me but I did think they were a little surprising, even allowing for the more liberal style of the Sunday puzzles.
  10. Like Guy I found this a much more accessible Sunday puzzle than usual. Though for me that still meant well over an hour to unravel. I didn’t know the necessary meaning of cottage -nor ENT for that matter- but GENTS was way more likely than alternatives genus, gongs, or gangs.
  11. My time says 56 minutes, but there was a break, after which the last three answers (BLAH, PARLIAMENT, MEDIATE) went in very quickly. For BLAH, I had been wondering most of the time whether ULGH could possibly be a word, but after the break BLAH just popped into view. PARLIAMENT didn’t become possible until I saw that AS ONE could also be IN ONE, and of course I never saw the connection to owls, despite being aware that since the 15th century there have been lots of strange names for groups of certain animals. Not an easy puzzle, but lots of fun.

    On another note, today Live Journal’s ads are offering, in Russian, Russian school lessons online. So are these ads aimed at Russians who have fled the country?

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