Sunday Times Cryptic 5005, by Robert Price — Take 2 puzzles and call me in the morning (just once!)

Great fun, as always, from Bob. Some very tricky stuff, I thought, but no perplexity remaining in the end.

A tippling Conservative leader starts things off, a story redolent of recent headlines. I found 22 especially amusing. I don’t really have OCD to any pathological degree, but I am a copy editor, and if you aren’t a bit obsessive and compulsive when you start such a job—if that weren’t a trait that helped you land it, even—you will be if you stick with it.

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

 1 Binge drinking’s ending in Conservative leader being axed (4)
ORGY — [-drinkin]G in [-t]ORY
 4 Be daft and get hot playing with a cat (3,3,4)
ACT THE GOAT — (get hot + a cat)*
 9 University dons prepare for pressure (6)
10 Beam securing more diseased ribbing (8)
11 Part in Macbeth and someone generous (8)
12 Times Review originally provided papers in three parts (6)
TRIFID — T[-imes] R[-eview] + IF, “provided” + ID, “papers”; Merriam-Webster: Latin trifidus split into three, from tri– + findere to split …Looked to me like a noun, but lo, it is an adjective.
13 In 0.999 where one 9 is irrelevant (6,3,5)
BESIDE THE POINT — “where one 9 is” quite literally
16 7/10 for one dirty side’s outside right (6,8)
VULGAR FRACTION — VULGAR, “dirty” + F(R)ACTION …Not sure I’d ever heard this (British) expression.
20 Spirit, primarily rum, in medium strength vermouth (6)
ESPRIT — ESP, “medium[’s] strength” + R[-um] + IT, “vermouth”
22 Daily Times cryptic used in treatment of OCD (8)
DOMESTIC — Two anagrinds, as (OCD)* shelters (Times)*
24 Wrongly assume a town lacks aspiration (8)
25 A river Earth’s no longer in shock about (6)
AMAZON — AMAZ[-e], “shock” sans E(arth) + ON, “about”
26 On a river, the fertile area missing a high point (10)
APOTHEOSIS — A, literally + PO, “river” + THE, literally + O[-a]SIS
27 Staunch supporter of bloomers (4)


 2 French way, we hear, to dig in leafy veg (7)
RHUBARB — RHU, “rue” + BARB, “dig”
 3 Give in return (5)
 4 Fugitive prisoner trying on false beards (9)
ABSCONDER — CON, “prisoner” dons (beards)*
 5 Flood turning brook periodically into a river (7)
TORRENT — TRENT is “a river” and alternate letters in bRoOk are thrown in.
 6 Someone devout executed for theft (5)
HEIST — [-t]HEIST… Off with his head!
 7 War campaign loot mostly raised with crude oil (9)
GALLIPOLI — PILLAG[-e]<=“raised” + (oil)*
 8 Charge one guinea to visit an island (7)
14 Make acceptable rugs with a synthetic fur (5-4)
SUGAR-COAT — (rugs + a)* + COAT, “fur”
15 Surround PM, once ordered by a bodyguard (9)
ENCOMPASS — (PM, once)* + A + SS, “bodyguard”—Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (“Protective Echelon”)
17 In tanning area, drop cap and loosen tie (7)
UNSTRAP — “Suntrap” with the S fallen to third place. …I didn’t know “suntrap,” though I’ve long been addicted to sunbathing. It’s for plants.
18 On deck giving satisfaction (7)
REDRESS — RE, “On” + DRESS, “deck” (verb)
19 Unpleasant chart topper going on a bit (7)
Clapton or Morrison?
NOISOME — NO I, number 1 + SOME, “a bit”
21 Kid that’s hot drinks noisily (5)
TEASE — “teas”
23 Figures going up and down (5)
STATS —  CD, alluding to the palindromic nature of the word

23 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 5005, by Robert Price — Take 2 puzzles and call me in the morning (just once!)”

    1. Interesting! It seems strange to promote (though not necessarily to denote) a place people supposedly enjoy abiding in as any kind of “trap.”

      Edited at 2022-05-07 11:35 pm (UTC)

      1. I think the real level of strangeness depends on the likeliness of misunderstanding by people in the target market. I think that tagline was mainly used around the 1960s, but the OED citations for “suntrap” include “Relax on the patio — a glorious little suntrap — with a glass of chardonnay” from 2016, in the pages of the Sunday Times.

        Edited at 2022-05-08 10:29 am (UTC)

  1. 17d was a trip! UNSTRIP instead of UNSTRAP. Thinking a sunstrip might be a beach and stripping its first S. A few of us have one error. I wonder if it’s this?
    25:03, but the first pink in almost a month.
  2. This was a slog, but I can’t remember why. Other than that I spent some time on LOI ESPRIT, since I couldn’t believe it was being clued by ‘spirit’. DNK ACT THE GOAT, TRIFID (weren’t they in some sci-fi story?). I knew VULGAR FRACTION, DNK what it meant (finally looked it up). I liked REDRESS.
    1. You’re thinking of The Day of the Triffids (note -ff-) by the great John Wyndham who also wrote Village of the Damned and The War of the Worlds amongst many other books and short stories. Triffids perhaps lacks the fame of the other two because it was never successfully filmed although a couple of poor attempts were made for cinema and later TV.

      As for the puzzle, I needed 40 minutes but had no problems other than my first thought at 4ac being PLAY THE GOAT, which obviously wouldn’t fit so I had to think again. Very familiar with SUNTRAP.

      Edited at 2022-05-08 04:35 am (UTC)

      1. Never heard of Wyndham, thanks. But I feel compelled to point out that, although the title certainly sounds like one of his, War of the Worlds is by H.G. Wells.
        1. Thanks. Yes of course you are right about War of the Worlds. It’s a bit early in the day and my brain isn’t in gear yet. I also should have said that Village of the Damned was the film title of Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos.

          For his other famous works I might have mentioned The Chrysalids and The Kraken Awakes rather than mis-attributing the HG Wells.

          Edited at 2022-05-08 05:41 am (UTC)

          1. Your brain evidently hasn’t clicked properly into gear, Jack. The Kraken Wakes.
            1. I think there’s a bit of a difference between confusing major authors as I did earlier and misremembering a title by one letter so that it’s still a valid word meaning exactly the same thing.
  3. 39 minutes. ARROGATE was the one that gave me the most trouble – one of those words I recognised but didn’t what it meant. NOISOME gets a good run in crosswords, if not in real life.

    I liked GALLIPOLI, not too long after our ANZAC Day here, and the two mathematically related (sort of) BESIDE THE POINT and VULGAR FRACTION.

  4. Great puzzle from Robert with BESIDE THE POINT the stand-out clue along with the unaspirated Yorkshire town and the suntrap play area. A bit tougher than usual perhaps? I was 45 minutes on it.. Thank you Robert and Guy.
    1. Eric Bogle, who wrote it, sings it beautifully, of course, but The Pogues have recorded an excellent version, too.
      1. Shane MacGowan’s version was brilliant. I always wish though that he’d been consistent in his pronunciation of ‘quay’. I’m such a pedant!
  5. I thought this was fairly straightforward but with some good clues.
    Thank you, Guy, for DOMESTIC.
    In 27ac I started with stay i.s.o. STEM.
    In 17d, at first I thought “drop cap” meant taking the first letter off something instead of just lowering it.
    I liked the use of ‘bodyguard’ as in SS in ENCOMPASS.
    I also liked the idea of ‘noisily’ as in ‘sounds like’ in 21d
    Another good point was using different ways of saying the same thing in 1ac ‘axed’ and 6d ‘executed’

    Edited at 2022-05-08 06:09 am (UTC)

  6. Just short of an hour. I enjoyed this. Great clues for me: 13ac, 22ac and 26ac. I also really liked ACT THE GOAT and REDRESS.

    Thanks Guy and Mr Price.

    Edited at 2022-05-08 08:10 am (UTC)

  7. 21:51. I spent over half my solving time on my last three clues: STATS, AMAZON, STEM. Just couldn’t see them, I’ve no idea why.
    1. That was my LOI, or certainly the last one parsed. It’s not often we see E clued by “Earth.”
  8. I enjoyed this one. ORGY was FOI. 17 minutes turned into 25 while I wrestled with LOI, AMAZON. Got it eventually! Great puzzle. Loved BESIDE THE POINT, VULGAR FRACTION and UNSTRAP. Thanks Bob and Guy.
  9. 54 minutes, one pink square (I fell into the SUNTRAP, because SUNSTRIP dropping, i.e., removing the first letter seemed much more likely, even if UNSTRIP didn’t fit the literal meaning quite as well). I didn’t like that clue, but the rest was fine, although I hesitated some minutes over ESPRIT, since like Kevin I was surprised it was being clued by “spirit”.
  10. Thanks Robert and guy
    Started off with RHUBARB quite quickly, but then found this one pretty tough going with a lot of overwriting of answers in the SW corner. Had written in PROPER FRACTION initially which didn’t parse and was soon displaced when SUGAR COAT emerged. Took ages to work out why AMAZON was the river at 25a.
    Guessed an unparsed UNCLASP before slowly back-stepping to UNSTRAP (which still took a while to unravel, having not heard of a sun trap previously). Was also surprised with the use of ‘spirit’ as the definition of 20a, leading to a slower uptake to accepting it as the answer. Those two were the third and second last in before ARROGATE (new word but with an inkling of an English town called HARROGATE was able to finish off).

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