Sunday Times Cryptic No 5009 by David McLean — forte intensité du courant

After spotting the two-letter definition, I wasn’t expecting the single-letter one! This was challenging and enlightening. I learned things, never having heard of the jacket at 10 or the culinary mixture at 25 or encountered the idiom at 26 or the pejorative expression at 13—and I finally got around to looking up exactly what kind of wine 2 is, after seeing it here a number of times recently. We are also given more than one salutary reminder of historical facts and of the wonders of East End argot (yet not a dropped 1D in sight!).

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

  1 Reportedly where one might see vinegar everywhere (3,4,3,5)
ALL OVER THE PLACE  Sounds like (“Reportedly”) “all over the plaice”  …I immediately guessed the answer from the definition and the enumeration, but hesitated a long time to put it in because I wasn’t getting the cryptic. I even wondered if ALL OVER THE PLATE were a variant idiom… and had finished the puzzle before I remembered the fish—which it seems is often the species that accompanies yer chips.
 9 Agency work’s attractive if a bit short on time (7)
10 Type of jacket Barnet tradesman picked up (7)
BARBOUR  Sounds like “barber,” and “Barnet”’ is “hair” in Cockney rhyming slang (“Barnet Fair”—it’s a long story). It’s a durable, waterproof waxed cotton garment. The name comes from one company that makes them but has become generic.
11 Rent’s more expensively priced, so I’m told (4)
HIRE  “Higher”
12 Walk in America and berate path in bad condition (4,3,3)
BEAT THE RAP  (berate path)*  …Oh, you don’t have that expression over there? Another US promenade is the “perp walk,” which is a different kettle of plaice.
13 Will possibly split by a good man and a bad one (7)
BASTARD  B(A)(ST)ARD, “Will” being The Bard, of course
15 Land fish around section of the Thames endlessly (7)
TUNISIA  TUNA is the “fish” surrounding ISI[-s], “Isis” being the name for the stretch from the river’s “source in the Cotswolds until it is joined by the Thame at Dorchester in Oxfordshire. It derives from the ancient name for the Thames, Tamesis, which in the Middle Ages was falsely assumed to be a combination of ‘Thame’ and ‘Isis’. Notably, the Isis flows through the city of Oxford” (Wikipedia).
17 Leader of evil movement creates strong feeling (7)
EMOTION  E[-vil] + MOTION, “movement”  …The second part of the clue is virtually a straight explication of the actual etymology of the answer word, which dampens some of the charge in my view.
19 Ways a heavenly body has earl in its thrall (7)
AVENUES  A VENUS captivating E(arl)
20 Is thickset criminal more vulgar than anyone else? (10)
KITSCHIEST  (thickset)*
22 Parrot and primate seen close to reindeer (4)
APER  APE, “primate” + [-reindee]R  …The sense of “aping” as “parroting” comes direct from an analogy with our primate cousins, so some “spark” is lacking, as André Breton might have said, in the juxtaposition.
25 Not all grab at tutor’s Italian chopped herbs (7)
BATTUTO  Hidden…I’d never heard of this.
26 Great meals, but not any drinks put on by hotel (4-3)
NOSH-UPS  NO SUPS, “not any drinks” found around H(otel)
27 I head to town on tail of oddly eccentric ruler (8,7)
ELECTRIC CURRENT  (eccentric ruler)* + T[-own] The definition comes from the French phrase intensité du courant (current intensity). Wikipedia: “The I symbol was used by André-Marie Ampère, after whom the unit of electric current is named, in formulating Ampère’s force law (1820).”
  1 A long lead for hounds? (5)
AITCH  A + ITCH, “long [for]”
 2 Drink, spirit mostly, that’s kept in a fancy wagon (9)
LAMBRUSCO  RU[-m], “spirit mostly” + SC., scilicet, “that is” inside a LAMBO(rghini)
  3 See story about one covering boat race in Docklands? (4)
VEIL  V, abbrev. for vide, “see” + LIE<=“about”; “boat race” is CRS for “face,” as “Docklands” hints.
 4 Skunk perhaps behind low-quality paper plant (7)
RAGWEED  RAG, “low-quality paper” in front of WEED, “skunk, perhaps” (a particularly fragrant strain of marijuana)
 5 Home somewhat overshadowed by Balmoral? (7)
HABITAT  H(A BIT)AT This is the HAT.
 6 A part of church that liberal’s left, possibly (9)
 7 A flash republican covering up university affair (5)
AMOUR  A + MO (moment), “flash” + U(niversity) + R(epublican)
 8 You might say the Dutch are ones up for change (9)
They are very liberal and progressive!
EUROPEANS  (are ones up)*
13 A berk drunk on table topless gets smashed easily (9)
BREAKABLE  (A berk)* + [-t]ABLE  The British slang term for a fool brings us yet again to rhyming slang, being (according to Collins) “shortened from Berkeley or Berkshire Hunt…for the taboo word cunt.” Oh, my…
14 What might ruin mother in a tribunal battle (9)
AGINCOURT  A(GIN)COURT The alcoholic drink was called “Mother’s Ruin” in the eighteenth-century UK. The battle (25 October, 1415) was one of the most celebrated English victories in the 100 Years War (but y’all know that).
16 Relief maybe created by overturned cup result (9)
SCULPTURE  (cup result)*
18 Toff with trapped wind seen by island capital (7)
NAIROBI  N(AIR)OB + I(sland)
19 As a Kent prison closing early, run to get inside (7)
ARSENIC  A + SE, Southeast or “Kent” + NIC[-k] with R(un) inserted
21 Large piece of egg found underneath bird book (5)
TITLE  L(arge) + E[-gg] sat on by TIT, “bird”
23 Actively oppose taking fifth examination (5)
24 Hard to avoid Escort or a person on horse, say (4)

38 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5009 by David McLean — forte intensité du courant”

  1. G’mornin’ Sir Guy! More Lambrusco?

    A regulation 50 min work-out for me on a Sunday, before breakfast.

    FOI 1ac ALL OVER THE PLACE which has been superseded these days by the slightly shorter ‘All over the Shop’!
    LOI 22ac APER
    COD 10ac BARBOUR – The most English of Huntin’, Shootin’ and Fishin’ jackets (and trews etc): buy one at Burleigh House next time your over.
    WOD 25ac BATTUTO (fr. batterere to beat down) and then soffrito (stir fry!) for one’s ‘nosh-up Italiano!

    5dn HABITAT – Ikean instructions – and the up-market precursor of IKEA

  2. Something over 40′. I had no idea what the vinegar was doing, or the Docklands. DNK BARBOUR or BATTUTO. NHO LAMBO and couldn’t parse LAMBRUSCO. Perhaps most annoyingly, I once again didn’t twig to As for the longest time. All in all a disappointing day.

    1. Oh, Kevin, you’ve mentioned AS before! I thought you would have been all over that!

  3. Fish and chips from ‘the chippies’ up t’north, were often dowsed/drowned in salt and vinegar by the purchaser. Brummies loved their vinegar too and from them developed the first variety of commercial potato crisps (chips) 🍟 from Golden Wonder, ‘Salt & Vinegar.’ A couple of good-sized pickled onions and a portion of mushy peas does for me and my haddock. And not forgetting the Ketchup. Then came curry sauce! Finally in ‘Reservoir Dogs’ we learned of Mayo from The Netherlands! I had picked that up in Belgium back in 1963 – best fries ever!
    Now have I finally sorted out my avatar!?

    1. Morning Horryd! Are you testing because you’re getting the error message “Cannot parse response” when you’re trying to post? Because me too!

      1. Mornin’ O Gothick One!

        Unlike you,I do not receive any error message.

        I tend to use my desktop PC (non-Apple) for the 15×15 puzzles and my i-pad for the QC.
        All is well with the former, as I am automatically logged-in – my avatar ever available.

        Today I tried to use the i-pad for the Sunday 15×15 -and re-logged-in – but the avatar function soon goes off and appears to be quite random! But this happens on no other app. that I use.

        I then nip on to my PC and try to edit the i-Pad message – which should restore the avatar (?), but that is a no-no!

        Perhaps it’s the Great Chinese Firewall!? Who knows!? The ‘Plum Rain’ has arrived in Shanghai as the lock-down ends!

        I shall be unavailable later on, as I shall be hiding behind the sofa, watching the cricket from Lords, Rooting for Enger-land! What a Test!

  4. 36 minutes. BATTUTO was unknown, as was the Americanism BEAT THE RAP.

    The origin of BERK in rhyming slang doesn’t appear to be disputed but if it’s correct it seems very odd that the word isn’t pronounced ‘bark’, as the place names are pronounced ‘BARKsheer’ and ‘BARKly’.

    1. ‘Berkshire’ is often pronounced burke-shire. Not by the posh denizens of the county but then that’s not where the word ‘berk’ comes from!

      1. I think that’s pretty much it – and more so in the days when we didn’t have radio and TV to suggest standard pronunciations, which might apply here. The oldest OED citation for “berk” is from 1929, but I think it takes a while for slang to get into print. In the Penguin D of slang, which is supposed to be the content from Partridge that was already in use before WW1, it’s still “Berkshire Hunt”. Maybe it got shortened during WW1?

  5. 29 minutes. I remember from last week spending a long time trying to work out the complicated parsing of my LOI LAMBRUSCO; LAMBO for ‘fancy wagon’ was original anyway. I agree about EMOTION and APER but lots of other good clues to more than make up. ARSENIC went in early, but I took a while to twig to the sneaky ‘I’ def for ELECTRIC CURRENT. NHO BATTUTO before either, but I vaguely recalled the ‘a battuta’ musical term from crossword land and it’s interesting to see they’re related.

    The not unrelated AITCH and VEIL and the ‘possibly’ def for PERCHANCE were my picks.

    Thanks to Guy and David

  6. 42m 52s
    I did wonder how you would get on with Barbour, Guy.
    Thanks for unfurrowing my brow over ELECTRIC CURRENT (never knew that about I), the LAMBO in Lambrusco (What cherl refers to the sports car marque in that manner? Rod Stewart?) and the “in Docklands” bit of 3d (Somewhow CRS didn’t occur to me).
    19d AS: almost a chestnut now.
    I enjoyed this and I particularly enjoyed ALL OVER THE PLACE, BARBOUR, AITCH and PERCHANCE.
    An Italian footballing fanatic might have clued BATTUTO differently to reflect on Gabriel BATT (ist) UTO the Argentinian forward who used to play for Fiorentina.
    Thanks, Guy!
    PS…I do enjoy a good “Perp walk”! Harvey Weinstein and Dominique Strauss-Kahn come to mind.

      1. Then the term churl is well deserved!
        Unfortunately, Guy, I’ve been unable to open the first two links. I had no idea there was a racing car called a Lambo.

      2. Thanks for the updated links, Guy. Of course, the Top Gear guys want to appeal to “the lads” so “Lambo” would be about their mark.

    1. Batigol! Gabriel Batistuta- all-time leading Argentine goal-scorer till passed by Lionel Messi.

  7. 50 minutes with LAMBRUSCO unparsed. ALL OVER THE PLACE shows the relative scarcity of cod nowadays. ELECTRIC CURRENT and ARSENIC were well masked and as often the case with David we had a couple of drug references. COD to BARBOUR, not that I’ve ever owned one. I liked AGINCOURT too. Apparently, a group of men co-opted from the village of Heptonstall were at that battle, including an ancestor of mine. I trust that those of you still a-bed will “hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks, that fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.” Thank you David and Guy.

  8. I must’ve been in the right frame of mind for this one, as 25 minutes seems quite a good time in hindsight. My only unknown was BATTUTO. I’ve recently been rewatching Elementary, an American Sherlock Holmes reimagining set in New York (with the charming Lucy Liu as Dr Joan Watson!) which probably prepared me well for BEAT THE RAP. I also, unusually for me, spotted both the “As” and “I” devices very quickly.

  9. Aargh. Still being caught out by I for electric current! And As for arsenic stalled me, too. Couldn’t quite parse 7ac either. Caution: novice at work… However, I did manage to complete this by guesswork and biffs, and just plain making words up that turned out to be correct. That would be BATTUTO… Overall a tricky outing for me; staggered to finish line in about 90 minutes. Thanks to Guy for most entertaining explanations.

  10. 30.29

    Started last night after an enjoyable but long family day. Finished off this morning.

    Enjoyed it. Got the A quickly-ish. Not so much the i. No idea what was going on with VEIL

    Thanks Guy and Setter

  11. 10:23. No real problems with this.
    BATTUTO was new to me, although I’ve heard of soffritto and mirepoix which are basically the same thing.
    The BARBOUR as a distinctive sort of jacket is on its way out as modern waterproof textiles have made the waxing technique obsolete. These days the company sells far more non-waxed jackets which work much better (and don’t need to be re-waxed regularly) but are more or less indistinguishable from anyone else’s.

  12. All done in just over the hour, including a very slow start. FOI 13dn BREAKABLE. LOI 1dn AITCH. COD ALL OVER THE PLACE

  13. Baffled by the comment about etymology for 17A. If English borrows a word from another language, the original meaning in English is pretty likely to be the same as in the source language, so unless that meaning has died out and been replaced by others, a synonym used as a definition in a clue must have a fair chance of matching something mentioned in a dictionary etymology.

    1. ’emotion’, says ODE, was borrowed from the French ‘émotion’ in the 16th century and meant ‘public disturbance’. ‘The current sense dates from the early 19th cent.’ So I don’t see what’s bothering Guy. (Nor do I see what etymology has to do with it. We solvers on the Clapham omnibus don’t know from etymology.)

      1. MOTION/“movement” seemed a giveaway. I didn’t actually look into the history of the word; the original French sense you cite is close to our “commotion.”

        1. You said ‘etymology’, and this is what Peter and I were animadverting on. I didn’t think it was much of a clue.

  14. I had a good start, spotting ALL OVER THE PLACE immediately. Enjoyed the puzzle. Got stuck for ages in the NE until I solved TUNISIA and spotted the anagram for 8d. ARSENIC and AVENUES took ages too. PERCHANCE and BARBOUR were last 2 in. Didn’t parse LAMBRUSCO. No problem with BEAT THE RAP. 28:14. Thanks Harry and Guy.

  15. Held up at the end by LAMBRUSCO. With the checkers in plaice L-M-R-S-O, surely the fancy wagon would be a limo. I couldn’t think of a drink to fulfil this requirement, nor a curtailed spirit to fill it. The only word I could see to fit was Lambrusco, so in it went in the expectation of pink squares. Lambo acceptable for Lamborghini? Really? You cannot be Sirius!35:35

  16. As usual a very enjoyable David McLean puzzle, despite the numerous obscurities in the wordplay (all the better to have gotten the answers right anyway). But unfortunately a 49 minute DNF — I must learn how to spell TUNESIA, or was that TUNISIA? Of course the Isis was no help there and I fell into a trap I often fall into, living in Germany: being misled by Geman spellings like “Tunesien”. And yes, COD to “all over the plaice”.

  17. Thanks for the blog. I hadn’t realised (from your Wiki quote) that the Thames was the Isis all that way – I had thought it was just a local affectation for the bit around Oxford where I spend more time punting than studying.

  18. Thanks David and guy
    Found this one a bit of a challenge and totally missed the parsing on ALL OVER THE PLACE (we don’t have plaice served here, so it was a bit of a stretch to guess that as what might see vinegar all over) and LAMBRUSCO (saw the RU[M] bit – didn’t give a thought to SC. or LAMBO as a ‘fancy wagon’).
    Did pick up on the ARSENIC and ELECTRIC CURRENT tricks pretty much straight away though. BATTUTO, ‘boat race’ as rhyming slang for face and ‘skunk’ as marijuana were all new terms. These latter two caused my last ones in to be VEIL and RAGWEED.

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