Sunday Times Cryptic No 5015 by David McLean — I Feel Free

A highly enjoyable exercise, navigating this tight and tidy grid, whose elegance is reflected in the even lengths of the Across and Down columns in the printout, where the very similar 14 and 7 are found side by side.

I indicate (ragas, man!)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Summit some eastbound nomads topped (7)
POTSDAM  Hidden, reversed  The “summit” is the Potsdam Conference held in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945, where the three leading Allies planned the postwar order.
 5 Fancy urinals surrounded by water (7)
INSULAR  (urinals)*
 9 A thin trailing cloud of fly repellent? (5-4)
MARES-TAIL There wouldn’t be a hyphen if we were talking about a real mare’s tail. Another name for cirrus uncinus (Latin for “curly hooks”).
10 Tag lines written about Lincoln, say (5)
11 Those joining together to oust Welsh leaders (6)
12 Protest singer on coke’s a party type (8)
DEMOCRAT  DEMO, “Protest” + C(oke) + RAT, “singer” The adjective for the party over here is “Democratic”; this must be a member, “type” being (Lexico) “[informal with adjective or noun modifier] A person of a specified character or nature.”
14 Deny client fools around in this way? (10)
INDECENTLY  (Deny client)*  Instead of one of the several possible synonyms for the answer, we have “in this way” and thus a semi-&lit, where the implicit definition could be phrased as “how, for example (‘?’), you might deny your client behaves (or ‘fools around’).”
16 A man who will easily put out boss (4)
STUD  DD, “boss” in the sense of (Collins) a “circular rounded protuberance, esp an ornamental one on a vault, a ceiling, or a shield”
18 God contrary men spotted in Kent area (4)
EROS  S(OR)E<=“contrary”  The trusty O(ther) R(anks) in the SE, “Kent area”
19 Censor cross about one famous author (10)
BAINBRIDGE  BAN, “Censor” + BRIDGE, “cross” surrounding I, “one”  …Would that be Dame Beryl? I hadn’t heard of her!
22 Primarily where dictionaries list alkyne? (5,3)
ABOVE ALL  Common phrase cryptically clued by another, quite literal sense
23 Male love hanging around your office (6)
BUREAU  B(UR)EAU  Not sure I’ve encountered UR in textspeak other than for “you are.” But Collins lists both senses.
26 Copy that’s all over publication (5)
IMAGE  IE, “that’s” covering MAG
27 Arrogant as a Mount Rushmore president? (9)
BIGHEADED  To take the expression quite literally
28 Somebody coming back on board (7)
NOTABLE  NO, “on”<=“coming back” + TABLE, “board”
29 One headed for sack after abusing terrier (7)
RETIRER  (terrier)*
 1 Splendid display by English side City (7)
POMPEII  POMP, “Splendid display” + E(nglish) + II, 11, “side”
 2 Knackered as most bangers, I’m told (5)
TIRED  “tyred”
 3 Discredit duke and Archbishop taking heroin (8)
 4 Bob Mortimer’s one to catch zero carp (4)
MOAN  MAN (“Bob Mortimer’s one”) catching O or 0  The noted comedian has (as I learned) a fishing show, so that helps the surface (if you know).
 5 Hatred of nausea? (3,7)
ILL FEELING  “Ill” in another sense for the cryptic hint
 6 Pale singer draining first whiskey (6)
 7 I dressed down after 50, being thus (9)
LIBERATED  L, 50 + I + BERATED (“dressed down”)  In this semi-&lit, “thus” means how one could be described who wears more casual clothes after beginning their sixth decade. I’m even older than that, and… I love working from home.
 8 Connected pusher sent up? About time! (7)
RELATED   DE(T)ALER<=“sent up”
13 Final bill up on energy … perfect (10)
INFALLIBLE  (final bill)* + E(nergy)
15 Type of mask used in pits? (9)
17 New garment you must put on Barney (8)
ARGUMENT  U wearing (garment)*
18 Euphoria provided by a topless Bond (7)
Not a Bond girl?
20 Fuss in different cities in the country (7)
ECUADOR  ADO, “Fuss” in EC, “the City” in London + UR, of ancient Sumeria
21 Musical effect always used in R&B (6)
24 Duck and cover, but not towards the ground! (5)
25 A fish and seaweed jelly (4)
AGAR  A + GAR, “fish”


30 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5015 by David McLean — I Feel Free”

  1. 28:32
    Some DNKs slowed me down. No idea who Bob Mortimer was, for instance. And DNK the automobile sense of ‘banger’. Fortunately, ‘barney’ showed up here recently enough that I hadn’t forgotten it. I failed to get the wordplay for 24d EIDER, but the def was enough. COD DISGRACE. (Guy, you have a superfluous S in the anagrist for INDECENTLY.)

  2. Surely the POTSDAM summiteers are westbound in the clue and not eastbound? I rejected looking for a backward hidden for quite a while on this basis.
    Thanks for parsing EIDER, Guy. Clever now I see it. Beryl Bainbridge is well worth reading. Her “The Bottle Factory Outing” is excellent.
    Liked ECUADOR and DEODORANT in particular.
    Enjoyed this crossword despite the misdirection in 1a. 34:50

    1. East is East and West is West, and…

      Damn, wish I’d caught that! I wonder how many people were tripped up there, instead of just blithely overlooking the error, as I did.

        1. More embarrassment. The editor is to blame for choosing “eastbound” instead of the original word.

      1. Yes, I was completely flummoxed by Eastbound. I even questioned whether POTSDAM could be a coincidence as a result. Only went in with a shrug once the checkers were in place.

  3. 43m 50s
    My notes say “good test”.
    I have a ? against POTSDAM but can’t remember if that was because of the misdirection in the clue or because I didn’t notice the reversal.
    I didn’t like the equivalence of UR and ‘your in 23ac but I take your word for it, Guy, that Collins OK’s it.
    Thanks for STUD and DISGRACE, Guy.
    COD to MARE’S TAIL with double plus ticks to ABOVE ALL and DEODORANT.

  4. 53 minutes. Only noticed the ‘eastbound’ boo-boo for POTSDAM on review this week. I’d barely heard of Beryl BAINBRIDGE too and wasn’t aware she was so highly regarded. I initially put “retiree” for 29a until rescued by the crossing ECUADOR and only then reading the anagram fodder more carefully.

    I liked STUD, a typical clue for our setter (in at least one of his other guises anyway) and my LOI DEODORANT. (I always think of the Alf Garnett pronunciation: DE-O-DORANT).

    Thanks to Guy and setter

  5. Fifty one minutes. COD to ABOVE ALL and LIBERATED. Folk from the NE do indeed call others ‘man’ (Whey Aye man) but then we all did in the sixties. His Bobship (Dylan not Mortimer-no Fugee 9 was to be seen in Hibbing) even called God that (Man , you must be putting me on). I read a lot of Beryl Bainbridge a few decades back, so she was no problem. I enjoyed this. Thank you, Guy and David.

  6. A number of MERs here mostly cleared up now but I wasn’t keen on UR for ‘your’ but that’s down to the vagaries of text abbreviations and possibly the inability of the people who come up with that stuff to spell — UR for you are or you’re has logic but I can’t see any in UR = your. I also didn’t like the Bob Mortimer thing.

  7. Completed, admired and enjoyed. 15ac made me smile; it’s the first time I’ve come across this though you seasoned finishers have probably seen the clue before. Nicely sneaky. Done in just over the hour, my average.
    Want to say how much I respect the skill of you bloggers, too: not only completing every grid but being able to break the clues down so that novices like me can see how each one works and, hopefully, learn from it. And you’re so entertaining with it! Thanks, Guy.

  8. The “tight and tidy grid”: When I started at the Sunday Times, I inherited a set of 24 stock grids labelled A to X. The origin of the ones from A to P is unknown, and some were old-style designs which I dropped when I added more stock grids and allowed setters to use their own designs. The Q to X set of eight (this one is Q) are designs by Mike Laws, who had previously been the Times crossword editor, and was one of our Mephisto setters until his death about 6 months into my first year. All eight are still in use.

    1. I like the ones where 1ac/dn and the other ac/dn all act as the first letter of the other clues. The other grids, inset, if you see what I mean, I find irritating … and it definitely affects the difficulty of completion

      just saying 🙂

      1. Most of our stock grids (and those for the Times) have enough top row answers to provide at least 6 down clues with first-letter checking, which should help. In the ST set at least, that’s down to personal taste – to me, “castellated” grids with no answer in the first row just look a bit less pleasing, unless there’s a justification for it, like the alphabetical jigsaws of the past in another paper.

        If you want first-letter checking for all the answers, you effectively rule out answers with even numbers of letters. The grid for this puzzle has 8 answers with unchecked first letters, but that’s possibly made less visible as the unches involved are in the middle of the grid. There are grids with answers on odd rows and even columns where 7 or 8 unchecked first letters in column one are the only ones in the grid.

  9. Just over the hour for, as our blogger says, a very neat crossie. DNK MARE’S TAIL but guessed correctly. I liked DEMOCRAT and BAINBRIDGE, most.

    Guy, I must ask, how do you make so many amazing anagrams out of ANAGRAMS. I’ve tried and you’ve covered them all. Are we going back to the beginning ?:-)

    1. Actually, when I started I just used random jumbles of the letters, before making real words. Then I used all the possibilities (or so it seems…), ending with “Ars Magna,” which I settled on for a while.

  10. Late to the field, as I’m still struggling with this Sunday’s offering. On the whole I enjoyed this one, with the exception of the above-mentioned 1A misdirection, and there were some satisfying PDMs, particularly 15D, DEODORANT, which is probably a chestnut, but amused me. And no unknowns, either. Many thanks, David and Guy.

  11. A probably naive (and belated) question: what does ‘a man who will easily put out’ mean?

    1. One eager for sexual action. Analogous to the males in a stud farm.
      Collins has for “put out”: “US slang to consent to sexual intercourse.”

  12. Woeful attempt from here! Even though POTSDAM went straight in (regardless of misdirection). Having in the past prided myself with some knowledge of clouds, was ashamed to not even come close to MARE’S TAIL, and some of the probable chestnuts were missed, like DEODORANT ( how would you pronounce it, BletchleyReject?). NHO BAINBRIDGE either. Not my finest hour.

  13. Thanks David and guy
    A testing puzzle with a little general knowledge required with the POTSDAM Conference and Dame Beryl BAINBRIDGE. Found it a grid in which each answer had to be winkled out rather than being able to get on a roll and write in a bunch of answers. Having said that all clues were very fairly clued and the answers were obvious when they dawned on one.
    Finished in the NW corner with MARE’S TAIL (after remembering the wispy cloud formation and a grin at the ‘fly repellent’), POMPEII (after finally turning XI into II in my thinking) and ELDERS (sewers took up a lot of time but couldn’t make sense of it).

  14. We’d just like to second SBeginner’s comment about all you Bloggers. You are muchly appreciated, we’d be lost without you. The ECUADOR clue for example. We knew all the “bits” but I don’t think we’d ever have parsed it.

    Tom and Janet.


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