Sunday Times Cryptic No 5031 by Dean Mayer — A different drum

A very entertaining and somewhat educational exercise. I didn’t know the fish, the TV show or the diarist.

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

 1 One hand is flat (8)
STRAIGHT   DD  Collins (British), “flat”: “ without qualification; total | a flat denial”; STRAIGHT: “not qualified, modified, slanted, etc. | a straight denial
 5 Three-part poem and gossip about penning it (6)
TRIFID    Kipling’s “IF,” “poem” surrounded by DIRT<=“about”
10 Cry when husband leaves blanket (7)
11 Very common smell associated with fish (7)
HUMDRUM   HUM, “smell” + DRUM, “fish”…! This is fascinating: “any of various North American marine and freshwater sciaenid fishes, such as Equetus pulcher (striped drum), that utter a drumming sound” …such as the freshwater drum, the red drum, the black drum… there are nearly 300 species!
12 A lot suffer in my bizarre game show (6,8)
FAMILY FORTUNES   (A lot suffer in my)*  …NHO (that I can remember, though it seems a likely entry in these puzzles); the American Family Feud provided the template for this series.
14 Playing the piano backstage (2,3,5)
ON THE QUIET   ON, “playing” + THE + QUIET, “piano”  …I should have realized much sooner that it couldn’t be ON THE BENCH. Don’t tell anyone, but this was my LOI. Had first to be surprised by WHOOPEE CUSHION.
15 Comedian wanting way to escape ridicule (4)
JEER   JE[-st]ER
17 Cream guitarist’s accessory (4)
19 Birds, in spirit, rejected their food (10)
CHICKADEES   CHIC, “in” + KA, “spirit” (in Egyptian mythology, a person’s life force or spiritual double) + SEED<=“rejected”
22 He’ll be promoted if he’s able, and vice versa (8,6)
ORDINARY SEAMAN   CD  An apprentice aspiring to become an able (popularly called, after the abbreviation, AB, “able-bodied”) seaman
24 Being low, almost disgraceful (7)
IGNOBLE   (Being lo[-w])*  &lit …Is “disgraceful” really worse than “ignoble”?
25 Home Office branch given hard sort of investigation? (2-5)
IN-DEPTH   IN, “home” + DEPT, “Office branch” + H(ard)
26 Still keeping skirts for lady diarist (6)
EVELYN   EVE(L[-ad]Y) “John Evelyn’s diary, or memoir, spanned the period of his adult life from 1640, when he was a student, to 1706, the year he died” (Wikipedia). Very interesting.
27 Turn off internet connection (8)
 1 Item of hosiery and belt (4)
 2 Take back bible class pamphlet (7)
RETRACT   R(eligious) E(ducation) + TRACT, “pamphlet”  I assume “bible” is not capitalized here because RE in the UK does not confine itself to the Judeo-Christian tradition and scriptures but surveys the beliefs and the bibles, in the generic sense, of all the world’s major religions.
 3 Fabulous slogan for a Geneva journalist? (8)
IMAGINED   “I’M A GIN” + ED(itor), “journalist”  “Geneva” is a variant of “genever,” Dutch gin.
 4 Pretend to be stable? Easy! (4,4,6)
HOLD YOUR HORSES   Good and goofy cryptic hint
 6 Repeated procedure keeps them in control (6)
REMOTE   R(’EM)OTE  ’EM is in the dictionary—and in Kipling’s “If”: “…watch the things you gave your life to, broken, / And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.”
 7 City of eastern New Zealand in flames (7)
 8 Flower grew under weir pump (6,4)
DAMASK ROSE   DAM, “weir” + ASK, “pump” over  ROSE, “grew”
 9 I’ll make Trump shaken up when I choose to cross over (7,7)
When you turn state’s evidence?
WHOOPEE CUSHION   (when I choose + O[-ver])*  “Trump”? Collins: “(intransitive) British slang | to expel intestinal gas through the anus”Well, not literally, with the CUSHION—just a noise similar to that heard during such an expulsion.  …Until Peter (below) spurred me to look further, I was assuming a more discreet reference to the practical joker’s prank via “Trump” as a sound of or as if trumpeting—of which Merriam-Webster gives as an example “the trump of doom.” (Indeed.)
13 Undermine a deal? (10)
16 Old lady more harsh about a pirate (8)
MARAUDER   MA, “Old lady” + R(A)UDER
18 Dance around with extremely close rhythm (7)
CADENCE   (Dance + C[-los]E)*
20 Old enough, for instance (7)
EXAMPLE  EX, “Old” + AMPLE, “enough”
21 Elitist society, very superior (6)
SNOBBY   S(ociety) + NOBBY, “very superior” (like a NOB)
23 Country clubs once owned (4)
CHAD   C, “clubs” + HAD, “once owned”  “Once” may help the surface but otherwise seems superfluous.


26 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5031 by Dean Mayer — A different drum”

  1. 24A “ignoble” has a wider range of meanings in Collins than “disgraceful”, including ones that seem on the way to “disgraceful”

    9D The sound of a whoopee cushion is not that of a trumpet. “trump” in UK slang is a eupemistic alternative to “fart”. So not connected with the “last trump” or “trump of doom”.

    1. Thanks for the tip on “Trump.” I would guess that the more explicit sense is not unrelated to the sound of the wind instrument.

      1. Well, some elephants and swans “trumpet” or are “trumpeters”. The fundamental mechanics of producing the sound are the same, but that’s about it.

        1. Yes, only in that sense. Ha ha.
          “Trump” in Collins (too): “ to produce a sound upon or as if upon the trumpet”

            1. I played trumpet in high school—still remember the valve fingerings—but had to quit as I was gradually having all my teeth removed and that kept changing my embouchure, so I had to start all over after each extraction. The sense of “trump” as a fart no doubt preceded the invention of the whoopee cushion and presumably did not refer to silent emissions.

              1. SOED defines ‘trump’ in this sense as ‘to break wind audibly’ and categorises it as LME (Late Middle English).

            2. Not everyone makes a nice trumpety sound on a trumpet. When I have a go I make a sound like a fart. Unlike Flanders and Swann I haven’t developed my embouchure.

              1. Not being conversant with the œuvre of Flanders and Swann, I had to look up the reference to find that it’s from a piece called (WHOOPEE!)… “Ill Wind”!

                Very artfully done.

  2. The pangram did help today! A ‘W’ was missing when faced with LOI 9d. Putting it at the start gave WHOOPEE CUSHION, though I couldn’t parse it, so thanks to Peter Biddlecombe for the UK slang. 35:02

  3. 38′ or so
    This was a tough one, with a number of DNKs: DNK TRIFID, DRUM, FAMILY FORTUNES, ‘trump’ in the relevant sense. I should have known KA, since we’ve had it a couple of times, but it didn’t come to mind; it never has. I liked CATCALL, ORDINARY SEAMAN, & IMAGINED.

  4. I missed this last week and tackled it today. Took a long time – well over an hour – with a few interruptions. As expected, hard going and tougher than the Nimrod (John Henderson) in yesterday’s Independent. I did know EVELYN, who sits on my sub’s bench in case another well-known diarist doesn’t fit the bill, and just remembered DRUM ‘fish’, almost certainly from past crosswords. Didn’t know the ‘trump’ colloquialism and missed the CHIC + KA bit of the parsing for 19a.

    Stared blankly at 27a for ages at the end, spotting the pangram in the process. Not my favourite word and having little to do with social media meant it took longer than it should have.

    Thanks to Guy and Dean

  5. I did not know of diarist John Evelyn and Mrs. Dale wasn’t an Evelyn, but agony aunt Peggy Makins was! Better known as ‘Evelyn Home’ she had a weekly column in ‘Woman’ magazine, for over fifty years. Fine reading for young lads denied a proper sex education, by their doting parents.

    Trumping is in my book is a loud fart and certainly not an SBD!

    Chickadees as per W. C. Fields!?


    1. I’m relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one to get my sex education from the agony columns in British women’s magazines. You wouldn’t believe the theories we came up with about “that time of the month”. Some people find it hard to believe that the line drawings in adverts for women’s bras and corsets were a source of eroticism for the 12yr old me. In the 40s, maybe 50s the Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid told one of the leading Irish newspapers to change their ads for women’s underwear because the mons veneris could be seen and it could lead to impure thoughts in young Irish men. He got that one right.

  6. Missed the parsing of flat/STRAIGHT and CHICKADEES. Took fish/DRUM on trust. As the hour approached I used aids for EVELYN as my LOI although on reflection I knew it and should have got it.

    I noted the lower half as being much harder than the top.

    No problems with FAMILY FORTUNES originally hosted by Max ‘I wanna tell you a stawry’ Bygraves.

  7. Was this one tricky? Of course it was – It was a Dean Mayer! I made stumbling progress to complete the left hand side with only one or two on the right, but then got another wee run until I was left with only the north-east corner. That defeated me and I had to use aids for 5ac while 6 and 7d were biffs, as, actually were many others, eg 1ac – why STRAIGHT? Why TRIFID? Why REMOTE? Thanks, Guy, for the explanations. Liked the simplicity of so many others, though, eg 17ac PICK, and overall enjoyed the challenge. Thanks to blogger for the continuing education.

  8. Did no one but me have JACK for 17 Across – Cream’s brilliant guitarist Jack Bruce. Made the SW corner a bit slow!

      1. It is interesting to note that ‘Slowhand’ does not refer to Clapton’s style of playing but to the slow handclap he used to get from audiences when he was in the ‘Yardbirds’.
        If his guitar went wrong he’d stay on stage while the crew fixed it,. This could take several minutes and his fans were perplexed by this trait.

        Sandy, were you into John Mayall at that time? I loved ‘Kooper Bloomfield’ best – oh! and the ‘Pretty Things’ were kinda drop-outs from ‘The Stones’. Meldrew.

        1. Amusing apocrypha, Horry. (Actually, Clapton told his official biographer, Ray Coleman, in the mid-’80s: “My nickname of ‘Slowhand’ came from Giorgio Gomelsky. He coined it as a good pun. He kept saying I was a fast player, so he put together the slow handclap phrase into ‘Slowhand’ as a play on words.”) I did not hear Mayall until some people who had been in his band achieved fame, but when I was in high school back in Webster Springs, West Virginia, a couple friends patched into the PA system to interrupt all classes with a minute of Mayall, backed by his Bluesbreakers, blowing his harp and scatting on the tune “Room to Move” (Turning Point album). I was aware of the PA Free Webster conspiracy but was not an active participant. We were very bored.

  9. Difficult this, but I managed to put letters into all the squares and, on this occasion, they turned out to be right.
    FOI was SOCK. I solved the LHS and when I stopped for a break I had 9 left all on the RHS.
    I assumed the diarist was Evelyn Waugh -perhaps it’s a convention that surnames are required?
    Lots of guesses and unparsed answers, especially HUMDRUM -which confirmed my theory that almost any combination of likely letters can be a fish -and TRIFID.
    Guessed CHICKADEES and can now add KA to BA in my list of Egyptian spirits and gods.
    A long time, but worth it.

  10. I tackled this when I got back from York. 39:30 and a bit tricky I thought. No trouble with UNFRIEND once I saw it. Almost parsed CHICKADEES, but missed the KA bit. Liked ON THE QUIET and TRIFID. Thanks Dean and Guy.

  11. Very educational as you say Guy what with Evelyn’s diary and the astonishing drum=fish! (When will that ever be useful? By the laws of crossword coincidence probably more or less immediately – I think I don’t need a ‘spoiler alert’ to remark that WHOOPEE CUSHION also turned up in another UK prize crossword the same weekend! I had to rub my eyes…..)

  12. Another who failed to parse quite a few of my biffs: REMOTE, CHICKADEES, etc. Enjoyed but hard work – was way off beam with WHOOPEE CUSHION!

  13. Thanks Dean and guy
    Had a couple of false starts and then needed three sittings to get this one out. Got going with PICK and really needed to just prod and poke around the grid to get the rest filled in.
    A number of new terms that needed to be checked – DRUM (the fish), FIRENZE (didn’t know the Italian name for Florence), ‘geneva’ (as the Dutch GIN) and had to be reminded of John EVELYN. I think that we had a version of FAMILY FORTUNES down here which made the untangling of the anagram gettable.
    I like the way that this setter uses terms like ‘Home Office’ to generate two parts of a charade.
    Finished in the SE corner with CHICKADEES (needed confirmation form the blog about the CHIC and KA parts), MARAUDER and UNFRIEND (which I used a word finder and then slapped my forehead !)

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