Sunday Times Cryptic No 5075 by David McLean — Get out of town!

Writing nearly a week later, I only remember that working this was a sheer delight, with moments of sudden surprise. My headline phrase, inspired by 13, doesn’t seem to have made the dictionaries yet, but it is, of course, an expression of incredulity, a variation on “Get out of here!” I once had a gal pal who often resorted to this exclamation, usually emphasizing it by pushing me in the chest with the full force of her 5-foot-1 frame. (Ah, whatever became of you, Nancy?)

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

 1 Suit covers hotel put out for Penny (6)
 5 Duck initially spotted on eastern headland (6)
ESCAPE   E(astern) + Spotted + CAPE, “headland”
 9 Cold drops shrouding trees (9)
NIPPINESS   NIP(PINES)S   NIPS and “drops” in the sense of wee drams of liquor
10 Time everyone gets high (4)
TALL   T(ime) + ALL, “everyone”   …“Everybody must get stoned!” This could alternatively read, without the connecting word, “High time, everyone!” More Ximenean, if less fun.
11 Slice of pastrami, chicken or ham (6)
PLAYER   Pastrami + LAYER, “chicken”
12 Broadcasting company awards (8)
PRESENTS   “presence”
14 Near fortune, perhaps (2,6)
BY CHANCE   BY, “Near” + CHANCE, “fortune”
16 Snooker champ pinching fellow’s behind (4)
REAR   REARdon   Ray R., six times world title holder, mainly in the 1970s   …Never heard of this guy
18 Raised floor builder finally installed (4)
BRED   B(buildeR)ED
19 I forgive you after a bit of banter (8)
ABSOLVER   A + Banter  + SOLVER, “you”
21 Part-Time Lover is a hit covered by Rush (8)
PARAMOUR   P(A)(RAM)OUR   “Lover” would suffice for the definition, but it means one you’re not married to, and no one ever minds being reminded of a great Stevie Wonder song.
22 Piece of illustration framed by giant old master (6)
TITIAN   TIT(Illustration)AN
24 Tedious record cut by Heart in earnest (4)
LONG   LO[N]G, N being the central letter in “earnest”
26 The green light in space (9)
27 Radio version of A Fine Romance (6)
AFFAIR   “a fair”
28 Pure heroin smuggled into station? (6)
CHASTE   C(H)ASTE   One’s “station in life,” that is.
 2 A neat player fouled here? (7,4)
PENALTY AREA   (a neat player)*   &lit (guess we have to call it that, though there isn’t any intrinsic necessity for “neat” in the definition)
 3 Addle-brained as Gen Y (5)
DOPEY   DOPE, “Gen” + Y
 4 Prison gang creating trouble (8)
STIRRING   STIR, “prison” + RING, “gang”
 5 Always eats when one has more of a piece of cake (6)
 6 A red latch bolted in large pen of flock? (9)
CATHEDRAL   (a red latch)*   The only word that could be the anagrind here is “bolted,” but the definitions that fit are new to me: “to sift through a cloth or sieve” or “to examine or search into, as if by sifting” (
 7 China white, not ecstasy (3)
PAL   PAL[-e]   “China” being CRS for “mate” (China plate!)   And what would we do here without illicit drugs?
 8 Vehicle for woman expecting sextuplets? (6,7)
PEOPLE CARRIER   With a jocular cryptic hint   Of course, she could be called such even if she were merely carrying twins, but that wouldn’t blend the two senses as much.
13 Getaway driver? (6,5)
TRAVEL AGENT   CD   Fairly self-explanatory   …though I had (before the first comment came in) a different answer. A TRAVEL ALERT or “Travel Advisory” issued by a government generally warns its citizens of adverse conditions in a foreign country they might be planning to visit, but one could also prompt people already there to pack quickly and hit the road. I haven’t resorted to a TRAVEL AGENT for years—just do it all myself when I take a trip—and wouldn’t like the idea of anyone driving me to go anywhere!
15 Angry head mistakenly made bloomer (9)
HYDRANGEA   (angry head)*
17 Hard to fathom inner-city Tories somehow (8)
ESOTERIC   (Tories)* inside E(ast) C(entral), “the City”
20 Agree working dog follows nose in chase (6)
CONCUR   Chase + ON, “working” + CUR, “dog”
23 Some studen{t on ga}nja in a state (5)
TONGA   Hidden
25 Not the first to block Yahoo! (3)
It might make more sense to block Twitter… er, X.
OAF   lOAF   Both “loaf” and “block” are synonyms for “head.”


39 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5075 by David McLean — Get out of town!”

  1. I believe 13D is TRAVEL AGENT.
    I think playing on the idea that the travel agent “drives”, or controls, guides, hence “sorts out”, your getaway (your holiday).

      1. Actually, maybe “driver”, as in someone that causes/motivates, people to buy holidays. So a driver of getaways, is a travel agent, who advertises and sows the seeds in people’s minds of how nice it would be to get away. Hence there is a big holiday industry because of travel agents, who drive the demand.
        I say this as someone who last spent a night away from my present home in May 2009. So I have not been so driven!

        1. My last trip abroad was in printemps 2019. I haven’t even taken any time off. But it was a bit like being on vacation just not having to commute (which now I do one day a week).

          1. Well, in the 10 years before that, I was working for a large multi-national company, and quite often had to go and spend a few weeks at some office in another country (training others). And the procedure we had to follow to do that was book our trip through “the travel agent”, an external company that I see now describes itself as a “business travel management company”.
            This “travel agent” always seemed to put me in a very expensive high-end hotel that was a long way from the city centre office I actually had to go to each day. So, there I was based at some upmarket suburban country club, or desirable coastal resort, with a long daily commute. Latterly I insisted on booking my own mid-range city hotel that was always within walking distance of the office.
            1) Your title “Get out of town!” is still very pertinent to me when I think of TRAVEL AGENT.
            2) I have no personal desire to travel any more.
            3) I initially thought of “driver” in the clue as someone who controls/guides/forces me to go somewhere I didn’t want to be. Rather than, of course, a driver (of demand for) getaways.

    1. Aha. Seems you’re right.
      I like my answer just as well, but I checked this. That’s the thing about CDs, isn’t it, with no more wordplay than the ambiguity in a phrase.

      1. I hope one thing about answers to CDs in the ST crossword is that they are things with “dictionary status”, which I can’t see for “travel alert” or “travel advisory”. (When there was a discussion about “German wine” as an answer about 8 years ago, the clue was not a CD). If, in test solving, I thought of a correct answer to a CD with the contradictory suggestions mentioned by Guy for “travel alert”, or found an answer like “travel agent” that made much better sense and had dictionary status, I think I would request a change to the clue or answer.

        1. I was surprised to read that ‘travel alert/advisory’ lacked dictionary status (were ‘green paint’, as they say), as ‘x alert/advisory’ is used by the US Weather Bureau or whatever they call themselves now, and by the Japanese Met. Office (as translations of chuuihoo 注意報・keihoo警報respectively). But evidently the UK Met. Office doesn’t use them.

  2. 54 minutes, but 15 of those were wasted on 15dn. I was hampered by having C as its first because I had written PRESENCE at 12ac despite knowing the answer was PRESENTS.

  3. 27m 41s
    Our setter seems to have been on drugs! (28ac, 7d, 23d) 7d also gave me an ear worm. “China White” is a track by my favourite band, Little Feat.

    1. We probably have shared memories of listening to them on stretchy cassette tapes driving Toyota pick-ups across the Saudi desert?

      1. Indeed! It was thanks to the 747 cassette shops that I developed a liking for Little Feat, and other bands & artists!

  4. DNF. Found this one very tricky, as so often with Mr McLean. His wavelength generally escapes me. Answers are more a case of “Could this be what he means?” than the satisfying PDM of “Ah, of course this is what it means!” Very guessworky. Eg 3d DIPPY. Why? What’s it got to do with Gen Y? 13d TRAVEL AGENT. Why “driver”? So frustrating. (This written immediately post-(not)solve and before reading the discussion above.) Finally stymied by and used aids for 19ac – and still stuck! Absolved? Absolver? Who knows…Thanks to blogger for the insight.

    1. You’re right to be suspicious about “3D DIPPY”, as the expected answer is DOPEY. With the shorter words, it’s not that unusual for two possible answers to match the definition and checking letters, so if you can make no sense of the wordplay, it’s worth wondering whether there’s something else. OTOH, with a two-word answer like “TRAVEL AGENT”, the chance of something else that’s (6,5) matching any three of the six checking letters and having a definition relating to any part of the clue seems seriously small, even for a selection like ??A?E???E??

      1. Thank you! It’s a never-ending learning process… This week’s note to self is to remember that gen = dope!

        1. Donovan sang in “Epistle to Dippy” (1967): “ Elevator in the brain hotel /
          Broken down but just as well-a.” My lift was stuck between floors. Strangely enough, after I thought of “alert,” AGENT never occurred to me.

  5. 25.22

    Rather enjoyed this. Lots of nice clues. Didn’t think PEOPLE CARRIER quite did it for me (other views available) but did like TRAVEL AGENT

    Thanks Guy and clever setter

  6. 12:06.
    The clue for PEOPLE CARRIER is a bit more precise than people give it credit for. These vehicles typically carry 7 people (2 up front, 3 in the middle, 2 behind) so it would be perfect for a woman with sextuplets. I would assume this is intentional because otherwise ‘sextuplets’ is a bit specific.
    I wonder what the age cut-off is for having heard of Ray Reardon. He’s very familiar to me but grew up in the 70s when snooker was ubiquitous, largely because there was so much less choice on TV. I doubt my kids could name a single even contemporary snooker player let alone one whose heyday ended nearly 50 years ago.

    1. Two comments to you:
      Is the woman not going to have her husband present at least some of the time? So she either wants 8 seats (some people carriers have 8) or have quins?
      Snooker became mega-popular in the late 60s because that’s when BBC2 started using colour and 625 lines, and snooker in B&W is pretty poor, try this Colemanballs: “And for those of you with a black and white set the blue ball is the one behind the yellow ball” (right in principle but I guessed the colours.)
      Colemanballs – look in Wikipedia.

      1. I would argue that this is overthinking it – she might need to give her sister-in-law a lift from time to time too! There are only 7 people mentioned in the clue.

  7. 6 Down
    A congregation in a cathedral or church is known as a ” flock”.
    The cathedral is forming a large “pen” around the church goers.

    1. Yes. I thought this sense of “flock” is common enough. “Pen” plays on that (hence the “?”).

  8. 31 minutes. Good fun, with the requisite number of references, colloquial and otherwise for pharmacological substances as pointed out by Martin. I liked TRAVEL AGENT for ‘Getaway driver?’ but as a child of the 60’s and 70’s my favourite was undoubtedly Ray REAR(DON), he of the widow’s peak, for reminders of Pot Black, whispering Ted Lowe, Eddie Charlton et al.

    Thanks to Guy and our setter

  9. DNF in NW. Managed to miss SPADES DOPEY & NIPPINESS. Doh! They are not that difficult; must try harder.
    FWIW I had to have a long gap between sessions to complete today’s puzzle. Maybe I just don’t persevere long enough. Remind me never to enter the competition… I don’t want to be 200th out of 200 competitors.
    Otherwise enjoyed this McLean.
    Thanks blogger & setter.

  10. CATHEDRAL made this worthwhile with that artful definition, but as has become clear we have issues with clues without wordplay still. I didn’t think of TRAVEL ALERT, but if I had I would have cheerfully put it in and not thought to consult a dictionary: it should be in there. No way from the clue of knowing that it’s wrong, indeed it matches just as well.
    The other one, PEOPLE CARRIER was clearly less of an issue, but I do take issue with the notion that it’s apposite because people carriers tend to have 7 seats. Chaps (I assume it’s chaps) do you realise you’re condemning this poor woman to bring up six monsters darlings with no help from any kind of partner? Where’s the seat for the necessary assistance? To say nothing of the hassle of installing 6 child seats on your own.

    1. FWIW, the first 100 solutions in the online entries all have “travel agent”, so the number of solvers who thought of “travel alert” as their only answer, or the best choice, seems very small.

      1. True, but imagine if the intended answer was travel alert, magically appearing in the dictionary. You’d have 100 appeals to VAR on your hands! The point is that with CDs, the burden to produce an incontrovertable answer is higher, as the clue provides no other way of checking.

        1. But you’re asking me to imagine that (a) a setter would write a cryptic definition clue to an answer that’s not suggested by the dictionary-based wordlists usually involved in building the puzzles, and (b) that the xwd ed who solves the original version exactly as he would tackle a puzzle in print would come up with an answer that <1% of other solvers are going to think of, and not think of anything else. That's seriously close to impossible.

          1. Not quite right: I’m asking you to imagine a CD where an alternative answer is in the List. I accept that the probability is pretty small but it could happen, when I assume an astute Ed such as yourself would spot it and save the rest of us the frustration.

            1. If an alternative answer with the same first word was in the list, you’re asking me to imagine that the setter would choose one of two possibilities next to or very close to each other in that list, and write a CD clue that didn’t make one of them clearly wrong.

  11. I enjoyed this one. No queries but glad to see from Guy’s blog that I was on the right wavelength.

  12. Also enjoyed this – mainly because I bumbled through at a leisurely pace, wondering whether my answers were correct, and finding out later that they indeed were! (As someone mentioned earlier, not so many PDMs as ?s ).
    But I did like PEOPLE CARRIER despite having stuck to something WHEELER for a while, and REAR (remembered Ray), and TITIAN ( another hesitant one). Defeated by SPADES unfortunately, as never seem to recall that meaning of ‘suit’ , and NIPPINESS ( a very odd word for cold!). Good start to a Sunday for me, in the antipodes, where we’re having an unseasonably warm start to our spring, which doesn’t augur well for our summer!

  13. Thanks David and guy
    Must have been right on his wavelength with this one, only taking 38 minutes – just over half the time that it normally takes to do one of his. Had no problems with TRAVEL AGENT when I finally saw it toward the end of the solve – and didn’t even think of TRAVEL ALERT as an alternative. A good mix of charades, anagrams and cds throughout to keep the enjoyment level up.
    Finished with PRESENTS (tentatively at first until the homophonic second definition kicked in), PEOPLE CARRIER (with a wry grin) and REAR (and actually googled a list of ‘snooker champions’ to find REARDON and thence the cryptic word play for it).

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