Sunday Times Cryptic No 5099 by David McLean — Any Questions?

Some of these clues kept me guessing for a while, and delightfully so. One thing that stands out is that there are quite a few (30%) that end with a question mark, usually meaning that the definition is by example… but not always.

I indicate (Ars Magna)* like this, and words flagging such rearrangements are italicized in the clues.

 1 Location of hotel in backwoods? (6,2,7)
 9 Locums ringing English head on the blower (7)
TEMPEST     TEMP(E)S + The     A dictionary definition in the most general sense: “a person or thing that blows”
10 Embarrassed about fatigue in bed? (7)
“It’s really all right! This happens to everybody sometime.”
11 Course porky nurses finish for luncheon (4)
LINE     LI(N)E     In Cockney rhyming slang, “porky” as LIE comes from “pork pie” (but you knew that).     …Rather unkind to the medical staffers!
12 Match court (2,8)
13 Does a runner’s pace upset opponents? (7)
ESCAPES     (’s pace)* + E(ast), S(outh), who would be opponents in bridge     …Amazing, the way the S after the apostrophe becomes part of the anagrist! My last one parsed.
15 Second glove taken by someone (7)
SMITTEN     S(econd) + MITTEN, “glove”
17 Lon{don bass}ist’s inside a foreign area (7)
DONBASS     Hidden
19 One for whom the present is not enough? (7)
20 Odd shape or top mark (10)
APOSTROPHE     (shape or top)*
22 Tyrant famous soprano knocked back (4)
TSAR     STAR, “famous” with S(oprano) moved further to the right, toward the “back” of the word     …The indication of direction was counterintuitive at first, though I’d guessed the answer.
25 Old taxmen checking name with safe in Lloyds? (7)
INSURER     I(N)(SURE)R   IR being Inland Revenue, now part of HM Revenue and Customs     …I had to look that up!
26 Stand down to let in liberal party? (7)
27 Changing to stingier rates gets complaint (15)
GASTROENTERITIS     (to stingier rates)*
 1 Dinner for one with Tango in tin? (5)
 2 National icon with a mind in flux (9)
DOMINICAN     (icon + a mind)*
 3 Song cover cut by ELO originally (4)
 4 Head-turning drinks choices (7)
OPTIONS     Switch the first two letters in POTIONS, “drinks”
 5 New darts channel? (7)
NARROWS     N(ew) + ARROWS, “darts”
 6 Scornful fan winger hit … (9)
WITHERING     (winger hit)*     Creative Anagrind Prize!
 7 … heading out of home ground (5)
 8 The ability to survive is an explorer’s craft (9)
ENDURANCE     DD     The somewhat ironically named ship on which Ernest Shackleton and a 27-man crew set sail for the South Pole in 1914 became icebound a year later and “finally sank in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica on 21 November 1915” (Wikipedia; all the crew survived).
13 Lovable rogue in danger with drug (9)
ENDEARING     (in danger + E)*     E being “ecstasy,” MDMA
14 It’s a job being drunk mostly, right? (9)
16 Ecstasy in freight vehicles (9)
TRANSPORT     DD     …“Aha! So ‘Ecstasy’ is not E this time!”
18 Small bottle left by a whip (7)
SCOURGE     S(mall) + COURaGE     The sense of “courage” for “bottle” is familiar, but why it means that may be more elusive. One site explains: « According to the East End’s slang word construction, “bottle” means “arse”, from the phrase, “bottle and glass”. Originally, you would “lose your bottle” – i.e. be so scared you shat yourself. This was then shortened to “bottle it”. »    …I had long assumed that the expression was a spinoff from “Dutch [or liquid] courage”…
19 People shortly to corral horse (7)
INHABIT     IN A BIT, “shortly” circles H(orse), as in heroin
21 Where spring is over in its current form (5)
OASIS     O(ver) + AS IS, “in its current form”
23 Turns broadcast in ceremonies (5)
RITES     “rights” (as distinguished from lefts or “U”s)     When “broadcast” is not an anagrind, it’s often a homophone indicator.
24 Spectacles carried by Mister Heath (4)
MOOR     M(OO)R    👀


23 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5099 by David McLean — Any Questions?”

  1. 50:41
    Fortunately, I submitted off leaderboard, as I overlooked a typo. NHO DONBASS. An MER at 12ac: If Max and Greta are going together, Max may be courting Greta (or vice versa), but he’s not going together. Never figured out TSAR, which no doubt accounted for some of my time.

    1. I had the same reservation about “court,” but turns out courting can be mutual—as in one Collins entry, listed as okd-fashioned, « to be conducting a serious emotional relationship usually leading to marriage. »
      Surprised that you didn’t know DONBASS, as it has been a geopolitical hot spot for the past few years, as a result, in fact, of the Russian invasion that precipitated the achievement of independence from LiveJournal of Times for The Times. That’s actually the Russian spelling, with the double S.

    2. Thanks; I have received a reply, and did know about ‘about this blog’, so no problem.

        1. I really don’t think that was the point. That would make this not a double definition, as that part would be just a cryptic hint—although the proper definition is right there in front of you, with no need to pun.

          1. OK. I hadn’t thought deeply about this before these comments.

            So, it is intransitive?

            They “court” = they “go together”?

          2. I can see court = go out together, but that’s not what we have. “Go together” doesn’t seem to quite work. And if that means it’s not a double definition, OK. I’d settle for a definition and a cryptic hint

            On edit. OK. I’ve just found “court” as a synonym of “go together” in Collins English Thesaurus. Still think mine was more fun

            1. “Go together” in this sense is a common idiom, kapietro.
              Here’s Collins again…
              « 2.  informal
                (of two people) to have a romantic or sexual relationship
                they had been going together for two years »

  2. No unknown answers , and I understood all the clues by the time I finished, but I took a long time getting there – 50 minutes – and found the lower half much harder than the top.

  3. Some very imaginative cluing here but didn’t we have 1ac only a couple of weeks ago? I wonder why it was reused?
    5094, 23ac: exactly the same device and almost same wording

    1. I’m afraid that escaped my memory of recent puzzles, possibly because I’m currently looking at a lot of older puzzles in book preparation work. If I’d noticed it, I would have requested a different clue.

  4. Pleased to finish this after not the best run of late. And my first scan didn’t seem promising. But once my brain exited panic mode and settled down to think about it, the answers gradually showed themselves. FOI 1ac, and steady work-through from there. Phew. In fact, several clues to enjoy. Decent time, too – for me – of around an hour. Thanks, all.

  5. I have to admit that I’m frequently unable to get on David McLean’s wavelength, and consequently this was a struggle, achieved over 3 sessions, though I was helped by getting the two 15 letter ones earlyish. I had a bit of a MER at ‘fan’ as anagrind, but after very recent discussion on the subject here this week, why not? It’s clever, and misleading, which is the whole point. Most trouble was in the SW, with LOI SCOURGE, which I had to award COD to, once I’d worked out the parsing.

  6. Very clever I thought.
    I too had forgotten the 1a nowHere clue, so short-term memory loss.
    Had to add a new (Russian I see) spelling for DONBASS to my cheating machine.
    DNF was unable to parse 22a TSAR, so left it blank. Thanks Guy.
    Couldn’t parse 25a INSURER, but inconsistently didn’t leave it blank. 23d RITES ditto.
    24d MOOR LOL.

  7. 17.45

    Thought this was very good fare with many excellent clues. Wasn’t certain about INGRATE so needed the nice BLOWOUT to get me INHABIT (missed the basic verb/noun trick) to confirm it.

    Thanks Guy and David

  8. 59:48. Hard work but a satisfying completion. I liked PLASTERER and MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (which I don’t recall seeing before)

  9. Thanks for the confirmation about how 13a ESCAPES works. Quite fun using the S after the apostrophe in the anagram like that. Because I am not very familiar with the card game bridge, I wasn’t sure if I was understanding it all properly.

    Good stuff about the possible origins of bottle for courage in 18d. I’d never really thought about it!

  10. Had to rethink biffed Endeavour for 8d to accommodate the n from smitten.

    Shackleton’s epic voyage and trek to get help for his stranded crew rivals Bligh’s post mutiny voyage.

  11. Thanks David and guy
    Didn’t get to this one until mid-week and taking just under the hour across a couple of sessions to complete it. A lot of innovative clueing and the forgotten repeated clue at 1a (no wonder it was an early get) – thought that the use of ‘S as a part of the anagram fodder was very clever. Also liked the tricks with TSAR, INHABIT and SCOURGE. Had to look up DONBASS and ENDURANCE (the vessel) for confirmation.
    Finished in the SW corner with PLASTERER, that DONBASS (with the added S) and SCOURGE as the last few in.

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