Sunday Times Cryptic No 5109 by Dean Mayer — anything the matter?

Quite enjoyable, with no serious problems, and I particularly liked the elegantly complete anagrams (no word fragments involved) smoothly melded with creative anagrinds. But I did find myself pondering my conflicted relationship with cryptic definitions (CDs). When they occur in a non-cryptic puzzle (that would normally be in The New York Times, Thursday thru Sunday), I actually find them a pleasant surprise, although (as I have sometimes expressed here) they are sometimes a bit of a letdown when encountered in a cryptic.

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

 1 One lies but fails to be devious (8)
FABULIST    (but fails)*
 5 God thus rejected goddess (6)
OSIRIS    SO<=“rejected” + IRIS, “goddess”
 9 Unit applied to horse measurement (5)
DEPTH    DEPT, “unit” (department) + H(orse)
10 Leader’s hideout, old and current, in retreat (9)
EDITORIAL    LAIR + O(ld) + TIDE<=“in retreat”
12 Business welcomed few visitors (7,7)
LIMITED COMPANY    With a cryptic hint taking the term in an otherwise literal sense
14 Roasting meat, taking a bite (10)
LAMBASTING    LAMB, “meat” + A + STING, “bite”   “Roasting” in the sense of making a severe verbal critique of someone
15 Reportedly modest god (4)
LOKI    “low-key”
18 Comic actor welcomed by Dav{id Le}tterman (4)
IDLE    Hidden
19 Potty lid or shape that’s nearly round (10)
SPHEROIDAL    (lid or shape)*
21 Form master at Windsor, perhaps? (4,10)
TURF ACCOUNTANT    CD   A  bookmaker, with a racing “Form” at someplace like the Royal Windsor Racecourse   …NHO
24 Plot to bring down most of factory (5,4)
FLOOR PLAN    FLOOR, “to bring down” + PLANt
25 Without light, I’m reflected (5)
MINUS    SUN + IM<=“reflected”
26 Comedy routine’s quiet moment (6)
SHTICK    SH, “quiet” (admonition) + TICK, “moment”
27 They fear flickering light (8)
FEATHERY    (They fear)*
 1 He barks loud words at wedding (4)
FIDO    F, “loud” + I DO
 2 Psalm a bit absurd at christening (9)
BAPTISMAL    (Psalm a bit)*
 3 Being posh, did I get pulses raised? (3-2-3)
LAH-DI-DAH    HAD I DHAL<=“raised”   DAHL is “a curry made from lentils or other pulses” (Collins)
 4 Banal sort of operatic style (13)
STEREOTYPICAL    (operatic style)*
 6 Passionate maiden in fiction (6)
STORMY    STOR(M)Y   …also in the news lately…
 7 Author discussed serving in India (5)
RAITA    “writer”
 8 Ass stunned goat (5,5)
SILLY BILLY    SILLY, “stunned” + BILLY, “goat”
11 Material? This is not so (13)
INCONSEQUENCE    The rare noun here means something immaterial, not germane to the issue at hand, of no consequence. A cryptic hint (which made it hard for me to classify this clue—still looks like a CD to me) follows, “so,” but this is not “in consequence.”
13 They may claim flavourless scraps (10)
PLAINTIFFS    PLAIN, “flavourless” + TIFFS, “scraps”
16 Rule 1 when opening arms (9)
17 Cheat to provoke scorn (8)
CONTEMPT    CON, “Cheat” + TEMPT, “provoke”
20 Supply of bolts for construction (6)
22 Sleep, as sailor in bunk (5)
ROOST    RO(OS)T   O(rdinary) S(eaman)
23 Grey area likely to shrink (4)
ASHY    A(rea) + SHY, “likely to shrink”

39 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5109 by Dean Mayer — anything the matter?”

  1. 14A is not a double def. Lambasting is nothing to do with cooking. It’s criticising or “roasting”. And “meat taking a bite” = LAMB, A, STING as in “mustard stings/bites the tongue” in a Collins example.

    In 24A, “most of factory” is PLAN(t) and the definition is “plot”, as a floor plan is a diagram

    1. Aha, thanks!
      Rather distracted last week (obviously).
      I must have been thinking of “basting,” but that isn’t really cooking meat, just softening it!

  2. DNF at 21:25
    NHO TURF ACCOUNTANT, no idea what Windsor was doing (all I know of Windsor is its castle and its merry wives), no idea what a ‘form master’ could be, other than probably not school-related. So I could have chosen from tyre, term, turf, tart, [hell, it’s the ST, so] turd, ….

  3. DNF at 45 minutes as I needed aids for LOKI, not remembered from previous encounters, and FABRIC where I failed to think of the necessary type of bolt.

  4. 46 minutes, so not Dean at his hardest for me. At the end I had two empty lights at 15a for the unknown ‘god’. I was stuck between the homophones of “low-key” for LOKI and “pokey” for the made-up POKI for ‘modest’ and went with the word I’d at least seen somewhere before. I managed to get TURF ACCOUNTANT though I’d NHO Royal Windsor Racecourse, thinking Ascot was being referred to.

    I could see what INCONSEQUENCE was getting at but like so many cryptic defs I was glad I didn’t have to explain it; much the same for ‘Supply of bolts’ to give FABRIC.

    COD to ASHY for the ‘likely to shrink’ bit.

    Thanks to Guy and Dean

    1. Not that it really matters but INCONSEQUENCE is not a CD. ‘Material? This is not’ is the definition and the word ‘so’ indicates IN CONSEQUENCE.

      1. I considered that way of marking it, with “so” as a separate cryptic hint. But it’s really not “so,” as “in consequence” is two words, and this is one, and there would be no indication of this if that part were not folded into the rest, which is otherwise just a slightly garbled straight definition, as so many ostensibly cryptic definitions are.

        1. The fact that ‘in consequence’ is two words is why this is wordplay, not a definition.

          1. Yes, and I see this as the only tidbit of wordplay in the cryptic definition, such as they always contain (using a word or two in a—hopefully—deceptive way). Seems the only thing that makes “so” wordplay is the connection with the first part… as wordplay, it’s weak tea.
            But I’m not crazy about this clue and am not going to spend any more time thinking about it. I’ve got other irons on the fire today.

              1. They typically use a word or two in a hopefully deceptive manner. They, as I have consistently pointed out, play on those words. I don’t know how to make this any clearer. Maybe I’m “wrong.” You’re certainly welcome to think so—I don’t care! I have other things pressing on my mind.

              2. I can see it either way, but since you can’t, I’ve changed the note—just to make you happy. It’s of no consequence (as your first comment admitted).

    1. For “bolt,” has “ a length of woven goods, especially as it comes on a roll from the loom.”

      When I worked it, I was thinking actually of the French fabrique, whose primary meaning is a factory, and a clothing factory would have many bolts in reserve (and which doesn’t mean “cloth” at all). In English, though, “fabric” can mean “building” but not specifically a factory. (I even looked in Chambers.)

  5. Didn’t know SHTICK in that sense – more, that’s what I do, that’s my shtick – so I was left with a choice of satire or sitcom, both unparsed, of course. At 20dn I knew a bolt of cloth but started thinking you might have a bolt of hair, of which a “construction” would be a HAIRDO. And that fitted nicely with SITCOM. Oh well, it’s all part of the fun

  6. We’ve had TURF ACCOUNTANT before, I made a note last week saying I was pleased to remember a term NHO until I met it here. 27484 and 27219 according to Google.

  7. Almost made it, thwarted at the end by the deficiency in my knowledge of gods: OSIRIS and LOKI, though the clueing makes them obvious once you know. Also hadn’t come across FABULIST before – or had but had forgotten… Ah well. Otherwise, complete, in my usual average of 45 minutes. Thanks, all.

  8. DNF, could not locate 15a LOKI. As gods go he seems to be of INCONSEQUENCE, although I bet I’ve met him before.
    Was iffy about 20d FABRIC, it seemed a bit loose; would not have dreamt of putting it in without all crossers.
    21a Turf Accountant; NHO Royal Windsor Racecourse (have driven past it hundreds of times without seeing it) but then I’m not a racing person. Turf A/c seems to me a rather weedy euphemism or circumlocution for a bookie.

    1. LOKI was of some consequence as his three offspring brought about the death of the more important gods, Odin, Thor, Tyr, etc and the final universal destruction, Ragnarok.

  9. Pleased to finish this – the usual Dean brainteasers being at work – although no unknowns this time. LOsI, however, were FABRIC, which I couldn’t parse for ages, forgetting the ‘other’ meaning of bolts and LOKI, where it took ages to think of the homophone. As I recall, LOKI was the mischievous minor god in Norse mythology. I believe he was the god of fire, and was punished by Thor, though I forget the details. I liked FIDO for its simplicity, though didn’t get it until I had 1a. COD to SPHEROIDAL.

  10. A search for LOKI finds just one recent appearance in a Jumbo last September.
    The search also throws up Peter Biddlecombe’s review of The Chambers Dictionary – 11th Edition on its release in 2008. He notes that LOKI is one of the words removed in the new edition

  11. 11:33 but with an annoying typo: RAIRA. The only thing I didn’t know was ‘bolt’ for cloth.
    LOKI will be all too familiar to anyone with kids of Marvel-movie-watching age. Played by Tom Hiddleston.

    1. Also to CS Lewis buffs, who as a boy wrote an epic poem called ‘Loki Bound’, of which only fragments survive – probably, thankfully!

  12. On solving I realised I didn’t know how RAITA (7d) was pronounced – I mainly know it from crosswords. I looked at Collins online – which helpfully lets you click a loudspeaker icon to hear the word spoken, because I’m not very good with the phonetic symbols. They were pronouncing it like “crater”. So I made a note and wondered if there would be comments on this.

    When I saw there were none, I looked again. I think Collins has rather misled me here. Chambers has the pronunciation to sound like “writer” as per the clue. And I have just watched the beginning of several recipes on YouTube. English, American and Indian accented cooks are all saying “writer”.

    Interesting comments on the cryptic definitions. I enjoyed TURF ACCOUNTANT, and found INCONSEQUENCE tough – but have taken on board what has been said about these.

    1. I didn’t think too much about the pronunciation, since I pronounce the last part of “writer” differently anyway.

  13. About 90 minutes. OSIRIS took a long time since I kept looking for a goddess ending in OS since I already had it ending in S. Even when I thought of STORMY I didn’t put it in because I looked for a DD with Stormy as someone in fiction like Alice. For RAITA I kept looking for someone serving in India like Kipling say.

  14. I’m not sure if the term ‘turf accountant’ as a pompous version of ‘bookie’ is used much nowadays, but it used to be widespread: when they became legal as shops in I think the early 1960s they always used to call themselves turf accountants. And I can’t see that anyone has mentioned it, but the form that is referred to is racing form, the form that a horse is showing. It’s not quite clear to me what the blog is saying here — maybe “Form” refers to the form that I refer to.

    1. The blog says what’s meant is a “racing form,” a term that is in Collins and probably generally understood.
      “noun. a sheet that provides detailed information about horse races, including background data on the horses, jockeys, etc.”

      1. I feel pretty sure I’ve said before that the Collins website has content from British and American dictionaries. Your “racing form”, which I have quite honestly never heard of, is in a section headed “in American English”. As the small print at the end of the two sets of “in American English” definitions indicates, this content is not from Collins English Dictionary. The meaning which is familiar in British English is “the previous record of a horse, athlete, etc, esp with regard to fitness”, with the “record” including performances, especially recent ones. If you ever see a paper like The Racing Post, I’m pretty sure that with the odds for a particular race, a horse’s last six or so results are shown, probably with “Form” at the top of the column. That’s part of what bookies use to decide what odds they offer, so you would expect them to be “form masters”. And “at Windsor” is based on some bookies operating where a race takes place, rather than in a place full of cigarette smoke and discarded betting slips in your local high street.

        1. Yes, you’ve pointed that out before, and I’ve taken notice of it here several times since, which apparently you haven’t noticed.

          I replied to Wil too hastily, seeing his message on my phone before I’d risen from bed this morning, because I didn’t realize I’d opted for the wrong one of the two different, but closely related, senses of the word “form” as applied to bookmaking. The Collins online doesn’t have a British definition for the term “racing form” at all!

          But I did understand what “Windsor” was about, as you’ll see above. “Windsor Royal Racecourse.”

          1. I don’t understand why you were looking for a definition of “racing form”, rather than the clue’s “form”, for which my iPad version of Merriam-Webster has “the past performance of a race horse” as well as “racing form”.

            My point was about “at Windsor” rather than just “Windsor”.

            1. Did I say that I understood why I did that? I just said that my groggy bed head did that! I wasn’t meaning to defend myself.

              I’ll try to understand what your last but means. The clue alludes to races going on at Windsor. I don’t know what else it could mean. Now, whether it’s low-class to have a sheet with the odds on it when you bet there, or it’s not done to even actually place a bet AT Windsor is beyond my ken. Bets are placed about the races at Windsor. I guessed just enough to solve the clue before it put me to sleep. So, fine, it’s about the horse’s form at Windsor. I knew that yesterday.

              Now, 3 AM is my usual bedtime and I am not going to revisit this abject failure anyway, even if you rub it in again. It was a bad week for me, and this was the least of it. Bye now.

    2. That’s very interesting about the origins of the term “Turf Accountant”.

      explains about how it was a way of doing off-course betting pre-1961. You had to set up an account with such an office, and then send in your betting instructions, and they would keep an “account” of your winnings and losses.

      Apparently you could send in instructions by post to Turf Accountants, as long as the postmark was in time. Which lead to situations like this article from The Times of 13th Nov 1935:


      STANLEY MIAURICE WEST, of Tunbridge Road, Southend, GERORG HERMAN, of Leigh Road, Leigh, and HERBERT PERHAM, of Ambleside Drive, Southend, were fined £5 each at Southend yesterday for attempting to defraud turf accountants by posting bets after the results of races were known.
      Mr. A. J. Lamb, prosecuting for the Post Office, said that the turf accountants found the laws of chance were being violated and it seemed to centre in Southend. Investigations were made and it was found that the defendants made use of knowledge that the Head Post Office box was cleared during the holiday period in August a few minutes after the time it was advertised to be cleared, and that a letter posted at 2.34 or 3.34 would be stamped 2.30 or 3.30. West had admitted getting the name of a winner from a newspaper seller before he posted a letter containing a bet, and Perham had made a statement that he heard in a billiard hall that the letter box was cleared late, and that letters could be got in after the race. Perham added: “It is not a thing you can do every day because the postman is not always late.” Mr. Lamb said that there might be other cases.

  15. Thanks Dean and guy
    Took three sessions and a tick over the hour to complete this and then a bit longer on the final parsing check where had to correct my answers to the TURF ACCOUNTANT / ROOST crossers (had a very suspect TEAM ACCOUNTANT / ABOUT initially).
    Agree with Keriothe’s take on IN CONSEQUENCE as word play for 11d, although I didn’t see that initially. Took a while to wrap my tongue around the RAITA / ‘writer’ homophone. SILLY BILLY tickled my fancy when it dawned on me.

  16. Did not know the term TURF ACCOUNTANT, so the first word left blank. I guess I would pronounce LOKI with the stress on the first syllable, whereas in “low key” the stress would be on the second, thereby making a long vowel of the “ey”,and not sounding at all like the short “I” in LOKI. (my excuse, and I’m sticking to it! ). Liked LIMITED COMPANY and LAMBASTING, which of course is a roasting. But don’t get SILLY BILLY from the clue.


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