Thursday, 3 January 2019 Times Cryptic No 27238 #Cannabis sativa

Perhaps it’s the sheer plethora of extra puzzles over the holiday period, or the sheer horror that was yesterday’s competition sample, but I find I’m not at my quickest at the moment, and this one took 24 and a quarter minutes. There’s an Americanism of sorts, balanced by a Britishism that tends to jar mildly on Americans, but otherwise there’s not much to frighten us tenderer solvers.
17 across gives me the excuse to congratulate NASA on two momentous achievements in 24 hours that certainly moved and thrilled me: their first picture of the snowman in space at Ultima Thule 4 billion miles away and the extraordinary feat of going into orbit round the 500 metre asteroid Bennu, at 1/5 millionth the gravity of Earth. And best wishes to China, attempting shortly to land on the far side of the Moon. Humanity is not all insane politics.
Back to the puzzle: my exposition is coded with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS. Enjoy!

[(click to open)]

1 Territory bordering a pole, oddly? (7)
LAPLAND And we start with a rather nice &lit. Territory is LAND, which “borders” A and the odd letters of PoLe. If we were being picky, we’d say Lapland doesn’t quite border the North Pole, but it’s only just past Christmas so we’ll allow a certain chap-with-a-beard based licence.
5 Barren wife deputising for husband in expedition (5)
WASTE Both mean “unproductive” in Chambers. W(ife) replaces H(usband) in expedition: HASTE
9 Marine vehicle driven to port by a learner (5)
NAVAL The vehicle is a VAN, which when driven to the left gives NAV, add A L(earner)
10 Spooner’s secured location, in a few words (5,4)
SOUND BITE Which in Speverend Rooner’s orchard tinglish would be BOUND SITE
11 Yankee on drug adopting Republican line, roughly (7)
HARSHLY First NATO of the day, Y(ankee) tacked onto drug-of-choice HASH containing R(epublican) after L(ine) has been added.
12 Went out with clean 5 across from timberyard (7)
SAWDUST 5 across WASTE becomes pat of the definition. SAW for went out with, DUST for clean
13 Mac‘s strength of spirit added to general excellence (10)
WATERPROOF In a Mephisto, Mac usually means a delve into the hoots mon section of the dictionary. Not here. Strength of spirit is PROOF, general excellence is WATER. The link is in the phrase (most commonly) “of the first water”: the more gemstones, especially diamonds, resemble pure, clear water, the better. Extended to mean excellence in anything.
15 Charge double, initially, for forage (4)
FEED I think more in the noun sense. Charge: FEE, Double initially D
18 Sort of tale that’ll keep you in stitches? (4)
YARN whimsical cryptic definition
20 Victor commanding guards, impossible to pass (10)
IMPERVIOUS Commanding provides IMPERIOUS, which guards our second NATO of the day, V(ictor)
23 Better medic with peculiarly regal bearing (7)
GAMBLER The medic you want here is MB (Medicinae Baccalaureus – Bachelor of Medicine) borne by a variant on REGAL
24 House maybe trades gold (7)
WINDSOR Trades are the WINDS that blow towards the Equator (if I correctly recall my O-level Geography), so a definition by example heralded by “maybe”. Add OR for gold.
25 Concession that man’s pocketed in republic (9)
FRANCHISE The republic, currently their cinquième, is FRANCE. Include (pocket) HIS for that man’s
26 Return of goods — deficiency ultimately unclear (5)
FOGGY Follow the instructions. Retut=rn of: FO, add G(oods), 2 of them, and the last of deficiencY
27 Tail-enders in the marathon put a strain on all runners (5)
ENTRY The tail enders of thE and marathoN plus put a srain on: TRY
28 Crowd on balcony when faithful audience is catered for (3,4)
GOD SLOT Was (is still?) the term for the religious bit in broadcasting such as “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4. Balcony is interpreted in its highest (physical) form as GODS, crowd is LOT. Respace.


1 Continually blocking grant to youngster in form (7)
LEVERET Now you need to know that form is what a hare calls its sleeping place, and its young is our answer, and all makes sense. Continually: EVER “blocks” grant: LET
2 Fish cut up with great force (8)
PILCHARD Cut is CLIP, which in a down clue reverses when “up”. The rest comes from with great force: HARD
3 Analyse a singular state (5)
ASSAY A S(ingular) state: SAY
4 Doctor gets our compound — here in US, perhaps (4,5)
DRUG STORE What we on this side of the pond would call a chemist’s D(octo)R GETS OUR is “compounded” in this &littish clue
5 Thrillers incorporating papers women left behind (6)
WIDOWS WOWS are thrillers, papers ID
6 Apprehension from last character that is returning to crack safe (7)
SEIZURE Last character Z (in my alphabet, anyway) that is IE, both reversed and contained in safe: SURE. Apprehension more as in arrest than anxiety.
7 Leave old mate with distress (5)
EXEAT Latin stage direction for one character going off stage. No it isn’t (see below). It means “let him go” and is public school pretentious Latin for leave of absence..EX for your old mate, EAT for distress as in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
8 Why a note goes astray in transit? (2,3,3)
ON THE WAY A kindly straightforward anagram of WHY A NOTE
14 Mentioning task for second examiner? (9)
REMARKING A double definition, made easier for me by one of Mrs Z’s former occupations.
16 Puts down free oyster cards, taking car out (8)
DESTROYS Puts down sounds so much nicer for what one does  to poor old ailing Rover. Free indicates anagram, the fodder is OYSTER CARDS minus the CAR bit. You don’t need to know that Oyster Cards are Transport for London’s automated fare paying system, but there, I’ve told you anyway.
17 Momentous contest well-nigh complete (8)
EVENTFUL Contest provides EVENT, and most of complete is FULL
19 Wild rave a politician’s caught in (7)
RAMPANT Rave give RANT, insert A MP
21 Against crew changing direction without a second glance? (2,5)
ON SIGHT ON for against (I suppose as in on/against the wall). The crew is an EIGTH with its direction E(ast) replaced by S(outh)
22 Courageous chap’s end providential (6)
PLUCKY  The ast of chap plus LUCKY for providential.
23 Raised e-cigarette’s casing following blunder (5)
GAFFE In much the same way as we Brits snigger at Germans who fahrt, we’re well aware of our transatlantic cousins’ reaction to FAG, but hey, it’s just a cigarette, guys. E-FAG is reversed and contains F(ollowing)
24 Energy-filled, unrestrained exercise (5)
WIELD Unrestrained gives WILD, fill with E(nergy)

45 comments on “Thursday, 3 January 2019 Times Cryptic No 27238 #Cannabis sativa”

  1. I thought this was public-school talk for a permit to absent oneself; exit/exeunt being the stage directions.
    1. My Latin master, Mr Jarry (Caesar Ipse) would be mortified that I had forgotten my subjunctives. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood!
        1. The conversation between Mr and Mrs Cushion must have been something to savour working that one out. I wonder if the Vicar noticed?
          A genuine (slightly slow burn) delight!
  2. After 5 or so minutes devoted to 27ac, I gave up: had the EN from early on, couldn’t come up with TRY, nor would I have thought of ENTRY as the definiendum for ‘all runners’. Hearing Mrs. Conclusion tell Mrs. Premise about her plans to put down her budgie tends to weaken the euphemistic force of the term.

    Edited at 2019-01-03 05:50 am (UTC)

  3. My LOI was EXEAT (of which Kevin has the right definition). I hesitated to put in ENTRY for “all runners,” but the wordplay insisted. I didn’t know about oyster cars!
        1. Plenty of shelfish drivers though!

          We had 7dn EXEATS as did Jennings & Darbyshire and ‘The Fat Owl.’

          Time a smidge under 40 mins so normal service is resumed until tomorrow.

          FOI 24ac WINDSOR – the House that George built.

          LOI 5dn WIDOWS as I couldn’t read my own writing at 12ac SANDUST? – the perils of treeware.

          COD 26ac FOGGY was amusing.

          WOD 2dn PILCHARD the fish of the fifties and J&D.

          As for 23dn GAFFE…….over to our Stateside friends.

          Edited at 2019-01-03 09:06 am (UTC)

  4. 47 minutes but glad to complete without aids after yesterday’s disaster and a couple of others that remain under wraps until the weekend. I’d forgotten the required meaning of EXEAT (as pointed out by Kevin) as my public school didn’t use the expression. Also I was unable to think of WATER as ‘excellence’ so thanks to our blogger for his example.

    1. I have a problem with water = excellence. First Water does, but Third Water does not. It’s sort of like saying “time” equates to winning a race; “fast time” might, but “slow time” does not. Excellence seems to equate to “first”, “water” is just the scale on which first, second, third, and worse, are measured.
    2. Just so we’re clear – my quibble here (and elsewhere today) had NOTHING to do with taking a long long time to get to a DNF.
      1. I think you can properly have levels of excellence: on your racing analogy, it’s more like speed than time: the winning speed is obviously the best, second and third are still good speeds.
        For comparative excellence, try the Desert Island standbys, the Bible and Shakespeare:
        “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
        “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.”
        1. I take your point, Z, (and I am especially pleased to get both the Bible and the Bard as references; I would have to up my GK considerably to be able to come up with two relevant and weighty quotations quickly), though I am still not completely convinced.

          I guess it’s a question of whether the measure – in this case water – always implies excellence, with the only question being just how much excellence it implies, or whether it is a scale with no implications. It’s a little hard to tell, since we mostly only hear ‘first water’, and never ‘worst’ or ‘last’ or ‘muddy’ water – though the sources do mention second and third water.

          Next time I’m in midtown with nothing to do I’ll poke my head into one of the 47th St jewelers and ask. It’s doubtful that I’ll learn anything, but I’ll revert if I do.

          Edited at 2019-01-05 03:31 am (UTC)

  5. 59 minutes, with the top-right most stubborn, though it took me a while to get the WINDSOR/WIELD crossers, too. FOI 9a NAVAL LOI the Spoonerism at 10a, once I finally figured out what was going on with the 5a/12a combo and their crossers. EXEAT is on my crossword vocab list, and today is proof that I do actually revise it sometimes.

    Helpfully I’ve run a few 10Ks and half-marathons, so ENTRY for for “all runners” didn’t defeat me.

  6. Fairly steady solve, hampered partly by assuming that the fish was going to start with a reversal of LOP. I had in mind POLLOCKS for a while but I did at least have the good sense to doubt it.
  7. 50 mins with yoghurt etc.
    And I was very pleased with myself to finish this tester. Having seen expedition=haste and apprehension=seizure I got more on the wavelength.
    Mostly I liked the ‘peculiarly regal bearing’
    Thanks testing setter and illuminating Z.
  8. 39 minutes with LOI ON SIGHT, put in using the shoot ON SIGHT method after an EVENTFUL last couple of minutes was followed by the GOD SLOT. In theory, at Oxford we had to get an EXEAT from our moral tutor ( draw your own conclusion about the other dons) if we went more than a few miles from Carfax, but I could never remember how far a ‘few’ was, so I decided it was 12,500. That admission probably invalidates my degree. I didn’t ASSAY the WATER in a biffed WATERPROOF, so thank you for the explanation Z. COD to SOUND BITE. Enjoyable. Thank you Z and setter.
  9. What a relief to come back to normality after yesterday. Excellent middle of the road puzzle.

    At my school permit to absent oneself was called bunking off but it didn’t seem to parse or fit the grid

  10. Defeated by leveret and exeat. Have seen exeat before but would never have got leveret as dnk that or form, and the word play didnt leap out at me.

    Cod destroys.

  11. Back to my level today, I just might manage three of these in an hour as this one took 18:34. As usual the dreaded Spoonerism produced momentary mental paralysis and I had to return to GOD SLOT a couple of times before the balcony bit dawned on me.
  12. Steady today, really liked LEVERET. I went to a local authority boarding school, which did not have an EXEAT system. 27′ 20”, thanks z and setter.
  13. In at a shade under 20, with Exeat the last man standing. We certainly had them where i went to school. Normally it meant a Saturday night away with parents, or maybe at a friendly day-pupil’s where shenanigans might be got up to. I did not know that a hare’s nest was a form, so thanks for that one. The leveret is easy if you recall the French lievre.
  14. 19 minutes, no problems today. Well remember often sitting on slow M6 on way from IOM to daughter’s EXEATs at Malvern, but worth the trip. Liked GOD SLOT.
  15. Slow going at 35’43. I remember in the early sixties meeting an old lady whose husband, she told me with emphasis, had been “an engineer…of the first water”.
  16. The NW went in without much trouble, but a lot of the RHS was IMPERVIOUS to my cogitations for a while. WIDOWS and SOUND BITE eventually opened up the NE and things progressed more satisfactorily. No problems with ENTRY. Liked GODS LOT and ON SIGHT. Didn’t parse the WATER bit of the Mac. 36:17. Thanks setter and Z.

    Edited at 2019-01-03 11:40 am (UTC)

  17. 10m 56s, with EXEAT and WATERPROOF – I was convinced I was looking for a Scottish word at least in part – the last to fall.

    Thanks for explaining LEVERET, the subtlety of ‘form’ escaped me.

  18. Half as much time as yesterday’s even with a slow start. DRUG STORE was nostalgic. In NYC as it used to be the small local one would have a lunch counter and maybe a soda fountain. Now they are huge and run by chains and have heaping bags of candy, pretzels and jumbo cokes and the druggist is tucked away far in the back. Luckily we have a local pharmacy run by nice Russians who will even deliver your prescription to your door if you are poorly.

    EXEAT was nostalgic too. Mine were called half-term but my sisters had them, not that it made any difference because our parents were always thousands of miles away and we had to rely on the kindness of friends (sniff). Georgette Heyer (who else) gave me that meaning of “water”. 20.19

  19. ….ON THE WAY to Lancaster for a day out.

    Straightforward but still anything but a write-in.

    TIME 12:15

    1. You know how to enjoy yourself. When I was a lad, they’d lock you up in the castle dungeon as part of the tour.
  20. The word on the QC street was that this was approachable so I had a look.
    I’m glad I did as it was a very enjoyable solve over lunch. Could not parse WATERPROOF so that lurked until it was LOI. Also was not sure about ENTRY.
    COD to GOD SLOT.
    We did not have exeats at my school but we did at university and I remembered the term surprisingly easily.
  21. 13:09 so pretty average. My LOI was the fish as, like Pootle, my strong hunch was that it would begin POL.

    I don’t know my exeat from my elbow but that didn’t stop me getting it right.

    Z, is your reference to 17 across a subtle tribute to the Chinese as neither it, nor the far side of the moon, are visible from here?

    1. There is an outside chance that I am even more subtle than I thought, but it is much more likely (I do the preamble after completing the analysis) that the time of the morning skewed my reference by 90 degrees.
      The first picture from China’s safely landed craft has been released: it shows an unremarkable crater, except of course that it’s utterly momentous. Somehow, they have a relay satellite in a Lagrange stationary orbit. Wonderful, wonderful technology.
      1. The satellite is the truly remarkable bit, because the signals to earth are unable pass through the moon itself. Wow! Never thought of that. Cue Pink Floyd….
        1. I once had lunch with a philosophy professor (Oxon), who believed (in his professional life at least) that nothing existed without an observer “seeing” it. I asked about the back side of the moon – was it there or not? Now I need a new question to staunch the foolishness.
  22. This appears to have been up my street, a nice brisk solve, with the only long pause for thought being the aforementioned dreaded Spoonerism, where I had to work my way through the likes of SOUND FILE before reaching the right conclusion.
  23. 16:16. I found this quite tricky, but very enjoyable. Like a couple of others PILCHARD was my last in because of a LOP fixation.
  24. Thanks for the explanation of water which I didn’t get in this otherwise easy, certainly compared to yesterday’s, puzzle. Temporarily trying to think of something other than pollack for a short while also
  25. Somehow HARSHLY was my LOI, which as an ex-hippie I should have got. Mind you, I wasn’t much of a dope smoker – I used to describe myself as a ‘failed hippie’. Would have been easier if I hadn’t assumed LOP as many others did above. Also mystified by the WATER, thanks for the explanation. Also ON for against, never seen that before either.
  26. Fell asleep during this, having been driving all day prior to sitting down to solve it. Nice puzzle, though. Great blog, z, cheers.
  27. DNF. Bah! I had everything bar 27ac done in about 45 mins but unfortunately I had gone on a rampage at 19dn which meant I was considering every, elegy or enemy at 27ac. I ended up with every. Should have paid more attention. Didn’t know the expression of the first water or by extension that meaning of water in 13ac but once I had the proof the rest followed, or rather preceded. Didn’t know the leveret’s home but got it from wp and youngster. I found this quite tricky, my error notwithstanding.
  28. DNF but strangely entertaining nevertheless. Most of the wordplay was clear and the only poor clue was 13a. But 23a also made me wince. I’ve commented on this before, but as someone who has worked in the betting industry for over 40 years, I can assure you that the word is ‘bettors’, definitely not ‘betters’! But I’ll be charitable as part of my New year resolution, and acknowledge that the clue works fine nevertheless. Mr Grumpy
      1. That is a common misconception, and I think you would be surprised-although there is a grain of truth in what you say. The industry is dying a very slow death. The machines have ruined it for everybody of course-for traditional bettors and bookies alike. They shouldn’t have opened Pandora’s Box! Mr Grumpy
        1. From a non gambler point of view, when seeing (for example) Bet 365 raking in the profits while supporting Sky TV and Ray Winstone in the style to which they have become accustomed, and paying the boss a cool £265m salary, it doesn’t take much calculation to work out an awful lot of the world’s favrit online bettin comuni’ee are losing an awful lot of money. When does the fun stop?

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