Times 23523/not opera again

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 55’

Made pretty good time on this at first since I guessed the long anagram at 10A quickly but really slowed down at the end: struggled with 1D, 13A, 20A, 27A (still not sure about this PB has clarified). I had to look up SIMON BOCCANEGRA since my Verdi knowledge starts and stops at “Aida”. And I’m grateful to Niall MacSweeney for ensuring that I would get 15A.


10 AT THE DROP OF A HAT – (proof of a death)*: my way in – long anagrams with lots of little words are a good foot in the door.
11 TH(RIFT)Y – smooth surface made it hard for me to see the containment: “round” and THY for “your”.
12 CORN,CO,B – straightforward enough once you stop thinking about the things you use to listen.
13 NAIL, BOMB – a type of “weapon” that could have done with a bit more specification since not really run of the mill. NAIL for “arrest” and “high price to pay” for (cost a) BOMB.
15 NI(A,L)L – Irish Neil (thanks Niall!).
18 AP,HID – it’s a “bug” – ”Old man coming from the east screened for bug”. Richard Saunders below points out that the wordplay is: rev(pa=old man) followed by HID=screened.
20 F,O,REG,ONE – REG is our three-letter boy this time. FOREGONE can mean “decided” based on Chambers.
23 NO,R(W) ICH – “only poor” literally implies NO RICH and contains W[ife]. NORWICH is a cathedral town thus “see”.
26 SIMON BOCCANEGRA – opera by Verdi that happens to be an anagram of the answers to 17D and 12A: (magnesia, corncob)*. I had to look this up.
27 A(MAN[age]D)A – only “girl” I can think of given: A?A?D?. Wordplay: Thanks to PB: A(MAN[age]D,A – where AA is “answers” and “age to conceal” indicates subtraction!
28 PUMP(KIN)S – Iffy surface and difficult clue to deconstruct. Not very happy about PUMPS as “shoes for gym” since they are more dancing related but PB notes that Collins has PUMPS as gym shoes — Chambers doesn’t surprisingly. “Being related” is KIN and containment is indicated by “keep”.


1 S,HANT,Y – Tough clue since I don’t know my counties very well obviously. Def is “air”. HANTS is short for Hampshire and its “tail” letter is moved to the “lead” finally followed by the last letter of “recoverY”.
4 NE(RV)Y – NEY is a handy three-letter marshal and this is the first time I’ve encountered RV for Revised Version (of the Bible).
9 SPACE BAR – double/cryptic def of the SPACE “key” on your keyboard and an establishment serving drinks in SPACE. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read the Douglas Adams books but I did know that they were set quite a long way away.
14 OFF,SHOOT – good clue. One of my last to decipher. I suppose SHOOT and “film” can be synonyms as verbs.
16 ANNO REGNI – pretty impressive hidden rev: “lINGER ON NAturally”.
17 M(AGNES)IA – rev(aim=end) contains our girl AGNES.
19 D(EIGNE)D – DD (a rather large “cup” size) contains genie*.
22 ADMASS – I think this is a cryptic def of “the mass aimed at by advertising” (Chambers). I’d seen this before fortunately.
25 FI,CHU=”shoe” – rev(if). Not sure why FICHU (“shawl”) was familiar to me.

11 comments on “Times 23523/not opera again”

  1. Best I can think of is (O)AP + HID(E) but I’m not overly enamoured of it.
    Richard Saunders
    1. On second thoughts, “old man coming from the East” indicates a reversal of “Pa”. Does the clue say “screened” rather than “screen”? That would account for the “hid”.
      1. The paper version certainly has “screened”, and my reading was PA<=,HID.


        27: MAN(age)D inside A,A = “answers”

        28: PUMPS is justified by second def. for pump(2) here.

        8:08 here – caught a mistaken premature glimpse of the posting header line, but I don’t think it mattered.

        Douglas Adams: you really want the recordings of the original radio series – that’s where the cult began.

  2. I’m not sure why, but I got SIMON BOCCANEGRA on an inspired guess with only the M in place (though I had “corncob” so knew some of the letters to be used). It’s not even an opera that I know. This was very useful because it enabled me to get MAGNESIA.
    I didn’t understand the definition for PUMPKINS, but I’ve since consulted The Concise Oxford, which says “pumpkin” is an alternative for “squash”.
  3. You just beat me, Ilan – spot on 1hr here! I actually got 26A from the anagram – and surprised myself when I looked it up and found I had it correct! I had a bit of fiddling to do, as I had originally written ‘fishu’ at 25d – now that just looks rubbish!
    I also looked up Ney to check that.
    When I was at school, we had to have PUMPS for indoor PE lessons. Perhaps a British thing.
    Also, I remember a spate of nail bombs in London a few years ago – perhaps that is a more common weapon over here.
  4. Talking of “impressive hidden” answers, does anyone remember what was the clue a few years ago that managed to convincingly (well, it took me ages to get it) put “cardiff arm’s park” as a hidden answer. I think it ended “parking ground” so ground was the definition.


  5. I got stuck on the SW corner – knew SIMON BOCCANEGRA but failed to work out the anagram word play that would have given me MAGNESIA, which would have given me AMANDA – which is the name of my girlfriend, who is currently deciding whether she wants to go out with me any more or not! I somehow feel that failing to solve that clue might be a bad omen…………..
    Peter F
    1. i bet you that tomorrow’s puzzles will all be St. Valentine themed — i’m sure you’ll find plenty of ammunition to inspire you there in the Amanda-department.
  6. I found the bottom half of this monstrously hard, and eventually stumbled home in 15m22s praying SIMON BOCCANEGRA would be right – I certainly didn’t understand the anagram indication and am impressed it has barely caused a murmur here. Really points up my classical music ignorance too, as I haven’t heard of the opera either and was forced to guess at BOCCANEGRA based on the namesake footballer (Carlos?).
    Words that all took much longer than they should have: SHANTY, NAIL-BOMB, NORWICH, AMANDA, MAGNESIA, OFFSHOOT and FOREGONE, the last two emphatically so. Probably wasn’t helped by filling in the absurd EXTENDER for OFFSHOOT.
    One to forget for me.
  7. In these days of Strictly Come Dancing some of the “easies” sound like comments from the panel:

    1a Producing tennis shot – ace (8)

    5a Crawling, so getting close (6)

    25a Threw soldiers into swamp (7)
    FLOO RE D. Royal Engineers got engulfed by water and foxed us all. My penultimate entry – not an “easy” for me.

    2d Wake refreshed (at the farm)* (9)
    AFTERMATH. Wake as “in the wake of ..”.

    3d (Fuel he’d)* spilled makes one wary (7)

    6d Son’s brief insult added spice (7)
    S AFFRON(t). The sex parts of Spanish & Iranian croci.

    7d A GP touring hospital for a purpose (2,3)
    A D H OC

    21d Adult class bringing in wine regularly (5-2)

    24d No ordinary graduate dance (5)
    RUM BA

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