Times 23528

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
[I’m posting this on behalf of David Hogg…]
My first go at blogging a Times crossword. A certain amount of literary knowledge was required to complete the puzzle – two across clues required you to know the names of literary characters – I knew one but not the other. I solved the rest of the crossword in about 16 minutes, but had to Google 15ac. I could have saved about 5 minutes had I not originally placed PRESIDENT into the grid at 24ac.

In writing the blog, I have realised that one or two of the clues have slightly offended the pedant in me, but not enough to ruin the solving experience.


1 AD-MINIS-T-RATE – First clue in my first Times blog, and I’m going to be picky – “time the speed” doesn’t read right – how would you go about timing a speed?

9 LATER(a-n) – The Lateran Palace has appeared many times in puzzles recently.

11 W(ALLEY)E’D – The wordplay makes this straightforward, but I’m not sure that “having a squint” is a definition of “wall-eyed”. Someone could be wall-eyed as the result of a squint, but wall-eyed refers more to the colour of the eye as a result of glaucoma or a squint.

13 DIOCESAN – (deacon is)*

15 POOTER – the clue that prevented me from completing the puzzle without using a reference source. Charles Pooter is the main character in the comic novel, Diary of a Nobody, written by George Grossmith, and originally serialised in Punch in the late 19th century.

17 CARTON – double def. Sydney Carton is one of the two principals in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, but I’m not entirely happy with the clue as the “in the” is superfluous.

20 IMPROV(e) – short for “improvisation”

21 WEREWOLF – W-E(<=flower)

24 P-RESIDING – not president as I first thought.

25 EVITA – (<=(d)ative)


2 MET(ALLO(y)-GRAPH)ER – Metallography is an alternative to lithography, using metal instead of stone, according to one online source, but it is an obscure use of the word, which normally refers to the study of metals and alloys by means of microscopy.

6 THREESOME – (horse meet)*

7 ALBERT MEMORIAL – (I tremble alarm)* round OR (old queen) – the Albert Memorial is a memorial to Prince Albert erected by Queen Victoria in Kensington Gardens, across the street from the Albert Hall in London.

8 OYSTER – I assume that the “unlimited possibilities” refers to the Oyster Card, a travel pass in London. The setter has probably assumed that most people visit London often enough to know what the card is, and he may be right, in which case, the clue is fine.

14 ECONOMISE – EC-O-(monies)*

17 CR-I SPY – I can see how “crisp” could mean “brisk” or “invigorating”, but “crispy”?

14 comments on “Times 23528”

  1. Pooter is a pretty safe bet if a clue mentions a diary and nobody, but I couldn’t see how the clue works – not sure it does quite.

    Mike Grocott

    1. I totally agree – it’s an odd one, given that there must be quite a few ways to write the clue that would give this answer fairly.
  2. Oyster: I think the reference is to “a source of profit/opportunities” as in “the world’s your osyter”. I don’t think I’ve yet seen a London-based setter succumbing to the temptation to use “card” for “Oyster”.
    1. Yep, you’re probably right – I wasn’t thinking of that. If that is the rationale, I don’t really like it, (not that I like my explanation any better, you understand).

      David Hogg

  3. Another Monday, another struggle. Either they’re getting slightly tougher or I’m drinking too much on Sunday nights.
    Didn’t enjoy doing it too much either, although I thought Pooter was one of the more enjoyable clues.
  4. 5D seemed ambiguous too. I went with RYDE but the “say” could also apply to the island resort.
  5. The clue is: “Take a trip, say, in island resort” which means to me homophone of “take a trip” rather than homophone of “in island resort”. If the clue had read: “Take a trip in, say, island resort” then it’d be RIDE. “in” serves to disambiguate I think.

    There are cases of course in which there is no extra padding to help you out…

  6. I’m new to the Times and feeling my way….Can someone explain the “EC” at the beginning please
  7. I didn’t know this meaning of METALLOGRAPHER and agonised over it for a long while, making for a slow time (13:29). I wasn’t too keen on the clue for POOTER either, but can thoroughly recommend the book to those that haven’t read it. It contains one of my favourite quotes: “I left the room with silent dignity, but caught my foot in the mat.”
  8. Took 9:10 for this – struggled with the SE corner – last half dozen clues solved were all down there.

    Ilan has it right about 5. I’m pretty sure that the Times puzzle won’t lumber you with an ambiguous homophone clue or similar problem. But you do sometimes need to read the clue quite carefully – as with the FUNCTION/JUNCTION decision in one of the championship puzzles last year.

  9. Why is it that I get the questions that the blogger of the day finds difficult, and am stumped by ones that are apparently too easy to bother explaining? Could somebody tell me about 23d and 26a?

    I got stuck on “president/presiding” too. I finally figured that 16d was “in league” and that did it. And having said that, I don’t think it’s a very good clue. What’s the definition? P is power, “invested in” is perhaps “residing,” and that leaves “chairman” to be “presiding”.

    I’ve never heard of an oyster card. I think “the world’s your oyster” is the idea.


    1. I actually went back and had to resolve — it’s amazing how short the half-life is of a solved cryptic puzzle.

      Anyway, 23D: GIG,I – GIG for “engagement” and I guess Gigi was the star of the musical of the same name (starring btw Leslie Caron who shares my surname).

      26A: REGIMEN,TALLY – charade and a bit of a cryptic def I guess.


  10. Another solver who has the same problem sometimes – OK with the clues considered by the blogger to be the harder ones that need explaining but can’t see the “easies”. The reason for my filling in the gaps in a nutshell.

    Here they are:

    10a Foreign articles written before game, show restraint (9)
    UN DER PLAY. French and German articles.

    12a To change sides dishonourably indicates a moral fault (6)
    DEFECT. Quite a wordy DD.

    18a In going downhill, son’s dropped out, becoming rude (8)
    IN DE (s) CENT

    26a Strict rule to tag how soldiers are organised (12)
    REGIMEN TALLY. A strict diet can be called a regimen. Tally = tag – I s’pose?

    1d None paid bills, but that’s permissable (7)

    3d Feed a shark (5)
    NURSE. More familiar short DD clue.

    4d You need nerve to win gold pot (8)
    SAUCE PAN. Sauce = nerve. Pan for gold like the 49-ers.

    5d Take a trip, say, to island resort (4)
    RYDE. Unambiguous sounds-like for the Isle of Wight Town.

    16d Co-operating as teams usually are (2,6)

    19d Quarrel over some fine fabric (7)
    TIFF ANY. Apparently a transparent silk-like gauzy fabric.

    22d Leave river with soldiers coming up (5)
    EXE AT. Never did Latin at school but one of the crossword rivers and the Territorials upside down looks OK?

    23d Engagement I fixed for start of musical (4)
    GIG I. Star of the eponymous show. I have heard of it but have not heard any of it to my knowledge.

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