Times 23595/needed a portolan to find the oche

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 42’

Took some scouring of clues and an empty grid until something fell (first was the anagram at 8D) – from then on made fairly steady progress with the bottom-half significantly easier than the top. Several words that should have been foreign to me but are now “familiar” due to cryptics: e.g. OCHE and PORTOLAN.


5 V(I,BRAN)T – one of my last answers: wasn’t sure if I was looking for a word meaning “food” or “full of energy”: at first I was sure of course that the latter indicated containment of an E. So, TV is our “box” (that has to be reversed) and BRAN’s our “healthy food”
9 HOURGLASS – Ah, the pre-size-0 Monrovian look that I argue is the ideal for female beauty – but then again no doubt you’ll argue I’m an “old timer”.
10 COR,FU[n] – nicely constructed clue with a good surface: CORFU’s our (Greek) island.
11 HERE WE GO AGAIN – actually, not wild about this clue since “regular” and “boring” are quite similar in meaning in these contexts.
13 SKY P(I)LOT – another term that I was introduced to via cryptics (though of course I now notice it in every novel I read!). SKY’s our (Brit) broadcasting company (not the BBC) – or is it Australian?
15 BEDLAM – just realized didn’t work out the wordplay for this and I’m about to get on a plane: def is “uproar” of course: ”Uproar as old woman has heart transplant”. Mike notes below that it’s BELDAM with its two central letters inverted.
17 UP’S,HOT – the kind of clue that appeals to my antonymical mind: I suppose that if down is cold then UP must be HOT!
19 P,ORTOLAN – I’ve seen both ORTOLAN (type of bunting – a bird) before and PORTOLAN (old Italian navigation map) but, honest, only in cryptics.
22 PROPHET OF DOOM – (food , mother – pop)*. Jeremiah was a “prophet” (and a bullfrog according to Three Dog Night I’m embarrassed to say) but if there’s anything else apposite that might make this an &lit, I’d like to know…
26 FEAT,HERE,D – ref. “feather in your cap” indicating an achievement. Presumably dodos were feathered as well. Noted below that the wordplay is FEAT=achievement,HERE=present,D[odo]. Indeed!
27 NURSERY – another piece of wordplay that I’ll have to sacrifice for the plane: def is somewhere “…to which children go” but what about “An end of some tests…”? Finally, Mike and Peter note that this is ref. Lord’s cricket ground which has a NURSERY end. Not part of my cricket trivia. Yet.


1 O,CHE – I don’t play darts but promise I won’t cross the OCHE if I ever do. CHE’s a guerilla today not a revolutionary.
2 D([a]OUGHT)Y – great misleading clue: every word playing a role: note how OUGHT (for nothing, i.e. AUGHT) replaces “a” in DAY and produces “brave”.
4 DEAD WOOD – two meanings: turns out that Calamity Jane (she of the Wild West) was based in Deadwood, S. Dakota which I only learnt ex post facto.
6 BUC,HAREST – rev(cub=youngster) followed by (Hearts)*. Hard clue with a good football surface: note how “wants” serves as the cryptic concatenation operator.
7 AIRMAIL=”heir male” – my last clue. Took a while for the penny to drop here: def is “quick way to deliver”.
12 ASSUMPTION – two meanings
14 IRON HORSE – groan: this is what trains were called once upon a time. In the US, Trojan is a type of condom but not sure the “durable” allusion to that is intended…
16 WOLFGANG – another groan but with a wider grin: gangs of wolves run in packs indeed.
20 LAMA,R[a]CK – got this v. quickly given “not a proponent of evolution”. LAMA’s our “priest” and RACK is our form of “torture”. Would have been a nice &lit had LAMARCK also been a tortured priest.
21 S(TUFF)[k]Y – TUFF is a kind of (volcanic?) rock.
23 OCH(R)E – 1D is indeed OCHE.
24 EDEN[tate] – def is “garden” and a “sloth” is a kind of edentate.

19 comments on “Times 23595/needed a portolan to find the oche”

  1. It’s May 8th, 07:15 here in Greece which makes it only 05:15 in the UK. I entered this site to look for YESTERDAY’S 23594 and ST 4222 and what do I find? Today’s bloody answers. Thanks for making my day – NOT.

    Your blog entry is even timed at 8:47 pm on May 7th.

    Mike O, Skiathos.

    1. I suspect the blog timing may reflect Ilan’s local time – i.e. (usually) whatever time it is in Seattle. The only promise we aim to keep about posting times is that the blog entries appear by 9 pm UK time for daily puzzles. We don’t make any promise about them not appearing before some cut-off time in the morning, and I’m reluctant to do so, as there may be times when our contributors in the UK know they will be busy on their ‘posting day’ and decide to solve and blog at midnight.

      If you want to be sure of only seeing entries for a particular day, you can use a URL like this:

        1. You’re right, of course. I don’t yet know how to extract one puzzle from recent postings (older ones can be searched, but they take time to get indexed). In the absence of clever tricks with RSS feeds, all I can advise is that if you want safe details of yesterday’s puzzle, you look before midnight.
    2. Indeed I posted in Seattle — at the airport for a 930pm flight to London so 847PM local was cutting it rather fine. I wasn’t sure whether I’d get a chance later to do so…

      Apologies for upsetting any apple-carts.

  2. Echo Mike O’s comment though I had only two left to solve PORTOLAN and LAMARCK neither of which I would have known without looking up anyway.

    On 4D, Calamity Jane famously sang “The Deadwood Stage” hence the reference to stage in the clue. You may have known this but didn’t mention it in the blog.

    Like you I am also unable to explain the wordplay in 15 and 27A.


  3. 15A BEDLAM = BELDAM with its heart (LD) transplanted.

    27A NURSERY comes from “nursery end” at one/some cricket ground(s).

    Mike O, Skiathos

    1. Thanks. I had thought BELDAM might be a word but didn’t have anything to hand at the time to check whether it existed, then I forgot I had thought of it.

      I suppose I was foolish not immediately to think there might be a cricketing reference when I saw “tests” in the clue. I don’t follow the game but I have heard the expression “nursery end” in this connection.


  4. I had 26A as FEAT – achievement – HERE – present – and D – head of ‘dodo’; which was, I think, a flightless bird….

    14D presumably an ‘iron horse’ is more durable than a wooden one?


    1. 14D The Trojan horse was the hollow wooden horse that the Greeks used to conquer Troy by hiding soldiers inside it. Now used to describe a malicious piece of computer software that’s disguised as something else.
      R. Saunders
  5. 5:00 to solve this.
    22: Jeremiah’s prophecies were gloomy ones, so ‘Prophet of Doom’ is an accurate def. The clue can’t quite be an &lit., as the def. is the single word ‘Jeremiah’, and the wordplay is (food mother pop)* with ‘out’ as anag. indicator, and “we want” as link-phrase.
    26: pros958 is quite right.
    27: It’s Lord’s that has a Nursery end.
    21: Tuff – consolidated volcanic ash.
  6. I suppose technically BELDAM has a heart transplant, since the central two letters are replaced by two other letters. Is it just coincidence that the letters are the same, but reversed? I don’t really see “transplant” as an indication to turn the letters around.

    And have I misread the wordplay to 6 down? The cryptic grammar strikes me as suspect: City is (or has) CUB reversed wants HEARTS jumbled. The two active verbs result in a grammatical mismatch in the cryptic reading. Is there another way of parsing it?

    1. dyste: I see your BUCHAREST point — I suppose some cryptic grammar was sacrificed for the surface — an alternative might have been: ‘City has an upcoming youngster that want Hearts transfer’
      1. meant ‘City has an upcoming youngster that wants Hearts transfer’.

        (wish there was a way to edit comments directly…)

  7. Thanks for the BELDAM clarification and the FEATHERED fix (I thought there might be something else going on).

    As for 14D, I thought the Trojan Horse allusion was obvious so didn’t bother making the (correct) observation about iron vs. wooden durability and just tried to score condom points!

  8. I enjoyed this puzzle, finishing it in 9:05, which I felt wasn’t too bad, but which I now see is completely eclipsed by Peter B’s time. I made heavy weather of 5A, initially wanting it to be VITAMIN (“health food” – well, sort of), and then assuming it was going to be some derivative. I think in the old days 1A would have had a question mark after it – or is there actually a mediaeval script called Old Hand?
  9. One clue that was nearly a double entendre was 17A (Result perhaps of down being cold? (6)), where (with the initial U in place) I immediately thought of ULSTER (= “a long loose overcoat, originally worn in Ulster, Northern Ireland” (Chambers, 2003)), and had to convince myself that the setter hadn’t cheated by spelling Down with a small d.
    1. Curiously I wrote in both VITAMIN and ULSTER (though I didn’t initially make the ‘Down’ connection, except perhaps subliminally). I think AIRMAIL and SKY PILOT sorted me out, but not fast enough to come close to Peter’s time.

  10. Although I entered 15a and 27a correctly, there were ? marks next to them as I failed to parse them. I did not know the word Beldam for old woman so I forgave myself for 15a. Not spotting the Nursery end at Lords in 27a, however, is pretty poor for an avid listener to TMS.

    There are half a dozen “easies” for the bunnies:

    1a One’s experienced in mediaevel script (3,4)
    OLD HAND. I agree this clue could do with a ?

    25a Deduce one’s heard to be wrapped up warmly (5)
    INFER. Or IN FUR – if you want to admit wearing dead bunnies or the like.

    28a Good woman’s family is often pickled (7)
    G HER KIN. Nice surface of the Pious Lady’s nearest & dearest taking to the bottle.

    3d Fire blows rood off old car (5)
    (B) ANGER

    5d Face struggle to fill up with fuel (6)
    VI SAG E. Fuel GAS upside down in VIE.

    8d (Mean to turn)* out for pageant (10)
    TOURNAMENT. Are pageant and tournament equivalent? Tournament was originally jousting and the like and now involves all sorts of sporting endeavours? I don’t think pageants usually involve much sporting competition? Both of these COULD be advertised with flyers using 1a however.

Comments are closed.