Times 23609 – at last

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 10:10

There are two question marks in the clues, indicating outrageous indicators. Relatively mildly, 5D relies on Chicken Little’s autobiography being called “Little by Little”. Much more strangely, 16A relies on us treating the name Brahms as plural, with a singular of Brahm. Well-used question marks I would say.

I hope no-one minds me being inconsistent in enjoying these and other feats of imagination, while being unreasonably picky about eg 22A.


1 REAGAN, being R + AGEN(d)A* – very neat &lit. I like the way “fixed” means the opposite of what it appears to mean
4 CLEM AT(tlee) + IS – I tried and failed to think of Labour leaders with 5 or 10 letters, but coulnd’t until the crossing letters made it obvious
12 LAC (=”lack”) – a rather unusual spelling of “lakh”, meaning 100,000
13 TRIPLE CROWN – two meanings. I guessed this, not really knowing either meaning. Apart from the Pope’s hat, I find that there are Triple Crowns in a wide variety of sports, from thoroughbred racing to snooker, and that the Irish happen to hold the rugby union one at present
14 SIGNAL – two meanings, one being the opposite of noise. This was the last clue I solved
16 BRAHM(s) + IN – “priest” is a slightly more familiar definition for Brahmin than “intellectual” which we had a couple of months ago.
22 CHAIN LETTER – I have two quibbles with this – first of all, chain letters are irritating, but they are not necessarily fraudulent; and secondly, I think a “letter” is a landlord rather than a tenant (who is a “lessee”)
25 SIX, being XIs(rev)
26 SIN+AI – very clever, and how nice to see that three-toed sloth again
29 A NIM + US – as children we lost interest in nim when we found out about the winning strategy


1 REVOLT, being LOVER(rev) + T – clever, especially the forgivable stretch of using “steady” to mean “lover”
3 A L(L)OT, that is L (=50) in “A LOT” (=tons). I didn’t really hesitate over this one, but it has taken me a very long time to see how it works. If you are certain that T is “tons”, then it is difficult to make progress.
6 MUSIC H + ALL, (MUSIC H) being (IS MUCH)*
7 T OR SO – and this time T did mean “ton”. Not so sure about “containing” as a link word
8 STAG + N + ANT – “succeeds” is there only to improve the surface
15 NONENTITY, being (TINNY NOTE)* – I am not sure if the word “produced” is part of the definition. Curious definition (“not even second fiddle”) even without it.
17 MAELSTROM, being (=”male”) + STORM*
18 AB(AC)USES – though I am not sure about AC (rather than CA) for accountant
21 EXODUS – I assume this refers to the Preminger film, which I have not seen, based on the Uris book, which I have not read. Slightly odd that “film” is thought to be enough of an indicator, while “book” is further specified.
24 RAVEN – “pig” being a verb with a meaning in the same sort of area as the little used verb “raven” on which “ravening” and “ravenous” are based. With a capital P, the clue would be the name of Captain Pugwash’s ship.

7 comments on “Times 23609 – at last”

  1. I think what’s meant is that it’s the second book of the Old Testament.
  2. I have to agree with the comment re Clem – I’ve certainly don’t remember him being called anything other than Clement (back in history lessons). A few guesses at the end meant that I only got my vowels wrong for 10a – but I hadn’t come across ‘ai’, ‘nim’, ‘Exodus’ as a film, or ‘raven’ as pig – although this does explain ravenous.
    I did think that 1a was a little clumsy as an &lit., but enjoyed 1d and seeing 7d again.
  3. A rather odd, but enjoyable puzzle, I thought. I agree with the comment above about CHAIN LETTER – I have the same two problems with the clue.

    Not wild about the reference to CLEM ATTLEE either. Although he was PM when I was born I don’t know that he was widely referred to as “CLEM” but I think it rather unlikely. Maybe a question mark somewhere or some other indicator that the setter was stretching things a bit, would have been in order.

    13A raises an interesting point. Considering the Times Crossword Club provides us with puzzles dating from the flood, is there a convention about references to current affairs? “This year” makes the date of publication part of the clue.

  4. Another easy, enjoyable puzzle, which (as for yesterday’s) I felt I should have done a lot faster than my 8:10 (tiredness a lame excuse).

    I guess I take a rather more relaxed view of clues than you or your other respondents – in particular I didn’t find either 5D or 16A at all outrageous (but then a question mark isn’t supposed to indicate outrageousness IMO), and I’ve no objection to 4A as it stands (Attlee was known as Clem as well as Clement).

    I agree with you about “letter” in 22A: either a landlord or a tenant can “rent” a property, but I think only a landlord can “let” one. However, it is possible (particularly if you’re an old fogey like me ;-), to regards chain letters as invariably fraudulent.

    1. Unlike Tony I’m far too young to remember Attlee (:-) ) but I have frequently heard him referred to as Clem (were he alive today he’s be nothing but, I’m sure).
      I’d like to nominate 13ac as Clue of the year! But for an injudicious few moments in Rome the setter would have been looking for a clue to GRAND SLAM instead!
  5. 9:57 in my post-hol catch-up. Struggled with 1A, raised the same eyebrow about 22A, and also failed to understand 3D. Didn’t know about Chicken Little’s book but I’m thankful for it – it stops the setters having to refer to “Eric, or Little by Little”, some Victorian improving book which I doubt many living people have actually read.
  6. A boat’s worth of omitted easies from this blog including the Latin at 10a that I did not know but derived successfully from the wordplay and even guessed correctly the positions of all the easily interchangeable unchecked vowels.

    10a Namely, (elicited)* reforms with small volume (9)
    V IDELICET. Derived from videre = to see and licit = permissable in Latin according to online dictionaries. Oft shortened to VIZ which is a naughty Geordie comic in npbull land.

    11a Country featured in fAIRY Story from East (5)
    SYRIA. How little we could have imagined, when this puzzle was current, the tragedy that would unfold in this country.

    19a Fruits and nuts (7)
    BANANAS. Going crazy from an overdose of Mg?

    20a In the 50s, university education settled down (6)
    L U LL ED. The 50s will have been familiar to the original users of 10a viz the Ancient Romans.

    27a Produced new issue sent to the house (9)
    DELIVERED. A double definition.

    28a Son making friends and going out (8)
    S ALLYING. As in sally forth. If you sally fifth you might lose your deposit?

    5d Autobiography of chicken? It’s appearing in instalments (6,2,6)
    LITTLE BY LITTLE. I really like this clue. Does anyone understand our revered founder’s comment on this (above)?

    23d Cancel woman’s university lecture at the start (5)
    ANN U L

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