Times 23751 – two women

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Accessing the online version was somewhat technically challenging but the puzzle itself was pretty reasonable — everything fell into place after about 20′ — though the NE corner was the last to succumb.

One new word: IMBRUE at 24A and a guess at 7D for RED BIDDY which seemed maybe possibly familiar but had to check.

Missed the wordplay of the two clever and slightly risque clues much to my chagrin: 1D and 17D.


5 BEAR UP – rather tough to deconstruct: def is “soldier on”, and BEAR is “show” (when you’re holding something) and of course UP is “at university” in the UK.
10 CAN,DID – I like simple elegant charades like this that have a sensible surface.
12 HOUR,I – couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of this clue.
13 ADMISSION – a clever cryptic definition masquerading as a double definition or having some wordplay.
18 FIRST-FOOTING – (Frog fits into)*, a Scots winter ritual. Thankfully an obvious anagram.
24 I’M,B[ound],RUE – my new word learned from wordplay word of the day (means “wet, moisten, dye, stain”).
26 LA(X)ITY – I put LAYMEN in too hastily at first. X is our “vote”.
27 SYNDROME – (one my dr’s)* — and since this is The Times, no truly indirect anagrams: thus dr’s=”doctor’s briefly”.


1 E(ART)H,Y – must be right and I’ve stared at it for ages but can’t see my way to the wordplay “Dirty pictures – I’m surprised you initially keep them”.thanks to comments it’s ART=”pictures” in EH=”I’m surprised.
6 EVANS – really just two straight defs: ref. Mary Ann EVANS, aka George Eliot and Dame Edith EVANS (I’ve heard of her but can’t, for the life of me, name one film she’s been in).
7 RED, BIDDY – turns out that this is an evil mixture of red wine and methylated spirits in the UK (isn’t that just brandy though?)
8 P(ED)ANTRY – ED’s our chap.
11 EMPHATICALLY – (help, calamity)*
15 UN,NOT,ICED – I suppose UN is “one”, certainly in France but I guess slangily as in a good ‘un.
16 OFF,I,CIAL=rev(laic) – I like “of the people” defining laic.
17 BRA,IN,BOX – not sure what “clothing” is doing in the clue? “Egghead’s clothing put away”. Again thanks to comments: BRA=”clothing” and IN BOX=”put away”… nice.
22 MOUNT – two meanings (ref. Mount COOK in NZ).

28 comments on “Times 23751 – two women”

  1. What a thoroughly entertaining puzzle compared with yesterday’s, full of inventive and amusing clues.

    It took me less time than many, despite working from clues only due to the unavailability of the grid on-line.

    COD goes to 1D

  2. 14:40 – 8 mins for all but 5/6/7, then nearly as long again to solve 5 & 6 and convince myself of RED BIDDY (red wine & methylated spirits when I checked the def. – and irritatingly I then remembered that I had seen it before in some puzzle, probably an Azed).
  3. Anybody else having trouble with the online version? I get the clues but the grid is blank.


  4. Same here chris – clues but a blank grid.
    Tried it with firefox, opera and IE. Was beginning to think it was my system going wrong.
    I’ll email and complain – but they rarely answer emails within the week!
    1. Times has responded ultra-fast (for them) with the following:

      Thank you for your email and for bringing this error to our attention. Our technical team are currently working to rectify this matter as soon as possible.

      We do apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience.

      Kind Regards

      So with a fair wind, I might get to look at the thing this afternoon!

      1. And at 12.09, the online version is fixed.
        Can’t complain about that response – though I’d rather they did it right in the first place.
  5. There must be something wrong here, my time of 20 minutes is far too close to Peter. I finished this interesting non-controversial puzzle before the mug of strong black coffee I habitually drink whilst solving. I had no problem with RED BIDDY, which probably reflects my upbrining. I too go for 1 down as COD. Jimbo
  6. Today’s crossword offers another outrage that belittles the very notion of “cryptic”. What on earth is 6d doing in this puzzle?

    After a hiatus, I have written yet again to those buffoons at Times HQ! I told that idiot Murdoch not to hire arts graduates!


    Col. (Ret.) Roger Boslings, Derbs

  7. A mostly unenjoyable 29 minutes, with correct guesses of EVANS and RED BIDDY. Because it was the only one to make me smile today, I’m giving my COD to BRA IN BOX. Agree with the Colonel about 6d – there’s nothing cryptic about it.
  8. 18A: I recall now that for a moment, the wintry connections had me trying FROST as the first word.

    17D: the clothing put away is ‘bra in box’.

    7D: Methylated spirits is alcohol (ethanol) mixed with methanol (which is a poison) to make it undrinkable, and only usable for ‘industrial’ purposes. So red biddy is not a recommended tipple!

    1. I only know this (honest!) from the Christy Moore song “Missing You” (“I just drink Red Biddy for a permanent high” – the constitution of the Irish exile is very strong!!)
      6D may not be very cryptic but it held me up nonetheless. And it rhymed and scanned!
  9. Two fairly short sittings to get this one finished, coffee before work, and a sneaky elevenses break. Relieved to find that most agree here with my guesses (hard shoulder, first footing, imbrue, evans, red biddy). Agree with 17d for clue of the day, frowning a little at 16d and 26a for some redundant clueing.
  10. Oh no! Not the Colonel again….my father was a Colonel but as soon as he retired he stopped using his rank as he maintained it was rather naff so to do.
    1. Exactly. And his use of hyperbole reminds me of the character created by H M Bateman in his famous cartoons. There’s an article about HMB’s Colonel in the October Oldie which is not available on line unfortunately, but here’s an example of the sort of thing:
  11. An enjoyable crossword which I got through in about 17 minutes, guessing RED BIDDY. I’m puzzled by 6D. The clue is a rhyming couplet; is this just ornamentation, or is there more to it?

    COD 22D, I always like to be misled by/about capital letters.

    1. I have to say I thought 6d very weak, until I read the anonymous comment above – when the clue is read aloud, it’s actually quite pleasant. Not sure that’s enough to prevent it being the weakest clue of the day, though.
      Whilst I’m being pedantic, I was surprised by ‘laic’ and ‘laity’ coming up in intersecting clues, and don’t like ‘one’ = ‘un’ at all.
  12. I didn’t time myself for this one, but it was around 10 mins, although I had to guess both RED BIDDY and EVANS (the latter rang a bit of a bell). I’ll give my COD to 10A, which foxed me for a while but was both fair and concise. Jason J
  13. 37 mins for me. Ok by my standards. COD would be 10 for being elegant and simple. But I might have voted for 17 if I’d worked out the word-play.

    What was redundant about 16 and 26? Or is this a comment about ‘lay’ terms coming up twice?

    1. It was a comment about “lay” terms coming up twice, and even intersecting. It seems like bad form to me, not sure what the purists say.
      1. I did find it a bit surprising, but don’t have a problem with occasional repetitions like this – banning the repetitions makes things a bit easier in a way that’s not really necessary.
  14. Wasn’t happy with the ‘un’ in 15d, and I had troubles with brainbox but see now how it works.

    I’m putting my very slow time down to four days in the Australian bush far away from any mental stimulation! And turning a year older!

  15. A remarkably large number of setters in Jonathan Crowther’s “A-Z of Crosswords” chose as their favourite clue “Bust down reason?” (BRAINWASH), so it’s not surprising that this idea often gets used when the word begins with “brain”.

    I don’t remember seeing Edith Evans much, either, except for the film of “The Importance of Being Earnest”, where her delivery of “A handbag?” has become a famous problem for other actors. Judi Dench recently did it quite differently.

    “Un” for one: surely more a barred-cryptic thing?

    1. ‘un (informal) one says the Concise Oxford. So it qualifies, even if few Times setters have used it yet. Perfectly reasonable in my book!
      1. ‘un = one would indeed appear to be fair. Along roughly the same lines, I wonder if at some point ‘n’ will gain accepted currency as representative of “and”, as in “fish ‘n’ chips”?
  16. 8:25 for me, which would have been faster if I hadn’t typed in OFFICAIL (and perhaps spent rather too long agonising over BEAR UP). There were some nice clues, and I’ll go along with 17D as my COD, partly I suspect because it reminded me of the classic “Bust down reason? (9)” (answer (rot-13): OENVAJNFU, for anyone who hasn’t come across it before).

    I was intrigued by the rhyming couplet at 6dn, which reminded me of those old Torquemada puzzles with clues like:

    Footless deities were they (4)
    Here a Scot is made to pay (5)
    Spenser’s hanging is a lever (6)
    What’s the beaver-lover’s beaver? (3)
    Top that’s seen at end of race (4)
    Solvers should avoid this place (5)

    Ah, they don’t make ’em like that any more. (Did I hear someone say “Thank God”?)

  17. Return of the Colonel with an objection to rhyming couplets. ‘evans above!

    Just the 5 “easies” in this one:

    1a Taking on, very taking (8)

    9a Locks (ten girls)* out (8)

    14a Part of motorway is required to receive firmer coating (4,8)
    HARD SHOULDER. Is required = SHOULD inside a coating of HARDER = firmer.

    21a Crazy about Mum, in a matter of speaking (9)

    19d (A coif’s)* badly designed, a disaster (6)

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