Times 23822 How Many Prunes?

Solving time : 35 minutes

A mainly straightforward puzzle that I finished in 25 minutes except for 28 across.
After a further 10 minutes without inspiration I decided not to hold the analysis up any longer. (Problem now solved – see below). I liked the inclusion of “perhaps” where it was needed.

For me the best clue is 6 down with the misleading use of the place name Barrow

1 AEGIS – AE-GI-S; sea=tide in reverse
4 DOORPOSTS – cryptic definition. Bouncers are posted on the door
9 CONTINUAL – CON-TIN(U)AL; con=study + (latin+u)*
11 TECHNOLOGICAL – (cool teaching + l)*
15 BARBERSHOP – BARBER’S HOP; 1930s quartet singing; BARBER was Samuel Barber US composer
19 UNTO – (ta)UNTO(n); an archaic word for to; Taunton is our west country town
24 EMILY – reversed hidden word (dirt)Y LIME(ericks)
25 ANASTASIA – ANA-STASI-A; ANA=a collection of titbits; STASI=old East German police
27 MIDINETTE – M-I-DINETTE; hard working french shop assistant
28 PRUNE – I don’t understand this clue other than PRUNE is a dried fruit (Of course it’s not “twelve” as in the e-version but “12 down”. They really must sort this out. Thanks Peter)
1 ASCETICISM – (is it mecca’s)*
3 SKIING – SKI(mm)ING; m=miles
4 DOUBLE,ACT – DOUBLE-AC-T; AC=account=bill
5 OFLAG – O-F-LAG; LAG=slang for convict; Oflag were German prisoner of war camps
6 PUSHCART – PU-SH-CAR-T; PUT=place; estate is a type of CAR (nice to see the “perhaps”)
7 SMALL,CHANGE – cryptic definition, a new broom makes wholesale changes
12 CUT,AND,DRIED – two meanings
13 APRON,STAGE – you use an apron in the kitchen
17 STEADY,ON – do young men still call their girlfriends their “steady”?
20 CHAT,UP – CHAT is a bird. A bit sex obsessed this setter
22 OP,ART – O-PAR-T; OT=Old Testament; PAR is standard score for a golf hole
23 BEAM – BE-AM again nice to see the “perhaps”
26 SOU – SOU(r); SOU=bit=small coin

21 comments on “Times 23822 How Many Prunes?”

  1. 6:26 and should have been quicker – knew 4A was likely to be DOOR- and I’m sure I thought of DOORPOSTS, but didn’t see the wordplay so didn’t gamble. Also took too long over 19A, my last answer. 28A: the ‘twelve’ in the clue seems to be a cross-ref. to ‘cut and dried’ at 12D. I guess it’s ’12’ in print. I think 3D deserves a mention in the COD stakes for including a description of water-skiing.
  2. We think alike for COD – the PUSHCART clue is lovely.
    Not sure if my knowledge of the fruit world is all that good, but I’ve always regarded prunes as a fruit which began as succulent and edible, then some bright spark left it on a window sill for a week or so to let it dry out and become extremely ugly, then had the idea of sticking it in a sickly juice and saying “You can eat this, honest”. Not sure exactly when this happened, but I’m assuming prunes were put forward as an alternative to gravel in the war years.
    Sorry. I diverted.
    I can foresee a few problems at 19A for our overseas colleagues. Other COD noms few and far between, but I thought 8D nicely constructed, 15A too; otherwise, a mixed bag of give-aways and a few crunchy chestnuts.
    1. On the diversion, I wonder whether you’ve ever read the Molesworth books? They include a tale called “The Revolt of the Prunes”, with Searle pictures of the headmaster being attacked by a sword-wielding prune, and one of the chief prunes looking like a banana republic dictator. A good use of £7.14 on Amazon UK.

  3. I completed it in about 30 minutes so it was a comparatively easy one by my standards and the answers came steadily rather than in fits and starts. A couple of answers were guessed from the wordplay: MIDINETTE and OFLAG. I feel I’m revelaing the depth of my ignorance by admitting I don’t remember meeting either before, but I was pleased that my new word from 23821, ANA, should come in handy so soon at 25.

    I think I am missing something at 2.

    13 for my COD.

      1. Thanks jackkt, typo now corrected.

        Jinn (sounds like GIN) is the plural form of jinni, a spirit form in Muslim beliefs. Jimbo.

  4. 12:15 here, most of it spent on the top half. I thought 28ac was brilliant, with 12d supplying three-quarters of an elegant double definition (although it’s probably been used before). Also liked 15ac, which was the last one I got as I wanted it to be BERG inside a dance.
    1. In case there’s any confusion if you take the answer to 12 down and replace the word “twelve” in the e-version you get “Cut and dried fruit?”, which produces two meanings of PRUNE. I agree a nice clue but spoiled by the current crazy system of using words instead of numbers in the e-version. I’ve now seen the printed version and it says “12”. Jimbo.
      1. It’s strange because yesterday’s online version had “14” in 5a and “15” in 2d, so they must be able to do it some of the time.
        1. They certainly can. My best guess is that things go pear-shaped when a number starts a clue, but that whenever this happened and was noticed, the problem was misdiagnosed.

          Edited at 2008-01-29 01:24 pm (UTC)

          1. I must be getting used to it. As soon as as I saw ‘Twelve’ I looked to 12 dn to see if I had entered it. And I had!
  5. As so often with me I complete all but the last 4 clues in 20 minutes, then spent the next 15 trying to solve the last 4. BARBERSHOP being the last to go in after getting UNTO and the APRON of 13d. Re UNTO, I thought of TAUNTON as the possible town early on but rejected it as I didn’t think The Times went in for split subtractions without some sort of indication.
  6. After yesterday’s disaster, I was relieved to finish this at all. At 13:45, it was also a relative quickie for me. After the recent outbreak of similar, when I first read “supports jobs for bouncers?” at 4a, I immediately thought that “BRA” had to be in there somewhere! It may just be my mind, though. I would never have guessed the DJINN homophone but G_N left few alternatives. Didn’t know that ANA=titbits of info either. Nothing jumps out as COD.
  7. Unless I do it in the morning I don’t have many crossword-solving long breaks on Tuesday, so I didn’t keep time, but I really enjoyed solving this one. Midinette was new to me, but worked from the wordplay, oflag stumped me in a Mephisto 2465 a few months ago (the word that beats me once shall never beat me again!). As for good clues, liked 21ac and 6d.
  8. Started well enough, but I gave up with OP ART and MIDINETTE still to go in. Should have got the former, but I haven’t heard of MIDINETTE and I’m not sure I even know DINETTE. Good to see ANA so soon after I’d learnt it yesterday!
  9. 8:32 for me, which felt very slow. Like linxit, I wanted BERG to fit into a dance for 15ac, despite -A-BERGH-P being unlikely. There was nothing quite inspired enough to nominate as my COD.
  10. Didn’t solve ‘unto’, not knowing you have a Taunton in Somerset. Nice clue, though, for the natives. Otherwise OK, although OFLAG and MIDINETTE were guesses, new to me. Never heard of APRON STAGE either, but it was all that made sense. Regards all.
    1. Just a thought for Brit Geography: Lots of towns in the US, New England especially, are named for/after ones back in England, especially ones in the West Country in the case of New England. Sure enough, there’s a Taunton MA. (But watch out for the odd variation like Barnstable/Barnstaple.)
  11. This was a fun one with good clues and interesting words and phrases. No new words for me – probably because I have been doing Times Crosswords for long enough now?

    Just the 4 “easies” left out of the blog:

    10a Health resort in the country (5)
    SPA IN

    14a Name location for broadcast (4)
    CITE. Sounds like site.

    2d Drink spirits, so we’re told (3)
    GIN. Sounds like DJINN which is plural for ghostly spirits in Arabic?

    8d Evil king’s decline (4)
    SIN K

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