Times 23824 – a lot of 16 down

Solving time : headed to the reference books after 30 minutes of head-scratching. This has not been my week (at least for the Times…).

Across
1 CROC(U)S – crocs are dangerous beasts, but I’ll still cling to my “if it’s flora, do it with checking letters strategy. Helped to get the R and C
5 EC,STATIC – I think it was Peter cleared up a few weeks ago that EC is a postal abbreviation for London?
9 COR(=my),RUGATED – RUGATED being an anagram of DAUGHTER without the H. Wordplay worked out retroactively.
10 NEVA(da) – a river in Russia
11 D,E,MI,JOHN – I’m guessing the portraitist is John Singer Sargeant, but that doesn’t sound right to use the first name. Edit: I was not familiar with Augustus John (who has a touch of the Charlie Mansons in that picture).
13 A,FRO – if it’s not a-to, it’s a-fro. Cute.
15 SUN,DRIES – clever clue, had me thinking in another direction for a while
18 LONESOME – ONE in LSO, the acronym for the London Symphony Orchestra plus ME the note
21 THANKS – I should have gotten this much earlier, it’s from “Hamlet” – “For this relief much thanks. ‘Tis a bitter cold and I am sick at heart”
23 READABLE – (A BEER LAD)* – well-hidden anagram
26 GOODY-GOODY – not sure if the phrase “Goody Goody gumdrops” is used this side of the pond (or since 1979)
27 EYESIGHT – YES in that crew of eight.
28 RE(E)FER – and today sailor means a midshipman. What will it mean tomorrow?
 
Down
2 RHONE – sounds like ROAN
3 CARNIVORE – nice clue, N+IVOR in CARE(=charge)
4 SIGNOR – G in SIN + OR
5 EAT ONES HEART OUT – (THE AREA TO USE NOT)* I think “long” is the definition as in “to long for something”
7 ANNE,X
8 IN,VERNE(S)S – Old Jules is getting a lot of love this week. It’s an overcoat with a cape or tippet.
14 FOOL,HARDY – I wasn’t familiar with FOOL as a stewed fruit dish, but the definition was straightforward
17 GOOSE,(a)GOG – another term for a prickly gooseberry. Trip to the dictionary #1 for a word to fit.
20 MAG(=publication),YAR(=Ray backwards) – trip #2 to the dictionary. I should have known that Magyars were Hungarians.
24 LO(D)GE – Wagner’s Germanic version of Loki.

19 comments on “Times 23824 – a lot of 16 down”

  1. There’s a typo in 9, glh, without the H not the D, and I think the artist at 11 may be Augustus John rather than the one you mention.

    Loads of question marks pencilled in today to check when I got to work but only one beat me (18) for some reason. I had even thought of LSO but ruled it out as I knew the word ended in E.

    1. Meant to add I don’t understand the purpose of “British” in 20. And my COD is 17 as I’m a sucker for silly words, especially one like this which I had long forgotten about.
  2. Thought this was going to be a quick one but two clues in the SW beat me; Sod’s Law they’re not covered by the blog. Good clues all round but only two ticks – 5A is pretty straightforward but has great surface, and 5D gets my COD; until you know it’s a ‘gram it looks mightily confusing.

    “British” at 20D puzzle me too. Not only is RAY not exclusively British, but the entirely American RAY HAMEL is a familiar name to all crossword aficionados for his links website, not to mention his crosswords.

  3. Went along nicely for about 9 minutes, then stuck on 1, 3 and 21. Got the boot out for 1, having tried to fit in ORCHUS from non-existent variants of orc and orchid. 3 dropped quickly after that – I’d mistakenly lifted and separated ‘not vegetarian’. But then utterly stuck at 21A, almost all of Hamlet being a gaping hole in my knowledge. After considering all the letters that might go in the gaps, went for THANKS on a ‘hit and hope’ basis as nothing else seemed any likelier. Stopped the clock at 12:55.

    Guessing at Anax’s SW pair: 25 is D,RAG which seems simple but foxed me for a while, and 22 is N.(e.g.)U.S. – though I’d gently suggest to the setter and editor that NUS is really “seamen or students”.

    5A: The EC postcode closely matches the ‘City of London’, colloquially shortened as in stuff like “George sleeps at a bank in the City until six, except for Saturdays when they chuck him out at noon” (JK Jermoe from memory). This is a tiny subset of the urban area normally called London (hence another nickname – “The Square Mile”), and what most of us count as central London is mainly parts of the City of Westminster. In these days of decimal currency we have to hang on to something that baffles the tourists!
    If you fancy a tour of Wikipedia to learn more, start at Temple Bar.

    1. I had the same explanations as Peter for 25 and 22, and feel a little bit of relief that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this.

      I should have done the EC tour when I was there last May. I’d just accepted it as one of those crossword conventions until I read Peter’s Solving tips page.

    2. Last week my wife put three baskets of pink crocuses on the windowsills in our kitchen. I’d completely forgotten them – but always seem to remember the little factoid I learnt decades ago that the most expensive spice is derived from the stigma of the blue crocus…
  4. Previous comments embrace all my problems with this puzzle. I too guessed THANKS based on “offered much …” as most likely construction. This clue is nearly back to the old direct quote and the “guess the missing space” game, which I don’t like. I’m baffled by “British Ray” but luckily knew MAGYAR from previous crosswords whilst the “and” at 22 down seems quite wrong (as mentioned by Peter) and one of the two NUR references is surely superfluous anyway. I liked 9 across, 5 down and my personal favourite 17 down. About 40 minutes to solve. Jimbo.

  5. I’d assumed Augustus John was the portraitist, which gets round the first name problem.

    The only explanation I could think of for “British” leading to RAY in 20D was to differentiate from the Hungarian theme. Seems pretty unsatisfactory, though, so there’s probably a better reason…

  6. I found this the easiest of the week so far, with only a slight hold-up at the end wondering about 18, since I was fooled into thinking that the definition included “note”, so the word would probably end in TONE. I think I’ll nominate that as my COD for its deceptive, but coherent surface.
  7. I didn’t time myself today, but it seemed about 20 minutes. I agree with Jimbo about “guess the quote” in 21a. I’ll side with Anax for today’s COD – 5d.
  8. 18:52 for me, the last 5 or 6 minutes of which was spent struggling with the last 3 clues in the bottom left – AFRO, FOOLHARDY and THANKS. THANKS was last to go in as a guess, as I didn’t know the Hamlet quote. My COD is 17dn, great word.
  9. Didn’t like 21 Across (THANKS) as there is no way of arriving at the solution if you don’t know the quotation (except by guessing). At least in the bad old days of quotations they used to tell you the author (didn’t they?)
      1. Nor me. There were times in the 1950s and 1960s in particular when sometimes I’d not heard of the author quoted let alone met his/her pearls of wisdom before. Jimbo.
  10. Just adding my voice to the chorus of complaints about “British” Ray, unfairly misleading and not justified by the rest of the clue. pros958 offers the only half-way decent explanation and as he/she admits it is still unsatisfactory. “… British chap perhaps set up” would have done the trick.
  11. Yikes! Very tough for me, didn’t get the Hamlet quote, and stumped completely by 17, never heard of it. Guessed 26 without understanding it at all, but that’s the comfort of being a ‘foreign’ speaker: upon seeing the blog I can congratulate myself for solving despite having not the faintest idea of phrases like ‘goody goody gumdrops’. I assume it’s akin to ‘goody two-shoes’. Regards.
    1. I imagine some younger UK solvers may also have had problems with this one. Sorry to introduce my grandchildren again but the three I tried it on had no idea what I was talking about. It’s an old phrase that I recall mainly from comics like The Beano used by young children to mean “smashing”, “great”. Today they say “cool”. Jimbo.
  12. I thought this was an excellent puzzle. Unbelievably, my LOI was NEVA at 10a. I have just been working on some satellite imagery for mineral exploration in Nevada so I just can’t see what my problem was?

    There are 6 omissions from the blog. Some of these are mentioned in the comments above – including the two not solved by the illustrious Anax! I have put them all together here for the bunnies:

    12a Measure of light railway embodying high-class opulence (6)
    LUX U RY

    19a Substance found in sprinG IS Transparent (4)
    GIST

    25a Bore daughter – cloth needed (4)
    D RAG

    6d Boundary marker’s subsidiary source of income (8)
    SIDE LINE

    16d Equip mother with part in play – it’s garbled nonsense (9)
    RIG MA ROLE

    22d Hot drink, say, imbibed by seamen and students (5)
    N. E.G. U.S. The seamen and students are the N.U.S. as in National Union of …… . As folk have said above it should surely read “seamen” or “students” or just use one of them?

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