Times 24,044 – The Devil to Pay

Solving time : 19 minutes, and once more my alternate Tuesday presents another pleasant and straightforward solve, at least as far as I was concerned. Q0-E5-D5.

1 DROWSY – (SWORD)rev + (fault)Y.
4 SUPERMAN – PERM + A in the SUN, which, for non-locals, is the biggest selling UK daily newspaper; the reporter in question would be Clark Kent, of course.
10 UNDERGROWTH – R(ight) in UNDERGO + neW painT thougH. Nicely misleading surface meant it was only with checking letters that I spotted what sort of brush it was.
11 SOW – double def.
12 HADRIAN – H(ard)+ADRIAN = the wall-building Roman emperor, though the names are the same one, really. Adrian IV is celebrated by (English) historians, because not many Popes have come from St. Albans.
14 RUINOUS – R(ugby) U(nion) + IN + 0 + US.
17 YOU MARK MY WORDS – cryptic def.
21 ALBANIA – BAN, quite literally, inter ALIA.
22 BURMESE – (B(ritish)RESUME)*
23 TAR – slang for sailor, of course, but see here for a description of how tar is “paid” on board a wooden vessel. Rather a densely-packed clue for three letters; forgiving the pun, the devil is very much in the detail…
24 GUILLOTINES – double def., guillotine debates have time limits which bring them to a sudden end.
26 ADHERENT – hmmm, I go back to my last blog and what do I find at 17 across but “HER in a DENT”.
27 OPENER – double def.
1 DRUMHEAD – D(efence) + RUM HEAD, a summary battle-field trial.
2 ODD – amongst its other connotations, 1984 is an even number, simple as that.
5 UPWARDLY MOBILE – (PM I WOULD BARELY)* gives a wonderfully incorrect description of Gordon Brown’s current situation.
6 ECHOING – E(uropean) CHO(p)IN + G.
8 NEWEST – N(orth) + E(ast) + WEST.
9 TRANSPORTATION – cryptic description of why Australians all used to have arrows on their suits…
16 ASSESSOR – hidden in clASSES SORely.
18 MANAGER – MAN + AGE + R(ight).
19 WIRETAP – (WAITER)* around P.
20 MANTUA – slightly obscure double def., a town in Italy, birthplace of Vergil, and from there a type of dress.
25 NUN – again a double def., but as one only has to fill in N_N, one can ultimately get away without secure knowledge of who begat whom in the Old Testament, the begetter in this case being Nun who was father of Joshua.

My slightly belated congratulations to all who had a successful time of it in Cheltenham, which I failed to make this year, for domestic reasons: back when the date was announced, I mentioned it to the Good Lady Wife, and went to pencil it onto the calendar, thinking as I did so that there was something familiar about the date October 12th. As I noticed that she was still giving me a hard stare, I thought a bit harder and remembered some business with rings, her wearing white, both of us signing some sort of register…

Anyway, to be fair, she didn’t insist on it, but I thought it would be ungallant to suggest we celebrate our anniversary with an old-fashioned, romantic weekend of crossword-related activity in the West Country, so I shall wait till next year to have another bash at the competition. Meanwhile, I’m sorry to have missed out on a crossword meet, but I’m fairly certain my absence didn’t dramatically affect the leader board this year 🙂

31 comments on “Times 24,044 – The Devil to Pay”

  1. 8:30, which is my fastest for quite a while. Not hard, but a very enjoyable puzzle. The only real hold-up was DRUMHEAD, which went in on a wing and a prayer, as did TAR.

    Another showing for Burma (or its people) after it cropped up last week. Good to see it back after its few years in linguistic exile.

    Q-0, E-7, D-4 .. COD – 1a DROWSY, for an oddly funny surface

    Tim – clearly you’ve been married long enough to know the true meaning of “I don’t mind. Really.”

    1. Some would say that understanding the female psyche is a bit like learning the occasionally subtle and complex language of crosswords, but I couldn’t possibly comment…
  2. Another pleasant exercise, thankfully, not a Tuesday torment. Had to cheat for 20 dn, and was not at all confident about 23 across.
  3. I rushed through only to get stumped by MANTUA which I’d never heard of as a dress. Most annoying.
  4. Similar experience to Paul and Ross. I spent a while thinking of Italian towns and checking if they were also dresses. Bastia turned out to have nothing more than a soccer team. I think our friends and families should be relieved to know that we didn’t know this one…
  5. 27 minutes for me and that was after a very slow start so this might have been a candidate for a new PB. I had to go back and work out the wordplay for half a dozen, UNDERGROWTH being the most difficult to explain for some reason, and TAR for which I just didn’t know its secondary meaning. Q=0, E=8, D=6.
  6. Managed to blitz this one in 7 minutes which could have been faster but for hesitation in the SW corner where I didn’t know the double meaning of TAR so kept wondering if it was the right answer. That of course delayed MANTUA and I wonder if I might otherwise have secured another 5 minute jobbie.

    1D was almost a quibble for what appears to be a grammatical slip. “In which defence’s opening (is) with…” looks to be more sound, but in all honesty an earlier puzzle of mine used “houses” instead of “housing” which would have been grammatically correct and there were no real complaints.

    Q-0 E-6 D-6 COD 13 DATE OF BIRTH

      1. A case of earlymorningitis on my part! What threw me was the clumsy-looking apostrophe which made it look like the setter was trying to negotiate something grammatically awkward; as a result I started to look for something that wasn’t there.
  7. An easy 20 minute canter with the 3 guesses already mentioned at TAR, MANTUA and NUN. TAR and NUN were straightforward but MANTUA is rather more obscure in both its meanings and I think an alternative type of clue, involving wordplay, would be fairer. I liked both 5D and 10A.
  8. 7:39 with one or two errors – the definite one at 1A where I carelessly put DROWSE from “to drop off”. The other at 17 where I put “NOW MARK MY WORDS”. As neither version seems to be in the dictionaries, I reckon both are OK, though the “You” version seems to win the ‘Google fight’.

    Have to disagree with Jimbo on MANTUA – “Town and gown” seems a racing certainty to be far neater than something with wordplay. I can imagine Adrian Bell (original Times setter) dreaming it up on his bicycle back in the 1930s and being just as pleased with it as I expect today’s setter was.

    1. But “town and gown” doesn’t mean anything does it? So that makes it a non-crytic clue like “country and nut” for Brazil.

      I’m with Jimbo. I’m proably just niggled because I guessed wrong.

      1. If you think a modern Times xwd clue is as non-cryptic as “country and nut”, you can be about 99.99% certain that you’ve missed something.

        “Town and gown” is the the university and non-university communities in a university town, esp. one like the Oxford or Cambridge of a few hundred years ago, where the university community is relatively large, and easily distinguished. These communities have often been at loggerheads, as desribed in this historically and geographically comprehensive Wikipedia article.

        Edited at 2008-10-14 04:10 pm (UTC)

        1. Ah. Didn’t know that. Sorry to the setter and those who defended the clue. Point taken about must have been missing something.
  9. 15 minutes for all but 20d. I’ve never heard of either the town or the gown so I was doomed to failure. It seems that most seem to have heard of one or the other so I’ll put it down to a knowledge gap. I’d probably agree with Jimbo that a bit of wordplay would have been preferably but can see that the “Town and gown” would be irresistable. Other than this I found this one a bit tricky but very enjoyable. 4a gets my COD nod – easy def but I enjoyed working out the word play. I wonder why it took me so long to work out (WAITER)* + P at 19d.
  10. Harder to get going compared to yesterday’s, but in the end I was five minutes quicker with a solving time of 25 minutes. DRUMHEAD was a guess. I was about to put the puzzle away, when I realised that I hadn’t solved 20, but it didn’t take more than 20 seconds to come up with Mantua to fit the checked letters (a not uncommon word in The Listener). I’m not sure whether any clue stands out for COD, but they were all good. 13 was a very neat anagram.
  11. 8.08, with some hesitation over TAR in case I was being trapped into writing the obvious, but with the only other possibility being TOR I let it go. I couldn’t work out the wordplay for UNDERGROWTH – simply couldn’t see that “finally” should be applied to all three words preceding it rather than just one. I was lucky in that I knew MANTUA, which seems to have given a fair bit of trouble.
  12. If it hadn’t been for 20d and 17ac, this would have been another very quick time. As it was, the former seemed a tad… obscure. And the latter eluded me for far too long (not helped by the entry of UPWARDLY/BOBILE into 5d!)
  13. Gave up after 16 minutes, not sure how many of them looking for a town or a gown that fit -A-T-A. Hadn’t heard of either use of the word. I really liked 6D
  14. 30 mins with 20d defeating me.

    I side with Jimbo here; if the majority of the readership haven’t heard of ‘Mantua’ as a vestment (which seems to be the case) then the clue collapses to ‘town’ i.e. whilst a euphonic construction, there is not the holistic effect required for a cryptic clue.

    Congrats to PB, Talbinho and others I might have missed on their performances at Cheltenham.

  15. No-one else has mentioned it, but I had a huge sense of déjà vu when solving this puzzle – enough to make me wonder whether they’d reprinted one from last week by mistake for a while. Clues I’ve seen very recently (and I mean clues, not answers): 1A, 15, 17, 22, 24, 26, 27, 5D, 8, 19, 25.

  16. All that intensive solving at Cheltenham must have done some good.Sped through and adopted the method of entering some answers “intuitively” (this translates for me as “on a wing and a prayer” or when I get it wrong “rashly”).
    1d was last to go in – not familiar with the term (is masthead sometimes used for similar naval trials?)
    Had heard of mantua as gown and 23 and 25 left no alternatives.
    6.27 today which must be a top-10 time for me
    1. Masthead isn’t a naval equivalent of drumhead as a trial – Googling for “drumhead trial naval” found descriptions of a drumhead trial in Britten’s naval opera Billy Budd, for example. But you might be remembering a quite similar naval meaning which I found in Chambers – to punish by sending to a masthead (= the top of a mast).

      Edited at 2008-10-14 05:17 pm (UTC)

  17. I do not know why Kurihan was looking for ITALIAN towns, but Bastia is not one since it’s in Corsica, hence in France. My (slight) objection to this clue is that the correct name for the town is Mantova. I know we use anglicised versions of some Italian towns, but this is only feebly(in my opinion) justified for such a small town because of its use by The Bard 400 years ago.

    Thanks for the explanation of TAR.

    1. In the case of Mantua, like Milan and Turin, the “English” name is the name in the local dialect, so at least historically understandable and possibly what at least some of the locals still call it. Mantua may be small now, but so are Winchester and Salisbury (about the same current population). All punch well above their current weight historically.

      (On the other hand … we seem to have no excuse for “Rome”, and “Leghorn” for Livorno seems just plain bonkers.)

      As Corsica was run by the Genoese for about 400 years up to 1729, it seems a fair bet that ‘Bastia’ is a name from an Italian dialect rather than French, so Kurihan’s misattribution is understandable. (I guess he looked for Italian towns because they quite often end in A.)

      Edited at 2008-10-14 04:32 pm (UTC)

      1. Spot on Peter. I only said Italian because any town -A-T-A has to be somewhere in that neck of the woods.
  18. About 25 minutes but with an incorrect guess of Bastia for the bloomin’ gown. Also guessed drumhead and tar but correctly.

    Q-1, E-6, D-6.5

  19. Regards all. Today’s a much simpler outing than yesterday’s, which I did not comment on because I didn’t complete it til evening over here. Today’s was a fairly easy 20 minutes, done last night. I somehow knew the MANTUA reference, but I can’t explain why or how I knew it, so I sympathize with those who point out the obscurity. The TAR alternate definition was new to me. My COD: UNDERGROWTH. Congrats to all those who fared well in the competition. See you tomorrow.
  20. I forgot to say that I did have a quibble about 1a. I took “faulty end” to indicate a jumble of E N D, so didn’t get DROWSY for some time. It strikes me as a poor way to indicate Y. There are a few place names (Lane End, Mile End) and the occasional phrase (tail end, cigarette end), where “X end” equals “the end of X”, but in the vast majority of cases “X end” does not mean t”the end of X” (dead end, split end, big end, deep end, West End, etc).

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