Times 24,058

Solving time: 9:47

I enjoyed this. Good constructions and excellent surfaces. Nothing that seemed particulalry obscure to me, though if you didn’t know Tarsus was “no mean city” it might be a hold-up.


5 TARSUS – birthplace of St Paul
11 LEAR + (quee)N – there are few things that “con” does not mean
12 LE(SOT + H)O
13 S+ EGMENT – EGMENT is an anagram of MEETING minus I
14 GERONTOLOGIST – cryptic def
16 PRE-RAPHAELITE – Holman Hunt of course, and not Leigh Hunt which was the name that popped into my head while solving
21 NO 1 + SOME(rset)
23 LO(I)RE – the gratuitous “aired” lifts the surface


1 DA(P(ack)+P(arking)LE
2 MARKS (=”Marx”) – means goals in the sense of targets
3 C(UR)ATO + R
6 A + L + LEG + RO, RO being OR(rev) – nice to see gold for OR again after all those soldierly indicators
7 SNAKEBITE – two meanings
10 LOSE ONE’S NERVE – spent some time trying to analyse, but I think it is just single cryptic def
14 GREGORIAN – (AGGRO IN (hom)ER(ton))* – Why Homerton of all places?
15 SPECKLED – from the Holmes story about a snake
17 ADDRESS – two meanings. I had to check the second: Chambers gives “adroitness” which works for “skilfulness or tact”
18 I + DI + OTIC
19 BE(H.E.)ST
22 OS + A.K.A. a semi &lit, as the whole clue gives a good definition of OSAKA, while the wordplay is only words two to five.

30 comments on “Times 24,058”

  1. I may as well kick off as I am about to go to bed. About 30 mins.

    I liked this puzzle – some good references and interesting wordplay. The only new reference to me was Cato the Censor. I read Sherlock Holmes stories as a kid so remember the speckled band (which turned out to be a snake). 22D is a good &lit. Nice to see “best” and “worst” used as synonyms at 24A (that has always struck me as an oddity).

    did anyone else get a feeling of deja vu? – I felt strongly with 9A and 23A that I had done the same clues recently.

    1. I should explain that I wrote the above before the blog appeared.

      I think 10A is 2 definitions, the latter being “no longer sustained by the bottle” ie losing one’s nerve (bottle).

      1. No, I don’t see two separate definitions there. Just one extended one, with “no longer sustained by the bottle” amplifying “timid”. I think two definitions would need two meanings, and two active verbs.
  2. The fourth easy one on the trot and for me the weakest. About 20 minutes to solve. I think 14A and 16A in particular are poor clues. If somebody doesn’t know the word GERONTOLOGIST the clue can only be solved by dictionary or computer search. If you know the word the clue is barely cryptic. I read 16A, saw artist and 3-10 and thought PRE-RAPHAELITE. No idea who Hunt was. Looking forward to better fare soon.
    1. I have to echo your thoughts Jimbo. An ex of mine was involved in gerontology, so the word sprang easily to mind. But as I wrote it in, I thought that apart from that lucky break I’d have struggled to pen in an answer. And for 16A, with __E __________ the only artistic expression I could think of just happened to be the answer. Lucky for me! Sometimes ignorance really is bliss 🙂

      And Peter: you’re in my thoughts. Good luck mate!

    2. For some obscure reason my first thought was whether Fra Lippo Lippi could be written 3,10! Fortunately I didn’t spend much time wondering…
  3. 38 minutes today. I was rather concerned that I kept writing in answers without understanding them fully and this encouraged me into a dreadful error at 7 where I impulsively put MOONSHINE with only the I_E in place, and that screwed up the NE corner for a while.

    With no trusted reference books to hand I had queries over ADDRESS and MARKS and I didn’t understand NOISOME or WORST CASE until I came here.

    I agree with Jimbo about 14A which I didn’t know and therefore couldn’t work out apart from OLOGIST and the remaining checking letters. But 16 came easily, not because I know a great deal about art but I used to own a Book of Common Prayer which had Hunt’s “Light of the World” as its frontispiece and I spent many an hour in my childhood studying it during boring sermons. I later learned he was a Pre-Raphaelite.

  4. 14:00 .. Most of my hold-ups were with spellings, rather than clues. But there were a few ropey ones, as Jimbo says. I don’t have all the dictionaries, but are ‘snakebite’ and ‘hooch’ actually synonyms? I thought hooch was distilled liquor.

    Not the subtlest of puzzles, all told.

    Q-1, E-3, D-4 .. COD – 25 DANISH

    1. Good point sotira. Chambers gives snakebite as a mixture of lager and cider whilst hooch is defined as whisky or other strong liquor. Won’t ask how you knew this.
      1. Best not. My misspent youth is behind me now. I’m far too busy misspending my middle years.
      2. Concise Oxford has: alcoholic liquor, esp. inferior/illicit whisky. liquor in turn is: alcoholic drink, esp. spirits. So you can (just) get from hooch to snakebite.
  5. Some good, some bad, as for others.

    I liked 22 and thought ‘Tarsus’ for ‘Bones’ was clever given that it is not an obvious plurality.

    Always nice to see a Holmes mention, especially the shorts (I don’t rate the long stories).

    Perhaps 14d was a waspish Simpson’s aside?

    Good luck with the Radiotherapy, Peter.

  6. 40 minute slog.

    Agree with Sotira on snakebite. Snakebite is a mix of cider and lager so hardly qualifies as hooch. I’m afraid I don’t like 22 and I don’t understand Richards’ comment about words 2-5 being wordplay. I get 2-4 being wordplay sandwiched between two defs which I found clumsy. I’m probably just peed off because I didn’t know where Kinki was. Found other clues weak including 10.

    Q-2, E-5, D-8, COD 9

    1. “of great size” (2-4) just gives you OS = outsize. You need “alias” (5) to get the A.K.A. I didn’t know about Kinki either but thought the clue was quite fun. But then I like clues that provide a change from the “wordplay at one end, definition at the other” formula.
      1. “Kinki” is an alternative name for “Kansai” which is the area round Osaka, as opposed to “Kanto” which is Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures (remember the great Kanto earthquake of 1923). When I worked in Japan there was (and for all I know still is) a company whose English name was “The Kinki Nippon Railway Company” which was a source of constant amusement to foreign bankers.
  7. 14:33, one mistake. Didn’t see the right kind of carrier at 24, and on my alphabet-search list of contenders for third letter, stupidly left out S. Very annoying as the rest was done in 5:58.

    If only jackkt’s prayer book had been accompanied by knowledge of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius – an old man – then 14A would have been no trouble either. I don’t think knowledge of the painter of ‘The Light of the World’ is unreasonable, should it ever matter for solving a clue.

  8. 6.50. Didn’t know the second meaning for ADDRESS, otherwise found everything pretty straightforward.
  9. I’ve been at the idiot juice again. I couldn’t get 7d even with all the checkers. Isn’t there a looser def of “hooch” which just means booze in general? (Can’t be bothered too busy to check) I wasn’t happy with 16a. On reading the clue I correctly thought “we’re after a group of artists and somebody called Hunt is one of them”. Although I got the answer after getting a few checkers I still thought there was something missing. Also stuck an I in 14a (thinking GERIATRICS). Again, I would have preferred a bit more help from the setter. Apart from that, not too shabby. Look, just see 22d as a triple whammy – Port (def) OS AKA (wordplay) Kinki’s capital (another def). It’s a double def with wordplay thrown in. What more do you want?

    Forgot to send my best wishes to Pete yesterday so I’ll do it twice today to make up.
    Forgot to send my best wishes to Pete yesterday so I’ll do it twice today to make up.

  10. Didn’t know the second meaning of address either – took a while to get going but once the 4 long answers were in got a quick finish – so 9.40 ……. but!! Please pass me the dunce’s cap Peter – I just noticed that my answer to 2d was MORES not MARKS – I had thought More = philosopher , Mores – had an inkling the word meant values or habits – very lazy just to put in the first thing that came into my head
    1. From Chambers:
      tarsus noun (tarsi) 1 anatomy the seven bones forming the upper part of the foot and ankle.

      I’ve learned the hard way when it comes to cpmplaining about definitions and meanings without checking the dictionary first.

  11. Finished all of this in 20 minutes save 7D, which took me 10 minutes more. I had no idea SNAKEBITE refers to an alcoholic drink (distilled or not) and only came to it by shuffling through the alphabet again, and stuck it in because it fit the ‘poisoned’ part of the clue. Other than that, pretty easy altogether, especially for a Thursday. COD for me is OSAKA, which I found pretty clever. Regards to all.
  12. Didn’t get to this until lunch so a late solve for me, but 9 minutes, of all things, MERCHANT was the last in, I thought GERONTOLOGIST was right and was also thinking there could have been some wordplay that would help this clue.
  13. I don’t really get all the complaints about 14a. Surely GERONOTOLOGIST is hardly the most obscure word going and the wordplay is definitely there if you look for it – ie ‘getting on’ for old?

    It was probably my COD

    1. “Wordplay” as often understood in cryptic xwds these days means something like an anagram, charade or homophone which you can use to construct the answer independently of the definition. In 14A, the whole clue is the definition, though it does of course include “wordplay” in the wider sense that you describe.
  14. I managed to do this in about 1/2 hour but I did get the wrong philosopher at 2d with MORES rather than MARKS.

    There are 2 omissions:

    24a Best carrier’s most unfavourable situation (5,4)
    WORST CASE. When BEST can be equated to WORST you sometimes wonder whether we should abandon this language and start again with something less ambiguous. It would ruin the crossword though!

    26a Dealer often associated with speed? (8)
    MERCHANT. Speed merchant that is – definitely not me.

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