Times 24,271 – King of the who?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
22 minutes this morning, which put this into the category of “slightly harder than average” for me. Some clever wordplay which had me slapping my head in one particular “D’oh!” moment. Also, some fairly good knowledge of sport, literature (French and English) and natural history required. If I was to raise an eyebrow it would be at the definition of “us”… Q0-E7-D6

1 CONTEMPT – CONTE + M.P. + T(ime). Conte is the French for a tale, which I think I remembered from reading the likes of de Maupassant at school.
5 JOGGER – double def.
9 POOH POOH – really one bear twice rather than two bears.
10 PELLET – ‘ELL in PET. For non-UK soap fans, the TV show EastEnders is indeed so written with the internal capital letter, which made me think the solution might involve E(as)T, ie the ends of EAST, but it seems that “EastEnders cast” is just a new twist on the traditional crossword convention relating to dropped Hs amongst those who live in east London.
12 MOLL FLANDERS – (LORD+FALLS+MEN)* where “titled lady” turns out to mean “lady whose name is a (book) title.
15 PANDA – as per my EastEnders thought, the limits of perestroika are “P” and “A”; “bearlike” rather than an actual bear, as it appears to be a matter of dispute amongst zoologists whether pandas are members of the bear or raccoon family, or a separate animal altogether.
16 PEDAGOGUE – P.E. + D(ied) + “agog”.
18 TO A DEGREE – TOAD + E.G. + REE(fer).
19 NAAFI – cryptic def. which will be obscure outside the UK; the Navy Army & Air Force Institutes provide a range of services to service personnel.
20 LOOSE FORWARD – combining synonyms for “fast” and “familiar” gives the (rugby) footballer. Tight forwards are the props, hooker and second row: the others (3 in union, 1 in league) are the loose forwards, or back row.
24 BRITON – BRI(gh)TON. Hmmm, so “we” are the Britons, are we? I imagine internet solvers around the globe would beg to differ, as would anyone solving the real-world puzzle in the paper who doesn’t happen to be British. Still, it’s only a crossword puzzle, so I didn’t think it deserves to be taken to task for political incorrectness: I just watched this instead.
26 GUTTED – this was my “D’oh!” moment; I knew it had to be GUTTED = “disappointed” but couldn’t see how it worked until I realised that A(ctor)S and A(rtist)S need to be gutted to become AS. Very good.
1 CAPO – CAP + O(ld); I imagine The Godfather probably brought this abbreviation of capodecina (leader of ten men) into wider circulation.
2 NOOK – NOOK(ie) – not sure if this is widespread outside the UK, where it would be a slightly risque but not especially rude term; the sort of word that appears in tabloid newspaper headlines a lot.
4 PEOPLE PERSON – PEOPLE = settle, as in colonise, + PER SON.
6 ODEON – ODE + ON. Quintus Horatius Flaccus wrote many odes, including one which stated that by being such a great poet, he had ensured his name would outlive the purely physical monuments of the Roman Empire. A little arrogant, perhaps, but he wasn’t wrong (though presumably he wasn’t actually thinking it would be his finest moment to be mentioned in a crossword). The original odeon in the ancient world was the music hall of its day, hence its adoption as a modern name by the cinema chain and other, music-related, venues.
7 GOLDEN GOAL – cryptic def: this is one of the methods football’s governing body has used to attempt to avoid the dreaded penalty shoot-out, whereby the first score in extra-time settles the game.
11 BLADDERWRACK – ADDER (‘summer’) + W(inte)R inside BLACK gives this sort of seaweed.
13 SPITTLEBUG – (TIPS)rev + (TUBLEG)* – I deduced this from knowing that the froghopper produces cuckoo spit (despite my blind spot when it comes to anything remotely related to botany).
17 GENERATOR – GEN= “latest (news)” + (ROTA RE)rev.
21 EMOTE – (TOME)rev + E(nergy).
22 ANTI – mAgNaTeIm.
23 MYTH – which becomes visible if one writes out thingumMYTHingummy.

35 comments on “Times 24,271 – King of the who?”

  1. I enjoyed this one, with the MYTH/WANTONLY crossing last to fall after 45 mins. Particularly liked MYTH, MOLL, ANTAGONIST and GUTTED (D’oh for me as well). COD to LOOSE FORWARD.
  2. The Giant Panda is indeed Ursus. So the “like” in “bearlike” is probably redundant. Nice symmetry with 9 though.
    BRITON = “one of us”. Good query Tim. But as one who no longer identifies with that part of the world, I simply accept that this is The Times (of London).
    Didn’t know the other meaning of “rotisserie” and got suitably held up.
    Thanks for the parsing of 26. I didn’t see it either. Those small words (in this case “as”) do tend to get the better of us. (At least for this “one of us”.)
    Liked “joint” = REEFER. For a supposed bunch of old farts, the Times setters sure know a lot about dope.
    Before I remembered that Horace wrote ODEs, I wondered whether there was a genre of banter in which a BADGER is notoriously slow at running.
    Pandas are slowish because they’re carnivores but only eat bamboo and so get insufficient protein — it conserves energy.
    So much for intelligent design.
    Which (conserving energy) is what I did over breakfast: hence a tad under 30 mins.
    Must do better tomorrow.
  3. Definitely not my day, first in NAAFI and nearly an hour (with interruptions) before I ended with jogger. COD 23a (had not met this construction before) but gut in my Chambers does not seem to have gutted=disappointed as a meaning – I suppose it is in Collins. Or did I fail to spot it?
    1. Collins has it. I imagine it’s such a modern usage that it may only be in the latest edition of various dictionaries, if at all.
  4. This was the hardest for a couple of weeks. I would not want to do a puzzle like this every day as life is too short. My last two in were the latent hidden word Myth and Gutted, which had to be the answer but took me five minutes to justify.

    I was pleased to get Spittlebug, which I had never heard of. Neither had I heard of a Froghopper which sounds like an impolite term for a cross-channel ferry. For a time I toyed with Spitbuglet, an immature spitbug.

    Not that it matters but the endless sex is probably Nook(y) rather than Nook(ie).

    I don’t understand why the setter qualifies capo as “so called Mafia boss”

    At first I thought that “being good at mixing with others” was an adjectival phrase deifining a noun but eventually I realised that the definition referred to a being.

    1. I agree about CAPO, especially as the qualification weakens the surface reading.  I suspect the reason is that Collins (uniquely among standard dictionaries) defines CAPO as “the presumed title of a leader in the Mafia”.
  5. Couldn’t even cheat my way to getting NAAFI, so in deference to the setter, as is good etiquette (so I’ve heard) I left some food on the plate.
    I knew I was in trouble when “titled woman” became MOLL FLANDERS and when “people” became a verb meaning to settle.
    Hugely admired (once worked-out) MYTH and GUTTED, and any number of others.
    Hats off also to Tim.
    Experienced solvers will excuse the ingenuous enthusiasm but for me this was like stumbling across, say, the Eroica, having previously thought The Skater’s Walz the ultimate in musical sophistication. Quite the cleverest clues I have seen in my 2 month cruciverbabist career.
    1. Barry

      Ref your PS: surely 24245 qualifies for this (see”Memories” above)


      1. Thankyou James, but I don’t need to look that puzzle up as the number is emblazoned in my memory. I am sure if you look at the comments you will find I was the sole part-pooper. Now I have had another month’s experience I am probably that much more appreciative of the setter’s art.
        I recall that a rapturous Jimbo did the blog for that puzzle and it is a shame he is away as he would have loved today’s, and not just for the reefer and the nooky.
          1. Yes, and what appalling bad manners of me to forget the hero of the hour. My sincerest apologies.

            I note (having now bothered to look) that 3 of the 8 puzzles retained for posterity are Saturday linxit solves. There must be a reason that you are put in to bat on Saturdays.

            I also note Mark’s 15.23 solving time for 24245 but we haven’t seen the results of the drug test yet.

            1. I’ll admit to using caffeine, and specifically coffee – black as the devil and sweet as sin, though not hot as hell.
  6. 11:41, with one mistake.  Last in were 17ac (GENERATOR) and finally, after a couple of minutes of fruitless letter-bashing, a complete stab in the dark: NUALI for 19ac (NAAFI).  To those of us who postdate conscription and the Goon Show, and who haven’t chosen to kill people for a living, this is surely too obscure for a cryptic definition – it was obvious what sort of thing the answer would be, but there was no alternative route for those who didn’t know it.  I didn’t know GOLDEN GOAL (7dn) either, but there were enough hints in the clue and the checking letters for that not to matter.  Other unknowns were LOOSE FORWARD (20ac), froghopper and SPITTLEBUG (13dn).

    Quibbles: in 25ac, “arbitrarily” is too weak a definition for WANTONLY; and in 1dn, “bung” and CAP are different objects or actions.

    I don’t see the problem with references like that in 24ac (BRITON).  If I were solving an American crossword, I wouldn’t object to the equivalent phenomenon.  (Just because a publication is available internationally, that doesn’t make it an international publication.)

    Clues of the Day: 9ac (POOH-POOH), 14dn (ANTAGONIST).

    1. I too was inclined to quibble over “arbitrarily” as a definition for WANTONLY, Mark. Our sense of unfairness, I think, arises from the fact that “wanton/ly” has so many different meanings – my Chambers lists around 30 – whereas “arbitrary” only has only two or three, all closely related. However, one meaning the two words clearly share is “capricious/capriciously”, so the setter probably gets away with it. The wordplay was also very good, providing another route into the answer. I’m with you 100 per cent on 1dn: “bung” and CAP do not denote the same thing. A “bung” is a stopper or cork pushed into an opening, whereas a “cap” is a lid or cover used to close off an opening (e.g. of a bottle) or to protect the tip of something (e.g of a fountain pen). Unless, of course, there’s some other explanation entirely for this clue which I’ve missed – always a possibility. All in all, a clever and excellent puzzle. The wordplay for GUTTED at 26ac was brilliant (now that it’s been explained to me!)
  7. Enjoyable, but slow! Took a couple of guesses at answers then had to work back the clue. 23dn, and 26ac were entered without understanding why, but there seemed to be no other options.

    20ac took some time despite loving rugby, I was trying for something like ‘hunger striker’ with fast = abstaining from food.


  8. I lost track of my time on this one as it was done in several sessions mostly on the way to work, but I doubt I it was much under an hour. On arrival at the office I used a solver on 17dn to kickstart the SE corner having ground to a halt there.

    I might have appreciated this more on a non-working day, but as it was I was just pleased to get it finished.

  9. Thats how i felt over this crossword. rather tough clues i thought for Myth and still dont really understand the definition in 17…can someone explain (simply for me-can see ROTA and R backwards and GEN but what defines the answer?)
    looking back i missed a couple of easy clues early on like PANDA and ANTAGONIST.
    here’s hoping tomorrow is easier!

    1. As also mentioned just above, it’s a synonym for “Author”, which I would agree isn’t the tightest definition ever used in the Times. If one accepts the meaning of “author” as “one who creates or originates anything” in the wider sense, and not just referring to authors of, say, novels or software, then it’s a broad equivalent to “one who generates”.
  10. Hugely enjoyable 27:26. Perhaps a few loose definitions, but a witty and challenging puzzle which raised a number of smiles.
  11. Strange. I found yesterday’s horrible while everyone said it was easy-peasy, but today’s presented no real problems except giving up on NAAFI at the end of lunch. I managed to drag up bladderwrack from somewhere, which helped me along.

    I’m glad I gave up when I did – there is absolutely no way I could have got NAAFI, which is surprisingly rare in a Times crossword. For example, I’ve certainly never heard of either a froghopper or a spittlebug, but I wrote the latter in reasonably confidently.


  12. I thought a very varied set of clues made this a good puzzle. I didn’t find it particularly tough, but it did take me 35 minutes, with some answers coming only slowly. I rejected EMOTE at first since I was looking for a V to raised. I failed to understand GUTTED until I came here, so that was tentative until EMOTE confirmed the E.

    However one mistake: Being unfamiliar with PEOPLE PERSON, I entered POODLE PERSON, which sounds daft but I couldn’t see anything more likely at the time, and forgot to review the clue at the end.

    I had exactly the same thought about POOH-POOH as the blogger. There is only one Pooh Bear, a unique creation. No clones allowed!

  13. Quite tough but also very enjoyable, clocking in at 23:40. I was familiar with NAAFI and spittlebug/froghopper so no hold-ups there.

    Too many good clues to pick a winner, thanks to the setter.

  14. Bit of a disaster for me in 31:30. I rashly put in NEEDLESS for 25A, and that mucked up the whole SE corner. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get GENERATOR until the end, and it took me a long time to work out BLADDERWRACK. Plenty og good clues today though – I have 23D MYTH and 26A GUTTED tied for the COD, with 11D BLADDERWRACK not far behind.
  15. 13.05. Last in were WANTONLY and MYTH , of which the latter was my COD. Titled woman was nicely misleading, had to be LADY Something. 16 and 18 were entered without working out the wordplay while SPITTLEBUG had to be worked out as I had never heard of it.
    Sympathise with Mark over NAAFI. It is a terrible thing to be young and never to have known these things ,only worse thing is to be old and ,having known them, forgotten them.
  16. I expect this is too late an entry for most to see it, but I confess to being at this for an hour plus. Found it difficult, although very clever in parts. Needed aids at the end for NAAFI. Regards.
  17. i never finished largely because i put 19a as court on my first run through. obviously i must have been alone in my interpretation.
    1. Fear not – you weren’t alone with COURT. I only finished this one with aids, late last night, having been interrupted for an hour by Torchwood.
  18. I think I’ve just spent more time on various YouTube clips having watched “Britons” from the link in the answers, than I did in solving the crossword. Enjoyed yesterday’s puzzle immensely – have to admit I got some of the answers intuitively first, and then found ways of justifying them. BTW, any UK residents too young for conscription have surely seen the little sign on the rear of Eddie Stobart lorries informing us of the haulier’s carriage of goods for NAAFI.
    1. I’ve always found Eddie Stobart lorries very minimalist in their decoration, actually, but I’ll look out for NAAFI when I’m next on the motorway.  It’s always nice to see in the real world something you’ve learned from crosswords.
      1. It’s not on all of them – only the ones on that particular contract.
  19. 10:42 – in theory I post-date conscription and the Goons too, but must have picked up enough 40s/50s culture for the NAAFI.
  20. Two years after it was published, I printed this out to do on the plane and stumbled on a good ‘un. Finished in exactly 2 x Linxits; last in the seaweed.

    Will have a crack at 24245 on the flight back.

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