Times 24931 – A Challenging Stodge

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Quite a fair Times puzzle although I found it a bit stodgy, judging by the times I have to resort to Wikipedia to confirm answers for obscure people, places and events.  Challenging, yes but not as entertaining as I would have liked

1 PAGODA Rev of ADO (trouble) GAP (crack) I wondered about the legitimacy of recurrent as a reversal indicator and what a surprise – Chambers gave running back in the opposite direction or toward the place of origin. You learn something new every day 🙂
4 SCRAPPER A dd that did not leave me jumping about
10 SILAS MARNER *(MARS ALIENS waR) a dramatic novel by George Eliot aka Mary Anne (Mary Ann, Marian) Evans (1819–1880) first published in 1861 
11 EGG EG (exempli gratia, for example, say) + G (good) My COD for its innocent simplicity
12 IMPERIL IMPERIAL (commanding) minus A
14 ELECTRA ELECT (return as in a poll or election) RA (Royal Artillery) In Greek mythology, Electra was an Argive princess and daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon. This lady also gave us the Electra Complex, a strong attachment of a daughter to her father, accompanied by hostility to her mother.
17 FINANCE COMPANY A rather strained cha of FINANCE (capital) & COMPANY (seen by visitors) Thanks mctext, but it is still a very pedestrian clue
21 BRESCIA BRES (rev of SERB, a Slav) CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) for a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy.
22 PERUSAL Ins of U (posh) in PER (rev of REP material) & SAL (girl)
23  ETA dd Greek letter & abbreviation for estimated time of arrival
24 HALF-AND-HALF 0.5 + 0.5 = one and such a bevvy (slang for alcoholic beverage) is  (in my book) half Tiger Beer and half Guinness Stout
26 THE BLUES another dd The Blues is a nickname of a number of British association football clubs: Chelsea F.C. Birmingham City F.C. Everton F.C. Ipswich Town F.C. & Manchester City F.C.
27 CRADLE Ins of D (daughter) in *(CLEAR)

1 PASTIEST Ins of TIES (couples) in PAST (history)
2 GEL Rev of LEG (support)
3 DISHRAG Ins of I’S (one’s) & H (husband) in DRAG (pain as in Listening to her talking about her son’s exploits in school was such a drag/pain)
5 CONFERENCE PEAR Conference (meeting) Pear (sounds like pair, match)
6 AIRHEAD dd for an idiot or feather-brain (dope); a forward base for aircraft in enemy territory.
7 PRESTONPANS PRESTO (very quickly) + ins of PAN (Greek god of pastures, flocks and woods) in North & South poles. The Battle of Prestonpans (also known as the Battle of Gladsmuir) in 1745 was the first significant conflict in the second Jacobite Rising.
8 REGGAE Rev of Ins of G (good) in EAGER (enthusiastic) Second time the device G=good is used in the same puzzle
9 TAIL-END CHARLIE *(ARTICLe HEADLINE) for the bombardier gunner stationed at the back of a Lancaster bomber during WWII
13 PROLIFERATE *(A PETROL FIRE) Nice surface, runner-up COD for the imagery
16 WYCLIFFE   Ins of CLIFF (height) in River WYE between England and Wales for John Wycliffe (c 1328–1384) aka Wycliffe John, an English Scholastic philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformer and university teacher who was known as an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century.
18 ALCOHOL Ins of HO (half of HOur) in *(LOCAL)
19 MIRADOR Ins of I R (run) in MAD (fanatical) OR (Other Ranks or soldiers) for a belvedere or watchtower.
20 ABSENT Ins of S (son) in A BENT (criminal)
25 AID MAIDEN (girl) minus MEN
Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

35 comments on “Times 24931 – A Challenging Stodge”

  1. ‘Stodge’ seems like an apt term (for me, certainly; but also for the puzzle). Once again, I was able to benefit from a recent puzzle, this time to get CONFERENCE PEAR. I never parsed 9d (ta, Uncle Yap), but figured the 3-letter bit had to be END, and somehow worked it out with checkers; the clue struck me as pretty ugly. Never having heard of PRESTONPANS, I tried for some time to make ‘prestissimo’ work. I also didn’t know ‘bevvy’, and thought it was either a misprint or a UK spelling of ‘bevy’, which didn’t help. 47 minutes in all.
  2. 38 minutes, with last in the Englishman responsible for translating the Bible into the vernacular of his day. The left hand went in easily but the right proved more resistant, especially the two long behyphended clues: a friend who used to drink mild and bitter always asked for ‘mild and bitter’ rather than HALF-AND-HALF, and TAIL-END CHARLIE was probably something I heard in a One of Our Aircraft is Missing style film and had filtered out as another piece of Bigglesese. My football knowledge paid off handsomely, not just with CHELSEA but also with BRESCIA, for whom the Divine Ponytail played in the twilight of his distinguished career.

    Am I missing something, or is ‘labour doesn’t anticipate’ a little weak? Surely that is hardly distinctive of a shotgun wedding, since labour doesn’t anticipate traditional weddings either.

    1. I suppose the point is that the whole reason for a shotgun wedding is that the bride is already preggers and the wedding has to take place in a hurry (ie before labour). Most people now wait until after the sprog is popped as a wedding dress over a baby bump is not a good look.
    2. a shotgun wedding IS a traditional one 🙂 – I see what you mean but I think the clue is fair, and in fact witty, since by definition such a wedding “anticipates labour” by less than it should do.
      1. 15ac ‘Anticipate’ here just means ‘take place before’. So labour doesn’t come before the wedding. Half-and-half means a number of different drinks including, here in Ireland, but alas no more, a pint of stout half chilled and half warm. Everyone I know in the UK who drinks mild and bitter calls it just that. I question the use of ‘I’ll’ in the definition. Surely should be ‘it’ll’. Thought this and 17ac were poor. And Just like Uncle Yap, I was surprised by the use of ‘recurrent’ in 1ac. Feel we may see this again.
        1. I haven’t heard of anyone ordering a mild and bitter since the 1960s when we used to call them ‘boilers’ in the Southampton area,
          Nick M
          1. The “boilermaker” (brown and mild) and “light plater” (Light Ale and Pale Ale) were both still popular in the late seventies in Southampton when I first started working behind the bar, but only among retired dock workers.
  3. 15:37 .. all a bit ‘meat and two veg’, apart from the CONFERENCE PEAR, which seems to be the fruit du jour in the world of crosswords.

    Maybe the SHOTGUN WEDDING refers to one of those truly last minute situations beloved of soap operas (“get ’em up the bloomin’ aisle before she pops”), with ‘anticipate’ meaning ‘forestall’. Quaint, really.

    Last in: PRESTONPANS. Shamefully, I didn’t know there was a first Jacobite Rising, let alone a second. This was a hit-and-hope with the wordplay.

    1. I am sure you are right on SHOTGUN WEDDING. Although, as Ulaca says, labour shouldn’t precede any wedding, at least according to what now seems to be an old-fashioned morality, the whole point of the shotgun variety is to get the bride up the aisle before it’s obvious she’s preggers, let alone about to pop. When I joined The Times as a trainee journalist multi-moons ago, I was given a copy of the house Style Book which, among other things, enjoined me never to use “anticipate” in the sense of “expect”. By way of illustrating the difference between the two words, it added primly: “To anticipate marriage is quite a different thing from expecting to get married”.
      1. Well I knew about Bonnie Prince Charlie, of course, but if you’d said “Jacobite Rising” to me, I’d have looked blank. I did say ‘shamefully’!
  4. Untimed: done in two places including the quack’s waiting room. But I guess it would normally have taken me over the 30. I wouldn’t say “stodge” so much as a mixed bag, hodge-podge, etc. Some easy but fair (2dn); some hard and slightly less fair (9dn — made more difficult by a lack of punctuation in the online version between “headline” and “Chap”: or I’m assuming so because of the cap). Some brilliant (13dn). Some obvious (27ac)…. I won’t go on.

    Note to Uncle Y: at 17ac I took it that “visitors” = COMPANY and that “seen by” is just an adjacency indicator.

  5. I am not sure that i agree with recurrent meaning to run backwards…i havent checked a dictionary but i thought it meant to reoccur…in which case the clue doesnt work. Happy to be proved wrong though. i thought this was on the tough side of average…finished in sub 1 hour…..thought wycliffe was a good clue,

    1. COED and Collins both give a specific meaning relating to the anatomy of nerves or blood vessels: turning back so as to reverse direction.
      1. yes i see that now…thanks for clarifying…
        as uncle yap says you learn something new everyday…
    2. recurrent |rɪˈkʌr(ə)nt|
      1 occurring often or repeatedly : she had a recurrent dream about falling.
      • (of a disease or symptom) recurring after apparent cure or remission : recurrent fever.
      2 Anatomy (of a nerve or blood vessel) turning back so as to reverse direction.
  6. EGG and PRESTONPANS went in first and second without delay but otherwise I was rather slow getting properly going on this one. Once things picked up it flowed quite nicely and I completed the grid in 35 minutes.

    BRESCIA and MIRADOR were new as far as I remember but were easily getable from the wordplay.

    Uncle Y, the retirement age for men of my generation is 65 but for younger folks it’s edging gradually towards 68 now. Obviously things are much better organised in Singapore!

    1. jackkt, the retirement age in Malaysia is 55! Now you know why I have so much time for crosswords
  7. Thank you for the blog. There were a few clues than went in on definition alone and I appreciated the clarification.

    As we are all pedants around here, I think a TAIL-END CHARLIE was a rear gunner rather than a bombardier. The tail turret was not only exposed but also difficult to escape from in case of fire, and the position was consequently the most dangerous on the plane. My uncle was a tail-gunner and was badly burned in a crash in 1942.

  8. In support of anon above a bombardier was the bomb aimer who took control of the plane during the bombing run. The rear gunner was an ordinary member of the aircrew with a very high mortality rate. The English slang for them contrasts with the German word for their own tail gunners – heckschwein!

    Yet another sub 20 minute doddle puzzle that is very run of the mill with no stand out clues

  9. A steady, and enjoyable, 40 minutes to crack this one. Relatively little came instantly to mind; most clues required careful parsing to tease out both definition and solution. Fortunately I knew of PRESTONPANS, had an uncle who served, inter alia, as a TAIL-END CHARLIE and a father, who, as well as rearing fatstock (see yesterday), also ran a pub where HALF-AND-HALF (my COD) was quite popular (family history is coming in particularly useful this week). So, I didn’t need to check anything today via Google or Wikipedia: but when I do (quite often) I see this as a plus to the setter for providing me with enough hints of the possible answer.
  10. This crossword played to one of my few strengths, possession of a huge amorphous mass of utterly useless information, though mirador was new to me.

    Not keen on 17ac, and failed to understand 25dn til now..

  11. 14 minutes. Another in a recent run of vanilla puzzles. Absolutely nothing wrong with vanilla.
    Nothing completely unknown for me today, but BRESCIA, PRESTONPANS and MIRADOR were distant bell-ringers.
    I didn’t know this meaning of AIRHEAD when it came up in March but I remembered it this time.
  12. A struggle for me over an indeterminate time. Didn’t know such things as MIRADOR, HALF-AND-HALF, the colour of Chelsea’s strip and most particularly PRESTONPANS, although I can sing Ye Jacobites with the best of them, albeit in Mondegreen form I see now as I Google the actual lyrics. No mention of Prestonpans there, although who knows what I might have thought I was singing had there been.

    The forced reading of Silas Marner as an impressionable youth has left my psyche indelibly scarred, which is the only excuse I can offer for such a poor performance. COD to PROLIFERATE.

  13. Expanding on Anon’s comment (11.05), the recurrent laryngeal nerve is well known to respiratory physicians. It runs down past the larynx into the chest and then turns back and runs to supply the muscles of the left vocal cord in the larynx. Pressure on the intrathoracic part by a tumour in the chest will cause hoarseness as a result of paralysis of the left vocal cord. The right laryngeal nerve runs straight to the larynx.
  14. Unable to get PRESTONPANS without aids, although in retrospect, it can be had from the wordplay. My mental gymnastics didn’t alight upon ‘presto’ for ‘very quickly’, so I wasn’t going to solve it, and even if I had thought of it, PRESTONPANS is so unlikely looking a word I’d probably have discounted it. I did get WYCLIFFE from wordplay, without the faintest idea of whom he was. No time to post due to having to start and stop a lot, but I’d guess it took me about 40 minutes before heading for the computer. COD to EGG, very nice. Regards to all.
  15. Fortunately I knew all the GK for this. I remember PRESTONPANS and WYCLIFFE from school history and TAIL END CHARLIE and SHOTGUN WEDDING were common enough phrases when I was young. It all helped. 23 minutes.
  16. Unlike Jimbo, I didn’t find this a doddle, more like Mctext’s mixed bag. Certainly tougher than the previous two or three puzzles. Too much GK, I guess for the purists, but if you happen to know the GK, which in this instance I did, it certainly makes life easier. I liked SHOTGUN WEDDING and TAIL-END CHARLIE.
  17. 15:27 for me – not helped by taking ages to spot that I’d typed in CONFERENCE PAIR!!! I also wasted time (though not nearly as much) trying to justify “capital” = FINE in 17ac.

    Older solvers may remember the Rev Colin Morton, a regular finalist in the early years of the Championship, who occupied the manse in Prestonpans before he moved to Jerusalem. I’m saddened to report that he died last month.

  18. Never seen a conference (= Bartlett) pear for sale in NZ, but it is probably the most important commercial pear here and in many other countries since it keeps its texture & flavour when cooked. Open a can of pears, or fruit salad, and that is what you will get!

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