Times 24980

Solving time: about 45 minutes, with a break in the middle to wake myself up a bit.

It’s too late at night for me to go into any great detail about how I found it, as I have an early start in the morning. So it’s straight on with the solution.

cd = cryptic def., dd = double def., rev = reversal, homophones are written in quotes, anagrams as (–)*, and removals like this

1 uPsEt PaY iS – I hadn’t realised that Samuel Pepys was a naval administrator, but the wordplay was clear enough.
4 HALF-MAST – It took me a while to see the wordplay here. Half of MAST could be either MA or ST, hence the perhaps and the maybe.
8 EARLY DAY MOTION = (ONE MAY ADROITLY)* – I wasn’t familiar with the expression, but Wikipedia explains it here
11 deliberately omitted
12 I + M(P)UTE
17 AGRA + R(I)AN – Agra is the Indian city where the Taj Mahal can be found
18 ORCHa rd + I’D
22 S + TEAM + BAT + Hasn’t
24 MERMAID THEATRE = (THEIR DREAM TEAM)* – I was only vaguely aware of the venue, but once the obvious THEATRE was taken out, there weren’t many possibilities for the first word.
26 SILAS = SALISbury rev – Saint Silas was an early Christian martyr and missionary, and nothing to do with George Eliot’s Marner
3 SPY + M + A + STERn – M was the spymaster to Ian Fleming’s James Bond
5 L(A + MB + CH)OP
6 deliberately omitted
9 SPREAD SHEETS – I assume ‘those working in bedrooms’ are supposed to be chambermaids making beds. And a spreadsheet is what I write my blogs on!
13 PERSEVERE – another one I couldn’t see the cryptic for until afterwards. Literally, above this answer in the same column is 2d: PER SE, so it’s EVER in PER SE.
19 LENT + I + Like
21 HOMER – A home run in baseball
23 rev hidden

32 comments on “Times 24980”

  1. Hi Dave. I found this on the easier side, unlike yesterday’s, and got through in 15 minutes, ending with PARSNIPS. The ones I didn’t know (EARLY DAY MOTION and the MERMAID THEATER) were happily pretty obviously anagrams, so I got to work those out like you, from seeing ‘THEATAER’ in one, and then I saw the last word in the other needed to be ‘MOTION’. Well blogged, but otherwise not much to say. The SPREADSHEETS joke was a tad corny but amusing. I actually knew that PEPYS was a naval administrator, and a senior one at that. I think he administered dockyards. COD to HEARTY. Thanks for the blog and best to you, and everyone else.
  2. Has anyone renewed a subscription lately? I am getting messages inviting me to renew with a link to the log-in page.

    Clicking on the Membership link requires me to log in, which takes me to my Home page. There is nothing on that page about renewal.

    I emailed the Help desk who told me to click on the “Billing” link on that page. When I pointed out that there was no such link, they advised me just to wait until the subscription expires, when I will be directed to the right page.

    I have no confidence that will happen. Has anyone else had the same issue? I feel I may be missing something here!

    1. You’re right, there’s no such link. Nearest I can get is “My Invoices”, under “My Profile”.
      1. Take care! Twice I have been misled into signing up for a second time, and then have then been double debited when the standing instruction kicks in. I strongly suggest you totally ignore them and wait to see what happens.
    2. Had all this trouble which only resolved on the day the subscription ended so you just have to ignore messages until then (you will get more), whereupon it works. The “help” people I presume are instructed not to admit of yet another pig’s ear following the previous renewing system mess.

      Despite looking for regular letters couldn’t see PEPYS for the life of me and didn’t get PER SE as a result. Also as a result couldn’t parse PERSEVERE. Couldn’t parse HALF-MAST either. Bad day at the office, perhaps the renewal crap was trying to tell me something.

  3. That’s a great time, Kevin. Thanks to Dave for the explanations of HALF-MAST and SPYMASTER, where I was left baffled as to what ‘mostly unyielding’ was doing, having taken ‘one of his kind’ to mean MASTER.

    A plodding 79 minutes for me, with last in and COD to PARSNIPS. I liked ‘cementing’ as the anagrind at 25 – not sure I’ve seen it before. Had lots of fun trying to find 8-letter Indian cities at 17, coming up with Amritsar and even Rajastan, which I knew was a state and thought was misspelt. Not helped by shoving in ‘sauna bath’ stupidly at 22, which stymied me on a few including STRUMPETS, where I was keen to put ‘scrubbers’. As I said yesterday, not very good with women. Very nice puzzle.

    1. Cementing isn’t an anagrind, it’s an inclusion indicator. The PR+IS goes inside REAL, thereby holding the two parts together, much like cement does to bricks.
  4. … agreed the structure of 4ac is different, unusual. As is 3dn where you almost-kinda have to know the naswer before you can get one of the letters. But no complaints — it’s good to have a change now and then.

    I like a good motion early in the day too!

  5. 26 minutes; would have been longer, but I decided to go for EARLY DAY MOTION and HALF-MAST without understanding. Thanks to Dave for the explanation of the latter. The time would have been shorter if I hadn’t kept trying to get ‘ad’ into 25ac. PEPYS was actually my first in, since like Kevin in NY I knew about his job, and on the other hand couldn’t think of any other way to interpret ‘naval administrator’. I liked 13d, once the penny dropped.
  6. 36 minutes with 16dn the last in which actually should have been easy from the wordplay but I was discouraged by the vagueness of the definition.

    I also, I suspect to my shame, didn’t know Pepys’s profession and I was unable to nail exactly the reasoning at 5ac although I was in the right area.

    24ac, whilst strictly correct, is a bit of a strange one. It’s true that “The Mermaid Theatre” closed in 2003 but the building survives as “The Mermaid” and continues to function as a conference and events centre, holding events which include orchestral concerts and various show-biz gatherings. http://www.the-mermaid.co.uk/.

  7. It should be 4 & 8 ac rather than 6 & 9. Jack’s obviously a diplomat and split the difference!
  8. Thanks, Dave, for the blog. A straightforward sub-30 minute solve but I didn’t appreciate the full wordplay for HALF-MAST and SPYMASTER until coming here. COD to SPREADSHEETS (raised a smile in an otherwise rather joyless crossword).
  9. 25 minutes here. I found this quite tricky but am not sure why. Some of the easy ones (CZECH, for instance) took me ages. Solving pre-coffee perhaps.
    Didn’t get a chance to look at the puzzle yesterday so I’m off to do that now.
  10. Is it my imagination or are these puzzles being homogenized and pasturized? There’s a sameness about them and almost no talking points. 20 minutes for this one with only one query – who grows parsnips in their garden?
    1. Though an avid non-gardener, I did, as it happens, once grow parsnips in my garden. Wish I could say it was worth the effort.
  11. 25 minutes, a lot of it working on wordplay which I thought was out of the ordinary run of things today. I was content with HALF MAma followed by ST as an example of holy man, so didn’t see the clue in its full glory.
    If people had trouble parsing SPYMASTER, imagine the somersaults I went through trying to justify SKYMASTER until the penny dropped. At 1d, I was busy looking fro “red” somewhere in the answer, and only twigged when I got the entry, almost my last in.
    I was also thrown by PARSNIPS being something grown that I’ve actually heard of. In fact, I think I was thrown by just about every conceit in this one
    I am prepared to concede (even though nobody has complained yet) that SILAS is one of the lesser known NT characters.
    CoD to either PERSEVERE for cheek or SPREADSHEETS because, corny or not, it made me laugh. HALF MAST would have it but was just a tad too clever for its own good.
  12. I hope it’s OK to chip in; I’ve been lurking here (mainly to get answers when stumped – thank you all) for a while. But surely in 4a, MA is half of MAMA as well as nearly an accurate half of MAYBE. So it is : (half x mama) or (half x maybe), then “holy man” (ST) , the whole being position of respect.
    1. Welcome greencustodian. It’s certainly OK to chip in. But, no, I stand by by parsing of 4a. MA may well be half of MAMA, but nowhere in the clue does it ask for half of mum. If you’re reading the answer as HALF-MA + ST, then half of MA would be M or A. To turn MA into MAMA it would have to be TWICE-MA or some such. As for half of MAYBE, I’m afraid nearly half isn’t good enough – I doubt even the Sunday Times would get away with that without an outcry on this site!
      I must admit that half of MAMA was my first thought when I tried to break it down, but I couldn’t make it work so looked a bit further.
  13. Thanks for blog, I’ll add my appreciation to those that needed help parsing SPYMASTER and HALF MAST.

    Have always been a bit sceptical about the old ‘going away, and coming back’ method, but hey!, it worked like a charm today. Took the dog out for a walk, and when I got back SPREADSHEETS fair leapt out, opening up the tricky ones in the bottom right. ARTEL and SILAS (as a missionary) both unknown. Having worked out the cluing for 23dn, and having got the middle T in place, there were three possibilities…

    Best wishes to all for a relaxing weekend!

    1. …only one possibility as using one of the other Ts would have rendered either noticeable or transition superfluous.

      1. Good point.

        Note to self: Only a very small minority of ‘superfluous’ words are there to ‘help with surface’!

  14. Another appalling time for me, thank goodness that week’s over.

    The PER SE/PERSEVERE trick got me looking for hidden messages in the grid (it’s a quiet night in Sydney). Spymaster Homer, Czech steam bath, hearty parsnips and agrarian orchid would suggest that our setter is a keen gardener with a liking for raunchy spy novels.

  15. Bad day at the office – a sluggish 32:53 with a very silly error, reversing the first 5 letters of Salisbury in my mind but not in my stupid typing finger.

    I may have posted the link before but “swordfish” always makes me think of this:


  16. A workaday puzzle of almost self-effacing clues, half-mast standing out as of more interest. Hadn’t heard of artel but natural enough with a checker. 28 minutes.
  17. 11:51, ending with SPREADSHEETS (9dn).  Unknowns: SILAS (26ac), PRECIPITANCE (1dn), ARTEL (23dn).

    I thought the definition in 3dn (“sort of boss” = SPYMASTER) was unacceptably weak, given that the extra detail in the wordplay (“one of his kind” = M) was almost certain to be a matter of hindsight.

    It’s funny that Lent should be a fast; the medieval etymologist Osbern Pinnock of Gloucester thought LENTILs (19dn) were so-called because they grew slowly.

  18. Appreciative thanks to the blogger. I didn’t understand the HALF bit of HALF MAST until coming here. Neither did I understand PERSEVERE – although I noticed the repetition of PERSE from elsewhere in the puzzle. But both went in OK from definition alone. I seemed to take an age to get properly started but getting PEPYS straight away was a great help. I remember, when I taught in London in the 60s, taking a party of 13 yr olds to the MERMAID THEATRE. Although they lived in London, for some of them it was the first time they’d been on the underground! In those days the theatre was associated with Sir Bernard Miles and used to put on a lot of shows for children. My lot were the children of recent immigrants and this was their first taste of live theatre. They were awestruck! Exactly 30 minutes.
  19. 14:17 for me – making a bad couple of days (I finished in a disastrous 18:51 yesterday) after a reasonable start to the week. I’m not sure that dorsetjimbo’s right about the puzzles being “homogenized and pasturized”, but I made extremely heavy weather of these two, finding it hard to get on the setters’ wavelengths.

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