Times 24991 – Light & Easy

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Quite a pleasant morning’s work-out with a couple of new (to me) words thrown in but nothing that should trouble any seasoned solver. Like a fortnight ago, light and easy, thank goodness 🙂

1 ABDUCT AB (able-bodied seaman, sailor) DUCT (channel)
5 MECHANIC Ins of EC (East Central part of London forming the City where the financial establishments are mostly located) H (hospital) in MANIC (frenzied)
10 MODEST MODES (procedures) T (time)
11 HEARTSEASE Cha of HEARTS (Heart of Midlothian Football Club, more commonly known as simply Hearts, are a Scottish professional football club based in Gorgie, in the West of Edinburgh) EASE (rest)
13 MANX Tichy way to say “Man has the vote (represented by X on the ballot paper)” on the Isle of Man
14 SHOO SOHO (part of London) with middle letters interchanged
15 REMISSNESS RE (about) MISS (what to call schoolmistress) NESS (head)
18 DESCENDANT Ins of END (death) in DESCANT (to me, a new word which can mean top line of hymn)
20 NARK Sounds like NARC (drug agent)
21 CHAV CH (church) AV (Authorized Version which is the King James Bible for many years – nowadays, most churches use the NIV (New International Version) A CHAV is someone, especially a working-class person, who is not well educated, who dresses in designer clothes and wears a lot of gold jewellery but whose appearance shows bad taste (from Macmillan, surprisingly my Chambers does not carry this word)
23 10-lettered answer with 5 checked deliberately omitted
25 GLORIA Ins of I (one) in *(LARGO)
26 BOLIVIAN B (British) OLIVIA (girl) N (number)
28 COMPADRE COME (approach) minus E + PADRE (member of the clergy)
29 BOSOMY Ins of SOM (rev of MO’S, medical officer’S) in BOY (lad)

2 Anagram answer deliberately omitted
3 UNDERDO Cha of UNDER (unconscious) DO (party)
4 TAN TrAiNs To bark is to tan leather (Chambers 2)
5 MALTA MAL (rev of LAM, beat) TA (Territorial Army)
6 COMPENSATED Ins of *(PET NAMES) in COD (nonsense)
7 ABDOMEN Ins of B (first letter of bulge) in AD (ADvertisement or notice) O (old) MEN (chaps) What a lovely clue; and so true, too. Easily my COD by a mile
8 IBSEN NESBIT (Edith Nesbit, 1858 – 1924, was an English author and poet whose children’s works were published under the name of E. Nesbit) minus T and reversed for Henrik IBSEN (1828 – 1906) a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet.
12 SPRINGBOARD SPRING (season of growth) BOARD (directors)
16 MOA Ins of O (egg) in MA (old woman) for an extinct bird from New Zealand
17 STRONG-ARM A fielder in the deep will need a strong arm to throw the ball back to the wicket-keeper
19 COVER-UP Ins of OVER (finished) in CUP (sporting competition e.g. FA Cup)
20 NATIVES ALTERNATIVES (other possibilities) minus ALTER (change)
22 HALLO HALLOW (make holy) minus W (wife)
24 CABLE CAB (vehicle) L (learner) E (last letter of dyke)
27 LAB BLAB (let out a secret) minus B, the leading letter
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

43 comments on “Times 24991 – Light & Easy”

  1. 14:25 .. some very nice surfaces.

    HEARTSEASE cropped up in July of this year – 24,893, if memory serves (oh, alright, Google) and a couple of years back in 24,259, both blogged by Tim.

    Last in: HALLO

    COD 23a.

    1. Thanks for that reminder: HEARTSEASE went in without even thinking today, which would suggest that (*touches wood*) my brain is still capable of retaining new words, as it seems to have given me and several other solvers a bit of trouble 2 years ago.

      On the other hand, of course, I couldn’t actually remember that I had seen it before until now, so perhaps I’m just forgetting other stuff to make room for the new information. Now, where did I leave my keys?

  2. 42 minutes, with ‘mans’ for MANX. HEARTSEASE last in, ticks against LAB and NATIVES, not very keen on BOSOMY. Decent, workmanlike puzzle.
  3. 35 minutes and yet another solver for whom 11 was the last in. I knew the football team but couldn’t think of it and HEARTSEASE as a plant but not as a pansy, so it was hard to find a way into this clue.

    The TAN/bark thing was completely new to me.

    Another very nice puzzle of moderate difficulty.

  4. 31 minutes, and it might have been quicker if I’d had the confidence to put REMISSNESS in earlier. But it’s such an ugly word that I held off until all the checkers were in place.

    Didn’t understand NATIVES until I arrived here, thanks to our blogger for the explanation.

  5. Steady solve at 17:50. Nice to see moa cropping up again; we must be due a rhea soon. Tan was new to me too.
  6. Where I put MANS!! Thank you, Mr Yap for the explanation of NATIVES. Did enjoy BACKDATING. I’m sure we must have had CHAV before but can’t remember when. 59mins 38secs with one error, as mentioned. Lots of Ms today.
  7. 10:40, pleasant puzzle despite not being the most difficult. I also looked twice at a few clues, thinking they were the sort of thing that might catch out anyone striving for speed over understanding (thus also happy not to have been caught out by putting in HELLO or NARC without thinking first).
  8. 13 minutes, so a gentle stroll here too. Last in HALLO, as I wanted to make sure I had the right spelling and was thrown a bit by “wife coming out”, when in fact she fell off the end. CHAV was easy for me, living in their spiritual homeland, and I think another word having a Romany derivation. HEARTSEASE needed all the checkers, but only because “I don’t know plants” and because I was looking to play a pansy somewhere in my starting line up and wondering whether the Times would dare use (now)derogatory slang.
    CoD to NATIVE – smooth construction, neat device.
  9. Chav is in at least the 10th and 11th ed. Chambers..

    Rattled through this in good style but at the end ran into a serious problem having put BELIZEAN, inventing a new girl’s name in the process. Since 20dn was also hard it took me a little while to unravel!

  10. As for others, a gentle 20 minute stroll through well known pastures. A good standard, average level of difficulty, puzzle

    CHAV is in Chambers 11th edition which says “probably from Romany chavi – a child”!. Also chavette, suggesting CHAV is male only

  11. 8 minutes. Very straightforward, with only “bark” and “descant” unknown and only NATIVES going in without full understanding at the time. It’s a perfectly neat puzzle though.
    The Pansy scared me for a moment but fortunately childhood memories of football results being read out on Grandstand came to my rescue, and perhaps an unconscious memory of the last time HEARTSEASE came up.
    CHAV doesn’t seem to be in Collins either, which is a little surprising.
    1. CHAV (and various derived forms) is in The Chambers Dictionary 11th and 12th editions, and also the current Collins English Dictionary.


      1. Thanks: I thought it was odd. I was looking at thefreedictionary.com, which uses Collins, but I’ve just noticed that the latest edition they have access to seems to be 2003.
  12. I was sure that ‘make hol(e)y’ had to be HOLLOW, as HULLOw couldn’t be made to work, even though that led to a rare version of the greeting 🙁
  13. Fingers crossed when entering COMPADRE. Otherwise a very pleasant sub-30 minute (just) solve, with plenty of easy clues to provide checkers for the more challenging (amongst which I include HEARTSEASE).
  14. 29 minutes but a number of distractions. The bark meaning new to me also. Good to be reminded of E. Nesbit; loved her books some sixty years ago, but they must have dated fast; never thought of introducing them to my children. The Psammead’s still go to be one of the niftiest names in the business.
  15. 17:49 – Found this pretty straightforward today. No problems with HEARTSEASE or HEARTS. I didn’t know this meaning of bark, but the wordplay was obvious, especially with the first letter in place.
    I could have done with this tomorrow when it’s my turn to blog!
  16. 15:17 but the stupid online thingy kept refusing to recognise my stupid key strokes so I reckon about a third of the stupid answers had to be entered twice.

    I originally had brake hose at 2 so was looking at _O_O with the definition “part of London” seemingly in the middle of the clue.

    FWIW I liked bosomy.

  17. I was just going to make the same point, when I found that I had been forestalled, so can I just express my agreement. Calling a mechanic an engineer is like calling a bricklayer an architect.
  18. Hi,

    I am a lurker in this forum and very grateful for all the help given by the regular contributors. Please forgive me for taking over Jimbo’s role for one day as the grumpy old man.

    I am afraid that making the words mechanic and engineer equivalent is both ignorant and lazy. A mechanic is someone who mends your washing machine (with very useful and valuable skills). An engineer is someone who designs your washing machine (or mobile phone or any piece of tech kit you can think of). They are not the same. I have not checked any dictionaries as I do not care what they say in this instance. The long decline in the UK’s industrial base is, in large part, due to the chattering classes thinking that an engineer is merely capable of mending not of creating. Many ignorant schoolteachers have counselled against bright students going into engineering as it is thought of as somehow second best to science (or even better, the arts).

    Rant over.


    1. Hello Chris and welcome to the blog

      If you’ve been lurking for a while you’ll know that I carry a spanner for the inclusion of matters scientific and related disciplines in the Times cryptic. So well said. I was disappointed when I realised that the answer was MECHANIC rather than the name of a famous engineer – I get so tired of all those poets, authors, composers and so on whilst the imbalance is something the Crossword Editor should be ashamed of.

      By the way – not so much of the old

    2. The same thought crossed my mind while solving. But then I thought of my dad, a pretty distinguished engineer, who always rather likes being called a mechanic. This may be because he ended up designing aircraft but started out as an apprentice in the metal shop. I’d have to check with him, but I think his view is that emphasizing the distinction is a little demeaning to good mechanics (who all have some engineering skills) and encourages the emergence of the kind of engineer who breaks out in a sweat if you put a spanner in his hand (or hers).
      1. My dad was the opposite of Sotira’s. He worked as quality control on a factory assembly line and his basic skill was using a micrometer gauge. Nevertheless, his job description called him an “engineer”. Btw, the factory assembled brakes and I used to do vacation work there so became well aquainted with BRAKE SHOES (also linings and backplates) It’s a bit late to comment on the puzzle except to say that it was a pleasant 25 minutes
    3. Hi, Chris and welcome. I’m afraid you’re on a losing wicket with this one as whatever the rights and wrongs of it, usage has made the words interchangeable in certain circumstances and the Times crossword and the dictionaries are only reflecting this. I first heard your argument at my mothers knee (I am now retired)or more likely at my father’s since he was a chartered mechanical engineer and as you can imagine he had strong views on the matter. ’twas ever thus.
    4. Welcome Chris.
      I have some sympathy for your view but the reality is that in certain contexts the word “engineer” is used in a sense that is synonymous with “mechanic”. The person who fixes my boiler calls himself a heating engineer. We might think he’s overselling himself but we can’t control what words mean and if enough people think this is what it means, then this is what it means.
      Incidentally this meaning is in Collins, so the beef (if beef there be) is with the dictionary not the setter.
    5. I completely agree. Engineer – ingénieur – is an honorific in most of Europe, equivalent to Professor. Only here in Britain does it mean someone who mends cars etc.

      I have made this complaint at least three times previously to the Times, with the results we see…

      1. > Only here in Britain does it mean someone who mends cars etc

        But it does, doesn’t it? Isn’t that the point?

    6. Surely an engineer is the bloke who shovels coal into the firebox on a steam locomotive?

      As an engineer myself, I enjoyed working in parts of Europe (Norway, Italy, Holland) that weren’t in the UK (England, Scotland) – continental engineers are held in high esteem. Home in Australia tall-poppy syndrome reigns supreme; I’m happy if anyone elevates themselves to engineers, and I don’t get abused for being pompous.


  19. Bah! Got one wrong. I wasn’t quite convinced ‘bosoms’ was either a valid plural (though apparently it is) or fitted the clue.
  20. Didn’t get to this until after lunch but it was a pretty steady solve once I got there – last in HEARTSEASE, which I remember popping up recently.
  21. The discussion about whether a mechanic is an engineer or vice versa is fascinating, but where does the E come from in the wordplay? I get the C from city, and the H from hospital, and of course MANIC. Am i missing something obvious here? The times clues are usually bang on when it comes to things like this.
    1. I think i’ve answered my own question here. I did some research and found that EC is a postcode for london. After my original post, i did get that nagging feeling about seeing EC used before.
      As regards to whether an engineer is a mechanic, well, way back when, i did a city and guilds in mechanical engineering, so i’m with the setter on that one.
  22. It’s basically job title inflation to aid one’s amour propre. These days ‘mechanics’ are certainly not ‘engineers’, in practice they are ‘fitters’ since all they do is replace faulty components. I noticed in my old trade ‘salesmen’ became ‘sales representatives’ who then became ‘sales consultants’, and they are probably now ‘sales directors’ (even if they aren’t).

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