Times 25840 – Not 1 ac for me

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I tackled this early but not early enough to pre-empt the ‘petites’ seeking porridge; it took me a while to get going, then all but the NW corner went in quickly enough, then fifteen of my 32 minutes were spent on the 10 ac / 3 dn axis. One Greek word I had to check up on, got from the wordplay, I was a bit vague about 22 dn, until enlightened below, otherwise nothing too obscure or controversial to parse (I hope).

1 FACILE – AC in FILE, def. ‘oversimplified’.
4 DIOCESES – COD (nonsense) reversed about I, then (SEES)*, def. ‘sees’. An excellent clue I thought.
10 RENTIER – My LOI, having been sidetracked by ‘investor in children’ as an idea. Then I trolled through the words R_N_I_R and eventually saw the plot. CHILDREN has CHILD removed, then TIER (row), def. ‘investor’.
11 JASMINE – JANE (woman) around SMI (house = SEMI, remove E), def. ‘plant’.
12 DOOM – MOOD reversed ( as in imperative mood), def. ‘final judgement’.
13 BACKHANDER – Amusing double def., as in World Cup negotiations (allegedly) and on the tennis court.
15 HEARTLESS – HEAR LESS (become more deaf) with T inside, def. ‘unfeeling’.
16 DEMOB – DEMO (protest) B (British), def. ‘withdrawal of troops’.
18 LETHE – L (lake) ETHE(R), ether being a ‘number’ or anaesthetic, def. ‘river’. Lethe was one of the five rivers in Hades; drinking its waters made you forgetful and hence lethargic.
19 HERBICIDE – (ECH BIRDIE)*, remove A from EACH, def. ‘weedkiller’.
21 BEEFEATERS – BEATERS (folk on shooting party) with FEE reversed inside, def. ‘men in uniform’.
23 STAB – STABLED, like many horses, remove LED, def. ‘go’.
26 ABSOLVE – A B (bishop) SOLVE (settle), def. ‘pardon’.
27 STERNUM – STERN (hard) UM (middle of LUMP), def. ‘bone’.
28 DAY BY DAY – Allusion to Sir Robin Day; self explanatory.
29 TAURUS – Array of stars, sounds like TORUS, doughnut shaped moulding.


1 FARAD – F (fine) RAD(IATOR) (little source of heat), A ‘fitted’ inside, def. electrical unit’. SI unit of electrical capacitance named after Michael Faraday.
2 CONSONANT – ON SON (about boy) inside CANT (jargon), def. ‘letter’. At first I was wondering what CONANT had to do with jargon.
3 LOIN – LION with IO reversed, def. ‘meat’. Took me forever to twig this little chestnut.
5 IN JOKES – &lit def., IN JES(T) with OK inside.
6 CUSTARD PIE – (PICTURED AS)*, def. ‘funny element of pantomime’. Very nice surface.
7 SHIED – SHED with I inside, def. ‘cast’.
8 STEERABLE – STABLE (firm) with EER (always, ever) inside, def. ‘willing to be controlled’.
9 ARCANE – Def. ‘mysterious’, sounds like ARCHANGEL (Gabriel) without the last bit (GEL).
14 ETHEREALLY – E (English) ALLY (friend) with THERE (in that place) inside, def. ‘in heavenly style’.
15 HALF BOARD – Cryptic def.
17 MOISTENER – (ME IN STORE)*, a moistener is presumably something to do with make-up, not my area of expertise, although I have heard of moisturisers.
19 HETAERA – (THE)*, A, ERA (time), def. ‘mistress’. Hetaera, or Hetaira, were Greek ‘courtesans’ or available ladies, and there were plenty of them. If you didn’t know this (like me) you could get it from the wordplay.
20 RAREST – RA (artist) REST (holiday), def. ‘most outstanding’.
22 ESSAY – Def. ‘composition’. I can see SAY (for example) but am unclear about how ES, which means (you/tu) ‘are’ in French, derives from ‘of French art’. Edit; now I see it, it’s ‘art’ as in ‘thou art’, tu es, as pointed out below.
24 BUMPS – BUS (public transport) around MP, def. ‘birthday treat?’
25 VEDA – V E DAY (victorious time) having no end, def. ‘holy books’. The oldest scriptures of Hinduism, written in Sanskrit, in which the word Veda means knowledge.

44 comments on “Times 25840 – Not 1 ac for me”

  1. Spent about a third of my time on the FARAD/RENTIER crossing, as I’d not come across RAD for radiator before and I didn’t know RENTIER either.

    You’re right about ESSAY – the “art” in this case is from constructions like “thou art”.

    1. I meant to add that I’ve never heard of a MOISTENER either but I’m also not much of a make-up expert.
  2. Straightforward 20 minute solve with no unknowns thanks to years of doing these crosswords. Only 9D strikes me as poor fare. Its a DBE (there are I think 7 archangels in all) plus a partial, poor homophone.

    I thought 6D CUSTARD PIE very good and also 17D MOISTENER.

    I wonder how many will have even heard of Robin Day – famous for moving away from deferential interviewing to the more Paxman style

    1. BUMPS is certainly one I got through (not many) years of doing crosswords. I think it was you Jim who explained it when it came up a year or two ago.

      Strange customs you English chaps have.

      1. I would not have described the bumps I took part in at school as a ‘birthday treat’!
    2. MOISTENER is very nicely done. The trouble is I’m not sure there’s such a thing, except (from Google) a device for moistening stamps and so on. Maybe there’s dictionary support for it, but outside the world of crosswords I’m not sure MOISTENER as a cosmetic/toiletry exists.
  3. …or being Open week, let’s call it NCR.

    This was my worst effort for many a day, with the Kimberley corner remaining almost completely bare before I resorted to aids.

    IMPERATIVE MOOD and RENTIER were unknown, FARAD was half-known (obviously I knew FARADAY). As for LETHE, well, I could never get interested in the mythology I was raised on, let alone what the old Greeks were into.

    Having said that, these all would have been gettable if I hadn’t also stumbled on FACILE, LOIN and CONSONANT, for which I have no excuse.

    On the plus side, VEDA was a wildly successful guess.

    Chalk one up to the setter for what I can now see was yet another excellent puzzle.

  4. Made my half-hour target by a few seconds, helped by recalling the old chestnuts (sees, number,) and being old enough to remember Robin Day. Knew HETAERA from somewhere, can’t think where, though I do remember Jeeves explaining to Wooster the difference between an aunt and an odalisque.

    Particularly liked CUSTARD PIE.

  5. 20 mins, but I should have been around 5 mins quicker. However, I’d entered a stupid “arab” at 23ac when I saw “like many horses” in the clue and didn’t bother to parse the rest of it. Eejit. It was only after I realised that I couldn’t make 17dn work that I looked at it again, saw the correct STAB, and then MOISTENER and TAURUS finally fell into place. To anonymous above I would point out that in English there are two acceptable pronunciations of TAURUS, and one of them is most definitely a homophone of “torus”.
  6. Tu is the French equivalent of the obsolete English thou, hence thou art becones tu es
  7. This was no stroll or picnic in the park for me though I managed the lower half in pretty good time for tricky day.

    The top half was a different story where in the top six rows only 1ac, 2dn and 3dn gave up their secrets easily. Everything else was like drawing teeth. Came in at 90 minutes in the end with a couple of nudges from the thesaurus after the hour had passed, so technically a DNF I suppose.

  8. 37:14 .. chewy stuff for a tired mind, but much enjoyed. Most of it went in steadily but then I got beached in the northwest.

    Took me ages to realise I had a parsnip at 18a (thought I’d try it out) with ‘Loire’. I thought maybe an ORIEL was a form of medieval plainchant (‘number’). That made CONSONANT, RENTIER and ARCANE an awful lot harder to sort out.

    Some terrific clues, though. DIOCESES is positively fiendish. Great stuff.

  9. Dirty trick! Anyone who knows Latin would not pronounce ‘taurus” that way.
    1. But so far as I know, the pronunciation of the constellation has been fully assimilated into English by most people – even those of us who did Latin A-level and beyond.
    2. Why not? I know French but when I’m speaking English I don’t say ‘Paree’. To do so would be rather affected.
    3. This is the second piece of ignorant nonsense from “Anonymous” this week – and we’ve only reached Wednesday!
  10. So no stroll here either. I found it interesting that there were three clues of similar type – chop-part-of-the-word-off – (10a, 23a and 9d – which I liked: I’m immune to Dbeitis), and two clues of the ‘on-board’ type (as in SS bookending the answer) at 1a and 24d.

    Last in DOOM (nice clue) followed by FARAD, which I hadn’t heard of, but then I had heard of this scientist.

    For those who enjoyed Robin Day and the early 80s, this may bring back memories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnkHyG8u54E

  11. Like many, I struggled in the NW. I finally got rentier but by a different route, and not very satisfyingly. Investor in children (parent) take one of them away (pa) gives rent, leading to row (tier). No wonder I couldn’t reconcile the duplicate use of the “t”! I was barking up the wrong ree. Enjoyable challenge though – well done setter and blogger.
      1. I misread that as “wrong parsnips”. Maybe a candidate for the “real word that fits but isn’t the right answer” we were searching for yesterday?

        “Took me ages to realise I had a parsnip at 18a ..”

        1. I do like “parsnip”, but your definition of it doesn’t really fit my error in getting rentier, where I got the real word that did fit and was the right answer, but for all the wrong reasons.

          Maybe parsnip should be as you define it, and we use Eric for getting there the wrong way (as I did), as in “I played all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”.

  12. No problem with writing 24dn straight in and from the same school, I was regularly told that I had ‘drunk deeply from the waters of Lethe’ so OK there.
    Thanks for creating parsnips, sotira and erics therotter

    Edited at 2014-07-16 11:02 am (UTC)

  13. A smidge under 30 minutes (decent time, Jim!) for an interesting challenge.
    Robin Day really did write an Autobiography with that title.
    One of the better anagrams for CUSTARD PIE: it just doesn’t look remotely as if it could be.
    I fell victim to my “plant” phobia, presuming I hadn’t heard of it even once i got all the checkers. I was that close to writing in JUSTINE, and even closer to using a fill-in-the-gaps solver when the answer (and wordplay) dawned and I suffered bruising to the shin.
    I would use moistener for dampening the backs of old postage stamps: I agree with others that the cosmetic is more likely to be a moisturiser.
    I’m with Jim on ARCANE, even if that was Gabriel’s status, it’s still a bit of a liberty to have a bit of a soundslike.
    1. Funny thing was z8 the whole time I was solving I had the feeling I’d seen many of the clues before – very odd – and I don’t remember where or when!
  14. After an hour I had two blanks: VEDA and TAURUS.

    Was pleased to find I wasn’t mombled at RENTIER, a complete unknown.

    Oh and I completely missed the anagram for CUSTARD PIE. Clearly wasn’t ‘in your face’ enough… And I too toyed with the parsnip (bad manners, I know) Loire for a little while.

  15. Stopwatch didn’t work but I would guestimate between 10 and 15 mins
    The NW corner took quite a long time to sort out with the ‘chestnut’ at 3d being my last one in.

    Edited at 2014-07-16 12:25 pm (UTC)

  16. 18:34 and like others (Vinyl excepted) I had most trouble in the NW corner.

    I had to trust the wordplay on Veda and Hetaera and only knew Lethe from recent-ish appearances here.

    Also like others I failed to spot the anagram of custard pie.

    Good challenge.

  17. 24m. I liked this one a lot, because there was very little that could just be bunged in confidently from the definition, and it was tough without resort to obscurity. I didn’t know HETAERA, but the wordplay couldn’t have been clearer.
    I agree with others about MOISTENER.
    I liked the clue for RENTIER. It’s a word you see a lot in the Guardian, where it is a pejorative term that can be applied to any form of private sector activity.
  18. Day now spoiled by an information sheet from Scottish and Southern Electric concerning upcoming work in my village and distributed to most houses. After the preliminaries, the main section is titled ‘How this will effect you’. Ouch
    1. I recently received a form from Barclays to open a new corporate bank account and had to fill in all boxes marked with an asterix.
  19. 18.30 for a most enjoyable puzzle. RENTIER, LETHE and HETAERA all familiar from 6th form studies many years ago. I wonder if John from Lancs remembers hetaera from Countdown a few years ago when it was offered (as ‘hetairas’) by one of those precocious 15 year olds who cropped up from time to time. Not sure if he was the one who saw off Mark Goodliffe.
  20. I confess that once I finally got MOISTENER I didn’t stop to think whether or not it was an accurate description of a cosmetic, but in light of all the comments above I decided to do a little digging. The online OED simply defines it as “a person who or thing which moistens something” so from that perspective a “moisturiser” is a “moistener” and the setter probably just about gets away with it.

    I forgot to mention earlier that you can count me as another who didn’t spot the anagram fodder for CUSTARD PIE and entered it from the definition alone. Excellent clue.

  21. Technically a DNF for me as veda was unknown. Managed to guess rentier from the wordplay but that too was an unknown despite the fact that I am one! Agree with Jim and Z8 that a partial homophone is not quite right. Are these generally allowable or not? Also have to confess to being another that didn’t spot the anagram in 6D and to the fact that I remember Robin Day.
  22. Tough but well constructed puzzle, which I say due to reaching a load of answers through wordplay alone: RENTIER, TAURUS, LETHE, HETAERA, VEDA (my LOI) and CUSTARD PIE. I saw and solved the anagram there. Altogether about 45 minutes. I hadn’t questioned the MOISTENER when solving but I see what everyone is talking about, yes. Regards to all, setter included.
  23. Well, I got there after about 98 hours (possibly a little less).

    Some nice clues (including the fiendish DIOCESE, and the clever CUSTARD PIE), but too many obscure words for my liking. HETAERA, RENTIER and LETHE were beyond my admittedly limited ken. VEDA was a near thing – I only got it because I have a colleague who is into ayuravedic medicine (or, as it’s known amongst medical professionals, “utter bollocks”), which somehow brought “vedic” and hence “veda” to mind.

    Thing is, you can make a crossword arbitrarily hard by relying on obscurisms. I’m much more impressed by a setter who can clue “the” in a way that makes me kick myself afterwards.

    To be fair, though, FARAD was probably a bit obscure to some, and I liked it when I got it, so I will refrain from further amarulence.

    1. Blimey, Dr Thud. I’m guessing I’m not the only person who had to look up “amarulence”!
      1. I would make a witty riposte, but I am beset by acronychal intoxication, and will therefore have to owe you one, Tony.
        1. Hm! You seem to be suffering from Roget’s disease. I believe there’s no known cure, although I understand a cryptic crossword a day can alleviate the symptoms.
          1. If there’s no cure, I ought at least to invest in the second volume of the OED…
  24. 14:37 here for an interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

    9dn (ARCANE) has a question mark at the end of it, making the use of “Gabriel” for ARCHANGEL entirely acceptable in my book – and in Ximenes’s!!!

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