Times 26185 – Happy Biffday!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Typical Monday fare, with one clue where you need to get your vowels in the right place, else you may get yourself into a lather. 25 minutes.

Oh, and congratulations to Australia on winning the beer match.


1. MAMMAL – ‘bear, for example’; this is meant to be a homophone of “Ma’am ’ll”, I believe, but I can’t see where the ‘old’ comes from. Thanks to Kevin G for putting me on the right scent, as ‘old woman’ is a slang term for mother as well as wife, so it’s a homophone of “Mam’ll”.
4. WALK-OVER – W[ith] + A + LOVER round [jac]K.
10. HALL-STAND – H[ospital] + ALL + STAND.
11. DIVES – ‘someone who’s rolling’ (‘dives’, Latin for rich, is the Vulgate translation of the Greek plousios, itself a translation by ‘Luke’ (ch. 16) of Jesus’s original Aramaic); DIVES[t] (‘strip’ with the last letter taken off).
12. CAYENNE – CANE around YEN.
13. GREYLAG – an anagram * of LAY EGG around R[iver] gives that rara avis, a bird that I’ve heard of.
14. NINON – a silk fabric hidden in the clue.
15. DEERSKIN – REED reversed + S + KIN; S for society seems to be popping up a lot recently.
18. EXPENSES – EX (‘former’) + ES (‘opponents’ in the card game bridge) around PENS (‘writers’).
20. DOGIE – an orphan or foundling calf (US); initial letters of D[ish] O[f] [G]rease + IE.
23. HIMSELF – I thought this usage was more common in Ireland, which ODO confirms, but then there’s always been intercourse between these Celtic cousins; in Julius Caesar, Brutus describes himself to his mate Cassius as being ‘with himself at war’.
26. CYNIC – Y (mathematical unknown) in C-IN-C reversed.
27. REWARDING – E[d]WARD in RING; this clue got me thinking about what Adam and Eve’s first girl was called. We’re not told, only that they had ‘other sons and daughters’ after their firstborn Seth.
28. ABSOLUTE – ‘positive’ (though I rather think the terms are synonymous only as adverbs); AB (rating=seaman) + a homophone of ‘salute’ (‘courteous recognition’). Thanks to Anon for pointing out the mathematical ‘equation’ of absolute and positive.
29. CANYON – ‘gorge’; C[hips] + ANYON[e].


1. MOHICANS – O[ver] + HIC (Latin for ‘here’) in MANS.
2. MALAYAN – ‘Singaporean, possibly’ (since a person or thing in Singapore is to be found on the Malayan peninsular); A + LAY in MAN (verbal, ‘to crew’).
3. ASSONANCE – ‘sound correspondence’; O + NAN in CASES*.
5. AT DAGGERS DRAWN – ‘in state of hostility’; GRANDAD GETS WAR*.
6. KEDGE – for the wet bobs (ODO has ‘move or be moved by hauling in a hawser attached at a distance to a small anchor’); K[ing] ‘on EDGE’ (tense – geddit?).
7. VIVALDI – L + DI after VIVA; not too many famous composers begin with a V.
8. RESIGN – REIGN around [trader]S.
9. MAKE A DASH FOR IT – cos when you make an auto you may be the bloke who’s responsible for the dashboard. (I’m assuming all cars have one.)
16. SUDATORIA – Roman saunas or Turkish baths; AUDITORS* around A.
17. HEPTAGON – HEP (a word for ‘trendy’ used by setters when they meet up and compare notes) + TAG (‘label’) + ON (‘attached’).
19. XIMENES – grand inquisitor and the nom de plume of one of crosswording’s founding fathers; MEN + E in SIX reversed.
21. GRAVITY – a barely cryptic double definition.
22. CHA-CHA – A[vailable] + CHA (‘tea’) after CH; not too taxing.
24. EXCEL – a creative homophonic clue, where you take the middle letters of [be]XL[ey] and say then out loud to get ‘excel’ (‘run rings round’).

56 comments on “Times 26185 – Happy Biffday!”

  1. Isn’t ‘Mam’ Northern for ‘Mum’? Seems to me Alan Bennett writes it that way. Which would give us ‘Mam’ll’.
  2. slipshod checking of the anagrist led me to put in ‘suditoria’. Did not care for 19d for reasons vinyl gives, or 21d for reasons ulaca gives, or 22d–has there ever been a good clue for CHA-CHA? We’ve surely had GREYLAG recently, haven’t we?
    1. I put in SUDITORIA too! By false analogy with AUDITORIA, presumably… you’d think as a classicist I’d know much better.

      I was on a hiding to nothing with this crossword anyway… not only were my small children “cleaning up the kitchen”, but then my wife proceeded to phone in a panic about the police having to detonate a bomb round the corner from her work (in sleepy Morden Road?!) and not one but two posties rang the doorbell mid-solve, so my time was shot by multiple pauses anyway.

  3. Struggled with the Roman sauna as the wordplay was no help with the placing of the unchecked letters – all vowels. 1ac, inexplicably, also gave me grief. 21 down was feeble in the extreme.
  4. Created problems for myself in the NE, assuming that “evidently tense” had to mean EDGY (too subtle for me), which meant that instead of a likely-sounding GREYLAG I was faced with G_Y_L_G. Not being confident of DIVES (not much call for Latin round these parts) didn’t help much.

    Possibly too tired after watching Australia level the series last night. I guess 2-2 in England isn’t such a bad result.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  5. On the wavelength (if there was one) with 12.30, with (as for Jackkt) MAMMAL giving most grief and LOI. I think when the puzzle turns out to be a relatively easy one, a clue like 1ac with the crossword variables of Old, Woman, for example and bear, together with the assumption that the definition is “broadcast” encourages over-complication.
    Nice to be back in the realm of reliable Interweb after three weeks of wrestling with dying kit and iffy/non-existent connections, and thanks to George for stepping in for me on Thursday at short notice. Mind you, my upgrade to Windows 10 has just been delivered and installed, so anything could happen. Not too sure of the “every move you make, every step you take” aspect of the thing they call Edge – think I’ll eschew that.
    Earworm of the day: Rawhide. Are those dogies still rolling, do you think?
  6. 21:10. I couldn’t make my mind up between SUDOTARIA and SUDATORIA but luckily ended up going with the correct one. I also didn’t understand the definition of DIVES so thanks for that.

    I’m sure EXCEL has been clued very similarly elsewhere recently – either the Guardian or the weekend Times.

  7. Easy puzzle with a levening of rubbish like the clues for GRAVITY and SUDATORIA. Agree HIMSELF would be much better set in Ireland. Not a puzzle to remember
    1. I know I shouldn’t rise to your bait but I don’t think the language here is “easy” Ninon, sudatoria, kedge, dogie, and dives in this context, are not words in my vocabulary nor had I come across ximenes before.
      After 1 hour I was still 7 away.
      Maybe you should stop doing this crossword as I notice this is not the first time you have complained about the standards
      1. Hello Noel. The issue isn’t your vocab – it’s how easy is it to derive the answer from the cryptic.

        NINON is hidden – could hardly be easier to derive then at your level of experience use a dictionary to verify. If you obey the cryptic D-O-G-IE is obvious then again the dictionary. I accept DIVES and KEDGE need checkers to give a steer if you don’t know them. I’ve alreay said that 16D is poor because words like that shouldn’t be clued by anagrams.

        Keep on persevering because you will improve as will your crossword critical faculties

        1. Thanks Jim
          I will keep persevering- I did manage to complete last Thursday’s- and I look forward to tomorrow’s offering
      2. Far be it from me to answer *for* Jim, but those of us who’ve ben around for a length of time appreciate both his assistance and his trenchant mode of expression. Woe that we should ever become overly reverential or take this hobby too seriously!
      3. How very ungracious! I think one should be encouraged rather than talked down to. These puzzles are quite difficult for us mortal beings and to actually complete one I count as a massive achievement.
  8. Thought this was more of a BIFW puzzle than a BIFFers paradise; I finished all correct in 21 minutes, but with 14a, 20a, and 16d stuck in from wordplay alone although (now I am reminded) I did know the Latin root for sweat. A nice, not too easy puzzle for a Monday. I had GRAYLEG for a while before deciding K-D-A was not an option.
    1. 2-2 in England I believe Pip. Surely you’re not going to start counting matches played in Wales are you?
      1. Good point. Amazing thing was any result in Wales, it usually rains for 5 days. And MC interviewed with a tear in his eye? An Aussie blubbing? Strewth mate.
        1. Actually we have a history of it. Kim Hughes, Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser. On this occasion I think the captain was accurately reflecting the national mood!
  9. … this was a mite harder than yer average Monday. A few chuck-ins (GRAVITY, etc as mentioned.) and a bit of GK into the mix (KEDGE, DIVES, SUDATORIA). Vague memory that gladiator sweat was collected in ancient Rome as a cosmetic.

    Anyone who did Psych 100 will know GREYLAG.

  10. Not for the first time I had cause to be grateful for my classical education, which contributed heavily to zipping through this without much hesitation. On such days I picture Peter Cook, and all those others who never had the Latin for the judging. Makes such puzzles rigorous.
  11. 13:28. A strange mix of the easily biffable and the very obscure. Fortunately I remembered DIVES from past puzzles, but I needed the wordplay for KEDGE and DOGIE.
    As vinyl says, 16dn is easily gettable if you know the Latin word for ‘sweat’, but it’s hard to be sure if you don’t, and a word like this shouldn’t be clued with an anagram IMO. I got there from knowing the French ‘suer’, but I don’t think that should be required knowledge any more than the Latin.
  12. 15 mins. For some reason I was slow to see the charade clues. I didn’t know the Latin or French words for “sweat” but got the correct SUDATORIA because it seemed much more likely than the alternatives. Count me as another who doesn’t really like this kind of clue. I needed the wordplay for KEDGE because if I had ever come across it before I had forgotten it. I finished in the SW with ABSOLUTE after the CYNIC/EXCEL crossers.
  13. 6:08 – I’ve never studied Latin but the 16d was straightforward if you’ve visited quite a lot of Roman ruins in your time. My last two in were the KEDGE/DIVES crossing.
  14. Same as Pip on the “greylag”/”grayleg”/”kedge” axis until I woke up and remembered Erskine Childers’ wonderful Riddle of the Sands which has a lot of kedging off in bad weather in the North Sea. 15.29
  15. For what it’s worth I took this in the mathematical sense (i.e. the absolute value of a number is positive) – though I agree the adverbial sense probably works better.
    1. I can see the mathematical explanation but cannot think of an example for its use as an adverb to mean “positive” . Do you have such an example?
    2. That is not correct in any case. The absolute value of any number DISREGARDS the + or – sign, rather than being positive. You could have -2 oranges (eg, being removed from a bag)or +2 oranges (being added to a bag, but the absolute value is just the two round fruit – ie just the physical quantity, disregarding the direction they are going in.
  16. 24m today so a bit easier than usual for me, though it felt longer as I ground to a halt on KEDGE and MAMMAL. I knew DIVES from Falstaff’s many references to him in the Henry IV plays. Loved MCT’s link for Rawhide!

    Edited at 2015-08-24 12:40 pm (UTC)

  17. Back to the rain and the crossword after 6 weeks in rural France. As a former classicist and Rawhide fan today was a relatively straightforward 17 minute effort. DNK KEDGE but the wordplay was clear enough.
  18. 17:56 so a bit easier than usual for me too. But NINON, KEDGE, DOGIE and SUDATORIA were all new words for me and I didn’t know XIMENES was an inquisitor. My education continues.
    1. Ximenes took that as his name because as a setter for The Observer he followed Torquemada – both were inquisitors during the Spanish Inquisitions
  19. I made a slog of this one, but with a sigh of relief there in the end – couldn’t remember if it was GREYLAG or GRAYLEG at the start, then got HALL-STAND, DIVES and DOGIE from wordplay alone then finally MOHICANS from the definition
  20. About 15 minutes, top to bottom, ending with ABSOLUTE. The only holdups were the spelling of the Roman sweatshop and not being sure of the ‘rich’ meaning of DIVES, but I saw the wordplay right off, so in it went. Not much else happening here. Regards.
  21. Have followed this forum over the summer and have at last decided to join in! I too went for sudotaria – was thinking along the lines of caldarium, tepidarium etc. Also carelessly guessed pentagon. Last one in was excel.
    1. Welcome, emu. Good day for an avian to join (or a bad one, depending on your tolerance for appalling punnery).
  22. Since childhood I knew the word but didn’t take much notice of the meaning. Now this 2015 crossword makes it all clear :-

    Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
    Keep them dogies rollin’
    Though they’re disapprovin’


  23. Nobody has yet mentioned it, which makes me wonder if I am missing something, but isn’t 10 ac wrong?
    hospital = H
    everyone = ALL
    puts {with an S} up with = STAND {without an S}

    505 survivor

    1. I’ve lost the grammatical faculties for describing why, but if you express “everybody stands” (with an s) as “all stand”, the meaning remains exactly the same but the ‘s’ disappears…
  24. A good time for me, especially as I kept an ear on the Arsenal/Liverpool match on the radio. Like Sotira, ‘sudatoria’ came to me as a result of visiting Roman archaeological sites, but, then, living just to the north of Hadrian’s Wall, I have little excuse for failing to visit such sites. Overall, an enjoyable puzzle, but with a couple of quibbles already mentioned.
  25. 8:59 here for a pleasant, straightforward puzzle, which old hands should have had little difficulty with.

    NINON has already come up twice this year.

    There are enough Roman sites around for almost everyone with an interest in their country’s history to have come across a SUDATORIUM.

    KEDGE (as a verb) used to come up pretty regularly in Times crosswords. Admittedly it doesn’t seem to have appeared in the last few years, but arguably it should be readily guessable even without the wordplay.

    I’d have thought most solvers would have known DOGIE from westerns, but admittedly older solvers (like me) probably have the advantage of remembering Roy Rogers singing “Git along, little dogies”.

    And any beginner who hasn’t yet come across XIMENES as both D. S. Macnutt and the grand inquisitor from whom he took his pseudonym will no doubt do so before too long.

    So, to all you beginners (and improvers) who were flummoxed by some of the vocabulary in today’s puzzle: take heart – you’ll find that, as the years roll by, the gaps in your knowledge should become fewer and fewer.

  26. Well, I may be a day late but at least I managed to get one wrong. Failed utterly on DIVES. I considered myself lucky to have got KEDGE (I was once told to do it; if I remember correctly, my response was something like “what the expletive is a kedge?”). SUDATORIA was also a bit of a stab in the dark, justified post-write-in by some vague recollection of “sudor”. XIMENES was known to me only because I’ve drunk a lot of his sherry – I had no idea he was an inquisitor and crossword compiler too.

    It’s at times like this that I begin to wonder if my education is as well-rounded as I like to think. Fortunately I’m in East Anglia, so these doubts are soon dispelled.

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