Times 26,195: The Devil’s Helmet

With its strong classical references at 18ac and 21dn you’d have thought this one would be right up my stoa, but I found it a bit middle-of-the-road in practice, perhaps due to struggling with some slang not of my time (1ac, 27ac) and the straight general knowledge exercise at 23ac.

I did it on old-fashioned paper (which seems toilsome these days, but got to keep my hand in!) in an unprepossessing time of just north of 10 minutes. My COD to 16dn because I’ve got a soft spot for that kind of cheeky definition. I also enjoyed learning that synonyms of 11ac include “aconite, monkshood, wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, mousebane, women’s bane, devil’s helmet, Queen of all Poisons, or blue rocket”. Mousebane seems a lot less of a terrifying sobriquet than some of the others, I have to say, you can understand why Aconitum prefers not to go by it…

As you may be able to tell from the unusual brevity, school’s started up again as of this week, and I’ve a child to deliver to her classroom asap. Many thanks setter, see the rest of you in the comments!

1 DISHES – double def: ruins / components of meal
4 BROILER – chicken: (BRIE ROL{l}*) [“melted”]
9 PRONE – inclined: and a Newcastle supporter is “pro N.E.”
10 PROVENCAL – French person: PROVEN CA L [shown | around | “capital of” L{uxembourg}]
11 WOLFSBANE – “blooming deadly result” of (SAFE BLOWN*) [“in explosion”]
12 HURRY – hasten: H [hot] + {c}URRY [spicy food, “not cold”]
13 TREK – journey: T{h}R{e}E [“oddly”] + K [kilometre]
14 STORMPROOF – safe from the elements: STOP ROOF [seal | vault] keeping RM [room]
18 HIPPODROME – Greek course: HIP POD [in | school] near ROME [city]
20 ACRE – port: “passed round during” {dinn}ER CA{utiously}
23 TONGA – double def: vehicle in India / the Friendly Islands
24 TATTOOING – making design: O O [circles] in TATTING [lace work]
25 PENNILESS – poor: PEN [writer] takes SS [boat] on NILE [river]
26 TWIST – plot development: T{hat} W{ill} I{nevitably} S{urprise} T{heatregoers} “when introduced”, semi-&lit
27 PIE-EYED – canned: PIE [food] + homophone of I’D [I had “talked of”]
28 TRADER – dealer: reverse of RED ART [“rejected” single-colour painting]

1 DIPSWITCH – vehicle fitment: D [daughter] + homophone of IPSWICH [Suffolk town, “you say”]
2 STOOLIE – FBI informer: reverse [“the wrong way”] of IS “loading” LOOT [rifle] + E [note]
3 EVEN SO – however: EVENSO{ng} [service “comes with 25% off”]
4 BOONE – American frontiersman (Daniel, 1734-1820): B [British] + ONE [individual] “in pursuit” of O [old]
5 OVERHYPE – exaggerated claim: OVER [about] + “cases of” H{ealth}Y P{roduc}E
6 LOCARNO – European town: A RN [a | group of sailors] boarding LOCO [train]
7 RALLY – recover: R{e}ALLY [absolutely, “needing energy”]
8 SPLATTER – dash of liquid: S [S{erved} “at first”] + PLATTER [part of meal]
15 REMOTEST – most unlikely: MO [second] in R.E. TEST [scripture | exam]
16 FREIGHTER – ship: FIGHTER [being bound for scrap, maybe?] with RE [engineers] “aboard”
17 TOTALITY – all there is to it: TOT ALIT [child | came down] + Y [{scurv}Y “ultimately”]
19 PENANCE – form of punishment: PEN ACE [US prison | service] introducing N [new]
21 CHILIAD – a long time: CH ILIAD [check | what Homer wrote]
22 DOCTOR – cook: reverse [“in turn”] of ROT COD [crumble (and) fish]
23 TOP-UP – extra credit: TOP UP [first | at university]
24 TWEED – river: T [{boa}T “finally”] + WEED [dock, perhaps]

42 comments on “Times 26,195: The Devil’s Helmet”

  1. 24 minutes, with a lot of time lost in the Newcastle area, which in this puzzle has been translated to the other side of the country. Obliviously a Newcastle supporter is a Toon, – local knowledge for once being a hindrance, not letting the crosswordese break through.
    The only thing I know about Locarno – which started off as Lucerne – is the Treaty. I now know it’s in Europe, somewhere. Probably quite nice.
    Took a long time to realise “safe blown” was an anagram, didn’t look like it. Lots of smooth and malicious cluing, of which DISHES resisted ’til the last.
    1. I really wanted to put LIGORNO, and it’s just as well I didn’t, as a quick Google reveals that it’s actually LIVORNO, so I’d have been wrong in multiple directions!
      1. I wanted to put in Lugano (or actually Lugarno, since the R was already there), the name its inhabitants – and I – call it.
        Tricky. Same unknowns as others in with a shrug, making it a slow and somewhat unrewarding 32 mins. Rob
  2. Bottom half went in quickly-ish, but was left with blanks at STOOLIE and WOLFSBANE after an hour. Both u/ks, as were TATTING, CHILIAD and the US frontiersman. Thanks for sorting all those out.
  3. An hour and a minute for what I felt was quite a tricky little number, shot through with unknowns. Not only did I not know that PIE-EYED meant drunk; I had no idea that ‘canned’ did either. Clearly an upbringing more sheltered than I fancied.

    DISHES sounds like something PG Wodehouse would write, and I made a vow in puberty never to touch one of his books, so I shall probably never know – which is always reassuring in these days of instant “knowledge” at one’s fingertips.

      1. I know many a chap for whom old Plum is *the* go-to man when they’re down in the dumps and in need of some rays of literary sunshine. They certainly beat the collected tragic works of Seneca that I’d probably end up reading…
      2. Being upbraided by an anonymous poster puts me in mind of Healey on Howe, a savaging by a dead sheep.
  4. Got there somehow without aids but it was a close thing, and this was yet another hard one for me. That’s three in a row now. DK STOOLIE or CHILIAD, and although the wordplay to the latter was simple the answer didn’t look very likely. Rather enjoyed 27ac.
    1. A CHILIAD is about a tenth of a MYRIAD of course. I wonder why one is (fairly) well known and the other isn’t…
  5. 45 minutes and DNK CHILIAD or STOOLIE (awful word) or that TONGA was an Indian vehicle. Not sure about FIGHTER in 16a?

    1d reminded me of the foot controlled dipswitch just to the left of the clutch pedal on my first minivan. It allowed you to keep both hands on the wheel.

    1. Mm, not sure FIGHTER is *really* well defined by (a human) being “bound for scrap” (i.e. heading in the direction of a fight) but it did elicit a good-humoured groan from me when the penny dropped…
  6. 19:39 (I waited for keriothe to finish before clicking submit) … very satisfying puzzle, with a few unknowns fairly confidently negotiated. I’m in with the in crowd, finishing in the northwest.

    WOLFSBANE is a nice anagram and a lovely surface to match. Clue Of the Day for me.

    Edited at 2015-09-04 09:42 am (UTC)

    1. Yeah, WOLFSBANE was very good. I was really trying to crowbar something ending with SHADE in there for the longest time… it’s nice when an anagram is discreet enough to evade detection!
  7. 19:38 for me, with five or more minutes completely stuck at the end with DISHES and STOOLIE unsolved. I kicked myself hard when I finally got 1ac: I’ve no idea why I couldn’t see it.
    I wasn’t very keen on 23ac (I prefer cryptic clues) but I do enjoy it when you follow the wordplay and a word like CHILIAD turns out to exist, however unlikely it may appear before you press ‘submit’.
    I liked this one. Chewy.
  8. I would never have solved 14ac based on the clue alone. I’m still shaking my head over ‘seal vault’ = ‘stop roof’. It had to be stormproof based on the checkers and on what I figured, correctly, was the definition. Still, a lovely puzzle, I thought and thanks for your comments, as ever, Verlaine. I’m blaming my time of 1hr 38min 40sec on having to sit in the same room as noisy family while on holiday in NZ.
    1. Hi Martin. I don’t think it is seal vault = stop roof. It’s seal = stop and vault = roof. A minor but important distinction!
  9. Can someone please explain ‘dishes’ = ‘ruins’?

    I had ‘dashes’; as in ‘dashed against the rocks’ and dashes are components of meals; ‘a dash of lime juice’. Even if it is dishes, dashes, it seems to me, fits.

    1. Apparently “to dish” is:

      (British, informal) to ruin or spoil” ⇒ “he dished his chances of getting the job”

      But as I say I’d never come across it before, I expect it’s a generation or two before my time! I did worry that it might be DASHES but that just seemed too loose for “components of meals”.

      1. I had HASHES – made sense here. Don’t think I know dipswitch, and also thought that TOON was spelled TOONE, so my NW was… a hash, dished, &tc. Thanks for a good blog, Verlaine.
  10. I wanted 4dn to be Bowie, which made PROVENCAL the last in. STOOLIE from stool pigeon of course, a dummy used to trap others. No trouble with DISHES but yes, probably a generation thing. An enjoyable crossword with nothing really oustanding and nothing to complain about. WOLFSBANE for COD.
  11. 25 min, with 4dn as LOI – I spent some time trying to think of a way to make BLOKE parse,
    After spotting the anagram, entering WOLFBANES held me up for a while in NW, too.
    1. Daniel Bloke sounds like the British Daniel Boone. Famous for his exploration and settlement of what are now the West Midlands, perhaps.
  12. I try to put a vertical bar (|) in my parsings to indicate where entities should be considered separately, but I’ve never explained what I’m doing and it’s entirely possible my arcane mark-ups are too crazed and/or subtle…
  13. Made slowish progress and did wonder if I was going to finish unaided, but got there under my own steam in 40 minutes in the end. For me it was the SE that was the problem, especially 21, which I was sure was going to end in ODE. Wordplay was very clear throughout, which was a blessing since I had no doubt about any entries.
  14. 24:44. Living in Suffolk, I should have got 1d straight away, but didn’t. LOI 22d, thinking of the wrong sort of cook. Enlightened with new words and meanings for me by DISHES, TONGA, TATTING and CHILLIAD. As for OVERHYPE… doesn’t HYPE itself mean ‘exaggerated claim’? So that makes OVERHYPE a hyperbole.. one of my pet hates. But that doesn’t detract from a great puzzle. 11a, 27a and 3d my favourites.
  15. Started slow though dishes was my FOI

    Pie-eyed – canned – eyes the size of pies – probably polite euphamism for pissed.

    Wolfsbane was well disguised.

    Dipswitch slowed me up

    horryd Shanghai

  16. 11:44 so I must have been on wavelength and I really enjoyed this.

    There was plenty of misdirection, with “in” in the clue for Hippodrome and “shown around” in the clue for Provencal both looking like positional indicators but in fact being wordplay elements. It was refreshing to see “service” twice and having nothing to do with the forces on either occasion.

    I biffed a few and Chiliad, tatting and the required meaning of dishes were unknown.

    COD to dipswitch.

  17. About 20 minutes or so, ending with DOCTOR, as I was trying to find an actual cook. No problem with the STOOLIE here, but DNK this meaning of DISHES, and CHILIAD was completely new. I also wasn’t really aware of the TONGA vehicle. I enjoyed the clues for HIPPODROME and PROVENCAL. Regards.
    1. There’s an old 1980s Doctor Who episode set on an 18th century sailing ship (kind of, it’s in space) where when The Doctor introduces himself to the crew they think he’s the new cook, because apparently that was a slang term for a ship’s cook at the time? Anyway all this discussion of doctors and cooks brought that back to mind…
  18. Brief correction: you’ve got answer and its construction inverted for 7 down. Otherwise nice blog. I really wanted 4 dn to be Bowie, too.
  19. 13 mins, so it seems like I was on the setter’s wavelength. PIE-EYED is an expression I remember my father using, and I was fairly sure that 1ac was going to be DISHES but I didn’t write it in until I had STOOLIE and EVEN SO, and they were my last three in. Count me as another who had to trust the wordplay for CHILIAD. Finally, it was nice to see DOCTOR as an answer rather than a wordplay element.
  20. Three missing today: dishes, stoolie and doctor. Thanks Verlaine for filling those in.
  21. 12:18 for me. Before I started, I had hopes that I might finish between 8 and 9 minutes as I had for each of the first four puzzles of the week, but I never quite found the setter’s wavelength. Which is a pity because, looking back, this puzzle should have been right up my street. Anyway I enjoyed it very much despite my slow time.

    Are DISHES = “ruins” and PIE-EYED = “canned” really no longer in use among the young? Ah well, at least my age does occasionally come in useful.

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