Times 26205 – not all cats and witches

After a year and a half of this blogging malarkey, I ‘ve concluded that for me there are three sorts of Times crossword. There are those like Monday’s or yesterday’s, where you pick it up, see some answers and write in steadily until you’ve finished, maybe with one or two malingering answers to slow down the ending. There are those like the Club Monthly, and occasionally a daily, where I peck around finding the odd answer but never really get to grips; often the answers are unknown words, which makes solving harder of course.
Then there’s the majority, like today’s. At first sight, a sinking feeling; ‘is this the day I’m going to wave the white flag and call on Jimbo et. al to bail me out?’. Then something clicks, it unravels like a TK-Max jumper, and all is well, you get that feeling of smug satisfaction when you’ve taken on the setter’s challenge and won.
This one unravelled for me from the bottom upwards, in about 40 minutes, but in retrospect there’s nothing difficult about any of it, and it was fun.

As usual, D = definition, DD = double D, ()* = anagram.

1 HECATE – Hidden word in T(HE CAT E)VENTUALLY; D witch. The Greek goddess of witchcraft and magic.
4 SCIMITAR – (ARMISTIC)*; D weapon.
10 MOMENTARY – OMEN (portent); TRY (go) about A: M at the front (mile in the lead); D brief.
11 NOISE – NOSE (bouquet) around I; D rumour. My LOI, because of the rather loose definition it needed checkers.
12 WINDCHEATER – (WRETCHED IN A)*; D garment. I knew it was an anagram but it took longer than it should have done to unravel.
14 ARM – A RM (Royal Marine); D equip, or arguably &lit.
15 REFINES – The Spanish girl with a whistle is REF(EREE) INES; D improves a bit.
17 LAAGER – LAGER (beer) around A; D camp, originally a South African word, also used in WWII for a defensive ring of tanks and such.
19 MIRROR – Joan MIRÓ (a surrealist,for some of his career) has R and R added; D paper. Not Dali, for once.
21 TWITTER – T(ime), WITTER (go on at length); D not here, or &lit? I am not a twit, or tweeter, but I believe Tweets are limited to less than 140 characters.
23 AVA – AV (Authorised Version), A; D woman.
24 CUTTING EDGE – CUTTING (hurtful), EDGE (advantage); D very modern.
26 PESTO – PRESTO (quickly) loses R; D sauce.
27 LIVERPOOL – LIVE (as it happens), R, POOL (leisure facility); D club, as in Liverpool FC one assumes.
29 SEE STARS – Actresses without clothes initially = ATRESSES; Anagram indicated by ‘dancing’; D be dazed.
30 TWELVE – WEL(L) = not entirely properly, inside TV; E (finally beforE); D midnight.

1 HOMEWARD – MEW (cry from cat) inside HOARD (treasure); D returning here, maybe.
2 CUMIN – CUM (with) IN (essence of mINt); D culinary flavouring. Or flavoring, for Kevin, Olivia et. al.
3 TIN – TIN(Y); D container.
5 CRYSTAL – DD; an old radio set, and glassware.
6 MIND READING – MIND (dislike), READING (books); D gaining knowledge intuitively.
7 TRIVALENT – RIVAL (competitor) confined inside TENT (under canvas); D with several (well, three) bonds, potentially. Elements like boron and aluminium are trivalent. Today’s chemistry clue for me and Jimbo to relish.
8 RHEIMS – RIMS (boundaries) around HE (man); D city, on the A4 east of Paris, with a lovely cathedral.
9 CARESS – CARES (is concerned for), S; D stroke.
13 CONTRACT OUT – (COCONUT TART)*; D get someone else to. The anagram fodder looked unlikely, but it’s tasty.
16 FRICASSEE – Insert ASS (animal) into (FIERCE)*; D stew. If I may elaborate, as I’m into cooking: Mastering the Art of French Cooking describes it as “halfway between a sauté and a stew” in that a sauté has no liquid added, while a stew includes liquid from the beginning. In a fricassée, cut-up meat is first sautéed (but not browned), then liquid is added and it is simmered to finish cooking.
18 TRUE BLUE – T (certain, at heart), RUE (regret), BLUE (waste as in spend rashly); D party faithful. Not Mr Corbyn’s party, that’s for sure.
20 RATTLER – My terrier likes to try to catch rats; insert L; D clapped-out vehicle.
21 THIEVE – Insert I.E. (that is) V(ery) into THE (article); D take.
22 PAMPAS – PAM (girl) PA’S (daddy’s); D plain, as in Argentina.
25 DROLL – L LORD = Liberal peer; reverse it; D amusing.
28 RAW – WAR reversed; D bleeding.

59 comments on “Times 26205 – not all cats and witches”

  1. Actually a 10-minute job for me this morning – I think Monday’s took longer. The first two across went in straight away, and most of the downs off of them (apart from TRIVALENT, which was my LOI). Quite pleased as my times have been lousy for the past couple of weeks.s
  2. Same as Andy – first two straight in and never looked back. I don’t time myself these days but under 15 minutes.

    Liked TRIVALENT as predicted by our shrewd blogger and CRYSTAL which always reminds me of my grandfather trying to listen to sports report and check his pools coupon with the volume fading in and out. I learned a few swear words watching him.

    1. Great memory, Jimbo. Made me laugh out loud and also recall hearing the sports report music while me and my dad and brother were milking the cows every Saturday afternoon. And if Man U happened to lose mybigbrother would sulk for the rest of the night!

      Edited at 2015-09-16 01:36 pm (UTC)

  3. Fairly straightforward apart from being completely baffled by 23 across. I thought it might be ADA. Thanks for the right answer. How many other abbreviations are there for versions of the bible?
  4. Thanks for the explanation of CUMIN, Pip, and the nod of recognition to us rational spellers (I don’t know if Olivia has dropped her U’s yet); that was the one I hadn’t parsed–never twigged to the ‘with’. Other than that, no real problem; even the hidden, where I can be quite dense, was glaringly obvious, and I actually got TRIVALENT early on. 15ac was the toughie, and my LOI and COD.

    Edited at 2015-09-16 08:43 am (UTC)

    1. Hi Pip and Kevin. My systems “favor” US spelling but when I write to my mother every other week or so, woe betide me if I include any Americanisms so I have to over-ride. I used to hand-write but she can no longer read my scrawl. 12.25 with just a slight pause to parse REFINES and MIRROR. Nice puzzle.

      Speaking of my mother she used to make a very Barbara Pym-like chicken fricassee – a boiled whole bird which was then blanketed with a bechamel sauce flavoured with a bay leaf. As an austerity baby I hoovered it up but I don’t think I’d eat it now.

      1. I have a recipe for a chicken pot pie that is exactly the same thing but with tarragon, and baked in pastry. It’s a huge crowd-pleaser but does rely for success on poaching but not boiling the bird.
        1. That sounds an awful lot more appetizing! In Pym my mother’s chicken fricassee was served up by elderly ladies fussing over handsome young curates. That may make the books sound unreadable but they are truly funny and unexpectedly poignant. I wish there’d been more of them.
  5. Another easy for me (anything under 30mins), with the only unknown (but clearly parsed) LAAGER. Went in with a shrug at the end. Oh, and I dnk CRYSTAL as a radio set, but that was more obvious.
  6. 21:37 for a puzzle which gave me pause for thought a few times but never had me feeling stumped.

    Similar to what Pip says, I always get the most satisfaction when I look at a crossword and wonder how I’m ever going to finish, but eventually do so.

  7. 19:37 … nice daily puzzle, which I made a bit harder with a few silly false starts. Favourite clue, also CRYSTAL.
  8. 23:21. Held up by 15a, 16d and 19a for a good quarter of that, but got there eventually. I didn’t get the parsing of 30a – thanks for the explanation, Pip. I enjoyed the chemical clue, 7d and 13d for making me think of contracting out my cooking duties.
  9. A breeze today though slightly held up by a biffed ponto… the sauce of choice for the Lone Rangers sidekick.
  10. 11m, which is the same as yesterday and very similar to Monday, so I’m having a consistent week so far.
    I didn’t think twice about NOISE for ‘rumour’ but it isn’t in ODO or Collins, and it’s marked as ‘obsolete’ in Chambers.
    1. One could argue that it is in Collins, which has: “(transitive; usually followed by abroad or about) to spread (news, gossip, etc)” and has rumour defined as gossip, also… bit of a stretch perhaps but like you I didn’t think twice

      Edited at 2015-09-16 09:10 am (UTC)

      1. So it does. I struggle to replace ‘noise’ with ‘rumour’ as a verb in a sentence though, so I’m happier with the obsolete noun!
        1. Collins online has it as “(archaic) din or clamour”. Actually I’m surprised that it’s archaic, as I’m sure I’ve encountered it in this context. Maybe I’ve been reading archaic books.
  11. Either we’re having a run of easy ones, or I’m on a roll. Much more likely to be the former.

    Felt I could have been faster today, but I tried the Verlaine approach. Not sure how he does it, must ask him to explain it over a few beers.

    Liked CRYSTAL when the penny dropped. Thanks setter and Pip.

  12. A very satisfying puzzle, completed in 31 minutes but with 2dn remaining unparsed until I came here. I’d never have thought of that without some indication that a Latin word (which I happened to know) was involved.

    In my preferred spectator sport the referee is a bod much higher up the food chain who usually carries a walkie-talkie (or whatever the the modern equivalent is) rather than a whistle. That aside, how does “whistle” = “referee”? If it’s slang, I can’t find any support for it in the usual sources.

    Edited at 2015-09-16 09:55 am (UTC)

    1. I read that as Ines has a whistle, therefore she is a referee, that makes her REF INES.

      Although that could, of course, be utter gibberish.

      1. That’s how I saw it too. Referee Ines has a whistle because she’s a ref, don’t see the difficulty, Jack.
  13. 14 mins for the first finish of the week (not been well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

    Also missed the “with” in 2d, maybe due to being fixated with essence of mint as “MIN”

  14. Managed to complete this quicker than both Monday and Tuesday – having the luxury of a few weeks off from work and tackling the puzzles on a daily basis is apparently paying dividends!

    Biffed REFINES and still don’t get the Spanish girl bit… Appreciate further and better particulars

    1. See above, jackkt comment, Nick, and Ines is a popular first name for Spanish ladies. What’s not to get?
  15. Struggling with parsing for 18dn. Apart from the tense not matching surely waste is blew not BLUE.
    1. This has come up a few times before: to ‘blue’ is a verb meaning to waste, as in ‘don’t blue your money all at once’. I didn’t know it the first time, and I have still never encountered it outside crosswords.
      1. Actually, Jilly Cooper uses it quite a bit. There, that says more about me than it does about you!
        1. As I said, I have never encountered it outside crosswords! I note that the latest example in Pip’s list is from 1959…
      2. Here’s some usage:
        BLUE, slang (mainly British), transitive verb: To spend, waste, squander go through lavishly, recklessly, or extravagantly, especially with regard to money, = BLOW; paste tense BLUED or BLEWED

        <1846 “The coves . . . vot we BLUES a bob or a tanner to see.”—
        “Swell’s Night Guide,” page 76>

        <1859 “s.v. BLEWED, ‘I BLEWED all my blunt last night’, I spent all my money.”—‘Dictionary of Slang’ by Hotten>

        <1867 “So Papa Eccles had the money?’ ‘And BLUED it!”—‘Caste’ by T. W. Robertson, page 111>

        <1884 “He took to horses, and BLEWED the blooming lot [i.e. £1,700] in eighteen months.”—‘Daily Telegraph,’ 28 May, page 5/1>

        <1888 “You brought down two thousand pounds with you, and you BLUED it.”—‘Miser Farebrother’ by Farjeon, III. i. page 5>

        <1930 “She had taken a holiday and just BLUED some of her savings.”—‘On Edge’ by W. De La Mare, page 228>

        <1940 “. . . while they’ve got money they BLUE it”—‘Death of a Peer’ by Ngaio Marsh>

        <1946 “Americans ‘BLOW in’ their cash, but if you are English you ‘BLUE’ it or ‘BLEW’ it. Pronunciation does not indicate which spelling if either is correct, but I have seen both in print. The past tense, difficult as it is to believe, is ‘BLUED’ or ‘BLEWED’”— ‘American Speech,’ Vol. 21, No. 1, February, page 56>

        <1959 “Men in cotton shirts and corduroys met there to ‘BLUE’ their cheques on supplies and on fiery colonial rum.”—‘Observer,’ May, page 8/5>
        (Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary of Slang, Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English by Partridge, and other sources)

        1. Here’s another. In Flame Trees of Thika Elspeth Huxley refers to her mother’s sovereign remedy for difficulties as “blueing a bit of capital”.
  16. The easy week continues. 25 minutes. Very similar to yesterday’s, but fewer tricky numbers, 7d being the only one that required some thought. I’m not particularly good on science clues, but ‘bonds’ did suggest ‘valency’ at some point, thanks to a Listener puzzle on that theme last year.
  17. 11:53. Although I used to live within the bounds of something called Ash-cum-Ridley I failed to spot the with/cum link in 2d and was another who decided that MIN was part of the wordplay.

    Trivalent would have been tricky if I hadn’t tried to help No1 daughter with her AS level biology revision a couple of years ago.

    I visited Miro’s studios in Palma earlier this year and there was nothing there that made me think “surrealist”.

    I expected laager to be a momble so that was a bonus.

      1. Oh I know the word well enough, I just didn’t see it staring up at me from CUMin. I saw cuMIN.
    1. He joined the Surrealist gang in 1924, and strayed into other things from 1928 onwards, according the long Wiki article on him. My No 1 daughter was / is an art expert so I learnt stuff like this along with her, Penfold, the same way your chemistry knowledge was picked up!
  18. Well an enjoyable 25m for me with a few straightforward clues to get me going. It’s always a confidence booster when I can write in 1a straightaway and the hidden here meant for once I was off the mark in 2 seconds. Mind I nearly ‘blue’ it as I confidently entered WIDEATRENCH for 12a; having recently encountered and memorised wideawake on this blog it seemed perfectly possible and neatly used up all of the anagrist! But had the slight drawback of not existing. I also had a ? over blue but thanks to Keriothe et al for the clear explanation. Good puzzle and blog today so thank you setter and Pip.
  19. Could’ve possibly kept it down under 7 minutes again if I hadn’t wavered at the last minute over the unknown LAAGER and checked over it mentally several times just in case it could be anything else at all. Nice easy week so far then – I bet this means I’m in for it on Friday…
  20. I’ve been meaning to read Pym for years because of Philip Larkin’s support for her (I love Larkin). Maybe I’ll get round to it now.
  21. 1 second under 13 minutes. I do like a really neat anagram, and coconut tart is one of the neatest.
  22. 10 mins with no muppetry. I’d have been in single figures if I’d got CONTRACT OUT as quickly as I should have done, and it was my LOI after REFINES. LAAGER was actually my second one in after NOISE.

    Edited at 2015-09-16 07:53 pm (UTC)

  23. Well, in answer to Vinyl’s question, I looked at it, panicked, saw the little ones, calmed down, and managed to do about 75% in about 45 minutes.

    I didn’t know trivalent, and struggled with that – I could see what to do and got the tent part straight away, but couldn’t find an alternative to competitor. That often happens – I can see what to do but not quite find all the ingredients.

    Some others were very straightforward – laager, mirror and pampas, for example, and I do like a clue that makes me smile – contracted out and Liverpool hit the spot (although I don’t care much about football).

    So what does that tell us? Not much, I expect – it’s all about how your brain is working on the day. My problem is that I get stuck and can’t quite see where to go. I pretty much always understand the parsing when I finally see all the answers, so that’s something.

    In the end, though, for me it’s just about having a bit of fun and stretching the grey matter while having a cup of tea. Mind you, the tea often gets cold! Penny

    1. Penny,
      Absolutely! We are all only doing it for the fun.
      One of the advantages of having a ‘name’ and perhaps a photo thing is that you can edit what you post. Believe me, this has often been an advantage in my past! Top of the page.
  24. Got there all correct but totally messed up two parsings. I had REFINES as REF IN ES (with ES being an abbreviation for Espana which I don’t think it is on reflection). And I had no idea about CUMIN so decided it was CU as CUlinary flavoring (a little bit of culinary) and MIN (as essence of mint). The whole a sort of weird &lit. But hey, they all count.

    I did it in multiple sessions while also replying to some emails but I’d guess it took around 30 mins.

  25. A very enjoyable puzzle, which I think I could have solved quicker if I had not been listening to the Chelsea match on the radio. As I write, Chelsea have just gone three goals ahead. About time a British club put in a performance.
  26. Firstly many thanks for the kind words and encouragement I received on Monday. Tuesday’s puzzle was beyond me. With the incessant rain today I thought I’d give 26205 a go and got some long clues quite quickly which encouraged me. I put in Cumin and Refines without full confidence and was left after a good while with 16d and 23a. I had thought 26a was Pronto less the R and thought it could be an unknown sauce.The N from there led me to an anagram of Fierce and Hen; which led to much wasted time. Anyway I thought of Fricassee,guessed Ava for the woman and ended up getting the puzzle right without aids. I shall probably now retire, tired but happy. David
  27. I breezed through this one though it helped that I knew TRIVALENT immediately. Rather solid crossword I thought.
  28. I found this one chewy, and definitely harder than Monday and Tuesday’s puzzles. Looking back, I can’t see exactly why I had such difficulty, although there were a couple of unknowns. LAAGER went in after I’d excluded such options as STAOUT and DRAINK. I had a vague idea that “laagen” might be “rest” in some Teutonic language, but in fact it’s “lager” that’s derived from “lagen” (because it’s a beer that can be stored), so I was confusing my wild herrings with my red goose.

    TRIVALENT was my LOI, after I’d corrected “thither” (“not here”) to TWITTER. I’d have felt a complete thith if I’d got that wrong. Never did parse REFINES (I assumed FINE was something to do with being given a whistle, which on reflection makes no sense whatsoever). Nor did I know “blue” in the sense of “waste” – had anyone else heard of this meaning?

    Anyway, I was happier to finish this one after 47 minutes than I was to finish yesterday’s in less time.

    1. Glad that I wasn’t the only one to enter ‘thither’ initially. I thought that it seemed quite a good answer at the time.
      1. Following Chelsea will do that to a man’s mind! I rely instead on alcohol, which has much the same effect…
    2. Glad that I wasn’t the only one to enter ‘thither’ initially. I thought that it seemed quite a good answer at the time.
  29. 7:48 for me for this pleasant, straightforward solve. Three puzzles like the first three this week would suit me very well for a Championship preliminary in October.

    Having said that, I still had a couple of idiocies: imagining that there were fewer than 11 letters in “wretched in a” and so missing the anagram first time through; and taking the “essence of mint” to be M and so failing to bung in CUMIN first time through despite thinking of it. I’m going to put these down to continuing tiredness.

  30. I know, 24h too late as usual. But does anyone know why Brits (used to) put an h in Reims? It seems as superfluous these days as putting a redundant and non-etymological s on Lyon or Marseille.
    1. It seems Rheims is purely an old English spelling, these days Reims is preferred, as are Lyon and Marseille, even when writing in English; but not Londres instead of London … can’t find any detail on how the H got put in, except to say H is never pronounced in French (save as when the letter, ‘ahsh’)

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