Times 26241 – what day is it?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Feeling somewhat doped and sluggish after yesterday’s tooth implant job, I expected to struggle this morning with the usual Wednesday fare; but no, it seemed more like a Monday, I flew along and had all done and understood in a mere 12 minutes – an equal PB for me, even if probably several Magoos. I’ve done several Quickies which were harder. GK of another name for the poplar tree was the only slight obscurity, and that was do-able from wordplay.

1 SUNLIGHT – SIGHT = view, surrounds UN (the French) L(ake); D natural illumination.
5 VERMIN – VER = REV retired, M, IN, D obnoxious people.
9 CATACOMB – a CAT COMB is a pet grooming device, insert A; D burial-place.
10 OSTLER – Elbowing person is a JOSTLER, remove the J(udge): D one held one’s horses.
12 OFFENSIVENESS – OFFENSIVE = attack, NESS = head; D objectionable manner.
15 ABELE – ABLE = having resources, insert E; D Poplar, a white barked variety, more often so named in America.
16 GREENGAGE – G(ood), RE-ENGAGE; D it bears fruit. Chestnut, as well.
17 COCKATIEL – CO (senior officer), (CATLIKE)*: D bird.
19 REIGN – D a rule; sounds like RAIN, as in raining cats and dogs. The French don’t say ‘chats et chiens’, they say ‘il pleut en cordes’ or more often, ‘il pleut comme vache qui pisse.’ Well, you might need to know, on your holidays.
20 WHAT DO YOU KNOW – DD, one straight, one colloquial.
22 CAMPER – CAMP = affected, ER = the weather ultimately; D holidaymaker.
23 DELICATE – ELI, the usual priest, C(aught), inside DATE; D requiring careful handling.
25 MANTRA – D incantation, hidden in HU(MAN TRA)GEDY.
26 STRETCHY – STRETCH = prison term, Y = youth leader; D flexible. Well, extensible, would be better.

1 SACROSANCT – (SCORNS ACT A)*, the A from archbishop; D inviolable.
2 NET – Decade, TEN, reversed; D capture.
3 INCENSE – &lit. cryptic DD.
4 HUMMINGBIRDS – HUMMING = very active, BIDS = attempts, insert R = first of rare; D pollinators.
6 EASTERN – EARN = bring in, insert (SET)*; D from Taiwan, possibly.
7 MOLESTATION – MOLE = spy, STATIN = drug, insert O = ring; D abuse.
8 NORA – (A)ARON reversed; D girl.
11 REDEPLOYMENT – RED (revolutionary), EMPLOYMENT (position); remove the M (spymaster for 007); D new posting.
13 FRENCHWOMAN – Sir John French commanded the BEF; W, OMAN (state); D Nice woman, perhaps, and probably a nice woman as well, although it’s an expensive place to meet her.
14 TEENY-WEENY – TEE = driving assistant, WE, E (note), visiting NY twice; D diminutive.
18 AMATEUR – (TEAM)* inside A UR (Biblical city): D non-professional.
19 ROUTINE – D unvarying activity; sounds like RUE TEEN = vocally, bemoan youngster. Groan.
21 SCAM – CAM = eccentric, holding up S(tradivarius); D fiddle.
24 ARC – AC = bill, insert R = last letter of Kreisler; D bow.

48 comments on “Times 26241 – what day is it?”

  1. 17 minutes plus an amount of change that would be large if you added a fairly significant amount to it and conversely of course rather on the insignificant side if one were to subtract an equally fairly significant amount from it. Pondered the spelling of INCENSE for a moment and raised an eyebrow at ABELE, but no cracked bottoms today.
  2. About as difficult as last Sunday’s Mephisto – two very easy and rather boring puzzles
      1. Please do – it took me longer to write the blog than to solve the puzzle. If you do have a go please let us know on the Mephisto blog how you got on – and anybody else who feels inclined to give it a try
        1. I didn’t find it that easy, although it certainly wasn’t especially difficult. I look forward to comparing notes on Sunday!

  3. My printer is fixed so back to pen and paper.

    Fairly leisurely 24 mins.

    LOI TEENY WEENY as I was expecting WHEEL

    COD 13 dn

    Taiwan = east.Here in Shanghai it is considered to be western.

    horryd Shanghai

    1. Here in San Francisco I guess it is still considered “east” but that would be a very silly way to go.
  4. It must have been easy -20 minutes for me. I probably would have been even quicker if I had approached it with less trepidation than it deserved.
    Nice to be reminded of greengages. I can’t remember the last time I ate one as greengrocers don’t seem to stock them any more, likewise damsons.
  5. 14:35 I see our editor has responded to the letter published yesterday asking for some easier puzzles during half-term. ABELE (my LOI)was new to me and I had no idea what BEF was and who led it. I enjoyed the fiddly bits at the bottom.
  6. … Wednesday? I can remember sheer torture on several occasions of blogging Wednesdays, inc. what Ulaca once called my “high level gaffes”. But this took me about as long as it did to make coffee, drink some of it and write in the answers.

    Not sure about (who turned out to be) Sir John French: but what else to do with those crossers?

    I liked OSTLER best in memoriam of my old Dad who did the Tele puzzle most days and liked to put on a Robert Newton voice and recite: “And in walked Tom the ostler with ‘air like mouldy ‘ay”. No idea where this comes from; but I still think “ostler” is a great word and should be revived. Especially around here where we have four times as many horses as people. Bugger all inns but. Let alone people frequenting them by horse..

    Edited at 2015-10-28 10:40 am (UTC)

    1. Well, I had to look it up, and it seems to be from “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, though the quotation is not perfect. I read it, and to be honest, it reminded me most of McGonagall, all fractured rhythms, overblown sentiment and unintended (probably) humour.
  7. I agree with the general view that this was one of the easier ones – 5m 46s for me, which isn’t far off my PB. Didn’t know eccentric = cam, but given the lack of options I didn’t worry too much about it.
  8. Unable to break my curse of never (knowingly) having posted a sub-5-minute time, this took me twelve seconds over that mark I think? Including several interruptions spent telling children “not now, daddy’s busy, in a minute”, sigh… Not a very hard puzzle, obviously, but I thought it was quite fun, no complaints here.
  9. In today’s company, a sedate 12 minutes for me. No hold ups, just not particularly quick. I liked 7d, if only because it suggested there might also be a Ratty Riverside and Toad Halt
  10. Never do time these things, but certainly the first time I can recall finishing whilst still eating breakfast. Enjoyable notwithstanding its relative ease – COD to 3d.
    1. I suppose 3d was a good one, but I resent clues that give me that heart-in-the-mouth moment of “should I spell it with a C or an S?”… even if I do know the answer!
      1. Fair call – I was seduced by the wit and invention to the point where I overlooked what is arguably imperfect construction…
  11. 10:25, disappointed not to be sub 10. I biffed redeployment and the second part of molestation and didn’t know abele. We’ve certainly had cam/eccentric before as I’m certain I only know that meaning of eccentric from crosswords.
  12. 10:30 … with a bit of dithering over ABELE.

    I had printed this off, assuming it to be the first of the Championship puzzles. After a few clues I decided that either a) it wasn’t, or b) I had suddenly acquired Magoovian solving skills.

    Alas, b) will remain the stuff of daydreams.

    Some very nice surfaces in here.

    1. I saw a comment from RR somewhere that the champs puzzles will start appearing on Wednesdays from the start of November.
  13. Same here, relatively easy although I’m in a different league to some of you chaps and chapesses. About 25 minutes which is darn good for me (I’m always pleased with a sub-demi-hour time).

    There seemed to me to be a recurring theme of spies, spying and intelligence matters in clues and answers, but that may be my imagination or simple synchronicity. I wondered about a connection between the crossword and the main article today (GCHQ), and that made me recall the Overlord connections. Is there ever a deliberate connection between the paper contents or current affairs and the cryptic?

    1. If I told you I would have to kill you.

      I am reminded of a TV Weatherman who used to put his lover’s (my sister) village on the map when he wanted to see her.

  14. One of the easier puzzles, though I dithered for a while over INCENSE at the end, suspecting a trap that wasn’t actually there.

    COD to OSTLER, in memoriam of McText’s Dad.

    Thanks setter and Pip.

  15. Solved all but 15ac in around 20 minutes so I was in no mood to do battle with the remaining two blanks in the grid when it was so clear that I didn’t know the answer. I went through the alphabet a couple of times and nothing seemed to fit definition or wordplay so I gave up and cheated. The only poplar I knew was ‘aspen’ which clearly didn’t fit.

    I am somewhat perturbed now to find that I designated ABILENE as ‘unknown or forgotten’ in August last year so I am clearly not retaining newly learnt words and meanings.

    My other unknown today was ‘decade’ as ‘a series of ten’ which I assume is the intended meaning as the more usual ‘ten years’ doesn’t seem to be covered by the definition in the clue.

    Edited at 2015-10-28 02:13 pm (UTC)

  16. About 15 minutes, ending with REDEPLOYMENT, for no good reason other than that I solved in a circle around it. I happened to know ABELE from somewhere, so no problems at all, and thus no real comments either. Regards.
    1. Did you stay up for last night’s marathon Kevin? When it went into extra innings I went to bed (good move). Husband fell asleep on the sofa and missed the end (another good move). Don’t know how long we’ll last tonight. Oh yes, the puzzle. ABELE is a fixture in the NY Times puzzles, though I admit I looked at ASPEN. 9.44
      1. I did indeed, probably part of the reason my comments today are so brief. Quite a good game, even if the result failed to cheer the NYers. But don’t worry; we have a few more games yet to play.
  17. There is no way that I miss the grind of a daily commute from Berkshire to London but I do miss solving on a newspaper so today’s compulsory journey gave me the opportunity to buy the paper from the station and solve from it. Unfortunately, it was completed by Maidenhead (one stop). Back to the iPad.
  18. Now it might be easy for you galacticos, but I plodded away as usual- although I had done 10 clues by the time I took tea back up the Missus this morning. Left it with 4 clues left when we went off to Westonbirt arboretum, and completed when we got home, except I couldn’t get ABELE.
    Is the capital P for Poplar there a bit dodgy? If the word was at the beginning, fine, but it seems a bit devious to me (naively).
    Andrew K
    1. I can never remember the details but I’m pretty sure “deceptive capitalisation” is allowed in The Times.

      Ironic that the one clue you couldn’t get on your return from the arboretum was the tree! Still, there are few lovelier places to spend an October day.

      1. “deceptive capitalisation”? That’s how I’ve run my company for the last 30 years!
        1. Heh, like it. Don’t quote me on that, by the way. I may have made it up (which, by the sound of it, is something you hear a lot from your accountant).
          1. Accountant? Must get one. Still ….. no big deal ( which is one of the tallest trees in Westonbirt).
      2. My understanding is that words that aren’t normally capitalised (like poplar, the tree in this puzzle) can be given a capital letter for deceptive purposes but those that have to be capitalised, such as proper nouns, are not allowed to start in lower case. But it’s far better practice for the setter to manoeuvre things so that the word comes at the beginning in order to confuse the issue.

        Edited at 2015-10-28 11:26 pm (UTC)

      3. Here’s what Peter Biddlecombe wrote on the subject in 2008:
        Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them. However, ‘deceptive capitalisation’ is permitted. In other words, a word with a capital letter in the clue doesn’t necessarily have a wordplay meaning requiring a capital letter – so Joanna Strong’s instrument (10) could be PIANO,FORTE. This example shows why I’m not a Times setter and probably never will be – Times setters avoid cheesy fictional names which are usually a dead giveaway, and even more so, clashes of word-meanings between the def. and wordplay.
  19. 10 mins, which is the same time as yesterday but it seems like it is a much easier puzzle based on the comments above, so I can’t have been entirely on the setter’s wavelength. I wasted a little time at the start of the puzzle trying to justify “nab” for 2dn before the penny dropped. I didn’t know ABELE but the wordplay was clear enough, and my LOI was REIGN after ROUTINE.
  20. Well, good lord. After making heavy weather of the Monday and Tuesday puzzles, I breezed through this one in a (for me) fairly nippy 23 minutes. Never heard of ABELE (and spent a while trying to justify “aspen”), nor of that particular Aaron, but otherwise all was well.

    Veni, vidi, teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini.

    1. Afraid that this puts you at a ‘certain age’. However, the good news is that Raymond Keene, The Times Chess Editor, used your name as a headline in his column in the last week or so, so perhaps age brings fame.
  21. Good lord.

    Well, if it’s the chess column, that’s OK. What I dread is my name appearing in a headline that includes phrases such as “denies allegations of”.

  22. I always have trouble spelling ‘incense’, and this eas no exception. Red pencil out: DNF.
    Write ‘incense’ one hundred times and hand in to teacher before going home.
  23. 8:09 for me, starting and finishing at a reasonable pace but having a terrible hang-up for six or seven clues in between.

    After solving the first four acrosses straight off, I made the mistake of switching to the downs – hoping for a clean sweep – and: baulked at 3dn (though did eventually think of it before moving on); wasted time trying to make 4dn end in TRIES (but again just managed to think of HUMMINGBIRDS before moving on); thought of EASTERN but failed to parse it and didn’t put it in; thought of MOLE but couldn’t make anything of it and stupidly wasted time wondering if the answer could be MALEFACTION; got NORA (rather slowly); failed to get REDEPLOYMENT; got TEENY-WEENY, but very slowly, failing to parse it correctly at the time.

    Definitely my fault and not the puzzle’s though.

Comments are closed.