Times 26,258

Very pleasant and steady solve, on which I stopped the clock at 13:55; this time involved going down a few blind alleys along the way, and having to trust the wordplay on a couple of occasions where the definition wasn’t necessarily part of my regular daily vocabulary. As I have no errors, it would appear the wordplay deserved my trust, so I can have no complaints.

9 AUTOCLAVE – (COATVALUE)*. As I remember it from school, some sort of pressure cooker which sterilises your laboratory glassware and the like. Our medical correspondent Dr Thud is possibly even now using one as a flat surface on which to solve this puzzle.
10 COPRA – P{ower} in COR(“My!”), A{rea}. The oil being coconut oil.
11 ABSENT – i.e. “out”. It took a while for the penny drop moment to arrive, when I suddenly remembered that absence is, of course, what makes the heart grow fonder.
12 ON COURSE – double def.
13 TOILER – (ELIOT)rev., R{uns}. The most surprising thing I learned this week is that T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx were both great fans of the other’s work and had a regular correspondence in the 1960s. I am now hoping to discover that Seamus Heaney spent his twilight years exchanging e-mails with Robin Williams.
15 MUST HAVE – MUST(=mould), AV(the Authorised Version of the Bible) in HE.
18 ET CETERA – [A R{epublican} {D}ETECTE{D}]all rev.
19 LAMENT – AMEN in LT. Here I spent some time attempting to find the complaint which featured AYE or YES inside the COL or GEN.
21 COME TRUE – COMET(an ominous sign to people with less astronomical knowledge than we have now) RUE.
23 PORTERSUPPORTER minus the SUP. Foolishly I started by taking out the PORT, which doesn’t work at all.
26 TREND – {flai}R in TEND.
27 A BIT THICK – double def. One of those phrases which you can imagine Bertie Wooster using regularly (edit: I’ve checked. He does).
28 SET GREAT STORE BY – SET(=class) GREATS(what the rest of the world calls Classics; Oxford loves having its own name for things) TORE BY.
1 STATANT – STAT(=fact) ANT(=one with six legs). I can’t honestly claim to have known this heraldic term describing animals standing on four legs, but it’s pretty easily worked out, especially if you know rampant and couchant and the like.
2 CUTIS – CUT 1’S.
4 IVAN – I, VAN(=front).
6 MACHO – Move Army Commanders Hurled Orders.
7 ASPARTAME – A SPAR, TAME. I am not a devotee of diet products, as my waistline will testify, but this sugar substitute has crept into my mind somewhere.
8 DEADEYE – DEAD(=”dull”), EYE(=”look at”). Another where I had to trust the wordplay and checkers, as I was unfamiliar with this circular wooden block with a groove round the circumference to take a lanyard, used singly or in pairs to tighten a shroud. I was looking for the Geoffrey Boycott style block instead, along the lines of DEADBAT, but like him I got there in my own time.
16 TEA FOR TWO – cunningly concealed in devastaTE A FORT WOunding. A number which is surviving pretty well in the public consciousness given its 90 year vintage.
17 BROUHAHA “BREW” HAHA. As I recall, the last time this appeared, it caught various people out who’d always thought it was spelled BROOHAHA, and therefore were undone when the first half was clued as a homophone. Happily, this time the checkers fall in the right place to make that mistake less likely…or do they?
18 EXCITES – CITE(=quote) in (SEX)*. I say.
20 TURNKEY – TURN(=become) KEY(=vital).
22 TUDOR – TU(=Trade Union), (ROD)rev.
24 TWINE – T{emperature} + WINE.
25 OILS – {T}OILS minus the first letter. The ever-reliable Chambers has it as a colloquial abbrev. for oilskins.

40 comments on “Times 26,258”

  1. … for explaining 11ac. I had no idea how it worked despite having my own Muir-Norden-type story ending in a distortion of the “well known phrase or saying”. (Won’t repeat it here — it’s too long and no-one ever laughs anyway.)

    In combination with the unknown STATANT, this made the NW a bit tricky. (Our heraldry expert would have biffed it perhaps?) After working it out, I did wonder whether a STAT is a fact. Koro would know. Be nice to hear from him again.

    But I did appreciate the three different uses of “front” in the clues (15ac, 4dn, 6dn). They went well with the slightly military theme.

    On edit: oh and … your poet in the blog at 13ac is the great SeaMus. Buy his CD of Beowulf. Makes the bloody old thing sound great.

    Edited at 2015-11-17 03:42 am (UTC)

  2. as I couldn’t make anything of the football fan and flung in ‘rooter’ as the half-hour was approaching. I had actually thought of PORTER, but. STATANT was my LOI otherwise; if we’re to believe Mark Twain, of course, STAT does not refer to a fact. I don’t know how I finally twigged to the hidden at 16d; I’m usually slow to pick up even garden variety hidden clues. I did at least get ABSENT fairly quickly; my COD.

    Edited at 2015-11-17 03:46 am (UTC)

      1. Can’t edit my comment, so I’ll add here that I was surprised to find that the ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics’ quote comes from Disraeli; Twain cites him.
  3. After a rocky start I was pleased to get through this one in only 3 minutes over my half-hour target. I didn’t understand 15ac when solving but forgot to make a note in the margin so I never returned post-solve for a second go at it. The Oxford GREATS conceit was unknown to me but I suspect it has come up before but failed to stick in my brain. Was pleased to remember STATANT, my LOI, once I’d realised the heraldry connection.
  4. United by more than just double initialisation that has become the grist of general knowledge quizzes the world over, TS Eliot and CS Lewis shared a close friendship while working together on a revised version of the Psalter in the late 1950s.

    This probably shows how forgiving the high Anglican American was of the low Anglican Irishman. This extract from a letter Lewis wrote in 1953 gives a flavour of the type of things he’d been saying and writing about Eliot for 30 years. Having praised the American poet SV Benét, Lewis continues, ‘I wish your bad poets weren’t so exportable! You sent us Eliot in the flesh and Pound in the spirit.’

    As for the crossword, I found it very hard, clocking in at 80 minutes, even if there was the odd interruption.

    1. Give me Groucho any day. A far better writer. I have the complete letters — right next to Karl on the bookshelves.

      “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”. Can’t beat that.

    2. Or for those who really don’t like themselves very much, turn to today’s Guardian and “Revealed: Germaine Greer’s 30,000-word love letter to Martin Amis, a lover who left her ‘helpless with desire'” … I think I’ll pass.
      1. “It’s just a beautiful piece of writing”, Margaret Simons told Guardian Australia. “It sheds light on Greer herself and also on the time she wrote it.” But if you don’t like beautiful writing or Greer or…
  5. Needed a bit of iPad to finish but I’m getting there slowly. Spotted AV in 15a but it took a while before I spotted COR in 10a. Need more practice!
  6. 20m, held up by a few unknowns (AUTOCLAVE, COPRA, STATANT, TURNKEY) and some tricky wordplay.
    I spent the last five minutes agonising over 8dn. Is it:
    > DRABEYE: fits the wordplay better, or
    > DEADEYE: looks a more like a word, although not particularly like a word meaning ‘block’?
    In the end I followed my usual policy of trusting the wordplay and put in the wrong answer.
    Other than that a very enjoyable puzzle.

    Edited at 2015-11-17 12:42 pm (UTC)

  7. 19:34 … with a cat-related 2-minute interruption and about the same length of time at the end wondering whether to go with STATANT. In the end I followed the same line of heraldic analogy as Tim.

    I think TEA FOR TWO deserves a round of applause, if not a standing ovation. Top notch clue.

  8. DNF as I was convinced that 23 across was GOONER the name given to those folk who once hailed from Highbury – beaten by the Arse!

    STATANT a toughie but it couldn’t be SEAL-ANT, which tempted me.

    COPRA should be said with a husky tone

    IVAN was terrible.

    Did not enjoy this one much!

    horryd Shanghai

  9. Very enjoyable puzzle. I think both STATANT and DEADEYE have appeared before

    Comets seen as bad omens are historically very interesting. The best known is probably Halley’s which was blamed for the Black Death and excommunicated by the Pope no less.

    1. Well, that worked rather splendidly, then. At least Haley’s comet couldn’t drop in for Mass.
  10. 22.14, so something of a struggle, but as Jim says, an enjoyable one. Among the things I still failed to see were the parsing of 1ac, and the presence of an anagram at 3d (!) which I reluctantly construed as NO CON (not being against) for “consent” (iffy at best) and struggle giving TEST. The anagram was easier.
    Can’t take ASPARTAME, so almost all “sugar-free” drinks are a no-go area. It’s astonishing how few that leaves in my local T***o. And soon, I’ll be taxed on this disability. Lovely. But at least it made the clue easy.
    CoD to the best “hidden” I’ve ever seen (or at least can remember) at 16, only revealed when I got the referencing 17 first.
    As well as 3 fronts, toil turned up twice: I’m not sure that made solving easier or harder.
  11. 13 minutes but with the now-standard single error (since I’m trying very hard to get this inducted into the lingo as “a Verlaine”). I didn’t help myself much by bunging in a bizarre SECOND-IN-COMPANY at 1ac when I spotted it contained INCOM{e}, so took a long time puzzling over an 8dn that had to begin with Y, not that it was much easier when it began with D instead?

    My error was a classic Verlaine: seeing “Russian front” and something probably beginning with I, pencilled in a whimsical IRAN for 4dn, vowing to change it when I discovered either of the *actual* crossers. This of course never actually happened. Would have been less embarrassing if either (a) the wordplay worked or (b) Iran actually shared a border with Russia…

  12. Tricky one today.. after about 45 mins or so I had to go out leaving much of the NW corner unfilled. Came back and finished it off in a few mins. STATANT/ABSENT were last to go in.

    TEA FOR TWO gets COD from me too.

  13. I seem to be typing the words “same as Kevin” every other day now. I had ROOTER until the very last minute thinking it might have something to do with root beer – a taste I dislike almost as much as aspartame. In addition to the various “fronts” noted by Alec and the “oils” and “toils” mentioned by Z, there were two “cuts” plus “income” and “incum”. The 2 long ones top and bottom went in nicely and then a brain freeze set in. 20.53
  14. Solved late in the day, after ducking down to the WACA to bid a fond farewell to Mitchell Johnson. Thanks for the memories Mitch.

    Which meant I had to juggle solving with cooking the barbecue, but I doubt that I’d have finished much within the hour anyway.

    Like several others, took too long to spot ABSENT and DNK STATANT. Also took a while to see the hidden, which was indeed a classic.

    Another excellent puzzle. Thanks setter and Tim.

    1. Envious of the ability to duck in to the WACA. I was at Lord’s on the Friday last year, and the Starc/Johnson combo that evening looked as horrible from a batsman’s POV as anything I’ve seen in my cricket-watching life.
      1. Certainly wasn’t the WACA at its best Tim. In fact the pitch was disgracefully flat. But MJ came up with a nice little cameo at the end to blast out the Kiwi openers in an otherwise dreary end to a dreary match.

        I don’t have him down as one of the greats, but he was one of my favourites, mainly for the way he handled adversity. And he produced six or seven of the most thrilling spells I’ve ever seen. (OK, maybe some of the worst as well, but let’s not mention that today).

        1. Yes, I think he’s a bit like Flintoff, not necessarily an all-time great from start to finish of his career, but regularly capable of a great half-hour that nobody else could live with.

          And England fans will always have a soft spot for a man who merited his own song 🙂

  15. Well, I got there in the end, and at least to my own satisfaction, with all the same problems as everyone else.

    I honestly didn’t see the container for 16d until 20 mins after I’d finished the puzzle (having biffed it in based on 17d!); bravo!!

  16. 39:42 getting stuck for no particular reason in the SE corner. I never knew DEADEYE or STATANT (my LOI) and both took me ages to find, but at least I finished without aids. I did enjoy the hidden at 16d once I found it.
  17. Spent more than an hour trying to crack this one, and eventually failed on ‘statant’, which was unknown to me. I bunged in ‘sealant’ in desperation on the basis that seals have four legs and ants six. I really can’t say that I like ‘stat’ equating to fact, partly because it’s loose, and partly because it’s an abbreviation.
    Not my cup of tea, but respect to those who completed.
  18. Really nice puzzle, got there eventually while pretending to listen to Herself chatting, 50 minutes or so, STATANT and ABSENT my LOsI. Once I had ….ANT I guessed it from wordplay, but as said above, it follows from rampant etc. Liked TEA FOR TWO and, naturally, 28a.
  19. 20 mins, the last 5 of which were spent on STATANT. I know I must have come across it before but I really couldn’t remember it and the stat/fact connection wasn’t easy to spot. Luckily I vaguely remembered DEADEYE from somewhere so I wasn’t seriously tempted by “drabeye” even though I did think of the possibility. I saw ABSENT fairly quickly but chemistry was never my strong point so it took me a while to get AUTOCLAVE.
  20. 60m DNF with STATANT and DEADEYE (I had DRAGEYE!) proving too much for me. I dint enjoy the struggle today which no doubt says more about me than the puzzle. I thought TEA FOR TWO was very good with 1a a close second!
  21. Not commenting much lately but just had to come and say what a wonderful clue 16dn is. Purrfect..

    Aspartame is bad, sugar is worse.. just give up sweet things, the curse of our age!

  22. 15:18 for me, spending far too long dithering over STATANT and ASPARTAME. An interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

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