Times 26,273: Good Night and Good Riddance

I have to head for work directly from the school run tomorrow, to accommodate a hospital appointment of the wife’s, so you get this blog remarkably early, you lucky lucky people.
I very much enjoyed this puzzle that was bursting with both good humour and some remarkably energetic constructions, a winning combination in my book.

I was able to make some pretty good headway on the first pass through the across clues, 9A, 10A, 14A, 16A and 24A going straight in, and so despite the lateness of the hour and the memory of a couple of gin and tonics keeping me relaxed I was able to finish this off in under 10 minutes. Some biffables helped: I only appreciated 1D’s full cleverness post-submission, likewise 26A, though the penny took somewhat longer to drop in that case. I did not in fact ken John Peel, at least not the one in question; I have however within the last fortnight finished the weighty tome, named in this blog’s title, analysing the radio shows down through the decades of the noted DJ. What an Englishman! What an ear! 3D in the sense of “crackpot” was also new to me; I’d normally have leaned towards defining it as a musical acolyte of the aforementioned cacophonous Mr Peel, myself.

Nice to see some other old friends among the answers to: 19A, 6D, these words punch above their weight in crosswordland, don’t they? And 17A, perhaps not the most illustrious of cities in the grand scheme of things but surely one of the ones best named to be irresistible to setters everywhere. COD to 25A for being something a little different, I do like a little different. Many thanks setter for such an enjoyable puzzle all in all… and so to bed! See some of you tomorrow I hope.

1 WATCHING BRIEF – case for observation: WATCH [hunter, perhaps] IN GRIEF [in mourning] retaining B [black]
9 ALOHA – welcome: reverse of {c}A{s}H {f}O{r} L{o}A{n} [“every so often” … “on return”]
10 PARSIMONY – mean business: P [quietly] + (ARMY IS NO*) [“reforming”]
11 EASTBOURNE – resort: (A TOUR’S BEEN*) [“organised”]
12 FLAK – stick: FL [flourished] + A K [a couple of cards (i.e. Ace, King)]
14 OFFENCE – crime: OFF{i -> EN}CE [bureau “having French in (EN), for one (I)”]
16 INKHORN – what writer used: IN [at home] + K{eypunc}H [“hollow”] + OR N [gold | point]
17 ANTWERP – port: reverse of PREWA{r} [“back” in the time before WWII, say, “briefly”] storing NT [books]
19 TANGELO – cross: TAN GEL [bronze | set] with O [old]
20 USER – client: reverse of {expenditu}RE SU{uitably} [“reduced” … “from the right”]
21 COUNTY TOWN – administrative seat: COUNT [judge] + Y{e}T [“lacking heart”] + OWN [to hold]
24 ELOCUTION – something the Speaker might display: (UNCOOL TIE*) [“not normally”]
25 INANE – idiot: where you’ll find AtheNE’s the, which is to say IN ANE
26 TORTOISESHELL – kitty: and a tortoiseshell was filled by the “unlikely race winner” in the story of the tortoise and the hare

1 WE ARE NOT AMUSED – Queen’s comment: WEAR [don] + reverse of A TONE [a shade “upset”] + MUSED [pondered]
2 TOOTS – honks: TOOTS{y} [toe, “not foot”]
3 HEADBANGER – crackpot: BANGER [old car] following HEAD [van]
4 NEPTUNE – powerful drink (i.e. the mighty ocean) being: reverse of PEN [“being lifted,” writer] + TUNE [strains]
5 BURUNDI – land in Africa: BUD I [American partner | one] has secured RUN [to manage]
6 IBIS – wader: I [one] put on BIS [twice]
7 FOOTLOOSE – free: FOOT [pay] + LSE [London college] receiving O O [nothing “repeatedly”]
8 D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL – the Scottish air: DYE KEN [colour | range] on JOHN PEEL [American ladies’ (as in toilet) | skin]
13 SKINNY-DIPS – no dressing for us: SKINNY DIPS [largely fat-free | sauces]
15 FITTED OUT – supplied: FT [paper] to cover IT + (DUE TO*) [“cracks”]
18 PROVISO – rider: VISO{r} [mask “endlessly”] following PRO [behind]
19 TENANTS – no homeowners: TEN ANTS [X | number of colonists (in an ant colony, that is)]
22 ORATE – to speak: reverse of {th}E {bes}T {tohero}A: “{soupe}R” {s}O [“turned up” “tips”]
23 RUHR – one running between German (river) banks: RU HR [game | personnel]

54 comments on “Times 26,273: Good Night and Good Riddance”

  1. Failed on the Scottish song. I thought Ken John Peel was the next leader of North Korea.

    Would never have known Eastbourne without the Major’s immortal line in Fawlty Towers.
    Disgruntled American: “This place is the crummiest, shoddiest, worst-run hotel in the whole of Western Europe:
    The Major: “No, no I won’t have that! There’s a place in Eastbourne…”.

    Great puzzle again though, and thanks for the early blog Verlaine.

    1. I thought I recognised that quote and was going to reply sooner but found I was clean out of Waldorfs and had to dash out.
  2. Certainly a lively and entertaining puzzle which I surprised myself by finishing in 35 minutes after really struggling to get started.

    On 8dn, the song referred to is English, not Scottish, about a Cumbrian huntsman. It’s true the tune was borrowed from a Scottish song called Bonnie Annie, but that doesn’t make D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL a ‘Scottish air’ – not in my book anyway.

    I’m not sure I knew that Neptune could be used figuratively for “the sea”.

    I suppose ‘us’ is being used to represent something inanimate at 13dn as the clue leads more naturally to SKINNY-DIPPERS I’d have thought.

    I had trouble making sense of 25ac as I couldn’t see how INANE (adjective) fitted with ‘idiot’ (noun), but then realised that ‘idiot’ can be used as an adjective, though not by me!

    Edited at 2015-12-04 02:42 am (UTC)

    1. Had me fooled too. Though Prof. Wik tells me there’s a cocktail called a Blue Neptune. Won’t be trying it in a hurry. Sounds ghastly.
  3. 38 minutes, with the last 15 or so of those on four scattered around the grid, including the very clever TORTOISESHELL and the rather less satisfying Anglo-Scottish ditty. I thought FLAK and RUHR were excellent short ones too.

    Me, I always get John Peel confused with Bob Harris, but then I’m really more of a Brahms and Schubert man.

      1. The greatest service Peel did was to challenge the notion that you had to speak with a permanent smile into the mic on the radio – a notion that has sadly not yet reached Hong Kong.

        Re my comment, I was once at a quiz where half the teams thought Peel presented the OGWT.

        Edited at 2015-12-04 02:31 pm (UTC)

        1. WBH is still with us presenting things on BBC Radio 2. A bit noisier and seemingly (from his site) having more teeth.
  4. 11:55 … not as keen as our blogger on this one. I did a double-take at the “Scottish” John Peel and I found the TORTOISESHELL device a bit annoying. Maybe I got up on the pedantic side of the bed this morning.

    On the positive side, checking my recollection on the John Peel song did lead me to a nice bit of trivia. One version of the lyric gave Ian Fleming his short story title “A View to a Kill”. So I learnt summat I’ll remember.

    Hope tomorrow’s birthday bash goes well. Can’t be there except in spirit. Cheers!

    1. I guess you can take the boy out of the Guardian puzzles… This had a jokey and libertarian feel to it that I guess I’m susceptible to. Not enough smut, mind you. Never enough smut.

      The “Scottish” English song (which completely escaped my notice) is a bit disastrous if it’s true. Standards are slipping, heads must roll, etc etc…

  5. About 45mins for all but the u/k Scottish song. Several biffed (1a, 1d, 2d, 20a), dnk NEPTUNE for ‘the Sea’, or INKHORN, and took an age to get PARSIMONY. Surprising it didn’t take longer, really.
  6. DYE KEN JOHN PEEL – this was my last entry and it was a hit and hope. What I missed was the American ladies JOHN.
  7. Signalling problems at Waterloo gave me just enough extra time to finish this on the commute, coming in at 47mins dead. Much of that time was spent on FLAK and DYE KEN JOHN PEEL. When I finally got the latter it seemed to ring a vague bell though I could just be thinking of the late, great DJ.
  8. 21:50. I enjoyed this one, with several clever clues, as Verlaine has already noted. I never knew John Peel was Cumbrian and the song English – thanks Jack, but I think the definition ‘Scottish air’ is OK as the tune is Scottish. As for the late DJ, I was at a concert in the John Peel centre just 4 days ago. 13d my favourite.
    1. The problem is that the Scottish tune isn’t called D’ye Ken John Peel nor was the Scottish song sung to it.
  9. This jaunty puzzle turned out to be a real pleasure.

    Except for 23dn RUHR (LOI) which I biffed in on 46 minutes.

    I’m not sure what all the fuss is about Andy Stuart’s second favourite air.

    I liked TORTOISESHELL (COD) and once that was in the bottom half went in.

    After several G&T’s a decent blog an’ all making up for last week
    Canadian episode!

    horryd Shanghai

  10. Top hat’s off to you Verlaine – under ten minutes is impressive. It took me more than an hour, and despite suffering the same signalling problems as Pootle above, I could not finish on the commute. Even when I did crack it over a much needed coffee, I couldn’t parse INANE which has to be my COD as a result.

    The long ones in the West and the South went in fairly quickly, giving me a good start, but the East held me up big time. The last two in were FLAK and then, helped by the K, the Scottish air.

    Very satisfying to complete, and well blogged Sir! I hope your wife’s hospital appointment went well.

  11. Very pleasant Friday solve, though I was brought up short by the “Scottish” song (admittedly I thought it was Northumbrian rather than Cumbrian, so I was wrong as well – also, I quickly figured in any case that the difference between the north of Northern England and the south of Southern Scotland is often just a line on a map). The INKHORN was also new to me, but not hard to believe in; and my only other delay was because the anagram material for the resort made me think I was surely looking for a place in Spain or Mexico called EBORANESTUA or similar.
  12. Enjoyable puzzle but a DNF as failed to guess the allegedly Scottish Air, and wasn’t convinced FL was short for flourished so the K was not a certainty. Having got stuck I went through several lists of Scottish Airs c/o Google without finding Mr Peel, so I suspect it is not authentic, as noted above.
    Neptune was a mystery drink to me, although obviously the answer, the rest of it was all fair game. Respect, Verlaine, for solving this in quick time in the small hours.
  13. 15m. I’m in the *like* camp with this one. It had a slightly original feel to it, and where it was tricky it was because of the wordplay rather than use of INKHORN terms.
    I remembered the song from somewhere eventually: it’s got 15 letters so no doubt it’s appeared in a puzzle before. I had no idea it wasn’t Scottish. A little ignorance can be quite a help at times.
  14. Chambers defines Air as tune or melody so in strictness, I believe that the setter has had a lucky escape, the tune being a Scottish one. I bet though that this is not what he/she was thinking when the clue was set.

    Elsewhere, an enjoyable if not particularly quick solve (22.18). Thanks blogger.

    Edited at 2015-12-04 12:25 pm (UTC)

  15. Friday is the new Monday. I found this pretty easy, the quickest solve of the week for me in 21 minutes. However, I wasn’t stopping to parse on the way since the definitions or checked letters were enough to give the answer. Given the enumeration, ‘Queen’s comment’ was enough for the answer to 1d. ‘Flourished’ for FL (floruit) is common in barred cryptics, so that was familiar ground as well.
    In 18d as I didn’t see how ‘behind’ could equal PRO. I thought it might be some new abbreviation for ‘posterior’. I take it it that ‘behind’ is used in the sense of ‘supporting’, in which case it’s a rather clever clue. The other one I couldn’t workout was INANE; before I had any crossing letters I thought it might some equally devious clue to INEPT.
  16. I struggled to get started with this, but once I’d got about a third, the rest fell into place quite nicely
    However, I hear stirrings in the Lake District – they’re already on the march down to London Town. “D’ye ken John Peel” is as close to an anthem to the good folk in Cumbria as you can possibly get. I’ve even been to a wedding reception in Whitehaven where it was sung as a seemingly normal part of proceedings.
  17. Of which a good 10 were spent staring at the checkers for the county town and the cat.

    Also unaware of the Englishness of the “Scottish” song, but not sure that the DJ of the same name would be so happy being associated with headbangers – I always thought that was more Tommy Vance’s area. And yes it’s my music of choice, does that make me proof that heavy metal doesn’t rot the brain? Or whatever other ills of the world may be blamed on it?

    Edited at 2015-12-04 12:49 pm (UTC)

    1. You can headbang a bit to (Peel-championed) Extreme Noise Terror can’t you? Hang on, I’m going to go away and try it. Will report back shortly…
      1. Quite possibly – unfortunately my advancing years mean that, while i can still enjoy the music, the cranial oscillation activity is a thing of the past.

        Edited at 2015-12-04 02:42 pm (UTC)

  18. I kept on thinking that a Times setter couldn’t have made such a mistake, but he has. Dye ken John Peel is an English song, from Cumberland
  19. I thought it was Dye ken John Brown which doesn’t fit however small you write it.
    Have a great time tomorrow and thanks to editors, setters, bloggers and solvers alike
  20. I wasted time because I discounted the John Peel song early on. I thought of it as soon as I got the Y in the first word but, unfortunately, I knew it wasn’t Scottish so had to cast around for an alternative. 32 minutes. Ann
  21. I’m definitely in the *like* camp. 11:42 for a cracking puzzle. Regardless of the bish or otherwise where the song is concerned (“d’ye ken” looks Scottish if nothing else) I thought “powerful drink being” was worth the price of admission on its own. Thanks S & B.
  22. I just checked, and sure enough D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL has appeared before, and with a very similar clue. In the Saturday puzzle 24646 on 18 September 2010: ‘Air brings colour and range to ladies’ skin’. I didn’t know it then and had to look it up, so I’m sure this must be where I remember it from.
    And of course well done to all who spotted my *ahem* deliberate mistake, it is of course only 14 letters. Thank goodness I work in finance rather than something that requires an ability to count.
  23. 19 mins. I found this fairly chewy but I enjoyed it, and as has already been noted there was some very clever cluing, particularly the “powerful drink being” definition for NEPTUNE, which I confess I entered from wordplay alone, and the clue for INANE which I did manage to parse. PROVISO was my NTLOI, and the final checker from it led me to COUNTY TOWN where I had been trying to think of an actual place rather than a generic term. I’m in the camp that thinks the setter gets a pass because of the Scottish origin of the tune/air for D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL.
  24. Yet another slowish solve at fifty minutes, and embarrassingly I had “county Down” at 21ac, which serves me right for not parsing, or indeed thinking.
  25. Geez, about 45 minutes or so, and a lot of head scratching. I remembered DYE KEN.. from the earlier appearance here, and the Y checker led me there, and of course I would have no idea about the Scottish/English debate so it never occurred to me to question it. But trying to suss out why NEPTUNE is a drink, why FLAK is a stick, why INANE is an idiot, and why TORTOISESHELL fits either the wordplay or the definition held me up no end. I was surprised to be all correct. And what the hell is a ‘toheroa’ anyway? Regards.
    1. Kevin,

      FLAK is not ‘a stick’, it is ‘stick’, as in giving some a hard time, flak or stick.

  26. Another one who was lead up the rather contrived garden path with the Scottish air. With a few checkers in I thought the last word might be REEL but couldn’t find a reel with a name that would fit. 1hr 16m 54s TST.
  27. Well thanks, but I’ve never heard of ‘giving some stick’. So I expect it’s a UK usage. But I appreciate it bigtone.
    1. Kevin,

      The original British version of House of Cards, which I understand has gone down well in the US with Kevin Spacey, had the Chief Whip ‘putting some stick about’ which as you say is a very British expression.

  28. Not timed, which is just as well as it would have been an embarrassment. I think I eventually parsed almost everything, including ‘Neptune’ and ‘inane’, but I confess I didn’t bother with ‘We are not amused’ as soon as I saw ‘Queen’s comment’ in the clue and the numeration. So, slow, but a very enjoyable workout.

    Edited at 2015-12-04 10:13 pm (UTC)

  29. 12:04 for me, getting off to a bad start by assuming that WATCH was going to be the second word of 1ac and never really finding the setter’s wavelength.

    I blow hot and cold with this one. There were one or two nice ideas, but I’m right behind jackkt when it comes to the clue for D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL – a Great Cockup (to borrow the name of one of the fells that John Peel would have been familiar with).

  30. Raced through this in short order – it seemed the easiest of the week for some reason. Nice puzzle, though, and a good blog, as ever.
    1. But then it would be a royal one rather than a royal we. I reckon she has a fine sense of humour, anyway – the current one, that is. Must have, to put up with us lot.
      1. The only other queen to say ‘we are … ‘ was of course Freddie Mercury (we are the champions). No disrespect to the other ‘one’ intended.
  31. Scottish air? Never!!…..he was Cumbrian. The term “ken” is also N. English not just Scots.

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