Times 26299 – The emperor will continue to sleep without a sign!

Solving time: 26 minutes

Music: Beethoven, Kreutzer and Spring Sonatas, Rubinstein/Szerying

I thought I was in for a quick solve when I put in the first five at sight, starting at 1 across. While I completed the top half relatively quickly, I slowed in the bottom half, and came to a complete halt for a while in the SE. Eventually I saw the obvious ‘petrol’, and was able to finish with ‘beachhead’ and ‘rummage’.

For the blog title, I offer an alternate clue for ‘Napoleon’, which I entered in a clue-writing competition many years ago. It did not win any prizes, but I still rather like it.

9 NARWHAL, RAN backwards + W + HAL. ‘Initially’ refers to the placement of the first two elements, not the first letter of ‘west’.
10 PATELLA, PATEL + LA, one of the hotelier Indians.
11 IDE, ‘IDE, of course, as said in an allegedly Cockney area, although it’s probably full of Russian oligarchs by now.
12 SADDLE HORSE, SADDLE + sounds like HOARSE. ‘Saddle’ in the sense of stick you with something or someone undesirable.
14 DETOUR, anagram of ROUTED.
15 COGNOMEN, CO(GNOME)N, the kind of financier found in Zurich, not the one in gardens.
19 PETROL, P[-a, +E]TROL, a simple letter-substitution clue that stumped me for a while. I consider a ‘patrol’ to consist of more than one man, so the literal is questionable.
22 INTERREGNUM, anagram of TRUE MEN GRIN. I was delayed by crossing out the wrong letters.
23 MUD, a simple double definition.
25 EMBARGO E(M.B.)AR + GO….and not an anagram of ‘organ’ at all!
27 UNREADY, UNREAD + Y[outh].
28 TORSO, ROT backwards + SO.
29 BEACHHEAD, B(E)ACH + HEAD. I was taken aback, because Mrs. Amy Beach was an American composer, but then I saw how the clue worked. However, a beachhead is not really part of a fortification, but a temporary line of incursion from the sea into an enemy-held country.
1 FUNGI, sounds like FUN GUY, a chestnut.
2 SERPENT, S(E,R)PENT – it wouldn’t do to cross the Queen!
4 MELODY, M(DOLE upside-down)Y. I wasted some time trying to use ‘me’.
5 NAPOLEON, NAP + O + NOEL upside-down.
6 AIT, A + IT, in the crossword-puzzle sense.
7 OIL DRUM, [d]O(I)LDRUM[s].
8 FRATERNAL, anagram of LEFT ARRAN, and a very easy one.
13 HUNGER MARCH, HUN(GERMA[n] + R)CH. I had to parse the cryptic for the blog, since this was an obvious write-in.
14 DIFFIDENT, DIFF(-er,+ID)ENT, a more venturesome substitution clue.
16 FIRE BOMB, FIRE + BOMB in different senses. It is not exactly clear to me why ‘mine host’ would say ‘fire’ – maybe there’s some trick? In any case, the answer is correct. TIME BOMB, TIME + BOMB, where the landlord of the pub calls for the last round, plus a failure.
18 OCTOBER, [d]OCTO(B[e]E[f])R.
20 RUMMAGE, RUM (M) AGE, one I should have seen much more quickly than I did.
21 UNGULA, A(U[sefu]L)GNU, with the exterior, but not the interior, upside-down.
24 DRYAD, D(RY)AD. Those looking for L or LL will be disappointed.
26 RIO, [dinne]R + I + O, a compendium of cryptic cliches.

49 comments on “Times 26299 – The emperor will continue to sleep without a sign!”

  1. The host might want to clear the place of customers and close up; but if so, he’d be more likely to call “Time (gentlemen, please)”. Which is correct, or the scorekeeper is being nice to me for some reason.
  2. Tossed in a couple of these from checkers (NARWHAL, PATELLA, or definition (OCTOBER), solving post hoc. But I never did parse PATELLA; got stuck on Patna, and never got unstuck. I had the same doubts about BEACHHEAD as Vinyl; checked Wikipedia just now, which says that ‘beachhead’ is often confused with ‘bridgehead’, and a bridgehead is a fortification. LOI PETROL. I saw no problem with a one-man patrol, as in ‘patrolman’.
    1. I had patrol parsed as a verb: patrol an area/guard an area?
      A fast 15 min, wondering if there was an Indian city Patella.
  3. …which seemed ok, until I saw that Ulaca did it in 12:49. Oh well, perhaps it will stop him from banging on about Ben Stokes.

    Nice start to the week. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  4. It doesn’t quite work as an alternative clew, IMHO, because “will” doesn’t provide a good connection between wordplay & definition and stands out as extraneous.
  5. I don’t time myself, even to the minute, but this went pretty fast, except that I had UNGUAL for a while (Wikipedia: “a highly modified distal toe bone which ends in a hoof, claw, or nail”), instead of UNGULA, which made it impossible to see BEACHHEAD——though I might have thought of that anyway, if it had only fit the definition.

  6. 12 odd minutes, with TIME BOMB given a biff of which Stokes and Bairstow would be proud.
  7. 33 minutes with UNGULA guessed (my dictionary says it’s ‘rare’) but I should have gone back later to parse 1ac and 10ac as I didn’t understand them and had been intending to check if such a thing existed as an ‘Isherman tank’ perhaps named after one of Jim’s scientists who invented it for some chemical process or other. I knew NARWHAL as it’s one of the very few animals that begin with N.
  8. 25 minutes, but count me in for TIME BOMB – surely this is the correct answer?
    Like Vinyl I too got into high dudgeon about Amy Beach, clearly letting my fondness for her life story and compositions cloud my parsing judgement.
  9. It has to be TIME BOMB surely. Mine host is the pub landlord who calls “time gentlemen please”

    We need Dr Thud to tell us if PATELLA is bone. I agree about BEACHHEAD.

    Very easy puzzle with a lot of chestnuts. I thought my days of running straight through the clues were gone but this never gave me pause.

  10. Another TIME BOMBer here, confirmed as correct by The Times app. Like others, a bit queasy about a one-man patrol and BEACHHEAD being a fortification but the answers had to be what they were. Good to see my ex-colleagues from Zurich getting an outing.
  11. 16:38. I thought I was going to be quicker until I got stuck with 16d, my LOI – I too was tempted by FIRE BOMB but rejected it and eventually found TIME BOMB. UNGULA and COGNOMEN were new words for me.
  12. Dr. Thud will know for sure (because he probably sees quite a few banged up ones in the ER) but I believe it starts out as cartilage and then hardens into bone. I didn’t parse this (although I did toy with Poona) at the time but it’s rather nice. I counted about 8 double letters (FLOODLIT, ALOOF etc.) – is this unusual? 9.39 which is fast for me and usually means a mistake but not this time.
  13. //Dr. Thud will know for sure// Ah, now there’s a phrase I don’t often hear. However, I can confirm that the patella is indeed a bone. It’s the penultimate bone to ossify (two to four years after birth; about 40 years before the brain). This confirms my long-held view that the knee is basically an afterthought – the whole unintelligent design of it shows signs of being lashed up at the last moment. My personal theory is that, after our ancestors came down from the trees, they spent a long time as couch-dwellers; only with the development of jogging and skiing was there a sudden need for a working knee, the evolution of which has not yet finished.

    Got through this one in 21 minutes (good, for me) with no major hold-ups. NHO of AIT, though I might have recognized it if I’d known it was an alternative spelling of “eyot”. I also failed to parse several (OCTOBER, BEACHHEAD).

    My anti-CODs in this one were MUD (which seemed quite feeble to me) and IDE (because, for some reason, I find these Dick van Dyke clues irritating). Overall, though, I quite liked this one.

    Oh, and a Happy New Year to everyone!

  14. Like the blogger I took a lot longer over the lower half after filling most of the top half in five minutes. 21 minutes in the end for a puzzle that I thought would take about 15.
    I agree with the previous comment that 23 was rather weak.
  15. Not a good start to the New Year for me. I didn’t know COGNOMEN and had forgotten gnome, and I also biffed PIPE BOMB. Other than that it was largely straightforward.

    I very much like your NAPOLEON clue vinyl – great surface!

  16. About 20 minutes plus a bit – very quick for me. Good to see that Hogmanay hasn’t destroyed too many of the little grey cells, despite my determined effort to do so. Happy New Year all.
  17. 12:01, I didn’t get around to parsing narwhal and beachhead, possibly because their complexity didn’t sit comfortably with the rest of the puzzle.

    I like Jack’s imaginary Isherman tank in Jimbo’s virtual science lab.

  18. This felt more like The Times Quick Cryptic. Disappointingly easy—-what am I supposed to do with all this spare time? 1ac is pathetic.
  19. 21 minutes, slowed down by Ted the WHFT repeatedly jumping on my knee to play tuggy with his new toy (yes our life is that exciting).
    Biffed PATELLA and still don’t understand it. I knew it is a bone, and I see it is also a genus of limpet. But can’t find an Indian city so named, or closer than Patna.
    I like Dr Thud’s evolution theory; I soon stopped at the couch potato stage so my knees are good.
    1. It’s not an Indian city, it’s an Indian (such as probably runs your corner shop) plus the good old standby city of L.A.
      1. Ah, thank you, the penny drops. How dim can I be? Seems a little non PC, though, invoking Mr Patel to clue ‘Indian’, it’s like clueing it ‘Irishman’ and expecting you to write in Murphy.
    1. “Card game pool, Anne arranged”?
      “Emperor penguin starts to mix with a loon.”?
      I am off for a brandy … you know which one.
    1. Thanks for that Anon. Not only was the blog amended before you posted this, but nine earlier commenters (including the blogger) had made a similar point, or referred to it at least.

      Still, you have demonstrated that you knew all along that it was TIME BOMB, and that’s what counts.

      Keep up the good work.

  20. 5:25 which puts me in a very nice position on the scoreboard. I was VERY lucky though as I eagerly biffed in TIME BOMB without reference to the wordplay. There could easily have been a very different outcome!

    Like many others I didn’t parse PATELLA at all.

  21. Just twenty minutes more than The Amazing Mr. Verlaine.

    I didn’t parse 10ac PATELLA and 29ac BEACHHEAD WAS LOI.

    fyi UNGALA was the first words poken by John Bird in the ‘Zulu’

    Silk Cut cinema ad many years back.

    horryd Shanghai

  22. One missing today: Cognomen. Didn’t know the word or the Gnome part so ungettable… frustrating.
    Thought Detour was very nicely clued.
  23. 34m today of steady solving. Held up by BEACHHEAD as it seemed an unlikely fortification and RUMMAGE as I thought of it only as a verb. Thanks for blog – helped in parsing the biffs and guesses.

    Pig of an answer?

  24. Happy New Year to all. About 15 minutes for this gentle puzzle, biffing PATELLA and TIME BOMB without any deep thinking at all. My only hold up was my LOI, BEACHEAD, due to doubt about the definition and my inability to see the parsing until a few minutes of thinking finally brought the B(E)ACH part to the front of my brain. Nice misdirection there, but not much misdirection anywhere else. Not a complaint, mind, because I enjoyed running through the puzzle. Regards.
  25. 20 minutes without too many problems. Parsed PATELLA in the end but had trouble with it because I always associate PATEL with Pakistanis rather than Indians. There are more Muslims in Pakistan and it’s a Muslim name I think. I was trying to fit PATNA in somewhere.
    1. Once upon a time I worked in a bank branch that had 23,000 of them in account. Virtually all of Indian extraction, and (I think) Sikh and Hindu

  26. Today’s QC blog suggested this was at the easier end for the QC crowd to test their progress. So I did. It wasn’t.
    I found this too difficult; managed ten and a half clues (that is progress of a sort) but did get Time Bomb as I recall the daily refrain in English pubs at 1030 pm. David
    1. Sorry to hear that, David. I base my recommendations on the average solving times as shown on the Crossword Club leaderboard, as well as my own assessment, but it’s an imperfect gauge – in this case, it seemed like people were finding the puzzle to be a relatively gentle offering, but there’s always that pesky wavelength thing to take into consideration too. Hope you weren’t disheartened by the experience – just remember that the more you try harder puzzles, the better you will get in general.
    2. I’ve been doing crosswords for yonks, but I think I’m still improving.
      I’ll never be among the quickest solvers, but that doesn’t bother me. As others have said, don’t despair and don’t give up: if you are like me, every improvement will increase the pleasure, and enjoyment is what crossword solving should always be about. By all means, keep going with the Quick (I still do it), but, if time allows, give the main puzzle a go too.
    3. David, I’m in your ball park, perhaps a year or two more experienced – I can generally finish the QC and very occasionally complete the main one. Today I was about 3 short, being defeated by TIME BOMB, BEACHHEAD and UNGULA. But I do enjoy trying, and broadly speaking, I find this blog educational, but it’s hard to stomach those on this blog who describe a crossword including words like NARWHAL, COGNOMEN and RUMMAGE as far too easy!
  27. 10 mins with PETROL my LOI after RUMMAGE. I didn’t consider “fire bomb” at all because I saw how TIME BOMB was parsed straight away, although I confess to being another who biffed PATELLA.
  28. Happy New Year to everyone.
    I’m late to the party, as usual, and a bit out of practice due to family duties taking up valuable crossword time.
    Count me as another who failed to parse the obvious ‘patella’, but, otherwise, I found it an approachable crossword.
    I echo the sound advice and encouragement to David.
  29. 11m. Lots of biffing today, including TIME BOMB, which is lucky because if I’d thought of FIRE BOMB first I’d probably have bunged it in.
  30. Sooo close! I’m a QCer, but tackle a Monday or Tuesday main puzzle now and then. Defeated by cognomen, but will remember “Swiss financier” for next time.

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