Times 26349 – a curate’s egg

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Apologies for the slightly late blog. A gentle 25 minutes to solve and parse this offering, with concentration hampered by the cleaning lady vacuuming around me (not on her usual day this week). Then the gas man arrived (Señor Repsol) so I was delayed twenty minutes sorting that. I thought it was generally easy and amusing but with a couple of words (6d and 28a) which I had to get from wordplay alone and check afterwards. Oh, there’s GK in cricket, and chemistry, and history and geology, so Jimbo and I should be content.

1 BABY GRAND – Amusing cryptic definition for instrument.
6 CABOT – OB reversed in CAT: D one of two explorers. I briefly invented a chap called LEBOO until I found he was not yet a famous explorer.
9 IRON OUT – Cryptic DD, evening as in pressing flat.
10 SEALANT – SEA = water, L = leak’s beginning, ANT = worker; D &lit; nice surface.
11 DEBUS – DEBUTS are first performances, T out; D leave the coach. Presumably originally an American military word; those chaps specialise in making verbs out of nouns.
13 CARTOUCHE – CAR = vehicle, TOUCHE(D) = affected, shortened; D panel. Not the usual meaning of the word, but an acceptable one.
14 ECCENTRIC – D odd; EC (old EU) centric countries were dominated by Brussels, is the idea.
16 PUNY – PUN = joke, Y = ultimately silly; D feeble.
18 MONS – Back to work on a Monday; site of WWI battle.
19 DEDICATES – Insert EDIC(T) into DATES; D sets aside.
22 HOME TRUTH – HO (house) MET (faced) RUTH (David’s GGM): D unpleasant fact.
24 LARDY – LADY = noblewoman, around R for queen; D like some cakes; I am not a fan of this stodge.
25 CUE BALL – CUE help the actor, BALL = dance; the white ball in snooker, one of eight colours used.
26 RETICLE – Hidden in HE(RETIC LE)FT; D lines for reference, like the grid on a rangefinder.
28 NISAN – NI (Belfast, N. Ireland) SAN (hospital); D month. I know nothing of Hebrew months, but apparently it’s the first one.

1 BRINDLE – N (nag’s head) inside BRIDLE; D streaky.
2 BOO – I assume this is BOO(K) = work never ending; D I don’t like that, boo!.
3 GROUSING – GROU(P) = band without piano, SING = perform number; D grumbling.
4 AZTEC – Insert Z into A TEC; D one of the old people.
5 DISGRACED – Insert IS GRACE (Dr W.G. Grace) into DD (middle of fiddle); D shamed.
6 CRATON – Insert RAT into CON; D piece of crust, a craton is a chunk of the lithosphere.
7 BEAN-COUNTER – A(nxiety) in BEN (man), COUNTER = man on board, D man (on board) who worries about finances. Seems a duplication of the use of MAN but that’s the answer.
8 TOTTERY – TOT TEARY would be baby getting weepy; leave out the A(nswer); D unstable.
12 BACK NUMBER – Witty DD.
15 REDOUBLES – ED in ROUBLES; D increases bid, e.g. in backgammon.
17 ACOLYTES – COL (pass at high level) inserted into (AS YET)*; D attendants.
18 MOHICAN – MOAN (complain) about HIC (Latin for ‘this’); D hairstyle.
20 STYRENE – STY = part of farm, RENÉ = a Frenchman; D chemical; phenylethene, used to make polystyrene; if you used to make Airfix models (or still do!) you’d recognise the pong of styrene from the cement.
21 STRAIN – Double definition.
23 HERON – R, O (river, duck) inside HEN; D another bird.
27 COO – DD; Bill and coo go together, COO! = gosh.

42 comments on “Times 26349 – a curate’s egg”

  1. Incorrectly biffed 9A as WORK OUT and 25A as CUE CARD which caused some puzzlement later on. Otherwise not too tricky although I had never heard of NISAN.
  2. 11m. A strange mix of the instantly-biffed and the unknown constructed from wordplay. The latter included CARTOUCHE, RETICLE, NISAN, and CRATON, the last of which I thought might be some variant of ‘crouton’ (piece of crust). BRINDLE also needed construction, although once I’d done so it seemed familiar, probably from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘brinded cow’. And an attempt to do something similar with 6ac led me to LEBOO initially too, but fortunately it didn’t look likely.
    By the time I post this someone else will no doubt have pointed out that the COUNTER in 7dn is just a ‘board’, so there’s no double duty.
    1. I’ll tag on here today, k, since you’ve mentioned all my unknowns that I had to rely on wordplay to get and slowed me down considerably to 46 minutes. But what’s rather depressing is that I also didn’t know CARTOUCHE on any of its three previous appearances in 2009, 2010 and 2011 – the middle one of which being a puzzle I blogged myself. Similarly RETICLE was unknown to me in 2013 and it also appeared the following year though on that occasion I didn’t post any comments. BRINDLE has come up in a Jumbo, but I rarely do those. NISAN has been up before but CRATON appears to be a new one.

      Edited at 2016-03-02 10:19 am (UTC)

      1. I have a pretty terrible memory so I wouldn’t remotely expect to remember words like this – or at least their meanings – when they appear so far apart. I knew that CARTOUCHE and RETICLE were words, which in this case was enough, as it often is.
  3. … without too much trouble. Though I did have to start in the SW and work around from there. In that quadrant, enjoyed the clue for HO-MET-RUTH. Search me why.

    Had my own ideas about possible clues for MONS. Tell me why I don’t like them.

    And … my perpetual gripe (sorry) … can we have “hint” and “first hint of” barred from the setters’ vocab.? (7dn)

  4. Distinct pattern already of an easy puzzle with odd bits of obscurity derived from less familiar words. Hebrew months are always cropping up in Mephisto-land so no problem there. Nice if common misdirection from “evening” at 9A and “number” at 12D

    For me a BEAN COUNTER is a book keeper who worries about credits, debits, accruals and contras. The Financial Director worries about finances – the clue is in the title!

  5. Switched to a morning solve today and came in just under 17 mins. Nothing much to add – DNK “nisan” or “craton” but wordplay was clear.
  6. It fell into place pretty easily for me today, despite the unknown NISAN, CRATON, CARTOUCHE, LARDY and RETICLE. So basically what Jimbo said.

    Never realised WG played for Victoria!

    Thanks setter and Pip.

  7. Average 30mins solve today (couldn’t have written that a little while ago…!), with the same unknowns as others. LOI: RETICLE, unsurprisingly, I guess, for a hidden unknown. Thanks for parsing HOME TRUTH. I had ‘house’=’home’ and couldn’t work out where the T came from.

    1. I had house=home as well but didn’t even notice that the T was unaccounted for!
  8. Well I found that hard. Enjoyable but hard. Resorted to cheat tactics at the 57 min mark to find out the heretic, with Mons and coo also unanswered, and the website crashed my browser. So that’s taught me something more important than the word reticle!
  9. I also parsed 22 as HOME=house, RUTH being the ggm and I justified the missing T with ‘at back’.

    Otherwise similar comments to others – inside 35 minutes, so not hard, but a couple of unknowns (the usual suspects) holding up completion. Once I saw it, I did know RETICLE from microscopes and orienteering compasses, but I had completely forgotten that I knew it.

  10. 26 minutes for another easyish puzzle despite the obscurities at 6d and 28. I didn’t really understand the clueing of CENTRIC, otherwise the wordplay was all straightforward. 27d is an old chestnut now, so it’s a giveaway really.
  11. My memory is so bad I not only can’t remember which words had come up before but also my time. Anyway, it’s several times that of Gallers – will they ever bring in drugs’ testing, I wonder. And, I cheated on the lithosphere thing, preferring ‘chagon’ under my own steam.
  12. Entertaining puzzle. I was chuffed to get the to me unknown NISAN and CRATON from the cryptic clues alone. Thanks to blogger Pip for fully explaining HOME TRUTH.
  13. Despite not knowing NISAN and CRATON, I still came in at 23 minutes. Dead pleased.
    Nice to see the Cabots get a mention as it gives me the opportunity of dispelling some common myths:
    Columbus did not discover America, Bristol fishermen had been fishing off Newfoundland decades before. John Cabot, sailing out of Bristol, was the first westerner to land on the mainland of America 2 years before Columbus’ 2nd voyage. The continent was named after Cabot’s sponsor, Richard ap Americk, not Amerigo Vespucci.
    So there.

    Edited at 2016-03-02 12:55 pm (UTC)

  14. I struggled to find the setter’s wavelength and took 16:53.

    Like Keriothe I thought craton was probably just a variant of crouton, but either from a different language or else crust-specific rather than generally bready. I bet they’re delicious in primordial soup.

    Down the LHS I would have expected to see a D on the end of brindle, and fortunately HIC is just about within my grasp of Latin.

    I enjoyed “ready for an evening exercise” and “leave the coach behind” as well as the baby grand clue.

  15. I enjoyed that, although I took too long on BEAN COUNTER, which as a Chartered Accountant I probably shouldn’t. I have been called one many times over the years. NISAN was an unknown and sounds like 2-3 in Japanese but I got there. With others on CRATON having something to do with croutons. Thanks pip 23:17
  16. With interruptions, thirty five minutes. Had to make sure these two constructs were right. I could hear Frankie Vaughan billing and cooing as he sang Give me the Moonlight. He left the rest to me.
  17. Late in the day but may I add a suggestion re the parsing of 7d?
    I don’t think “man” is being used twice since a counter could well be a board?
    Thank you setter and blogger.
  18. 40 minutes here. Not to my taste – too many question marks, though I was able to work out (I had that before the right answer came to mind for 9 across) all of the unknowns from the cryptic, so definitely some good stuff in there too.

    Edited at 2016-03-02 03:03 pm (UTC)

  19. A leisurely 45 minutes for this while scoffing a WHSmith meal deal in JCUH after today’s INR check. FOI AZTEC, followed by CABOT; luckily I didn’t think of LEO. Steadily worked my way through in random order whilst munching. Didn’t know CARTOUCHE but it was obvious from the cryptic and checkers. I also couldn’t account for the T in HOME TRUTH, so thanks to Pip for explaining that. Biffed CUE CARD in until REDOUBLES caused a rethink and PDM. Liked BACK NUMBERS, probably because I had one recently. I enjoyed this puzzle, some chewy clues, with the unknowns being fairly gettable. CRATON went in with a shrug and trust in the cryptic. LOI NISAN. John
  20. And this is dear old Boston
    Home of the bean and the cod (why it’s called beantown)
    Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots
    And the Cabots talk only to God.

    Nor would the Lowells and the Cabots be talking to the Trumps despite his win in yesterday’s Republican primary in Massachusetts. 15.4

    1. I picked him as the next POTUS in my blog in October on the basis that Flyover Country is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

      That visit to Kentucky opened them eyes of mine some.

  21. No time today but I co-completed it while driving between Canterbury and Reading. The QC completed between Reading and Swindon.
    This was not the day when I wanted such long clues and so many question marks.

    Interesting how much more difficult it is when your passenger selects the sequence of clues and reads out the questions.

  22. I got held up for a few minutes at the intersection of 12dn and 18ac for some reason; ambling home in 12m in the end. Quite enjoyed this: I like a bit of vocab, me.
  23. 19.06 in a dozy afternoon solve, with the same unknowns mentioned above. I did know cartouche, and David’s great granny, together with the inconvenient truth that, since she wasn’t Jewish, it’s more than possible that, in modern convention, David wasn’t either.
    Back number was my fave of the day.
    1. Fortunately ancient convention seems to been that descent can be claimed through the husband even when he patently wasn’t the father – as with Jesus, whose claim to being descended from David seems to have been on the basis that Joseph was descended from David!
  24. Can someone explain to me why seventeen of the clues needed question marks? Why do they need them at all?
  25. 19 mins but I took the knock midway through. It didn’t take long for me to fall back into the habit. Count me as another who thought CRATON was related to “crouton”. DISGRACED was my LOI after ECCENTRIC, and I could have kicked myself when I realised I wasn’t looking for an Aussie cricketer. Eejit.
  26. About 20 minutes ending with RETICLE when I finally saw the hidden. Like a bunch of you, I reached CRATON and NISAN from the wordplay only, but apparently the wordplay was enough for all of us. Yes, I too thought the CRATON was some foreign language crouton. And without enquiring too closely, methinks your MOHICAN is our Mohawk. In any event, regards.
  27. Why did it take so long? Awfully distracted by Spurs being headed by West Ham – hope for change in the second half.
  28. A whisky under 40 minutes for me, with the NE corner taking the longest.

    I’d heard of CARTOUCHE, but didn’t think of it as a “panel”. CRATON was sitting in a trunk marked “misc – useful?” tucked in between the Christmas decorations and the water tank in the dusty attic that I use as a memory – it was probably left over from O-level geology. NISAN was new to me, and I was contemplating picking any one of the 36 possible combinations of vowels or ys before I saw the parsing.

    The LARDY cake was no problem, and brought back fond memories of the same, from my younger (and inexplicably slimmer) days in Hampshire. A local bakery used produce lardy cakes that were to die both for and from. They were so dense that, in weather cold enough to harden them, they could be thrown through a plate glass window if the whim took you.

  29. 12:07 for me, with the last few minutes spent trying to see if there was an alternative to CRATON that I’d actually heard of. No probs apart from that.
  30. The answer to 12D is of course BACK NUMBERS and not BACK NUMBER. Just completed this one in one of my fastest times… about 20 minutes. It was today’s (18th May) crossword in the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).


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