Times 26422 A kindness of setters

I’d venture todays setter is more than usually generous providing extra bits of information to make sure we abbreviate where necessary and avoid spelling mistakes. It helped me to a respectable (from a certain point of view, mine) 15.07, which after a couple of days visiting the mid-30’s is at least a relief. Perhaps my developing theory of Blogger’s Adrenalin is also a factor. Nothing much to frighten the horses in this one, with a vocab well within a reasonable range, though I stand to be corrected on the inclusion of the bird, the fish, the poison and (of course) the shrubbery in that classification. Nothing (as far as I can see) of the Nina persuasion, though a slighly unnerving SAD PIE emerges if you look closely enough.
Here’s how I disconfused things:


1 Support struggles to protect outsiders in these isolated places  (10)

BACKWATERS  Support is BACK, struggles WARS, and insert the outside letters of ThosE.
6 Fancy women’s signs being ignored by this man!  (4)
WHIM   Some setters would reckon the word woman will give you the W, but this one actually tells you to take off the OMENS, “signs” before adding the HIM offered by “this man”. How generous is that?
10 Team expected to be most successful may get a roasting (7)
TOPSIDE For some reason, the “team expected to win”, the top side, rang in my mind with an Australian cricket commentator’s accent. It’s also a joint of meat suitable for roasting.
11 Fuss from friend getting mean maybe with time passing (7)
PALAVER   Friend is PAL and on solving I just added the AVER assuming it was somewhere in the rest of the clue. It is: Mean is AVERAGE, from which you remove the AGE of “time”
12 Endless lightness in clues regularly — rule-book not much read?  (9)
LEVITICUS  Pretty much a tough read, but since it’s one of the big five for anyone of the Jewish persuasion “not much read” seems a rather odd definition. It’s also the locus classicus for the notion that God hates gays, right amongst the verses about not trimming your beard and hair, eschewing the bloody steak, not getting a tattoo and not wasting your time on crosswords*.  Take your pick. Oh, the wordplay. Lightness is LEVITY, rub out the end, and add the odd letters of In ClUeS.
* I lied about the last one. Perhaps I’ll get stoned.
13 Quiet game: by leaving, show sign of indifference (5)
SHRUG  Quiet is either P or SH in these things: this time it’s SH and the game is RUGBY, from which you remove the BY
14 Desire to go after power in act of political expulsion  (5)
PURGE  Like concentration camps, the political purge is arguably the proud invention of the British: the aptly named Thomas Pryde carrying out a notable one in 1648, seizing power for the military. P(ower) is followed by URGE, a desire. Defenestration didn’t fit.
15 Tot enters the French arena, running  (9)
LADDERING As in stockings. Tot is ADD, then the French has to be either LE or LA (guess!) and arena is RING.
17 Unrealistic contract is sealed by one journalist  (9)
IDEALISED   Contract is DEAL, keep the IS where it – um – is, and surround both with 1 ED(itor), the setter’s highly convenient journalist
20 Held in little credit is impersonator making fun  (5)
CAPER  Again the setter is generous. Others would expect you to know that credit gives you CR, ours tells you it’s a diminutive, “little”. APE stands in for impersonator, and stands in between the C and R.
21 Sailors led by south wind (5)
SCREW  Pronounce wind the other way. Sailors are CREW, and South S
23 My turning up before fast, needing to shed weight?  (9)
CORPULENT  Nice surface. My these days frequently clues COR, cognate exclamations. Avoid the temptation to reverse: only UP is reversed. The fast is LENT.
25 Contemptible folk at one time, heading off for freedom  (7)
LICENCE  More setter kindness, in case like me you dither about S or C. Contemptible people are LICE, at one time is ONCE, drop the O as instructed.
26 The same again — duck dished out with some herb  (7)
DITTANY  Last appeared in February this year, when it was clued as a shrub unknown to several. Perhaps the most pleasant-sounding herb, though it’s never really made it as a girls’ name. The same again is DITTO, “dish out” the 0 (duck) and replace it with ANY for “some”.
27 No going back to King for countryman who rebelled against him?  (4)
YANK  A bit of &litery, with K(ing) identifying the “him” against whom the countryman rebelled. NAY for “no” reverses and provides the rest.
28 Offer money, tons, to get newcomers  (10)
TENDERFEET (though the plural can also be tenderfoots: not sure which I think looks odder)  Offer provides TENDER, money is FEE, and add T(ons)

1 Insect left, having eaten last bit of that plant  (5)
BETEL  Insect is BEE, to which you add L(eft) at the end and (tha)T (“last bit of”) in the consequent middle.
2 Republic in which rebel Jack keeps quiet always  (4,5)
CAPE VERDE  A collection of 10 volcanic islands off the NW coast of Africa (I looked it up), nonetheless “a sovereign state and a member of the U.N in its own right”. Also “one of the most developed and democratic countries in (sic) Africa.” You may (or not) know that Jack Cade was the leader of an uprising in 1450 against King Henry VI, so I suppose that the setter may (or not) be deemed helpful again by giving his chosen rebel a name. Into Jack’s surname insert P (the other “quiet”) and EVER, “always”.
3 Exposure of wrongdoing that may put an end to game  (7-7)
WHISTLE-BLOWING Two definitions. Not “written warning” as I first essayed with not much justification.
4 Hawk a line put up for purchase audibly  (7)
TIERCEL  My nomination for the word most cited as unknown by solvers of this crossword. Chambers cites no less than seven different spellings, so our kind setter makes his/her preference clear with TIER for “a line put up” (cf Chambers: “a row, level, rank, or layer, esp one of several placed one above another”) and something that sounds like purchase, which (slightly counter-intuitively) translates to SELL and hence CEL. Perhaps not so helpful, on reflection. On edit: this is clearly nonsense, and as Jack has it, line on its own gives TIER, and “put up for purchase” unequivocably gives SELL, the soundalike. Truly scuppered by this devious and unhelpful setter’s misleading word sequence. I might change the title.
5 Had rest of shop’s computerised equipment coated in bright colour  (7)
REPOSED In retail jargon, EPOS is electronic point of sale – we used to call them tills. The coloured you need to coat it with is RED – which our kind setter helpfully qualifies as bright.
7 Linger in southern resort before summer’s ending  (5)
HOVER  One of those where southern might be relative. HOVE, together with Brighton, forms a seaside city with a football team that has made one brief excursion into the top flight. The R you need comes from the end of summeR
8 One securing property has to transform great room good for nothing  (9)
MORTGAGER The borrower in the system, which I would have spelt with an O at the end. Once again I am indebted to Our Kind Setter for determining the preferred version. Our first proper anagram, though you have to work on the letters in more ways than one. First substitute one of the O’s in GREAT ROOM with a G (G(ood) for nothing, 0), then transform the modified version for the answer.
9 Learner in firm observed board meeting with odd down-to-earth characters?  (5,9)
CLOSE ENCOUNTER. Place L(earner in CO(mpany). Translate observed to SEEN, and board to COUNT. Decide where to put the space,
14 Novelist as one with a divine vocation needing to be heard  (9)
PRIESTLEY  JB of that ilk. Sounds an awful lot like priestly, “with a divine vocation”
16 Invoke evil upon terrible empire concealing wicked act  (9)
IMPRECATE  Our second anagram, “terrible”, of EMPIRE and ACT
18 Maybe give someone a shiner, a sort of fish  (7)
SOCKEYE   A variety of salmon and what one might do to create a shiner, or black eye.
19 Ridiculed performance — director admitted getting upset  (7)
DERIDED An insertion of DIR(ector) “upset” into DEED, performance, which is indifferent to being upset.
22 Poison from chemical company no longer in service (5)
RICIN  Periodically emerges as a terrorism scare story when some reporter “discovers” it can be made from castor beans, the source of castor oil. “Chemical company no longer” is Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI, once Britain’s largest manufacturer. The “service” it goes into is the senior one, R(oyal) N(avy)
24 Go over street location for meeting  (5)
TRYST  “Have a go” and “have a TRY” are pretty much interchangeable, and in this world a street is almost always ST. I did wonder whether “go over” was intended to reflect rugby’s scoring a try, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

56 comments on “Times 26422 A kindness of setters”

  1. Unlike Z, I don’t dither over how to spell LICENCE, I put my mind on automatic pilot and spell it ‘license’ despite having parsed the clue aright. I actually did know TIERCEL, even before doing cryptics, although it took me a while to recall it. Since the word is pronounced [ti(r)sl], and ‘sell’ is never pronounced [sl], the clue comes up a bit short on the homophony scale. Theoretically, the plural of ‘tenderfoot’ should be ‘tenderfoots’–so-called bahuvrihi compounds are regularized (sabretooths, lowlifes, etc.), but this one seems to be an exception, if in fact anyone still uses it.
  2. Not quite so easy here at 45 minutes. After a quick start I gradually slowed, but I was pleased not to be in biffing mode and paying attention to wordplay or I’d have gone wrong at 8dn for sure, and possibly elsewhere too.

    I had no idea about EPOS in 5dn and, like our blogger, also wondered about “not much read”in 12ac.

    There’s no quibble about 14dn, but I tend to think of Priestley as journalist and playwright rather than novelist because his novels are very much neglected these days whereas some of his plays are revived from time to time, in particular “An Inspector Calls” and “Dangerous Corner” remain very popular. But glancing through his list of novels on Wiki I was surprised how many he wrote and how many I never even heard of. And even his most famous book “The Good Companions” is surely best known from being adapted for film and TV.

    I parsed 4ac as TIER (line), CEL (“sell” – put up for purchase audibly). “Line put up” might work better for TIER but I don’t think “sell” on its own can be “purchase” unless one is of the same school where “lend” = “borrow”.

    Edited at 2016-05-26 04:50 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks, that’s so obviously right it’s embarrassing. I’ve added an amendment.
    2. I can assure you that leviticus is not much read by me, same as the rest of the books in that collection.
  3. Enjoyed this, though a bit on the easy side.

    10ac reminded me of this amusing reply to a particularly brainless religious critic of homosexuality. Although I see no mention of timewasting crosswords there is surely something about it in the bible somewhere…

    1. I’m sure I’ve seen that before, Jerry, but thanks for the reminder. It is beautifully done. I especially enjoyed “Why can’t I own Canadians?”

      14:20 for this, finishing with PRIESTLY. Long delay working out the parsing of LEVITICUS, where as usual I wanted to chop both ends of the ‘endless’ word, as -EVIT-

      Edited at 2016-05-26 07:40 am (UTC)

      1. I think Ulaca had Leviticus in mind the other day when he said he prefers comedy that “doesn’t think it’s funny”. He may be right.
    2. I hadn’t seen that link – thanks it’s brilliant.
      I often think that if I was an omnipotent being would I really reveal my divine truth in a text that was difficult to read, contradictory, ambiguous and downright boring? Try reading Numbers if you doubt this.
      And for balance I don’t just include the Bible, other religious texts are available.
      1. If you were a mischievous omnipotent being you might do it just for the LOLs.
  4. I suppose hardly anyone ever actually read Leviticus, it would have been passed down by a few priests. Dnk DITTANY, but worked it out. COR for ‘my’ seems to be making quite a few appearances lately. PALAVER one of my favourite words. 15’15” today.
  5. About 50 minutes (good for me) with a bit of a snooze along the way. I did remember TIERCEL, but don’t think I’ve come across DITTANY before. I liked CAPE VERDE (initially couldn’t see how ‘Straw’ would fit in) and the def. for CLOSE ENCOUNTER.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  6. 25 minutes but messed up TENDERFEET. Z thanks for explaining EPOS which I biffed (and the “board” in 9d is COUNTER?).
  7. By the way Z, I liked your “A Kindness of Setters”. I prefer it to “A Hardening”.
  8. Enjoyed this puzzle even though it’s not particularly difficult. Was amused by the homophone because as said above it’s not pronounced “sell” but “c’l”. Tried to biff Principia Mathematica for 12A but couldn’t squeeze it in. Didn’t understand the biblical reference.
    1. I think the “not much read” was there for the surface of the clue, so that we might understand that increased levity in the crossword was down to an indifference to Ximenes. In respect to Leviticus, “not much read” doesn’t really work in a spectrum which runs from “not read at all” to “around one fifth of the required educational reading list for boys”.
  9. I was completely off this wavelength, and gave up before my hour was out. DNK BETEL, DITTANY, CAPE VERDE, TIERCEL, SOCKEYE or Jack Cade, which didn’t help. Neither did spelling PRIESTLEY as PRIESTELY. One of those crosswords where even having seen the answers and the parsing (thanks!) I think I probably wouldn’t have got there in a day, let alone an hour.
  10. Felt like a middle-of-the-road puzzle, or Thursday-ish if you like. Might have been almost Monday-ish if not for the DITTANY and the TIERCEL, and the fact that it’s Thursday.

    BETEL takes me back to my short stint in the remote highlands of PNG. The red-stained teeth of the betel nut-chewing tribal Highlanders is a bit daunting to the first time visitor. But of course they’re a lovely welcoming people who always make a point of holding their enormous machetes behind their backs when greeting you.

    RICIN on the other hand takes me back to Breaking Bad.

    Thanks setter and Z.

    1. I think that was also in Leviticus – “If a man hath a huge chopper he should keep it from sight.” Or was that Carry On Leviticus?
      1. What a delicious idea! And this just might be the collaborative crew to get on and write the script. Of course, we might get smitten as a result. Or should that be smut?
      2. I can just hear Kenneth Williams saying, “All ye shall have long ****s, all except Aaron who shall have a square’n.”
  11. I need to go back to solving after work. A technical DNF under competition conditions because I resorted to aids to get PRIESTLEY, which in retrospect is inexcusable, and it was only after I got it that YANK became my LOI. For some reason I was completely off the setter’s wavelength and I struggled to get what should have been a couple of easy answers, WHISTLE-BLOWING and CAPE VERDE. I think my problem was I thought there was far more to the clues than there actually was, and I took about 38 mins overall. Not my finest solving effort.
    1. HI Cindi – it sure is, which is why we like the things so much: If you can work your way round a cryptic crossword and come out the other side with a completed grid, it’s rather satisfying in strange, and probably inconsequential way. Welcome (I think for the first time?) to our playground!
      1. Cindy seems to like cheating at casinos.. be careful z8, not to get drawn in..
        1. Not much chance of that – Leviticus forbids divination, which is pretty much the same thing. No dice. But, hey, maybe we can get her to set up a book on Verlaine’s chances at the championships.

          Edited at 2016-05-26 03:17 pm (UTC)

          1. Go for it .. but like me, verlaine likes the sauce, is it OK to bet against him?

  12. I know that it was an anagram but a lifetime of accountancy made MORTGAGOR an incorrect write-in. Otherwise a steady 23:16. The not-much-readness of LEVITICUS went totally over my head. Apart from getting it wrong, an enjoyable solve. Thanks for the blog z8
  13. LOI TIERCEL, put in with no confidence. How things change. I can remember when jobs at ICI were hereditary. About 40 minutes pleasant solve.
  14. Yes, some orthographic pitfalls here. I certainly spent extra time making sure all the moving parts of MORTGAGER (which the spell-check here flags as incorrect) and LICENCE worked. A TERCEL with no I is a make of Toyota around here and I very much wanted a “putsch”. As for the author, I started with “Pasternak” on the theory that it sounded like he had the knack of being a pastor so that would be a divine vocation.

    I’d seen Jerry’s Leviticus thing before but not for a long while so many thanks for that. I think it’s ok to do the crossword on the Sabbath but if you have to look something up you have to get the nearest Gentile to do it for you. Forgot the time – 15.33

    Edited at 2016-05-26 10:28 am (UTC)

  15. 9m. No problems with this other than MORTGAGER, where my internal spell-checker (which to be fair is pretty rubbish) agrees with Olivia’s. It looks as wrong as DEBTER to me. Fortunately the construction of the clue (‘room good for nothing’) made it very clear that the answer only had one O, which put me on my guard.
    No unknowns today, but a couple of words (TIERCEL, DITTANY) that I only know from crosswords. I’m surprised more people didn’t know EPOS, which strikes me as a bit specialist.

    Edited at 2016-05-26 10:44 am (UTC)

    1. I had no clue about this and if pushed would have said it was something to do with poetry.
    2. This part of the world it’s EFTPOS: electronic funds transfer at point of sale.
      Guessable anyway, easyish but untimed around 20 min. TIERCEL marginally tricky as I kinda remember it coming up before as TERCEL. Or maybe that’s the car.
      1. I think EFTPOS (which being of the older persuausion I’m familiar with) is to do with the transfer of funds – essentially card processors – at an Electronic Point Of Sale: what we used to call a till, or before that a cash box.
  16. I have to disagree with the estimable blogger about the vocab here – I got BETEL from wordplay (and distantly remember it from somewhere), but I gave up with TIERCEL, SOCKEYE and TENDERFEET all unentered.

    For balance, as a Christian I have indeed read Leviticus and rarely find the Bible boring (let alone contradictory)!

    1. I’ve read Leviticus too, some of it in the Hebrew it was written in, though if I were to try that again, I’d probably need my Brown Driver Briggs close at hand, and it wouldn’t be quick. I think, no matter what your religious allegiance (total, some, none), with the possible exception of Daesh, living under strict Levitical rule would be a nightmare, involving an awful lot of stoning, at least to begin with, and a lot of charred meat. I for one am pretty glad Christians, and others who respect the same writings, are not obliged to do so. Apart from the bit about not being rude to deaf people. That can stay.
    2. If you really don’t find the bible contradictory, you are reading a different book altogether from me.

      1. “An eye for an eye”,
      2 “Turn the other cheek”

      .. I will say no more. Anyone can “prove” anything at all, however bizarre, from a book like that. and no wearing mixed fibres, mind!

  17. No trouble with the right hand side today, but slowed down as I tussled with the SW and NW. FOI, WHIM. LOI, TIERCEL after I’d dragged it from memory and eventually twigged the parsing. Failed to parse 25 correctly and biffed LICENSE incorrectly, despite knowing that it’s noun with a C and a verb with an S. Doh! Thanks to the setter for 49 enjoyable minutes and thanks to Z for the blog.
  18. 30 minutes for a puzzle of average difficulty, though a few easy ones eluded me until the end, notably 1a, where I couldn’t escape from BRA for the support. I didn’t know EPOS, so although I had the answer early on I didn’t have the confidence to enter it until all the checkers were in place. I liked the smooth surface of 1a and the definition for 9. Less keen on 6, where the subtraction from ‘women’s’ ought to be ‘sign’s’.
    1. Thank for joining the scriptwriting team for Carry on Leviticus so promptly!
  19. Started this last night but had PRIESTELY (so couldn’t get LICENCE) and TIERCEL missing. Checked in on it while making coffee this morning and now done and dusted. Glad it wasn’t my week with this one!
  20. 47 minutes, but with an empty perch where the tiercel should have been. Neither the cryptics nor a childhood spent reading The Sword in the Stone could help me there. Enjoyable puzzle though.
  21. Yay! After a few moments of confusion at the beginning (“wow, there’s a lot of words to read here”) I got onto the wavelength and finished this in under 5 minutes, tying with Jason’s time at the top end of the scoreboard. I guess the 10 hours I spent sleeping off Tuesday’s drunken binge was a good idea, then…
  22. Finished in the SW in around 25 mins with nothing I found particularly obscure. I did struggle with the novelist (my LOI) for some reason despite having all the checkers – stared at it for ages until the penny dropped.
  23. Just opening up the blog, hoping that TENDEREST would be explained when TENDERFEET slapped me with a wet fish, so nearly a DNF. Took a two bites of the cherry due to a total inability the first time to see 3d and 9d, on return they were obvious and the rest flew in, “flew ” may be a slight exaggeration. DNK DITTANY but word play and checkers gave it. Splendid blog and a puzzle to my liking, thank you setter.
  24. Leviticus provided Henry VIII’s get out clause for his marriage to Katherine of Aragon (or so he thought), his argument being that the good (?) book in question forbids the taking of a brother’s wife. And a fat lot of good it did him, us, Catholics, Protestants, old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. Surely no book is deservedly less read!
    A very enjoyable 26′, too many good clues to pick a COD.
    1. Ah yes, well, at the end of his life, Henry’s body was so bloated, corrupt and riddled with diseases it genuinely exploded. Just saying.
      1. Indeed it did, within the precincts of Syon House, thus fulfilling the prophesy that he would be eaten by dogs which duly lapped up the juices (bleach! Too much info before supper).
  25. Which I failed. I got through in a bit below 20 minutes, happy to finish with the weird looking TIERCEL (it’s a tercel, thanks). The wordplay led me to the alternate spelling, as unusual as it looked. But to my chagrin, I see that I ignored the wordplay and trusted my own spelling to get 2 wrong: LICENSE and MORTGAGOR. The -ER ending on the latter, I would have thought, is just a common mistake, not an accepted alternate. I’m wrong, evidently. The wordplay points to the right answer, but I didn’t pay enough attention, and I may have ignored it anyway because the result seems incorrect. LICENCE, though, I should have seen, but didn’t. Better luck tomorrow. Regards.
  26. Having never heard of a TIERCEL, I was inexcusably smug for having figured it out as my LOI.

    Total time was somewhere between half an hour and thirty minutes which, for me, is perfectly reasonable. I can only look at sub-10min times in awe and wonder in the knowledge that, like wiggling my ears or getting through to BT Customer Service, it is something I do not have the faintest hope of ever managing to do.

    I would probably have been a minute or two faster, were it not for the bandage on my left typing finger. You may recall my mentioning the other day that I had been adopted by two fox cubs: they are cute, enchanting, and possessed of surprisingly sharp teeth. But, as usual, I digress.

    1. I found the easiest way to get through to BT customer service is to log a complaint on their website regarding the issue. They call you back within minutes, then when the issue is solved they persuade you to withdraw the complaint. I followed this procedure when they tried to charge me £5 per month for the “Premium Email Service” they had been charging me £1.60 a month for, so I could keep the email address, after they discontinued the PAYG service( I have Virgin Broadband). The only way to tell them you didn’t want to continue paying at the inflated rate, was to call a number which put you on hold for 30 minutes or more! I complained! Mind you their departments don’t talk to each other as I was then plagued with calls from their Asian Direct Debit department wanting to know why I’d cancelled the DD. C’est la vie….
    1. In the movies alcohol has a disinfectant effect – rub gin on the area before a bit of amateur surgery. The foxes should be fine?

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