Times 26437 – Standing on this pleasant lea

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A very pleasant start to the week, with nothing to scare the thoroughbreds but enough to keep the palfreys on their toes. Mine trotted home in 37 minutes. I particularly liked the muddled situation at 5a, since I seem increasingly to find myself in those these days, but my favourite would be 17d for its smooth and ambiguous surface. Does ‘game’ refer to duck, say, or Pictionary?

Since this will be my last blog before trading Oriental shores for Occidental ones, just a reminder that there will be an informal gathering of cruciverbalists at the Old Red Lion on Kennington Park Road, SE11 4RS, starting at 6pm on Wednesday 29 June. The nearest tube station is Kennington. There’s a nice beer garden to enjoy, if it’s a fine midsummer evening.

Those wishing to join the fun can indicate either hereinunder or send me a message on my LJ account. On the evening, I will be suitable accoutered with a copy of The Times (the first I will have bought since student days) for easy identification, possibly a rolled-up umbrella, but, sadly, no bowler hat.


1. GLASNOST – anagram* of SLAG + SON reversed + T[his].
5. MORASS – OR in MASS. Smooth as a gravy sandwich, no?
9. BAG – don’t you just hate it when people chuck bags and stuff down to reserve seats? I do. Well, unless I do it myself, but then I’ve always got very good reasons. GAB reversed.
10. GREAT-NEPHEW – HEW following GREAT + PEN reversed.
13. VETO – VET (‘check’) + O (‘cipher’).
15. TROIKA – OIK in TRA[in]. My last in.
16. AGELESS – ES (east and south) in A GEL’S.
18. AIRSHIP – the definition is ‘flying craft’ and the wordplay a homophone of ‘heirship’.
20. LATEST – L.A. + TEST.
23. RISK – [f]RISK[y].
24. SIEGE TRAIN – IT ENRAGES + I*. Go on – hands up who biffed ‘siege tower’? According to Wikipedia (and I’d sooner disagree with my wife than with that), a siege train, whether hyphenated or not, is a collective term for ‘siege engines or artillery together with the necessary troops and transport vehicles’.
26. SUBSTANTIAL – SUB + IN AT LAST*. Rather cunning this, especially if one is trawling the recesses of one’s mind for words starting ‘sab’ and ‘sob’.
27. IDA – D in I+A for the eponymous G&S heroine of whom I know nothing.
28. EXEMPT – MP (Military Policeman, AKA ‘redcap’) in EX + ET.
29. (Is it me, or are there loads of clues today?) IDENTITY – I followed by DEN + TIT + Y (‘unknown’). Definition ‘name’.


1. GOBLIN – sounds like gobblin’ – the sort of thing Dick Van Dyke might do when he ain’t doin’ ’is comical poem.
2. ANGULAR – ‘annular’ with a ‘g’ replacing the second ‘n’.
3. NIGHT-LIGHT – sounds like ‘knight’ + LIGHT (as in ‘alight’). I suppose a night-light does allow you to see – not a lot, mind, but enough. Plus, it frightens off them ghosts. On edit (Tuesday 14 June): debate has raged about whether NIGHT-SIGHT is an acceptable alternative or not. After much reflection, I would say it is. The clue reads ‘What enables one to see and hear horseman land (5-5)’. In Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO), ‘night-sight’ is defined in two senses: ‘1 The faculty or power of seeing in the dark; 2 A gunsight designed for shooting at night; an image intensifier’. First, let’s consider the definitions (which in any case are typically referred to in crosswords as ‘literals’, to reflect the fact that they are often approximations rather than exact synonyms, if such things exist in the first place): re 1, is what enables one to see another way of saying the faculty of seeing? Pretty damn close, I would say. Then, is a gunsight that intensifies an image in dark conditions something that can be described as what enables one to see in the dark? Well, I’d have thought so. And so onto the wordplay. Can the homophone indicated by ‘hear’ cover both ‘horseman’ and ‘land’? I’d love to hear someone mount (sorry) a successful challenge to that thesis. And so, we move finally onto the most contentious (having read the comments on the Club forum) aspect – the equivalence of ‘land’ and ‘site’. Under ‘land’, ODO has ‘an area of ground, especially in terms of its ownership or use’; under ‘site’ it has ‘an area of ground on which a town, building, or monument is constructed’. Well, how much closer need one be? I think the Times should accept both answers.
4. SMEAR CAMPAIGN – the definition is ‘organised drive to defame’ and the wordplay is a rather well concealed anagram of CAMERAMAN GP IS. My penultimate, cos I never saw the anagram, and my alphabet run at S*A*R took in ‘h’ and ‘p’ but missed out ‘m’. And I still dream I might make the championships one day…
6. OMEN – reversed hidden in the monkish stuff.
7. ACHIEVE – definition ‘fulfil’; the cunning wordplay is [challeng]E in A[r]CHIVE.
8. SAW-HORSE – um, SAW + HORSE (heroin); my father used to have one of these, which I loved greatly. I was an unusual child.
11. THE DAILY GRIND – a pretty decent cryptic definition. I was on the set of one of the Bond films at Pinewood and witnessed Judi Dench tearing a female employee off a strip for poor preparation of her morning coffee. After that everyone called her ‘M barista’.
14. PENTATHLON – PEN + TAT + H + L + ON. Not as athletic as the decathlon or heptathlon, when you consider that shooting is one of the disciplines. Maybe it was a toss-up between that and darts, and they didn’t have enough lager on hand.
17. LACROSSE – L + ACROSS + [tabl]E.
19. RISIBLE – RILE around SIB (‘sibling’). Some words I hate (execrable, egregious, traduce, liberty), some I love (piecemeal, freedom, Aston Martin, money). I’m pretty fond of risible.
21. SWAHILI – AIL around H in SWI.
22. UNWARY – move the R down the RUNWAY. Reminds me of the old joke, ‘Move farther down the compartment, please!’ ‘That’s not father, that’s grandpa.’
25. STEP – S[ociety] + PET reversed.

71 comments on “Times 26437 – Standing on this pleasant lea”

  1. Nice and gentle to start the week – I think a bit more than half an hour. Not too many hold-ups, apart from initially having the incorrect area code for Westminster and not knowing which part of 22 was the def., although soon became clear. Liked (your homophonic inter-generational joke and) LACROSSE and THE DAILY GRIND.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  2. A comfortable 19.24 but with a supposed error at 3d where I have NIGHT SIGHT on the grounds that you can slide easily enough from “site” to “land”, certainly easily enough not to want to change it if you get it first. And I would argue that it’s a rather better fit for “what enables one to see” than the official version. Think I’m going to be grumpy all day if my challenge is not upheld.
    1. Another NIGHT SIGHT, which is plainly indefensible but I’m going to sign your petition anyway, Z8. I also, for reasons best known to my lizard brain, put EXERPT. All in all, proof of the old adage: More haste, less accuracy.

      edit: don’t know why I said ‘indefensible’. Now I’ve got round to thinking about it, it’s perfectly defensible. I’m confident our class action suit will succeed.

      Edited at 2016-06-13 08:46 am (UTC)

      1. Here’s my tentative case for defending the indefensible:
        1 NIGHT SIGHT. ODO has: 1. “The faculty or power of seeing in the dark” Excellent fit for definition, possibly better than night light.
        2 LAND/SITE The homophone is sound, obviously. The equivalence is supported by Chambers, as is often the case in this theatre by way of a third party. Here are the relevant extracts
        LAND ground; a piece of ground owned, real estate; soil;
        SITE the area or ground occupied or set apart for a building, etc; an area set aside for some specific purpose

        An aside: in my blog on 26434 I had to try and justify MANACLE with the definition “one of two bands”. Now that WAS a stretch.

        3 The if-at-first defence. I got NIGHT SIGHT first, without that tinge of uncertainty that will usually, if not infallibly, suggest an issue. The closeness of association was easily (for me) sufficient not to justify revisiting; it felt right.

        4 Just because we have a juxtaposition of horseman and land in the clue does not mean we have to be thinking of dismounting. This is a cryptic crossword, in which it’s perfectly possible, indeed usually obligatory, to divide words differently: indeed, one might well imagine that the “dismount” association was there deliberately to mislead.

        I’ll have a crack at justifying EXERPT if you wish, no win, no fee.

        1. The first Collins definition for SITE is ‘the piece of land where something was, is, or is intended to be located’, so NIGHT SIGHT seems incontrovertibly admissible to me, and no need for three-point turns in the depths of Chambers!
          Although actually NIGHT-SIGHT is hyphenated in both ODO and Chambers (it doesn’t appear at all in Collins) so if one wanted to be extremely mean one could disallow it on that basis. To my mind calling the inclusion or exclusion of a hyphen in a term like this ‘wrong’ is a patent linguistic absurdity, but I don’t make the rules…

          Edited at 2016-06-13 12:00 pm (UTC)

          1. Many thanks. My old but electric edition of Chambers doesn’t have night sight as such, so I was veering into the old preacher’s habit of “argument weak, speak louder”. Kind of you to help out so cogently.

    2. 30 minutes but firmly in the NIGHTSIGHT camp with you. Otherwise straightforward. Enjoyed Dean’s “Some get it …..” clue yesterday.
    3. …I wasn’t sure if I was going to own up to it, but now that I see that I’m such good company, I definitely will!

      NIGHT-LIGHT is clearly better, but it’s a funny one, isn’t it? If we spent time over every clue thinking “well, that seems justifiable, but I wonder if anything else would work even better?” we would quite literally never finish any crosswords. Basically you’ve just got to go for it, and then curse the dodgy route your brain decided to travel down after the event.

      My time would have been ~8m otherwise. Sigh…

  3. About 30mins, ending with SWAHILI, once I’d twigged that the postcode was SW1, and not W1. SIEGE TRAIN is new to me. Will try and remember it for next time…
  4. but I was sitting down. I also didn’t know SIEGE TRAIN, but the TRAIN arrived early, and the I, G helped a bunch. (I did know ‘siege engine’; does that count for anything?) Bunged in ‘grand-nephew’, de-bunged a bit later. ‘Redcap’ in the US is (was?) a railway porter, so that slowed me down a bit, but what with the definition, it was easy enough to infer something like MP=military police. What’s wrong with ‘execrable’? Although I prefer ‘feculent’.
    1. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, except I don’t like it. Not sure I would like feculent, if a) I knew what it meant and b) I’d ever heard of it before.

      Edited at 2016-06-13 08:45 am (UTC)

  5. 12m. This was very easy to start with, serving to remind me that I will never achieve a new PB as long as I’m trying to solve by poking at an iPad while standing up on the train. I seem to spend half my time going back correcting typos. In any case it got a bit harder towards the end, particularly in the NE where the last few in (MORASS, ACHIEVE, AGELESS) took a bit of head scratching. Unravelling the anagram for the unknown SIEGE TRAIN was the only other real hold-up. I initially bunged in SWEDISH at 21dn but I sort of knew it was wrong immediately. So why did I bung it in, I hear you ask? Good question.
  6. Enjoyable if straightforward puzzle with no queries or particularly stand out clues

    First learned of SEIGE TRAIN when reading about American Civil War where I recall they were used quite a bit

  7. Very easy today, sub 10 mins. Feeling smug, and all the more so because I thought of night sight but then thought better of it .. 🙂

  8. Definitely agree with NIGHT SIGHT, since the clue says ‘hear horseman land’. If it was ‘hear horseman, land’ then that may be different. As it stands, NIGHT SIGHT perfectly fits the clue and checkers. Felt frustratingly slow for a Monday, but came out in 31′, held up by seeking a 13-letter 4d, and couldn’t parse 18ac. Thanks blogger and setter, I trust in the appeal process.
    1. See my defence of the indefensible above. At no time in a cryptic crossword are we to take the presence or absence of commas as definitive.
      On edit: My apologies, I may have misunderstood your drift: it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone would count it out if it were a two word homophone. I think though that the punctuation thing still stands, and for the most part commas in particular should be treated with extreme scepticism, bordering on contempt!

      Edited at 2016-06-13 03:43 pm (UTC)

    2. Funny, I definitely disagree with NIGHT SIGHT for the reason mentioned above: no hyphen in NIGHT SIGHT. With the –G-T checkers and the wording of the clue I *knew* the first word would be sight or light. When I finally figured it out I considered both, and emphatically rejected sight.
      Otherwise, held up for more than 10 mins on LACROSSE – knew it was a foreign word, guessed it would be an unknown casino card game. Maybe from the subliminal suggestion in the clue: Game…table. Total 36 mins, so medium to tricky.
  9. An increasingly rare excursion into sub-30 minute territory for me so I’d have enjoyed it on that score alone.

    It was interesting that having had my zoom print-setting at 105% for Dean’s concisely clued puzzle on Sunday I had to go down to 90% to accommodate this wordy offering on a single page.

    For all the wordiness I am having some difficulty following the logic in 16ac. Isn’t it the “posh girl” that’s being confined, not the “quarters”?

    1. Have you accounted for the A in ‘a posh girl’? It all falls into place then.
      1. It’s probably me being a bit dim this morning, but I’m seeing it at:

        A (a), GEL (posh girl), ESS (quarters), already in the correct order so there’s no need for an enclosure indicator (confining).

        “A posh girl’s confining quarters” (as the clue has it) surely gives us A, ESS, GEL?

  10. …IDENTIFY was only 87.5% correct (and 62.5% parsed).

    In the interests of solidarity, I’ll back any of the NIGHT-SIGHTers who’ll join my campaign to give the TIF bird its long overdue recognition.

    Aside from that, I enjoyed the puzzle. It’s election time over here, so I’ll give COD to SMEAR CAMPAIGN.

    Thanks setter and U.

    1. I have always believed that the TIF bird merits full recognition. Tell me where I can sign.
      What’s a TIF bird? On edit d’oh!

      Edited at 2016-06-13 08:59 am (UTC)

    2. Oh, and it’s Referendum time over here, so SMEAR CAMPAIGN gets my vote at least twice
  11. “I’ll have a crack at justifying EXERPT if you wish, no win, no fee.”

    My kinda lawyer.

  12. I’m firmly of the Night Light persuasion as I don’t really get ‘site’ and ‘land’ as equivalents, Chambers notwithstanding, because
    the words are not directly interchangeable; namely you would need ‘a site’ to equate to ‘some land’ or ‘land’.
    A pleasurable 21 mins this morning.
      1. mmmmm… but it would still be ‘a building site’ and ‘some building land’; ie you can’t say ‘it is building site’ but you would say ‘it is building land’.
        1. How about “this is my building site”/”this is my building land”. Or is that somehow impossible?

  13. Around 20 mins, I’m a NIGHT SIGHT’er – I had no problem with site = land. It seems reasonable to say ‘The site for building on’.

    Edited at 2016-06-13 09:48 am (UTC)

  14. I’m with Gallers on the NIGHT SIGHT / TIF bird combination but apart from that a pleasant Monday morning. Thanks ulaca.
  15. Comfortably under my allotted hour (to reach the NIGHT LIGHT camp, at least; I never even thought of SIGHT.)

    COD 9 for its “oh, of course” moment, FOI 26a, LOI 23, but mostly because I kept on deciding to defer it until I’d got the SE corner finished; I kept on thinking SWEDISH until I finally got SIEGE TRAIN and IDENTITY in quick succession.

    I enjoyed the way that GLASNOST put my brain in the direction of Perestroika in time to help with 15…

    Edited at 2016-06-13 09:58 am (UTC)

  16. I think I should be alright for a Wednesday 29th June meetup – will definitely try, anyway!
  17. In my CEGB days, the greatest compliment ever paid to us was by Private Eye who said we were like the KGB without the GLASNOST. A pleasant half hour stroll today. DNK SIEGE TRAIN but anagram had only one answer.. They didn’t equip us with rifles in the CEGB, but we were allowed children, so I had NIGHT LIGHT.

    Edited at 2016-06-13 10:38 am (UTC)

  18. I confidently put in 3dn as NIGHT SIGHT otherwise I reckoned it would be (K)NIGHT (A)LIGHT which is NQR!I think the Crossword editor could have helped a jot here.

    Everyting else went in without much difficulty within 37 minutes.

    1dn GOBLIN FOI – LOI 17dn LACROSSE which I found somewhat rather weak – it’s a sport not a game – although I notice praise in other quarters.


    horryd Shanghai

    1. Surely a game as well, as football is the beautiful game. Except when England play it.
      1. I am delighted to say everyone has studiously ignored your highly provocative bait.
        As will I.
  19. 17 min: as I thought of LIGHT first, SIGHT never crossed my mind – if I had, I would have been dithering for ages about which was best! 23ac was LOI, as b)risk didn’t seem to parse, but couldn’t think of anything better.
    1. Took me a while to get RISK, with a final cry of, “Oh, it’s *both* bloody ends!”
  20. 15 minutes, NIGHT SIGHT, didn’t think it shaky enough to consider other options.

    I also liked Dean’s 20a yesterday.

  21. 35 minutes for me, with NIGHT LIGHT entered without hesitation, as I didn’t think of SIGHT, which seems valid enough to me! FOI, BAG with the NW falling quickly. I then worked in a clockwise direction, finishing with LACROSSE and LOI, TROIKA. Smiled at MORASS. Enjoyed the puzzle, so thanks to setter and U.
  22. 25 minutes. Standard Monday fare, I thought, apart possibly from TROIKA. NIGHT-SIGHT didn’t even occur to me, mainly because I normally refer to that notion as NIGHT VISION, but as it’s in Chambers it’s perfectly justifiable.
  23. My 9:22 suggests this was typical Monday fare. Thankfully “sight” didn’t occur to me.
  24. Oh, there was just one more thing–why does “cipher” mean “O”?
    1. O! Never mind, found it. “an obsolete name for zero”. Even marked as obsolete, I’m surprised I’ve never come across that use before.

      And apparently I’ve also been misunderstanding what’s meant when a person is described as a cipher; I’d been assuming it mean they were a bit of an enigma, rather than being of no importance.

      Score another one for crossword-based vocabulary education.

    2. “So let us, ciphers to this great accompt, on your imaginary forces work ” – the Prologue to Henry V, in which Shakespeare lets the audience know that the few on stage represent many thousands.
  25. First finish for a few days, the incessant rain helped there, no golf no gardening. I am of the NIGHT LIGHT school, only because I thought of that first, if I had thought of SIGHT first I would be of of that persuasion no doubt and then go to great lengths to justify my choice and vice versa, the addition of the word “on” at the end of the clue would have stopped all this I think and made LIGHT a shoe in. I have been attempting the 15×15 for a bit now and this is the first contentious answer I can remember and that can’t be bad can it?
      1. Haha… have just spent a fruitless few moments searching the etymology of ‘shoo in, without noticing that there is a ‘ before your question mark too! Thought it must have been somehow short for ‘atishoo in’ or some such nonsense!
      2. Of course. You have now joined the list headed by that woman in HR at the company I worked at in the nineties and including a latin master and two traffic wardens, it’s a long list . You are of course completely correct, including the damn apostrophe which makes me hate you even more.
        Just because I normally thank the blogger but today forgot to, and I’m not going to so there!
  26. A small tad under half an hour for me.

    I put in “night sight” but then worried about it and got “NIGHT LIGHT”, but I agree that “night sight” is viable alternative.

  27. 25 mins with NIGHT SIGHT which was so clearly the correct answer that I looked no further. Slower than I should have been but I blame that on SWMBO making me do a 3 hour round trip to Toulouse to visit that Swedish hell on earth – IKEA.
  28. No real time to post, but overall not too tough. I actually thought of NIGHT SIGHT first, but hesitated, because I think of it as NIGHT VISION, as mentioned earlier. I later thought of ‘LIGHT” which I thought worked better. But if the former is in Chambers or another referenced dictionary, I agree it’s a valid alternative. As also mentioned earlier, this very rarely occurs. So it’s an unusual day. LOI was LACROSSE, where ‘over’=’across’ went right by me without my notice, so it was biffed. Regards.
  29. 12 mins with NIGHT-SIGHT, which I agree is a valid alternative as has already been argued by plenty of others, and I’m another who was so sure of it that I didn’t try to think of an alternative. FRISK was my LOI after LACROSSE.
  30. Nice easy sub 20-min solve. Put NIGHT-LIGHT straight in without thinking of anything else, as ‘land’ and ‘landed’ are so often rendered by ‘light’ and ‘lit’ in Crosswordland. I see the arguments in favour of ‘site’, but there is (at least to me) a subtle, and difficult to define, dislocation between ‘site’ and ‘land’, whereas the match between ‘light’ and ‘land’ is 100% good. That, said, I’m sure if I had come up with NIGHT-SIGHT I’d be all for it!

    Edited at 2016-06-13 08:05 pm (UTC)

  31. My paper says that this is 26437 not 26425. Is it different on the site?
  32. A Daniel come to judgement, yea, a Daniel!—
    O wise young judge, how I do honour thee!

    Many, many thanks for your thoughtful and reasoned addendum to your entry on 3 down, and not only because I agree with your conclusions!

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