Times 26,471: Back Once Again With The Ill Behaviour

Hello again gridmates, did you miss me? My recovery from four days in a tent in Suffolk with only a ten-pack of pre-mixed gin & tonic cans and a jar of crunchy peanut butter for sustenance has been slow, especially as I’m still languishing with a (noise-induced? curse you Protomartyr and/or Blanck Mass) ear infection which is making me feel quite sorry for myself. But soldiering on…

At least this puzzle did not contribute much to my misery, being rather straightforward with no obscure vocabulary (except perhaps the hidden at 5d) to worry about, and on the general knowledge front only a couple of historical personages, hobnobbing in the NW corner. So once again I was comfortably inside 10 minutes this week, but only a minute behind Magoo, which I guess means this puzzle couldn’t have been a complete sitter.

But still, if anything I felt some of the clues were a bit too straightforward today? Starting at 6a, what else is “fingerprint feature” going to call to mind? 11a is a crossword staple that is brilliant the first time you encounter it, but for jaded old lags like me, becomes a write-in. “Deputy on vacation” led me instantaneously to “DY” so another automatic fill; “posh girls’ establishment” at 21a is basically a concise crossword clue, and surely everyone immediately thinks of PICT for “ancient Scot”, SIGN for “Leo possibly” and FEE for “Payment… (3)”? Perhaps I should check my privilege and realise that not everyone has done ten thousand crosswords before, and the times currently on the scoreboard don’t seem to bear out a theory that this was a totally predictable puzzle, but I don’t know, something about it felt a bit underwhelming to me. Or perhaps I’m just being a bear with a sore ear today. I am confident anyway that the normal phenomenon will occur in the comments wherein if I’m effusive about a puzzle everyone gives it a hard time, and if I’m lukewarm it attracts universal praise.

My LOIs were 5d (always nice when a hidden word evades capture until the very last minute; the clever lift-and-separate requirements of both 1a and 10a held out till almost the end) and 14a. COD-wise, I liked 7d and 23a: smooth surfaces incorporating the wordplay indicators in clever and elegant ways. So I guess I did enjoy it a fair bit really: many thanks to the setter!

1 Nonsense talked about approved fairy stories kept here? (9)
6 A question of identity, both hands showing fingerprint feature (5)
WHORL – WHO + R L (right and left: both hands)
9 Notable first female priest’s powerless (5)
ASTOR – {p}ASTOR (losing his P for power). Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, the first female MP to take her seat.
10 I set on first mate in savage fashion (9)
BESTIALLY – I set on BEST [first] + ALLY [mate]
11 The deficient retail supply (8,7)
13 Absurd noun dropped by Eastenders’ editor? (8)
COCKEYED – N dropped by COCK{n}EY ED
14 Devious devil touring East in disguise (6)
VEILED – (DEVIL*) touring E
16 Fine isn’t collected by deputy on vacation (6)
DAINTY – AIN’T collected by D{eput}Y
18 Scorer‘s firm marks a problem (8)
COMPOSER – CO M POSER [firm | marks | a problem]
21 Posh girls’ establishment disposing of tutor? (9,6)
23 Disease that would be passed quickly by mouth when contracted (9)
INFLUENZA – the contracted form of which is a homophone (“by mouth”) of FLEW.
25 Were bachelor to join this marriage there’d be trouble afoot (5)
UNION – if B joins UNION we get BUNION, a podiatric but far from footling complaint.
26 Divine visitor almost succeeded (5)
27 Before submission, one typically makes a claim (9)
PRETENDER – PRE TENDER [before | submission], one who makes a claim of thrones.
1 Put identifying mark on torch (5)
BRAND – Double definition
2 Abroad, old group’s unable to operate (3,2,6)
OUT OF ACTION – OUT O FACTION [abroad | old | group]
3 3 Religious instruction accepted by dramatist that supplies dope (7)
SYRINGE – R.I. accepted by SYNGE, John Millington, playwright of the western world.
4 This writer knocked back pub drink in anger (8)
EMBITTER – reverse of ME [this writer, “knocked back”] + BITTER [pub drink]
5 Housewife’s talk, not entirely joyous (6)
FESTAL – some of {housewi}FES TAL{k}
6 Sound a warning, perhaps, when crossing street (7)
7 Member of parliament fed up with Liberal decline (3)
OWL – LOW [fed up], with the L declining to the bottom. Parliament being the collective noun for wise owls, presumably on the grounds that great wisdom was a prerequisite for a seat in the House, in some remote, near-mythical bygone age.
8 Churchman responsible for poetry recital? (3,6)
LAY READER – a play on LAY, which can mean both “non-ordained” and a sung poem.
12 Remembers what visiting carer does? (5,2,4)
CALLS TO MIND – A visiting carer being a calling minder…
13 Commander improving without first getting organised (9)
15 Fibre, and estimate of how long it’s been around? (8)
ROUGHAGE – My rough age is certainly a lot rougher than it was a decade or two back, I’ll tell you that…
17 Government finally delivers something to deal with the cold? (7)
TISSUES – {governmen}T ISSUES
19 Ancient Scot on river shot (7)
PICTURE – PICT on the URE. Quite right too, if he’s come down as far as North Yorks we can presume he’s part of a raiding party, and shooting certainly indicated.
20 Leo possibly completed what recruits do (4,2)
SIGN UP – SIGN [Leo possibly] + UP [completed]
22 Mortgagee, they say, not the man for company (5)
LONER – homophone of LOANER, eschewer of company.
24 Payment offered on a regular basis (3)
FEE – {o}F{f}E{r}E{d}

44 comments on “Times 26,471: Back Once Again With The Ill Behaviour”

  1. You forgot ‘scorer’. But the ‘the’ of 11ac had me fooled for a while. I biffed OWL–easy enough to do–but didn’t get the def: I wouldn’t equate being fed up with being low. I also got 13d by misparsing; what I’ve called Gettier solving, after the philosopher who showed that knowledge cannot be defined as ‘justified true belief’: I thought ‘improving’ might be DIYing, around F for first. I liked FESTAL, especially because I spotted the hidden fairly early on, something I seldom do.
    1. Was Gettier anything to do with blue barn facades? Epistemology, it’s all coming back to me (as one of the lines in my forthcoming rap album will go)…
      1. DNK blue barn façades–there’s nothing in epistemology to come back to me, and I no longer remember how I came across Gettier– but having looked them up, yes.
  2. Stuck in a few places and ended up being about an hour. Some write-ins, especially in the lower half of the grid, but others that needed more nutting out and ended up not getting 14 after incorrectly entering ‘comes’ for CALLS in 12. I didn’t understand the reference to ‘first female’ in 9, but now see that Nancy Astor was the first female MP in the UK, something I’d completely forgotten about despite watching the TV series (remember Lisa Harrow – an NZ’er, playing an American in a British series) back in the 80’s. I liked the ‘n’ for noun bit in 13a, after trying to get ‘aitch’ in somewhere to no avail. My favourites were INFLUENZA and my last in and smile moment ROUGHAGE.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. I didn’t think of Astor’s historical significance at time of entering, I have to admit, I just thought “politician, first lady, done and done”. A nice clue actually because “first lady” surely points most of our brains squarely in the direction of EVE.
  3. Somewhere around 20 minutes but the ipad refused to give me an exact time as I’d managed to type FESTAK at 6D. I delayed myself slightly at the end by having typed COMES TO MIND instead of CALLS TO MIND and by assuming the fibre at 15D was going to being in LONG. However, I was pleased at managing to negotiate my way out of these cul de sacs better than is often the case.
  4. Right down to the wire in my hour, defeated (but only just, I feel) by ROUGHAGE.

    Unlike our setter, this is the first time I’ve seen 11a, so I rather liked it; COD though to my LOI as the bell rang, COCKEYED. Never heard of SYNGE; knew of Lady ASTOR, but sadly didn’t know she was the first female MP; wavered between BRAND and blaze because I didn’t know a “brand” was a torch. Have only just worked out why “deputy on vacation” is “DY”.

    Might be worth noting that 20a has a misprint in the CC printed version; is has “possible” instead of “possibly”, but that didn’t slow me down much.

    Still, pretty good for a Friday. Definitely more of a workout for me than for our esteemed blogger. Hope the ears improve soon. Thanks for the education. I SAID, THANKS FOR THE EDUCATION!

  5. Welcome back V, of course you were missed. But you have a couple of unVerlainesque typos in your blog, a numbering problem at 5dn and a reference to the non-existent 14dn. Perhaps you need another 10-pack of Vera and Phil to fully regain your stride.

    Great blog though. Totally agree with your observations on today’s puzzle, especially with the climax when you come down in favour of the setter. Nice way to finish.

    Pleasant solve. FESTAL and ROUGHAGE were my LTI. INFLUENZA unparsed.

    Thanks setter and V, have a good weekend everyone.

    1. In the early days of my blogging for this site, I seem to remember that a typo or misnumbering was a pretty much guaranteed weekly occurrence… what a difference two years makes, if these are now “unVerlainesque”!
  6. 19:16 with much time unravelling COMES TO MIND. Knew Lady Astor as my Club, the Naval and Military, bought her extensive London house in St James’s Square a few years back when we were booted out of 94 Piccadilly. Thanks setter and V
  7. Welcome back, V. Four days with only ten G + T’s? Serious deprivation. For an ear infection I recommend pouring a good Scottish malt into the affected ear and then the mouth, swallowing at regular intervals.
    I agree with your verdict; 17 minutes for me, another straightforward job and the hidden 5d was also my LOI. Thanks also for explaining INFLUENZA which was just biffed.
    I liked 17d for my CoD.
  8. Was that Churchill or F E Smith? A FINISHING SCHOOL, that’s what I need. Down to last three quickly and then couldn’t see BOOKSHELF for ages. EMBITTER and FESTAL then followed. 35 minutes.
    1. Apparently it goes right back to 1899 – no names then – before it was attributed to Winston, and by Groucho to GBS.

      My favourite is Cadogan’s tart response when Liddell told him he wouldn’t run on a Sunday: “In my day it was King first and God after.”

  9. 45 minutes with no real problems (but no excitement).

    I did try BOOKLOCKS at 1a but remembered this was The Times.

  10. Welcome back V and hope the limited input didn’t lead to sightings of pink sheep. On the wavelength today with similar experiences to posts above. Having biffed 23a I started looking too hard for Xs and Qs which put me from FM to AM mode briefly. How was the festival for you?
  11. 35 min, of which 10 was spent trying desperately to find anything for 14ac to agree with COMES TO MIND
  12. Well I thought some of this seemed quite fresh and original. Last in was ROUGHAGE for some reason which had eluded and bugged me throughout as I solved everything around it quite early on and kept going back to it. I liked the {b}UNION clue because unlike most usual deletions the starting word and the answer require completely different pronunciations. It was spoiled a little though by “bunion” suggested by “trouble afoot” having come up in the puzzle I blogged on Tuesday (though the answer then was BUNYAN).

    I’m not entirely happy with SYRINGE as something that supplies dope a) because it can supply lots of other things too, and b) because there are many other means of administering dope. It’s too loose and with no suggestion of the fact (like a question mark). I never heard of SYNGE either, so that didn’t help.

    Everywhere I’ve looked on online has “Leo possible” at 20dn. I’ve not seen the printed copy but the alleged facsimile of same also has “possible”.

    Edited at 2016-07-22 09:48 am (UTC)

    1. Mmm, some of it *was* very fresh, and then some of it maybe wasn’t. “Trouble afoot” for bunion was another device that felt a bit old hat (dare I say… corny) but I liked the clue anyway.
      1. Yes, I’d agree about bunion/afoot (it only came up two days ago so it would be foolish not to!) but the rest of the clue stood out and it gave us a comparatively rare example of a definition in the middle – something our recruits from the QC won’t have seen too often.
    2. My printed edition – an early one as I get it delivered – also has “possible”
  13. Verlaine,

    Whilst you were away in Tentville catching your death, I took up your challenge and polished off last Friday’s 15×15 in a mere 2:59! This was was my second attempt – I was simply trying to establish how quickly I could fill her in knowing the answers.

    I am sure you might do just better than this but as someone pointed out it means that Magoo & Co are reading, solving and writing all at the same time. (They may also be eating drinking and smoking!)

    Could you break 3 minutes in this fashion?

    Today took me some ten times longer – 34 minutes. Initially I had 12dn as COMES TO MIND with 5dn FESTAL LOI.

    COD 1ac BOOKSHELF a tricky parse WOD WHORL

    horryd Shanghai

  14. a mere 11 seconds behind Magoo but I bet he didn’t have to stop to apply Tippex like I did, which is probably a good thing in his case as I believe he solves electronically!
  15. 31 minutes today, with the NW causing me the most delay. Didn’t know SYNGE, but when the penny dropped, he finally allowed me to close out with ASTOR and COCKEYED LOsI. FOI OWL which came straight to mind when I couldn’t make a word out of MP & L. Hadn’t heard of FESTAL but managed to see the hidden fairly quickly. Had VEILED before I tackled 14d, so I didn’t go down the COMES TO MIND path. Used the same parsing as Kevingregg for CODIFYING. Thanks to V for the correct version; and thanks to setter for an enjoyable puzzle.
  16. 24 minutes. My first Times puzzle for a week after a period of crossword abstinence. This was definitely a bit on the undemanding side with easily-spotted deceptions such as the definition in 11a, and obvious answers from `12 and 21. On the other hand the definition for 7 had me fooled for a while. LOI was 19 – I was too focused on fabrics.
  17. 48 minutes and, predictably enough, I enjoyed this. Fell into the ‘comes to mind’ (learns me for my steadfast support of cryptic definitions) and was unfamiliar with “whorl”. Obviously don’t move in the same circles (geddit?) as the Mighty V.

    Last in the devious VEILED.

    Edited at 2016-07-22 11:41 am (UTC)

  18. 15m, starting very quickly but then getting bogged down. Devices like ‘the’ in 11ac or ‘deputy on vacation’ would have fooled me a few years ago, but I saw straight through them today, which I will take as a sign that I am getting better at these things.
    I had never heard of Synge, although I had heard of his most famous play. So I have learned something today.
    1. My guilty secret with JM Synge is that my brain always desperately wants to pronounce his name as “singe”, or perhaps even as in “le singe est sur la branche”.
  19. 13:04 and my back story was consistent with that of others:
    > Quick start, slower finish;
    > Didn’t know what Nancy was first to do;
    > Hadn’t heard of Synge (or the plays wot he wrote);
    > Biffed influenza.

    No problem with calls/comes but possible/possibly probable threw me a bit.

    I loved the clue for ROUGHAGE.

    Thanks setter & V for the entertainment.

  20. About 25 minutes, the last 10 or so screwing around at 14A because like others I had entered COMES TO MIND. It took a while before I realized the error. Actually, I solved VEILED independently before I was correctly able to see the correct CALLS TO MIND. I salute our blogger for his ability to survive 4 days in a tent with such scanty liquid rations. I’d have gone foraging for replenishment the second day. If, that is, anyone could convince me I should spend 4 days in a tent, anywhere. Those days are well gone. Regards to all.
  21. Just over an hour, with ASTOR and FESTAL (really a good hidden clue) the LOI. Of course as a non-Brit I had never heard of the first lady and the OWLs in Parliament were also not quite on the tip of my tongue/keyboard (although I think I have seen this nomenclature somewhere before).
  22. No idea how long this took as I had so many interruptions that I lost track but it felt like just over an hour of actually solving which is about the Friday norm for me. I too have learned to see the ‘deputy on vacation’ type of clue now thanks to this blog and practice. Last two were 3 down and 9 across as I had never heard of Synge and could not properly parse Astor. Liked 1 ac and 13 ac.
  23. A knock-free 11 mins, which is probably my quickest Friday solve for quite a while, and quite pleasing because I had another busy day at work. Maybe vacuuming before I started the puzzle got rid of any residual tiredness. Anyway, this felt like another puzzle where I was on the right wavelength, although like others I’d entered “comes” rather than “calls” at the beginning of 12dn and spent my last minute staring blankly at 14ac before the penny dropped. I’d heard of SYNGE so I didn’t have a problem making sense of 3dn.
  24. 17′ today, posting late as I am in York singing. While Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat as a Member of Parliament (MP not owl) , she was not the first elected. This was Constance, Countess Markiewisz (sp?) who was elected (for Sinn Fein) before Nancy, but refused to take her seat. Nice and straightforward for a Friday, with as Verlaine says quite a few write-ins for experienced solvers. Thanks setter and blogger.
  25. 12:06 … an unoriginal solving experience here, racing through most then getting stuck on ROUGHAGE, ASTOR and SYRINGE, as well as the well-hidden FESTAL.

    Frankly, Verlaine, after 3 days of peanut butter, well-known to be churned by the devil himself, I think you got off lightly.

  26. 10:41 here for another pleasant, straightforward solve. At least it should have been straightforward if I hadn’t had minor digressions wondering if there was a word HACKEYED that would satisfy 13ac or STINDY that would safisfy 16ac.

    There was a time when SYNGE used to crop up pretty regularly, but it would seem that he’s been neglected by the daily cryptic for more than 10 years.

    As for ASTOR, I first came across her while singing Harry was a Bolshie:

    Who is this Harry Pollitt
    So humble and contrite?
    A friend of Lady Astor’s,
    OK then it’s all right!

    (That was “Comrade God” asking the question – or maybe St Peter asking on his behalf.) Sadly, it’s quite hard to find a decent version of this delightful old song – very popular when I was young – on the Web. For instance the word “reactionary” has all too often been replaced by “counter-revolutionary”, which makes a mockery of the scansion.

    Edited at 2016-07-22 10:36 pm (UTC)

  27. Again a day late, but only a few minutes slower than my average, at 35 minutes.

    It did seem rather gentle to me, with 11ac reminding me that I have spent too long doing these puzzles.

    My sympathies to Verlaine over his ear, and my admiration for coping on such limited rations.

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