Times 26497 – We’re Not All Rob Roys

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Not a personal best, but my 26’59” sees me on the first page of the leaderboard, ahead of certain luminaries, who shall remain nameless. (Hint: They have been known to finish faster than Jason.) It would appear that it is not the Zika virus, or indeed the equally virulent housemaid’s knee, that has caused carnage this morning, but a visit to the lowlands of Scotland.

Those that have been tripped up are in good company, though, as no less an intellect than Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock of 23 Railway Cuttings, East Cheam, was confounded by the tongue of Burns, Scott and MacDonald on one famous occasion, as he sought to perform his civic duty with the minimum of fuss.

A rather peppy offering overall, I thought. Just the thing to revive one after an evening spent celebrating the toppling of the overlords in Peking by their sinful predecessors as rulers of the barren rock I call home.

Way hay an’ away we go!


1. FUCHSIA – anagram* of I + SUCH in FA. If you can’t remember how to spell the plant, just remember it was named after a Mr. Fuchs.
5. SOBER – SOB + RE reversed.
9. HOCUS – CU in HOS (Biblical book Hosiah – in my RSP [Revised Substandard Perversion] – everywhere else, HOSEA: thanks to Rob Rolfe for pointing out my boob with such gentleness); a verb that really sound as if it ought to be a noun (like ‘hokum’).
10. ENAMOURED – E + O in NAMUR + ED; Belgium has ten provinces, but, as far as crossword setters are concerned, it might be just one.
12. TIEPOLO – TIE + POLO; Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was an 18th century decorative painter.
13. KEYBOARDER – KEY + BOARDER; we have a goodly number among us, as I learnt on this board that a true computer geek may be distinguished by his (or her) hatred of a mouse, and use whenever possible only of the keyboard.
15. OKRA – O + K[enyan] + R + A.
18. DICK – a (Lord Peter) whimsical definition; spotted dick, bangers and mash, fish and chips, bubble and squeak: the list of healthy foods given to the world by the British is a long one, indeed.
20. OPHTHALMIC – CHAP [wi]TH LIMO*; the spelling rule here is just keep adding the aitches where they look impossible.
23. DULLARD – LUD reversed + LARD.
24. CROWDED – D ([sta]D[ium]) in CROWED.
25. GONDOLIER – LIDO* in GONE + [pie]R; I initially had ‘gondalier’; the spelling rule here is use your brain not your ear.
26. SMIRK – SM + IRK.
27. AGLEY – ‘gang agley’ (meaning ‘go awry’ or ‘go wrong’) is a Scots phrase, entering the lexicon from Burns’s poem ‘Tae a Moose’ (‘To a Mouse’), where it occurs in the oft quoted line ‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley’.
28. ERITREA – E + RIT(R)E + A; definition ‘state’.


2. CAST-IRON – CON around A STIR (there is a jail in Brixton, South London); I had ‘iron-clad’ at first.
3. SKEIN – S[ic]K + EIN.
4. APARTMENT – PART + MEN in a reversal of TA (the erstwhile Territorial Army, which, like the old soldiers of which it was composed, will never die in Crosswordland).
5. STONED – another whimsical one, referencing Stephen, celebrated as the first Christian martyr.
6. BURDOCK – RUB reversed + DOCK (sounds like DOC, the dwarf in the Disney classic famous for his Spoonerisms).
7. RODEO – ROMEO with the middle letter changed.
8. WHIZZ-KID – WHIZZ + KID to give us someone like Verlaine.
14. RAPID FIRE – P[rojectiles] in RAID + FIRE.
16. ARCHDUKE – UK in ARCH + DE. There must have been many – like Randy Van Warmer songs – but only one is remembered.
17. CAROUSER – CAROUSEL with R for L.
19. COLONEL – definition ‘officer’; COL + ONE L (cos fieLd marshaL has got two).
21. MADEIRA – MADE + RA about I[nnkeeper].
22. SAXONY – X + ON in SAY (‘for example’); the number one place on my places-to-visit list.
23. DOGMA – AM + GOD reversed.
24. CORGI – [troope]R in CO-GI (‘fellow soldier’ – geddit?)

58 comments on “Times 26497 – We’re Not All Rob Roys”

  1. …opted for AGLAY over AGLEY after some consideration. Not sure why this should be marked wrong, given that spelling didn’t seem to be Rabbie’s long suit.

    Very lively crossword, but in the end the pressure of being elevated to overlord status by Sotira yesterday was too much for me.

    Thanks setter, and thanks U for not mentioning the you-know-what.

    1. Well, I do, but in my customary terribly British and allusive way.

      Or are you referring to the rugby in Sydney? Need to take a leaf out of the 1995 book and put the bugs in their food, perhaps.

        1. The Lions tour will start with great expectations and end in tears. And we take RU seriously!
      1. No, don’t apologise. I actually enjoyed my brief spell as an overlord, although it would have been nice to have more minions.
  2. 20.48. Well, I wanted to be sure of it and not just bang in ALLEY for no apparent reason other than it fits. I’m not convinced the clue works well. AGLEY is astray or awry, which it must mean in the famous Burns line, but it’s still “wrong” whether it follows gang or not. Gang agley doesn’t mean “wrong”, it means “go wrong”. Perhaps someone here can reinterpret the grammar so that it makes sense.
    RODEO was also a bit odd. Ignoring the lack of precision as to what Romeo’s heart might change to (pick any one from 25), what’s fixing doing in the clue? Is RODEO still a cattle round up, as it surely once was, or by general use now just the show?
    Apart from those reservations, sufficient meat on the bones to make it interesting and not just a keyboarder’s chance to show off.

    Edited at 2016-08-22 07:08 am (UTC)

    1. Isn’t the clue simply an instruction to find a Scots word meaning ‘wrong’ that collocates with Scots ‘gang’ (which remains untranslated).
      1. Which makes it a sort of association clue: “what word meaning wrong might you associate with gang?”. Leave out the Scotland bit and you get “Its wrong following go” for “astray” which hardly seems precise.
        1. Yes, but I think appearances are saved by the surface association with gangs in Scotland.

          To be honest, I think one’s feeling about the clue is to a degree determined by whether you get it quite early (early, as in not spending a lot of time on it – it was my last in, as it will be for many) and enjoy it, or whether you get it after much wrestling…or don’t get it at all.

          1. I agree with your take Ulaca. ‘Gang agley’ ‘Go awry’ Go wrong’ works well enough for me. My immediate reaction on spotting the answer after a couple of checkers went in was that this was as close to an old-fashioned quotation clue as we are likely to see these days, needing a knowledge both of the quotation and how the word appears in print.
          2. I think you’re right (especially about the gang surface), though I got the answer early because of the Burns association – I’ve delivered both the haggis and the timorous beastie in my time in cod Scots – and then tried to work out the wordplay to be sure, and that’s what I couldn’t make work. I think malcj is right: to all intents and purposes it’s a quotation clue with a contrived surface but nothing to help you with the spelling.
  3. I seem doomed in the last few weeks to be a little short of perfect, and today continued that run.

    At least I’m in good company plumping for “aglay” rather than AGLEY. And given that I got the rest right in my hour, despite not knowing about Hosiah, Namur, TIEPOLO or Stephen, I suppose I should be fairly happy. It would just be nice to finish a puzzle for once…

    Thanks for the elucidation. Word by word from crossword puzzles seems a rather roundabout way of reading the entire Christian bible, but it does seem to be the way I’m doing it. And it’s probably the only way I’d ever bother…

  4. . . . during which I managed to forget to type in the vowels for H-C-S and changed SOBER to SODER when trying to type BURDOCK. Muppet.
  5. 30 minutes but technically DNF because I needed to check the spelling at 27ac before I could solve 22dn. I thought it was spelt “aglee”.

    Having been caught out by him on a number of previous occasions I was pleased to remember TIEPOLO today, though to be fair, given the helpful wordplay, he was almost unavoidable.

    Eddie Izzard (before he turned into a political bore) used to do a fabulous routine in which he considered what the worst laid schemes of mice might have been.

    Edited at 2016-08-22 07:04 am (UTC)

      1. Excellent. That would be Mozzarella or Parmesan rather than Mousetrap, presumably?

        You’re only supposed to chew the bloody doors off!

        Edited at 2016-08-22 07:56 am (UTC)

  6. Usual 30 minutes but stuck in ALLEY (never got out) even after considering that gang meant go. 27a – What an agley clue? as they would say around here.
    1. I did wonder whether alley was justifiable as a meaning of gang in Scots, but I’d have lost that bet.
  7. Good start to the week with 14’36”, dnk HOCUS, but I think that the OT book is usually called Hosea, (not Hosiah), which makes no difference to the wordplay. Delayed as usual by the spelling of OPHTHALMIC, about which I have a blind spot. Agree with z, 7d doesn’t work for me either. Knew AGLEY – in twenty years of teaching (maths) I would occasionally ask students if they knew where the title of Michael Gove’s least favourite book came from. Despite the book being a GCSE staple for decades, I never did find a student who knew. Thanks ulaca and setter.
      1. Serves you right! Much as I love it, in the original KJ (of whch I have a facsimile), it can lead to much lost time with no prophet.
  8. 14:00 .. a fiddly sort of affair requiring more care than usual. Submitted this with fingers crossed on a few counts.

    AGLEY is obviously fine, because I knew it, but I can see why a body might get a wee bit wraith at the lack of wordplay.

    Last in by some distance was KEYBOARDER

  9. Nice crossword, nothing gang agley, despite having to start off by spelling 1ac, but then I am 1/8 Scottish, it’s in the blood…

    Reminded of old joke by 5ac (and 23 ac):
    Witness: “And what’s more, he was as drunk as a Judge, yer honour”
    Judge (kindly) “I think you mean, as drunk as a lord, my good man”
    Witness: “Yes, my Lord”

    Good links, Ulaca!

  10. … not TIEPOLO again!
    Surely a game of two halves, with the top going in quickly, then a bit more ratiocination required below the line.
    Can a prison be a STIR (2dn) — count noun? Or is STIR a mass noun describing time in the nick? (“Four years in stir”.)
    Is OKRA only found in Africa (15ac)? I’ve only had the wonderful stuff in Indian food.
  11. 31 out of 32 correct in 20 minutes, then blank faced as to what follows GANG north of the border. Although son has married into an Aberdonian clan it has not rubbed off and Mr Burns’s output is blank verse to me. So a sad DNF for a Monday. Apart from 27a, a fine puzzle better than the usual Monday quasi-quickie.
  12. 10m, but I failed the literary quotation/Scottish spelling test. I can only assume there is a competition qualifier in the paper today. These old puzzles are interesting but I’m glad they’re not like this any more.
  13. Another DNF as 27ac did not go in within the hour.

    Methink Burns and bagpipes are not suitable at the breakfast table.


    Jack – what pray is boring about Eddie Izzard’s politics?

    horryd Shanghai

  14. Took a while to get my LOI, STONED, making 42 minutes in all. FOI was RODEO which didn’t give me any pause for thought. Didn’t manage to connect HOCUS to an OT book. I often seem to be caught out by those references, but at least I got the answer by association with Hocus Pocus. Burns’ timorous beastie quote gave me a small pause, but the light bulb soon glowed. Is OPHTHALMIC used as a noun here? All the definitions I can find say “of or relating to the eye.” Thanks to U for clearing up the parsing of 9a and 16d. I didn’t stop to think long enough about where the DE came from as ARCHDUKE was so obviously correct.
  15. Hadn’t a clue about 27a, and just put it in the category of “unplayable deliveries” as I sauntered cheerily back to the pavilion. Not sure I will ever muster the willpower to brush up my Burns even if it might make me a more proficient crossworder.

    Enjoyed the “how many L’s in General” clue, but shared Z8’s slight reservation regarding RODEO. Thanks to setter and Ulaca for his usual highly entertaining blog.

      1. Point of order U. Gatt wasn’t bowled behind his pads.

        Now I think I’ll go and have a look at it on youtube for possibly the four thousandth time.

        1. Actually, I was referencing that urban legend, AO. Honest, ump! (I’ve already had my cock-up of the day on the Judaeo-Christian front – another of my supposed strong suits.)
  16. The best laid plans went wrong today, biffing ALLEY on the basis of GANGWAY. Should have seen AGLEY although I’d have misspelt it with a second A. Hopefully the good Lord of Hosea 6:6 will show his mercy. Also biffed BURDOCK without parsing, a plant that came readily to mind after last Friday’s memory of the Corona man in our street shared with z8b8d8k, a Cherryade guy. I actually liked limeade best but Dandelion and Burdock was second on the list. Good puzzle, finished incorrectly in 50 minutes.
  17. In this Olympic season allow me a boast for a personal best. First time ever I matched the blogger’s time – once I had corrected my spelling of Fuchsia (thanks for the tip) – and largely due to my knowledge of Burns
  18. No wordplay for a word like AGLEY is criminal. The rest wasn’t too easy either, but I could not figure that last one out for the life of me, so a failure at the last hurdle.
    1. Thanks for being the first one to break cover on AGLEY – I was beginning to think that it was just me !
      1. Well, maybe not the first. I think Keriothe made his feelings pretty clear. And fair play to him.
  19. DNF as I gave up on the Scottish word and had gone over the hour so not a good start on my return from a week in Cornwall with small people. Put in colonel without understanding exactly why, so many thanks to blogger for explanation. Hope my brain works better tomorrow.
  20. No trouble with AGLEY. I must have been on the wavelength this morning. And our old friend TIEPOLO makes a return after a long absence. I was beginning to think he’d been kicked into touch. 22 minutes. Ann
  21. 25 mins for a one-letter DNF. Only one hurdle today despite a pair of plants – I knew the Burns but not the spelling so like some others bunged in a second “a”.
  22. Surprised about the African aspect of okra. It’s a key ingredient in gumbo, the Cajun stew dish common down in Louisiana.
  23. 20 mins. It was 11 mins for all but two clues; STONED took a couple of minutes because Christian martyrs, early or otherwise, aren’t exactly my strong suit, and like quite a few others AGLEY was my LOI because Burns is an even weaker suit. The word was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t see how the wordplay worked, which isn’t suprising now I know there wasn’t any. After spending 7 or 8 mins mulling it over I shrugged my shoulders and bunged it in. Count me as another who is very unimpressed with the clue, and I would go so far as to say that if clues like this make more than a fleeting appearance in the Times puzzle I’ll probably decide to spend my time doing something more enjoyable. I feel better now that my moan is off my chest.
  24. AGLEY? Really? No chance on that, I couldn’t make head or tail out of the clue and didn’t even hazard a guess. Everything else went in during about 20 minutes or so. Regards.
  25. Fiddly one today, took me a while, but I got there in the end, after looking up Tiepolo and St Stephen.

    My first thought for 27 was Alloa, but when I corrected myself I did spell “agley” correctly. 🙂

    I wonder whether the setter started off to make a pangram and ran out of steam? A bonus challenge – what’s the fewest changes needed to the grid to make a pangram?

  26. DNF. Thank heavens I just bunged in ALLEY and didn’t waste any time on a clue that I’d never have got. The rest of it seemed … okay, I suppose.
  27. A late start due to visiting Ancient Mother but a smooth 16:18. Being married into a Scots family, I knew AGLEY (and also ulaca, that it is wha’ ha’e) but have never associated Archdukes with France (Archduke Ferdinand?). Anyway, thanks to setter and U.
    1. I hate to argue(!) and I see that that styling is in the title of the Real Mackenzies’ song, but the normal spelling of the phrase in Scots would be “wha hae”, no? The first apostrophe, in particular, I see no need for, while the second would function to indicate that something has been omitted from the English, which would be frowned upon north of the border, since it sets up English as the norm. Am I missing something?
      1. Rather than get into a fight with the bidie-in, I accept everything that you say.
  28. DNF as misbiffed ALLEY for 27a. The rest was straightforward and add my moan to the others for 27a. Enjoyed the blog!
  29. Satisfied to have everything correct in a quick time for me, but I fess up to a shameless amount of biffing in order to try to beat the clock.
  30. To all those unenamoured of agley: now you know how we Scots feel when, as occurred recently, lava and larva are clued as homonyms.
    1. Yeah but it’s and English crossword, not a Scottish one. Clue is in the name of the newspaper: “The Times of London.” And FWIW I don’t speak London English, either.
      I hate crosswords like this full of foreign words and clues in languages I don’t speak – Namur, Saxony, agley, de, ein, etc.
      20-odd minutes, with a correct guess at agley.
  31. I thought my 7:58 was going to land me well down the TCC leaderboard (as has happened all too often with similar crosswords in the past) but it seems to have held up pretty well. I assume this is down to AGLEY, a word I first came across many, many years ago (probably in my teens) in the works of some humorist or other – Stephen Potter springs to mind as a possibility (not Burns anyway, or in a crossword for that matter). To be honest, I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for those who hadn’t met it before. It’s the sort of word that Times solvers in my day were simply assumed to know.

    A pleasant, straightforward start to the week.

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