Times 26607 – last of the best Sellers

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
The third of the Championship Grand Final set; I see, as was also the case last week, 12 of you 24 wizards had it complete and correct; I thought it was slightly easier than the last one but required some leaps of faith in wordplay if you didn’t know the Mephisto-style answers to a few, such as 4a, 2d, 6d, and 22d. The other clues seemed less demanding, but perhaps I was just on better form. 2d was the only one I had to check afterwards as it didn’t sound like a real word in spite of the wordplay and checkers making it seem likely. Favourites were 20a for the good memories evoked and 17d for the definition; this word always seems to bring out the best in our setters!

1 PRIMPS – PPS being a parliamentary aide, insert RIM being skirt; D dresses up.
4 SWEETSOP – Poles are POSTS, reverse and insert WEE for small, D fruit. I’ve never eaten one but I must have seen one before in these pages because it rang a distant bell.
9 RAT TRAP – PART, TAR would be some, seaman; reverse it; D difficult situation.
11 LEARNED – After a lot of dalliance with LOUT or TED and K or R, I biffed this once the checkers arrived and then saw it was King LEAR facing NED a Scottish word for hooligan, which I remember complaining about before.
12 SORTS – A double def; If you’re out of sorts you’re dicky, maybe ill, and grades means sorts.
13 WHOLESALE – HOLES are pits, insert into WALE(S); D extensive.
14 LIGHTERAGE – LIGHTER = less serious, AGE = times, D transferral of cargo.
16 HIDE – DD, an easy one for a change.
19 THEA – THE AA loses an A to give you a girl’s name.
20 GO ON RECORD – Peter Sellers was one of the original Goons, hence GO ON for ‘Sellers perhaps’ which being the first words of the clue made the capitalisation less obvious. RECORD = best; D to state opinion openly.
22 SATRAPIES – Play aorund with an anagram of SEPARATIS(T) until you find SATRAP with IES left over, then remember a Satrap was a governor of a province, so Satrapies are plural provinces.
23 EVANS – E from back of Flintshire, VANS are vehicles, D this name, one of the most common Welsh surnames, Flintshire being a county (once) in said Principality.
25 EMERITI – Get past thinking ‘what’s French for over’ and find the answer hidden reversed in TAH(ITI REME)MBERED; D retired academics. My ex-tutor is 91 and very much Emeritus but still taking an interest in his subject and gracing high table in good form.
26 DIPTERA – DIP = sink, T = back of toilet, ERA = are repelled; D insects, the order of flies with two wings.
27 AIRBRUSH – Yer Cockney uses an ‘airbrush on ‘is ‘air; in designing days before PhotoShop we used a real airbrush to get rid of the bits we didn’t like.
28 ENFANT – ENT is your usual hospital department, insert FAN for cool type, D who could be terrible, as in the French expression.

1 PORT SALUT – PORT is wine, SLUT is a tart, insert an A, D cheese. Widepread in France but not very tasty.
2 IFTAR – IF = provided, TAR = sailor, so have a guess that IFTAR is a meal after a fast, in this case at the end of the day during Ramadan, although I did have to look it up to check.
3 PARASITE – PAR = standard, (TEA IS)*; D sponge.
5 WELL-ORGANISED – One of those annoying clues you either see quickly or they take forever. WELL = source, ORGAN = newspaper, IS, ED = our boss; D in order.
6 ELATER – Someone who makes you elated could be an elater, I suppose; D beetle, a species of.
7 SAN MARINO – Anagram of MANSION with AR, AR being the internal part of CARE; D country. The 3,6 rather gives it away.
8 PADRE – PARE = dock, cut down, insert D for daughter; D father.
10 POWER POLITICS – Self explanatory cryptic.
15 GREAT BEAR – A homophone clue; GREAT sounds like grate = scrape, BEAR means support; D stars.
17 ECDYSIAST – (ECSTASY I’D)*, D one barely earning a living, a striptease artiste. Ha ha. From the Greek ecdysis meaning a shedding of skin, since you wondered.
18 PETER PAN – PETER = slang for a safe, N= neighbourhood primarily, insert PA for Pop, D play.
21 XAVIER – X = cross, A, VIER = German for 4; D Spanish missionary, one of many so-called but St Francis Xavier being the famous one.
22 SCENA – SCEN(T) = short track, with A; D dramatic solo, a recitative bit in the middle of musical bits in an opera.
24 ARENA – Well a hippodrome is an ARENA, but I have yet to twig how different horses come into it. **ARE-NAGS loses outer letters? Ah, I was part way there, thanks anon nikki for pointing out a line; (M)ARE, NA(GS).

37 comments on “Times 26607 – last of the best Sellers”

  1. with 80 minutes of post-Christmas joyfullness.

    Hard but fair – although I’m not sure that 17dn ECDYSIAST rolls off too many tongues down at the girlie bars of Great Britain or even Greece.

    FOI 9ac RAT TRAP closely followed by 1dn PORT SALUT and 14ac LIGHTERAGE LOI 22dn SCENA



    1. ECDYSIAST may look ancient, but it’s only been around since 1940, when H.L. Mencken humorously coined it. This is the man who, among other memorable things, quite presciently said: “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
      1. Mencken also said that democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. When I saw on the news yesterday that a bomb scare emptied out the ridiculous Trump building a few blocks South of here I thought – good, let’s keep it that way.
  2. Magoo I’m not and never will be. Despite Jimbo’s advice that the cryptic component can get you to the literal, even if you don’t know the word (usually very sound advice), I was stumped by IFTAR and ELATER, largely cos I didn’t have the crossers (SORTS, LEAR-NED). Had to look the b*s*a*ds up.
    (BTW the asterisked word is a normal usage where I live.)

    Equally, not familiar with SCENA (22dn) but had the crossers for this one and the Jimbo advice worked here.

    Liked your title, Pip. And wondered if there might have been another goon at 11ac — except he was Welsh!

  3. If anyone else has worked the Sunday Times Christmas Extra 01, s/he’ll know what I’m talking about.
    1. Thank you. I was trying to think where I’d seen it. And another clue felt awfully familiar but by the time I’d finished this puzzle I couldn’t remember which.
  4. I see the different horses as (M)ARE and NA(G).
    The crossword took me over an hour to complete – I have enormous admiration for those who can complete 3 in an hour!!!
  5. 22:41 .. definitely the most doable of the three for me, and I might have crept under the required 20 minutes if I’d had more confidence about Ned the hooligan and the unlikely ELATER. Very pleasing stuff all round, though.

    Well done, Pip. Take the rest of the year off with pay.

  6. Finished in 55 minutes today. If the three Championship puzzles had been set as a 3 hour paper, I’d have been writing the last answer in as time was called. And it would have been THEA, a girl I’ve never been introduced to. I’ve always been in the RAC. I now know she’s the shining light of a clear sky, and in the 500 most popular US names. Biffed left, right and centre today, all apparently correctly. DNK ELATER and was ready to quit early on when I found it wasn’t SCARAB, but eventually I was given a lift. Never heard of ECDYSIAST and wonder if it’s a job opportunity for THEA. We used to listen to Goon Show Albums at the end of a party. We knew how to live. Neddy: “Laugh and the world laughs with you, they say, ha, ha , ha.” Grytpype- Thynne “And you’ve proved them wrong, haven’t you, Neddy?”
  7. Easiest of the three for me but that’s a comparative statement – still a difficult but very enjoyable puzzle

    Because of Mephisto I’ve met IFTAR and ECDYSIAST before so no problems there. Foolishly wrote in POWER STRUGGLE at 10D before the GOON sorted that out

    20A reminded me of Peter Sellers on record doing Bal-ham Gateway to the South. I was living near there at the time and have mixed memories of the area

  8. Managed to work out most of this except the anagram at 17dn and the parsing of ARENA (though nag, did occur to me as maybe having something to do with it). Like Guy above, I was helped at 10dn by having solved (and blogged) the Christmas Day specials.

    Edited at 2016-12-28 10:27 am (UTC)

    1. Got the unknown IFTAR OK, but SWEETSOP, ELATER and ECDYSIAST held me up rather longer… tried varous combinations of the anagram and I see I chose the correct combination filling in the blanks after all the checkers. Hard work, but some nice clues along the3 way – 9a, 13a, 20a and 5d all raised a smile. Hats off to the 7 who solved all three correctly in an hour. In all they took me about 2 1/2 hours! 32:50 for this one.

      Edited at 2016-12-28 10:55 am (UTC)

    2. Chapeau to you Jack – you worked overtime over the holidays! I haven’t done any of the extras yet but it’s nice to know they’re there.
  9. 20 mins, and thankfully all correct after the last couple of days. IFTAR was got from the WP, ARENA was biffed, and ELATER went in with fingers crossed because I don’t recall coming across the beetle before. I’d finished in 19 mins originally but with an unparsed “sweetsap” at 4ac. I wasn’t happy with it so I gave it a little more thought, and thankfully I saw the reversed “posts” so changed it to the correct SWEETSOP.
  10. Thank you to whoever deleted my duplicate above. The site went buggy on me and wouldn’t let me. ELATER, as Vinyl and NY Kevin can attest, is well-known from the NY Times crosswords. IFTAR sounded a bit like “Ishtar” so seemed plausible. I never know how to spell the stripper without a lot of help, which the setter provided here. 23 and change for me so well out of the running.
  11. Which in English means the opposite to what it means in American. A big dnf for me on this one, NE undone and a couple of others. Dnk SWEETSOP, ELATER and others. Ancestors were Thames lightermen, so that did go in early. Obviously must do more crosswords if I am ever to aspire to this level. Thanks pip and setter.
    1. Ah ! Apologies to all my Flintshire resident readers. I see Flintshire was abolished in 1974, (the year I left the UK), but re-instated by a division of Clwyd into 3 parts in 1996, an event which somehow had passed me by. pip
  12. Snuck in under 20 minutes, so if the others had been the same, I’d have made the time. If…
    Several of these were wordplay supported guesses, as noted above passim, but I did know ecdysiast (Mephisto, I think) useful, for any gender these days as an obfuscation for the spouse/significant other: “I’m just off to a meeting of the Ecdysiast Society”.
  13. I think this was my favorite of the three finals crosswords, the wordplay was essential in most clues and there was some fun to be had along the way. Very few write-ins, 20:25 last night.
  14. 16:37. I found most of this pretty easy, whizzing through everything but 6dn in about ten minutes. I then wasted the rest of my time trying and failing to come up with something better than ELATER. I just bunged it in eventually and was very surprised to find it was right.
  15. I found this a bit tricky, taking 87 minutes to finish with one mistake, putting SMELA for the dramatic solo. I was on the right track, but got the wrong odour! Also managed to deduce and correctly spell the previously unheard of stripper. Failed to parse ARENA but biffed it as my second entry after the ubiquitous EVANS. LOI ELATER with crossed fingers. Quite a challenge! Thanks setter and Pip.
  16. Got there in the end with no idea if ELATER was right or not, and the 17d looked like the best arrangement of the letters but I still wasn’t sture. Many times the 20 minutes needed on the day.

    I think 24a is still not quite right. It must be MARE-NAG (which justifies the plural without needing an S) losing the outer M and G.

  17. I had about three quarters of this done in an hour and then realised I could go no further.

    I was slightly worried that I knew ECDYSIAST – how do I know it? Where did I learn it? Does Mrs. Davest know that I know it?

    I lived in Balham for a while in 1967 – there was a very dodgy boozer at the bottom of Bedford Hill which decanted inebriated NEDS at chucking-out time every evening. Said NEDS were wont to attack innocent passers-by for incoherent reasons. We moved out as soon as humanly possible.

    As usual, chapeau to anyone who finished this, whatever the time.

    Time: DNF

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

    1. I think it was called the Bedford Arms? Beer was awful and pub was a gathering place for Teddy Boys in 1950s. Rather sums up Balham at that time.
  18. Well, I finally solved them all, but in nowhere near the required time. Probably about an hour of on-again, off-again ciphering. IFTAR, SCENA, ELATER all unknown, so thank heaven for wordplay. Also didn’t know XAVIER signaled ‘Spanish”, nor that Flintshire was/is in Wales. An oversized salute to those who competed and finished this during the event. Regards to all.
  19. I remember IFTAR from my days in The Magic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
    Curious to see 3d and 22ac as virtual anagrams of each other, with an extra S in 22ac.

    “…..Isn’t it safe with him?”

    “Oh, it’s perfectly safe….wherever he and his rowing boat are”.

  20. Top half okay, stalled in the south. Although I don’t think the cryptic should be a vocab test it’s nice to have a few puzzles like this thrown in. Knew IFTAR from friends who ramadan, and some of the other obscurities are half-known, partly from crosswords and Scrabble. Caught out again though by peter=safe, d’oh!
  21. Much the easiest of the three, and accordingly the one I finished first on the day (having put the other two aside temporarily). Fortunately the wordplay for my one unknown (IFTAR) was extremely generous.
  22. Lots of vocabulary just outside my ken; I was pleased with the ones I Jimbo’d (followed the cryptic). Though I have to say that thinking of DJ had me with a TED at 11ac for too long. Then I had to ROW BACk 9ac, when the OR turned out to be TARS, and the difficult situation was not avoided. Then, …no. I’ll leave it there.

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