Times 26647 – Whatever letters are left….

Solving time: 24 minutes

Music: Grieg, Piano Concerto, Rubinstein/Wallenstein

When I first ran through the clues of this puzzle, I thought I was in for a tough time. I could not see a single answer until I came to 27, which was the obvious anagram I had been looking for. But as more crossing letters became available, my solving speeded up. Then, too, I have become more adept at the practice of letting the cryptic guide me, and just writing in parts of likely words until the answer magically appears.

All the answers are well within the normal range of vocabulary, except possibly for ‘shillelagh’, which might present spelling difficulties but for the very helpful cryptic. Of course, I should have seen the long one down the middle at first glance, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who didn’t.

I don’t have much to say about my new role as keeper of the TFTT blogging flame. I’m sure it will be interesting, and I have have a few ideas of how to improve the site. For now, things will run on pretty much as before, although we did have to pick up a new blogger to help fill the Saturday slot.

1 PASSPORT, PASS + PORT. Simple, but ironically my LOI, just because I was expecting something far more complicated.
6 PLANET, PLANE + T. I put this in an erased it, not seeing how a ‘plane’ can be a ‘craft’ – isn’t it a tree? Ooops, now I see it.
10 KNOTHOLE, sounds like NOT WHOLE to most speakers. They must have pronounced the ‘K’ at one time, but I don’t think it has persisted in any dialect.
11 GLAD, GLAD[e].
12 SHILLELAGH, S(HILL + GALE backward)H. Other spellings are possible
14 SEAFRONT, SE(AFRO)NT, a promenade, that is. I had put in ‘serenade’, i.e. SEREN(AD)E, which looked good for about thirty seconds and then got erased.
16 PITY, PI[e]TY.
18 DELI, I LED backwards.
21 ON THE ROCKS, double definition, and quite an easy one.
22 CUTE, CU[ra]TE.
24 BLESS YOU, B[ishop] + anagram of YES, SOUL.
26 IDIOCY, I[sland] + DI(O)CY.
27 OYSTER, anagram of SET + ROY. A dated term, which I associate with the colloquial speech of the 1890-1930 period.
28 TAKE NOTE, T(A KEN)OTE, a clever cryptic, but ‘range of knowledge’ tends to give it away.
2 ATOLL, A TO L + L. I wanted to biff ‘dozen’ as another letter-removal answer, but couldn’t justify it.
3 STANDOFFISH, STANDOFF + IS + [clas]H, the well-known Billingsgate establishment.
4 OVERSHOT, OVER(SHO[p])T. I knew this would have ‘shop’ in it somehow, but I needed the crossers to discover exactly where.
5 TAKE INTO ACCOUNT, double definition, one rather factitious.
6 POORLY, PO(OR)LY, where OR is given a more explicit definition than usual.
7 ASH, [b]ASH, in its slang sense of having a bash at.
8 ENLIGHTEN, anagram of IN THE GLEN. Recent arrivals are reminded that misleading capitalization is not considered unfair.
13 LIPOSUCTION, anagram of NO POLITICS + U[nusual]. I wanted to make this ‘-section’ for the longest time, but there is obviously no ‘e’.
15 ETERNALLY, E[x]TERNALLY, another letter-removal clue.
20 PRAYER, P(-L,+R)AYER, a letter-substitution clue.
23 TACIT, T + AC(I)T, where ‘tango’ refers to the NATO alphabet.
25 SIT, S[u]IT. Yes, we finish with a letter-removal clue.

66 comments on “Times 26647 – Whatever letters are left….”

  1. My official time is 26:37, but I mis-clicked and opened this before doing the Concise, dithered, and did the Concise first as is my wont, creature of habit that I am. I saw the anagram in 27ac, but it took me a while to sort the letters out. Dickens in ‘Bleak House’ refers to the secretive lawyer Tulkinghorn as an ‘oyster of the old school’. ATOLL was my 2d to LOI–I don’t think I’ve ever twigged to a clue of this type until the end–with POMADE the LOI for some reason. Grateful for the checkers in SHILLELAGH; Vinyl, whatever the other possible spellings are, what you’ve got is surely a typo.
  2. This was just as Our New Keeper described and I too solved it in 24 minutes.

    WOD to 12ac SHILLELAGH which required careful thought – Irish spelling not being my forte.


    COD 2dn ATOLL nice!

  3. I had much the same experience, getting down to ON THE ROCKS before I filled anything in, and then rapidly accelerating. I solved on paper while doing other things so I don’t really have a time but probably around 20 minutes of actual solving. My LOI was POMADE having tried to justify FOLATE on the basis that it might have something to do with follicles.

    On the remark about misleading capitalization not being considered unfair, it is worth pointing out that it only works in that direction (adding a capital where none is really appropriate). Leaving a capital letter off when it is required is not acceptable. And a warning, the setters will disguise a proper name by putting it at the start of the clue (where it gets a capital anyway) thus making it look normal.

  4. I wrote many of the answers straight in, then slowed a bit and got to within one answer of completing the grid in 20 minutes, but my LOI at 10ac required a further 6 minutes all to itself. I couldn’t think of any letters to fit checkers K?O? in the first part of the word, but then I hit upon KNOW which seemed to account for “sounds like incomplete” in the clue and I became fixated on that for a while until the correct answer suddenly leapt out at me. Count me as another who was very grateful for the clear wordplay at 12ac.

    Edited at 2017-02-13 05:51 am (UTC)

  5. Never heard of the thing at 12 across, which looks like the result of an Aussie trying out all the versions he knows of the word for “bird’ and making a job lot of them. Like almost everyone else, I finished in the top left; unlike almost everyone else, I dawdled over this, clocking up 36 minutes.
  6. Just under the ten-minute mark here, so no problems, even with the very unlikely-looking word at 12ac. Fortunately the wordplay leads you by the hand.
    This meaning of OYSTER is something I only know from crosswords, but that is true of a very large number of things.
  7. Pleased that ATOLL was my FOI; I’m trying to give up my habit of going through all the acrosses and then all the downs until I’ve got plenty of answers in, as while it was probably helpful as a beginner I think a more ad-hoc approach might be faster now I’m improving.

    As with others, very grateful that SHILLELAGH was spelled out by the wordplay. Enjoyed SEAFRONT, my LOI, once I finally got there. WOD OYSTER; not a usage I’d heard, but it made sense as soon as I saw it.

    46 minutes, so pretty good for me, especially considering my recent poor Monday performances.

  8. 15m for all but 9a and 14a. 20m later I gave up and came here for enlightenment. Big thanks to our blogger for delivering the needful. Had never heard of the hair treatment and with 3 vowel crossers I was never going to work it out from writer=Poe so glad I conceded defeat. In fact I was trying to find a word for examined missing the opening letter so I was barking up the wrong tree in the wrong wood. I have heard of Afro so no excuses for not getting that one. Hey ho always tomorrow; here in the warmth and beauty of Perth WA failure on the crossword seems so insignificant. Honest, really!
    1. Coldest January day on record a few weeks ago, coldest February day on record last week, and flooding rains with freezing southerly winds straight up from Antarctica. Surely you mean the warmth of Perth in Scotland, which must be warmer than my home town last week.

      13:38, with a Severesque clean sweep on the downs after filling in all the acrosses I could get (< half), so very easy. POMADE LOI, like others. First half of SHILL… in on first read, but unsure of the second half without crossers.

      1. Grestyman’s theory of relativity again – we arrived in Perth WA on that coldest February day! It was 17C which was 15C warmer than the 2C we left behind in Newcastle upon Tyne. So it was for us a typical summer day!
  9. Not at my smartest today, with a piecemeal solve over 23 minutes, while thinking it was more. POMADE my last as for others: writer is always pen or me, and like Grestyman, I was looking for a word meaning “examined” with its first missing, which I thought was (would have been) clever. Sometimes clues are too easy: needing head examined = MAD. Who’d have thought it other than a crossword novice?
    I’m in the appreciation society for ATOLL: if it had been 13 letters long, it would possibly have qualified as the meanest and laziest clue of all time.
  10. Five and one quarter minutes, nothing equine-unfriendly here. I amazed even myself by getting 12ac instantly from definition (!). In the interests of protecting JK’s sensibilities I’ll tell you only what films I’d imbibed beforehand: Luis Bunuel’s last movie, the rather baffling Cet Obscur Objet du Desir, after whose shenanigans involving one character being played by multiple actresses seemingly at random a mere cryptic crossword was simple enough to decipher…
  11. 13:51 … with interruptions, so a definite Monday experience. Some nice clues, though, with LIPOSUCTION catching my eye (and this is as close as I ever want to get to that).

    SHILLELAGH was still hanging around in that folder in my mental file system labelled “temp”, but the excellent wordplay was still much appreciated.

    Thinking about shillelaghs — and probably POMADE — I’ve just started a bit of a list of words found only in crosswords with a view to one day doing a blog post or something. If anyone wants to offer up some old favourites that would be great.

    1. I remember when shillelagh was in common currency as an Irish sterotype. I think Bing sang a song about it, which Google has just confirmed as above. But OYSTER as used today might be one. That’s if it’s been in another crossword!
      1. Oyster with this meaning has definitely come up before. Interesting what you and Jim (below) say about the shillelagh. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the word spoken and have only rarely seen it outside a puzzle.

        I suppose any list would really need to be called “Words found often in crosswords and rarely anywhere else” or something.

        1. People (probably men, let’s be fair) of a certain age may fondly remember Shillelagh as a Level 1 Druid spell in the game Dungeons & Dragons. I still don’t really know how to pronounce it – I’m guessing it doesn’t actually rhyme with “ceilidh”… or does it?
          1. LOL @ Level 1 Druid spell in Dungeons & Dragons. But of course!

            And here I was thinking it was a lyric from Brown Eyed Girl.

          2. I don’t know the phonetic stuff, but it was always shi-lay-lee. Never sha la la la, S. I’m also too old for Dungeons and Dragons. I’ll ask my youngest what you’re talking about when he’s next home.

            Edited at 2017-02-13 11:30 am (UTC)

  12. Welcome to new role, V. Got this today, finishing in under 25 minutes, with LOI AROUSING. I would have thought that someone CAROUSING had drunk the right amount. Had forgotten that meaning of OYSTER, if I ever knew it, but no other solution presented itself. Saw COD ATOLL straightaway after PASSPORT as NW fell into place quickly. Took a long time to solve the ENLIGHTEN anagram, or it would have been a sub-twenty, as SHILLELAGH came straight after that. Enjoyably gentle Monday morning puzzle.

    Edited at 2017-02-13 09:40 am (UTC)

  13. Very straightforward with little subtlety about it. Too many letter deletions I felt.

    A Shillelagh is an emblem of Southern Ireland. I remember seeing an exhibition of Shillelagh fighting in Waterford and Irish regiments carry them on special occassions

  14. At about 3/4 through this I got excited at the possibility of a rare sub-10 but there were a few which held me up at the end.

    I very much like vinyl’s Billingsgate pun for STANDOFFISH. I wonder if the setter will file that away for future use (or possibly it’s a chestnut that I’ve just never seen).

  15. I think 4d in the blog has a typo: over(sho[p])t.

    I only managed about half today, all the parsing makes sense except in 14a, ecstatic = sent? Sent into ecstasy would make sense.

  16. …with much time lost at the end staring at – E – F- O -T and running through letter combinations until AF got me home. Word blindness can be infuriating and seemingly random.
  17. Welcome to the new role vinyl. No problem with SHILLELAGH, must have been the stereotype as mentioned. Smiled at ATOLL, tried fitting ATOM before realisjng that had the wrong number of letters.13’13”, a good start to the week.
  18. My brain is clearly firing on all three cylinders today, as I zipped through this one in 28 minutes, which is fast for me.

    No major holdups, although IDIOCY (my LOI) took a couple of minutes to see. And, Flashman, “sent” is a somewhat old-fashioned term for ecstatic. I don’t know the etymology behind it, but “transported” can have a similar meaning. “Sent” crops up from time to time here, as it’s a useful letter-group.

    1. From the OED (and Chambers) it appears to come from drug use via jazz:

      The slang of jazz addicts, which is full of phrases like ‘hepsters’, getting ‘high’, being ‘sent’ and other euphemisms for the delirium induced by improvised solos on the cornet and slide trombone.

      Edited at 2017-02-13 12:33 pm (UTC)

          1. Interestingly, if not particularly jazzily, I’ve only really come across this usage “in the wild” from the Belle & Sebastian song “You Don’t Send Me”.
            1. What about “Darling you-oo-oo-oo send me, honest you do, honest you do, honest you do”? Surely everyone’s heard that one? Can’t recall its origins, but I think it’s been covered by some pretty big names.
              1. I’m not familiar with this song but the internet tells me it’s been done as a duet by Rod Stewart and Chaka Khan, and it doesn’t get bigger than that.
              2. Looks like “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke. Typical of me to know the “response song” but not the song it’s (clearly) responding to…
              3. Sam Cooke in the late fifties (1957 according to Google), and covered by many of the great and the good.
            2. No doubt Scottish indie-folk-pop would have the same effect under the influence of the right drugs in sufficient quantities.
  19. It felt like I was making heavy weather on this one, but the clock stopped on 9m 34s so it could have been worse. LOI was 6a, COD to the lovely work in 14a.
  20. 10:36 so delighted to end my run of DNFs with a fastish all-correct. Slight panic though when I arrived at my final destination, 9ac, and POMADE didn’t occur to me immediately.
  21. Clearly Bob Geldof and The Mamas And Papas weren’t Times crossword solvers. If they were they’d have been much more well-disposed towards Mondays.

    Nice way to start the week. If asked to name some faux-Irish stereotypes, SHILLELAGH would probably be third on my list after shamrock and leprechaun, so that was a write-in.

    COD to ATOLL. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

    1. Presumably Bob Smith of The Cure is a solver though… “Friday I’m In Love”. Then again the excellent blogging that goes on that day must help.
      1. The Easybeats were clearly big fans of yours V, though you may be too young (and too not-Australian) to know it.
  22. Started at 3.00, finished at 3.15, so a straightforward one for me, LOI AROUSING. Plenty of shillelaghs around when I lived in the Emerald Isle, pronounced to rhyme with Bailey, and spelt several optional ways as it’s an anglicised Irish Gaelic word.
  23. I, for one, welcome our new vinyl1 overlord.

    Zoom zoom, must have really enjoyed a few afternoon pints as this was done in under 8 minutes, one of my fastest on the club timer, with all understood.

  24. Crept in just under the 20 minutes so time available for the sudoku. No issues, just a residual sense of smugness over (after many years) being the first out of the hat last week with the Spectator crossword. What to blow it all on now!
  25. 11 mins. Like plenty of others POMADE was the LOI, in my case after OVERSHOT. I’m annoyed with myself for not seeing POMADE sooner because O Brother, Where Art Thou? is one of my favourite films.
    1. Didn’t Hercule Poirot put POMADE on his hair? If he didn’t, I have no idea where I have heard about it.
  26. No real trouble here, about 20 minutes. I thought the SHILLELAGH more of a walking stick than a bashing instrument, but that didn’t impede solving thanks to the helpful wordplay. Also not impeding my solving was reaching ASH through (d)ash, as in ‘gotta dash!’ rather than ‘bash’. Both seem to work, at least for me. LOI in my counterclockwise solve was PLANET. Regards.
  27. I was sure there was some familiar cultural context where pomade featured prominently, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was!

    Edited at 2017-02-13 08:42 pm (UTC)

      1. My memory needed jogging, so thanks for putting me out of my misery. I am a big fan of the Coen brothers: The Big Lebowski is my favourite movie.
        I still don’t know if anyone got the movie reference in my blog on Sunday…
  28. 9:40, though it would have been a lot faster if I hadn’t attempted a clean sweep and got horribly stuck on 15dn (ETERNALLY), an old chestnut of a clue which I screwed up by stupidly assuming that “always” was going to lead to EVER. Plain sailing apart from that.
    1. The first 12 letters of the alphabet are A to L. Add L for left and you get an island… ATOLL.
  29. Took 50 minutes to do this puzzle, but I was playing Charades with my daughter and grandson at the same time. No problems, I remember my Dad using POMADE. FOI ATOLL, LOI IDIOCY. Nice puzzle, thanks Setter and Vinyl.

Comments are closed.