Times 26653 – Braying Blumenthals

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I thought this was a very pleasant little number, which I completed in 24 minutes with the unseen but immanent assistance of Hilarius of Poitiers, as I semi-biffed my last one, the plant at 9 across. While some clues had smuggled themselves into the grid after making a mad dash for it from the Quickie, one or two others (most notably 12 across) were chucked in without full understanding of the wordplay, so hopefully by the time I finish writing this up I will have got everything sorted.

If not, I am confident that both those in the expensive seats in the City and the Rhinebeck Estate and those in the cheap seats Down Under – not to mention those who pulled a few erhu strings to pull off a guanxi gatecrash in Shanghai – will put me straight. It’s always kind of refreshing – even pleasant in a slightly masochistic way, and I believe we all have our slightly masochistic side – when the role of putting me straight is performed by someone other than the person to whom I was spliced 25 years ago this July.


1. FARM – ’till’; initial letters of Feel Angry Raiding Merchant.
4. REDECORATE – ‘again do up property’; RE (note) + DECO RATE (cost of certain type of art?).
9. CORNFLOWER – ‘blooming thing’; FLOW (WOLF reversed) in CORNER. If you don’t think a corner is a shot, just ask David Seaman.
10. HOUR – O in HUR (Ben, as immortalised by Chuck Heston).
11. STRIKE – a clue embued with a certain whimsy where the literal is ‘impress’. Strikes always put me in mind of the 1970s, when the wonderfully named Sid “Wheel” Weighell was tasked with leading the National Union of Railwaymen. One has to wonder how many stoppages might have been averted if only negotiations with t’management had involved Rowan Atkinson, Jim Broadbent and co.
12. TWOPENCE – ‘limited cash’; PEN in TWOC + E. Twocking is apparently the extremely obnoxious act of *Taking Without Owner’s Consent* his or her motor. There is of course only one remedy for those who indulge in this activity.
14. FERN – FER (REF returned) followed by [grow]N.
15. OUTPATIENT – anagram* of UP TO ENT AT (‘travelling’ is here performing the anagrindational role) around I.
17. CHARIOTEER – Mr Hur from No. 10a is the ‘driver’ – you wouldn’t want to twock his wheels, I reckon; CHA + RIOTER around E (European capital).
20. TREK – [repor]T + RE (about) + K (king).
21. SPEEDIER – you have to channel Yoda to see how this works, as you need to look forward rather than back to secure the P (parking) in the ‘more squalid’, aka SEEDIER. To enter not difficult; to see not quite so easy.
23. BALZAC – C + AZ + LAB all reversed. I hang my head when I admit that my first thought was Bovary.
24. NOUS – NO US (absence of American). There are still some Guardian readers out there trying to shoehorn TRUMP in.
25. TRUCULENCE – ‘pugnacity’; U + LEN (Murray, perhaps, to help organise the strikes) + C in TRUCE.
26. SUPERSEDED – ‘replaced’; SUPER (superintendent) + SEDED (sounds like CEDED). Don’t you love it when the wordplay hands the spelling of an easily misspelled word to you on a plate. Other setters please note, especially when clueing AIREDALE.
27. TERM – Hilary (named after the 4th century Hilarius of Poitiers, evidently a Frenchman with a sense of humour) is what the term running from Jan to March is called at God’s Own University; I am given to understand that over at the Fenland Poly they use the prosaic Lent.


2. APOSTLESHIP – Paul (nĂ© Saul) – apostle to the Gentiles (and indeed to the Jews as well); A POST on LE SHIP.
3. MONSIGNOR – ‘Catholic priest’; MOOR (fell) around N + SIGN.
4. RELIEVO – ELI in REVO (reversed OVER: ‘upset about’) gives another word for relief in its sense of projection of figures from a flat ground.
5. DOWN TO THE GROUND – ‘absolutely’; an expression mainly found in collocation with ‘suit’.
6. CORDOBA – DOB in CORA (similar vintage as LEN).
7. ACORN – A + CO + R[etaining] + N[ourishing].
8. EERIE – [b]EER (pint perhaps) + IE (that is).
16. INTELLECT – LET + CLIENT* (‘stew’ doing the grinding).
18. OPIATES – O + PI[r]ATES; I don’t think I’ve come across ROVER as pirate (it can also refer to his/her conveyance).
21. SONGS – G in SONS; I’m surprised this got into a Quickie, let alone escaped from one.
22. EQUIP – E + QUIP; 21 down’s cousin – they made their break for freedom together.

55 comments on “Times 26653 – Braying Blumenthals”

  1. Bit of a biff-fest, minor hold-ups with BALZAC, RELIEVO and CHARIOTEER (mainly because I misread the clue). Should be some blistering times posted today.

    Back to the cheap seats tomorrow. Thanks setter and U.

  2. I’m always wary of puzzles where the clues are so wordy that I have to zoom down to 90% to fit them all on one page with the grid, but I needn’t have feared in this case. There were very few that I needed to look at more than once as I tagged on each answer to the one that preceded it and I completed in exactly 20 minutes which is about as good as I ever get.
  3. A rare sub-20 minute solve, this felt like it was set by the same compiler as today’s QC.

    You can tell it’s a cryptic crossword when “fruit starting with A” must be ACORN.

    Edited at 2017-02-20 01:36 am (UTC)

    1. … unless it’s the Listener, Azed, etc, when “(five-letter) fruit starting with A” couLd be ACAIS, ACKEE, AKEES, AKENE, ANANA, ANONA, ASSAI, …
  4. 9ac Corner = shot! Really! I won’t ask David Seaman as Arsenal are furthest from being my favourite team. Let’s hope either Sutton or Lincoln can get Old Vinegar Face on his bike!

    This was a Monday where everyone appears to have had a splendid Time. Mine was 22 minutes with a very dodgy pen! (Scratch time!?) But there were a few difficult words and some decent cluing.



    Edited at 2017-02-20 04:05 am (UTC)

    1. If not in football, a corner can more often be a shot in hockey I believe.
      See below re old VF.
  5. Not much biffing here, other than TWOPENCE, which I would never have been able to parse (‘twoc’?). NOUS was nice in that the word isn’t used in the US. Surely, U, you’ve come across ‘sea rover’ for ‘pirate’?
    1. It’s very possible, but all non-barking and non-vehicular rovers have for me been swamped by The Wild Rover, sadly.
    2. Maybe the introduction of this word into the US would be of benefit to your nation.

      I adored Gary Lineker’s Tweet on Sweden!

  6. 12.58 (must be a PB)

    TWOC was vaguely familiar, but I never knew that’s where it came from! No problem with BALZAC (name of our first dog, shortened to Zac, natch!). Dnk RELIEVO, but it had to be.

  7. Would have certainly been a sub-5-minute time if I hadn’t stopped to ponder how on earth all those letters surrounding PEN could arise from the wordplay, when in fact the correct thing for a speed solver to do would be to instantly intuit that nothing else would fit.

    Of course the actual good solvers have already started to come in under 4 minutes so I’ll mention last night’s film night fare instead: a double bill of excellent Soviet-era bumbling official incompetence comedies from pre-household-name Milos Forman, “Loves of a Blonde” and “The Firemen’s Ball”. I laughed a lot!

    1. I was just thinking of the Firemen’s Ball (which I saw as a teenager) in connection with my TLS blog for this Friday. [This doesn’t give away the answer}.
      1. “The Cranes Are Flying” is up next week – it’ll be a while before we’re venture back this side of the Iron Curtain. Cinema <3
  8. 7:47 … largely SWOCed (solving without cerebration), all except RELIEVO which got cerebrated a bit.

    I see Jason went sub-4, which ought to be a crime in itself.

    1. Magoo was sub-4 too. Clearly this puzzle is one to help us calculate theoretical maxima for 15×15 solving speeds.
  9. Almost embarrassed to say I twocked 18 minutes on this one, in the sure and certain knowledge it coulda been a sub-10. Too many clues thrown in with careless typing: you try solving 12 with an I at the front.
    Now here’s a weird thing. I don’t think I’ve ever had cause to use it, but TRUCULENCE for me has always been on the non-violent, sullen refusal to cooperate end of the violence spectrum, so pugnacity (much further along the spectrum) truculently refused to yield the answer it was supposed to, especially while THUG-something barged its away in. May have to rewrite my internal dictionary, and at my age that’s quite a task
    1. I had a similar thought, but bunged it on on the well-attested principle that some dictionary somewhere would have it.

      Kudos to you on showing your face when a fellow championship competitor was 4.5 times faster.

      Not that I am trying to rub it in or anything…

    2. I was immediately reminded of a very old pre-fight interview with Muhammad Ali (so old it may even have been when he was still Cassius Clay). The pundit told Ali he seemed to be a little truculent, to which Ali replied “Whatever truculent means, if it’s good, I’m that”.
  10. Managed this in under 15 minutes while drinking a cup of coffee, relieved that RELIEVO, the only unknown, was right. I first had 5d as DOWN TO THE VALLEY, thinking a Charlton Athletic supporter had infiltrated our ranks, only for this to be SUPERSEDED by a Joan Armatrading song. DOWN TO THE GROUND, down to the ground. Without TRUCULENCE there could be no SUCCULENCE in poetry. Enjoyable start to the week.
  11. Very, very easy today .. I spent longer looking at Ulaca’s entertaining links than actually doing the crossword. TWOC known to me for the usual reason, ie we have had it before, at least three times ..
  12. Took a very long time on this one, almost hitting my hour limit. Most of it was done and dusted, but then in the NW the MONSIGNOR and unknown RELIEVO took ages even after I’d finally convinced myself that a corner was a shot, despite having thought of CORNFLOWER almost immediately.

    Glad to find I wasn’t the only one to finish with a shrug and a TERM as the only one unparsed.

    Edited at 2017-02-20 09:45 am (UTC)

  13. …so it must have been easy. Would have been much quicker but for the time wasted trying to parse TWOPENCE. In the end I said s*d it and pressed enter anyway.
  14. Much Biffing in the Marsh, as the radio show almost was. Nothing wrong with a very Mondayish puzzle on a Monday, though. Only real hesitation came over RELIEVO, which sounds like a patent hangover cure from the 1930s, the sort of thing Bertie Wooster tried before Jeeves arrived on the scene.
  15. I took nearly twice as long as Sotira (12.53) after failing to parse REDECORATE and needing to go all round Robin Hood’s barn to get TWOPENCE and then not parsing it either. No corrections from this corner Ulaca! I’m confined to my expensive seat at the moment by a ****** dislocated toe….
      1. Yeah, very funny. As it happens I was watching the orangutan’s presser in our building’s gym when I did the damage. Someone else had put it on so I was captive. I still don’t know how I did it. At least that’s the story I’m sticking to.
        1. Took me a while to work out what the orangutan’s presser was. For a minute, I thought it was a piece of gym equipment. Orang utans are beautiful, gentle, thoughtful creatures, none of which you can accuse Trump of.

          Edited at 2017-02-20 11:35 am (UTC)

          1. I certainly didn’t mean to insult orangutans – perhaps I should go back to calling him a baboon but that’s insulting too.
            1. Yep, forget his ape and monkey heritage. He looks more like a badly programmed robot to me anyway.
        2. Ouch. That really was adding insult to injury. My sympathies. Hope it heels fast

          edit: totally accidental foot pun! I meant HEALS fast!!!

          Edited at 2017-02-20 12:46 pm (UTC)

  16. 8 mins. I took advantage of a day off to solve at a reasonable time, and I would have been a tad quicker had I not stopped to parse what should have been several “biff and move on” clues. CORNFLOWER was my LOI after RELIEVO, and I certainly raised an eyebrow about a corner being defined as a shot.
  17. 11m, which it seems was relatively sluggish even allowing for standing-up iPad train-solving. Nothing really gave me pause so I guess my brain was just running a bit slow first thing this morning.
    RELIEVO was my last in, and the only place I had to rely heavily on wordplay. I didn’t need TWOC to solve 12ac but I remember it from past puzzles.
  18. 15.49 which may be a record for me. TWOPENCE LOI saw TWOC but not PEN. Surely this was a QC?
  19. 16 min: RELIEVO LOI, as it’s a word I always remember, but forget how to spell – so needed to think carefully about wordplay to get it right.
  20. My fastest time yet (around 25m – stop that giggling at the back!). So i am continuing a good run for me. Had to cross my fingers with 4d. Got the French writer quite early so was looking for a pangram. Best luck to Sutton tonight – do us a favour.
  21. A quick for me 25 minutes but with one error. I didn’t know RELIEVO and mombled RILEEMO from the wordplay. Ah well, can’t win ’em all. FOI was FARM and LOI TWOPENCE where I did spot the wordplay correctly, being familiar with TWOCking. Most of this went in easily but a few clues took a bit of thinking about. Frowned over corner for shot, but shrugged it in. Liked TRUCULENCE and DOWN TO THE GROUND. Thanks setter and U.
  22. Another who sped along in this, slowed slightly by a careless initial CEDED not SEDED in 26a, inventing OPIOTIC drugs for a minute or two in my 18 to complete. Looking for a J for pangram which never arrived. Also wondered (like our bolton friend) about hill-dwelling Charlton supporters but decided that was too obscure and downmarket for TT.
    Come on, old vinegar-face and your bunch of under-achievers, see off lowly Sutton and lowly Lincoln and we’ll see you at Wembley.
    1. As a fervent Charlton fan I feel that I must take respectful exception to the notion that Charlton Athletic is downmarket.
      The only element of our club that is downmarket is the detested owner, Roland Duchatelet, who has not attended a match at The Valley since 2014 and refuses to sell Charlton.
      1. I well remember my one and only visit to the Valley (in the standing days, though I don’t think they were still allowed to squeeze in 60,000).

        It was against Newcastle in the old second division in Keenan’s final season. 3-1 to the Toon, with goals by Waddle, Beardsley and McDermott.

        But Keegan pretending to pull his hamstring in the warm-up in front of the away fans, where I was standing, will always be my abiding memory. The Entertainer.

        Edited at 2017-02-22 11:58 am (UTC)

        1. I managed to find that game in my CAFC “bible”.
          Newcastle scored two goals in the last three minutes (McD and B).
          Interestingly, Rob Lee was playing for CAFC that day, 7 April 1984, and of course he later moved to the Toon and became somewhat of a legend there, I believe.
          Both of my sons went to the University of Northumbria and I have fond memories of my visits to Newcastle, including The Strawberry and one or two other pubs.
  23. Pretty quick solve, funny thing is I thought of CORNER as being a shot in billiards when I was working my way though, as CORNFLOWER was my last in. I did like the DECO RATE part of 4.
  24. A bit under 20 minutes, but with no understanding of ‘twoc’ or Hilary. So I ignored them, so to speak. Regards.

  25. Must have been fairly straightforward if I’m threatening the half-hour.

    DNK RELIEVO but it sounded right.

    Have always preferred Balzac to the other 19th century biggies – a bit more trenchant.

    Time: About 35 mins.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  26. 14:07, which is pretty quick for me too. held up by NE corner with the unknown, but deduced, RELIEVO and an “is it really?” moment for the corner as a shot – but then I have never playted hockey. MONSIGNOR my last one in. I’m afraid I biffed TWOPENCE so missed the delightful TWOC reference. I enjoyed the blog too. Thanks setter and Ulaca.

    Edited at 2017-02-20 06:47 pm (UTC)

  27. A quick one today, but I’ve been let down by my knowledge of Spanish cities (or lack thereof). Plumped for CARDOBA, a perfectly valid solution – unless you limit yourself to cities that exist.
  28. Decide to test the “Monday is easier ” theory. It was.
    LOI was 4d where I see I got one letter wrong! Reliemo (about,upset =R…e and method =MO). Still a pleasing and for me quick solve. David
  29. While I never adopt the stopwatch approach, with this one I think I was home & dry in not much more than 30 minutes so that’s a good measure of how easy it was. Biffed only RELIEVO and TWOPENCE. I’ve come to understand from previous comments that the Monday cryptic usually gets the week off to a gentle start but I have to say this was ridiculous. As a relative newbie I hope I’m allowed to say that!
  30. 7:25 for me, feeling very jaded at the end of a busy day, with brain seizing up as I approached the home straight, and not helped by stupidly bunging in RESTART despite being unable to think how it could possibly mean “backfire”.

    A pleasant enough start to the week, though. Just one that left me feeling old are tired.

  31. Once again I find myself a day behind, but given my age that makes me about 99.995% on time, which I think is acceptable and even, by the standards of the NHS, laudable.

    Less laudable is that I spent some 38 minutes wringing the life out of this one, for no good reason that I can see in retrospect. The only NHO was RELIEVO, which just didn’t sound right to me – too much like a linguistically-challenged Northerner trying to communicate something to an Italian. (OK, apologies to any Northerners. And, indeed, any Italians.)

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