TImes 26,663: Early One Morning [painted steel and aluminium]

After one of the easier weeks in living crossword memory, finally a puzzle requiring a bit more mental elbow grease to polish off – this one took me over the 10 minute mark, and if Jason or Magoo posts another sub-4 I will absolutely weep.

I thought this was an absolutely exemplary piece of work, requiring the solver to have a good grounding in the classics (11ac, 12ac, 20dn), the arts (1ac, 17ac), the golden age of cinema (5dn, 11ac), and the sciences (broadly, anyway, at 1dn and 13dn) to keep moving quickly, as well as to be sufficiently unBrexity to be able to untangle a French département from its constituent letters. If a crossword leaves me feeling more erudite as I come out than when I went in then it’s 100% done its job as far as I’m concerned.

And of course construction-wise it was also great, with lots of really clever “lift and separate” type clue, including among their number my personal COD 19ac – who doesn’t like a bit of poo-flinging to leaven all the aforementioned high culture? Honourable mention to 13dn to, as I thought “potentially way up” was a brilliant and brilliantly concealed definition of STEPS, not that I realised this until after submission, as the full answer was sadly highly biffable. FOI was 12ac, LOI the very cleverly defined 22dn. The SW corner did prove the trickiest for me overall, mainly because I had OVAL in for 23dn at first, which caused me to make unjustifiably heavy weather of both 24ac and 26ac.

Excellent crossword then, full marks from this judge, round of applause to the setter. How did all you ‘orrible lot find it?


1 Sculptor’s company accepting artist back (4)
CARO – CO [company] accepting RA [artist] reversed
3 Fraudulently replicate a religious artwork (10)
ALTARPIECE – (REPLICATE A*) [“fraudulently”]
9 Having spent capital, faults spread across fine property (7)
EFFECTS – {d}EFECTS [faults, with their capital D “spent”] spread across F [fine]
11 Hot springs run in the West? (7)
THERMAE – R [run] in THE MAE [the | West]
12 Heard those succeeding with charming sisters display superior manners (4,3,6)
AIRS AND GRACES – homophone of HEIRS [“heard”, those succeeding] + AND GRACES [with | charming sisters]
14 Alarm that has a frequency drawing attention (5)
AFEAR – A F [a | frequency] drawing EAR [attention]
15 Dry westerly heading for UK, fast and swirling (9)
TURBULENT – BRUT reversed [dry, “westerly”] + U{k} + LENT [fast]
17 Edition in rough: that man’s evoking famed writer (3,6)
TED HUGHES – ED [edition] in THUG [rough] + HE’S [that man’s]
19 Roughly flipped sheep muck about (3,2)
ACT UP – CA reversed [roughly, “flipped”] + TUP [sheep]
21 I am Minister for Development taking on East European department (5-8)
SEINE-MARITIME – (I AM MINISTER*) [“for development”], taking on E [East], + E [European]
24 Course in which learner is replaced by born student (7)
TRAINEE – TRAIL [course], in which L [learner] is replaced by NEE [born]
25 A doctor backed probing boozer’s guts (7)
INNARDS – A + DR reversed [a | doctor backed] probing INN’S [boozer’s]
26 For instance, at exhibition centre, salesperson returned profit (10)
PERCENTAGE – E.G. AT N.E.C. REP [for instance | at | exhibition centre | salesperson], reversed
27 What health insurance covers is insufficient (4)
THIN – covered by {heal}TH IN{surance}


1 Caught nothing on the canal unfortunately — certainly not this! (10)
COELACANTH – C 0 [caught | nothing] on (THE CANAL*) [“unfortunately”], semi-&lit
2 Official retainer hugs Queen after she becomes upset (7)
REFEREE – FEE [retainer] hugs E.R. [Queen], after E.R. reversed
4 Survive desert, a place of desperation (4,5)
LAST DITCH – LAST [survive] + DITCH [desert]
5 In motion pictures, ultimately absorbed by Ms Hayworth’s comeback (5)
ASTIR – {picture}S, absorbed by RITA reversed
6 A faraway state before conquest? (13)
7 Seamen’s breaks together (2,5)
EN MASSE – (SEAMEN’S*) [“breaks”]
8 Having cockney’s mince pies — his stash, by the sound of it? (4)
EYED – mince pies are eyes in Cockney Rhyming Slang, so if you have them you’re EYED, which sounds like ‘IDE, which is a suitably Cockneyfied synonym for [stash]
10 It’s weird hearing crowd after extremely critical song (13)
CLAIRAUDIENCE – AUDIENCE [crowd] after C{ritica}L + AIR [song]
13 Rocket builder is potentially way up on outside layer (10)
STEPHENSON – STEPS [potentially, way up] + ON, outside HEN [layer]
16 With support cut, film studio is closing again (9)
RESEALING – RES{t} [support, “cut”] + EALING [film studio]
18 Give up, man, and get married! (7)
DESPAIR – DES [man] + PAIR [get married]
20 Unstable chariot turning over into river reveals Mark Antony, perhaps (7)
TRIARCH – (CHARIOT*) [“unstable”], turning O [over] into R [river]
22 Current cut off from Rhode Island, city awaiting power (5)
ELECT – ELECT{ri}{city} [current], cutting off R.I. [Rhode Island] and CITY
23 Station closure (4)
STOP – double def

59 comments on “TImes 26,663: Early One Morning [painted steel and aluminium]”

  1. So when I threw the letters up in the air they did not land in the correct order. Maybe I’ll have better luck in the lottery this weekend.

    Lovely puzzle and had to come here to parse Stephenson

    LOI Elect

    Thanks to setter and V for the usual enjoyable blog
    Good weekend all

  2. 19:08 … with what seemed like ages spent on ELECT and the unknown SEINE-MARITIME. I had this gut feeling that 22d was TRENT(on), for which I won’t explain my embarrassing ‘reasoning’. Writing down the fodder for the long anagram at 21a sorted it out in the end.

    Very nice challenge. Props to the setter for CLAIRAUDIENCE and STEPHENSON, but COD to PREOCCUPATION for the immaculate surface.

  3. 1dn was my FOI and LOI 24ac TRAINEE with SEINE MARITIME and TED HUGHES holding things up considerably.

    Verlaine Sir,I found 13dn STEPHENSON not only a write-in but parsableness itself – as I always look out for the odd HEN when ‘layer’ gets a mention.

    However, your time was somewhat better than mine at 55+ minutes.


    COD to 6dn PREOCCUPATION as per Sarah – very neat.

    ‘orryd one of the ‘orrible lot – (deplorables is more fashionable methink!?)

    Edited at 2017-03-03 08:12 am (UTC)

    1. Obviously the HEN was immediately obvious (and a good corroborator that the answer must be right), but if you instantly saw the STEPS, well done! I think I probably assumed the “way” was just ST, to start with.

      CLAIRAUDIENCE is an unusual word but it’s another one, like SHILLELAGH in recnt weeks, that’s a write-in if you wasted months of you life playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 1990s.

      Everyone is only ‘orrible this week as a nod to today’s 8dn.

  4. Biffed a couple–STEPHENSON went in with ‘rocket builder’, and INNARDS from checkers, since once again I forgot that ‘boozer’ can be a place as well as a person. SEINE-M not a problem, but ELECT sure as hell was; I thought of ‘evert’ and ‘eject’ first, and took forever to parse it. But 8d was my LOI; once I had the E’s, it occurred to me that ‘mince pies’ was CRS, and that ‘eyes’ rhymes with pies. From there, of course, it was the work of a moment to get to EYED; or should have been, but I thought it would be better to just sit and stare for a couple of minutes. I’ll join Sotira in giving COD to PREOCCUPATION, for her reason. Wonderful puzzle.
    1. EVENT was the word I desperately wanted to put in instead of ELECT; excellent clue though in that it all falls nicely into place once you think of the answer.
  5. I thought 22dn was ELECTRICITY cut off from RI and CITY, to get to ELECT.

    No time since I started in Spain and finished in Portugal (and if I’d taken longer I’d have had to wrap it up in New York).

    Edited at 2017-03-03 08:41 am (UTC)

    1. Typical speed-solver behaviour, eh, just slamming in the first answer that “obviously works” without thinking it fully through. Thanks to you and all the others who pointed out the better parsing!
  6. Too difficult for me to complete without resorting to aids but I managed to resist doing so for the first 60 minutes.

    I knew what was required at 1dn but didn’t know the word so that was my first look-up. SEINE-MARITIME was another. I realised I was looking for a French department, and worked on the anagrist assuming that the first part of the answer was going to be SAINT, but it wasn’t so I was stumped. CLAIRAUDIENCE was another unknown that I needed help with, but I was pleased to work out the unknown TRIARCH and THERMAE from wordplay.

  7. 55 minutes later, I’ve made it. Got AIRs AND GRACES straightaway after Gracie Allen in last week’s TLS crossword. Biffed EYED as it couldn’t be EYES but didn’t think of ‘ide for stash. For a man who spent 30 years in the electricity industry, I was totally obtuse about ELECT, only getting it when SEINE-MARITIME eventually revealed itself. There’s a big station closure at Lime Street, so the Rocket can’t get there today. Everyone is having to get off at Edge Hill, just like in the pre-pill days. Dick Straightup (perhaps I should have put another sentence first to keep the tone up, maybe one about an ALTARPIECE), one of Ted Hughes’s poems, is reputedly about a family ancestor of mine, so I always think of him first. Great puzzle, a bit too hard for me.

    Edited at 2017-03-03 09:25 am (UTC)

  8. My hour ran out, but with a few left that I thought I should push myself to get, so finally got through this in about 75 minutes.

    The unknown Department would possibly have fallen earlier had I not been a complete idiot and miscounted the letters of the anagram, failing to add the extra “E” from European and therefore ruling out the SEINE-something that my brain kept on trying to come back to. D’oh.

    Happy to have derived CLAIRAUDIENCE from comparison with clairvoyance, no matter how much I initially wanted 14a to be “alert” rather than AFEAR, and to have worked out what a TRIARCH must be and worked the wordplay back from there…

    I also cut RI and “city” from “electricity” for 22d.

    FOI 1d, LOI 21a, COD 6d, WOD THERMAE. Very enjoyable all round.

    Edited at 2017-03-03 09:24 am (UTC)

    1. Worked that way for me too, on the grounds that electricity is current and electric isn’t. And although I may have argued for it in the the past, I’m not keen on C= City, LCC notwithstanding.

      Edited at 2017-03-03 10:34 am (UTC)

      1. LCC means Link Control Card to me! Too much association with storage systems 🙂
  9. 17m. We were thoroughly lulled into a false sense of security this week, eh? Absolute corker of a puzzle, I thought, right up my street.
    I think I’d have spelled it COELEOCANTH without help so I was grateful for the wordplay, and very grateful for the placement of the checkers.
    I also had it as ELECT, ri, city.
    Thanks setter and v, good weekend everyone!
    1. I would have had to pause for a moment if the letter between COEL and CANTH had been unchecked. Even then, given that the COELACANTH is a hollow spiny fish you can work it out from the standard Latin transliteration of Gk KOIL-, hollow, plus ACANTH as in ACANTHUS. If you’ve got a degree in classical languages and another one in biology, anyway…
      1. Whereas if you’ve never had a single lesson in any classical language in your life you need the wordplay!
        1. The COELACANTH is a sort of famous fish though, isn’t it, due to having won the longest game of hide-and-seek in ichthyological history…
          1. It is, but Ed Miliband and George Osborne are famous and people still spell their names wrong all the time!
            1. I spelled MILLENNIUM wrong in a test for a temp agency once, putting in a single N when it’s obviously got to have the same number of Ns as ANNUAL. Low point of my life so far.
  10. A stretched out 37 minutes, a lot of it trying to make an anagram of HEARING CROWD and L for the weird clue, and not getting the living fossil fish until EFFECTS gave me the third letter.
    CARO, to whom I was introduced this morning, briefly made me think I’d started the TLS by mistake and coloured my reading of the next few clues.
    After the easiest week I can remember, it was good, if for me rather frustrating, to have a stronger challenge.
  11. About 40 minutes for this very chewy number and not unhappy with that given the breadth of vocabulary and general knowledge required. A bit of a reality check after a gentle week
  12. I didn’t find this as difficult as some others and moved smoothly through the clues top to bottom. Very enjoyable solve, particularly the lift and separate clues which I’m usually quite good at parsing.

    All in all a week of good value crosswords

  13. Situation update: I shall remain dry-eyed given Magoo’s 8.5 and Jason’s 11.5 minute times respectively… clearly this was nobody’s idea of a doddle!
  14. Very good puzzle and a suitably Friday-ish contrast to the rest of the week. Like others, I ended up staring at E_E_T, before finally spotting the definition, then finding I’d guessed right, then coming here, then parsing it, in that order. I’d also been held up in that area by being certain that the departement must be SAINT something. Lots of nice misdirection generally.
    1. The one my brain latched onto and then stubbornly refused to let go of was HAUTE-LORRAINE (or possibly HAUTE-PYRENEES?)
      1. I got there via ALPES MARITIMES, which doesn’t fit and is at the other end of France altogether but whatever works, eh?
        It’s HAUTES PYRENEES so that wouldn’t fit either.

        Edited at 2017-03-03 11:40 am (UTC)

        1. My mental map of France caused me to consider the not necessarily real ALPES-MARITIME and RHONE-MARITIME before arriving at the required destination.
  15. Too hard today… over an hour and still lots of blanks. I blame it on the unknowns (COELACANTH, CLAIRAUDIENCE, and, er SEINE MARITIME and ALTARPIECE, both knowns but which I failed to get from the anagrist!)

  16. DNF after 60m – not a wonderful puzzle for me as a member of the ‘orribles; never impressed by obscure words clued with anagrams and there were a lot of obscurities today I thought. So this one gets a middling mark from this judge. As ever though I enjoyed the blog!
    1. Thank you kindly sir! Though I sometimes worry I may be the human equivalent of an obscure word clued by an anagram…
    2. Same as Keriothe on 21A, getting there via the Alps. Ground my teeth getting ELECT after enduring most of November, December and January hearing DT referred to as such as president. I have a few other words for him. Very good puzzle which ate up my crossword time this morning at 25.27.
  17. A pleasant if tougher solve. Not helped by confusing my mince pies with my pork pies but the words that I did not know (CLAIRAUDIENCE, THERMAE) were fairly clued. STEPHENSON went straight in from Rocket builder without even reading the rest of the clue. Good puzzle setter and good blog as always, V
  18. Or haven’t got a degree in anything at all, let alone a classical education
  19. What with ‘that’s an anagram of that fish I can never spell’ and never having heard of a 10d, I took a properly Friday-ish tough crossword time to finish this one. I won’t 18d but hope I can remember both the spelling and the word in future
  20. 22:44, quality puzzle.

    I took too long to get ALTARPIECE thinking we were looking for a specific and “famous” religious artwork I’ve never heard of. I also had TRUCULENT at 15 for a while, despite thinking “I didn’t know it could mean swirling”.

    I’d have struggled with the not-dead-yet fish had it been a full anagram with fewer than 3 vowels checked.

  21. I got within one letter of this toughie, having put in CLAIRAUDIANCE. I was assuming an -ANCE ending like clairvoyance and when audience came to me I thought ‘hearing crowd’ was a homophone indicator. That would have left the definition as ‘It’s weird’, which with hindsight would have been very loose.

    I’m still fairly satisfied having come up with the half known COLEACANTH and the unknown SEINE MARITIME.

  22. 75 minutes with a lot of customers this morning (despite the rain) including CARO which is on my shelves. Unfortunately I biffed EYES without thinking very hard and finished with one error. At last a feeling of satisfaction at the end of a toughie.
  23. DNF in 26 min: after spending 5 or 6 minutes worrying about possibles for 22dn bunged in EXERT, even though it really didn’t make sense – I had got obsessed with the idea that ‘awaiting power’ required a P to be removed from something.
  24. Biffest over but it didn’t stop me trying. celeocanth biffed confidently inspite of school latin and greek. Get up.. tup and teg. Triumph it had to be…complete shambles of an excellent crossword. DNK clairaudience,seine maritime. Finished in 40. TY to V and setter.
  25. Having done well on today’s QC, I thought I’d try this. I got 1a straightaway, looked at 1d and immediately wrote in Canaletto. Happily (as I would have wasted much time otherwise) it finished one letter short; then I saw there was probably an H in there. Then I looked at the rest of the clues and quickly retreated to the pavilion to let others have a go. David
    1. Hang in there David. It really does get easier as time goes by.

      Edited at 2017-03-03 11:03 pm (UTC)

  26. Fell short by a just a few which marks real progress for me, the only real ‘d’oh!’ moment was missing ‘thin’. Having finally wrestled last Saturday’s Jumbo to a standstill, a free evening awaits before picking up the pen again tomorrow. This blog has been a huge help, thank you . T.
  27. 46 minutes, I think, enjoying this a lot – including the various unknowns, forgetables and guessables. Over the moon to get the plant after lobbing in a ‘Molatov cocktail’ yesterday. Nice blog to complement a nice puzzle. Sorry, Gresters.

  28. Got off to a good start as I have seen (and remembered) a dead specimen of coelacanth at a museum in East London South Africa. I even remembered the spelling. So i thought
    I was going really well on what is undoubtedly a fine puzzle until I failed on the Elect / Percentage pair. But a fun week of puzzles for an improver so many, many thanks to all the setters and bloggers (must come up with a collective noun for them to save typing!). My COD Thermae (improver lesson, I must remember West=Mae sometimes).
    1. “Sloggers” has been used before now and probably captures the nature of both jobs on occasion.
  29. The week I’ve had finally caught up with me and I drifted badly mid-solve, so my time of 33 mins wasn’t too bad considering how tough most of you found it. I finished with CLAIRAUDIENCE after the SEINE-MARITIME/ELECT crossers. I knew the fish but if I’d been asked to spell it I may have gone for “coelecanth” so I was glad of the anagram fodder, although the first A checker would have put me right as well. I thought this puzzle was a gem with plenty of penny drop moments, and the last of them was probably my favourite. I’d been assuming the definition for 10dn was “weird” and that “hearing” was there to indicate a homophone.
  30. A challenging and good puzzle, despite some oddball words (THERMAE, CLAIR…, TRIARCH) and a spelling quiz for the non-extinct fish which I’d have failed without the anagram – I thought it should have been CoelOcanth. It took about 35 minutes, LOI a 10 minute struggle over ELECT. Clever, that. Oh, and Mr. Hughes isn’t a household name over here but I do have one of his books, the very thick one about the history of Oz, as some of you would say, so he came to mind after a lengthy interval. The department also relied on being an anagram, or I doubt I’d have figured it out. But overall very satisfying, thanks to the setter and M. Verlaine. Regards.
  31. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to discover that today was Friday, and not the Saturday I had been expecting. This means that my claim, yesterday, of having got through the week with sub-30-minute times was somewhat premature.

    This one was (as a few of you have noted) a little tougher than the last four, and kept me occupied for 47 minutes. SEINE-MARITIME held me up for a good few of those, until I remembered the French habit of mis-naming “districts” as “departments” – I suppose it comes of having English as only a second language. Even then it took a bit of head-scratching and the use of pen and paper to disentangle it.

    I saw TRAINEE almost immediately, but discounted it for a long time because it didn’t contain the “b” I was expecting. So that’s another one down to the French.

    Even so, my average time for the week means that I’m only twice as slow as I’d need to be to solve three of these things in an hour, which is both encouraging and depressing at the same time. On a positive note, though, I still have a Saturday coming.

  32. This turned into a bit of a slog for me. I had my first go on the Club site having obtained a digital subscription. I did two Sunday puzzles earlier in the evening quite successfully, and just as I was about to go to bed, the next days edition popped up and I thought I may as well have a go at the cryptic. Big mistake! Just over 2 hours later I submitted with 9a unsolved only to find I’d got 2 wrong, having spelled the fish COLEACANTH. Due to the late hour, it took me much longer than it should have to get the rest of the answers, but I did get there. Loads of unknowns. The French Departments being totally unfamiliar and requiring lots of my declining wakefulness. I also got fixated on trying to fit PIETA into 3a. Should’ve gone to bed at midnight after all. Still managed to wake up and get to the golf course on time, even though I set the alarm time without actually switching it on. At least it gave me an extra, much needed, 20 minutes. Thanks for the challenge Setter, and thanks to V for the usual entertaining blog. As it happens I was almost as sluggish at the golf as I was with the puzzle, however there’s always another day, and as my team mates and me keep telling ourselves, ” A bad day’s golf is still better than a good day’s work” Now where’s the other half of that bottle of Sauv Blanc? 🙂
  33. Wow! 96 minutes but worth every second. It took me nearly half an hour to get well started, the first perusal of the clues yielding only THIN, ASTIR and TRIARCH and otherwise lots of blanks.

    Never heard of CARO nor TED HUGHES for that matter, and had to convince myself that CLAIRAUDIENCE could be a word if CLAIRVOYANCE was. Many subtle and delightful clues (ELECT, STEPHENSON [not the rocket I was thinking of at first]). LOI was EYED and fortunately I reflected before putting in EYES (which at least seemed likely to have something to do with mince pies in CRS) — it’s the extra step required to derive EYED, which makes the whole clue fit perfectly, that shows what a superb puzzle this was.

    Edited at 2017-03-03 10:47 pm (UTC)

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