Times 26,665 – I’ll Take the Fifth

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
The latest in a run of pretty straightforward Monday puzzles, this crossword is distinguished for me more by its quirkiness in cluing rather than anything else. A swift 16 minutes for me – the Usain Bolts of the cruciverbal world may be clocking up some seriously impressive times on this one.


4. ICE PLANT – ICE (what hoods do stateside to those they are not thrilled with) + PLAN + T[o]; a much (re)classified succulent that can’t seem to decide whether it looks like a chrysanthemum or a marigold. If it ran for POTUS, it would be subject to multiple recounts, the source of endless conspiracy theories and involved in a bitter war of words with media outlets – some of whom would boycott it and some of whom it would boycott.
10. TOWN COUNCIL – I believe this works as follows: T is ‘Tons’, followed by OWN COUNCIL, sounding like (‘for auditors’) own counsel, which kind of equates to ‘keep advice within’, though ‘keep’ would appear to be doing a sort of double duty. (Actually, not. Thanks to John for pointing out that ‘keep’ clues ‘own’, so that the parsing is T + OWN + COUNCIL, with ‘within’ functioning as the link word.)
11. CAR – CAR[e]; this one started life in the Mail, I reckon.
15. GO TO THE COUNTRY – a double definition of not the greatest subtlety.
17. ROMEO AND JULIET – two letters found in many phonetic alphabets (though the NATO one renders the female lover as ‘Juliett’), thus ‘two letters broadcast’; also the name of one of the Bard’s best known plays, if one of his most uneven. I spent ages trying to recall his take on the Trojan soap opera, also a poem by Chaucer. What a waste of time! Not only could I not recall it (Troilus and Cressida), it doesn’t even fit.
21. SWOLLEN – take off the first letters of [a]S [t]WO [i]LL [m]EN.
22. EXCRETE – EX (from) + CRETE.
23. OAK – OK around A; not that keen on oaky wines myself.
24. PALEOLITHIC – the literal is ‘old time American’, though I can’t see why we have the delimiting to that region (thanks to McT, who points out that in British English, it is formally rendered ‘palaeolithic’); it’s O (ring) in an anagram* of PHILATELIC.
26. ENTREATY – hidden in part of East Anglia, as it were.
27. KNOTTY – a gently whimsical clue to take us to the downs, with ‘difficult’ the literal.


1. ESTRANGE – the literal is ‘set at some distance’; EST (established) + RANGE (limit of aircraft’s flight). I rather liked this.
2. SAW – another ‘first letter of’ clue.
3. LOCKOUT – ‘industrial dispute’; OUT is blooming and LOCK is being used in its intransitive sense of refusing to budge.
5. COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO – COCK (I wasn’t familiar with the ‘conical heap of hay’ sense) + A DOODLE + half a DOO[dle].
6. PULLMAN – Pullman carriages were typically considered to be luxurious, hence the ‘good’. I’m not really quite sure how the rest of the clue works, but the general idea is that if a woman ‘pulls’ a man, she nabs him as a potential life partner. I think.
7. AU CONTRAIRE – A RACONTEUR I*, where ‘could be’ is performing the anagrindative role; absolutely impossible to see this without saying it in the slimy tones of Melchett in Blackadder II.
8. TARTAN – TAR[n] + TAN.
9. RUN THE GAUNTLET – ‘risk trouble’; RUN (manage) + THE (the) + GAUNT (spare) + LET (property for rent, as in Chambers’s sense of ‘a letting for hire’).
13. RETRO+ROCKET – I’d never heard of this term, but then again I’m bored stiff by pretty much all matters pertaining to rocketry.
18. ECLIPSE – EC + LIP + S + E; a good clue for those learning crossword abbreviatory protocols.
19. UNCTION – [f]UNCTION; since ‘unction’ is defined in Collins as ‘the act of anointing with oil in sacramental ceremonies’, ‘perhaps getting well oiled’ passes muster as a literal, methinks.
20. ASHORE – ASH + ORE (output from mine).
25. HUT – [s]HUT; another clue with a Mail pedigree.

58 comments on “Times 26,665 – I’ll Take the Fifth”

  1. In 10ac OWN (keep). I never realised before that Juliett has two Ts in the Nato alphabet so I had accounted for “broadcast” in the clue as referring to an alternative name “Radio alphabet”.

    Mostly straightforward. 24 minutes.

    Edited at 2017-03-06 01:06 am (UTC)

    1. Some phonetic alphabets render it ‘Juliet’, so I think broadcast just refers to use over the airwaves.
  2. Goodness! I don’t think I have ever been the first to appear here*. I would like to think that this is because I was second only to our esteemed blogger in solving speed, but this is deeply improbable given that I took 42 minutes over this one.

    I didn’t find it especially straightforward, but in retrospect the things that held me up were not difficult. After a slow start and slow progress, I ground to a halt in the north-right corner, apart from ARMENIA which was my FOI. 7d was one of those anagrams that I sit and stare at angrily for some time wondering why the letters won’t make words, and I didn’t help myself by deciding that “loctan” was a type of cloth at 8d. Fortunately, I knew that the pile of hay in 5d had to be “rick”, except of course it wasn’t.

    I thought this was a very nice puzzle, my only quibble being 22ac, where the “expel” of the clue is a little too similar to the answer.

    (*and, of course, I am not – clearly two of you can either solve or comment faster than I can)

    Edited at 2017-03-06 01:12 am (UTC)

  3. 5dn Initially I failed to parse the final DOO and wondered if there was an alternative COCK-A-DOODLE-TOO! There wasn’t.

    31 minutes of Monday-ish fare, much interrupted by the current mrs. h. as I rose late today. Apparently its ‘Women’s Day’ on Wednesday.


    Knew not that the NATO J ended in double TT!


    Back to the next chapter of POTUS REX.

    Edited at 2017-03-06 09:50 am (UTC)

  4. Just ahead of the blogger, who seems to have struck a rare vein of form.

    One of the few plants I know is “plant”, so that helped with 4ac. Took ages over the PULLMAN / COUNTRY crossing though. Pretty Mondayish otherwise.

    Thanks setter and U.

    1. No thought showers, conference calls, power breakfasts and long-grassing it recently has certainly facilitated enhancement performance wise.
  5. 9:53 … with the SW proving the trickiest. Last in the well hidden word.

    I happened to notice the double-T in NATO’s Juliett the other day and guessed what Wikipedia confirms, that it’s to stop French speakers pronouncing it as though it were French. Just the sort of the thing they would do, even though you can’t get more English than Romeo and Juliet.

  6. 6 minutes ish. A lot very amusing cluing going on here, but all slightly let down by the fact that all the long answers are rather biffable with a few letters in place. I parsed a *lot* of this puzzle by reading this blog. For which thanks as ever ulaca!
  7. 18m. I found that hard, although trying to solve with my iPad no more than three inches from my chest on a very crowded train didn’t speed me up.
    I don’t really understand why a PULLMAN is ‘good’. And if my wine tasted smoky as a result of OAK treatment I would open a different one.
      1. I like oaky wines. It’s when they claim to have blackcurrant overtones that I switch off. They’re best in a tart or pie. And if I wanted Ribena, I’d buy some. I know, I’m a philistine.

        Edited at 2017-03-06 09:42 am (UTC)

  8. Starting EASILY with 1a, the rest stretched me to 39 minutes, finishing off with the crossers of the unknown but at least not un-spellable ICE PLANT and the PULLMAN. COD to RUN THE GAUNTLET: though it didn’t take long, the penny-dropping moment was good.
  9. It’s always bothered me that as I walked the walls of Jerusalem over 30 years ago, in the words of the King James Bible, a cock crew twice. The old dog’s not good this morning, not wanting his breakfast or much of a walk and so it was an early start to the crossword. Our garden breeds sedums quicker than the grass grows, and we’ve always called these ICE PLANTS, correctly or not. I wondered why PALEOLITHIC was only an American term. I’ve just mistyped it, pressed the autocorrect set to British English on my iPad and got PALAEOLITHIC. Bloggers soon to be replaced by robots? LOI ENTREATY which was well-hidden in plain view. COD RETRO-ROCKET which I think I must have fired a bit too soon today, taking 16 minutes.
    The dog’s just eating his breakfast. 🙂

    Edited at 2017-03-06 09:10 am (UTC)

  10. Nothing too taxing, with the only u/k being ICE PLANT. Even managed to get the French one today, too. Thanks for the explanation of Juliett, Sarah, that’s one to remember…

  11. Pleasant enough stroll in the park with no queries other than OAK

    As happens from time to time I’m left wondering how somebody can never have heard of something. Today its RETROROCKET without which space travel would be impossible.

    1. Space travel would still be possible. Ceasing to space travel would be tricky, though I suppose you could just turn round and blast the other way.

      Edited at 2017-03-06 09:46 am (UTC)

  12. All done in about 2 hours. Took ages to crack estrange, easily, lockout and unction.

    Couldn’t parse 8d tartan as dnk tarn.
    For 24a I biffed the word and assumed it was AO with philatelic…
    10a Not sure why ‘auditors’ needed for town council.
    12a Always forget the air for look.
    5d I wasn’t sure how the cock and doo fitted!
    For 9d Not sure why gaunt = spare.

    COD to 26a. I knew Yarmouth looked odd but it still took a while to spot the hidden.

    Edited at 2017-03-06 09:28 am (UTC)

    1. “Advice” is “counsel”, so it needs the homophone indicator to get to “council”. “Gaunt” and “spare” can both be applied to the physique of someone with not much body fat.

      Edited at 2017-03-06 09:35 am (UTC)

  13. Is Juliett a compromise? Surely it should be Juliette if it’s French? 19′, thanks ulaca and setter.
    1. I wondered about that, too. I’m guessing they trialled it on various language groups and found that Juliette invited a fourth syllable for speakers of some other language.
      1. Knowing NATO, they set up a subcommittee and discussed it for months. Actually asking people, or testing to see what works, … no
  14. 30 minutes of Monday fun. Grateful to the four three letter words as write-ins. LOI ENTREATY which was unparsed..
  15. What a fine Monday crossword! Not especially difficult, but clues like 9d worth the price of admission on their own, assuming you pause to parse. OK, the trigrams were a doddle (but still pleasant) but there was plenty to smile about. My LOI PULLMAN was LOI because I thought it had to start with PI for good, giggled (possibly out loud) when I learned the truth. Having dined in a Pullman on the Bluebell, I can confirm they are indeed good carriages. I’d even be inclined to put “jolly” in front of that.
    It’s a real joy to see proper, Dan Dare retro rockets putting in appearances with Space-X’s fantastic achievement in landing their rockets upright. Jim’s right: those with that hole in their knowledge should fill it forthwith.
  16. I believe the Russians used retro rockets to cushion the Soyuz capsule landing back on earth, as they preferred landing on terra firma as opposed to the wimpy American splashdown.
  17. 22.21. Desperately slow to get going then finished at a gallop wondering what all the fuss was about.
  18. Good start to the week, with some thoughtful and amusing clues. Nothing to gripe about, except OAK for smoky. Took a while to see the QU(EASILY) idea so that was my LOI. 25 minutes.
  19. The juxtaposition of this with “queasily” reminded me of the old joke about what the passenger just coming off a choppy Channel passage says when asked if she has had breakfast. 12.9
    1. Not quite the Barry McKenzie version. Quelle élégance!

      Edited at 2017-03-06 05:02 pm (UTC)

  20. At first pass, I thought I wouldn’t finish this, since I only got maybe 6 straight away. Then I began to click with the setter and lots ran in quite quickly. I was surprised that it took just 16 minutes.

    Didn’t bother parsing 10a and 9d: they just fitted. Also wondered why the American in 24a, but understand now.


  21. This one took me 41:11, with FOI SAW and LOI PULLMAN, where like Z, I was convinced it started with PI. Took me a while to see DOODLE but that finally gave me the ICE PLANT where I had been trying to justify EGG, musing that although an egg made a mess of John Prescott, it didn’t actually kill him! Liked 7d and 9d. Took ages to see TOWN COUNCIL, despite having TOWN from almost the start. RETROROCKET went in from the initial R, aided by my avid devouring of anything relating to space and Sci Fi as a youngster. 7d, 16d and 24a saw me scurrying back to pen and paper to aid my ageing brain. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and U.
  22. Brain not in gear today – took half my 35 mins stuck in the SW before the gauntlet dropped. LOI PULLMAN
  23. Clearly not on the wavelength today, as I found this tough going throughout. Finished in 15m 26s. I’m blaming the fact that I’ve got a cold.
  24. Mr.mauefw Sir,

    I humbly note you found this ‘tough going throughout’ and finished in 15m 26 seconds – your reason – a cold!! Still – well done!

    As previously noted I clocked 31 minutes – I suspect I must be suffering from two colds!?

    Edited at 2017-03-06 02:46 pm (UTC)

  25. On my way to visit Notlob I decided to pick up some Jaipur beer from a he wonderful Thornbridge brewery in Bakewell (prompted by the venerable V in his recent blog). So when I get home with rather too much of the stuff I will expect a Retrorocket from the missus. Fun start to Monday and all done and parsed in about 30 mins. Delayed by not being able to see Ashore for ages.
  26. Suffered a complete brain freeze with just 17ac unsolved after an hour or so, hence DNF. Could have kicked myself upon finding out here that a quick run through of the NATO alphabet – normally well within my capabilities – was all that was required. Ah well, a large glass of red and a generous hunk of blue Stilton will soon be offering some consolation. Oh and if I wanted to drink something with a smoky bouquet then I’d be going for lapsang souchong.
    1. gets is smokey bouquet from pine not oak!

      And rather than Stilton – might I humbly suggest the Roquefort sur Soulzon if your drinking the red.

      1. I like Roquefort with a nice Shiraz, and there is a pack of it in my fridge, but I’m making do with a garlic roulade with a rather nice NZ Sauvignon Blanc to round off a very pleasant evening at the folk club 🙂
        1. I’m slightly disappointed with you for keeping packs of Shiraz in your fridge, but chacun a son gout, I suppose.
          1. The cling film makes it difficult to pour, but the struggle does give it a chance to get to room temperature!
  27. Not an outright walkover for a Monday, about 25 minutes or so, ending with PULLMAN, which I thought a bit off kilter. Like others, didn’t know why the PALEO.. was characterized as American. And a bit of OAK is a nice addition to certain wines. They wouldn’t use it otherwise, I’d think. Regards.
    1. Oak comes from the wooden barrels used to store and mature fine wines and sherries and is not an ‘addition’ as such!

      Edited at 2017-03-06 11:48 pm (UTC)

  28. 7:40 for this pleasant, straightforward start to the week.

    I didn’t know OAK as “a wine’s smoky flavour” and I made rather heavy weather of a couple of easy clues, but there were no great hold-ups.

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