Times 26,669: Beaten Like A Red-Headed…

Little club board glory for bleary pre-coffee me this morning, but all done inside the quarter hour at least. My first one in was the easy 11ac, but progress was relatively slow thereafter, with the top half giving me particular trouble. Took me a while to remember why a bowl was “wood”, to free myself from the notion that “cheers” in 5dn must be OVATION, to untangle the parsing of 9ac and to finally grasp hold of the cunningly clued 12ac, my LOI.

I did think the clues in this were exceptionally well crafted, everything has a nice (and usually nicely misleading!) surface, but of course my personal tastes often run more to the literary and obscure than this very wordplay-centric fare… talking of which I do need to go and post up a TLS blog while there’s still time. Many thanks to the setter. What did you all think, gang?


1 Democrat with inadequate backing in decline (5)
DROOP – D [Democrat] with POOR reversed [inadequate “backing”]
4 Ardent Conservative overlooked, moderate leader brought in (9)
COMMITTED – C [Conservative] + OMITTED [overlooked] with M{oderate} brought in
9 Family member relaxed, seeing the French off on walk (9)
STEPCHILD – CHIL{le}D [relaxed, seeing off LE (the French)], on STEP [walk]
10 Problem claiming credit for means of restarting play (5)
SCRUM – SUM [problem] claiming CR [credit]
11 Portion of crab is queried in fish dish (6)
BISQUE – “portion of” {cra}B IS QUE{ried}
12 Powerless people leaving car on street out of gear (8)
STARKERS – {p}ARKERS [people leaving car, less P for power] on ST [street]. “Out of gear” as in “out of one’s clothes”.
14 Fun to be had with a female crazy about love? (5,2,1,4)
WHALE OF A TIME – (WITH A FEMALE*) [“crazy”] about 0 [love], semi-&lit
17 Descend from on high bringing contract (4,4,4)
COME DOWN WITH – double definition. “Contract” as in “contract the plague”.
20 Royal house to prevail, though losing current battle (8)
YORKTOWN – YORK TO WIN [royal house | to | prevail], losing I [current]
21 Feature page occupying hack (6)
SPLASH – P [page] occupying SLASH [hack]
23 Bird no longer living on S American islands (5)
SAMOA – MOA [bird no longer living] on S A [S | American]
24 Not allowing bail to named criminal in gang (9)
REMANDING – (NAMED*) [“criminal”] in RING [gang]
25 Blissful soldier is embraced by youngster on return (9)
PARADISAL – PARA [soldier] + IS embraced by LAD reversed [youngster “on return”]
26 Coffee and tea, to start with — behind sandwiches (5)
LATTE – T{ea}, sandwiched by LATE [behind]


1 Eg ash wood where little rain falls (4,4)
DUST BOWL – DUST [e.g. ash] + BOWL [wood, in the game of bowls]
2 Confused voters always hang around for too long (8)
OVERSTAY – (VOTERS*) [“confused”] + AY [always]
3 Visual record of corrupt act spied abroad (7,8)
4 Secure location for baby pirate? (4)
CRIB – double def
5 Thought from Mao’s first volume receiving cheers (10)
MEDITATION – M{ao} + EDITION [volume] receiving TA [cheers]
6 Something for musician on jury — a set of recorders? (10,5)
INSTRUMENT PANEL – INSTRUMENT [something for musician] on PANEL [jury]
7 Went back where tea could be drunk by postwar trendy (6)
TURNED – URN [where tea could be] drunk by TED [postwar trendy]
8 One stone under sea brought up free from moisture (6)
DEMIST – I ST [one | stone] under MED reversed [sea “brought up”]
13 What prospective councillors are likely to be later (10)
AFTERWARDS – prospective councillors are AFTER WARDS
15 Second Union member who’s perpetrated offence (8)
BIGAMIST – cryptic def
16 Article by wartime general reported site of legislature (3,5)
THE HAGUE – THE [article] by homophone of HAIG [wartime general “reported”]
18 Husband rejected nosegay, grasping small aromatic plant (6)
HYSSOP – H [husband] + reversed POSY [“rejected” nosegay] grasping S [small]
19 Textbook‘s protective cover (6)
PRIMER – double def
22 Radical left supporting the little woman (4)
AMYL – L [left] supporting AMY [March, from Little Women]

56 comments on “Times 26,669: Beaten Like A Red-Headed…”

  1. I had 12ac STARKERS early on but initially could not parse it whereas no such problem with 9ac STEPCHILD.

    FOI 2n OVERSTAY SOI 11ac BISQUE (an easy ‘starter’!)

    The west-wing was tougher than the east.

    Had to wait a while for the last four letters of 17ac.


    34 minutes so just a smidge over par.

    Edited at 2017-03-10 07:50 am (UTC)

    1. I think my problem with STARKERS was that I had the _E_S at the end pretty early and got fixated on it being ____LESS. Sadly WEEDLESS was never likely to be a goer…
  2. Not quite a walk in the proverbial, but by and large this went smoothly. A senior moment or two–Jo, Beth, and Thing, remembering REMANDING–but not too long. I had to settle for biffery, though on 1d and 12ac; had to come here for the parsing. 9a was my LOI, which I got from checkers and d, then parsed. Liked BIGAMIST.

    Edited at 2017-03-10 07:58 am (UTC)

  3. I forgot to nominate a COD, which seems wrong with so many good ones to pick from! I really liked 14ac, though now that I look at them next to each other, perhaps 12ac, 14ac, 17ac constitute a cautionary tale…
  4. 13:23 … one of those pleasing ones where every solution seemed to open up something else. STARKERS and the WHALE clue both very nice, as is COME DOWN WITH.

    I only vaguely knew there was a battle of YORKTOWN. Now, having been sent scurrying to Wikipedia yet again, I’m ready to bore anyone who’ll listen with all kinds of fascinating Yorktown facts.

  5. Nice little number, with only one unknown – the chemical thingies at 22d, but Amy came to my rescue when Meg wouldn’t fit. Wasted time trying to put Lemsip in at 18d. 22 minutes.
  6. Yorktown seems to be coming up a lot lately in quizzes etc. One of those bifurcation points in history. Where we would be if it had gone to other way? 20 ac a cautionary tale! ah yes did remind me of a sojourn i spent on remand in the Scrubs but what was i supposed to have learnt . . . ah yes don’t do crosswords just say negatory. You know it makes nonsense.
  7. 39 minutes, delayed unaccountably at the end by STEPCHILD and CRIB. TED clued as “postwar trendy” is an improvement on “hooligan” which we’ve had in the past along with other negative epithets.
    1. Well said Jack. I agree “post-war trendy” is an admiral description for TED.
    2. Again I think I got confused by the fact that S_E_C_I__ looked like something ending with ING. I feel like I’d have solved this puzzle a good few minutes faster if MEDITATION had fallen into place a bit sooner. Excuses, excuses…

      Edited at 2017-03-10 09:21 am (UTC)

  8. Another pleasing but essentially straightforward puzzle that caused no real problems. I thought the clues were well constructed and liked 14A.
  9. Yes, this was a good crossie. I (unlike V, now that’s something I can type pretty frequently…) think I prefer these wordplay ones over the obscure classical stuff he favours. STEPCHILD parsed only after solving, as was LATTE, and the WHALE, and the only u/k today was AMYL, where I was one up on Kevin and had Jo, Beth, Amy and Thing. Could AMYL really be a word? YORKTOWN only vaguely familiar.


    1. It takes a good variety of setting styles to make a perfect crossword world (crossworld?) of course…
  10. 12:34. A very good puzzle where the wordplay featured heavily for me, which is the way I like it.
    I worried about 22dn at the end because I’ve never read Little Women so I don’t really know their names, but fortunately AMY sprang to mind and looked likely, as did AMYL for some sort of chemical thingy that could as easily be a ‘radical’ as anything else.

    Edited at 2017-03-10 09:28 am (UTC)

  11. A solid if not too hard challenge today. Had penny dropping moments with COME DOWN WITH and STARKERS. 27′, thanks V and setter.
  12. Given that this is my “hangover day” of the month, I think I did well to manage 54 minutes, including croissant, coffee and Alka Seltzer.

    Started quite quickly in the top half, with 2d FOI opening up that corner nicely, then got slower as I headed south. Finally came up with REMANDING—inexplicably not having spotted “criminal” as an anagram indicator—and LOI the crosser AMYL, more from chemistry than from literature, as I’ve not read Little Women and could only remember Beth and Jo.

    The unknown HYSSOP was at least gettable from wordplay once I’d worked out YORKTOWN, mostly from eponymous (is that the right word? I’m struggling today…) ships of naval history and at least one Starbase

    COD 15d. Thanks to setter and blogger. Now I’m off to find some more headache pills.

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

  13. I remember reading a book with this title as part of a Book Club introductory offer. Solved in two sittings, interrupted by the old dog who after the sunshine of yesterday wanted to mooch around the garden for the morning. He did me a favour. Pre-mooch, I spent twenty minutes finishing less than half. Post-mooch, the rest fell into place in less than 10, so just under the half hour overall. I’m not conscious of thinking about the clues while out, but has the sub-conscious been working on things? COD and LOI COME DOWN WITH, although I liked STARKERS too, with its shades of a Donald McGill picture postcard. Always associate the HYSSOP with vinegar and crucifixion. I’ll agree with Jack and Jimbo that hooligan was wrong for a Ted, but still didn’t like the clue. I don’t think anything was described as TRENDY back then, not even Teds. And post war doesn’t mean the fifties to me. It either means the late forties or the whole period from 1945 to now. Good puzzle though.
    1. Agree with you – we did not think ourselves “trendy” – not a word we used. We were making a statement, creating a separate identity, etc. But looking back now perhaps “trendy” is a reasonable description. It’s certainly better than “thug” and “hooligan” which so misrepresent the vast majority of Teddy Boys
    2. re the book, I see in a review that it is “scrupulously fair to both the Americans and the British”, which does make me wonder: what about the French? The main thing I took from a quick read of the Wiki page is that the French casualties at Yorktown were higher than the American … I hope all Americans are properly grateful!
      1. Just found Selby on my badly indexed bookshelves. He doesn’t over-praise the French, who “…on this occasion proved stauncher. They ralled and counter-charged to cries of ‘Vive le Roi’…” Well le roi did live for twelve more years. A bit further down the page Cornwallis is saying…”I therefore propose to capitulate.” Cheese-eating? No, surrounded, outnumbered and with no ammunition, so seemingly a wise decision.
  14. Thanks for the parse on this Verlaine. I decided the wood/bowl was something to do with golf but will now try to remember. 16.53
  15. Agree with jimbo (again), good puzzle, no hold-ups, 25 minutes, thanks for explaining STEPCHILD where I didn’t get the chilled bit. Amyl a bit of an obscure radical for non chemists, although maybe amyl acetate is a familiar smell if you remove nail varnish regularly or build model airplanes.
    1. Never popped anything stronger than aspirin myself, but isn’t Amyl Nitrate perhaps better known to some?
      1. That’ll be amyl nitrite, as in ‘poppers’, I think; although amyl nitrate is used in diesel fuel as an additive.
  16. There’s something of a story in this crossword using all the solutions a few verbs,conjunctions and articles…job done.Nothing unknown but the demist on my instrument panel failed and though I had a whale of a time too much meditation took me to 30
  17. A fine finish to the week – both in terms of crossword quality and personal times.

    Had a small question mark at 22 and possible DBE? Although the few weeks of a level chemistry I survived are long gone so have absolutely zero knowledge in that area these days.

    Like others, particularly enjoyed 12a and 14a, but really too many great clues to choose from – although I think I’ll go for 15d for my COD – not from personal experience I hasten to add.

  18. Defeated by post war trendy and BIGAMIST so had to use checkers. Already over the hour anyway after too many customers came in.
    This shop would be much easier to run if we didn’t have any customers… And I could finish the crossword in my own time too…
  19. Undone by a careless AMIL. Don’t know why, knew the chemistry and knew the Little Women having read the book years ago. Apart from that all done in 30:09, so a reasonably quick finish for me. FOI was DROOP and LOI, CRIB. A mostly top to bottom solve. Liked STARKERS, INSTRUMENT PANEL and HYSSOP. An enjoyable solve. Thanks setter and V.
  20. I seemed to be on the setter’s wavelength today, all done in 6m 58s with no significant problems. LOI was CRIB, where I was struggling to convince myself of the multiple definitions. Lots of decent clues, and the more obscure answers very fairly indicated.
  21. In that I solved a Friday puzzle. Found this quite easy (compared with my afternoon task of how to rid my lawn of a mushroom ring). Took time over the Starkers/Turned combo. My memories of Teds were people to be avoided (mostly because of the smell!). Wonders will continue to hever dease if Wales and Ireland draw 0-0 tonight.
    1. Because of the smell!? (Of what? Aftershave? BO? …) Anyway it sounds like fighting talk in a blog with dorsetjimbo as such a prominent contributor.
      1. Some kind of hair product? All I know is that I never knew of dorsetjimbo’s past and now I kind of want to join his gang. I don’t know if Teds were up for a rumble or in fact entirely peaceable, but if the former, there’s some Telegraph bloggers that could do with a shakedown…
        1. Dorsetjimbo looks back with pride on his days as a Teddy boy in the East End. I’m guessing that fashion and girls were the main focuses of his “chapter”. However, setters often use a secondary definition like the one in Collins (1986) – “any rough or delinquent youth” – and this gets right up his nose, particularly if the word “hooligan” crops up.

          The less savoury elements (including the smell?) were commemorated in a song from the era, “The Teddy boys’ picnic”, which contained the lines

          Don’t bother to wash, it’s sure to rain,
          Just remember your cosh and bicycle chain,
          For today’s the day the Teddy boys have their picnic.

  22. I don’t often post as currently I usually do the crosswords a day late so it’s a bit pointless. However, today I hurried to try as I had completed all four so far this week without using aids and this is rare for me. Hooray! I made it 5 straight unaided finishes which is a record and could never have been achieved before reading this blog everyday. Took around the hour mark. COD starkers. Went to the site of Yorktown last year on holiday. Very wet visit. Many thanks to setter and all bloggers.
    1. Well done Caro. I was an anonymous watcher for a while until Boltonwanderer said to join in the fun. I don’t mind admitting my lack of skill at times, so why not grab yourself an avatar and make this blog for improvers as well as the (hugely respected and very helpful) experts?
  23. I Googled “Wood bowl” and nothing about a game called “bowls” came up. I searched assiduously the definitions of both words and was none the wiser. I am still in the dark, or at least a crepuscular place.
      1. I was just about to edit my post to add this:
        “They were originally made from lignum vitae, a dense wood giving rise to the term “woods” for bowls, but are now more typically made of a hard plastic composite material.”
      2. I know how to Google “wood definition,” thankyouverymuch.
        I take it you didn’t find it listed in a dictionary either, or you would have sent me that link. But I just now found the Wikipedia entry for Bowls and all is clear.
        1. The dictionary definition the_toff linked to includes the definition ‘another term for bowl’. That’s the ODO definition: it’s also in Collins and Chambers, if you search assiduously. 😉

          Edited at 2017-03-10 04:56 pm (UTC)

  24. Definitely on the slow side, at 37 minutes, but I enjoyed almost every one of them. No NHOs this time, though YORKTOWN came close and I only know HYSSOP from crossword land. I particularly liked 17ac, but all of the clues were excellent, I thought.
  25. About 25 minutes, ending with TURNED. Nothing too exciting, although I confess to biffing DUST BOWL, and PARADISAL isn’t a common word, at least to me. Regards.
  26. Nearly an hour, not too easy, not too hard. Started right off with DROOP but then the going got slow, LOI was TURNED after wondering whether one does keep tea in an urn. COD to COME DOWN WITH and STARKERS.
  27. 8:55, which felt awfully slow – brain struggling with marshmallow – but perhaps wasn’t quite such a disaster after all.

    I was worried that dorsetjimbo was going to be even more riled at being described as a “postwar trendy” than as a “hooligan”, but am relieved that he’s not.

    I briefly had DUST BELT at 1dn (clearly mixing it up with RUST BELT), but changed it quickly enough – after reckoning that a BELT (of trees) wouldn’t quite do for “wood”.

    1. I wish I could understand the causes of being off my crossword game! Which I definitely have been, this week. Isolating the factors involved and not doing them in October would be good…
      1. Oh dear! Me too. Only perhaps more the other way round, as on the very rare occasions these days when I have a comparatively decent week, I’d love to know what I could do to repeat the experience more often.

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