TImes 26,681: Pink Eye In The Morning, Solvers Take Warning

A beautifully set puzzle here, absolute cryptic economy combined with terrific surfaces across the board. I was really impressed by the synergy between wordplay and definition parts in multiple places – 14ac, 21ac, 2dn, 3dn, 4dn, oh, I could keep on going. Can’t even complain much about the TLS quotient either, as we have gorgeous George, Isak Dinesen, Shakespearean histories and a legendary jazzman making cameo appearances here. I wish I hadn’t tackled this post-pub as probably could have done with a clear head, but my wife is off to Morocco tomorrow morning so I’ve got a week of abstemiousness ahead of me, had to get them in while I could, resulting in an unlucky-for-some time of 13 minutes today.

LOI was that regular encounter in crossword puzzles (not so much in the real world any more, as far as I know?) HYDRO. Loads of contenders for clue of the day but I’ll give it to the lovely, smooth-surfaced charade at 14ac. Three cheers for the not at all 11ac or 27ac setter!


1 Thinks about one’s exploits (7)
MISUSES – MUSES [thinks] about I’S [one’s]
5 “Land”: good advice if this is damaged? (7)
WINGTIP – WIN G TIP [land | good | advice], semi-&lit. Referring to the wing tip of a plane, not to a shoe, probably.
9 Panda or cat playing with polar bear’s tail (6,3)
PATROL CAR – (CAT + POLAR {bea}R*) [“playing”]
10 Fleece blooming clean! (2,3)
DO OUT – DO [fleece] + OUT [blooming]. Unfamiliar to me, though I recognise DO UP.
11 Render “disjointed” maybe with it? Hardly (5)
UNHIP – a HIP is a join, to UN-HIP would be to render dis-jointed. Maybe!
12 Maybe caution’s unlikely where work’s picked up? (9)
BOOKSTALL – BOOK [maybe caution (in a sporting context)] ‘S TALL [unlikely]
14 CCTV unit one joins to formulate viewers’ complaint (14)
17 Say nothing: fuss reveals condition (5,2,7)
STATE OF AFFAIRS – STATE O FAFF AIRS [say | nothing | fuss | reveals]
21 Be injected with elbow out? (3,4,2)
GET SHOT OF – double def, more or less (get shot of penicillin, vs get shot of unwelcome person)
23 Come by home with vicious dog (5)
INCUR – IN [home] with CUR [vicious dog]
24 Historically, love to do origami? (2,3)
OF OLD – O [love] + FOLD [to do origami]
25 Found cipher kit in a note (9)
ORIGINATE – O RIG IN A TE [cipher | kit | in | a | note]
26 Part I required for a VIP (7)
27 Dreadful article: Times hits back (7)
ABYSMAL – A BY [article | times] + LAMS reversed [hits “back”]


1 Parent with sullen look making plan (3,3)
MAP OUT – MA [parent] with POUT [sullen look]
2 Armstrong chats excitedly on leaving moon (7)
SATCHMO – (CHATS*) [“excitedly”] + MO{on} – Louis Armstrong, not the moon-suggested Neil
3 Big woolly Liberal’s joy, Pope having reformed (6,3)
SLOPPY JOE – SL [Liberal] + (JOY POPE*) [“having reformed”] – in my household a sloppy joe is something you eat, but it also seems to be a big jumper
4 Payment of 100k to be in crime identikit (4,7)
SICK BENEFIT – C K [one hundred | K] + BE in SIN E-FIT [crime | identikit]
5 Duke abandoning minor conflict (3)
WAR – WAR{d} [“minor”, with D abandoned]
6 Some dressed — unusually, on reflection? (5)
NUDES – hidden reversed in {dres}SED UN{usually} &lit
7 Prostitute grabbing prisoner got up as Henry IV (3-4)
TWO-PART – TART [prostitute] grabbing POW reversed [prisoner “got up”]
8 Harsh hiding Scrabble letters among foreign ones (8)
PITILESS – TILES [Scrabble letters] hidden among PIS [foreign letters]
13 Picture no longer having travelling fair around (3,2,6)
OUT OF AFRICA – OUT OF [no longer having] + (FAIR*) [“travelling”] + CA [around]. 1986 Meryl Streep film of the book.
15 Sex with flair: what a goer has? (9)
VIABILITY – VI [sex, as in the Roman number] + ability [flair]
16 One’s defensive error leads to defeat for the line (8)
ISOGLOSS – I’S O.G. [ones | defensive error] leads to LOSS [defeat]. An isogloss is a line on a map dividing, e.g. places where they pronounce “scone” correctly from places it rhymes with stone.
18 Boy topping class in music or poetry? (3,4)
ART FORM – ART [boy, as in Arthur] topping FORM [class]
19 Take back allegation about heads (7)
RECLAIM – CLAIM [allegation] (which) RE [about] heads
20 English author’s goldmine? (6)
ORWELL – OR WELL [gold | mine]
22 Screen series for audience in hotel (5)
HYDRO – homophone [“for audience”] of HIDE ROW [screen | series]
25 Cockney’s hollow word of encouragement (3)
OLE – a Cockney says ‘ole for hole

56 comments on “TImes 26,681: Pink Eye In The Morning, Solvers Take Warning”

  1. 20:42 … that was tough but fun. I finished, like our blogger, with HYDRO after quite a while trying to fit a series homophone into HO(tel).

    I certainly fell for the misdirection with VIABILITY. That one and GET SHOT OF my favourites

    1. Yes, I did that for a while — but then thought that “Ho” is really an abbreviation for “House” (esp. Ordnance Survey mapping labelling) rather than “hotel”. “Somerset Ho.” but not “The Connaught Ho.”?
  2. 20m, in two goes. I’m at our company offsite and thought I’d have a go at this when I got back to the hotel half cut last night. As usual this proved to be a mistake, so I gave up and finished it this morning. For me alcohol and solving absolutely do not mix, and I have no idea how you do it.
    Another tricky and very enjoyable puzzle, when tackled sober.

    Edited at 2017-03-24 07:44 am (UTC)

  3. Not my usual Friday disaster, finishing with a good solid 5 under par for the week.

    Relieved that ISOGLOSS got the thumbs up on submission. Thanks setter and V.

  4. Great fun but fell at the final hurdle needing aids to complete ISOG?O?S at 16dn, never having heard of the word – and I’d been so proud to remember OG for once. Also failed to parse BOOKSTALL although the answer had come easily enough and I expect in duty-blogger mode I’ve worked it out eventually.

    DO OUT in my experience means to redecorate a room or house rather than simply to clean it.

    Edited at 2017-03-24 07:54 am (UTC)

  5. I was out and about this morning and dipped in and out of this rather enticing crossword. I would estimate it took about 45 minutes.

    FOI 23ac INCUR


    LOI 5ac WINGTIP after finally getting to grips with 10ac DO OUT and 8dn PITILESS. I was not enamoured by the Cockney’s hole at 25dn OLE!

    COD was 9ac PATROL CAR and WOD HYDRO

  6. Slight parsing slip at 4D V. It’s C-K for 100k + BE all in SIN – E-FIT

    Really good crossword – thank you setter – best of the week.

    1. Thanks Jimbo! Parsing while a touch sozzled can clearly get… needlessly elaborate.
  7. … as I hit the hour with two missing: PITILESS, and ISOGLOSS (u/k). Well, three missing really, as I wasn’t sure whether 26ac was demione, semione or hemione. Oops. I too always thought you ate a SLOPPY JOE, but what else could it be?

  8. A good Friday puzzle. 38 minutes with ISOGLOSS formulated from the many own goal defeats in life, having made an 18d out of being 11a. COD 15d surface brilliant if a challenge for a 71 year old. Good old Norbreck HYDRO to the rescue again at 22d..Thank you V and setter.

    Edited at 2017-03-24 09:41 am (UTC)

  9. What an excellent crossword. Hydro did for me, rabbit in the headlights I’m afraid. Shame cerebral irrigation isn’t available. Thanks V and setter
    1. I believe our blogger could tell you a lot about cerebral irrigation by mouth, but not this week, I think, as a week’s relative abstemiousness seems to beckon. You can’t buy a proper pint from Tescos (or even Waitrose. My sympathies, V.
  10. 26 and a bit, completing a week in which I can’t claim any express speeds. A decent enough puzzle, though something I can’t quite put my finger on niggles with multi-word clues ending of or out. I’d have had DO OUT as redecorate too, but Bi Red disagrees.
    Budapest for still existing HYDROs, and very good ones too.
    Special mentions for the surfaces for SATCHMO and CON-thingy. Cold teabags the remedy for the latter, works every time.
    How long before sex for VI becomes a chestnut? As yet, still raises a smile.
  11. I tried all sorts of things to reset my brain for new attempts at my last three: the unknown ISOGLOSS, the not-really-unknown-but-might-as-well-have-been meaning of SOMEONE and the yet-again-forgotten HYDRO.

    I failed, however, so a DNF in somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours, though I’d got the rest within 60 minutes. Bah.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  12. 52 minutes, finishing like many of the thoroughbreds with Hydro. I’d never heard of either meaning of Sloppy Joe – a bit of a silly name. Can I have a go at renaming it?

    Anyway, penance is next up for me, I’m afraid, as I cheerfully bunged in “pityless”. Not a typo, just a sad indictment of my education.

    I’ve managed to avoid doing out many rooms, but if I were told to do so, I’d take it in the spring cleaning sense and hire a Filipino. COD to Get shot of – sorry, Zed.

    Edited at 2017-03-24 10:48 am (UTC)

  13. First-rate puzzle. Pleased to finish, albeit with the help of aids here and there. I shared the general admiration for 14A, 21A and 15D, where it took me an unconscionably long time to spot the “sex” = VI possibility.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  14. Did it strike no one else that there’s something odd about defining a fine book as the second-rate movie based on it? And what’s the problem with HYDRO? We’ve had it often enough that even I learned it, in my 7th decade. Never heard of doing up, but. LOI 7d, finally comprehended after finally giving up on ‘con’ and ‘lag’ and thinking outside the can. This was, as Sotira says, tough but fun. On edit: How embarrassing: I forgot to mention that I got OLE wrong: I noticed I hadn’t solved it just as I was about to submit, flung in OPE.

    Edited at 2017-03-24 11:59 am (UTC)

    1. Ah, but, da buuk duss not ‘ave Meryl Streep’s agsent, no?

      Edited at 2017-03-24 01:13 pm (UTC)

      1. True. I always thought they should have had Dick van Dyke instead of Robert Redford playing Dennis Finch-Thing.
        1. Dick Van Dyke on a jolly ‘oliday with Meryl – were you thinking? Owwww.
  15. I slowed myself up by putting in “police car” and then had to go back and re-think although it was perfectly clear. And I agree with Kevin about OUT OF AFRICA, the book versus the movie, the latter being not much cop despite a good cast. 21.19
    1. Panda and polar bears get cold claws (just the tip)(6,3)
      Confidently wrote in police car, too, but then tried to parse it, it wouldn’t, so spent the time to work it out.
  16. I agree with all the above. A fine puzzle.

    36 years ago, as a new Tax Manager in the then largest firm of Accountants in the world (Arthur Andersen, long since gone), they held their annual UK Tax Partner/Manager meeting at Peebles Hydro in the Scottish Borders, so this was a write-in. I see that it is still functioning.

    Just under 30 minutes, which is about the time it has taken me to type this with a defective keyboard. Thanks setter and V.

    1. Maybe I just need to book myself in at a hydro for a weekend. I’m sure it’s mostly the fact that this is an entirely crossword-only word for me that stops it sinking in. (Though I think I got it the last time it came up, so perhaps I’m getting there…)
  17. Found this hard, over 40 minutes. Enjoyable nonetheless, very finely crafted. No real reason to be slow on looking back, even with a few unknowns and barely knowns. Sloppy Joe as something you eat was unknown – only know the oversized top.
    VI for sex seems common enough in the Sunday Times, but don’t remember seeing it in the weekday version? Liked that, art form, wingtip, and especially get shot of.
  18. What a fun solve. Did it in two parts since I had to go for dinner in the middle. Like many others, I’d never heard of ISOGLOSS but I was pretty confident. SLOPPY JOEs are messy sandwiches and I’d never heard of the sweater, and I’d not come across DO OUT.

    But also, as others have said, this style of clueing is extremely precise, mephisto style (although without the obscurities).

    I lived in Scotland for years, and there are several famous hotels. The already mentioned Peebles Hydro, a Crieff Hydro. Never stayed at any of them (I was a student, we didn’t stay in hotels period) but they are well known names. Just for fun I googled “scottish hydro” to see if there were any others. Doh! Scottish Hydro is the electricity company in parts of Scotland (like in Canada), something I’d forgotten. Adding “hotel” led me to discover there is a Dunblane Hydro too, although it goes by the world’s most ungainly hotel name, the The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dunblane Hydro.

  19. I always say ‘get shut of’ – maybe it’s a northern expression, but it wouldn’t parse which made HYDRO even harder. After one or two sneak peeks at the iphone for help as well, I will have to concede defeat on this one.
    1. I say GET SHUT OF too, and in days of old when playing football would encourage big yard dog centre-halves to GET SHUT, ie hoof the bloody thing before they fell over it. So maybe it is northern.
    1. It’s a shame that the London Stone is (I think?) in EC4, but it must be just round the corner from being the Stone of ECONE.
      1. Used to walk past it every day. .. is just across the road from cannon st station
  20. An enjoyable 56:22 with all correct, using the Vinyl method of following the cryptic. NHO ISOGLOSS, but SLOPPY JOE rang a bell, although not in the edible sense. Still didn’t see VI for sex even after parsing ability for flair. Another one to file away. Liked WINGTIP and the runny eyes. FOI SATCHMO, LOI HYDRO. Thanks setter and Verlaine.
  21. Hello all, another newby here who was hoping to finish the week with a blast but got stymied at the last, so a DNF, unfortunately. Just could not get someone, pitiless and hydro. Oh well… I have been following the blog for around two years and would like to thank all the participants for their work in helping people like me improve our solving abilities. Many thanks today to V and setter for, what I thought, was a very challenging crossword.
    1. Welcome rosedeprovence. I also joined recently and find the folks here charming and, at times, pretty awesome! Are you in France?
  22. I was patting myself on the back for solving this tricky puzzle inside 30 mins when an error was flagged on submission. I had put in PETROL CAR at 9ac on the basis of that most Fiat Panda’s were probably petrol thus simultaneously overlooking the fact there was no E in the anagram and forgetting Z Cars.
    1. I think they only got to be called Panda cars later in the sixties when Newtown (Kirkby) as part of the Lancashire Constabulary started using smaller cars like the Anglia. At first they used Ford Zephyrs on Z Cars, as driven by Bob Steele, Jock Weir, Bert Lynch, Fancy Smith, David Graham etc. Those last two were played by Brian Blessed and Colin Welland. What with Stratford Johns as Barlow and Frank Windsor as John Watt, wowee!
      1. For the sake of my eardrums, I think I would rather be in a Zephyr than an Anglia if Brian Blessed was sitting next to me.
  23. 19 mins of wide awake solving. I got through most of the top half relatively quickly but took a while to get going in the bottom half. I’m another who would usually say “get shut of” but the correct answer was easy enough to parse once I had all the checkers so an embarrassing misbiff was avoided. For some reason it took me much longer than it should have done to be happy enough to enter RECLAIM even though I’d considered it quite early on. VIABILITY was my LOI after STATE OF AFFAIRS.
  24. Hi all. I had to do as vinyl said, and follow the cryptics wherever they led, in order to get through this in 25 minutes. ISOGLOSS? Well, that’s what the clue directs me to enter, so I did, but I confess to then looking it up to find out if it was real. Also DNK DO OUT or GET SHOT OF. LOI, like many, was the HYDRO. It makes me wonder what goes on in such a place. Wetness, apparently. Regards.
  25. It seems that my 11:02 has held up comparatively well, but it still felt awfully slow at the time as I struggled with senior moments for some clues and missed the blindingly obvious for others.

    Delightfully economical clueing. I raise my hat to the setter.

  26. Every so often, I consider a part of my body and wish it was bigger. Today was my brain’s turn. Utterly defeated, by clues to numerous to mention.

    One thing – I may have missed the explanation in some of the comments, but can someone enlighten me as to why “O.G.” is a “defensive error”? Is it “off guard”?

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