Times 26,705: Turtle Recall

Coming straight from a TLS puzzle as I did, I was clearly in the right headspace for this crossword: I instantly knew Sairey Gamp’s signature item and likewise all the classical militaria was well known to me from my misspent teens (I had thought that 1dn was the unit wearing the armour, not the armour itself, but I could be wrong). Once you got past the slightly archaic frame of reference I thought this was actually pretty straightforward, lots of neat double defs and nothing too hard to parse, though 18dn, biffed from the crossers, did take a little teasing out. A whiff of jazzical whimsy to some of the definitions, e.g. 6dn and 26ac, but I found it all quite enjoyable.

LOI 1ac I think, with plenty of change from 10 minutes, though I note (in the approximate style of a glheard blog) that nobody else is under 12 minutes as of 8am, so this one was probably reasonably hard for non-moustachioed classicists. COD to the very economical and nicely-surfaced 10dn, another one that was only fully parsed post-submission. Many thanks to the setter!


1 Drop in demand (4)
CALL – double def
3 Like Mrs Gamp’s “real ‘umble”, dissolute, daughter (10)
UMBRELLAED – (REAL UMBLE*) [“dissolute”] + D [daughter]
9 What to put, initially mistakenly, in the way of the bank? (7)
TOWPATH – (WHAT TO P{ut}*) [“mistakenly”]
11 Jazz composer our cup of tea, maybe listened to by stream (7)
BRUBECK – homophone of BREW [our cup of tea, maybe, “listened to”] by BECK [stream]
12 Feign reluctance to take part in sports complex? (4,4,2,3)
PLAY HARD TO GET – PLAY [to take part in sports] + HARD TO GET [complex]
14 Put back on TV (5)
RESET – RE SET [on | TV]
15 Arab perhaps holding large, unusual musical instrument (5,4)
STEEL DRUM – STEED [Arab perhaps] holding L [large] + RUM [unusual]
17 A bloomer, getting caught before dash to lunch? (9)
CELANDINE – C ELAN DINE [caught | dash | to lunch]
19 Not a bit lighter! (5)
ZIPPO – double def
21 Shrill coo mingled with sigh, reminiscent of a young lass? (13)
24 Some internet ad to hand about eagerly awaited appointment (3,4)
HOT DATE – hidden reversed in {intern}ET AD TO H{and}
25 Grasping English boss we have to shield, historically (7)
TESTUDO – “grasping” E STUD [English | boss], we have TO
26 Book accommodation, with second fantastic cheap flight option? (10)
BROOMSTICK – B ROOMS TICK [book | accommodation | second]
27 What follows I copy for a laugh? (4)
JAPE – J [what follows I] + APE [copy]


1 Suit offering protection from big fall outside public house (10)
CATAPHRACT – CATARACT [big fall] outside PH [public house]
2 Service spoken of as slow: millions affected (3,4)
LOW MASS – (AS SLOW M*) [“affected”]
4 Teacher is welcome after parent, endlessly strict (9)
MAHARISHI – IS HI [is | welcome] after MA HAR{d} [parent | “endlessly” strict]
5 After putting up reserve, save capital (5)
RABAT – reverse of T.A. BAR [reserve | save]
6 These monitors, possibly, multi-functional but rarely working? (6,7)
LOUNGE LIZARDS – monitors are a type of lizard, which leads into a quirky cryptic definition of the human lizards of the lounge variety.
7 Supporter in a cap (7)
ABETTER – A BETTER [a | cap]
8 Requirement for boxing title (4)
DUKE double def, of: requirement for boxing | title
10 When sweaty, endless serving tonic (1,4,2,3,3)
A SHOT IN THE ARM – AS HOT [when | sweaty] + IN THE ARM{y} [“endless” serving]
13 Not a groovy weapon monsieur, in truth, once carried (10)
SMOOTHBORE – M [monsieur] in SOOTH [truth, once] + BORE [carried]
16 Powerful quote author half-heartedly recalled (9)
ENERGETIC – reverse of CITE GRE{e}NE [quote | author “half-heartedly”]
18 State quarters on the outside look all the same (7)
LESOTHO – E S [quarters], on the outside LO [look] + THO [all the same]
20 Correct, evenly placed components in nuclear plant (7)
PRIMULA – PRIM [correct] + {n}U{c}L{e}A{r}
22 Deliberate, in the course of time (5)
OVERT – OVER T [in the course of | time]
23 Fat that’s shed by fish (4)
CHUB – CHUB{by} [fat, “that’s shed BY”]

39 comments on “Times 26,705: Turtle Recall”

  1. Skipped along nicely (FOI: RESET, got CALL pretty early on funnily enough), and then stuck for a good twenty minutes. Today the brick wall was built in the north-east: Mrs Gamp required Googling, and that only left me searching for a synonym of drunk, I couldn’t get RILL out of my head for that stream, and I had ______LIZARDS written in the grid until the end. COD: 12A for me, beautifully economically put together. LOI: HOT DATE, but only because I’d convinced myself that FLAB was as a fish. Lots of new vocab, entertaining clues and a real workout generally.

    Question to the floor: I paused the puzzle today, and it appears I’ve had roughly 20 minutes added to my solving time, although I’m sure I was away for longer than that. Can anyone explain, or point me to a link on the site which might help?

    Many thanks setter and Verlaine.

    1. For reasons only the Times knows, pausing the puzzle does not stop the clock, at least not for your final time, I suppose it stops people solving the puzzle while on pause, and presenting a fake time.
      1. Thank goodness there’s no other way of getting a spurious time onto the leaderboard!

        I don’t know if anyone else has been having problems on the Club recently by the way – it hasn’t been affecting my times, I don’t think, but I’ve been having weird error dialogue boxes popping up, the timer appearing to restart after I’ve submitted, that kind of thing.

        1. Thanks for the reply, both – it does seem slightly draconian to me. I’ll be sure to power through my solves in future!
          1. We might not want to rule out the possibility that this is just because it’s easier from a coding standpoint to subtract a start time from an end time once, rather than because they actually fear pause button abuse. I know that it’s the first shortcut I’d try to take as a developer, if the spec permitted it!
        2. Some of us think that’s how you’ve been posting  those unlikely times all along…

      2. You got it in one, Z: pausing the puzzle stops your time, i.e. the actual time you take in inputting your answers. But real time doesn’t stop, alas, and the Times doesn’t know that you’ve actually gone to the loo and weren’t even thinking of the puzzle for 15 minutes. So you learn what your actual solving time is, while the world learns when you started the puzzle and when you submitted a solution. Askival’s problem, on the other hand, or a related hand, is why he wasn’t debited as much time as he thinks he took paused. And here I can answer without hesitation that I haven’t the vaguest.
  2. About 55mins pre breakfast. Liked the Lizard and Broomstick. DNK the protective suit, but did know the big fall. Very enjoyable and nice to see Mrs Gamp get an outing. Thanks all.
  3. Oddly enough, 1ac was my FOI, 1d my LOI. Never heard of CATAPHRACT, which my ODE tells me, in support of our learned blogger, is a soldier all armored up, not the armor. I did a fair amount of biffing, eg LESOTHO, which would have cost me untold minutes had I tried to parse it. ‘Deliberate’ struck me as something of a stretch for OVERT.
    1. Collins has

      cataphract /katˈə-frakt/
      1. A suit of mail
      2. A soldier in full armour (old military)

  4. My heart sank when the first pass yielded only four and several half answers, even with 3a being my FOI. However things very gradually picked up as I tuned into the setter’s wavelength, though I took over the hour all told.
    In retrospect some nice concise clueing. Respect! (as these youngsters say).
  5. Like others don’t understand 6D. Remove “these” and “multi-functional” and the clue works

    Had to use the cryptic for the armour and the shield. Some well constructed clues here – decent end of week challenge

    1. I think the multi- functional refers to their always being at functions, sidling across the room with their gin and tonics.
    2. “Lounge lizards” aren’t merely idlers: they hang around social functions, so I think there has to be some sort of reference to that in there.
  6. That was tough but here in 50 minutes. DNK CATAPHRACT but cryptic was clear with crossers, although I didn’t get CALL until after that. PLAY HARD TO GET lived up to its definition. SMOOTHBORE not parsed, forsooth. COD JAPE for its simplicity, although Mrs Gamp was good too, as was A SHOT IN THE ARM, seen only after biffed. I’ve always had a kick against modern jazz though, they played it too darn fast and lost the beauty of the melody. Thank you V and setter.
  7. 35 minutes and very clever. Never saw CATARACTS. Couldn’t see what “multi-functional” was doing. Have I missed something? COD (among many candidates) to ZIPPO. Thanks setter and V.
    1. I wondered about ‘multi-functional’ too, (and ‘These’, for that matter); all I could come up with is that the LL hangs out at various functions.
  8. This took me about 30 minutes but I had a biffed ZAPPO, having misremembered the name of the lighter. Otherwise I was pleased to finish with SMOOTHBORE and moreso CATAPHRACT proving tricky.
  9. About 40 minutes, bit of a struggle with this one, had to LU CATAPHRACT as was unknown even with all the checkers in; invented a new musical thing SHELL DRUM for a while but eventually saw the STEEL STEED thing. The bottom half seemed much easier. Nice to see Dave Brubeck getting a mention, his sax man Paul Desmond was one of the best ever IMO.
  10. 18.01, so one of those that looks hard but turns out to be right on average. Very enjoyable: getting CATAwotsit from the wordplay made me feel clever, one of several “trust the cryptic” clues: others were ABETTER for the alternate spelling and TESTUDO, though Asterix fans have a head start on that one. Form a quincunx!
  11. It took me a little over the hour today but I got there in the end. DNK CELANDINE, TESTUDO, CATAPHRACT, RABAT or SMOOTHBORE so quite a learning experience. All were gettable from the crossing letters though with checks on google to confirm after the event.

    It was also the first time I’ve made Mrs Gamp’s acquaintance due to me having an inexplicable inability to read Dickens without wanting to gnaw my own leg off. I blame childhood English lessons spent listening to a teacher reading Great Expectations to us in a soporific monotone for what seemed like hours on end.

    1. I think you have to get pretty deep down the Dickens rabbithole before you’re likely to have read Martin Chuzzlewit. I think I learned a gamp was an umbrella by poring through Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable as a lad… (those heady rock’n’roll days of my youth, eh?)
      1. Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is my all time favourite reference book – always something new to learn and very handy for crossword solving purposes too

        Edited at 2017-04-21 11:14 am (UTC)

  12. I read through the clues with a rising sense of panic until my FOI, JAPE, came to the rescue, with the assistance of ULA from the incomplete 21d. My LOI was SMOOTHBORE. I didn’t know CATAPHRACT, but worked it out from wordplay. I had _ESTUD_ early in the solve, but the TO part of the WP only became clear after ENERGETIC was revealed, and the shield surfaced from the depths of my memory. LOUNGE LIZARD went in with a smile, giving me ZIPPO and the rest of 21d. A fun puzzle which kept me on my toes for 45:16. Liked BROOMSTICK. Thanks setter and V.
  13. Snuck in just under the half-hour with my very annoying iPad keyboard. Testudo is the Latin for tortoise and I knew this from the Roman tactic of interlocking their shields over their heads and advancing as a group, especially at a siege. I wrote in LOUNGE LIZARDS from the Monitor suggestion, but in my mind I was thinking Couch Potatoes rather than sleazy shiny-suited men. Even if you have never heard of Dave Brubeck, I bet you know his masterpiece Take Five.
    Thanks setter and V
  14. Well, I finished in 75 minutes and was pleased with that. I was ecstatic to dredge up Mrs Gamp after watching the excellent BBC series recently on DVD. (I also read the book not more than three years ago.) However, it did take me ages to get the unusual ‘umbrellaed’, having written out the anagrist a couple of times.

    So, I’m clearly regressing, and can only marvel at the time if the mighty V – with the KG not far behind.

  15. 30m. I had to get up at 4.30 this morning to catch a flight, and I attempted this on the way to the airport without caffeine assistance. This turned out to be a mistake, because I found it a bit of a beast and I think I’d have enjoyed it a lot more if I had waited until I was a bit more awake. Still, I thought it was excellent, with lots of head-scratching followed by penny-drop moments, and numerous unknowns that had to be teased out from the wordplay. In short, just the way I like it.
    So thanks setter and V.
    P.S. Love the blog title!

    Edited at 2017-04-21 01:04 pm (UTC)

  16. is a word which became my 1dn and LOI although I knew the OS PH must be in there so a DNF. I was pleased enough to get 1ac CALL (my penultimate entry) shockingly simple but it was so darned deceptive – thus my COD.

    FOI 3ac UMBRELLAED WOD LOUNGE LIZARD (multi-functional no problem). 21ac SCHOOLGIRLISH was my SOI and a pleasingly long anagram.

    I dislike jazz (my father played it endlessly) but ‘Take Five’ is an exception.

    I was done in 35 mins and wanted to get on with other things such as researching the ‘Yangtse Affair’.

    Edited at 2017-04-21 02:56 pm (UTC)

  17. 30 mins, but I was very tired after I got home from work and started to drift badly in the middle of it. I’d like to think I’d have shaved at least 10 mins off that time had I been alert for all of it because once my powers of concentration returned I finished the second half of the puzzle relatively quickly. However, I agree that this one was a good challenge even if it didn’t have quite as much humour as I like to see in a puzzle. CATAPHRACT was my LOI after CELANDINE.
  18. This was a good puzzle, which I finished in my normal time of about 20 minutes despite some unusual words: CATAPHRACT, CELADINE, PRIMULA among them, as well as the quite rare UMBRELLAED. By the way, I didn’t know of Mrs. Gamp either, but the wordplay all around led to the answers. My LOI was ABETTER, for some reason, I suppose my being a bit dense. I agree with horryd that the COD goes to the deceptive CALL, very nicely done. Regards.
  19. I found this easier than most Fridays, quite a few unknowns bunged in from word play (Mrs Gamp, the armour, the bloomer), so thanks for all the explanations but none that really gave too much pause for thought. Took 18 mins on the train to work and 15 mins to finish off at lunchtime. FOI 14ac. LOI 13dn. COD also 13dn for the “groovy weapon” def. I would like to claim that testudo sprang instantly to mind from my feeble schoolboy translations of passages from Caesar’s Gallic Wars and Livy’s Histories but I think Z above has let the cat out of the bag on that one. Like Keriothe above I would also like to say great title for the blog. Thanks blogger and thanks setter.
  20. No time for me; still suffering with my cold I could barely find a way into this one during my normal morning session, so I just picked at it gradually throughout the day.

    I’m surprised I successfully finished, given the large number of unknowns and near-unknowns—Mrs Gamp, the CATAPHRACT, BRUBECK, RABAT, MAHARISHI, CELANDINE, TESTUDO and LOUNGE LIZARD just for example. I suppose that speaks to the fairness of the clueing.

    If I’d done it all in one sitting on a good day, I expect it might have taken me a couple of hours.

  21. 12:23 for this most interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

    CATAPHRACT went straight in once I had the crossing letters, though only because it fitted – maybe I could have defined it once, long ago, but I certainly couldn’t while solving today.

    I didn’t twig PLAY HARD TO GET until after I’d submitted – or why LOUNGE LIZARDS were multi-functional until I came here.

  22. Sorry to be thick,- how does ‘call’ equal ‘drop’? Tried ‘fall’ but that made 1d unsolvable and also knew it wasn’t right anyway for ‘demand’.

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