Times 26741 – well past my prime

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
As Verlaine observed last week, you had a choice; go on holiday next week and suffer me twice this week, or go this week and enjoy his insightful ramblings next Wednesday and Friday. By gracing Barcelona with his presence this week, V has missed what I think is the toughest – and arguably best – puzzle-to-blog for me for a very long time. It was possible to get all the answers right, in an hour or so, parsing a few of them properly – notably 17a, 19a and 21d – took a little longer but it was rewarding in the end. I’ll look daft if a majority of the regulars found it a doddle, but somehow I doubt it.

I confess I did resort to Google / Wiki to double-check 16a and 23d post-solve, I’d heard of 16a vaguely but (of course) not the poet.

Definitions underlined.

1 The solver on degree course by lake? (5)
BAYOU – BA = degree course, YOU = the solver. I immediately started humming ‘Jambalaya, crawfish pie, filet gumbo… (I like the Carpenters version, not Hank Williams). It’s still going round my head.
4 Topples, being smooth, you could say (5,4)
KEELS OVER – KEELS is SLEEK reversed i.e. ‘over’.
9 He gets upset with gastric diet (9)
REICHSTAG – (HE GASTRIC)*. Easy once you’ve twigged the sort of diet we’re talking about.
10 Shoot military recruit, getting one for nothing (5)
SPRIG – A military recruit is a SPROG, change his O to I.
11 Unlimited deposit linked to Saudi capital (6)
ANKARA – The capital of Turkey. Link (B)ANK = deposit, verb, to ARA(B) = Saudi.
12 Strand most of non-professional troops in sound (8)
FILAMENT – Once I had the checkers I could see the answer but unravelling it took a while. The ‘sound’ is not a ‘sounds like’ indicator. FIT = sound, insert LA(Y) MEN for ‘most of unprofessional’ and troops.
14 Sleepy? Fast becoming a fundamental pain for babies?(5,4)
NAPPY RASH – NAPPY being a made-up adjective from NAP, for sleepy, RASH being fast as in a decision made (too) fast.
16 Section of Burmese railway that serves drinks in the east (5)
SERAI – Hidden word in BURME(SE RAI)LWAY. A watering-hole or inn in the Middle East, more often called a caravanserai.
17 Manage surety in prime locations in dread (5)
ANGST – Well, angst means dread, a good start. Consider the words ‘manage surety.’ Number the letters, one to twelve. Then take those which correspond to the first five prime numbers – 2, 3, 5, 7, 11. You get A, N, G, S, T. The letters in prime locations. Sacre bleu!
19 Excel mode in which a new spreadsheet closes initially?(9)
TRANSCEND – Insert A N S C (initial letters of a new spreadsheet closes) into TREND = mode.
21 Cast sat with 25 diners (8)
EATERIES – ‘Cast’ tells you to make an anagram of SAT with the answer to 25a, so do that first. (SAT EERIE)*.
22 Short relative with a daughter in suit for birthday? (6)
UNCLAD – UNCL(E), A, D(aughter).
25 Scary European republic wanting revolution (5)
EERIE – E(uropean), then EIRE reversed (‘wanting revolution’).
26 Pay back bruiser, with me being beaten up (9)
27 Divine wisdom in article by old, old ruler of Persia (9)
THEOSOPHY – THE (article), O(ld), SOPHY. The Sophy was a ruler of Persia in the Safavid dynasty, I subsequently found out. I wasn’t entirely sure what theosophy was, but its Greek roots suggested God and wisdom would be likely.
28 Good girl, one that can hold a drink (5)
GLASS – G, LASS. Easiest clue of the day.

1 Take back humiliation about trendy place offering snip (7,8)
BARGAIN BASEMENT – BARG = GRAB (take) back, ABASEMENT = humiliation, insert IN = trendy.
2 Runs from jester, producing a cry (5)
YOICK – YORICK (the late court jester) loses an R.
3 Weak peacemakers just not liberal (7)
UNHARDY – UN = peacemakers, HARDLY = just, loses L(iberal).
4 Sources in Kyoto archive teaching ancient Japanese exercises (4)
KATA – Initial letters of Kyoto Archive Teaching Ancient.
5 Mad dog famously linked to one almost mangles shin badly (10
ENGLISHMAN – (MANGLE(S) SHIN)*. As in ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’.
6 Parades for which packs called out (7)
SASHAYS – Sounds like SACHETS = packs.
7 Bits of bone European found buried in green Scottish hillside (9)
VERTEBRAE – VERT = green, E(uropean), BRAE = Scottish hillside.
8 Sense Conservatism can be seen as this (5-10)
RIGHT-MINDEDNESS – Cryptic definition. I went wrong at first pencilling in ‘right-handedness’ thinking that was in some sense a sense, perhaps because I’m left-handed.
13 Vermin on platter chewed banger (10)
RATTLETRAP – RAT for vermin then (PLATTER)*.
15 On which tops were removed to improve circulation? (4,5)> (4,5)
PAGE THREE – Cryptic definition, referring to the days of page three bare-breasted ladies appearing in certain tabloids, not in this esteemed organ though.
18 Goes to grab edges of expensive dishes (7)
TUREENS – TURNS = goes, insert E E being the edges of ExpensivE.
20 Polish to get the sack for blockage (7)
SANDBAG – SAND = polish, BAG = sack. Usually it takes more than one sandbag to make a decent blockage, but I suppose it works.
23 Poet left by killer? (5)
LORCA – L for left, ORCA = killer (whale). A Spanish poet I’d never heard of.
24 Asian joint, reportedly very cramped (4)
TINY – I put in TINY thinking blank I blank Y, must be, but why? Dodgy Asian cigarettes? Small Chinese restaurants? Then it came to me with a groan. Reportedly = sounds like, ‘THAI KNEE’. A nice end to a fine puzzle, I thought.

58 comments on “Times 26741 – well past my prime”

  1. Very tricky clueing in this one led to quite a few biffs: ANGST, ANKARA, TINY for example. So, kudos to the blogger (as well as the setter). DNF though, as I couldn’t get SASHAYS.
  2. 35 mins with a Fat Rascal – quick for me, so I thought this friendly for a Friday, even with the outrageous homophone. Enjoyed the ‘prime locations’ – don’t think I’ve seen that before. Dredged up Lorca from somewhere, and the ‘killer’ wordplay was generous. Nice to see an outing for Yorick alongside page three (COD). Thanks setter and Pip.
  3. Yes, I found it hard work too, but well worth the effort and I was surprised to finish it all correctly (although not all parsed) in 46 minutes. I then consulted references to confirm my answers derived from wordplay LORCA, SOPHY and KATA and eventually spotted the parsing of FILAMENT where at first glance I thought I was looking for a sound-alike, “filler men” (non-professional troops), but what of the final T, I wondered?

    I noticed the letters of ANGST were in the correct order in “manage security” but missed the prime number connection. One for the boys and girls at Bletchley Park methinks!

    Edited at 2017-06-02 06:38 am (UTC)

  4. Echo previous comments. As someone who has a fascination with prime numbers 17ac filled me both with awe and aw, getting me thinking there was some esoteric caballism written into the english language however it’s just an arbitary code that they change everyday. I’m saved
        1. That slide-rule took me back 70-odd years when I was learning to be an engineer (after just graduating as a mathematician).
  5. A definite workout; I don’t think I answered any clue on first reading besides GLASS, LORCA, & EERIE. DNK KATA, thought ‘sprog’ meant child for some reason, couldn’t get past sausage for ‘banger’, etc. I was sure 3d began with UN, but couldn’t think of the name of a lake ending in U. I had thought the Sophy was in the Ottoman Empire. Biffed SASHAYS and, of course, ANGST, which definitely merits a COD.
    1. The reason will be that it does mean ‘child’. This was the only meaning I knew so this was one of many I had to put in trusting the wordplay.
  6. The second of the almost undoables for me, this time with a guessed and unjustified ACKERS (capital?) providing my on error in 36 minutes. I thought, along with several others which succumbed over time, the parsing would eventually emerge. FILAMENT was another, as was the brilliant prime number ANGST, REICHSTAG (a CM worthy entry?) and TRANSCEND. THAI KNEE worth a groan, the barely remembered and unlikely SOPHY merited a guess. SANDBAG could I suppose be a block, and RIGHT-MINDEDNESS sense as opposed to nonsense rather than as one of the big five (or is it 6 or more properly counted?).
    A tricky solve, then, in which jolly clever occasionally fell off into a niggly too clever for its own good. Well wrestled, Pip.
  7. I must confess I didn’t enjoy that as much as some. I thought 15dn was quite feeble, as I wasn’t sure what the surface reading was meant to convey, and I thought the use of ‘fundamental’ in 14ac was contrived. I biffed an awful lot, including 11ac, which I’m still not sure if I approve of. Not only does ‘unlimited’ have to apply to the whole of the next four words, but you have to accept Arab as a synonym for Saudi (it wouldn’t work for European / British). Nevertheless hats off to the setter for the genius of 17ac, which I’ve never seen before and probably won’t again for a very long time. Maybe Fibonacci next time;-)
    1. I suspect at least some solvers of my generation will have been quite happy with “fundamental” in 14ac, as it will have called to mind the excerpt from Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson quoted here (if Pip will be kind enough to unblock it).
  8. 21:22 And would have been quicker if SCUMBAG hadn’t appeared. In awe over 17ac. Some were biffed so thanks pip for the explanations. Coincidence that BATMAN appears across the middle? RR has said before that he does not like NINAs.

    Edited at 2017-06-02 08:30 am (UTC)

    1. McText here … can’t log in.
      The NINA is in fact the old Batman theme.
      There are four NANAs (!) symmetrically arranged around BATMAN.
  9. 21:10 … so a notch harder again than yesterday’s for me. Tremendous stuff. Compliments to the setter (and heroic blogger).

    Wasn’t sure I was going to crack the southwest corner at all, but when light finally dawned on PAGE THREE it all came together.

    Re ANGST — The same device cropped up in a Telegraph puzzle earlier this year and totally stumped me at the time. I turned on that occasion to Big Dave’s blog for enlightenment, and just went back there to retrieve the clue:

    24a Promise ‘Road to Hell’ in prime locations (4) [from Telegraph 28,380]

    1. Big Dave blogger Mr Kitty dug up a number of examples of the prime device from Telegraph toughies which can be found in the comments/replies of the blog here:


      and pointed out that, weirdly, they all appeared on a Friday. Probably some sort of Theosophical Society / illuminati thing

  10. … all bar SASHAYS in 35mins. And one wrong: ‘bidy’ at 24 down (Indian cigarette=bidi/beedi). But sadly not all parsed. Needed to come here for explanations of ANGST (well, I’d never have got that one, thinking that 1 is a prime number… doh!), KEELS OVER, ANKARA, and several unknowns: SOPHY, KATA, military nature of SPROG, LORCA.

    Many thanks for sorting it all out, Pip.

  11. 22:54. Thanks for explaining the devilish ANGST, Pip. Some other tricky clues and a couple of unkniown words for me too – SOPHY, KATA. And what is BATMAN doing in the middle of it all, I wonder?
      1. As a resident of Suffolk,I changed my pic to this a few weeks ago in defence of Benjamin Britten, who was being maligned by some. Here is the story, thanks to Wikipedia…
        “On Aldeburgh’s beach, a short distance north of the town centre, stands a sculpture, The Scallop, dedicated to Benjamin Britten, who used to walk along the beach in the afternoons. Created from stainless steel by Suffolk-based artist Maggi Hambling, it stands 15 feet (4.6 metres) high, and was unveiled in November 2003.The piece is made up of two interlocking scallop shells, each broken, the upright shell being pierced with the words: “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”, which are taken from Britten’s opera Peter Grimes. The sculpture is meant to be enjoyed both visually and tactilely, and people are encouraged to sit on it and watch the sea. Approached along the road from the Thorpeness direction it has a totally different silhouette appearing to be a knight on a rearing charger.

        The sculpture is controversial in the local area, with some local residents considering it spoiling the beach. It has been vandalised with graffiti and paint on 13 occasions. There have been petitions for its removal and for its retention.”

        Edited at 2017-06-02 08:58 am (UTC)

        1. It’s certainly an interesting item. I have sat on it myself. In fact that was in the week I attempted my first Times 15×15, 6 years ago, of which I managed to complete about 75% in three days, with aids!
        2. Thanks for the info. I can see it’s an interesting piece, the sort which would polarise views.
  12. I’m going back someday, going to stay on blue BAYOU. Spent damn near the full hour on this, which wasn’t remotely like paradise, but I guess it was worth the effort. Biffed ANGST and would have needed another lifetime to twig the prime device. Eventually cracked TRANSCEND and ANKARA but I’m not a Bletchley candidate. FILAMENT as strand nearly passed me by too. Wanted to make 4a Kecks Over for a while. Is that common usage or dialect? DNK SERAI but answer clear. FOI UNCLAD. COD NAPPY RASH. Bravely done, Pip. Thankyou setter, hopefully based in the bowels of GCHQ.

    Edited at 2017-06-02 09:39 am (UTC)

  13. 16m. I thought this was going to be another beast based on the number of acrosses I managed to solve on the first pass, but the downs proved a bit more amenable so for me it ended up in the merely tricky category. Great fun to solve though. Definite COD to ANGST: I don’t remember seeing this device before.

    Edited at 2017-06-02 08:28 am (UTC)

  14. Another DNF. Biffed ANGST. A wonderful device never to be forgotten (he said bravely). Liked UNHARDY and REICHSTAG. Not keen on ANKARA.
    Thanks blogger and Sotira for explaining 17a.
  15. I suppose there’s a natural limit to how long a clue, using the primes idea, can be? How long would it need to be to get a 15-letter answer I wonder.

    ‘I wonder’, because I can’t be bothered to work it out…

    (On edit, it’s 47 plus the indication and definition.)

    Edited at 2017-06-02 10:23 am (UTC)

  16. Enjoyed this greatly, especially 15d. The Sun and the Guardian are two rags I have never bought, but if I found them lying on a train seat back in the day, I remember which one I would always check out…
  17. Unlike others here, I found this one of the easier puzzles of the week, despite a slow start – I must have been in the setter’s wavelength. 8m 23s in total, albeit with fingers crossed for LORCA.

    I wasn’t totally convinced by 8d, where the RIGHT was clear but the rest less so. Still, I put it in without checkers so I must have been fairly convinced.

    Great spot on Batman!

  18. Great puzzle which took me 53:14. I managed to work out the prime device for 17a after submitting, but took SOPHY, KATA, SERAI and the military meaning of SPROG on trust. Didn’t bother to parse TRANSCEND. Despite the drawn out session I never felt I was going to be stuck with this one and enjoyed it all the way. As usual didn’t spot the NINA but what a cracker! Thanks setter and well done Pip.
  19. I was much more on the setters wavelength – 11:04 with over a minute picking out SASHAY. I’d seen the prime position clue before, so that was a bung in, though I didn’t see all of the wordplay for ANKARA immediately.
  20. 21:29. This wasn’t the first time this week I was about to give in with the SW corner incomplete but today THEOSOPHY came to the rescue and enabled me to get P3, TINY & the excellent ANGST (which I had trouble backsolving as I, too, thought 1 was prime). In light of the Eastern flavour imparted by KATA & SERAI I was sure 24 was going to be the name of an oriental watering hole that sounds like a word meaning cramped.

    Loving the Nina.

  21. I am just in awe of this brilliant puzzle. DNF as I couldn’t tet the Sashays / Filament crossers. Guessed Angst and then saw the brilliance of the clue – the setter clearly knows his/her primes as many don’t think 2 is a prime being the only even number prime. And then a most wonderful Nina. Worth a year’s subscription just for this. Humble thanks to all.
  22. Right side went in with some mental application after RIGHT WINGEDNESS got corrected. Couldn’t finish the left side.
    Meantime, I see Batman, but need some help with the other 4??

    Edited at 2017-06-02 01:20 pm (UTC)

    1. Paul, look in rows 2 and 14 then in columns 2 and 14. Brilliant stuff!
  23. THis went in pretty quickly on paper while on a work call to Asia so time not exactly relevant. Then I ground to a halt since I could only see SASHAYS that fit for 6d, which is correct. But I didn’t think of “sachets” so I was sure it was wrong, and “parades” seemed not quite close enough. Plus I couldn’t parse FILAMENT so I was worried maybe I’d missed something there. In the end I put them in and came here to see if I got lucky, and I did.

    Did the Sun get politically correct and remove page 3? It sounds like it. Somehow I don’t think my San Francisco newsagent (actually, I say that but the concept doesn’t actually exist in the US) carries it to check. For professional purposes, of course.

    Edited at 2017-06-02 02:14 pm (UTC)

  24. Clever stuff but I note a slippage recently in the good old Times in the synonyms department. Tiny and (particularly) rash are too localised in the secondary meaning. Failed to get angst and page three (which go together rather well) so a bit peeved, after a number of tricky ones had fallen without fuss. It’s Roy Orbison’s Blue Bayou for me, for a song for 1 across. Weird Nina. Why?
  25. I rattled through this one, but unfortunately my shop suddenly got very busy (or fortunately!) so ended up being over 2 hours. I didn’t realise how many clues I had biffed till I came here – ANGST, FILAMENT and ANKARA, the last with UNHARDY being filled in with hope over experience.
  26. Tired, slow, and like JoeKobi stumped at the end by Page Three & Angst. Used a solver for P3 then ANGST leapt out, as did its parsing – a trick mentioned recently (March 6) in Alan Connor’s Guardian blog. And apparently not uncommon in Grauniad crosswords.
    Seems to me The Times is getting more like the Guardian – might just be my imagination, but more brand names, more tricks like primes, more initial indicators like “touch of” and “hint of” which I’ve only seen here in the past year or so. Guess evolution is inevitable.
  27. Only spotted the Nina post-submit. That took me back decades to when I’d come home from school aged 16 and consume an enormous tea while my 4-year-old brother would sit in front of the box watching this or Dr. Who – I must have absorbed more than I realized at the time. I don’t know if the setter intended it but among Robin’s “holy” sayings are “holy bargain basement” and “holy vertebrae”. 20.05
  28. 28 mins, but I was very tired when I got home from work and drifted badly in the middle of it. Once I snapped out of it I finished the last half of the puzzle relatively quickly so I may have been able to post a decent time if I’d been alert the whole time. To demonstrate how tired I was I saw UNCLAD fairly quickly but for some reason wrote it in as “unclog” and didn’t see my mistake until I couldn’t get 8dn to work. As a quadrant I found the SW the trickiest, but UNHARDY was my LOI.

    I didn’t post yesterday because I did it at lunchtime as I was going out straight after work. It took me 32 mins which doesn’t seem too bad now that I’ve read all the comments. I can’t remember my LOI but I do recall I finished the top half a lot faster than the bottom. As I mentioned the first and only other time I did the main puzzle in an open plan office, it isn’t the best of solving environments!

    Edited at 2017-06-02 05:15 pm (UTC)

  29. Heavens, that was something. I fought through in around 40 minutes, ending with the entire NW area, including BARGAIN … I didn’t parse everything completely, though, especially the ANGST construction, which is quite tricky. Also, over here I’d say a BAYOU is more of a sluggish spread out stream than a lake, but if we have anyone from down Louisiana way around here, they can correct me. Still, that threw me for a while as well. As did YOICK. LOI was UNHARDY, not a common word. And I just lit upon what NA NA has to do with Batman. Holy Earworm, setter! Well done Pip. Regards.
  30. 50m here and these days a rare all correct! Didn’t parse ANGST but I see it is very clever now. Saw the batman Nina and like Olivia connected bargain basement to Robin. Not sure why today it’s relevant but still very entertaining. Good blog and puzzle today so thanks all round.
  31. somewhat smlar to Thursday’s but a quicker start and a slower finish 80 mins!FOI 1ac BAYOU.LOI 3dn UNHARDY.

    COD 11ac ANKARA. WOD 6dn SASAYS.

    Funny I mentioned NINA just yesterday and McText was right! NA NA NA NA BATMAN – unspotted!

    Lord Galspray absent without leave?

  32. 16:44 for me, back from a few days by the sea, but clearly still not with it when it comes to these modern crosswords.

    Much the same experience as keriothe, finding the downs a lot easier than the acrosses. I wasn’t too keen on “Saudi” for ARAB in 11ac, “Fast” for RASH in 14ac, or “[place] that serves drinks in the east” for SERAI in 16ac. On the other hand, I did like 15dn (PAGE THREE).

    I’d absolutely no idea about the Nina: I had to google “Batman” and “Nana” and then follow the Youtube links, and even then it took me some time to work out what on earth it was all about. (Have I ever watched an episode of Batman? Would I have remembered it if I had?)

  33. Too tired to comment last night. A tough puzzle and a DNF. Had all but two answers complete in 55 mins but despite staring at the grid on and off for the rest of the day I just could not see what was required at 17ac and 15dn. Came here for enlightenment this morning. Disappointed not to get them because I don’t think they were necessarily the hardest of the bunch. A lot of good clues: 4ac, 9ac, 14ac, 26ac, 1dn, 5dn all enjoyed here, missed the NINA but very much appreciated now I see it. Thank you setter and thank you blogger for unravelling it all.
  34. Ankara for me was (B)an(k)Kara. Bank with no limits and the Kara pass.
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