Times 26744

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I found this one very hard but working steadily away at it I was satisfied to get there in the end without resorting to aids. Unfortunately though, I later discovered I had a wrong answer at 21 across having put in a word that seemed to fit the definition but not the wordplay, and that accounted for my being unable to parse it. Whilst blogging I remembered I had another wrong as indicated below. My solving time was off the scale (yet again).

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones].

1 At college, carry on limiting his dancing arrogantly (8)
UPPISHLY – UP (at college), PLY (carry on – as in plying a trade) containing [limiting] anagram [dancing] of HIS. One is said to be “up” at a university and may be “sent down” if one disgraces oneself there.
5 Pretentious gear demanded by educational establishment (6)
KITSCH – KIT (gear), SCH (educational establishment – school). I’ve never thought of “kitsch” as “pretentious” but some of the usual dictionaries are okay with it
10 What one hopes for as owner of takeaway? Buy it! (4,2,4,5)
CASH IN ONES CHIPS – The cryptic definition seems a little awkward to me. The second one makes reference to two colloquial expressions meaning to die or be killed.
11 Farming land includes part by river? That can be decided (10)
ARBITRABLE – ARABLE (farming land) contains [includes] BIT (part) + R (river). An awkward word that’s best avoided in favour of something that’s easier to say, like “up for discussion”.
13 Island identified by blue cheese ultimately? (4)
SKYE – SKY (blue), {chees}E [ultimately]
15 Standard bargain at the greengrocer’s (7)
PARSNIP – PAR (standard), SNIP (bargain)
17 Nonsense exclusively exposed in Times (7)
BALONEY – ALONE (exclusively) contained by [exposed in] BY (times)
18 Young woman hiding deficiency relating to tongue (7)
GLOSSAL – GAL  (young woman) containing [hiding] LOSS (deficiency)
19 Blokes who’d supply water heaters for some speakers (7)
GEEZERS – Sounds like [for some speakers] “geysers” (water heaters)
21 Sound of friendly Cockney greeting Indian governess? (4)
AYAH – Sounds like ” ‘iya ” as a Cockney might say “hiya”, short for “hello to you”. I remembered the wrong servant/nursemaid here, putting AMAH, and only found my mistake later when I tried to work out the parsing.
22 Oil producer — usual type working around Cairo primarily (10)
EUCALYPTUS – Anagram [working] of USUAL TYPE containing [around] C{airo} [primarily]
25 ENT? It’s where young offenders may be found (9,6)
DETENTION CENTRE – The centre of detENTion. One of those clues where the answer describes and demonstrates the wordplay. ENT more usually appears in puzzles clued as the part of a hospital that deals with Ear Nose and Throat conditions.
27 Eg Scandinavian police department Reagan backed? (6)
NORDIC – CID (police department) + RON (Reagan) reversed [backed]
28 Adapt again and study, like Wallace’s four men (8)
READJUST – READ (study), JUST (like Wallace’s four men). I’m not sure if many solvers will have read the Edgar Wallace thriller about four wealthy vigilantes written in 1905 which gave rise to a number of sequels and a couple of films, one of them a silent. I certainly haven’t, but I know the title from a TV series made in 1959 starring Jack Hawkins, Dan Dailey, Richard Conte and Vittorio de Sica as the eponymous Four Just Men.
1 Free relative briefly pursued by snake (7)
UNCLASP – UNCL{e} (relative) [briefly], ASP (snake)
2 Old man’s / step (3)
PAS –  Two meanings. The second is a step in ballet.
3 Devious behaviour in some quarters creeping into work periods (10)
SHIFTINESS – IN + E S (some quarters – points of the compass) contained by [creeping into] SHIFTS
4 A dessert served up: Uncle Sam’s sponge (5)
LOOFA – A + FOOL (dessert) reversed [served up]. I assume “Uncle Sam’s” indicates this as the preferred U.S. spelling of the word, at least according to Collins. The other usual sources  have “loofa” and “loofah” simply as alternative spellings along with “luffa”.
6 Old Peruvian employed in Turin cathedral (4)
INCA – Hidden [employed] in {Tur}IN CA{thedral}
7 Twiggy type getting rap in breakaway group (5,6)
STICK INSECT – STICK (rap – rebuke, criticism, abuse), IN, SECT (breakaway group)
8 Knitted garments basket-maker kept in extremely heavy case (7)
HOSIERY – OSIER (basket-maker) contained by [kept in…case]  H{eav}Y [extremely]
9 Petty infection left by small pest (5,3)
MEALY BUG – MEA{s}LY (petty) [left by small], BUG (infection). I just remembered I had this one wrong too, putting in “belly bug” with very little confidence.
12 European mayor’s old staff tucking into meaty snack (11)
BURGOMASTER – O (old) + MAST (staff) contained by [tucking into] BURGER (meaty snack). I was miffed to find the German “Burgermeister” wouldn’t fit the space available. This is the Dutch equivalent, apparently. It was just as well that the O was checked or I might not have worked it out.
14 Dozy type intelligence chief encountered outside shelter (10)
SLEEPYHEAD – SPY HEAD (intelligence chief) contains [outside] LEE (shelter)
16 Awfully dull piece left unfinished — that’s clear (8)
PELLUCID – Anagram [awfully] of DULL PIEC{e} [left unfinished]
18 Info about stableman ultimately bound to cheer (7)
GLADDEN – GEN (info) contains [about] LAD (stableman) + {boun}D [ultimately]. “Lad” can refer to a stable worker of any age or gender, apparently.
20 Dodgy American originally performing in group touring clubs (7)
SUSPECT – US (American) + P{erforming} [originally] in SET (group) also containing [touring] C (clubs)
23 Part of UK covered by a Tyneside girl (5)
ANNIE – A, NI (part of UK) contained [covered] by NE (Tyneside)
24 Against one of 26’s companions abandoning wine (4)
ANTI – {chi}ANTI (wine) [one of 26’s companions abandoning]. 26dn being TAU, a Greek letter, as is CHI.
26 Workers’ association admitting a character in Patras (3)
TAU – TU (workers’ association – Trades Union), containing [admitting] A

52 comments on “Times 26744”

  1. Like Jack, I wondered about the definition of KITSCH. And like him, I thought first of AMAH, but ‘hamma’ didn’t sound like any greeting I know, and I finally recalled AYAH. Wondered about LAD, too, and about ARABLE as a noun; live and learn. I tried BURGMEISTER before remembering the right form. I also had LOWE for a while as the island. 14d and 24d were biffed and solved post hoc.
  2. Well worth all the difficulty. Didn’t spot the anagram for PELLUCID! And couldn’t think of a wine for 24dn.

    My only gripe is with LOOFA(H). They’re not sponges (though they may do the work of one). In fact, they’re made from gourds. I know this cos it was on QI not long ago.

    On edit: one way I sometimes measure a setter’s confidence in their own clues is to look at how many question-marks are used. Today, for example, there are 6 of 30 clues with ?s. So the Q-ratio is 1:5.
    Not sure if this is significant in any way at all but.

    Edited at 2017-06-06 03:55 am (UTC)

    1. I considered making the point about loofahs not being sponges but as duty-blogger felt I owed it to my public to check all the usual sources first, and having done so I decided it would be like whistling in the wind.

      All of them use the word “sponge” in their definitions of “loofah”, not saying that “sponge” and “loofah” are one and the same technically but if a loofah is used as a sponge, then to all intents and purposes that’s what it is in those particular circumstances.

      In the same way the majority of sponges for sale as bathing products are not sponges at all but are made from synthetic or other material.

      The dictionaries also work the other way round, so if one looks up “sponge”, in addition to the scientific definition one will find looser meanings which could easily include loofahs even if they are not mentioned specifically, e.g. this from SOED: A soft light porous absorbent substance or object used in bathing, cleaning surfaces, etc.

      Edited at 2017-06-06 05:09 am (UTC)

      1. Thanks Jack for the deep research. All good then. Sorry to channel my hero Pedanticus.
        1. Don’t apologize. On another day it would have been me picking over the bones of something.
  3. 14:14 – a lot of head-smacking moments, like not seeing EUCALYPTUS until all the checking letters were in. Didn’t see the wordplay for MEALY BUG but needed it for BURGOMASTER and GLOSSAL
  4. At the point of hitting “submit” I held little hope for both PELLUCID and AYAH being correct. But what do you know.

    Some nice clues, and a tight battle between GLOSSAL, LOOFA, GEEZERS and KITSCH for Horryd’s WOD.

    Thanks setter and Jack.

  5. I found this not too difficult and finished in 24 min. I’d have the same comment as others about KITSCH for ‘pretentious’. Yes, it is in eg Chambers but it must be only rarely used in that sense. I agree ARBITRABLE is a pretty ordinary word; almost (but not quite) as bad a word as PARSNIP is a vegetable. Missed out on the parsing of ANTI.

    I liked GEEZERS and the device for DETENTION CENTRE, including the novel use of ENT.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  6. for me at 23 mins. Not sure that it’s relevant, though, as I also went for AMAH. I knew there was a mistake somewhere in the grid, and guessed it was probably that one, but wasn’t in the mood to tease out the right answer.
    I thought KITSCH meant tacky or tasteless.
  7. I also put in AMAH and meant to go back and see if could justify it. As far as I’m concerned KITSCH does mean tacky or tasteless. I got MEALY BUG right but I coudln’t see why since I never thought of MEASLY. EUCALYPTUS was surprisingly difficult and required all the checkers and still some time before the penny dropped. I was another BURGMEISTER before I realized it couldn’t be right, not least because I got GLOSSAL that knocked out the M and the clue pretty clearly says it starts BURGO…
  8. Stern tournament referee Galspray yesterday warned me to pay more attention to the clues. I ignored him. So … pallucid. I suppose I get a “Code violation” or something now and I’ll have to do a sulky press conference later.

    MEALY BUG gotten after some head-scratching and scribbling. 16 minutes or thereabouts with the mistake. Rats.

      1. Pleasing mental picture of Nick K storming out of The Times Championship cursing and throwing his pencils around …
        1. …whilst making outrageous allegations about Magoo’s private life?

          I think this could be up there with NTNON’s McEnroe sketch!

  9. Less than 30 (with toast) with a guess at Ayah (note to self: swot up on Indian governesses). Then several post solve mins working out Mealy (doh!) and Anti (had to be a greek letter at one end or the other, but could I see it?).
    Good one setter and Jack.
  10. Found this pretty easy, only a one-cup.
    Arbitrable is contract legalese much used in maritime circles and as such has a precise meaning
    1. Oh and I meant to say: the various Four Just Men books are actually rather good, entertaining and well worth reading.
  11. No problems for me here, coming in at just over 6 minutes with no errors (taking me aback rather given my recent run of form). It was one of those crosswords where my first pass through the across clues yielding disturbingly few answers, but in such circumstances, try not to panic, quite often the down clues will be where the entrees are to be found. And so it proved here, with the first five or six downs going straight in. I don’t think I parsed every clue fully (certainly not BURGOMASTER) but nothing seemed likely to be a horrible trick, and I got away with it.

    Glad to have known AYAH, that could easily have been a hurdle to fall at otherwise.

  12. 21ac I went for the more Chinese version AMAH – so more RATS! to add to Soira’s grumpy duck! DNF.


    LOI 5ac KITSCH = pretentious – qui moi! Confirmed by Lord Bletchley and Chambers. I’ll share it as WOD with LG although 16dn PELLUCID is up there.

    Jack, many of the sponges made in China, for consumption, are made with entirely synthetic or other materials. Yuk!

    BURGOMASTER! Neither the original Dutch (burgemeister) or Deutsch (burgermeister) contain the ‘O’! Oh,where did that come from, pray!?


    Edited at 2017-06-06 07:18 am (UTC)

    1. Chambers lists it as “the chief magistrate of an Austrian, Dutch, Flemish or German town”, but then demonstrates that none of those languages involved have a clue how to spell it the English (borough master!) way.
  13. Ran through rather deliberately in 22.22, allowing for questionable eyesight: waiting for an invite to get that fixed.
    MEALY BUG my last, rather tentative one in, confused by “small”, though I can’t imagine mealy bugs are especially sizeable anyway. Not all that convinced by mast=staff: flagstaff maybe?. Still looks like something that needs to travel via pole to coincide.
    Thanks to Jack for teasing out DETENTION CENTRE: rather cleverer and more clueworthy than my not bothering made it.
  14. An unaspirated HIYA has been my traditional hello all my talking life and its comeback in more recent times a delight. SO AYAH was no problem. Whole puzzle done in 18 minutes, closer to the stars in the firmament today. LOI MEALY BUG having resisted the temptation to biff belly bug. Not mad keen on CASH IN ONES CHIPS clue, the first part of which was a bit contrived, but I guess that’s what a crossword clue is! HOSIERY is frequently not knitted, and not all knitted items are HOSIERY but 8d couldn’t have been clearer. In the Lancashire village of my birth, my Grandma worked for a fine company called Windsor Woolies which included knitted knickers and swimwear in its range. COD DETENTION CENTRE. Thank you Jack and setter.

    Edited at 2017-06-06 07:59 am (UTC)

    1. Yes I was tempted by BELLY BUG. In the end I decided that MEALY might mean small. The words ‘left by’ seemed extraneous and awkward in this parsing (unsurprisingly) but I couldn’t think of anything better.
    2. Hiya!, mithering and balm cakes were the basis of my art college education in Manchester back in 1968. Best curries ever on Stockport Hill in a steamy blue mini van!
  15. A steady slog for a middle of the road puzzle. Also had doubts about KITSCH = pretentious. Thought 10A a bit weak. Remembered 11A from work done many years ago in Lloyds of London. No problem with AYAH – typical Mephisto style word. Well done Jack – and I also remember Jack Hawkins in Four Just Men.
  16. 30 minutes with AMAH. I went with the Cockney “Brahma” remembering Ian Dury’s description of Noel Coward but not knowing what it meant (although the Van Gogh verse is my favourite).
  17. 14m. A puzzle of two halves for me: seven or eight minutes on everything but 9dn, and then about the same on that one. I had a vague notion that a MEALY BUG was a thing, but I wasn’t certain, so I wasted a lot of time trying to think of an alternative. I couldn’t see how the wordplay worked either, so in the end I just bunged it in with very little confidence.
    Apart from my self-inflicted difficulties I enjoyed this very much. Somehow it managed to feel interesting and chewy without actually being very difficult.
  18. A pleasing 19.43, albeit with AYAH a less than confident guess. Looked Indian-ish, sounded right, Bob’s your uncle as they might say down Bow Road. Actually Bob was my uncle but that is totally irrelevant.
  19. Just crept in under the 20 min mark. Re Jack’s comment about ENT, it seems that ENT as Ear Nose and Throat largely only exists these days in Crosswordland hospitals. My local ENT guy now describes himself on his letters (and his invoices) as a Consultant Otolaryngologist, whereas before he was indeed a Consultant Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon.
  20. It’s a good thing your Consultant doesn’t include Urology in their skill set.
    I found this crossword boring as many clues seemed too forced. Once I got Kitsch as my second answer I was on the lookout for dodgy clues and was not disappointed. Ayah doesn’t ‘sound’ like a cockney word to me so I have another DNF. What I need is an acronym for when I actually complete a puzzle as this is quite a rare event currently. It will soon be 11am and I send my thoughts for those who lost their lives.
  21. I always thought of her as the nanny rather than the governess (a local Indian girl rather than an impoverished Englishwoman imported to teach the daughters of the Raj). There was an appalling story about BURGOMASTERS we learned in history class once upon a time that never failed (rather like the Diet of Worms) to reduce the roomful of young teenage girls to helpless giggles – The Defenestrations of Prague. Yes I know, we were horrid. 15.20
  22. 17 min – could have been quicker, but had reservations about definition of 5ac and spelling of 12dn though wordplay was clear enough; also bunged 24dn in unparsed.
    LOI was 9dn – although checkers suggested MEALY to me as soon as I had them, didn’t think you’d got there from ‘petty’ by inserting E(?why) & L(eft) into May : so it took a couple of minutes before I saw what was going on.
  23. I spent the last ten minutes or so on AYAH and MEALY BUG, but managed to guess correctly. I derived the bug in the same way as Penfold and it was my last one in. FOI was PAS. The NW went in at a gallop and then I was brought back to reality and reined back to a walk. DNK GLOSSAL, AYAH, MEALY BUG or the required spelling of BURGOMASTER, but successfully interpreted the wordplay and guessed AYAH. An enjoyable puzzle. 37:07 in all. Thanks setter and Jack.
  24. 13:56. I enjoyed this a lot and like Keriothe found it “interesting and chewy without actually being very difficult” and a long way from “dull and uninspired” as suggested by Vinyl1.

    I justified MEALY BUG on the basis of mealy-mouthed meaning petty and sort of assumed that “left by” was a link between WP & def so I guess I got lucky.

    I hesitated a bit at the AYAH clue as whilst I hear “hiya” every day oop ‘ere in Yorkshire I don’t recall it being used when I was growing up darn sarf. I’m pretty sure we all said “alright” and “wotcha”.

    1. I think being mealy-mouthed is not speaking plainly or directly rather than being petty, although I followed your line of thought and nearly went for that interpretation myself.
  25. 8.57 so similar to Keriothe’s experience without the agonising over MEALY BUG, though it was my LOI because I incorrectly thought it would be MEALIE by analogy with the MEAL, but luckily spotted where the S went.
  26. I finished in around 25 minutes, held up on DETENTION CENTRE because I misread ‘offenders’ as ‘officers’. Head scratching ensued. I didn’t parse MEALY BUG, my LOI, but put it in because nothing else could fit, so I thought. Regards.
  27. I was expecting someone to come and service my boiler and I was sure I was going to be interrupted so I didn’t time it. As it turned out he arrived at the back end of the estimated time and the puzzle was well finished by then. I’m sure it didn’t take any longer than 15 mins, and probably a couple less judging by how hot my cup of tea was when I started to drink it post-solve. Anyhow, MEALY BUG was my LOI after I finally saw mea(s)ly. I had no trouble with AYAH, although it helped that it was in another puzzle a few days ago.
  28. A pleasing 30m today with no real hold ups but some rather pleasing ‘guesses’ such as AYAH and LOOFA. Good blog Jack and thank you sette for the accessible entertainment.
  29. Inside 10m, apart from MEALY BUG, which I decided I DNK (I DN) and couldn’t work out from wordplay. (I actually thought it was going to turn out to be an infection contracted by cats or dogs, ie by PETS.)
  30. About 2 hours, but I’m just a QC improver, so finishing any of the main puzzles is satisfaction enough. I really enjoyed 25ac: very neat. Invariant
  31. I would be interested to know how many regularly solve the times crossword- obviously we see the same names here solving day in day out- after my epic fail yesterday another 75% completed today- does anyone have any ideas on this- maybe I’m comparing myself with the top 30 say out of 100, 1000, 10000 or even a million
    I’ve been these for about 2 years and it is still definitely the exception that I get one fully correct- of course that’s not so bad if only 100 do it successfully day after day but if it’s over 10000…… just wondering
    1. Good question. Not sure this helps but it is extra data. The Times Club site shows the times of the first 100 to solve it online on the site. Many more will solve online at the times online, not to mention those who print and solve like me or those who actually buy a real newspaper.
      The highest time of the 100 clubbers today is 55mins. 55 were under 20mins, 77 under 30mins. All correct solutions.
      Clearly clubbers are likely to be buffs who regularly solve and quickly, so not a representative sample.
      My guess as to the multiplier from clubbers to general solvers of similar-ish capability is about 20 (this is a wild guess based on guessing the circulation of the paper and popularity of crosswords generally).
      So that would suggest about 2,000 regularly solve in under an hour.
      At the quicker end, the multiplier will be much less. Maybe 250 regularly solving in under 20 mins?
      Any other data and views would be interesting.
    2. I’m not convinced you should compare yourself with others. My median time is about 25 minutes and I could never hope to compete with those who win the competitions.
      Perhaps being content with small improvements is the key.
      Incidentally I learnt yesterday that I’m better off in most social and economic indicators than 99% of the world’s population.
  32. After 28 mins on the train this morning and 21 mins at lunchtime I had four left to get: 9dn, 12dn, 18dn and 21ac. I finished those off in 4 mins after work. FOI 27ac. LOI 9dn. I also had a question mark at the def of Kitsch – I don’t think I would ever use it in that sense. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with 10ac. Thought of amah first at 21ac but couldn’t parse and then recalled ayah which did parse. DNK Wallace’s four just men but that was no impediment to solving 28ac. DIdn’t spot the chi-anti at 24dn so that went in unparsed. I also derived mealy bug from the association of mealy-mouthed with petty so am grateful to the blogger for the parsing of that. COD 25ac something a little different where you had to think outside the box.
  33. Late in the day, 30 minutes, done, but put in AMAH without enough thought so a DNF.
  34. This got started at the ophthalmologist, improved over lunch, and then finished waiting, like Andy, for a repairman. So it seemed quick, but had the benefit of clues percolating around for a while between gos. Got the mealy bug right away, had a harder time with the non-amah. LOI geezers, as my pronunciations don’t come close at all.
  35. 12:26 for me, making heavy weather of some easy clues – in particular 13ac (SKYE), my LOI despite having almost certainly coming across it several times before; and ANTI, which I only twigged post-submit.

    I shared others’ doubts about “pretentious” for KITSCH and “governess” for AYAH.

Comments are closed.