Times 26749 – Through taverns measureless to man….

Solving time: 42 minutes

Music: Chopin, Preludes, Arrau

A number of difficulties today. I was late starting, and was just about to print out the puzzle when I received a phone call that delayed me half an hour. OK, ready to go, but almost immediately I got another phone call that lasted two hours. So I finally started at twenty after ten, hoping the puzzle was going to be easy, and I could not see a single answer after looking through all the clues. So everything that could go wrong did go wrong, including a convincing but totally erroneous answer and an incorrect enumeration holding me up at the end. So I consider myself fortunate to be able to finish in the time I took.

Was the puzzle really that hard? Probably not, as at least some of my difficulties were of my own making. still, there were some pretty subtle clues, including a few that have yet to be analysed as I start the blog. It should all make sense in the end, and I am rather sure that my solution is correct.

1 MACAROON, MA(CAR,O,O)N, where ‘wheels’ is slang for a car.
5 SUBDUE, SUB, DUE, where ‘sub’ is slang for ‘subscription’, loosely used.
8 DEMOBILISE, DEM(O BIL[l])ISE, a word that is not often given in full.
9 ALPH, ALP + H.
10 CARDINAL NUMBER, anagram of MURDER: CANNIBAL, with a well-disguised literal.
11 MUSETTE, MU(SET)TE, piece of cake for a folkie, but maybe difficult for others.
13 FAR EAST, F(AREAS)T, my FOI, but hardly an easy starter clue.
15 MAYPOLE, M(A)Y, POLE. I nearly put ‘coranto’, but luckily it didn’t parse.
18 RECITES, R(E.C.)ITES. I was fixated on L.A., and had ‘relates’ for too long.
21 WHIPPERSNAPPER, WHIP(PER)S + NAPPER. ‘Napper’ is an obscure slang term for ‘head’ that I had never heard, but the answer is pretty evident.
22 FRET, [pom]FRET. It took me a while to see this one, but I did.
23 THE LIKES OF, T(HE LIKE)SOF, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of SOFT. You will never solve this if you mark it 3,4,3.
24 STURDY, STU(R)DY. This one should have been an easy starter clue, but wasn’t.
25 FAIR COPY, anagram of PIRACY OF, a very well-concealed anagram.
1 MODICUM, MO + DIC[t]UM, a very clever clue indeed.
2 CAMERA SHY, CAME RASH[l]Y, just biffed by me.
3 REBUILT, REBU(I, [quarre]L)T, another biff.
4 OIL CAKE, OI + L(C[ow])AKE.
5 SPECULATE, SP(anagram of CLUE)ATE.
6 BRAMBLE, B + RAMBLE, one of the few relatively straightforward clues.
12 TELEPATHY, TELE + PATH + [amicabl]Y. Think of TELE as being pronounced ‘telly’, making it a set, even though there’s no ‘sounds like’ indicator here.
14 ANTIPASTO, P.A. in anagram of STATION.
16 AT WORST, A TWO + R[e]ST.
17 POINTER, a clever double definition referring to your computer mouse.
18 ROSELLA, ROSE + ALL upside-down. It sounds like a colorful bird, and research reveals that it is one.
19 CRACKER, double definition, a Christmas cracker or one of us.
20 SCUFFY, S + CRU[y]FF(==>Y). A very clever letter movement clue, but if you never heard of Cruyff, you can just biff it.

46 comments on “Times 26749 – Through taverns measureless to man….”

  1. Opposite experience to the blogger, with MUSETTE unknown but ROSELLA being a write-in for an Aussie.

    Pretty standard Monday fare including some biffing for WHIPPERSNAPPER and CAMERA-SHY. Not sure that TELE needs a “sounds like” indicator, I think it’s just an alternative spelling.

    Thanks setter and Vinyl. (BTW V, it’s CRUYFF).

  2. Yeh, ODO gives it as a “non-standard spelling”. Also pleased to see that other Tele making it to Oxford.

    Um … fretted (in the other sense) a bit about POMFRET. Then Richard II came to mind. Remembered the musette from the McGarrigal Sisters’ Xmas number, “Il est né”, recorded with the Dubliners (1991).

  3. I took over an hour to finish this, but as the pretty easy STURDY was my last in, I must have got in to a “This is a tough one” mindset. Still there were some hard clues and I was stuck up in the NW for quite a while. MUSETTE went in from the wordplay, and didn’t know OIL-CAKE. Plenty to like including MAYPOLE, TELEPATHY and CAMERA-SHY with the ‘Little’ MODICUM being my favourite.

    ‘Pom’ as an ‘Englishman rudely’? To me, more a term of endearment, or at least not a derogatory term, these days. Australians can whinge with the best of them.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  4. 13:57 … a bit tricky, I thought. Quite a few clues produced an initial “Huh?”sort of response, so not much biffing for once.

    Very clever wordplay — MODICUM I liked especially. Last one in was OIL CAKE, which I think has cropped up before but took a bit of teasing out.

    I got a kick from your blog title, vinyl. Verlaine will be miffed he didn’t come up with that one first.

    1. There is no tavern I have not been able to get the measure of thus far, that’s why.
  5. I’m no folky but this is my favourite Cocteau Twins song of them all, so that helped matters considerably.

    Sneaked in under the 8 minute mark for this one, and breathed a sigh of relief that all was right as I’d definitely biffed a few here and there.

    Anyone about on Wednesday to meet up with aphis99 as he passes through London? A once in a lifetime opportunity I expect, as he’s usually Melbourne-based.

  6. I thought as I solved 20dn, “it’s lucky I don’t need to know how to spell CRUYFF, because I don’t”. I see I wasn’t the only one! 🙂
  7. Any old iron? Any old iron?
    Any, any, any old iron?
    You look neat. Talk about a treat!
    You look so dapper from your NAPPER to your feet.
    Dressed in style, brand-new tile,
    And your father’s old green tie on.
    But I wouldn’t give you tuppence for your old watch and chain,
    Old iron, old iron.”
  8. I completed this in 34 minutes which suggests it was not very difficult but I didn’t actually know ROSELLA or the Dutch footballer. I needed to think hard to see how the definition at 18ac works, and even now it seems a little odd.
  9. About 40 mins with porridge. A nice start to the week with a little bit of known knowledge to make me feel I know stuff: Alph, Pomfret, Cryuff, etc. Didn’t know Rosella but the wordplay was generous and I’ve just googled it and the definition couldn’t be more accurate.
    Took a shameful several mins realising 25ac was an anagram! Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  10. A quick 37 minutes for me, starting with 1a and finishing with 9a, where until I twigged it there just seemed to be too many words for a four letter answer.

    Glad that 22a and 20d were biffable. I have no problems with never having heard of the footballer, but I’m embarrassed to say that not only did I not know “Pomfret” for Pontefract, I didn’t know there was a castle there, either…

    Apart from those troubles, I did feel properly “on the wavelength” today, which helped. COD 23a, WOD WHIPPERSNAPPER.

  11. Looking at some of the times given made this look terribly easy – not I. IMO it was a step up from the average Monday and I crawled home in 40 fairly enjoyable minutes.

    Dutchman Johan Cruyff is just about the most famous name in football after Pele, Best and Charlton. In the at the World Cup against Argentina in 1974 he gave his name to the ‘Cruyff Turn’, when ‘total football’ was born. More pub quiz than The Times Crossword which is I suppose, like footy, a game of two halves!

    DNK MUSETTE (I thought he played wing-back for Lyon 1955-1962!)

    22ac FRET did known Liquorice Pomfrets 22ac, but no mention of sea mist!

    FOI 6dn BRAMBLE LOI 4dn OIL CAKE just after 1dn MODICUM.


    Edited at 2017-06-12 07:44 am (UTC)

    1. It’s possible I’ve heard his name when it was unavoidable in news bulletins etc but that still wouldn’t have given me any idea how to spell it correctly.
  12. 28 minutes, so still stretching what’s working of the brain more than usual. Ridiculously CARDINAL NUMBER was my last in as I rumbled around sins and virtues, mortified that the best ever named Cardinal (of Manilla) Sin is no longer Earth based. The similarly existentially-challenged Johann Cruff came back into prominence (if he ever went away) at his demise (at 68!) a year ago.
    I thought there was a lot of pretty clever stuff here. Both the short ones provided huh?! moments, not least because there seemed to be too much information at first sight. Never did understand why a river would be called Alph, nor indeed a castle named after a liquorice allsort
  13. Like our blogger I found it hard to get going but things flowed quite quickly once I got a few in. I can’t hear Cruyff without thinking of the ‘Cruyff turn’, which could be a good anagram indicator. The move itself is a thing of beauty when executed well, but can make you look silly when not.
  14. OIL CAKE pushed me just over the 30mins. I assumed it must be something like a carrot cake usually made with oil rather than butter, but apparently not…

    A couple of biffs today revealing holes in my GK: ALPH, (pom)FRET, ROSELLA, but today I was on fire! They all went in just fine.

  15. On wavelength for this one, 15 minutes, with FRET not parsed. ALPH a guess from wordplay too.
  16. A whisker over 19 mins.

    Being the first solve since discovering I’d qualified for the champs, I suspect it’s as well I’ve got the best part of 5 months to get the speeds up. (Down?)

    1. Congratulations on qualifying! Remember speed is all very well, but accuracy is just as important (and where I keep on falling down)…

      19 minutes bodes well for being able to “solve 3 puzzles in an hour” though.

      1. Thanks V – that was the slowest in the last week so maybe just the realisation setting in.

        If nothing else I’m sure it’ll be a good experience, and it being held a newspaper HQ there’s bound to be a decent pub or two nearby for sorrow-drowning purposes.

        1. The hardest thing about the event is not having all your hopes and dreams crushed by Magoo, but having to sit in a pub for a few hours following the morning session, unable to actually begin the process of sorrow-drowning for fear that it will ruin your (non-existent) chances in the finals…
          1. That of course is pre-supposing qualification from the morning round (which I’m in).

            Is there a wooden spoon award for being absolute bottom-last and, bascially, completely useless? Maybe I’ll aim for at least not getting that and see where it goes from there.

            Or just adjourn to the pub and be done with it.

          2. I might as well start drinking before my heat. I’ve been put in the 1pm semi, which I’m a bit fed up about. That’s my worst time of time for solving puzzles or doing anything requiring half a brain.
            1. If only we could swap! My constant fear is that my brain won’t have woken up enough in time for the morning session… I guess I did alright in the morning session last time, but then I was exhausted and a bundle of nerves by the time of the actual finals.
            2. Have you tried asking to be put in the morning qualifier? I’ve done that a few times in the past and have always been accommodated.
              1. I should have done that. I haven’t yet returned my entry and cheque so I might add a grovelling note. Thanks for the suggestion.
  17. About 40m today but a DNF as I had entered AT WORSEwhich made the fairly straightforward 24a ungettable. And I did go back and double check the crossers but clearly not carefully enough! Must do better and pay more attention! Other than that a steady solve with surprisingly, given the comments above, no unknowns for me. Good puzzle and blog! Thanks to both providers.
  18. Talking of pubs, I made the finals too, morning session, and would very much appreciate the name of a decent pub nearby for aforementioned sorrow drowning purposes? Maybe a small gathering could be in order? It would be really nice to meet some of you in person!
    1. I am sure there will be a more “official” announcement nearer the time, but the George in Borough High Street has been the pub of choice for the discerning solver since the competition moved back to Times HQ.
    2. And every year Penfold suggests everyone wear a badge made, Blue Peter style, from a printout of their avatar here. It’s a very good idea, which did seem to be gathering a little momentum last year. I might even overcome my badge phobia and do it myself this time, though I’ll have to use my alternate avatar as my usual one is a photo of me, and wearing a photograph of yourself doesn’t really help if no one knows who you are to begin with!
  19. Intriguing Monday offering which offered little at first pass until SPECULATE, and then with a few letters in place it all came tumbling out. Even though I am a folkie, no-one at my club has ever played a MUSETTE that I am aware of, and I had to rely on Google images for ROSELLA. Had to come here in the end for explanations of MACAROON and FRET – the Pomfret completely passed me by.
  20. Of course you know “napper”. “Tile” comes up frequently.

    “Dressed in style/Bran new tile/With your father’s old green tie on./You look sweet/Talk abaht a treat/You look dapper from your napper to your feet.”

  21. 17 mins, so you can count me as another who didn’t find it too Mondayish. MUSETTE and ROSELLA both went in from the WP and FRET was biffed because I didn’t have a clue how the WP worked. WHIPPERSNAPPER was also biffed but I didn’t try and parse it. CRACKER was my LOI after THE LIKES OF. With REBUILT I initially read “drive back” as a reversal indicator for a synonym of “drive”, and consequently I wasted time trying to fathom out how “tuber” could possibly mean drive. Then the penny dropped …………..
  22. Hi all. MUSETTE and ROSELLA from wordplay only, as was ALPH. WHIPPERSNAPPER biffed straightaway, without a clue where the ‘head’ was, and SCRUFFY biffed after some delay since Dutch footballers aren’t my specialty. I was pleased with myself figuring out the Pomfret clue, although with the 2 checkers in place it was well nigh unavoidable. No time to relay today, though. Regards.

    Edited at 2017-06-12 07:07 pm (UTC)

  23. When I saw the whips and per part of 21a, I didn’t bother parsing the rest of it, as the definition was obvious. I was aware of the tile/napper definition though. I enjoyed this puzzle which took me 34:25, starting with BRAMBLE and the unknown ALPH, which I changed from HALP when I saw 6d. I finished with MACAROON. Despite the fact that I’ll be off to the Folk Club in 30 minutes, I hadn’t come across MUSETTE and had to construct it from wordplay, as I also did with OIL CAKE. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  24. I found this much tougher than the average Monday – took ages to really get going with it. 28mins on the way to work this morning and there were still loads of gaps. 24 mins more at lunchtime tidied up a fair bit but I still needed another 18 mins on the way home to finish off the macaroon, demob, musette corner. FOI 6dn. LOI 12dn (I wasn’t confident about “Tele” for “Set” though “telepathy” was fairly obvious). Thank you blogger for explaining “fret” which I biffed after an alphabet run and had no idea I was looking for a pom, indeed I only knew the fish not the castle. COD 10ac.
  25. I offer my compliments to the setter for producing a model modern cryptic crossword. The trouble is I’m less good at modern cryptics, particularly when I’m feeling tired after a busy day, and bumbled home in 12:31.

    For me the most annoying clue was 20dn, where I thought: “Damn! The only Dutch footballer I know is Cruyff”, and moved swiftly on without realising he was the one required. (Doh!)

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