Times 26833 – Prélude de l’après-midi d’un Python?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A very Mondayesque outing this, with not much to frighten the palaminos, even if a couple of the literals (1d and 9a) were a little opaque and the cryptic definitions a little, well, cryptic definitiony.

I hope I am not tempting fate by encouraging Quickie fans to try this one, which I managed to complete in 26 minutes.


1. DEMOBBED – DEED around anagram* of BOMB.
5. RASCAL – RAS (Royal Academician’s) + CAL[l].
8. AUTOCRATIC – RAT in C-I-C after AUTO.
9. AWRY – WARY with the W going back in the word (or forwards if your prefer); COLLINS has ‘askew’ as the second sense of ‘tipsy’.
10. SALISBURY PLAIN – BULL IN PARIS SAY*; Stonehenge is on the edge of Salisbury Plain.
11. TRAMPLE – T[umble]R + AMPLE.
13. SPUTTER – PUTTERS with the S going to the front (or back if you prefer).
15. PRESIDE – SE (points of compass) in PRIDE.
16. PROGRAM – PRO + GRAM. I probably took longer on this clue than any other, as I struggle with the American styling of this word, as well as with all geekspeak, of course.
21. GRAVEYARD SHIFT – this is nothing more, I think, than a riff on the fact that Highgate, in north London, is home to a large cemetery – or two. The most famous monument belongs to Karl Marx, who has a lot to answer for in my book.
22. COMB – CO + MB.
24. FLAXEN – LAX in FEN. A nice violin version of the Debussy number here.
25. BONE IDLE – NEED BOIL*. Say no more!


1. DEAD SET – DEAD + SET; I’m more familiar with the phrasal verb t(‘to be dead set on something’), but the adverbial (‘dead set against’) use is of course very common.
3. BACKS UP – if you are prostrate, you are on your front, so your back would be up. Moving along rapidly…
5. RICE PAPER – um, yes. Or should that be yum, yes? Think about it, but not too much, I would suggest.
7. ARRANGE – RA (Royal Artillery this time) reversed + RANGE.
12. LADIES MAN – AND IS MALE*; an &lit of considerable concision.
16. RAG DOLL – RAG (event to raise money) + two-thirds of DOLL[ar].
17. SOAP BOX – SOAP (serial) on BOX (TV).
18. PORTICO – I + C in TROOP*.
19. ONSTAGE – ON (cricketing leg side) + STAGE (led of a race).
20. MATINEE – MATE around (embracing) IN + E; the literal is ‘early appearance for thespian’.

46 comments on “Times 26833 – Prélude de l’après-midi d’un Python?”

  1. I should have been home a tad earlier (35mins) but my LOI 19ac
    ONSTAGE was unparsed as I took ONS to be the two legs (NB typo in blog!).

    FOI 1dn DEAD SET


    WOD 25ac BONE IDLE!

  2. 37 minutes but would easily have hit my target 30 if I hadn’t meticulously parsed everything as I solved.
  3. All going in ok, then I hit the wall with about 10 minutes at the end spent on my LTI:
    COMB, SOAP BOX and FLAXEN. With hindsight can’t see why they took so long… maybe because I was so sure the second part of 17dn had to be ‘set’. Or maybe ‘row’. Ho hum.

  4. Finished in about 90 mins, all fully parsed except 20d.

    LOI 22a, had _omb and was thinking I might have to guess until comb came to mind.

    Wanted to bung in wary for 9a but persevered to get awry and had to watch the spelling of Salisbury.

    COD 12d ladies man

  5. Solved all bar EVACUEE in 36 mins, which is blisteringly fast for me, but I couldn’t finish, so my time (as with the Quick Cryptic this morning) is irrelevant. The day can only get better…
  6. 43 mins according to iPad pre fry up as on hols in NW Scotland. Today we are in Strontian, after which Strontium gets its name.
    Mostly I liked Graveyard Shift, Onstage and my understated COD to 15ac for the excellent surface.
    Thanks setter and Ulaca.
  7. Under 6 mins, but I see Jason managed a formidable 4m20, so I suspect I was thinking my way through this way more than necessary. Certainly any effort to parse the likes of 10ac and 21ac by a speed solver would have been effort wasted; I’m kicking myself that 10ac took as long to come to me as it did.
  8. 13:22 … easier, but not simplistic. I had to think a bit in every corner of this one and really enjoyed the experience.

    I must admit I didn’t realise that the primary def. of PROSTRATE involves being face down, though it does of course compute in a ‘prostration’ sense. I spent a while considering various parts of the human body that might be pointing skyward when lying down, which proved to be dangerous if entertaining ground.

    I really like GRAVEYARD SHIFT, but hands-down COD to FLAXEN — fantastic surface, which put a smile on my face. There’s something about Slough

  9. 13:40. I didn’t find that particularly easy, but then I didn’t find it particularly hard either. The cryptic definitions are a bit cryptic definitiony, aren’t they?
  10. Death of a Ladies’ Man, a rather strange Leonard Cohen album, worth listening to. 13’ 40″ after a slowish start. EVACUEE took a while. No biffing today at all, as BACKS UP and DEAD SET still don’t feel right. Thanks ulaca and setter.
    1. I understood what you meant, I think. Those who dislike cryptic definitions will really dislike these. Those who don’t, won’t.
  11. 19 minutes so definitely Mondayish. LOI MUTILATION after twigging ONSTAGE. COD FLAXEN which I saw unexpectedly before having put in the easy SOAP BOX. Pun of the day GRAVEYARD SHIFT, a graveyard smash. Pleasant start to Monday. The Killer’s only tricky today too, so I’ve no excuse for not writing.
  12. 14.06, but I refrain from calling this easy as that might be considered demeaning for a grid that was full of decent clues, particularly that concise &lit for LADIES MAN.
    I’m probably sticking my neck out, but I only spotted one clue that was “just” a cryptic definition, the rather loquacious one for RICE PAPER, which was indeed cryptic definitiony, but I didn’t see any others. Am I being obtuse? Or forgetful?
    1. No I think you’re right. I was also thinking of the cryptic definitiony bits within clues (like 3dn or 21ac) that have other things going on.
  13. 41 minutes for me, which on my scale could probably be called Mondayish, it’s true. Spent far too long on METALWARE, where I kept on trying to do things with “metallics” or “metallised” or what-have-ye. Also spent a long time on RASCAL and it still went in unparsed in the end. So easy once someone’s told you the answer…

    FOI 1a (I remember Spike Milligan taking the mickey out of the ill-fitting demob suits issued to his erstwhile artillery mates in one of his excellent autobiographies); LOI SEALANT, which I’ve never really connected with “proofing agent”; I thought it might have something to do with yeast; COD 12d LADIES MAN.

    Thanks to setter & Ulaca.

  14. This felt hard to me until I finished and realised I’d done it in just over 30 minutes – a good time for me. I’d have got in under 30 if I hadn’t put WARY in without due care and attention. COD for me has to be LADIES MAN… So concise.
  15. 16 minutes – it took a little while to parse 3dn, even though I’m often irritated by the use of ‘prostrate’ when ‘supine’ is clearly intended. However 19dn was LOI, as I often am caught out by the fact that hyphens are ignored here.
  16. 17.03. Thought I was going slow on a belter but not too tardy it seems. A civilised conversation with the setter rather than a tearing argument. I rather like the earth tremors. – joekobi
  17. A rather pedestrian feeling 18:01, feeling slow perhaps because several of the longer answers needed a second or third look despite plenty of checkers. Not sure why, nothing was that difficult. I’ll blame it on the 27 degree heat here on the Bozburun peninsula.
  18. No hold ups today so a fast time by my standards. I saved FLAXEN to be my LOI as I’d heard of ‘flaxen haired’ before but didn’t know it referred to a colour and I wasn’t entirely sure that slough and fen were synonyms.
  19. Thirty-seven minutes. After a first pass gave me almost nothing, I thought this was going to be an hour’s work, but then things picked up a little. South-right corner was the last to go in, with ONSTAGE my LOI. I didn’t believe it was a single word, and failed to get the stage=leg reference until after I’d shrugged and put it in. Before that, MUTILATION also held me up for an unreasonable amount of time and only yielded to an alphabet trawl after I’d gone through medication, meditation, motivation and mitigation.
  20. 7m 30s for me. I hadn’t remembered CIC – military abbreviations tend to be a blind spot for me – but I was confident enough that I wrote it in anyhow.

    For 12d, is ‘flirtatious’ really an acceptable anagrind?

  21. I set off at a gallop with FOI DEMOBBED, then slowed down a bit as 2d refused to yield, despite my shoving METAL____ in and pondering. Moving swiftly on as recommended by Magoo, I made reasonable progress elsewhere and came back to it as my LOI, quickly spotting that AWARE had grabbed an L, and submitted at 24:00. Spotted the two legs quickly. Liked GRAVEYARD SHIFT and LADIES MAN which was my penultimate entry. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and U.

    Edited at 2017-09-18 12:41 pm (UTC)

  22. Nice start to the week and no real hold-ups except for a bit of a pause for BACKS UP. Years ago I was told by a school contemporary who was a member of a cadet branch of the family that the female relatives of the then Earl of Salisbury were very homely and were known as the Plains. How mean. 14.34
  23. A rare treeware solve today as sitting around in KwikFit while all four tyres changed, so no time but I guess around 15 minutes. Nothing to frighten the horses so a pleasant start to the week. Thanks setter and u.
    1. I’m a little surprised you managed to finish, seeing that you can’t get kwikker than a KwikFit fitter.
  24. 17 minutes, Monday-ish, liked the cryptic-definition-iness, prostrate seemed an odd word to use, even though one’s back would be uppermost; otherwise good stuff.
  25. This is specific in a medical sense, as in ” I should like the patient positioned prostrate on the operating table”. The opposite of course is supine.
  26. Nice puzzle today, but I find I don’t have anything to add to what’s already been said. I’m one who liked LADIES MAN. Regards.

    Edited at 2017-09-18 05:53 pm (UTC)

  27. 36 mins 44 secs for an appropriately 3-downish bottom-to-top solve (mainly because graveyard shift went in appropriately early – had Salisbury Plain fallen earlier it might have been otherwise). Liked bone idle, the ladies man (questionable anagrind notwithstanding) but COD to the blonde of dubious morals.

    Edited at 2017-09-18 07:07 pm (UTC)

  28. Was tipped in the QC blog that the 15×15 was doable today. Ended up a few clues short. I had SUBLANT, as in SUB+(P)LANT, which is the head of the NATO underwater command. Fair shout.

  29. Various tip-offs that this was not too hard led me to try it.
    Made fairly steady progress to finish with Evacuee. Onstage was unparsed and 23a held me up a bit.
    COD to 24a. David

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