Times 27037 – Spooner in the Works

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Today’s was very much your average Monday offering – high in entertainment and not too taxing. The lovers of the bodice-ripping Regency tales of Ms Heyer get a clue all to themselves. Most of us will need most, if not all, of the checkers before essaying our answer. There’s a nice aeronautical clue that will have some of us scratching our heads for the precise form of the first word; the second is easy enough, even if it may give some the hump. My favourite, I think, is 8 across, where many a pencil will have been being sharpened as crossword aficionados prepared to write in to say that this is a pretty ordinary cryptic definition. But it isn’t after all. It’s rather cunning. Or perhaps everyone apart from me got the parsing straight off. We shall see.


1 Initially served up some hotpot, Irish dish (5)
SUSHI – Initial letters of the 2nd to 6th words – not an Irish stew in sight
4 Spooner’s fault opening package for Christmas? (8)
GIFTWRAP – RIFT GAP changing first letters and the second part gaining a silent W. Not sure if I have seen this conceit before but I like it. A tick for the setter for including a question mark, so that no one has to waste pencil lead pointing out that gift-wrapping services are available at times other than Christmas, and not at Christmas, at all, in some parts of the world, I would imagine. My last in.
8 This sort of business meeting might end quickly (5,9)
POWER BREAKFAST – lovely &lit; POWER (might) END (break) FAST (quickly). Not , as I first thought a CD, because anyone with sense would want to get out of a 5-star hotel making inane conversation with someone he doesn’t know and go to a nice friendly caff.
10 Carry out appliance (9)
IMPLEMENT – double definition
11 Small instrument for piercing (5)
12 Moan about having to guard silver dish (6)
HAGGIS – SIGH reversed around AG
14 Out? A Liberal admitting nothing speculative (8)
17 Especially a black protective coat Romeo discarded (5,3)
18 Minister in vicious circle (6)
CLERIC – anagram* of CIRCLE
20 Avid listener for example back inside (5)
EAGER – EG reversed in EAR
22 Love entering closed place of worship on which there’s a tribal emblem (5,4)
TOTEM POLE – TO (closed – as of a door: cue discussion…) + O in TEMPLE
24 Tripping over stand in the way, an obstacle (9,5)
STUMBLING BLOCK – a simple charade (a + b) of STUMBLING (tripping over) and BLOCK (stand in the way)
25 Individual copies turned over with speed (8)
26 Miserable old doctor by organ (5)
DREAR – DR + EAR; ‘old’ because it’s a literary, and somewhat archaic word – though I have a suspicion that horryd would use it in his tomes.


1 Son arrived after work and left in old plane (7,5)
2 Successfully complete repair? (3,2)
3 Grim realities for a Hebrew (9)
4 Band: T Rex up wearing outrageous gear (6)
GARTER – T + R (rex) reversed in GEAR*; I guess TR is an abbreviation for the animal in some dictionary… I guessed wrong – thanks to KG for the parsing
5 Perhaps half of Republicans originally in dissenting group (8)
6 Floats gently in water, at first, behind front of ship (5)
WAFTS – W[ater] + AFT (behind) + S (front of ship)
7 One practising self-denial in a British town? Almost right (9)
ABSTAINER – A + B + STAINE[s-upon Thames] + R; when we lived in posh Virginia Water, we called it ‘Stoines’.
9 Point at analyst producing computer program (12)
SPELLCHECKER – I think the idea here is that if you were, say, Harry Potter, and, first, you thought an analyst was a checker and, second, you thought that to point at someone was pretty much equivalent to spelling them, then you could – Petrificus Totalus – conjure up a spellchecker. (I had to Google the incantation – honest!)
13 “Material Girl“? (9)
GEORGETTE – DD for Heyer lovers; G is is ‘a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe fabric named after the early 20th century French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante’.
15 I harshly criticise a poor place in Pakistan (9)
16 A good many coming in to stock a number of small ships (8)
19 Example that’s missing in policy (6)
21 Odd drop of brandy before a dance (5)
RUMBA – RUM + B[randy] + A
23 Bracing air round region (5)

49 comments on “Times 27037 – Spooner in the Works”

  1. Biffed a lot, hence the fast time: SOPWITH CAMEL from the S and def; POWER BREAKFAST from the POWER, thus missing a very nice clue; TOTEM POLE (well, I parsed it but forgot to account for the TO). GIFTWRAP was my LOI, too. And I did need all the checkers to get GEORGETTE, but vaguely recalled the material. If it was named after a 20th-century dressmaker, what’s it doing in a Regency novel?
    1. Do you you know any other lady called Georgette? Ms Heyer wrote that stack of regency books that Mrs Z has read every single one of, and I have read the first page and a half of one. Source of a very long list of carriages and clothing for solvers of this crossword. Perhaps a little too genteel (pace Ulaca) for bodice ripping, but what would I know? It wasn’t on page one and a bit, sadly.
      1. See my reply to Jerry below. Actually, I did know a Georgette in high school. She wasn’t a bodice-ripper either.
  2. I messed up and biffed GIFTWEAR (which probably isn’t a word) but it fitted and seemed plausible. It was my LOI so I was hurrying
  3. Super Mondayish, I flew through in 7:23 which is about my best time on the site. Biffed GARTER, SOPWITH CAMEL and SPELLCHECKER.
  4. Also didn’t know who or what Georgette was, and am still wondering about “point at” for SPELL.
    1. ‘Point at / spell’ in the sense of ‘signify’ e.g. ‘that might spell trouble’? It’s the best I could come up with although I’d be more inclined to say ‘point to’.
      1. SPELL for “point at”?? Potty clue, jakkt is probably right in his heroic effort to interpret it, but still more right–though not strong enough, to my eyes–in saying that “point to” would be the correct version. “Point at” = SPELL is simply not justifiable in any English known to me.
  5. 25 minutes but could have been quicker by several minutes if I’d just bunged in GIFTWRAP when I first thought of it. I detest clues that mention Spooner at the best of times as they immediately make me apprehensive. The best ever clue of this type was a few weeks ago as it relied on a Spoonerism but didn’t mention him (or ‘the reverend’) at all. I didn’t actually know GEORGETTE as a material but it sounded vaguely familiar and what else could it be, given the checkers?
  6. Very easy today, 10mins or thereabouts. As a result it is still a bit early in the day for me .. however I am assuming Ulaca is merely being waggish in referring to the output of one of our greatest historical novelists as “bodice rippers,” there is never any of that.. and is Kevin being waggish too, in apparently claiming ignorance of Ms Heyer’s christian name?
    I need coffee.
    1. It is no doubt ascribable to my over-active imagination and a dose of Blackadder III. What those Georgians were not meant to have got up to, Mrs Wiggins!

      Edited at 2018-05-14 08:00 am (UTC)

      1. If memory serves, and I know that sometimes it doesn’t, wasn’t the Blackadder III character Mrs Miggins?
  7. Are these really anagram indicators?
    30 mins of head scratching.
    Point=spell? (I suppose something can ‘spell’ trouble – I now see that Jack said that ages ago)
    Thanks setter and Ulaca.

    Edited at 2018-05-14 07:24 am (UTC)

    1. FWIW, neither ‘grim’ nor ‘vicious’ appears in Chambers’ extensive list of anagrinds, however it does have ‘horrid’ and ‘horrible’ which I think are both close enough to ‘grim’, and ‘violent’ to cover ‘vicious’.
  8. After the write-in SUSHI, to name an old plane beginning with S and enumeration (7, 5) took a microsecond – all those Biggles books read when I was ten. I remain dubious about SPELL for ‘point at’. Many thanks for the parsing of 8ac, the wonderful clue being lessened by the answer being so biffable (and cryptic). Dnk the material Georgette, but grateful for the learning. 14′ 26”, thanks ulaca and setter.
  9. At the easier end. I missed the “might” so thanks ulaca and I’ll make it my COD.
  10. My personal SPELLCHECKER would have had LOI GIFTWRAPPed as two words. 19 minutes with these two as the only hold-ups. Didn’t know the GEORGETTE fabric but the crossers only permitted one name that I knew. I’ll give SOPWITH CAMEL COD even though it was a FOI write-in, as the name has always amused me. No more POWER BREAKFASTs please. Thank you U and setter.

    Edited at 2018-05-14 08:27 am (UTC)

  11. As you say, very Monday, 5-6 minutes and done. Biffed SOPWITH CAMEL and POWER BREAKFAST. LOI 4dn because of what seems to have been a common confusion over how the T-Rex part works, but I did understand it before I hit the submit button at least.
  12. 11:15. Yes. A gentle Monday offering. Missed the &lit at 8a despite puzzling why the setter chose “quickly” rather than “early”… which would have been a better CD. I wondered about SPELL for “Point at” for 9d, but rationalised it as pointing at each letter in turn as you spell out a word.
  13. 15 minutes, nice and gentle. reminder to self to read all the comments before jumping in with an observation of my own, and apologies (if requested) to Ulaca, Jerry and Kevin.
    Didn’t get the rather good subtlety of the battery driven bacon and eggs, partly because it was with us not long ago. I withdraw unreservedly my teeny, tiny grump at a poor CD.
  14. 11:16. My iPad wasn’t cooperating this morning so I solved this on my phone. The interface works quite well but it’s inevitably a fiddly experience with lots of going back to correct fat finger typing.
    No problems with the actual puzzle. I missed the subtleties of POWER BREAKFAST.
  15. I was quite pleased with myself for zipping through this one in under 13 minutes, a pleasure only somewhat alloyed by the consensus view that this was an easy one. Nice to see the SOPWITH CAMEL making an appearance – it was the Spitfire of WWI. It is very difficult to imagine any country other than England having an aircraft manufacturer called Sopwith, or naming an aircraft after one of the least airworthy mammals alive.

  16. 9:46, a definite PB for poking at an iPad. DNK the fabric but like others, the plane was a write-in courtesy of James Bigglesworth. A gentle start to the week
  17. When I was working at Hawkers in the 60s, Sir Tom still had an office on the top floor, though I don’t think he ever came in, as he had retired from aircraft design long ago.
  18. SOPWITH CAMEL were one of those American psychedelic bands of the late 60’s. Unlike T REX they weren’t a success in the UK, but deserve to be remembered for the wacky album title above. On the aviation front, it was “plane” sailing, with nothing to give me the hump.


    8:26 helped by a breakfast of muesli with fresh raspberries.

    1. An excellent post IMHO. Which reminds me, I tried a new home-made granola today incorporating coconut shavings. Excellent.
  19. A very Monday offering. 5m 39s for me, which puts it somewhere in my best ever times, possibly even in the top five. Perhaps I would have edged towards a personal best if hadn’t tried to put in SOPWORTH CAMEL…
  20. Nope, no bodice-ripping in Georgette’s novels. At least the only one where there’s an attempt the girl shoots him (not fatally). Easy yes, but very well-put-together. 8.14 which is as fast as it gets for me.
    1. I loved “Devil’s Cub” when I was younger. Now I can’t see how I ever found the attempted rape in any way romantic. But it was all done in the best possible taste…
  21. 11 mins, but I would have been closer to the 7 min mark if I hadn’t taken so long to get the GIFTWRAP/GARTER crossers. I was expecting the answer to 4ac to be a noun, and as mentioned above the silent W was a nice touch for a Spoonerism. At 4dn it took an age for me to think about separating the T and the Rex. Both excellent clues IMHO.
  22. A very enjoyable offering today. Like robrolf and bigtone, my teenage years devouring the works of Capt. W.E. Johns, made 1d a write in. 8a raised a smile, but was so biffable I missed the “might” part of the parsing. Very good. 15d was a write in as I solved the same clue yesterday in a puzzle from another place. GEORGETTE as a fabric was unknown to me, but there was little option with the checkers in. My LOI, STANCE gave me pause for a moment, but the whole thing was completed in 14:29, which included 30 seconds typo hunting(none found) and counts as one of my best times. Thanks setter and U.
  23. 1dn SOPWITH CAMEL my COD

    FOI 3dn ISRAELITES (bit of day for them!)



    20 minutes and no parses and no drears!

    Edited at 2018-05-14 02:24 pm (UTC)

  24. A Monday biff-fest, which meant that I didn’t feel slightly unconvinced by the SPELLCHECKER until I came here and worked out why I’d put my answers in. Everything else was very smoothly clued, until I was held up along with others at the intersection of the Spoonerism and the rampaging T Rex. GEORGETTE is on my list of obscure fabrics which it’s worth remembering, along with the likes of BARATHEA and STOCKINET.
  25. Had to put this on pause this morning – just came back to it, and the HAGGIS went straight in on my return, allowing for an immediate GEORGETTE. However the NE didn’t fall into place so quickly, so my 9 minute crossword came out at 19 mins. LOI FRACTION – obvious really, once you have the F.
  26. 11 min 06 secs – but with one wrong. Sow up not Sew up. Doh! Oh dear!

    COD Power Breakfast. I biffed this without spotting the clever wordplay.

  27. 10 mins; straightforward puzzle, Spoonerism notwthstanding. Great blog!
  28. My children used to love playing Sopwith on our early model Amstrad. Happy days before viruses and spam. This is probably a record time for me (approx 15 mins) so must be easyish. Guessed Georgette though but what else could it be? Thanks all
  29. A quickish solve with all understood. Well, almost. I didn’t know of the fabric, though the entry could be anything other than GEORGETTE. LOI was GIFTWRAP, because I’d usually think of it as (4,4) and as a noun. As verb the (8) enumeration seems correct, but I Had allowed myself to be fooled by the wordplay for a time. Regards.
  30. 25:43 a pleasant solve. I should have been a bit quicker but a poor start saw me drop a blob of chutney from my sandwich onto a couple of squares at 22 & 24ac. A swift bit of jiggery-smudgery salvaged the situation but I was a little discombobulated for the rest of the solve (distractedly playing the incident over in my head in slow motion etc). FOI 1ac. LOI 5dn.
    1. Oh gosh, sb, I am so sorry for you! That’s a terrible thing to have happen to you at the start of a crossword solve.
  31. A definite Monday puzzle, with my time at 19 mins. I could see I was getting close to smashing my record time (achieved on a Monday) of 18 mins, but those two blasted crossers, Spooner and T Rex, caused the delay which dashed my hopes.
    I biffed loads in my need for speed: POWER BREAKFAST, SPELLCHECKER, GEORGETTE (my dad had every single one of the Heyer novels lined up on our bookshelf), SOPWITH CAMEL (every Boys’ Own reader would know immediately that an “old plane” must be a Sopwith Camel!) and more. [On edit and after reading more carefully the comments above: Oh, was it the Biggles books? Not Boys’ Own?]

    What larks!
    Thanks for explaining all the cleverness I missed, ulaca.

    Edited at 2018-05-14 10:06 pm (UTC)

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