Times 27081 – Churchill’s canine tormentor.

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Amusing, middle of the road puzzle with nothing too controversial and an absence of obscure plants, antelopes, primates, Muses, and amino acids; just some nice words. I don’t have a time for it because I was interrupted twice and put it down, but I suspect the SNITCH will struggle to break above the average 100 mark. Although not a difficult clue, I liked 20a TANK for its surface.

1 Surrounded by charity collecting millions (4)
AMID – AID for charity, insert M.
4 Reinforced barrel, mostly with locks? (10)
BUTTRESSED – BUT(T) = barrel mostly; TRESSED with locks of hair.
9 Lots of shops charge for this bank card interest (7,3)
PLASTIC BAG – Credit cards are affectionally known as ‘plastic; then BAG as in ‘not my bag’, it isn’t my interest. I don’t understand why UK shops don’t just ban plastic bags instead of selling them, as has happened in several other European countries. Maybe the Plastic Bag industry has a good lobbyist, or is owned by MPs.
10 Sea food left within range (4)
ALGA – Well the AGA is a famous brand of kitchen ranges, so insert L for left. ALGA is the singular of ALGAE which includes all manner of micro-organisms, but it’s also is Latin for seaweed and in English can mean just that. I suppose you can describe ALGA as seafood, but it’s a bit oblique. On the other hand, how else would you describe it without making it too easy? Sea stuff?
11 Removing piano, examine bug (6)
INSECT – INSPECT = examine, throw away the P.
12 Distance at greens fluctuates (8)
ESTRANGE – (AT GREENS)*; distance as a verb.
14 Stop TV doctor beginning to amputate (4)
WHOA – Doctor WHO plus A for amputate.
15 Judge battle on river is deflecting waves (10)
REFRACTION – REF = judge, R for river, ACTION for battle. Not a very scientific definition for refraction, but it could be worse.
17 Initiates left foxhunting for one (5,5)
BLOOD SPORT – BLOODS = initiates, PORT = left.
20 Churchill maybe smelt bad, heading off (4)
TANK – Smelt bad = STANK, drop the heading S. Not Winston, who smelt of booze and cigars. He often held meetings while in his bath, so presumably was BO free.
21 Bony obstruction presents a challenge (8)
GAUNTLET – GAUNT = bony, emaciated; LET = obstruction, legally; challenge when you throw down the gauntlet.
23 Don’s devouring duck, giving first impressions (6)
PROOFS – PROFS or professors could be Dons; insert an O for duck.
24 First couple in capital have escaped fever (4)
AGUE – PRAGUE being a capital city, loses its first two letters.
25 Idea grabs new female in charge of biography, say (10)
NONFICTION – NOTION = idea; insert F for female and IC for in charge. Usually, but not definitively, hyphenated.
26 Without a break, treated measles with cunning (10)
27 High water that runs unevenly (4)
TARN – Odd letters of T h A t R u N s; a mountain lake hence high water.
2 Furious coalmen recalled trouble involving Henry’s black dog (11)
MELANCHOLIA – Insert H for Henry into (COALMEN)* then add AIL reversed. A term coined by Samuel Johnson and popularised by Sir Winston Churchill, referring to their major depressive disorders, and occasionally it attacks Mrs Pip, or so it seems. Or perhaps it’s my fault.
3 Outlaw some French and English in gallery (9)
DESPERADO – DES = some in French, PRADO the smart gallery in Madrid, insert E.
4 Minor star’s sore point (7)
BLISTER – An A-lister is a star, so a B-lister is a minor one.
5 Start to book party of happy diners? (5,2,8)
TABLE OF CONTENTS – Double definition, one whimsical.
6 Rowing here about good times among drivers (7)
REGATTA – RE = about, G = good, TT times inside AA drivers.
7 Get rollers here, some colossal ones (5)
SALON – Hidden word in COLOS(SAL ON)ES; presumably rollers are for curling hair.
8 Hang mirror, way up above (5)
DRAPE – RD Road = way, reversed to DR; APE = mirror, copy.
13 Enter, as novice, golf puzzle, taking in 18 holes (6,5)
GROUND FLOOR – G for golf, FLOOR for puzzle, as in ‘that’s floored me’, insert ROUND for 18 holes.
16 Panama, say, broadcast rubbish in retaliation (3,3,3)
TIT FOR TAT -TIT FOR sounds (a bit) like TITFER, slang for a hat which might be a Panama; TAT being rubbish.
18 Quiet as foreign article’s brought in (7)
SILENCE – AS means SINCE, insert LE being French for ‘the’.
19 I spilt last of brandy thus? (7)
21 Miss pursuing grand schooner perhaps (5)
GLASS – LASS = miss, after G for grand. Remember the days of preprandial schooners of sherry at the Berni Inn? And the Irish coffee and driving home safely?
22 Flap of limited value wobbling round centre of mouth (5)
UVULA – VALU(E) = limited value, so (VALU*) goes around U being the central letter of mouth. And that’s where your uvula is, more or less.

51 comments on “Times 27081 – Churchill’s canine tormentor.”

  1. I also have no solving time for this as I was too tired to continue my first attempt at it having written in only half-a-dozen answers. On resumption this morning I completed the remainder in 15 minutes with the exception of 10ac where I eventually resorted to aids. I had been on the right lines thinking L within a 3-letter word (??A) meaning ‘range’, but I failed to come up with AGA, which on reflection was bad. I think the spacing in the clue, ‘sea food’ instead of ‘seafood’, is relevant to the definition here but it’s too subtle for me and I still don’t quite see it.

    Edited at 2018-07-04 04:48 am (UTC)

  2. People do eat alga(e), such as spirulina, etc., as do other creatures, but it’s not what the word “seafood” normally calls to mind, hence the space. ALGA was my LOI, having finally remembered the “aga range,” which I learned of here a few years ago via “aga saga.”

    I quite like the trick in 19d of making the anagrind the answer.

    Can GROUND FLOOR really be a verb?

    Edited at 2018-07-04 05:53 am (UTC)

    1. I was going to query that too but forgot. It’s not in any of the usual sources. It needs a verbal construction to preceed it, e.g. ‘get in on the ground floor’
    2. Floor is the verb, not ground floor. A ground floor entrant could be a newcomer or novice.
      1. I’m afraid, Pip, that since “Enter” is at the very beginning of the clue the setter intended it to be parsed as you originally indicated by underlining the entire phrase “Enter, as novice” as the definition. If, however, one takes “novice” to be the definition, the corresponding adjective form of GROUND FLOOR would need a hyphen, (6-5).

        Edited at 2018-07-04 06:01 pm (UTC)

  3. 25 mins with half a fat rascal (hoorah).
    If you are in a lift and the recorded announcement says ‘Ground Floor’, are you the sort of person to think (or say)’Perfumery, stationery and leather goods, wigs and haberdashery, etc.’?
    Mostly I liked: the bony obstruction and valueless flap. But COD to Tipsily.
    Altogether now… Desperado, Why don’t you come to your senses…
    1. I think Linda Ronstadt sings the finest version.
      Ground Floor: Yes, where is Mrs Slocombe when you need her?!

      Edited at 2018-07-04 09:49 am (UTC)

  4. Thought that was rather fun, though I did consider ULUVA at 22d before happily deciding that UVULA seemed a better idea, for some reason. If I’d plumped for the wrong one, like yesterday, I might’ve had a lesser opinion of the puzzle 😀

    FOI 1a AMID, LOI 27a TARN, for no other reason than that I’d completely mis-skipped the letters and was still wondering whether TAUS was a thing before I got 13d. D’oh. Found the four-letter ones particularly tough today, so perhaps I was expecting something more obscure by the time I got there…

    1. Unfortunately I went the other way – considered ULUVA & UVULA and plumped for the former. Also failed on ALGA after several minutes of alphabet-hunting.
  5. Like an England penalty shoot-out, I was never in doubt I would succeed here. Although ALGA did hold me up at the end as I was thinking of mountain ranges and wondering if I could get ALP in there somehow. GROUND FLOOR as well for that matter as with mentions of novice and golf convinced me for some time that the first word had to be GREENS.
  6. Fairly smooth sailing, with BLOOD SPORT biffed and solved post hoc. DNK the TANK. I wasted some time trying to make 21ac a double def (bony obstruction/challenge). Like Guy, I remembered Aga saga; unlike him, I didn’t notice the spacing of ‘sea food’. LOI was GROUND FLOOR, which I biffed from checkers then found the wordplay. What I didn’t find was a definition, since, like Guy and Jack I gather, I took GROUND FLOOR to be a neologistic verb meaning ‘enter, as novice’. If not, what’s ‘Enter, as’ doing in the clue? Instructing us to write in GROUND FLOOR? I was under the impression that ‘titfer’=hat was CRS from ‘tit for tat’, which of course is the solution. I don’t think I’ve seen a clue of that type before.
    1. Correct Kevin. CRS for “hat” is “tit for tat” which is shortened to “titfer”
  7. On wavelength today in 17 minutes, with ALGA LOI and COD to TABLE OF CONTENTS. TARN well known from Malham, always my favourite youth club bank holiday charabanc trip. I liked TANK also, and the physicist latched on to REFRACTION. The theologian wondered if last night’s result was the rainbow of peace after 52 years of hurt. The sceptic doubts it!
    If I don’t reply to comments, it’s because I’ve missed them as LJ won’t send me a notification through email since being abroad, having been rejected by protocols I don’t understand. And now my ISP won’t allow the LJ mailing for me to confirm the email address through. Life was easier when you couldn’t roam.
    Easyish but pleasant. Thank you Pip and setter.
  8. 16.23, so pretty smooth sailing. Same reservations as above: ALGA was my last in following an alphabet soup strainer, which inexplicably missed A. I wonder if the Welsh think of lava bread as sea food?
    I cannot add to the novice/ground floor dialogue: even the notoriously unquestioning Urban Dictionary has nothing to say. In my world, to be in on the ground floor means to be well placed as some new enterprise takes off.
    TIPSILY stood out for me for having the anagram indicator as the answer.
    The only TARN I know is Tarn Hows in the Lake District: the first occasion I can recall of being stunned speechless by natural beauty.
  9. 32′, at least ten spent on ALGA/DRAPE. Not helped by biffing FIELD SPORT…

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  10. Entertaining but never difficult. Like others confused by definition of GROUND FLOOR.

    The Churchill tank was designed in the belief that battles in WW2 would be like WW1. Winston Churchill famously said “they named it after me as soon as they realised it was no use”

  11. 17’51. Unclear as to the precise working of the novice/ground floor definition – not sure it exists. Otherwise this held together seamlessly, yet at the same time a little one-two-clunk. 19 had that something extra though.
    1. ‘Novice position’ and ‘ground-floor job’ are what came to my mind when I was looking for equivalence.
      1. Well yes, but it appears to be a rough equivalent so far as the word/phrase usage is concerned. I think on reflection it’s a sharp double use of ‘enter’, ‘write down’ and ‘this is what you (enter as novice)’ that blurs the edges a little too much.
        1. Yes I agree. Passing the substitution test in very specific case is not always the same thing as synonymity.
          1. I don’t mind the odd quirky clue – they lighten the place up. But somehow or other a substitution test is to be set and passed, not necessarily in terms of a neat synonymity, rather than wafted at as here.
            1. I don’t actually think it is being ‘wafted at’. I think ‘novice’ tout court is the definition, and the word ‘enter’ is part of the wordplay. The clue is instructing you to ‘enter’ the wordplay elements to get a word meaning ‘novice’.
              1. An adjectival use then for both, as in ‘there have been a couple of novice/ground floor appointments recently at the firm’ ?
                1. Yes sort of: I think I would call them qualifying nouns rather than adjectives, but I’m a bit hazy on the difference!
      2. It should’ve been (6-5) then. I’m not sold on this explanation, but if that was the intent, I’d say it failed.
  12. 7:55. No problems today. I wondered about the definition of GROUND FLOOR but it was obviously the answer so I just shrugged and move on. I think Pip has it right: ‘enter’ is just an instruction to enter the elements of the wordplay. ‘In order to get a word for novice, enter these wordplay elements’.
    Plastic bag usage fell by about 90% when they introduced the 5p charge in the UK, which 1) is an interesting example of the huge effect even small prices can have on behaviour 2) demonstrates that the industry lobby is very far from successful and 3) explains why there’s no need to ban them altogether.
    1. I did rather like one of the BBC’s vox pops around the time that the charge was being introduced in England (somewhat behind the other U.K. nations, but let that pass). An incredulous interviewee, on being told that his bag would cost him 5p the next day, replied “What? You’re kiddin’, inch’a? Well, thassit then. I’ll just stop usin’ ‘em”. Which, being the point, seemed completely to have eluded him.
    2. OK, I’ll play. First we have “as.” That’s just a connector? But wouldn’t it be “for novice” then?
      In any case, I don’t find the adjective “ground-floor” listed as a synonym for “novice” anywhere.
  13. Well, I managed to score a hat-trick with this one – two typos and a wrong’un. The typos were sheer sloppiness, but the wrong’un was “ulva” at 10ac. Ulva is also known as sea lettuce, which is definitely edible; it’s also “L(eft)” within “UVA” (a range of ultraviolet radiation).
  14. I was so excited to finish in less than 30 minutes that I hit submit without carefully checking and had two typos. Oh well there is always tomorrow.
  15. Thoroughly enjoyed this — and managed to finish it (albeit with a quick google of ALGA)! Had to biff GROUND FLOOR, and I still find the parsing pretty confusing. That’s why this blog is so useful for us new solvers. Liked NONFICTION and MELANCHOLIA very much. Thank you Pip and setter!

    1. Congrats for finishing, Lucy! I’ve been away for a while and wondering if my brain will ever catch up with the cryptics again.

      DNF for me today: stuck on the 21a/22d crossers. NHO uvula, and so accustomed now to looking for a synoym for phrases like ‘of limited value’ that I completely missed the opportunity to simply limit ‘value’.

      C’est la vie.

      I enjoyed 2,3,and 4d particularly but there were so many interesting clues for novices like me today. Thanks to setter and Pip.

      1. UVULA almost did for me, too, but I vaguely remembered something to do with soft palates and managed to dredge the word up! Did you have a bash at yesterday’s? I did. It was a disaster area 🙂 made me think I’d lost all power of cryptic reasoning. I gave up with just three answers on the grid! Today was much more heartening.

        1. The only thing I can remember off-hand about speech problems is ‘lallation’.

          Re: yesterday, well I was just lucky and got 5,9,11 and 12a almost straight away so that gave me the confidence to carry on.

          Still a DNF but not by many. I think ‘confidence’ is the key factor in cryptics as well as in the rest of life…..if you have that then you can (probably) BIFF your way through anything!

          So I agree that the ‘easier’ 15x15s are good for we novices (but maybe boring for those who have decades of experience.)

          1. Life is one big cryptic puzzle in my experience, Eagle: a succession of red herrings, misdirections and hiddens. But as long as I’m the LOI and not a DNF when it comes to Life, I’m laughing.

            1. Quite agree.

              So doing cryptic puzzles -such as these- is a good begining.

  16. All done in 25 minutes with the exception of 10 across which defied analysis – strange really, because I seem to remember AGA/RANGE cropping up fairly recently.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.


  17. I was heading for a quick(for me) time but was left with 8d and 10a which accounted for another 5 or 6 minutes, taking me to 23:24. It took an alphabet trawl before I saw DRAPE and then another before finally spotting AGA for range. The rest of the puzzle went in seamlessly with a slight MER over GROUND FLOOR. Liked TABLE OF CONTENTS and TIPSILY. Thanks setter and Pip.
  18. I muffed up all the easy ones last week, then got scorched by the stinker this week, so it was nice to breeze through this. Nothing special, but nothing (outstandingly) egregious.

    I sometimes wonder whether the setter and the editor twiddle with some of the clues to make them edgier, with the intention of giving us all something to yap about.

    Edited at 2018-07-04 12:47 pm (UTC)

  19. An okish puzzle in which nothing much stands out. I had question marks by 9a where I couldn’t see BAG meaning “interest”. Biffed it successfully though. We in Wales have had the ban since 2011. It’s no inconvenience – can’t see what the English are fussing about. Also a query at 19a where I couldn’t see the anagram indicator. (There’s a name for it which I’ve forgotten) I still can’t so presume it is implied. 25 minutes Ann
    1. The anagram indicator is the answer, one of those reverse clues. So I spilt last of brandy in tipsy fashion works perfectly well, as does I SPILT + brandY tipsily. I rather like this kind of clues occasionally!
  20. DNF. Bah! It took a special kind of stupidity and wilful disregard for the actual wording of the clues to fail on this one but against the odds I managed it. By ignoring the clear Def reinforced at 4ac I saw locks and put in buttresses rather than buttressed. I then entered the made up stape at 8dn. I ignored the brute fact of its sheer improbability which should have prompted me to double check the crossing answers. Oh dear. I did enjoy 9ac and 2dn.
  21. Was having some difficulty with this until I fell asleep. On awaking it was as though the puzzle had been solved for me as it all went in with a rush. Liked MELANCHOLIA esp as I got stuck trying to start it with MUN – wasn’t quite sure of furious as an anagrind.
  22. I must have been very much on the wavelength of the setter, as I think 6:44 is about my best time. Maybe a US touch with GROUND FLOOR as I hear it a lot around here.
  23. 20:20. I had most done in 11 mind but put in Buttresses for Buttressed and Clam for Alga. Finally sorted those two which made Drape gettable.


  24. Raced through most of this in about 10 minutes and then ground to a halt on the last two.

    I foolishly put BUTRESSES instead of the -ED ending, which made DRAPE impossible. Eventuallly I did something I should have done ealier, check all the answers giving me the checkers I’m stuck on. Until then I’d convinced myself that 10a must be CLAM as the only 4 letter seafood with an L in the right place, although since Cambridgeshire is famously flat (the Gog Magog Mountain Rescue Society being a drinking club) it didn’t seem quite right.

  25. 30 mins but failed in the top right corner – only CLAM came to mind


    COD 20ac TANK

    WOD 22dn UVULA

    Gin and Lime marmalade tomorrow

    Edited at 2018-07-04 04:32 pm (UTC)

  26. As proof that you are never (well, rarely) alone in your daily crossword experience, I also started with the incorrect BUTTRESSES, and found it hard to see past CLAM, both of which made it hard to solve SHAPE correctly. Got there in the end, though.
  27. Slept on it overnight and completed in the morning, as I often do. Nice crossword. I got Ground Floor for the wrong reason – taking “golf puzzle” to be an anagram of “golf” around “round” and then wondering where the “or” came from – it almost works! – never saw “puzzle” as “floor”. New word “uvula”.

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