Times 27181 – Nice and easy does it

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I’m in a Steinbeck phase at the moment as I make my tour of 20th century American literature, and if there’s anyone out there who has missed him, as I had, then if you like a blend of good story-telling, accessible and stylish prose and magnificent armchair philosophising (much of it attributable to his great mate Ed Ricketts), then try him out. Cannery Row is a good place to start. Very amusing stuff. East of Eden is a page-turner, while The Grapes of Wrath, as something of a one-off, might be left until you have a better appreciation of Steinbeck as a bloke. Not self-righteous and gruff, really, at all.

Actually, there’s a lot more to say about Steinbeck and his ever-popular works (nearly all of them are still in print – which is more than you can say for the stuff the critics who attacked him churned out*) than there is about this crossword. It’s very neat, but not very challenging. As long as you know how to follow cryptic directions and have a smidgen of knowledge about essential cultural aspects such as The Bard of Avon and God’s Own University. I managed the thing in 12:50, which is about as fast as it gets for me. I expect one or two PBs.#

* CS Lewis, writing to a child correspondent, once wrote, concerning literary criticism, I think it was, that critics like to attack Verdi for ‘the cheapness of his thematic material’. ‘What they really mean’, he added, ‘is that he could write tunes and they can’t.’

# Congratulations to Verlaine and Aphis of this parish, who both went under 3:30, and are, bien sur, too modest to mention it…


1 Sheep from flock west of Scottish town (8)
HERDWICK – HERD WICK (up there opposite Orkney)
5 False report an eccentric circulates (6)
CANARD – CARD (‘eccentric person, as in ‘That Verlaine’s a card!’) around AN
9 Person keeping official records for hospital doctor (9)
REGISTRAR – double definition (DD)
11 Some come to terms over fetish? (5)
TOTEM – reversed hidden
12 Poem and piece of music heard (7)
RONDEAU – sounds like RONDO
13 Satirise a politician taken in by rascal (7)
14 Diligent cousins notice changes (13)
16 I visit in class, without exception (13)
20 Knock public house sign, unfortunately (7)
INNINGS – INN SIGN*; cricket clue du jour
21 Lab gear reassembled for this subject at school (7)
23 Fat? Briefly run, slowly (5)
24 Up for a big band number (2,3,4)
IN THE MOOD – DD; famous Glenn Miller piece
25 Son not out, rotten sailor (6)
SINBAD – S IN (more cricket) BAD
26 Islamic emblem in curved terrace (8)


1 Hot, a remarkable African capital (6)
2 Duke of Cornwall’s wife, for example, went without (5)
REGAN – RAN around EG (for example) for one of Lear’s daughters
3 Partners back film (7)
WESTERN – W E (bridge partners) STERN
4 Body of people with crime writer detailed to tour university college (6,7)
CORPUS CHRISTI – CORPS (body of people) CHRISTI[e] around U (university)
6 Bid a tenner at first to tantalise (7)
7 Scientific study: like essay about new moon (9)
8 Drop off short skirt to be collected by fine-looking girl (8)
DIMINISH – MINI in DISH; a bit 60s, but I like it
10 A series of ups and downs as ocean wave hits vessel (6,7)
14 Clear out of joint with ladder (3,3,3)
CUT AND RUN – CUT (joint of meat) AND (with) RUN (ladder)
15 Longs to nurse poorly Greek hero (8)
17 Departs in lagoon after repairing canal craft (7)
18 Very drunk on fewer (7)
LEGLESS – LEG (more cricket = ON) LESS (fewer); a clue of whimsy
19 Robber in gang, Italian (6)
22 Agent, not quite penniless (5)

76 comments on “Times 27181 – Nice and easy does it”

  1. 17 minutes is about as good as it gets for me. I didn’t know HERDWICK but trusted the wordplay. REGAN was from wordplay too as I didn’t know about the Duke of Cornwall, but Camilla wouldn’t fit and she’s still alive and kicking.
    1. How quickly we forget! HERDWICK last appeared in February this year and I passed over it without comment in my contribution. Prior to that it showed up in April 2012 when I said I didn’t know it. Both puzzles were blogged by Vinyl1, who hasn’t mentioned it today so presumably his memory is better than mine.
  2. I think this is my PB by at least a minute. I dithered over 1a, didn’t enter most of the left-hand acrosses on the first pass, but then sped through the rest as the downs were mostly write-ins given the checkers.
  3. I’m not sure if this is a PB, but it’s as near as dammit. DNK the sheep, but DN have to K. I naturally didn’t recognize the cricket stuff, like KNOCK; took ‘not out’ to mean IN, cricket be damned; and got LEGLESS even though I actually knew leg=on. I didn’t realize that LOON could mean ‘rascal’, but again, it didn’t matter.
  4. (Mine is Salammbô, by Flaubert. I seem somehow to have missed this one… and it’s quite wild. Read Steinbeck many years ago…)

    This might indeed have been a record time, if I were in the habit of timing myself.
    There is an echo of one of the clues in a clue in today’s Quick Cryptic, which was also one of the easiest.

    We in the States will be getting this an hour later for a couple weeks, until we synchronize our watches.

    Edited at 2018-10-29 04:29 am (UTC)

  5. 6:59. Very easy in the end, but it took me a while to get going: I didn’t enter much on my first pass through the acrosses. The downs were much easier and then with a few checkers the trickier across clues (the sheep, the poem) became write-ins.
  6. 15 mins getting 1/3 the way through my yoghurt, etc.
    MER at Rascal=Loon. Are we just taking that on trust?
    Mostly I liked: Astronomy.
    Thanks setter and U.
    1. I took it on trust (see above), but I’m glad to see it challenged. ODE doesn’t include rascality in its definition, although my Japanese dictionary includes ‘rokudenashi’ (good-for-nothing) and ‘narazumono’ (gangster).
    2. In Chambers we trust. “Loon: a simple-minded or eccentric person; a low-born person; a rascal; a harlot; in the north-east of Scotland, a boy (also loonie); (in pl) casual trousers that flare widely from the knees” That’s all, folks.
      1. Of course… Loon pants. Did you have a pair?
        Satirise a politician wearing short pants (7)
        1. But of course, though mine are the slightly less convincing ones on the left of the picture.
            1. Indeed, taken at Cockington in Devon, where there’s scarcely a flat spot anywhere but where they still manage to set up a cricket pitch. Achingly, quintessentially English.
    3. I can’t find a direct cross-reference in any of the usual sources but some way down the entry for ‘loon’ in Collins there is ‘archaic, a rogue’ which I’d say is close enough.
  7. Not quite a PB, but close at 24 minutes. Held up a bit by not knowing the cricketing term, being unable to think of “rare” for 1d despite (unusually for me) knowing the African capital, not knowing the poem, and not knowing that REGAN was the Duke of Cornwall’s wife, though at least I knew she was one of Lear’s daughters.

    FOI 1a HERDWICK (it’s on my Increasingly Long List of Crossword Words that I diligently fail to revise), LOI 12a RONDEAU.

    I’ve popped East of Eden on my reading list, but I don’t know how many years it’ll be until I get to the actual reading.

    Edited at 2018-10-29 07:47 am (UTC)

  8. 8.52 but with a crossing iPad typo – W instead of T anyone? Giving 2 errors – double aaaaaagggghhhhh

    Sheep known due to them being the breed kept behind our back garden, although CANARD always takes some dredging up.

  9. 8:16, my third fastest time. Easier than the QC today, I think. SINBAD my LOI. INNINGS my COD.
  10. The fastest I have solved for a couple of years, I think.

    Very concise clues judging by the amount of white space below.

    Just to lower the literary tone, there is always East of Ealing by Robert Rankin.

  11. Never timed myself before so a double first for me: first time I’ve ever completed the main crossword, and I finished both it and the quickie inside 30 minutes. Time to retire, I think
  12. I finished in a bit under 12 minutes, but with a biffed HARDWICK. Lets see if I can rein in my biffing tendencies ahead of the championship.

    How do I go about identifying fellow TfTTers on Saturday? Do you all look like your avatars?

      1. Thanks, I’ll add my moniker to my name tag then and will also go to The George. Looking forward to it.
            1. I am merely going by past experience. I would very much like to make it to the final one day, and I do think I’m in with a chance. My best-ever ranking is 14th, so with a following wind it’s possible. However the probability in any given year is very low.
        1. I’ll be there. And, like Keriothe, in the first prelim, and extremely more unlikely than him to be in the final! See you in The George! I’ll look out for you too.
      2. Will you give my best to any of the usual suspects you run into there Keriothe. We had dinner at the Beach last night but it was too cold to sit outside.
          1. She wasn’t there. I studiously avoided watching her at the time but I took note of your very gentlemanly assistance!
            1. Olivia, I have yet to hear from Vinyl; why don’t you just send me an LJ message with your address?
  13. Between 8 and 9 minutes. I should have used a stop-watch. LOI CANARD. COD IN THE MOOD brought back happy memories of my Dad. As you get old, your parents’ music resonates more. Anyone for some Al Bowlly? I’ll now try yesterday’s puzzle. Thank you U and setter.

    Edited at 2018-10-29 10:18 am (UTC)

  14. 10.30, but I wasn’t trying too hard, and CANARD and ATTEMPT took me into double digits. For the latter, I was expecting the A T(enner) to be at the bottom, once I’d spelled CONSCIENCIOUS properly.
    I vote we don’t complain about “too easy”. How else would we find time for all that virtuous reading?
  15. 09:51 – but one typo! Cressent.

    I didn’t know Herdwick. I knew Regan was Lear’s daughter and hoped she was the Duke of Cornwall’s wife as I wasn’t sure that went would = ran.

    COD: INNINGS. I liked the cryptic definition “knock”.

    Some fast times here! Looking forward to meeting some of you again and others for the first time on Saturday. Will there be a thread for this?

    1. I plan to be at the George afterwards, but I’m neither good enough nor daft enough to take part in the competition. Maybe see you there.
      1. Great! I am in the first session and will then, in company with Mrs AV1, retire to The George. Look forward to meeting you! Our two teams will have played the night before.


        1. I’ve seen our last two games. We were awful. I’ll be watching this one from behind the sofa.
  16. 15:22 but with a careless CATAGORICALLY. Boo hiss! I am undone. A bad start to the week with an error in the QC too. Should’ve stayed in bed. Not 24a and not 14a enough, I shall now 14d. Thanks setter and U.

    Edited at 2018-10-29 09:14 am (UTC)

  17. Equal PB 12 minutes. Knew Herdwick from Adam on Countryfile on BBC TV. ASTRONOMY my CoD. Now back to try to understand this week’s LE CANARD ENCHAINE I don’t think I’ll ever fully get French humour.
  18. A question if I may. I have recently become a night owl, totally unwillingly and hopefully temporarily. I solve on an iPad with The Times app. Can anyone in the Orient or Murka advise when in GMT the daily puzzle gets loaded up to the app? Thanks.

    Nice Monday puzzle with LOI IN THE MOOD, never having known the big band connection. Thanks s and u.

    1. Don’t use Apple products; but I would have thought it would load at midnight London local time (which went back an hour on Sunday am)
      1. Thanks Jerry. That is what I thought but poking around at 0145 this morning GMT revealed only the Sunday Times
        1. I usually start at midday, Sydney time, and sometimes a few minutes before. That’s about 1am in London at the moment. Since the update to the club that allows completion on an iPad it’s always been there at that time (and it used to be less reliable). It was there today around then.
        2. I usually start at midday, Sydney time, and sometimes a few minutes before. That’s about 1am in London at the moment. Since the update to the club that allows completion on an iPad it’s always been there at that time (and it used to be less reliable). It was there today around then.
  19. As Z says, simple but neat. Surprised at so many not knowing Herdwicks, famously rescued from oblivion by Beatrix Potter.
    Count me a serious Steinbeck fan. His writing style was second to none; he shared with Shakespeare the ability to develop great themes using the simplest, most straightforward words. Virtuoso stuff.
  20. I can confirm that the puzzle went up at midnight, current local time. And by 00:13 I’d finished it, in about half my usual time. All went smoothly apart from CANARD, which I failed to parse.
  21. A full size QC today. I had forgotten Regan’s title but it didn’t matter.
    Herdwicks are interesting sheep; tough as nails and will eat just about anything. They also have Houdini-like escapology skills.
    1. I remember talking to a farmer in Yorkshire while walking along the Pennine way. He said (pointing to his flock of sheep, which were Swaledales) “See they sheep, d’yer know what they be doing?”
      Me: “No, what are they doing?” Farmer: “They be busy thinking up new and ‘itherto unknown ways of gettin’ thesselves killed, that’s what they be doin..”
      No ready response came to mind
  22. Yup, a PB here, too, at 14 mins. CANARD was my LOI, and I think using ‘circulates’ to mean ‘surrounds’ is a bit iffy, though of course there’s a linking pun on ‘goes around’.
    Otherwise I didn’t really pause to consider the quality of the setting overall. I just went steadily through it.
    This was certainly a change after last week’s run of, for me, challenging puzzles.
    Thanks for the blog, ulaca.
  23. ….RONDEAU.

    My fastest time since joining this blog (5:21) but it was pretty straightforward. I’m not surprised the experts saw it off in 3:30, but I’m slower than I used to be.


  24. Right, let me look at my TftT check-list. Slow start in the NW corner, which led me to believe this wasn’t necessarily that easy? Tick. Sudden acceleration through the rest of the puzzle with barely pause for thought? Tick. Fastest time since records began? Tick. I guess this is how Magoo feels on a permanent basis…

    If this were a horse race, I’d say it would be a 5 furlong novice sprint at Goodwood (continuing the analogy, what are the odds we get a “Grand National course with heavy going” puzzle on Friday, just to bring us right down to Earth before the weekend?)

    Edited at 2018-10-29 11:54 am (UTC)

    1. Awesome time. I guess I wont be getting to meet you at the George until after the Grand Final… Good luck!
  25. A PB by over two minutes, but looking rather sluggish compared with most! I liked 17d, which is vaguely double definition-ish I think.

    Edited at 2018-10-29 12:55 pm (UTC)

  26. A third day of rain in Mallorca and I am suffering from cabin fever. Completed this in 35 mins and was only held up at the end by 5a CANARD a DNK, so relied on the wordplay. Ditto for my penultimate solve 1a HERDWICK.

    Question: Biffed stands for ‘bunged in from definition’ but is there a word for ‘bunged in from wordplay’? Invariable with the 15×15 there are one or two answers that I have never heard of and guess from the wordplay.

  27. I’m not complaining about the difficulty – my first 15 x 15 completed without aids!
    1. When, in three weeks time, you stare at the 15×15 as if it was in the Martian Times, please do not give up.
  28. Having – for me! – zipped through the QC today, I decided to follow the advice of the contributors to that blog and have a go at the bigger, harder puzzle. And it was jolly good fun! I didn’t time myself but I’m sure it was in the 35 to 40 minutes range… and I didn’t finish it either as DNK “Herdwick” and could not see “canard”. Duh! Spent ages, too, on 10 down as I had “charter” in for the second word until I saw the error of my ways. Did not see the cricket references at all but got the answers nevertheless, thank goodness! Oh… one thing : I know I must be being daft here but, though I got 11 across – what else could it be? – the words of the clue surely have one letter extra…? It says “come to teRms “. I would really appreciate some wise solver telling me what I’m doing wrong here? Thanks so much, blogger and setter
    1. Re 11 across, is it because of the word “some “? So not all of the letters? Eek… that certainly makes hidden answers harder to spot!
    2. ‘over’ in the clue indicates that the answer is contained in the clue in reverse – starting from the T in ‘terms’
  29. Not a PB here, about 15 minutes, since I really didn’t know of the sheep. Had to come back to it at the end and puzzle over that for a bit, but guessed it in the end from ‘flock’ and a vaguely remembered WICK because the latter has appeared here sporadically in the past. Didn’t know REGAN’s title either but that wasn’t a hold up. Regards.
  30. Straightforward crossword today. Even though I did not understand the reference to the Duke of Cornwall’s wife – and knew neither Rondeau nor Rondo – the answers were still obvious to work out. Also missed the cricketing reference in “legless” – assumed it meant literally standing on less legs! Otherwise OK – luckily I knew Herdwick from my fellwalking days in the Lake District – my FOI.
  31. 13:42 so count me as another one in the PB club. Very easy, all done on autopilot without ever really having to switch the brain on but still very satisfying to get a PB.
  32. Lady wife and I took 15 mins to complete this gentle warm-up including my balancing a rather full cup of tea whilst writing. Expecting a horror show today to compensate.

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