Times 27285 – Not Harry Potter, or a 3a question

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I pottered through this pleasant little challenge in my target of twenty minutes or so, held up at the end by 25a until I saw the devious definition. I think Mr Setter or Mr Editor must be being kind to me, after the snorter two weeks ago, as I don’t think it will push the SNITCH over the 100 mark. My fav clue was 8d for avoiding silver = Ag for once and getting a smile. Not much else to add, unless ‘disputed science’ is worth disputing.

1 Secure temporary container for lighter, say (4)
LOCK –  A lighter can be a sort of cargo boat, so can be temporarily in a lock as on a canal. Or perhaps a loch in Scotland, hence the ‘say’ if it’s a homophone clue. It’s the only one today, so I think it must be.
3 Violently hector and rail in speech (10)
10 Transport minister meeting Russian? (7)
MINIVAN – MIN(ister) meets IVAN the russian.
11 Old airline to circle course (7)
BEARING – BEA (British European Airways, defunct), plus RING = circle.
12 Bury New Street collects intermittently larger tax abroad (8,7)
INTERNAL REVENUE – INTER = bury, N(ew), then AVENUE has L R E inserted, LRE being alternate letters of LARGER. Tax abroad seems an odd way of referring to it? I presume he means Federal tax in the USA, I think in the UK it was more usually called INLAND Revenue. Thankfully I only need to know about IMPOTS.GOUV
13 Old still can be this good, but not fine (6)
GRAINY – G(ood), RAINY so not fine.
14 Disputed science eastern genius devised to trap carbon (8)
EUGENICS – E = eastern, (GENIUS C)*, the C for carbon.
17 Client fools river bird heading west (8)
CONSUMER – CONS = fools, then R EMU reversed.
18 Commercial about Clio, say, was entertaining (6)
AMUSED – AD goes around MUSE, the Muses of whom Clio was one.
21 Booking calls for bands showing promise (10,5)
ENGAGEMENT RINGS – ENGAGEMENT = booking, RINGS = calls. Chestnut time.
23 Producer of evergreen staple song retired (4,3)
PINE NUT – PIN = staple, thenTUNE reversed.
24 One very dead strand (7)
ISOLATE – I (one) SO (very) LATE (dead).
25 Potter stars rush around, keeping track (10)
NURSERYMAN – NAMES RUN = stars rush around; reverse that and insert RY for track. I didn’t see this until all the checkers went in, as was thinking of other kinds of potter, as in clay, or potter about = do this and that.
26 Crooked mountain top work shed (4)
BENT – BEN = mountain, T = TOP without OP.

1 Heather nursing English married couple’s rodent (7)
LEMMING – LING = heather nurses E MM. I remember playing Lemmings on a very early PC many years ago, maybe 1991, probably before the mouse was being used; tricky fun but I finished it before 1993 I think.
2 Force prisoners on coach (9)
CONSTRAIN –  CONS = prisoners, TRAIN = coach.
4 Sea mist masks no good planes here (6)
HANGAR – HAAR has NG inserted.
5 Top Roman bishop in row with one American (8)
TIBERIUS – B for bishop, inside TIER = row, I, US.Roman Emperor, 14 AD – 37 AD.
6 Driver glances at this stern opinion by paper (4-4,6)
REAR-VIEW MIRROR – REAR = stern, VIEW = opinion, (Daily) Mirror.
7 Rocky pile of Irish tin boxes (5)
CAIRN – IR inside CAN = tin.
8 Silver was thus, on one side, hammered (7)
LEGLESS – Long John had only one leg; hammered as in drunk. Is this term used outside the UK?
9 Finished grant once, putting away too much (14)
OVERINDULGENCE – OVER = finished, INDULGENCE. Indulgences were granted in the early Catholic Church to reduce the punishment for sins, often in exchange for money or for dastardly deeds being done.
15 Subtly introduce new form of annuities (9)
16 Travel around eastern Maine to test some maths (8)
GEOMETRY – GO around E, ME = Maine, TRY = test.
17 Cut Mass among Anglicans before November (7)
CHEAPEN – HEAP = mass, without a capital M, inside CE for Anglicans, N(ovember). ‘Cut’ as in cut the price.
19 Protest as daughter gets posted (7)
DISSENT – D daughter IS SENT = gets posted.
20 Girl defending Joe’s heartfelt complaint? (6)
ANGINA – ANNA has GI Joe inserted.
22 He’s unlikely to recover unit in Greece (5)
GONER – GR = Greece has ONE = unit inserted.

55 comments on “Times 27285 – Not Harry Potter, or a 3a question”

  1. That would have been BI, I guess, anyway. I didn’t know the airline BEA, so BEARING was my penultimate one in, and then I got LEGLESS, before figuring out that that Long John was involved. That seems to be classed everywhere as a UKism, but of course some Yanks like me like to use terms from across the pond occasionally.
  2. Taking 5 minutes at the end to see who the potter was, put me over 30 minutes. I’m not sure BEA is exactly defunct. British Airways was created by merging BEA (short haul) with BOAC (long haul) and a couple of other regional companies, I think.

    I wasn’t quite sure how PINE NUT was “producer of evergreen”. I suppose because it is a seed from which a new pine grows?

  3. yet another typo staring me in the face and yet ignored: ENGATEMENT, which of course cost me 2 errors. I biffed 6d and 25ac–somehow I thought of the right potter–and also 8d–didn’t think of Long John until after submission.
  4. 30 minutes exactly although I somewhat surpised myself by achieving my target as the puzzle felt more tricky at the start than it actually turned out.

    I don’t think 1ac is a homophone clue. A lock is without doubt a temporary container for the passing traffic such as a lighter or barge, whereas a loch is a lake which I can’t see being defined as temporary, nor really as a container.

    It may say something about me that when trying to parse LEGLESS after solving, my first thought was that something untoward may have eventually befallen the Lone Ranger’s horse. It was only somewhat later that I remembered the character in ‘Treasure Island’. “Ahaargh, Jim, lad!” (Hancock squints and rolls eyeballs as he thinks of Robert Newton in the role of Long John Silver).

    Edited at 2019-02-27 07:32 am (UTC)

  5. 11:04. Fun puzzle with a nice range of references.
    My only real problems here were NURSERYMAN and CHEAPEN. The definition of the former is cunning, and of the latter a bit surprising to me. I wouldn’t use CHEAPEN to mean ‘cut the price of’ but it is in the dictionaries.
    I agree with jackkt that 1ac isn’t a homophone.
  6. 14 mins which is about as quick as it gets for me. I had no idea why LEGLESS until I came here. Easy puzzle but a good one nonetheless with some nice surfaces.
  7. 20 minutes. Eugenics a disputed science? Adolf Hitler and Harry Lee Kwan Yew will be rolling in their graves.
  8. 12.45, so definitely a day on the easier side (a sub-4-minute quickie too).

    6d, 9d were biffed, as was LOI 25a.

    Spent longer than I should trying to work BOAC in as the airline, before dredging up BEA from the murky depths of my mind. And that’s a scary place to go sometimes……

    CoD for me definitely LEGLESS, a smile and half a chortle when that penny dropped – I don’t think too many people on the train noticed……

  9. Tim Moorey is coming to speak to our WI group in East Kent on 18th March, 7.30pm,if anyone is interested in joining us to meet him. Light refreshments. £10 donation to funds. To book, my contact details can be found in the News? WI section on the village website, http://www.goodnestone.org.uk. I can also provide overnight accommodation.

    I found this an easy one, apart from trawling through all the Spodes and Wedgwoods I could think of for 25a. Okay once ‘cheapen’ had fallen into place.

      1. Isn’t a pine nut ultimately the producer of an evergreen? Seemed OK when I read the clue…


  10. I just posted an announcement and got the message that it had been posted as ‘spam’, if anyone wants to read it!
  11. A confidence-boosting 26 minutes for moi. Recently, I was thinking that I should cut down my target of an hour by a bit, on the grounds that my times might be suffering somewhat from Parkinson’s Law, but perhaps not…

    FOI 3a RHETORICAL, then a pretty steady top-to-bottom solve, slowing towards the end, adding myself to the club of those who finished off with a NURSERYMAN, as it were.

    A single question mark on the “indulgence” definition in 9d was my only… er… marginale?

  12. 13 minutes only on this. I thought I was on for a sub-10 until I slowed down in the SW. I have to give COD to LOI NURSERYMAN. Which came first, the nut or the tree? Easyish, but enjoyable. Thank you Pip and setter.
  13. 17:49 .. right off the wavelength.

    CHEAPEN, PINE NUT and BEARING all had me slightly perplexed (I had no idea what BEA was). Still, got there in the end.

  14. I was on for a 20min completion, but the ‘potter’ and crossing GEOMETRY held me up for a full 5 minutes. The latter had no particularly fiendish wordplay, was not at all recondite and was plainly defined — so I was just hopelessly slow. I didn’t see the parsing of GRAINY, so thanks, Pip! In fact, I biffed it assuming “not fine’ was the def and that the wordplay would probably have something to do with old-fashioned equipment for distilling liquor.
    I, too, chuckled at LEGLESS. NHO ‘haar’. And I thought most of the surfaces were rather neat. Good.
    Thanks to our blogger and setter.
  15. I did the same as Jack with Silver. 12a was rather groan-inducing because I’m working on our taxes this week. And I was another trying for BOAC (better on a camel) before I remembered its counterpart. 17.19
    1. BEA was Back Every Afternoon, as befitted a short-haul airline, Olivia. That’s where I started my lifelong career in aviation. I was a General Apprentice from 1965-1968. As I remember, SABENA was Such A Bloody Experience Never Again, and best not dwell on QANTAS!
      I think BOAC had one of the best ATC call signs which was “Speedbird”, named after the symbol on the tail, of course. I think BA still uses it. Another evocative one was “Clipper” which was Pan Am’s.
  16. ….HANGAR ? Then you might find a BEA Viscount, the regular plane used on inter-city flights in the 50’s and 60’s.

    MER at “song = tune”. A song needs lyrics, a tune doesn’t.

    I found this easier than today’s QC, and agree with Jack that LOCK definitely refers to canals, rather than being a homophone.

    TIME 7:52

    Edited at 2019-02-27 10:46 am (UTC)

    1. Collins has: tune 2. countable noun
      You can refer to a song or a short piece of music as a tune.
      e.g. She’ll also be playing your favourite pop tunes.

      If we’re getting into pedantry, I think most songs have a lyric, not lyrics 🙂

  17. Fun, and apparently right up my street, with all the required knowledge easily meeting my definition of general.
  18. whizzed through this, held up only by GRAINY at the end, took me a while to work out what kind of ‘still’ we were talking about, I was wondering about some kind of hooch being a bit grainy – well it could have been? No idea about nurseryman till I came here.
  19. Romped through this one – it helped that my wife sent me out on an errand yesterday to pick up a packet of pine nuts. Just didn’t understand “Legless” until coming here. I’m better at these types of crosswords that include no authors/playwrights/poets/painters/composers (although there was one muse!).

    Edited at 2019-02-27 12:07 pm (UTC)

  20. Only just failed to get under 15 minutes with ANGINA holding me up for the last minute. The top half was all done in just over 6 minutes. EUGENICS held me up until I had the crossers. I was fortunate to have all the crossers bar the last A before I tried to solve 25a, which came quickly. Saw the photograph reference in 13a, but missed the Aaarr Jim Laad in 8d. Good one! A most enjoyable puzzle. 15:45. Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2019-02-27 12:16 pm (UTC)

  21. Skated in under the half-hour, after a long hold-up at cheapen and pine nut. As Pip says, a pleasant challenge – no heartfelt complaint here.
  22. I came to lock for 1a as locker, a temporary container, light (of) er, but I guess that left the ‘for’ and ‘say’ as largely redundant?
    1. I would add that a lighter as a boat, refers to a vessel used to transfer cargo from a ship in harbour to shore . . Not a barge on a canal
  23. Finally, after 18 months of trying. Managed to complete without aids, also a P.B, 59 mins. Yee haa. Jim
  24. Regarding LEGLESS, is it regarded as a problem to have specifically British English usage in a British puzzle?

    I can see why non-British puzzle users might be disadvantaged in not knowing that ‘legless’ and ‘hammered’ are terms for being blotto, stotious or otherwise bibulous, but I’m not so sure The Times should make allowances: is it not part of the attraction of Times and other UK puzzles that they include such quaint Englishisms?

    Edited at 2019-02-27 04:33 pm (UTC)

  25. Mr. Penguin The Times Crossword is for Johnny English – our American cousins hereabouts do rather well anyway without any allowances. Have you ever tried to fathom out an American Xword!?

    I never usually do The Times so late in the day but I was done in a healthy (for me) 19 minutes – in bed!


    Nowt wrong with being 8dn – my LOI!

    COD 17dn CHEAPEN


    Edited at 2019-02-27 04:55 pm (UTC)

  26. Not a challenge today, got through quickly. My only puzzlement like others was why BOAC wasn’t fitting into the BEARING clue. As we Americans do when faced with at kind of thing, I shrugged, entered the apparent answer, and moved on. I liked GRAINY, which actually required a bit of thinking. Regards.
  27. I rattled through this in under 6 minutes having come home from a bar trivia victory so didn’t fully appreciate the LEGLESS clue or the true nature of the POTTER – both brilliant clues I now see and the equally brilliant blog is much appreciated. Thanks Pip!
  28. Congratulations to Jim! You’ll be zipping through these in no time, in no time.

    I won’t dampen Jim’s spirits by suggesting that this was on the easy side, but I got through it a little less than my average – about eighteen minutes. All very good fun. I enjoyed 8ac, and I’m sure neither “hammered” nor “legless” would be too challenging for solvers in the US, once they’ve mastered the distinction between being pissed in either country.

    1. Thank you. I’m not a bit damp. Even if I don’t finish I’m learning from the blog and here every day.
  29. Not only finished but in a huge pb of 31.05. NURSERYMAN LOI and not fully parsed. Nor was INTERNAL REVENUE. COD LEGLESS. Watching an absurdly high scoring cricket ODI (on TV, unfortunately), legside was in the forefront of my mind, if erroneously.
      1. Thanks John. Probably a one off, but very satisfying feeling the clues open up so welcomingly!
  30. Thanks, Pip, especially for LEGLESS. Yes, I was bemused by the lack of connection with Ag.
    I worked in civil aviation all my life and my career started with BEA. I was a General Apprentice between 1965 and 1968. I went on to work for them at Gatwick. BEA there morphed into the holiday airline BEA Airtours and then British Airtours after the merger with BOAC in the 70s.

    My favourite today was ENGAGEMENT RINGS.

  31. No problem with NURSERYMAN, thought of it early and worked other clues to suit. Not sure exactly what EUGENICS are but will find out now. Didn’t parse LEGLESS beyond Hammered.
  32. Satisfaction at last. Under 30 minutes. The last
    several weeks puzzles requiring some assistance
    on a few, particularly with local expressions, place names.
    Damn, thought I knew all the river and creek names.
  33. Thanks setter and pip
    Quicker than my average as well at 31 min. Had a lot of fun working out the word play on many of them, particularly OVERINDULGENCE, NURSERYMAN and HANGAR (having not heard of the North Sea mist). Had gone down the homophone path at 1a, but think that the LOCK container does make more sense.
    Finished with LEGLESS (with a chuckle when the penny dropped), EUGENICS (after the dictionary reminded me of what it was) and down to CHEAPEN in the SW as the last one in.

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