Times 28423 – Back in cryptic kindergarten

Time: 18 minutes

Music: Mahler, Symphony #9, Boulez/Chicago Symphony

This was a rather simple Monday puzzle which quickly yielded up its secrets.   The SNITCH is at 63, and that’s just about right.   Almost every clue involves some sort of cryptic cliche: R.A. = artist, IR. = Irish, TU = trade union, fighting = war,  model = poser, etc, etc.  Experienced solvers, therefore, should polish off this one very quickly – and it looks like they did.

1 Flyer produced by artist during spell in jail (8)
RAINBIRD – R.A. IN BIRD – do not lift and separate.
9 Irish girl meeting conservationists, a thorn in the flesh (8)
10 Group of workers covered by nation’s laws (8)
11 Spineless fish extremely lazy about fighting (8)
12 Bury model, one who intrudes (10)
INTERPOSER – INTER POSER, a bit of a chestnut.
14 Woman’s articles incorporating news (4)
ANNA – A(N,N)A, my little grand-niece.
15 Howl worried upper-class Liberal repeatedly at first (7)
17 Weirdo backing party finally organised dance (7)
ODDBALL – DO backwards + [organise]D + BALL.
21 Vehicle husband used in wild, uncultivated country (4)
BUSH – BUS + H, a Quickie clue.
22 Fruit web-footed bird found by touring English rivers (10)
23 Instrument in Cambridge college keeping in time (8)
25 Most ancient member of upper chamber breaking ties (8)
EARLIEST – EARL + anagram of TIES, early as in primordial.
26 Revolutionary shelter informer provided for marine plant (8)
EELGRASS –  LEE backwards + GRASS.
27 Joint ought to be livelier, ultimately (8)
SHOULDER – SHOULD + [b]E [livlie]R.
2 Knight stopping revision of a mutual description of the Fall? (8)
AUTUMNAL – Anagram of A MUTUAL around N.
3 Crazy, awful place — Brazil may be in it (8)
NUTSHELL – NUTS + HELL, enclosing a Brazil nut.
4 Teaching alphabet including old Greek character (4)
IOTA –  I.(O)T.A. – The Initial Teaching Alphabet.
5 Exchange views on princess’s malediction (7)
6 Attract newlywed to cross key part of castle, perhaps (10)
7 Fish endlessly on island, a Mediterranean one (8)
8 Canvas giving trouble after ship crosses river (8)
13 S American instrument mostly without a label on (10)
15 A French press chief accepts reverse, lacking support (8)
16 Doddery duke missing from Beds town (8)
UNSTABLE – [d]UNSTABLE, a town even I know.
18 Reportedly purchase some African lilies primarily for celebration (8)
BIENNIAL –  Sounds like BUY ANY + A[frican] L[ilies].
19 Doctor regales son, showing generosity (8)
LARGESSE – Anagram of REGALES + S.
20 American writer, female, Emily Dickinson, for example? (7)
24 Lively spirit one observed in little sibling (4)
BRIO -BR(I)O, a bit of a chestnut.

67 comments on “Times 28423 – Back in cryptic kindergarten”

  1. 23 minutes. It was easy but still contained three unfamiliar words which I may have met before but needed the helpful wordplay and checkers to bring to mind: RAINBIRD, STAYSAIL and EELGRASS. It turns out the rainbird can be a variety of species, most commonly the green woodpecker in the UK and a sort of cuckoo overseas.

  2. Morning all – got up early enough to do a cheeky pre-work solve and guest appearance here before another week of gainful employment…
    …but I didn’t expect to have half an hour spare after finishing. 12:38 isn’t just a new PB – it totally obliterates my previous mark of 16:50.

    Didn’t start particularly well for such an easy puzzle – FOI INTERPOSER – but then the pace picked up, and never really slacked off until the final moments when I alpha-trawled LOI RAINBIRD even though it was a very easy conventional solve. Same as Jack with the other unknowns, but neither of them seemed improbable enough to delay me.

    Maybe it’s due to the mental stimulation (wut?) of office life sharpening me up, or possibly an absence of solving-fatigue from my now -irregular efforts – either way that was undemanding fun – thanks V and setter.

  3. 9:44, first time in ages below 10 minutes. I actually took longer on today’s Quickie. Chestnuts a-plenty, as Vinyl says, but at least the girl wasn’t educated.

  4. 22 minutes, so no great problems despite the NHO I.T.A, RAINBIRD, STAYSAIL and EELGRASS. I wonder if I’d have been faster if I’d known from the outset that this was an easyish puzzle? Probably not—I imagine I might’ve tripped over my own feet if I’d been trying for a p.b.!

    The GOOSEBERRY too, Astro says
    We need STATUTES and laws
    To ban IRRITANT claws
    That’s what this poor POET ESSays

  6. 22 minutes. Slow compared to Denise – v. well done – but reasonably happy, as there were a few unfamiliar words as noted by Jack and I’d never heard of the Initial Teaching Alphabet; sounds like the first R equivalent of the third R “cuisinenaire” which we had a few months ago.

    Hope to hear from Tehuelche after he cracked a mention at 13d.

    1. Indeed! I was delighted to see Patagonia featuring! Shame it wasn’t a trickier crossword. After solving in 9 minutes, I had to check that they hadn’t switched the Quick Cryptic.

  7. 17 mins for an easy solve with some time spent on 3 words 1a 8a which I knew and 26a (NHO)

  8. DNF as could not figure out the unknown RAINBIRD, and NUTSHELL. Should have been a rare 45 minute solve. I like these easier Monday offering.

    I support Fulham so the odd appearance in the Premier League (15×15) is often followed by Second Season Syndrome, and a quick return to the Championship (QC).

    ITA for a teaching technique that has not been used for 50 years was pretty obscure. Hence couldn’t parse this one.

    COD 16d DUNSTABLE, with the surface bringing to mind the nearby Duke of Bedford (who is too young to be called doddery, though)

  9. 20 mins which is probably a pb.
    I didn’t know ita for the alphabet.
    LOI eelgrass.
    COD nutshell.

    1. We saved our kids the ignominy of ITA by teaching them to read before starting school.
      Easy peasy Monday

  10. 9’31”. Good to have a rare under-tenner. In truth it was all very straightforward.

  11. 26m 18s
    🎼 And you read your Emily Dickinson and I my Robert Frost🎼
    I note that 26ac and 19d are anagrams of each other. I went looking for another pair which would have constituted a Nina but I couldn’t find one.

  12. 18:54. Wow. Some of the vocab seemed to make me stop and think, but clearly not for long. My second best recorded time ever

  13. Scorched through this in 18 mins, definitely a PB. My only unknown was EELGRASS but the wp was generous. I am really echoing BW here, but my LOI was STAYSAIL and I liked PATAGONIA.

    Thanks v and gentle setter.

  14. A speedy 20:50 with the same unknowns as others but all successfully negotiated by trusting the cryptics. The DRAWBRIDGE opened up extra fast as last week we visited the world’s greatest castle at Carcassonne. A great day out topped off with tea in the beautiful gardens of the Hôtel de la Cité just inside the battlements.

    1. For great castles, may I put in a word for Krak des Chevaliers? Fabulous Crusader castle in Syria.

  15. 17 minutes or so, with the unknown EELGRASS and STAYSAIL constructed from the generous wordplay. Didn’t parse the ‘enni’ bit of BIENNIAL, but with enough checkers in place it was clear enough.

    FOI Autumnal
    LOI Poetess
    COD Rainbird

  16. 14.53, a new PB by some way. More pleasing was being able to see exactly what was required in each clue and doing as I was told!

  17. The three more or less unknown words where I had to trust the wordplay — EELGRASS, STAYSAIL, RAINBIRD — have been mentioned by many. All went smoothly and there were no hold-ups but I still only managed 18 minutes. How people can get it all written down (or, in my case, entered into the tablet) in less is beyond me. And those people who take only 4 minutes: they must have incredibly supple hands.

    1. I’m a reasonably good but not exceptional typist and if I know the answers already I can fill a normal crossword grid in under 2 minutes. And yes the fact that I know this is a bit sad!

  18. First day of half term and my first chance to tackle one for over a fortnight (I’m looking forward to catching up this week). Luckily all my educated guesses proved right RAINBIRD, STAYSAIL (once I saw ANNS was actually ANNA and IOTA (should I know of ITA?)
    Easily inside 30 minutes so pleasant start to the week
    Thanks blogger and setter

  19. I met some people in the 1970s who’d suffered the Initial Teaching Alphabet. Fifty years on, as ‘phonics’ swings in and out of fashion, are we any further forward?


    8’33”, thanks vinyl and setter.

  20. A careless error, with ANSA at 14a (I over thought it, ADSU ing it was a ‘street’ word for news). Never mind.
    In a keen birder, but have never heard of the woodpecker being referred to as a rain bird. Must be old country vocabulary.
    Otherwise, pretty quick solve, with BIENNIAL last one in- I think of it more to do with plants than celebrations.
    Must do better with these single letter errors! Grr

  21. 6:25 but with a stupid typo. I really should check my answers either properly or not at all. The cursory check I am in the habit of doing quite often results in missing obvious errors, so I’m just slowing myself down pointlessly.

  22. Wasn’t comfortable with my LOI RAINBIRD and kept doing alphabet trawls to try to find an alternative, unsuccessfully of course.
    May have been easy for most of you but I’m always happy to finish, however long it takes me.

    1. Hear Hear, Phil: felt good about solving VERY nearly all of this in about half-an-hour – only to discover the SNITCH was 63! Ho Hum – but the grey cells have not yet entirely departed. Liked ULULATE and GOOSEBERRY.

  23. Hmm, definitely pretty easy. No time but under 10.
    The ITA was a failed experiment, and from here, seems a completely insane idea. “Some children are a bit slow learning to read. So tell you what, let’s give them two different alphabets to wrestle with, both while they are still in infants school. And when they’ve learnt one, make them transition to the other. That’s bound to help them.”

    1. Thank goodness ‘they’ more or less dropped the insane idea by the time I was doing my Dip Ed! Equally insane, however, is the new insistence in some schools, on teaching cursive writing to infants when they never encounter it in the real world!

  24. Fun but easy, 18 minutes, liked NUTSHELL, didn’t know ITA meant that but put in IOTA anyway.

  25. 16:32

    Same unknowns as others and had to think twice about BIENNIAL (BIANNUAL?), but all plainly clued. Relaxed start to the week…

  26. 05:45, so pretty Monday-ish all told. Didn’t know (or didn’t remember once knowing) RAINBIRD and EELGRASS but was happy to trust the wordplay; STAYSAIL, on the other hand, is one of those words which has been lodged in my head since reading the Hornblower books as a boy, even if I have no more idea now than I did then exactly what one is, and how it differs from, I don’t know, a topgallant.

  27. Tablet fixed, so I’m back. A crossword free 10 days may have left me rusty, but once I got started the answers flowed nicely.

    TIME 7:00

  28. RAINBIRD and IOTA were my last 2 in. NHO ITA. AUTUMNAL started the proceedings. STAYSAIL and EELGRASS from wordplay. 16:53. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  29. 12.12. Solid Monday fodder – might have been a sub 10, or close, if I wasn’t solving on an iPhone.

  30. Just over 30 minutes but I lifted and separated in 1a just to get finished. I ended up with BARNEIRD, a very unlikely sounding Norwegian goose. I wasn’t that sure about IOTA either.
    The rest was easy enough.
    I shall now re-read Astronowt’s poem.

  31. 12.58. This was a breeze once I had taken rainbird on trust and guessed at what ITA might be. LOI eelgrass which needed a little bit of thought.

  32. One of the slowest times recorded hereabouts, at 27 minutes, but I was delighted to be under the half hour for a change. A bit off my cornflakes recently.

    LOI 1ac RAINBIRD -a bit of an ‘albatross’! Go Mr. Astronowt and kill that bird!
    COD 22ac GOOSEBERRY – a lovely fruit but green rather than red, which has no bite.
    WOD 13dn PATAGONIAN – my first thought was Paraguayan, but a letter short.

    As kids we used to catch elvers, half frozen in the eelgrass of the River Slea, at Sleaford, in the county of Kesteven.

    1. Hiya, Horry! I was with my karaoke krewe last night and didn’t get to this until the morning. I finished quickly enough, but I’m a late riser and everything had already been said. I had to guess at ITA, of course.

  33. 9:32. Tackled after a lovely walk along the River Deben and through Melton and Woodbridge. DNK the ITA or RAINBIRD , EELGRASS or STAYSAIL but they didn’t hold me up much. Thank-you vinyl and setter.

  34. Enjoyable 16 minutes for me.

    Had to hoist a variety of sails — mainsail, headsail, foresail, even a stunsail — before getting it right. Otherwise light sailing.

  35. In times of stress the good setter delivers a Monday cryptic. I’m always happy to finish the 15 x 15 even if I’m back in the kindergarten. MER at ‘in jail ‘ = ‘ in bird’
    OH was taught the ITA which he blames for all shortcomings regarding literary skills.
    Thanks to setter and blogger as always.

    1. The phrase “in bird,” which is obviously not what people say (one does a bird—serves a sentence—in jail), is not implied here. IN is “during” and “spell in jail” is BIRD.

      1. Thank you Guy, this was a DNF for me on RAINBIRD and IOTA (NHO ITA) I probably should have biffed it but would I would still was having the same trouble as IonaJ on the former. However, I have immediate lowered my eyebrow following your precise parsing, mainly driven by ‘during’ = ‘IN’.

  36. I got my pb last week. Returned to a much more typical Monday time for me. The NHOs held me up.


  37. Other measure the easiness of a puzzle by its Snitch or their personal time. I measure it rather more simply, by whether I finish it at all. Which I did today (Yay!) so definitely on the easy side.

    30 minutes, since you didn’t ask, and I also NHO Rainbird and couldn’t parse Iota or Patagonian, but these are details, details and they don’t spoil a Good Day.


  38. Approx 25 minutes to solve (don’t have exact time, as my tablet lost everything about five minutes in, then 19:52 after restarting). NHO RAINBIRD or EELGRASS, but both gettable.
    23ac took longer than it should have, given that I play the Clarinet and my college was next door to Clare.

    Many thanks

  39. About 35 mins which is probably a PB but I’ll take more notice in future.
    ULULATE took me straight back to Latin O Level
    I wanted 3d to be NUT and an anagram of PLACE but sorted myself out eventually.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

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