Times 28624 – stuck out on a reef

Time taken: 11:46. Just like yesterday I was finished in well under 10 minutes except for one entry. I spent a few minutes trying to come up with other plausible answers and put in one that I know matches one of the definitions.  It turned out to be correct, but unlike yesterday it leaves me at a complete loss.

How did you get along?

1 A condition about to be attached to top of building — must be so safe? (9)
FIREPROOF – PER(a) and IF(condition) reversed then ROOF(top of building)
9 Desire to have silver ring of yore (4-3)
LONG-AGO – LONG(desire), AG(silver), O(ring)
10 Celebrated with song about wine (7)
SANGRIA – SANG(celebrated), then AIR(song) reversed
11 Plant disease — therefore end of plant! (5)
ERGOT – ERGO(therefore) and the last letter of planT
12 Clumsy English member interrupting home worker (9)
INELEGANT – E(English), LEG(member) inside IN(home) and a worker ANT
13 Log over canal (7)
ENTERON – ENTER(log), ON(over)
15 River maiden, perhaps one inclined to wander (5)
ROVER – R(river) and a maiden OVER
17 Isle’s cove ultimately suitable for cleric’s bolt-hole? (5)
MANSE – MAN’S(isle’s) and the last letter of covE
18 Holy hill in which is buried male disciple (5)
SIMON – SION(holy hill) containing M(male)
19 One waited for game — party time? (5)
GODOT – GO(game), DO(party), T(time)
20 Mash is unusual with one Japanese dish (7)
SASHIMI – anagram of MASH,IS then I(one)
23 Home for type down below (5,4)
LOWER CASE – cryptic definition
25 Waterway’s cold, with awful smell (5)
CREEK – C(cold), REEK(awful smell)
27 Good relations eating the woman’s pickled food item (7)
GHERKIN – G(good), KIN(relations) containing HER(the woman)
28 As in races, being reorganised (7)
ARSENIC – anagram of IN,RACES
29 Old lover offers to supply bits of letters (9)
EXTENDERS – EX(old lover), TENDERS(offers)
1 Graceful female, not male, standing up for oldie? (6)
FOSSIL – LISSOM(graceful),  and F(female) minus M(male) reversed
2 Made contact with antelopes in grazing grounds (10)
RANGELANDS – RANG(made contact with), ELANDS(antelopes)
3 Some tune heard in garden feature (8)
PARTERRE – PART(some) then sounds like AIR(tune)
4 American city doctor retired I see! (5)
OMAHA – MO(doctor) reversed, then AHA(I see!)
5 Dejected, the gutless leftie must be made to feel good (9)
FLATTERED – FLAT(dejected), then the external letters of ThE, and RED(leftie)
6 Worker perhaps caught cutting small photograph? (6)
INSECT – C(caught) inside INSET(small photograph)
7 Band of robbers maybe go north of the border (4)
GANG – double definition
8 Grumble about national organisation supported by a new American (8)
MONTANAN – MOAN(grumble) containing NT(national organisation), on top of A, N(new)
14 Stuff on top of shed left half abandoned, derelict (10)
RAMSHACKLE – RAM(stuff) on top of SHACK(shed) then half of LEft
16 Watchfulness of soldier with weapon, very small one at the front (9)
VIGILANCE – GI(soldier) and LANCE(weapon) after V(very), I(one)
17 Noted player, as such, entertained by Greek character and Scotsman? (8)
MUSICIAN – SIC(as such) inside MU(Greek character) and IAN(Scotsman)
18 Disciple maybe getting on with desire to catch fish (8)
STURGEON – ST(most of the disciples ended up as saints) and ON containing URGE(desire)
21 Writing of popular monarch (6)
INKING – IN(popular), KING(monarch)
22 Number, any number, is needed for game (6)
TENNIS – TEN(number), N(any number), IS
24 What sounds like pure island (5)
WIGHT – sounds like WHITE(pure)
26 Leisurely reefer (4)
EASY – and now we come to the end, and the one I am unable to explain. Since it is a two word clue it is most likely a double definition but I can’t seem to work out the link.  Easy can mean to stop rowing, so there could be a marine connection. I thought maybe EASY was a slang for pot, but can’t seem to confirm that.  Any help, I’m on all fours here…

And help came in the comments – reefer can mean midshipman, and there is a Midshipman EASY from an 1836 novel and a 1935 movie. Can’t believe it wasn’t on the tip of my tongue.

75 comments on “Times 28624 – stuck out on a reef”

  1. Similarly baffled by EASY, which was also my last in. I trust Guy will let us know if it is a Mary-Jane reference. I tried googling the connection and got ” How to grow weed easy”.
    Did anyone else think of CANAL first for 25a?

        1. Me too. Anal might mean stinky in some circumstances that I won’t bother to imagine.

  2. There was a novel by Frederick Marryat, and subsequent film, about Midshipman Easy. I wonder if cryptically “reefer”could just be a sailor – he ties reef knots, sets reef sails, travels through and over reefs?

  3. 14:37
    I biffed FIREPROOF, not seeing how REP worked; not the first time I’ve failed to notice the ‘a’. I did, for once, spot ‘As’ pretty quickly. Two reversals marked by ‘about’: 1ac, 10ac. I had hoped to find out here how EASY worked; I’m totally at a loss.

  4. Apparently “reefer” is a term specifically applied to midshipmen, presumably including Mr Midshipman Easy, mentioned in an earlier comment. Could that be it??

  5. All correct for me, with the same puzzlement as to the second meaning of EASY. I’ve actually even read Mr Midshipman Easy but I don’t recall whether he was a “reefer”. Chambers has “midshipman” as one of the definitions of “reefer” so that makes it pretty solid. Apparently, it also means a refrigerated rail wagon, so keep an eye out for that one!

    1. Or indeed a lorry or truck with a refrigeration unit. As from the lyrics to Convoy:

      Was the dark of the moon on the sixth of June
      In a Kenworth pullin’ logs
      Cab-over Pete with a reefer on
      And a Jimmy haulin’ hogs
      We is headin’ for bear on I-one-oh
      ‘Bout a mile outta Shaky Town
      I says, “Pig Pen, this here’s the Rubber Duck”
      “And I’m about to put the hammer down”

      1. So… did he? Don’t keep us in suspense like that!

        Seriously, TfTT is like studying for a degree. Always a new thing

        1. Absolutely.
          We crashed the gate doin’ 98 I said let them truckers roll. 10-4.

          I think.

  6. Tried the K method of speed-solving today, going through all clues quickly to start… it was faster than usual. The gimmes all drop out leaving more crossers for the harder ones. EASY in with a shrug, then stuck at the end on a few of the harder ones -took a while to see FOSSIL then unknowns ENTERON (seen before?), PARTERRE (certainly seen before!), and finally MONTANAN.
    Thanks all, especially for Midshipman Easy.

  7. 31 minutes, which surprised me a little as there were several unfamiliar words or meanings to deal with along the way, and only one anagram and a partial which is very unusual and I rely on them to open up new areas of the grid.

    I didn’t understand EASY but now that it has been pointed out I knew of the midshipman and I think we have had ‘reefer’ with that meaning before, and possibly on one of my blogging days.

    Perhaps I’m missing something obvious, but I don’t understand the significance of ‘home’ in 23ac.

    1. Chambers explains 23ac thus:

      lowˈer-case adjective (printing)
      Small as distinguished from capital, orig because kept in a lower case

      1. Thanks, so ‘home’ as in a place where something is stored? A bit tenuous isn’t it?

        1. See Collins: ‘the bottom half of a compositor’s type case, in which small letters are kept’.

          1. Thanks. I wasn’t querying upper/lower case, only the use of ‘home’. I understood it after Bruce’s comment but it seemed a little odd although I have heard it colloquially now I come to think of it.

            1. Yes I see now that I misread brnchn’s original comment, and hence your reply!
              This colloquial usage is quite common in my experience. If you buy a new household item for instance you might say you need to ‘find a home’ (storage space) for it. Or at least I might!

  8. I finally put in EASY—what else could it be?—but could find no source for the reefer. Am glad to be introduced to the midshipman.

  9. 35 minutes. No idea how EASY worked either, so thanks to curryowen and brnchn. Took some time to get ENTERON which I should have known and to sort out the parsing of MONTANAN.

    No spoilers, but of interest there’s another ‘derelict’ def elsewhere today.

  10. Despite a few unknowns (ENTERON, ERGOT) I got round in 24.52 which seemed OK. Don’t know what EXTENDERS as bits of letters refers to, still not sure about ‘home’ in the clue for LOWER CASE and was as befuddled by EASY as everybody else. Sure, midshipman, why not? There was a positive plethora of religious refs today, with the holy hill and the disciple and the saint staying above desire.Last night I think I saw THEO and VAL in the background at The Oval when Travis Head got his TON (I recall that term was up for discussion quite recently). Will they be there again today to see Smithy get his?

  11. DNF. A few NHOs that I worked out (RANGELANDS, EXTENDERS). After about 45 mins couldn’t solve another NHO, ENTERON (seems a straightforward parsing now but didn’t occur to me). EASY from leisurely but no idea re reefer. And like others had a double take on canal, but surely not! Enjoyable if ultimately frustrating thanks to all.

    1. Same story here. DNF tripped up by vocab (RANGELANDS, ENTERON, ERGOT) and an imaginary waterway called a crank which I decided must be the answer to 25ac and which hid EASY from me.

      FOI GANG
      LOI before real life intervened… PARTERRE
      COD ARSENIC for its wonderfully concise def.


  12. Hmm, I was aware of, and have read, Captain Marryat’s book but nho reefer = midshipman. If only he’d called it Mr Reefer Easy..
    No other difficulties .. 23 is just a CD I think. Upper and lower case are so called because of how they were/are stored, so a home for type can be the upper one, or the lower one ..
    “Bolt-hole” sounds a bit odd as a descriptor for a manse.

      1. Which would have spoiled the surface reading of course. ‘Reefer’ for midshipman is pretty obscure but if you allow for that it’s a nice clue.

    1. I don’t think the MANSE is the bolt-hole itself. The clue just says it is “suitable for a bolt-hole”. That is to say a MANSE could be a suitable place for a bolt-hole. I envisage a ‘priest hole’ in a large house. If that is true then maybe the definition underlining in the blog needs to be slightly different.

      I agree with the SANGRIA comments. Maybe the song should have just been about drink.

      My only problem is what is the word “small” doing in 16dn?

      But an enjoyable workout overall, thanks George and setter.

      1. Well, it says “Suitable for a Cleric’s bolt-hole.” But a manse is defined as where a cleric lives, so although I applaud your ingenuity I think it is a stretch to say there are yet other clerics, tucked in the wainscoting somewhere.. after all any house can do that, not just a manse specifically..

        As far as 16dn is concerned, if you delete “small,” the clue surface doesn’t work. You are quite right, but as a paid-up member of the “support your local setter, they have a hard time” brigade, I wouldn’t worry too much. We solved it OK, didn’t we?

        1. ‘Very small’ indicates an abbreviation of ‘very’. No need to make special allowances!

          1. Yes. I was obviously half asleep today and should have just kept my mouth shut. Thanks.

  13. 16’46”, with ENTERON LOI, and EASY with no idea at all.

    I have read many navy stories, all of Hornblower (several times), Aubrey, Ramage and Bolitho, but may have missed the ‘reefer’ bit.

    Thanks george and setter.

    1. On checking, I find some references in the Aubrey books to’reefer’, but I obviously never connected it to ‘midshipman’. Oh well.

  14. The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
    Gang aft agley,
    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
    For promis’d joy!
    (To a Mouse, Burns)

    30 mins pre-brekker with a few on Insect (where ‘worker’ starts to feel a bit of a stretch) and LOI Fossil.
    I bunged in Easy and guessed it was naval jargon. Poor clue.
    Ta setter and G.

  15. 54 mins and a bit of a slog, especially at the end. LOIs were ERGOT (NHO), ENTERON (NHO) STURGEON and finally INSECT.

    I do take issue with SANGRIA though. It is a wine based drink yes, but is no more « wine » than say, Manhattan is a whiskey. My ancient Chambers has it as « sangaree : West Indian drink of wine, diluted, sweetened, spiced etc. »
    Today of course more commonly found in Spain, mixed with lemonade, a small amount of Brandy and fresh fruit. Anyway, I digress….

    I did like the fact that, this time, As did not catch me out! GHERKIN was fun too.

    Thanks g and setter.

    1. I feel your pain .. a shudder went through me as I wrote that answer in. Never been keen on the stuff.
      (And asking Spaniards to add “a small amount” of brandy to anything, is asking too much 🙂

  16. About 20 minutes. Hadn’t heard of ERGOT, ENTERON or PARTERRE, though the cluing was kind for all three. Bunged in EASY from ‘leisurely’ and didn’t think any more about it, and tried to justify ‘foolproof’ for 1a before seeing FIREPROOF. I’ll never hear the word EXTENDERS without thinking of Alan Partridge.

    Straightforward for the most part, but no less enjoyable for that. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Long-ago
    LOI Enteron
    COD Flattered

  17. 14:50
    I was glad to see 25ac wasn’t CANAL; saw FIREPROOF (and ARSENIC) after entry; knew ENTERON only in the plural. EASY wasn’t.

  18. Started with two dumb biffs (17d THESPIAN then 25a CANAL) which put me off-balance, but recovered into a reasonably orderly solve. EASY went in with a shrug, and I finished off with FIREPROOF – FOSSIL – PARTERRE – ROVER, slightly aghast that a clue containing “river” could have a solution so similar. 40:05 – thanks G and setter.

  19. 15:02. I was held up at the end by INSECT (worker – really?) ERGOT, ENTERON and an unparsed FOSSIL I knew of Midshipman Easy, but never connected that to reefer. Rather tenuous, I think. I’m with Rosédeprovence on SANGRIA and didn’t like blt0hole for MANSE either. Hmm. Maybe the milk in my coffee has gone sour. At least the answer to 25A wasn’t canal. Thanks George and Setter.

  20. Made a typing error so no time recorded. It’s that setter again. There’s a challenging and satisfying puzzle in the Grauniad again today.

  21. 21.12, held up by FOSSIL until I saw how the clue was supposed to work, and of course EASY. Does anybody claim to know a reefer is a middy?
    I got INKING first, so was not tempted by CANAL: much more likely a reference in the ST!
    The trouble with MANSES is that everyone knows where to find you, so it makes a very poor bolt hole.
    I remember buying a supermarché plastic vat of wine in my more ignorant days. The only way to drink it was to drown it in orange juice and call it sangria. I can confirm that in at least two respects, that was not wine.

  22. 40:51 here – anything under the big 3Q is good for me, so I’ve earned my muffin.

    13A and 3D were a bit ‘hit and hope’ but the wordplay led me true this time.

    COD to 1D – FOSSIL. I feel seen 🙂

  23. 11:02. I felt reasonably comfortable with EASY on the basis that ‘reefer’ has a nautical meaning (I was thinking mostly of the ship but ‘reef knot’ also occurred to me) so there might plausibly be a link to the midshipman. I was far less comfortable with LOWER CASE, having no idea about the printing origin of the term (see my reply to jackkt above).
    Another moment of alarm considering CANAL, and another MER at ‘wine’.

  24. 34:10 with, like others, a MER at the wine etc. I sort of knew ENTERON was a word and looked it up afterwards and now wish I hadn’t. The alimentary canal, I’m OK with that; esp of an embryo, I’m OK with that too; or of a coelenterate, whoa. A coelenterate has a saclike body with a single opening (mouth). So the ENTERON goes… where? There are two too many canals in this crossword.
    For the nth time I resolved never to be held up again by as = ARSENIC

  25. Another smooth solve for me in 7.20 although I was still a bit scared to try the Keriothe patented method of speed-solving 😉

    I think I’m starting to realise what sorts of crosswords suit me and which ones don’t.

    Putting aside the skills and techniques discussed yesterday around speedsolving online (and thanks again for all the contributions), I break down the art of fast crossword solving into three areas:

    – Synonym recognition
    – Decoding cryptic-ese
    – Knowledge of odd / arcane words such as PALIMPSEST and THIMBLERIGGER

    The first of these can be tested pretty readily by looking at one’s average concise times and my average there is probably closer to 3 minutes than 2 compared to the sub 1.30 of the speedsters so for now, I am going to under-perform relatively in a cryptic that has lots of double definitions or relies heavily on knowing long synonyms as a key part of the wordplay.

    I think if I took the time to try to solve say 3000 of the past concise crosswords in a year, I would improve here but that’s not currently on my to-do list.

    I would say my knowledge of odd words is at par for my level and improves generally over time with practice although I’m still pretty poor on flowers and religious terms

    However, I over-perform relatively with crosswords that are heavy on lots of small bits of wordplay and needing to have that cryptic “code” at one’s fingertips and being used to all the misdirection tricks of the setters – I would put today’s crossword in that category.

    If you look at the list of all the across clues above for example, there is not one long synonym in there, it is all (pretty much) just small bits of wordplay being added together

    I know people don’t seem to like the word ‘wavelength’ but for me it is more about whether a cryptic crossword suits my strengths, or doesn’t, rather than me being “on the setter’s wavelength”

    Interested in other’s thoughts

    1. This is what I mean by ‘wavelength’ when I use the term. It’s often hard to pinpoint why a particular puzzle suits one’s strengths but I’m certainly not referring to some kind of mystical phenomenon.
      I think I’m like you in that when I do attempt the concise my times are usually significantly slower than the real speedsters.

    2. Me, I think it helps to not think of a crossword at all as to whether they suit or not, or are on my wavelength, or whatever. They are there to be conquered, and every time I do so it validates my feeling that I am still functioning .. and the the more difficult, the better … no complaints from me about “difficult” clues, or grids ..

    3. Don’t underestimate the role of typing speed in the Concise crosswords. On average I think every couple of months someone posts a genuine time of under 1 minute (though of course it’s 13×13 rather than the 15×15 for a daily Cryptic). There are a couple of fast Concise solvers who rarely post remarkable Cryptic times so I suspect it’s their typing that is giving them the edge. Knowledge of synonyms is, as you say, a key part of speed solving so it may be worth your while doing the Concise puzzles if you feel that that is a weakness.

      Connected with synonyms is being able to spot what the definition is in a clue. After all, if you can spot what all the definitions are then a Cryptic puzzle is essentially reduced to a Concise one, which is great if your synonym knowledge is extensive.

      Finally, I think pattern matching is a critical skill for speed solving. It’s maybe not such a big deal in the early stages of filling in a grid, where your cold-solving skills are more to the fore, but once you have a good wodge of checking letters then it is extremely helpful to be able to guess at candidate answers that might fit those letters. Certainly if there are multiple checking letters in a light, I’m thinking of words that might fit the checking letters possibly even before I’ve looked at the clue. Near the end of a solve, when much of the grid has been filled in, this skill really shows its worth. I suspect that this is probably my best speed-solving ability (and cold solving my worst) – when it comes to harder puzzles (e.g. Mephisto, Listener, Club Monthly, etc) that contain multiple unknown words that can’t be guessed at by pattern matching, my times are nothing special.

      1. Thanks again for taking the time to give such a considered response – appreciated.

        Take the point re typing speed on the concise, although that’s only costing me 30 seconds tops so taking that into account, I would love to get my synonym recognition to a place where I can complete the concise in under two mins regularly.

        I’ve often thought that the very best solvers can pretty much treat a cryptic, particularly an easy one, as just a concise crossword as they can spot the definition immediately

        Agree on pattern recognition – mine is generally improving over time. I read somewhere of someone actually creating a programme to practise this skill specifically. I think that was in the context of American style crosswords although clearly the skill is just as valid for these

  26. Well a DNF as thought 20a could only be spelled SuSHIMI, and that the clue had an error where Mash should have been Mush. Not so.
    Not sure about the def of 29a EXTENDERs, not in my dictionary. But I do remember descenders from the bad old days of dot matrix printers with/without “true descenders”.

    1. See Collins: ‘the part of certain lower-case letters that extends either above (the ascender) or below (the descender) the body of the letter’.

  27. ERGOT, ENTERON and EXTENDERS deduced from wordplay, EASY from first definition and checkers, and LOWER CASE not quite understood. The NW, where I usually start, yielded only INELEGANT on the first pass. I had more luck in the NE and moved on in a clockwise fashion, finishing with FOSSIL. 19:56. Thanks setter and George.

  28. DNF
    Got nowhere with the INSECT, ERGOT, GANG interchange. Was fixated on rust for the plant disease and was convinced I was trying to write something going northwards in 7d. Outfoxed….again.

    Thanks both.

  29. 33:40. Found it tough to get a toe-hold in this at the beginning and spent a long time on EASY and FOSSIL at the end. I always thought lissom was invariably spelt with an e and although Midshipman Easy is familiar enough, his reefer epithet wasn’t. I assumed it was a reference to some arcane pot-head slang. I couldn’t think of any other synonym for leisurely that fitted the crossers anyway.

  30. All correct with EXTENDERS LOI. Glad that there was only one way to realistically enter the letters with SASHIMI, and a shrug with EASY.
    Enjoyable enough- thanks to blogger and setter.

  31. I don’t think the MANSE is the bolt-hole itself. The clue just says it is “suitable for a bolt-hole”. That is to say a MANSE could be a suitable place for a bolt-hole. I envisage a ‘priest hole’ in a large house. If that is true then maybe the definition underlining in the blog needs to be slightly different.

    I agree with the SANGRIA comments. Maybe the song should have just been about drink.

    My only problem is what is the word “small” doing in 16dn?

    But an enjoyable workout overall, thanks George and setter.

    1. A MANSE is specifically a house for a minister, particularly associated with the Scottish Presbyterian church. It’s extremely unlikely that there would have been a priest hole in one of those!

      1. Great! Thanks for pointing that out. You can see how my ignorance managed to make the clue ‘acceptable’ to me though! I guess I should have checked my definitions before posting but there are other things to do in the day.

        As I keep saying I love these bits of education you get along the way with crosswords and thanks for providing my lesson for today!


  32. 24:01 but…

    …clearly not my day/week/month – four typos in three puzzles over last three days – no excuses as doing puzzles on laptop rather than ‘phone had reduced errors to zero where they had stayed for a couple of weeks. Must try harder…

    As for the puzzle, ERGOT and ENTERON unknowns and though I’ve seen PARTERRE before (here?), it took all checkers and much thought to eke that one out. LOIs were FOSSIL and EASY (as baffled as everyone else and grudgingly accept that this is something to do with reefers being midshipmen)

  33. 10:16, having looked long and hard at EASY – my thoughts being along the lines of “is this really a reference to a book which I (only vaguely) remember from the best part of 50 years ago, and which simply can’t be part of many people’s cultural hinterland now? I can only conclude it is. Well there you go”. I’d have been totally unsurprised to see this in the TLS, or in a daily puzzle in the days when missing words from Shakespearean quotations formed a regular part of the solver’s diet, but my eyebrow raised in more than a minor fashion seeing it here and now…

  34. 21:12
    Some bad E’s ENTERON, ERGOT and EASY. Two were” had to be”s and I’d heard of the book but struggled to make the connection.

    I initially entered CANAL but then thought ” not in The Times”.
    I liked FIREPROOF and my LOI, FOSSIL.
    Local bars are currently selling jugs of SANGRIA very cheaply. Had more than enough of that on Spanish holidays as a teenager.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  35. 34 mins, but a nap extended it somewhat. Nothing to add, except that I was relieved to find that EASY was correct. Another of those curates egg puzzles.

  36. Yes, EASY my LOI thinking it had to be but without knowing why. I discovered SANGRIA wasn’t just wine on my first youthful solo Spanish holiday – I won’t go into the grisly details but a lesson learned! Glad to be all green (I wasn’t so glad in Spain) but a bit of a struggle at times with this one. Thanks both.

  37. 35 minutes, with most of the puzzle being very easy, leaving two sticklers at the end: EASY (which I dared to enter after talking myself into believing that it might be slang for pot somewhere) and INSECT (once I realized that “worker perhaps” might actually be the definition). And I’m glad to see that I was far from being the only person to start with CANAL at 25ac, although as I entered it I thought this can’t really be the answer in the Times! Since N*S* also didn’t seem to fit the leisurely reefer I did eventually correct it.

  38. A lesser-spotted sub-20 for me, although I didn’t parse EASY and somehow missed the parse for RAMSHACKLE, thinking ‘top of shed’ was just S. Nice clear cluing of some new words to me (ERGOT, ENTERON, PARTERRE, although I might have come across the latter before).

    Thanks George & setter.

  39. After the gift of 24d (thanks!) I thought I might let the setter down by not finishing but got there on a second sitting, although as with most I missed the literary reference for EASY. Spare a thought for the poor old eland, not only has it the misfortune to be the tastiest of all the African antelopes it now seems to be regular crossword fodder! Thanks for the blog.

  40. The Rocking Horse Winner – not in this case.
    I spent the entire afternoon looking for a reason for EASY; I had a hunch.
    Jon was skipper, Frances 1st Lieutenant, which made me Midshipman, I suppose. Skipper:”Get a bloody move on putting those reefs in! “.
    Me: “Why?” Skipper: “LOOK ASTERN!” Our nine metre yacht was soon to be under the bows of an, albeit slow moving, cruise liner the size of a New York building. QED I was midshipman and reefer.
    I must have seen the film, starring a very young Hughie Green, much like but not John Howard Davies (Oliver Twist – David Lean, The Rocking Horse Winner- John Mills).
    ‘Midshipman Easy’ also had Roger Livesey (A Matter of Life and Death).
    Using pencil this rocking horse could only manage:

  41. Not so EASY for me. Being stumped initially by 1a, moved on to a certain LONG AGO, but thereafter it was slow going. NHO ENTERON nor RANGELANDS, but the latter helpfully clued; liked GODOT , GHERKIN and ARSENIC, especially the last as THIS time I saw the chemical! FOSSIL and FIREPROOF never entered – gave up the challenge by then.

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