Times Crossword 23987

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 9.38

This all seemed to fall into place fairly easily, with two of the long answers round the border going in right away (1ac and 8d) and the other two yielding without too much struggle once I had a few letters in place. I didn’t actually find this a very interesting puzzle, and so have found rather less to say than I did in my previous blogs. I expect there will be some fast times. I might have been a shade quicker myself if I hadn’t been half-watching a game of poker, though to be honest I’m not sure that deathly silence and total concentration work for me better than a minor distraction (though it would have to be quite minor). Perhaps it’s easier to avoid thinking myself into a pit and getting wrong ideas unshakably entrenched in my mind, if I’m only using around 85% of my concentration, leaving the other 15% more receptive to different ideas. Just a theory,

  (s) TENCH
  CERECLOTH – CE + (chortle)*. A burial cloth dipped in melted wax.
  boo ZERO ddly
  PI(PET)T, E, with “bearing” meaning “direction”. I think a rat would have made for a better surface reading than a gerbil, but although people do keep them as pets I guess they’re too generally unpopular to qualify.
  ST(EW)ING – as so often the partners are, as in bridge, EW or NS.
  EARSHOT – (to share)*
  UNCO (mmon). “Unco” is a Scottish word meaning strange, unusual or remarkable, derived from “uncouth”.
  NAMEPLATE – (panel team)*
  ERA, TO. A rather uninspired treatment, I thought.
  NICKE(LAND)D, IM, E. “thieved” = nicked, “estate” = land and “police at last” = e.
  GO NE(a) R
  EX, H, I, BIT, ION
  TAC, TILE, with TAC being “cat” (Tom) reversed
  H(A RN)ESS, a reference to Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess.
  S, TONEFISH (if hes not)*. Stonefish are vicious poisonous tropical fish that lie on the seabed pretending to be stones.
  THROUGH THE NOSE – a pretty easy clue and the first one I solved.
  PETROLHEAD – (hoped later)*.
  EU, GLEN, A – I was entirely dependent on the wordplay for this one, but there didn’t seem to be any other possibility. Chambers tells me it’s an aquatic unicellular organism of the genus Euglena, with a single flagellum and reddish eye-spots. Hence the reference to 21: it has a flagellum, and so is a flagellate.
  A, MAT, I – everyone’s second favourite violin maker. There was in fact quite a dynasty of violin-making Amatis in Cremona in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  E, PIC

26 comments on “Times Crossword 23987”

  1. I rushed through this in about 12 minutes, on track for a PB, only to get completely stuck on cerecloth which took longer than the whole of the rest of the puzzle. I even got eglena without a problem (like most people, I suspect, I’d never heard of it). Oh well, so close.
  2. 45 minutes for this one with one mistake – I misread the anagrist at 10 and came up with CARTCLOTH.

    This took a long time to come together as I had answers scattered all around with loads of gaps. I guessed EUGLENA and NICKLE-AND-DIME from the wordplay, never having heard of either.

    My COD is undoubtedly 1dn

  3. Had to make similar deductions for the awkward ones as above and finished just inside my average 30mins.
  4. Finished all but 10 and 19d in 20 minutes, then a couple minutes to work out 10, which looked as though it would end in CLOTH, and another 8-10 minutes pondering 19d. Eventually I entered EUGLENA with no confidence at all, so quite pleased to find it’s right. PETROLHEAD was also unfamiliar, but in that case it was much easier to arrive at the answer.
    Incidentally, I thought related clues had to be referred to by digits, not words in The Times. Has that ‘rule’ changed, or was it never a rule anyway?
    Nothing jumped out at me for COD, but there were some decent clues, particularly 1d, 5 and 13.
  5. I went wrong with both CERECLOTH and EUGLENA. I’m not going to beat myself up over either, although I’d seen cerecloth before and should have remembered it. I feel both clues are a bit below the belt and spoil things. The wordplay for 10 really isn’t that clear, since ‘church’ can indicate more than one abreviation. And EUGLENA crosses the line from ‘interestingly unusual’ into the realm of ‘nothing else in the language fits so I’ll have to think of a clue for it’ (not helped for online solvers by the ongoing issue of numeric versus alphabetic rendering of numbers in clues). Still, I’m sure all the freshwater microbiologists out there were thrilled to see it.

    Add to the above some pretty banal clues – KICK, THROUGH THE NOSE, for instance, and the whole thing felt terribly uneven. NO GREAT SHAKES would be kind.

  6. 45 minutes, of which a lot of time was spent on 19d and 13d. The former I still think was pretty tough (I spent too long lobbing the ‘l’ off LEAGUE, when faced with E.G.E.., and trying to work the wordplay from there). The latter is a bit inexplicable – I could see the anagram, just couldn’t get it for the life of me, being a term I’ve not come across before. COD 11ac.
  7. Must be on a pretty decent roll, clocking just over 10 minutes – unexpectedly, like yesterday.
    I agree there were some less than exciting clues (among some very nice ones) but I tend to put this down to the setter encouraging the solver with a few easy ones which, hopefully, crosscheck the more testing. CERECLOTH, EUGLENA and – disappointingly for me – AMATI held me up.

    One quibble was 11 where (although it would have been a give-away) there isn’t a sufficiently strong link to “egg” – there are many types of breakfast and I’d go as far as saying that for the majority of people a hard-boiled egg hardly represents breakfast in toto.

    COD was very nearly 16 but I’d join the chorus of approval for 1D, a very good discovery.

    Q-1 E-6 D-5

    1. Hard-boiled was one of my part-quibbles. In fact, does anyone have breakfast eggs hard-boiled? Fried, poached, scrambled and soft-boiled with soldiers are more your brekky eggs, surely?
      1. Where you’re going, Penfold, just very very runny, and served with lager.
      2. I think the suggestion that breakfast might be hard boiled is a fair enough clue. My only problem was seeing the definition “tough” and thinking of contintental breakfasts where they sometimes serve HARD CHEESE.
  8. 17:05, had to check cerecloth, Amati and euglena. I also read unco as half of uncooked and given the similarity between onco and uncommon I suspect the setter had uncooked in mind.

    Some Brit slang in there might fox Kevin and others like happy bunny and petrolhead and even nickel and dime might cause problems with the “nicked” bit.

    No ticks, QED score 1-5-4. No specific quibbles as such, just a few clues here and there that would have made me suck my teeth, if I did that sort of thing.

    That’s my last puzzle for 2 weeks, off to get sunburned in “Great! Every other chav is on holiday here (7)” with a mankini, a pair of flipflops and a book of Araucaria’s finest.

    Enjoy the Olympics all.

    1. You paint an intriguing image, although with “a mankini, a pair of flipflops and a book of Araucaria’s finest”, I’m not even going to ask where you keep your pen. Have a lovely holiday!
  9. 23 minutes, two phone calls in the middle, CERECLOTH and EUGLENA guesses from wordplay. Quick pop for 2D as COD.
  10. Completed this in 12 minutes only to find that I’d coined a new word – corecloth – I actually swithered between this and cerocloth as I had taken old to represent an ‘o’ in the anagram. Now that I see it cerecloth raises a faint tinkle. Dunces cap for me today.
    After guessing euglena correctly too!
  11. Difficult to whip up too much enthusiasm for this one, what with hard boiled porridge, petrol head and cocaine snorting. This setter leads an interesting life. No great difficulties – about 25 minutes to solve. I think UNCO is “uncommon” because “rare” is “undercooked” not “uncooked” which would be “raw”.
  12. Got through this in an hour, navigating and guessing through the unknowns, and resorting to checking the references on cerecloth and euglena. Also needed to check my on-line British slang dictionary to find the unhappy bunny. Over here we commonly refer to someone unhappy as ‘not a happy camper’, maybe you use that also, but we never mention the bunny. That slang dictionary though, didn’t help for ‘unco’, nor for ‘pom’ for ‘Englishman abroad’ in 15D, which latter I still don’t understand. Like some others I also assumed unco was half of uncooked, but only because I hadn’t thought of ‘uncommon’, which I think fits the meaning better. I did find a google reference to ‘unco’ as Australian slang meaning ‘uncoordinated’, in the sense of clumsy. I also never heard of the tench, but that didn’t hinder solving. My COD choice agrees with gl: 2D, reads very nicely. Best to all, have a nice weekend, and Penfold, you’d better bring the sunscreen if your wardrobe description is true.
    1. Faster than normal at c20mins but two wrong guesses – corecloth for cerecloth (assumed c for church + o for old) and ecglena instead of eugena (ec instead of eu).


  13. I think the idea is more “Englishman as referred to abroad”. It’s what some Australians call us.
    1. When I was in primary school, I was told it meant “Prisoner of her Majesty”, but it was always a nice taunt to the British kids I grew up with. Pom, limey, pommie, and bath-avoider. Being a kid in Australia in the 70s was a great time for racism.
    2. Thanks Jackkt. No wonder it’s not in my British slang dictionary. Maybe I should try to find an Australian one too.
  14. 14:27 for this – mistakenly put OR,RA(re) at 20 – another of those daft Scots words. Made it tough to think of bunny – a shame as the rest was fairly quick.
  15. 4:37, although I had to convince myself that EUGLENA was a word and particularly how it could mean to whip(!)
    I loved the clue to one down and wondered if the setter thought of omitting the first 2 words of the clue 🙂
  16. Got there eventually, although I had never heard the expression “Not a happy bunny” or of Euglena. I had discovered “unco” through using Chambers for Scrabble, although here our children use it (rather unkindly) as an abbreviation for “uncoordinated” (= clumsy).

    8D reminded me of the story of a parent who, when informed by his child’s school that fees would be rising to $X per anum (sic) next year, wrote back to say that he preferred to continue to pay through the nose.

  17. I seem to be the only one delighted with the appearance of Euglena as an example of a Flagellate. I suppose it does help to be a Natural Scientist and to have studied these sort of things. Nice to see all you arts types struggle for a change like we do with all the different obscure measurements of poetry and suchlike. I liked this puzzle a lot – so there!

    Two “easies” left out:

    11a Might breakfast be so tough? (4-6)
    HARD BOILED. I agree with all those who have commented that the usual breakfast options are fried, scrambled, poached or soft-boiled.

    18d Left in wild, seeking rescue (7)
    SA L VAGE. I get rescue = salvage but I don’t know what the “seeking” is doing there except for the surface?

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