Times Crossword 24035

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 16.09

I found this the toughest puzzle for a couple of weeks – since the last one I blogged, actually. And as on that occasion it was difficult to find clues to leave out, so I’ve ended up including almost all of them. The SW corner was the one that gave me nearly all the problems.


  DALLAS – “salad” reversed, with the middle letter doubled to make it extra-hearty.
  WIN(G)S, PAN. I quite enjoyed the golfing surface.
  BULLS EYE. Coming so soon after DALLAS, I started to wonder if we were to have an assassination special here, and went on the alert for grassy knolls at once.
  MEDINA, hidden in faMED IN All parts
  RO(SALINe)D – “saline” is a sort of drip.
  BOY MEETS GIRL – “item” here used in the sense of two people involved in a relationship.
  CINNA,BAR. This was one of the last clues I solved. I had an idea the conspirator would be one of Caesar’s lot and so it turned out: Lucius Cornelius Cinna. Cinnabar is the mineral known as the pigment vermilion, and can also be used as an adjective. I was initially puzzled by BAR = prisoner’s place – I think it must mean in court, “Prisoner at the Bar”.
  AU,GEAN, “Gean” is the European wild cherry tree (never heard of it), “laborious cleaning”, is a reference to the Twelve Labours of Hercules, one of which was to clean the Augean stables in a single day.
  FI(E)ST,A – I made heavy weather of this – just didn’t see “fist” as a possibility for “writing” until I had all the crossing letters.
  PRESTIGE, being (tigers)* inside PE. “Prestige” can be a noun or an adjective, and the old meaning of the word relating to conjuring and illusion was used by Christopher Priest in his terrific (and recently filmed) book “The Prestige”.
  ENVELOPE – OP=work, inside (eleven)*. I gave “Work in eleven parts” a long and not very happy look, thinking no good could possibly come of it. Then suddenly the actual construction came SNAP into my head and I couldn’t believe I’d been trying to make something so complex out of something quite simple.

TUR,EEN – NEE (“originally called”) and RUT, all reversed. This tureen presumably holds soup, hence “holder of first course”. I often overlook the surface reading of clues, which probably makes me a faster solver though a less appreciative one, but even after studying this one for a while I still have no idea what it’s meant to be about.

  A,MUL(L)ET. The hairstyle defined by Chambers as “short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round.”
  S(KED)ADDLE. A ked is a type of wingless fly. It seems to be in the saddle rather than on it, but I suppose the saddle is on the horse and therefore the fly is also.
  WEE FREE. I hadn’t heard of this lot before: a minority branch of the Presbyterians. Clear enough from the word play, though any self-respecting Cockney would surely say US FREE.
  N,ONES – a church service originally held at the ninth hour
  ALBINO,NI. Tomaso Albinoni was a Baroque composer.
  B,OLIVIA,N – the B and N are the middle letters of “noble” and “kings”, and the Countess Olivia appears in Twelfth Night.
  STROP,HE. An ode or stanza sung by a Greek chorus. This was the last clue I solved; I needed every single letter and even then was fiddling about trying to make “scruple” work. I think it’s a tough clue because not only is the word a difficult one, but the “put into” element seems only to be there to mislead. I was certain I was supposed to be putting a man inside a verse to make anger.
  J,ANGLE. “Contention” is not a meaning of “jangle” I was familiar with.
  BE A NO. I was completely stuck with about 5 left to solve in the SW corner, and decided to fetch a drink while thinking about this clue, for which I only had the O (which was trapping me into thinking the party was a DO at the end). The second I left the room the right answer popped into my head. I will be trying this technique again.
  SEE – double meaning, Salisbury being a see as in cathedral city. So the two three-letter words were SEE and SEA. But still no grassy knoll, or even a school book depository. Maybe next time.

34 comments on “Times Crossword 24035”

  1. Toughest of the week, and too tough for me without resorting to solving aids.

    9 Ac bulls eye seemed weak to me, or did I miss it!

    19 Dn Jangle = quarrel is new to me, but is in the dictionaries. Made more difficult by the distinctly different meanings of “be in contention” The most common would be that of being in with a chance. This was the last to go.

    3 Dn Your transatlantic cousins will love.

    4 Dn I contend that a fly that can’t isn’t! Its a tick.

  2. Around 35 minutes and I misspelt ‘cinnabar’. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience of solving this one bit. A dry old puzzle that could have done with a bit of humour. It felt like all grind and no reward, with a few raised eyebrows along the way. One in particular.

    I can see two ways to read the surface of 13d, but one of them strikes me as pretty tasteless, the other thoroughly so. Whether it was the pimp or the hooker who got the beating isn’t really the sort of question I want to be asking myself while solving the Times puzzle. And as for the conjunction of ‘promising’ and ‘streetwalker’… because, of course, it’s such a great, aspirational career. Honestly, that’s just too dimwitted for words. This clue should have been rejected on sight.

    Q-several, E-2, D-9 (but not a good 9)

    1. Oooh.. we do have our prickly coat on. There is no need to invoke insalubriosity (if the word didn’t exist before, it does now. It will be interesting to Google it later.) Lam = beat, plighter = someone making a promise. The lamplighter was a noble profession in the days of gas lighting. (before my time I hasten to add.)
      1. OK. Insalubrity exists, but doesn’t quite carry the nuance I had in mind. I do wait with bated breath for Google proliferation. There was only one instance when I got around to checking. Perhaps I can leave an indelible imprint on the English language. Or perhaps this rather excellent Merlot is leading me up strange pathways. (It is late evening here I hasten to add).
        1. And I hasten to add that I do not use the expression “hasten to add” very often!
      2. Thanks for that deeply patronising response. You’re utterly missing the point. I was commenting on the surface reading, not the cryptic one. Given that most dictionaries define ‘streetwalker’ primarily or only as ‘prostitute working the streets’, it would be disingenuous to suggest that this semantic value isn’t present – it prevades the clue. I wasn’t in the least offended by the clue – just disappointed to see what I regard as an unpleasant and ill-judged innuendo. I fully support racy and near-the-knuckle inclusions in the puzzle and generally enjoy them. But they need to be handled with wit and intelligence. This was just an ugly sentiment which can’t be passed over on the grounds that “that wasn’t what it really meant”. Like all utterances, it means what it says.
    2. I think you’re being a bit hard Sotira on both lamplighters and the setter. I well remember the old lamplighter doing his rounds every dusk and dawn (to switch the gas off again) and he was seen as a valued public servant. The clue is surely one of the more straightforward in this difficult puzzle.
      1. Thank you, jimbo, for making your point without resorting to brickbats. But otherwise my response is as to rosselliot. It’s the surface reading which I feel doesn’t belong in the Times puzzle (or any puzzle, for that matter). The standing of lamplighters is neither here nor there. For a setter to pull off something like that, the clue had better be a belter, and this really wasn’t. I’m happy to differ with those who feel it’s fine, but I value the Times puzzle too highly not to comment if I feel it has gone awry, even if momentarily. I’m not really criticising the setter at all. They’re bound to create inadvertent readings and hostages to fortune at times. I feel it’s for the editor to pick up on things like this and say ‘Would you mind, old chap, trying another tack for this one?’
        1. Point well made and taken on board. You may have already guessed that the current crossword editor isn’t my favourite person because I sense he is presiding over a slow decline in standards. I’ll add this clue to his list of transgressions.
  3. I was doing this without aids and gave up halfway through. Too obscure, and even when I could guess (correctly as it turned out) at an answer I couldn’t always make sense of it (BULLS EYE and WEE FREE). Like Sotira, I did not think this was fun.

    The only amusement came from looking up Wee Free in Wikipedia afterwards. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (the Wee Wee Frees) is apparently not to be confused with the Church of Scotland (the Wee Frees). It all sounds like Life of Brian.

  4. Tried this late last night – not a good idea, and took a dreadful 32 minutes. I thought my worst performance was on BOY MEETS GIRL. Also slow on BULLS EYE, DALLAS (wasted time trying to make Naples fit wordplay), SKEDADDLE, ROSALIND (despite seeing saline early on) – too wedded to pole = North/South, FIESTA, even corny old ‘BE A NO’, BOLIVIAN and others.
  5. 19:09 for me. After about 5 minutes I had all of the right hand side except TUREEN, and nothing at all on the left hand side except the beginning of 14A. And it was the top left corner that took longest. All good and fair clues. Though I can’t work out if 9 (BULL’S EYE) is an especially clever or an especially weak cryptic definition. That probably means it is clever.
  6. I struggled with this and after an hour had managed to complete most of it before resorting to solving aids. The clues I totally failed on were CINNEBAR, FIESTa (still can’t quite see writing = fist), BEANO and AUGEAN (never heard of GEAN). I remember the days of gas street lighting so LAMPLIGHTER came easily and the alternative surface reading never occurred to me.

    My first word in was SEE. 8 minutes later I spotted PRESTIGE then another 8 minutes until ALBINONI. I felt like giving up by then but things picked up for a while before I ground to a halt the next time. I took absolutely no pleasure from solving any of this. An utterly humourless slog.

    1. Fist is just informal for handwriting, though I can’t recall seeing it used this way outside xwds.
      1. This is so long after its date you’ll probably never read it, but for what it’s worth — I have run across “fist” for handwriting outside of puzzles. I associate it with the likes of, or at least the period of, Lord Peter Wimsey.


  7. I was interrupted 3 times whilst doing this, which was particularly galling as I found it tough but for the most part fair. I would guess about 40 minutes to solve.

    I can’t see a clever angle to 9A so until somebody enlightens us I’ll say its weak. I don’t remember coming across “ked” before, which is surprising. Chambers defines it as “a wingless fly” – an odd creature! I agree with Sabine, a cockney would not say “we free” – “us free” every time.

    On the plus side MEDINA is beautifully hidden and “a number of bonds” is very good for TRIVALENT. I too can’t imagine what oveseas solves will make of LOLLIPOP,MAN.

    1. Just realised this is my second reference to Hoagy Carmichael in two consecutive days. Must get out more.
  8. I was pleased that others found this difficult. i found it impossibly hard…wee free? Cinnabar-dont agree with the bar part…there were some great clues like envelope and dallas..and medina and bolivian…just too tough for me at the end of the week…defeated me…
  9. Worst ever. 11 answers in after 30 minutes and gave up thoroughly bored and dejected. Can’t even be bothered looking at the answers
  10. This was tough and my time of about 23 minutes felt longer. I think my struggle centred on occasionally misleading tenses as at e.g. 16D, where “broke” wrong-footed me (as a setter I’m used to breaks/breaking). Similar story at 8D. The ostensibly simple anagram at 14A also held me up as “of … writing” doesn’t feel much like an anagrind.

    Like others I’d not heard of KED but the checkers made it the inevitable answer and I’ve learned a new word.

    Perhaps Sotira is being slightly harsh re 13D. In all honesty I saw three different readings; beat = do better than, beat a person who has promised… – and the third which is, I agree, unfortunate, but I’m not going to assume the setter hoped it would be read that way.

    Despite the past tense usage I ticked 16D as a COD candidate but settled in the end for 5A WINGSPAN. It’s slightly clumsy in appearance but the golfing theme is cleverly maintained.

    Q-1 E-7 D-9 COD 5A

    Quibble – no single clue, just a general feeling that one or two clues weren’t absolutely tight in terms of technique.

  11. For 9A my trusty Chambers gives Bull’s-eye = the centre of a target; a shot that hits it. I think the compiler was trying to include both these meanings in the clue. Hmmm.
  12. After doing well on the last two days I came to a grinding halt here. Eventually got jangle, strophe, bolivian, etc but putting in eagle eye at 9 prevented me seeing the obvious mullet and despite having considered salad reversed I couldn’t see Dallas!!!
    To top it all I had Albanina not Albinoni.
    30+ minutes with 2 blank and 2 wrong.
    Some good clues but not sure about 9 (maybe that’s just sour grapes)
  13. Can ANYONE explain this one? I veered towards EAGLE EYE and then couldn’t get AMULET. I never understand how and why people who do crosswords are expected to know about MULLETS. How many crossword solvers have ever had one?

    And talking of AMULET… I’d have prefered the clue to read “a charm” not “charming”. I was not looking for a noun….

  14. Agree with most of what’s been said. At one point I resolved to push on but eventually decided enough was enough with 8 missing as it was in no way enjoyable.

    Bulls eye was just rubbish, augean bang out of order for being obscure in both def and wordplay element, and as for 18, well… how does strop = anger? To strop is to be angry, a strop is a bout of anger, but anger = strop? no way. And how exactly is “put into” supposed to work then? If you must include a poncey word like strophe, at least make the bloody SI unambiguous.

    Q-3, E-0, D-11

  15. Well, the Guardian took all day but I finished it. This did too (simultaneously), but I gave up with Dallas, Cinnabar and Strophe empty.

    I have a mild resignation at clues where I know neither definition nor wordplay – mild because my vocabulary is comparatively limited and it happens quite often. Cinnabar and Augean fall comfortably into this category, but at least I could look up aug…

  16. Bugger… I was about to feel good about not giving up on this one – started it late last night, and decided it was definitely a “sleep-on-it”, puzzle – we have 3Ds in Australia, so that didn’t stump me, but most of the right hand side did.

    Really busy day, a quick peek of things during a break netted TRIVALENT which I should have gotten faster, STROPHE (which I remember being used to hilarious extents in “Giles Goat Boy” by John Barth), and without knowing wordplay, CINNABAR (sometimes that degree in Inorganic Chemistry comes in handy).

    Back home from work, a last chance peek and I’m filled in except for 5D, with WEE ?R?E… I thought
    WEE TREE sounded more like a religious group and hoped that London was an outer suburb of Cork.

    Bugger (even more so since I’ve written this long comment so late at night nobody will read it).

      1. Thanks – wasn’t sure if anyone was going to be checking in this late.
        The compiler may be a chemist, it was a pretty sciency puzzle
        1. I’m reading it on Saturday George. Was interested to see your take on this puzzle, which caused a lot “too tough for me” and “couldn’t be bothered” type of comment. I was certain you wouldn’t give up but thought 3D might give you a headache! Not that surprised you had to guess at WEE FREE, it was a pretty lousy clue.
  17. Sorry to be late, too much work due to collapsing economy over here. Stumped today by DALLAS, STROPHE, BEANO. Eventually had gotten the rest, including LOLLIPOP MAN (!?!). Wow, very tough.
  18. Oddly enough those Pearly Kings from Leyton are not in todays omitted work:

    14a Edition of most talented writing (3,9)
    OLD TESTAMENT. Anagram of (most talented).

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