Times Cryptic 26096

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Blogger’s nerves set in as soon as I noticed that yet again I had landed a grid with no 3- or 4-letter words, so I took a moment or two to get started. My first one in was 1dn which actually I didn’t know as an American bird but the wordplay was pretty clear. After that progress was steady and I completed it without resort to aids in 40 minutes. I noted two or three outstanding clues and lots of enjoyable references.

{deletions} [indicators]


1 PLACE MAT – Anagram [on the loose] of CAMEL inside PAT (butter). A touch of DBE here though I suppose ‘pat’ is most commonly used in this sense with reference to butter…or dung!
5 ABOARD – BOAR (pig that mates) inside AD (notice)
10 OLD FATHER THAMES – Anagram [in new arrangement] of FOR HAMLETS DEATH. Definition: flower personified. When this came up last December I posted a link to Peter Dawson’s famous recording of the song. Here’s a lesser known version from 1933 by Bob and Alf Pearson: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/bob-alf-pearson
11 BABYLON – BABY (particular responsibility), L (Liberal), ON (acceptable)
12 RAMADAN – A{r}MADA (Spanish fleet – runs away) inside RN (British ships – Royal Navy). Definition: fast. A brilliant clue in my view.
13 BRIDGING – B (book), RID (free), GIN (spirit), G (good)
15 AFOOT – A, FOOT (Labour leader of old). Michael Foot, who held this office from 1980 to 1983 and was roundly criticised for allegedly wearing a donkey-jacket at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. His period as leader has been referred to a lot since last Thursday, but let’s not go there!
18 ERNST – TERNS (birds) with T moved to the end. Max Ernst, painter, 1891-1976.
20 FLETCHER – Two definitions, with reference to Fletcher Christian who led the Mutiny on the Bounty, and to the traditional craft of arrow-making.
23 RICOTTA – I (one) + CO (firm) inside anagram [crumbly] of TART
25 SINATRA – SIN (wrong), A, ART (skill) reversed. Frank came up only yesterday in the Quick Cryptic.
26 FAIR MAID OF PERTH – I had no idea who Catherine Glover was but I managed to biff the answer from ‘Australian blonde’ with assistance from the enumeration and one checker. I also couldn’t remember where the expression came from but was later reminded it’s the title of a novel by Sir Walter Scott, and Catherine, it turns out, is its heroine.
27 TRENCH – R (river) inside TENCH (swimmer)
28 GERSHWIN – Anagram [composed] of SWING HE R{avel}. The definition is &lit. Another really excellent clue.

1 PHOEBE – PH (Public House – as used on O.S. maps), O{p}E{n} B{e}E{r}. I didn’t know this bird.
2 ALDEBARAN – ALAN (Ayckbourn) encloses DEBAR (black – in the sense of boycotting something or someone). I rarely remember stars and other celestial bodies so I was pleased the wordplay was clear on this one. Sir Alan is still alive so we have an exception to the usual weekday rules here.
3 EMAILED – LIAM (Irishman) inside DEE (river), all reversed
4 ASHEN – AS (like), HEN (female)
6 BOHEMIA – HEMI (half) inside BOA (snake)
7 ARMED – Hidden in {Akht}AR MED{iates}
8 DISUNITE – SUN (newspaper) + IT (appeal) inside DIE (decline). Definition: part
9 PROROGUE – ‘Start of play’ is ‘prologue’ which includes two sides R (right) and L (left). The second of these changes to R to produce a word meaning ‘suspend’. There’s surely a simpler way of explaining all this!
14 INFRA DIG – IN, FR (French), A, DIG (barbed comment)
16 OVERTHROW – {l}OVER (sweetheart – topless), THROW (shy). Definition: extra – a run in cricket. On edit: There’s a discussion about cricket terminology below if you want to join in. I know very little about the game so the clue worked for me even if it’s not strictly correct.
17 RETROFIT – {leve}R, FORTE (bent – an aptitude for something) reversed, IT
19 TOTEMIC – Anagram [esoteric] of OCTET enclosing MI (note)
21 CANAPES – CAN (tin), anagram [mushy] of PEAS
22 NATHAN – TAN (beat) reversed, HAN (Chinese people). Lesser known than many of the biblical prophets, perhaps because he doesn’t have his own book.
24 CHIME – HIM (that man) inside CE (church)
25 STOLE – T (time) inside SOLE (exclusive)

58 comments on “Times Cryptic 26096”

  1. … with much to enjoy. I too was surprised to find a living person (2dn), and also to find A clued as “one” (14dn). Seems the usual conventions are being slightly relaxed. Not that that bothers me a jot.

    My only slight gripe is with “hint” for “first letter of” (28ac) — which I’ve been told (by Jimbo?) is conventional in the Mephisto etc. Still, the reminder of Gershwin’s famous meeting with Ravel was most welcome.

    Fiendish wordplay for PROROGUE and RETROFIT — my last two in despite biffing them but not being able to parse right away. Best laff of the day, somewhat obviously given my location, was 26ac.

    Slight correction (12ac): only the one R (runs) in ARMADA.

    Edited at 2015-05-12 02:24 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks, 12ac duly amended. Does a/one not come up regularly? It never occurred to me that it might not. ‘Hint’ indicating a first letter seemed conventional too; I think we had ‘touch of’ very recently, or something similar which seemed more of a stretch at the time.
      1. I was told very firmly a few weeks ago, when I misparsed a clue with the A/1 substitution that it never ever occurs in the Times. I duly stand discorrected.
          1. There was indeed. The puzzle was 11/12/14 25967, the clue was
            10 People were killed, not one cured
            and the answer was MENDED, definition cured.
            I parsed it as: DEAD without the internal A, deleted by the phrase “not one”
            Janie intervened with: I had MEN+D(I)ED. Can ‘were killed’ = both dead and died?
            …and Ulaca concurred with: Well spotted. I think it was Zed’s deliberate mistake, as the Times daily cryptic does not allow A for one.

            Now you know how long I’ve been waiting for my hurt pride to be soothed. I could also reveal how long it took to chase down that entry – try looking for “A” or “1” or “one” We do the research so you don’t have to.

    2. It seems incomplete not to say how that meeting supposedly went:

      “Ravel met Gershwin in New York during Ravel’s tour of the United States. In that meeting, Gershwin asked Ravel to be his teacher, to which Ravel responded that it was better to be a first-rate Gershwin than a second-rate Ravel.” [Wikipedia]

  2. Thank you for the blog, Jack. I needed a couple of the unravellings. A very nice puzzle, wasn’t it? Clever, challenging, and fair. I particularly liked overthrow.
  3. 36 minutes finishing with AFOOT, a propos which, at least the queen mum liked the green jacket – allegedly.

    PHOEBE took me an age, as I was expecting a bird ending in -ER. DISUNITE also held me up on account of the odd rendering of the literal, with the introductory preposition serving no obvious purpose besides helping the surface make more sense.

    NATHAN doesn’t really need his own book when he has an anthem devoted to him which is played every time a new monarch is crowned in the Abbey.

    Edited at 2015-05-12 02:50 am (UTC)

      1. It’s a staple for choral societies up and down the country – and in overseas “possessions” – or ex ones!
  4. The thing that struck me when I moved to Perth 28 years ago was the number of fair maidens, but I never met one named Catharine Glover.

    Also didn’t know NATHAN as a prophet (thought it was the kid across the road), and managed to convince myself that there was a British politician called FLOOD (of old)*.

    Not a great week for me so far, but one thing I do know is that an overthrow is not an extra.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    1. I too had a query about OVERTHROW. It may be “extra” in one sense, but not an extra in any official sense. What’s on the official list? I can only think of byes, leg byes, wides and no balls. As a slightly too quick left-arm leg spinner, I think I was only ever guilty of the first two.

      Edited at 2015-05-12 04:38 am (UTC)

        1. They knocked left-handed writing out of me in primary school in the 50s — with a steel ruler! I still have the scars. But it didn’t stop me when bowling (very useful for the school team) or playing the guitar (no use to anyone at all).
    2. I think the intended sense of ‘extra’ is additional run(s) rather than an extra or sundry, viz. bye, leg bye etc.
      1. Then the definition doesn’t work. The clue doesn’t say “extra run”, it says “extra”.

        I can’t think of a sentence where extra can be substituted for overthrow, without extending the cricketing meaning of extras to include overthrows. Which it doesn’t.

        1. I agree. The scorer makes a separate note of real extras and they appear on their own line on a scorecard. Overthrows are credited as runs to the batsman
          1. Runs from an overthrow will not be credited to the batsman (striker) if they occur off a wide, bye or leg bye, or a no ball which is not struck with the bat.
  5. 22:11 .. I got a bit stuck on AFOOT / DISUNITE, and the crossing letters for BABYLON looked so unlikely that I started checking for mistakes. These and a few other penny-drop moments made this a very enjoyable solve.

    Good point, Jackkt, about the not-deadness of Alan Ayckbourn. Didn’t register at the time. New policy? I hope not.

    I’m sure galspray is right about the OVERTHROW. Shocking. I blame the ECB.

  6. A par-for-me 30 minutes. Nice puzzle.
    Strangely, I put BABYLON in for 6d before I was disabused of that idea, then lo and behold it turned up in 11a. It must be the morphic resonances.
    1. Probably something to do with being a 7-letter old-place word beginning with B, but I prefer your explanation, especially as I have no idea what it means.
  7. …and that it had “..devoured ‘by'” in it, but what “BALON” was rather defeated me.

    Morphic resonance is the theory of “the basis of memory in nature…the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species”.
    What this means of course is that the more people solve this puzzle, the more the answers are in the telepathic memory, so I was more attuned to picking up the word BABYLON from the ether because people like you, Jimbo, Sotira et al had already solved it!
    I also have this bottle of snake oil which I’m told will cure everything.

    1. I just want a bottle of something which will help me remember tomorrow what my wife told me yesterday.
    2. ‘Morphic resonance’! I love it. My dear old Dad used to have us kids in fits when he told us how he limited his ‘thinking time’ when he was working on a new break-through mathematical theory. He always maintained that this existed in academic circles (and others, I guess). Now I realise he was not alone in his thinking.
  8. Internet problems this morning – having trouble accessing the site

    Very good puzzle that was a pleasure to solve. I agree with Jack that ARMADA is excellent but how can the same setter produce 26A – a rather weak effort I thought

  9. 26.44, so definitely on the chewy side, though 4 clues accounted for about half that time on their own:
    PHOEBE not known as a bird, and assuming the “open” just gave the O and wondering where the other letter came from
    BABYLON (daddy, what’s a Liberal?), it being easy to go from BABY to “particular responsibility” but not the other way round. By the by, should London be worried now it’s got the Shard?
    DISUNITE trying to fit in the FT. Got the answer several times before I spotted that it was right. Is the Sun a newspaper?
    AFOOT Should have just thought about former Labour leaders rather than treating each word as a bit of crossword code. Couldn’t fit in esse for old being, for example.
    Did get a bit MCC-choking-in-the-G&T about OVERTHROW. Dammit man, we all know buzzers ain’t extras.
    I quite liked F M O P, even if I didn’t know she was the Glover girl.
    Can’t believe I forgot flower=river.
    And finally, to my fellow choristers, isn’t there a version of Zadok that starts “Zadok the priest threw up on the carpet…”? Can’t find it in internet land. Maybe it’s time we put it there.

    Edited at 2015-05-12 09:00 am (UTC)

    1. Barker (skiving in the sick bay) to Godber: ‘Get me the Sun, would you? Oh, yeah, and something to read.’

  10. All done and dusted in about an hour. Like Galspray, I toyed with PM Flood for a while. PROROGUE (unknown) was my LOI by quite a long way. ALDEBARAN and INFRA DIG both dredged up from past crossies. Never seem to appear in ‘real life’ …
    1. Turns up often enough (usually supplying whiskey) in Star Trek. Don’t tell me that’s not real life.
    2. I knew PROROGUE was familiar. But I had to eliminate “Me gotta go pole the prorogue down the bayou” before I correctly identified it.

      As I said, not having a great week.

  11. Incidentally, isn’t Zadok just the most fabulous thing to sing? That long wind up released in an explosion of top of the stave singing.
    1. Yes it’s a doozy to sing. Do you know if they changed the words from king to queen for ERII’s coronation? Unfortunately the only thing I remember about the occasion is a man fainting on the tube when we were on the way home from watching the procession. I do have a humble bench from it because a great aunt was a Wren officer who was in the abbey. One of the vergers told her to keep it. It was made from a wooden fruit crate covered in blue velvet!
      1. “… anointed Solomon queen”? Nah! Doesn’t work for me. 😉

        “May the queen reign for ever” doesn’t sound familiar, so I’ve a feeling they stuck with “king” all the way through, but I could be wrong.

        PS: YouTube appears to confirm it – though I suppose they could have dubbed in a different soundtrack.

        Edited at 2015-05-12 10:30 pm (UTC)

  12. I love a man that goes down swinging U. Are you sure you’re not Australian?
  13. Excellent puzzle which I failed on with the 15ac & 8dn pair (bunged in ALOOF and DISUNIFY without being able to parse either)

    Am I alone in thinking 20ac was outstanding?

    Sorry Ulaca, but I reckon 16dn is just plain wrong

    1. Which probably needs to be on the lookout for phoebe, a N American flycatcher of the genus Sayornis. (Chambers)
  14. I thought I was heading for a little over 30 minutes, but the NE corner slowed me right down, particularly 5, 6, 8 and 15. Limped home in 43 minutes in the end. Excellent variety of clues.

    Some time ago I was told by a Times specialist that devices like ‘hint of X’ for the initial letter of X was never used in the Times, though it’s common enough in barred cryptics. I cannot remember who, but it might have been one of the judges in the Times clue-writing competition Obviously the rules have changed since then.

    1. The Times crossword has gone downhill rapidly in the past year or so, with today a microcosm of its decline:
      1. A for one/one for a
      2. “a hint of” as initial letter
      3. Live people.
      It’s becoming more like the Guardian every day – and I mean that as the worst sort of insult.
      Maybe just grumpy… baby as particular responsibility? Overthrow as extra? Some B*** I’d never heard of – vaguely guessed he was a Roger, “The murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie. Some good clues as per Times norm, but some absolute abominations amongst them.

      Sack the Editor!
      Rob DNF

  15. 11 mins. I had to go out this morning so I solved this much later than usual after a post-lunch bit of shut-eye. Maybe I should do that more often. Having said that, it certainly didn’t seem like plain sailing. DISUNITE was my LOI and it took me a while to sort out the wordplay. RETROFIT and PROROGUE were both biffed but I did manage to parse them post-solve. I also biffed RAMADAN but forgot to go back and parse it, which is a shame because it is an excellent clue. PHOEBE and FAIR MAID OF PERTH both went in from wordplay. Finally, I agree with those of you who are of the opinion that an OVERTHROW is not an extra.
  16. An enjoyable 25 mins with a couple at the end mulling over my LOI which was AFOOT (so obvious when you see it). DNK PHOEBE and agree with the consensus on OVERTHROW.
  17. 40 minutes or so, sleepy and thick after a tiring game of golf in 30 degrees on a hilly course; maybe it would have been half that time if the lights upstairs were fully on. Nevertheless an enjoyable test, some great clues, although (like other cricket fans above) baffled by OVERTHROW = extra.
  18. About 25 minutes for a very nice puzzle, although my lack of UK-specific knowledge made the parsings of ALDEBARAN and AFOOT beyond me. The F M O P seemed apparent after a few checkers, but Catharine’s identity remained unknown until my curiosity led me to Wikipedia and I glanced through the first several paragraphs of the plot summary. After the mention of dozens of different characters and bizarre twists I could take no more. OVERTHROW, of course, from clear wordplay only, and I can add absolutely nothing to the discussion as to whether it’s correct. Regards to all.
    1. As someone who’s read a handful of Scott and critiques of Scott, not least by one of his greatest fans (and critics) CS Lewis, The Antiquary stands out from the rest for its structure, story-line and discipline.
  19. But that’s not the argument here. An overthrow is not automatically an extra.
  20. To quote from above: “Runs from an overthrow will not be credited to the batsman (striker) if they occur off a wide, bye or leg bye, or a no ball”. Now, you see, that’s precisely the problem with cricket; someone has simply been taken drunk and come up with a bunch of phrases which, with the exception of the word “ball”, are clearly just strung together from random words. Much the same can be said of salmon-breeding and of sailing, both of which have their own perverse private languages (“Splice the dog-warp, shorten the topsheet mizzen-hawser, and bring ‘er about sou-sou-east by the stern – there’s a dandy shoal of smolts off the for’rd starbeam!”). Why people can’t just use straightforward Latin like we medics is utterly beyond me.

    However, I did finally get OVERTHROW despite the obfuscation, since nothing else fit. The FAIR MAID OF PERTH was equally surprising but inevitable from the checkers and wordplay. Nor had I heard of Max ERNST (I’m sure it’s mutual) – the only ERNST that sprung to mind was Ernst Mach, one of the most brilliant physicists of the 19th and 20th centuries, despite the fact that he dabbled in philosophy.

    Come to think of it, there were plenty more that I didn’t know, including PHOEBE (I attributed the “O” to “open”, leaving me an E short), NATHAN (I almost had MALHAN, but decided that it must be ‘good old reliable Nathan’) and PROROGUE (I knew the L had to change, but wasn’t sure it had to change to another ‘side’).

    So, all in all I consider myself lucky to have finished this one in 37 minutes. If I hadn’t, I expect I’d be grumbling about the obscurity of some of the answers, but the wordplay was generally clear enough to help out even an ignoramus like me.

    My COD was either ABOARD or ALDEBARAN.

  21. I think I’ll weigh in with my two penn’orth – as a cricket fan I see nothing wrong with a cryptic clue defining an overthrow as an extra!

    We blithely allow rivers to be defined as bankers and flowers, the sun as a setter etc etc…it’s supposed to be misleading! I’m pretty sure the setter and editor know enough about cricket – there’s at least one reference in nearly every puzzle.

    Anyway, an enjoyable solve while waiting for a Full English in a caff round the corner from the station (I missed my train because of the damn roadworks and had an hour to kill, but only needed about 12 minutes for this). The Guardian put up more of a fight but was less satisfying.

  22. 10:18 here for a very fine puzzle with lots of subtle wording in its clues.

    L2I were DISUNITE and AFOOT (which didn’t spring to mind from the unfamiliar definition, which I assume is “being prepared” – and annoyingly FOOT didn’t come to mind as a labour leader, perhaps because he never made it to PM).

    Pace linxit, I’m with those who aren’t too keen on OVERTHROW clued as “extra”.

  23. Did it in about 20 mins. Not all that keen on the rule-bending bits (Ayckbourn; hint of; OVERTHROW) and had never heard of Catharine or Nathan, but still enjoyed it.
  24. Very surprised that two matters weren’t raised: firstly there were many comments about Alan A. being alive but surely it’s only the answers that must not be living people. Surely there have been many references to the living in the clues?
    Secondly, the reason that the uninitiated find this crossword difficult is that they don’t know what the question is and I thought the – absolutely rigid – convention here was that the answer sought was the first word or phrase or the last word or phrase. However in 28a, both the first and last words were part of the anagrind with the answer sought in between. Isn’t this breaking the rules?
    1. Thanks for your contribution, Sean, although coming to the party so long after the event I’m afraid I’m the only person likely to see it because, as blogger of the day, I get an email from Digital Spy advising that someone has added a comment to a blog that I originated.

      The Times convention is that living people other than HMQ are not named either in clues or in answers although following the abandonment of this practice in the Sunday Times under its current editor it seems that the daily paper is prepared to break with convention on occasion, as in this puzzle. It is still unusual enough to elicit comments though.

      I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean by not knowing what the question is, but 28a is an example of what has become known as an “&lit” clue, standing for “and literally so”. In these the definition is the whole clue so the “rule” about first and last words or phrases does not apply.

      Edited at 2015-06-12 07:15 am (UTC)

      1. Surprised and delighted to receive a response jackkt. I’ve only ever once before posted a response on this site (to a comment that Olivia had made), didn’t expect a response after the extensive time delay (time delay – how’s that for a pleonasm?), and didn’t get one. The reason for the big delay is that, although English-born and educated, I have lived in Oz since 1969 and I do the puzzle daily in the Times sister-publication The Australian newspaper where it appears 5-6 weeks after its original publication. I only discovered this blog relatively recently.
        Thank you for clearing up the matter of the non-reference to living persons in the clues. That really surprises me but it’s obviously just a false impression that I’d formed and I certainly can’t cite an actual example.
        I’m even more surprised that you don’t understand what I mean by not knowing what the question is because that surely is, if not the essence of the cryptic puzzle (as opposed to the straight synonym type), surely the initial problem posed. Take 1a, for example: ‘Camel on the loose tucks into butter that sits on table’. If you showed that to someone who had never seen a cryptic crossword before they would, surely, say ‘What on earth are they asking, what are they looking for – the name of a type of camel or a runaway camel? What?’ In fact, we regulars (sooner or later) conclude that what is being sought is something ‘that sits on table’.
        I have learnt from this blog what an ‘&lit’ clue is but didn’t see this as one. I saw the ‘sits on table’ element here as ‘he composed’ which is why I thought it broke the rule of the question being in the first or last word or phrase. I shall defer to your better judgement.
        Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to me; as I said, a total, but very welcome, surprise.
        1. Thanks for this and for expanding on your previous comments. On the Gershwin clue, ‘he composed’ isn’t good enough as the definition because ‘HE’ is required as part of the anagram material (anagrist, as we tend to call it) so it would be doing double duty which is something to be avoided Times crosswords. The only explanation that meets the rules and conventions is the &lit route whereby the whole clue is the definition so double duty doesn’t count.

          There’s a posting above by Sotira (When Maurice met George) that explains the relevance of the reference to Ravel that supplies the missing R; of course it’s not necessary to know about this but it’s a delicious point of detail if one happens to do so and makes for a very fine clue in my opinion.

          All these rules and conventions do get broken on occasion but will usually get picked up here pretty quickly.

          1. Thanks, and thank you above all for being polite enough not to ask why, if I never expected to get a response, I bothered posting several weeks after the publication of the puzzle!

Comments are closed.