Times Cryptic 26108

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Once again I thought I was in for a tricky solve as I read through many a clue before finding an answer that leapt to mind at 5dn, but as I progressed it came together very nicely and I completed the grid in 40 minutes. I don’t seem to have a lot to say today so I won’t waste time saying it.

{deletions}, [indicators] and definitions – where indicated


1 SUBTERRANEAN – ERRAN{d} (mission) inside ET+BUS (alien + vehicle – reversed), then A, N (new)
9 POSER – Double definition
10 PLANT LICE – PLAN (system), T (tons), L (left), ICE (freeze). I didn’t know this species.
11 INDUSTRY – {b}IND (difficulty), US (American), TRY (endeavour)
12 APACHE – PA (old man) reversed, ACHE (long)
13 MUTE SWAN – SET+UM (group + hesitant utterance) reversed, WAN (looking sickly)
15 ASCEND – AS (when), C (clubs), END (close)
17 DREAMY – AM (before noon) inside DREY (nest – that of a squirrel)
18 INVOICES – CE (church) inside anagram [changed] of VISION,
20 TWO-WAY – WOW (success) inside TAY (river)
21 MICAWBER – MI (note), then W (wife) inside CABER (pole tossed). Definition: Hired clerk. Wilkins Micawber is employed by Uriah Heep in Dickens’ David Copperfield.
24 CANDIDATE – CA (about), anagram [nuts] of DIET AND
25 TINGE – TIN (element), GE (germanium)
26 CONCERT PITCH – CON (cheat), CERT (sure to win), P (power), ITCH (yearning). In addition to its literal meaning in music this can be used figuratively (as here) to mean a heightened state of readiness.


1 SOPHISM – OP (work) inside S{c}HISM (separation)
2 BESIDE THE POINT – SIDE (aspect) inside BET (opinion), anagram [demolished] of PITH ONE
3 EARNS – EAR (attention), N/S (non-smoking -as used in personal ads)
4 RIPARIAN – I{nvestigation} + PARI{s} (capital) inside RAN (hastened). Definition: of bank, with reference to rivers and streams.
5 NEAT – {i}N{t}E{r}A{c}T
6 ANTIPASTO – ANTI (opponent), PAST (finished), O (old)
7 KITCHEN CABINET – Anagram [crooked] of CHECK BAIT IN, then NET (trap)
8 BEHELD – HE+L (man + left) inside BED (layer)
14 SIMPATICO – IMP (spirit) inside anagram [funny] of CAST I, then 0 (love)
16 ENGINEER – GIN (spirit) inside {v}ENEER (pretence)
17 DETACH – C (cape) inside HATED (disliked) reversed
19 SCREECH – SCREE (rock), CH (companion – of honour)
22 ACT UP – A, CT (court), UP (in front of a judge)
23 TALC – A (area) inside TLC (sympathetic treatment – Tender Loving Care)

45 comments on “Times Cryptic 26108”

  1. … to report. Found this somewhat bland. Highlights were the S{c}HISM in 1dn; an interesting word with a Wyclif connection. And the appearance of Keef’s famous ’53 (?) Tele at 21ac; given to him by Clapton when he (KR) was 27 and kept in 5-string open-G tuning (G D G B D). Now looking about as battered as he does.

    I keep mine in much better condition. But then, I don’t do stadium gigs any longer.

    Edited at 2015-05-26 06:38 am (UTC)

  2. A game of two halves for me, one of those ones where one steams through much of the grid and then spends the other half of the time staring blankly at a few hold-outs. The unfamiliar PLANT LICE my LOI I think, not at all helped by the fact that I was looking in vain for a term for “freeze” with ANTS in the middle. 14:20 by the clock.
  3. This wasn’t as hard as it appeared on the first run through, when only POSER and CONCERT PITCH went in. It was then a steady solve working onward and upward. I thought SCREECH the best of not a bad lot, and 40 minutes sounds about right.
  4. 27:10. Slow and steady with a couple of unknowns – RIPARIAN and PLANT LICE – which thankfully today were gettable from the cryptic! I’d also heard of SOPHISTRY and not SOPHISM but it wasn’t too much of a leap from the former to the latter.
  5. And not a rubbish clue to be found!!! Enjoyable puzzle, as was yesterday’s I hasten to add.

    Would have failed a spelling test on SIMPATICO if it wasn’t so clearly clued.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  6. About 50 mins today, with most worked out from wp. The two exceptions were SUBTERRANEAN and MUTE SWAN, but that’s probably just because they quite obviously fitted, I didn’t stop to parse.

  7. Micawber must be the most annoying character in the whole of the Dickens canon, which is saying something. As for the crossword, I kept nodding off after staying up to watch England beat the first batch of this year’s Antipodean visitors.
    1. I can’t believe that’s true – David Copperfield was my favourite book as a wee lad, which probably explains why I’m running around with an avatar of a top-hatted 19th century gentleman to this day.

      On the other hand I’m not readily able to think of a character more annoying than Micawber, it must be admitted. But his wisdom on the vast difference between having just enough money and having not quite enough has definitely stuck with me through the years…

      1. At risk of being branded heretical, may I say that I dislike Dickens. Having been force-fed David Copperfield and Great Expectations at school I wondered whether this had coloured my view (in a similar way to beetroot, which I was also force fed at school) so recently read Oliver Twist. What an irritating book with the author so obviously manipulating the characters in such a melodramatic way.
        But at least I now like beetroot.
        1. Having read very little D when young, and most (excluding Rudge and the three later Christmas books) as an adult, I’d agree on Twist. My recommendations would be Pickwick, Great Expectations and Bleak House, with Martin Chuzzlewit as the “sleeper” hit.
        2. Weirdly, although I *really* liked Dickens when I was young, I tried to tackle Great Expectations and Nicholas Nickleby a few years ago and found them almost unbearable. Maybe my concentration span just isn’t up to Victorian prose these days – I do still tend to enjoy film and TV adaptations…
      2. It’s this kind of thing that has me in a state of near apoplexy:

        “I trust that the labour and hazard of an investigation -of which the smallest results have been slowly pieced together, in the pressure of arduous avocations, under grinding penurious apprehensions, at rise of morn, at dewy eve, in the shadows of night, under the watchful eye of one whom it were superfluous to call Demon, combined with the struggle of parental Poverty to turn it, when completed, to the right account, may be as the sprinkling of a few drops of sweet water on my funeral pyre.”

        But then I’m not much of a fan of DC (an author is always an unreliable guide to his best book: CS Lewis thought Till We Have Faces his best work of fiction, and Stephen King refused to bow to the inevitable and acknowledge the supremacy of The Stand). Great Expectations is his tightest, and best, work as far as I am concerned.

    2. Oh, I saw that a Kiwi was man of the match and assumed that NZ had won. Funny that.
  8. Blanked completely at the DREAMY/SIMPATICO crossing: you’ve no idea how many anagrams there are of CAST I LOVE, nor how many cheeky characters there are in music and literature, even when I’d remembered and eliminated Till Eulenspiegel and Scaramouche. Took my time to a (slightly worrying) 32.22, though in truth I struggled with a lot of this. No major issues, just obtuseness, like trying to come up with some legal Latin at 2d, something non something.
    Of course APACHE is racist. It’s French.
    1. Let’s hope there’s some helpful wordplay when Eulenspiegel is eventually clued. There may be some Philistines out there who are unfamiliar with his work!
  9. 19 mins. I had much the same experience as Z8 with the 17ac/14dn crossers, and it was only once I finally got DREAMY that I realised 14dn wasn’t an anagram of “cast I love” and I wasn’t being asked for the name of a loveable scamp from a play or opera I’d never seen, or a book I’d never read, so SIMPATICO was my LOI. Excellent misdirection by the setter.
  10. Standard Times puzzle – as Jack says, very little one can say. It’s all fair and non-controversial.

    As usual the blog is more interesting with people admitting they liked some rather boring books when they were young. Give me Biggles any day.

    1. I think it helped to have had a wicked (ish) stepfather when I was young – David Copperfield really resonated with me on that front!

      Likewise as we get a bit older and some caddish Steerforth inevitably comes and makes off with the girl we’re infatuated with… yeah, DC is basically the story of my life!

  11. Around 25 mins which doesn’t look too bad compared to my usual benchmark contributors. My only unknown was PLANT LICE. As a young lad, I read and enjoyed all the Biggles books – no concerns about racism in the 1950’s! In my teens I enjoyed Dickens. Now I read mainly crime novels so am clearly on the slippery slope.
    1. Any recommendations? To give you some help, I like PD James but don’t much care for Ruth Rendell or Ian Rankin.
      1. I have read and largely enjoyed the complete oeuvres of Rendell, Rankin and PDJ! Currently I am in Scandinavian mode – Jo Nesbo, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Asa Larsson, Camilla Lackberg et al. I also enjoy the humour (especially that of the side character DI Steel) in Stuart McBride’s otherwise gloomy and gory books set in Aberdeen.
        1. Thanks – I think I’ll give the Aberdonian ones a whirl. Did you watch/enjoy the HBO series ‘True Detective’?
          1. I haven’t watched it – being a tight-fisted Tyke means I don’t have subscription TV.
      2. Have you tried the Inspector Banks novels of Peter Robinson? Set in Yorkshire. Best read in order (There’s over 20 I think) Much, much better than the dreadful TV series. Also the Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson. “Started Early, Took my Dog” is a classic. Ann
        1. I agree about the Banks books. There’s no comparison with the TV series where the lead actor is given so very little to work with, but to be honest I’m not sure he’d know what to do with it anyway.

          There are 22 novels so far and a number of short stories that are worth tracking down because they fill in some of the gaps in the on-going narrative of Banks’s career. I also agree that to appreciate them fully you need to start with the first title (Gallow’s View – 1987) and work your way through them in order.

  12. Found this fairly straightforward, finishing in 30 minutes, only slightly held up by some unusual, though justifiable definitions. I did hesitate with TALC until I had confirming checkers since TLC meant nothing to me.
  13. I’m only going to complicate matters by saying that TLC immediately makes me think “CrazySexyCool”, aren’t I?
    1. Me too. I also noted with some regret that Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez is 16 characters.
  14. 13:22. I enjoyed this: some of the slightly off-beat definitions forced me to engage with the wordplay, which fortunately was present in all cases today. I fell into the same trap as others at 14dn, and a cunning trap it is. I raised an eyebrow at 12ac.
    I enjoyed the Biggles books a lot when I was a boy. I have never enjoyed Dickens at any stage of my life.

    Edited at 2015-05-26 01:12 pm (UTC)

  15. 26:02. I’m still waiting for my brain to reboot(strap) fully after the long weekend.

    I had problems at 8 where I was sure “layer” was going to be “hen” and I also fell into the “look for a rascal you’ve never heard of in a book or play you’ve never read or seen” ploy at 14.

    There’s a teeny typo in the blog at 2d Jack where you have PATH for PITH.

  16. About 40 minutes, not concentrating much as the tennis was on, biffed a few including a wrong spelling of SYMPATICO, influenced by the local use here of ‘sympa’ I guess. I remembered 4d from Mrs Hyacinth Bucket’s famous ‘Riparian feasts’. Some of the defs seems a stretch to me – candidate = possibility? subterranean = secret? Not the best puzzle of recent times.
    1. COED has ‘secret’ for ‘subterranean’.

      Although not specifically sanctioned in any of the usual sources, I think ‘possibility’ works on the basis of this definition of ‘candidate’ in Collins, “A person or thing regarded as suitable or likely for a particular fate or position” and the example given, “This wine is a candidate for his cellars” where I’d suggest the old substitution test can be applied effectively.

      Edited at 2015-05-26 02:47 pm (UTC)

  17. 35m and all correct despite same misgivings as others on some clues. Give me Dickens over Johns or any book to do with science at any stage of my life.
  18. 11:25 for me.

    I’m afraid I found this very dull, with too much convoluted wordplay – 1ac getting things off to a bad start. A rare disappointment for a Times crossword.

  19. 30:38 for me. Steady plod. I too found some of the wordplay a bit of a stretch. And yes, I also got stuck on finding an anagram for cast i love. Satisfying rather than delightful.

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