Times Cryptic 26378

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I solved this in 43 minutes but by contrast with the easy time I had of things last week, I found this was one of the most awkward blogs to write that I can remember. I’d done all the parsing as I solved so I was fairly clear in my mind how the clues worked from the outset, but explaining them seemed to go on for ever. I’m sure I’ve not made the best possible job of it, but I hope it passes muster. I’ve run out of steam now so without more ado here are the fruits of my labours.

P.S. On much later edit, Kevin Gregg has brought news from the Club forum of a NINA concerning table tennis. Details in his comment below timed at 8:32 am. Thanks for that, Kevin.

As usual {deletions} are in curly brackets and [indicators] in square ones. I have included definitions where I think they may be of assistance to recruits from the Quick Cryptic puzzle, and unusually, a couple of clues that I had the most difficulty putting explanations into words.


1 TENANT – A + {perso}N [ultimately) inside [occupying] TENT (temporary accommodation). The definition is &lit.
5 BOUDICCA – ACCID{ental} [semi-]unintended) reversed [upset] following [dogs] B (British) + OU (or, French)
9 BLOOMERS – A straight definition (slips – errors) and a cryptic one with reference to the garments named after one Amelia Bloomer. Insofar as I have any knowledge of them, Bloomers were not necessarily undergarments, but over the years they seem to have become synonymous as such, and that’s what appears to be suggested here. But whether they’d be worn under a slip is another matter.
10 HOSTEL – H (Henry – unit of induction), O (circle), LET’S (why don’t we…?) reversed [back]
11 ENCYCLICAL – Anagram [misspelling] of CLAY IN ECCL{esiastical} [abbreviated]. Definition: letter from Vatican
13 GUST – GUTS (midriff) with the last two letters reversed [back twisted]
14 EIRE – E{mp}IRE (dominion) [parliamentarian – MP – expelled]. Definition: republic
15 EXALTATION – EX{h}ALATION (blow) with H removed [not heroin] encloses [taking] T (time). Definition: getting high
18 NEWS VENDOR – NEW (recently arrived), SVEN (Swedish man), ROD (pole) reversed [backed]. Definition: merchant in rag trade
20 MIDI – I (island) + DIM (cloudy) reversed [over]. Definition: south of France
21 SLOE – SLO{p}E (inclination) with P removed [skip prime piece of p{assion}]
23 Leftover combination of factors in processor’s output (3,7)
– I’m a bit out of my comfort zone trying to explain this one. In general this is what’s left (or leftover, perhaps) at the end of a process. In mathematics, factors are numbers which in combination (i.e. when multiplied together) lead to what’s called a product, so an end-product of a different sort. Alternatively its END (leftover), PRODUCT (combination of factors – see above) with “processor’s output” as the definition. Thanks to Katie Rose for helping me clarify my thoughts on this one.
25 ADROIT – A, DRO{p} (fall), IT (thing)
26 ON THE JOB – TH (thorium) enclosed [ingested] by ONE (a certain), JOB (patient man – Biblical reference)
28 LEAD-FREE – Anagram [badly] of FARED inside LEE (shelter). Definition: contributing less to toxic environment
29 PURPLE – PL (place) enclosed by [with a coat of] PURE (undiluted)


2 EGLANTINE – Anagram [sprawling] of INELEGANT. Definition: brier – aka briar
3 ACOLYTE – ACOL (convention with bids – bridge), anagram [to be arranged] of YET. I didn’t know ACOL today any more than I knew it when it turned up in an ST puzzle in March last year. I thought it might stand for something that would help me to remember it in the future but its simply named after a club in Acol Road, London.
4 TIE – TIE{r} (level, or most of one)
5 BASIC – Sounds like [report of] “bay, sick” which with its sections switched would be “sickbay” (school infirmary)
6 UPHOLSTERER – UP (out of bed), HOLSTER (arm-pouch), ER… (I’m thinking). Definition: I’ll make chair covers.
7 INSIGHT – IN SIGHT (close to being achieved). Definition: understanding
8 CHESS – Cryptic definition with clever misdirection that might lead one to contemplate matters naval
12 LIE DETECTOR – Anagram [composed] of OCTET inside [among] LIEDER (German songs)
16 AID – AI (conscious software – Artificial Intelligence), ‘D (would). Definition: help
17 OLD SCHOOL – HOLDS (retains), COOL (stylishness) with H (hot) moved to the right [later]
19 STEROID – Anagram [desperately] of TIRED SO. Definition: might be abused at gym. But in other circumstances some types of steroid can be remarkably effective in the treatment of various disorders as I know from my own experience over the past year.
20 I change colour in first quarter’s end, or second’s (7)
– I + DYE (change colour) in MAR (first quarter’s end, March – accounting). The definition requires that “second’s” refers back to “first quarter’s end”. The second quarter’s end in some accounting systems would be June or MIDYEAR.
22 LEDGE – Hidden [some] in {fril}LED GE{ckos}
24 DROVE – Two definitions. A company of people or animals moving can be called a DROVE. “Took to the road” is the other definition.
27 TAP – Two definitions

64 comments on “Times Cryptic 26378”

  1. Back down to earth, but I thought this was a tough one. The queen took me more than five minutes. I remembered Boadicea from the statue in London, but had no idea that she used an alias. Wonder what she had to hide?

    Shamefully I also wasn’t sure of the French word for “or”, but guessed correctly in the end.

    Enjoyed the definition for LIE DETECTOR. Thanks setter and Jack.

  2. Surely leftover in 23a is end and as you say two factors multiplied together give a product. The output of a processor is its end product? Katie Rose
    1. Thanks for this. I was sort of there but hadn’t quite managed to clarify my thoughts so succinctly. I wasn’t completely sure about “leftover = end” but I’ve just found it in my thesaurus, not that that’s always a reliable source of synonyms.

      Edited at 2016-04-05 12:19 am (UTC)

  3. That was a serious workout. May need some 19s if it keeps going at this rate.
    Thanks Jack for clarifying a few parsings I didn’t manage to spot — esp. the Popish letter.
    Is the surface for 17dn a description of Z8’s old family Ford? And maybe the answer too?

    Edited at 2016-04-05 02:10 am (UTC)

    1. I dunno: what do you think? Incredibly uncomfortable on a long run, and that inward sloping window at the back was intended to avoid spray, but left nowhere to put your anachronistic i-pad. Voted 80th in a Telegraph poll of the ugliest cars ever made, though that might be a bit unfair. Don’t think it ever starred in TV cop series, unlike the Anglia and the Zodiac. But we loved it, and it was way better (and twice as well wheeled) than our previous transport, a grey and undistinguished Lambretta.
      1. Similar story here when my Old Dad swapped his Lambretta for a Hillman Hunter. (Via a brief spell of Austin 1100). Couldn’t work out why the Hunter was dragging its feet until I looked in the boot and found the Welsh farmer he bought it from had filled it with soil. At the time, I thought folks with Classics, Capris and Anglias were dead posh or flashy. Probably on the basis of surface appearances.

        Edited at 2016-04-05 07:53 am (UTC)

  4. Reasonable difficulty level with a few new words/terms (eg ACOL) and some that I couldn’t parse, including the simple-looking AID. Just me being thick but I can’t quite see ‘end’ for ‘leftover’ either. Liked NEWS VENDOR, HOSTEL and BOUDICCA which seems to be the ‘new’ spelling as galspray points out.

    Thanks to setter and jackkt

    1. She went by a shedload of aliases – also Boudica, Boudicea, and Buddug in addition to Boadicea – and it was better not to argue with her.
      1. I think my problem is that I first heard the name as a five-syllable pronunciation, which couldn’t possibly be rendered as BOUDICCA, so I dismissed the connection pretty quickly.

        Bah. She probably took up chariot riding because she was rubbish at spelling.

  5. With nothing but MIDI on my first pass through the acrosses, I had a very bad feeling about this one, but a batch of biffing saved the day. DNK ACOL, and never did parse AID (conscious?) or EIRE or BASIC. Luckily I did know BOUDICCA, since I was desperate enough to toy with ‘buoyancy’ before the penny dropped. LOI SLOE. Liked a lot of the clues a lot: 10ac, 15ac, 18ac, 12d, 20d.
  6. 37′ but forgot to change 25 (originally ‘retort’) after LEDGE went in, so one mistake. SLOE followed by CHESS last in. Nice puzzle.

    Regarding END=leftover, ‘cigarette end’ works, I think. And TOP is a strike (if not a very good one) in golf.

    Edited at 2016-04-05 05:57 am (UTC)

    1. I had top as well – in the sense of to kill, for some ill-defined reason (I didn’t think of tap). And sure enough, sense 33.b of strike in the OED is to kill. Ok, it’s specific to killing deer, apparently, but that’s good enough for me!

      Just under the hour for me, and came together towards the end, but was nowhere near getting midyear. Very enjoyable, with a couple unparsed, so thanks setter and Jack.

  7. Re 23ac – END PRODUCT I deduced it from ‘scrag-end’ for leftover.

    About an hour with a break in the middle for Ching Ming.

    FOI 2 dn EGLANTINE so an easy start.

    I knew 6ac was BOUDECIA and that there were various spellings but

    slow on 8dn CHESS. LOI EIRE which was an excellent clue but COD

    to 29 ac PURPLE. I don’t think 27dn TAP is particularly well

    clued as TAP is only just a strike.

    Overall a good puzzle and good, honest bloggery from Jack!

    horryd Shanghai

  8. Is BO DEREK a descendant of the Iceni Queen or just another spelling variation?

    horryd Shanghai

  9. 24 minutes today, so slightly tougher for me than yesterdays, and with a lot more reverse engineering. BOUDICCA in particular was a biff, though working out what the wordplay was helped greatly with the preferred spelling. Mixed feelings on the proto-Thatcher: fended off the worst excesses of Rome, if more by mayhem than Maastricht, but destroyed my home town. On the plus side of that, she left a whole heap of building materials for construction of the Abbey and Cathedral – norman tower, Roman bricks. I wonder if she ever bothered to spell her name?

    Edited at 2016-04-05 07:34 am (UTC)

  10. It’s been pointed out in the Club forum that the letters of the first and 15th columns, if read across and down, spell out “table tennis table”.
    1. Does anyone know why? Is the setter twying to encouwage the wiff waff to join in?
      1. My question was not why but how — how on earth does anyone notice that? Bravo, Icarus, anyway.
  11. In my haste to post a sub-10-minute time I biffed in NEWS READER at 18ac. I was even thinking about SVEN at the time! Liked this one, lots of fun to be had throughout.

    LOI was 14ac as for some reason I was trying hard to justify NIUE.

    Edited at 2016-04-05 07:58 am (UTC)

  12. 16:19 .. with a couple of minutes wondering if there was more to the CHESS clue and no time at all to decide that parsing END PRODUCT was beyond me (and happily unnecessary). Rather pleased to work out BOUDICCA and grateful for the assistance in spelling it.
  13. … as I carelessly put in top for TAP, got a weird word at 11ac (not knowing the correct answer, and reading the parsing incorrectly by thinking that there had to be an anagram of ‘clay’ within sommat else), and discarded CHESS (just too darn cryptic) and threw in crews for ‘men on board’ at the end. And all that rubbish took about an hour. Bah.
  14. I seem to remember Churchill writes of Boadicea with a sideswipe at the academics, ‘cherished by the learned as Boudicca’. Winston, thou shouldst be living at this hour. What an incredible spot of an inexplicable, jewel-like Nina creation. How many have we missed? What do they mean?
  15. I learned BOUDICCA at school, the Latin spelling. Also had PLUM, which delayed SW corner. ACOL is not a convention, but a system. The former Chancellor, Iain Macleod, wrote the book ‘Bridge is an Easy Game’, explaining ACOL, which helped me a lot with my bridge c1970. 29′ today.
    1. I’m coming from a position of no knowledge whatsoever on them subject but SOED defines ‘convention’ (amongst other things) as: b Cards. A prearranged method of play or bidding, esp. in bridge, used to convey information.
      Is ACOL something different then?
      1. I always played the very little-known fairport convention. It involves, inter alia, only bidding when you have a good hand in clubs.
      2. Bridge is a partnership game. So that they can communicate partners agree upon a “language” to use which they must declare to their opponents. ACOL is such a language.

        Honour cards are given point values (Ace=4 to Jack=1) and thus any hand can be “valued” using the point count. A major feature of ACOL is the “weak no trump” opening on a point count of 12 to 14 and an even distribution of suits. In contrast the Americans tend to use “strong no trump” openings of say 16 points.

        Hope that helps

        1. I used to play ACOL, with strong NT and Blackwood, enough at schoolboy level. Went to a bridge club in middle age, lots of very artificial conventions about, the antithesis of the basically natural ACOL system.
        2. I mainly played chess as a youngster, but bridge looked interesting so at the tender age of 16 I went along to Huntingdon bridge club.. i walked in the door, and looked around, with some trepidation. About 15 tables. At that moment the woman at the table directly in front of me screeched, stood up, and upended her table and all of its contents over her partner.

          in the confusion I made my escape and I have never played a hand of bridge since… and to think, maybe I could have been world champion..

          1. I’ve had similar experiences when women have looked at me but if you’re careful they don’t arrest you for it
            1. Only because I am so honest, i will admit she had her back to me at the time…

              Nice thought though 🙂

  16. Sitting in the golf club bar with a bad back, having started them all off on a scramble, I thought this might fill my morning, but no, it was done in 33 minutes, with AID my LOI without really seeing why. I also went astray with PLUM(P) for the fruit until I saw the anagram for 19d.

    A slight gripe for EIRE for republic, it may say that on the stamps but Eire is the poetic name for the whole island / 32 counties, not the Republic Of Ireland. I lived there for 14 years and on many occasions heard visitors being put right on this one.

    What a NINA ! And what a spot.

    1. I think you are confusing EIRE and ERIN. The latter is the poetic name for the island of island. EIRE, although the Irish word for the Island of Ireland, was the name given to the state of the republic of Ireland.

      So the setter is correct


      1. …if you’d used EIRE to refer to the whole of Ireland in some parts you would have been put right properly 🙂
  17. I biffed a lot today, all correctly. The mathematician in me wouldn’t accept END PRODUCT as a remainder, so thank you to Katie Rose for the explanation. About twenty-five minutes.
  18. Two wrong at 14a and 21a otherwise of course I would have easily spotted the NINA…
    I’ve always been under the impression that the name Boadicea came from a mediaeval monk’s misspelling of Boudicca on some illuminated parchment somewhere, and it was that name that somehow stuck.
    1. I just did a bit of searching around, trying to find out whether the Iceni were literate and, if so, how they wrote (alphabet? runes? wee pictures?). The internet doesn’t know. Does anyone here?
      1. Since no-one’s replied to you, perhaps I should though I’m no expert. The British were part of the Belgic Celts who were widespread throughout Europe. The earliest writing we have for the Celts in the British Isles is ogham – runes from 4th century Ireland but it is unlikely that other Celtic tribes weren’t use similar runes. What is pretty certain is that if they used such communication then they would have been more for inscriptions or commercial transactions rather than narrative. So the only written chronicles we have about the ancient Britons come from foreigners such as the Romans: Caesar & Tacitus for example, or the Venerable Bede in the 8th century. As the ancient Britons became “Romanised” they would have learned to write in Latin with Celtic names transliterated into Latin.
        Here endeth the lesson.
        1. Why, thank you, deezzaa. Further proof that TfTT reaches the parts other forums cannot.

          My hunch was that if one were to go back in time and ask Bou***** “How do you spell your name?” she would reply “Whaddya mean — spell?” What you say seems to bear this out (probably). “My name is as the runemeister carves it.” Like the artist formerly known as Prince.

          1. That’s because no-one can name anyone famous from Belgium – let alone a famous Celt from Belgium.
            And I think it would have been foolhardy for anyone to ask Boudicca how she spelt her name if they wanted to keep their head attached to their body.
  19. I thought this was pleasant but undistinguished until the nina was pointed out. Playing table tennis on a crossword grid, brilliant.
  20. 15:39. I enjoyed this one a lot. A reasonable amount of biffing involved, but more enough clues that required a proper bit of head-scratching to work out what was going on.
    Like sotira my main question with a nina like this one is how on earth anyone spots it.
  21. A real slog today, crawling over the line in 20m 25s with CHESS (cryptic enough?).

    Naturally I didn’t spot the nina, but I enjoyed the fact that eyeing the letters in order is much the same as watching a table tennis match.

  22. Tripped up by 21ac where I had GLEE, justified incorrectly by the prime piece of an alternatively spelled UGLI fruit being missing, (definition inclination to skip). Doh! Otherwise all correct after a 65 minute struggle. Biffed ACOLYTE by assuming ACOL referred to Bridge, but it’s not a game I’m familiar with. Struggled with MIDYEAR until I shifted the PL in 29ac to coat it with PURE and get the last crossing letter. No trouble with ENCYCLICAL or BOUDICCA. FOI TIE, LOI MIDYEAR. Off to put a cold compress on my forehead now!
  23. 20:22 but I was very close to giving up with encyclical, Eire and purple missing.

    Very entertaining puzzle. I particularly liked “why don’t we circle back” for OSTEL.

    Thanks Jack for explaining adroit, purple and acolyte.

    I’m going to go back and look at the top and bottom rows of past puzzles for TRAMPOLINE BOUNCING and POGO STICK JUMPING.

  24. 55 minutes, but with glee instead of sloe.

    Sloe gin was the fashionable thing to make when I was young. It involved adding sloes and sugar to a bottle of gin, replacing the bottle in the drinks cupboard to let it age, and fifteen years later pouring it down the sink. The challenge was always to find a bottle of gin that didn’t have sloes in it when you fancied a G&T, but I can’t remember this ever happening.

    1. I don’t know if it’s fashionable, but I still make sloe gin, and damson gin for that matter if my damson tree produces any fruit. It is very nice mixed with sparkling wine: the result is known as a sloegasm. Yes really.
  25. My sister Victoria used to get up my nose by saying that hers was the Roman version of the Iceni name which was much better than that wimpy Shakespearean woman I was named after, besides being a queen not a mere countess. So naturally, thanks to Sellars and Yeatman, I called her Woadicea and said she was weeny weedy and weaky. In those days we had a Zephyr Zodiac. Now we have a Honda Accord – that really is wimpy.

    Edited at 2016-04-05 02:58 pm (UTC)

  26. I finally made it home from Carcassonne last night after my original flight last Thursday was cancelled due to the air traffic control strike. That is my only excuse for biffing “anodyne” at 3dn.
  27. Nothing wrong, but I made the classic mistake of failing to check that I had completed the grid. Hence, 24m 33s, but with one missing, so no cigar.
  28. Once again I failed to stay awake while solving. 42 mins in all but I have absolutely no idea how much time in the middle was lost. I found this one on the chewy side and I didn’t really enjoy it, but that may have been because I was so tired. Count me as another who didn’t know ACOL so had to biff ACOLYTE, and I also biffed ENCYCLICAL and EXALTATION, my LOI, although I did see how the latter was parsed a minute or so after I finished.
  29. About 25 minutes, and of course didn’t notice the nina. I too started with PLUM before getting the crosser, and seeing the SLOE. BOUDICCA was a biff, seeing parts of the wordplay but not all, same as ACOLYTE, where I knew the ACOL bit had to be a bridge convention, but I’d never heard of it. Maybe it’s as Jimbo explains, we N Americans don’t use that. I agree the convention here is that 1NT needs 14-16 pts. Beyond that the convention normally used by everyone is Blackwood, but only rarely and with a very powerful hand. But it always elicits a low whistle when employed (i.e. 4NT? Whew, well then…).
    Anyway, regards.
    1. You’re correct Kevin – ACOL is UK based but is used elsewhere. Rarely in US however where Goren Standard American is commonest. Both systems use devices like Staymen and Jacoby Transfers.

      Blackwood is a slam seeking device along with Gerber and even Culbertson (who started all this) plus cue bidding etc

      Playing bridge in the US was always fun because the different bidding systems lent an extra edge.

  30. It took a while to think of ENCYCLICAL as I was thinking of a Papal BULL, but 60 years before the Catholic mast helped me sort it out.
    Hands at Bridge, I can cope with but anything else relating to that card game irritates me as being too bourgeois. I guess cricket clues must strike some people the same way.
    10ac and 15ac were my favourites today. 1hr 4m and some seconds.
  31. This took most of a cup of coffee, and I was wondering if I was tired or if it was difficult. Lots that went in half understood but in the end I got there. Glad this wasn’t mine to write up!
  32. A sluggish 15:31 for me, feeling tired at the end of a busy day; despite which I found this a most interesting and enjoyable puzzle

    I was briefly tempted by Verlaine’s NEWS READER, but I think Swedish SVEN must have cropped up somewhere recently, anyway he came to mind quickly enough to push me towards the right answer.

  33. Beaten by BOUDICCA. Frankly, I think it’s high time that somebody took responsibility and simply told us once and for all just how Boadicea ought to be spelled. While they’re at it, they can nail “poppadom/puppadom/papadum” and “doner/donner/donar”. They could also profitably improve Welsh spelling, which is a whole other can of wyrms.

  34. Not to my taste this one – ACOL, ENCYCLICAL, ER, BOUDICCA – all so very Clapham omnibus and all in for a Nina that presumably means something to someone. We’ll have marriage proposals next! Oh we already have!
  35. I am perplexed at the number of comments on Boadicea/Boudicca. Surely those two alternatives are extremely well-known, or should be, by Times crosswordistes?
  36. This was in yesterday’s South China Morning Post.

    I found it a little tricky.

    Regarding the Bridge bidding system…. It is not an acronym, unlike SAYC (another bidding system), and so should really be written ‘Acol’.

    Jezz in Hong Kong

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