Times Cryptic 26480

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
50 minutes for this one  which was enjoyable enough to solve but when I came to blog it I was struck by a run of very general definitions that spoiled the feel of it for me. On the other hand the wordplay is all very sound and this should enable solvers to work out less familiar answers and nail specific ones where definitions are vague. Here’s my blog…

 As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

1 Token bit of poetry penned by MA (7)
MODICUM – ODIC (of poetry – ode) contained [penned] by MUM (MA). According to the usual sources a modicum is a small amount or portion so I’m not quite sure where “token” comes in. Admittedly a token amount is small too but it also carries other overtones which don’t appear to be part of the definition of the clued word.
5 Thus journalist needs to accommodate excellent item of furniture (4,3)
SOFA BED – SO (thus) + ED (journalist) containing [needs to accommodate]  FAB (excellent). Our first very general definition.
9 Welsh courtier routed now, badly (4,5)
OWEN TUDOR – Anagram [badly] of ROUTED NOW. Grandfather of Henry VII, the first Tudor king.
10 University very surprised to suffer a 50% cut (5)
ASTON – ASTON{ished} (very surprised) [50% cut]. A former technical college in Birmingham that evolved into an elite College of Advanced Technology. Another very general definition for an institution that I’d suggest is not particularly well-known outside specific academic circles.
11 Man’s savings scheme account (5)
ISAAC – ISA (savings scheme – Individual Savings Account), AC (account). Another very general definition.
12 Fall in love and start to despair? (4,5)
LOSE HEART – Two sound, contrasting definitions
14 Type to lead prayer, old rector’s ending as one with many bits of paper (5,9)
STAMP COLLECTOR – STAMP (type), COLLECT (prayer), O (old), {recto}R [ending]
17 Large vehicle has this accelerator modified — one gets going (7,7)
CHELSEA TRACTOR – Anagram [modified] of TH{i}S ACCELERATOR [one – i – gets going]. Another general definition. At least it doesn’t say “modern” but we could argue about “large” if we’ve nothing better to do.
21 Goddess I presented with a plant (9)
ARTEMISIA – ARTEMIS (goddess), I, A. I didn’t know the plant but fortunately I remembered the goddess. Another general definition.
23 Place of conflict needs a time for reflection (5)
ARENA – AN ERA (a time) reversed [for reflection]
24 Public declaration has display of flags, no hesitation (5)
BANNS – BANN{er}S (flags) [no hesitation – er]. Banns are read out in church to give notice of forthcoming marriages.
25 Scoffing, having little time for eating food (5,4)
SWEET CORN – SCORN (scoffing) containing [eating] WEE (little) + T (time). Another very general definition.
26 Intellectual Cockney said to be sort of arch (7)
EYEBROW – As Bert, the Cockerney chimney sweep might say: “igh brow” (intellectual)
27 Unhappy is good person about perverted types (7)
SADISTS – SAD (unhappy), IS, ST (good person – saint) reversed (about)
1 But French soldiers restricted indigenous people (6)
MAORIS – OR (soldiers) contained [restricted] by MAIS (but, French)
2 Leader of Conservatives, when in Parliament, got into a mould (3-4)
DIE-CAST – C{onservatives} [leader] + AS (when) contained by [in] DIET (parliament). Edit: on much later reflection following a comment from tyrotim below I think the definition is  more likely intended to be “got into a mould” (vb. past tense).
3 Animals having a search inside underground tunnels (9)
CATACOMBS – CATS (animals) contain [having inside] A + COMB (search)
4 Note girl is bourgeois (6-5)
MIDDLE-CLASS – MIDDLE-C (note), LASS (girl). The best result for “note” I have seen in a long time.
5 He must dissociate separately from county gentleman (3)
SIR – S{h}IR{e} (county) [he must dissociate separately]
6 Ostentatious female with leather? (5)
FLASH – F (female), LASH (leather)
7 Italian in British company has skill in minor role (3,4)
BIT PART – IT (Italian) in BP (British company), ART (skill)
8 Wreck teeth biting key (8)
DENATURE – DENTURE (teeth) containing [biting] A (key – music). The singular can cover the plural apparently.
13 Sell a parson new devices to cut down on energy bills? (5,6)
15 Dance, then collapse, bewitched (9)
ENCHANTED – Anagram [collapse] of DANCE THEN
16 Hurry from senior staff room, then walk slowly (8)
SCRAMBLE – SCR (senior staff room – Senior Common Room), AMBLE (walk slowly)
18 Being less than completely independent, enter an agreement (7)
ENTENTE – Hidden in [being less than completely] {independ}ENT ENTE{r}
19 I wake up lacking energy — that’s troublesome (7)
ONEROUS – ONE (I), ROUS{e} (wake up) [lacking energy]
20 One heading off, entering pubs somewhere in London (6)
BARNES – {o}NE [heading off] contained by [entering] BARS (pubs). SW13 in the London Borough of Richmond. I’m not sure how well-known this is outside the UK (or London for that matter), and once again the definition is a bit general.
22 Endless unhappiness for one who’d give nothing? (5)
MISER – MISER{y} (unhappiness) [endless]
25 Spotted / gnome (3)
SAW – Two definitions, the second being a saying or adage

55 comments on “Times Cryptic 26480”

  1. Agree with Jack about the looser definitions. Can’t remember why I know BARNES and wondered if BANNS are still read these days. Helped that an ex school pal went to ASTON.
    The “local” version of 17ac is a Toorak Tractor; posh bit of Melbourne between South Yarra and Kooyong.
    1. BARNES has come up before here. I catch the train from the station there every day (although I actually live in SW15, Putney) so I remember Jimbo describing it as a ‘nondescript suburb’!
  2. 19:40 for all but EYEBROW, by which I was undone after another 5 minutes thought with the baby crying in the background. I dare say, that’s a brilliant homophone… maybe a chestnut but I will gladly admit defeat to it!

    Last one in was FLASH, probably my least favorite clue of an easy-ish bunch.

    Edited at 2016-08-01 11:49 pm (UTC)

  3. Couldn’t get EYEBROW, a clue to which I dips me lid. Otherwise not too bad, and even the general defs weren’t too difficult to get from the wordplay. I wonder what eg New Yorkers would call a CHELSEA TRACTOR? I’m sure there are many local variants of the term, of which mctext gives one.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  4. re- 20dn – Barnes Bridge (railway) marks the last quarter of the annual University Boat Race(Oxford v Cambridge) which is almost a National Day, an institution in the UK.
    Otherwise Barnes is a quiet upmarket part of suburbia littered with ‘araucaria’.

    Gentlemen, this is the crossword of The London Times afterall!

    This was fairly straightforward involving 31 minutes of my time.


    COD 17ac CHELSEA TRACTOR -(Range Rover)


    horryd Shanghai and London

    1. Hello hS,

      Do you mean ‘araucaria’ in the literal (arboreal) or figurative (full of Guardian readers who do/did the Araucaria (RIP) puzzles) sense?

    2. One of our most distinguished blogger/commenters lives in Barnes, as I recall. A City type, gourmand and oenophile, I can see him sitting beneath his monkey-puzzle tree reminiscing to his brood of university days when he took the Guardian.
      1. Ha! I should read all the comments before making one of my own. I haven’t noticed a lot of monkey-puzzle trees in Barnes, but then I don’t really know what one looks like. I will find out, keep an eye out, and report back at some point.

        Edited at 2016-08-03 04:04 am (UTC)

  5. Church banns are still read today ‘spinster of this parish…’ etc!
    From the comments so far I think Australia is about ready to become a Republic!

    horryd Shanghai

  6. BARNES sounded Londonish, OWEN TUDOR looked both Welsh-ish and royal-ish, and ARTEMISIA must have rung a bell somewhere. BANNS was a fingers-crossed moment, but now I’ve convinced myself that I knew the word all along.

    Who knows, but all’s well that ends well. Thanks setter and thanks again Jack for the space-time defying blog.

    1. (Or is that Dhorry?) This must be the first time I’ve seen the use/mention distinction used on this forum. Quite surprising given how much the setter’s art depends on it.
  7. I knew BARNES (which didn’t stop me from starting with Baners) because that’s where Widmerpool used to go to hit a bucket of golf balls into a net. I only knew CHELSEA TRACTOR because it appeared here not that long ago, when it was a DNK. MODICUM wasn’t a problem at the time (well, it was a problem to come up with it, but), but now that Jack’s pointed it out, there is something odd about the ‘token’ in the def.
  8. Near enough 20 minutes, struggling with EYEBROW and SWEETCORN at the end, the latter only falling when I wrote out the letters and realised the enumeration (5,4) was different from my version (9). Shouldn’t have made that much difference.
    Now, this is where I get myself and the setter into trouble. According to Chambers, MODICUM is: (disrespectfully) a woman (obs). Token bit would be (even more disrespectfully) a woman, in some misogynist universe. Perhaps the definition is tighter than we thought! That’s not how I solved it, mind: once I saw from the excellent 4d that it didn’t end with an A but an M, I saw MODICUM, thought token as in token amount and was satisfied.
    I got TRACTOR well before I got CHELSEA: that “large” certainly put me off and I wondered whether there was a thing called a Colossa tractor that I should know about.
    Happy to have the wordplay for ARTEMISIA, or I would have spelt and pronounced it with an E.

    Edited at 2016-08-02 07:06 am (UTC)

    1. Last time ARTEMISIA came up the wordplay was equally clear but I spelt it with an E anyway.
      1. Can’t remember it coming up before, but ARTEMISIA unknown and Artemes (sic) only vaguely remembered, so I spelt it with an E.
        Many unknowns today – Aston, Owen Tudor, ISA is once-a-year common but I never remember it, collect, French language though “mais oui” rang a bell, denature as destroy, and Barnes – really wanted it to be Barnet, T mentally pencilled in from ST around something in 27ac. Is Barnet in London?
        Liked the Middle-C and SAW, but felt really thick and way off the wavelength. A slow 29 mins.
  9. … which notional 1980s hair salon I’m hoping will prevent me dye-casting twice.

    I struggled throughout with this and predictably came a cropper with one of the few I thought too straightforward to be worth checking. Roll on Tomorrow (my notional 1980s bakery).

    Edited at 2016-08-02 07:19 am (UTC)

  10. Steady middle of the road stuff that didn’t cause any problems. Agree about the definitions which I thought might have been computer generated

    A pub in Barnes (can’t remember the name) certainly used to be a jazz centre – possibly still is.

  11. Managed to get most in my hour, despite not knowing the whys or the hows of the answers or some of the clues — DNK OWEN TUDOR, “odic”, “collect”, “gnome”, etc. 5d S{h}IR{e} feels like the kind of clue I’ll only ever biff and hope for the best on. Happy I got EYEBROW quickly enough, given preceding comments.

    The few I failed on I might have got to eventually — I was hooked on looking for a specific place of battle for ARENA; I may have got to ONEROUS in the end; with enough crossers SWEET CORN may have become apparent. Not sure I’d have managed ARTEMESIA, knowing neither it nor Artemis. I’ve heard “Artemis” as the name of an apartment block in Crete, but didn’t know she was female. I’ll try to remember her for next time.

    On the whole, given that this leant well away from my education — Greek gods, plants, poetry, religion — pleased enough with my performance.

    I was also somewhat frustrated by trying to use the Times Android app rather than a piece of paper. How on earth they managed to make a custom keyboard so bad at responding to someone tapping on it is beyond me, as an Android developer myself…

    Edited at 2016-08-02 07:52 am (UTC)

    1. My main reason for giving up my Android tablet for an ipad was the dismal crossword interface. The ipad version is a hundred times better.
      1. Shame. Much as I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if someone were to offer me one, I don’t think I can quite justify spending hundreds of pounds on an iPad just for the crossword. It’s already a little extreme subscribing to The Times as a whole just to get the crossword every day…
    2. Except on Sundays. The weekly iPad is fine, although I use a Zagg bluetooth keyboard but on Sundays, this is not available and the onscreen keyboard is rubbish
  12. Up here one’s mother is MOM, so spent some time trying to make DICU poetry. Also up here is ASTON, now prestigious, but noted forty years ago for its relatively low entry requirements. Have been and stayed there many times – and the buildings feature in Line of Duty. Those who do not think CHELSEA TRACTORS are big should try driving to work when the schools are starting. A fair workout today, 17′ 14″. Thanks setter and Jack.
  13. No impediments today, I was on the right wavelength. Finished in 15 minutes, a little unsure if there was a better answer than DENATURE. I thought all Times crossword solvers were engineers and would know ASTON well. And not that any would either drive CHELSEA TRACTORS or frequent pubs in BARNES.
    1. Well there is at least one who isn’t! I did spend a portion of my student life at the “other place” in Birmingham.
  14. 17:52, so another good day for me. I was delayed a little by SWEET CORN as I would always write it as one word and it looked unusual written as two. Maybe it’s just me?
  15. Thought this quite easy and rather surprised to see the complaints.. but I am always happy with a bit of looseness, as it were. I don’t think the definitions are anything to do with computers, it is just the setter trying to get the degree of difficulty about right. Putting a postcode in 10ac for example would make it too easy .. anyway, nothing obscure about Aston, is there? Possibly Britain’s best known technical university, along with Brunel.
    The only one I took time over was sweet corn, for exactly the same reason as pootle73 (are there really 72 other pootles?)
    1. As bigtone53, I have been asked whether there are 52 others. The fact is that when I was setting this up many years ago, bigtone1, bigtone01, bigtone02 etc were already taken so I went for 53 as at least I could remember the year of my birth
  16. 28 mins. Not helped by the fact that I threw in SOLAR PLANES without thinking. Well they are in the news of late! 😉
  17. Quite enjoyed this one – maybe something to do with actually being able to finish it in a sensible time for the first time in ages.

    Stopped the clock at 11.12, so was expecting to come here and see some extremely low times. Imagine my surprise when…. Etc etc

  18. For some reason I read 26ac as “Ineffectual Cockney…” consistently until well after submission, which made hitting the button seem a lot more risky than was strictly necessarily. 6 and a half minutes for this pleasant enough puzzle…
  19. 14:32 finishing with denature where I wasn’t overly familiar with the definition and had to hope that the singular denture could denote the plural gnashers.

    Owen Tudor also unknown but with the Tudor bit assumed to cover the courtier part the remaining letters couldn’t be much else given the Welshness.

    Tip of the hat for middle c lass.

    1. I went the other way around, with OWEN as the obvious Welshman, then considering RODUT briefly before both sanity and the royal connection kicked in.
  20. Right on wavelength today coming home in 13:09. Nothing beyond my ken – not even the plant!
  21. A DNF when it shouldn’t have been, trouble in the SW corner all perfectly gettable, but there you go. There is one clue I have a problem with, not 4d however, my COD, but 3d if I read it correctly the definition is ” a mould” but die-cast is either a verb or an adjective. The die is the mould. If the clue had been “got out of” or even just “got” then OK but I just feel it is a bit wishy washy, I stand as usual to be shot down in flames.
    1. It’s not a process I’m particularly familiar with, Tim, but having looked it up in the usual sources I think there’s more to the definition than simply “mould” as I have it in the blog. I’d say the setter’s intention is more likely to be “got into a mould” (vb. past tense). Does that go any way to allay your misgivings about the clue?

      Edited at 2016-08-02 04:45 pm (UTC)

      1. Thanks Jack, but it doesn’t really, “got out of a mould ” would as then something is die cast. It’s not that it’s a bad clue, just that it leaves me with without the “click” when the clue falls into place,
  22. A bit of work, this, about 25 minutes, ending with one that should have come earlier: SWEET CORN. I had in my mind that the scoffing was actually eating, so I needed to turn around those thoughts. The ‘scr’ in SCRAMBLE also didn’t assert itself, so that took a while too. I’m glad there is a BARNES, which if I’ve heard of it I don’t remember, but it seemed apparent from the wordplay. EYEBROW as clever. I don’t think we have an analogous label over here for the Chelsea tractor, it’s just an SUV, although it may be driven by a ‘soccer mom’. Thanks setter and Jack, and regards.
  23. 12 mins with STAMP COLLECTOR my LOI. I confess I biffed a few during the solve and then parsed all but one of the biffs post-solve. The exception was the excellent MIDDLE-CLASS, which on reflection I should have parsed without too many problems. I used to drive through Barnes quite a bit during my time in the SE so I had no problem with it.
  24. I confess to skipping parsing on several clues, but all’s well the ends well innit.
  25. Just over an hour, some of the clues (but unfortunately not sleep) eluding me. Once I discovered MUM in 1ac it still took a while to see that the clue required “of poetry” and not just poetry, and only then did the ODIC make sense. LOI was SWEET CORN, only after I realised I had been taking off the wrong end of “one” in 20dn and there was no obscure somewhere in London called BARONS. But there were many superb clues in this quite enjoyable puzzle, with 4dn with its middle C my COD.
    1. There’s an area of West Kensington called Baron’s Court so Barons would not be that wide of the mark as a possibility if one didn’t know the city well.
  26. Oh phooey! I had one of those exceptionally rare days when I actually felt a little more like my old self again (apart from a couple of minor hang-ups), and clicked on Submit at a reasonable 6:20. Only to find that in my anxiety to post a half-decent time for once, and elated by the feeling that there was some life in the old dog yet, I hadn’t checked my solution carefully enough and had bunged in LOST HEART instead of LOSE HEART.

    That’s the second puzzle recently which I’ve blown by bunging in the wrong tense. Must beware of that in October!

    PS: As far as I’m concerned there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of the definitions, given that there’s wordplay to back them up.

    Edited at 2016-08-02 09:45 pm (UTC)

  27. For the record I wasn’t suggesting there was anything inaccurate or unfair about the definitions I mentioned as being very general, just that they were rather boring and unimaginative. A couple might have gone unnoticed or unremarked, but so many in a single puzzle stood out.
  28. 9m, solving late in the day and after a few glasses of wine over dinner. So fairly straightforward stuff. Helped by living very nearly in 20dn and remembering the plant from the last time it came up, quite recently and with a very similar clue. On that occasion I messed up by putting in ARTEMESIA: once bitten…
  29. A late entry. Someone on the QC forum said this was approachable. I got started and kept going to finish it with Sweet Corn. Artemisia an unknown but was able to work it out. At one point I had Smart Meters for 13d. The excellent Chelsea Tractor disposed of that. David
  30. Did this after today’s (Wed) puzzle and blog, no time yesterday for it. 15 minutes with no issues. Bought a car from a specialist LHD place in Barnes not long ago so knew where it was.
  31. Not as late as me, Pip. 31 minutes, with BARNES/SWEET CORN (the latter of which I didn’t parse) my LOsI.

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