Times Cryptic 26486

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I’ve no exact timing for this one as I solved it in two sessions and managed to lose track, but I’m sure it wasn’t less than 40 minutes. Very enjoyable on the whole with one clue that appeared to rely on a bad homophone until a little research proved otherwise. 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 Beginner’s brief worked out in area is right (7-6)
CURTAIN-RAISER – CURT (brief), anagram [worked out] of IN AREA IS, R (right)
8 Clergyman dropping off Conservative shortly (4)
ANON – {c}ANON (clergyman) [dropping off Conservative]
9 Trying time in Paris is following creation of fiction? (4-6)
TEST-FLYING – T (time), EST (in Paris, is), F (following), LYING (creation of fiction). With such a vague definition there was no chance of biffing here but the wordplay led nicely to the answer if one was able to unravel it.
10 Neither taxed nor tasked? (4-4)
DUTY-FREE – A cryptic definition that relies on two meanings of “duty”
11 Improve quality of garden Richelieu used to some extent (6)
ENRICH – Hidden [used to some extent] in {gard}EN RICH{elieu}
13 Telescopes, initially scarce, procured? Yes – getting used by girls (10)
SPYGLASSES – First letters [initially] of S{carce} P{rocured} Y{es} G{etting}, LASSES (girls)
16 Recalled somewhere to sell vehicle (4)
TRAM – MART (somewhere to sell) reversed [recalled]
17 German lady reveals deception after loss of diamonds (4)
FRAU – FRAU{d} (deception) [after loss of Diamonds]
18 Soldier dropping scraps, you say? Rewording found (10)
PARAPHRASE – PARA (soldier dropping), PHRASE sounds like [you say] “frays” (scraps – fights)
20 When cold finish move up (6)
ASCEND – AS (when), C (cold), END (finish)
22 The writer’s taken in by a sidekick — bitterness results (8)
ACRIMONY – A, then I’M (the writer’s) contained [taken in] by CRONY (sidekick)
24 Safeguarding investigator, note, in course of show (10)
PROTECTIVE – TEC (investigator) + TI (note) contained by [in course of] PROVE (show)
26 Brief letter of refusal, extremely trite (4)
NOTE – NO (refusal), T{rit}E [extremely]
27 More iron and manly, bowled over actress (7,6)
MARILYN MONROE – Anagram [bowled over] of MORE IRON MANLY
1 Reportedly down wines in historic coastal locations (6,5)
CINQUE PORTS – CINQUE sounds like [reportedly] “sink” (down),  PORTS (wines). This is an odd one because although “cinque” in  French is pronounced  “sank”, in the English term “Cinque Ports” (originally consisting of Dover, Hastings, Hythe, Romney and Sandwich) it is pronounced “sink”.
2 Robert originally along with Dorothy ultimately in mood for it? (5)
RANDY – R{obert} [originally], AND (along with), {Doroth}Y [ultimately]. Nudge nudge, wink wink, yer know wot I mean?
3 Dangerous atmosphere when lawyer enters seeking politician (9)
AFTERDAMP – AFTER (seeking), DA (lawyer – District Attorney), MP (politician). In mining it’s the product of an explosion of the more familiar firedamp.
4 Boy upset females in diners (7)
NOSHERS – SON (boy) reversed [upset], HERS (females). I wondered if there ought to be an apostrophe in “females”.
5 Picture ball of fire, oddly disappearing (5)
ALFIE – {b}A{l}L {o}F {f}I{r}E [oddly disappearing]. Another unbiffable one but the wordplay is simple. Michael Caine or Jude Law, take your pick.
6 Few top his slogans? (9)
SKYWRITER – Cryptic definition
7 Publish / score at Lord’s (3)
RUN – Two definitions
12 Song set he cannot fancy (11)
CHANSONETTE – Anagram [fancy] of SET HE CANNOT. A short French song.
14 Old governor’s rule, not the first, blocking legwear item (9)
GAULEITER – {r}ULE [not the first] contained by [blocking] GAITER (legwear item)
15 Hope surer possibly when he appears? (9)
SUPERHERO – Anagram [possibly] of HOPE SURER with &lit definition
19 Alter position of concrete sign after son leaves (7)
REALIGN – REAL (concrete), {s}IGN [after Son leaves]
21 Nobleman’s praise welcoming clubs is brought up (5)
DUCAL – LAUD (praise) reversed [brought up] containing [welcoming] C (clubs – cards)
23 Officer has name for judge in estate (5)
MANOR – MA{j}OR (officer) has N (name) instead of J (judge)
25 Tease, when bachelor’s married, is borderline? (3)
RIM – RI{b} (tease) has M (married) instead of B (bachelor). The substitution indicator “when bachelor’s married” is very neat.

62 comments on “Times Cryptic 26486”

  1. First onto the club leaderboard again, and a little disappointed not to have scraped in under the 5 minute mark, which seemed llike it might definitely have been on for a while. But the top of the grid proved a little harder than the bottom, with 1ac I think the last one in, as it took a while to strike me as a synonym for beginner and was hard to work out swiftly from the wordplay…

    Enjoying this week so far, as while they haven’t seemed too tough during the solve itself, looking at them afterwards they don’t seem to be below the threshold of erudition and obscurity I expect from the Times. Good work setters!

  2. About 40 minutes for me, so a pleasant solve without too much frustration along the way. Missed the parsing of 18 – I like the ‘Soldier dropping’ bit – and took an unreasonably long time to get the easy anagram at 15. I’d not heard of AFTERDAMP but having come across ‘firedamp’ in cryptics before was a help. GAULEITER was my favourite.

    Seeing CINQUE PORTS reminded me of the Australian PM Sir Robert Menzies who was made Lord Warden after he retired from politics in the mid-60’s. I can still remember seeing him in his robes when he was invested or whatever. I suspect that was about as much as he ever had to do!

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  3. 10:44. Among the first on the leaderboard, solving early in the evening here in Canada. Very similar experience to verlaine, just with everything taking twice as long! I dithered a bit over MARYLIN/MARILYN but felt reasonably sure which was right.
    Jack I thought the puzzles appeared at midnight, in which case I’m quite impressed at your ability to take 40 minutes to solve the puzzle and write your blog by 12.05!
    1. The puzzle is released at midnight UK local time, but the blog clock is always GMT — it does not move ahead by an hour during summer. This explains how Jack can take 40 minutes to solve the puzzle and still post by 12:05 — because it’s 12:05 GMT or 01:05 UK summer time. Hope this helps. MVS
      1. Given the precision and detail of jackkt’s blog, and his stated solving time of 40 minutes over two sessions, it’s obvious that the daylight savings adjustment doesn’t account for his early posting.

        Trust me, he has a time machine.

      2. It’s a nice theory, MVS, and you’re right that sometimes the posting time allotted by TftT can be misleading, but actually I picked up a rickety old TARDIS on ebay for a song. I use it myself and hire it out on occasion to other TftT bloggers. The main concern is that arch enemies the Neutrinos will get hold of one!
        1. I just posted something to the Crossword Club Forum, and observed that that site also uses GMT.

          Given that the UK and USA (where I spend half the year) are no longer in sync when it comes to summer time, the time when the new puzzle comes on in the USA keeps jumping around. MVS

  4. 27 ac Marilyn Munroe was first in closely followed by 15dn SUPER HERO.
    The bottom half snuck in nicely, but as per Verlaine, the top half was somewhat tougher.

    I ufortunately had cheerfully entered BUSY BODY at 10ac DUTY FREE should have been a write in, thus LOI and much time wasted!


    Jack as per keriothe how did you manage to solve and blog in just five minutes or are you a Time Lord like Verlaine?

    And I have a serious suggestion for getting rid of the repetitiously horrible word ‘anagrind’mbeloved of NtN by simply using the symbol


    to flag up the anagram indicator.

    horryd shanghai

    1. Horryd, I don’t think Nick is the only blogger to use anagrind and anagrist. They’re very useful and descriptive terms aren’t they?

      Put me down as a “remain”.

    2. Horryd

      If you are looking for your long message timed at 4:29 on the subject of anagrind etc I have deleted it. You’ve had your say on the subject on many previous occasions and enough is enough. Bloggers are free to use whatever terminology they choose when explaining clues.

      Your continuing campaign against a particular other blogger has also been noted and any further remarks of that nature will also be deleted by me if I happen to see them.

      Edited at 2016-08-09 04:42 am (UTC)

  5. Not too challenging, but some nice clues, particularly TEST-FLYING.

    I wrote CINQUE PORTS in immediately, thinking “where the hell do I know that from?”. Thanks bletchleyreject for putting me out of my misery, it was old Pig Iron Bob.

    Good start to the week. Thanks setter and Jack.

  6. A little change from 29 minutes for me, with the top causing the hold-ups: I tried ‘curtain-caller’ at 1a and ‘test-flight’ at 9a. SKYWRITER, which I think we had similarly clued within the last year, was my last in.
  7. I agree with John’s comment re HERS meaning female’s, so some reworking needed on that clue.
  8. Happy to have finished this one in 51:18, especially with CINQUE PORTS, AFTERDAMP, CHANSONETTE and GAULEITER at least feeling unknown at the time. Musing on it, a couple might have come up before. Perhaps I need to start making flashcards for myself…

    As with bletchleyreject I managed to miss the PARA parsing, and biffed a few others, so thanks for the explanations!

  9. One of those where getting 1ac first instead of nearly last would have made a big difference to my time of 17.42. I might then have avoided the perfectly reasonable “DRAY” (yard reversed) at 16.
    AFTERDAMP from wordplay (it’s hyphenated in Chambers), again probably quicker in if I’d had the initial A.
    Are NOSHERS diners? I do hope not if I’m eating out at Heston’s place. Sounds so, well, common.
    1. Yes, it’s in the dictionary. I don’t recall seeing it before but we had NOSHERY, most recently AUGUST 2015 #26174.

      nosher – noun a person who noshes; spec. a person who samples food before buying it

      Edited at 2016-08-09 07:52 am (UTC)

      1. According to Jewish belief, to NOSH is to snack. So allowed on the Sabbath. So it could be NOT dining.
  10. Nothing to frighten the horses here, pleasant straightforward solve

    I’m trying to remember ever using the word “nosher”. “nosh” and “nosh-up” as slang for food, yes plus “scoffer” and “swede-gnawer” and one or two other similar phrases but not as I recall “nosher”

    1. The boxer-turned-stuntman “Nosher” Powell (not to be confused with the rivers-of-blood politician “Knocker” Powell) was apparently nicknamed “Nosher” by his mother because of his enormous appetite when he was a child. (Amazon has his biography “Nosher!” on sale from £0.01, either hardback or paperback.)
      1. “Nosher” Powell? Saw a film “Eat the Rich” about 20 years ago, comedy (by the young-ones crew – Mayall, Elton, etc?) set to heavy metal music, one of its main characters was British PM Nosh Powell. When Palestinian terrorists stormed the Israeli Embassy in London he marched in, banged (literally) a few Israeli and Palestinian heads together, and thus solved all the Middle-East problems.
        Same as others, top few hard to bring to front of mind, but still a quickish 20:41. Cinque Ports heard of, don’t know how. Would have guessed Channel Islands, or Italy (Cinque Terre). Afterdamp annoyingly recalcitrant – one of my favourite books is “Rose,” a Victorian love story set around a coal-mining explosion in Wigan, so I should be familiar with firedamp, afterdamp, etc.
  11. As others have noted the top half was more chewy than the bottom. Started off with ANON and RANDY, then worked my way steadily around with no particular holdups until I had 1a, 3d(where I had DAMP), 9a and 6d left. The curtain finally lifted and the rest flew into place after 39 minutes. Particularly liked PARA for soldier dropping. Thanks Setter and Jack.
  12. 45 minutes … so getting harder for me. TEST FLYING delayed me while I tried TEST FLIGHT, TEST FIRING and some crazy anagram of EST and FICTION. DNK AFTERDAMP or CHANSONETTE but fairly clued.
  13. Is it me or does there seem to be a growing trend amongst setters for the letter-substitution clue? There’s two in this particular one and I’ve noticed it creeping in a lot recently. As a result I’m becoming more adept at spotting them. Solving them, however, is another matter altogether.
    Around 35 minutes all told with the top left half diagonal causing me the most (more?) problems.
    1. The other trend I’m noticing is more and more foreign words in languages I don’t speak – French & German. Today we’ve got est and frau, yesterday we had eine, the day before jungfrau etc.
      Time for some languages I do speak: how about some Thai and Italian words, setters?
  14. Thinking about it, I have never been out with anyone called Dorothy, in the mood or not. A solid 19’06” today, without parsing 18ac or 25d correctly. Was momentarily musing about CINQUE, like jack, wondering why the clue did not specify ‘downed’, but all is now clear, Franglais has been around for many centuries.
  15. I solved all but NW quickly. I’d put in SCOT FREE rather than DUTY FREE, which did more or less work as an answer, so CINQUE PORTS was hidden from me until eventually duty called. Enjoyable today, finished in 35 minutes. That’s hot enough for me. Is Plaisir d’amour une chanson or une chansonette? Either way, I can’t get Joan Baez out of my head. Can ‘Ils ont changé ma chanson’? Anyone else remember Melanie? I saw her live once and really enjoyed it.
    1. I had an album of hers once, not sure if it’s still lurking in a pile of vinyl in the loft! I liked Brand New Key which was memorably spoofed by the Worzels
      1. I’ve got a brand new combined harvester… I also remember another spoof:”I’ve got a brand new pair of underpants, that’s why I sing in this key.”
        1. I’ve just found the album, The Very Best of Melanie in the sideboard in the hall and now have it on my USB turntable recording, ready to be transferred to iTunes etc :-)Haven’t heard that other spoof. Must do a search for it 🙂
          1. Hope you enjoy it. I couldn’t find the other spoof so maybe it was one of those moments from a comedy show that sticks. I see she’s playing UK venues in October.
            1. I found this on an Irish Abroad site….
              “I`ve got a brand new pair of underpants
              You`ve got a brand new key
              I think that we should get together and
              Try them on to see
              I been lookin` around awhile
              You got something for me
              Oh, I got a brand new pair of underpants
              You got a brand new key”.
              Anyway Melanie is now ensconced on my iPhone. It made me laugh to listen to Alexander Beetle with the immortal line “‘Cos it’s difficult to catch, An excited Alexander you’ve mistaken for a match”.
                1. She did the AA Milne stuff well. It was 1975 at the Albert Hall when I saw her. She sang her big stuff In the hour, I really loved Harold, Johnny Boy as if she was on the edge. She was a great Dylan interpreter too. Her Tambourine Man is good.

                  Edited at 2016-08-09 02:41 pm (UTC)

  16. 18 min – top half presented most difficulty – not helped by first ideas of KITE-FLYING and SCOT FREE. I suppose you could just about get away without the apostrophe in 4dn (which was my LOI, after 1ac) by thinking of SHEs as opposed to HEs.
    1. Oxford has SHE only as a singular noun (‘Is that a he or a she?’), but in any case the item clues ‘females’ as HERS.
  17. 22 mins, held up by sticking in a second SUPERHERO at 6dn from a selection of crossers, until it became clear that this made a nonsense of 9 ac. Otherwise pretty straightforward so thanks setter and Jack
  18. I had Gaulerter for 14d, using garter as the legwear. Thought it looked wrong.

    Just under 15 minutes, which is very fast for me.


  19. 12:26 with AFTERDAMP and GAULEITER from wordplay. I also paused at the hers/females thing.

    There were some interesting word forms here like test-flying instead of flight and protect -ive rather than -ing or -ion.

    RUN was the first clue I looked at but the last I solved.

    I’m not sure if its deliberate with RANDY at 2d but there’s quite a lot of naughtiness in here if you know where to look.

    1. I’m a bit concerned about the state of your mind, Penfold! Your real name isn’t Cosmo Smallpiece by any chance?
  20. Steady 32m solve with a couple of bursts but mostly slow puzzling out of what I thought were an inviting set of clues. I had to trust the cryptic on the ports – well south of my knowledge of UK geography – and the old governor. And only a vague memory of the afterdamp but as Mercutio suggested it was enough. Good puzzle and blog – thanks setter and Jack.
  21. 13 mins. I’m with those who had more trouble in the top half and like some others I finished with CURTAIN-RAISER, in my case following AFTERDAMP. I didn’t have a problem with the HERS in 4dn because the expression “his and hers” almost always appears without an apostrophe. I did wonder if some solvers would have trouble with 1dn if they had never heard the correct pronunciation before, and Stuart has my sympathy because “gaulerter” does indeed fit the wordplay. I had no problem with the correct GAULEITER but that was down to having the requisite GK.
    1. I still have a problem with HERS for females, given that in the example you give the meaning is typically adjectival, ‘for a man and woman respectively’, as Collins has it. I think you can expand this to ‘of a man and woman respectively’, but then we’re in prime possessive country, i.e. ‘female’s’!
      1. Incidentally the OED has a similar definition for HIM , so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to encounter HIMS some time soon!

    2. No problem with “hers”. OED has HER as a noun meaning “A female person, a woman.”

      Example: 1939 A. Christie Murder is Easy ii. 28 Tell me about him? It’s a her. Her name’s Bridget Conway.

      1. Hm. I can see it works in the singular as in the OED example but in the clue we have “females” and I don’t think the example adapts to the plural:

        It would have to start “Tell me about them” in which case the gender ceases to matter, or “Tell me about hims? It’s hers” which is clearly nonsense.

        But if we just say OED has HER = (a)female(person) so HERS = females, we really need a context in which it could be used. I can’t think of one, but maybe you can?

        1. Could you pluralise “is it a him or a her?” when asking about a dog, for example, to “are they hims or hers?”?
        2. The OED also cites:

          1995 V. Hamilton Her Stories 40 Little hers and hims tippy-toed on cobwebs..Tiny sister- and brother-ones made cobweb swings on the branches.

  22. I came here expecting to find outrage over GAULEITER, which took me longer than the rest of the crossword – between debating GAULERTER and GAULEITER, and wondering if I was missing something altogether and there was an alternative spelling of GLOUCESTER.

    Rest of it was pretty straightforward.

      1. I have read massively about WW2 for 50 years or so, and Gauleiter wasn’t at all familiar to me. (Still not complaining about the clue, though).
      2. Not him, but someone like him: “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” I’ve read, maybe got Gauleiter from there. Though I thought I knew it from Hogan’s Heroes in the 60s, along with all the other interesting sounding ranks – Sturmbannfuehrer, Obergruppenfuehrer, etc.
  23. About 30 minutes, although it should have been quicker. MY LOI’s and greatest hold ups were the crossing TEST-FLYING and SKYWRITER. The latter came first after my brain clicked into gear. Everything else was OK, even the CINQUE PORTS and the GAULEITER. Regards.
  24. About 3 hours and 45 mins. Relatively quick for me! Of course, I take on each Times crossword like Tantric sex with Sting’s wife: never rushing to a climax but slowly building; occasionally stopping altogether and thinking “I am never going to get there.” Or, “Even if I do the wood won’t be worth the cutting!” My last in was Gaulteiter because, rather than an old governor, I thought he was that effete French chap who designs clothing! Oh well!
    1. Tantric sex…wood – we’re back with Cosmo Smallpiece. Congratulations on the finish. Never mind the time. Many of us (always excluding the Bletchley types) have been there.
    2. Sting has of course since clarified that his 7-hour tantric sex sessions include a movie, a meal and a few hours begging.
  25. My usual time (just over an hour) and after the usual palliative break. Quite enjoyable with some obscure clues and concepts (such as AFTERDAMP). The LOIs after the break were CURTAIN RAISER, TEST FLYING and SKY WRITER.

    GAULEITER is not really a very pleasant old governor — they were the ones the Nazis appointed to rule their empire, whose administrative districts were called GAU. And as for NOSH and its derivatives, my COED says it’s 19th century and comes from Yiddish, but there is an ancient Germanic word now spelled NASCHEN with the same pronunciation and also meaning to snack, with many derivatives including the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s delicatessen market. Yiddish borrowed it from there.

    Edited at 2016-08-09 09:13 pm (UTC)

  26. Not my favourite puzzle. I may be wrong, but the puzzle seems to have the hallmarks of a regular Grauniad setter whose contributions often contain within them clues that are both brilliant and rather schoolboyish. If I’m right, then I’m sure that Penfold is also correct in suspecting that there is some naughtiness going on elsewhere in the grid, apart from 2d. And, are diners ‘noshers’? I think of diners as folks who eat in a dignified way, and noshers as quite different. Probably an age thing.
  27. 9:43 for me – not a disaster, but off the pace. (Off verlaine’s pace at any rate, but he does seem to be in rather good form at the moment.) Held up here and there, in particular by SKYWRITER (I found it difficult to think of any word that would fit the crossing letters) and SPYGLASSES (with P, A and final S in place, I couldn’t get SPECTACLES out of my mind).

    For all that, basically a pleasant, straightforward solve.

  28. About 3 hours and 45 mins. Relatively quick for me! Of course, I take on each Times crossword like Tantric sex with Sting’s wife: never rushing to a climax but slowly building; occasionally stopping altogether and thinking “I am never going to get there.” Or, “Even if I do the wood won’t be worth the cutting!” My last in was Gaulteiter because, rather than an old governor, I thought he was that effete French chap who designs clothing! Oh well!
  29. Put me down as apoplectic re 1 down.

    It’s a bit rough to expect someone not familiar with the term to guess that I’m looking for a homophone that’s mispronounced, badly, when there’s a perfectly reasonable alternative in CONCUR PORTS.

    At least give me downed with the last two letters struck off or something!

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