Times Cryptic 26581

I’m posting this for Ulaca: 

My second voyage in the time machine proved no less memorable than the first. While the inchoate thrill of maidenhood transcended was absent from this mission, I still spent much time looking out with awe upon the vast cast of the heavens twinkling at me with a look that seemed to say ‘We knew The Donald would win’.

I will be brief this week in my description of the labyrinthine interior of Jack’s Palace. Continuing further along the corridor off which I had discovered the Caged Room last time, I tiptoed along holding my lantern aloft, stopping only momentarily to observe a staircase on the right leading down under into what from the odour emanating from it I took to be a particularly fell and noxious place inhabited by semi-savages. A sign proclaiming ‘No Pommy Bastards or Sheilahs!’ sent a frisson down my spine and I knew this was a place I should ever enter only at my own peril.

It was through the next opening on the right that I found myself being drawn, into a room possessing the same kind of neatness and order I had observed upon first passing through the portal of the machine. But this was patently not Jack’s handiwork. Instead of oaken fireplaces, bookshelves, nooks and crannies, I was confronted by spreadsheets and graphs giving information on items as disparate as vintages in French vineyards, a comparison of the efficacy of parenting techniques, conversion tables for ‘haute cuisine’ and other things which I have now mercifully forgotten.

Imagine my surprise when, amongst all the glistening chrome and polished surfaces, my eye was drawn to an abstract representation of a maple leaf under which sat a Vinotheque wine storage cabinet with more dials and buttons than the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Approaching the cabinet, I saw that one of the doors was off its hinges, and lying on the floor in what can only be described as a sea of ooze with what appeared to be bits of carrots floating in it were a dozen or more cans of beer, some crushed, some with fag-ends congealed in their openings.

Turning from this vile sight in terror and disgust and rushing for the door, I had time yet to glimpse a folded piece of paper which was protruding from between a jar of Saigon Cinnamon and an earthenware pot of Himalayan Pink Salt. Unwrapping it, I received a shock from which I am not yet fully recovered. For, in large type at the top of the page were emblazoned the words ‘My 100 Favourite Bisto Recipes’.

31 minutes with one bish.

1 Eg Truman’s protest about Republican getting army backing (8)
DEMOCRAT – DEMO + C + R + TA (reversed).
5 The hospital should send us this set of clothing! (6)
OUTFIT – a rather good whimsical clue, which bamboozled me to the end. A hospital should send us out [in a ] fit [state]…
8 Seize boat in scam woman’s initially engineered (10)
CONFISCATE – CAT (boat) in CON + F (female/woman) + IS (‘s) + E[ngineered]. My penultimate, as I couldn’t see anything bar con.
9 Work in Northumberland? Emphatically not! (4)
NOPE – OP in NE. I hate this word, especially when people use it online. What’s wrong with ‘No’ or ‘I don’t believe so, old boy’?
10 Possibly bitch furiously about them, being of possessive type? (3,2,3,6)
DOG IN THE MANGER – DOG + IN ANGER about THEM. You know, I’ve always thought it was ‘dog in a manger’, and this is a phrase I use often. Extraordinary, as David Coleman would say.
11 Ground-breaking tutorial cut short by head of Latin (7)
SEMINAL – SEMINA[r] + L[atin]. Almost everything is ‘seminal ‘ these days, if it isn’t ‘massive’.
13 Cross about one’s king’s bad government (7)
MISRULE – MULE (cross, i.e. hybrid) around IS (one’s) + R (king).
15 Part of bridge incorporating copper in Swiss city (7)
BASCULE – CU in BASLE for part of a bridge I’ve never heard of.
18 Law experts tip off writers of laments (7)
LEGISTS – [e]LEGISTS for a word I wish I’d never heard of.
21 Plucky types may use one, subject to current availability (8,6)
ELECTRIC GUITAR – – a cryptic definition. Was anyone else put in mind of TfTT stalwart McText, the Birkenhead Beatle?
22 Boat-builder’s failure to comply with GP’s request? (4)
NOAH – ‘Say “ah”, please’. ‘Sorry, nothing doing.’ Like it.
23 Rider managed to cross island after end of late crusade (10)
EQUESTRIAN – [lat]E + QUEST (crusade) + RAN around I (island); ‘rider’.
24 Monkey displaying great vitality at top of tree (6)
VERVET – VERVE + T[ree].
25 Popular soldier making comeback in valid scheme (8)
INTRIGUE – IN + GI (reversed) in TRUE.
1 Unscrambles notes about Eliot’s first poems (7)
DECODES – D and C (musical notes) about E[liot] + ODES.
2 Self-advancing tactics? It’s what non-sporty schoolkids do? (4,5)
MIND GAMES – two parts to this, one on the definitional side, the other on the whimsical; neither that brilliant, in my personal opinion.
3 Hair feature well away from Essex town — not in Paris (7)
CHIGNON – CHIG[well] + NON. Essex doesn’t have many sophisticated folk, but most of them live in Chigwell.
4 Strong drink and salmon consumed by everyone (7)
ALCOHOL – COHO in ALL. The coho salmon is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon.
5 Working poet I rave about (9)
OPERATIVE – – anagram*: POET I RAVE is the anagrist, ‘about’ is the anagrind.
6 Singer cheers knight, one getting older (7)
TANAGER – TA + N + AGER. Tricky bird, dead simple wordplay.
7 Put at risk removing centre of blade from beard (7)
IMPERIL – IMPERI[a]L; a type of facial hair worn by Edward VII, his heir, countless admirals and, um, Mel Gibson.
12 Completely over the top, soldiers entering cultivated area (9)
14 Disturbing, being out of bed and doing my job! (9)
UPSETTING – UP + SETTING (from the setter’s perspective).
16 Amazing article — not all you and I digested (7)
AWESOME – WE in A (article) + SOME (not all); I hear this word, I think of David Hasselhoff.
17 What we may send, say, when ordering his Uncle Vanya? (7)
CHEKHOV – not Checkov, as I styled him, having rejected Chehkov.
18 Reported theatre act, having first left City desk? (7)
LECTERN – L + EC + TERN (sounds like ‘turn); ‘desk’.
19 Good Queen protecting weakling — a pig, possibly (7)
20 Medical instrument suppliers originally manufactured in grey (7)
SYRINGE – S[uppliers] + IN GREY* (‘manufactured’ is the anagrind).

60 comments on “Times Cryptic 26581”

  1. Only 25 minutes for this one despite unknowns TANAGER, VERVET and LEGISTS. I had 8ac parsed as CON (scam), FI’S (woman’s), CAT (boat), E{ngineered}, with Fi short for Fiona. I enjoyed the medical humour at 5ac and 22ac.

    On checking the unknowns, LEGIST and VERVET have only appeared in Mephisto puzzles until now. TANAGER came up twice within a few days in December 2011 and more recently in January this year. I think on all previous occasions the clues mentioned that it’s American.

    Edited at 2016-11-28 03:56 am (UTC)

  2. A sparkling nine-under (21mins) for a Happy Monday in the Clubhouse. Come out fighting Ghengis Galspray!
    I would expect some really fast times back in Blighty.

    FOI 1dn DECODES LOI OUTFIT (what!!? – beyond the parse!)

    DNK 18ac LEGISTS but had heard of the African guenon monkey, 24a cVERVET. 6dn TANAGERS abound in very old crosswords.


  3. My thanks to the Tardis Controller for steering the spaceship back on track and for his parsing of 8a, where it turns out I couldn’t see anything beyond ‘con’ for a reason.
  4. for some reason ‘plucky’ led me to think of eyebrows and such; even when I came back to find my one error, it took me a moment to realize that it was GUITAR not ‘cutter’, which I’d thrown in in desperation. Never heard of Chigwell, but. I also threw in MISRULE, and forgot to return to figure it out, but at least it was correct. I had no idea how OUTFIT worked; thanks, U. It’s now my COD.
  5. 9m. Lots of biffing this morning, but also a couple of unknowns to construct from wordplay, including my last in BASCULE.
    I’ve never been in Jack’s Tardis, but clearly someone a bit like me has spent time there. A bit like me, except neat and tidy, and more concerned than I am about providing a varied diet to his dog.
  6. 6:43, no scared horses. Quite a few biffables, but also lost some time essaying SONNETS at 1dn and trying to remember all the Swiss cities to work out which one could possibly fit into _ASCU__.
  7. All done in about 15mins bar VERVET and LEGISTS, both u/ks, So I chucked in ‘velvet’ and ‘legases’ and moved on…
  8. Solid par to start the week.

    Seems to me like some people shouldn’t be allowed near a time machine.

  9. I would have been more annoyed at my typo of “legises” when I’d spent all that time working out LEGISTS, but as it turned out I’d have had a DNF in my 45 minutes regardless, as apparently CZECHOV is what my morning brain comes up with when it’s trying to think of CHEKHOV. I suppose it’s a not-unreasonable transliteration of a foreign name, at least, and if you don’t know how to spell him, a homophone clue can’t help much…

    Shame, though, as I did fine with the unknowns other than LEGISTS, and with Redcliffe Bridge in Bristol being a BASCULE, I was even ahead on some of the GK, by the sounds of things.

    Edited at 2016-11-28 08:29 am (UTC)

    1. Those who warmed up on the QC this morning had an advantage as 23ac includes the name of the writer as a reminder of the correct spelling.
      1. I got the writer pretty quickly, daughter having recently been in Three Sisters, but could not parse it. Now realised it is ‘cheque off’ as in sending one off. However, since I buy all my new books via the well known company named after a legendary tribe of women, and my used books from Lincoln’s place, this passed me by.
    2. I really wanted to write CZECHOV too! It’s because I’ve been watching lots of New Wave Czech cinema and talking to the Czech contingent at my boardgames group recently.
  10. 15 minutes, with LEGISTS from WP only and OUTFIT not understood until I read the blog (Doh! Brilliant.)
    Is Ulaca stranded on an exoplanet? My Tardis is the basic model, bearing no resemblance to the exotic one described above, thank goodness. You could mistake it for a VW Passat and get a nasty surprise if you were thinking ‘just pop down to Tesco’. But being based on the 2 litre diesel power plant, it is still waiting for the software upgrade and the compensation resulting from the class action.
    1. It has been known for years that if you know how to go about it, you can access future days Times crosswords, up to a week or so ahead. This is useful as it avoids the need for staying up past midnight to solve and blog today’s crossword.
      My own view is that the less said about it all the better. I disapprove of advertising and making a joke out of it – it is a loophole that could easily be plugged if the Times so desire, or we give them cause.
        1. You may well ask. Someone(who probably belongs to a cod HG Wells or Conan Doyle club) thinks he’s funny.

          Edited at 2016-11-28 11:26 am (UTC)

        2. I think there are veiled references to other habitues of our little community contained within these posts, though of course satire is a glass in which a man is wont to see every other face reflected but his own, so I’m confident that none of them is about me…
  11. 15.04. The only clue I struggled with was EQUESTRIAN, for the sole reason that I overthought “rider” and rootled around for the legal version. Just someone on a horse, then.
    I could have struggled with CONFISCATE too, but like Ulaca couldn’t get near anything after CON. Is F for woman okay? I would be all that happy with C for measure, or M for distance.
    OUTFIT easily the star of the show. Made me smile. Chigwell, being primarily a collection of gated mansions for semi-retired East End gangsters, is not so much a town as a holding pen for Wormwood Scrubs.
    1. F is in the ODO (which is what counts, I think) as an abbreviation for female, and also for feminine. Think French grammar books, or shop clothing tags ..
      1. Yeah, quite, I’m familiar with that. But the clue has woman’s, not female’s, and it seems to me that to clue an abbreviation with a cognate word is dodgy. If that, then why not “distance” for M(ile)? Would “husband” work for M(ale)? Or “girl” for D(aughter)?

        Edited at 2016-11-28 09:49 am (UTC)

        1. Take tehe point, but though some males are not husbands .. all females are women, surely, in this context?
          1. In today’s mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, I wouldn’t be so sure. But in any case, not all females are women. Some are girls, for example. You might get away with “all women are females” perhaps, but that doesn’t mean that “woman” clues F. It clues W.
    2. I biffed in both EQUESTRIAN and CONFISCATE so didn’t have to worry about these pesky details. Speed-solvers (ish) are much less clever than we’d like everyone to think we are…
  12. And a second thought on F/woman, given that I didn’t really think about it the first time. Is that actually Fi’s, for which read Fiona’s? I’d be happier if it was.
    1. That’s certainly how I solved it. Because it didn’t cause me a problem and I’d parsed it I didn’t bother reading our esteemed blogger’s version, otherwise I’d have piped up earlier.

      Edited at 2016-11-28 09:51 am (UTC)

      1. Oops. And I did read through, but obviously not sufficiently thoroughly. Still, great minds, eh?

  13. Thought I might be on for a PB, but slowed in the bottom half, VERVET, LEGISTS unknown, and attempting to parse CHEKHOV, as noted. Knew BASCULE as that’s Tower Bridge, lived 200 yards from it when little. 19′. Thanks jack and setter.
  14. My eldest has just become one so having to moderate my previous Shakespearean demand of killing them all. Late starter today with some business first but found this a comfortable solve while watching the cricket. As someone was speculating last week, we’ve now found Alastair Cook can’t handle Ashwin on clover. About 40 not fully engaged minutes to finish this. DNK TANAGER but clear from the clue. Can’t read MISRULE without hearing Harold Wilson preceding it with “After 13 years of Tory…” My only two impressions are Harold and John Arlott, neither of whom are in much demand nowadays.
  15. 23.49. Haltingly straightforward, with eyebrows raised over the arcane bascule/legists line. I’m sure the woman is Fi though we do have a whacking great f in the middle of the grid. I’ll take it as a tribute to Hillary the Democrat, if unintended, and the great fight she put up against what finally won, which was surely antifeminism.
  16. 17 min: LOI 8ac, not fully parsed – I agree F = woman’s is unsatisfactory, though I don’t like Fi’s much better.
    No problem with 15ac because of Tower Bridge, though 18ac went in from wordplay as a plausible word to fit definition. Wasted some time on 5ac, trying to involve WARD somehow.
  17. I’m with the Fi’s here. Ploughed through this quite happily until I was convinced that the literal for 23a was crusade and nothing in my mind could persuade me otherwise.
  18. About 50 minutes for me, over a greasy spoon breakfast whilst listening to three dowagers argue about archery handicapping systems. It was a surreal experience, made even more surreal when I finished and came here to read Jack / Ulaca’s blog. Obviously, under such conditions very little can be read into my time, but this didn’t feel like the usual Monday fare. I had the usual unknowns and my last one in was NOAH after also misspelling CHEKHOV despite having done the QC first. I did manage to finish though, so it must have been fair.

    Thanks all

  19. 10:35 finishing with an alphabet trawl to get as far as VERVE and deciding that a VERVET could very likely be a monkey.

    I couldn’t parse CONFISCATE and think Jack’s explanation for FIS is more likely than Ulaca’s.

    Thanks to Ulaca for the blog 🙂

  20. 11:35 so nothing too hairy, got VERVET from the wordplay -CONFISCATE went in from seeing CON and CAT in the wordplay without thinking of the rest.
  21. Zipped through this one in 20 minutes despite having to construct VERVET, TANAGER and LEGISTS from wordplay. A most enjoyable solve, thanks setter. I also liked OUTFIT. FOI, NOPE. LOI, EQUESTRIAN. Thanks U for the blog from the Netherworldian depths of the space/time continuum.
  22. Oh dear. My brain was clearly elsewhere when I did this one. Not only did I find it quite chewy for a Monday, but I managed to blow 22ac, putting DOCK. Didn’t quite fit, and was only 30% parsable, but in it went.
  23. Although I like setters to incorporate some basic foreign-language skills into crosswords, I think they should be careful. NON is not the French for NOT, even though NON would be translated as NOT in a small number of situations. I was trying to incorporate PAS into the word.
    1. There are lots of situations where NON would be translated as ‘not’:
      > je pense que non
      > partez-vous ou non?
      > non seulement
      This seems good enough to me.
      1. Pas à moi. In the English part of the clue even the most tenuous of synonymity is fair game, but the foreign-language bits should be as clear as possible. “Not in Paris” = “non” is too much of a stretch for me. “Not in ancient Rome” would’ve been fine.
        1. I really can’t see how translating ‘non seulement’ as ‘not only’ is a stretch! In fact I think it’s the only way you can translate it.
  24. Around 20 minutes, but I find I don’t know how to spell CHEKHOV (CHECHKOV). So beaten today. I was OK with everything else, although I didn’t know BASCULE, NHO Chigwell and thought it might have been something like Chokig. Both appear strange. LOI was OUTFIT. I liked the EQUESTRIAN clue. Regards.
    1. There’s a popular sit-com over here called Birds of a Feather. The protagonists live in Chigwell 🙂
  25. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, and to make matters worse I ended up staying in work for an hour longer than I’d intended, so consequently I was pretty tired when I started this, and I probably should have saved it for another time because I kept drifting badly. I ended up taking a not very enjoyable 27 mins for what should have been a much more straightforward solve, with LECTERN my LOI after EQUESTRIAN.
  26. Breezy Monday solve which took half an hour or so.

    Trying to parse today’s blog took rather longer.

  27. Well, somehow I managed to post earlier as “anonymous”, under which unintentional cloak I pointed out that I had managed to put “dock” as the answer for 22ac. It gets worse, though – I’ve just noticed that “dock” was only made possible by my misspelling CHEKHOV as “Checkov”. And this, after a childhood spent watching Star Trek.
    1. Just to confuse the spellings further, Star Trek’s humble navigator-turned-Admiral is Pavel Chekov

      Edited at 2016-11-29 10:44 am (UTC)

  28. 9:05 for me, not really on the ball after a busy day. I made unduly heavy weather of 8ac (taking a long time to spot Fi, who, I’m pretty sure, is what the setter intended) and 23ac (not helped by taking a long time to spot that I’d typed LECTURN into 18dn).

    Like others I knew BASCULE from Tower Bridge.

    A pleasant start to the week.

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