Times Cryptic 26590 – December 8, 2016 Well, put together

A nice quick solve for me in 14.42, helped enormously by the vast majority of the clues looking like a collection of IKEA assembly instructions: insert part a into part b, attach part c to section d, invert part 2 and try it an several places in part 2 until it looks right. Apart from a few anagrams (throw all the parts into the air and hope they land looking something like the picture in the catalogue) only the rather fun 8d stands out from the crowd and was inevitably the one that gave me most trouble even when I had all the crossing letters.
Here’s what I thunk
Clue, definition, SOLUTION


1 Prayer archdeacon at old university cuts in assembly, for example  (10,4)
COLLECTIVE NOUN  Coll’ect is a prayer used in Western Christian worship, and an Archdeacon’s title is VENerable. He, with O(ld) U(niversity) cuts into IN. OED says “assembly” is the collective noun for a group of clergy. I thought it was a surplice.
9 Oddly I can bear oxygen, being not dependent on it  (9)
ANAEROBIC, a sort of &lit, with I CAN BEAR O(xygen) providing the anagram fodder, indicated by oddly.
10 Marker Irish are able to put outside  (5)
CAIRN  IR(ish) with CAN, are able, outside. Fresh from a very recent, as yet unblogged, crossword, when it was rather more succinctly clued
11 The 6 a French artist mostly has yen for?  (5)
MONEY  The artist is MONEt, end removed, Y(en) added for the necessary, another euphemism for the solution provided by 6d
12 Restore charge for crossing a German thoroughfare  (9)
REINSTATE  Charge RATE, a German EIN and thoroughfare ST(reet). Assemble in suitable order.
13 Prediction favouring actors on Eastenders initially  (8)
FORECAST Favouring FOR, actors CAST, E(stenders) primarily. Assemble sensibly.
15 Settle up with small state keeping first of primitive manuscripts  (6)
PAPYRI  Guest appearance from 26585, this time clued as settle up PAY, small state R(hode) I(sland) and including the first letter of Primitive.
17 They all leave books on former alliance of nations (6)
EXEUNT omnes, technically, for they all leave. Former EX, EU alliance of nations (not for much longer, perhaps) and N(ew) T(estament) books Assemble with due care.
19 Better territory ultimately — except for a S American rodent!  (8)
CAPYBARA  A phenomenally large guinea pig. Better CAP, territory ultimately Y, except for BAR and a A. Assemble linearly
22 Gravity of appeal for help by son investing capital (9)
SOBERNESS  Appeal for help SOS, S(on), containing capital BERNE Assemble painstakingly
23 Chairman once primarily reporting in antipodean language  (5)
MAORI  The one time Chairman is MAO, the first letters of Reporting In. Assemble in sequence
24 Like pathological agents researchers originally stored in small bottle  (5)
VIRAL  The first letter of Researchers place in a VIAL, or small bottle.
25 Exciting sixty minutes employed in working the land (9)
THRILLING  Sixty minutes, HR, and working the land TILLING. Assemble intuitively.
26 Loony role tunny plays? No way!  (3,2,4,5)
NOT ON YOUR NELLY  The truly odd collection of words at the beginning shrieks anagram. It is. The phase is allegedly Cockney Rhyming slang via Nelly Duff/puff/(breath of ) life. Researching this will drive you rainin’ (rain in Spain, insane). It did cuppa.


1 Repugnant church member’s first attempt to win favour  (5,9)
CHARM OFFENSIVE  Repugnant OFFENSIVE, CH(urch) member ARM. Assemble in the order give.
2 One inclined to accommodate Republican student  (7)
LEARNER  One inclining leaner, R(epublican), assembled in the manner of a rather disappointing Russian doll. If I had a penny for every CV I have seen with “I am a fast leaner” I would have ooh, I dunno, a couple of quid? Ditto (only more so) I posses good powers of observation.
3 See about painter turning up ahead of time  (5)
EARLY  See, the inevitable (and ecclesiastical) ELY and painter turning up A(cadamician) R(oyal) Assemble part b into part a, taking care to choose the right slot.
4 Objection raised over European woman’s Mexican plant (8)
TUBEROSE This one, propagated by objection raised TUB (it’s a down clue) E(uropean) and woman pick-one-of-millions ROSE. Assemble in the original order.
5 Fall guy showing energy around Court One  (6)
VICTIM Energy VIM, C(our)T one I. Assemble vigorously.
6 Inescapable point absorbing City fairly regularly  (9)
NECESSARY  Point is NESS, City is EC (- of London postal district), and every other letter of fAiRlY provides the rest.
7 Marked by oneness, like posh people your article can upset  (7)
UNITARY Posh people are U (see under Mitford, Nancy). Then Y(ou)r Article A and can TIN all reversed and glued on.
8 One’s not lost, presumably, behaving thus?  (14)
UNHESITATINGLY  Based on “he who hesitates is lost”. So that he who doesn’t isn’t.
14 Singer, bad lot, supporting one-time Nicaraguan guerrilla?  (9)
CONTRALTO  Ah what fun we had when the worst thing a president (in this case Ronnie) could do was secretly sell weapons to Iran and use the money to secretly support right wing rebels in Nicaragua. They were the CONTRAs. Fortunately we only need to borrow their name and attach it to a “bad” version of LOT
16 Hard American con man briefly framing a German woman  (8)
HAUSFRAU H(ard) American US and FRAUd, our brief con man, assembled in that order to provide a fitting (probably) frame for A.
18 Ban accordingly restricting business degree  (7)
EMBARGO  Accordingly is ERGO, and a business degree is an MBA. Another minimalist matrioshka project. Many, many years ago, my school chums drew my attention to a lady’s supportive undergarment that was branded “Embargo” until seen in a mirror. How we – um – tittered.
20 A note spies left, avoiding contact with others  (7)
ASOCIAL   A, er, A, note SO (a needle pulling thread) (whoops I did it again, sorry)  spies CIA, L(eft). Assemble in strict order
21 Follow lines about northern aristocrats  (6)
GENTRY  Follow gives GET (do you get it?) lines give R(ailwa)Y and N(orthern) can be slotted into place where it fits.
23 Fellow touring the Italian financial centre (5)
MILAN Fellow gives MAN, the Italian gives IL, place doll two into doll one and sigh. Home of Italy’s Stock Exchange, in case you were wondering where the financial centre came in. That’s not the bit you’re too sexy for. There, I’ve freed you from the Do Re Me earworm. You might not thank me.

62 comments on “Times Cryptic 26590 – December 8, 2016 Well, put together”

  1. I was going great guns until left with nothing but 8d; not thinking of he who, this took me about 5 minutes of fiddling with IN-something then UN-something, the something being various letters producing nothing found in a dictionary. Z, you’ve got a typo at EMBARGO: it’s MBA
    1. Thanks, amended. I’d hate to think all business graduates automatically got Empire honours!
        1. Woo up there Mr. Galspray!

          Perth boy Rolf Harris got an MBE upgraded to OBE and then CBE – all revoked in 2015!

          I think Collingwood’s 17 runs are quite noble.

          I returned my Jim’ll Fix-it Badge to The Palace.

  2. Somewhat ironically, I hesitated to give 8d my all and gave up with _N_E_I_ATINGLY. Now I’m all tingly.

    Nice puzzle though I really found yesterday’s quite enjoyable!

  3. …which I thought was pretty good, but others seem to have breezed through it. No specific hold-ups, though UNHESITATINGLY and COLLECTIVE NOUN were slow to fall, while TUBEROSE was my LOI.

    The wordplay for the unknown CAPYBARA required two guesses, though they both seemed likely and the final result was plausible enough.

    13 under par for the week, expect an almighty crash and burn tomorrow. Thanks setter and Z.

    1. See below and wait until Ulaca comes on with some witty riposte! I think he’s trying to imply some highfalutin version of “rat’s arse”!
  4. … the puzzle arrives here at 8am (except for BST). All done by 8:28, so either I’ve got my mojo back, or this was fairly easy. Particularly pleased to encounter CAPYBARA. Not because of a certain person’s userpic but because a dear-departed colleague always tried to put said rodent in our lists of non-human (but sentient) entities. I preferred bears, badgers and beavers for the alliteration.
    Also relieved not to have the rather stupid recent usage of VIRAL in play here. Obviously a setter with whom I’d get along over a glass of Coopers or two.
  5. Another technical DNF for me. Having steamed through all but two answers in 25 minutes I stared blankly at the remaining gaps for another 15 minutes before deciding enough was enough and resorting to aids. CAPYBARA came up in a puzzle in 2012 and I didn’t know it then either and despite having seen one’s backside almost daily for years in Ulaca’s userpic the name of the creature has failed to register in my brain. UNHESITATINGLY was the other culprit as it’s not a word I would use myself, preferring simply “without hesitation”.
  6. on a par with I SHOULD COCOA! I refer to 26ac a rather simple anagram for us UK solvers – how about the Anglophiles? (In China it is NERRY. The most mispronounsed word in HK is CRISPY – it invariably takes the form CRIPSY)- mais je digresse.
    This was a decent 29 minutes with 1 ac COLLECTIVE NOUN taking more time than it should. I initially had COLLECTING BOWL. 8 dn sort of dropped in UNHESITATINGLY!

    FOI 2dn LEARNER LOI 21dn GENTRY (not sure why!)

    DNK TUBEROSE as a Mexican pale cream flower.


      1. Indeed not! Especially as not so long accused me of being polymathic and then quickly disappeared -I felt terribly guilty! Cooper’s all round!
        1. Expect more disappearances. Most posts arrive here well after I’ve given up on all things web. Then any reply would be vieux chapeau, last night’s Echo, usw.
  7. A capybara ate my tuberose, otherwise I would have finished faster than the 35 min I clocked. Thanks z8.
  8. Another gentle workout with only 8D causing a delay. My LOI as it took some time for the reference to “hesitate” and “lost” to register

    Well assembled z8 – you no doubt have a couple of bits left over plus a handful of screws and no idea what they are for or where they fit!

    1. Like most practitioners of this noble art, I have dozens of metaphorical jars, biscuit boxes and old tobacco tins scattered around my – let’s call it a study. All are stuffed with one-off words, broken ends of definitions, unidentifiable suffixes and fragments of Greek myths. One day I’ll have to get them more organised, because it’s getting much harder to find that quirky little gidget of a word that is the only thing that will fit in the space. I remain convinced (and deluded) that they’ll all come in handy some day.

  9. This was a TV programme too…CAPYBARA well known as used to keep guinea pigs, about 1/400 th of the size

    All but one done in under twenty minutes, but could not do 8d, even though I now think I’ve seen similar before.

    Thanks z and setter.

    Edited at 2016-12-08 09:12 am (UTC)

  10. All done well under 30min target, ending, unsurprisingly with UNHESITATINGLY.

    Janie (on train to Twickenham to watch my goddaughter play in the Varsity match. Go Oxford!)

  11. Another easyish one, apart from hesitatingly putting in UNHESITATINGLY and not seeing the pun. I’ve never known the derivation of NOT ON YOUR NELLY before, so thanks z8. It always sounds as though it comes from the lips of Terry Scott in that worrying schoolboy routine. Almost a record today in 15 minutes. although I don’t know how I knew TUBEROSE. I gather it’s a perfume too, so I’ve probably seen it in the Jo Malone catalogue my wife leaves out at this time of year to give me an idea of a stocking filler. COD COLLECTIVE NOUN.

    Edited at 2016-12-08 09:15 am (UTC)

  12. Thirty-five minutes here which, given my limited brain capacity and the stultifying effects of the Malaysian heat, can only mean that this one was relatively straightforward.

    Like several others here, I had UNHESITATINGLY as my LOI. The checkers seemed to form one of those patterns that could be filled by so many words, so it was lucky that UNHESITATINGLY was the first one I thought of. I too missed the “he who hesitates” reference, but decided that the general flavour of the clue was enough.

    CAPYBARA have a special place in my heart. They are endearing to look at, and they have charming, playful personalities and a wonderful flavour.

    TUBEROSE was unknown. Wikepedia tells me that its name comes from “tuberous”, but I am still left wondering whether it is pronounced “tube rose” or “tuber-ose”. Can anyone enlighten me?

  13. It’s almost that time of year again so I’ll break out Uncle Yap’s venerable (and viral, sorry Alec) cracker joke.. Scene: Everest base camp. Head sherpa to climbers – you can have anyone except Hessie. Why not him? – because he who Hessie takes is lost.

    I’ve always pronounced it “tuber-ose” Dr. Thud. It, along with stephanotis and orange blossom is a staple of traditional bridal bouquets (I didn’t have one!). 12.59

  14. I spent the last four minutes of my 46 working on 8d. I’m glad I wasn’t alone in not seeing it immediately. The rest was a fun challenge, finishing in the north. I didn’t know “Coll’ect”, so 1a was a late biff.

    Happily I knew TUBEROSE from Marillion’s Chelsea Monday—the benefits of a progressive education! (Fish pronounces it tuber-ose…)

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    Edited at 2016-12-08 10:31 am (UTC)

    1. I also had Fish singing “the withered tuberose” in my head though I didn’t remember it was Chelsea Monday until you mentioned it.
  15. 5:13, but with TUBEROSA. Don’t you just love ambiguous wordplay for obscure terms? I hesitated between a more likely-looking English wordplay component and a more likely-looking name for a Mexican plant, and with a sort of grim inevitability picked the wrong one. I see the Latin name is Polianthes Tuberosa.
    What’s particularly galling about this is that if the definition had just been ‘plant’ then I would certainly have achieved a new PB, and might even have cracked the 5-minute mark.

    Edited at 2016-12-08 11:26 am (UTC)

    1. Spectacular time K, I can see why you’d be spitting chips. TUBEROSA is almost worth a referral to the third umpire. But well done anyway.
      1. Thanks, G. Unfortunately none of the dictionaries I’ve consulted (and trust me, I have consulted widely) supports the existence of TUBEROSA as an alternative.
        1. Same here K. I was halfway through writing TUBEROSE (which I knew as meaning tuberous) when it occurred to me that a final A made it sound more like a plant and that a Mexican lady was more likely to be called Rosa than Rose. I think I might have duplicated your dictionary trawl, not to mention a couple of gardening encyclopaedias.


    2. I “corrected” TUBEROSE to TUBEROSA too, on the sole grounds that the first sounded more like an adjective than the second. I didn’t manage to go one down in as fast a time as 5.13 either! Kudose.
    3. Interesting so many of you haven’t heard of Tuberose. It’s a white flower often used in perfume, like a strong  earthy Jasmine.

      1. On the contrary, I’m familiar with loads of flowers. This one would be known to me as “White”, or possibly “White Nicesmell”. It’s what other people call them I don’t necessarily know, which is why I’ve never considered floristry as a career move.

  16. 14.07 A rare sub-15, with the last 3 min. on 8 dn. We used to say ‘Not on your nelly’ as children but I haven’t heard it in a long time.
  17. With a good 5 minutes of that spent alphabet-surfing for 8d.

    No problem with the rodent – having a 7 year old daughter we spend a lot of time at zoos.

    Surprised at a repeat appearance of PAPYRI so soon, dnk CAIRN and biffed CONTRALTO.

  18. A speedy 23:30 for me with CAIRN FOI, followed by CAPYBARA, which I thought of straight away and then confirmed with the wordplay. Apart from U’s avatar, the creature tends to stick in my mind, as I was once taking pics in a zoo having just put new batteries in my camera. The settings had all reset, so I messed about with them and somehow managed to set it to take multiple images with a single button press, ending up with around 18 pics of the aforementioned large guinea pig. The CRS went in at first reading. I was surprised to see CAIRN and PAPYRI appear again in short order. Messed around with something BARIC for 9a until EARLY corrected me. PUT ROSE in with a shrug. I hesitated for a while with 8d, but it wasn’t my last; that was SOBERNESS once I’d got CHARM OFFENSIVE. Liked this puzzle a lot. Thanks setter and Z.
  19. Always pleasing to see myself as it were referenced in the puzzle, which I thought was great fun and completed in the queue trying to get out of the car park after watching my friend caddy at the HK Open, but I really wanted to confess that I misspelt Sisyphean yesterday.

    I have been in therapy ever since, since things Classical are meant to be my strong suit and I got it right just a few weeks ago, but solong as Gallers doesn’t read this, I think I’ll pull through.

    Good to see another Saffa make a ton on his debut for England. Just hope this one doesn’t get mentally disintegrated by the Antipodeans.

      1. I didn’t know the Collingwood story. Of course, Oz should have won the Ashes since, who was it?, Kasprowich, didn’t have his hand on the handle when he gloved it…

        But then we’d have had no Freddy/Brett Lee photo, so I’ll take it.

        1. Painful memories, but I’ve come to terms with it over time. Suddenly there were more people to discuss cricket with, which can’t be a bad thing.

          Perth’s massive English population rose like a zombie army to declare their lifelong love for all things cricket, despite having denied any knowledge of the game for the previous two decades.

  20. 9:37 for this – raced through the lot until I was faced with the choice of TUBEROSE/A (I thought the former looked familiar from somewhere, but both certainly do fit the wordplay if you don’t know the word, which is unfortunate) and UNHESITATINGLY which went in based on it being the only thing that could fit (though now I think I’ve seen a similar CD before). Lucky break, I’ll take it!
  21. About 20 min, but resorted to aid after spending five or so failing to think of anything to fit checkers at 8dn. It looked to me like INTER (or UNDER) – something – INGLY, but couldn’t see any relevant wordplay.
  22. I didn’t find this as easy as some. None of the long answers came quickly except the one along the bottom, but once I had three of them in place most of the other pieces fell into place too.

    I remember ‘exeunt’ from Shakespeare at school.

      1. You and me both, bigtone, but the stage direction is actually “exit pursued by a bear”. I assume that’s because it referred only to one person (plus the bear) but my knowledge of Latin is very shaky these days.

        Edited at 2016-12-09 12:41 am (UTC)

        1. The stage direaction is from Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. I remember playing the part of Antigonus in a school production and having to suffer that fate.
          As for this crossword – a tardy Sunday morning solve. Held up only by 8d, which had me pondering for 1 1/2 minutes. But I was pleased to still finish in 12:17.
  23. Started this in the coffee shop, continued at home whilst cuddling the dog and finished it after walking the dog. Just under the hour, give or take. Dog was no help at all.
    By the way, chapeau and a big Cuban to colleagues who managed to finish yesterday’s plus two others inside an hour in the Championship – a level of cerebration I can only dream about.
    Thank you to setter and blogger.
  24. 21 minutes, a lucky guess for the ROSE v ROSA dilemma, with 1a and 1d in early it flowed nicely with no problems.
    Missed watching the cricket but well done Jennings, perhaps now we can drop Cook and have a more dynamic style of captaincy.
  25. About 25 minutes, with the LOI UNHESITATINGLY because I too never thought of “He who..”. In case you’re wondering, no, I’d never heard of NOT ON YOUR NELLY, lucky it was an anagram. Overall I should have been quicker, but I was understandably delayed by a bottle of wine. Regards.
  26. 11 mins, the last 2 of which were spent on 8dn. For me it looked like it reflected the clue without knowing exactly why, although I have come across the “he who ……” expression before and I’m annoyed with myself for not recalling it. With so many vowels in the checkers it wasn’t a straightforward “this fits and I’ll work out why later” kind of clue. I confess that I didn’t even consider “Rosa” as an alternative woman’s name for the last part of 4dn, which is just as well.
  27. I’m around. My son is almost 9 months old now and I confess I’ve had no time for puzzling. But I’m back from time to time!
  28. DNF in 41 minutes, but except for the two clues I had wrong it was quite easy. I don’t even mind the mistakes since they were obscure enough that I didn’t stand a chance: CAPYSAVE instead of CAPYBARA (fits the wordplay and I have never heard of the actual beast), and crossing that UNDELIVERINGLY, whatever that means. Oh well.
  29. Like so many, everything went in easily until 8D. And I made the wrong choice on the ROSE/ROSA one, since ROSA seemed more like a spanish word. When a word is obscure, I really think the wordplay needs to be precise.
  30. 9:12, with 8dn bringing on a severe attack of vocalophobia which it took me several minutes to get over.

    Apart from that, all pretty straightforward, with the bottom half of the acrosses (which I tackled last as usual) a biff-fest.

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