Times Cryptic 26746 – June 8, 2017 No X here

Resolutely eschewing even the tiniest hint of politics, this maintains the absolute neutrality required on the actual polling day, lest any of us should be tempted to adjust our voting intentions by the least part of a scruple. I rather dragged the exercise out to 33 minutes, which looks like a long time for a puzzle with few obscurities and nothing that can’t (eventually) be resolved.
As for me, since this puzzle didn’t help at all in making up my desperately unimpressed mind, I shall go and vote for whatever appears to emerge, however briefly, from the grey mists of political obfuscation. In the meantime, I offer my outworkings with the usual clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS


1 Comic actor means well, I think, when performing (7,8)
KENNETH WILLIAMS  A performing version of means well I think.  Infamy, infamy…
9 New group of pupils in school followed rules  (9)
CONFORMED  N(ew) FORM, here a group of pupils, take up a position in a CO-ED, the sort of school where boys and girls are taught together. Merciful heavens, whatever next?
10 Class sets actually reduced in size, on reflection  (5)
CASTE   Nothing to do with education, but a reverse hidden in sETS ACtually.
11 Unusually big bird, bony  (6)
OSTEAL  A large bird might be an O(ut) S(ize) TEAL
12 Breed of dog — not bitch — unable to bark?  (8)
MALEMUTE  “a breed of powerful dogs with a double coat of hair, widely distributed in the Arctic regions and used esp for drawing sledges”. But you knew that. If not a bitch, the dog is MALE, and if not barking, then MUTE. Trust the wordplay.
13 Join person starving shortly before noon  (6)
FASTEN  our starving person is a FASTER, who has been shortened before adding N(oon)
15 Russian who gained power when installed by tsar ultimately  (8)
RASPUTIN It was a shame how he carried on. When installed translates neatly to AS PUT IN, and the R comes from the end of Tsar. Not quite an &lit, but a very neat telling of one of the more interesting bits of history.
18 Container of cold wine knocked back  (8)
CANISTER  RETSINA has its uses: weedkiller, battery acid, paint stripper and collection of letters which, when reversed, make a nice clue filler, especially here if coming after C(old)
19 Hard to connect electrical supply in home  (6)
HEARTH  is an acceptable synecdoche for the whole hone, with some previous in literature. Hard provides the H, and one way of connecting a power supply is to EARTH it. For you Aussies, that means getting a Sparkie to do it for you because the government won’t let you.
21 A way to get in money for religious movement  (8)
LOLLARDY  “followers of John Wycliffe, the 14c English religious reformer” A R(oa)D way is planted in LOLLY for money.
23 Sailor, say, goes on ship’s prow without fuss  (3,3)
SEA DOG  Say provides EG, ship’s prow S, and fuss ADO. Assemble until it looks right
26 The BBC broadcast musical work, a form of jazz  (5)
BEBOP  The BBC is affectionately known as the BEEB, which when broadcast on steam radio and with a classical OP(us) tagged on, sounds like our jazz.
27 Something for nothing: half of my ear, nose and throat surgery  (9)
TREATMENT  A TREAT might be free of charge, and half of MY gives you, this time, the M. ENT is a time honoured, simple abbreviation for otorhinolaryngology, which encapsulates almost everything that is wrong with the NHS
28 Talk, repeatedly recalling a significant WW2 date  (5,5,5)
YADDA YADDA YADDA  When it last turned up in 2010, it only had three Ds not six, but the alternative is OK, and is in any case a tripled reversal of A D DAY, the Normandy landings of 1944.


1 Beginning to go mad  (7)
KICKOFF  the beginning definition is the one that counts, because in US armour plated football it’s hyphenless. By coincidence, my neighbour kicked off today when visited by a rapidly-terrified doctor. I would say that adequately compasses going mad.
2 Group’s lack of connection to World Wide Web  (5)
NONET. Which is what you would have with an error that boldly declares there’s no internet, rather like declaring there’s no Sun because the clouds are there instead.
3 Environmental markers local bees swarm round  (3-6)
ECO LABELS  In keeping with the idea that anything with ECO in front is OK with Greenpeace and whales. An anagram (swaem around) of LOCAL BEES.
4 Actors having bit of a laugh over script  (4)
HAMS  only a bit of ha ha ha. And a MS, manuscript.
5 Vessel a waitress overturned in pub  (8)
INDIAMAN  A ship sort of vessel, made up of an INN, intruded on by A MAID backwards. I’ll leave you to decide whether a waitress and a maid are the same thing.
6 Secondary school leads in learning: you can expect excellence  (5)
LYCEE  The primary letters of the last five words of the clue.
7 Mugger picked up a book in church?  (9)
ASSAULTER, which might be misheard as A PSALTER, a collection of the biblical Psalms.
8 Queen, perhaps, taken to new liquor store?  (7)
SHEBEEN  not a cat, but a SHE BEE, and taken to a convenient N(ew).
14 Item of furniture manufactured in Leeds (GB)  (6,3)
SINGLE BED  “We’ll share the shelter”.  An anagram of LEEDS (GB). As Kevin points out, you also need the IN to comlete the anagram fodder. Thanks!
16 At the moment very little money gets moved into bank  (9)
PRESENTLY  Very little money is the single P, bank is RELY, and SENT for moved is interpolated.and
17 Archdeacon ‘aving ‘eadgear, up for a fight  (8)
VENDETTA  Archdeacons are VEN(erable). They just are. If they are wearing an unaspirated  hat, they are ATTED, which is reversed (up) and tagged on.
18 One employed by theatre company welcomes everyone — bravo!  (7)
CALL BOY  Company in its slightly longer abbreviation gives COY, ALL is “welcomed” in, along with a NATO alphabet B Bravo.
20 Fellow eats scrap, deprived of starter before a meal?  (4,3)
HIGH TEA  Fellow is HE, and the “eaten” scrap is FIGHT from which you remove the first letter. Tag on the A
22 Athenian character‘s surprised expression, carrying revolver  (5)
ALPHA  So we’re looking for a Greek letter, not a person. AHA is the surprised expression , and Revolver, continuing yesterday’s Beatle theme, is an LP
24 Fear money is short after onset of devaluation  (5)
DREAD  Money is READY, but short of the Yen. D for devaluation which commences the required word.
25 Repair minute object (4)
MEND  M(inute) and END as in objective.

58 comments on “Times Cryptic 26746 – June 8, 2017 No X here”

    1. Since Bob Marley’s is the only famous single bed in history, I had to look it up, and discovered my own ancient Mondegreen. I had always believed that the great man sang
      “We’ll be together with the roof rack over our heads;
      We’ll share the shelter of my single bed;”
      But it’s really “with a roof right over our heads” and one of life’s interesting mysteries is gone for ever.

      Edited at 2017-06-08 08:37 am (UTC)

      1. Not the only one, there was also Fox. Though to be fair, that was a s-s-s-single bed.
      2. I have never heard the song, but it sounds, on your reading, as if the singer and his partner are sharing the back seat of his car.
  1. Never heard of KW either, but with a couple of checkers, and a K in the mix, I got it sorted out fairly quickly. I spent a good deal of time on 21ac thinking it would end in -ISM, and I would certainly use ‘Lollardism’ rather than LOLLARDY. I was worried about the Y of CALLBOY (do they still call them that? could cause some unpleasant confusion), not knowing the COY abbreviation. I had ALPHA OK, but thinking the expression was HA, wondered if A LP was the revolver. Duh.

    Edited at 2017-06-08 05:46 am (UTC)

  2. Solving time of 22 minutes (give or take 20 seconds) every day this week. A consistency that’s bound to be destroyed tomorrow.

    Never heard of a CALLBOY but hey, live and let live I say. Didn’t know LOLLARDY either. Did they expect to be taken seriously with a name like that?

    Very enjoyable over all. Enjoyed the progression from “Carry on…” across the top to Seinfeld across the bottom.

    Thanks setter and Z.

    1. Nowadays LOLlards would sound as if they laugh a lot, and to be honest that’s the kind of religious people I prefer to hang around with, not the sour-faced vale-of-tears-get-your-reward-in-heaven lot…
      1. Curiously, LOLLARDY became a byword for laziness or idleness, so they might have been an even more attractive sect than once sort. The word loll may be connected.
  3. 36 minutes held up a little at the end by 3, 5, 9 and 11 and not helped earlier by having written RASPUTIN at 12 instead of 15. I also needed to revisit 21 where unparsed wordplay had allowed me to write LOLLARDS instead of LOLLARDY. We’ve had HEARTH for “home” (or perhaps vice versa) on a previous occasion which caused me at the time to question why, if they are the same, does the expression “hearth and home” need to exist? Z8 (and others, of course) might enjoy today’s QC.

    Edited at 2017-06-08 04:10 am (UTC)

    1. Of course, it doesn’t really need to exist, but English seems to have a lot of such pairs: fine and dandy, hale and hearty, vim and vigor, strait and narrow, yadda and yadda.
  4. My avatar is a picture of my stepdaughter’s dog, an Alaskan Malemute. I had a DNF today, as there was one clue I did not solve. You’ve guessed it.
  5. Eek! one wrong (topha at 22dn – see what trusting the wp did for me today?) and two blanks: MALEMUTE and LOLLARDY (both unknowns). Nothing to shout about…

    1. You’ll have to explain (to me at least) how you got TOPHA from the wordplay.
  6. 14:36 … lengthy delays at the end with CALLBOY and ASSAULTER.

    The COY for company thing seemed new to me, and looks rather peculiar. Now added to list of useful ‘words’.

    Thanks to gradese for bringing MALEMUTE out of Crosswordland and into reality — so that’s what one looks like! — and for the entertaining example of Sod’s Law.

    1. I think Coy for Company has a relatively restricted military rather than business usage, so may well be off most people’s radar
  7. I couldn’t parse CALLBOY but fortunately it couldn’t be much else. I would have unerringly gone for MALAMUTE if there had been a glimmer of a choice about the matter, so that was a lucky escape too. Not the easiest puzzle to tackle directly after a sweaty ram-packed Algiers gig at the Shacklewell Arms perhaps, but my 12m would have been better if I’d been able to conjure up K. Williams a bit quicker – as he was actually the first person to spring to mind when 1 read 1ac, but I couldn’t but I couldn’t put a name to the mental image until much later, even given the anagrist!
    1. Now that you mention it, I’d have spelled it MALAMUTE, too; and I’d have been right; so far as I can tell, the E spelling is but a variant of the more general A spelling. But as Z says, trust the wordplay.
  8. An odd mix of the old-fashioned – CALLBOY, BEBOP, INDIAMAN – and much more modern – ECO-LABELS, YADDA YADDA YADDA yada yada yada. Clearly it’s a mix which works for me, as I rattled through it with some enjoyment. Now ear-wormed by a suitably odd mash-up of Boney M’s paean to Russia’s greatest love machine and Seinfeld catchphrases.
  9. About 30 mins (with toast and lime marmalade) with only the ‘Coy’ and the Indiaman to fret about. I knew Lollardy which helped – and Kenneth and the Yaddas went in quickly. I liked the Kickoff, the She-bee and the LP Revolver.
    Thanks setter and Z.
  10. obviously never crossed the Atlantic – brilliantly talented comic actor who was Snide in ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ (Radio only), ‘Round the Horne’ (Julian & Sandy with Hugh Paddick talking a load of Polari) and a lot of ‘Carry-Ons’. He was the master of the radio show ‘Just a Minute’ where one had to talk for a minute on a given subject – without repetition, deviation or hesitation. His best effort was with the subject word ‘Cult’. He brought the entire audience to their knees when he announced that he was himself ‘a cult – a complete cult’ and on he went for his finest minute perhaps of all time, amid mass hilarity.Infamy indeed! He used to come into the agency for voice overs and was hard to get rid of – as he often had crushes on young writers!

    As for 26,746 like Lord Galspray I appear to be stuck on a time – mine being 37 minutes – but again. I would prefer it to be 22 minutes.

    Seinfeld gave me 28ac YADDA YADDA YADDA (was it from the hilarious ‘Soup Nazi’?)

    FOI 14dn SINGLE BED for some reason.

    COD and LOI 21ac LOLLARDY which was an open trap I avoided.

    WOD 5dn INDIAMAN such an evocative word – all that spice and tea under sail. I’m sure my romantic notions are badly misplaced!

    Most enjoyable puzzle and I love RETSINA with haloumi.

    Are 15ac RASPUTIN and VLADAMIR PUTIN related?

    PS Still don’t get the mad bit of 1dn KICKOFF!

    Edited at 2017-06-08 08:22 am (UTC)

    1. I may have to send you some representative samples from my CCTV archive. My neighbour is normally weird, eccentric and obsessive, but mostly harmless. Just occasionally, there’s a kicking off point when you really don’t want to be around, as the madness becomes serious and threatening. For me, that’s when “kick off” and “go mad” are easy synonyms.
  11. I was trying to improve my speed today, and annoyingly got everything right in 43 minutes except 11a, where I’d too-hastily put OSTIAL, thinking “never heard of a TIAL, but then I’ve not heard of most birds…” D’oh.

    Odd that I can do something that dopey and then go on to construct MALEMUTE, LOLLARDY and a few others I didn’t know. The CALL BOY was at least pretty obvious as soon as all those film scenes of youngsters hammering on doors to extract the talent for their appearances sprang to mind.

    Enjoyed the construction of 4d and the lovely YADDA YADDA YADDA.

  12. First finish of a poor week of solving so far. I had a few unknowns in LOLLARDY, CALLBOY and MALEMUTE but all were fairly clued. Last time we had a dog breed unknown to me – basenji – I then met a woman walking one the next weekend so I’ll be looking out for malemutes this weekend.
    1. Odd how this happens, isn’t it? In my recent visit to Crete I spotted dittany all over the place. Given that it’s apparently mentioned in the Aeneid, presumably it was also all over the place the last ten times I went to visit my parents, but only became visible when I “learned” the word from one of last November’s QCs…
      1. Odd indeed. One other such instance which sticks in my mind is when we had the word Petrodollar. I remember thinking it a word that no one actually uses then I read it in a novel a few days later!
  13. 40 minutes today, a long way from the starry firmament. I could have sworn it was spelt MALAMUTE but cryptic was clear. I must be confused by Marmaduke. COD ASSAULTER. LOI LYCEE. I have to confess to being only dimly aware of YADDA YADDA YADDA, but DDAY reversal was a gimme. Google says it was popularised by SEINFELD (never watched), but used as early as Lenny Bruce, who I would make a point of watching. It sounds like something Phil Silvers would have gone with, but no referencing there to be found. Good puzzle. Thank you Z and setter.
    1. Presently I am watching the entire Phil Silvers Show – a most enjoyable task I will let you know if he says YADDA YADDA YADDA! Shame on you for not watching Seinfeld – another joy – especial Kramer!
      1. I was only hip when I was young, H. My wife doesn’t believe I was then.
  14. 21.29 with a battle at the end with CALLBOY and LOLLARDY. Far too many Ls.
    Lovely to see Rambling Sid Rumpo get an outing. My old Round The Horne tapes remain a guilty pleasure.
  15. Watched the excellent Michael Sheen play Kenneth Williams on BBC4 last night coincidentally.
    Didn’t know MALEMUTE but quite straightforward. LOI 17d. I must remember VEN next time.
  16. 34:13 but with an epic fail in the NE. Was confused by the Queen of Sheba and multiple possible spellings of SHEBEAN SHEBEEN etc and finished up with MALEDUMB and SHEEBAN and, of course, egg on my face. Eejit! Nevertheless, an enjoyable puzzle. I hope the rain stops. I don’t fancy cycling to the garage to collect the son-in-law’s car in a downpour:-( Thanks setter and Z.
  17. 29 minutes but then a further few in which I failed to parse high tea, thinking ‘fellow eats’ might just be what those college people eat at their high tables as it were. Would’ve been nice. Interesting how insularly British (or English) K. Williams seems to be; hardly surprising. – joekobi
  18. It always seems to be the case that people think of Round the Horne, when its predecessor Beyond our Ken ran the longer. I guess it’s when the baby boomers came of age. I liked both, particularly the point in the narrative when Kenneth Horne would say, “I’m acting now.” Kenneth Williams was a constant throughout. He played Arthur Fallowfield with the catchphrase “the answer lies in the soil” which was on everyone’s lips back then.
  19. 15m. I started very slowly indeed on this, with only one answer (BEPOP) from the acrosses. The downs were much easier, and I had the top half done pretty sharpish. The bottom half was harder, particularly the LOLLARDY corner. Highly enjoyable all the way though, and another puzzle with limited biffability and a nice smattering of unknowns (MALEMUTE, CALLBOY, ECOLABELS) with clear wordplay.
  20. 16:56 with a bit of a mess in the SE corner where a somewhat sloppy RECENTLYY (sic) caused a bit of bother, but, notwithstanding the letter-count mismatch, CENT in RELY was plausible even if synonymity with “at the moment” was stretched a bit.

    1. Did exactly the same thing, and even spent some time trying to see how an extra letter could be shoehorned in.
  21. Hello: I am a little confused with the clues in the subject line. An out size teal might be a big bird, but how does unusually mean extract the first letters (and only of out size rather than teal as well)?

    For 21ac. I can see no operator that seems to suggest removing the centre of road. Could someone explain this?

    Edited at 2017-06-08 01:38 pm (UTC)

    1. In 11a OS is an abbreviation for Out Size, as in large. It’s clued as “Unusually big” ie out size. Then “Bird” is the next part of the clue. You have to lift and separate at the appropriate point.
      In 21a RD is an abbreviation for road, just as ST is an abbreviation for Street. Standard crosswordese.

      Edited at 2017-06-08 01:54 pm (UTC)

    2. Easy one first. There is a convention, much as in real life, that street names can be represented by abbreviations: Ave, St, and, of course Rd. No modification is needed.
      I think you could get away with with just large for over or out size, but I think where outsize creatures are relatively rare, it’s reasonable to add the unusual deviation from the norm. There can’t be that many conspicuously large terns.

      1. The size of the bird is irrelevant, innit, whether it’s a tern, a teal or a tarpon. I interpreted cryptic reading of the clue as as “unusually big; bird” rather than “unusually big bird”.

        In my iPod Chambers OS = outsize = exceptionally large. I’d argue that just large to clue OS was insufficient.

  22. Back at the coal-face after six wirelessless (?) weeks’ holiday in Cornwall.

    I’m glad that other solvers still enjoy and remember Seinfeld – I seem to remember that Jerry ( or maybe George ) was appalled that they had been “given the yadda yadda yadda” by a new girl friend. Much analysis followed.

    Time: 40 mins. but with LOLLARDS – ignoring the wordplay.

    Cheers, Dave.

  23. 17 mins. I found the top half easier than the bottom, although that was probably because I took much too long to get SINGLE BED. Its last checker opened up YADDA…….., and the rest followed relatively swiftly, with TREATMENT my LOI. LYCEE was my second one in after CASTE so when it came to 12ac, which I parsed before I entered it, I wouldn’t have considered the more usual spelling if I’d been in biff mode.
  24. About 20 minutes, but with LOLLARDS. I’m forgiving myself for not remembering that it’s ‘lolly’, not ‘lolls’, that means money over there. I’m sure it’s appeared here before, but as usual I don’t remember such things perfectly, or for very long.
    Otherwise, I didn’t know of Mr. Williams either, but the anagram caused him to appear, and I thought ASSAULTER was quite nice. Regards.
    1. Revolver arguably is the Beatles best album. Ray Connolly reckons so. For No One is far and away my favourite Paul song. I’ll always prefer the early albums though with all that energy and John Lennon getting his tonsils round the vocals.
      1. It’s too impressive a body of work for me to pick a best album BW – Rubber Soul, Sergeant Pepper, The White Album, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road – not to mention as you say the infectious youthful energy and raucous vocals of the early stuff. I wouldn’t know where to start.
  25. I seem to have found this tougher than most. After 26mins on the train this morning I had only teased out a handful of answers in the bottom half, FOI 26ac. Most of the surfaces seemed impenetrable on a first pass and I just couldn’t see anywhere to get started. Maybe a wavelength thing or maybe I got up to early to go and vote and wasn’t quite with it. Fortunately after 39mins at lunchtime I only had one left. That LOI was 12ac which was entered (purely on word play) after another 2mins on the train home. I remember thinking as I entered it, I’ll eat my hat if that turns out to be the right answer. I’m suitably chastened and chomping on a fedora as we speak. I also wondered at the unhyphenated 1dn. Nice to see Kenneth Williams making an appearance not so long after Sid James was referenced in a clue. COD 22dn because I liked the Revolver LP.
  26. My immediate googling of MALEMUTE produced only MALAMUTE but of course there was only one answer. Quite a bit of biffing here, and had to come here for the parsing. Disappointed not to see the excellent Revolver. A very rapid (for me) 33 minutes.
  27. 11:42 for me. I made a desperately slow start, but eventually got going and pootled home without too much hesitation (though LOLLARDY was new to me).

    An interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

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