Times Cryptic 26768

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I hope I was not alone in finding this an extremely difficult puzzle. It took me only a few minutes under 2 hours to complete it, but without resorting to aids from which I take at least a crumb of comfort. Despite the level of difficulty I have to say that it’s a fine example of the setter’s art and the surface reading quality is quite exceptional for the most part.   [Edit at 06:20. The current league table in the Club suggests that this was more difficult than average but not significantly so to justify the excessive time it took me. I have a natural inclination to want to understand fully every element of a clue solved before moving on to the next, especially when on blogging duty, and there were some toughies to get to the bottom of here. That probably  accounts for much of my lost time. I don’t set out to be a fast solver anyway (I gave up on that years ago), but if I can finish within 30 minutes once or twice a week and come near on another couple of days I’m quite happy to go off the scale occasionally, especially in order to savour a fine quality puzzle such as this.]  

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

1 Home again by tea time bringing sauce (8)
BACKCHAT – BACK (home again), CHA (tea), T (time)
5 One that would catch pillow talk perhaps, after your blood? (6)
BEDBUG – Two definitions of sorts.  Firstly a BED BUG could be a listening device that might ‘catch pillow talk’,  and secondly something that’s ‘after your blood’ might be a BEDBUG.
9 Sentence that could be long? Therefore no good tweeting (8)
BIRDSONG – BIRD (sentence that could be long – it’s slang for a term of imprisonment), SO (therefore), NG (no good). I really like the surface reading here.
10 Fur freak feeling rejected (6)
NUTRIA – NUT (freak), AIR (feeling) reversed [rejected]. The fur of a coypu apparently, which was completely unknown to me.
12 Support for constitutional edict backed: ruler to remain (7,5)
WALKING STICK – LAW (edict) reversed [backed], KING (ruler), STICK (remain). A ‘constitutional’ is a regular walk undertaken for the good of one’s health or constitution.
15 Page Three, perhaps, right to be hidden from vicar (5)
RECTO – RECTO{r} (vicar) [right to be hidden]. There’s a technical difference between a rector and a vicar that’s to do with the way in which they receive their income, but they fulfil the same function within a parish so for crossword purposes I don’t have a problem equating the two. RECTO is a right-hand page of an open book or publication (numbered 1, 3, 5 etc). The left-hand, even-numbered pages are ‘verso’.
16 Romantic chap going out with Doris (9)
RHAPSODIC – Anagram [going out] of CHAP DORIS. We had ‘rhapsodist’ as a hidden word very recently so this came easily to mind today. A rhapsody is a form of music or poetry that’s somewhat emotional in tone and feeling and defined here as ‘romantic’.
18 Sir comes in tired: check for purpose-built seat? (9)
WORKBENCH – KBE (Sir – Knight of the British Empire), contained by [comes in] WORN, CH (check). I think a workbench is more usually described as a table rather than a seat. The usual sources all agree, but ‘purpose-built’ gets a mention in one of them. Of course many workbenches would have a seat nearby or even attached as part of the design and perhaps the question mark has been added to indicate a degree of flexibility in the definition.
19 European poet’s kind, touching hosts (5)
RILKE – RE (touching – on) contains [hosts] ILK (kind). I’m aware of his name, but  I don’t recognise the titles of any of his ‘greatest hits’ as listed on Wiki. No doubt that says more about me than it does of him.
20 Broken rubber in many bits of some value (6,6)
BINARY NUMBER – Anagram [broken] of RUBBER IN MANY
24 Foreign girl having legs round but short (6)
ASTRID – ASTRID{e} (having legs round) [short]
25 Alumni better out of sight? (8)
OBSCURED – OBS (alumni – Old Boys e.g. of a school), CURED (better)
26 We hear boy’s going to a best friend’s place (6)
KENNEL – Sounds like [we hear] “Ken’ll” (boy’s going to – Ken will). A dog is said to be man’s best friend. In view of many recent clues we are fortunate to have been spared ‘setter’s place’.
27 One shelled out to get a printer? (8)
TERRAPIN – Anagram [out] of A PRINTER
1 Hope for one’s changes to be made by sexton? (4)
BOBS – BOB (Hope, for one), ’S. In bell-ringing a BOB is a kind of change or sequence of bells, and ringing bells may be one of the duties of the sexton of a church along with grave-digging etc. I wonder if any TftT solvers under 50 have ever heard of Bob Hope? For those who don’t know, he was born in Eltham, now part of SE London where there is a community theatre named in his honour. He emigrated in 1907 at the age of 4 to the USA where he became a huge star of stage, screen and radio.
2 Wind and cold where surfers go? (4)
CURL – C (cold), URL (where surfers go). As we all know without looking it up, the technical name for a web page address is Uniform Resource Locator.
3 As bill passed on involving millions, this certainly ….? (4,1,4)
COST A BOMB – COS (as), TAB (bill), OB (passed on – died) containing [involving] M (millions). &lit.
4 Heroine of rank an inane article rubbished (4,8)
ANNA KARENINA – Anagram [rubbished] of RANK AN INANE A
6 Drama queen visiting much of Europe and America (5)
EQUUS – Q (queen) contained by [visiting] EU (much of Europe), US (America). A rather disturbing  play (and film) by Peter Schaffer which when revived a few years ago in the West End gave the Harry Potter actor an opportunity to show what he’s made of and fans who’d never been to theatre before in their lives went in their droves to find out.
7 What we pay pub to host European party: a figure to toy with (6,4)
BARBIE DOLL – BAR BILL (what we pay pub) contains [to host] E (European) + DO (party)
8 Footballer outstanding at the back, awfully like a rock (10)
GOALKICKER – {outstandin}G [at the back], anagram [awfully] of LIKE  A ROCK. I assume everybody but me knew that this is the person who takes a goal kick.
11 Presumably thin sailor left in house, puzzling (12)
UNFATHOMABLE – UNFAT (presumably thin), then AB (sailor) + L (left) contained by [in] HOME (house). If Times puzzles were unfathomable I doubt I’d still be bothering to try to solve them. Despite the time I spent on this particular example I never felt that it was so.
13 Fail to lift trophy? Pretend not to notice (4,1,5)
DRAW A BLANK – AWARD (trophy) reversed [to lift], BLANK (pretend not to notice – she ‘blanked’ me)
14 Northern town where a county council cut mobile phone signal (10)
ACCRINGTON – A, CC (county council), RINGTON{e} (mobile phone signal) [cut]
17 Desire this so-called lustre, etc — a ruby possesses it (9)
STREETCAR – Hidden in {lu}STRE ETC A R{uby} [possesses it]. Another play (and film) reference, this time “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams
21 Jack beams when picked up (5)
RAISE – Sounds like [when picked up] “rays” (beams)
22 Sting / mouth: a hazard of course (4)
TRAP – Triple definition, the last one referring to golf where ‘trap’ is an alternative name for a bunker. The second meaning is slang for mouth as in ‘shut your trap’.
23 Where couple covered up for PM once (4)
EDEN – Two definitions, one a bit cryptic, the other referring to Sir Anthony Eden, the PM at the time of the Suez debacle in the mid 1950s.

63 comments on “Times Cryptic 26768”

  1. Thank goodness for a few strategically placed “K’s” and “B’s” and helpful starting letters, otherwise I would never have been able to finish this. As it was I took about an hour and a quarter, and some parsing, such as for BOBS, went over my head. Still, an excellent puzzle, with some v. good clues including the defs for BINARY NUMBER and BARBIE DOLL and the not so obvious hidden (apology for tautology) STREETCAR. Last in and new word of the day to NUTRIA.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

    1. Great subject line.
      It is pleasing to get some checkers that aren’t all Es. The H, M and B made unfathomable, fathomable.
  2. This didn’t feel particularly difficult, although I biffed a bunch. DNK ACCRINGTON. Thought of Bob Hope right off, but put off entering it, since I couldn’t see the sexton connection. Biffed 3d, never saw the COS. Biffed 18ac–it had to be BENCH, anyway–solved post hoc. ASTRID my LOI, RILKE my candidate for COD, with ASTRID and WALKING STICK following.
  3. This was somwhat tortuous for a Tuesday – which I believe it is, as I am all set for my Shanghai Supermarket Sweep – with ‘er indoors.

    FOI 14dn Accrington think of Stanley F.C.!

    LOI 10ac NUTRIA the pelt of COYPU! Indeed! How useful.

    WOD 19ac René (Renier) Karl, Wilhelm, Johann, Josef, Maria RILKE 1874-1926 Bohemian poet – known for his lyrical intensity. His mother always wanted a girl!

    COD 11dn UNFATHOMABLE! Which wasn’t!

    8dn GOALKICKER is more rugby football than football – Kicking penalties. (The same in American ‘Football’ – the only time the foot is used!If they got rid of the helmets, armour and stop-clocks it would be a wonderful game.)

    26ac KENNEL – Woof! Woof!

    PS Must get to the Swiss Butcher for calves liver.

    Edited at 2017-07-04 07:38 am (UTC)

  4. 17:59 … very ingenious stuff. I especially liked CURL, with a surface that describes the lot of the many surfers we see down here in west Cornwall. It ain’t exactly Waikiki.

    Wasn’t sure what to do for the last letter of the Bob clue as the sexton reference meant nothing to me, but an -S seemed the safest bet.

    Never did manage to parse the first bit of DRAW A BLANK so thanks, jackkt.

    1. Yes, the S in 1dn caught me out for a while too. Another case of something being hidden in full view!

      Edited at 2017-07-04 07:23 am (UTC)

  5. 40 mins with porridge – and loved every minute once I got on the wavelength. Absolute genius. Witty and erudite. 3dn is maybe a tad complicated. Nutria only doable from wordplay. But everything else superb: ‘kind, touching hosts’, ‘bits of some value’, ‘one shelled’, ‘Bobs’, ‘Rington(e)’, ‘Desire this’. I could go on. Thanks setter and Jack.
  6. 33.39, spending a lot of time with an almost blank grid (BIRDSONG went in easily) before getting into this particular setter’s groove.

    I don’t think the phrase GOALKICKER resonates very well, despite being in Chambers. I can’t imagine Gary Lineker or his army of voluble assistants using the word, nor any of the supporters who usually surround me at what used to be White Hart Lane using it even with a futton in front.

    Likewise, and as Jack explains, I can’t recall a WORKBENCH being something you’d sit on unless you wanted acid stains on your trousers. High stools we had, I think, or we just stood. A bench seat would’t be practical. Perhaps someone can dig out a picture: Google is uncompromisingly tabley.

    NUTRIA sounds more like a juicemaker than a coypu, but hey, let’s learn!

    Hard going, good challenge, excellent wordplay. Well played Jack for determinedly working through all the knotty bits.

    Edited at 2017-07-04 07:59 am (UTC)

  7. Very interesting and entertaining puzzle that needed a good deal of concentration. My only quibble is WORKBENCH which to me isn’t a seat – I wanted to put in “park bench” but managed to resist and went with the cryptic construction

    Didn’t know RILKE but very familiar with Bob Hope who had a reputation for extreme meanness

    Thanks to setter and to Jack

    1. I didn’t manage to resist and had “parkbench” for a while at 18A, partly because “workbench” also suggested to me a table rather than a seat. But I think Jack is right that many workbenches take the form of a work-table with a bench-like seat attached, so the question mark at the end of the clue probably gives the setter cover.
    2. Bing Crosby didn’t care much for him. I’m surprised at the unfamiliarity of nutria to so many. But then I surprise easily.
      1. Not everyone cared for Bing Crosby – particularly his some of his seven children!
    3. I enjoyed this one too and agree about the seat.. but I have never before noticed that my workbench is actually called after a seat, despite being a table..
      Any poet who can produce a lyrical poem successfully in German, I greatly admire. Heine, Schiller, Rilke .. premier league poets. Any fool can do it in English or French, comparatively speaking.
  8. Excellent blog, Jack, of what I too found an extremely difficult puzzle, completed in about 2 hrs, but in my case not without resort to aids.

    Some fairly obscure stuff — nutria is not among the nearly 50 types of fur listed in my edition of Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary — but also much very ingenious clueing. I particularly liked BIRDSONG for its combination of clever cryptic parsing with high-quality surface read, of which there were quite a few a other examples in this puzzle. Thanks, setter.

  9. Nice blog Jack. I don’t often check in here these days, but needed some parsing assistance, to ease my troubled brow.

    If you want a short introduction to Rilke, look no further than “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” a brief excerpt from which can be found at www dot arch dot virginia dot edu slash arch542 slash docs slash reading slash pdfbrigge slash briggeg dot pdf (I hope that gets past the censors).

    It’s my favourite Rilke excerpt, not only because it’s the only Rilke I’ve read, but also for the character of Nikolai Kuzmich, who once met is not easily forgotten. You have been warned. He will indeed form a cocoon in your brain.

    Nice crossword too, by the way.

      1. Thanks for those kind words, Jack.

        I was going to say that unlike Nikolai, who has to measure his remaining time on Earth in seconds, borrowed from himself in the guise of a time-rich benefactor, I have a Garmin fitness tracker strapped to my wrist which can measure it in any units I choose, courtesy of its “Time Remaining” function. If it calculates I’ve sat watching television too long, it threatens to take 10 minutes off my lifespan.

  10. 19m. Superb stuff. The rector/vicar clue and the (to me totally baffling) sexton/BOB stuff remind me of a certain setter, so no doubt it is someone else.
    GOALKICKER is rugby, isn’t it? But on the other hand rugby is a type of football. But I’m no expert: someone asked me yesterday if I had watched the rugby over the weekend and I said ‘what rugby?’ When he mentioned the Lions I remembered some of the discussion on here. So as well as everything else I know I am keeping up with current sporting events via crosswords.
    For what very little it’s worth, I would call 3dn semi-&Lit, since the words ‘this certainly’ aren’t part of the wordplay.
  11. Drew a blank at the last without ASTRID, oh well. When at school “sorry I’m late sir, we were playing football”….the stern reply was “do you mean rugby football or (pause) soccer?” Thanks jack and setter.
    1. Same thing was said to my father in the Royal Navy during the war as he applied for a commission, having said he played football in the interview. He didn’t succeed, only making Chief Petty Officer. I get my revenge on his behalf by accusing anyone calling it ‘soccer’ of being American.

      Edited at 2017-07-04 11:06 am (UTC)

        1. Sorry G. This is the British class war being fought here. Didn’t mean for you to be collateral damage.
          1. It’s more widespread than that BW. Someone decided here a couple of decades ago that we had to start calling soccer “football”, and our national broadcaster capitulated alarmingly.

            So having grown up in the NSW bush playing football (rugby league), then moving to Sydney and playing football (rugby union) before settling in Perth and falling in love with football (Australian Rules), it’s now expected of me to reserve the term “football” for what we used to know and enjoy as soccer.

            Cultural imperialism at its worst, but don’t get me started. Oh wait, I’ve already started.

            1. I guess we (folk from the working and lower middle class, at least originally) see it the other way round with soccer as the toffs’ word, particularly in England. Apart from some rugby playing nations and North America, the rest of the world calls it football which is what it was always called in my neck of the woods. Which one of us has the bigger grievance?
              1. Never forgetting us inverted snobs.

                At my rugby-playing public school, we were allowed grudgingly to play competitive football only in the Easter term, but only behind hockey and lacrosse, which got the even, well mown and non-stony pitches. Officially, it was called “soccer”, but no self-respecting boy who didn’t fancy being bullied ever called it anything but football. These were the days of Stan Bowles, Tony Currie and the wonderful Frank Worthington, and we also fancied ourselves as rebels. The posh gits went to Harrow – we were of course well hard.

              2. Yes, the rest of the world, except for those that don’t (or didn’t).

                And a quick scan of a rugby league crowd in my home town would be unlikely to uncover many toffs!

                1. I’m pretty sure they’d call it football in Wigan and St Helen’s, the two rugby league towns I know best. But we’re both on the side of the saints on this, sticking up for the underdog as we see it. All the best.
    2. .. rugby is rugby, and football is association football – as administered by the football association. Rugby League does not exist. Soccer is what old folks used to call football. I see some are suggesting there is a class distinction here, but so far as I am concerned, all football/soccer is beneath mention. Rugby players/fans are acceptable, but you don’t let them in the house 🙂

      Edited at 2017-07-04 04:29 pm (UTC)

    3. I was another dnf. I did get GOALKICKER despite the footballer being of the rugby variety, but I didn’t get WORKBENCH partly because the definition is off. A few others were too tough today, including COST A BOMB.
  12. 80 solid minutes today; I wouldn’t normally push so far over my hour but I was really enjoying myself and it seemed a shame not to finish.

    Quite a journey from FOI 1a to LOI 26a, not helped by being misdirected entirely by 13d, thinking the definition was “pretend not to notice” and assuming the first word would be “drop” for “fail to lift”—that also put a very tempting “p” for “parkbench” at 18a, too, but luckily I didn’t fall into the TRAP…

    I’ve heard of Bob Hope despite being a mere stripling of 44, which is just as well, as I’d certainly not heard of the bell-ringing BOBS and didn’t know what a sexton had to do with them anyway. Other DNKs like NUTRIA and RILKE were bunged in with a bit more confidence.

    COD to WALKING STICK, I think, an award with plenty of candidates today.

  13. Knew BOBS and RILKE so little excuse for taking 55 minutes apart from declining powers. I DREW A BLANK for a long time, and just couldn’t see CURL. Should have got that from Maxwell’s equations if not from vocabulary. I’m a div. COD RECTO for its simplicity. LOI COST A BOMB, prophetic having just picked up daughter’s car from service/ MOT. Thank you JACK and setter.

    Edited at 2017-07-04 09:57 am (UTC)

  14. Pleasantly tough puzzle. 37′. Cos for as a new one on me. I like the theatrical column – both searching poetic plays. – joekobi
  15. I also found this a toughie, struggling over BACKCHAT, BOBS, COST A BOMB, NUTRIA, DRAW A BLANK and now. I’m not convinced by the cryptic for that last one: ‘to lift’ being the instruction? 15.35 all told, with NUTRIA my last one in after I couldn’t think of a more convincing freak.
    1. I read the definition as “Fail to” and then “lift trophy” giving “draw a”.
  16. 12:50 so this must have been pitched right on my wavelength (if that isn’t mixing metaphors too much). Splendid puzzle, thanks setter.

    Did nobody else raise an eyebrow at the element of indirect anagram in the Anna K clue? Article = A in the fodder.

    I think I must have encountered NUTRIA in an other puzzle somewhere, sometime, and the same may also be true of RILKE.

    Thanks for the parsing of COST A BOMB, Jack, where I couldn’t see where COSTAB came from.

    1. Can’t say as I noticed it in my biff, but now that you mention it could this be the thin edge of the wedge leading us onto the slippery slope of Guardian-style clueing? I decline to.believe it until I see a puzzle themed around ‘Dead white European male’, of the type with which Imogen blessed us recently.
    2. I noticed the problem when annotating the clue before blogging but then forgot to mention it. It occurred to me it could easily be avoided by switching the last two words: Heroine of rank in an inane rubbished article

      Anagram [rubbished] of RANK IN AN INANE, A (article)

  17. Couldn’t quite finish this. I disagree with many as I felt some of the clues were far too forced. Nutria indeed, although that was gettable. I also got accrington easily but felt “mobile phone signal = ring tone” was also pushing it. Couldn’t get the poet but agree the clue is nice. Workbench judt is NEVER a seat whatever the sources say. Hey ho, off to watch some plucky Brits lose at a stupid game (two serves indeed).
  18. I like quirk and this was pretty quirky. I snuck in just under the hour, finishing with the 1’s and 3a. I was hamstrung by knowing sexton only as artisan rather than artist, not to mention by the fact that I’d forgotten about bell bobs since the last time it came up.
  19. I almost completed this, but after taking 45 minutes to get to the point where I spent over 5 minutes staring at _U_TRIA, gave up and resorted to aids. Never heard of NUTRIA. I suppose if I’d stuck with the alphabet trawl I may have got there eventually, but hey ho, you can’t win ’em all. A tricky puzzle, but worth the effort. My FOI was BEDBUG and ASTRID brought up the rear(ignoring the fur). BOBS was a long time coming as I knew the Hope, but not the bell ringing reference. I tried to associate grave digging with the clue, but it wasn’t to be. Didn’t spot the “lift the trophy” bit of 13d. Took ages to see TRAP, despite being regularly stuck in one, and knowing that I was looking for a golf course hazard. Doh! Thanks setter, and Jack for teasing out the wordplay.
  20. Right at the other end of the difficulty spectrum from yesterday. It took me the best part of three hours to complete this one and in the end I was very pleased to finish all correct. I got stuck all over the place but persevered. Some top quality misdirection in the surfaces and elegant cluing kept me going. FOI 9ac, LOI and COD 24ac. Nutria vaguely remembered but entered primarily from wordplay. Bobs entered on the basis of Bob Hope with bell-ringing bobs unknown. Could not fully parse 3dn so thank you blogger for explaining. The separation of the anagrind “out” from the anagrist “a printer” with the (link words?) “to get” caused me some difficulty at 27ac although the indirect element of the anagram at 4dn was barely noticed.
  21. …I looked up NUTRIA and EQUUS to confirm my entry before submitting. In my defence I think I would have plumped for these answers in championship conditions. Of course in championship conditions all the lights would be turned off and everyone adjourned to the pub by the time I finished, so it wouldn’t make much difference.

    Excellent puzzle, thanks setter and Jack.

    Lots of rugby mentions in the comments this week, which is good to see. Not so many last week for some reason.

  22. Thank you Bob, thank you Bing, thank you Dorothy!

    Edited at 2017-07-04 03:00 pm (UTC)

  23. Nearly an hour, so at least twice as long as usual. No unknowns – I did eventually remember the fur, the play (LOI) and the Queen of the Belgians, but the answers wouldn’t come to mind quickly. Apart from the WORKBENCH (not a seat), I wasn’t happy about BOBS, which are a feature of change-ringing, while a sexton’s duty would be to toll one bell only.
    1. I wondered about a sexton only tolling one bell when I was preparing the blog so looked it up. All the usual sources mention bell-ringing as possibly part of the duties but none of them restricts this to tolling. I imagine that bobs and changes can’t be rung by a single person anyway but I think that’d be getting a bit too picky. The question mark gives room for manoeuvre and suggests the clue is not to be taken too literally.
  24. The Parson told the Sexton and the Sexton tolled the bell. Cannot see a sexton jumping from rope to rope to create BOBS..
    Otherwise enjoyable stuff 21.43.

    Edited at 2017-07-04 05:59 pm (UTC)

  25. In low culture I’ve seen enough pictures of Geppetto making Pinochio at what is aa bench with a work surface, and in high culture enough productions of Die Meistersinger with workbench seats, that the workbench didn’t bother me. What did was deciding that ‘hope for’ was clearly PULL for, and thinking that if a Sexton can ring changes he also pulls them. It was a challenging enough puzzle without that. Thanks setter, thanks Jack

    Edited at 2017-07-04 06:16 pm (UTC)

  26. Sexton could equate to son on ext , or s on the outside to give the s on bob ?…..guardianesque type of device ? ..mayb not
  27. In Dorothy Sayers’s The Nine Tailors the sexton (called Harry Gotobed) is one of the team of bellringers on New Year’s Eve. And I seem to remember they used the peal of 8 bells to ring out Kent Treble Bob Majors. I had a double typo in UNFATHOMABLE so I’ve been sulking all day.
    1. I’m pretty sure that in an earlier story Lord Peter gets an important clue by solving a crossword which is set according to the tiles on the bottom of a reflecting pool. No sextons or bobs, but that seems germane.
    2. “…
      They went and told the sexton
      And the sexton tolled the bell.”
    3. I’m glad you brought this up. “Nine Tailors” was my reference point on this plus “Faithless Sally Brown”. Amazing how much GK you get from literature!
  28. I have only just started to attempt cryptic crosswords and was disconsolate that I couldn’t get a single one of these, so glad to hear you thought it was hard.

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