Times Cryptic 27284

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

I hope I was not alone in finding this very hard. My solving time was off the scale (84 minutes, if you must know) much of which was spent stuck, gazing at the page completely baffled, but I take a little comfort from having persevered to the end, completing the grid eventually without resorting to aids.

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

1 Fastener, one on prison door? (5)
SCREW – Two meanings. A screw secures something or makes it fast, and it’s also slang for a prison officer.
4 Writer beginning to throw wife on ship into sea (4,5)
MARK TWAIN – ARK (ship) +  T{hrow} [beginning] + W (wife) contained by [into] MAIN (sea)
9 In action, youngster touring North America set off (9)
DETONATED – TOT (youngster) containing [touring] NA (North America) all contained by [in] DEED (action)
10 Constant unrest primarily in order, justification for war once? (5)
OPIUM – PI (constant) + U{nrest} [primarily] contained by [in] OM (order – of Merit). Wiki: The Opium Wars were two wars in the mid-19th century involving China and the British Empire over the British trade of opium and China’s sovereignty.
11 Retired judge keeping good man on board (6)
KNIGHT – THINK (judge) reversed [retired] containing [keeping] G (good). Chess.
12 Layer of fibre in widely shared image (8)
MEMBRANE – BRAN (fibre) contained by [in] MEME (widely shared image). My LOI about 10 minutes after completeing the rest of the grid. I should have thought of BRAN sooner as it came up clued as ‘refuse’ in the last puzzle I blogged. I was going to say I’ve never come across MEME before but it turned up in a QC of all places a little over a year ago when I also didn’t know it.
14 Cut  joint from the freezer? (4-8)
COLD-SHOULDER – A straight definition and a cryptic hint. SOED has ‘cut’ as: ‘Renounce (an acquaintance); refuse to recognize or acknowledge (a person) on meeting or passing’. It’s commonly used in the expression ‘cut someone dead’.
17 Deplorable welsher fires revolvers for entertainment? (6,6)
FERRIS WHEELS – Anagram [deplorable] of WELSHER FIRES. ‘Welsher’ here simply shouts ‘anagram!’ from the rooftops, and for that reason I think the clue would have been better if the cryptic definition in the second part had stood alone. I can just imagine it appearing in one of Dean’s ST puzzles.
20 Basic writing pens bound to be yellow (8)
PRIMROSE – PROSE (basic writing) contains [pens] RIM (bound)
21 One bottling wine, a beauty (6)
CORKER – Two meanings. I nearly biffed ‘looker’ but restrained myself.
23 Non-alcoholic drink looked at after recovery? (5)
DECAF – FACED (looked at) reversed [after recovery]
24 Experiencing treacherous wintry conditions, sailing close to the wind? (2,4,3)
ON THIN ICE – Two meanings, one literal and one figurative
25 Port with nuts passed to the left by cad (9)
ROTTERDAM – ROTTER (cad), MAD (nuts) reversed [passed to the left]
26 Hotel secured by fellow in European city (5)
GHENT – H (hotel) contained [secured] by GENT (fellow)
1 Robin perhaps has to stop, with plane going over (8)
SIDEKICK – SIDE (plane), KICK (stop – kick a habit)
2 Around middle of spring, roofer goes up for further tests (8)
RETRIALS – SLATER (roofer) reversed [goes up] containing [around] {sp}RI{ng} [middle]
3 Arm lifts toy captivating Elizabeth (10,5)
WINCHESTER RIFLE – WINCHES (lifts), TRIFLE (toy) containing [captivating] ER (Elizabeth). Invented and developed by the Winchester Repeating Rifle Company. It featured in a rather fine Western starring James Stewart called Winchetser ’73.
4 Dull, a degree dry (4)
MATT – MA (a degree), TT (dry – tee-total)
5 Unable to provide guidance, adviser ultimately incapable of being milked? (10)
RUDDERLESS – {advise}R [ultimately], UDDERLESS (incapable of being milked?)
6 Sorting out business? Money hard to find in part of south London (15)
TROUBLESHOOTING – ROUBLES (money) + H (hard) contained by [to find in] TOOTING (part of south London)
7 Source of meat in plate turning up (6)
ANIMAL – LAMINA (plate) reversed [turning up]
8 One possibly less sensitive? (6)
NUMBER – Two meanings when pronounced slightly differently
13 Breaking hearts beginning to recover with mere email, say? (10)
CORRESPOND – R{ecover} [beginning] contained by [breaking] CORES (hearts), POND (mere)
15 Nerve required with career that may be plunging? (8)
NECKLINE – NECK (nerve), LINE (career – What’s My Line?)
16 Hungry, I turn and see jerky (8)
ESURIENT – Anagram [jerky] of I TURN SEE
18 Creature goes down again, maybe, having gone up (6)
SPIDER – RE-DIPS (goes down again) reversed [having gone up]
19 Game bird stuffed with proper cooking apples, originally (6)
TIPCAT – TIT (bird) containing [stuffed with] P{roper} + C{ooking} + A{pples} [originally]. Not a game I know other than by name; read all about it here if you are interested.
22 Couple, in time, tidying up (4)
ITEM – Hidden [in] and reversed [up] in {ti}ME TI{dying}

65 comments on “Times Cryptic 27284”

  1. Jack – Mr. Snitch is at 89, so your 84 minutes is not par, which you normally consistently maintain.

    I managed to get round in 32 minutes, you must have entered the long grass and several bunkers – we all have off days.

    I was off (FOI) with 4ac MARK TWAIN shortly followed by 3dn WINCHESTER RIFLE which to me was rather obvious (a hole in one!?). The other longun’ 6dn TROUBLE SHOOTING was a gimme. 17ac FERRIS WHEEL gave this grid a slightly American flavour, as these contraptions are known as ‘Big Wheels’ back in Blighty.(Tooting and Mitcham)

    LOI was 18dn SPIDER


    WOD 19dn TIPCAT

    Tomorrow I imagine I’ll be 84 and you Jack will be 32! Nils carborundum!

    Edited at 2019-02-26 04:05 am (UTC)

    1. Got everything except opium and also I had userient.

      Does decaf mean non alcoholic?

      Cod rudderless.

      1. I might also have plumped for userient, but esurient rang the faintest of bells, and I’ve just remembered why: It’s used at the very beginning of the Monty Python “cheese shop” sketch:

        Customer: Well, I was, uh, sitting in the public library on Thurmon Street just now, skimming through “Rogue Herrys” by Hugh Walpole, and I suddenly came over all peckish.

        Wenslydale: Peckish, sir?

        Customer: Esurient.

        Wenslydale: Eh?

        Customer: ‘Ee, Ah wor ‘ungry-loike!

        Wenslydale: Ah, hungry!

        1. You are not the only person who knew ESURIENT purely because it appears in the Cheese Shop Sketch. Terpsichore too (not in today’s crossword but she has come up before).
  2. It’s in the dictionaries meaning ‘a decaffeinated coffee’ which is a ‘non-alcoholic drink’ as defined here.

    Edited at 2019-02-26 05:46 am (UTC)

    1. Can’t help thinking it’s a bit unnecessary to take the definition all the way out there though. Not really relevant.

      Indeed it might have been better in the context of ‘recovery’ to go the other way!

      Edited at 2019-02-26 03:55 pm (UTC)

  3. I thought the degree of difficulty here was about average but I was lacking inspiration eventually finishing in 44mins.
    Obviously DECAF is a non-alcoholic drink but it’s still a rather strange definition. And I wasn’t sure about SIDE for plane in 1dn.
  4. 13:50 … most of this went in very fast for me, but that was partly down to 2 early guesses — SIDEKICK and MARK TWAIN — paying off.

    COD RUDDERLESS for making me laugh (and reminding me of that cow from Huddersfield), though 18d warrants a pat on the back for recalling the itsy bitsy spider going down and up again.

    QI MOMENT: I just found out that FERRIS WHEELS should probably have been called Somers wheels, Mr Ferris having nicked the idea from Mr Somers (who sued him, unsuccessfully, in 1893). Neither of them exactly thought the thing up from scratch, though. A visitor to Constantinople rode on a wooden one in 1615.

    1. I should probably be too embarrassed to say that I have always rather unthinkingly connected the word Ferris with either ferric or ferrous and assumed the big wheel to be so called because they are predominantly constructed of iron (thinking about it they may well predominantly be constructed of wood, copper, steel or anything else for all I know).

      Next you’ll be telling me that the iron curtain wasn’t made out of iron….or a curtain.

  5. Sadly, I did biff LOOKER, and forgot to go back to double check, so as soon as I saw pink I knew exactly what it was, and my, at this point in time seemingly par-ish, time of 17.04 was in vain.

    10a also biffed, along with 3d. Some good tricky stuff in here, although did have a similar MER to flashman with DECAF – non-alcoholic isn’t really doing much, to my mind the clue would work just as well without it.

    1. Speaking out on something of which I know little is always dangerous, but isn’t it a geometrical thing like the side of a cube being a plane?

      Edited at 2019-02-26 08:33 am (UTC)

      1. I thought it was a bit loose, since in mathematics the definition of a plane means that it is infinite in extent (at least in Euclidean three-dimensional space), so it probably wouldn’t really be a “side” of something. However, Chambers seems to allow a finite version: “A surface of which it is true that, if any two points on the surface be taken, the straight line joining them will lie entirely on the surface”
  6. I had a bit of a snooze half way through this, but not from boredom. I liked many clues here, including TROUBLESHOOTER, WINCHESTER RIFLE and my favourite and last in SIDEKICK. Didn’t know TIPCAT, although I’d seen something about the Yorkshire version of the game on the telly not long ago.

    Home in a bit over an hour.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  7. 41 minutes, so apparently quite on the wavelength, though I didn’t feel much like it. I seemed to struggle with the easier ones and find the apparently-harder ones a write-in.

    12a MEMBRANE a write-in after immediately seeing “meme”, for example, which I first came across in Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene as a teenager, and had cemented by attending Susan Blackmore’s book tour for The Meme Machine back at the turn of the century, long before the word became so enormously widely-spread by the web.

    At an even earlier age, I had a Winchester 1873 (“The Gun that Won the West”) belt buckle just like this one, so that made 3d easy, too.

    FOI 11a KNIGHT. I was most held up by the SW corner, though happily TIPCAT has been on my Big List of Odd Words since I got it wrong when it came up here last May. Still took a long time to see SPIDER, though. PRIMROSE my LOI.

    Edited at 2019-02-26 08:42 am (UTC)

    1. The Selfish Gene is the first time anyone came across the word MEME, of course, since Dawkins coined it. He had no idea what it was going to become!
  8. I DID biff LOOKER! Thanks, Jack, for MARK TWAIN, SIDEKICK and PRIMROSE.
    Row 1 is interesting: SCREW MARK TWAIN!
    ESURIENT crops up in Python’s cheese shop sketch.
    1. So it does, but I remember the word more from the Latin text of the Magnificat. Here‘s Bach’s version.

      Edited at 2019-02-26 05:49 pm (UTC)

  9. 14:42, so I was clearly on the wavelength, although I neglected to go back and parse MEMBRANE. The unknown TIPCAT was my LOI based on wordplay and an alphabet trawl to find the bird. Like Sotira, I loved the reference to the nursery rhyme spider at 18D, although I know it as Incy-Wincy – my COD, but I also liked DECAF and SIDEKICK. Thanks Jack and setter
  10. 19:12. I found this tricky, but almost entirely because of a small number of clues. The OPIUM/ANIMAL pair caused me a lot of problems and I almost bunged in ODIUM. However my biggest problem was CORRESPOND, where I stared for at least five minutes at _O_R_S_O_D without being able to fit a single element of the clue into any part of it. Eventually I just trawled the alphabet for words that fitted the checkers and saw that CORRESPOND at least, er, corresponded to ’email’.
    I remembered ESURIENT from past puzzles.
    ‘Non-alcoholic drink’ is a bit of an odd definition for DECAF but it helps the surface and a DECAF is undoubtedly non-alcoholic.
    I realise I have gone over 46 years on this earth without ever knowing what colour PRIMROSE was.
    1. A primrose by the river’s brim
      A yellow primrose was to him
      And it was nothing more.

      I forget who it was who said of this, in effect, “Well, what the hell more should it have been?”

  11. 21 minutes finishing in the NW with LOI RETRIALS. I couldn’t get going for a while, but then everything cascaded into place. Lots of lovely laugh-out-loud moments, with SIDEKICK, RUDDERLESS, COLD-SHOULDER all taking my fancy and winning joint COD. I was puzzled by DECAF for non-alcoholic. I would have thought its distinguishing feature was an absence of caffeine, and I don’t think there’s a ban on putting whisky and demerara sugar in, floating cream on top and calling it a Gaelic DECAF. O those Berni Inns long ago! Can anybody remember what the one with Tia Maria was called? I’ve forgotten and it was my favourite.TROUBLESHOOTING was made much easier for me with the 6 months I spent in Links Road, SW17 back in 1968. I really enjoyed this. Thank you Jack and setter.

    Edited at 2019-02-26 09:14 am (UTC)

      1. I think it was. And the one with rum in was the ‘Caribbean’. Or was it the other way round?
        1. This concoction was invented by the Security Services in Jamaica and was originally called Monte Aguilar. There were two styles on with Blue Mountain Coffee and the other from pimento’s from up at Bellevue. The names were switched at the last minute and Tia Maria made a lot of money for Everard Aguilar & Co’s operations – David Ogilvy wrote the first ads in early 1949.
          Monte Aguilar failed.

          I believe the name of the cocktail was a ‘Clarke Gable’ ‘1 part Tia Maria, 1 part gin and 1 part thick cream or evaporated milk. Shake with ice and serve.’

          1. I guess that a few too many of those and you wouldn’t give a damn, H. I’ll stick with my Calypso Decaf.
  12. Interesting to see this puzzle caused some people trouble whilst others found it fairly straightforward. I was in the latter camp, and I note it’s rare that I come in quicker than keriothe.

    I liked KNIGHT for the fact that looking at a word with so many consonants it doesn’t appear likely to be almost another word in reverse. So a nice spot on the part of the setter.

  13. 41 mins and lots of entertainment value in this one. FOI 1a and a rather witty clue, I thought. I chuckled at the non-milkable cow, Batman’s acolyte (I biffed ‘songbird’ for about 30 seconds), the arachnid, the vintner DD, and others. DNK ESURIENT, my LOI, but eventually managed to arrange the given letters into a plausible-looking word.
    I was fine with DECAF as a non-alcoholic drink, but I didn’t manage to parse PRIMROSE and, seeing Jack’s explanation now, I find the clue rather unsatisfactory: what is ‘basic’ about prose writing? And rim=bound? Hmmmmmmm.
    But a jolly good crossword nevertheless.
    Thanks for your blog, jackkt.
    1. I wondered about ‘basic writing’ and could only think ‘as opposed to poetry’ although that’s not really satisfactory as prose can be as basic or complex as the writer wishes. I thought there may also be a technical definition that I’m not aware of.

      ‘Bound’ (as in ‘beating the bounds of a parish’) and ‘rim’ can both mean ‘border’, a line defining the edge of something, so I wasn’t worried about that one.

      Edited at 2019-02-26 10:38 am (UTC)

      1. Yes, I see that bound (also ‘out of bounds’) = boundary = edge = border = rim, but there seems to me to be a drift of semantics here: the bound is the limit (a notional dividing line — between parishes, say) but a rim is an edge (a physical surface area) as in the rim of a bowl. If I try the substitutability test, then I find it impossible to construct a context where ‘rim’ substitutes for ‘bound’.
        Thanks, however, for your explanation.
    2. Chambers, Collins and ODO all have definitions of prose as variously plain, commonplace, dull, tedious writing, which seems close enough. I justified it when solving by association with ‘prosaic’.
  14. We used to get ESURIENT quite often in the NY Times puzzles. “Meme” is one of those words that I sort of think I know without ever having bothered to find out what it actually does mean. The Terri-Thomas avatar of one of our regulars here as the rotter came usefully to mind for 25a. 18.28
      1. I think the meaning has changed since Dawkins invented it but to me these days it means ‘something on the internet your teenage children find funny for reasons you cannot fathom’.
  15. As the Red Queen explains to Alice, “it isn’t etiquette to cut anyone you’ve been introduced to.” The Queen has just introduced Alice to the leg of mutton (“Mutton–Alice–Alice–Mutton”), and stops Alice when she offers to cut the Queen a slice.
  16. Intriguing puzzle, this, with the capacity to be impenetrable in some places if you didn’t look at the clue from the right angle (most notably, I was another who had to alphabet trawl to find a word that fitted CORRESPOND, before successfully parsing it after the event). Anything with a usage in Monty Python has been irretrievably drilled into me, however, so no problem with ESURIENT. Now ear-wormed by Terry-Thomas saying “What an absolute corker”.
  17. Sort of in the middle of the above times with 31 mins. As a bit of a pacifist, I know nothing of guns, so had to get a lot of help before WINCHESTER appeared. My final efforts were MEMBRANE, which seemed rather more likely than VERBIAGE, which was the first one I saw, and was also toying with HERBIAGE, which isn’t a thing apparently, and PRIMROSE, where I was looking for a coward rather than actually something yellow. LOI CORRESPOND which became obvious with all the checkers.
    COD COLD SHOULDER liked the definition ‘cut’ – neat!
    1. Yes, I only had the “R” of 20 when I first saw it, so spent quite a while trying to figure out why “COWARDLY” was the answer.
  18. I got through this puzzle in 32:07, but my efforts were in vain as I’d changed one of the Es to a T in the anagrist for 16d, and finished up with USTRIENT. I didn’t know the word ESURIENT anyway, so WOE is me. I knew I was looking for something with MAIN around it for the writer, but he still took a while to surface. SCREW made me laugh, but was only changed from STRAP after I got the Rifle. Didn’t know TIPCAT, but again the wordplay was unambiguous. Liked RUDDERLESS. 6d brought back memories of Citizen Smith and the TPF. CORRESPOND was my LOI after an alphabet trawl. Saw the parsing though, once I had the word. Nice puzzle. Eejit me! Thanks setter and Jack.

    Edited at 2019-02-26 12:31 pm (UTC)

  19. Being a South-Londoner, T(ROUBLESH)OOTING was very familiar to me. Much slower in the SW corner, where it took a while to decide whether 18d should be SPIDER or the clunkier REDIPS. The rest fell into place after that.
  20. Pleased with my time, because I did find it quite hard. Some lovely clues. For special mention I select 12 across. For some reason when I see phrases like ‘layer of fibre’ my mind starts hunting ‘layers of fibre’ . and won’t stop, even when I tell it to. It was my LOI. Laboured for a few seconds with Rotherham, but thankfully something told me it was not and never had been a port. Also briefly considered Odium – which sort of at a stretch might possibly be a source of war. Good to see our old friend Esurient. I just wish I was sufficiently fast-brained to use it in actual conversation. What would you say? Gosh, I’m feeling particularly esurient this morning?
  21. ….me – but not this me, since I had to biff MEMBRANE and CORRESPOND after spending 3 minutes or so alpha-trawling. Again !

    The rest of it flowed smoothly enough.

    TIME 16:08

  22. Best crossword for quite some time. Precision is everything in my book, and this crossword was precisely that. Mr Grumpy
  23. 40:27. I found this a good challenge. The holdups (opium, animal and membrane) were not too frustrating or prolonged. I also wondered about side / plane but once I had the S and the D bunged it in. Esurient remembered from previous outings in Crosswordland though I needed a few checkers to avoid making up esturine.
  24. Choristers among us will probably remember ESURIENT from the Magnificat. “Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes.” (He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent empty away) That’s certainly why I remembered it. I’d forgotten about Monty Python and the Bach is of much more recent memory. I biffed my surname at 21a but couldn’t parse it. So had to rethink. A very enjoyable puzzle. 35 minutes. Ann
  25. Hi there. This wasn’t that tough, but MEMBRANE took me a while, and ESURIENT needed all the checkers. My LOI though, was TROUBLESHOOTING. Once I entered it I recalled having seen ‘Tooting’ before, probably here, but I doubt I’d remember it outside wordplay like this. Regards.
  26. Well, I thought it tough but at least “I” finished in 74 mins or so. Resorted to aids in the form of Mrs soj for ANIMAL and MEMBRANE. I having stared and stared for ages, Mrs soj came up with them (via some kind of magic speed biffing) instanter.
  27. I took just under an hour (or a lot longer if you count the break I needed before seeing CORKER rather than LOOKER), but since TIPCAT and ESURIENT were complete guesses I’m quite glad I finished correctly at all. After all, ESURIENT could have been USERIENT, ISERUENT, ESIRUENT or whatever, none of which seems much more unlikely. COD to RUDDERLESS, which was udderly amusing, wasn’t it?
  28. I was quite disappointed by my 30-minute solve, thinking that others would have zipped through this. So, in a schadenfreudian way, I’m glad to see others found this one tricky. Like our blogger, I had MEMBRANE as my LOI. ESURIENT was the only word that challenged my vocabulary, but I found it lying in the back of my memory, detached from its meaning. Many good clues, I thought.
  29. Thanks setter and jack
    Not sure what happened first time. Surprisingly enough given the comments above and the snitch, I fell on the easier side of my average with this – finishing in 42 min. I solve on paper and tend to write the explanations of the word play against the clues (old habit) which stretches the elapsed time out.
    Thought that KNIGHT and RUDDERLESS were excellent and have come across ESURIENT numerous times, but still needed all of the crossers to write it in. PRIMROSE came immediately as the colour ‘yellow’ and got that one quite early.
    Finished in the SE corner with CORKER (another very good clue), NECKLINE (clever) and GHENT the last few in.

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