Times Cryptic 28812 – Sat, 13 Jan 2024. Obscure? Maybe

Some may not know all the references in this one. I got everything, one way or the other, although I confess I didn’t know how to spell the “sounds like” answer at 1ac!

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable start to 2024. How did you all get on?

Note for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is for last week’s puzzle, posted after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on this week’s Saturday Cryptic.

Definitions are in bold and underlined.

Across
1 Kind of tube station, we hear, east of Brussels? (10)
EUSTACHIANEU (Brussels), sounds (we hear) like STATION.

Eustachian tubes connect the middle ears to the back of your throat. I had to check whether it should end EAN or IAN!

6 Helpful item Charlie’s carried — it’s taken on a trip (4)
ACIDC (Charlie, in the phonetic alphabet) carried by AID. That sort of trip!
9 Caribbean headgear worn by one Scot (7)
HAITIANHA(I)T (headgear, worn by I=one), then IAN.
10 Composer dropping in, off to get a letter from London (7)
RACHMANRACHMANinoff, dropping IN and OFF. Peter Rachman: and a revolting landlord he was!
12 Rather entertaining piano is medium for sound transposition (10)
SPOONERISMSOONER (rather) entertains P (piano), IS, M (medium).
13 Take off bra — clasp loose at the back (3)
APE – last letters (at the back) of brA clasP loosE.
15 Heading off conflict with European PM once (6)
ATTLEEbATTLE (conflict, heading off), E (European).
16 Do well in school, stifling angry expression (8)
FLOURISHFISH (school), stifling LOUR (angry expression).
18 That fellow travels around British Isles (8)
HEBRIDESHE RIDES around B (British).
20 Burnt cycling around African-Arabian water (3,3)
RED SEASEARED (burnt), with the last three letters cycling around to the front.
23 Vow in language that’s not natural (3)
IDO – a marriage vow is I DO. The answer is an artificial language descended from Esperanto.
24 Might one kneel almost flexibly? It’s beyond me (10)
SUPPLICANTSUPPLy (flexibly, almost), I CAN’T (it’s beyond me).
26 Drop of Parisian eau de Cologne, say (7)
DESCENTDE (of, in Paris), SCENT.
27 Post collection in Jersey (7)
MAILLOTMAIL, LOT. Self explanatory. A posh Frenchified word for a swimsuit or jersey.
28 Hard to catch sight of Queen live (4)
RARER (queen), ARE (live: plural verb)
29 A western missing out on Oscar is maybe flat (10)
ACCIDENTALA, then oCCIDENTAL (western, omitting O=Oscar). An accidental is a flat or sharp note in music, so this is a definition by example.
Down
1 City ends in triumph against Real (4)
ECHTEC (in London, the postcode for the City), then the last letters (ends) of triumpH againsT. Echt is an imported German word, meaning genuine.
2 Snatch rupees away from child in street (7)
SNIPPETNIPPEr, (child with R=rupees away), in ST (street).
3 Fatty stuff in a salsa, say, and nothing to fix problem (7,6)
ADIPOSE TISSUEA, DIP, O, SET, ISSUE.
4 Barbarian has item on plate brought up, in need of food (6)
HUNGERHUN (barbarian), GER (REG=item on a car number plate, brought up).
5 One fired from broadcast, given sack (3,5)
AIR RIFLEAIR (broadcast), RIFLE (sack or plunder).
7 I blame old lady about overturned alcohol (7)
CAMPARII, RAP, MA, C, all overturned.
8 Fool departed, touring south of Hawaii? Just the capital (10)
DUNDERHEADDEAD (departed), touring UNDER (south of) H (Hawaii, just the capital).
11 Corrupt, me? I’m extremely corruptible, involved in hacking, say (8,5)
COMPUTER CRIME – anagram (involved) of CORRUPT ME IM CorruptiblE, just using the extreme  letters of the last word.
14 Assistant on dating app rings hot female? He looks for a way (10)
PATHFINDERP.A. (assistant), TINDER (dating app) ringing H (hot) F (female).
17 Repressive police returned, seizing tablets and soft drug (8)
DESPOTIC DIC (CID, returned) seizing E’S + POT.
19 Safari, say, with giraffe or deer? (7)
BROWSER – I’ve marked this as a definition followed by a cryptic hint, but I could have as easily said two definitions: the computer type, or the animals.
21 Slip on waistcoat, not current undergarment (7)
SINGLETSIN (slip), GiLET (waistcoat, not I=current).
22 Pupils once mauling tailless bats (6)
ALUMNI – drop the last letter (tailless) of MAULING, and make an anagram (bats).
25 Ultimately moving story together with others (2,2)
ET ALTALE (story), moving the ultimate letter to the front.

18 comments on “Times Cryptic 28812 – Sat, 13 Jan 2024. Obscure? Maybe”

  1. I liked it – just easy enough for a distracted Saturday morning – and only had trouble at the top with the unknown Rachman and the pronouceable but not spellable Eustachean gumming things up. I think my favourite was the backwards Spoonerism, but that is mostly for the vocabulary word. thanks, bruce

  2. Rachman was a long time ago so probably not well known in the UK today. Late 1950s and early 1960s. I vaguely have heard of him since his name is a sort of stand-in for exploitative landlords. I started solving it at night in bed and then fell asleep, so I have no idea how difficult it really was since my time is 12 hours when I finished it in the morning. I was also happy that my somewhat guessed spelling of EUSTACHIAN turned out to be correct. Nice to see CAMPARI since my daughter heads up their education program in New York.

    1. Eustachean tube on Wiki has a redirect to -ian tube, and wiktionary allows both. I blythely entered the -ian version and still don’t know if it is acceptable.

  3. 35:01 WOE
    I don’t know why this took me so long, but it did. I liked ECHT, SUPPLICANT & SNIPPET. At 4d, I biffed HUNGRY, thinking–and as usual failing–to go back to it, and when I got SPOONERISM I didn’t notice that it was now HUNGEY. I remembered RACHMAN (once I had some checkers) from a couple of years ago. NHO TINDER, but inferred, correctly it seems, that it’s a dating app.

  4. 48 minutes with SINGLET unparsed because I had forgotten about GILET despite it being mentioned in every news bulletin for a period a few years ago.

    For those of a completist persuasion, accidentals in music can also be naturals, double sharps and double flats – any notes that are not in the key-signature of a piece. The signs are also used to cancel accidentals that appeared previously in the same bar.

  5. 53m 14s
    1ac. I have never liked EUSTAC(H)IA Vye, the femme fatale of Hardy’s novel “The Return of the Native”.
    And an even more dislikable and disreputable character was 10ac Peter RACHMAN who had both Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies as mistresses and who did business with the Krays.
    I did enjoy the variation on Spoonerism in 12ac.
    Nice to see that the start of the cycling road race season has been marked by MAILLOT in 27ac. The Tour Down Under is on in the Adelaide area right now with the riders vying for the ochre jersey.
    Nice puzzle. Thank you, Bruce.

  6. Liked this one. No unknowns, although I wouldn’t know what an accidental actually is.
    I remembered Rachman from the first time round, as he was involved in the Profumo affair. Some of his flats were very run down, but evidently some weren’t, as Christine Keeler seemed happy enough with hers. All of them worth a fortune, nowadays!
    Maillot Jaune, the famous Tour de France yellow jersey..
    Pathfinders is what the best and most courageous wartime bomber crews were called, who could be relied on to find the correct target and then lay flares to guide the rest. I was reminded of this during the week, reading the obituary of a very brave, (and very lucky) bomber pilot, Rusty Waughman.

  7. Challenging – which is the point. Needed some help with 23ac, IDO: get it but had NHO; 8d DUNDERHEAD – couldn’t figure the parsing of this, nor 29ac ACCIDENTAL. Knew MAILLOT from the Tour de France and RACHMAN from…school, I think, though can’t imagine which lesson! All done, though in well over an hour. One day I’ll remember more speedily that “city” = EC and “real” = ECHT; that’ll help my times. Liked 12ac after a run of these lately. Thanks, all.

  8. Don’t remember any major challenges with this, though I had to trust the wordplay for both RACHMAN and MAILLOT and I held off on putting in HUNGER until I was certain it wasn’t ‘hungry’ (I know that doesn’t parse, but I thought the definition was ‘in need of food’ rather than simply ‘need of food’). Getting SPOONERISM cleared it up.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Acid
    LOI Hunger
    COD Despotic

  9. 15:06. Tricky one.
    The play Singer by Peter Flannery is based on the life of Peter Rachman. I saw it on the same trip to Stratford as a production of The Duchess of Malfi many years ago, so that trip is yielding significant cruciverbal dividends at the moment. Expect a clue involving Coriolanus to be along shortly.
    I remembered EUSTACHEAN tubes from school biology but I needed the crossers to remember the spelling.

  10. Since this was completed mostly in pencil, I obviously did most of it at work – yes, on a Saturday! It wasn’t too bad, as I recall, though I didn’t add any comments for this week’s blog. RACHMAN was a PDM, IDO a relief, as I’d got caught out with that a few weeks ago and was wise to it. MAILLOT not a problem, as I always think of the French maillot de bain (swimming costume – doubtless originally knitted, as were British ones). I think I failed to parse SINGLET, though it was obvious. Liked ACCIDENTAL and ET AL. DUNDERHEAD must have been one of the last in – I don’t think I’ve heard the word outside a 30’s novel. An enjoyable solve.

  11. 35.42

    Very pleased to finish this, not having the slightest idea about the TUBE and having to piece together the TISSUE.

    Clever stuff

    Thanks Bruce and setter

  12. DNF as miswrote 1d ECHT as ECth leaving T_I_I_N for the Trinians as the original inhabitants of somewhere in the Caribbean.
    See my reply at the top allowing both spellings for the TUBE. I was an IAN, but could easily have been an EAN.

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