Times Cryptic Jumbo 1538 – 22 January 2022

Hello again. This Jumbo I thought was medium hard, with a fair number of straightforward clues and a few stinkers thrown in. To me it seemed to have an unusually high level of obscurities for a jumbo, and also a rather dated feel, what with the pocket watches, the Decembrists, Dirigistes, Mahdi etc. Or so I ween. To be fair we also had a digital signature and Private Eye. What did you think?

Please, do feel free to ask questions or comment as required. We are all friends here..

I use the standard TfTT conventions like underlining the definition, CD for cryptic definition, DD for a double one, *(anargam) and so forth. Nho = “not heard of” and in case of need the Glossary is always handy


1 We had to go round and casually put something on the lawn (7)
DEWDROP – WE’D rev. + DROP (casually put). A pub just up the road from me, now sadly closed, was called the Dewdrop Inn..
5 After changing, spotted a mark to deal with later (8)
POSTDATE – *(SPOTTED A). When I worked in a clearing bank in the 1970s we hated postdated cheques with a passion, so hard to spot if they evade the cashier’s eye..
9 Spin a single coin: watch once (6)
TURNIP – TURN (spin) + I P. Lexico: “informal, dated A large, thick, old-fashioned watch.”
13 The way to follow ceremony: it’s on telly (10,6)
CORONATION STREET – CORONATION (ceremony) + STREET (way). Started in Dec. 1960 and I am sorry to say I have never watched a single episode. Hats off though to William Roache, who played Ken Barlow in the very first episode and is still in the soap to this day. He will be 90 in April.
14 Is about to eat affected seafood (6)
SCAMPI – CAMP (affected) in SI (is about)
16 Revolutionary leader’s heavy duty during month abroad (5)
MAHDI – HD in MAI, French version of May. Khartoum was captured, and General Gordon killed, by Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah aka the Mad Mahdi.
17 Wife, late in the day, not opposed to thinking once (7)
WEENING – W(ife) + E(v)ENING (late in the day, less the V, opposed to).
18 Acid feeling ruining days, having swallowed fizzy drink (9)
DYSPEPSIA – PEPSI, carbonated rotgut, in *(DAYS)
19 Grand relative in character nearly disgusting (9)
REPUGNANT – G(rand) + NAN (relative) inside REPUT(e), character nearly
21 Swordsman’s month and a bit with soldiers (7)
MATADOR – M(onth) + A TAD + OR (other ranks, ie soldiers)
22 Briefly fuse iron blade (5)
KNIFE – KNI(t) (briefly fuse) + FE (iron, from its Latin name, ferrum)
23 Something watched by small child (5)
SPROG – S(mall) + PROG(ramme)
25 Semi-rigid form of state control? (9)
DIRIGISME – *(SEMI RIGID). Not terribly keen on this clue .. apart from the obscure word, is “form” a sufficient anagram indicator? Discuss ..
27 Posy suggesting one’s head not all straight? (7)
NOSEGAY – You aren’t all straight because your nose is gay .. ha ha.
29 Part of Lewis plot incomplete? Impossible (9)
STORNOWAY – STOR(y) (plot incomplete) + NO WAY (impossible). Stornoway is the capital of Lewis & Harris, and by far the largest town in the Outer Hebrides.
31 Doctor puts in for extra pay that may be accidentally lost (2,6,5)
NO CLAIMS BONUS – NO (as in Doctor No, ha) CLAIMS (puts in for) BONUS (extra pay). A neat clue, and the evil doctor took me a while to spot.
34 One stuck up for silent audience? (1,3,2,3,4)
A FLY ON THE WALL – a CD, I think. Not too hard but I kept looking for the wordplay!
35 Period of years formerly heading off decline (9)
DECADENCE – DECADE (period of years) + (o)NCE
37 Loud noise that made it all kick off? (3,4)
BIG BANG – Not sure if this is intended as an &lit, but was there a noise? No sound in a vacuum, right? I suppose it is possible to read the clue as a DD, which makes a bit more sense
39 Died, having been alive a long time, turning reckless (9)
DAREDEVIL – D(ied), + LIVED (been alive) + ERA (a long time), both rev.
42 Signal to sleep, having consumed a snack (5)
TAPAS – A in TAPS. Taps is a bugle call, originating in the American civil war. It is used for a number of different purposes, including to signal “lights out.”
43 Manoeuvres second rook at first with advantage (5)
RUSES – well, R = rook and S = second, but it is not easy to equate USE with advantage. I suppose that if you take advantage of something you are using it ..
45 Monkey back at dock shortly (7)
TAMARIN – TA (back at) + MARIN(a), a short dock
47 Island piglet? (3,6)
NEW GUINEA – I suppose this is a reference to a young guinea pig. But I don’t think it quite works.
49 Brief look towards the sky by deer in wind (4,5)
COUP DOEIL – UP (to the sky) + DOE (deer) in COIL, wind. I would complain that this was an obscurity, but my wife knew it ..
50 Hello! Severe competition for taxis? (3,4)
ALL HAIL – A DD, one jocular, implyiong that everyone is trying to get a taxi at once. An amusing if unrealistic idea since half of us can’t afford them any more, and of those that can, half will be on their phones trying to book an Uber.
52 Captures escapee at last in wood (5)
COPSE – COPS (captures) + (escape)E
54 Not entirely brave to catch one (6)
MAINLY – I in MANLY, possibly not the most diplomatic way of expressing bravery these days.
55 Litigants argued I falsified authentication (7,9)
56 Back slang isn’t a bit important (6)
SIGNAL – hidden, reversed, in sLANG ISn’t.
57 Bluish shade observed, bore endlessly about it? On the contrary (3,5)
SEA GREEN – EAGR(e) (a tidal bore), in SEEN, observed.
58 Strong support for entering exactly from the back (7)
TAPROOT – PRO (for) inside TO A T (exactly), rev.

1 Old revolutionaries sorted out crimes involving debts (11)
DECEMBRISTS – *(CRIMES + DEBTS). Decembrists were participants in the Russian revolution of 1825, which sounds to have been a notably botched affair.
2 Argue about the reduced value (5)
WORTH – WOR (argue, about) + TH
3 Called round family as the most senior (7)
RANKING – KIN (family) in RANG (called). The ranking officer in a situation is the most senior present.
4 Draw some conclusions in facilitating double marriage? (3,3,3,3,8)
PUT TWO AND TWO TOGETHER – speaks for itself, really
5 For detective to go bad repelled The Guardian (9)
PROTECTOR – PRO (for, again, see 58ac) + TEC (detective) + TOR (rot, ie go bad, rev.)
6 Steamer maybe almost filled with American dish (5)
SUSHI – US inside SHI(p), a steamer maybe
7 Diminishes daughter, with barrier blocking love (9)
DEROGATES – D(aughter) + GATE (barrier) inside EROS, the Greek god of love, lust and sex, lucky fellow that he is
8 To rip into online talks became very popular (7)
TRENDED – REND (to rip) in TED. TED, our second brand name, is a US media organisation. See the link for their talks
10 Remove tick from chief wearing posh collar (7)
UNCHECK – CH(ief) in U (posh) + NECK. I was not sure about neck = collar, but Collins has “Neck: the part of a garment around or nearest the neck” which seems clear enough and in the case of a shirt, would be the collar.
11 Deprived of golf, bankers do karaoke: absolutely true! (2,7)
NO MESSING – (g)NO MES + SING. As in the gnomes of Zurich, who like nothing more than a karaoke night.
12 Soldier looks at copies of magazine (7,4)
PRIVATE EYES – PRIVATE (soldier) + EYES (looks at). Our third brand name, and a welcome mention of Private Eye, one of the last remaining bastions in the UK of proper investigative journalism.
15 Near dark glow with titanic hailstorm breaking (12,8)
20 Cook a little vegetable: snip off nasty-looking swelling (7)
PARBOIL – PAR(SNIP) + BOIL, your nasty-looking swelling. Surely nowadays all right-thinking people steam, rather than boil?
21 Wise man never initially volunteers for battle (7)
MAGENTA – MAGE (wise man) + N(ever) + TA, the Territorial Army. Magenta is a smallish town in Lombardy, North Italy. The battle, in 1859, was named after it. The colour, an aniline dye isolated in the same year, was named to honour the battle.
24 Vessel disturbing lagoon departs (7)
26 Vigour ultimately saved lion’s prey? (5)
ELAND – ELAN (vigour) + save(D). The giant eland is the world’s largest antelope
28 Regular movement by public transport back to work at The Times (7)
SUBEDIT – TIDE (regular movement) + BUS, both rev. Some say that these days The Times has pretty much given up on subediting..
30 Produce yell an arm’s length away that is extremely loud (5)
YIELD – Y(ell) + IE (that is) + L(ou)D. an ell being supposedly an arm’s length, and thus the same as a cubit. The length in question is a distinctly variable quantity, from 27″ to 45″, which seems fair enough as not all arms are the same
32 Smart chap gets up to put on pale green (7)
CELADON – ALEC (smart chap) rev., + DON (put on). Celadon was originally a Chinese pottery glaze, of a pale greyish green colour .. all news to me, but the wordplay was sufficient.
33 Square leg; one bowled over? (7)
NINEPIN – NINE (a square, specifically 3 squared) + PIN (leg).
34 Watch American cornering eccentric novelist (6,5)
ALBERT CAMUS – ALBERT + CAM (eccentric) + US. Unfortunately there is an error here since an Albert is not a watch, but a watch chain, specifically one with a bar at one end that you poke through a waistcoat buttonhole to secure it.
I tried to read one of Camus’ novels once, but failed. My loss, no doubt
36 Having no freedom, being left on footway with no parking (11)
ENSLAVEMENT – ENS (being, look it up) + L(eft) + (p)AVEMENT, pavement with no parking.
38 Giving signal for one to rise, finally honours mathematician (9)
GESTURING – GE (eg, for one, rev) + honour(S) + TURING, everyones’s favourite mathematician.
My favourite story about him was that during the war he joined the Home Guard, with the specific intention of learning to shoot a rifle. Accordingly, he never bothered to turn out for parades, exercises or anything of that sort. This annoyed the powers that be and eventually they sent the general in charge to berate him and bring him to heel. In the face of Turing’s bland refusal to have anything to do with “All that nonsense” the general eventually threatened to court-marshal him. Turing said, well you can’t, the general said yes we can, you are in breach of the contract you signed when you joined the home guard. Turing said, Oh no I’m not … and when they got round to digging out the relevant document in order to prove it, they found he had neatly crossed out all of the clauses he disagreed with. Which nobody had noticed, so nothing could be done after all. Man after my own heart.
40 Checking papers again perhaps grenadier is puzzled (9)
41 Churchman? I too falling short in committing this? (6,3)
VENIAL SIN – VEN(erable), a title given in the Anglican church to archdeacons, + I + ALS(o) (too falling short) + IN. A venial sin is more minor than a mortal one, according to religion, at least.
44 Items for the rest of the clergy reviewed in dailies (7)
SEDILIA – *(DAILIES). Another religious obscurity, forcing potluck for those not familiar with the term. I thought sedilia sounded more likely than sidelia or sidilea, and so it proved.
46 Some Asians’ pronounced discomfort (7)
MALAISE – homophonic with MALAYS. This took longer to dawn on me than it should do.
48 Release poisoner in family? Not easy at first (7)
51 Powerless to satisfy contract (5)
53 A world away, quiet airport closes early (5)
PLUTO – P + LUTO(n), the airport made famous by Lorraine Chase

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

6 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1538 – 22 January 2022”

  1. DNK NO MESSING, ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT, STORNOWAY, SEDILIA, or ALBERT. MALAISE took me a while since I pronounce Malay ‘MAYlay’. Did not care for SEDILIA. I don’t know if I’d call COUP D’OEIL obscure, but it’s French and has an apostrophe, which made it a problem. CELADON for some reason has stayed in memory from decades ago, when I had to look it up for a Japanese class (it’s 青紫 seishi, which I immediately forgot, but the English remained). I liked YIELD, ENSLAVEMENT, GESTURING.
  2. Re 1 Down: The Decembrists might have botched their revolution but their wives were justly venerated.
  3. I went off on holiday, right
    Much to the setter’s delight
    They used BIG BANG, PLUTO
    When I wouldn’t know
  4. Does that mean it will finally have happened?

    I think “medium hard” is about right: this was a 55 minute job, with some pleasurable new words such as ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT to discover.
    My only downer was putting in UNCLAMP at 48, wondering idly why Uncle Amp was a poisoner. Oh well.

    I like your digression on the BIG BANG, a variation on the falling tree in the forest conundrum plus the no noise in space convention happily ignored by just about every SF film ever made.

    While it’s not a proposed solution to the noise problem, I’m reminded of Ronald Knox’s limerick and the anonymous reply:

    There was a young man who said “God
    Must find it exceedingly odd
    To think that the tree
    Should continue to be
    When there’s no one about in the quad.”

    Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd;
    I am always about in the quad.
    And that’s why the tree
    Will continue to be
    Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.

  5. 1:46:13 with one pink square. Yesterday I saw I had left this one unfinished after an hour. It looked doable so I guess I just didn’t get into it. I finished it off in 45 minutes last night. Undone by 44dn SEDILIA, where I ended up with a set of vowels that weren’t even the ones in the anagrist. I had no trouble with watch = ALBERT so thanks for putting me straight

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