Times Cryptic Jumbo 1598 – 4 February 2023

Hello again. My usual approach to jumbos is to plug away for just 20 minutes or so. If I have broken the back of it, I might try to polish it off, but more often I put it to one side and then put in another few minutes as & when time permits. We get a fortnight, after all, and I won’t allow it to become a 52dn. This Jumbo I thought was a quite a lot harder than average, and it took me several sessions to polish it all off. It also included one or two clues I thought unfair. And I detect the hand of our US setter, too. What did you think?

Please, do feel free to ask questions or comment as required.

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 Very young private in film hugging married soldier (11)
INFANTRYMAN – INFANT (very young) + M(arried) in RYAN, the private in a Steven Spielberg film I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you about. I haven’t watched it, too violent for me…  not a complaint, I just prefer to avoid being shown violence. Which rules out quite a startling amount of tv, including EastEnders .. even the news can be a bit iffy, these days. When they say “Contains scenes some viewers might find upsetting,” that’s me they are talking to.
7 A number to be received by Granma? (2,4,5)
GO DOWN MOSES – I struggled with this but eventually twigged that GO DOWN = “be received,” as in “Jefferson Airplane always go down well with us baby boomers” .. or similar, plus a reference to Grandma Moses, a slightly weird American artist. The “granma” I took as a typo for grandma, I could find no dictionary support for it.

The song itself is better known in the US I expect. Nho for me, and altogether I thought it an unsatisfactory clue.

13 Old bits of logbook laid out oddly (5)
OBOLI – the even bits of logbook laid. The obol was an ancient Greek coin. “Bits” is yet another Americanism. Coins, they were, though oddly some took the form of sticks.
14 One guilty of slowing down after initially leading in competition (7)
CULPRIT – tricky one, this: it is L(eading) in CUP (competition) + RIT, a musical notation short for ritardando, meaning to slow down. Watch out also for RALL, rallentando, which means exactly the same thing..
15 One is going to a kid experiencing discomfort (3,2,4)
ILL AT EASE – I’LL (one is) + A TEASE, a kid.
16 Accompanying racing driver, holding maximum speed in relentless pursuit (5,4)
WITCH HUNT – C, the speed of light and thus the maximum, according to our present state of knowledge, inside WITH (accompanying), + (James) HUNT, a racing driver and one of the last of the old school, who saw it all as a great game. RIP.
17 Pacifying English gangster’s girl, one so uninitiated (10)
EMOLLIENCE – E(nglish) + MOLL (gangster’s girl) + I + (h)ENCE, so, uninitiated.
20 Wound, not quite septic, that finally is to return again (2-5)
RE-ELECT – REELE(d) wound, not quite, + (septi)C and (tha)T.
22 Set of possible caravanserai pictures brought back (7)
TRANNIE – Another I was unhappy about, and took a time to parse. I think it is, reversed: E INN (caravanserai) + ART (pictures). E INN being an Eastern inn, which a caravanserai most likely, but not necessarily, would be. Trannie itself is not a word that springs immediately to mind, and I think I decided the whole clue was rather  contrived.
24 Resort after a time has spread to west and east (7)
MARGATE – A T(ime) has MARGE (spread) all around it, ie both to W and E. I’m a Benecol fan, myself.. poor Margate has greatly suffered over the years, first by being made easily accessible, thanks to the railways, by the more downmarket element of Londoners. To add to its woes, it now has a Turner Contemporary art gallery
25 On a motorway it can be hard   to bear (8)
SHOULDER – A very neat DD.
26 Maybe be prone to risk neck, somehow, with hesitation (5,2,4,3)
SKATE ON THIN ICE – *(NECK + HESITATION). Another concise and clever clue
28 Ancient writer’s revolutionary main work (5)
AESOP – SEA (main, as in Spanish etc) rev. + OP(us), work
29 Not needing to diet, presumably, one consumes a sort of dip? (6)
TAHINI – A in THIN, + I. Had some, in the fridge, but had to throw it away on account of the green fungus, ’nuff said..
30 A U category changed to appeal to immature adult? (3,4,3)
33 Note left in hotel on an American battlefield (10)
AUSTERLITZ – A US (an American) + TE (note; a drink with jam and bread) + L(eft) in RITZ, the archetypal hotel. A finely constructed clue, this.

I don’t know what it is about railway stations and battlefields, but I always used to go across Paris to the Gare d’Austerlitz to get the overnight train, when I set off for the Pyrenees.

35 Soap possibly put outside because full of cracks? (6)
JOCOSE – Another I struggled with a little. It is COS (because) inside JOE, as in Joe Soap. Joe Soap is British army slang, that has never quite caught on. I would say “Joe Bloggs.”
37 One running paper chases hit and disabled (5)
LAMED – LAM (hit) + ED. Lam=hit is from Old Norse
39 Offence at Rugby which Dr Arnold was there to stop (5,2,3,4)
KNOCK ON THE HEAD – KNOCK ON (rugby players are not supposed to do this) + THE HEAD, Which Dr Arnold was, of Rugby school.

To my eye, Thomas Arnold sounds to have been a rather nasty piece of work. Ironically, for the cradle of the sport of rugby, he disliked sport: “Arnold was no great enthusiast for sport, which was permitted only as an alternative to poaching or fighting with local boys.”  I hold him as responsible as any, for making so many English boarding schools so inhumane and dire. Give me Flashman, any day..

41 Buy drinks all round for Americans? Suffers in the morning! (5,3)
STAND SAM – STANDS (suffers) + AM. Curiously, this is not in fact an Americanism, says the OED, though it might sound like one with its reference to (uncle?) Sam. Archaic, though.
44 One adding to musical score maybe, unlike one appearing at Glastonbury? (7)
NOTATOR – a DD, the second a 35ac reference to the Glastonbury Tor.
45 Eliminate any reason to make a face when speaking (4,3)
WIPE OUT – sounds like “Why pout?”
46 Matter that’s collected from a female science graduate, as it were (7)
ABSCESS – “A BSc – ess,” ha ha.
47 Grand entertainer to direct on-line thriller? (5,5)
GHOST TRAIN – G(rand) + HOST (entertainer) + TRAIN, which is to direct, as in train one’s sights on. I remember ghost trains which were a staple feature of
49 Female longing to return in vain in suit to EastEnders? (9)
COCKNEYFY – F(emale) + YEN (longing), rev., in COCKY, vain. Another rather ungainly word, cockneyfy.
53 Article given in love that behold’s removed from wraps? (9)
VALENTINE – so: A (article) + LENT (given) +IN, all inside (lo)VE, ie love that behold = LO has been removed from. Took me a while to parse, that did. Easy to biff though, once the V arrived.
54 Shed on field is to go first (4,3)
LEAD OFF – LEA (field) + DOFF (shed).
55 Pirate copy ultimately you can’t play at school! (5)
HOOKY – HOOK (pirate captain, from Peter Pan) + (cop)Y. Americans play hooky, Brits play truant.
56 Deception in the book-keeping department maybe picked up by auditors (11)
LEGERDEMAIN – sounds like “ledger domain.” Sort of. If you squint ..
57 After winding up down there, rueful in the extreme? (6,5)
NETHER WORLD – *(DOWN THERE + R(uefu)L). An @lit. I suppose, unless you prefer to restrict the def. to just “Down there.”
1 Implication one can go ahead and press for casting location? (9)
IRONWORKS – If the iron works, one can go ahead and press…
2 Thus draw a bit perhaps on good authority … (4,3,6,5)
FROM THE HORSES MOUTH – a bit being the mouthpiece of a horse’s bridle. Not sure if we are removing it, or making a sketch of it…
3 as this comes reportedly indeed (5)
NEIGH – what literally comes from the horse’s mouth.
4 Park game, one people entering races find engaging (11)
RECRUITMENT – REC (park) + RU (game, ie rugby union) + I, + MEN (people) in TT, the races.
5 A title one translated at the end of William Tell? (8)
MILITATE – (willia)M + *(A TITLE I). I was not sure of the definition here, but if something tells against you, it can militate against you too ..
6 Trying bottle on shelf with iodine: no good (5-7)
NERVE-RACKING – NERVE (bottle, courage) + SHELF (racking) + I(odine) + NG, no good. I would spell it nerve-wracking myself, but either is deemed acceptable.
7 Persuade couple over the phone to make do, finally (3,5,2)
GET ROUND TO – GET ROUND (persuade) + TO, sounds like “two” on the phone ..
8 “Physician heal thyself!” we might thus infer is the instruction (5)
DRILL – we infer that the doctor is ill: DR ILL.
9 Comic about to change male fantasy character (6,5)
WALTER MITTY – ALTER (change) in WITTY, comic. Walter Mitty is the daydreaming hero of a rather good short story by James Thurber, later made into a film.
10 Faced fine for burying fish bones (9)
METACARPI – MET (faced), + CARP (fish) in AI, fine. The five bones between the hand and the wrist.
11 Special effects seen after consuming a port! (4)
SFAX – A inside SFX, a recognised abbreviation for special effects. However, I flatly refused to believe that SFAX was a word, until I cheated and looked it up, always a last resort for me. It turns out to be the largest city in Tunisia after Tunis itself, and Tunisia’s largest fishing port. Sadly I had never heard of it; perhaps I should have.
12 Horse-drawn vehicle, often small and light (4)
SLED – S(mall) + LED, the latest thing in lights. Having updated the house I now have a box of 40 or so tungsten filament bulbs, and now 40 or so fluorescent-type bulbs as well. Would be glad to know what I am supposed to do with them!
18 Battered car (Golf) multistorey may track and film (7,7,4)
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR – *(CAR + G(olf) + MULTISTOREY + MAY). Neatly arranged, and the surface very nearly makes sense…

A song by the Beatles, part of the soundtrack to the rather eccentric film of the same name, filmed mainly at West Malling airfield just down the road from me, now a housing estate called King’s Hill. The old control tower is a restaurant.

19 Vicar — the first lady — meeting resistance: split follows (8)
REVEREND – R(esistance) + EVE (the first lady) + REND, to split
21 Edge, if not round … is this maybe? (7)
ELLIPSE – LIP (edge) inside ELSE, if not.
23 Schoolboy class of 2021 for example? A cut above? (4,4)
ETON CROP – A dd I suppose, the 2021 intake at Eton being an Eton crop in some sense. And an Eton crop being defined by Collins as “a short mannish hairstyle worn by women in the 1920s,” which I confess surprised me somewhat as I had naively assumed it referred to the boys themselves.
27 Doctor Who after hour interrupts musical programme (4,4)
CHAT SHOW – H(our) inside CATS, a musical, + *(WHO). I like “Doctor Who.”
28 Those from one state sorry to say when leaving another (8)
ALASKANS – ALAS (sorry) + KANS(as), as = when, being deleted.
31 Completed course in satellite communications (7)
UPLINKS – UP (completed, as in “Your time is up”) + LINKS, a (golf) course. Though in Scotland at least, links are any rough, sandy ground near the sea.
32 Drinks dispenser is found at an oasis as one’s leaving, sadly (4,8)
SODA FOUNTAIN – *(IS FOUND + AT AN OASIS), without the AS IS. An American “Drinks counter in a drugstore,” according to Collins.
34 Note the employing of an informer somewhere south of Glasgow (11)
LANARKSHIRE – LA (a note to follow So) + NARK’S HIRE, employing an informer. In-depth research (google maps!) locates Lanarkshire to the SE of Glasgow..
36 One on settlement admits transport bases cut (8,3)
ENTRANCE FEE – ENTRANCE (to transport. Amazing how just shifting the emphasis can completely change the meaning of a word) + FEE(t), bases, cut.
38 Blue bloke like a scarlet woman? (10)
CHAPFALLEN – CHAP (bloke) + FALLEN, what a scarlet woman is, allegedly. Do they have fallen men, too? Cabinet ministers, perhaps?

Chap in this context is a reference to the lower jaw, so the word literally means “Down in the mouth.”

40 Nick three fragments to make famous figure in 4 (9)
KITCHENER – *(NICK THREE). A reference to the famous WWI recruitment poster with Kitchener pointing out and saying “Your country needs you.” The bit about going overseas and quite probably dying was left out.
42 One’s recalled painful swelling you had, on the verge of tears? (5-4)
MISTY-EYED – I’M (one’s) reversed, + STYE (painful swelling) + YE’D, you had. One of my last in, fortunately the crossers helped.
43 Project frustrated carrot producer may finally get? (5,3)
STICK OUT – a reference to the “carrot and stick” method of motivation. Those charged with motivating me mainly seemed to prefer the latter option..
48 Mark of separation, after shrinking, that remains (5)
TREMA – hidden, in thaT REMAins. Nho, and surprisingly, not in the OED either. But Collins says: “a mark consisting of two dots placed over the second of two adjacent vowels to indicate it is to be pronounced separately rather than forming a diphthong with the first.”
50 Be capable of being heard in any conditions (5)
NOHOW – a homophone for “KNOW HOW.” Nohow is an ungainly word that I would have said means “under no conditions,” and not “under any conditions.” Yet Collins has the former meaning as American usage, and the latter as English. Odd.
51 No good being upset (4)
EVIL – LIVE (being), rev.
52 Singular record becoming big hit (4)
SLOG – S(ingular) + LOG, a record.

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

21 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1598 – 4 February 2023”

  1. It’s 1598, Jerry.
    I found this very hard, too, and in fact didn’t finish: never got TRANNIE (an awful clue) or GET ROUND TO (DNK get round=persuade). A number of DNKs: knew KITCHENER, but not the recruitment poster; STAND SAM (nho); Joe Soap; UPLINK; KNOCK ON; HUNT, no doubt others I’ve overlooked. I would have thought that ‘satisfying’ would be ’emmolient’. And Aesop wasn’t a writer.

    1. Aesop might have been a writer. Herodotus described him as such, as does the biographical “Aesop Romance.” But since we don’t know what colour he was, or even if he genuinely existed, it hardly seems to matter either way..

  2. I haven’t been doing the Jumbo puzzle regularly for very long but I noted on my copy that this was the most difficult one I have encountered. I battled away at it until the end seemed in sight, but with several answers still missing in the SE corner and having become stuck yet again I decided enough was enough and resorted to aids to polish it off and move my day on. There were simply too many unknown answers and some that I knew to be correct but was unable to parse. In those circumstances it’s easy to lose interest.

  3. I sort of enjoyed struggling with this one, but not enough to carry on for ever. After several sessions adding up to well over two hours, with just 56 per cent done, I called it a day. Just one thing: bits. American certainly, and yet we had them here too – thrupenny bits and two bob bits. I enjoyed the blog, showing how it all works. Thanks

  4. I found this hard too. I got it all done eventually, only to see a pink square where I had seen that I needed to put LIP inside ELSE and somehow written ECLIPSE anyway.
    There’s some decidedly questionable stuff in here as already noted. GO DOWN MOSES, STAND SAM, COCKNEYFY, SFAX, CHAPFALLEN and TREMA seem gratuitously obscure, especially in combination, and the clues for TRANNIE and ETON CROP are both just a mess. And defining TAHINI as a sort of dip is like defining tomato as a sort of sauce.

    1. One man’s obscurity, etc. I thought SFAX was easy–A in SFX–but then I knew of Sfax. “Go Down Moses” is an Afro-American spiritual, and as such, as Jerry says, more likely known by an American. (“A number”, on the other hand, is less than apt.) It is also the title of a Faulkner novel.

      1. I think I’d have found any of them individually fine, but the sheer number is really the problem.

  5. Thanks for the blog Jerry. This took me 80 seconds shy of 2 hours, accompanied by a Greene King IPA and a cheese sandwich, so time well spent. And here was that other LEGERDEMAIN I’d seen lately, as you said.

    I also disliked 7a, and couldn’t parse 53a, but otherwise it was enjoyably tough.

    Just a minor query – I don’t think “reportedly indeed” should be part of the definition in 3d. It indicates a homophone of “nay”.

    1. Impressed that you found it only a one IPA crossword. Perhaps it comes in big bottles 🙂
      Don’t think I agree about neigh/nay. Nay means no, so nothing to do with the clue. Neigh is what is said to come out of horse mouths, isn’t it? (Not that I see that as very accurate either) … if the clue omitted “indeed” altogether, it would still work fine wouldn’t it?

      1. I’m a slow drinker! Nay does indeed mean indeed (it’s in Collins), as in “he was a great, nay an excellent, man”.

          1. Ha! The point I think being that neigh is a homophone of nay but not, as you point out, an onomatopoeia, so the clue wouldn’t work without “indeed”.

  6. At the time I first tried printing this out (although it was fixed later), only half the across clues and none of the down clues rendered so I resorted to cutting and pasting to print it out… but I see it wasn’t the resulting small font that made it seem harder than usual – It took me about 1hr 50minutes, including use of aids for the abbreviation for SFAX, checking the unknown word TREMA and the unlikely looking COCKNEYFY. I didn’t much care for TRANNIE either, but some nice moments such as the linked FROM THE HORSES MOUTH and NEIGH, ELLIPSE, GHOST TRAIN and ABSCESS. Thank-you Jerry and setter.

  7. I’m glad others found this difficult too. I genuinely thought that something had switched off in my brain for the first few minutes of staring blankly at the clues. Felt similar to doing the Crossword Club Monthly special at one stage. Putting in the easy SLED didn’t open any floodgates, but I gradually seemed to get on the setter’s wavelength and started to appreciate how brilliant a lot of this puzzle was.
    I agree there were some Americanisms here and there, but then again TRANNIE as a transistor radio is a British term not used in the States, I think (and TRAINEE was available)…

  8. Crossword puzzles are only pleasurable if a reasonably intelligent experienced puzzler has a chance of solving the clues and understanding why they got an answer. This puzzle failed again and again on both counts. A total misery and bore. I have done both weekend puzzles for years and this was the worst I have ever encountered.

  9. I think the setter may have based NOHOW on a misunderstanding of Collins’ British English entry – which, to be fair, is rather unclear. You have to take into account the statement preceding those two (sub) definitions – not standard (in negative constructions) – which I think indicates they’re only to be used in negative contexts. Eg “We won’t arrive on time, nohow” = “We won’t arrive on time, under any conditions.”

    That almost gives the setter a get-out-of-jail card, as it apparently passes the substitution test, but I think it’s unfair because it is not given in a negative context.

  10. I gave up with the same two unfinished as Kevin, and others only after assistance. Not fun for me. Thanks Jerry.

  11. Brutal. The hardest for ages. I was short of time that weekend and gave up, losing interest with quite a way to go. I am encouraged by the struggles of others!!

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