Times Cryptic Jumbo 1621 – you make me feel like a natural Wodan

Hi all, I solved this puzzle as the days were getting longer and typed the blog as the days were getting shorter.

This was certainly on the tougher side, for me at least.  I made reasonable progress on most of it but the last dozen or so clues, mostly in the bottom half of the grid, took my total time past the hour. There are a lot of things that might prove tricky for oversaes solvers.  There’s one clue (57a) that I reckon is extremely dodgy, on the basis of ambiguity.  I’ve got a fair few minor quibbles too.

First in was BALLISTIC and last was LICENSOR.

If any of my explanations don’t make sense then feel free to ask for further elucidation.

The technical stuff:

Clues are in blue (unless you’re in dark mode) with the definition underlined.  Anagram indicators are in bold italics.


DD: Double definition
CD: Cryptic definition
DDCDH: DD/CD hybrid where a straight definition is combined with a cryptic hint.

&Lit: “all in one” where the entire clue is both definition and wordplay.

(fodder)* denotes an anagram of the letters in the brackets.

Rounded brackets are also used to add further clarity

Squiggly brackets {} indicate parts of a word not used

Deletions are struck out

Square brackets [] expand an abbreviation or shortening like R[ight]

1 Window shows songbird a little distance away (5)
CHAFF – CHAFFinch.  My Chambers Dictionary app wasn’t much use here, but Wiki tells me that “Chaff, originally called Window by the British and Düppel by the Second World War era German Luftwaffe is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns, in order to confuse and distract”.  Obscure much?  I bunged it in based on wordplay and checkers and looked it up afterwards.
4 A long way mailman travels round for work (6,4)
ANIMAL FARM – FAR in (mailman)*
9 Quite a bit short, modifies tax holiday (6)
FIESTA – reverse hidden
14 Go so mad, maybe, falling under gravity (9)
BALLISTIC – This may be peculiarly British, but if you get very angry you can be said to “go ballistic”.  And hands up if you knew what ballistic actually meant?
15 A position was the first to cover rock? Some believe it (8,5)
16 For one, McCarthy’s sneer at intervals about the defence of the West? (7)
SENATOR – S{n}E{e}R around NATO
17 Way of working with travellers, non-U who are on the road (9)
MOTORISTS – M[odus] O[perandi], TOuRISTS.  I’m not convined that “who are on the road” quite works as the correct part of speech for the def, at least not without a QM.
Man’s one offer secures empty place (5)
BIPED – BID around P{lac}E
19 Speculation once who could freely associate at coastal resort during pandemic? (5,3,6)
SOUTH SEA BUBBLE – DDCDH.  During COVID lockdown in the UK, your household could mix with another designated household, to form a “bubble”.  If you both lived in the resort of Southsea, near Portsmouth, that would be a…
22 Result of fibre-optic broadband coming to this rock? (7)
FASTNET – fibre-optic broadband would give you fast (inter)net.  Fastnet is a rock in the Atlantic that gives its name to a yacht race, among other things.
25 Unwilling to visit the south of France before a new part of Scotland (10)
MIDLOTHIAN – LOTH in MIDI, A N[ew].  Even if you think you don’t know the region, you may have heard of the football team known as Hearts, who are formally Heart of Midlothian.
27 In spirit, preach badly using wordy language (12)
PERIPHRASTIC – (spirit preach)*.  Not a word I use every day, even when using wordy language.
30 Group of stars, one hidden by Mars (5)
ARIES – I in ARES.  Ares is the Greek god of war, Mars is the Roman god of war.  Does that make them the same person / deity?
31 Store’s small key gone (4,4)
SALT AWAY – S[mall], ALT (computer key), AWAY
32 Ankle was broken, dancing this? (4,4)
SWAN LAKE -(anklw was)*
35 Outline of old country — city’s to the left (8)
SCENARIO – reversal of O[ld], IRAN, EC’S
36 One giving permission to place one banner on front of library (8)
LICENSOR – I CENSOR on L{ibrary}
37 You like tea, reportedly: you’d normally have it with bread? (5)
YEAST – YE, AS, T (sounds like tea).  Do you have yeast with, rather than in, bread?
39 End tirade about conflict giving order to shoot perhaps (5,7)
41 Retreat into naval vessel for supervisory role (10)
43 Take from ear with mechanical exactness (7)
45 Beef men cooked with lemon — so something fishy here (4,5,5)
SOLE BONNE FEMME – (beef men lemon so)*.  I knew the name of the dish but wouldn’t have been able to tell you “bonne femme” means it’s cooked in a simple way, in a single dish, usually involving mushrooms, wine and cream.
48 Pasta restricted, just the end chopped (5)
49 Put back internal organs? Hard to believe (9)
REINSTALL – REINS (the kidneys), TALL
51 Tip after bringing in wine for snack (7)
53 Rubbishy sitcom horribly teased non-stop (7,3,3)
STEPTOE AND SON – (teased non-stop)*.  For the benefit of our younger and/or overseas solvers, “rubbishy” because it was set in a scrap yard.
54 Very large whiskey and half another liqueur (6,3)
TRIPLE SEC – TRIPLE, SEC{ond}.  I’d have expected to see some kind of DBE indicator as the triple could equally be vodka, gin, rum…
55 Move back into tent for dairy food (6)
YOGURT – GO reversed in YURT
56 Corps reduce sentry duty, so we are told, anyway (10)
REGARDLESS – R[oyal] E[ngineers], then homophone of guard less.
57 God gives one sex a change of heart (5)
WODEN – WOMEN with the middle letter changed.  Beef 1, WODAN is an alternative spelling of WODEN so there are two acceptable answers.  Beef 2, is WOMEN (or WOMAN) a sex?  Poor clue.


1 Twice interrupting wounded painter (6)
2 Soon enough exhausted by pleasure-seeking (3,2,4,4)
ALL IN GOOD TIME – ALL IN, GOOD TIME (as an adjuective I assume, as in good-time Charlie).
3 Loud isn’t this? (5)
FAINT – F[orte]. AIN’T
4 Star article on weeds in the King James Bible (7)
ANTARES – AN, TARES.  A TARE is a weed found in the bible.
5 With what is earned, short story is unique (12)
6 Using a loo like this is a bloomer! (8)
7 Two couples eating large meal (5)
FLOUR – FOUR around L[arge]
8 Restaurant perhaps wraps a set of items, forgetting the last (10)
ROTISSERIE – ROTIS, SERIEs.  Following on from my earlier comment about a definition by example indicator being needed, there’s one here but I don’t know why.  Maybe because a rotisserie can be a piece of cooking equipment as well as a restaurant?
10 Nightmare of one youngster grabbed by students (7)
INCUBUS – I then CUB in N[ational] U[nion of] S[tudents]
11 Postpone decision on how to use mattress? (5,2,2)
12 Busted, leader taken away with help (5)
AIDEDrAIDED (think drugs bust)
13 Foreign intelligence that is no longer issued (4,2,3,5)
NEWS OF THE WORLD – DDCDH where the def is a disgraced former Sunday tabloid newspaper in the UK.
20 Chief minister’s way in China is to come down on everyone (9)
TAOISEACH – TAO, IS, EACH.  I can never remember how to spell it but the wordplay is usually helpful in a crossword.
21 Colourful creature’s almost been shaking a tree (3-5)
BEE-EATER – BEE{n}, (a tree)*.  3 Es in a row.  Cool.
23 Watch recording — of such a welcome (6-4)
TICKER-TAPE – TICKER, TAPE.  Shades of Mexico 1986.
24 It could be he that is received in capitals (10)
AMBASSADOR – &Lit.  he in capitals = HE = His Excellency = ambassador
26 Neat fold clothier managed with aprons (8,6)
HOSPITAL CORNER – (clothier aprons)*
28 Anyone can put out trouble (9)
ANNOYANCE – (anyone can)*
29 Public like our newspaper (8)
33 Condemned three articles on postimpressionist after son left and died (13)
34 Stupidly lose a tent peg and a window catch (12)
ESPAGNOLETTE – (lose a tent peg)*
38 Second sight of courtiers’ leader, one in attendance (10)
40 Old prince shortly about to boycott good composer (5,4)
ALBAN BERG – ALBER{t} around BAN, G[ood]
42 Got nothing rearranged in a debt (8)
OBTAINED – O, (in a debt)*
44 Poster of songbird? (7)
46 Restrictions on sales of innards, not right (7)
ENTAILS – ENTrAILS.  I’ve read the dictionary definitions and don’t understand any of them.  Summat about estates.
47 Make a living as swindler, giving very visible warning (6)
48 Gone finally very pale (5)
PASTY – PASY, {ver}Y
50 Possible Russian band, first class (5)
52 Let none fail to give vent to pain (5)
ALLOW – If none give vent to pain, it follows that all must say ow, hence ALL OW.


10 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1621 – you make me feel like a natural Wodan”

  1. This took a lot of time. I biffed SOUTH SEA BUBBLE from the O, T, B, never parsed it. ( DNK BUBBLE at the time; it was explained in a later blog.) Ditto for the CREED, from A C, but did post-submission. DNK LOI FASTNET, ESPAGNOLETTE. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennett’s estate is entailed on the eldest male, so that when he dies his wife and 5 daughters will have to leave and hand it over to Mr. Collins, a cousin; so Mrs. B is desperate to get her girls married. Entail was abolished–I believe, quite quickly–by the 13 American colonies upon independence. Isn’t woman a sex? As Mr. Turveydrop says, “Ah, Woman, lovely Woman, what a sex you are!”.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      I deigned to check the dictionary this morning and indeed (in my Chambers app) def 4 of “woman” is “The female sex, women collectively”.

      If anything that suggests that WODAN should be the correct answer.

  2. I also had problems verifying the wordplay at 1ac but eventually found the CHAFF/window connection somewhere other than a dictionary (I think I googled ‘chaff window’). On reading the explanation I remembered it had come up before in a Times crossword when I also didn’t know it.

    I failed to come up with NATIONAL at 26dn and resorted to aids, then out of frustration I wrote on my copy that it was a bad clue. On reflection I suppose it’s fair enough but not easy to spot as a DD.

    Re the confusion at 57 which incurred my wrath at the time too, WOTAN (for ‘god’) was also in the mix until the middle checker arrived.

  3. I just beat the allotted two hours by 18 seconds, thereby earning one speed point (and points mean…)

    I finished most of the puzzle in the first hour, but the rest was hard work. I needed all the crossers, and still had to write out the anagrams, to construct ESPAGNOLETTE and PERIPHRASTIC. DNK BERG’s first name or REINS for kidneys. LOIs AMBASSADOR, which made me think I must be missing something, so thanks for the explanation of the capitalisation, and SCENARIO, which crossed, which didn’t help and which I failed to parse until after submitting. But I liked lots, including the HOSPITAL CORNER anagram and the cute ones FAINT and BEACON.

    I knew CHAFF from it’s previous appearance here and it’s regular appearance each year in our Christmas decorations box when I was a kid. A chunky roll of metal tape, usable in lieu of tinsel.

    Many thanks for the blog

    oh, and TAOISEACH – every time it appears I say to myself “Right. Now I’ll know how to spell it next time”

    1. That’s exactly my experience re TEASOIAECH, and I immediately forget how it was clued.

      1. Ditto. I have posted here more than once that AT LAST I know how to spell the wretched word but by next time I have forgotten.

  4. I too thought this a little trickier than usual, taking just over an hour. For 1A I thought Window was a misprint for Winnow but that doesn’t quite work. NHO window for chaff before. DNK WODEN could be spelt with an A so missed that dodginess. LOI REINSTALL not knowing reins = kidneys. I liked ANIMAL FARM, SENATOR, SOUTH SEA BUBBLE and SWAN LAKE. Thanks Penford and setter.

  5. Certainly on the hard side, clocking just over the hour. I think I put in WODEN without thinking too much about it. As Jack says, it would have been an A in WOTAN, but I think I’d have VARed a pink with WODAN.
    On my morning toast, I often have Tesco’s YEAST extract, which they’re not allowed to call Marmite, so for me on bread was as good as in bread.
    CHAFF was an easy write in for me: it was used on D-Day apparently moderately successfully to persuade the Germans we were heading for Calais. Incredibly complex maneuvres by 617 Squadron’s Lancasters simulated a vast, slow moving fleet of ships. The easy start was a deception again for me, as the going got progressively harder.

  6. NHO that definition of REINS. Chambers has it as ‘rare’.

    Entails appear frequently as a plot device in Victorian fiction (I’ve been reading Trollope recently). An entailed estate cannot be sold by the heirs.

    1. For those with a liking for more recent historical drama the ENTAIL of a Will was starting point for the whole DOWNTON ABBEY saga.

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