Times Cryptic Jumbo 1654 (13 January 2024)

This was harder than some Jumbos I have blogged recently and I needed two sessions to complete it. The SE corner and 56ac delayed me unduly. Because of the Christmas and New Year specials my turn for Jumbo blogging seems to have come round quickly this time.

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]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Bore with a little alcohol: a mouse could do it (4,3,4)
DRAG (bore), AND (with), DROP (a little alcohol). A computer technique that’s handy for editing and file management etc.
7 Classical puzzle that was solved at a stroke (7,4)
Cryptic. The stroke was that of a sword. You can read all about the legend here if you wish.
13 Crafty killer in bar taking pressure off grass (1-4)
{p}UB (bar) [taking pressure off], OAT (grass)
14 Wicket! I had gone, sadly for a duck (7)
W (wicket), I’D (I had), anagram [sadly] of GONE
15 Material for printer is empty, rubbished along with the rest (4,5)
Anagram [rubbished] of EMPTY, then ET AL (along with the rest). In printing, this is an alloy of tin, lead, and antimony, from which type is cast. I didn’t know this but I’m familiar with the printing term ‘hot metal’ so it was no great leap.
16 Criminal also about to tuck into some breakfast? (9)
AND (also) reversed [about] contained by [to tuck into] KIPPER (some breakfast?). Kippers for breakfast was a British speciality at one time but not so much these days, I think..
17 Walk, run, climb here (10)
STEP (walk), LADDER (run – a series of unravelled stitches, e.g. in stockings or tights)
20 Financial support some needed to secure expensive car (7)
ANY (some) contains [to secure] LIMO (expensive car)
22 Not so lenient as Lawrence King (7)
(Lawrence) STERNE, then R (king). Author of Tristram Shandy and many other books. Edit: There’s an error in the clue here as Sterne’s first name was spelt ‘Laurence’. Thanks to Kevin for pointing this out. 
24 More temperamental, and lower when girl interrupts (7)
DI (girl) contained by [interrupts] MOO-ER (lower)
25 With calves under water, require to put board round (4-4)
KEEP (board as in board and lodgings) containing [put round] NEED (require)
26 Person with an entitlement: vets resented it badly (6,8)
Anagram [badly] of VETS RESENTED IT
28 Some basic hormones classically coursing through the veins (5)
Hidden in [some] {bas}IC HOR{ones}. SOED: In Greek mythology, a fluid supposed to flow like blood in the veins of the gods.
29 Singer in America finished with silence (6)
THRU (in America, finished – through), SH (silence)
30 Remarkably absorbent fleece finally found in front of cage (10)
Anagram [remarkably] of ABSORBENT, then {fleec}E [finally]
33 New arrival is something significant for a dwarf? (5,5)
The cryptic hint refers to one of Snow White’s companions
35 Mountain region bans a small political meeting (6)
CAUC{a s}US (mountain region) [bans a small]
37 Dust often associated with these trees (5)
Two meanings
39 Back opinion by paper that shows what may come to pass (4-4,6)
REAR (back), VIEW (opinion), MIRROR (newspaper)
41 Considers following some current stories (8)
AC (some current  – alternating), COUNTS (considers). Count / consider yourself lucky.
44 Time in cell, but one is not charged (7)
T (time) contained by [in] NEURON
45 Edition I notice is sent back cut (7)
ED (edition) + I + SPOT (notice) reversed [sent back]. A cut of beef.
46 What some say I noticed, and wished I hadn’t? (7)
Sounds like [what some say] “I saw” (I noticed)
47 A series of blows that may bring someone round (4,2,4)
49 Dropping off a sequence of letters, very fast going round (9)
SO (very) + LENT (fast) containing [going round] MNO (sequence of letters)
53 Senior official’s objective in processing the butter mountain? (3,6)
A cryptic hint follows the main definition
54 Greek hero in Florida? (7)
THE SE (south-east) US (Florida?)
55 Mosaic construction where the Promenaders go initially? (5)
TO R{oyal} A{lbert} H{all} (where the Promenaders go) [initially]. Home of the annual Promenade concerts. RAH is not an accepted abbreviation as far as I’m aware so we needed ‘initially’ to indicate  first letters. SOED: Torah –  the teaching of the will of God as revealed in Mosaic law.
56 Competitor at Oval streaks around, keeping back near the boundary (5,6)
Anagram [around]of STREAKS containing [keeping) DEEP (near the boundary) reversed [back]. ‘Deep’ is used in cricket to mean far from the pitch. The Oval in London is famous as a cricketing venue but that’s no help here. We needed to know that ‘oval’ can also mean the track or stadium in which speed skating takes place.
57 Part of wafer I left with one shell in drink (7,4)
I + L (left) + I (one) + CONCH (shell) contained by [in] SIP (drink). I gather that ‘wafer’ along with ‘silicon chip’ are terms used in the field of microelectronics.
1 Downed by an aggressive vehicle? That provides a sobering experience (5,4)
DRUNK (downed),  TANK (aggressive vehicle). Collins advises this is a large police cell used for detaining drunks overnight. I’ve never heard of it.
2 Advice to writers about clichés (5,4,3,6)
3 Cavities want rapid filling (5)
Hidden in [filling] {w}ANT RA{pid}. Collins: antrum (anatomy) – a natural cavity, hollow, or sinus, esp in a bone.
4 Retainer’s reduced earnings with staff finally cut (4,7)
DOWN (reduced), PAY (earnings), MEN (staff), {cu}T [finally]
5 English flag has this contradictory signal for pedestrians? (3,5)
The definition refers to the Cross of St George, patron saint of England. It consists of a RED CROSS on a white background. The cryptic hint refers to light-controlled pedestrian crossings where a red light would indicate that it is not safe to cross, hence ‘contradictory signal’.
6 Push free material for reporters (5,7)
PRESS (push), RELEASE (free)
7 Snaps members of the Red Headed League? (6,4)
Cryptic. ‘Ginger snaps’ is an alternative name for ginger nut biscuits. ‘Ginger nut’ is also non-PC slang for a red-headed person as referenced in the second part of the clue.
8 Carnivore from Africa, price one pound (5)
RATE (price), L (pound). Also known as the Honey Badger.
9 Traps one scholar, closing part of the Parthenon (11)
I (one), MA (scholar) containing [closing] PEDIMENT (part of the Parthenon). ‘Parthenon’ is mentioned to indicate pediment as a general feature of  Grecian architecture. ‘Traps’ and ‘impedimenta’ are belongings or baggage.
10 Naval officer nine places away from the PM? (6,3)
I knew this term from many happy hours spent listening to The Navy Lark on radio in the1960s where the NUMBER ONE was played originally by Dennis Price and later by Stephen Murray.  It’s an unofficial title given to the second officer on a ship who is the commanding officer’s “number one” man or woman.

The second part of the clue refers to Downing Street SW1 where Number 10 is the official residence of the Prime Minister so one might assume that Number 1 would be nine places away from it, but in fact this hasn’t been  the case for a couple of centuries. Downing Street originally consisted of 20 houses, but most of them were demolished in the 19th century. The only remaining houses are Numbers 9-12 which have been redeveloped and extended to fill a whole side of the street.

As a footnote, until the arrival of the present incumbent in 2022 no Prime Minister had actually lived at Number 10 since 1997, preferring instead to swap with the Chancellor at Number 11 where the living accommodation is more spacious.

11 Eggs with awful smell almost picked up (4)
STIN{k} (awful smell) [almost] reversed [picked up]
12 Had weight   disclosed (4)
Two meanings. ‘To tell’ can mean to have weight or influence.
18 Enjoy love in a flowerbed? Grotesque! (4,7,2,5)
LIKE (enjoy), NOTHING (love in tennis), ON EARTH (in a flowerbed?)
19 With soup, regularly refresh members of union (8)
BROTH (soup), {r}E{f}R{e}S{h} [regularly]. Members of trades unions traditionally referred to each other as ‘brothers’. I don’t know if the practice continues.
21 Officer in command, lazy on vacation (7)
ORDER (command), L{az}Y [on vacation]
23 Flushed with anger, court is to change jury instructions (8)
RED (flushed), IRE (anger), CT (court). A judge may in certain circumstances direct a jury to return a particular verdict. The definition here requires him to redirect them.
27 Tram isn’t moving, so pass on (8)
Anagram moving[ of TRAM ISN’T
28 Natural to be present in pub at end of shift (8)
HERE (present) contained by [in] INN (pub), {shif}T [end of …]
31 Hybrid’s terrible wings came into view (3,4)
T{erribl}E [wings], AROSE (came into view)
32 More articles churned out that show a measure of warmth (12)
Anagram [churned out] of MORE ARTICLES
34 Snake native processed into rissole (6,5)
Anagram [processed] of SNAKE NATIVE. I never heard of this, neither have Collins, but I found it eventually in Chambers.
36 So houses with lots of land, flipping problem, something for the masses? (6,5)
SIC (so – Latin) contains ACRED (with lots of land), + SUM (problem) reversed [flipping]
38 One who owns there is no end to decent behaviour by men (10)
PROPRIET{y} (decent behaviour) [no end to…], OR (men – Other Ranks)
40 Having coat on, was lost to sight across river (9)
VANISHED (was lost to sight) containing [across] R (river)
42 What Spooner does when changing the bed is a magnet for children? (9)
Changing the bed, Spooner would do a “sheet swop”.
43 Marine creature, large, eating female that’s cast up on the beach (8)
SEAL (marine creature) + L (large) containing [eating] SHE (female)
48 Ahead of time, run away quick (5)
FLEE (run away), T (time)
50 Be less rigid, removing top regularly (5)
{s}OFTEN (be less rigid) [removing top]
51 Wader seen in island twice (4)
I (island), BIS (twice – encore!)
52 Curve’s highest point a page doesn’t show (4)
{ap}OGEE (highest point) [a page doesn’t show]

13 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1654 (13 January 2024)”

  1. Lots of DNKs: DRAG & DROP, TYPE METAL, KISS OF LIFE, NUMBER ONE, VIENNA STEAK, inter no doubt alia. ‘Lawrence’ was not the finest clue to STERNE, especially as his name was Laurence. And ‘scholar’ struck me as an awfully generous definition for MA. 5d seems rather green painty, since there’s nothing in the clue alluding to, e.g., the relief organization.

    1. But the definition here is ‘English flag’ so there’d be no need to mention the relief organisation. Not green painty because SOED has this, and Collins has similar:
      red cross a cross of a red colour, used esp. as the national emblem of England, the St George’s cross.

      Thanks for the pointer re LAWRENCE. Fortunately I didn’t know how he spelt his first name.

      1. I think the definition is ‘English flag has this’. Weirdly the most pertinent definition in Collins (‘the English national emblem of St. George’s cross’) is marked as American!

        1. Yes, now corrected. That’s what I had underlined on my hard copy but missed when I wrote the blog. I should have picked up on it yesterday when I revisited the clue for the discussion.

  2. We got there eventually with some help. I knew DRUNK TANK from The Pogues’ song Fairytale of New York (‘it was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank’). FOI AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE; LOI OGEE

  3. A tricky one: I felt quite stuck on two or three occasions.
    I don’t understand 2dn: surely there must be more to it, or it’s barely cryptic!

    1. I took it that ‘avoid like the plague’ is a cliché, so here it’s a what, cryptic definition?

    2. I bunged KISS OF LIFE but still don’t understand it. In what sense is a kiss equivalent to a series of blows?

  4. Strangely this is one of the few jumbos I managed to complete and do so pretty quickly. 2dn came to mind easily as I recall some humourist at work (35 years ago) passing round a sheet of such witticisms. Included among which was “Avoid clichés like the plague”. So in answer to keirothe and Kevin, this is simply definition by example.

    1. Yes I’ve seen the same thing before. However if that’s the explanation then the clue is not even slightly cryptic. I’m also surprised at a reference like this being used as an example: it’s not exactly Shakespeare!

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