Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1342 – 8th September

Hello all. I found this an entertaining and somewhat educational Jumbo, with some lovely wordplay and an eclectic mix of general knowledge – some of which was beyond my ken, but the wordplay was generously helpful when needed. There was one that defeated me, though, and I had to resort to aids for my LOI. That the puzzle contains no less than 2 semi-&lits and 1 &lit bears witness to the level of cleverness on display here. Nothing too hard, though, as I finished in less than 40 minutes. I enjoyed the death of DIOGENES, the motmot bird in the wordplay for TOMATO, LEARNING, BREVIARY and the French letter, but my favourite was the clue for ONGOING. What fun! So thanks to our setter for a lovely crossword to solve and to blog. How did you all get on?

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Like a desert island clothed, say, in rolling dune (11)
UNINHABITED – If you are clothed you might be IN a HABIT. Insert into [rolling] (dune)*
7 Bottom’s tender — essential having a doctor over to look at daughter (11)
MUSTARDSEED – MUST (essential) A RD (Dr “over”) SEE (look at) D (daughter) getting one of the four fairies who attend Bottom in A Midsummer’s Night Dream.
13 What uses moving trail icon for craft? (3-7,7)
AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL – (trail icon for craft)* [moving]. The trail of an aircraft is, I guess, shown as an icon on an air-traffic control screen. Semi-&lit.
14 European whiskey is on board (5)
SWISS – W (whiskey)  IS inside SS (a ship) [on board].
15 Returning bird loses minutes eating a fruit (6)
TOMATO –  Tricky one this.The bird is a MOTMOT. Lose the first M (minutes), insert [eating] A and reverse [returning].
16 Is game of football pursuing male conflict? (8)
MISMATCH – IS (Is) MATCH (game of football) after [pursuing] M (male).
17 Sudden change of opinion about English marine artist (7)
VERMEER – VEER (sudden change of opinion) outside [about] E (English) RM (Royal Marine). Living from 1632-1675 Johannes Vermeer was a  Dutch painter who specialised in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.
19 Florentine family, note, nearly all like a lot of drugs (9)
MEDICINAL – MEDICI (Florentine family) N (note) [nearly] AL{l}.
21 Assistant ref’s backing nothing — means one needs to replace (8)
LINESMAN – LIN (nil = nothing) [backing] + (means)* [one needs to replace]. Interesting anagrind.
23 Try second dose of drugs (4)
STAB – S (second) TAB (tablet or pill).
25 Finally put sword in mobile cover (5)
TEPEE – {Finally] {pu}T EPEE (sword). That’s a sneaky definition for a tent!
27 Very pretty trim, easy to remove small area (6)
CUTESY – CUT (trim) E{a}SY (removing the a = abbreviation for [small] area).
28 Scientist has info to quote over mist obscuring motorway (10)
GENETICIST – GEN (info) ETIC (cite = quote [over]) {m}IST leaving off [obscuring] M (motorway).
30 Old Greek perishes after eating melon (8)
DIOGENES – DIES (persishes) including [eating] OGEN (melon). Diogenes was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. There are conflicting accounts of Diogenes’ death. He is alleged variously to have held his breath; to have become ill from eating raw octopus; or to have suffered an infected dog bite. Or eating a melon. Don’t believe all you read here, as a cynic would rightly say.
31 Lift high frequency in faster military jet (7,7)
STEALTH FIGHTER – STEAL (Lift) HF (high frequency) in TIGHTER (faster, as in more secure).
34 Weird set of images apt with a Ngaio Marsh novel? (14)
PHANTASMAGORIA – (apt a Ngaio Marsh)* [novel]. Dame Ngaio Marsh was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. All 32 of her detective novels feature Chief Inspector Alleyn (later Chief Superintendent) of the Criminal Investigation Department, Metropolitan Police (London). No I’ve not read any of them.
35 Act offensively in an instance of shooting wild rams (4,4)
TAKE ARMS – TAKE (instance of shooting a film) + (rams)*.
38 Unusually phallic tie, perhaps related to something on French letter? (10)
PHILATELIC – (phallic tie)* [Unusually]. Like a stamp. French letter? Very clever.
40 Select sweets over the telephone (6)
CHOOSE – Sounds like CHEWS.
41 Sunflower’s head — healthy source of oil (5)
SHALE – S{unflower’s} [head] HALE (healthy). The oil being extracted using fracking, perhaps. Or maybe not. How would you frack a sunflower?
43 Precipitate of arsenic introduced to rhodium (4)
RASH – AS (chemical symbol for arseneic) inside RH (chemical symbol for rhodium). Nice misdirection with the definition in the surface being the noun not the adjective. I wonder if you would get a rash if you put Rhodium Arsenide on your skin?
44 Key European manuscript with character is a precious jewel (8)
GEMSTONE – G (a musical key) E (European) MS (manuscript) [with] TONE (character).
45 Consul messing about with you hurtfully (9)
NOCUOUSLY – (Consul + you)*. Not a word I’ve ever heard, seen or used, although I know of the opposite.
48 Bringing in the end of teaching when the head is away? (7)
EARNING – {l}EARNING (the objective of teaching) with it’s leading letter (head). Nice surface.
49 Book followed by clergyman, one with key lines? (8)
BREVIARY – B (Book) [followed by] REV (clergyman) I (one) [with] A (another musical key) RY (railway lines). An &lit clue. Very neat!
50 Headless hag gets tons horror-stricken (6)
AGHAST – {h}AG [headless] + HAS (gets) T (tons). As might happen around here at Scaresville, for example.
53 Milling corn gerbils ate regularly (5)
GRIST – Alternate letters of GeRbIlS aTe [regularly]. What do you feed your gerbils?
54 Utter greatness resulting in star quality (8,9)
ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE – ABSOLUTE (Utter) MAGNITUDE (greatness). “The magnitude (brightness) of a celestial object as it would be seen at a standard distance of 10 parsecs“.
55 Runs into educator leading Oxford University’s two-timing (11)
TREACHEROUS – R (Runs) [into] TEACHER (educator) + OU’S (Oxford University’s). I’m a Fenland Poly (as some of those two-timers might call it) man myself.
56 Organising tea for US vice-presidential candidate (7,4)
RUNNING MATE – RUNNING (organising) MATE, the traditional South American drink, known to me from a Mephisto clue, I think.

1 Minced tuna enticed? Not tried (11)
UNATTEMPTED – {minced] (tuna enticed)*. I flake my tuna rather than mince it.
2 What’s initially sported by Islamic haji residing at Mecca? (5)
IHRAM – First letters of [initially] Islamic Haji Residing At Mecca. Another semi-&lit clue
3 Non-orthodox call for attention gets habitual response (7)
HERETIC – HERE (call for attention) TIC (habitual response).
4 Rejection, but not concerning enthusiast (4)
BUFF – The rejection is a {re}BUFF and you remove the re (concerning). We’re all crossword buffs here, right?
5 Attempt holding one small container — it’s a tiny thing (10)
TRIVIALITY – TRY (Attempt) [holding] I (one) VIAL (small container) and IT.
6 Anomalistic die needs reworking for conversion to metric (14)
DECIMALISATION – (anomalistic die)* [needs reworking]. The word applies not just to what we did to our pounds shillings and pence in 1971.
7 Second, not first number is samey (8)
MONOTONE – MO (second) NOT ONE(first number).
8 Keep quiet about your area’s grape variety (5)
SYRAH – SH (quiet) [about] YR (your) A (area). The grape variety aka Shiraz.
9 Relax, with everything mostly consumed around six (9)
ALLEVIATE – ALL (everything) EATE{n} (mostly consumed) [around] VI (six).
10 Lust is urgent outside English society (6)
DESIRE – DIRE (is urgent) [outside] E (English) S (society).
11 Famous Australian statesmen offering title for Lytton Strachey (7,10)
EMINENT VICTORIANS – Double definition. I’d never heard of the author or his book and had to resort to aids to find out. My LOI.
12 Designer including small and short homage for wholesaler (11)
DISTRIBUTOR – DIOR (designer) [including] S (small) TRIBUT{e} (short homage).
18 Footballers, say, introducing new underpants (8)
KNICKERS – Footballers might be KICKERS. Insert [introducing] N (new).
20 Tactful beginning of play ‘The Ambassadors’? (10,7)
DIPLOMATIC SERVICE – DIPLOMATIC (Tactful) SERVICE (Beginning of play in a tennis or squash rally)
22 Direction: the French must replace old Maigret? (6)
SLEUTH – The direction is SOUTH. Replace the O (old) with LE (‘the’ in french).
24 Like rugby side that’s lost player, unable to leave the ground? (8)
WINGLESS – Double definition. The Rugby side in question being the Penrith Emus, perhaps?
26 Concluding race unable to be seen regularly (8)
EVENTUAL – EVENT (race) + alternate letters of UnAbLe [regularly].
29 Volume of church in French capital, hard to take in (6,8)
PARISH REGISTER – PARIS (French capital) H (hard) REGISTER (take in).
32 Northern company is after light dance music (8)
FLAMENCO – The light is a FLAME. Add N (Northern) CO (company) [after]. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing some of this on my walking holiday to Marbella soon.
33 British species of tree — little ones (6)
BABIES – B (British) ABIES (species of tree). Abies is the Genus of Fir trees. No I didn’t know that, but I do now!
34 Decorative glass item? Mirror, perhaps, with a number (11)
PAPERWEIGHT – PAPER (Mirror, perhaps) W (with) EIGHT (a number).
36 From CI on a reading to east, you agree? (3,3,2,3)
SEE EYE TO EYE – SEE EYE (sonds like CI) [on reading] TO E (East) YE (you).
37 One rural noble managed without my backing (10)
COUNTRYMAN – COUNT (noble) RAN (managed) outside [without] YM (my going backwards [backing]).
39 Elder gave out in flooded marsh (9)
EVERGLADE – (Elder gave)* [out]. As in the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the USA.
42 Month before girl’s producing short stories (8)
NOVELLAS – NOV (month) ELLA’S (girl’s).
46 Continuing with ringing sounds after bishops leave (7)
ONGOING – {b}ONG {b}OING. Ringing sounds. Ha ha.
47 Heartless sectarian in charge of life (6)
BIOTIC – BI{g}OT (sectarian) [Heartless]  IC (in charge). This one had me puzzled for a while with only I T and C as checkers.
49 Black, like house poet (5)
BASHO – B (Black) AS (like) HO (house). I hadn’t heard of him. Matsuo Basho was “the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as the greatest master of haiku.” “The temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.”
51 Capitals in Africa built up just as Nigerian one (5)
ABUJA – Initials [Capitals] of Africa Built Up Just As. Another unknown piece of general knowledge for me. It’s the capital of Nigeria.
52 Fruit bought online needs unwrapping twice (4)
UGLI – We do the unwrapping by taking the outer letters off boUGht onLIne. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one. Do they taste nicer than they sound?

6 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1342 – 8th September”

  1. This one took me forever, although I can’t remember what specifically was problematic. Some DNKs, of course, like ABIES, and motmot, and IHRAM. On the other hand, 11d was a gimme; I read it in college and enjoyed it a lot, although I can no longer remember any of it. I was introduced to BASHO (and Issa and others) in high school; I was pleased, if a bit surprised, to encounter him here. Unfortunately, all I could think of at 30ac was Diomedes, which I finally, reluctantly put in, wondering if there was a melon called OMED; but then, I would have wondered if there was a melon called OGEN.
  2. It turns out I don’t know how to spell (DISTRUBUTER) so after the early results I googled “er v or” and found that er is German and or is Latin. More helpful is that if a word has an -ive or -tion ending then it is likely or not er

    Something new every day

    40 minutes otherwise

  3. I found this fairly tough, taking 1:28:24, and I needed help with a couple of unknowns to make sure I wasn’t inventing mombles from the wordplay, IHRAM, BASHO, AJUBA and PHANTASMAGORIA being the specific examples. An enjoyable puzzle though with some satisfying penny drop moments. Thanks setter and John.
    1. Well it seems to me that we can commiserate each other on our General Ignorance and rejoice at the increase in our General Knowledge as a result of this puzzle. Plenty of good pub quiz questions here! “What is the capital of Nigeria?”… “Ajuba”… Oh. Drat. Like you, I’ve forgotten it already!

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