Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1357 – 22nd December

I found this a very enjoyable Jumbo with lots of entertaining clues and clever surfaces; rather better than 28A and not a 22D. For once, there were no words I didn’t know, although there is some knowledge of mathematics required which may not be familiar to some. In all this took me about 50 minutes, so was pretty much in my goldilocks zone for a Jumbo (although such locks that I have are grey not gold). CLOUT my LOI and as for clue of the day… plenty to choose from, but I opt for the concise and clever ELEVATOR. Thanks setter! How did you all like it?

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

1 Charge keeper: better player rounding one (9)
CAPACITOR – CAP (better) ACTOR (player) including [rounding] I (one).
6 Function in city on island (5)
COSEC – COS (island) with EC (city) on it.
9 Very brilliant newspaper chief in comfortable position (4,3)
SOFA BED – SO (Very) FAB (briliiant) ED (newspaper chief). My sofa bed (when I had one) would have been flattered to be called comfortable.
13 Grub right inside burning liquid (5)
LARVA – LAVA (burning liquid) with R (right) [inside].
14 Show a bit of a fork poking me (7)
MATINEE – A TINE (bit of a fork) inside ME. Entertaining surface. Ouch.
15 Usually one tucks in kid after prayer (2,7)
ON AVERAGE – AVE (prayer) RAG (kid) in ONE. Night night.
16 Cowardly message, layers behind it? (7,4)
CHICKEN WIRE – CHICKEN (cowardly) WIRE (message).
17 Face hairs in cuts of meat? (11)
MUTTONCHOPS – MUTTON (meat) CHOPS (cut thereof). A facial hair style with a very strange name.”Mutton chop beards are so named because they resemble a piece of chopped mutton, particular when shaped correctly. Theyโ€™re characterized by sideburns that are chopped, or cut, along with the lower jawline and extend to the chin. Because the shape and style are so specially shaped, you have to be extremely careful when you shave your mutton chops. Precision is critical.
18 Dance jacket (6)
BOLERO – Double definition. Ravel’s is a classic.
19 Contrary way to pay songwriter, possibly? (8)
PERVERSE – It would be odd to pay a songwriter PER VERSE. Very witty.
21 Grace, perhaps, but no heart โ€” superhero! (6)
BATMAN – I thought we had Grace Darling, losing the middle to get “daring”. Wrong Grace! This is W.G. Grace, the famous BAT{s}MAN… lose the middle to get the flighty superhero.
25 Lift to reveal flaps (8)
ELEVATOR – (to reveal)* [flaps]. Nice surface!
26 Hammer slowing down, we hear, working despite action (6-8)
STRIKE-BREAKING – STRIKE (hammer) BREAKING – (sounds like braking – slowing down).
28 Delicate kick about right for vodka, perhaps? (5)
DRINK – DINK (delicate kick) [about] R (right).
29 Look to pen verse fast? (6)
STARVE – STARE (look) “penning” V (verse). The ? to show the definition is mildly cryptic, I guess.
30 Shoulder behind rugby forward, character in check (6,4)
RUPERT BEAR – This is very neat. BEAR (shoulder) behind R.U. (Rugby Union) PERT (forward).
33 Tragedy perhaps, one ripping off accommodating Yank (4-6)
TEAR-JERKER – TEARER (one ripping off) [accommodating] JERK (yank – ignore the deliberately misleading capital Y).
35 More than one server watches others returning (6)
SPOONS – A reversal [returning] of SNOOPS (watches others). That’s a deuce of a clue. Sorry. I’ll get my coat.
36 Game: Nazis against Communist (5)
CHESS – CHE (Guevara) is our communist. Put him against SS (SchutzStafel – the Nazi protection squad)
38 Fixing outside broadcast, man is unexceptional (4,2,8)
FAIR TO MIDDLING – FIDDLING (fixing) [outside] AIR (broadcast) TOM (man). Sort of like being damned with faint praise.
40 Often it is scattered on couples, primarily (8)
CONFETTI – (Often it c{ouples})* [scattered]. A very nice &lit.
42 Genteel pursuit planting seeds, they say? (6)
SEWING – Sounds like [they say] SOWING (planting seeds).
43 Log on, meaning enter resource initially (8)
REGISTER – RE (on) GIST (meaning) E{nter} R{esource} [initially].
44 Key allowed to be held by banker (6)
DELETE – LET (allowed) inside DEE (the River – i.e. a thing with banks).
47 Virgin Mary in France possibly playing nation’s part (6,5)
PATRON SAINT – [playing] (nation’s part). According to this, there are 9 other patron saints of France.
50 Jet in America over the hill, unswerving (3,8)
OLD FAITHFUL – OLD (over the hill) FAITHFUL (unswerving) – the name of a famous geyser in Yellowstone Park.
52 Hormone is not reproduced in the heart (9)
CORTISONE – (is not)* [reproduced] inside CORE (heart).
53 Criminal stealing perfect earthenware (7)
FAIENCE – FENCE (criminal) including [stealing] A1 (perfect). A word I learnt from doing crosswords, possibly this one.
54 One length cuts simply put together (5)
BUILT – I (one) L (length) inside [cuts] BUT (simply – the adverb form of but).
55 Greene novel inspiring plaudits originally, stand on the table! (7)
EPERGNE – Another word I learnt from crosswords (Greene)* [novel] “inspiring” P{laudits} [originally]
56 German city contributing to business, energised (5)
ESSEN – Hidden in businESS, ENergised.
57 Alien craft โ€” first of scientists steps in (9)
SPACESHIP – [first of] S{cientists} PACES (steps) HIP (in)

1 Early pain starts to creep onward, lasting into childhood (5)
COLIC – [starts to] Creep Onward Lasting Into Childhood.
2 Reeling initially in private, I validate wrong rate of change (7,10)
PARTIAL DERIVATIVE – (R{eeling} private I validate)* [wrong]. Quite an advanced mathematical concept to be considered General Knowledge, methinks. I don’t think I ever properly got to grips with solving partial differential equations as a student. I asked my mathematic undergraduate daughter what it means and I don’t think she knows much about it either.
3 Biscuit with salt, excellent thing (11)
CRACKERJACK – CRACKER (biscuit) JACK (salt = sailor). Excellent clue.
4 Comedic skill in it, I’m ingenious! (6)
TIMING – A second hidden word… in iT, I’M INGenious. Our setter is being atypically immodest, I think.
5 One complaining about front being removed from pet shop (8)
RETAILER – RAILER (one complaining) [about] {p}ET [front being removed]. And maybe the Norwegian Blue escaped.
6 Blue square (12)
CONSERVATIVE – Double definition. Their triple letter sqaures in Scrabble, you know.
7 Struggle to maintain company that runs on-line? (5,5)
STEAM TRAIN – STRAIN (struggle) outside TEAM (company). Another lovely misdirecting surface and a sneaky definition.
8 Lay one on authority (5)
CLOUT – Double definition. If you lay one on somebody you clout them.
9 One moaning about sensitivity in buccaneer (3,6)
SEA ROBBER – SOBBER (one moaning) [about] EAR (sensitivity – as in having an ear for something meaning the ability to discriminate).
10 Modified starch often in fried breakfast? (6,5)
FRENCH TOAST – [modified] (starch often)*. Another delicious surface. For breakfast? Not here, It’s generally just bacon and eggs, But we did get it (rather too often) at my old school.
11 Underwear, very old, is good for you! (5)
BRAVO – BAR (underwear) V (very) O (old), Some of my underwear is so old it needs throwing out.
12 Elegant wings of starlings filling nest (6)
DRESSY – End letters [wings] of S{tarling}S inside DREY (squirrel’s nest). I had CLASSY for this at first, but clay is not an obscure word for nest.
18 In repose, Bill wears yellowish-beige bloomers etc (10)
BREADSTUFF – A double inclusion… AD (Bill, as in poster) inside REST (repose) inside BUFF (yellowish-beige)
20 Runner made redundant, perhaps, or estate manager (8)
EXECUTOR – EXE (the river – a runner) CUT (made redundant, perhaps) OR. As I am for my late father’s estate.
22 Article, iron, to keep in boiler โ€” cold, troublesome thing (1,4,6,2,4)
A FINE KETTLE OF FISH – A (arfticle) FE (iron) [keep] (insert into the FE) IN KETTLE (boiler) OFFISH (cold). An interesting phrase. Where did it come from? Maybe this provides the answer.
23 Tick, one exploiting cat? (6)
MOUSER – MO (tick of time) USER (one exploiting).
24 Belligerent comic revises gag (10)
AGGRESSIVE – [comic] (revises gag)*.
27 A sub in form of transport that’s dated (8)
CALENDAR – A LEND (sub, or provide money to someone) [in] CAR.
31 London station takes us into school (6)
EUSTON – US in ETON (school). But not Hogwarts. That train comes from Kings Cross.
32 Vegetable stew in soon, cooker is hot inside (7,5)
SPANISH ONION – [stew] (in soon)* with PAN (cooker) IS H (hot) [inside].
34 Flying around island, one briefly dumping fuel, say? (11)
JETTISONING – JETTING (flying) [around] IS (island) ON{e} [briefly].
36 Furniture item, rope binding pedal? (6,5)
COFFEE TABLE – OF FEET (pedal – the adkective) inside CABLE (rope).
37 Weaken county where standards may be lowered (10)
FLAGSTAFFS – FLAG (weaken) STAFFS (abbreviation for Staffordshire).
39 Margaret, pioneering female Conservative, and European giant in business (9)
MEGASTORE – MEG (short form of Margaret) ASTOR (Viscountess Nancy Astor, the first lady MP to take her seat) E (European).
41 Disaster initially in erasing new measurements (8)
READINGS – D{isaster} [initially] [in] (erasing)* [new].
45 Native American swiftly tethering horse (6)
APACHE – APACE (swiftly) including [tethering] H (horse).
46 Still producer turned up before artist (6)
CAMERA – CAME (turned up) RA (artist).
48 Wrong bottom on sponge cake (5)
TORTE – TORT (legal wrong) [bottom on] {spong}E.
49 Topless femme fatale, English goddess (5)
IRENE – The femme fatale is a {s}IREN [topless] E (English). The greek goddess of peace and and the season of Spring.
51 Drunk was illuminating (3,2)
LIT UP – Double definition. Having finished this blog at last, I think I need a drink, Cheers!

9 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1357 – 22nd December”

  1. I found this on the meh side, with some pretty rebarbative surfaces, like 2d, 33ac, 21ac. Didn’t understand ‘sub’ in 27d, so thanks, John, for explaining. Is sewing genteel? I don’t feel genteel replacing buttons that the dry cleaner’s broken. I wouldn’t have considered a fine kettle of fish to be a thing, but rather a situation.
  2. Interesting views, Kevin. I think sewing as a genteel pursuit is more a historical view than what modern nobility does to pass the time, as described in this article. As for ‘thing’, well a situation can be a thing too. Chambers says “thing n a matter, affair, problem, point, a circumstance;”… as in “It’s a funny thing that you found this crossword a bit meh when I rather liked it”.
    P.S. Thanks for teaching me a new word. I must try using rebarbative myself some time.

    Edited at 2019-01-05 05:22 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks for the link, John; very interesting. Of course, if all women were sewing, it was hardly a genteel occupation. But I remembered Miss Flite in “Bleak House”, who has been impoverished, and driven mad, by a Chancery suit that ruined her father, but who in better times had occupied herself doing tambour work.
  3. Pretty much straight through solve in 56 minutes, though I don’t think I identified the relevant Grace in 21.
    I wouldn’t know a PARTIAL DERIVATIVE from a whole one, though I think it involved dx and dy and (in my case) quite a lot of fudge and guesswork.
  4. This one took me 1:49:42, but at least I managed it without typos or errors. I had to cheat to get EPERGNE, even though I had the anagrist. I also confirmed the existence of the NHO FAIENCE before submitting. I had PARTIAL before DERIVATIVE, but finally got there in small increments. Had BREAD for ages before getting the other STUFF. An enjoyable puzzle where, for once, fatigue didn’t take over and make me careless. Thanks setter and John.
  5. Also remember my late friend who was fond of bombast using ‘rebarbative’ so often. FOI LIT UP, LOI EPERGNE.
    1. Glad you are enjoying the old crosswords! I sympathise with your comment, but think it’s a not unreasonable piece of poetic licence from the setter. But who am I to judege?

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