Times Cryptic Jumbo No. 1488 – 20 March 2021

Hello again. This Jumbo I thought was a really good one, with a number of imaginative clues and a lot of very nice surface readings, which I always like. I found it mostly straightforward, though with a couple of tricky clues and some unusual vocab, especially around the waistline area. Also an amazing number of random people: Des, Ken, Kev, Bert, Fi, Di, Tim, Stella, not to mention the more specific Nellie and Stan … So, what did you think?

Because the Jumbo is a big beast of a crossword, some of my comments below may be a bit terse but please, do feel free to ask questions or comment as required. We are all friends here..

I use mostly the standard conventions like underlining the definition, CD for cryptic definition, DD for a double one, *(anargam) and so forth. Nho = “not heard of”


1 Vague private record company reportedly put an end to (13)
INDETERMINATE – INDE (sounds like “Indie,” a type of record company, as all hep cats know) + TERMINATE (put an end to)
8 See man on board, mostly very funny (9)
BISHOPRIC – BISHOP (man on board) + RIC(h) (mostly funny)
13 Old Ottoman governor’s remains buried in Pennsylvania (5)
PASHA – ASH (remains) in PA (Penn etc). The OED says “A Turkish officer of high rank, as a military commander or a provincial governor. Now historical.”
14 Like a flat some fellows used in a short story (11)
APARTMENTAL – PART + MEN (some + men) in A TAL(e), a short story. Not a word I remember seeing before, but an easy extend from, say, departmental
15 Capital invested in Durham mansions (5)
AMMAN – hidden in DurhAM MANsions
16 Bubbly lass finally leaving car round back of hotel (9)
SPARKLING – (las)S + (hote)L in PARKING (leaving car). Clever clue! I’ve always disliked carbonated drinks, including champagne .. beer excepted, of course
17 Tiny childa pest! (4)
MITE – DD. Mites are tiny arachnidae, and utterly fascinating. Eg, from wikipedia: “The tropical species Archegozetes longisetosus is one of the strongest animals in the world, relative to its mass (100 μg): It lifts up to 1,182 times its own weight, over five times more than would be expected of such a minute animal. A mite also holds a speed record: for its length, Paratarsotomus macropalpis is the fastest animal on Earth.”
18 Detectives can, at court — that’s clear (8)
DISTINCT – DIS (detective inspectors) + TIN (can) + C(our)T
20 Fury when king escapes power breakdown (6)
OUTAGE – OUT(r)AGE. Had an electricity one only a couple of days ago; having to reset all the timers afterwards reminded me why my electricity bill is so high
21 Expert custodians, about fifty, engaging female Scottish lawyer (10,6)
PROCURATOR FISCAL – FI (female) in PRO CURATORS (expert custodians) + C(irc)A  L (about fifty).  I  remembered the lawyer from the 1960s Dr Finlay’s Casebook, he consulted them all the time. Which surprised me, given that I usually can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday (it was muesli, but you catch the drift).
24 Repudiation of girl’s article I, for one, read out (9)
DISAVOWAL – DI’S (girls) A (article) + VOWAL, sounds like vowel (I, for one). Another neat clue
26 Embarks on journey: TV’s not on (4,3)
SETS OFF – leave you to work that one out
27 Nutty substance primarily produced in my area (5)
COPRA – P(roduced) in COR (my!) + A(rea). Copra is the edible flesh of a coconut, usu. dried. Apparently it is classed as dangerous goods and cannot be carried by air, because it is known to spontaneously combust..
29 Over vivid in exam about mapping of mountains (12)
OROGRAPHICAL – My first NHO. O(ver) + GRAPHIC (vivid), all in ORAL (exam). I managed to construct it OK, but I did look it up before pressing “submit.”
31 Recurring passages and runs spoilt trio Melba cut short (10)
RITORNELLI – R(uns) + *(TRIO) + NELLI(e) .. ie Dame Nellie Melba, of whom everybody has heard but few know the first thing about. Fun facts: no less than four different foods bear her name. Her picture is on the A$100 bill. Melba is just a stage name, from Melbourne, her birthplace. She wasn’t Nellie, either, but Helen.
33 First of two mistakes about small dwelling’s earthenware (10)
TERRACOTTA – T(wo) + COT (small dwelling) in ERRATA (mistakes). another fine construction. One of my favourite pubs, now sadly shut forever, was at a place in Kent, deep in the countryside, called “Cotman’s Ash”
35 Intrepid Reds unexpectedly dominated by clergy (6-6)
PRIEST-RIDDEN – *(INTREPID REDS). A pungent comment about RC clergy comes to mind, but I forbear.
38 Old man going around with bearlike mammal (5)
PANDA – AND (with) in PA (old man). The red variety, besides being unbearably cute, (ha!) is not a panda, but also is not a bear. It was classed as such for a long time but now has a taxonomic class all to itself. Our setter is precise in saying “bear-like”
39 Go back in panic, carrying Mike’s powerful light (3,4)
FOG LAMP – OG (go back) in FLAP (panic), also containing M (Mike, NATO alphabet)
40 Clubs formerly accommodating Laurel’s girl (9)
CONSTANCE – STAN (Laurel) in C ONCE (clubs formerly). I was worried that botanical knowledge might be needed here, but no, it is prewar comedians we are after. I know little of either, sadly but have heard of Stan and Ollie
42 Man harbouring yen to have wee drink before a play (7,4,5)
KITCHEN SINK DRAMA – ITCH (yen) in KEN (man), + SINK DRAM (have wee drink) + A. Now malt whisky I do know a fair bit about. Once upon a time I used occasionally to get 1dn on it, but not nowadays.
44 Sort of meal friends recalled at university? (4-2)
SLAP-UP – PALS (friends) rev. + UP (at Uni. Where you get sent down from, if found out)
47 Writer’s catalogue appearing after fifteen days? (8)
NOVELIST – NOVE(mber) + LIST. Half a month, clever
49 Asian’s formal wear mentioned in speech (4)
THAI – sounds like “tie.” All the easier, because a similar clue for the same word popped up only the day before.
50 Difference in short seen … differently (9)
52 Wading bird biting head off rue (5)
EGRET – (r)EGRET (rue), for a favourite crossword bird.
53 Senators met at sea, closest to where the sun rises (11)
54 She’s back, wearing man’s close-fitting cap (5)
BERET – The answer was obvious, but could I parse it? Eventually: it is (sh)E (she’s back) in BERT (the eponymous man, not to be confused with Ken, above).
55 Fit for the main Home Counties area, value unknown (9)
SEAWORTHY – SE (home counties) + A(rea) + WORTH (value) + Y (unknown, but not X or Z)
56 Trek there and sell reconditioned fairground ride (6-7)
HELTER-SKELTER – *(TREK THERE + SELL) reconditioned, a nice anagrind. My sort of fairground ride, less keen on being scared witless as is the modern fashion.

1 In the compiler’s ancient dictionary it’s “with paint thickly applied” (9)
IMPASTOED – I’m (the compiler’s) + PAST (ancient) + OED (dictionary, the best one there is). Incidentally, if you have a library card there is a good chance you can access the online OED without a subscription as the majority of UK county libraries have a block subscription. Here in Kent we can access all sorts of reference materials, all of the Oxford reference library, even daily papers and various magazines. Our overseas cousins may not be so fortunate but if you are, eg, an alumnus of somewhere, they may subscribe. Might be worth a look ..
2 Musical line a chap is unable to compose (7)
DESCANT – DES CAN’T .. our third eponymous bloke.
3 Appreciative type, Kev, travelling with his grant (11)
THANKSGIVER – *(KEV + HIS GRANT) .. and the fourth
4 Something fishy about a girl band’s travel organiser (6)
ROADIE – A DI (a girl) in ROE (something fishy)
5 Speech delivered during summer month on Russian river (9)
INAUGURAL – IN AUG (during summer month) + URAL, one of the few Russian rivers I know. Today’s clandestine Americanism. Collins: “a speech made at an inauguration, esp by a president of the US.” We tend not to have them here in England, we just cut the tape with scissors and declare the supermarket duly open.
6 Chair-covering a northern man, Charlie, carried in a vehicle (12)
ANTIMACASSAR – A + N(orthern) + TIM (yet another random man), + ASS (Charlie) in CAR. An antimacassar is a piece of cloth placed to stop macassar oil transferring from one’s hair onto the upholstery. Or onto your uniform if you are a sailor, because that is what the flap behind their neck is for.
7 Reader dined with English voters (10)
ELECTORATE – E(nglish) LECTOR (reader) + ATE (dined). The only lector I knew was Hannibal, but still managed to shuffle it all into order
8 Time to probe extra unit of data (4)
BYTE – T(ime) in BYE (extra, our first and only cricket reference)
9 Mercenary desperate for oldies with big money (7,2,7)
10 Choose to frame rising academician’s abstract work (2,3)
OP ART – RA (Royal Academician, ie a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, a private club in London limited to no more than 80 of only the right sort of artist. No Jack Vettrianos here) rev. in OPT (choose)
11 Like some languages partly for Omani citizens? (7)
ROMANIC – hidden, in foR OMANI Citizens. The Romance languages include Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan …
12 Tory woman surprisingly into stars (13)
CONSTELLATION – CON STELLA (Tory woman) + *(INTO). Here is a very beautiful one, Andromeda – actually only the galaxy, but within the constellation of the same name. Does it make you feel small? It should
19 Poisonous alkaloid from a harbour over in East (8)
ATROPINE – A + TROP (port, over) IN E(ast). The deadly part of deadly nightshade; like many poisons, it is also a medicine
22 Like some old Peruvians serving prison sentences? (5)
INCAN – IN CAN, ho ho.
23 Filled with enthusiasm, but brought down to earth, perhaps? (5,3,4,4)
SWEPT OFF ONES FEET – a DD I suppose, one a bit fanciful
25 Endlessly regretful about quietly getting a new pouch (7)
SPORRAN – P (quietly, short for piano, rather confusingly) in SORR(y) (endlessly regretful) + A N(ew). A Scotsman’s equivalent of a handbag.
28 Knight errant’s son in physical discomfort (7)
PALADIN – LAD (son) inside PAIN
29 Those not elected dig new head’s frank manner (13)
OUTSPOKENNESS – OUTS (those not elected) + POKE (dig) + N(ew) + NESS (head). Someone who is either refreshingly honest or disgustingly rude, depending on whether you agree with them or not
30 Trendy label, behold, around one engraved figure (8)
INTAGLIO – IN TAG (trendy label) + I in LO (behold)
32 Accomplished gangster accepting fate? It’s comparable (12)
PROPORTIONAL – PRO AL (accomplished gangster) containing PORTION (fate). “Portion: a person’s lot or destiny” (Collins)
34 An attempt to embarrass? (5)
ABASH – Well.. A BASH, an attempt
36 Unbearable to the French mob, a bishop having gone in first (11)
INTOLERABLE – IN TO LE RA(b)BLE. Cue topical EU vaccine joke..
37 Support novel French art, ultimately with a little cash out East (10)
BACKSHEESH – BACK (support) SHE (a novel) + ES (French art) + (wit)H. This might cause some problems since you need to know two different crossword staples. SHE, the novel by rider Haggard and ES, a word never used (in this meaning) except in crosswords. I would spell it baksheesh, but Collins gives both.
40 Naval officer’s chest of drawers containing gold (9)
COMMODORE – OR (gold) in COMMODE. Indeed a commode can be a chest of drawers, but that is not what one first thinks of.. as for Commodore, “The Commodore” is one of the great novels of the 20th century, CS Forester at his best. An excellent read.
41 One who explains riots stirred up after trade fair (9)
EXPOSITOR – EXPO (trade fair) + *(RIOTS)
43 A French writer briefly visiting army eating-place (7)
TAVERNA – A VERN(e) in TA (army). Jules Verne, I enjoyed his books as a schoolboy, not sure if I could cope nowadays with the primitive science they contained.  The Territorial Army sadly is no more, but lives on happily enough in crosswordland.
45 Seaside entertainer perhaps — and what might cause his downfall? (7)
PIERROT – another whimsical DD.. PIER ROT, an expensive problem to have in this day and age. All our remaining piers are listed, and some of them are listing as well ..
46 Naval NCOs collecting raunchy snaps (6)
PHOTOS – HOT (raunchy) in POS, petty officers
48 Bachelor leaves in drunken state for game (5)
51 Greyish, like Henry on the outside (4)
ASHY – AS (like) + H(enr)Y

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

12 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo No. 1488 – 20 March 2021”

  1. I do the Jumbi in desultory bits and pieces, so I never noticed the (truly numerous) random names. Including Kev, a name I’ve always disliked (disliked Kevin as a child, but Kev was right out). DNK RITORNELLI, or ROMANIC, which is normally Romance. (I have a friend who is a native speaker of Romansh, the fourth official language of Switzerland.) POI BERET, LOI PIERROT.
  2. As usual after a fortnight has passed I remember very little of my experience with this puzzle but the remarkable absence of notes in the margins suggests I didn’t have any major problems. The only thing completely new to me was fate = PORTION at 32dn, not that this delayed me solving the clue.
  3. I finished this in 1:37:27 which would have been a jumbo PB if I had not had to look up RITORNELLI. Still a good one though.
    At 17ac my tiny child — a pest — started out as a WEE D(aughter) before becoming the MITE. I think I’ve been told before that child cannot clue D like that, but it seems it didn’t convince me.
    In BACKSHEESH the blog did not say exactly why ES=French art, but it still triggered my PDM. It is art as in “thou art” which translates as tu es. Wow.
    Thank you jerrywh for the blog
  4. Lots of funny words in this, but it wasn’t hard.
    I think it was you Jerry who recommended that I join my local library to get access to the OED some time ago, so let me take this opportunity to thank you. It’s such a fantastic resource.
    1. Isn’t it? I didn’t realise that Kent Libraries has things like access to Ancestry, all the census data and stuff like that too. In the London area, you might have even more stuff
  5. Great blog Jerry. Thanks. Good tip about access to OED etc. I’ll have to join my local library. I wonder when it will be open or if it has been all through lockdown. As for the crossword, I too found it mostly straightforward finishing in a little over 28 minutes. As always there were a few unknowns (e.g. OROGRAPHICAL, which I also checked before submitting and PORTION for “fate”). I liked the rotting piers best.
    1. Just to mention that not all libraries give access to OED. Bedfordshire libraries withdrew it about 5 years ago. The small number of people using it didn’t justify the continuing expense, apparently.
      1. A lot of county councils seem to want to close down libraries altogether, and covid has given them just the excuse they need.
        Use them or lose them! Complain as necessary!
        A more worthy subject for a protest march than some ..
        1. During the Great Depression of the 30s, not one public library in the US was shut down. But that was then.

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