Times Cryptic No 26806 Thursday, 17 August 2017 It can’t be effed.

As happened last time I blogged, the club version didn’t turn up until I had completed the online paper version, which is eerily similar until it disturbingly vanishes after you tap in the last letter. So there goes my average, and my chance to register a score alongside other solvers. Maybe just as well, because I’d have dragged the overall average down with my 22 minutes, if that means anything. For what it’s worth, I copied the clues (reproduced below) from the printable version, though some editing is needed as the numbers adopt an independent existence, and produced my completed grid in print form, for reference, using good old print screen. Generally, I thought this was a not-difficult puzzle, though the birds may be unfamiliar to some and the American statesperson looks as if it’s been made up just to fill the space. It’s also possible that 22d, with its 167 possible answers in Chambers alone, may cause blind panic in some.
I have provided my workings below, and have marked clues, definitions and ANSWERS


1 Follow on to make certain when down on runs (5)
ENSUE  Make certain is ENSURE, only it’s down on, without, R(uns)
4 Novel and difficult crossword you’ve got here? (4,5)
HARD TIMES  Dickens unpromising title for his novel set in Coketown. Your decision as to whether this is a HARD TIMES crossword
9 Awfully fine story never to be told (9)
INEFFABLE  One of those words that only turns up in hymns requiring a four syllable word to complete the line, and even I can only think of one. JK Rowling could have used it for V*ldem*rt, but didn’t. Anagram (awfully) of FINE, plus FABLE for story. And yes, EFFABLE is also in the dictionary.
10 Get upset, dismissing judge’s viewpoint (5)
ANGLE  Our setter wishes us to believe, with Chambers, that JANGLE is a synonym for “(get) upset”. Take away the J(udge)
11 One seen in seedy city area, topless and with an American (6)
OHIOAN People from Ohio have to be called something, and it’s Buckeyes after the state tree. However, here it’s SOHO, allegedly a seedy City area (Westminster Council may be suing) without its top, S, even though this is not a down clue, including a I (one) and adding an AN. Neil Armstrong’s was one.
12 What’s useful when flying parasite puts an end to pleasures (8)
JOYSTICK  It’s not the parasite that’s fling. It’s a TICK attached to JOYS
14 Impossible to visit current vandalised science labs (12)
INACCESSIBLE Current is I (electrical shorthand), and the rest is a letter mix (vandalised) of SCIENCE LABS.
17 Educate employees in district in the seizure of debtors’ goods (12)
DISTRAINMENT  District provides its DIST abbreviation to wrap educate: TRAIN, employees MEN (what, no women?)
20 Prompt passage crossing to island (8)
CAUSEWAY  Simply prompt: CAUSE, passage: WAY
21 After what may be draughts, vacated the cell (6)
GAMETE Draughts is an example of a GAME. THE vacated is TE
23 Join train in the middle to return (5)
UNITE  Train is RETINUE, reversed and with its outer letters discarded. Took a while.
24 Being silly about one carpet that’s beyond livening up (9)
INANIMATE Silly is INANE, and one carpet I MAT
25 Openly upset about article offering invented material (9)
POLYTHENE  OPENLY surrenders its letters to upset, and absorbs THE, an article. Definite.
26 Referring to very early start, the French bronze has to be returned (5)
NATAL  The French is feminine LA, bronze TAN. Assemble and reverse.

1 Record is old recording son’s put out as not playing continuously (8)
EPISODIC  Hard Times was. Record: EP, is; IS O(ld), record DISC but with the S(on) erased.
2 Cast mostly delivered almost any playwright (8)
SHERIDAN Richard, probably. SHED for cast, not reaching its last letter, delivered: RID, ANY also not reaching its last letter.
3 Displaced ancient freshmen no longer being denied a vote (15)
ENFRANCHISEMENT  Biffable, but also an anagram of ANCIENT FRESHMEN. I checked so you don’t have to.
4 Tramp having ferret round (4)
HOBO A Male ferret is a HOB, and O is round.
5 Choral rite reworked aiming at maximum vocal effect (10)
RHETORICAL This time I got the answer by actually, um, reworking the letters of CHORAL RITE
6 One’s left Euston, say, without proposal for the moving of stock? (15)
TRANSPLANTATION Despite looking like it’s buried in an office block, at least until they bring back the arch, Euston is a TRAIN STATION. Dismiss its first I, and insert PLAN for proposal.
7 Silver grabbed by politician that is an obsessive collector (6)
MAGPIE Silver is AG, grabbed (unsurprisingly, and usually in lots of thirty pieces) by an MP, and IE for “that is” in Latin
8 Arab chief needs the man captured by a believer (6)
SHEIKH  The man is HE, and the believer a SIKH
13 Like some birds, perch above feline climbing in conifer (10)
PSITTACINE  Parrots. If you didn’t know the word, construct it faithfully from the cryptic. Perch: SIT feline climbing: TAC, both embedded in conifer: PINE.
15 One returning home to sound off about flat (8)
REVENANT  Oh, so that’s what Leonardo diCaprio was up to. To sound off is RANT, and flat: EVEN.  Assemble.
16 Concerned with area in European Article 50 that’s delicate (8)
ETHEREAL  Ah, Brexit and all that. But the wordplay is concerned: RE, area: A, parked in E(uropean),  article: THE and 50 L in Latin.
18 Take fruit and small cakes, giving the last three away (6)
SCRUMP S(mall) CRUMPETS (which a European directive probably allows as cakes) missing their last three letters, no less. According to Genesis, the original crime.
19 Corpse’s being interred shortly, but court case’s not begun (6)
BURIAL  But shortly for BU, trial (court case) not begun for RIAL
22 Bowl over duration of test match, it’s reported (4)
DAZE  Arrrggh, ?A?E!!  Test matches (cricket ones, that is) conventionally last days, so here’s a sound like clue.

80 comments on “Times Cryptic No 26806 Thursday, 17 August 2017 It can’t be effed.”

  1. Thanks Z. A long 45 minutes, and I never would have unwound retinue. I think Ohioan is a real word, and it might be preferred by the ones who didn’t go to OSU. John Glenn was one, too, so lots of space firsts.

    Edited at 2017-08-17 01:58 am (UTC)

  2. I don’t know how I managed to come up with OHIOAN, my LOI, but in it went; I figured out the Soho bit afterwards. I never did figure out UNITE; with the checkers I was sure it was UNITE, but ‘train in the middle’ gave me A, and I never reconciled them. I actually knew PSITTACINE, but could only think, for the longest time, of ‘passerine’, which fits but doesn’t parse. INEFFABLE is what for Jews the name of God is, hence ‘Yahweh’ etc. But you knew that.
  3. Greetings from karaoke. I just finished this, came here to see how to parse UNITE. Was pleased with myself for working out PSITTACINE from the wordplay. I went to Crosswordsolver to find SCRUMP, DNK. Know POLYTHENE from the eponymous Pam, of course. ENFRANCHISEMENT was my FOI, love long anagrams. Fine puzzle, no complaints!
  4. 31 minutes for this, slowed up by missing the fact that OPENLY was an anagram at 25a. The birdy thing sounded sufficiently Greek to go in with some confidence.

    Ineffable always puts me in mind of the hymn (not based on Habakkuk, so far as I am aware), ‘Crown him with many crowns’), which contains the immortal line, ‘Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime’. Jack Hindmarsh, FRCO, music master at my old school, used to call it the Plumbers’ Hymn.

    All correct today, but I am looking forward to the day when a reference in some arcane field (say, maths or finance) turns up and I can claim an all-correct.

    1. Ineffable always reminds me of TS Eliot’s Naming of Cats

      “When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
      The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
      His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
      Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
      His ineffable effable
      Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”


      1. It always reminds me (joekobi) of another, superficially duller passage of T.S.Eliot’s, from The Dry Salvages (Four Quartets):

        I have said before
        That the past experience revived in the meaning
        Is not the experience of one life only
        But of many generations — not forgetting
        Something that is probably quite ineffable:
        The backward look behind the assurance
        Of recorded history, the backward half-look
        Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.

  5. Aside from the strange-looking word at 11ac, and the unknown PSITTACINE, I found this one to be fairly Mondayish. About 11 minutes in all.

    Thanks setter and Z.

  6. 6m44, so no real problems here, but I had no idea what was going on with UNITE, so many thanks for the elucidation, Z! I knew PSITTACINE once I realised the tree had to be a pine not a fir, and DAZE was rendered much easier by the fact that I’d had a boisterous conversation with paul_in_london, guy_de_sable etc about the differences between baseball and cricket not so long ago, one of the things having been mentioned was that cricket does actually last for days.
      1. You are a good and attentive student, unlike Keriothe to whom I can enumerate books of the Bible all day without them ever sinking in 😛
        1. I didn’t join the Bible books conversation yesterday and you V are an exception to the general rule I am about to propound. Older people, say 65 and over, for good and ill, probably spent many hours on Church Parade with brownies, cubs, scouts and guides, or boys brigade if Methodist, not listening to the sermon but with nothing to read but the Bible index or the people listed in the prayer book that you couldn’t marry. Public school pupils have their equivalent experience. For both categories, the names of the books are general knowledge.
          1. Amen to that. Boys Brigade were powerful influence in my area. I well remember long lectures on the evils of drink and gambling. No mention of sex for some reason. Only escape was reading the bible!
            1. I’m not an exception to the rule that I’m an exception to every rule, though.

              Have now changed my avatar, hoping that keriothe will prove more of a visual learner when it comes to Biblicalia.

              Edited at 2017-08-17 11:30 am (UTC)

            1. The first words in Latin for Today (amended by pen on my copy to Eating for Today), First Course, still remembered 60 years later. I fessed up last week to being anal retentive, something I probably share with most posters on this site. Most grammar school pupils of the older age group, along with their public school compatriots, will have suffered Latin and now unfairly but understandably want to inflict it on others. Given that older Times crossword solvers will be Grammar or Public School, the Venn diagram of those who know the Bible books and their Latin will be very shady.
              1. Far from suffering Latin, I was relieved to take it in place of Geography for the last two years before my O-Levels:-) I remember getting 17% in a Geography exam for which I’d written two line answers for most of the questions. Apparently the questions were actually an invitation to produce short essays!
                1. You can say more in two lines of Latin than you can in a short essay in English, of course.
                2. If I’m honest, I’ve probably made better use of my Latin than French, the grammar being very useful for the New Testament Greek course I did as well as in crossword solving. I did once manage an agonising ten minute conversation in French in a Lyons youth hostel with a Japanese guy, only for him to turn to his friend and speak in perfect English.
        2. That is my aim. It takes a real effort of will not to learn words which, as galspray so wisely points out, aren’t worth knowing.
    1. What I remember about that conversation was it taking days to get the waiter to fetch a new ball. I mean a new round of drinks.
  7. I needed 48 minutes but unlike yesterday it was an undiluted pleasure to work my way though this one because the words unknown to me were reachable from very fair wordplay, as were a number of words I DID know.

    I’ve no problem with JANGLE for ‘upset’ as ‘jangle nerves’ is a common enough expression, and I’ve even come across ‘ajangle’ in that context (in Noel Coward’s song ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’).

    I’m pretty sure DISTRAIN has appeared very recently but the latest reference to it that google can find here was in May last year.

    REVENANT and PSITTACINE were the two unknowns I got from wordplay although I twigged the connection of the latter with birds by knowing PSITTACOSIS as a disease suffered by parrots. ETHEREAL as my LOI was another where the wordplay was essential to my solve although of course I knew the word well enough.

    I spotted RHETORICAL as being available from the anagrist at 5dn but didn’t recognise the definition as I only know it in the context of a ‘rhetorical question’.

    I was familiar with the collecting habits of the MAGPIE from the English title of Rossini’s opera.

    Edited at 2017-08-17 06:17 am (UTC)

    1. Thank you! That’s where I recognised PSITTACINE from, too, though I hadn’t worked it out until you said it. It just seemed familiar.
  8. 40 mins with toast and lime marmalade (with peel in). All very enjoyable and, as others have said, always felt do-able, eventually. 18dn and 23ac took a couple of moments to parse: great word SCRUMP. Got the Soho (is it still seedy?). Like others – the parrot-like was gettable from wordplay and the disease. Thanks tricksy setter and Z.

    Edited at 2017-08-17 07:30 am (UTC)

  9. Very funny, z8b8d8k (and just HOW is that pronounced?!)! I’m from West Virginia, and y’all can call us folks “West Virginians.” Okies, from Oklahoma, are also called Oklahomans, and just show me someone from Missouri (get it?) who thinks the word “Missourian” is unusual. There is nothing particularly contrived about “Ohioan.”

    But along with “North Dakotan,” etc., we also have “South Carolinian.” Likewise, it’s not “Floridan” but “Floridian.” And people from the Beehive State are known (properly) as “Utahns,” not “Utahans.” Perhaps coming soon to a crossword near you.

    1. Actually UTAHAN has come up twice, in a puzzle I blogged in May 2009 and in February 2013 when it was blogged by my then co-Friday blogger, Dave Perry. By coincidence both of us used the word ‘Nightmare’ in the headings to our respective blogs on those days. Anyway once seen never forgotten for me and I’ve been on the lookout for more words for US state inhabitants ending in -an or -ans ever since.
      1. “UTAHN” would make for a harder answer, but I’m not sure I’ve come across it that way in a puzzle. And which is correct? A 2013 article online says:

        « Webster’s now lists Utahan as the primary form, with Utahn noted as “local usage.”

        « The U.S. Government Printing office has changed its tone since the 1980 article, though: it now lists “Utahn” as the official form of the word. »

  10. I’m very, very grateful that this coincided with an unexpected day off! I found this very hard work indeed, and it took me 1h48 all told. But I did find every step of the way rather enjoyable, despite being wrongfooted left, right and centre while still being close to the answers. (e.g. it took me a long time to realise why I couldn’t stop thinking of Sheraton, despite knowing he was a furniture maker, not a playwright…)

    I started well with 1a, and ended badly with the crossers of EPISODIC and my LOI, OHIOAN, where I knew how the clue worked but couldn’t get my mind around to a specific city area for the longest time, or get Oregon out of my head.

    On the plus side, I did parse everything, including seeing the “retinue” bit at the time of solving, though I did work backwards from the biff, and at least I didn’t fall at the last hurdle on some obscure biblical reference today 😀

    Thanks setter and blogger. What a great way to start a day off.

    Edited at 2017-08-17 08:04 am (UTC)

  11. Back to normality today with a steady solve

    SCRUMP brought back memories of a misspent youth. As in most cities its not far from seedy areas to well heeled ones. From my junior school Brixton Prison was 5 minutes walk in one direction and big houses with fruit trees were 5 minutes in the opposite direction. Can’t believe kids still nick fruit in that way.

  12. Incidentally, did anyone else wonder if the setter was playing a game to see just how many vowels they could cram into the crossers?
  13. … the pink ball might cause. 19 minutes this morning with LOI PSITTACINE, reverse engineered from Psittacosis. For once this physicist knew a biological term, GAMETE, admittedly via the Ethics paper I once took. COD TRANSPLANTATION, as Euston is my station in life. Controversial bit here, I’ve liked the sixties station ever since it was built and the Inter City trains started then were brilliant for somebody living a two location life. OHIOAN in with fingers crossed, RHETORICAL happened on looking for an Italian musical term meaning “play it f***ing loud”. Thank you Z and setter
  14. 16:38 … which is precisely nitchy for me. Not being the most secure speller, I can’t go very fast with words like enfranchisement, inaccessible, distrainment or even Ohioan about. And that’s before we get to PSITTACINE.

    I really like the “flying parasite” in 12a

    Relieved that Myrtillus left the peel in, thus avoiding a notorious breakfast faux pas

  15. Earlier in the week Stuart Broad had only ever bowled one delivery with the pink ball. It helps with 22d that the paper crossword is on the back page, where there is a picture of Root et al, and reminds me to watch the thing on TV, and to plan my other activities for the next five days accordingly.

    Didn’t we have INANIMATE yesterday? May I also point out the cross allusions in 17ac and 6d? There must also be fun to be had with DETRAIN in a future puzzle.

    <18′, thanks z and setter.

    1. I am agog, I am aghast – pray, what is so special about detrain? Such an innocent kind of word.
  16. 29 minutes interrupted by a conversation with Mrs R about overweight pigeons and their reluctance to leave the ground. I know, my life is rich beyond imagination.
    A solid and rewarding solve, with some unusual, but fairly clued, vocabulary. LOI CAUSEWAY where the definition eluded me for a long time. I am feeling smug as on completion I estimated that it was about a 100 on the SNITCHOMETER and it was at 99 when I last checked.
  17. This was harder for me than yesterday although I was 30 mins quicker at 45mins.

    FOI 4ac HARD TIMES which was prophetic.

    LOI 11ac OHIOAN – I believe that there is some trouble in the Buckeye State.

    WOD 18dn SCRUMP – what is the American equivalent?

    COD The IKEAN 13dn PSITTACINE which I knew parrot fashion.

    Edited at 2017-08-17 10:28 am (UTC)

  18. Wilkin & Sons, Tiptree is my current lime-peel-enriched preserve of choice. Roses isn’t in it. And why doesn’t Frank Cooper give it a go?
    1. It is seldom necessary to look beyond Wilkin & Sons, except for home-made stuff such as Mrs W produces. Coopers? No, I don’t think so ..
  19. 11:36. I thought for a while that this was going to be very easy, as I biffed away for about half the clues. I slowed down a lot after that though, with words like PSITTACINE and OHIOAN needing careful construction.
  20. Thirty minutes for this one – half last night, fuelled by several G&Ts, and half this morning by virtue of coffee.

    I’m pretty sure that DISTRAINMENT is one of the many words I have only ever encountered here, as is the hob of HOBO. OHIOAN had me head-scratching for a while until I spotted Soho in the parsing. PSITTACINE was reverse-engineered from psittacosis, but it was CAUSEWAY that held me up. In fact, after many minutes spent staring at C_U_E_A_ on-screen, it only fell into place when I picked up a pen and paper – it’s very strange that the brain can be so format-dependent.

    1. OK, but really, whose fault is it, if you don’t go ferreting? Females are Jills btw
      1. I’ve often thought that a well-trained ferret would be better at keyhole surgery than many people I know (me, for instance). On the other hand, it would probably be harder to get the consents. The trick would be to practice saying “and then we introduce the ferret” quickly enough to blend into the medical jargon.
  21. Really annoyed with myself today as I managed to get a typo in both the QC and the main puzzle. Bah! Despite working out REVENANT correctly, it glared back at me in pink from the completed grid as REVENATT. Grrhh. Otherwise I zipped through it in 29:17, so not too difficult. I managed to parse all except UNITE for which thanks to Z8. I doubt if I’d have got it if I’d stared at it all day. Chuckled at HARD TIMES. Raised an eyebrow at OHIOAN. Knew DISTRAINT from previous puzzles. Got the bird type from the disease and wordplay. FOI ENSUE. LOI UNITE. Thanks setter and Z.

    Edited at 2017-08-17 11:54 am (UTC)

  22. 29 min. Bit of a trudge. Clever stuff, but all that stays with me is a sense of some hymn-worthy adjectives, and the set of vowels in 11 ac., the latter reminding of a treasured but forgotten spelling of the football team that used to appear on the television, Airdr…onians.
    1. why not set up an account? It is free, and although Russian assassins may turn up from time to time, I have managed to evade them so far 😉
  23. Another one here who couldn’t parse this. As an aficionada of ghost stories I think of REVENANT as a spook. And in Du Maurier’s Rebecca, Je Reviens is the name of the title character’s boat. INEFFABLE and INACCESSIBLE brought back boarding-school DAZE of hymn-singing. “Immortal, invisible” being my non-believing grandmother’s favourite hymn. The shorter “distraint” was the word we memorised from the law books. 18 on the nose.
  24. I’m still not able to get at the crosswords from the club site on my desktop, so had to do them on the main site. I did try using my tablet, but my club membership is not recognised from there. (If I enter my username, there’s no response to ‘continue’, while the name I’d used on the old version of the site is treated as a new member, with no previous puzzles to my name.)
    This one went pretty quickly with no significant holdups, so done in 17 minutes, even though 22dn did give me pause – wondering about a turned up bowl.
    1. What computer/browser combination do you use?
      On W7: Opera doesn’t work for me, albeit with all the anti-rubbish extensions like adblock, umatrix, etc etc.
      Chrome works, with minimal extensions – it’s my “unsafe, unprotected” browser for known trusted sites.
      Internet explorer I haven’t tried on account of it’s sh1t. Total rubbish.
      Mac/OS10/Safari is generally considered to be incompatible with the rest of the world. (Most people who buy Macs end up running Windows, just so they can do something useful, anecdotally.)
      Edge on W10 is laughable, a total joke. Appalling. As is windows 10 in general. Avoid them both.
      Android, Iphone I haven’t tried.

      I would suggest windows 7 and chrome as the most likely to work.

      1. EDGE on Windows 10 was working beautifully for me until about 3 weeks ago, and actually gave me the best possible print-out from the old Club. But something happened and I was no longer able even to open Edge. The blue start-screen comes up, turns white as the address bar starts to appear, it hangs for a few moments and closes itself! I thought the overdue Creator’s Update might fix it but I took that today and Edge still won’t open. Nothing to do with crosswords, I know, but I wanted to let off steam and since you mentioned the wretched browser…

        Edited at 2017-08-17 02:03 pm (UTC)

        1. I had a load of trouble with Edge on my Win 10 laptop last year. At first it just wouldn’t connect to the Internet or MS Store and a Google search advised specifying the Google DNS servers in the network parameters. That cured that problem, but then it did what yours appears to be doing, and I found a fix on the web that involved running a command line in Windows PowerShell. It’s still working and is the browser I use mostly except for reading the Times, for which I use Chrome, as I can cast it to the TV using Chromecast and read on the 40 inch screen. The link to the fix is https://www.windowscentral.com/how-to-reset-microsoft-edge-windows-10 which may need to be unspammed. It basically deletes your current Edge package and reinstalls it from scratch. It can take a while.

          Edited at 2017-08-17 02:17 pm (UTC)

          1. Thanks for this, John. I’ll think about it, but I’m a bit wary of tampering with the settings and Edge is not top of my priorites re computer glitches at the moment. Also now that the old Club printing has been ditched by The Times my reason for using Edge daily has gone. My No. 1 glitch is that since the Creator’s Update was installed this morning my PC no longer puts itself to sleep. I had the same problem when I first upgraded from W8 to W10 and it went on for nearly a year despite all my best efforts and many support calls to MS and HP (my PC manufacturer). It was eventually resolved by the previous major Windows 10 upgrade – last summer I think it was – since when it has behaved itself perfectly until today.

            I had similar problems to yours with not connecting to the internet on certain sites, which like you I resolved by changing the DNS settings. I started by using the Google DNS servers, and that was handy for identifying where the problem lay, but I was advised the Google settings are public and therefore not secure so it’s not a good idea to stick with them indefinitely. So I contacted my ISP (Plusnet) who were able to give me alternative secure settings of their own which worked perfectly and gave me peace of mind.

  25. 13:03. Like K I was positively whizzing through but CAUSEWAY and OHIOAN were the two that slammed the brakes on for me.

    I guess even after 27 years of living oop North I’m still not a proper northerner as I didn’t know the HOB/FERRET connection.

    1. I’ve just now discovered that ferrets have an effective four genders – apart from un-neutered hobs and jills, there are neutered gibs and sprites. Hopefully the latter will appear in a Times 15×15 soon (crossing with HAGGAI ideally).
      1. As the newly-appointed arbiter of these things, I can confirm that all of these words for ferrets are definitely Worth Knowing. I have therefore committed them to memory. ‘Gib’ has gone into the space that would otherwise have been occupied by HAGWHATEVER.
  26. Another who had to come here to discover why UNITE was right. And that _A_E type word is my regular nightmare scenario, too, so I was lucky that Test match cricket was on my mind today.
  27. I’m going to blame getting really wet at Dover Castle this morning for my inability on return to ‘see’ “openly upset” for far longer than it should have took.

    Finished in 13 minutes so can’t have been that soggy.

  28. A bit like the West Indian fast bowlers, I found the top half very easy. Thankfully had all the checkers for the bird clue but sounds like a word best spoken after a few beers. Soho, before it became up market, was extremely seedy in places. The number of (potential) sins one could commit as a young man was quite high. Nearly as good as the adjoining houses in Amsterdam – a church, brothel and pub – but which is the best order to visit in? (A rhetorical question just in case Mrs H looks at my iPad!). Thanks Z.
  29. 21.32. In my teens, 50 years ago, I frequented Soho, Lisle Street in particular, as this was the street that had the army surplus shops for electrical goods. Very cheap transmitters, parts etc. In between these shops, every single door has at least 5 bellpushes for services that did not involve electrical goods (On reflection, perhaps they did). It was sleazy but pleasant. An enjoyable puzzle so appropriate thanks to S and Z
  30. Today’s QC was tough but I had time to look at this too and it did not seem tough for a 15×15.
    Hard Times went straight in and I continued steadily but slowly. Could not parse Hobo or Unite but in they went. My last two were the bird clue (managed to construct it from the wordplay!) and the American. I thought it was Boho ( someone who lives in a seedy area) rather than Soho which is/was a seedy area.
    No matter.
    LOI was the man from Ohio -had to work it out. Nearly went with the first letters of the clue (OSISA…) which happened to fit.
    Took a while but solved same day -my target for these. David
  31. ….was first up on thr Club Forum discussion on tis puzzle today. He was plugging his vlog on how to solve the cryptic, using today’s puzzle as an example.


    That’s how I learned about UNITE and HOBO, solutions which I had just biffed.
    Psittacine didn’t present a problem as I once contracted a form of psittacosis called acute extrinsic alveolitis ,aka bird fanciers’ lung, from two cockatiels I once had.
    55m and some seconds, a time prolonged by taking a phone call but failing to pause the puzzle on the club site.

  32. I’m surprised to see a lot of commenters say they’ve navigated to PSITTACINE via Psittacosis, or whatever the disease is. Both are equally unrecognizable to me. I did make my way through the wordplay to the right answer, but it appearing so unlikely to be a word I looked it up. Lo and behold, there it was. Why there’s such a widespread knowledge of parrot things in the UK, I don’t know. Also, same as others on not spending too much effort trying to parse UNITE, my LOI. Thanks for that, and regards.
    1. I’m guessing it’s because there must be a lot of bird fanciers in the UK. I mentioned in my own comment that I once had cockatiels. Many people keep budgerigars and canaries while many others keep pigeons.
      1. I suppose that must be so Martin. It may be of interest that in NYC now, primarily in Queens, a wild colony of parrots have ensconced themselves, the descendants (it’s thought) of those formerly pets but which escaped – or were evicted – out of doors. Apparently some US bird fanciers thought the better of it after a time, and launched the creatures into the wild (note: Queens is not wild really, definitely very urban, but more wild than the inside of a cage). How these birds fare in the NYC winters, I don’t know.
        1. There’s a similar situation in Brussels, where ring-necked parakeets now brighten up many of the cities parks. They’re said to be descendants of 40 birds released by airline workers after a failed attempt to smuggle them into Europe. I had no idea about this when I first visited the city and taking a stroll in a park one day I thought I was seeing things.
    2. What comes to mind Kevin is the enduring quality of the Python dead parrot sketch – there must be reasons for that! Are you going to the Fair? We are entering veg this Sunday and flowers a week from Saturday. We’ll have the usual family party staying for it but I won’t be there much myself having recently come out of surgery.
      1. Hi Olivia. I hope your surgery wasn’t serious, and that you’ll be back to full speed shortly. I’m unsure of our fair plans. If they solidify, I’ll send a note asking how to identify your produce. Regards, feel better.
        1. Thanks much Kevin – I’m fine, just rather low on stamina. If I hear from you I’ll email you with exhibit info next week.
  33. All done in 29 mins 12 secs. I found this fairly easy going. I didn’t know the ferret but checkers left little room for doubt. 13dn was constructed entirely from wordplay. A pleasant solve.

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