Times Cryptic No 26848 Thursday, 05 October 2017 The poetic Simpson?

George has kindly agreed to swop with me for the next three weeks while I and Mrs Z sample the delights of South Africa. Sometime in November we’ll get back into the routine, including one date when I’m covering for George.
This was a bit of a tricky offering for me, though I completed in 24.23 on the now available at midnight club site. Keen eyed observers will see I had a single error, just a typo. I hate pink squares. One clue was no more than a good bet, though I’ve subsequently confirmed the non-metallic connection with copper at 19d.
I hope everything makes as much sense to you as it does to me. I have highlighted clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS as is my wont.


1 Means of accommodating baby‘s exuberant conduct? (4,5)
HIGH CHAIR Exuberant easily gives way to HIGH, and if you conduct a meeting, you CHAIR it. No arguments please. No-one’s confusing the chairman with the boss this time.
6 Spread from union journal kept back (5)
GAMUT “Miss Hepburn ran the whole gamut of emotions from A to B.” Attributed to Dorothy Parker. The wordplay is TU union and MAG journal reversed (“kept back”)
9 Regularly launch into tunneller’s underground entrance (7)
MANHOLE The tunneller is a MOLE, into which insert the even letters of lAuNcH
10 Wretched idler not pruning old bit of plant (7)
TENDRIL Take the letters of IDLER NOT, discard the O(ld), throw them up in the air until they come down resembling a bit of greenery
11 Short drinkers may relish this distorted sound (3)
RYE A short is by general agreement a shot of spirituous liquor, in this case the one that sounds like WRY, distorted
12 Intricate craft displayed in novel Eliot penned (11)
NEEDLEPOINT Just an anagram (novel) of ELIOT PENNED, so you don’t need to know anything about Middlemarch. Hooray!
14 Some not in US army, maybe, returning to claim benefits? (4,2)
SIGN ON People not in the US Army are NON-GIS in some whimsical fashion. Return as instructed.
15 Where pupils get together a learner’s relaxed (8)
INFORMAL Easy. Pupils get together IN FORM, add A L(earner)
17 Catholic in action trashed drug (8)
NARCOTIC “Trash” ACTION and insert a R(oman) C(atholic). Other Catholics are available. 
19 Furious criminal KO’ing one copper? (6)
RUFOUS Criminal indicates an anagram, in this case of FURIOUS minus the I (one). Did not know this precise word for reddish brown, but it has several close acquaintances.
22 Climber wants sweetheart to care for (11)
HONEYSUCKLE Sweetheart: Honey, and care for: SUCKLE, perhaps a figurative use of a fairly specific verb.
23 Device for stopping strike (3)
TAP A double definition, though either could have been almost anything. I needed a prompt from a checker
25 Doctor west of desert heading off light rain (7)
DRIZZLE Well, I’ve got the DR doctor, and west just giving its location in the grid. The best I can come up with for the IZZLE bit is that it’s a word for desert minus its first letter. I can get loosely to FIZZLE by playing around with the Thesaurus, but it’s a circuitous route. Can anyone do better?
27 Group in department ran chemistry block (7)
TRANCHE Beautifully hidden in departmenT RAN CHEmistry.
28 Abandon fight (5)
SCRAP Double definition.
29 Rode briskly round lake, keeping horse restrained (9)
THROTTLED Rode briskly: TROTTED, and separate inserts of L(ake) and H(orse), not in that order, either.


1 Bard in region’s capital (5)
HOMER In in crossword speak generates HOME (and vice versa) and region’s capital is, in this case, the not actually capital R.
2 Drinks, say, containing trace of natural stimulant (7)
GINSENG Apparently good for anything that ails you. Drinks are GINS, for example is EG, and the trace of natural you need is N. Assemble.
3 British territory using top foreign currency: yen (5,6)
CROWN COLONY You have a generous “top” to push you towards CROWN for foreign (and sometime British) currency. Now do pay attention: there’s a : before the Y(en). Punctuation can be important.
4 Some of our ancestors, needing exercise, agreed to box (6)
APEMEN Are you descended from a monkey on your mother’s or your father’s side, Mr Huxley?* Exercise is PE, and AMEN agreed
5 Disconcerting seaman holds officer up (8)
RATTLING The seaman is a RATING, containing a reversed L(ieutenan)T
6 Intelligence — something parents pass on, mostly (3)
GEN parents pass on GENES, or perhaps just a GENE. Take most of it anyway.
7 Theory from revolutionary Frenchman with half a dozen sheep? (7)
MARXISM Revolutionary might be doing double duty, but it’s primarily there to reverse M(onsieur) SIX RAM
8 Rats count on dogs being heard (9)
TELLTALES That meaning of rats, derived from count: TELL and TALES sounding like dogs: TAILS
13 Outstanding rhetoric in support of underground system? (11)
PROTUBERANT That would be a PRO TUBE RANT, then.
14 Cook uses hands to provide protection from heat (9)
SUNSHADES An Anagram (“cook”) of USES HANDS
16 Pernicious decree slashing French wine output, ultimately (8)
VIRULENT Decree: RULE within VIN for French wine and the end of outpuT
18 Increasingly sexy queen more accessible when husband’s away… (7)
RANDIER Queen gives R, and more accessible HANDIER. Knock of the absent H(usband)
20 Love mate to accept credit with king out of sight (7)
OPTICAL Love is (as in tennis) 0, mate is PAL, and credit is TICK, though the K(ing) is out. Assemble
21 Curry, possibly fish, with minimum of rice (6)
SKATER Younger solvers might not remember the immaculate John Curry. The fish is SKATE and minimum of rice means just the R.
24 Orator’s prosecuted for fraud (5)
PSEUD Orator’s is the homophone indicator, prosecuted SUED.
26 Nothing close up to tear (3)
ZIP A triple definition, no less.

*Huxley’s response to Bishop Wilberforce: “I am not ashamed to have a monkey for my ancestor, but I would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth”.

54 comments on “Times Cryptic No 26848 Thursday, 05 October 2017 The poetic Simpson?”

  1. With z in place today I was expecting a pangram but it wasn’t and my LOI 19ac was RUFOUS and not QU….something or other!

    I would describe this as MOR at 39 minutes – with FOI 2dn GINSENG.

    COD 1dn HOMER very fine and a clue of few words.

    I also enjoyed 3dn CROWN COLONY which at first threatened to be some out of the way ISLAND. My favourite is Bank Holiday Monday Island which is halfway between Christmas and Easter Islands, Round the Horne!


    I do not look forward to Hurricane Friday!

    Edited at 2017-10-05 09:45 am (UTC)

  2. Way off the wavelength, defeated by the NW corner. Still don’t understand the “top” in Crown Colony, which I had to look up, allowing the rest to fall. Didn’t know Rufous, thought he might have been a bear who was a policeman in a cartoon. No idea of ?izzle but dictionaries suggest it might be mizzle – run away, decamp. Did remember Curry, but wrongly – thought he was half of Torvill & Dean (cue Bolero earworm). Otherwise enjoyably tricky.
    1. As z8 mentions in his blog, “top” is a generous nudge in the direction of CROWN as a foreign currency; without it one might have spent ages considering other possibilities.
      1. Maybe I’m dense, but I still can’t understand. TOP as CROWN, yes I could see that, verb and noun. Foreign Currency as CROWN, yes, I see that. But top foreign currency clues CROWN CROWN for me, seems to have too many words.
        1. Indeed, it is as we either have CROWN CROWN COLON Y or CROWN COLON COLON Y.
          Or, if “foreign currency” is both CROWN and COLON, CROWN CROWN/COLON COLON Y.
  3. Virtually all the clues seemed quite opaque at first, but after a bit of refreshment I started steadily working from the top down, though when I “finished” a few were incompletely parsed. I didn’t know that “tick” can mean “credit,” and I’m sorry I didn’t pause to dig that the punctuation clues the “colon” part of CROWN COLONY—actually, I vaguely remembered “colon” as a currency in some part of the world, and it is, in Costa Rica! Figured there just must be a skater named CURRY. I will be checking here to see if anyone has anything more convincing for the “izzle” part of DRIZZLE. Like Horryd, my LOI was RUFOUS.

    Edited at 2017-10-05 03:29 am (UTC)

  4. Collins has: MIZZLE (slang) = DECAMP (leave suddenly or secretly) … as if to DESERT (a place)

    – Vince

      1. In the seclusion of upstate New York, there’s much in the puzzles from the Times that I’ve not heard or read in real life.
      2. Ah yes, Chambers has no less than three entries for MIZZLE, which I discounted perhaps too quickly because it was too like DRIZZLE in this part of the world, as it happens both linguistically and factually. Chambers has a terse “decamp” as its second entry. I was going via fizzle out…
        With the exception of pizzle, which would make a very odd dessert, V, I can see any of the possible words being used by Plum Wodehouse to mean drift into or out of a place. Sizzle for hot foot it, perhaps?
  5. The LH was moderately easy but I had to battle clue by clue through much of the RH side and felt lucky to scrape home at a minute under the hour. I guessed RUFOUS and didn’t spot {m}IZZLE as part of the wordplay at 25ac – I know the word but not the required meaning as in my world it means much the same as the actual answer. MARXISM was my LOI having been fixated in VI as ‘half a dozen’.

    Edited at 2017-10-05 05:11 am (UTC)

  6. I wondered for a bit if anyone in Jude the Obscure (or the Piers Gaveston Society) had ever had PIZZLE for dessert, but fortunately that was not the spelling in 25ac.

    A good crossword I thought! I got bogged down in the SE at the end but still completed in 9m which is okay. Didn’t parse 1dn, didn’t know John Curry, didn’t spot the colon, so perhaps I was a little lucky? LOI 23ac, which as you say is scarcely gettable without the checkers. Thanks blogger and setter, as they say over at Big Dave’s!

  7. Which at the time (7.30 ish) put me 7th on the leaderboard, so not too unhappy with that.

    No idea still how the ..IZZLE was formed but it couldn’t be anything else so in it went.

    23ac was BAR for a while until PSEUD destroyed that theory – am I one of the few that then used the checking T to get 20d?

    Now that I see Verlaines time I will stay happy with that. Especially after a shocker of a quickie this morning.

    1. I think you’ll find that’s what the Provisional Wing of the Child Support Agency is good for.
  8. 55 mins with porridge and banana. I feel I made heavy going of this with no real justification. Maybe I spent too long trying to parse IZZLE, convincing myself about RUFOUS and worrying about just using ‘agreed’ for Amen.
    Mostly I liked: Homer, Pseud, Tranche and the colon.
    Thanks setter and Z.
  9. Decidedly tricky in parts. I wasn’t confident in RUFOUS and I thought I was looking at roman numerals in MARXISM so wondered how half a dozen came into it.

    I didn’t know John Curry was dead – surprised to find he’s been gone for 23 years.

  10. 75 minutes, worse than a bad Friday. Spent forever in the NW. HIGH CHAIR does have both a good surface and cryptic but I had them confused until I had all checkers, when HOMER finished his journey and the GINSENG achieved its effect. It was only then that I realised I’d lived 72 years and a day and only used ‘wry’ metaphorically. I suppose I did assume the literal meaning as I can see a distorted mouth. My Dad had auburn hair in his youth and his nickname to older family members was still RUFOUS as I grew up, but without the O, I think. Whatever, I biffed that happily. The gene was only transmitted to my teenage sideboards, as we always called sideburns. I made a total hash of MARXISM to begin with, thinking of the French revolutionary MARAT and producing the MARVIAT sheep. COD APEMEN. The reddish sidies must have come from them, the crossword solving skills from a particularly dense tree shrew. Thank you Z and setter.

    Edited at 2017-10-05 09:15 am (UTC)

    1. I actually raised an eyebrow at the definition of APEMAN, since man is not descended from apes. So I looked it up and found that according to Collins and ODO this is indeed a word for an ancestor of modern humans, so that’s all fine. However in the process I found that Chambers defines APEMAN as ‘intermediate in development between man and the higher apes’. Now I’m no expert but based on my understanding of human evolution that is one hell of a clanger.
      1. Well, a word can exist for a concept even though the concept is erroneous or of something that does not itself exist.

        Edited at 2017-10-05 06:51 pm (UTC)

  11. 21:07 with an iPad-induced typo that somehow I managed to miss when checking my answers. Quite tricky this, with several that I wasn’t entirely sure of: I didn’t know this meaning of ‘mizzle’, for instance, or the word RUFOUS, which I justified by association with Rufus. I was also baffled by the region’s capital, which isn’t a capital, and had to take on trust that there was a skater called Curry. Has he come up before? I have a vague memory of a SKATER I hadn’t heard of appearing, but that could have been any SKATER other than Torville and Dean.
    I think the foreign currency in 3dn has to be COLON. Otherwise there are too many words, as isla3 points out. And it is a foreign currency.

    Edited at 2017-10-05 08:10 am (UTC)

    1. How did you manage to get a time? On my ipad it only gives the time if I solve correctly first time.
      1. I solved online in the way I always do. I usually use a Bluetooth keyboard but I was standing up on the train this morning so I couldn’t. The online interface is really awkward for this.
      2. If your first attempt is wrong, blank out the incorrect letters and resave before correcting. You should then get a time when you get them right.

        Mr Chumley

  12. 27:26 A game of two halves. With only a couple falling at the top I tried my luck in the SE corner and worked steadily up from there, finishing back where I started (or failed to start) with HOMER/RYE. I might have got in a twist over DRIZZLE but with DR and a Z in place I biffed it with nary a backward glance.
  13. 27.10. Mizzle seems a dictionary page too far. An energetically clever interlocutor this morning, not quite humorous. A breath of fresh air nonetheless. – joekobi
  14. A tricky offering today! I started with GEN and finished with PSEUD, but the journey in between was fraught with angst as I bumped into dead ends and chased red herrings and wild geese, which led me to a time of 47:04, fortunately with no pink squares, unlike the Concise and the QC this morning. Didn’t know RUFOUS but deduced it from the red haired one. Merinos and VIs inhabited the squares of 7d at various points in the process, only to be scrubbed as, very late in the solve, Karl arose from the mists of Highgate. CROWN COLONY came from crossers and two and sixpence, and I glossed over the COLON bit of it. Neat. HOMER was very clever and concise, and took quite a while to surface. Shrugged DRIZZLE into place without too much cogitation. I didn’t realise John Curry had left this mortal coil either! Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and Z.

    Edited at 2017-10-05 12:35 pm (UTC)

    1. 19:56 and all correct but, like others, was baffled by the ?IZZLE, couldn’t remember what RUFOUS meant, nor that WRY meant distorted and didn’t see R as the region’s capital. How about “Bard in Romania’s capital” instead? But all’s well that ends well. Great blog as ever Z and thanks to the setter too.
  15. 40m here and all correct for once in a way. Like others here I struggled with the RH especially the NW corner. I suspected HOMER but couldn’t make it parse so waited an age for the checkers to arrive. Surprisingly I knew mizzle as decamp but why or where from I’ve no idea. I assumed from these crosswords but apparently not. Enjoyable puzzle which I was, unusually at present, confident I’d finish, so thank you setter and Z for explaining why some of my guesses were in fact right.
  16. ‘Plead’ was my guess instead after finally realising that orator was not the the definition. Also came a cropper on Marxism, trying to fit VI into the answer for ages.

    I knew John Curry but not ‘mizzle’ which is a great new word to learn (just means light drizzle to me here in Scotland). Love the suggestion that the ‘:’ is in fact ‘colon’ in 3d but trusted that it was the foreign currency deep in the recesses of my mind.

    A lovely hour’s enjoyment, so thank you to the setter and blogger.

    1. I was mystified for a while that we had 9 (IX) or 11 (XI) before I realised we weren’t in ancient roman numerology territory and there was a lurking S. Doh! (as 1dn would say).
      And count me as another who didn’t know mizzle meant more than just a light drizzle.
  17. Hi and welcome.
    I’m in Scotland too.
    Having read what others have put, I’m now not 100% sure the :=colon was intended. But we have had similar before:
    Settler: one person held in veneration (8)
  18. Hi there. I’ve been away for a while, nice to be back. About 30 minutes for this ending with PSUED, which took many minutes on its own. No idea re what the origin of -IZZLE might be, and thought the foreign currency clued the ‘colon’ bit. MARXCISM quite clever, and HOMER wonderfully succinct. Regards to all.
  19. An hour for this tricky and quirky number, ending with Apemen. Given we’re not sure of our provenance, I think such a non-scientific, indeed, non pseudo-scientific, word is just the ticket.

    Edited at 2017-10-05 04:16 pm (UTC)

    1. We are sufficiently sure of our provenance to know that we didn’t descend from apes.
        1. I was talking about modern apes. The implication of ulaca’s comment is that it’s fine to refer to a human ancestor as an APEMAN since we don’t really know enough about our origins to use more precise language. This is, to put it mildly, not true. We know for instance that Australopithecus isn’t an ancestor of modern apes but would qualify as an APEMAN under this definition. Not that I have a problem with this usage: it might be a little misleading but language is full of this kind of thing and we somehow manage to understand one another.
          [By the way I haven’t really studied this stuff either: I’m just going by what I’ve learned from Richard Dawkins books and taking my kids to the Natural History Museum :)]

          Edited at 2017-10-05 08:01 pm (UTC)

  20. Found this tricky, spent half an hour on it this morning, 40 mins at lunchtime and a further 5 mins after work but at least I managed to complete all correct. An inauspicious start as I read clue after clue with nothing going in until finally I got to the end of the acrosses and my FOI 29ac. Got hold of the wrong end of too many sticks and held onto them for far too long, with the G in place at 6ac for example I convinced myself that the journal had to be a log. I also thought of Marat at 7dn and so bunged in the made up marviat sheep before correcting to my LOI Marxism. That one was definitely brain twister of the day like others I was looking for roman numerals rather than a reversed six. I did initially think that : in 3dn accounted for colon in the answer but having read the comments, I am now convinced that it doesn’t and that it must be the colon unit of foreign currency. COD to the very neat 1dn.
  21. Ridiculous. Must be coming down with something. Good crossword though. Liked randier and homer. Liked crown colony too, until I realised I didn’t quite get how it worked
  22. I tried GARUM at first for 6ac, being MU (Mothers’ Union) + RAG reversed. Not a spread exactly, more a disgusting sauce of fermented fish juices, favoured in ancient Roman times.

Comments are closed.