Times Cryptic No 27064 Thursday, 14 June 2018 La Viande Rose

I don’t think I really want to admit how long this took*, but it was simply ages. A partial excuse is that the execrable Love Island was playing in the background (don’t ask). But I think it’s also because it’s a bit of a cracker with some excellent and fresh-looking clues (though with a few run-of-the-mill bits scattered throughout). There might be a story in the grid about a transvestite official in flimsy red silk underwear and a lot of make-up (and a surprisingly masculine hat) being carried  to a Gay Pride demo in the middle of town, singing about not regretting anything while under the influence. But I don’t think that counts as a Nina.
I eventually unravelled everything (I think) and present it here with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS
*Oh alright, 40 minutes, longest of the week so far.

1 Clothing becomes a zombie? (6)
UNDIES Well, yes. Zombies are the undead, so in the process of becoming one, one un-dies.
4 Very fine service held in turn by energetic type (8)
GOSSAMER Service is MASS. Held in turn means you must reverse it in the clutches of GOER, your energetic type.
10 Green stuff, the ultimate in style on woman’s accessory (7)
HERBAGE The last letter of stylE on HER BAG, woman’s accessory
11 What Marxists, without vote, destroyed? (7)
TSARISM  &lit of quality. Anagram (destroyed) of MARXISTS without the X (vote). “They’ve shot the Tsar. And all his family. Oh, that’s a savage deed. What’s it for?”
12 Not the first to follow some lamb (4)
RACK Knock off the first letter of TRACK, follow
13 Appears to include some verse for beauty (10)
COMELINESS You can be forgiven for entering SEEMLINESS, which is as good an answer, but it’s COMES for appears enveloping LINES of verse.
15 Cause obstruction and be evasive? Nothing original in that (9)
STONEWALL Be evasive is STALL, insert 0 (nothing) NEW (original)
16 One says horses eat sparingly at odd intervals (5)
GRAZE Not an odd letter clue, but a sounzlike (one says). Some horses are GREYS.
18 Civic leader in Scots region always moving backwards (5)
MAYOR Foxed me for ages,  though it was the obvious answer. Take the Scottish region of MORAY and move the AY (always) part way back.
19 Childish amusement is best, as one is taken by surprise (9)
PICKABACK Best gives you PICK,  then as one is (when) taken by surprise gives ABACK. Not necessarily childish? (Discuss)
21 Community hub in west of Lewes, for example (4,6)
TOWN CENTRE Oh, now, this is clever. LEWES is a TOWN whose CENTRE is W(est). So if you will, the W(est) of LEWES is…
23 In extremes of volume, backing excellent singer (4)
PIAF No. Not V and E, but P and F, soft and loud in music notation. Add “in” AI “backing” for the legendary Edith.
26 Egyptian gem, not British, put on old woman as beautifier (7)
MASCARA  I think a SCARAB is the only exclusively Egyptian gem I know. Remove the B(ritish), nearly always a good idea, and tack on to MA, your old woman
27 Struck with small glove (7)
SMITTEN Wow, an easy one! S(mall) plus MITTEN
28 Rage shown by not half fierce newcomer (8)
STRANGER Rage is clearly ANGER. Add STR as half of a word that could mean fierce. I offer you strait, strict, and strong.
29 Quiet place to take hallucinogen (6)
PLACID PL for place and ACID for Timothy Leary’s hallucinogen of choice, LSD

1 He used to teach an assortment of pronouns (5)
USHER The (rather small) assortment of pronouns is US and HER.  Bet you didn’t know that’s an old term for a teacher.
2 Woman priest unknown in guide (9)
DIRECTORY (Almost)  sadly, our woman is our old friend and possibly England’s Rose DI. The priest is a RECTOR, and the unknown is Y.
3 The spirit of melancholy (4)
ELAN Right there in the front-middle  of mELANcholy. “Of” is all you’re getting to suggest inclusion. “Life is but a melancholy flower” (sung to the tune and in the style of “Frere Jaques”
5 Porridge no one eats? (7)
OATMEAL No one eats because there’s 0 AT MEAL
6 Announced maximum size increase that’s for closure of letter (7,3)
SEALING WAX If you say CEILING (maximum) you hear SEALING, and add WAX for size increase, as in ….and wane
7 One clad in extra silk (5)
MOIRE Unaccountably my last in. 1 (one) in MORE. I knew that was silk, I did, I did.
8 What’s available for upmarket southern cooking? (4,5)
RUMP STEAK Ferociously hidden anagram (cooking) of UPMARKET and  S(outhern). Another pretty decent &lit
9 Iron Lady’s headgear (6)
FEDORA This time the lady is DORA and iron, of course FE. Of course, Maggie never wore one, as she couldn’t abide the idea of fedora states of Europe.
14 Her clean-up arranged in mischievous spirit (10)
LEPRECHAUN  Hooray! An obvious anagram (“arranged” – how much more explicit do you want) of HER CLEAN-UP.  Still took me an unconscionable amount of time.
15 Arab doctors turn up occasionally (9)
SOMETIMES A fabulous total reveres, of SEMITE MO’S. Arabs are Semites too, and some (military) doctors are Medical Officers
17 Reverting to the ancient Bible — one’s in Greek (9)
ATAVISTIC Today’s word you knew but not what it meant. Nothing to do with blue aliens, but what it says.  The Bible here is the King James AV, add 1S for ones and insert in ATTIC for Greek
19 Battery food item one throws up? (7)
PANCAKE I think this is just a CD, battery referring to the source of eggs one mixes with flour and milk, fries, tosses and scrapes up of the floor.
20 Church to be put up in the shade (6)
CERISE Church is the common enough CE (Church of England) and you derive RISE by squinting a bit at to be put up (in). Insert part a into part b
22 Almost want head of state to be less silly (5)
WISER  And here’s ‘ER in Windsor. Almost want is WIS(h). In the case of a certain other head of state, I fear it’s a forlorn sentiment
24 Brandy distiller initially penalised (5)
FINED FINE is common or garden French brandy. Add the initial D of Distiller
25 Raised edge on large tablet (4)
PILL  Edge is LIP, “raise” it and attach a L(arge)

52 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27064 Thursday, 14 June 2018 La Viande Rose”

  1. with long pauses to think whether now was the time to throw in the towel. But somehow (biffing helped) I got through. I got 21ac right off, but put in CITY instead of TOWN, which made 15d even harder to get; in fact, I never got it, I biffed it, solving post-submission. But I had to come here for Z’s explanation to get MAYOR (fixated on Ayr), OATMEAL (I thought of Dr. Johnson, but that didn’t help), and WISER. I thought the priest of 2d was going to be good old Eli, which suggested Elizabeth, which leads nowhere. I also thought ‘battery food’ might mean chicken, which was as helpful as Elizabeth. All in all, a toughie that I was pleased to have finished.
  2. Or a cracker, as our esteemed blogger has it. But, beg your pardon, I certainly knew what ATAVISTIC means (it’s a word I’ve been known to throw at religious nuts). I also didn’t see LEPRECHAUN at first, and didn’t remember the old term for “piggyback” for the longest time (my POI: penultimate one in). Loved the clue for MARXISTS, and the cleverness of 21 and 5. UNDIES is hilarious. My last one in was PANCAKE, which also made me laugh, though the surface is none too smooth.

    Edited at 2018-06-14 02:51 am (UTC)

  3. A long 30 minutes, the obvious anagram but still tricky leprechaun second LOI before stonewall. Really liked undies, the word in the grid as well as the clue. The pick though, when the penny finally dropped, was batter-y. Beating out Tsarism and oatmeal.
  4. Gosh, that was a brain stretcher! For a while I thought it would mean a DNF for me but I plugged away and got there. Thank you, Z, especially for ATAVISTIC, RACK, MAYOR, PLACID, TOWN CENTRE and USHER.
    There were some very clever clues , especially for PIAF, UNDIES, SEALING WAX and OATMEAL but my favourite was SEMITE MOs! I once bought a Concise OED from the English language section of a bookshop in Riyadh when I lived there in the 80s. The word ‘Arab’ had been censored; obscured by a neat rectangle of white paper. By holding the page up to the light I could see the problem which was the definition: ‘one of the Semitic peoples’.
    1. Odd; I’ve seen a number of disclaimers of anti-Semitism of the form, “How can I be an anti-Semite? I am a Semite!”
      1. Yes, it’s one of the quirks of the Engliosh language, isn’t it, that Semitic can mean both Arabic and Hebrew while to be anti-Semitic is to be only anti-Jewish.

        Edited at 2018-06-14 05:48 am (UTC)

  5. Ground my way through this inventive puzzle in 49:17 but with UTHER at 1d where I was baffled by the definition, so a DNF. Didn’t see the parsing for MAYOR, so put it in and took it out several times. Thanks setter and Z.

    Edited at 2018-06-14 05:20 pm (UTC)

  6. I may have appreciated this more if I had not been so tired when I tackled it at midnight. I retired hurt after about 30 minutes having nodded off more than once and with only 5 or 6 words in the grid. On returning to it this morning I made steady progress but had limited time available so I resorted to aids for a couple of answers and then wished I hadn’t as there were “Doh!” moments to be appreciated and I missed out on them (DIRECTORY, and PANCAKE even more so).

    My only gripe is about 1ac where I would argue that two examples of anything is NOT ‘an assortment’. With such an obscure straight definition, the wordplay should at least have been accurate.

    Edited at 2018-06-14 06:53 am (UTC)

    1. I wondered about an assortment of two. My conclusion was that two might technically be an assortment but no one would ever refer to it as such.
      1. In my experience the assortment of two is the coffee cream and the hazelnut twirl. Life is like a box of chocolates, only someone else ha nicked the caramels and fudge ones, and indeed anything worth the nibble.
        1. Consider yourself lucky. My assortment’s normally the strawberry cream and the orange cream.
    2. Just suggesting .. usher is an overlapping assortment of 3 … us, she, her
      (need to get signed up to comment properly)
      1. 4 actually; US, SHE, HE and HER
        The more haste the fewer pronouns 😉


  7. 45 mins then gave up on the 19ac/dn combo.
    Yes, these are real lyrics – to the fabulous Chicken Payback by The Bees.
    Well, I thought this was a great crossword – with tight, witty cluing, and it deserves to have floored me.
    Note to self: get better at spotting cryptic definition clues.
    Mostly I liked: Undies, Mayor, Piaf, Placid, Fedora, Wiser and COD to Oatmeal.
    Thanks clever setter and Z.
  8. I thought this a fine offering that pushed me for the best part of a commute this morning. I thought GRAZE was particularly good where surely the setter intended the misdirection of “at odd intervals”. But yet again as recently my COD goes to a cryptic definition in PANCAKE – “Battery food item” is a superb definition.
  9. 27m today for this excellent offering. Thanks Z for the parsing of Town Centre and Pancake, neither of which I could really justify.
  10. I blame this confusion for taking 55 minutes. Even so, this was a toughie for Thursday. I’ve never said PICKABACK but was dimly aware of the expression. Was that from Enid Blyton, I wonder? COD to TOWN CENTRE, although having played football for Ditchling for a couple of years, I approached it through the highways and byways of East and West Sussex. Je ne regrette rien about how long 23a took for the centime to drop. LOI PLACID. I just didn’t turn on or tune in to this good puzzle, but I nearly did drop out. Thank you Z and setter.
  11. 44′ 03” for this stinker. Put in SEEMLINESS, as z notes, which messed things up. I have been a child, but never heard of PICKABACK – which I now understand means PIGGYBACK – which can be a childish amusement but has several other, more practical, meanings. PANCAKE/PICKABACK last in. I have been a teacher too, but never heard of USHER. Did not parse GRAZE, so thanks. Thanks z and setter.
  12. Brilliant and difficult puzzle that required real hard work to unravel. Several laugh out loud moments including the battery pancake and the living smalls. TSARISM is excellent and amazingly I don’t recall seeing it before.

    Thank you setter and very well played z8

  13. 28 minutes for this, ending with the top left corner, and much amused when I saw why pancake was pancake, my COD. Is there online somewhere a list of uxbridgeisms from ISIHAC?
    Pick a back looked a bit weird, I always thought it was piggyback.
    1. Indeed there is: try www . alspcs . com/main . html. If you are on Facebook, there is an I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue appreciation group which carries on the traditions with varying success.
  14. Having struggled for some time to finally get PICKABACK (which I would also only ever call a piggyback, hence my slowness), the penny dropped, rather like the item itself, for PANCAKE. After that, it was extra-disappointing to realise that I’d put in the semi-parsed and unjustifiable LOVELINESS, making my other efforts all in vain. Anyway, some fine clues here, as eloquently explained above.
  15. This is an example of the reason we do the puzzle. Sometimes Marxists indeed. Thank you setter. You too, Z.
    (and, at 15d I think you want to reverse the “es” at the end of reveres so that total worship (albeit deserved) becomes total reverse (more literally true) )
  16. Just under 30 minutes, but having biffed LOVELINESS at 13ac, didn’t think of going back to parse it. It was good to see Semitic being used properly – the Hamitic and Japhetic races now seem to be forgotten! (and the authors of the Flood sequel were evidently unaware of any oriental peoples) Spent far too long trying to find something from odd letters in 17ac, and never did parse 16ac, delayed by having biffed DIRECTRIX at 2dn, though it was clear what was needed when I had another look.
  17. Well I managed to do most of this in 25 mins, but was left with 3 clues (19’s and 20d) for an age. Having never heard of PICKABACK that made it rather hard. Should have got CERISE mind you, which would have perhaps given me pickaback, but in the end I was forced to use helpers. I notice no-one has commented on the strange STR bit of STRANGER – seems an odd lapse in an otherwise excellently constructed crossword.
      1. I thesaurus-checked it after completion, and only STRONG came up. I thought it a very poor clue.
        1. I read ‘not half’ to mean ‘less than half’, Philip. Otherwise, surely the setter would just have said ‘half’?
          1. But ‘not half’ is an expression, and if X lacks half, it has (the other) half. QED, or something. And I’m pretty sure that ‘not half’ has been used before to clue that half a word is unused.
          2. I read “not half” to mean that half was there and the other half wasn’t. Just an attempt by the compiler to make things less obvious !
    1. I thought there were at least 3 words that could be stretched to a fierce definition from STR***. But it IS an odd one, where you don’t have to worry too much about the detail to be de-tailed. Generous of the setter, I thought
  18. A somewhat mixed bag which I completed in 18:06 with an awful lot guessed or taken on trust.

    FOI GOSSAMER, followed by a brief attempt to justify “cabbage” at 10A – luckily I resisted, as I often do with green vegetables.

    Thanks Z for throwing the required light on MAYOR and PANCAKE.

    LOI USHER which I didn’t know in this context.

    COD FEDORA – the vision of Mrs.T wearing one made me chuckle. Also liked TSARISM and UNDIES.

    Was less keen on STRANGER (see above), and PICKABACK (always PIGGYBACK to me).

  19. This was going along all right until the last few – well, maybe more than a few – which seemed to take forever. PLACID & ATAVISTIC (yes, put me down as knowing it but not its meaning) dropped after a while, but PANCAKE (battery! Brilliant), PICKABACK (never heard of it), SEALING WAX & GRAZE (LOI) took a long time. 19m 14s. COD to the Marxists in 11a.
  20. Was it just me or did anyone else think 29A was Shroom rather than Placid for quite a while?
  21. 13:57. A solve of two halves for me: everything in the north-east half of the puzzle very quickly, the rest much more slowly. Excellent stuff throughout. Loved the zombies, TSARISM, ‘battery food item’, TOWN CENTRE.
    Like anon above I had SHROOM for a while at 29ac. Works fine!
    SEALING WAX reminded me of Puff the Magic Dragon. When I was a kid I used to wonder what ‘ceiling wax’ was.

    Edited at 2018-06-14 11:55 am (UTC)

  22. Did anyone else confidently put in shroom? I know it’s a bit down with the kids for the times, but I liked it.
  23. 95 minutes, but worth every second for this gem – most enjoyable puzzle in weeks for me. Still, ended up being a DNF yet again with the very original ‘somatimes’ for ‘Arab doctors’. Oh, dear.

    There’s always tomorrow.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  24. Mr Grumpy here. This was far too good for me. I gave up at about 66% .My only gripe was with 28a, and also ‘mayor’ – not because of the definition, but because you are actually moving the ‘ay’ forward, not back. Or is that just me?
  25. I get what you’re saying, but if you lay out 5 Scrabble tiles as M O R A Y along a line on the board, you then move A and Y back along the line to get M A Y O R. Back towards the front?
  26. Thanks all for my welcome yesterday, although I fear my confidence has been knocked rather today! Didn’t get CERISE or PANCAKE…and 17d baffled me. And I certainly didn’t help matters by putting REPOSE (repos=place,E=hallucinogen) instead of PLACID. Nonetheless, most enjoyable. Will keep on keeping on. Thanks setter and blogger for showing me the error of my ways 🙂
    1. Keep going Lucy. This was nobody’s idea of an easy puzzle. You have to show a lot of patience, try to remember the things you hadn’t seen before, and accept that there are times when you will just be completely flummoxed. I’ve been doing these for 40 years now, and if you read my posts you’ll see that I STILL miss stuff and guess things. Nobody EVER finishes every puzzle (except Magoo aka Mark Goodliffe who wins the Championship every year !) but sometimes there is even a perverse pleasure in being beaten by a really clever clue.
  27. I do wish our blogger wouldn’t call 40 minutes “ages”, although I got through this one in 38. All very enjoyable, though I failed to get the parsing behind “PANCAKE” – now I’m not sure whether to smile or groan. I did spend a while with “pilus” at 7d, which was a bit tenuous but met the requirements of the clue. I also hesitated over PICKABACK, as I’m familiar only with the related “piggyback”. Sadly, a combination of knees and BMI mean that I’m not suitable for either role in that particular game.

    Excellent puzzle, and thanks to the setter and (“ages” notwithstanding) our blogger.

    1. Well it’s all rather relative. I’m one of those fortunate enough (normally) to get within 5 minutes either way of the average time. Today for a long time (measured in hours this time) I was last on the board bar those who had positive integers in the errors column. So it was a long time for me.
      Still, I take your point and will try to moderate a bit.
      Something I might bear in mind when one of your (fabulous) colleagues warns me “this might sting a bit” “you may feel some slight discomfort” “you’ll be up and about in no time”.
      1. I’ve tried the alternative approach of “frankly, this is going to hurt like absolute b*ggery”, on the theory that they might then be relieved when it doesn’t – but it seems to have the opposite effect. Strange thing, psychology. Now I usually just fall back on “just a little prick with a needle”.
  28. Good stuff. Tough to boot. I needed 45 minutes at lunchtime and still had the leprechaun, the two 19s and town centre to get. They fell in 3 mins after work. Grateful for the parsing of town centre, the explanation of battery and clarification as to the definitions of fine and usher. It didn’t help that I had a rather thoughtless rump stake in at 8dn for a while, which of course must be something completely different.

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