Times Cryptic No 27222 – Saturday, 15 December 2018. A Dickens of a time.

Those who like obscurities may have been disappointed – nothing here was new even to me (although the male ferret was lost in the distant reaches of memory). On the other hand, there were lots of clever clues, so it was an enjoyable solve. I didn’t record the time, as this was an “over lunch” exercise.

I was amused by Mr Dickens appearing in successive clues, and my clue of the day was perhaps 17dn.

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Rabbits who enlivened TV programme? (4,4)
CHAT SHOW: CHATS (rabbits), HOW (anagram – “enlivened” – of WHO).

6 Win over millions after westward attack across sierra (6)
DISARM: RAID (attacked) is reversed (“westward”) and “across” S (phonetically, Sierra), then all that is followed by M (millions)

9 Siberian city‘s written matter, with adequate binding (4)
OMSK: MS (written matter), “bound” by OK (adequate).

10 Vagrant outclasses no-hopers (4,6)
LOST CAUSES: anagram (“vagrant”) of (OUTCLASSES*).

11 Plant spread easily in awkward position (10)
CORNFLOWER: FLOW (spread easily) in CORNER (an awkward position).

13 Crook‘s dabs on phone (4)
FLEX: (“on phone”) sounds like FLECKS.

14 Relatively buoyant container with loose lining (8)

16 Tourist’s first hold-up, one believes (6)
THEIST: T[ourist], HEIST.

18 Unbalanced shot bags ferret (6)
PHOBIC: a HOB is a male ferret. Put him in a PIC.

20 Dispensed with for duration of broadcast (5,3)
THREW OUT: when “broadcast”, sounds like THROUGHOUT (for duration of).

22 Mark close to bedside put off alarm (4)
SCAR: take E, the close to [bedsid]E, off SCARE.

24 Basic quality ultimately needed in lackey (10)

26 Drawing, not good, featuring current pioneering drug (10)
PENICILLIN: put I, the electrical symbol for current, in PENCILLIN[g] without the final G for “good”. To be fair, “i” for current should be in lower case.

28 A qualified teacher, retired? (4)
ABED: our teacher might be A B.Ed.

29 British artist leading religious school forward (6)
BRAZEN: B for British, R.A. as an artist, ZEN.

30 Most haughty French novelist from foreign parts (8)
PROUDEST: anagram of (PROUST*), parted by DE (French for “from”).

2 Alternative therapist in love course (9)
HOMEOPATH: HOME (in), O (love), PATH (course).

3 Had understood (5,2)
TAKEN IN: double definition.

4 Area in public building conforming to Islamic law (5)
HALAL: A for area in HALL.

5 Women’s best classes used to be (3)
WAS: W for women, A’s for best class marks. I was a little unsure about this answer, even after I had the helpers. Not sure why!

6 Tree-trimmer perhaps the type to make Christmas speech? (9)

7 Scrap box for article in sale (7)
SCUFFLE: take SALE and replace the article “A” by “CUFF”.

8 Early magistrate turning up the day before queen (5)
REEVE: EVER (the day before), ER (queen); all reversed (“turning up”).

12 Material from journalist qualifying for booby prize? (7)
WORSTED: WORST (qualifying for booby prize), ED (journalist).

15 One’s introduced fake coin in US (fifty imported) (9)
INCLUSION: anagram (“fake”) of (COIN IN US*) with an L (fifty) imported.

17 Runs through and stabs heartless Dickensian master (9)
SQUANDERS: Wackford Squeers is the schoolmaster in Nicholas Nickelby. Drop the middle “E” and replace it by “AND”. The definition is “runs through” one’s allowance, for example.

19 Frenchman behind bars, Republican held by priest in Dickens (7)
BERLIOZ: R for Republican inside ELI (the priest), then all that inside BOZ (Dickens’ pen name). The bars he’s behind are of course musical, not iron!

21 Set upon course of action, ring up (7)
WAYLAID: WAY (course of action), DIAL (ring) backwards (“up”).

23 First couple of children always bringing happiness (5)
CHEER: CH from CH[ildren], E’ER (always).

25 Had enough for rail, nothing more (3,2)
RAN TO: RANT (rail), O (nothing).

27 Verge to trim, about to be overlooked (3)
LIP: CLIP (trim) without the C (about).

22 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27222 – Saturday, 15 December 2018. A Dickens of a time.”

  1. I had trouble with JAUNTIER, SCUFFLE, & LOI FLEX, as I recall. The one thing I remember from ‘Nickleby’ is Dickens’s description of Squeers: “Mr. Squeers’ appearance was not prepossessing. He had but one eye, and the popular prejudice runs in favour of two.”

    Edited at 2018-12-22 06:12 am (UTC)

  2. Had to cheat to get FLEX as my LOI. Very annoyed afterwards as I had suspected this was to be a pangram and by that stage I only needed an X to confirm it.
  3. No need for an appeal to the patron saint of lost causes, but I did take 38 minutes. I started like a house on fire, to get bogged down for a while in SW before finishing in NE with LOI FLEX. I also took some time getting to SQUANDERS from Wackford Squeers, certainly the most memorable schoolmaster in Dickens. That could have been COD, but I’ll give it to BERLIOZ for composing his own name so skilfully. Thank you B and setter. “A merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!”
  4. 35 minutes, some nice stuff in this, best was Berlioz for “man behind bars” which I only saw once his name seemed the only answer. Thanks for blog.
  5. I enjoyed this and most went in quite quickly. But SCUFFLE my SLOI took a while and FLEX, my LOI, took nearly 5 minutes longer. I liked the seasonal DECORATOR and the neat HOMEOPATH and LOST CAUSES, but COD to BERLIOZ. Thanks blogger and setter. 27:16
  6. 14:32. No problems as far as I can remember. I can never remember which quaintly-named Dickens character is which but that usually doesn’t matter, as was the case here.
    I dislike the term ‘alternative’ when applied to quack nonsense but it’s a common usage so from a linguistic point of view I have to accept it I suppose.
          1. Their understanding may have no basis in fact, but I don’t think that can be considered disqualifying. Just think of all the usage we’d have to disregard.
  7. 51:38 I was a bit slow on this one, nothing seems too hard on reflection, maybe just not tackled in the right frame of mind. Rather neatly, first clue and FOI 1ac, last clue and LOI 27dn. COD 14ac.
  8. I’m applying to join the FLEX as LOI club. I found this puzzle quite chewy, taking 45:48 to solve. I started off with HALAL. WAS took a while to parse. BERLIOZ and SQUANDER were my favourite clues, Wackford Squeers being one of the Dickens characters I do remember. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  9. Did this in spare moments while travelling all day up to a Christmas choral concert in London, so no time recorded. But I loved lots of this puzzle. Some really neat and enjoyable clueing, IMHO. The tight “had understood”; tricky, but fair, substitution in SCUFFLE; ABED – ha, ha; clever homophones for THREW OUT and FLEX; “man behind bars”, and so on.
    I was quick onto Squeers, so that was no trouble and “early magistrate” = REEVE was a write-in. Took ages to see INCLUSION (couldn’t see the anagrind, nor the use of the word as a *countable* noun).
    Great puzzle.
    Many thanks for elucidating it all, brnchn.
  10. After a long search I have managed to find the puzzle from last Saturday’s paper,only to realise I solved what I could online.
    Despite a recent bout of Dickens reading ( Bleak House and Great Expectations) and visits to the museum at Rochester, I was defeated by both the Dickens clues.
    DNK the ferret and am still a bit puzzled by FLEX.
    FOI was REEVE so I have learnt something from the 19th century.
    Never mind, onward and upward -have we got Dean tomorrow?
  11. I didn’t record my time for this one, which is probably just as well. I managed to make a right dog’s breakfast of it by entering TALK SHOW as my FOI (well, it fits perfectly!) and less forgivably putting BRASSY in for 29a without fully parsing it, then convincing myself that BERLIOS and “Bos” were what I was looking for in the crosser. D’oh.

    Once I’d sorted all that lot out, I managed to transcribe and submit it online having missed out the middle letter of 27d. Sigh.

    FOI not sure, given that it *wasn’t* 1a CHAT SHOW, LOI as with others, I see, 13a FLEX. Enjoyed 12d and 19d once I’d finally spelled everything properly. Thanks to setter and Bruce.

  12. I forgot to time this but it was about 35 minutes with at least 5 minutes spent on SCUFFLE and FLEX, my last ones in. Completed this morning – an enjoyable rest in an otherwise hectic weekend. Ann
      1. I’m glad you’re enjoying them. I read them in one gulp, as it were. Completely hooked now and waiting for the next.

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