Times Cryptic No 27226, Thursday, 20 December 2018 When’s the coach due?

Oh now come on, this was not difficult, unless you know neither the spy nor the poet at 16 down. I, however, buoyed perhaps by the mighty Spurs’ triumph over A***nal, managed to breezily muck it up by not making the required substitution in 24 and earning a pink square, meaning that my 13.28 counts for nothing in the great scheme of things. There are three clues which could very nearly be refugees from the Concise, so not-very-cryptic is their construction. I freely admit there were a few clues I only fully worked out while writing up my report: I rather think this set of clues encouraged a fairly whizzy approach.
With clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS indicated, here’s what I thunk.

[(click to open)]

1 Modifying Tredegar flat, he produces a ruler (6,3,5)
ALFRED THE GREAT You don’t need to know anything about Tredegar* to solve this, as it’s blindingly obvious it’s part of the anagram (“modifying”) material together with flat he. It’s going to be someone THE something, and no regnal numbers are apparent, and ALFRED emerges pretty easily.
*But I’m going to tell you anyway: South Wales birthplace of Ni Bevan, Neil Kinnock, 6 time snooker world champion Ray Reardon, and Anterior, “five-piece melodic death metal band”. There’s lovely.
9 Old coach’s steady application (9)
DILIGENCE A double definition, the first a C18/9 stage coach with a French accent
10 Restrained by cleric, one cross, spiteful woman (5)
VIXEN one I cross X is restrained by VEN, an abbreviated clergy title
11 Lovely, not old, American, stuff (5)
GORGE Take GORGEOUS for lovely, knock off O(ld) US
12 Star beginning to undertake a month in South Africa (9)
SUPERNOVA Beginning to undertake: U, a: PER, month NOV(ember) surrounded by S(outh) A(frica)
13 The writer returned barking mad? Hard cheese! (8)
EMMENTAL The writer is ME, reversed, and stacked on to MENTAL for mad.
15 Indulge group surrounding the senior officer? (6)
COSSET The C(ommanding) O(ficer)’S SET
17 Gradually increase backing for disheartened stooges (4,2)
STEP UP Stooges are PUPPETS, knock out the middle P “heart” and reverse
19 Line adopted by stout ship’s officer, one sharing accommodation (8)
FLATMATE That’ll be a FAT MATE cuddling a L(ine)
22 Repeat ceremony involving European count (9)
REITERATE Ceremony is RITE, insert E(uropean) add RATE for count
23 Runner given work in the French Resistance (5)
LOPER Work is OP, the French is LE, resistance is R. Assemble in recognisable order.
24 Best to drop round for high-class German meat product (5)
WURST I forgot to replace the O of WORST (for best as in beat) with the high-class Mitford U.
25 Structure in which workers build the cells? (9)
HONEYCOMB Just a cryptic definition, worker bees, obviously
26 Paid holiday assigned, interrupted by forest fire (9,5)
GARDENING LEAVE Hold on, let me work this out. Right. The forest is ARDEN, the fire INGLE, the pair surrounded by assigned: GAVE. Arden is real, but beat known perhaps from As You Like It. Gardening leave is essentially a euphemism for being sacked/told not to come into work.
1 In state of hostility Grandad gets war wound (2,7,5)
AT DAGGERS DRAWN Wound indicates the ravelling process applied to GRANDAD GETS WAR
2 A pivotal point in securing a purchase (7)
FULCRUM Almost a cryptic definition. Chambers “the prop or fixed point on which a lever moves or pivots”
3 English see eye to eye only briefly? That’s a bore (5)
EAGRE E(nglish) plus AGREe cut short
4 Cask remains at home, opened by a North African (8)
TUNISIAN Cask TUN, IS IN for remains at home, A interjects
5 Former eastern politician getting the first of these free (6)
EXEMPT EX for former, E for eastern, MP for politician, T from the first (letter) of These
6 The banker’s craft? (9)
RIVERBOAT Another barely cryptic definition, obvious when you remember that banker turns up for river often enough
7 Jittery head of athletics with intelligence about team (7)
ANXIOUS Head of athletics A, intelligence NOUS, team XI. Assemble
8 In part of hospital, supporter like Ivan — a horror! (6,8)
ENFANT TERRIBLE More French. Part of hospital is the E(ars) N(ose) and T(hroat) section, into which you place FAN for supporter. Tsar Ivan gained the epithet the TERRIBLE
14 Disgusted character sitting outside entrance to Ashmolean (9)
NAUSEATED The character you seek is the Greek NU, set alongside SEATED for – um – sitting, and getting outside A(shmolean)
16 Hiss new cricket side given Swinburne’s name? (8)
ALGERNON Famous for being (probably) a soviet spy in the US, ALGER Hiss takes on N(ew) and ON (the cricket side that isn’t leg) for poet Swinburne’s given name
18 Flag raised by one reigning over a small African state (7)
ERITREA TIRE for flag is reversed (raised), then one ruling, ER is reversed (over) and A concludes.
20 Drivers adopting measure of speed run over upturned jar (7)
AMPHORA The Automobile Association provides the AA, measure od=f speed MPH and R(un) O(ver) upturned are adopted or enclosed.
21 Possible Afghan way to crush a rebellion at last (6)
PATHAN Indeed, some Pathans are Afghani, but not all. Way: PATH takes on A and the last of rebellion.
23 Trusty texter’s amused response young adult initially received (5)
LOYAL The Times gets down with the kids and recognises LOL as laughs out loud in textspeak (and not lots of love as famously imagined by David Cameron). The initials of Young Adult are gratefully received.

63 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27226, Thursday, 20 December 2018 When’s the coach due?”

  1. Annoyed to be a few seconds over 10 minutes, which means close to a PB. My LOI because I couldn’t see it for about 30 seconds was GORGE of all things. I think I was overthinking it. I got a little distracted with the Afghan, convinced it was a hound or a dog. I had no idea what Swinburne’s name was but not only ALGERNON would fit, and then I saw the Hiss bit.
  2. All finished–or so I thought–at 7:30 or so, with just 26ac to do, and it took me 4 minutes of playing with the alphabet. I would have done better to have thrown in the towel, though, as I, too, typed in WORST–although I’d parsed the clue correctly–as well as INFANT. I had the feeling as I did this that I was biffing everything, but maybe only half the clues, including, of course, 8d. Bummer.
  3. 8d held me up as I initially thought ‘In part of hospital’ was INWARD. It was indeed Coward’ decription of ‘Goldeneye’ – ENT! so I ended up with 23 mins – I should have been nearer 17! But Hey ho!


    LOI 15ac COSSET

    COD 21dn PATHAN

    WOD ALGERNON (Hiss!)

    Now back to Unity Mitford.

  4. Just when I thought I’d be under 30 minutes for the first time ever. Stymied by GARDENING LEAVE. Thought it was MANDATORY until PASHAT became PASHAN and I finally saw ALGERNON. Ah well. 48 minutes.
  5. I needed about 17 minutes for this, all but 21dn where, if one knew the word it was surely a write-in, but as I didn’t I had to rely on wordplay and after another 5 minutes I came up with MASH (way to crush), A, {rebellio}N [at last]. To quote Kevin above, “bummer”!

    At last I know it’s Christmas as we’ve had a visit from one of Santa’s reindeer at 10ac. By this time last year I think we’d had most of the team.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 06:06 am (UTC)

    1. I learned of these folk from Michael Hordern, who goes on at some length about them in “How I Won the War”.
  6. 25 minutes, so one minute away from equalling my P.B., held up by having heard of neither Hiss nor Swinburne in 16d, and also not being too sure about trusting my wordplay for the unknowns 3d EAGRE and 21d PATHAN (I also thought of “mash”, Jack, and only just resisted it!) Still, a nice way of testing my speed-versus-not-fouling-it-up balance…

    I’ve just guiltily checked my bedside reading pile, and it looks like ALGERNON Swinburne is just a fraction too early to have got into The Great Modern Poets (it starts with Thomas Hardy, so they’re not all 1970s beatniks…) so I don’t feel so bad about not having opened this particular library book yet.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 07:05 am (UTC)

  7. 12:17… held up beyond the 10 minute mark by ALGERNON and PATHAN, my last 2 in. I’d never heard of Alger Hiss and knew only the near namesake jockey Swinburn’s first name, not the poet. So had to guess that and needed an alphabet trawl to come up with the vaguely remembered Afghani. Thanks Jack for pointing out the reindeer. I must look for the others over the coming days – their employer makes an appearance in the QC today. Thanks too to Z for the informative and entertaining blog, and our setter for the comfortingly straightforward puzzle.
    P.S. The aforementioned jockey suffered an extraordinary fate falling to his death from his bathroom window, as described here
    1. Thank-you for that information Mr. johninterred – I assumed at the time his horse was called Bathroom Window – wrong again Meldrew.
  8. 20 mins (with Bashan) with toast and home-made orange marmalade. Hoorah.
    DNK Hiss but did know Swinburne.
    Confused by the ‘crush’ bit of 21d, I eschewed the obvious way=path and went for Bash-an. There is somewhere called Bashan. Maybe an Afghan could once have come from there? Please?
    Thanks setter and Z.
    1. Anyone who has ever been to Passover knows about Og, the king of Bashan, the stand out mighty king overthrown at a critical point in the nation’s history. Don’t think he was connected with Afghanistan, mind.

  9. I was glad this one was so easy, as I did it all on my way to karaoke tonight and had time to take another look at Wednesday’s, which I haven’t finished—I haven’t found much time for these for several days now, and am way behind on Quickies (which I didn’t used to bother with).

    I first became aware of “diligence” in the sense here via Arthur Rimbaud’s prose poem “Villes” in Illuminations: “On ne voit pas de boutiques, mais la neige de la chaussée est écrasée ; quelques nababs aussi rares que les promeneurs d’un matin de dimanche à Londres, se dirigent vers une diligence de diamants.” (You don’t see any shops, but the snow in the road is trampled; some nabobs as rare as pedestrians on a Sunday morning in London are heading toward a diamond diligence.) It’s the same thing in French, dig, short for “carrosse de diligence.”

    Edited at 2018-12-20 03:54 pm (UTC)

  10. 16 minutes with LOI ALGERNON, when Alger Hiss at last came to mind. I didn’t know Swinburne’s first name, which I feel bad about. The shadow of McCarthyism was in the folk music of the early sixties where I cut my political teeth, although I’ve just read that McCarthy got going after the Hiss verdict. The whole thing brought a certain Richard Milhaus Nixon into prominence. PATHAN was known but my penultimate entry. No other problems on a very gentle puzzle, with RIVERBOAT as COD as that’s where I met my wife.
    1. Very close BW and I thought of that too. It’s actually MilhOus but that reminded me of a story my late father-in-law told of witnessing Nelson Rockefeller introducing Nixon at some Republican shindig (they didn’t like each other) and saying please welcome Richard – long pause while he waits for inspiration – E. Nixon.
      1. Sorry for the spelling, Olivia. I should have checked. I did for a time chair an American company quoted on the AIM part of the UK Stock Exchange, based in Yorba Linda. When I was first approached, I said I didn’t know anyone called Belinda.
  11. 6:28. Lots of biffing, with the bottom half proving just slightly less tractable than the top. Obviously I didn’t get held up for very long anywhere but it did take me longer than it should have to get 26ac, considering it describes my current employment status.
    I happened to know both Swinburne’s first name and the alleged spy, which I suspect saved me quite a lot of grief.
    Following the wordplay got me to INWARD TERRIBLE initially. If it had been just a shade less nonsensical I might have left it.
  12. 8 minutes, close to PB territory .. including all four of the long ones round the outside straight off .. there will be some very fast times today I think.
    Only in English could best mean worst and vice versa
    1. Only in England do people believe that linguistic features common to all languages are somehow unique to their own.
      Actually even this phenomenon isn’t just English: I know the French also think their language is uniquely wonderful, no doubt it’s universal 😉

      Edited at 2018-12-20 09:33 am (UTC)

  13. 14 minutes, with LOI Algernon correct but not parsed. Mr Editor, I have trouble enough knowing what day it is, and now am even more confused when Monday style puzzles turn up on a Thursday. Serve me right, you may say, for being retired and idle. When I have this hip fixed and am back to regular golf and walks, all will be well… we hope.
    Nice blog Z, especially the Tredegar guide.
  14. 10:43 including listening to a recorded BT message that wasn’t intended for me anyway. I am therefore claiming an honorary sub 10.
    As others have said a bit of a biffer’s paradise although the unknown poet was a guess from just the N+ON.
    Like our blogger, I am still revelling in the warm glow of last night’s result. I believe posting a triumphal selfie on Instagram is called for?
  15. I stuck fast on this because it was the dog that didn’t bark in the night – I kept expecting it to, not seeing that there really was nothing else to it. For various reasons Hiss, Nixon et al have been on people’s minds lately, not least because one of Roy Cohn’s henchmen (Cohn was counsel to McCarthy) named Roger Stone has emerged as, um, a fulcrum in the current investigations in DC and elsewhere. Someone (was it Ogden Nash?) wrote that something was something but WURST was worse. 15.55

    Did David C really think LOL was “lots of love”? – I’d missed that. Certainly made me LOL this morning.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 10:39 am (UTC)

        1. It all came to light when Rebekah Brooks was being grilled about her connections to DC as Prime Minister during the News of the World investigations. How we all laughed! DC got his revenge by blowing the country apart with his silly referendom stunt.

  16. 19 mins – so pretty quick for me. Didn’t know the spy but did know the poet. Actually this was a real biff-fest for me. The definitions were very helpful throughout this puzzle: ‘German meat product’ (5); ‘gradually increase’ (4,2); ‘disgusted’ (9); ‘pivotal point’ (7) begins with F; ‘a ruler’ (6,3,5) and several more. DNK EAGRE but wordplay was clear. I had PATHAN lingering vaguely in my consciousness somewhere, but again the wordplay fixed it. I also took a while over GORGE. I had the R checker from 2d, wanted the stuff to be ‘-ram’.
    Anyway, I enjoyed this — almost as much as I enjoyed the blog. Thank you, z8b8d8c.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 10:46 am (UTC)

  17. 18.08 with a typo at the end. Hoping for a record but failed on both counts. 1A and 1D being write-ins made for an easy start. ALGERNON the only unknown but it had to be that – the only Swinburne I know of is Walter….
  18. Walk in the park. Knew of Alger Hiss so ALGERNON a write in. Have come across the PATHAN before so not tempted by “mash”

    First time I can ever remember solving the 4 long clues around the outside as my 4 first entries into the grid

  19. Sometimes the daily puzzle is a marathon, other days it’s a sprint. As everyone else found, those long ones round the outside were especially generous. I still took the extra few seconds to make absolutely sure I wasn’t getting the WORST of the WURST; and I’d never heard of the DILIGENCE, but that was no barrier to biffing it. I was ready to be told that it’s one of those things which crops up in every other chapter of Georgette Heyer; anyway, one to go on the list with tonga and sulky and stanhope and their ilk.
  20. Undone by two unknowns, amazed that some could plump for that combination of letters faced with _L_E_NON, if they also did not know either party. 15 mins for the rest, thanks Blogger and Setter.
    1. At least the name is known to me as there’s a famous Algernon (Moncrieff) in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. Also the name crops up in a favourite short poem:

      On Mundane Acquaintances
      by Joseph Hilaire Pierre Belloc

      Good morning, Algernon: Good morning, Percy.
      Good morning, Mrs Roebeck. Christ have mercy!

  21. Only parsed a few such as COSSET and STEP UP post-solve, but pretty gentle and finished in just on 30 minutes.

    I liked the vaguely remembered and improbably named DILIGENCE which was my last in.

    Sterner stuff undoubtedly awaits.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  22. 12’04 but with the worst mistake. Didn’t seem right going in but on a kind of superlative biff-fest so didn’t return to it. Started a thesis once on Algernon Charles, poetry of, musical component therein, or something. Not too keen on “weak solutions” i.e. clues likely to be harder to parse than solve (e.g. 26), but one man’s worst etc. I wonder if we’ll get a poster, next general election, of a Jeremy freeze with caption READ MY LIPS.
  23. 11′ 54”, so flying today. Did not parse GORGE, LOI with crossed fingers. I realise now that all my life I have conflated PATHAN and PARTHIAN, as in parting shot. ERITREA is only slightly smaller than England (small formerly European country?). Why is the word REITERATE? Won’t ‘iterate’ do?

    Thanks z and setter.

    1. Somehow you reminded me of the time I was in a SF supermarket about to shovel some mixed greens into a bag, when I asked an employee who happened to be at hand if the greens had been washed. ‘Yes,’ he said; and after a short pause, explained, ‘They’re pre-washed.’
  24. So he could visit his FLATMATE. If you think that’s poor, you should have seen the quality of the cracker jokes at yesterday’s Altrincham FC Over 50’s Christmas dinner. On second thoughts, you really shouldn’t.

    This was right up my street, and, apart from parsing GARDENING LEAVE post-solve, it was a stroll.

    TIME 5:45

  25. Very easy. I came in at 12’23” but really feel I should have been quicker. An awful lot went in without really having to read the full clue.
  26. The only other Hiss is of course Sir Hiss the sneaky snake in the really-not-bad Disney version of Robin Hood. Voiced by Terry-Thomas I think. He briefly entered my mind before Cold War Washington asserted itself. I remember covering Alger Hiss’s death in around about 1992 (?).
  27. 18:25, but with the WORST mistake. Drat! At least I’m in esteemed company. 1a and 1d straight in and I was off. Didn’t remember the poet, spy or jockey and was blindsided by having a friend in the folk club called Ian Swinburne. I got the NON, however, and the crossers eventually gave me ALGERNON, a name forever impressed on my brain by the wonderful Flowers For Algernon. An enjoyable puzzle. Thanks setter and Z for the estimable blog.
      1. Traditionally, if he sees I’ve done quite well, he’ll turn up and show how it’s actually done. I’d anticipate about 2m30 😉
    1. I think this is the most demotivational thing I’ve ever read, V! Unless you’re a Cyborg.
    2. After 3 minutes, my computer had just about opened up the grid and accepted my first tentative taps.
      You do realise we are now expecting a negative time sooner rather than later (possibly in the middle of last week). Better get in copious quantities of Theakstons Old Peculiar for the attempt.

  28. Knew of Alger Hiss, but not who he was. First thought – the Vietnam lieutenant who killed everyone in the village. Major US scandal, whoever he was. Probably heard of via Hunter S Thompson, a noted Nixon non-fan.
    Straightforward, as everyone says. A bit surprised at enfant terrible being horror, confirmed via dictionaries. Here in Oz it’s usually an unconventional but admirable adult, rather than an embarrassing child.
  29. My dear Lord Verlaine – on a par with Bannister’s famous 3.59! Congrats to the man in the hat!
  30. Damn. PATHAN was a guess that I expected to be wrong, but turned out to be right. But then I had an inexplicable “infant terrible” at 8d.

    2:59 is insanely fast – congratulations, Verlaine!

  31. 17:45. Nice to see Monday’s puzzle finally turn up. Seriously though, if I’d known what a biff-fest this was going to be I wouldn’t have dawdled to ponder the parsing niceties of quite so many. This definitely had PB potential written all over it. Had forgotten Alger Hiss, though I’m sure he has appeared here before and could only think of Walter Swinburn, but who cares, faced with those checkers and NON at the end, what else was it going to be? Dnk the coach at 9ac but fairly confident with the rest of the clue and those checkers. Didn’t spot that sort of purchase required in the cryptic Def at 2dn but pivotal and word beginning with F was more than enough. The blogger earns my admiration for providing us with the correct parsing of Gardening Leave. Good grief! FOI 1ac. LOI 11ac. Always nice to get one you can whizz through and leave your brain behind at the door.
  32. In boys’ comics, whenever the scene shifted to the North-West Frontier, there were always wily Pathans (which my reading brain pronounced Pay -thnz, as in pythons) to be found. I later discovered that the other inhabitants of that region, the Pathans ( which on the radio were called P’tarns) were one and the same people. In Jennings and Derbyshire, my brain read aw-ree, and there was another spoken word a-rye, of very similar if not identical meaning, which I later discovered were both spelt awry. My wife had the same problem with Agatha Christie, who wrote wod-you-nits; she much later discovered that whodunit was pronounced who-done-it.
    1. Yes! I have a friend who had a very similar experience with the word she pronounced as “my-zelled” in her head and believed to be an entirely separate word from “misled” as spoken aloud, at least as far as her mid-forties 🙂
  33. Apologies if I’m misconstruing what you are saying, but the ‘on’ side actually IS the leg side in cricket? Mr Grumpy
  34. I’m still at the stage where just finishing the grown-ups version is a triumph (and still quite pleasing with the QC as well, if truth be known) so allow me my feeling of satisfaction after just a couple of hours of effort. If I could have parsed 17, 26ac, and 16d my joy would have been unbounded – well, not quite, but I’m sure you get the idea. Invariant
  35. Would’ve been a new record for me but admit had no idea who SWINBURNE was let alone HISS so had to look up the former. Sure someone must have pointed out already that ON is the cricket side that IS leg – OFF is the side that isn’t LEG. Otherwise this was a breezy romp.
  36. This was the train I solved the puzzle on. LOI was ALGERNON.
    Next time I’ll get an earlier train to try and catch Verlaine.
  37. Sorry to be so late but they really wanted me to work today. I got through easily enough, save for PATHAN, which I didn’t know and resolved to return to when all the checkers were available, but alas, I forgot. I don’t know what I would have guessed, it may have ended as BASHAN or MASHAN just as likely, so a DNF here. Regards.
  38. Appreciate very late on this as catching up post xmas.

    Had mashan, otherwise completed grid which is good for me. Think mashan would still be a legit answer as a google tells me there is a place called masha in Afghanistan, and mash is definitely a way to crush.

  39. More than three years later, completed this one online taking 8 minutes off my previous time.

    Still didn’t remember ALGER Hiss though!

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