Times Cryptic No 27250 Thursday, 17 January 2019 Pick any one of two

There’s rather a pleasant spread of general knowledge in this one in the sense that you probably have most of it knocking around not too far from the surface: places, people, flora, fauna, astronomy and medical stuff all being well below the level expected of (say) University Challenge, and in general, the wordplay being kind enough if you have to scrape around for the answers. I trundled through in 21.38, with 17 down resisting to the end only because I misread the first word of the clue as “any”. All in all, a calming antidote to the frenetic politics of the day, though 19 conjured up unbidden that extraordinary shot of the Tangerine One presiding over a table laden with fast food goodies on silver platters, presumably all stone cold by the time the victorious Clemson University Tigers got their teeth into them. We live in weird times.
3 across is unusual in that it has two perfectly good answers not resolved by the wordplay. Otherwise, I present my findings as usual with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS

[Click for enlightenment]


1 Vow of all trusty henchmen at the start (4)

OATH So we start off with a take the first letters clue, Of All Trusty Henchman
3 Mediterranean islander is swopping halves for stars (5,5)
CANIS MAJOR Take your Med islander, in this case a MAJORCAN, add the IS, split down he middle and swop over the two halves. No particular reason why it shouldn’t be the Minor version until 7d resolves the ambiguity.
9 Chap in Scottish resort’s spoken of postal system (7)
AIR MAIL The resort is Ayr, the chap therein is male, speak them out loud and ink in the result
11 Traveller to Hebridean islands crossing river (7)
TOURIST It’s TO (given in plain view) UIST (there are two of them, North And South, hence the plural) with R(iver) inserted. Think it works.
12 Pipes, say, relaid after landlord’s latest complaint (9)
DYSPEPSIA An anagram (relaid) of PIPES SAY tacked on to the last letter of landlorD
13 Animal that’s long occupying heart of Sahara (5)
HYENA  Well, it doesn’t actually occupy the Sahara, but you need the middle two letters (heart) of saHAra and YEN for long to be inserted
14 Meadow and fen almost completely rank (5,7)
FIELD MARSHAL Meadow supplies FIELD, fen MARSH and completely (almost) supplies AL(l)
18 Record view about contest with you once (7-5)
SEVENTY EIGHT Before vinyl span at 33⅓ or 45, shellac whizzed round at 78 rpm, challenging steel needles to extract recorded sound. Here our construction is view: SIGHT around contest: EVENT and YE representing you, as the clue says, once.
21 Far East city‘s very big area including a ski centre (5)
OSAKA Very big (OutSize) A(rea) containing the centre of sKi
22 Job-holder has to copy across fifth suggestion? (9)
APPOINTEE Clever this. Copy is obviously APE, the rest is provided by imagining the fifth suggestion would be POINT E
24 By end of round, Rocky’s knocked out (7)
DRUGGED End of round, plus RUGGED for Rocky ignoring the capitalisation
25 Get ready to fence section of kitchen garden (2,5)
EN GARDE Today’s hidden, fairly transparently, in kitchEN GARDEn. Perhaps helped by the split staying the same
26 Current number one in golf, masterful in play (4,6)
GULF STREAM A long-winded indication for G from Golf, plus an anagram (in play) of MASTERFUL
27 Old secretary left item in Hatton Garden? (4)
OPAL Hatton Garden is both a street and area synonymous with the jewellery (especially diamond) trade, so might contain opals, O(ld) PA (secretary) L(eft)

1 Cricket sides not consistent? (2-3-3)

ON-AND-OFF Effectively two definitions, though the first leads to an unhyphenated version
2 During the day, hives maybe given whitewashing (8)
THRASHED Hives here not the bee residences, but nettle RASH and other itchy inflictions. THE D(ay) doesn’t ask you for a specific, just to wrap the letters around the RASH
4 Range in the end lacking finish (5)
ATLAS In the end is AT LAST. Knock off the end for the mountain range opposite Gibraltar (and quite a lot east and west)
5 Travelling home, time flew: it’s strange! (2,7)
IN TRANSIT Home provides IN, T(ime) continues, flew gives RAN, and a strange version of IT’S gives SIT
6 Very tempting argument and how it developed (13)
MOUTHWATERING The anagram fodder to be developed is ARGUMENT + HOW IT. Took me  a while (and some helpful crossers) to organise.
7 Saw user maybe as clubbable type? (6)
JOINER A double definition the first from a tool of his trade
8 Furniture-maker’s revolutionary new aromatic oil (6)
RATTAN Not this time the person, but the material used derived from climbing palms of the same name seen in varieties of wickerwork. We derive it from N(ew) ATTAR (as in of roses) combine and reversed (revolutionary)
10 End user began originally to go after a cattle breed (8,5)
ABERDEEN ANGUS Took me until this point to see that it’s no more than an anagram of END USER BEGAN tacked on to an initial A
15 A Greek swimmer brings in wrong sign for czar (9)
ALEXANDER LEANDER nightly swam across the Hellespont (a tricky minimum of 1.2 kilometres) for love of the fair Hero. Add the A, insert an X (sign for wrong) and you end up with one of two Czars
16 Politically loaded material has a good supporter penning it (8)
AGITPROP A G(ood) supporter: PROP surrounds IT
17 Airy number with details every so often (8)
ETHEREAL Number in the sense of something that makes numb produces ETHER, to which you add the even letters of dEtAiL
19 Greyhound stadium’s favourite snack (3,3)
HOT DOG I think the clue splits as indicated, with the (red hot) favourite greyhound being the HOT DOG. That way you avoid arguments about hot dogs being more favoured than (say) salmonella burgers, pies or prawn sandwiches.
20 Offhand and cold as usual, ignoring our lot (6)
CASUAL C(old) plus As USUAL, disposing of US: our lot
23 Mary’s portrait of two Athenian characters (5)
PIETA A pieta is a depiction of Mary cradling her deceased son: we need Π and Η (that’s pi and eta to you) to construct our version.

63 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27250 Thursday, 17 January 2019 Pick any one of two”

  1. A PB in 15m 53s!! I’m therefore, not surprised that, at this very early stage, the Snitch rates it as Very Easy.
    I like GULF STREAM as it puts me in mind of the executive jet of that name and which I wish I had ready access to to whisk me away whenever I chose.
    1. Indeed, the plane is rather splendid. The promotional video online is quite predictable until the end, when you finally see a passenger, a grey-haired executive type sitting in one of those plush leather seats – the colour of one of Richie Benaud’s suits. He looks out of the window while travelling at 30,000 feet and, for no apparent reason, suddenly smiles at something he sees out there. It is this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that precludes me from ever being a HNWI.
      1. Two or three years ago we advertised our house in France in Country Life. In one of the editions that C.L. mailed us there was an article on what I would refer to as ‘jetiquette’: the do’s and dont’s of travelling by executive jet. I didn’t feel the need to keep the magazine as the chances of travelling in such luxury were and still are remote. Our house is still for sale…

        Edited at 2019-01-17 03:14 am (UTC)

        1. Martin
          We sold ours last October at a 20% loss after 8 years, my friend an agent says you’ll have trouble giving it away while this Brexit idiocy is on going. You’ll need a buyer from Belgium or the like.
          1. Hello Pip, I’m always fielding enquiries received through two websites the house is listed on but it rarely goes any further. Many of those enquiries have come from France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. I’ve now asked my notaire for un updated valuation. One difficulty is that the house is in joint names and Sue died last September so it may lead to complications in establishing succession.
      2. PS…..Re the Richie Benaud suit, was that ‘the bone, the ivory, the off-white or the beige’?!
        (I’m afraid that won’t mean much if you don’t know of the records made by “The Twelfth Man” (aka the Australian mimic, Billy Birmingham) In “Still the Twelfth Man” he has Richie’s wife ask which suit he wants that day…..)

        Edited at 2019-01-17 03:21 am (UTC)

  2. Didn’t know ATTAR (or its alternative ITTAR for that matter) but the former, at any rate, is a useful Scrabble word. I particularly enjoyed the clue for THRASHED, and chucked in CANIS MINOR at first, on the grounds that it was more likely to have a word beginning with N than J. How wrong can you be, as the wife is always pointing out. 15:45, so quick for me.
    1. How about ‘otto’? We’ve had that a couple of times, which is how I learned it’s a variant of ATTAR.
  3. No problems, although ‘suggestion’ cluing POINT took me a while, I’d never heard of Hatton Garden, and it took me a while to give up on ANDES. 3ac, 10d, 22ac, and 26ac all biffed. Actually, what I biffed at 26 was GULT STTEAM, giving me 2 unforced errors. Two weeks ago I had a series of stupid errors owing to perfunctory checking, and I had thought I’d learned to be more serious about checking before submitting; evidently not. Liked CANIS M, and the smooth surface of 24ac.
    1. “I had thought I’d learned to be more serious about checking before submitting; ”

      Something I say to myself every time I press submit.

      What I say to myself when the result is a less-than-100% green grid is best not mentioned
      Although it could often sound a bit like where rowers have their oars.

  4. Used to be we thought it got harder from Monday to Friday, but unless tomorrow is a stinker that pattern is broken this week. Maybe we’ll test the lower boundary of the SNITCH. Thanks for the blog, Z, I couldn’t for the life of me parse Appointee. Cute when you see it.
  5. And 19 mins on the Meldrew Scale so there will be quite a few sub ten minuters congratulating themselves.

    I was given to believe that any mention of ‘The Tangerine One’ was verboten here in Crosswordland, but like Zed noted he appeared in full view with his American Dream Factory repast at 19dn. Making America Grate again!

    FOI was a gimme at 1ac OATH

    LOI 8dn RATTAN the cane in Singapore. ‘Oil of Attar’ was much beloved by our Victorian forbears.

    COD 6dn MOUTHWATERING – nicely concealed anagram.

    WOD 18ac SEVENTY-EIGHT – most went to flowerpots!

    3ac CANIS MAJOR Was it Bill or was it Ben?

  6. Another very easy one but somehow more fun than the last couple of days. More interesting vocab perhaps.

    Good to be reminded of the old 78 records. My job at family gatherings in the 1940s was to wind the gramophone as the adults sung along with Al Bowlly

    1. We used to do Al Bowlly singalongs as well. Me at the piano and my brother with a megaphone he had acquired as a college rugby coach.
  7. I might’ve been quicker than 29 minutes if I’d not carelessly bunged AIR MALE in at 9a! D’oh. FOI 1a, finished up with 8d RATTAN after correcting my mistake led me to bung in the ATLAS that I’d thought of for 4d ages before and dismissed because it didn’t fit at the time.

    DNK pietà, but at least my rusty smattering of modern Greek includes the alphabet. Should’ve got 18a more quickly than I did, as my dad probably still has some shellac 78’s lying around somewhere. I was more a child of the cassette and CD era, but I have owned at least one record player with that extra third position alongside 33 and 45…

  8. No time to report as I made slow progress last night and nodded off with only about half completed. On resumption this morning I needed a further 18 minutes to finish the job.

    The CANIS clue was clever but a bit irritating as it was not possible to be sure of the answer until 7dn was in place, and 7dn was my last-but-one to go in.

    PIETA was unknown until recently when it turned up in a previous crossword.

    ‘ATTAR of roses’ was (and maybe still is) a very popular perfume for talcum powder etc, ever present on my mother’s dressing table.

    Edited at 2019-01-17 07:30 am (UTC)

  9. 5:35. An easy puzzle and I seem to have been on the wavelength. The only unfamiliar word was PIETA, and then only because I wouldn’t have been able to tell you exactly what it meant.
    I have absolutely no problem with ambiguity in a clue that is resolved by a checking letter. All in the game, as a wise man once said.
    Lots of cows this week.

    Edited at 2019-01-17 09:10 am (UTC)

  10. Having chucked in CANIS MINOR it didn’t ever occur to me that it might be wrong as it parsed so well. Maybe I should have done better as it was only in about the past week that I learned that Minorca and Majorca were so named for being a small one and a big one (OK, it is obvious but I’d just never considered it). Despite this it’s still my COD.
  11. My second sub 10 minute in the last 4 weeks and first one of the year. Happy Days! Helped by spotting most of the anagrams first time.


  12. 21 minutes with LOI ATLAS. The first record I ever bought was a 78, Frankie Vaughan’s Garden of Eden, second hand from a stall on Fleetwood Market. I got home and wound up the gramophone while the dog cocked his ear to the ear trumpet. Maybe I made the last bit up, I’m not sure. COD coincidentally to CANIS MAJOR. We’re due a stinker tomorrow. Thank you Z and setter for a pleasant puzzle.
  13. Not overly taxing, but enjoyable. Nothing I hadn’t encountered before (ATTAR is one of Those Words which went on my list long ago). Thought CANIS MAJOR was very good, although I only saw it after I’d already got the JOINER, so the ambiguity never occurred to me until I came here.

    There were 78s in the house when I was growing up, presumably inherited by my parents from their parents. Sadly, I recall them as being quite fragile, or at least too fragile to survive a house with three children.

  14. Yes, easy .. but some pretty clues, really liked 25ac, 26ac and 3ac too.
    Never had any 78s myself but my father did, and yes, fragile they were .. never forgotten his dismay when I trod on his Tom Hark [on edit: the link is well worth listening to but you need to be patient, slow to get going!]

    Edited at 2019-01-17 09:52 am (UTC)

  15. Romped through this only to see that I’d misspelled Dyspepsia, with an i sted y. Teach me to race the clock. Many clues were super-biffable, and I only see now how they work. Is it coincidence we have Aberdeen Angus a couple of days after Hereford Cattle? I thought 26 Ac — Gulf Stream – was very clever.
  16. 8.31 though I was tempted to press submit at 7.58 for a PB but decided that a thorough check of the grid would be wise. Just as well because I had fouled up my LOI JOINER. ATTAR brought back memories of my first year at secondary school when the choir sang excerpts from Trial By Jury and I first encountered otto. In the late 50s my brothers and I would gather round my grandmother’s radio phonograph and sing along to Paul Robeson on 78s. Enjoyable solve and a nice way to start the day.

    Edited at 2019-01-17 10:52 am (UTC)

    1. I used to love Paul Robeson’s regular radio programme, which was always too short. ‘Just a wearying for you’ would make it on my desert island appearance, unless I took ‘Trees’ instead.
  17. Did anyone else read my post yesterday where I mentioned ABERDEEN ANGUS, purely coincidentally?

    COD to CANIS MAJOR, the possible ambiguity never occurred to me because I visited the island now known in English as Menorca recently.

    11′ 57” thanks z and setter.

    1. Yes – we do seem to be in “cattle country” this week. I await tomorrow’s Charolaix….

      No problems with this one, and found it an enjoyable stroll.

      FOI OATH
      LOI OPAL
      COD CANIS MAJOR – also liked GULF STREAM
      TIME 7:22

  18. Would have shaved a bit off my 16.03 if I hadn’t tried to put “gold stream” in 26a. I suppose I was thinking of the “Russian gold seam” in Le Carre’s Honourable schoolboy – I wonder why. Don’t worry about those Clemson football players Z. I understand they already have an offer for a proper steak dinner from a former NFL star in NY and a Michelin 3-star restaurateur in Chicago. Either will be better than the WH steak would have been because the tangerine likes his well-done with ketchup.
    1. Olivia, it is so good to see America’s most misspelt word being afforded its correct form. Considering how many French words linger in the ‘American’ language, it is surprising how ‘restauranteur’ has sadly prevailed.
  19. 24 minutes, held up for about 5 because I HAD put in Canis Minor, so LOI joiner.
    A very satisfying solve, since I was convinced early on that I wasn’t going to finish it. Clever cluing with nice surfaces. (And no dodgy homophones!)
    COD appointee.
  20. 16’53. Fairly steady solve. Many memories of seventy-eights from childhood. Is yen a verb or long a noun?
  21. Didn’t even think about contention with the dog stars, as I’ve always spelt the other one with an E.

    But then I always get caught out by “Cos” being a Greek island when I’ve always used a K, so what do I know?

  22. 12 minutes from my hospital bed having been given a new knee yesterday afternoon. I assume had it been under competition conditions I would have failed the drugs test.
    I still have one of our old 78s somewhere – My Blue Heaven by the incomparable Fats Domino. 19D brought back memories of Friday nights at Haringey ‘Dogs’ in the early sixties where the incredibly exotic seeming hot dogs were the highlight of the evening.
    1. Congrats on the new knee. I got one this time last year and it’s a godsend. You’re right about the dope – luckily I can’t take oxycodone but they gave me everything else in the medicine cabinet.
      1. That’s encouraging Olivia, thank you. I was happy to self medicate with a decent claret but apparently it’s against hospital policy…
    2. Congrats from me too. I had my right knee replaced 3 years ago this week and it’s been wonderful. I was grateful for the Oramorph when I went to physio though. Like Olivia I also had everything else they could throw at me. When I got home I did a spreadsheet to remind me when to take each one. Remember the op is only half the job, the physio is really important too!
      1. That started this morning! No pain, no gain as they say.
        I have been lucky that my insurer has stumped up for the new American made-to-measure unit that seems to offer faster recovery and higher long term satisfaction ratings. It’s reassuring too that it has worked out well for both you and Olivia.
        1. My wife has had both knees replaced, and eventual pain relief had made the physio worthwhile.
          We may have bumped into each other at the Dogs while I waited to place a bet on the Tote, though I was somewhat underage. The stadium was, of course, actually called ‘Harringay’ rather than the ‘Haringey’ of the London Borough, and we used to also support the speedway team there in the 1950s.
          1. You’re right about the name of course, I had forgotten the original spelling. My dad used to take my pocket money bets and then grumble every time he had to pay me out on a long odds winner.
  23. 9m 42s but with an error at 8d (ROSTAN) having either never known or forgotten both RATTAN & ATTAR. The last 3+ minutes were spent on that one and 7d, as I had CANIS MINOR at 3a. Very poor form to have two equally plausible answers in the cryptic. Oh dear.
  24. Gaargh! I plumped for the wrong island and constellation at 3ac, and failed utterly to even remotely begin to consider the major alternatives. This left me stuck for 7d, which I eventually concluded could only be “nailer”, which it ain’t.
  25. A PB for me – nothing unknown here and like others, memories of my Dad’s 78s abounding, including Perry Como’s “Catch A Falling Star/Magic Moments” – probably what would be called a double-A-side these days – unfortunately I sat on Dad’s copy, sending it the same way as Ray Martin’s “The Marching Strings” – better known as the theme music to Top Of The Form – which my brother put paid to.

    The most famous pieta is by Michelangelo (created when he was still only 23) and resides in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, pretty much next door to the Sistine Chapel, the ceiling of which he of course, painted.

    1. ‘The time that the floor fell out of my car when I put the clutch down.’ A big gap once appeared in the floor of my MG Midget when I pressed the accelerator down. It needed a tricky repair. I bought a car mat.
      1. Lots of things have changed in the world since I was young, but one of the most significant must be that it’s no longer considered perfectly normal to drive around in a car with a hole in the floor (on reflection, this may just apply to British Leyland vehicles; I’m thinking of an Austin Maxi my family once owned). And you tell that to kids today…
  26. I had exactly the same experience. Put in CANIS MINOR and never noticed it was ambiguous. And ended up giving up and putting NAILER in, although sure it was wrong. If I’d read the joiner clue earlier, I’d probably have got it even without the J, and then all would have been well. As it was, DNF again for the 3rd time this week.
  27. Fortunately for me, I considered Majorca first, also noticing that Minorca was a possibility, but going with the J as a starter for 7d which allowed me to get JOINER as my LOI. I started off with an OATH and made reasonable progress, although I had a couple of barren spells which slowed me down a bit. We had loads of 78s and an old radiogram at home when I was a kid. I wore out my Mam’s copy of Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat. There was also a copy of Tex Ritter singing High Noon, with Boogie Woogie Cowboy on the flip side. ALEXANDER took me a while as I was looking for a word starting with AG and finishing with a fish. 24:04. Thanks setter and Z.
  28. Rattled through this in 15 mins until held up last 2. My alphabet trawl managed to ignore PI which made PIETA (DNK) rather hard and I certainly didn’t get the POINT of APPOINTEE without the P.
    For me, it was Paul Robeson, Climbing Up.
  29. “The Honourable Schoolboy” was my favourite from that trilogy which also included “Tinker, Taylor etc” and “Smiley’s People”.
    Just watched the TV serialisation of “The Little Drummer Girl” which I thoroughly enjoyed to the extent that I watched each episode at least twice.
  30. 21:55. On the easy side certainly but still a pleasure to solve. FOI 1ac, always a nice confidence builder. Of course I put in canis minor rendering joiner my LOI once I realised 7dn probably wasn’t going to begin with N. I liked the mouthwatering anagram but COD to gulf stream which I thought an elegant clue.
  31. It’s late so I just biffed my way through quickly – then came to this blog to check I was right. Happily, I was on this occasion. Nice puzzle.
  32. Thanks setter and blogger
    Only got to do this over a number of shortish sittings when I could grab the time, starting with OATH as did many others. Luckily entered CANIS MAJOR at 3a without really giving Minorca a thought, so it didn’t end up interfering with the search for JOINER which did come much later.
    No real other holdups of note and did enjoy unravelling SEVENTY EIGHT (wonder how younger puzzlers would fare with words like that).
    Finished with ALEXANDER which I guessed much earlier but held back from entering it until I could see why.

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