Times Cryptic No 27258 – Saturday, 26 January 2019. A sunburnt country.

As I wrote this a week ago on Australia Day, the sunburnt country continued to set high temperature records. Lucky today’s puzzle wasn’t a scorcher too. I finished all but 25ac in regular time, but then had to go an extra ten minutes each way to sort that one out.

There were several nice clues, but I think my favourite was 7dn where the answer was barely hinted at by the surface of the clue. 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 Fine spinach dish? Unfortunately — not! (4,3,5)
FISH AND CHIPS: Anagram (“unfortunately”) of (F SPINACH DISH*).

9 They may surround the head doctor introduced to new team (5)
NIMBI: N (new) / 11 (team – not written XI this time), around MB (doctor).

10 Best time is past to crack joke: start of evening (6,3)
GOLDEN AGE: OLDEN (past), cracking GAG (joke), then E[vening].

11 Free entertainment is announced in formal document (8)
TREATISE: sounds like TREAT IS (free entertainment is).

12 Happens to find shot youngster (4,2)
HITS ON: HIT (shot) / SON (youngster).

13 Better run away from hedgehog, monkey! (8)
CAPUCHIN: CAP (better) / U[r]CHIN. “Urchin” is an old word for hedgehog, apparently. Who knew? Take out R for run.

15 All one can hold in one hand, but not second: that’s irregular (6)

17 Prolific source of money around City (6)
FECUND: EC (the City with a capital C) in FUND.

18 Point about phony exercises: the “low jump”? (5,3)
BUNNY HOP: NUB (point) backwards, then an anagram (“exercises”) of (PHONY*).

20 Loudly regret security arresting tricky partners (6)
BEWAIL: E[ast] and W[est] are traditional partners in the “tricky” (trick-taking) game of bridge. Put them inside BAIL.

21 Interrupting fuss pots, judge rises (8)
ADJOURNS: put J in ADO, then add URNS. Nice clue – nothing as it seems!

24 Instinctive to maintain vehicle In ultimate condition (9)

25 Tack in prison, badly defective (5)
BASTE: having run through all the possible meanings of “tack” that I could think of, I did pause to wonder whether there was another word for that type of sewing. Well, it turns out, there is! But of course, not one I knew. Still, it was hard to think of anything else that fitted the helpers. Eventually the wordplay got me there: BAST[ill]E = prison, deficient in ILL = badly.

26 Trader’s reminder to fiddle with cash (12)
MERCHANDISER: anagram (“fiddle”) of (REMINDER CASH*).

1 Cooler? Greek sounding enthusiastic (7)
FANATIC: FAN (cooler) / ATIC sounds like ATTIC (Greek).

2 Two books: choose the slow burner for the title character (6,8)
SAMUEL PICKWICK: there are two books in the old Testament called Samuel 1 and Samuel 2. Then, PICK a WICK. Mr P’s the lead character in The Pickwick Papers.

3 Landed, welcoming Society of the best sort (1-4)
A-LIST: S (Society) in ALIT.

4 Liqueur summary provided (8)
DIGESTIF: DIGEST (summary) / IF (provided).

5 Hard wood, protection for nut once (4)
HELM: H (hard) / ELM. Old form of HELMET, presumably.

6 Exactitude of pair having executed verdict (9)
PRECISION: PR (pair) / [d]ECISION decapitated.

7 Back untrained gentle, brave men to have succeeded in conflict (4,2,3,5)
WARS OF THE ROSES: WAR (RAW=untrained, backwards) / SOFT (gentle) / HEROES (brave men) holding S (succeeded).

8 Spring roll initially put in for sale (6)
VERNAL: R[oll] in VENAL.

14 Porter’s egocentric rambling wasting time (9)
CONCIERGE: drop the T (time) then make an anagram (“rambling”) of (EGOCEN-RIC*).

16 Flowering shrub providing garland for religious leader’s hotel (8)
BUDDLEIA: replace the H (hotel) of BUDDHA by LEI (garland).

17 Wicked and wealthy, not husband material (6)
FABRIC: FAB (wicked) / RIC[h] (wealthy, not husband).

19 Chemist has sticker across uniform (7)
PASTEUR: U (uniform) in PASTER.

22 Made circular gold sleeper (5)
ORBED: OR (gold) / BED (sleeper).

23 Refuse to shorten brisk walk (4)
MARC: MARC[h}. Residue after crushing grapes or whatever.

42 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27258 – Saturday, 26 January 2019. A sunburnt country.”

  1. It took me 38:15 to get through this puzzle. Took me ages to see ORBED. Laughed at BUNNY HOP. Needed the crossers to get Mr Pickwick’s first name. Nice puzzle. Thanks setter and Bruce. Have a tinny to cool yourself down:-)
  2. I didn’t get the answer (nor a couple of others), but what I now realise I did know is that the Italians call a sea urchin a “Riccio di Mare”, literally a “Sea Hedgehog”. If only that had occurred to me last Saturday…
    1. I have a note from last week the same as your subject line.

      There is a pasta dish called Spaghetti ai Ricci because it contains Sea Urchins. The Sicilians seem to love it but it doesn’t do much for me.

    2. Why did the razor bill raise her bill? So that the sea urchin could see her chin.
      1. Why did the fly fly? Because the spider spied ‘er.
        Why did the fly fly? Because the woodpecker would peck ‘er.
        I’m here all week, try the chicken.
      2. Talking of rhymes and chins….

        I’ve come up with a football chant that my team could use if our Scottish midfielder ever scores again. To the tune of Michael Finnegan. It’s become an earworm for me.

        Look who’s scored it’s John McGinn again
        Hit the ball and it’s gone in again
        Our best player, we’re gonna win again
        Good old John McGinn again …. Begin again.

        How to get it out there to the Villa faithful?

        1. You could ask David Cameron to help publicise it, although you run the risk of it becoming a West Ham song.
  3. Like John, I couldn’t remember Pickwick’s first name; and like John, I took a long time to figure out ORBED, my 2d to LOI. LOI was BASTE; I only knew the sewing meaning because of an anecdote in a cookbook about an inexperienced housewife doing her first roast turkey, who misunderstood the recipe instructions because she knew only the sewing meaning. I wondered about the definition in 24ac; I think it has to be ‘in ultimate condition’ (with ‘maintain’ acting as inclusion indicator), since INCARNATE is either an adjective or a verb, but it still seems odd to me. 7d suddenly came to me from a few checkers, before I even knew the def; my candidate for COD.

    Edited at 2019-02-02 01:26 am (UTC)

  4. I almost used up my supply of ?? when writing notes on last weeks’ puzzle.
    NIMBI, URCHIN, BUNNY HOP, BASTE, VERNAL and MARC all got the Order of the ?
    So thanks brnchn. My favourite was ADJOURNS.
    56m 17s
    1. I am SO glad to hear someone else does this. My notes, too, looked like a convention of coat-hooks. I think the Question Mark is my personal justification for Biffing and moving on. PS My sister-in-law’s father-in-law (or thereabouts) used to catch Sea Urchins and sell them for immediate consumption from a beach-hut in southern Puglia. They were like inferior oysters inside a tennis ball, but the sun and setting made them seem so much better than that.
      1. “My sister-in-law’s father-in-law”….Goodness! I still have difficulty working out what relation to me my cousin’s daughter is!
        The Sicilians seemed to like spaghetti ai ricci but to me it was just pasta with little full stops and pretty bland with it.
  5. Guessed BAST = tack, and URCHIN as a type of hedghog. Had no idea of the required meaning of NIMBI until I looked it up.
  6. 55 minutes with LOI BASTE, the only word I could make fit and then eventually seeing the Bastille connection. Before then, I’d wondered if that was what Dickensian prisoners could call their gruel. COD to ADJOURNS, a clue of great beauty. I also liked SAMUEL PICKWICK. The sermon series in our local Church at the moment is from I Samuel, so I had a head start on that one. A good challenge. Thank you B and setter.
    1. Yes. I also liked Adjourns. That should have been my COD.

      I meant to direct my John McGinn rhyme to you but it might have been sent as a reply to keriothe. I find the reply/thread thing a bit hard to navigate.

        1. John McGinlay again.

          Never heard of him but Wikipedia has him as 3rd place in “50 Wanderer’s Legends”.

  7. I was at Big Dave’s Birthday Bash last Saturday to celebrate 10 years of the Telegraph blog with a fine collection of bloggers,solvers and setters. I had a quick look at this puzzle on the way there; it looked hard.
    I got down to it properly on the way home, inspired I hoped by the company I had been keeping.
    To no avail as it turned out. I found this very hard. When I was on the right lines e.g. Pickwick, the rest was hard to find. Steven fitted but felt wrong. Was never close to getting Nimbi and the SE was mainly blank when I gave up. Baste was very obscure I thought.
    Off to watch rugby at Blackheath later, weather permitting. David
  8. 24:50. “Nice!”, it says at the top of my copy. Lots of entertaining and some chewy clues. FISH AND CHIPS and FANATIC in the NW corner got ticks, as did BUNNY HOP, ADJOURNS and my COD, FABRIC. BASTE my LOI, not knowing that meaning until I looked it up. Like Kevin, WARS OF THE ROSES came from the checkers before parsing. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  9. ….but easier than the average Saturday.

    Thanks to Bruce for parsing BASTE which was my sole Biff.

    TIME 6:28

  10. No time for this: I don’t seem to have submitted for some reason, perhaps irritation. It took me ages though: certainly over 20 minutes, with a huge amount of time wasted on NIMBI and Mr Pickwick. When I eventually figured them out it was with a feeling of ‘oh for Pete’s sake’ rather than ‘aha’. I do resent this expectation of intimate familiarity with the recondite details of a particular cult mythology.
      1. Look Dickens and Balzac can’t both be the one true proponent of the nineteenth-century novel. Your preference for Dickens is surely just an accident of birth.
  11. At least 3 mins spent over 25 across which I expected to get wrong. I’d not come across baste meaning tack before and try as I might I couldn’t see the wordplay. Clever.

    COD: Baste.

  12. I learned dressmaking because there was literally nothing to do on weekends at my boarding school so this went in quickly and I thought it rather good. As a preliminary you tack/baste the pieces of the garment together with long loose stitches so that you can just pull the whole thread out after you’ve machined over it. It’s neater than machining over pins. I’m sure you wanted to know….

    Aficionados of the TLS are all too aware that PB likes obscure names from Dickens so we are braced for them, but although I knew Sam Weller (Pickwick’s servant) I didn’t know he shared a name with his boss. No Dickens fan me and I wasn’t looking for this on a Saturday. 18.31 with a stupid typo for the second time in as many weeks.

  13. Whizzed through in 17.25, liking the WARS clue for its neat re-spacing. Knew Pickwick’s first name, but given my acquaintance with “a particular cult mythology” (or two, really) took an embarrassing ditherance to spot the relevance of the two books.
  14. Count me as another in the “many question marks” club. Sadly by the time I stalled on 25a I’d well overrun my hour, and gave up. I did spot how the wordplay worked once I’d used aids to figure out BASTE, so there’s that…
  15. DNF. I never really got on with this puzzle. More to do with my frame of mind when tackling it than anything else I think. Ended up putting in buste instead of baste and misfit instead of fitful out of frustration. Left 8dn unsolved. Also failed to get Mr Pickwick’s first name or consider anything apart from XI for team so did not get nimbi either. A poor show from this solver all round. A shame because there were some nice clues: 1ac, 7dn, 20ac and 21ac for example. Oh well. Onwards and upwards.
  16. I am also a question-marker next to answers that I don’t understand or haven’t seen the wordplay.

    Unlike some I only question-marked two:

    9a N1MB1 – before I saw the 11 for team. How long did I spend trying XI out before I got the checkers? Even XV had a go!

    25a Everyone’s LOI, where I had managed to see BAST (ILL) E but did not recognise BASTE = Tack. Thanks to Olivia for the dressmaking explanation.

    Thanks to setter & Brian for a very entertaining puzzle & blog.

  17. No real problems. Completed today with my morning cuppa. The problems people had with BASTE just goes to illustrate how few women post on this blog. Anyone who has ever sewn anything more complicated than a button would have found this a write-in. Pay-back maybe for all the cricket references. 23 minutes. Ann
    1. Actually I rather enjoy watching the England women’s cricket team, who are really good, but I agree entirely with your sentiment.
  18. Thanks setter and brnchn
    A bit over an hour and three sittings to get this one out today and found it pretty solid going. Had to check that NIMBI was in fact the plural of NIMBUS before writing it in. Was the other way around with 2d – had worked out the first name was SAMUEL and then had to work out the rest with crossers – then took a while that the ‘two books’ were actual the two books of SAMUEL in the OT – very clever !
    Most of the rest went it slowly but steadily and not a ? on any. Did smile at BUNNY HOP.
    Finished in the SE corner with that BASTE (which I had heard of the stitch definition), ADJOURNS (as mentioned a COD contender) and BUDDLEIA (very clever and my nomination for the actual COD).

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