Times Cryptic No 28416 – Saturday, 8 October 2022. Cogito ergo sum?

René Descartes was a great philosopher, mathematician and scientist, but he appears in this crossword only because he was French, as far as I can tell! C’est la vie. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Note for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is for last week’s puzzle, posted after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on this week’s Saturday Cryptic.

Definitions are underlined. (ABC)* means anagram of ABC, with anagram indicators italicised.

1 Intelligence of son, quietly in control (9)
SHARPNESS – S=son + P=quietly, in HARNESS=control. I was delayed trying to fit the S in the middle somewhere.
9 Irreverent academic, one from Scotland (7)
PROFANE – PROF + ANE=Scottish for ‘one’.
10 Anxious about most of Cornish town (7)
RESTIVE – RE=about + ST. IVE(S).
11 Permission to cut Charlie out (5)
12 Oddly, one anti-beer gets drunk (9)
13 Shelter engulfed by river: global warming? (7)
DÉTENTE – TENT in DEE. “Global warming” meaning “thaw in international relations”!
15 Dismembered body thus placed on hill (5)
17 Afghans are so dangerous! (5)
HAIRY – two meanings: the first literal, the second metaphoric.
18 Northerner must have change of heart, don’t you think? (5)
INNIT – INUIT=northerner. Change the middle lettter.
19 Saw twin daughters embracing unmarried friend (5)
DATED – (M)ATE in D+D.
20 Madman having a brief moment on the moon, you say? (7)
LUNATIC – LUNA=moon + TIC sounds like ‘tick’.
23 Claptrap broadcast about European fruit supplier (9)
25 Have babies with housemaid perhaps (5)
WHELP – W=with + HELP=housemade, perhaps.
27 Laugh about women’s gossip (7)
28 Recount sadly ending in defeat (7)
TROUNCE – (RECOUNT)*. I think that ‘ending in’ are just linkage words for the surface of the clue.
29 In part where PhD candidate is heading? (2,1,6)
TO A DEGREE – two meanings.
1 Announcer’s honest sound (6)
STRAIT – sounds like STRAIGHT=honest.
2 Other obstinate knight’s refusal to drink (10)
3 Relations in religious house an urgent matter (8)
PRIORITY – IT (sexual relations, in crossword lingo) in PRIORY.
4 Purge of rebellious soldiers after capture by each (5)
ENEMA – MEN backwards (‘rebelling’ = ‘rising up’ in this down clue, ha ha) in EA=each.
5 On a high, gush about wonderful day (6,3)
6 Collection of Biblical characters (3,3)
JOB LOT – you can see the Biblical characters for yourself!
7 Two horses going over a ditch (2-2)
HA-HA – hmmm – not sure about this. The two horses are presumably H + H, and there’s an A in the clue. But where does the other A come from? Perhaps H+A gives you HA, and you have to do the whole thing twice? Regardless, a ha-ha is certainly a ditch!
8 Pious always taken in by endless tears (8)
REVERENT – EVER in RENT(S). Initially I put in REVEREND, until 18ac forced me to reconsider. ‘Reverent’ is probably more appropriate.
14 A canny sort unexpectedly becoming pioneering MP (5,5)
NANCY ASTOR – (A CANNY SORT)*. Read about her here.
16 Racecourse favourite getting welcome for a star (3,6)
RED CARPET – REDCAR is a northern racecourse. PET=favourite.
17 Idiots providing clue for Women’s Institute? (8)
HALFWITS – W.I. (Women’s Institute) is half of WI(TS). So, the answer is a clue in reverse.
18 What dominated thought of Réné Descartes? (4,4)
IDÉE FIXE – I think the point is just that, being French, M. Descartes would use this expression. I rather imagine he was rather the opposite of a person dominated by an idée fixe.
21 Drinking a lot of beer, mostly, got upset about that (6)
TOPING – PIN(T) with GOT backwards (‘upset’) around its outside.
22 Novelist’s pronounced rear end (6)
STERNE – sounds like STERN=rear end.
24 Safe area to drop an E in ancient city (5)
PETRA – PET(E)R=safe + A=area.
26 Unlimited fame? It was sufficient once (4)
ENOW – (R)ENOW(N). An archaic form of ‘enough’. You’ll find it in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: ‘A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse and Thou … is Paradise enow.”

39 comments on “Times Cryptic No 28416 – Saturday, 8 October 2022. Cogito ergo sum?”

  1. And yet, if we stop thinking, we don’t cease to exist.
    I think your surmise is right about doing the same thing twice for HAHA. (I remember being somewhat puzzled when I first came across that word in a British novel.)
    Not sure I ever knew before that there was an ancient city named PETRA.

      1. Lovely, thanks. Don’t think I’d ever seen it before, though I’ve been to Israel once: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea… where I could look toward Jordan on the other side.

        1. You’d have seen it, or the most famous part of it, in the Indian Jones movie that had Sean Connery.

      1. …and parodied by Peter Sellers in “Balham….”
        “…half as Golders Green…”

      2. I had to look that up, and, I must say, the poem is probably known because it’s about such a remarkable site, rather than the other way around!

        1. Petra is worth a visit. A weeny bit expensive, I think it was about £50 for entrance, but worth it. It does involve a mile or five of walking unless you want to ride on a smelly pony or donkey.

        2. Yes, the poem is certainly undistinguished and I was trying to recall how this one line popped into my head even though the rest of the poem and author were both unfamiliar to me. At first I thought it must have been quoted in some travel book but then, sparked by MartinP1’s reference to Peter Seller’s parody, it came to me. My Word ,the wonderful radio programme that fortunately we got to hear in Canada 40 to 50 odd years go, featured “A rose, red setter, Arthur sold as thyme” from I believe Frank Muir. It could have been Dennis Norden but I remember all the “r”s being “w’s”!

  2. 13:11
    I took HA-HA to be two HA’s, i.e. two cases of ‘horse’ over ‘a’. I knew St. Ives, but as usual couldn’t have told you what shire it’s in; and as usual, that didn’t matter. I liked JOB LOTS.

    1. You do get two goes at it Kevin, since there is one in Cornwall and another in Cambridgeshire (but used to be Huntingdonshire)

  3. 45m 44s butI couldn’t make sense of 18d and put IDLE TIME for no good reason.
    Other than that I thought there was a lot to enjoy. For example, I now understand HALFWITS, thank you Bruce.
    Unlike the previous week, there was no real specialist knowledge required, no ‘petrarchan sonnets’.
    I was a little surprised at the inclusion of the vulgar INNIT, though.
    In 9ac I was working on “one from Scotland” as being “yin”. Billy Connolly was/is the “Big Yin”.
    In 16d, I saw “racecourse favourite” and immediately thought of the great race horse,Red Rum.
    The only other clue I wasn’t able to parse was DATED, so thank you, Bruce.
    Several clues qualify for COD: DETENTE (“global warming”); ENEMA; JOB LOT; ENOW.
    DETENTE gets the nod.

  4. My solving time of 24 minutes is reflected by my print-out which is free of workings apart from a couple of anagram circles.

    I lost some time to my LOI 18dn before realising that Réné Descartes was mentioned only to indicate a French expression in the answer. Eventually prompted by checkers and enumeration rather than anything in the clue I spotted that IDÉE FIXE would fit and the wording of clue then made sense. I first learnt the expression many years ago when studying Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, along with the German musical equivalent, Leitmotiv.

    7dn works as discussed above but also, since it’s a Down answer, both horses are ‘over a’ anyway.

      1. Not sure if you are querying their equivalence or my spelling of the latter? If it’s the spelling, my understanding is that Leitmotiv is the German spelling and since it’s a German word and I studied German that’s the one I would tend to use. I also understand that in English it can end either with f or v, and it doesn’t take the capital L which as a noun it requires in German.

        1. Sorry; I didn’t notice my spelling. (In German it would end in [f] in any case.) I was surprised to see the two terms being equivalent; but then I didn’t know idée fixe was used in music.

      2. I can only imagine that someone compared the obsessively repeating phrase in Berlioz to an IDÉE FIXE, because I’ve never heard that the latter is actually synonymous with “leitmotiv” and I do not find that supported by any dictionary—English or French (in the Wiktionnaire, the synonym given is marotte, and the quasi-synonyms dada, fixation, turlutaine and turlututaine).

        1. Berlioz wrote IDÉE FIXE in his score above the first appearance of the phrase and this is commonly explained in articles about the work with reference to a Leitmotiv/f e.g. in my edition of Groves Dictionary of Music. In other contexts they may have differences which may account for the equivalence not being supported in dictionaries, but in this one they’re close enough and that’s where I learnt both expressions many decades ago.

          1. Very interesting. It seems (https://www.britannica.com/art/idee-fixe) that Berlioz used the phrase before it became current and acquired a wider use. The leitmotiv of his Symphonie fantastique: épisode de la vie d’un artiste (1930) is not the normal sort, informing just one movement of a work, but recurs—with varying prominence—in all five movements; “the theme represented the artist’s obsession with his beloved.” In Balzac’s short novel Gobsek of the same year, IDÉE FIXE is used “to describe the avarice that ruled the life of the protagonist. Indeed, it is the idée fixe of a central character that is the vital, driving force behind many of Balzac’s narratives.” Pierre Janet, late in that century, was first to utilize the term in a clinical sense. But it did indeed originate in the arts.

  5. I found this quite straightforward, from memory, with my printed grid having no marks on it at all. Idee Fixe took a while to emerge. Not keen on “Innit” in a crossword in our flagship daily paper

  6. Just about the smoothest write-in I’ve ever encountered, completed in about 45 minutes. Does that mean it was a particularly easy one? Quite possibly. Like others, I wasn’t keen on INNIT and doubted it as the answer. Enjoyable in all other respects. Thanks to blogger and setter.

  7. Much of this was not too difficult and enjoyable. FOI TO A DEGREE. And fairly smooth progress after that.
    But I couldn’t get 18d. Like Martin I plumped for IDLE TIME.
    My French is pretty good and I knew of Descartes but the clue did not point me in the right direction. Mentioning Descartes was probably the problem but I guess the question mark lets the setter off.
    PS If the clue had said: What dominates .. -it might have been easier. “Dominated” implies it doesn’t any more and has to be in the past.

  8. No particular problems (28 minutes) but I did think ENOW had escaped from Azed or Mephisto. Do people on the Clapham Omnibus really know the word? MER at ‘to a degree’ for PhD in 29ac — it doesn’t seem to me that a doctorate is really a degree, although perhaps it is.

    1. It’s not that uncommon, and it’s in our dictionaries as an English phrase, just borrowed from the French.

  9. All complete but I had four where I didn’t quite see the WP: PROFANE I got the PROF bit, the very clever HALFWITS now having read the blog I see the parsing and PETRA which I should have seen knowing Peter as a safe and the fourth being 18dn where I had the incorrect IDLE TIME based on ‘What dominated thought’ and wondering what Rene Descartes had to do with it.

  10. I came delightfully close to a finished puzzle today with only two answers missing by the end! Closest I’ve ever come to completing a non-quick cryptic 🙂

    Possibly could have gotten STRAIT although unlikely I would ever have parsed the clue correctly. I had no chance at all on PETRA though — had never heard of the city (only the 1970s Christian rock band, haha) nor of “Peter” meaning “safe” — and on top of that I was convinced the clue “to drop an E” meant removing -ANE from the name of the safe area.

  11. I had idle time for the Descartes clue which I thought went rather well as he was definitely an idle man. Happy to accept idee fixe though.
    I was very unhappy with halfwits for the Women’s Institute. It seemed so rude until I realised it was a backwards clue and it all made sense.
    Please note I never do these on the day and don’t keep my times. But I do find them very enjoyable and love the comments here too.
    I think my favourite clue this week was whelp which had me guessing for a long while before suddenly falling into place.

  12. My first try at the pioneering MP was NANCY ROAST – but that didn’t seem quite right.

  13. Always lose a little hope when I can’t get 1a or 1d ‘STRAIT’ away: but the rest gradually revealed itself , but with the same problem at 18d as a few others about Descartes’ “idle mind”, and had to look up Ate to see the relevance. Liked the reference to Nancy Astor and DETENTE, JOB LOT and WHELP. We had a HA HA at the bottom of our garden, a long time ago.

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