Times Quick Cryptic 1981 by Hurley

I was galloping through the top half and then came a purler over some tricksy stuff in the bottom half – with a particular bliinkered spot in the SE.

It took me 12 minutes in the end and was all good fun. Here’s how I got on.

Definitions are underlined.

1 Disgrace, getting rid of Charlie’s footwear item (6)
SANDAL – disgrace (S)c(ANDAL) getting rid of charlie (C).
5 Greedily devours food, extremely tasty, in mess (6)
PIGSTY – greedily devours food (PIGS), (T)ast(Y).
8 Angry speech in new arena, huge, cut short (8)
HARANGUE – anagram (new) of ARENA HUG.
9 Propensity to become dishonest (4)
BENT – double definition.
10 Move gradually for advantage (4)
EDGE – double definition.
11 Lowborn Roman in plea — be for change (8)
PLEBEIAN – anagram (for change) of IN PLEA BE. Here’s what Collins says about the word origin – C16: from Latin plēbēius belonging to the people, from plēbs the common people of Ancient Rome
12 Being, swapping tips on Luger for this weapon? (6)
MORTAR – my first headlong plunge into the depths of confusion. I couldn’t see for some time what was going on. It’s Being (the noun – MORTAL) which then swaps the ends (tips) of (L)uge(R) – so MORTA(L) becomes MORTA(R).
14 Not clear about advertisement, English, for “Crown” (6)
DIADEM – not clear (DIM) about advertisement (AD) and English (E). I only know diadem from Harry Potter.
16 The French healer reserving time for teacher (8)
LECTURER – ‘the’ in French (LE), healer (CURER) holding time (T).
18 Religious group, dry, finally quit (4)
SECT – dry (SEC as in wine), qui(T).
20 Pack member’s flag (4)
JACK – double definition. A playing card (in a pack)/flag as in Union Jack.
21 Dog’s manor bed recollected (8)
DOBERMAN – anagram (recollected) of MANOR BED. I had the D but failed to quickly click the anagram to a dog.
23 Leading couples in love, undying, getting somewhere to relax (6)
LOUNGE – the leading couple of letters in (LO)ve (UN)dying (GE)tting.
24 Spanish gentleman with important animal (6)
DONKEY – Spanish gentleman (DON – I couldn’t get off Senor for too long), important (KEY).
2 Prize fighting in our era (5)
AWARD – fighting (WAR) inside our era (A)nno (D)omini.
3 Unexpected detail about Conservative’s local speech (7)
DIALECT – anagram (unexpected) of DETAIL about Conservative (C).
4 Starts to like our groovy record (3)
LOG – starts – first letter only this time – of (L)ike (O)ur (G)roovy.
5 In advance of offer, one claims throne (9)
PRETENDER – in advance of (PRE), offer (TENDER).
6 Perhaps Clark’s end of house? (5)
GABLE – Clark Gable as an example.
7 Metal objects in water tossed about (7)
TINWARE – anagram (tossed about) of IN WATER.
11 Bird’s role on raised strip of land (9)
PARTRIDGE – role (PART), raised strip of land (RIDGE).
13 Found in moor — eg a normal herb (7)
OREGANO – found inside mo(OR EG A NO)rmal.
15 Loser is too organised (4-3)
ALSO-RAN – this was my final hurdle to overcome and it took an effort. A horse finishing so far out of the winning positions that it doesn’t count is an also-ran. Made up from too (ALSO), organised (RAN). Seems pathetically easy now.
17 Purely symbolic number approved for inclusion (5)
TOKEN – random number (TEN) including approved (OK).
19 End legal action to detain European (5)
CEASE – legal action (CASE) holding European (E). Once again, this is now obvious, but it wasn’t at the time.
22 Person’s day of birth briefly brought up (3)
BOD – day of birth (DOB) brought upwards/backwards.

64 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1981 by Hurley”

  1. I made the careless mistake of putting TINWEAR (like menswear, I suppose) instead of TINWARE. It was only when I realized I had “E” for 3 of the crossers for PLEBEIAN even though there were only two in the anagrist that I spotted my mistake. So it ended up taking 16 minutes.
  2. Relieved to see that I was in good company. I was stuck for an age on JACK, and an eternity on MORTAR, where the presumptive “E” I had as the second-last letter didn’t help.

    Oh, and I have trouble spelling PLEBEIAN, to the extent that even when I knew the answer and had P_E_E_A_ in front of me I still struggled to make it work.

    Enjoyed the puzzle, but a bit on the tough side for a Quickie maybe?

    Thanks Hurley and Chris.

    1. Exactly the same experience for me with “mortar”. I often find Hurley produces a sting in the tail.
  3. 17 minutes, and my first visit to my red zone (15+ minutes) for a while, and even after that I had one error.

    Having 12ac as my only unsolved clue on the LH side distracted me when working on the RH and I found myself struggling with PIGSTY, GABLE TINWARE and BENT. In fact for some reason when I eventually came up with an answer at 9ac I thought that BEND was the best fit. When I finally returned to the LH side MORTAR eventually came to me.

  4. No problem with any of the above and was going well until I hit DIADEM, two alphabet trawls only threw up ‘deaden’ even with only two checkers to get and I was then sure I was going to have to hit upon an unknown word. Got there when ‘dim’ for ‘not clear’ finally seemed right enough. All green in 15 — a promising start that faded to mediocrity.
  5. Chewy in places but no major hold ups. DIADEM was dredged from the depths and JACK, MORTAR and TINWARE proved tricky at the end. Finished in 9.03.
    Thanks to Chris
  6. I’m with Kevin (re MORTAR & Jack). This was a weird puzzle in my opinion. I managed no flow and it took me into the SCC. I did not enjoy it and found it unsatisfying as a QC. Thanks to Chris. John M.

    Edited at 2021-10-12 09:19 am (UTC)

  7. I got PLEBEIAN and DIADEM, but had to check in dictionary after. MORTAR did for me.
    Hoping to have better luck on 15×15, but some Spanish imperfect tense eccercicios first!
  8. DNF

    Some of these clues just would not make sense to me.

    I initially put PISTOL for12a, but the very next clue I answered, 13d, proved to me that pistol was incorrect.

    I guessed at 11a. I was convinced that Pleb was the first part of the word, and the rest I just guessed at.

    But a very unenjoyable QC for me.

    1. Ironically (if I recall correctly you’re an ex-RN man), first-year students at the US Naval Academy are known as plebes.
  9. I too failed on MORTAR – why was this word so tough for so many? If something one does doesn’t make sense, repeatedly and becomes unenjoyable, there is an easy answer.

    FOI 4dn LOG

    (LOI) & COD 20ac JACK!

    WOD 13ac OREGANO which sounds like a completely different word Stateside.

    What Hurley-Burly!

  10. Like many, spent too long on JACK where 50+ words had to be checked. This type of double definition is very hard, with pack and flag each having many meanings, and “member” not much help as it could be attached to either word.

    The instructions for MORTAR left a lot of ambiguity. An R swapped to an L, an L swapped to an R, or an R & L in the clue which are then swapped.

    Needed all the checkers for TINWARE, not sure that it’s a real word. What next? Leadware? Molybdenumware?

    Leading Couples (LO-UN-GE) is a device I haven’t seen before. But have to confess to only seeing how it worked post-submission.


    1. Tinware originated in Bohemia in the Middle Ages. It featured prominently in the 1897 Sears Roebuck and Co. Catalogue, including many pots, pails, pans, and snuff boxes to name a few. It was from a different age. Silverware?

      Edited at 2021-10-12 08:59 am (UTC)

  11. DNF due to MORTAR; well done Chris for parsing it, I was never going to unwrap that one. JACK wasn’t a problem, biffed LOUNGE, managed the rest albeit slowly in places.
  12. Had to look up MORTAR, failed entirely on JACK. Only got DIADEM via seeking Unclear and finding Dim.
    Smiled at GABLE and BENT. Biffed quite a lot of the rest. French PARTRIDGE in the garden this morning. I told it to stay for fear of the worst.
    OREGANO, DOBERMAN easy but mostly a struggle today.
    Thanks vm, Chris.

  13. Not on the wavelength for this but most seemed fair enough. Clark Gable wouldn’t be known to many under 60’s and AD is, correctly in my view, no longer acceptable. As a Christian i qouldn’t use that term with my Moslem friends. Thanks though!
    1. Or indeed your Jewish, Shinto, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist friends! I think most academic/scientific sources use CE and BCE these days.
    2. Do you consider the names for all the months and weekdays, that derive from ancient pagan deities, no longer acceptable now too?


      1. I can refer to Saturday without worshipping Saturn and the planet Mars without worshipping the Roman god. If I use AD I am referring to the year of ‘our’ Lord. Completely different!
        1. I’m no expert in Latin but I’ve always understood Anno Domini to mean “In the year of the Lord”. As with “The day of Saturn” there is no suggestion of religious affiliation or worship implied.
          Personally I think it should be a matter of choice if people still chose to use the abbreviations AD and BC, spoken or otherwise, and it what still purports to be a tolerant society, it is not appropriate to condemn such usage as unacceptable.


          1. I think you might be technically correct but growing up I always heard ‘Before Christ’ and the ‘Year of our Lord’.so maybe I was mistaught.However, unlike myself, non Christians do not regard Jesus as the Lord and I do think it’s unacceptable to be insensitive to this,so I stand by my comment!
    3. As one of your over 60s mentioned – coming up to 80 in fact – I find it unacceptable to have to use other terms for what has always been AD and BC to me! People are far too sensitive to me in many cases.

      1. Indeed, it’s 2021 for a reason, and one that I (as a Christian) freely acknowledge and am thankful for. Invariant

        Edited at 2021-10-12 07:49 pm (UTC)

    4. As an atheist well under 60 I can confirm I’m perfectly comfortable with the use of AD and BC and that whilst not having seen his films, GWTW apart, Clark Gable is well known.
  14. A DNF as I failed at 12ac Mortar. What a ridiculous clue at this level! So no COD for Hurley. Are you allowed to use Pigsty? Oink will not like that, I’ll be bound. WOD Abstruse. Timed out at 6 minutes.
  15. FOI harangue, LOI Jack after two pink squares and an alphabet trawl, without understanding it. Technical DNF in nineteen minutes. I’m another who thought of Oink on solving pigsty. Did not parse lecturer, Jack, lounge, also-ran or token. COD donkey. Thanks for the blog, Chris, it cleared up the brain fog I was left with beautifully. Thanks to Hurley for an unusual puzzle – enjoyable and enigmatic.
  16. Very unusually for me I gave up with two unsolved. It took me 19 minutes to get to my last two after hold-ups with DIADEM and DONKEY. But MORTAR never occurred to me and I considered JACK briefly and rejected it; there were so many words which didn’t parse. After ten minutes on this I gave up and came here.
    Tough stuff from Hurley.

  17. A slow solve before coming to a complete halt with Mortar and Jack extant. Both now seem obvious, but even having worked out that a R/L change was required, Mortal/Mortar was still beyond me. ‘Jack’ just had too many options and, by then, not enough enjoyment. 5d, Pretender, was my favourite from the ones I could do. Invariant
  18. Gave up at 10 mins after staring at ?O?T?R for fully 5 minutes. Would it have been easier if the grid gave up M?R?A?…? Maybe. Either way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many DNF/gave up posts!

    A “well done” to Hurley for stumping so many, and an extra large one to chrisw91 for unpicking it all! Thanks.

  19. ….JACK it in after 7 minutes. I was down to the same pair as most of the rest here in just over 3 minutes, but took a further 2 minute alpha trawl to see the flag — and the one I raised two minutes later was white, and came after a double alpha trawl failed to point me to MORTAR.
  20. SCC again today after a struggle with a few of these. I got MORTAR in the end, JACK was LOI, and PIGSTY and GABLE took far too long. I’m blogging in two days — let’s hope things improve, either the clues or me, before then. Thanks both.
  21. Finished correctly in 60 minutes. First time for ages.
    These so called QCs are now ridiculously difficult with many vague and dodgy clues.
    This one was quite nasty but not as bad as some recent ones.

    1. Well done! QAnon. But take a page out Jim R’s book, below. These so-called QCs are not compulsory — yet! horryd
  22. MORTAR was my LOI but Having worked out what it should be, I carelessly typed MORTAL and over wrote my PALTRIDGE giving myself 2 careless errors. Doh! I was another TINWEAR corrected by PLEBEIAN. 10:55 but. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  23. Just wow. Finished a crossword that both Kevin and Phil failed to complete. These are people I live in awe of (and whose contributions I enormously appreciate). That won’t happen again soon, or probably ever. Didn’t time precisely, but under ten minutes. JACK my LOI, preceded, unsurprisingly, by MORTAR.

    Jim R

    1. I share your ‘wow’. You never know how you’ve got on until you see other posts. I’m surprised I managed to pick my way through this in such a time given other comments. Sometimes it just works out, I suppose.
  24. I went through this pretty quickly but then got held up by the last 2 or 3. This included MORTOR but it came reasonably quickly once I focussed on it. Unfortunately I put MARK for JACK. It didn’t feel right and I can now clearly see why JACK is right. Enjoyable but a few tough ones. FOI 10ac EDGE. LOI the incorrect MARK. COD 9ac BENT. A nice but not too niche DD. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  25. We were on the verge of throwing in the towel so we’re relieved to see that others also found this one hard. It took us 23 minutes to complete the puzzle and we probably spent half of that on JACK and DIADEM.


    Thanks Chris and Hurley.

  26. Somehow managed to complete this, although it took a good 35 minutes. Generally, I thought this was hard and from the comments above it seems others thought so too.

    Started off quite well, but got quite bogged down in the NE corner. After deciding 6dn wasn’t “Shoes”, I still struggled on 9ac “Bent”. Similarly, 20ac “Jack” took ages to spot. I then got into a pickle with the spelling of “Plebeian”.

    FOI — 4dn “Log”
    LOI — 23ac “Lounge”
    COD — 22dn “Bod” — just because it brought back memories of Farmer Barleymow and Aunt Flo….and of course that great intro music.

    Thanks as usual!

  27. … and on the same two clues too. As this exactly matched Kevin’s experience, it does at least make it my first ever 1.0K day!

    When a crossword setter stumps me, I am usually prepared to own that they won that round fair and square. But when they stump quite so many, one wonders if it is not the solvers who have fallen short but the setter. Today I think Hurley was sailing pretty close to the wind for a QC, and I think Merlin summed it up best: there were just too many possibilities for 20A Jack, and too much ambiguity in the cluing for 12A Mortar, for this to be a good QC, or possibly even a fair one.

    A shame, as most of the rest of the crossword was enjoyable and some of it really interesting — I particularly liked the “first two letters” device in 23A Lounge.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  28. Some testing clues, but eventual success when I saw the light over JACK. Guessed ALSO RAN from existing letters. It does now seem so obvious!
  29. Like others we had trouble with 12a mortar, which we eventualy did get, and 20a, jack. Thought of jack but could not sort out the word play, but a jack is a member of a pack of cards, so no grumbles. Quick top half and very slow bottom half.
  30. So many DNFs and ‘slow’ times above, whereas I raced (?) through this puzzle in just, er … 58 minutes. Actually, I found this very tough indeed — at the limit of my capability without using aids. However, I did manage to parse every clue fully during those 58 minutes, including MORTAR and JACK (my LOI).

    Mrs Random didn’t seem to have any real problems, except at the end with JACK and TOKEN (where she initially had TAKEN). She finished in 32 minutes, but admitted some clues weren’t fully parsed.

    Many thanks to setter and blogger.

  31. I was feeling a bit embarrassed at not finishing, but find myself in esteemed company. Yes, 12a did for me too. I could see that the L and the R in Luger were involved, but how? And I made also made the mistake of thinking the second to last letter was either an E or an O, so the alphabet trawl made no difference!
    Funnily enough, we’ve just had the GABLE end of our house repointed, and there are loose bits of MORTAR (the other sort) in strange places all over the garden!
    Otherwise not too bad – 10 minutes until I ground to that halt. I’ve just completed the 15×15 in about 40 minutes – a strange feeling to finish the biggie but not the quickie 😅
    Thanks Hurley and Chris
    1. In the same vein:
      Mrs Random, a former LECTURER (with her MORTAR board), often HARANGUEs me for turning the LOUNGE into a PIGSTY. However, when it comes to crosswords she invariably has EDGE. I am just an ALSO-RAN.
  32. Two DNFs in succession, but this one was a bit closer than yesterday’s as I only failed on MORTAR. I even saw how the clue might work with the weapon having R as the last letter, but the being having an L, but I couldn’t think of anything to fill in the gaps. Then I assumed the penultimate letter was an E, figuring if it was anything else it would sound similar enough to give it away, and wrote down all the five letter combinations of *O_TER and _O*TER, but still nothing that sounded like a being or a weapon came to mind. So I gave in on 45 minutes, but at least I was in good company, and I have learnt, temporarily at least, how to spell PLEBEIAN. Thanks Hurley and Chris.
  33. Slow progress all the way. Once lecturer clicked it quickly unlocked Partridge and Pretender but then came Jack. I just couldn’t see it and ended up with Mark which could be sign and I thought one of the apostles as a pack member. I knew it was wrong, but there it is.
  34. 7:25 this morning. Same woes as for many others, primarily with LOI 12 ac ” mortar”. Although I could see how the clue was structured, I could see neither a name for a weapon nor a synonym for “being” that helped until eventually I worked from “mortal”. Anyway glad to know “it wasn’t just me”.
    It’s not the first time Hurley has stumped me with my LOI so I treat his puzzles with respect.
    Thanks to Chris and Hurley
  35. Was a toughie, tinware, gable, diadem, bent, loi mortar.
    Was determined to finish after a poor showing in the 15×15.
    Cod donkey.
  36. Sorry that some found one or two clues in this puzzle a little bit tricky for a QC, esp MORTAR. Was conscious that one might be and added “this” to try to make it fairly unambiguously clear the definition was a weapon. But maybe that was not quite enough. Thanks for excellent blog. Hurley

    1. Double definitions are never difficult if you see them — and almost impossible if you don’t! Not a lot to go on to guide you home …

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