Times Quick Cryptic 1996 by Orpheus

Lots of entertaining clues in this one and I enjoyed the nearly 10 minutes it took to complete. Not much more to say so click below for the blog and let’s get going.

Definitions are underlined.

1 Small amount of study initially having importance (10)
SMATTERING – (S)tudy, having importance (MATTERING).
8 Account for former partner of homely aspect (7)
EXPLAIN – former partner (EX), of homely aspect (PLAIN).
9 Go across island, reaching Italian city (5)
TURIN – go (as in take one’s go – TURN) across island (I).
10 Not many, they say? That’s a relief (4)
PHEW – homophone of few.
11 Uncrystallised sugar produced by Missouri girls (8)
MOLASSES – Missouri (MO), girls (LASSES).
13 Mission in Paris that served travellers principally (5)
QUEST – French/Parisian of ‘that’ (QUE), (S)erved (T)ravellers.
14 Room in taxi on the left (5)
CABIN – in (IN) with taxi (CAB) to it’s left.
16 Fashionable church feature dean primarily motivated (8)
INSPIRED – fashionable (IN), church feature (SPIRE), (D)ean.
17 Photograph game (4)
SNAP – double definition.
20 Offender’s supper finally eaten by chef (5)
CROOK – suppe(R) inside chef (COOK).
21 Woman’s husband caught in fire, perhaps (7)
HEATHER – husband (H) inside fire (HEATER).
22 One-sided version of a Latin rule (10)
UNILATERAL – anagram (version of) A LATIN RULE.
1 Woman with record showing farm animals (5)
SHEEP – woman (SHE) with record (EP).
2 Anxiety caused by arrest (12)
APPREHENSION – double definition.
3 Amphibian gets kicked, by the sound of it (4)
TOAD – homophone of toed. Thought this might be croc at first but it didn’t work.
4 Redemption money a children’s author talked of (6)
RANSOM – homophone of Ransome (Arthur Michell – Swallows and Amazon’s).
5 Songbird Greek character found on roofing material (8)
NUTHATCH – Greek character (NU), on top of roofing material (THATCH).
6 Politician vexed over new church stopping alcoholic drink (5-7)
CROSS-BENCHER – vexed (CROSS), on top of new church (N CH) inside alcoholic drink (BEER).
7 International organisation thus filling in agreement (6)
UNISON – international organisation (UN), thus (SO) inside in (IN).
12 Afflicted former nurse concealing subterfuge (8)
STRICKEN – former nurse (SEN) outside subterfuge (TRICK).
13 Fruit-tree one of five arriving together with Civil Engineer (6)
QUINCE – one of five arriving together (QUIN), Civil Emgineer (CE). A smile for the definition of quin.
15 Deadly obstruction originally hampering almost everyone (6)
LETHAL – obstruction (LET and hindrance), (H)ampering, almost everyone (AL)l.
18 Danger of rising anger in political extremists (5)
PERIL – anger – ire – rising (ERI) inside (P)olitica(L). COD for surface and clever clue.
19 Bridge-player missing beginning of banquet (4)
EAST – missing beginning of banquet f(EAST).

78 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 1996 by Orpheus”

  1. I didn’t know what Ransome wrote, but didn’t need to. DNK CROSS-BENCHER, but again didn’t need to. CROC wouldn’t have worked anyway, since they’re reptiles. 6:15.
  2. Arthur Ransome was indeed the writer of the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ books. Every pre-teen in the fifties, with a Library Ticket, read his books; whilst you guys were reading ‘Huckleberry Finn’ etc. Before that we all read Enid Blyton’s ‘ Famous Five’ books, ‘Biggles’, ‘Rupert’ and ‘William’s adventures were staples. American ‘comics’ were generally frowned upon by the Ladies at the Libraries, (even Jack Benny)
    What Disney did to ‘Winnie the Pooh’ was quite shockied many back in Blighty. Thank the Lord Walt missed Ransome.
    ‘Biggles’’ and ‘Noddy’ books were pulled from many Libraries around that time, probably to save them!

    FOI 1dn SHEEP

    LOI 14ac CABIN

    COD 1ac PHEW!


    In my book 13dn QUINCE is a bush rather than a tree.

    Edited at 2021-11-02 05:11 am (UTC)

    1. Every pre-teen in the 50’s with a library ticket, except yours truly. They made absolutely zero appeal to me.
      1. Dear Mr. Rotter,
        The new Bond movie was quite excellent.
        It was long, but that did not really notice, as the attendant story-line managed to thrash on. Today’s film craft is so darn good, it only enhanced the pl. It wasn’t necessary to shoot in 3D, IMHO but the CG was not overly invasive.

        I am a devotee of the original books, not necessarily the films, as they contain so much hidden detail of world events, 1936 – 1964. ‘Dr. No’ with ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’ are, for me, the most absorbing. Meldrew.

  3. 8 minutes for this straightforward offering from Orpheus.

    I never read Ransome, nor Biggles, Famous Five or William. I took a passing interest in Rupert Bear but never liked him much as I found the illustrations of the animals a bit creepy. Noddy books were presented at Christmas and birthday with some regularity and they were okay, but he was a stupid character. I read some Blyton stand-alone novels and really enjoyed them. There was no shortage of books in our house as my brother was an avid reader – for example he had all the Biggles series and these would have been available to me if I had wanted. My interest in reading didn’t fully develop until my mid-teens.

    Edited at 2021-11-02 07:34 am (UTC)

    1. Which for some reason reminds me of the spoof Morecambe and Wise sketch entitled “Biggles Flies Undone”
      1. Ah, I’m afraid your memory is deceiving you. “Biggles Flies Undone” was described in a Monty Python sketch as being the sequel to “Biggles Dictates a Letter”. I thought it was also mentioned in the The Brand New Monty Python Bok, but it seems my memory is deceiving me as well.
  4. Made life hard for myself by somehow typing in a lone M in the grid then never questioning it. That made CABIN ungettable and made me wonder if ‘crisp muncher’ might be an alcoholic drink. Once I spotted that M CABIN became as simple as it should have been. Slow to see SMATTERING and APPREHENSION even with all the checkers. Took almost twice as long as yesterday.

    Edited at 2021-11-02 06:59 am (UTC)

  5. It was the Arthur Ransome books that started me reading outside of school. I read them all from our local library. like horryd my COD is PHEW. Thanks all.
  6. I found this rather tricky and was firmly in the SCC with around a half hour solve. I needed the blog to understand lethal and stricken which I biffed. It took me a long time to get smattering which made Ransom harder.

    Horryd – we have a quince tree in our garden and it is definitely a tree, we hang a hammock from it. We had a bumper harvest this year so have been enjoying quince jelly (membrillo) with Manchego cheese. They are a rather odd fruit, inedible when raw and with a slightly furry skin. They also feature in the Owl & the Pussycat.

    FOI- phew, LOI – smattering, COD – Quince. Thanks Chris for the blog & Orpheus for an interesting challenge

    1. I can also testify to the treeness of quinces and the abundance of this year’s crop.
      I like the sound of pairing them, jellied, with Manchego cheese, because I have done lots of other things with them, eg pickled quince, quince cheese, but they have been declared inedible.
      1. It is the best use of them I’ve found. I’ve tried a crumble but think they’re too flowery. I hear they go well with roast pork too as an alternative to apple sauce.

        1. Yes, similarly, I made an open tart with them and was put off by the floweriness you describe. Good idea about the pork, I will try that.
  7. 15:58, although the whole Middle Ages spent on LOI LETHAL.

    I was pleased to see SMATTERING as FOI, although the clue was generous, starting with “small” cued up an initial “s”, had the setter used “Tiny amount…” it would not have been FOI.

    Low anagram count today, and no “hidden”s. Makes a nice change.

    With 8 states starting with M, those two letter abbreviations can get tricky, and Missouri=MO is one of the tough ones. The battleship of the same name was called “The Mighty Mo”

    Following on from my comment yesterday from devices that night to get retired, when an acronym goes out of use, such as SEN (phased out in 1989s)it’s time to find a new way of clueing those letters rather than weakly putting “former” in front. See also NUT for National Union of Teachers (renamed 2017)

    Afflicted US lawmaker concealing subterfuge (8)

    COD NUTHATCH (are all birds “songbirds”?)

    Edited at 2021-11-02 08:26 am (UTC)

    1. Owls, crows, and penguins are certainly not songbirds — and I harbour serious doubts as to the melodiousness of ostriches.
  8. I assumed that all bridge players become a BEAST when playing. Hence, it was possible to remove the initial B of banquet….
  9. I was looking at the wrong end of 1a (my POI) for the definition and hence required an alphabet trawl. The penny dropped when I got to ‘M’ for the second letter and that allowed me to finish with RANSOM.
    Other than that it was fairly plain sailing, enjoyed other PDMs with MOLASSES and the LET part of LEHAL, but like some others my COD goes to PHEW. Finished in 8.25.
    Thanks to Chris
  10. Enjoyed this gentle workout. Lots of good but largely straightforward clues (although I benefitted from a couple of biffs with later parsing). I didn’t try to race but was a couple of minutes under target; perhaps that is the trick. Enjoyment is all. It probably also helped that I turned off ‘Today’ for some respite from the constant stream of depressing news.
    I spent time on CABIN because I was trying go find something to fit inside CAB. A neat clue which opened the way to CROSS BENCHER and UNISON (my LOsI). My CsOD were SMATTERING and PERIL. Thanks to Orpheus for a fair QC and to Chris for a crisp blog. John M.

    Edited at 2021-11-02 06:53 pm (UTC)

  11. Back in the SCC after a short-lived escape yesterday.

    Gave up after 30 minutes with more than a smattering of the clues unanswered. I really found this chewy with a lot of the wordplay not yet in my vocabulary.

    I will need to make a note of the following:

    Homely aspect = PLAIN
    Greek Character = NU
    Former Nurse = SEN
    Obstruction = LET

    Oh, how I wanted to put FRONT BENCHER in but couldn’t make it work! NHO CROSS BENCHER.

    Also struggled with HEATHER — one day I’ll learn to like these ‘name a woman or man clues’, but for now they frustrate me greatly.

    Edited at 2021-11-02 09:18 am (UTC)

    1. I have the advantage of having learned the Greek alphabet as a youth. Can’t quite remember why! However, i doubt that more than a subset are useful in crosswords. I doubt UPSILON would, for example. Maybe someone can prove me wrong?
      1. I note that Operation ‘Epsilon’ was pointedly used as the last major Operation of WWII at Farm Hall, Godmanchester.
        1. Smart-arse! How about setting out the whole Greek alphabet with a cryptic clue for each letter? Now there’s a challenge for someone!
  12. Sometimes it’s a struggle and so it was today at 2xSCC. I kept revisiting 1A hoping to untangle but it didn’t drop until LOI. COD HEATHER although generally not keen on names. SEN/SRN don’t trouble me but I agree, time to relinquish those irrelevant acronyms.
    Not as hard as I managed to make it but glad to complete. Bridge-player? I was definitely dummy today. Thanks Chris and Breadman.
  13. 16 minutes after a dreadful night, after having my COVID booster yesterday. Arm sore, feverish, and no real quality sleep. One of those nights that you think will never end. From 2:15 until 08:00 I had the most annoying ear worm (Paul Simon, 50 ways to leave your lover) which just repeated over and over again, so I’m actually quite pleased to have completed this only one minute over target. Sorry if I have passed the ear worm on, but I had to do something to excise the bloody thing. Today’s treat is a flu jab in my other arm! Thanks all
    1. With ear worms ‘the problem is all inside your head, she said to me’. Oops – sorry if you get another disturbed night.
      Had my booster yesterday and have only a slight tenderness at the injection site. Felt poorly for 2 days after the second dose – it’s all hit and miss. I take comfort in knowing that if I can feel something then it’s working.

      Edited at 2021-11-02 05:31 pm (UTC)

  14. DNS.
    Could not even start this one. Ridiculously hard.
    One for the ‘experts’.
    God help the rest of us.
      1. Probably because many people have given up on these so called ‘QC’S and given up posting to this blog.
    1. If you can’t solve such absolute shoo-ins as CROOK and PERIL, I fear you’re not going to get much enjoyment from these puzzles.
    LOI STRICKEN, unparsed. Didn’t think of SEN.
    Every time the penny dropped, I thought good, the checkers will help but they didn’t, for quite a while.
    The NUTHATCH used to reappear in our garden each year, now he doesn’t sadly.
    Liked that one and CROSS BENCHER, APPREHENSION, PHEW , among others.
    (Yes, I read Ransome et al).
    Thanks for helpful blog, Chris.
  16. Straight forward for me. Ten minutes. FOI phew. LOI stricken, unparsed. Did not parse lethal or peril fully either. COD cross bencher. Covid booster for us tomorrow. The last two jabs have made us light-headed for a day or two, very strange. Not planning on doing much tomorrow or Thursday. Thanks for parsing the three above, and for the blog, Chris. Thanks to Orpheus for a QC.
  17. We thought this was a really good puzzle with a great mix of clues. We were all done in 10 minutes.

    COD: MOLASSES (very funny)

    Thanks Chris and Orpheus.

  18. Agree with Old Blighter, this seemed like a proper QC, entertaining with nothing too demanding.
    It still required my full attention, especially LOI CROSS BENCHER where even with all the checkers, I needed a long think.
    Did not parse HEATHER but it had to be. Thanks for that.
    10:23 on the clock.
    Following yesterday’s discussion, I’m now going to buy an Ah-So on Amazon.
  19. …a work call which I have to attend, but not contribute to, so somewhat distracted. Not sure whether it made any material difference. One of those where I had to parse everything to complete it, and that, plus an over-target time, would suggest that this puzzle from Orpheus was in the moderate to hard category for me.



  20. ….that this was moderate to hard. I started haltingly by trying to justify “scattering” at 1A, and was all over the grid in the end. I felt relieved to scrape inside my target by 3 seconds.

    TIME 4:57

  21. Rather chewy solve not aided by attempting to answer work calls at the same time.

    SMATTERING and APPREHENSION for LOI – just couldn’t stop myself from attempting to parse “small amount of study initially” to mean “having importance”.

    Agree with merlin_55 above that there are several abbreviations that newer and younger solvers (a category in which I perhaps unwisely include myself) will struggle with; some I can potentially still see uses for (Ambassador = HE, Bishop = RR) but they’re so far and away from the experiences of anyone under, say, 40, that the only way they’ll be able to start Times Cryptics is by chancing across a blog such as this, which parses and explains all the clues in good detail.

    1. Maybe this is a good place to learn about the Right Reverend bishop and His Excellency. If you meet an ambassador in Paris, you can say, ‘Bonjour, excellence’ . Sorry no accent.
      But EP for record wd be obscure to the young.
      1. Absolutely agree that this is the right place – my point is more that anyone who wanted to start trying cryptics, without a resource such as this, would be absolutely at sea trying to decipher clues using obscure/obsolete slang or abbreviations. As such if setters at the Times want to encourage novices, they should perhaps try to limit reliance on out-of[-common]-use terminology.
    2. There are plenty of experienced solvers under the age forty -Jeremy is but 39 — Verlaine is 29 again!
      Elderly Farts like me (71) have been doing crosswords since their youth. I started on ‘The Times’ from my seventeenth birthday, moving up from ‘The Telegraph’. By 40 I knew a good No. of Abbreviations – but they have be learnt one by one and then retained. The listings at the back of ‘Chambers’ and other dictionaries are useful but I would advise not to try and learn them wholesale. Accumulate the little beggars!

      1. Completely agree – I’ve thought about starting a list for myself somewhere (and am sure I’ve seen one maintained by august bloggers on this site linked somewhere previously) but far prefer logging on and griping instead!
  22. An enjoyable completion, although back to 25 mins again after yesterdays quickie.

    Main hold up was the NW, with 1ac “Smattering”, 3dn “Toad” and 4dn “Ransom” taking longer than they should. No excuse for 3dn, but after discounting “frog” my limited amphibian repertoire was struggling until I saw the obvious.

    Never read Swallows and Amazons, but luckily knew the author. I used to enjoy a good Secret Seven in my day and Biggles.

    Is a ransom “redemption money”? I never thought of the word being used in that context — I was thinking of fines and reparations and such like.

    Liked 5dn “Nuthatch”, 6dn “Cross Bencher” and 12dn “Stricken”.

    FOI — 1dn “Sheep”
    LOI — 4dn “Ransom”
    COD — 21ac “Heather”

    Thanks as usual!

    Edited at 2021-11-02 11:29 am (UTC)

  23. I found this quite a gentle offering from Orpheus, finishing in 10 mins fully parsed. Quite a quick time for me. Lots of good clues and no unknown vocabulary as far as I was concerned.

    FOI – 9ac TURIN
    LOI – 12dn STRICKEN
    COD – 13dn QUINCE with an honourable mention to 11ac MOLASSES

  24. My “new approach” to the QC fell flat on its face today. I did not time myself, and stopped when I was stuck, coming back several times during the course of the morning. I have not the time for the remainder of the day to return to the puzzle. Therefore I had to end it now.

    I found this QC very difficult, with some clues totally eluding me.

    6d. I spent far too much time convinced that I was looking for an alcoholic drink. Lesson learned: If an answer totally eludes me for too long, consider the possibility that I am looking at the wrong end of the clue.

    1a. Took me forever and a day to solve.

    Can’t say I really enjoyed this one, and despite my wanting to wean myself off aids, I did have to refer to Chambers a couple of times, else it would have been a DNF.

    Oh well, there’s always tomorrow, and, of course, today’s Daily Mail cryptic to complete. I am doing far better there than here today.

    1. Pleased to see you back here, again, PW and I promise that your dedication is worthwhile.
  25. An enjoyable puzzle which I started with SHEEP and TOAD. SMATTERING came a lot later, after I had all its danglers. I seemed to be INSPIRED rather than STRICKEN and finished with the beast in the EAST which of course, I failed to parse correctly. 6:08. Thanks Orpheus and Chris.
  26. 4:21 this morning. A pretty good example of the QC genre I thought, with very fair clues and a few that had to be teased out.
    For 1 d I briefly found myself considering “shelp” before “sheep” for some reason.
    COD 5 d “nuthatch”. I’ve seen the occasional one over the past few months, identified by Mrs P who knows about such things.
    Thanks to Chris and Orpheus. Maybe a tougher puzzle tomorrow?
      1. Actually I wasn’t expressing a desire for a tougher puzzle per se, rather I reckon it could be part of the Crossword Editor’s cunning plan!
  27. A pleasant outing today, with all done in 9 minutes.
    I used to love the Arthur Ransom books – infinitely preferable to most Enid Blyton in my view, although I did have a bit of a binge on the Mallory Towers books when I was about 10. It was nothing like the boarding convent school where I was at that time 😅
    I made some jelly from Japanese quinces last week — not related to the furry apple-like fruit and milder too, but tasty on a warm scone 😋
    FOI Sheep
    LOI Smattering
    COD Phew
    Thanks Orpheus (and for the good joke in Saturday’s paper) and thanks too to Chris
  28. A steady solve over a late breakfast for me. I worked my way round the grid, managing to parse everything as I went. However, the 14ac/7d completely eluded me. I had CAB – seemed obvious – but I couldn’t get the last two letters. CABIN for room just didn’t occur to me, maybe because I don’t do cruises. Also, I kept thinking of UNESCO for 7 but I couldn’t parse it and suspected it must be wrong. Eventually, I got CABIN and, hence, 7d. I think that, in both case, it was the literal inclusion of the word IN that stumped me.

    Doesn’t seem to have bothered anyone else, so maybe I’m just dim?

    1. You either see them or you don’t. If you’re not sure then look at every word (and punctuation mark sometimes) in the clue. Often there’s filler for the surface but other times – like IN today – they’re all there for a reason.
  29. … which took 12 minutes. No real hold-ups, but enough to think about to prevent a faster finish. In short, a good QC!

    1A Smattering a lovely word, very nice to see it and a cleverly deceptive clue too — I was initially wondering what a “small amount of study” might be called. The combination makes it both my COD and WOD.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

  30. After about a year I have actually managed to complete and parse two QCs in a row! Took me a while (10 Kevins maybe!), so I am very impressed by the times posted by the regulars. I would like to thank all of the setters and especially the bloggers, without whose assistance I would never have improved.
    1. A golfer once said ‘the more I practise, the luckier I get’. Well done for commitment and attitude – the main thing is to keep enjoying them.
  31. Rather a struggle today, with STRICKEN the last to go in. A bit frustrating to be so slow. Glad to finish.
  32. I always find Orpheus difficult. And this was no exception for me. It is as though this setter clues in a code that is different to many but is spotted a mile away by the well-versed.
    There were a few easy ones but I didn’t enter Heather — not parsed — or Molasses — slow to see MO and lasses….
    Enjoyed Nuthatch though — probably my favourite bird…it is the only bird that will climb up and down a tree — tree creepers only going up etc.
    I digress- a huge DNF for me. (<50% complete)

    Thanks all
    John George

    1. It’s funny — I used to find Orpheus one of the hardest setters to get to grips with, although I always enjoyed the results when I saw the answers, but in the last year or so, something clicked! Fingers crossed the same will happen for you 😊 Of course, I’m tempting fate now — what’s the betting I really struggle with his next outing?
  33. I finished in 38 minutes today which, for an Orpheus, is a jolly good time for me. And what’s more, I am now in credit for the first time with this setter (18 solves vs 17 DNFs). I find Orpheus, Joker and Teazel the most awkward setters to cope with.

    Today, I struggled with the top half of the grid, but the bottom half came to my rescue. My last few in were RANSOM, TOAD and EXPLAIN. I have never read Arthur Ransome and I’m still struggling to get my head around ‘homely aspect’ equalling PLAIN.

    Mrs Random cruised home just under the SCC threshold, but as we record our times only to the nearest minute it will go down as 20 minutes. She is now in the kitchen tending to the pizza dough she made earlier, as that’s what’s for dinner this evening. All good, then!

    Many thanks to Orpheus and chrisw91.

    Edited at 2021-11-02 04:59 pm (UTC)

    1. Homely is a euphemistic way of saying that someone is plain. I’ve always thought of it as more of an American usage — no doubt lots of people will now say it’s common in various British regions. So a homely aspect is a plain face 😐 Hope I’m not teaching you to suck eggs!
  34. Sorry this comment actually refers to earlier comments triggered by Arthur Ransome’s children’s novels and leading to Biggles books and somehow I’ve posted this out of sequence. Apologies

    You may well be right that my memory is playing tricks — it won’t be the first time — but I still reckon it was part of some text that was displayed at the beginning of an M & W sketch. I’ve always associated it with their script writer at the time, Eddie Braben. Whatever, it gave me a laugh!

    Edited at 2021-11-02 06:15 pm (UTC)

  35. I am not an expert by any manner of means but finished this one with ease. Being rude to people is not the aim of this blog.
    Might i suggest that if you cannot be nice , helpful or funny you go away
  36. A finish but qualified by East via ‘bEast’ instead of ‘fEast’, as mentioned above. A big effort though, it took an age. I wonder if the quicker solvers have a big advantage of acquired knowledge in these tangential clues, eg cropping words that are not there. All thanks.
  37. You could have timed me with a sun dial today. I finished but dare not admit the time it took

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