Times Quick Cryptic 2207 by Hawthorn

Well… I was warned this could be tough, as we might have come to expect from this setter, but 1ac and 1dn flew in. Subsequently, however, I was pushed over target by some properly enjoyable and grown-up clues.

LOI 2dn. CODs 3dn and 5dn – both so good.

Definitions underlined.

1 Recovering from mixed gin espressos (12)
REPOSSESSING – anagram of (mixed) GIN ESPRESSOS.
8 Sea creature caught by mouth (5)
CORAL – C (caught, cricket) and ORAL (by mouth).
9 Silly fellow to singe pork pie (7)
CHARLIE – CHAR (to singe) and LIE (pork pie).
10 Some sockeye salmon? Certainly! (3)
YES – hidden in (some) sockeYE Salmon.
11 Blundering into strange turning, showing adventurous spirit (7-2)
DERRING-DO – ERRING (blundering) contained by (into) a reversal of (turning) ODD (strange).
13 Look in thick hair for fine powder (5)
FLOUR – LO (look) contained by (in) FUR (thick hair).
14 Falcon’s pursuit (5)
HOBBY – double definition.
16 Change of rate more certain for financial official (9)
TREASURER – anagram (change) of RATE, then SURER (more certain).
17 Not totally against insect (3)
ANT – all-but-the-last-letter of (not totally) ANTi (against).
19 Tactile woven mesh (7)
LATTICE – anagram of (woven) TACTILE.
21 Undergo conversion in church structure, we hear (5)
ALTER – sounds like (we hear) “altar” (church structure).
22 Limits phosphorus in agricultural device for small bird (5,7)
HEDGE SPARROW – EDGES (limits) and P (phosphorous), all contained by (in) HARROW (agricultural device). A dunnock, to you and me, and not a sparrow.
1 Hard, finding clubs in New York (5)
ROCKY – C (clubs) contained by (in) an anagram of (new) YORK.
2 Overseeing helper? (9)
PERISCOPE – cryptic definition, *still* my Achilles heel.
3 Sarah giving a speech to relish (5,8)
SALAD DRESSING – SAL (sarah) and ADDRESSING (giving speech).
4 Finale cut short before middle part: we want more! (6)
ENCORE – all-but-the-last letter of (cut short) ENd (finale), then CORE (middle part).
5 Mad piranhas as terrible as fleet of warships (7,6)
SPANISH ARMADA – anagram of (terrible) MAD PIRANHAS AS.
6 Nothing left in back (3)
NIL – L (left) and IN (in) all reversed (back).
7 Tune from mass organised yodel (6)
MELODY – M (mass) and an anagram of (organised) YODEL.
12 Rabat girl moved somewhere just north of her country (9)
GIBRALTAR – anagram of (moved) RABAT GIRL. Rabat being the capital of Morocco, the country immediately south. Not Spain then (Ceuta).
13 Pointless empty unit in document holder (6)
FUTILE – first and last letters from (empty) UniT contained by (in) FILE (document holder).
15 Barrister’s underpants (6)
BRIEFS – double definition.
18 Chuck half of this paddle (5)
THROW – first half of THis, then ROW (paddle).
20 Regularly strokes digit (3)
TOE – alternate letters from (regularly) sTrOkEs.

78 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2207 by Hawthorn”

  1. 18:14. ROCKY was very tricky as I kept looking for an N to go with the Y. PERISCOPE and CHARLIE had to be studied from different angles before they could be solved. Remembered HOBBY from previous puzzles.Blog was very helpful in fully understanding all the parts-thanks!

  2. Today I learnt (learned?) that Sal/Sally is a nickname for Sarah. I have known many people of both names in my life and they have always been treated as separate names!

    PERISCOPE I had to reveal, and I couldn’t parse ROCKY and didn’t know that a Hobby was a falcon, I just biffed it. I also couldn’t parse Hedge Sparrow.

    Getting REPOSSESSING at the beginning helped a lot!

    1. Periscopes also had to be revealed on U-Boats and Subs – hence ‘Up -Periscope’!

        1. Kevin, on the subject of ‘Uberseeing’ (Oversea-ing) a U-Boat could become rather crowded at times!

    2. Tina and L-Plates: The Sarah / Sally thing goes way back. Sally was a diminutive of Sarah for at least a couple of hundred years, much as Polly was a diminutive of Mary, via Molly, and Peggy from Margaret, before they became names in their own right. Jack for John is another one – I’m sure there must be someone here who could tell us more about that 😂

      1. I’m not disputing it, just never heard it referred to.

        My grandmother was referred to as Polly by my grandfather but I think she was a Winifred. I simply called her “grandma” !! 😀

      2. I’ve long been curious about Jack. It seems Hebrew Jacob gives Giacomo(Italian), Joachim,Jacques(French) Joaquin,Iago,Jaime(Spanish) ,and in English we have the two quite different-looking Jacob and James. Jack seems closest to Jacques but there are alternative derivations. One theory is Jankin( short for Johnnie-kin? )Or even a Celtic possibility-Iach. I suppose Jake comes in there somewhere too!

        1. Curious, isn’t it! John, James, Jacob – they don’t seem so close in English, but there are clearly links. I like Jankin – perhaps I’ll start to call MrB that 😉

  3. 10.08

    Not on top form with this one and my time included one unspotted typo.

    Liked ROCKY

    Thanks William and Hawthorn

  4. 11 minutes delayed past my target 10 by thinking NY at 1dn, recovering from an illness at 1ac, and still having a brain-freeze at 2dn, even with all the checkers in place. Eventually I thought of PERISCOPE only because it fitted the checkers and then I finally spotted the cryptic definition. This is the second Hawthorn QC since David left as Puzzles Editor; it would be nice to know if he is still around as setter or these were some that remained ‘on the shelf’.

  5. ROCKY and PERISCOPE held out until the end and were both brilliant – especially in hindsight. Never heard of a HEDGE SPARROW (or a Dunnock for that matter) but the clueing helped. Only four on the first pass of acrosses before ending up with a surprisingly fast all green 11.

  6. 15 minutes all parsed.
    FOI: SPANISH ARMADA from enumeration checking the anagrist after.
    LOI: HEDGE SPARROW as it was the last one I looked at and had all the checking letters it was a write-in.
    With 1ac and 2dn, I needed all the checking letters possible before REPOSSESSING and PERISCOPE came to mind.
    Favourites: DERRING-DO and CHARLIE.

  7. One of those puzzles where getting 1a early would have been very useful, but I didn’t. Like Jackkt I was looking at recovering from an illness and like others got stuck on NY appearing in the very clever 1d. Plenty of smiles throughout my solve from clues such as DERRING-DO, SPANISH ARMADA, FLOUR and COD SALAD DRESSING.
    Finished this top quality puzzle with a very tentative PERISCOPE in 9.22.
    Thanks to William and would love to see Hawthorn appear more regularly.

  8. DNF – couldn’t get PERISCOPE, and I don’t think it’s a good clue at all. Loved ROCKY, excellent misdirection. About 2K for the rest; a Bad Day.

    Many thanks Hawthorn and William.


  9. 10:36
    The underwater branch of Nando’s features a peri-periscope.
    Thanks, w.

      1. Hi Penny, thank you! One or two this year; Genesis at O2 in March; Carl Palmer in April; Phil Toms’ Tubular Bells in June; couple of Steve Hackett shows coming up next month, then G2 in October and Rick Wakeman in December. Stuck in the 70s I’m afraid 🙂

        1. Nothing wrong with that! I just told my prog rocker about the Rick Wakeman concerts – he didn’t know and is going to investigate 😀 I quite fancy seeing Deep Purple in October – could be a birthday treat!

          1. Gillan’s voice still in great shape. rwcc dot com for Rick’s tour dates. These are solo piano recitals, not a band 🙂

            1. You inspired us! We booked Deep Purple in Leeds last night. Good to hear about Gillan’s voice – I was wondering how Child in Time might sound these days 😅
              MrB has also investigated the RW shows – I think he and our son are interested in going to one of those, so big thanks to you for all the info 😊

              1. Great stuff, Penny. Can’t see CiT on any of the current setlists, but lots of other big numbers on there. Enjoy!

  10. Could someone kindly explain why ‘look’ signifies ‘lo’? Obviously it’s the first two letters but my understanding of the rules of crosswordland was that you could only abbreviate when that abbreviation is commonly used in some other context (cricket for instance).

    1. It’s older English, meaning see, as in “Lo and behold”. Often Lo! To denote something unusual. Try the bible, various hymns, etc.

    2. lo
      — interjection

      look! see! (frequently used in Biblical expressions; now usually used as an expression of surprise in the phrase lo and behold, ).

    3. LO is a word in its own right, meaning LOOK. It is archaic (origin old English), but familiar to us from the expression ‘lo and behold’.

  11. Count me in as a member of the club looking for NY in 1D. A lovely piece of misdirection and my COD. I liked CHARLIE too. In fact a nice puzzle altogether. Thank-you Hawthorn and William. 4:57.

  12. DNF, just could not get 1A/1D. Like others, obsessed with NY, and districts therein (Soho, NoMad, NoHo, etc).

    PERISCOPE, not a great clue.

    Pleased to get HEDGE SPARROW from HARROW.

    COD SALAD DRESSING (although SAL=Sarah only in crosswords)
    WOD DERRING-DO, only used of good chaps like Biggles, Flashman etc.

  13. I, too wasted time trying to squeeze NY into 1d and I found CORAL quite difficult. At least, 1a emerged very quickly so the NW corner was not quite so hard as it might have been. Some very fine clues here despite the minor niggles from one or two bloggers.
    I wrote in the last three letters of CHARLIE early but only completed the answer later. I finished under target apart from PERISCOPE which I thought was tough but rather clever – in the end, it took me over my limit by 3 or 4 mins.
    Many thanks to Hawthorn (a lot of thought went into this QC) and to William for his blog and confirmation of parsing.
    I wonder if the rest of the week will be as testing as the first few days? John M.

  14. Gahhhhhhh …. 17 mins on the clock and left with the NW … was losing faith on figuring out FLOUR, PERISCOPE and CORAL but they eventually came and I was left with 1D at 26+ mins. Spent a further two mins to get away from the R-CNY version to finish at 28:27.

    Then to DNF on ALTER, having banged in the church ALTaR without reading the clue properly – the SW was where I actually got going today so zoomed past that and even deliberately spelled it with the A.


    After taking 39min, 38, 1hr16, 1hr03 on the past four days; it was good to bang some answers in quickly. Bit of biffing with DERRING-DO, HEDGE-SPARROW and discovered barristers don’t wear boxers!!

    Thanks to William and Hawthorn 🙂

  15. Exactly on target at 15 minutes (I’ll forgive the 3 seconds). I was lucky enough to see repossessing quite quickly for FOI which helped, but then struggled on PERISCOPE (I avoided the submarine service throughout my Naval career – a Skimmer to the end!). After entering the ‘scope as my LOI I wondered where the Congratulations message was, and then spotted that I hadn’t looked at 20d, so that ended as my real LOI.

    Many thanks all.

  16. I started with TOE and then solved a number of very easy clues thinking this would be a quick time. I was wrong.
    Like others it seems, I struggled to find, then parse, ROCKY. My last two were PERISCOPE which saved me from an embarrassing FULOR-never thought of LOI FLOUR until I had the checkers.
    15 minutes in the end.
    A good test.

  17. Another who spent ages trying to fit NY into 1d – only saw the light when the penny dropped for CORAL at 8a. Remembered HOBBY = FALCON fortunately. Flash of inspiration for SALAD DRESSING! Pleased to finish a testing puzzle.

  18. It’s quite a while since I failed to finish, but like a few others defeated by PERISCOPE.
    I would have just about been on the limit of my 10 minute target but for that, but a further 6 minutes staring blankly at it revealed nothing and I gave up.
    Never mind, at least Newport County defeated Portsmouth last night, and now go into the third round draw with the Liverpools and Manchester United’s of this world. A visit to Old Trafford or Anfield would do nicely! 🤞

    1. My boyhood team also got through last night, albeit by the skin of their teeth, and the next match is at Anfield. I don’t hold out much hope.

      1. That would be Bournemouth then! I’d be quite happy for a trip down there. The very first Newport County game I attended was at home to Bournemouth in 1957. We won 5-3! Oh that it was always that exciting!

        1. Am I right in remembering a season (many years ago) in the old Div. 4 when NC reached or nearly reached Christmas before securing their first point? Were you watching them then?

          My most abiding memory from watching Bournemouth back in the day was standing on an open terrace in bucketing rain watching their FA Cup 1st round tie against Margate. B’mth had been dumped out of the cup by a non-league team the previous year, so we all feared the worst. In the event, B’mth won 11-0, with Ted MacDougall scoring 9 (nine). By the end, we hardly noticed that we were soaked to the skin.

          1. From memory Newport had something like three points to show for their efforts, and then thankfully sacked their manager and brought in Colin Addison who performed miracles and kept them up! My father was on the board of directors at the time, and yes I did watch them through thick and thin!
            The family connection with the club continues to this day, as my younger brother was match announcer for the County from 1974 to the end of last season. He was the third longest serving announcer after the Liverpool and Brentford announcers who were a year or so ahead of him in longevity. My brother retired from the post (unpaid, and done for the love of it) as he felt at 70 enough was enough.
            I well remember Ted Macdougall’s feat, quite an achievement. He was bought by Man United if memory serves me.

      2. Mr Random – having nothing better to do with my Saturdays after starting my first fulltime job, I spent a couple of seasons (1991-93) on the terraces of Dean Court until I realised the error of my ways!

        Fond memories of ex-Liverpool and England midfielder, Jimmy Case, completing his journeyman years along the south coast – Brighton, Pompey, Southampton before ending up with us. He used to play a culture little sidefoot from the halfway line to put the ball into space which was inevitably unexpected to his 3rd division teammates and simply resulted in loss of possession.

        Also recall watching Efan Ekoku regularly screw up 1-on-1 chances with opposition keepers. We got a good price for him with last night’s opponent (Norwich) and it was amazing to see him playing against Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup the following year.

        Think I gave up going when they got thumped 4-0 on Boxing Day 1993, the lowlight of which was watching goalkeeper Vince Bartram slice the ball into his own net on an attempted clearance. He managed to get a transfer to Arsenal where he sat behind David Seaman for the rest of his career.

  19. DNF. Loved the misdirection in the clue for ROCKY but not keen on the cluing for PERISCOPE. Gave up around the 10 mins mark with the NHO DERRING-DO.

  20. Like others, held up for ages by trying to fit NY into 1d. PERISCOPE was LOI, REPOSSESSING took ages too. Liked GIBRALTAR. 14:14, so well over target! Thanks Hawthorne and William.

  21. I enjoyed this! Biffed DERRING DO and ROCKY. Parsed DERRING DO but not ROCKY so thanks to blogger.

    PERISCOPE was my LOI and COD .

    10 minutes

  22. Fab puzzle- lots to enjoy but especially appreciated periscope, rocky and hedge sparrow. I’ve been doing some of the earlier puzzles from August 2015 and salad dressing came up then with v similar clueing so it came quickly to mind. Thanks all.

  23. “Arnold Layne had a strange HOBBY…” (Pink Floyd). It involved BRIEFS (“moonshine – washing line”). I doubt the PC lobby would approve.

    I liked PERISCOPE, even though it held out to the end, but COD awarded for a top class piece of misdirection.

    FOI REPOSSESSING (indeed, ’twas helpful)
    COD ROCKY (it was “ROCKY 23”)
    TIME 3:56

  24. My week of interrupted solves (Openreach 🙄) continues, but I’m happy enough with a time around the 25min mark for a puzzle of this quality. I remembered Hawthorn as being tricky, and 1d did nothing to make me change my mind, but even so I was another who struggled for several minutes with loi Periscope before the pdm. I thought it was a cracking piece of misdirection, and it easily gets my CoD vote. Invariant

  25. A steady solve until I was left, after nearly 20 minutes, with just 2d to get. I eventually saw the light after 25:16. CsOD to PERISCOPE and ROCKY. Thanks all.

  26. This one wasn’t too bad until I got to my final three (1d, 8a and 2d), which held me up for a long while.

    Never heard of Sarah being abbreviated to Sal.

    I kept trying to find NY in 1d.

    Periscope? I’m sorry but that is an utterly nonsensical clue to me. I’ll have whatever the setter was smoking please 🤣. I too was a skimmer, though I was fortunate enough to have a go at the SETT (Submarine Escape Tank Training) at HMS DOLPHIN. That’s was fun.

    Derring-Do. Always reminds me of The Life of Bwian (sorry, I mean Brian).

  27. Finished in 11 minutes but with Periscope filled in from checkers and a letter trawl. Derring-do also put in unparsed, great word! Otherwise a good and very fair puzzle.

    Fascinating to see the reaction from other posters to Periscope. A high majority of us found that it caused problems, but there the uniformity of the response ends. Some think it a great clue, very clever, COD, etc. Others are much less impressed. I count myself in the latter category – for me this sort of clever-but-obscure “cryptic definition” is too close to “either you see it or you don’t”, a clue type I don’t care for (and for which reason I don’t do the Concise). I much prefer clues where one constructs the answer and has a chance of working it out.

    Still, each to his or her own and variety is good …

    Many thanks to William for the blog.

  28. 4:48 this morning. Pleased to be under target because this was a QC of above average difficulty with a series of top notch clues and neat misdirections, as others have already mentioned.
    COD 2d “periscope” with plenty of other candidates.
    I see from the Club Leaderboard that Verlaine polished this off in 1:47. Quite remarkable – I can only assume he and Hawthorn are the same person!
    Thanks to Hawthorn and William.

  29. Dnf – hit my cut off with about 4 to go in the top half – mainly 9ac “Charlie” (weirdly, was trying to fit in Chaplin at one point), 8ac “Coral”, 2dn “Periscope” and 3dn “Salad Dressing” (which in my world isn’t a relish).

    Like many, I also initially fell into the NY trap for 1dn – but once I got 1ac then it became obvious it didn’t start with an “N”. As my knowledge of Sparrows is restricted to the “House” and “Tree” variety, 22ac was a bit of a punt with “Hedge”. I didn’t realise it was actually a Dunnock.

    FOI – 10ac “Yes”
    LOI -dnf
    COD – 15dn “Briefs” – just for the chuckle.

    Thanks as usual!

  30. Very similar to yesterday – slow start, quick through the middle, tortuous finish. I made the mistake of writing SALAD resSiING in as my solution to 3d, which left me with F___E at 13a. I didn’t see my error for 10+ minutes, but FLOUR and PERISCOPE (a poor clue, IMHO) did eventually both arrive. DERRING DO was entered from the definition (only), but I spent another 10 minutes at the end unsuccessfully trying to parse it. Total time = 42 minutes.

    Mrs Random finished in 15 minutes today, and was baffled by my struggles.

    Many thanks to Hawthorn and William.

  31. Another mental workout. FOI – REPOSSESSING, which helped. Pleased to have spotted ROCKY (first time I have seen New York not NY). Liked CHARLIE, FLOUR and SALAD DRESSING. Guessed GIBRALTAR from letters as missed Morroccan reference; not being a twitcher, I was hovering between SPARROW and SWALLOW but GIB decided that, HEDGE was guessed from letters available, completely missed the parsing. LOI was PERISCOPE after a long pause, which guessed from letters. Reading this blog, I can just about see OVER-SEES/SEAS wordplay but where does ‘helper’ fit in? Yours in bafflement! Lucky to avoid a DNF. Thanks, Hawthorn and William.

    1. It’s nothing to do with see/sea. A periscope enabled a submarine to look at potential targets without being detected (hopefully). In that sense it could help the submarine inspect (oversee) its surroundings, so is an ‘overseeing helper’.

  32. Enjoyable with a variety of good clues. Got periscope but not satisfied with it.

  33. DNF as I couldn’t see PERISCOPE. I’m with those who thought it was a poor clue (could just be sour grapes of course). Around 18 minutes for the rest. I too was looking for n—y at 1dn until REPOSSESSING put paid to that, after which I saw ROVKY quite quickly. Never parsed DERRING DO (thanks William).

    FOI – 10ac YES
    LOI – DNF but would have been 2dn PERISCOPE
    COD – 3dn SALAD DRESSING. Also liked the mad piranhas and the barrister’s underpants.

    Thanks to Hawthorn

  34. DNF and gave up at 30 mins with PERISCOPE unsolved – still don’t quite get it, even with explanations above… not a DD then, but something to do with a periscope helping to ‘see over/above’ the water??
    Otherwise much to enjoy. Liked ROCKY and wasn’t fooled by the NY trap – progress for me! Really liked CHARLIE and ENCORE. Many thanks to Hawthorn for a great puzzle, periscope aside (although I may think differently when I actually understand this clue…) and to William.

  35. Many thanks for all your comments – much appreciated as ever. To clear up the PERISCOPE clue, the idea was that you use a periscope to help see over things (eg, a wall, a crowd of people or the surface of the sea), so with a little cryptic setters’ licence, it may be described as an “overseeing helper” – though I accept I was making the question mark at the end work quite hard!


    1. Many thanks for the clarification – still a tricky clue but at least I understand it now!

  36. Interesting – I found this one very approachable, pretty quick, and extremely entertaining, apart from one clue. Yes, the same one that everyone else struggled with! I had nearly the whole thing done in about 8 minutes, but 2d kept well out of sight (as you would expect, I suppose) and added a couple of minutes onto my finish time.
    Loved the misdirection for ROCKY, the surfaces for TREASURER and GIBRALTAR were great, BRIEFS is (are) a bit of a chestnut but still made me giggle. Actually too many to mention, now I’m looking through it all again. I sincerely hope DP has more time to give us crosswords of this quality now he’s not puzzles editor 🤞
    FOI and COD Repossessing* LOI Periscope (thanks for the explanation Hawthorn – like others, I’m still not entirely convinced though) WOD Derring do
    Many thanks Hawthorn and William

    * I was quite taken aback at a function recently to discover that expresso martinis are now sold on tap! At £8 a go, I was most unimpressed, particularly as there were no bartenders’ skills required at all, and it was a really small measure too. Fortunately I was on the NZ sauvignon blanc!

  37. Enjoyed this one, finishing in 14:31, just inside my target 15 minutes. Started with NIL, then went mostly clockwise around the grid until LOI ROCKY, which I did not parse at all, couldn’t see why ROKY meant New York until I read the blog. You’d think that after having to lift and separate “West Indian” yesterday, I’d have been alert to doing the same thing with “New York”, but you’d be wrong. I also biffed SALAD DRESSING, as I didn’t know Sal was an abbreviation for Sarah. Must remember that.

    PERISCOPE seems to be a clue you either loved or hated. I’m in the lovers’ camp: that’s my COD. Always nice to see the setters popping in to see the reaction to their labours.

  38. Quite happy with this qc, got periscope from overseeing (either people or the sea)!.
    Did like the several misdirections

  39. Joining others in not liking 2d PERISCOPE. One of the first things I was taught about the QC was that all 2 word clues were double definitions. Clearly I was given an alternative fact . . .

    1. Some time ago, I posited Rotter’s Law that two word clues are invariably double defs, but as in all things, there will always be exceptions.

  40. A Dunnock is not a sparrow and rather wonderfully comes from the Old English for small brown bird. Up to the minute ornithologists now go with Hedge Accentor!

  41. 15:33

    Pretty straightforwards today but needed the checkers before I worked out LOI PERISCOPE.

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