Times Quick Cryptic 2231 by Hawthorn

A rather thorny crossword today which took me 16 minutes. 15dn was my final struggle as I didn’t have the gk and couldn’t work out what was going on – until it became obvious, of course.


Definitions are underlined in bold italics.

1 Comfy seat concealed by Francis of Assisi (4)
SOFA – concealed in Franci(S OF A)ssisi.
3 Mugged fellow used to drink in pub (4,3)
TOBY JUG – I think it’s a cryptic definition. it’s a ceramic (rather than glass) beer mug. The general consensus is that Toby Jugs were named for an 18th-century Yorkshire man who got the nickname Toby Fillpot after he drank 2,000 pints of Yorkshire stingo (ale). A Toby Jug is a figural ceramic pitcher modeled in the form of a popular character, historical, fictional or generic.
8 Is a time amid hardship resulting in loss of public assets? (13)
PRIVATISATION – With thanks to comments below: is (IS), a (A) and time (T) inside hardship (PRIVATION).
9 Friend or enemy, primarily? Enemy (3)
FOE – (F)riend (O)r (E)nemy.
10 More painful right in middle of rambling rose (5)
SORER – right (R) in the middle of an anagram (rambling) of ROSE.
12 Soil thrown in trash (7)
TARNISH – anagram (thrown) of IN TRASH.
14 Boy having party with little Charlie (7)
DOMINIC – party (DO), little (MINI), Charlie (C).
16 Half-cut at university bar, knocked back Bloody Mary, say (5)
TUDOR – all backwards of:  half-cut e(ROD)ed, university (U), bar (T – as in some ski lifts). Any other suggestions for half of ‘cut’? Thanks to comments below: half of a(T), university (U), bar (ROD) backwards.
17 Paddle with duck alongside a river (3)
OAR – duck (O – zero score), a (A), river (R).
20 The attraction of two Barbaras (7,6)
WINDSOR CASTLE – Barbaras with those surnames.
21 Trouble in road behind nightclub (7)
DISCORD – Road (RD) after nightclub (DISCO).
22 Unwanted messages get plans backwards (4)
SPAM – plans (MAPS) – backwards.
1 Fancied a little drink and sit down at first (8)
SUPPOSED – a little drink (SUP), sit (POSE), (D)own.
2 Sword made from thin sheet of metal (4)
FOIL – double definition.
3 Tip from tradesman fixing kitchen stand (6)
TRIVET – (T)radesman, fixing (RIVET). I’m not sure I properly knew that that’s what those things are called you put hot pans on to avoid burning the worktop.
4 Rush away to dine, tucking into simple, delicious morsel? (4,1,7)
BEAT A RETREAT – dine (EAT) inside simple (BARE), delicious morsel (TREAT).
5 Convict in trouble over prison term initiated by judge (8)
JAILBIRD – trouble (AIL) on top of prison term (BIRD) all after judge (J).
6 End of lesson in silence for badly behaved group? (4)
GANG – lesso(N) inside silence (GAG).
7 Foreign currency accepted by dodgy casinos in US city (3,9)
SAN FRANCISCO – foreign currency (FRANC) inside an anagram (dodgy) of CASINOS. In case anyone hmphs about the franc having been replaced by the euro, countries that use francs today include Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and most of Francophone Africa.
11 Relics moved man to break into tears (8)
REMNANTS – anagram (moved) of MAN inside tears (RENTS),
13 Something hooted on top of Ray’s tree (8)
HORNBEAM – also known as ironwood, apparently. Something hooted/blown (HORN) on top of ray (BEAM).
15 Writer of piece of music on radio (6)
CONRAD – I have to fess up to not knowing Joseph Conrad author of Lord Jim and Nostromo among others. It turns out, I didn’t need to worry about it as the answer is a piece of the clue – musi(C ON RAD)io.
18 Was obliged to love and marry (4)
OWED – love (O), marry (WED).
19 Stage favourites making comeback (4)
STEP – favourites (PETS) backwards.


60 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2231 by Hawthorn”

  1. 7 + 1/2 minutes
    This was harder than the 15×15 today

    No idea what was going on with TOBY JUG

    TUDOR is Half cut “at” = T + university = U + bar = ROD, reversed = DOR

  2. I thought TUDOR was T (at cut in half), U (university), and DOR (rod backwards). Also PRIVATISATION was “is a t” inside privation. 20:08 to get all entered. BEAT A RETREAT, DOMINIC, and SUPPOSED took the longest..CONRAD cleverly concealed and enjoyed”mugged fellow” for TOBY. COD to WINDSOR CASTLE!

  3. An orgy of biffing–PRIVATISATION (parsed as Vinyl did), TUDOR (parsed as per Lou), WINDSOR CASTLE, SF–parsed all post-submission (I assumed there were a BarbaraWindsor and a Barbara Castle; don’t know either). 6:34.
    You should try Conrad, Chris: ‘Secret Agent’, ‘Lord Jim’, ‘Nostromo’, …

    1. Barbara Windsor was a bawdy actress who starred in the ‘Carry On’ films, with Sid James, Ken Williams, Bernard Breslaw, and a gag-gle of other comedians. They were considered hilarious in the late fifties and early sixties, but we’re later heavily frowned – upon by the ‘Smelling Salts’ Brigade.

      Barbara Castle MP was a slightly austere, petite, bluff Yorkshire, Cabinet Minister in both Harold Wilson’s Labour Governments.

      Today’s 15x 15 comes recommended Meldrew.

      1. Yorkshire ? Hardly ! Born in Derbyshire, and was MP for Blackburn (in Lancashire, where the Beatles became aware of all those holes.)

    2. Barbara Castle as Minister of Transport introduced a lot of controversial legislation affecting motorists, most notably the breathalyser. It’s hard now to think of that as being controversial!

    3. …and ‘The N. . . . . of the Narcissus’, which we ‘did’ at school! And ‘Heart of Darkness’, which was the basis for Alan Parker’s film ‘Apocalypse Now’.

  4. 15 minutes on the dot, so stuck in amber just avoiding my red zone. I was delayed by SUPPOSED, PRIVATISATION, and my last two in: BEAT A RETREAT and TUDOR. I think this is the second puzzle by David P since he moved on from being the Puzzles Editor.

    I needed only 6 minutes more for the 15×15 today so I’d encourage ambitious QC solvers to have a go at it.

    1. Thanks for the pointer. I had a go and did it in under 40 mins (a good time for me) but thought it was a bit of a biff-fest. I did parse them all but, as with the QC, I felt the cart was before the horse much of the time. John.

    2. Thank you Jack. 15×15 tried, and a rare completion. Just over 30 minutes, but to complete at all is not a common event for me!

  5. 20:17 here. I parsed TOBY JUG as a double definition: “Mugged fellow” as in “man turned into a mug” and “(thing) used to drink in pub”. Was sent entirely the wrong way by CONRAD: I was convinced it was going to be a homophone clue, so invented a writer named CORRED, because it sounds like “chord”. Fortunately common sense kicked in just before I hit the submit button.

  6. Just over 13 minutes for me, compared to just under 18 for the 15×15, so I’d echo the above sentiments to give that one a go if you feel in the mood. I was also wrongfooted by the homophonic-seeming CONRAD, but at least I knew the writer, though only because of mainstream films: Apocalypse Now was inspired by Heart of Darkness, and the Nostromo is the name of the ship in Alien

  7. Another at 22 minutes all parsed. Although PRIVATISATION took a minute or two to break down the WP. Parsing as curryowen and vinyl1
    FOI: SOFA is a gimmie.
    LOI: HORNBEAM only because it was the last one I looked at.
    Favourite: I marked both TOBY JUG and DISCORD.
    My parents had a collection of Toby Jugs; I have no idea who ended up with them.

  8. Made a hash of this, with many blanks on the RHS.


    Reckon the 15×15 was actually easier today.

  9. A quick start and a lumbering return to the QC after a 10 minute interruption that threw me completely. Nevertheless, I was within my 15 min target but without a precise time.
    Plenty of biffs as crossers emerged (e.g. 3, 4, 5, 16, and 20) but these were followed by parsing. My LOI was SUPPOSED (I was fixated on SIP at first).
    After completion, I looked back to find many of the clues quite clever (though some seemed a bit clunky). Can’t really pick out a single favourite but I liked WINDSOR CASTLE.
    Thanks to both. John M.

  10. Was sailing along quite nicely until being halted by the ne corner. Once JAILBIRD fell into place it gave me TOBY JUG and the rest followed on. I put CONRAD in as the only writer I could think of without spotting the hidden until the eleventh hour. Crossed the line in 9.12 which felt like a good time (for me) for a tough test. COD to afore mentioned drinking vessel.

  11. 15:19
    Toughie – as noted above, today’s 15×15 is less of a handful. Conrad was very cleverly hidden.
    Thanks, c.

  12. I managed all but one answer in 10 minutes and after a further 3 minutes gave up on CONRAD. I completely missed the hidden and was fixated on finding a homophone. Not surprisingly my alphabet trawl failed and the best I could come up with was the well known writer ‘Corred’ pronounced ‘chord’ (I’d also just read the Giles Coren section in the Times which didn’t help matters as his name got stuck in my head). Perhaps I’ll give the 15×15 a shot!

  13. Found this very tough today – 40 mins! Knew CONRAD but spent a very long time looking for a homophone. TUDOR also took an age and I never did parse it. Also found TOBY JUG time-consuming expecting ‘used’ to be an anagram indicator (and hadn’t got the ‘J’ crosser from JAILBIRD by that point). Liked WINDSOR CASTLE. Definitely needed the blog – many thanks Chris. Tricky today.

  14. Back at 20 minutes plus, as I was all last week. This took me 28 minutes in total with SAN FRANCISCO entered from crossers without parsing and having completely given up trying to parse TUDOR. Glad everyone else found it tough and it wasn’t just me having an off day!

    FOI – 1ac SOFA (probably the easiest clue in the whole puzzle)
    LOI – 3dn TRIVET
    COD – 9ac FOE for its simplicity

    Thanks to Hawthorn and to Chris for his much needed blog

  15. Too difficult to be classed as a QC in my opinion. Did not get very far at all. Unenjoyable. I’m glad we don’t see Hawthorn too often here.

  16. Think Hawthorne got his envelopes/attachments mixed up when sending the 15×15 and quickie.

    COD Toby Jug

  17. Another tough one. Like others, I spent ages on loi, Conrad, looking for a homophone of Chord without success. Eventually the ‘when all else fails. . .’ rule kicked in and I spotted the (very well) hidden. The clock was almost at the 30min mark by then, so hardly a quick solve. Toby Jug was my favourite for a long time, but the setter’s artfulness/cunning in the clue construction for 15d takes the prize today. Invariant

    1. I thought of Chord for a while as well. Like another commenter, it wasn’t until after I inserted Conrad (sounded like a writer’s name) that I discovered the incredibly well hidden word.

  18. Bucking the trend a bit as I found the NE corner (Toby Jug, Jailbird etc) went in quite quickly. It was the rest of the puzzle that I found tough though, and completion required much biffing. 14 minutes in all, but far from all parsed and I don’t think I would have with another 14 minutes.

    LOI Step, as I left it to the end and then wondered whether Step and Stage were really synonyms. Everyone will tell me they are, and I did put it in to complete the puzzle, but it isn’t the tightest of linkages IMO.

    CoD to the twin castles, lovely clue.

    Many thanks to Chris for the blog

    1. Collins a has ‘A step in a process is one of a series of stages.
      E.g. The next step is to put the theory into practice.
      E.g. Aristotle took the scientific approach a step further’.
      I think ‘stage’ could replace ‘step’ in these examples.

  19. DNF++. Solved a few (very few) , biffed a few, looked up a few and came to the end. Far Too difficult for a QC, I agree. Liked WINDSOR CASTLE tho had to look up. As I may have said before, I met Barbara Castle in the Ladies loo once. She was tiny and v polite.
    FOI SOFA but disapprove of the word Comfy. Liked HORNBEAM, DOMINIC, CONRAD (tho missed hidden as deceived by ‘on the radio’.) Biffed but cd not parse TUDOR, among others.
    All in all, a disaster.

  20. DNF

    Quit after 25 minutes with 3 unsolved. NHO TRIVET and couldn’t figure out the wordplay. Failed with DOMINIC and unforgivably failed to spot the hidden word for CONRAD as I was too busy looking for a homophone with the on radio clue.

  21. Definitely tricky. I’m another one who biffed the hidden CONRAD.



  22. I got hung up on 11d needing to involve “remain” in some shape or form. Funny how hard it can be to discard an idea which isn’t working. Otherwise I didn’t find that too bad, though I couldn’t parse TUDOR (thanks Lou) and took forever to see CONRAD, eventually getting it through a dictum someone on here taught me – “If all else fails, you’ve probably missed a hidden”.

    COD WINDSOR CASTLE; time 08:13 for 1.3K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Hawthorn and Chris.


  23. Definitely tough for a QC and I took 25 minutes to complete it (a personal worst), though looking back I’m not sure why. COD: Windsor Castle, also liked Toby Jug and Conrad, the hidden word being so successfully hidden that it was not spotted until I had filled in the answer!

  24. A day to forget. Had struggles all over the place but particularly in the NE. Finally slogged my way to the end only to discover I’d made my usual spelling mistake with San FranSisco – one day I’ll remember it (maybe). Bah. ‘Finished’ in 17.03.
    Like others I actually found the majority of the 15×15 a lot more straightforward today.
    Thanks to Chris

  25. 32 mins…

    This was hard work and to be honest I’m surprised I finished it. 3dn “Trivet”, 13dn “Hornbeam and 15dn “Conrad” were all unknown, albeit obtainable with a few checkers. Never did parse 16ac “Tudor” nor 4dn “Beat a Retreat” so thanks for the explanation above.

    With “Privatisation” and “Discord” thought there was some kind of Thatcher theme going on.

    FOI – 1ac “Sofa”
    LOI – 3dn “Trivet”
    COD – “Windsor Castle”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. I started off well enough, with SOFA in first, but slowed a bit towards the end, especially LOI, CONRAD, where I didn’t see the hidden for ages. 9:16. Thanks Hawthorne and Chris.

  27. Well never did parse TUDOR and felt that this was V V tricksy stuff. Unmissable with the crossers, but.
    But the pair of Barbaras was superb!

  28. Well we finished it with only only slight help with a word for fancied. Totally missed Conrad but had parsed Tudor, so feel quite pleased.

  29. I thought this was very hard today, especially in the SW corner. At ten minutes I had only 4 clues to go, but it took another twelve and a half minutes to finish, with REMNANTS my LOI. I have read several of Conrad’s novels, but took ages to see the hidden, since I was another one who was convinced I needed to find a homophone for a piece of music.

    I didn’t see the parsing for TUDOR. Many thanks for the explanations.

  30. I’ve certainly done 15 x

    15 puzzles quicker than this, but I’ll need to be in top form on today’s if I’m to achieve that particular feat. I was well over target, and found some of the clueing a little clunky (and I agree that, as a very amateur setter, it’s a bit rich of me to criticize the former Puzzles Editor !)

    FOI SOFA (SOFA, so good)
    LOI HORNBEAM (which doesn’t end with “elm”)
    COD WINDSOR CASTLE (never been)
    TIME 6:53 (woefully slow for me, and about twice as long as yesterday’s which I only did very late last night.)

    PS The 15 x 15 took me 54 seconds longer !

  31. Managed it in about 30 minutes – not bad for me, given that I only got a few first time round. Ground out the answers with a couple of groans and guesses en route.

  32. 6:39 this morning. Back after two of the last three weeks away and playing “catch up” generally so the Times Crossword isn’t always a top priority at the moment (pause to hang head in shame….).
    After yesterday’s gentle welcome to the QC week, I found this a lot more tricky and although there were some pretty straightforward clues in the mix, there were others that wouldn’t have been out of place in a 15×15. For example, 16 ac “tudor” was quite convoluted but all in aid of a clever surface. In some cases definitions were more vague than they might have been (e.g. 3 ac “mugged fellow” and 20 ac “attraction”) but that tends to be a major contributor to the overall level of difficulty of a puzzle.
    COD 15 d “Conrad”, neat misleading by the setter.
    Thanks to Chris and Hawthorn

  33. I think The Times needs a new crossword editor. How can it possibly be fair that the QC is harder than the 15×15? The world and his wife knows that I am incapable of completing a QC – yesterday I only got 4 clues. But today, on the 15×15, I got 3 clues in as many minutes! I had ideas for two more clues, and the 15×15 blog confirmed that I was on the right track. The QC is supposed to bring new people to the alleged joys of cryptic crosswords, but the Editor has missed the target today.

    1. I started just the same (when there was only the 15×15 game in town). I got a few then used the blog to understand how the others worked, gradually I improved and enjoyed the process. That there is a QC (admittedly of varying difficulty) is a benefit to anyone starting. The big thing is to enjoy how it all works and appreciate the cleverness of the puzzles being set for you.

    2. This was tough. I very seldom even look at the 15×15 as the clues often appear impenetrable but so did many today. This one took me hours! Just pleased to be away resting on hols and having the time to chip away u til it was done. Might take a look at the 15×15 but no desire to spend hours on that too!

  34. I made good progress until just into SCC terrritory (very familiar to me), but then really had to grind out my last 5 clues. They were all interconnected, mostly in the NE corner – GANG, JAILBIRD, TOBY JUG, BEAT A RETREAT and TUDOR (my LOI). Not being well read, I DNK the writer (CONRAD), couldn’t work out why Fancied = SUPPOSED (although I have now done so), and I couldn’t fully parse TUDOR. In the end, I crossed the line rather relieved in 36 minutes.

    Many thanks for the workout to Hawthorn, and for the explanations to Chris.

  35. Pleased with myself for finishing a tough one in 16 but less happy to see I’d failed to type out a hidden properly. CONRAf gave me two errors from one pink square. Great stuff.

  36. I agree with Ian. If this is designed to encourage new solvers it is so far off the mark to be laughable. When solvers who normally do the QC in 3-5 minutes struggle something is wrong.

    1. Surprised to be the only one to have RUBBISH for 12ac which really gums up that corner! Eventually rescued by TRIVET but I think TUDOR is simply too convoluted and I’m not sure I understand it even now with the apparently redundant ‘say’ at the end of the clue. I get the Mary Queen of Scots reference but it feels as though there are too many holes in the clue for a simpleton like me. 1d feels upside down to me as well; I had ‘sit’ as POSED so parsed ‘down at first’ as the beginning of the word. Ah well. Onwards and upwards! Thanks all

      1. I think Bloody Mary refers to Mary Tudor who was Queen before her younger sister Elizabeth came to the throne. They were both daughters of Henry VIII. Mary,Queen of Scots was their cousin.

  37. A harder slog than reading Conrad and that’s saying something. Give me a Carry On film any day.
    Pleased to finish in 40 with half a dozen biffs.

  38. Completely flummoxed by too many to mention. Feeling mauled by a quickie has not happened for some time.

    Thanks of a sort to Hawthorn!

  39. My ideal crossword is a mix of easy clues to get you started, “lightbulb” clues that are really difficult until you see them, awful puns, odd words you remember hearing but don’t really know and laugh out loud answers. This had them all.

    I loved the two castles, easy sofa, liked the misdirection of Conrad, and grudgingly accepted that Franc is a current currency. Only fault was 12 ac which I thought was “rubbish”: soil = rubbish, trash = rubbish. I remembered we had a trivet once and “beat a retreat” seemed the only answer so “rubbish” became “tarnish”

    Thoroughly enjoyable imo.

  40. I seem to have a different experience with Hawthorn’s puzzles from others! It was the same last time, but wait for the law to kick in next time!
    I finished this in 8:52, with only CONRAD unparsed – those pesky hiddens. I thoroughly enjoyed this – SORER and DOMINIC both made me smile, but there were lots of other lovely surfaces too.
    FOI Sofa LOI Privatisation COD Windsor Castle (a great clue anyway, but as I am a displaced Windsorian, it had to be!)
    Thanks Hawthorn and Chris
    23 minutes for the biggie, so yes, I too found it very user-friendly 😊

  41. A late solve after a v long day so glad to get home in around 30 mins. Recognised trivet from a relatively recent QC. Having seen some of the comments, I’ve done pretty well by my standards today.
    Thanks for a great blog.

  42. Spent about 2 hours – didn’t manage more than a third.
    Went through the answers- just like a 15×15
    I would literally need a month – and I don’t think I’d parse half these.
    So sad – usually can get these in an hour.
    This is one reason I keep my subscription.
    Any more of this – and the awful news of our economy- and I will stop buying.

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