Times Quick Cryptic 2381 by Mara


The very first clue described my experience with this puzzle. Is there such a thing as a “bad brain day”? If there isn’t, there should be.

A cryptic definition and four double definitions held me up and I ended up taking nearly 17 minutes, finishing with the (as ever) easy in retrospect very last clue 19d; at least I didn’t have to do an alphabet run through.  I liked the ‘old opener’ for which my first thought was someone of the cricketing variety.

Thanks to Mara for a puzzle which provided a very decent challenge.

Definitions underlined in bold

1 When one might want to change the locks? (3,4,3)
BAD HAIR DAY – Cryptic definition, ‘locks?’ for HAIR

One which should have been obvious, especially with the enumeration, but it took a while to come

8 Screaming out for job? (7)
CALLING – Double definition

Has anyone ever heard of a “yelling” job (my first thought) out there? Maybe a town crier?

9 Day wearing silk (5)
SATINSAT (‘Day’=abbreviation for Saturday) IN (‘wearing’)

I don’t want to enter into a debate on a subject about which I know  nothing, but one source I looked at stated that even though they have a similar glossy appearance, SATIN, which is a type of fabric weave, is not the same as ‘silk’, which is a natural fibre fabric. Any more knowledgeable comments welcome.

10 Cut collar (4)
NICK – Double definition

This one didn’t leap out at me either. ‘Collar’ as a verb, as in when a miscreant is arrested.

11 Fit patient, carrier (8)
SUITCASESUIT (‘Fit’) CASE (‘patient’)
13 Excerpt from Iliad, it told the same again (5)
DITTO – Hidden (‘Excerpt from’) IliaD IT TOld
14 Gas, one removed from air, almost disappeared (5)
ARGONAR (‘one (=letter I) removed from air’) GON (‘almost disappeared’=last letter deleted from GONE)
16 It’s cheap to fashion imitative artwork (8)
PASTICHE – Anagram (‘to fashion’) of ITS CHEAP
17 Dish served thus every Wednesday, initially (4)
STEW – First letters (‘initially’) of Served Thus Every Wednesday
20 Pancake caught: to do with physical education (5)
CREPEC (‘caught’) RE (‘to do with’) PE (‘physical education’)
21 Exhausted, daughter came down (7)
DRAINEDD (‘daughter’) RAINED (‘came down’)
22 Select game for old opener (10)

Always worth bearing BRIDGE in mind for ‘game’; it also appeared in yesterday’s puzzle. Another common one is RU (abbreviation for Rugby Union).

1 Twentieth century artist, a sizzler? (5)
BACON – Double definition, the question mark definitely being required for the second rather fanciful one

Francis Bacon (1909-1992). I had an idea that some of his works had sold for astronomical sums and looking it up now, I see that his Three Studies of Lucian Freud sold for $142 million at Christie’s, New York in 2013, at the time the highest auction price for a work of art.

2 Bananas selected, as in food shop (12)
DELICATESSEN – Anagram (‘Bananas’) of SELECTED AS IN
3 Back in Africa is another continent (4)
ASIA – Reverse hidden (‘Back in’) ‘AfricA IS Another’

Just ‘continent’, rather than ‘another continent’ as the def, otherwise ‘another’ would be part of both wordplay and definition.

4 Magazine published, showing 17 across (6)
RAGOUTRAG (‘Magazine’) OUT (‘published’)

A RAGOUT is a type of STEW, the answer to 17 across.

5 Boy accepts it’s a weird dog (8)
ALSATIANALAN (‘Boy’) containing (‘accepts’) anagram (‘weird’) of ITS A

We welcome ALAN to the world of cryptic crosswords as today’s random boy’s name.

6 The gradients, when wrong, put right (12)
STRAIGHTENED – Anagram (‘when wrong’) of THE GRADIENTS
7 Hidden from view, French number seven, not five (6)
UNSEENUN (‘French number’ (one)) SEEN (‘seven, not five’=letter V deleted from ‘seven’)
12 Demon, I suspect, royal bully (8)
DOMINEER – Anagram (‘suspect’) of DEMON I then ER (‘royal’)

‘Bully’ as a verb in the answer, as a noun in the surface reading.

13 Illustrate long story between covers in digest (6)
DEPICTEPIC (‘long story’) contained in (‘between’) D T (‘covers in digest’=first and last letters of ‘digest’)
15 Follow commercial that’s interrupted performance (6)
SHADOWAD (‘commercial’) contained in (‘that’s interrupted’) SHOW (‘performance’)
18 Club on course, United for example going up (5)
WEDGEWED (‘United’) GE a reversal (‘going up’) of (‘for example’=EG)

‘Club on (a golf) course’, so this refers to one of a number of clubs used to play golf and no, is nothing to do with Sheffield Wednesday as I’d first thought.

19 Light entertainment here (4)
FAIR – Double definition

100 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2381 by Mara”

  1. 12:08. PASTICHE is a word I’ve seen often but never knew its precise meaning. Screaming out seemed rather strong for CALLING. SUITCASE took the longest to solve even though we had it recently in another puzzle. (After reading Kevin’s comment I realize I had CALLING and screaming out reversed so edited).

  2. I biffed the two long downs, trusting the anagrist was there. Also biffed ALSATION & WEDGE, parsed post-submission. A MER at SATIN, but ODE sv ‘satin’ has ‘a smooth, glossy fabric, usually of silk …’ Another MER at ‘screaming out’ for CALLING. 20ac makes no sense. 6:04.

    1. What’s the problem with 20ac? I failed several but this one seemed obvious enough.

      1. Perhaps Kevin means the surface sense. A pancake in a PE lesson? Unless there’s some exercise-related meaning of the word.

        1. I read it as one being more likely to catch a (tossed) pancake if one had honed muscles and better reflexes from PE lessons.
          Doesn’t hold true for me, mind – I’m a reasonable pancake-tosser, but was abysmal at PE.

  3. 10 minutes. No problems. Satin was originally made from silk before the advent of man-made fibres so the clue seemed okay to me.

  4. A quick start for me today with all but DRAWBRIDGE and FAIR in in about 15 minutes. I took about 22 minutes overall only to get those last two wrong at the end. No real stand out clues for me today.
    It’s another lovely sunny morning here but very chilly still. When, oh when, will we get a proper spring?

    1. Hello Ittt,
      I’m in my element in sunny, but chilly weather. But Mrs Random is with you. She’s despairing of the lack of warmth at the moment.

  5. Nice puzzle, but don’t really see how LIGHT = FAIR. Thanks to setter and blogger

  6. Haven’t had enough hair for a BAD HAIR DAY this millenium so no surprise that was among the last to fall. That lack of checkers from made the top half hard going. Ended up with another 15m solve but this one felt tricky throughout rather than slowing dramatically at the end. SUITCASE needed all the checkers but the maximum annoyance was reached with when ‘sizzle’ made me think of sausages immdiatley but it took at least two revisits to make the small jump from there to BACON. Good one.

    1. Where do you remember last seeing your hair? Did you not search hard enough for it when you realised it was missing?

  7. Very slow to get going today and not entirely sure why.
    1a took far to long to work out despite immediately assuming that it would be a hair related clue. Like Mendes, maybe it’s an unconscious block for those of us who haven’t had to worry about a bad hair day for a long time.
    Stuttered around the grid until finally unravelling STRAIGHTENED at which opened up the NE which had been proving stubborn.
    Finished in 10.27 with LOI ALSATIAN.
    Thanks to BR

  8. 12:01 Maori islanders settle in what someday will be called New Zealand.

    Slow start, faster middle then stuck at FAIR/DRAINED combo.

    DITTO was Wordle yesterday. Maybe “royal bully” could have been RAAB.


      1. Fair enough, I researched further and this date looks too early by 100 years. Dating is apparently based on tree rings, volcanoes, rats and other changes to the environment by localised clearing of forests.

        I just got a bit fed up with yet more Byzantine/Crusader dates from my usual time of 12 or 13 minutes.

        1. You could argue they settled “Aotearoa” rather than New Zealand, which is the Māori name for it – although if I rightly remember, they weren’t the first people there.

            1. I’ve not invented my Tardis yet, so unfortunately not 😀

              What I should have added is that I lived in New Zealand for a bit, so the “if I rightly remember” statement relates to various people who used to tell me the Māori were not the first people to live on the island.

  9. Finished with DRAWBRIDGE and FAIR, but nothing held me up much. I liked UNSEEN. Like others I thought ‘screaming out’ a bit hyperbolic for CALLING. Thanks Mara and BR 4:31.

  10. Despite having the B from Bad Hair Day, I failed to make the jump to Bacon and so pushed on round the grid for a clockwise solve. Nick, Calling (screaming ?) and Bacon became my last three, and nudged me into the SCC. There were some nice surfaces along the way, particularly 16ac Pastiche, but a couple of clunky ones as well: Wedge and Crepe look out of place. CoD to 5d Alsatian, just ahead of Unseen. Invariant

  11. I thought it was on the tougher side of average, but nevertheless finished inside target at 9.07. I was delayed a little by CALLING, even though I thought of it quickly enough, I wasn’t convinced by screaming out being an alternative description. Also a little delayed by my LOI DRAINED, where ‘came down’ in the sense of raining didn’t hit me immediately.

  12. Very similar experience to Plett – simply not on wavelength and got very few in the first pass. Eventually some answers emerged in the lower half of the grid, which gave just enough to get the two long anagrams and open up the top half a bit more. Even then a slow grind, resulting in a 13 minute finish overall. Hard work …

    On reviewing the clues, it seems Mara was trying to make them as short and snappy as possible. I don’t suppose anyone ever keeps a record of the cumulative number of words in the clues (I certainly don’t), but in the printed version there is far more blank space at the end of the clues than usual. I wonder if this terseness was one reason that I found the clues particularly opaque this morning.

    Many thanks to BR for the blog

    1. A couple of years ago, and in an abortive attempt at getting to the heart of what makes a cryptic ‘good’, I did a very quick snapshot analysis (over two weeks) looking at the ‘density’ of a puzzle (ratio of black to blank squares) and ‘conciseness’ (number of words in the clues). I can’t remember the results now, but will look for them later today. I did publish them here, but no one seemed interested, and as it was tedious to do, I stopped. I think yours is still an interesting question though.

      1. Hello Mr Rotter,
        I think I remember you doing that analysis. I, for one, would be interested in hearing any conclusions you may have drawn. Even if they were inconclusive.

        1. I did have a quick look back to the start of lockdown when I was obviously at a loose end. The following is what I found and reported on in my blog for Puzzle 1783.

          Lockdown has found me reflecting on the nature of these QCs and other cryptic puzzles, and I have been wondering if the satisfaction index from solving can be attributed to any definable characteristics of the puzzle. I’m still thinking this through, but I think that the QCs generally have a number of dimensions, some of which are OBJECTIVE (or measurable) and others of which are SUBJECTIVE (or not easily measurable).

          OBJECTIVE dimensions include the following:

          DENSITY – Which I define as the number of black squares in the grid of 169 squares of a QC. For example, today’s grid has 48 black squares to give a density of 28%. This is quite low compared to the straw poll I took of the last few puzzles I blogged, which ranged from 48 to 56 black squares (28% to 33% density).
          BREVITY – By which I mean the word-count for all of the clues. Today the number of words used to clue all of the answers is 128, or 5.3 per clue. Again, compared to the same straw poll, this is quite low – the range in the poll was 128 to 190 words in the clues, or a range from 5.3 to 7.3 per clue.
          SPEED – my times range from a little below 10 minutes to around 25 minutes. I am rarely quicker or slower than that range, and I target between 10 and 15 minutes per completion.
          FIRST LETTER CHECKER – The presence of answers in the first row or column will automatically provide a number of first-letter-checkers, and this type of grid seems to be favoured over grids that lack them. I suspect that, with a little thought, the grid types could be measurable for this attribute.
          As far as objective measures go, I think I prefer low density, concisely clued puzzles, with a high index of first-letter-checkers, but I do like a workout, so I am not disheartened when my time is beyond my target range. Whilst SPEED is measurable, it is also very personal from solver to solver. My understanding is that the measurement of SPEED was the original objective of these blogs. It’s what I often refer to as the Rotterometer – an objective measure of speed for this particular solver, or x Kevins, a relative measure of speed compared to a regular contributor to the blogs.
          SUBJECTIVE dimensions, by their nature, are much more difficult to define, but we often hear words such as the following in bloggers’ comments. I don’t think these are measurable as such, but they matter:

          Wit or humour
          General Knowledge – maybe a GKI or Index could be definable as an objective dimension, although one solver’s General Knowledge can be another’s jargon or mystery.
          Approachability – is this just a euphemism for easiness?
          Themes and Ninas – these are almost universally admired and appreciated, and generally add to the satisfaction index, particularly when spotted.
          I’d be interested in others’ thoughts if you have any, but maybe not on this blog – feel free to send me a message if you want to add to any debate on the above. If there is interest, I’ll collate and publish any thoughts, perhaps in a separate blog.

          1. Interesting stuff Mr Rotter – I wonder if there’s an easy way to automate the objective dimensions.

            I was looking at Readability scoring recently, like Flesch-Kincaid. I wonder how, if one were to enter each puzzle’s clues as one block of text, it would score different puzzles 🤔 Might have an investigate on that when we have another rainy day.

            1. Here are some numbers for the last two weeks. I did a couple of years’ worth but I don’t want to spam a massive post.


                1. Mr Rotter … for what it’s worth I put the clues from these ten puzzles through the webfx online readability tool and the scores were as follows:

                  2370 Breadman 15.2/100
                  2371 Orpheus 23.7
                  2372 Hurley 24.4
                  2373 Teazel 35.5
                  2374 Alfie 39.3 (double pangram)
                  2375 Trelawney 15.1
                  2376 Rongo 30.3
                  2377 Oink 39
                  2378 Felix 40 (Fawlty Towers theme scored)
                  2379 Izetti 48

                  A low score indicates hard to read, a higher score easier.

                  Breadman’s 15.2, for example, is best understood by 20-21 year olds whereas Izetti’s 48 needs only a typical reading age of 15-16.

                  For comparison, I also put your intro from QC 2373 blog through and this scored 59.9. I then thought it only fair to put my own comment from that day through and was surprised to see it come in at 69.1

                  Edit: your intro from today’s blog (2383) scores 81.4 – readable to the 11 to 12 year olds !!

          2. Very interesting and thought-provoking. Thanks. It would interesting to take this further. In analysing the 15x15s, for example we have got the SNITCH as a good difficulty measure. It also includes a number of successful (and unsuccessful) solvers from the Reference solvers and it might be interesting to look at the statistical distribution of WITCH scores for each puzzle. But how do you measure SATISFACTION, which I think was the starting point for your exploration?

  13. I avoided the SCC by 2 seconds, finishing in 19:58. Nice to have a tricky puzzle occasionally.

    I had all but three done at the 11 minute mark, then ages staring at the rest and running through the alphabet. Like several of you, my last three were DRAWBRIDGE, FAIR and SUITCASE. Fair did not occur as a synonym for light, but was the only possible word by the end.

    Thanks Mara and BR

  14. FOI BACON and then I raced through the grid. I misspelt the DELI but fortunately CREPE corrected it. My penultimate solve was FAIR before a 2 minute alphabet trawl for LOI SUITCASE and yes I know we had it recently! 8:19

  15. 7:29

    After a slow first pass, the left hand side went in reasonably easily leaving a lot of white space on the right. Filled out the SE corner next but it took ALSATIAN to open up the NE. LOI SUITCASE.

    Thanks to Mara and Bletch

  16. Pink squares after getting a bit fed up with this and bunging in SUITable as my LOI without reading or thinking. Otherwise ok in 26:23. Top half again didn’t yield much on first pass but managed to work my way up from the bottom eventually. Thanks Mara and br.

  17. After yesterday’s tricky experience, I did not dare to put the obvious in for 1a, but waited for my FOI,DELICATESSEN. COD SUITCASE, LOI SHADOW, this really was a QUICK. Crossword, but nevertheless as BR observes, a decent challenge. I had to write out the letters for STRAIGHTENED, and was surprised to find such a long two-syllable word, though doubtless there are longer. 9a came quickly thanks to remembering a child hood phrase “Silk, satin, muslin, rags”, though I forget the context and did not know (thanks, Jack!) if the first two are synonymous. Thanks Mara and BR.

    1. I remember “Silk, satin, muslin, rags” as one of the fruit stone counting games if you’d had, say, a plum crumble without the plum stones having been removed by the cook.
      Who will I marry?
      “Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief”
      When will I marry?
      “This year, next year, sometime, never”
      What will I wear to get married in?
      “Silk, satin…etc”
      Very old fashioned and female oriented, I know, but it didn’t stop me occasionally having an extra helping as a child to make it work out better for me 🙂
      There was another rhyme deciding what profession one would end up in, which boys could join in too. Not absolutely sure but it was something like:
      “Army, navy, law, divinity, independent, medicine, trade”.
      Suspect all four rhymes would be seen as very inappropriate these days.

        1. That’s a new one to me – interesting. I wonder what other versions there are?

        2. I hope they taught you “Whom shall I marry?” I remember the others, tuoo, but not the context, and not the Architect one..

          1. I’m sure any mistakes are mine and not my English teacher’s 🙂
            She was confident enough of me to enter me for the English language O level a year early (dates me, I know) and I got an A, so she did something right.

            1. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be censorious. Grammar changes and I peedict that by 2123 “Whom” will be as archaic a s “Ye”.

        3. My mother, onr of three girls,wanteed three herself so my two brithers and I were a great disappointment to her and my Dad. As revenge she had another rhyme: “Sugar and spice and all things nice. That’s what little guirls are made of. Rats and snails and puppy dogs’ tails….” You can guess the last line. I’ve not heard it since so maybe she or her sisters made it up . I planned to become a misogynist when I grew up, but Nature had better ideas.

  18. Waded through treacle on that, culminating in a loooong trawl for SUITCASE. Staggered across the line like one of those people running the London marathon in diving boots for 13:10, 2.1K and a Terrible Day. Wake up, Templar!

    Many thanks Mara and Bletchers.


  19. 12 minutes and no problems for me, with DOMINEER my LOI. Like a lot of others I suspect, I tried to work SEPT into the answer for 7d before seeing the unseen light. Thanks Bletchers and Mara.

  20. Many problems ….. failed 10, 11, 21, 22, and 12, 15, 19. Just a bit too difficult for me. Sorry….

    1. No need to apologise, martinu. I once failed to solve 12 of the 24 clues on offer. And, I’ve had several experiences nearly as bad as that.

  21. I’m either way off the pace at the moment, or the puzzles have been tricky. 3 solves in a row over 10 minutes. That’s >50% over my median time for the year for reference. Mind you, I nearly threw in the towel over my LOI DOMINEER today, which was pretty simple. I just failed to separate “royal” and “bully”.



    1. I did enjoy your Shane Warne reference yesterday, but forgot to say so at the time!

      1. Thanks! I do like a cricketing reference, and I do feel like I’m Teazel’s bunny at the moment.

  22. I thought KNOCKOFF for 16a, although it’s probably hyphenated and then the checkers brought the actual answer to mind.

  23. Dnf…

    Still had a few to go after my 30 min cut off. I thought this was hard, but I’m not sure if it’s the difficulty or me just not being on the right wavelength.

    Even though I knew it was an anagram I just couldn’t get 12dn “Domineer”. I then put “Drawhandle” for 22ac which didn’t help with 19dn.

    I really seem to struggle with Mara – never seem to get anywhere with them.

    FOI – 2dn “Delicatessen”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 7dn “Unseen” – clever, once I actually saw it!

    Thanks as usual!

    1. I put DRAWHANDLE IN too which meant FAIR evaded me and in frustration I put in GALA.

  24. Struggled to get a foothold in this one, but eventually ASIA, SATIN and ARGON got me moving and I finished with FAIR in 9:39. Thanks Mara and BR.

  25. Completed without aids. Never heard of Pastiche, but I had P-S-I-H-. Assuming that letters 2 and 8 were most likely to be vowels. There were only two vowels left to choose from (A & E). Going on that assumption I then did an alphabet trawl and chose the answer that looked more like a word than the rest of the possibilities, and selected the correct one.

    19d and 21a were my last ones which held me up for a while.

    1. Well done, PW. Good to hear from you today. Completing without aids deserves candy, doesn’t it?

        1. Good for you, well done! My mum has a penchant for that particular bar of chocolate. One Christmas I bought her 52 bars and she dutifully ate one each week for the next year.

          1. … and it’s facts like that (and ridiculous conversations like this) that make this TfTT site worth visiting each day.
            Thankyou Mr A.

            P.S. Mrs R and I were in The Ship (in Kingswear, Devon) last night where we overheard a conversation between some regulars at the bar. They were discussing whether or not chickens could get pregnant, given that “they lay eggs and don’t have a womb”. I daresay someone could have googled it, but no-one did and it sustained them for 10-15 minutes, and it provided a great deal of mirth along the way.

          2. My sister bought me a 2.5kg jar of wine gums this past Christmas (like the big plastic jars you used to get in the sweet shop). I finished them in a week – albeit I did ration the last inch or two of the jar over the last 2-3 days of that week …

  26. Still don’t understand FAIR.

    1. If your hair/skin is light-coloured, you could be described as having FAIR hair/skin. As the dictionary says “(of hair or complexion) light; blonde“.

    2. A boy, for example, who has blond hair can be described as having “light” or “fair” hair.

  27. 14.04 Slow in the NE generally and LOI SUITCASE took two minutes. Thanks both.

  28. Finished LHS quite quickly, apart from 1a. Then slow, slow, solving here and there. Felt a bit DRAINED after long walk this am, so finally used CCD for DOMINEER. Eventually the rest dropped ploddingly into place. LOsI/PDMs included BAD HAIR DAY, DRAWBRIDGE, RAGOUT, UNSEEN, STRAIGHTENED, SUITCASE.
    Thanks vm, BR.

  29. Enjoyed this one, but no accurate time as I finished it in 2 sessions and left the timer running in between. I’d guesstimate somewhere in the 17-18 minute range. I needed help to disentangle STRAIGHTENED, but no significant other hold-ups.

    Thanks to Mara and BR.

    1. You “needed help to disentangle STRAIGHTENED”? Surely, STRAIGHTENED is disentangled already.

  30. After a misleadingly flying start with 1a this puzzle took several revisits, alphabet trawls and a total of 1h 6m to finish.
    Some pithy definitions to unravel without much help from the clueing I thought.
    COD to 13d DEPICT.
    Thanks Mara and BR.

  31. When in Rome, I was surprised to see that the Vatican museum has a Bacon pope painting—not one of the most scathing, but still… Maybe the church will have to sell it to pay off some of the sexual abuse complainants…

  32. Got 19a wrong, went with “lair”, “l” for light, “air” as in music for entertainment, “lair” where here=setter’s lair. A bit convoluted, but I have seen much worse before now.

  33. Was a tad apprehensive as I was up very early for a short drive for a dawn photo-shoot (it being the only day for ages with a forecast sunny start for decent woodland light). However, despite being tired, today Mara presented no real obstacles. Really enjoyed this and had no real difficulties until getting slower at the end.

    FOI 1d Bacon – that and 3d gave me BAD and then 1a was easy
    LOI 19d Fair – was stuck on Lair for ages, but it didn’t parse
    COD 11a Suitcase – yes, we’ve had very recently (and brief-case) but I was amused by the clue.

    Having been ‘on the wavelength’ two days running maybe I should keep getting up early…

  34. Same time as yesterday, 32 minutes, but a different experience. Didn’t get started until DITTO, halfway down the grid. But then things started to flow … until my last four in, that is. They were (in order) FAIR, DRAWBRIDGE, DOMINEER and SUITCASE.

    ARGON saved me from putting ALSATIoN. UNSEEN was awkward. I saw DELICATESSEN without having to write all the letters in a circle, and I enjoyed BAD HAIR DAY and DRAWBRIDGE (despite its difficulty).

    Mrs R just beat my time with 30 minutes.

    Many thanks to Mara and BR.

  35. Didn’t have much on first pass outside of ASIA (reverse hidden), DITTO (hidden), STEW (initialism), WEDGE (golf knowledge plus the checker) and ARGON. Had taken 5+ mins to read through and I feared the worst.

    Think I then got some combination of CREPE and PASTICHE and biffed the regularly seen DELICATESSEN to get going. After that worked my way round clockwise from NICK, BACON, BAD-HAIR-DAY. Helped by having SUITCASE in yesterday’s QC. Had already tried to put dalmatian in for ALSATIAN but fortunately too many letters. Unravelled STRAIGHTENED once I had more checkers than when I first spotted it and the remainder went in quickly from there. SHADOW was a slight holdup and should be ingrained for follow/tail etc. DRAINED I’ve seen before but was struggling to remember.

    Finished in 17.12 which looking at some of my compadres now seems decent. Definitely a QC where I found it hard to solve without checkers but once I had a couple, answers became obvious.

  36. 30:53

    Way over my 20 minute target with a difficult puzzle today. Struggled with BAD HAIR DAY and BACON but it was the bottom right that held out longest with DRAINED and LOI FAIR.

  37. Another lousy performance today. Well into the SCC and, whilst I finished, I was groping around for ages. Laughed out loud when some of the quicker solvers described times around 13 mins as like walking through treacle. What I would have given for such a time!

    My time would have been ok-ish but for a struggle over SUITCASE, FAIR and DRAWBRIDGE. For the second day in succession, I was really nowhere near the setter’s wavelength and derived little pleasure from the QC. Hopefully tomorrow will see an improvement.

    What really frustrates me is that I routinely get more than 12 clues on the first pass but then hit a brick wall. I seem to have lost the ability to work out an answer from the word play unless the solution hits me immediately.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Understanding your frustration GA. Getting those 12 on first pass has to morph into something better at some stage 🤞

      1. Thanks L-Plates. Let’s hope so. Congrats on your excellent time today. If Mrs R took 30 mins, it must have been tricky!

    2. When you are trying to build up your answers, don’t ignore the benefit of entering part solutions to other clues – the last letter ‘s’ from an obvious plural, or a stray ‘ing’ can give you a useful crosser or two for other clues.

  38. “Calling out” for “Screaming” is laced with poetic licence although it’s probably there in the back stalls with restricted view in a dictionary. Why not “Dropping by” for a job?

    1. If you love your job it’s your calling. Scream for help / call for help. It’s not the greatest synonym but it works.

      I don’t understand why you see “dropping by” as related to a job? Except, I suppose, in the case of home helps or van drivers working for DPD.

  39. A grumpy DNF

    10A – Cut collar

    NECK is surely just as correct as NICK?

    NECK is a cut of beef, and also a collar.

    1. Interesting; I too had NECK, but had been prepared to concede defeat with it. So, thanks!

    2. I don’t have a dictionary but a collar goes around a neck rather than being one.

      Neck being a cut of beef would bring howls of discontent for a QC I suspect.

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