Times Quick Cryptic 2385 by Alex

Hi everybody.  Ooh, it looks like we have a new setter!  A new name, at least, so a warm welcome to Alex.

I was a little slow to get started and at the end again a little slow to break into the last corner (the NE), but any holdups didn’t last long and my overall time was well below average.  (That said, calculating averages by weekdays is still on my to-do list, so I can’t yet compare with a typical Monday.  I can say that I completed in exactly my average time for an Alex puzzle.)

The lethargic duck in 4a made me smile.  At this time of year I love to see the ducks who are being kept very busy with their little downy babies.  I also enjoyed 6d.  Thanks Alex!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

1a Item of jewellery is hit with the French (6)
BANGLE BANG (hit) + LE (the, French)
4a Lethargic duck turned around behind hill (6)
TORPID DIP (duck) reversed (turned around) after (behind) TOR (hill)
8a Happy beginning for parvenu (7)
UPSTART UP (happy) + START (beginning)
10a Try to follow one old lady bug (5)
IMAGO GO (try) after (to follow) I (one) and MA (old lady)
11a Some tropical fruit for young beast (4)
CALF Some tropiCAL Fruit
12a Attendants keeping idiot in corridors (8)
PASSAGES PAGES (attendants) containing (keeping) ASS (idiot)
14a Sends word about reprimand (5,4)
DRESS DOWN — An anagram of (… about) SENDS WORD
18a Speaker welcoming physical exercise as runner (8)
OPERATOR ORATOR (speaker) around (welcoming) PE (physical exercise)
20a Playful bow (4)
ARCH — A double definition
22a Short prayer is good before competition (5)
GRACE G (good) before RACE (competition)
23a Story about alcoholic drink and soft drink (7)
LIMEADE LIE (story) around (about) MEAD (alcoholic drink)
24a Turn over cheap material covered in fish eggs (6)
ROTATE TAT (cheap material) inside (covered in) ROE (fish eggs)
25a Concurred silver buck perhaps returned (6)
AGREED AG (silver) + the reversal of (… returned) DEER (buck perhaps)
1d Group taking in Romeo for meal (6)
BRUNCH BUNCH (group) with the insertion of (taking in) R (Romeo)
2d Cuddled children finally with eldest wriggling (7)
NESTLED — The last letter of (… finally) childreN + ELDEST anagrammed (wriggling)
3d Revolutionary track for story teller (4)
LIAR — In reverse (revolutionary), RAIL (track)
5d Exclusion from old job (8)
OMISSION O (old) + MISSION (job)
6d Crash as piano chimed (5)
PRANG P (piano) + RANG (chimed)
7d Weapon overturned by unknown heavy (6)
DROWSY SWORD (weapon) upwards (overturned) + Y (unknown)
9d Amphibian’s device to produce fungus (9)
TOADSTOOL TOADS TOOL (amphibian’s device)
13d Declining period of time with books (8)
DECADENT DECADE (period of time) + NT (books)
15d Raced up before judge to recount events (7)
NARRATE RAN (raced) reversed (up) is before RATE (judge)
16d In favour of German criminal (6)
FORGER FOR (in favour of) + GER (German)
17d Step across hot filament (6)
THREAD TREAD (step) around (across) H (hot)
19d Meticulous demand (5)
EXACT — Two definitions
21d Complacent son getting cup (4)
SMUG S (son) + MUG (cup)

63 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2385 by Alex”

  1. 4:14 but this tired duck managed to enter TOOPID at 4ac. In case you’re wondering, it means exactly what it sounds like

  2. I didn’t notice at the time, but 23ac has ‘story’=LIE and 3d has ‘story teller’=LIAR. 6:05.

  3. Just under 12 minutes. Started off well, but was held up by some less obvious senses such as IMAGO for ‘bug’, ARCH for ‘playful’ and DROWSY for ‘heavy’. LIMEADE for ‘soft drink’ also took a while, both to bring to mind as a drink and to parse. Even though I was TORPID in working out what was going on, I liked the ‘Amphibian’s device’ when I eventually saw it.

    Thanks to Kitty and thanks and welcome to Alex

  4. Started slowly with just three on the first pass but picked up speed and started to really appreciate the puzzle. Slowed at the end with TORPID, DROWSY and THREAD all needing careful extraction. Couldn’t think what parvenu meant until UPSTART appeared from the checkers. All green in a testing 19.

  5. Too hard for me. This was my first Could Not Finish since I can remember. A very disappointing start to the week.

  6. Beaten by Alex’s first puzzle, DECADENT did for me, but I enjoyed the clueing across the board. Thanks Kitty and Alex

  7. Found this fairly gently and raced through it until hitting breezeblockville in the NE due to incorrectly assuming that 5d would being with ‘ex’ – I even typed it in and then stared blankly at the rest of the clue trying to make sense of it. After a minute or so sanity prevailed and OMISSION, TORPID and DROWSY quickly followed.
    ARCH and it’s various meanings is one of those words that is slowly starting to lay roots in the memory banks – it’s only taken a few hundred appearances – so only held me up briefly today.
    Finished in 7.11
    Thanks to Kitty for the blog and Alex for the entertaining solve.

    1. ARCH is definitely one of those to learn – I haven’t yet except it was part of something last week.

      I assume that is why Moriarty is Sherlock Holmes’ arch-enemy. I had always assumed it to be his greatest or biggest until learning the playful meaning which makes some sense in that it is a game of cat and mouse between them.

      1. The ‘arch’ of ‘arch-enemy’ derives from Greek arkhos ‘chief’, and the playful ‘arch’ evidently derives from ‘arch-‘. The ‘arch’ of ‘arch of triumph’ derives from Latin arcus ‘bow’.

        1. Thanks Kevin. Seems I was correct in my original assumption.

          I guess we can also think of the archangel Gabriel – although I don’t recall him being particularly playful in the Nativity plays we did!

  8. 16:20 for a happy start to May. I found I was very stop-start.

    First pass took around 6 mins and netted 7-8 with a tentative BuckLE which I thought was wrong. Interesting that as soon as I changed that to BANGLE, I was able to solve BRUNCH and LIAR even though they have the same starters. Confidence is everything.

    Had the strange experience of thinking DROWSY for the lethargic duck then when I tried to parse it realising it fitted in the Down clue at the end of it!

    Reached 14:30 with six left then it was start again. As I saw PASSAGES, then was helped by having had OMISSION and ARCH=playful recently. Finished off with a tentative IMAGO. I still keep forgetting that GO=try.

    Be interesting to see how others do. My general feeling was easy once you had checkers whence it became biffparseable

    1. Good time! The doorkeeper at the SCC will be getting concerned at your absence …

      1. Thanks Cedric. The doorkeeper always wishes me well on my exit then throws in a “You can check out any time but you can never leave. Messrs Izetti, Orpheus and Teazel will be along in the next week or two” 😁

  9. A gentle loosener from our new setter and all done in 8 minutes. Only one small hesitation, as I was not entirely sure of the meaning of Imago, but other than the US state of Idaho, no other word would fit so it went in with fingers crossed.

    Many thanks to Kitty for the blog

  10. Welcome to Alex who provided a fine mix of easy and quirky clues for me. The NW quadrant went in very quickly and then I had to work up more slowly from the bottom before finishing off the NE (DROWSY, TORPID, OMISSION, IMAGO). In the end, I managed to squeak in just a few seconds under my 15min target. It seemed quicker.
    Most of my top clues have been mentioned in posts above but I would add LIMEADE and admit to a groan when I got the anagram and DRESS DOWN emerged.
    Thanks to Alex and Kitty. John M.

  11. I’m not sure why but the NW quadrant was a blank until the end. FOI TORPID and LOI LIAR in a near target 9:05. Welcome to Alex.

  12. Dnf…

    Enjoyable puzzle, but just couldn’t get three clues in the SE corner: 23ac “Limeade” (I thought Lemonade obviously, but failed to think of its foul, green cousin), 20ac “Arch” (DNK it meant playful) and 17dn “Thread” (I was thinking of electrical light bulbs for some reason and ran out of synonyms for “step”).

    FOI – 1ac “Bangle”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 4ac “Torpid”

    At some point I will publish my stats – however, I know my mean and median completion times are teetering on around 19 mins, and my completion rate for the first 4 months sits between 75% to 80% (based on my completion cut off time of 30 mins and general abandonments).

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Looking forward those stats James 👍

      I was a little mystified what a filament was outside of the light bulb context. Fortunately I realised it once the H of ARCH went in. Hard without that. I think that clue was typical of this QC today. Hard to come up with TREAD=step on its own but obvious when you have it.

  13. Held up a little by TORPID as I was determined to end it with an O for duck, but the checkers sorted that out soon enough. The real issue was -E-A-E-T, where the Curse of the Missing First Letter struck me in all its fury. I saw NT for books immediately, but then got hung up on time being “age” (so it would end “agent”) and that thought was hard to shift.

    Anyway, much grumpy trawling later the answer emerged and I limped over the line in 11:49 for 1.8K and a Poor Day.

    Many thanks Kitty and Alex, and welcome!


  14. Thank-you Alex. A neat puzzle. I hadn’t come across ‘heavy’ for ‘drowsy’, but the wordplay was clear. Otherwise no hold-ups. Thanks too to Kitty for the blog. 3:58.

  15. 5:56

    Particularly liked TOAD’S TOOL and DROWSY though as with others, I suspect, was held up for a short time at the end coming up with DECADENT.

    Thanks Alex and Kitty

  16. 14 minutes and no major hold-ups for me. I then spent a couple of minutes at the end looking for a theme or Nina from our new setter, without spotting anything. Welcome Alex, and thanks Kitty.

  17. Went through this at a steady pace only held up a little by the NW corner where 1dn held me up, making 8ac difficult. I kept thinking of some derivation of a slang word for breakfast before BRUNCH finally dawned on me, making my LOI UPSTART straightforward. I crossed the line in 8.50 for a pretty good start to the week.

  18. DNF. A bad day. IMAGO? Could not see FORGER either, nor OPERATOR. Was weak in NE and SW generally, and used CCD.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

  19. DNF

    I didn’t know PAERVENU but should still have got UPSTART from the wordplay and checkers, but, alas, put UNSPENT. Also failed with TORPID, so a disappointing start to the week. Otherwise would have been a reasonable 15 minutes.

  20. Slow to start because the clues seemed a bit weird, perhaps because the the setters’s, name was new, but I soon decided the clues were OK and hope to see Alex again. There was nothing I found too difficult, but it was challenging enough to take average time. Like Kevin, I noticed that the story/lie chestnut was used twice, but suspect this is not the first time.

  21. All good (in about an hour!) except NHO IMAGO. FOI ROTATE; COD PRANG; LOI (or POI, depending on your point of view) ARCH, remembering “playful = arch” from a few days ago. DECADENT was ok – rather, it was the NE corner I found hardest. I too wanted DROWSY for the lethargic duck! Thanks to our new setter who seems to have judged just the right entry level.

    1. Well done Martinů on getting the avatar to work as well as the strange accent!

      1. Thank you so much – with your help! Beautiful, isn’t she. *And* a good conductor and prolific composer (as far as her mere 25 years allowed).

  22. Someone asked a while ago … I believe the question was what are the odds on having the same clue/answer in the same place in back-to-back crosswords? This elicited a superb answer on statistical probabilities from the aptly named Mr Random.

    Today we had OMISSION hanging down from “tOrpid” in the 5th from right column. Two QCs ago (Hurley’s Thursday) we had it hanging down from “gOod” in the3rd from right column.

    Close on both counts but no 🍌 and not using a small or oft-used word.

  23. Returned from holiday overnight yesterday, so jet lagged today.
    My first puzzle for two weeks.
    I was pleased to finish in 13 minutes. No unknowns; IMAGO has appeared a number of times in puzzles I have done-worth remembering.
    I liked the level of this QC and its pleasant surfaces. The lethargic duck gets COD.

  24. Pretty quick for me. Say 25 mins or so? Thread was my last. Don’t know why. I nearly gave up on it. Otherwise it was ok for me. Fred.

  25. It being a Bank Holiday Monday there is a Jumbo Cryptic today. It really is quite gentle – perhaps some QCers would enjoy it.

    1. Thanks! Dog walked and need something to do while supervising daughter’s baking.

    2. Thanks, John, but am now hooked (was intending to do some weeding…) Some amusing clues solved but lots to go.

  26. Was slow to get started and thought perhaps I wasn’t on Alex’s wavelength but the it turned out I was and I skipped though, neither torpid nor drowsy.

  27. A very accomplished first effort from Alex left me wondering if our Editor was perhaps trying out a new pseudonym ? Either way it was an enjoyable solve, though at 23mins I found it a little harder than others seem to have – the final Omission/Passages pair certainly didn’t help. CoD, in a strong field, to 7d Drowsy for the pdm. Invariant

  28. A fair sprinkling of answers on the first pass but slowed down a bit after that. Luckily put on a spurt towards the end to finish in 13 minutes. Never managed to parse IMAGO (thanks Kitty) and wasn’t at all sure about heavy = DROWSY, so waited for the crossers for that. Otherwise no major problems.

    FOI – 1ac BANGLE
    LOI – 7dn DROWSY
    COD – I think it has to be the lethargic duck at 4ac. Also liked UPSTART at 8ac.

    Thanks to Alex for an enjoyable start to the week.

  29. DNF – just could not see DROWSY at all, never knowing it = heavy. Ages to get IMAGO too. COD TOADSTOOL.

  30. I went from LIAR to DECADENT in 8:20. Will be getting a DRESSing DOWN soon! Thanks Alex and Kitty.

  31. 16:32 Very enjoyable thank you. Last two in were ARCH, then THREAD. Always forget the ‘playful’ meaning of the former – appreciated discussion on origins above. Pleased to remember IMAGO from a previous QC. FORGER took a while – wanted to use ‘pro’. Liked the surface for ROTATE. Many thanks for the blog.

  32. 10:36 (murder of Alfred Aetheling, brother of Edward the Confessor).

    An enjoyable start to the week. LOI was operator, as my mind did not equate this with runner.

  33. Beaten by several. I would associate ‘decadent’ with already declined, rather than declining!

  34. Last day in USA repairing hurricane damage so posting late. I sensed a new setter that offered a slightly different style of quirk and made good progress with a combination of biffing and parsing. Didn’t know the alternative meaning of ARCH but do now. Thanks all. Lots to like and finished in 28 minutes. Smiled at the old chestnut, how do frogs get pregnant? Sitting on Toadstools.
    Thanks Alex and Kitty and all.

  35. I managed to complete this one though I did need assistance with two clues. I was held up by decadent as I always thought it meant luxurious. Arch also confused me as being “playful”.

  36. I found that very hard indeed. Only nine clues solved as I entered the SCC, and half the clues (13) still to do as I passed the half-hour mark. At that stage I really thought I was in for an embarrassingly huge DNF. However, I was able to make better use of the available checkers as time went on and I crossed the line after 47 minutes.

    I DNK IMAGO or the ‘playful’ definition of ARCH. Nor did I know GER for German or the meaning of parvenu. All in all, a thorough bruising from Alex.

    Many thanks to Alex and Kitty.

    1. You got through in the end Mr Random – persevering to the completion as (almost) always.

      Great results for 🍒 over the weekend. Another season with the big boys awaits and will be interesting to see what G O’N can do with a clean start

  37. Nice to escape the SCC with Alex’s first – 16:38. Not only that I managed to be fully parsed. Shock horror! I was fortunate that a lot of the top half came quickly and there were then no major holdups, although LIMEADE took a lot longer than it might have. LOI SMUG, which kind of captures how I’m feeling, although I’m sure it won’t last. I’ll enjoy it while I can. Thanks Alex and kitty.

  38. 18.35 I found this uniformly tricky. After the first pass I’d done a bit less than half, randomly scattered across the grid. DROWSY is the kind of clue I normally struggle with so I was lucky to get it relatively painlessly, which helped me finish off with IMAGO and OMISSION. In hindsight it all looks very reasonable.

  39. It just gets worse. 45 mins of toil and frustration for an utterly miserable start to the week.

    Thanks for the blog.

      1. Thanks L-Plates. I did my usual thing, with several slotted in easily on first pass and then a brick wall. Should have remembered ARCH from recently and stupidly was thinking COL rather than TOR for hill.

        Great performance by you in what was a tough puzzle. 👏👏

  40. A DNF for me, as I needed aids to sort out the DECADENT / GRACE intersection. Looking at the clues again, I can’t explain why I couldn’t get them. I think I’ll blame Mondayitis.

    Other than that, all done in about 17 minutes. COD TOADSTOOL, which I hadn’t parsed.

    Thanks to Kitty & Alex.

  41. It was only this afternoon I remembered it was Monday not Sunday and set about this puzzle with enthusiasm. Nearly managed it all but beaten by NHO IMAGO and, thanks to my stupid spelling of LIMEAID, didn’t solve THREAD or ARCH (which was a bit of a stretch for ‘playful’)
    Thanks Alex for the puzzle and Kitty for the blog.

  42. Really liked this one. Took well over an hour but found most If not all by word play – minimal biffing!
    Look forward to more from Alex.

  43. as a standalone clue ‘Order’ would have also worked as a solution for 19D, so that threw me for a while in that corner

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