Times Quick Cryptic 2545 by Teazel – a prickly one

Hello everyone.  This took me over my outer target time, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you found it tough.  If you in fact did well then well done!

The treatment in 11a will be familiar to many, but I do like it.  Though on the complex side for a Quick Cryptic I really rated 1d, and I also liked 8d.  Thanks Teazel.

[A little personal milestone: this is my 100th post for TfTT.  I think the breakdown is 47 Quick Cryptics plus 53 Jumbos – I can’t believe I’ve been doing those since 2019! – but the QCs are fast catching up.  Thank you all for being such good company.]

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.

6a Place to sleep I’ll put in punt (6)
BILLET ILL put in BET (punt)
7a One abandoning girlfriend in truck (6)
DUMPER — Two definitions
9a Nervous of conflict with unknown (4)
WARY WAR (conflict) with Y (unknown)
10a Republican welcomed by dissident group in part (8)
FRACTION R (Republican) in (welcomed by) FACTION (dissident group)
11a Banter OK when you are young? (8)
BADINAGE — Ok when you are young?  BAD IN AGE
13a Garden where partners had a fall (4)
EDEN — Cryptic definition
15a Whip the Spanish horse (4)
LASH LAS (the, Spanish) + H (horse)
16a Cut off from place a colleague is holding (8)
AMPUTATE PUT (place), which A MATE (a colleague) is holding
18a Latin mass (not the last) arranged, one thought to bring good fortune (8)
TALISMAN — An anagram of (… arranged) LATIN MASs without the last letter (not the last)
20a Unable to feel end of arm, roll over clutching it (4)
NUMB — The final letter (end) of arM, with BUN (roll) reversed (over) around (clutching) it
21a At home, nurse is mean (6)
INTEND IN (at home) + TEND (nurse)
22a Frequently visits relatives after hours (6)
HAUNTS AUNTS (relatives) after H (hours)
1d That man had position in club associated with driving range (8)
HIMALAYA HIM (that man) + LAY (had position) in AA (club associated with driving)
2d Take a risk in drama of burning intensity? (4,4,4)
PLAY WITH FIRE — A literal interpretation of a PLAY WITH FIRE as a fiery drama
3d Man, a British isle (6)
STAFFA STAFF (man, verb) + A. Staffa is a Scottish island, one of the Inner Hebrides
4d Knowing about daughter selling apps (6)
ADWARE AWARE (knowing) around (about) D (daughter)
5d Principal figure in novel wanting woman’s love (4)
HERO HER (woman’s) + O (love)
8d Run to get home, tricky for most of us English (6,6)
MOTHER TONGUE — An anagram of (… tricky) RUN TO GET HOME
12d Stick from tree (3)
GUM — Two definitions
14d Guess the car I’m in (8)
ESTIMATE ESTATE (the car) with IM in.  “The car” might prompt the same comments as in my previous QC blog
16d A jolly woman in invasion force (6)
ARMADA A + RM (jolly, slang for a Royal Marine) + ADA (woman)
17d Vigorous check in very small housing (6)
PUNCHY CH (check) inside (in … housing) PUNY (very small)
19d One card bearing any number of spots (4)
ACNE ACE (one card) holding (bearing) N (any number)

100 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2545 by Teazel – a prickly one”

  1. 20:42. Yes, this was harder than usual, I took a good 6 or 7 minutes longer than my recent times. STAFFA, ADWARE, and DUMPER were NHO but eventually came to light. I wanted the sleeping clue to be a PILLOW but couldn’t get pow to mean punt! ACNE was my COD. Congrats, Kitty, on your milestone, I always enjoy your blogs so hope you do many more!

    1. Please see my comment below (and Guy’s if applicable)

      Update: 08:13 Crosswords working normally now.

    2. I went to the crossword club like Jack said and did it but all of the various factors of different interface/doing it while cooking dinner/doing it while in a terrible mood/tricky crossword resulted in me just giving up

      Just how many of these hebredies are there? 😂

      Lots of vocab I didn’t have, along with little crossword things like jolly/RM, AA (not al anon then?) I don’t think I would have fared well if all conditions were correct.

      I’m so impressed by the MOTHER TONGUE anagram but I never would have figured it out. Tricky missing comma!

  2. Definitely harder than normal. Nothing I hadn’t heard of (for instance, I knew all of STAFFA, ADWARE, and DUMPER although usually “dumper truck”).

  3. I don’t know why, but I found this puzzle very hard and needed 21 minutes to complete it. That makes three consecutive days I have missed my newly-extended target of 15 minutes, coming home in 20, 18 and 21 minutes.

    Edit: I forgot to say congrats on your first century, Kitty!

  4. Well done Kitty. As for the puzzle, the Times website was a shambles and I ended up getting to it via the Crossword Club which I don’t usually do. It has that annoying facility which skips crossers but for those of us who are unfamiliar it is a nightmare and I had a couple of completely stupid pink squares even though I finished in 7-something which on the day looks pretty good! I haven’t checked for several hours but I am hoping the website has now healed itself…

    On edit: it has not. There is no ‘puzzles’ options in the sections menu. I want a refund…

    1. I don’t understand your problem with the Crossword Club; I always do the puzzles via the club, making sure first to clear cache, and no problems (currently). You have a choice of whether to skip a filled square or type over it with a new letter.

      1. It’s probably because I ‘m not used to it and did not even realise that option was available, being against the clock as it were. I kept tripping over myself and finding I’d entered the same letter twice. I might have another look in more leisurely circumstances. Meanwhile I hope they fix things on the website, or at least acknowledge there has been a problem.

  5. One for the 15×15 regulars I think, who I am sure will have a good time, but not much fun for me as a mere mortal.
    Relying on really obscure places/words seems like such a crutch for setters. I find puzzles made difficult through obscurity far less satisfying (or helpful for learning) than puzzles relying on clever wordplay.

  6. Due to today’s QC not being there, I ended up tackling the DT 15×15 online instead, which was very doable in 34 minutes. So a great start to the week for me!

  7. Got off to a good start with BILLET and a few at the top going in swiftly but there was some tricky stuff mixed in and I couldn’t parse ARMADA or LOI HIMALAYA, whilst BADINAGE was only vaguely understood.
    Finished over target in 10.20.
    Thanks to Kitty for the much needed blog.

    1. If something is bad when you are old (bad in age) it might not have been bad when you were younger.

      1. Hmm ok. Just because something is OK when you are younger doesn’t mean it is bad when you are old?

        Is this why there’s a question mark on the clue

  8. Very tricky for a Monday. DNF as never heard of badinage and even if had known I don’t find the wordplay clear. Also punchy and armada I put them in only thanks to the definitions but for ex I never knew RM stood for jolly. Oh well, everytime you learn something new. Ps nice to see Staffa mentioned, I went to visit it few years ago and found it very beautiful. Still, the reason I won’t be able ever to forget it, it s got more to do with how rough was the sea before reaching it from Iona 🙂

    1. Staffa is very famous as the inspiration for a poem, and the overture by Mendelssohn called Fingal’s Cave named after one of the local sights.

  9. 16:19 (Virginia has multiple North American firsts -Legislature, Thanksgiving, and Slavery).

    I found this very tricky. LOI was STAFFA.
    I like ARMADA, but had only learned that the marines are the Jollies from previous crossword blogs.

    Thanks Teazel and Kitty

  10. 7:41. Blimey! Well over target for me. The unfriendly portcullis grid didn’t help, but I made heavy weather over HIMALAYA, DUMPER and ADWARE, my last 3 in. I liked ACNE best. I thought of GUM as in glue rather than chewing so thought the clue a bit weak. Doh. Thanks Teazel and Kitty.

    1. Not sure about Doh being warranted re your original thought. Isn’t that how the clue works, even if it is a bit weak?

  11. If this is Monday’s puzzle, will the rest of the week be harder than a 15×15? NHO ADWARE or jolly = RM, half the rest simply too difficult. MER at HIMALAYA; the range is called the Himalayas – can you have one Himalaya? Thank you, Kitty, for shedding light where there was much darkness.

  12. Fat fingered TONGUR so 09:51 but WOE grrr. That was a slippery fish for a Monday!

    Many thanks Kitty (and congratulations) and Teazel.


  13. Teazel being Teazelly today, specifically in the top right, though I had relied on a few biffs even to get there e.g. BADINAGE and MOTHER TONGUE. Man = STAFF came to me in a flash, which with the A crosser gave me the NHO island and unlocked everything up there – with FRACTION, HERO, DUMPER and ADWARE falling in that order.

    Slowish, but in line with difficulty according to QUITCH.

    Edit to thank Kitty for elucidation and to congratulate on the century.


  14. 9.16

    Borderline too hard for a quickie? I tend to think of whether my kids could do it, but particularly BADINAGE was too much of a combo of difficult w/p and pretty obscure word. ADWARE and STAFFA did have clear w/p to be fair.

    Having said that I quite enjoy a slighter harder one and thought NUMB was good.

    Thanks Kitty (many congratulations) and Teazel

  15. 6:13

    No real issues other than not fully understanding the clue for EDEN – I get the garden and partners part which was enough to get the answer, but not the ‘had a fall’ bit. Having said that, the puzzle did seem to be a step up from the usual.

    Thanks Teazel and Kitty

      1. Just read up on it – the whole scene is referred to as ‘The Fall Of Man’ which gives the clue more sense.

        1. I think my reply may be an example of “Ninja Turtling” and I am suitably red-faced.
          Hard to come up with a justifiable excuse other than hubris!
          Thanks for your rationale!

      2. I think the apple falling story refers to Sir Isaac Newton; Eve merely plucked the apple from the tree following mischievous serpentine counsel!

    1. “Of Man’s First Disobedience, and the Fruit
      Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
      Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
      With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
      Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
      Sing Heav’nly Muse …”

  16. Cor, tricky for a QC! 15.29, nearly a minute and a half slower than the regular cryptic. STAFFA caused most of the problems – if I knew of it, I later forgot, and I was looking for a man’s name for quite a while. Another who’d never heard of ‘jolly’.

    Thanks & congratulations Kitty, and thanks Teazel.

  17. I found this hard but the blog was helpful with parsing , esp RM = Jolly

    Good to get some modern words in (adware) 🤣

    Thank you Kitty and Teasel 👍

  18. Biffed BADINAGE and recalled previous TFT chat. A nice word, rarely used outside these halls. Not convinced of the methods of the clue.
    Had a feeling right from the start that this was going to be knotty and somewhat pleased to have something to do while waiting for an overdue OP appt running late.
    COD. ACNE. STAFFA. The place I struggle to remember.
    Thanks Kitty and Teazel

  19. 32 mins…

    Definitely a toughie to start the week with, what felt like, quite a lot of cryptic style clues. Main hold up was the NW corner where I stupidly put “Pillow” for 6ac and then couldn’t remember the word for 11ac “Badinage” (which I thought was poor in any case).

    FOI – 9ac “Wary”
    LOI – 11ac “Badinage”
    COD – 1dn “Himalaya”

    Thanks as usual!

  20. Certainly a tough one to start the week, and I found it to be a consistently slow solve from start to finish. I eventually crossed the line in 12.20, outside my target by a few minutes, but the feeling I had at the conclusion was that I was relatively happy with that for such a tough puzzle.
    For 13ac the mention of garden brought EDEN to mind immediately, but mention of partners had me groping around for a NS or EW inclusive alternative. Eventually I recognised that bridge partners were not needed and the penny (or in this case the apple) dropped. I suspect there will be quite a few DNFs today.

  21. Tough, 24 mins for me. STAFFA only from a very fair clue. ARMADA should have come to me quicker as a Plymouthian! We have an entire shopping centre so named, although it seems to be sinking in the current economic climate…
    Similarly, forgot that I had seen here previously RM = Jolly. Rotter told me it was common Forces slang but I obviously have a sheltered life as despite the RM presence, and work involvement with many RMs, I have still never heard it used or seen it written in that context other than in TfTT. Maybe next time I will know that I know it. Maybe. Hmm.

  22. Gosh this was a hard one. I gave up after 40 mins with three to go. NHO Staffa the island so fair enough, I like lesrning new things. I also learned a jolly is a RM in unparsed ARMADA. HIMALAYA is quite tenuous in my view with ‘lay’ meaning position.

    Should the clue for DUMPER have ‘for example’, since it is not only girlfriends that can be dumped?

    I thought the clue to 18a was very clunky in the way Teasel used ‘(not the last)’. Surely the clue could have been ‘Not the last latin mass arranged, thought to bring good fortune’?

    Can anyone help me with two remaining questions. When is H used for ‘horse’? Also, when is ‘gum’ used for stick? I can’t think of an example for either.

    1. Gum is another word for glue, so if you gum things together you stick them.

      H for horse you’ll see on racing cards but I think the explanation often given here is that H = heroin = Horse. I prefer to think of HP =Horse Power but I believe there’s a Times convention against taking single letters from multi-letter abbreviations as practiced in Guardian puzzles almost every day..

      1. Thanks Jackkt but I cannot find a dictionary reference that says gum can be used as a verb in that sense. To gum means either to block something or to chew without teeth. To gum does not mean to stick. Gum as a noun means a sticky substance (not stick but sticky) but gum does not appear to be a synonym for stick.

        I can now understand H for horse on a racing card (as opposed to C for Colt, M for Mare, F for Filly, G for Gelding).

        1. Paulo you need to check ‘gum’ as a verb:

          8. (transitive)
          to stick together or in place with gum

          verb trans. Fasten or fix in position with gum or other sticky substance.

          4 to smear, glue or unite something with gum.

  23. Enjoyed this despite being tough.
    DNF due to adware
    Liked numb, Himalaya, mother tongue and dumper in particular.
    Didn’t know jolly/RM.

  24. Got into this late on, due to the aforementioned technical issues. I claim partial victory finishing all green in 17:10, however I must confess to having glimpsed BADINAGE and BILLET when reading all your comments while trying to resolve things.
    So 1/1 to start the week on a high, albeit slightly tainted!

  25. Very difficult and needed help to finish. Guessed HIMALAY (only word I could think of starting with HIM in 8 letters), ARMADA (from invasion force, NHO of RM = jolly: thanks, Kitty), PUNCHY (guessed from crossers), ADWARE (only vaguely known), DUMPER (why “girlfriend?” Don’t girls dump boys?)

  26. about 13 mins. LOI HIMALAYAS where the crossers weren’t particularly helpful until HIM became obvious. ADWARE also a toughie, maybe just not expecting it in a Times crossword. NHO RM= Jolly. ACNE and NUMB were very good. Thanks Kitty and setter.

  27. Trickier than usual, but fortunately I knew STAFFA and have actually walked around it and along to Fingal’s Cave. A great experience in calm seas and sunny weather. Congratulations on your Century Kitty! I got stuck at the end on 8d, PUNCHY, and LOI, TALISMAN, but managed to come in just under my target at 9:29. BILLET was FOI. Thanks Kitty and Teazel.

  28. Wow, that was hard. Big DNF with STAFFA and ADWARE among others. I work in IT and have never heard of ADWARE.

    MOTHER TONGUE was a great clue, but did not see the anagram. Would have perhaps made the difference in my blank NE corner.

  29. Regulars here will know that I’m noted for two things – speed and typos. I didn’t make a typo today…..

    TIME 10:42 (am now standing in corner wearing conical headgear)

  30. Thank you Kitty for your 100th post. I don’t often need to refer to the detail but today I did. I finished in target time but there were two clues where my parsing was doubtful. They were BADINAGE and EDEN. FOI BILLET and LOI DUMPER. MOTHER TONGUE was a well disguised anagram but my COD goes to NUMB. 8:19 and a red letter day as I have just seen I was faster than Phil.

  31. I thought this was tough and am cheered to find I am far from alone in this – indeed I am retrospectively quite pleased with my time of 12 minutes. Just 1.1 Busmen – not sure I have ever done that before.

    Biffed Armada, as I did not know Jolly = RM and had my doubts that Armada means an invasion force in particular (does it not just mean a large fleet? Indeed are not the small boats at Dunkirk sometimes referred to as the Armada of Little Ships?), and held up by LOI Himalaya – tough clue, especially as the checkers were not helpful and I thought the mountain range was always referred to in the plural. The awkward grid did not help either – roughly half the clues started with an unchecked cell.

    In short, needed the blog – and a most helpful blog it was too. Thank you Kitty, and congratulations on reaching the century. Now, like all good batters, you should take a fresh guard and dig in for the double century!


    1. You’re right that an armada can just be a large fleet of ships, but it can also be taken as specific to the Spanish armada which was indeed an invasion force.

  32. I’m new to these puzzles, and American to boot, but I’m getting quite addicted to my slow pleasure (took an hour today). I just want to say I thought this was the most amusing one I’ve done yet. Embarrassed not to have tumbled to the “him” and thus HIMALAYA sooner. COD was MOTHER TONGUE.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog, without it I would not be learning how to parse as unable to sort out inexperience with cryptics from ignorance of British English. Really enjoy all the comments! Amazed at the times but the spirit of emulation is not in me.

        1. Yep – it’s definitely addictive! Give it a few months and you may even start trying out the hard stuff (the 15×15!) 😅

  33. Totally unsuitable for a QC! I think I finished all 5 last week, today I solved 6 clues in 30 minutes and gave up.

  34. Totally unsuitable for a QC! I think I finished all 5 last week, today I solved 6 clues in 30 minutes and gave up. And the system is making it hard for me to post, hence the duplication. Sorry

  35. 35.11 Completely off the wavelength today. After about 25 minutes I took a break with less than half done but it all fell into place when I came back. ARMADA and HIMALAYA were never parsed. Thank you Teazel for a very challenging puzzle and thank you Kitty for all the blogs.

  36. To my surprise I was all finished in 32 minutes.
    Biffed a few and needed the blog for some parsing: RM unknown for example.
    Congrats Kitty on your century and thank you for your cheerful blogs. Thanks also to Teazel.

  37. Very tricky puzzle today needing lots of aids. Technically a DNF as never heard of ADWARE and the only word in my wordsearch to fit the crossers was IDEATE which sort of fitted with ‘knowing’ but nothing to do with selling apps.

  38. Finished this with some help. also some where we were unable to parse the clue but guessed. ev 17d punchy.

  39. 22:29. Very tricky! I knew “jolly” for Royal Marine from reading the Patrick O’Brian books (great for old vocabulary, although the first one is a tough slog. The trick is to realise that you don’t really need to understand how all the ropes work 😀).

    Thanks to Teazel & thanks & congrats to Kitty.

  40. Tricky but ultimately very satisfying. I never worry about time but I definitely had a longer period of enjoyment than usual… Pleased to learn that jolly = RM, and that STAFFA really is an island. Thought the wordplay for NUMB was hard for a QC but it was at least biffable. Clues that I found challenging included MOTHER TONGUE (didn’t spot anagram at first), HIMALAYA, ARMADA (RM?) and DUMPER (girlfriend seemed to point to a girl’s name). COD ACNE. Teazel is my favourite setter and I think this was an excellent QC overall. Many thanks for the blog Kitty and congratulations on your century.

  41. Yes, definitely a prickly one, although I’ve found the last week or two generally quite tricky. I don’t know if it’s just because my brain is overloaded with Christmas planning or if I’m getting worse at these things, but I was happy just to finish today! I liked MOTHER TONGUE, NUMB and GUM.
    The conversation about GUM made me realise that we don’t see glue referred to as gum or paste so much these days. I remember those little dumpy bottles of a golden coloured glue with a split rubber spout which always got gummed up when I was at school – does anyone else know what I mean? It’s all PVA and superglue these days!
    FOI Wary LOI Dumper COD Staffa 15:43.
    Thanks Teazel and Kitty, and may I add to the congratulations 👏🍾

    1. Re Gum, yes I know exactly what you mean. It was mainly used in arts and crafts for gluing paper etc. I think it’s still available but the split rubber spout has been overtaken by Pritt Sticks.

  42. 25:54
    That was tough – I considered quitting more than once.
    Finally spotting MOTHER TONGUE was an anagram helped, but a lot of difficult clues.
    FOI: 9ac WARY
    LOI: 3dn STAFFA
    Thanks and congratulations Kitty and thanks Teasel

  43. I was a bit embarrassed about my time of 28 minutes but I see I’m in good company. Didn’t know the jolly/RM connection and so couldn’t parse ARMADA (thanks Kitty). Otherwise I had all the GK required but was just slow putting it to use. Also not keen on some of the clues as mentioned by others above.

    FOI – 9ac WARY
    LOI – 1dn HIMALAYA
    COD – liked 20ac NUMB and 19dn ACNE

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