Times Quick Cryptic 2602 by Alex

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

Hi all.  This one didn’t put up too much of a fight but did make me smile.  My COD is 15a, with its smooth surface and furry solution.  It also reminded me of this recent “news” fluff piece, although that features a Siberian Forest cat rather than a tortie – and one who is far from being a lost stray.

So it’s purrs from me.  I wonder what Pumpa’s verdict will be?  And what did you think?  Thanks Alex!

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

1a Grip cold electrical appliance (5)
CLAMP C (cold) + LAMP (electrical appliance )
4a Passenger bill includes rodent (6)
GERBIL — PassenGER BILl includes the answer
9a Captain beginning to skin smoked fish (7)
SKIPPER — The initial letter of (beginning to) Skin + KIPPER (smoked fish)
10a First of all merchants exchange limes or nectarines for other fruit (5)
MELON — An acrostic: the first of all Merchants Exchange Limes Or Nectarines.  (Strictly speaking the definition is “other fruit” – that is, referring back to the clue, fruit other than limes or nectarines)
11a Copy first of adult games (3)
APE — The first letter of Adult + PE (games)
12a Former railway employee is one sending goods out (8)
EXPORTER EX-(former) PORTER (railway employee)
15a Hoteliers lost stray cat perhaps (13)
TORTOISESHELL — An anagram of (… stray) HOTELIERS LOST
17a Oddly hear poet producing musical (8)
HAMILTON — Odd letters of (oddly) HeAr + MILTON (poet)
18a Tack in three directions (3)
SEW — The three directions are South, East and West
20a Reportedly vote against animal noise (5)
NEIGH — Sounds like (reportedly) NAY (vote against)
22a Rotten team not in position to score (7)
OFFSIDE OFF (rotten) + SIDE (team)
23a Cornered brick carrier holding returned chicken product (6)
HOGGED HOD (brick carrier) holding the reversal of (returned) EGG (chicken product)
24a Lily left books with you and me (5)
LOTUS L (left) + OT (books) + US (you and me)
1d Say a cult transformed injured party (8)
CASUALTY SAY A CULT anagrammed (transformed)
2d Nimble US soldier drowning in beer (5)
AGILE GI (US soldier) surrounded by (drowning in) ALE (beer)
3d Seasoning on one sausage (9)
PEPPERONI PEPPER (seasoning) on I (one)
5d Wood regularly found in vellum (3)
ELM — The answer is given by regular letters of (regularly found in) vElLuM
6d Trust from worker perhaps covering cover up (7)
BELIEVE BEE (worker perhaps) surrounding (covering) VEIL (cover) reversed (up)
7d Guided around North in advance (4)
LEND LED (guided) around N (North)
8d In favour of job suggestion (11)
PROPOSITION PRO (in favour of) + POSITION (job)
13d Bitter half seen in soothing surroundings (9)
RESENTFUL Half seEN in RESTFUL (soothing) surroundings
14d Perfect force having no rules (8)
FLAWLESS F (force) + LAWLESS (having no rules)
16d Fearing losing head studying (7)
READING — dREADING (fearing) minus the first letter (losing head)
18d Change loose dress (5)
SHIFT — Two definitions
19d Part of foot in church (4)
INCH IN + CH (church)
21d First signs of horsefly’s unwelcome, exasperating appearance (3)
HUE — Initial letters or first signs of Horsefly’s Unwelcome, Exasperating

86 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2602 by Alex”

  1. I’ll be joining the clever boys towards the front of the class today as I fair raced through this one in around 13 minutes, so a great start to the week for me. Nothing really held me up, although I had to write out the TORTOISESHELL anagram to see it. It also helped that I’d heard of a SHIFT dress since Mrs ITTT has a collection of these claiming they can cover a multitude of bodily defects, and who am I to argue.
    INCH made me smile and once I’d changed PROVOCATION, which works but not quite, to PROPOSITION I was rolling. I also enjoyed OFFSIDE and HOGGED.
    Thanks to Alex and Kitty.

  2. 11 minutes. The cat anagram and the musical were responsible for taking me over my previous target 10.

  3. Enjoyed this one, some slight head scratchers (HAMILTON my LOI) but all slotted in fairly quickly. 12A made me smile (I am sure others have seen it many times!)

  4. Nothing to scare the proverbials, although HAMILTON took me longer than it should have. I’m sure we’ve had s+kipper more than once before. 4:51.

  5. After a regulation six acrosses almost all the downs went straight in. Ended up a shade under 12 after a long tussle with TORTOISESHELL where I was using ‘stray’ as part of both definition and cryptic for too long and HOGGED where I seemed to forget about eggs. I joined ITTT in the INCH appreciation club before ending up with GERBIL having tried lots of things with ‘rat’ in the middle before realising the answer was right in front of me! An all green start to the week.

  6. Is that… A cultural reference from within the past ten years?! 🎉

    I sat next to a guy at Hamilton who had seen the show 51 times and had tickets to three more shows in three different countries. I don’t have that kind of money but I do know the show off by heart.

      1. Follow the link in my Friday blog this week to my forthcoming crossword with a cultural reference from 2023! 😀

  7. I made very heavy weather of this one with hold ups all over the place. Both the hiddens went over my head and, like Mendes, I was trying to fit a rat into a GERBIL. SHIFT, HAMILTON and TORTOISESHELL also caused problems.
    Started with MELON and finished with BELIEVE in 11.09.
    Thanks to Kitty

  8. 4:43, so not too many snags today. Needed all the crossers for HAMILTON as I was looking for an anagram of “hear poet”, which seemed like “opera” might come into play, but no.


    Thanks Alex and Kitty.

    1. Hope you enjoy it. I personally thought the telling of the story was somewhat lost in the hip-hop and rap.

  9. Slow and steady with a bit of a hold up in the SW having put in arch instead of inch, which is a great clue once we saw it. Like others spent a lot of time trying to force in rat for gerbil before POI believe finally saw it off. 26.13 and not really sure why.

    Always irritating when LOI is a hidden !!

    Thanks Felix and Kitty

  10. I also put in ARCH for 19d “part of foot in church” as a double definition. I then reflected that I needed exercises as a child as my arches were so poor and not all churches have arches.

  11. Lost some time wondering what on earth a (c)Lasp was in 1ac, and then how to fit Rat into 4ac, but after that inauspicious start this became a reasonably straightforward solve. Perhaps a few too many biff then parse answers for my liking, typified by Loi Shift, which was a re-visited parsing failure of Skirt. All done in 17mins, with CoD to 13d Resentful for the parsing. Invariant

  12. I got BELIEVE, but could not parse it satisfactorily, thinking it must be BEE covering LIE (cover up). But where did V come from? I see it now. Nice QC and helpful blog.

  13. 13 mins which is near record for me, so was expecting to see some very fast times here. A gentle start to the week. I liked the clever surface of EXPORTER and the misdirection in INCH. I thought it was going to be ‘arch’. I always remember ‘hod’ as a brick carrier from the story of ‘three little pigs’ when I was very young. The one that built its house of bricks was carrying them in a hod in the picture in my book (as likely explained to me by my mother). Isn’t it odd what sticks in your mind?
    Thanks Kitty and Alex.

  14. A nice crossword but a slowish completion because every time Alex made a garden path I went up it. Trying to fit Rat into 6A Gerbil – tick. Thinking the anagrist in 22A was “team not” – tick. Trying to make 17A Hamilton an anagram of “hear poet” – tick. I even tried to make 15A an anagram of “lost stray cat” before realising it was one letter short. All done in just under 12 minutes in the end which given time to exit said garden paths I am happy enough with.

    Many thanks Kitty for the blog

  15. My ability to go up all the garden paths listed by Cedric was, mercifully, matched today by my ability to run back down them. I clocked a zippy (for me) and pleasingly symmetrical 06:06 for 1.3K and a Very Good Day. I did like SEW, I haven’t seen that device before!

    Many thanks Alex and Kitty the TORTOISESHELL.


  16. I was up those garden paths with Cedric, and made very heavy weather of this. I spotted SKIPPER and TORTOISESHELL and wondered about a butterfly theme, but found no further evidence. Thanks Kitty and Alex.

    TIME 6:18

  17. 11:57 (Owain Gwynedd defeats Henry II at the battle of Ewloe)

    I fell into the ARCH trap before seeing INCH, and was held up on my LOI HAMILTON by looking for an anagram of “hear poet”, even getting as far as writing out the letters before spotting the lack of an N.

    COD to HAMILTON. Nice to see a musical more recent than Cats.

    Thanks Alex and Kitty

  18. A pleasant meander through Alex’s puzzle left me some way short of the SCC, despite exploring most of the pauses and side tracks already referenced on the way. A friendly Monday offering.

  19. I struggled with the cat anagram, though Pumpa hissed at it, assuming it to be another cat trying to creep into his territory.

    I have never understood why studying at university is called reading. If all you do is read at Oxbridge, then it’s not all that hard. 🙂

    A nice QC, though I didn’t really have the heart for it today.

    My verdict: Could have done better
    Pumpa’s Verdict: HISSSSS What’s this other cat doing here!

    1. Yes I agree. If all they do at university is read then it sounds like a bit of a doddle. I’ve also often wondered why it’s only Oxbridge one goes ‘up’ to. I would certainly ‘go up’ to Oxbridge from here in Dorset whereas if I lived in, for example, Swindon I’d surely be going ‘across’ to Oxbridge. Or ‘down’ from Leicester. We British are a strange lot.

      1. And the railways used to say going up to London, even if they were coming from Edinburgh!

    2. Does Pumpa’s antipathy to having another cat here extend to the blogger? If it helps, I have Dreamies. And catnip. And catnip Dreamies …

  20. Pleased to see I was in good company, initially trying to make ARCH fit and also thinking there could be an electrical appliance called lasp before realisation dawned. An enjoyable QC today with nice satisfactory clues. Thanks Alex and Kitty

  21. Blinking flip. Did Saturday’s first, which was a bit harder than most, but I did in a reasonable time. Then came here via a couple of concises, failing on today’s. Then failed here too with an errant LENT – I thought at the time that it didn’t work, but carried on, and promptly forgot about going back to it. Time in the mid 4’s, but…


  22. I would have been under target at about nine and a half minutes if a hadn’t made such a Horlicks of my LOI 15ac. Like Cedric I spent too long trying to make an anagram out of ‘lost stray cat’. When I finally came to my senses, TORTOISESHELL followed fairly quickly, but by now the clock had stopped at 11.03.

  23. Another who tried arch first (well and truly misdirected) but NEIGH caused me to think again. Otherwise fairly plain sailing, and definitely easier than Saturday’s QC. LOI TORTOISESHELL (needed all the checkers before the answer slowly dawned), COD INCH. Thanks all.

  24. 17 mins today but 1 error so a DNF

    I was torn between SHIFT which seemed unlikely to be a dress and SKIRT which seemed at the time vaguely plausible to mean ‘change’ and i convinced my myself that ‘loose’ was somehow referring to the use of ‘dress’ to define ‘skirt’.

  25. Hooray! I managed to accompany Mrs Random on her (fairly common) excursions out of the SCC today, although she still didn’t let me have or even share the family point. 17 minutes for Mrs R and 19 minutes for me. Still, I can’t complain.

    The first two across clues, CLAMP and GERBIL, refused to come into my ahead at the start, but SKIPPER and MELON kicked off an extended good spell for me and by the end of my first full pass I had 17 solutions written in – possibly a record.

    My L2I were READING and HAMILTON, which took me 3+ minutes and an alphabet trawl at the end. As a cultural dinosaur, I’m embarrassed to say that I have never read any of MILTON’s work and have only recently found out (possibly here) that HAMILTON is a musical. Neither Mrs R nor I are fans of musicals as a genre of entertainment (a mish-mash of weak plots, interrupted by dubious songs), although we can see why they’re popular, and we have only ever been to one. That was Starlight Express, some decades ago, and we decided not to go back into the auditorium after the interval. I remember being quite impressed by the roller skating for about the first 10 minutes, but then becoming quickly bored. Sorry, Mr Lloyd-Webber!

    Many thanks to Kitty and Alex.

    1. At the risk of stirring up a hornet’s nest, I’ll agree with you when it comes to modern musicals, although I can’t comment on Hamilton, as I know none of the songs. But Showboat, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls -I love them all. Good stories and marvellous music! No prog rock there though 😂

      1. Yes, I loved the old musicals you mentioned. I watched the Sound of Music only the other day. Offspring less fascinated, I admit, but if you go to Salzburg it is still a very big deal.

      2. A tangential(silly?) thought re SHOWBOAT. You could have a houseboat in a boat show but I don’t think there’s any boathouse in SHOWBOAT. Oh, and State Fair, Brigadoon,and Carousel to add to your list.

      3. If you love classic musicals, can I suggest that if you ever get a chance to watch Come from Away? It’s modern, but I never met a person that didn’t like it. A filmed version of the stage show is currently on Apple TV

    2. Er …. I wish to complain bitterly about the outrageous slur on the wonderful ‘musicals’ branch of the entertainment industry, cast by a certain Mr Random above. A man of extremely poor taste, it would seem. And to think he was referring to productions that have been enjoyed by literally trillions of people in audiences around the globe and beyond.

      If you see this Mr R out and about then please give him a biff on the hooter from me. He deserves it, after all. Keep your eyes peeled and you’re sure to spot him. You’re just looking out for some random chap.

        1. Never fear, Mme B. Mrs R is not easily fooled. She can detect a buffoon from light-years off. I know from years of experience.

  26. Average time finishing with a DNF with lend which just couldn’t see.
    Have seen skipper at least 5 times so for a relative newbie is definitely a chestnut.

  27. Fairly straightforward from memory (I did this nearly 12 hours ago) but I was held up by GERBIL and BELIEVE at the end to finish in 10.51. Thanks Alex and Kitty.

  28. DNF as I just couldn’t see TORTOISESHELL. I got all the others, but was rather slow. Like Pumpa, I hissed loudly when I revealed the answer.


  29. Accidentally revealed INCH (COD) and HOGGED, (does that mean cornered?) but otherwise did OK. FOI CASUALTY.
    Thanks vm, Kitty.

    1. I guess if you corner the market of some commodity or corner the supply of some essential goods you will be hogging them.

  30. Just on 11 minutes. Took a few minutes staring at TORTOISESHELL at the end to complete the grid. INCH was my favourite; not a poetic ‘foot’ for (almost) once.

    Thanks to Kitty and Alex

  31. 12:05. A similar experience to many others. What’s a lasp, I asked myself at 1a, which meant that it wasn’t my FOI! Otherwise the first few answers went in quite quickly, and I thought that Alex was being quite kind to us, but then I went up all those garden paths and slowed right down. All the same, I enjoyed this. There was some lovely misdirection at 22a. Thinking that rotten was the anagrind for ‘team not’ made onside an impossibility! The letter count made that clear too 😅 Hiddens are the bane of my crosswording life – GERBIL was close to LOI 🙄 Although very much a dog person, I did really like TORTOISESHELL – what a terrific anagram. I also liked SEW.
    FOI Skipper LOI Tortoiseshell COD Inch
    Thanks Alex and Kitty

  32. A somewhat slower than average 14:57 today. Held up substantially by POI 15a where we had to write it out. I’m not a cat lover so I don’t naturally think of tortoiseshell in that context. In part, not having the OIH LOI FLAWLESS at that point encouraged me to try and envisage extinct felids – and that after a spell wondering whether it might be another NHO jazz musician. I was also another one down the ARCH pathway until it no longer fitted but then had a smile at the rather nice INCH. Thanks Alex and Kitty!

  33. 16:20. TORTOISESHELL held me up the longest as I was another who thought “lost stray cat” was the anagrist and hoteliers the definition. Imagine my laughter (and tears) when I looked closer and saw 13, not 12, letters were required. Tack for SEW, trust for BELIEVE, and appearance for HUE weren’t immediately obvious to me. On the other hand READING came quickly to mind as it was where the storied footballer clued in a puzzle from a week or two ago played- and also READING is a university where studying occurs! Thanks, Kitty, for helping me parse BELIEVE(veil backward).

  34. I usually say ‘tortishell’ so was quite surprised to discover the correct spelling includes the whole Tortoise. Brilliant anagram and another helpful lesson from the QC.
    The puzzle put up quite a fight and then I KOd myself with SKIRT rather than SHIFT.
    Thanks Kitty for explaining Believe and Alex for an enjoyable outing.

  35. I thought I’d try an evening solve, as that’s the time of day the new puzzle appears here in Steel City. Oh what a comedown. Good puzzle, frozen brain. Not going to mention my time. I had to wait for all the crossers to get the kitty cat.

    Poison Wyvern’s comment about READING is a bit comforting. I have to add that meaning to my crosswording lore, because it’s definitely not part of my dialect.

    Would have commented last night but apparently Kitty was still writing it up when I went to bed!

    Thanks Alex and Kitty.

  36. This took me longer than I feel it should have – 18 minutes to be exact, with several parsed post-completion. I didn’t help myself by falling into the ‘arch’ trap, which made 20ac impossible and by not reading 9ac very carefully and bunging in ‘kippers’. I did manage to avoid the various other traps mentioned above though and also, for the first time in a while, managing to see the hidden at 4ac (albeit somewhat belatedly).

    FOI – 10ac MELON
    LOI – 19dn INCH
    COD – 22ac OFFSIDE

    Thanks to Alex and Kitty

  37. 5.17 , So no dramas.
    I haven’t seen Hamilton live, but I’ve just finished reading the book. Interesting to see how many issues in the 1790s still seem to be relevant in the US today.

  38. FOI CLAMP and LOI TORTOISESHELL. I had a minor holdup with GERBIL, like others here, I missed the hidden. I held out putting BELIEVE in the grid until most of the checkers were in place as I was another who wondered how the V fitted in the clue. Fortunately I didn’t think of arch for a foot part but I did think of heel and swiftly discarded it. I also wondered whether OnmattE was a scoring position. Still, I’m happy to have crossed the line in 7:27.

  39. 23 mins…

    I seem to be out of synch with most people, as I found this on the trickier side. Like a few, I initially went for 1ac “Clasp”, wondering what bizarre electrical instrument a ‘last’ is, but then remembered I’ve been caught out with this before. 4ac “Gerbil” took an age as well, which mean I was delayed with the NE corner.

    FOI – 2dn “Agile”
    LOI – 6dn “Believe”
    COD – 23ac “Hogged”

    Thanks as usual!

  40. Thanks Alex for a very enjoyable crossword with lots of PDMs and no NHOs. Fell into all the traps, but that’s wherein the fun lies.

    Managed to complete in one sitting.


    Reading the above makes me think I definitely must get round to booking to see Hamilton.

    Thanks Kitty

  41. 5:52

    Gentle Monday though did have to think about the long cat – with all checkers in, spotted SHELL and filled in the rest. Musicals not really my cup of tea – I quite like some of the old films – but would rather stick pins in my eyes than sit through some of the more modern offerings – had at least heard of HAMILTON.

    Thanks Alex and Kitty

  42. 13.32 This wasn’t too hard but I spent three minutes at the end on NEIGH and INCH. Oh dear! Thanks Kitty and Alex.

  43. There is no inclusion indicator in the clue for INCH. “Part of foot,” strictly definition, “in church” contains the answer, but there’s no word saying “in ‘in church'” or “part of ‘in church’.” I see that a lot of people liked this clue, nevertheless. Perhaps they see it as an &lit? Normally, the phrase where something is hidden can’t contain any word that isn’t part of it.

  44. We seemed to make hard work of this one, although we got there in the end beyond our target.

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