Times Quick Cryptic 2698 by Mara. Heigh-Ho

Hello all.  Was this doubly difficult or was I doubly dense?  For whatever reason, I took over double my usual time on this.

(16:12 if you want the details.  The only time I’ve taken longer in recent years was just a month ago: I hope it doesn’t stir up horrid memories for you if I mention Breadman’s 2673, in which a mental block on a few answers kept me working until 28:55.  That’s by far the biggest number on my spreadsheet – at least if we exclude infinity, given I’m no less prone than the next person to the odd dnf.)

Perhaps it was the hedgehog / portcullis grid.  Or maybe it was the double definitions; one of them (5d) was my last in.  I’ve noted before Mara’s liking for this clue type in his QCs, and here we have seven!

(When going through the doubles to count them, some names occurred to me and I felt compelled to complete the set.  To go with Snow White Dove[tail], the Seven Double Defs: Woody, Sweetie, Smasher, Sheepish, Powerhouse, Champ and Ratty.)

Thanks to Mara.  How did you get on?

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, most 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.

7a Record old emblem (4)
LOGO LOG (record) + O (old)
8a Joe Public, name very unusual (8)
EVERYMAN — An anagram (… unusual) of NAME VERY
9a Bloke, one with chainsaw? (6)
FELLER — The first of our double definitions.  Someone felling trees perhaps
10a Drink that’s small within reach (6)
SHANDY S (small) + HANDY (within reach)
11a A piece of cake each — extremely scrummy (4)
EASY EA (each) + outer letters of (extremely) ScrummY
12a Revolutionary patrols a country (8)
PASTORAL — An anagram of (revolutionary) PATROLS A.  Country here is an adjective
15a Ordinal in chapel, even thicker (8)
ELEVENTH — Hidden in chapEL, EVEN THicker
17a Pudding not very good (4)
DUFF — Two definitions
18a Briefly talk about field event (6)
DISCUS — Without the last letter (briefly) DISCUSs (talk about)
21a American man, vandal? (6)
BUSTER — Double definition
22a Glass horse on front of cabinet broken (8)
SCHOONER — An anagram of (… broken) HORSE ON with the first letter (front) of Cabinet
23a Run one competitive event (4)
RACE R (run) + ACE (one)
1d Joint vote rigged in Irish parliamentary house (8)
DOVETAIL — An anagram of (rigged) VOTE in DÁIL (Irish parliamentary house)
2d Muddled as a mammoth? (6)
WOOLLY — Double definition
3d Animal burying first of presents in earth (8)
TERRAPIN — We are inserting (burying) the first of Presents in TERRAIN (earth)
4d Dining room in home’s sumptuous (4)
MESS — The answer is found in hoMES Sumptuous
5d Live wire in generator? (6)
DYNAMO — Two definitions
6d Group not allowed to speak? (4)
BAND — Sounds like (… to speak) BANNED (not allowed)
13d Old songwriter has butchers dancing (8)
SCHUBERT BUTCHERS anagrammed (dancing)
14d Terribly close, far outside (8)
ALFRESCO — An anagram of (terribly) CLOSE, FAR
16d Boy, one receiving gold medal? (6)
VICTOR — Another double definition …
17d Leave sweltering region? (6)
DESERT — … and a final one
19d Bird’s heading off — a very short distance! (4)
INCH — fINCH (bird) without its first letter (heading off)
20d Good numbers coming up — one of those? (4)
SONG G (good) and NOS (numbers) reversed (coming up).  The definition refers back to the earlier part of the clue, so “those” should be understood as “those numbers”

71 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic 2698 by Mara. Heigh-Ho”

  1. I thought I was on for a personal best when the first few went straight in and I had only four to go at seven minutes. Then I got totally blocked for a full three minutes more. So I would say this one is basically easy….except where it isn’t!

    1. Yes. My original draft said there’s nothing too difficult here, before going on to talk about the grid. But in contrast to you I started slowly and was just slow all the way through! I could blame it on being distracted, but that sounds too much like special pleading.

  2. Well, the top half went in pretty quickly and easily. Then Mara showed her/his true colours as the Queen/King of misdirection taking us out to 35.40. Spent ages trying to find anagrams of cabinet to follow an h until finally a crosser ruled that out. POI eleventh was a well disguised hidden, even after saying out loud first to tenth then stopping as nothing short had come up, d’oh. Likewise too long looking for a country with a p and l in. LOI Victor.

    COD to Schubert, great anagram of butchers and nice surface.

    Thanks for the blog Kitty.

  3. Not just you Kitty. I waved the white flag after 7 minutes, having totally failed to see BUSTER or DESERT (are all deserts sweltering? I didn’t think so…..though there is a question mark in fairness).

    1. And me. The same two clues. In desperation, after about 20 minutes, I bunged in BOPPER and DEPART

    2. Well my understanding is that a desert is determined by a lack of precipitation and that (on that basis at least) Antarctica is the biggest desert. So I guess it would be fair to say that not all deserts are sweltering.

      But hey, most deserts are pretty hot so I was happy to give Mara a mulligan for that one.

  4. I liked that the answers were uncommon but not unheard of. I think I would have fared better knowing this beforehand, so I could start thinking of other meanings of ‘joint’ etc

    I didn’t know either definition of DUFF so I had no hope for D-F-. I tried DAFT instead.

  5. 12 minutes. I would have hit my former target of 10 minutes if I had simply biffed SCHOONER when the answer first occurred to me, but in keeping with my usual practice I was determined to parse the clue and when I failed to do so I moved on without writing the answer in. The explanation eventually came to me after 2 or 3 return visits.

    P in TERRAIN came up in another puzzle very recently so that was handy at 3dn.

    ALFRESCO as one word always looks wrong to me although I note that it’s the preferred spelling in some of the usual sources.

  6. 5:32. Held up by the SE corner until I saw ALFRESCO and the others fell into place. I liked the extremely scrummy cake. Thanks Mara and Kitty.

  7. I struggled here, largely because I always find DDs difficult (they are prone to “you either see it or you don’t” syndrome, and today I often didn’t). Plus I forgot country could be an adjective so spent ages running through countries beginning with P. Plus I had a mental block on that meaning of Buster, and Feller for that matter too. Plus I spell Al fresco as two words. And so on – a real “not on wavelength” day.

    Eventually all green but don’t ask how long, let’s just say I’m with you Kitty on double my usual mark. Many thanks for the blog.


  8. Needed all the checkers for BUSTER at the end – and for DUFF before that. Spotted SCHOONER relatively quickly but it needed careful work t0 parse a very well hidden anagram clue. Started slowly and then wanted to enter ‘hammer’ which sounds a bit like ‘yammer’ before seeing sense with DISCUS. Enjoyed DOVETAIL and was relieved to finally see PASTORAL after taking a similar journey to Cedric through Panama to Pakistan to confusion. Ended up all green in a hard fought 16.

  9. Well that was a struggle. I seemed to go down multiple blind alleys and completely forgot how to a) spot an anagram and b) unravel them once spotted. Also had several clues where I spent too much time looking at the wrong end of the clue for the definition.
    Started with LOGO and finished with DOVETAIL in 11.15.
    Thanks to Kitty and well played Mara

  10. I found it hard too. I need first letters and hate portcullises. Interesting how people have found different clues to get stuck on – I had no problem with DESERT, BUSTER (though I thought that a bit feeble), BAND, SHANDY or SCHOONER, but for the life of me could not see TERRAPIN!

    All done in 08:16 which looking above counts as a Good Day but I can’t say it was my most fun outing. Many thanks Mara and Kitty.


  11. I share a hung head with fellow commenters, as this was my second day in a row of needing at least half my time for the last couple of clues. This time the holdup was SCHOONER, a word which occurred to me at least three minutes before I actually typed it in, but believed it to only be a ship and only bunged it in when I finally managed to parse the double anag. Misreading the letters in 4d also resulted in seconds wasted wondering what country calls their dining room a MESU, which would have made SHANDY drop in all the quicker. In the end it was 12:57 for a decently high NITCH.

  12. I found this hard going from the start, and by the time I reached my last few in the SE corner I was over-sensitive to anagrams, having already missed a couple along the way. That’s my excuse for jumping on ‘sweltering’ in 17d as the anagrind, region as the anagrist and Ignore/Leave as the solution. . . Of course that in turn produced a (distinctly) Iffy pudding, but given the plethora of pudding names I thought it was still a possibility, and Race/Event looked like a good fit. That just left B*n*e* for the Yank vandal. Had I even thought of Buster, I might have untangled things, but instead opted for a (half-hearted) Bunter and a resounding DNF. What a mess. Invariant

  13. 15:13 (Scots defeated at Flodden by combination of English army and unexpectedly marshy ground)

    I got bogged down in the SE corner. I took ages seeing DUFF, then spent ages trying in vain to think of a justification for DE=sweltering, which would have allowed DEPART in 17d. Finally saw DESERT then BUSTER, then eventually worked out the anagram for my LOI ALFRESCO.

    Thanks Kitty and Mara

  14. 8:16

    Also tried to find a country for a while, with most of the NE still to do. Twigged PASTORAL with the letters written down, then TERRAPIN, DYNAMO, SHANDY and finally BAND.

    Lots to like, thanks Mara and Kitty.

  15. Got to BUSTER by thinking American = US and therefore inadvertently seeing the right answer. Tried to find a specific country from PATROLS A* for a good while until I wrote out the anagrist and the penny dropped. TERRAPIN was my LOI though.

    An average time for me, but quite tricky I thought.


  16. About 8′, with BUSTER LOI. As remarked above, not all (maybe few) deserts are sweltering. I’ve also always thought of AL FRESCO as two words, but the Times has previously had it as one.

    Thanks Kitty and setter.

  17. 28 mins…

    Well, that was a hard slog. After 15 mins, the grid was looking decidedly empty – but I persevered and, bit by bit, the answers stated to trickle in. Some answers like 2dn “Woolly”, 9ac “Feller” and 16dn “Victor” now seem relatively straightforward, but drew a blank for what seemed an age.

    Whilst tough – an ultimately satisfying solve.

    FOI – 7ac “Logo”
    LOI – 3dn “Terrapin”
    COD – 1dn “Dovetail”

    Thanks as usual!

  18. There were one or two clues here that felt as if they belonged to the 15×15, and I was diving all over the grid to finish this one. I eventually crossed the line in 13.10, but felt it could easily have been longer with the given degree of difficulty.
    The misdirection at 12ac had me scratching my head trying to think of a specific country, and 13dn had me thinking of modern songwriters rather than someone more readily classified as a composer. I would imagine there may be quite a few DNFs today, certainly if some of the big hitters have already confirmed they didn’t make it.

  19. Tough double definitions, eventually was able to crack them all, apart from WOOLLY, seems obvious now, but they all do when the answer is revealed.

    So a DNF after 25.

  20. Yes Kitty that was a difficult QC. The clues that particularly threw me were PASTORAL (missed the anagram indicator) SCHOONER (missed the anagram indicator again and thought the answer was something to do with H for horse, C at the start of cabinet in an unparsed sooner) and my LOI TERRAPIN. 9:03

  21. Could not parse but biffed SCHOONER immediately, entered after waiting for all the checkers; knew the glass because Mrs Af was a barmaid in Oz for about 6 mos in the 70s.
    Can’t spell WOOLeY, but realised that was a name (stand up Jack from the Archers, and my youngest cousin), only to find later that Wiktionary allows it as well as wooly. Not added to Cheating Machine though.

  22. Failed to see FELLER and WOOLLY – and it looked so like SCHOONER but cannot see what this ship has to do with glass? Otherwise all good.

  23. I found this one to be very difficult. In the end I was asking Pumpa so many times for help that I stopped trying to solve this QC. Did not enjoy it at all.

    My verdict: 👎
    Pumpa’s verdict: 😾

  24. Country as an adjective for pastoral? Duff as a pudding? Schooner? Quite a few clues here were either very obscure and/or unsatisfying.

    Don’t mind a DNF that’s common for me, but when you see the answer and you are still left non-plussed… then you wonder what the point of a Quick Cryptic is.

  25. Fought my way through a lot of, for me, difficult clues, only to end up breezeblocked by DOVETAIL, of all things. Knew that I knew the Irish parliament but it wouldn’t come to mind, and was thinking of the skeletal joints. Even realising that v,o,t,e were almost certainly in there didn’t clear the fog. Doh….
    NW and SE were my bigger struggles. Many PDMs including WOOLY, DUFF and ALFRESCO.

  26. Hugely difficult eventually finishing with BUSTER, DESERT and TERRAPIN. I soon realised that this was a toughie so settled down to enjoy the struggle rather than approaching it as a QC. So I had a good time – but not a good time – 19 minutes.

  27. 6.13

    Tricky. Normally DDs I find tough; didnt see the grist for SCHOONER and was held up by bunging in FOOL for DUFF. But was able to grind through helped by being three coffees in.

    Liked BAND

    Thanks Mara and Kitty

  28. 5.40. I enjoyed this one, a variety of types of clue, With pastoral as my favourite, if only because it had me looking for the name of the country as did many others from comments above.
    Last one in was alfresco, which I’d like to blame on my believing this was two words, but was just a little slow on seeing the anagram.

  29. I thought this looked 11a spotting five or six of the low-hanging fruit straight away, but then the hard grind began. Back in the SCC again. I pencilled in Disc for 7a and thought long and hard about Cutter for 9a (was there a Mr Cutter in some blokey book I once read?) but slowly, incrementally, I got there. Phew. Plum Duff was a prep school regular, and duffers featured in many a school yarn. Like others, I went through countries of the world before spotting pastoral. And that gave Al Fresco which I would gave clued as 2,6 rather than 8 but hey ho, the rain is just easing and sunshine is promised later today. I found it all tough but a fun challenge and COD to Dynamo. Thanks Mara and Kitty

  30. Well beaten with this one. Barely more than halfway. Googled ‘Irish Parliamentary House’ but got no mention of Dail

    1. That’s odd – as an experiment I just Googled “Irish Parliamentary house” and the very first result is “The Oireachtas consists of the president of Ireland and the two houses of the Oireachtas (Irish: Tithe an Oireachtais), a house of representatives called Dáil Éireann and a senate called Seanad Éireann.”.

  31. Disaster. Not on the wavelength today, so didn’t enjoy this one. After solving a few random clues, like ELEVENTH, had to reveal TERRAPIN and PASTORAL to get going. (Failed to see Country was an adjective.).
    After a long struggle I managed to solve most of the rest eventually, but had to look up DYNAMO too, and even LOGO.
    LOI/PDM, with a groan, DOVETAIL. I knew Dail but was trying to think of a human joint.
    Thanks for much needed blog, Kitty.

  32. A good day for me at 12:43. I was on for a very rare sub-10 but was held up by the TERRAPIN / PASTORAL combo, which cost me a good few minutes in the “countries beginning with P” trap. I will confess to biffing SCHOONER with only a vague notion of the parsing.

    Thank you to Kitty for the blog!

  33. Found it hard going but got there in about 40 mins. Had to guess schooner. Couldn’t work it out (apart from assuming it was something to do with a glass) until I read the blog. Otherwise not sure why I was so slow.

  34. 15 minutes here which is more than twice my normal solving time. In fact this puzzle took longer than today’s full cryptic. Not entirely sure why in hindsight, but SCHUBERT, DYNAMO, PASTORAL, TERRAPIN, BUSTER, ALFRESCO and SCHOONER all took ages to spot.

  35. Wow. DNF, defeated by FELLER and WOOLLY and a general sense of “I just can’t any more”. (It would have been better to walk away and come back later.)

    I was pleased to get BUSTER at long last, my LOI (didn’t know it was an Americanism so it took forever), and I think that exhausted my resolve. I loved DOVETAIL for the way it just appeared in my mind after a long time just staring at it. I might have heard of SCHOONER as a glass, once, long ago. I hope to remember it now. And DUFF is quite foreign but I managed to pull it out of some dim memory hole. Nice to see my sweetheart SCHUBERT appear. Poor man, he didn’t have the chance to get “old” no matter what the clue says.

    The seven Double Defs 😂😂😂

    Thanks to Mara for the hard lessons and to Kitty for an excellent blog!

  36. A big dnf today, throwing in the towel with 6 to go.
    The grid plus double definitions did for me. You either see them or you don’t.
    Liked ALFRESCO and BAND.

  37. 14:20 I failed to parse SCHOONER as an anagram and also was puzzled by TERRAPIN because instead of terrain I just saw terra and in and that didn’t seem to work. I had an uncle christened Frank who was always called BUSTER. He was quite the FELLER too. DOVETAIL and SONG were my favourites.

  38. 19 minutes. Happy just to have avoided an SCC spot and somewhat reassured that most others found this tough too. DUFF and SCHOONER were the two that held me up longest but I was slow on most of the others so not my day.

    Thanks to Mara and Kitty

  39. 22.58 Four minutes for the top half and then the wheels fell off. BUSTER, DUFF and DESERT took more than half the time at the end. Like Invariant, I tried IGNORE for 17d, which didn’t help. I did live in Australia for a while so I’m familiar with their dainty beer glasses. Thanks Kitty and Mara.

  40. More than a few clues worthy of a 15 x 15.
    SCHOONER a brilliantly disguised anagram, so my COD.

  41. 9:57

    Managed to sneak in under the 10m wire – quite a struggle all the way through. Spent a little too long trying to justify SCHOONER – eventually bunged in from checkers and parsed post-completion. Finally left with FELLER, DOVETAIL and BUSTER to finish.

    Thanks Kitty and Mara

  42. 24 mins, some real easy write ins, I’m pretty good with DDs. But needed all the checkers to complete Duff and Schooner. Lovely start to the weeks QC-ing. Thanks Mara and Kitty, I could not parse Song.

  43. 15:37 here, with aids used. I was beginning to get excited when the first five acrosses all went straight in, but then the wheels fell off. I was looking for a specific country in 12a, forgot what an ordinal is at 15a and by the time I reached the bottom I couldn’t even put R and ACE together to make a competitive event. Sigh.

    SCHUBERT was another write-in for me, as I work with someone with that surname and have previously spotted that it is an anagram of BUTCHERS. (And told him so, with the usual “that’s really weird” reaction of people who don’t do crosswords 😀).

    COD to DOVETAIL, which was fun to piece together.

    Thanks to Mara and Kitty.

  44. Another DNF, here because of the double definitions FELLER and WOOLLY. Thankfully (??) old enough to know SCHOONER (last seen in pubs in the 1970s??). And was SCHUBERT really a songwriter? I thought he was famous for tunes ?

    1. Yes, he wrote lots of songs, usually referred to as ’Lieder’. Most famous song cycle being ‘Winterreise’. Usually a bit gloomy.

  45. 25m duff
    Found this harder than the 15 x 15 today.

    Struggled with everyman, duff, race, terrapin, dynamo, alresco, and LOI pastoral.
    Maybe easier to write the ones I didn’t find hard, what a mess.

    There were so many anagrams I was even trying to get terrapin by mixing (P IN EARTH) with burying as the anagram indicator.

    Maybe Mara needs to be band from the quickie unless he makes them more easy, discus..

  46. Well I found this medium for me today. Just over 20.
    17a. Originally wrote in Mess. As in Eton Mess and a mess being not very good. However with 4d also being Mess I rethought. Anyone else do likewise?
    I know there’s lots of obscure rules but I doubt there’s ever been the same answer to two different clues but please advise otherwise. J

    1. I originally had FOOL for 17a until ALFRESCO showed it was incorrect.
      Don’t know about the same answer twice but I would assume it is allowable. More experienced solvers and setters may know better.

  47. This was the most difficult I’ve found in a long time. I always try and finish without aids however long it takes me but eventually I had to resort to looking up a couple of things today. I also fell into the trap of trying to find a non existent country.


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