Times Quick Cryptic No 1119 by Tracy

A lovely variation in clue difficulty today, from the very easy to the slightly tricky There are also some nice inventions with a couple of more unusual anagrinds and the clever HIDDEN AGENDA, which was a clear Clue of the Day for me. Or should that be obscure Clue of the Day? The neat surfaces got me wandering down a few bye-ways as I chewed over the clues and answers, which gave me an extra bit of fun. I hope you all enjoyed it as much. Thanks Tracy! How did everyone else get on? By the way, I’ll be out enjoying the Upper Teesdale countryside today, so may not be able to reply promptly to any comments or queries. But I’m sure there are plenty of others who will.

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Other pal made up excess (8)
PLETHORA – (Other pal)*. I saw it was an anagram, but couldn’t see the answer straight away so I left revisiting it until I had all the checkers. I always thought plethora just meant a large amount rather than too much. But I was wrong!
5 Join indefinite number in outfit (4)
KNIT – N is the indefinite number. Put it in KIT (outfit) to get a joined up answer. And how to make your outfit, perhaps?
9 Made tea, we hear, for children (5)
BROOD – “We hear” signposts that this is a homonym. If you made some tea, you would have brewed it… My brood like tea, but not brewed too much. A quick dunk of a tea-bag is enough.
10 Shortage female in charge discovered in tight diet (7)
DEFICIT – This is a little trickier… You take F (female) + IC (in charge) and put them in (diet)* [tight] to discover the shortage. If you are wondering about the unusual anagrind, think of ‘tight’ as in ‘drunk’ (and disorderly).
11 Eggs: run out by start of evening (3)
ROE – RO (run out) + E{vening} [start of]. All together now…. Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken…. lay a little egg for me.
12 Moving, large book about Scottish island lake (9)
EMOTIONAL – Did anyone else biff this from the checkers? If so, you may have missed out on the neat wordplay. The large book is a TOME, turn it about and add IONA (the Scottish island) and L (lake).
13 Comic book character, an officer’s personal servant (6)
BATMAN – Double definition. Batman’s batman, of course, is Robin. [Edit: Commenter John corrected me to say it should be Alfred, not Robin] Hmm. Might that make a passable QC cryptic definition clue? …I’ll get my coat.
15 Detailed statement about harbour (6)
REPORT – Don’t overcomplicate this by looking for a word for ‘statement’ to take the end off (as I did at first). It is simply RE (about) + PORT.
17 Enter nervously following insensitive political address? (6,3)
NUMBER TEN – Another one I biffed from the checkers. Ignore the enumeration to construct NUMB (insensitive) with (Enter)* [nervously] after it [following] to get the PM’s house. I once was passing the gate at the end of Downing Street and saw a Domino’s Pizza delivery scooter stopped and the rider talking to the policeman on guard. It made me wonder if someone had been playing a practical joke!
19 Make a mistake in bumper race (3)
ERR – Hidden in bumpER Race. What is a bumper race, I hear you ask? (as I did). “A bumper is a Flat race run under the rules of Jump racing. It is designed for horses who have not previously run on the Flat to get experience of racing. Horses who have previously raced in flat races are not eligible to run in bumpers.” So now you know. And so do I.
20 Cover point perhaps made by fine senior member about island (7)
FIELDER – We all saw this was a cricket clue immediately, didn’t we? F (fine) + ELDER (senior member) with an island I in the middle.
21 Saw Medical Officer, tot poorly (5)
MOTTO – MO (Medical Officer) + (tot)* [poorly]. No, not the sawbones sort of a saw.
22 Legendary creature, until now, first in index (4)
YETI – YET (until now) + I{ndex}. But by no means an abominable clue.
23 NI county players in blue (8)
DOWNCAST – DOWN (the county) + CAST (the players of a play). “In” is just a linking word, but it makes a nicely deceptive surface. It made me wonder who plays in blue… It’s not County Down, but Fermanagh.

1 Local fare? (3,4)
PUB GRUB – Cryptic Definition (hence the question mark).
2 Run away with girl once writer’s gone (5)
ELOPE – The girl in question is {Pen}ELOPE. Drop the writer from the front and run away with her.
3 Ulterior motive: what collagen database has in it? (6,6)
HIDDEN AGENDA – This is a beauty! Look at the collAGEN DAtabase. See what it has HIDDEN in it?
4 Was up on back of bronco in riding exhibition (5)
RODEO – RODE (Was up) + {bronc}O. How long can you stay ‘up’ on a bucking bronco?
6 Old knight upset a name in Conservative party? It’s not possible (2,3,2)
NO CAN DO – This is a bit tricky for a QC, I think. Can you parse it? Yes it is possible. O + N  (Old knight) going upwards [upset] + A N (a name) inside a C (Conservative) DO (party). Sneaky trick in splitting “Conservative Party”. Something to watch out for in future… or even the very next clue…
7 The whole time a lot developed (5)
TOTAL – (T + a lot)* [developed]. Here’s another where you could get misled – the definition is not ‘The whole time’.
8 Commend a fine new novel (2,4,3,3)
OF MICE AND MEN – (Commend a fine)* [new]. A perenniel set text for GCSE English, it would appear. Well all 3 of my children have had to read it! (But I confess I haven’t). The book by John Steinbeck, published in 1937.
14 Violent storm encountered on the way up – bother! (7)
TEMPEST – Encountered is MET, reverse to make it go [on the way up] and add the PEST (bother). Today’s crossword’s weather forecast, perhaps? Not for today on my way up Teesdale, I hope. That would be bothersome!
16 Prove vase nicked by hawker (4,3)
TURN OUT – The hawker is a TOUT, and the vase is an URN. which he [nicked] by surrounding it… which turns out to be a crime. Case proven!
17 Providing temperature in New York is fine (5)
NIFTY – IF (Providing) + T (temperature) in NY. A particularly fine clue, perhaps? By the way, the NIFTY50 is an Indian stock index.
18 Initially ten, approximately, in trunk (5)
TORSO – T{en} [initially] + OR SO (approximately). Now I hope that’s not about 10 bodies in a big suitcase.
19 Spare more (5)
EXTRA – Double definition. I’ll spare you any more explanation than that.

22 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1119 by Tracy”

  1. A top to bottom solve with a couple biffed. I was struggling to keep my eyes open so, when the parsing didn’t present itself immediately, I moved on. ELOPE and NO CAN DO are the relevant biffs. I particularly liked HIDDEN AGENDA. 6:31. Thanks Tracy and John. Enjoy your day in Teesdale. I recall a very pleasant ramble with my daughter some 35 years ago walking from Cow Green Reservoir, scrambling down the side of Cauldron’s Snout and on to High Force. Happy Days!
    1. Hi John. You might be interested in this then… I did walk 44B from my 1990 AA Tours and Walks of Britain. I started at Bowlees Visitor Centre, went down to and crossed the river by Low Force, along the river past High Force for another 3 miles or so, turned left and up the hill to walk back along the top via the Green Trod and Silver bank to Holwick, then back down to Low Force. About 4 hours in the sun all the way. Excellent walk, but I need a shandy or two now! Not got the right cable with me to get the photos off my camera, but It will feature on my Reinterred Blog eventually.
      1. Hi John, sounds like an idyllic way to spend the day. I dehydrate easily and usually carry loads of water and some SIS tablets to replace electrolytes when I’m out walking in the sun. A nice beer afterwards is good too:-) It’s a beautiful area, but subject to sudden changes in the weather. I once got totally drowned as a teenager just going from the car park to Cow Green Reservoir. I had to drop my grandson off at school near Kirkbymoorside on Wednesday, so to fill in the day before collecting him again, I popped over to Scarborough and had a 4 mile wander around. Rain was forecast, but it was a scorcher and I was really glad to reach the Scarborough Arms for a cold beverage:-)
  2. Back to the magic 9 minutes for me today, making 4 x 9-minute solves and 1 x 10-minutes this week, and my first complete week finishing within my target 10 for a very long time.

    I wondered between PUB GRUB and PUB FOOD for 1dn as both are in common usage in the UK. The former may not be known beyond these shores although it’s still the better answer (and the correct one as things turned out).

    The comedian Eddie Izzard in his heydey (i.e. before he became a political bore) used to do a wonderful routine on the subject of the “best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men”. If anyone’s wondering, the line is taken from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”.

    Edited at 2018-06-22 06:45 am (UTC)

  3. I completed this one in 14.12 so just under my target time. There were some excellent surfaces today and Hidden Agenda made me laugh out loud when the penny finally dropped. Thanks for the explanation of 6d which defeated me despite spending a couple of minutes on post solve. I left 23a to last as my heart sank when I saw it involved an Irish county but with all the checkers in place it went in without too much of a fight.
    An entertaining end to the week
  4. Somewhat counter to the (non-existent) rule that Friday presents a tougher challenge, and my first time under 6 minutes. But I liked the clues, especially the clever DEFICIT and the excellent anagram for the Steinbeck.
    I’ve only seen PLETHORA in actual use in The Three Amigos:
    El Guapo on his birthday: Jefe, would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?
    Jefe: A what?
    El Guapo: A plethora.
    Jefe: Oh yes, El Guapo. You have a plethora.
    El Guapo: Jefe, what is a plethora?
    Jefe: Why, El Guapo?
    El Guapo: Well, you just told me that I had a plethora, and I would just like to know if you know what it means to have a plethora. I would not like to think that someone would tell someone else he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.
    1. I’m not sure the ‘Fridays are harder’ theory has ever applied to the QC. But I must have enough data from my own QC solving to give it a test.
      I liked the plethora of piñatas. Thanks.
  5. Very much enjoyed that one, thanks Tracy. HIDDEN AGENDA was lovely.

    Thought I was on for a speedy time but came to an abrupt halt in the SW … this turned out to be because I was reading the clue for 20ac (7 letters) as the clue for 22ac (4 letters) and thus wasted 5 minutes wondering how on earth a 4 letter answer could justify such a long clue! Durrr. So not speedy in the end and I’m guessing 3.75 Kevins.

    What a lovely day to be going for a proper walk. Much more fun than sitting in a commuter train.


  6. Slightly quicker than yesterday but quite a few went in unparsed – 3d,6d,12ac,17ac. LOI was 23ac DOWNCAST. 17:09 Thank you Tracy and John.
  7. Lovely puzzle. Thanks, Tracy. Hidden agenda was definitely my COD.
    Did this immediately after yesterday’s QC. Within a couple of secs of plett11 but no Kevin today to measure against. John
  8. A Tracy puzzle, right on cue, but nothing too difficult, though I did think Rode in 4d, was a bit of a stretch. If I hadn’t spent a few minutes contemplating the wrong type of trunk in 18d, this would have been under 25 mins – a quick time for me with Tracy. Some nice clues, especially 17d, but I agree 3d is CoD by a country mile. Invariant
  9. Not sure why I found this hard. Maybe too much wine last night. Looking at the blog most of the clues are obvious. Cannot see 21 across and still don’t understand the answer. Only did about 60% today

    Nakrian kickiat.

    1. “Saw” is a word for motto, or saying. Never seen it used anywhere but in crosswordland.
    2. Sorry I should have explained in the blog…
      Collins says:
      “A wise saying, maxim, or proverb
      Word origin of ‘saw’
      Old English sagu a saying; related to saga”
  10. A straightforward end to what has been an unusually straightforward week for me. Thoroughly enjoyed HIDDEN AGENDA, a clue to savour. Also enjoyed NIFTY, for the surface. The “in” in 23ac had me looking in the wrong direction for quite a while. I needed the last T to show me I was on the wrong track altogether. TURN OUT = prove? Not to an (ex) mathematician it doesn’t.
  11. Well that was fun and I’m still chuckling from COD hidden agenda. Slightly held up in SE corner as I’d entered Totem instead of Motto but resolved by the novel. Number Ten also an excellent clue. Took just under 15 mins so, like England, need to sharpen up. Thanks all
  12. A second PB of the week at 4.07. Some nifty stuff here that only became apparent on subsequent read through.
  13. Back after my first visit to the golf courses of Kintyre. Felt a bit rusty on this; started with 21a and then made pretty good progress until held up by 18d and 23a, LOI.
    Should have got 23a quickly as last year’s golf trip was to County Down.
    About 18 minutes. David
  14. Inside 20 today so happy but a few biffs so grateful to John. However I believe Batman’s batman would be Alfred and not Robin. John H
  15. Thanks for such a lovely puzzle today, Tracy! But I just couldn’t resolve 23a…so a dnf. Disappointed after such an easy week to stumble on such a straightforward last across clue. Maybe I should have had a larger Costa and spent more time re-reading and re-reading the clue… Thanks too to our blogger for giving me a more full explanation of 2d. Roll on next week!
  16. 27 minutes on submission but quite a few interruptions so more like 20.

    Also a pesky typo with nifyy for 17d.

    Last few were pub grub, which I will be returning to in a week, batman, hidden agenda (cod) and plethora.

    Only quibble is nervously for the anagram indicator, otherwise very enjoyable.

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