Times Quick Cryptic No 1122 by Flamande

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic


After some recent puzzles, I was bracing myself for a real doozy. On the contrary, I found this to be relatively straightforward — but the best kind of straightforward, where the surface readings are effortless and the wordplay gently misleading, but no writing implements are thrown across the room in frustration.

I missed eight clues on the first pass, but got them all on the second, ending at around 12 minutes with a forehead slap for not getting 11 Across sooner. In retrospect, I think I was a bit slower than I would have been had there not been a few choice UK-centric answers. (No complaints here.)

Because I found this puzzle so enjoyable, I’ve included a few more comments than usual, underscoring various aspects of the wordplay I particularly appreciated.


1 Generous daughter giving backing to family (4)
KIND – D (“daughter”, on a genealogy tree) after (“giving backing to”) KIN (“family”)
The trick to good wordplay isn’t necessarily elaborate clues; it’s also using indicators like ‘backing’ which might mean a reversal, and might mean a re-ordering.
4 One appeals to the people, and to pupils? Wrong (8)
POPULIST – AND TO PUPILS (“and to pupils”) anagrammed (“wrong”)
8 We hear spaniel, also bird (8)
COCKATOO – homophone of (“we hear”) COCKER (“spaniel”) + TOO (“also”)
More nice wordplay, since ‘also’ could have been a connecting word between wordplay and definition.
9 Chef[‘s] business satisfactory (4)
COOK – CO. (“business”) + O.K. (“satisfactory”)
10 Spoils one section of The Planets suite (4)
MARS – double definition
Sadly, I couldn’t find a decent clip of the Hallé Orchestra playing Holst’s The Planets on YouTube. Here’s Sir Adrian Boult with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1954: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQsKsjgv-D4. More good wordplay, since only one definition has the ‘s’ due to a plural.
11 Decline a season with no commitments? (4,4)
FREE FALL – double definition, the second humorous
12 Guide soldiers approaching hill (6)
MENTOR – MEN (“soldiers”) + (“approaching”) TOR (“hill”)
14 Water bottle a waiter ultimately carried into bistro (6)
CARAFE – A (“a”) + WAITER (“waiter”) reduced to its last letter (“ultimately”), in (“carried into”) CAFE (“bistro”)
16 Hot town with harbour, west-facing, one near California (8)
TROPICAL – PORT (“town with harbour”) reversed (“west-facing”) + I (“one”, in Roman numerals) + (“near”) CAL (“California”)
Autopilot puzzle solvers would go straight to H for ‘hot’, which is a red herring. Incidentally, I’m from California and have never used that abbreviation. Just sayin’.
18 Some cheating [in] early part of competition (4)
HEAT – letters in (“some”) CHEATING
19 Small car heads for Milan in northern Italy (4)
MINI – first letters of (“heads for”) MILAN IN NORTHERN ITALY
Again, the temptation to put in S for ‘small’ makes you have to think twice, even for an easy clue.
20 Yelling “Be quiet” before trip (8)
SHOUTING – SH! (“Be quiet”, in quotation marks!) + (“before”) OUTING (“trip”)
22 Several having rest disturbed [in] English county (8)
SOMERSET – SOME (“several”) + (“having”) REST (“rest”) anagrammed (“disturbed”)
Not being great with my English counties, I was looking for an anagram of REST inside E (for English) plus a three-letter county.
23 Manchester-based orchestra slightly too big for this concert venue (4)
HALL – HALLÉ (“Manchester-based orchestra”) is one letter longer than (“slightly too big for”) the answer (“this”)
One of my favorite performances of all time. ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’, by Gustav Mahler, performed by Dame Janet Baker, Sir John Barbirolli, and the Hallé Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GrKCBYlwBU. I recall reading that this recording was played at Barbirolli’s funeral.


2 A region developed [in] time gone by (4,3)
IRON AGE – A REGION (“a region”) anagrammed (“developed”)
3 Composer unhappy about touring UK (5)
DUKAS – SAD (“unhappy”) reversed (“about”), around (“touring”) UK (“UK”)
The predictable clip: https://video.disney.com/watch/sorcerer-s-apprentice-fantasia-4ea9ebc01a74ea59a5867853.
4 Favourite school subject, first on timetable (3)
PET – P.E. (“school subject”) + first letter of (“first on”) TIMETABLE (“timetable”)
5 French friend about to go wandering near Nice, oddly (9)
PROVENCAL – PAL (“friend”) around (“about”) ROVE (“to go wandering”) + (“near”) NICE (“Nice”), odd-numbered letters only (“oddly”)
Most difficult clue of the puzzle by far! So many misleading elements: ‘French friend’ isn’t AMI, ‘wandering’ doesn’t indicate an anagram, and neither does ‘oddly’. Beautiful clue.
6 Devilish sort, cruel if aroused (7)
LUCIFER – CRUEL IF (“cruel if”) anagrammed (“aroused”, as in, perhaps, ‘excited’)
7 Small implement [to make] a low seat (5)
STOOL – S (“small”, on a clothing tag) + TOOL (“implement”)
In the best puzzles, you can’t predict when you’ll need to draw on a chestnut like S = ‘small’. We needed it here, but not in 19 Across.
11 Predicts pro will join English acting groups (9)
FORECASTS – FOR (“pro”) + (“will join”) E (“English”) + CASTS (“acting groups”)
Similarly, compare with 22 Across.
13 High-ranking pilot lost over north east (3-4)
TOP-LINE – PILOT (“pilot”) anagrammed (“lost”) + (“over”) NE (“north east”)
15 Face cloth [and] soft soap (7)
FLANNEL – double definition; the second meaning ‘flattering, persuasive, or cajoling talk’ (Collins).
Neither definition is familiar to me as a US solver, even thought it was obvious from the crossing letters what the answer had to be. Flannel is, of course, more commonly known as bedsheet material for college students, or those awful, grungy jackets I wore in the 90s as a moody teenager.
17 Greek character holds in a wild animal (5)
RHINO – RHO (“Greek character”) around (“holds”) IN (“in”)
18 To seek a free ride [is] a problem (5)
HITCH – double definition
21 Love taking business newspaper regularly (3)
OFT – O (“love”, in tennis) + (“taking”) FT (“business newspaper”, namely the Financial Times)

25 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1122 by Flamande”

  1. Pretty unproblematic, although I had a couple of quibbles: a STOOL isn’t necessarily low–bar stools, for instance–and OFT is frequently, not necessarily regularly (nor is regularly necessarily frequently). ‘soft soap’ isn’t specifically UK, Jeremy, although I suppose it is fairly dated, which may account for its unfamiliarity. Cal for me (I’m from SF) is the University of California (and ‘University of California’ is the University of California at Berkeley). I didn’t know of the Hallé Orchestra until fairly recently; ‘Manchester-based’ is the sort of information one won’t find in the 15×15 puzzles; ditto ‘suite’ at 10ac and ‘business’ at 21d. 3:53.

    Edited at 2018-06-27 02:42 am (UTC)

  2. 8 minutes for this straightforward solve. ‘Water bottle’ threw me for a moment as I only associate carafes with wine.
  3. Straightforward but fun. I particularly liked the crossing of FORECASTS with TROPICAL HEAT, given the current weather in the UK, and the possible oblique reference to The Italian Job in 19a (although, sadly, the heist and car chase take place in Turin, not Milan). SHOUTING my COD, for it’s evoked image of fractious family outings. Thanks Flamande and Jeremy.
  4. This may have been a PB for me at a shade under 8 very enjoyable minutes, with the solve going pretty much top-left to bottom-right, and ending in HEAT only because I looked at it last.

    Jeremy, ‘AND’ is not part of the anagrist in 4a, but I enjoyed your chatty blog – thanks. And thanks Flamande – I hope that the possible NINA in the 6th row isn’t some subliminal goodbye message!

    Edited at 2018-06-27 07:48 am (UTC)

  5. I confidently entered DOWN TIME for 11a, which sort of works (decline: DOWN season: TIME def: with no commitments), so that slowed the down clue run.
    My enthusiasm for pairings in the grid was generously catered for, what with TROPICAL HEAT, the unlikely KIND POPULIST, and SOMERSET HALL “the perfect venue for celebrations, theatre, conferences and weddings” – Somerset County Council. Is a STOOL FLANNEL a thing? Think it might be!
    Thanks Jeremy, especially for all the background music. Back in the day, there was a children’s TV character called Olly Barber (don’t think I’m making it up) who we all recognised as an affectionate tribute to Sir John. Wouldn’t work today!
  6. I was up early today so decided to solve this online before getting the paper.
    Pausing at times to sip my mug of tea I took 12.16 over this- more accurate than the clock on the microwave which I normally use.
    Provencal held me up a bit but LOI was Tropical which became obvious with all the checkers.
    As Jeremy says, a nice puzzle. And helpful to know Halle. David
  7. Just shy of 30 mins, with about 5 of those on loi Provençal. I wasn’t overly convinced by Free Fall for 11ac, as it seems a bit stronger than just decline to me, so I ignored the ‘e’ for provencal for far too long – that’s my excuse anyway. Some nice clues around the grid, so my thanks to Flamande and of course Jeremy for the informative blog. Invariant
  8. … the Kevometer doesn’t lie, only just sub 8 minutes and still not good enough to break the 2 Kevin barrier!

    I must admit that I found it a bit of an everyday “meh” puzzle without much that really tickled me, so I’m out of tune with the majority here. I did like SHOUTING though, so COD from me.

    Jeremy, for MARS you say “More good wordplay, since only one definition has the ‘s’ due to a plural”, but unless I’m misunderstanding you, there’s no plural involved here is there? “Mars” is just a conjugated form of the verb “to mar”, not a plural noun. (Unless “a mar” is an obscure noun!) Thanks for the jolly blog.


  9. This was definitely on the easy side at 7:41, but some pleasant clues.

    I think my COD 5d just about qualifies as a semi &lit, given that a French friend wandering near Nice may well be Provencal (unless he was there on holiday).

    Thanks for the blog Jeremy.

  10. Very straightforward I thought. I agree with Templar re MARS. “I mar”, “it mars”. Simple as that. Don’t understand how “free” = “decline”. Fine with STOOL as a low seat Kevin. I wouldn’t fancy trying to milk a cow seated on a bar stool! PROVENCAL needed all the checkers. That took some working out, so my COD.
    1. And yet a bar stool is a stool. I’m afraid you reminded me of a headline that appeared in a New York State newspaper many years ago: Child’s Stool Great for Use in Garden.
  11. Hi Jackkt. “Une carafe d’eau” is a handy expression to save yourself €5 next time you’re in a Provençal restaurant. John
      1. Seriously – never – that’s incredible. After all, it’s been around for almost 20 years! (Having said that, I am pleased that we kept our sterling currency.) MM
  12. Masterful? Well, it’s full of unnecessarily complex wordplay if you ask me, that might have been simplified greatly without changing or affecting any of the ‘chunks’ of subsidiary indication (1 across is a good example of this). However, it seems to have gone down relatively well.

    I’m still engaged in my quest to discover what the perfect QC should look like.

  13. Yippee! A new PB at 7:20 with LOI 6dn LUCIFER which I put in without actually reading the clue. Only hesitation was at 11ac FREE FALL.
  14. Another straightforward solve – only held up at the end by 23a, having not heard of the Manchester orchestra and having a brain freeze as to where concerts may be held. Just managed to sneak in under 10 minutes with 9.58 by foregoing proofreading.
    Excellent blog Jeremy
  15. A 17 minute solve, which isn’t bad for me, but I was surprised when I saw the time as I thought that I had been quicker. My COD definitely goes to Provencal, partly because I amazed myself by seeing the wordplay relatively easily! I thought it was a superb QC and I very much enjoyed the blog too, Jeremy. (As an American, I hope you thoroughly appreciated the FALL usage.) FOI: 1a LOI: 12a MM
  16. I did this puzzle just before setting off for the golf course, so I didn’t have time to comment then. Now home and catching up after a very pleasant day in pleasant company, and an excellent curry. The puzzle took 7:49 with KIND FOI and POPULIST bringing up the rear after I had the crossers. Didn’t know DUKAS but wordplay was 1a. Knew the Halle so no problems there. I agree with Kevin that stools can be low or high. Enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Flamande and Jeremy. Now onwards to the 15×15.
  17. Entirely thanks to the marvellous team who analyse the QC and the 15×15, my crossword solving abilities have improved enormously, and the kindness and generosity of the contributors to the blog have enriched my life! Guys (or possibly girls) like Verlaine and Jackt who are obviously at the top of their game are humble and unpatronising in the help that they provide BUT I personally cannot abide the contributions of George Heard and Dorset Jimbo. The Mephisto Crossword can only be solved by a few hundred people in the world at most and their typical comments such as – “a straightforward day at the office”, “nothing to upset the horses” or similar are just plain smug. They may take offence that I dare to challenge them thus but having established their superb abilities their blogs are typically amongst the least helpful.
    1. Granted, not everyone’s blogging style is going to appeal to all readers but, to be fair to George and Jimbo, the (small) audience for the Mephisto blogs has historically been people who are already able to solve them hence any comments about the level of difficulty are relative to other Mephisto puzzles, not crossword puzzles in general. If some of the parsings aren’t clear then just ask – I’m sure they will be more than happy to expand on their explanations.

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