Times Quick Cryptic No 1248 by Oink

I was a bit shy of 12 minutes, held up a touch by carelessly bunged in last letter at 1ac. I was also held up by an admiration of a good number of the clues, which I found particularly well crafted. I see this is only Oink’s fourth offering (the last one blogged a month ago by the estimable Rotter), and there was a lot of wit and originality, even with the anagrams (such as 10ac and 1ac) and the double definitions (18ac – probably my COD) which can sometimes make for be a more prosaic sort of clue. We also had a festive infestation at 6d, and as a bonus I learnt the origin of Pom for English. Cracking puzzle, much enjoyed, many thanks to Oink! Oh yes, and a very merry Christmas!

1 Doctor clings to a longing for the past (9)
NOSTALGIC – anagram (doctor) of CLINGS TO A. I nodded appreciatively at the nicely constructed anagram fodder, and then promptly took the “a” as part of the definition, giving “nostalgia”, which made for a strange looking word at 5d.
6 Bribe Henry to leave store (3)
SOP – H(enry) leaves SHOP (store). Copy and paste from earlier-blog time: ” “Sop” cropped up in a puzzle I blogged a month or two ago, where I learnt the phrase: “a sop to Cerberus”. A sop is a piece of soaked bread, and a drugged one was given to Cerberus to allow safe passage to the underworld, hence its meaning as a bribe/placation.”
8 Trudge around V&A? It’s an ordeal (7)
TRAVAILTRAIL (trudge) round V and A.
9 Chutney maker’s staff depart (5)
MANGOto MAN = to STAFF; GO (depart)
10 Devoted to fat fiancée after makeover (12)
AFFECTIONATE – anagram (after makeover) of TO FAT FIANCEE. Nice!
12 Bet he’s out in the old city (6)
THEBES – Anagram (out) of BET HES. Could be the one near Luxor in Egypt, or the one in Boeotia in Greece, take your pick. Boeotia, while we’re vaguely on the subject, was in ancient Greece proverbial for its slow-witted inhabitants. I see the OED provides an 1884 quote from Harper’s Magazine: “Essex appears to be looked on as the Bœotia of England.” I see Harper’s is still going strong, so if you are from Essex I implore you to up quill immediately and pen a witty retort to prove them wrong!
13 Fume after sister has change of heart (6)
SIMMER – “Change of heart” clues often don’t provide the substitute letter/s, so this is fair game: “ST” is the heart/centre of “SISTER”, swap it for two other letters to get a word for “fume”. 
16 Upset when Democrat is given job? (12)
DISAPPOINTED – D(emocrat), IS, APPOINTED (given job).
19 Reveal revolutionary memo introduced by left (3,2)
LET ON – NOTE (memo) reversed/”revolutionary”, starts off with/introduced by L(eft)
20 Nothing disturbing the playwright’s dog (7)
POINTERO (nothing) disturbs/intrudes into PINTER (playwright)
22 Character in Iliad oddly ignored arch-foe (3)
RHO – as in the Greek letter; ignore the “odd” letters of aRcH fOe
23 Facial feature old Italian is familiar with, they say (5,4)
ROMAN NOSE – ROMAN (old Italian) NOSE sounds like (“they say”) KNOWS. A Roman nose is (for no real reason it would seem) a hooked nose, shaped a bit like an eagle’s bill, hence also “aquiline nose”. In dad-joke parlance a Roman nose is simply a big nose, as it’s roamin’ all over your face.

1 Bear in mind school’s back (4)
NOTEETON (school) is reversed/back.
2 Grab hold of elf fans keeling over (7)
SNAFFLEanagram (keeling over) of ELF FANS
3 What leads to heated atmosphere in Hedda Gabler? (3)
AGA“in” the letters of HeddA GAbler. Good play, and at a push this clue could service as an essay question (nul points a few points for answering “Aga”).
4 Posh girl half atones, making ice-cream (6)
GELATO –  a GEL is a posh girl and a toe is a thing on your foot… sorry, ATO is half of ATONES.
5 CO getting married: signal for a fuss? (9)
COMMOTION – CO gets M(arried) and MOTION (signal). So I had A_M_O_I_N courtesy of 1ac… aah, 1ac, great clue, great clue… (I just checked on crossword solver and there’s no such word, but at the time it looked like there’d be something.)
6 Insect in South Africa, one coming down chimney? (5)
SANTA – ANT (insect) in SA (South Africa)
7 Trailblazer, one imprisoned by sanctimonious queen (7)
PIONEER – ONE imprisoned by PI (sanctimonious – short for “pious”) and ER (queen)
11 I caught top batsman. Such a shock! (3-6)
EYE-OPENER – EYE = “I”, caught/heard as/sounds like ; OPENER (top batsman). Lovely!
12 Small fish daughters fed to workman fixing roof (7)
TIDDLER – D, D (daughters) fed to TILER (workman fixing roof). New one on me – a kid’s name for a small fish, especially a stickleback, back when kids needed names for such things. WIki tells me that sticklebacks display unusual mating behaviour, and “mature sexually at a length of about 2 inches”. So if they find a new species they could always name it after Trump. 
14 Report seaman holding expert up (7)
MAESTRO – (expert) is held “up” in the letters of repORT SEAMan. Yet another nicely constructed clue.
15 Two Englishmen down under having a ball? (6)
POMPOMx2 POM (Englishman, in Oz/down under). “Pom” short for “pommy” short for “pomegranate”. Seemingly this was a play on “Jimmy Grant” which was established Aus/NZ rhyming slang for “immigrant”. There’s no strong evidence for the explanation being that both turn red in the sun, but it does seem very plausible.
17 Argument over by badger’s den (3-2)
SET-TOO(ver) by/alongside SETT (badger’s den)
18 Not working on the house? (4)
FREE – double definition. Like it!
21 Chap from Helsinki, perhaps, losing head in boozer (3)
INN – FINN (chap from Helsinki, perhaps), losing head.

40 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1248 by Oink”

  1. Excellent puzzle. LOI was MAESTRO, even once I knew what the answer must be it took me a while to spot the hidden. Got both 1a and 6a on the first pass of the acrosses but then passed over all until 23a. Luckily the downs were more forgiving and things then progressed steadily with many a smile until all green in 13.22. A good time for me.
  2. Fortunately for me, TIDDLEY (I believe it was) appeared in a recent 15×15, provoking some (irritated) discussion, in the course of which I learned about TIDDLER. Didn’t know it was the stickleback, a fish that often shows up in discussions of evolution: the point being that the males don’t attack other males because they’re competitors, they attack them because they’ve got, during mating season, a red belly, and males attack anything red. Slowed down by LOI MAESTRO, a very nice hidden; I hate very nice hiddens. 6:12.
    1. Other way round i think sticklebacks attack anything red because they think it is another male but only when it is approx the right size. They don’t attack red footballs.
      1. My understanding was that they in fact do; I read of one that went after a red car parked outside the lab. There’s no need to attribute intentionality to the fish; it attacks red things, and the odds are that a red thing in its environment is a male stickleback.Similarly, frogs shoot out their tongues at any small moving object flying in their field of vision. Those tend overwhelmingly to be flies.
  3. My first QC solve completed within my 10-minute target since last Thursday, but with only seconds to spare. In yesterday’s I had NOSTALGIC before correcting it eventually to NOSTALGIA so I took extra care today over 1ac.

    I looked twice at the parsing of 5dn as I didn’t recognise “signal/motion”. After finishing I consulted Collins and found: If you motion to someone, you move your hand or head as a way of telling them to do something or telling them where to go. Synonyms: gesture, direct, wave, signal. I’m not sure I would ever have thought to use ‘motion’ in that sense, and the signal I associate with telling someone where to go is far less polite than a movement of the head!.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 05:56 am (UTC)

      1. Yes, I agree it works as in the example I quoted from Collins, but I don’t think I would ever have thought of it in that context myself.
  4. Another lovely puzzle from Oink. Like others, MAESTRO my LOI – what a great hidden answer clue. Lots of other lovely clues too. POINTER my COD. Thanks Oink, and thanks, rolytoly, for the great blog. I learned a lot today! 6:54.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 07:49 am (UTC)

  5. Excellent puzzle but took me just over 15 minutes. Must have spent at least three of those minutes staring stupidly at LOI maestro and only spotted the hidden about a minute after that. Tiddler was a great surface. Lots of other great clues including rho (still need to get quicker on those Greek letters).
  6. Hmmm. Well back in the SCC with 19.09. Having warmed up with the 15 x 15 – all done bar 4 clues by 30 mins, then hit a brick wall for best of same again, getting one wrong and cheating on another – I was feeling confident. NOSTALGIA went in unparsed and holding things up with the wrong ending. MAESTRO LOI, and unparsed. MANGO was a sticker (nice clue) as was POMPOM (ditto) Good misdirection in 12ac, I was looking for Ur. I have found Oink definitely on the chewy (but good) side.
  7. I’ve just started using the crossword club site and I now check the spelling of each answer as it goes in (having learnt that mistake). I have just learnt to make a final overall check of the grid before hitting submit. I finished on 14dn Maestro and was convinced that was my loi. Sadly I hadn’t completed 11dn apart from having ‘eye _p_n_r’ which makes the answer easy. Could it have been obscured by the on-screen iPad keyboard? I was feeling very happy with 7:13 – but not for long. Otherwise I really enjoyed the puzzle – cod for many reasons to 11dn.
  8. Like sonofjim, I am very firmly back in the SCC. I’ll take up sonofjim’s tip and try to find time for the 15×15 when I have sorted the Christmas lights….. Just over 25 mins (after a sub-10 yesterday), though the time went by quickly as I was immersed in this good, thought-provoking puzzle. Like Roly, I entered Nostalgia and thus failed to see Commotion (LOI) as quickly as I ought to have done. As jackkt points out, the Nostalgia/c issue arose yestersay so I should have known better. So many good clues. I liked Eye-opener and Mango but Maestro has to be my COD – brilliant! Oink deserves truffles. John M.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 10:31 am (UTC)

  9. This must be a candidate for COTY – it seems so clear (especially to an experienced solver) that there was going to be wordplay on ‘sailor’ or a homophone, indicated by ‘report’. Also, there had been no clue to the middle of 13ac, the first letter was uncertain.
    Consequently, I spent as long on this as all the rest, eventually entering the correct answers only because nothing else would fit, as I never did see that it was hidden in reverse.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 11:02 am (UTC)

  10. Lovely puzzle today with many excellent surfaces. COD 10a for the image it conjures up. Time was 6:37 which is under my target.
    Thanks to blogger and setter.


  11. I’m another who carelessly biffed the wrong letter at the end of 1a – at the time I thought it strange that the same answer would appear 2 days in a row, which maybe should have alerted me to my mistake.
    That added a good couple of minutes to my eventual time of 15.32. I particularly enjoyed MANGO, PIONEER and MAESTRO.
    Thanks for the blog
  12. Pretty straightforward today. LOI maestro – neatly hidden. Worked out rho – never heard of it.
  13. MAESTRO was my LOI too, and even though I knew it had to be the answer, it took ages to see the hidden. I was particularly careful with my FOI, NOSTALGIC, after Jack’s experience yesterday. No problem with TIDDLER. I do find Oink’s puzzles to be chewy and fun. 8:55. Thanks Oink and Roly.
  14. ….after solving the 15×15 in under 6 minutes, and this was a DNF !

    Even after I corrected the careless “nostalgia” to solve COMMOTION, I was totally routed by the SIMMER/MAESTRO crosser. I’d foolishly convinced myself that 14D was a report of some kind, and that “Ordinary Seaman” surrounded some kind of expert, the whole being a reversal. Had I seen SIMMER it might have cured the problem, but I had blinkers on by then.

  15. Thoroughly enjoyed this, and quickest this week.
    TIDDLER brought back fond memories of fishing with a small net in country streams and collecting them in a jam-jar (life seemed much simpler in the 50s). ‘MOTION’ works fine for me as a verb meaning to hand SIGNAL. FOI NOTE (a real gimme), LOI & COD MAESTRO (although I missed the hidden – neat).
    1. I am still talking about my grand children as tiddlers and teaching them to fish for tiddlers. My early memories were of catching the ferry in the 40s at 2d a ride and tiddlers had to get in last. I was one of them.

      Edited at 2018-12-20 02:03 pm (UTC)

  16. I was confused by the ‘up’ at the end of 14d. I thought that the definition would be at one or other end. ‘Expert up’ didn’t seem like a definition so it must be ‘report’.

    Am I mistaken?

  17. The odds are in your favor, but the definition doesn’t have to be at one extreme or the other of the clue.
    1. MAESTRO was my LOI too, and it seems to rather flout conventions a bit much for a QC. And that’s the least I could say about it. This might be regarded as clever by some, I suppose, but surely there is a better way. It’s more like the sometimes annoying “Puns and Anagrams” puzzles by Mel Taub in The New York Times every so often than what we expect to see here.
  18. Having started well, with 1ac and 1d as write-ins, the rest of the puzzle didn’t present too many problems (though I hesitated over 16d, as I would normally hyphenate pom-pom). Eventually I was left with my last pair, 13ac and 14d. I could see from the checkers and cryptic that 13ac was likely to be Si**er, but that didn’t help with 14d. Then I committed the cardinal sin of ignoring the most basic rule in crosswords – when nothing else seems to work look for a hidden word. It was only after a second sitting produced Maestro that I even saw it was a hidden word. Excellent deception by Oink, and it easily gets my CoD vote. Invariant
  19. Was on for a PB of around 17 mins, but POINTER and MAESTRO (LOI) stumped be for a while. Finished with 22.05.
  20. my nerves I made heavy weather of this … just under an hour (is there a group behind the SCC?!?).
    similar problems as others on 1a and 14d, I couldn’t parse 7d either.
    toughest of the week, however I’ve managed to 12 TQCs consecutively now, a little record for me, so I’m happy!
    FOI: 6a
    LOI: 13a
    COD: 14d
    thanks to blogger, setter and all who contribute.
  21. I think that is a reversal, rather than anagram (keeling over). Many thanks to Oink and rolytoly
  22. This is probably a daft question but I’ll ask it anyway! We are post beginners (early intermediates?) in that we can now complete most qcs but maybe in an hour. Is there a knack to knowing when a word in the clue is there for it’s first letter only as in Married in 5d? We were toying with ‘wed’ and a few others but it really feels quite random. There was also O from over. Is it just being aware that almost any word can donate it’s first letter? L&I
    1. I struggled for a long time with this one, and am still not sure now. Usually single letter abbreviations are used where they are commonly used as such in some context or other. Thus, ‘O’ denotes “over’ or ‘overs’ on a cricket scorecard. In chess notation king is K, queen is Q, etc, but Knight is N so you might see that. But then Knight can also be K, as in KCB. B for Bishop is quite common. M is commonly used in crosswords for married, so you just have to know that one. ‘About’ sometimes can be ‘c’ or ‘ca’ (circa). Also watch out for the phonetic alphabet. Thus alpha = A, India = I, etc. I have also seen ‘w’ for with. Basically, you get to pick them up over time.
      Good luck, and have fun.
    2. Single letter abbreviations are allowed only if they are recognised in the dictionary.
  23. Some single letter abbreviations are used eg m = married, D = Democrat, daughters, l = left in this puzzle.

    Initial letters of any word can be used too but these would have to have some indication such as “beginning of” “initially”

    1. Thank you. It was M arried that threw me but you do come across new ones all the time. L&I
  24. Good puzzle – biffed a few (maestro for one). Not sure on time as got interrupted by attending a carol concert and then went out for the day but somewhere around 25 mins I reckon – had to correct a couple of silly mistakes when I came back to it. I don’t know whether it’s a help or a hindrance to complete in 2 sittings- sometimes best to be ‘in the groove’ sometimes fresh eyes works. Today was the latter for me definitely so maybe time should have been longer for me….. Thanks oink – COD Santa – just for the topical aspect
  25. … but for MAESTRO, which added 3 minutes to make 15. That’s still very good for me, one of the SCC members. I have to admit that I never did parse maestro and forgot to go back to check the parsing of pioneer.

    FOI 1d, LOI 14d, of course, and it would have been my COD if not for 10a – very amusing! MM

  26. Many thanks to rolytoly for the blog.

    Thanks also to all who commented. Much appreciated.

    Happy solving to one and all over the festive period.


  27. 11 mins with two to go and needed another 11 mins to finish. I immediately thought of SIMMER but as I couldn’t parse the MM substitution I ignored it and without the M I couldn’t see MAESTRO. When MAESTRO finally revealed itself, I biffed SIMMER and came here to the blog for an explanation. I can’t say I’m happy with a random letter substitution.

    Sorry, I should say thank you to Oink and Roly. I did enjoy the rest of the QC and thought that the construction of the QC as a whole was excellent.

    Edited at 2018-12-20 09:03 pm (UTC)

  28. Very enjoyable. I found it straightforward, which for a SCC member like me means 34 minutes. LOI SIMMER, because I hesitated over whether it was OK to make up the two middle letters without them being directly clued (so nice to learn that is OK). Also loved the hidden MAESTRO, EYE-OPENER and the surface of POM(-)POM. Liked TIDDLER too, always nice to use something from childhood vocabulary.
  29. Late back today.
    These were my last two as well -but I did manage to finish correctly.

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