Times Quick Cryptic No 1293 by Orpheus

Nothing controversial or difficult this week from Orpheus, just good concise clueing which entertained me for just short of 8 minutes, so should be comfortably accessible for most of us.  Thanks Orpheus for a gentle workout.  I didn’t know WELLINGTONIA, but it was very generously clued

Whilst my time was close to a personal best, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the smooth surfaces.  However, I do feel that I have done a short shift with only 12 across clues (about normal) and 10 down clues (a few fewer than usual).  It made me start to wonder how many of the 169 available squares in a 13 x 13 grid are usually black.  Based on a very limited survey, today’s grid does look overborne with black ones (57).  I wonder if anyone has done an analysis to determine the averages (number of clues and number of black spaces v those that require filling).

Greeting the Spanish commended at first – in women, mostly (7)
WELCOME – EL (the in Spanish) and C{ommended} (at first) inside WOME{n} (mostly, drop the last letter)
Persian ruler’s quiet expression of satisfaction (4)
SHAH – SH (quiet) and AH (expression of satisfaction).  Of course, Persia is now roughly equivalent to Iran, and there hasn’t been a Shah in power since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
8 Resilient young male worker inspiring union leader (7)
BUOYANT – BOY (young male) into which is slipped (inspiring) U{nion} (leader – first letter) and ANT (worker)
9  Some strapping lad entering forest clearing (5)
GLADE – Hidden inside (some) {strappin}G LAD E{ntering}.
11  Military tribunal heard top officer when speaking (5,7)
COURT MARTIAL –  Part homophone (when speaking) sounds like caught (heard) and Martial (Marshall) (thanks to Des – see comments below)   Marshal is variously defined as a law-court officer or the highest military rank (in France).  A COURT MARTIAL is a tribunal or court held by officers of the Army, Navy or Air Force.
12 Slight breeze extremely rare in Somerset city (6)
BREATH – R{ar}E (extremely – first and last ketters) inside (in) BATH (Somerset city), as in the expression ‘a BREATH of wind’.
14 Scavenge at great length, never finishing (6)
FORAGE – At great length would be FOR AGE{s} (never finishing – drop the last letter).
15  Big tree a jazzman originally identified in Washington (12)
WELLINGTONIA – {Duke} ELLINGTON (jazzman) and I{dentified} (originally) inside (in) WA{shington} – the state not the city in the District of Colombia (DC).
17  Control male ox (5)
STEER – Double definition.
18 Trembling, seeing second colony of bees by railway (7)
SHIVERY – S{econd} and HIVE (colony of bees) by RY (R{ailwa}Y).
20  Time to abandon hackneyed ceremony (4)
RITE – Take the first T (time to abandon) out of {t}RITE (hackneyed}
21  Fawn upon grown-up relative finally touring area (7)
ADULATE – ADULT (grown-up) (touring) A{rea} and finally (last letter) of {relative}E.

2 Flightless bird in Prague museum (3)
EMU – Hidden in {pragu}E MU{seum}.  They don’t come much easier than this!
Rodent initially caught on yellow plant, unfortunately (5)
COYPU – First letters of (initially) C{aught} O{n} Y{ellow} P{lant}, U{nfortunately}. 
Tiny worker marking time on watch, perhaps? (6,4)
MINUTE HAND – Double cryptic definition, the first pronounced MY NEWT where HAND is a worker, and the second MINNIT where HAND is a hand (or pointer).
6  Composer upset about pistol case (7)
HOLSTER – The composer is Gustav HOLST (famous for the Planets Suite), and HOLST is followed by RE (about) but reversed (upset).
7 Shrub in untidy garden surrounded by fresh hay (9)
HYDRANGEA – My heart usually sinks when I see flowers or plants defined, but this was relatively easy.  An anagram (untidy) of [GARDEN] inside another anagram (fresh) of [HAY]
10  Brought from a distanceThat’s unbelievable! (3-7)
FAR-FETCHED – Almost a double definition.  Something brought from a distance would have been FAR-FETCHED, as would something improbable, unlikely or unbelievable.
11  Woodworker’s writing instrument pinched by carrier(9)
CARPENTER – PEN (writing instrument) inside (pinched by) CARTER (carrier)
13  Sick inmate nursing ultimately fatal illness (7)
AILMENT – Anagram (sick) of [INMATE] containing (nursing) last letter (ultimately) of {fata}L.
16 Original, having first half of month on lake (5)
NOVEL –  NOVE{mber} (first half of month) on L{ake}.
19  Dreary routine involving stags in autumn (3)
RUT – DD.  Something that sexually stimulated stags do in the autumn, and a tedious routine from which it is difficult to escape.

44 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1293 by Orpheus”

  1. I thought I knew WELLINGTONIA, but didn’t realize that it’s the giant sequoia. I have the same feeling about plants (especially in the concise puzzles) as The Rotter has, but the (hay)* helped a bunch. Some very nice, smooth surfaces, indeed. 5:57.
  2. 21 minutes held up by sticking in court marshal and then being unable to fit holster in.

    Loi coypu which should have been easy.
    Cod holster

  3. 7 minutes is better than I have achieved in the past 4 weeks but with words like WELLINGTONIA, COYPU and HYDRANGEA (with its penultimate letter unchecked) in the grid I’d hesitate to say it’s an easy puzzle. The clues are mostly rather wordy too, which could make it difficult for less experienced solvers to spot the definitions.

    Heading one possible query off at the pass I’d mention that Bath was restored to the historic county of Somerset after a period of 22 years (1974-1996) in the newly made-up county of Avon which has since been abolished.

    Edited at 2019-02-21 10:19 am (UTC)

  4. Easiest of the week at least. A more normal solving time of a shade under 16 but with one red square putting me dead last on the leader board. Red square came from COURT MARTIAL, where I’d gone for court marshal too but hadn’t noticed HOLSTER changed a letter. Also had little hand before I finally parsed 1a and switched to MINUTE HAND. Also held up on 17a (couldn’t think of a word and wondered if it ended in M (control male)), 13d (misdirected, missing the anagram indicator and by trying to add g not l) and LOI WELLINGTONIA which brought together several areas of lack of general knowledge: trees, jazz, abbreviations of US states – I knew there was an I in there though. Good work out, ace blog.
  5. Came in at 10 mins 52 for this one, when my usual time is nearer 20 min. Would have been even quicker if I hadn’t spent so long on the parsing. LOI was 21 across, but only because it was in the bottom right corner. Knowing Wellingtonia was a great help.


  6. On for PB till I got stuck on WELLINGTONIA which I knew but remained on the tip of my tongue for too long and LOI STEER. 10.28.
  7. In a rush this morning so I’m glad that Orpheus gave us a reasonably straightforward test.
    As so often for me, the LOI was the dreaded plant -only 7:30 to that point.
    However the unknown WELLINGTONIA emerged from the clue and the checkers so I was over the line in 7:58. Very fast for me.
    Lots of plants today,feels like Spring. David
  8. LOI 15a WELLINGTONIA and biffed 11a COURT MARTIAL but completed in about 10 minutes.

    Rotter, I now think heard = caught which sounds like COURT in 11a.

    1. Good spot Des, it hadn’t occurred to me, but I think you are right – blog amended accordingly.
  9. I agree with Des re COURT being a homophone for “caught” = heard.

    An astonishing 5:42 for my second ever sub-Kevin. They just all went in at first pass, except ADULATE, FORAGE and WELLINGTONIA (LOI and COD; thank goodness my father planted a couple years ago so I’d heard of it). Amazing. Back to normal tomorrow, I’m sure.

    Thanks to Orpheus and Rotter.


  10. Good time for me too. I didn’t think yesterday’s qualified as a QC but maybe that was just me! I noticed the use of inspiring meaning to include ( in this case u for union) having seen it in another a few days ago. Is this long established or is it juts creeping in ?
  11. A nice change of pace after the last couple of days, finishing this one in 7.38 – which must be close to a PB. Thanks to the QC I now know the name of exactly one jazz musician but I’m going to be in all sorts of trouble if another turns up!
    Thanks for the blog
  12. Actually managed to finish my first puzzle. Definitely on the easier side but that is no bad thing as it offers a bit of encouragement, especially after the last 2 days


    1. I would have joined you Tim but I didn’t know adulate or Wellingtonia and I biffed buoyant but after yesterday when I only filled in one clue on the first pass this was a welcome easier test with the ne corner quickly completed. Many congrats I’m sure I’ll get there in the end

  13. Happily under the 10 minute barrier for the first time in a while. Ellington just stood out and then there was a faint ring to the tree – I think I’ve heard it mentioned in a film. Loi ‘steer’ – I had the big oxen in mind rather than the nippy ones that cowboys round up. 7:28.
  14. Just over 2 Kevins so an easier ride than the 3 previous NVQCs this week. I biffed WELLINGTONIA and parsed it afterwards. My LI were ADULATE and BUOYANT. Look forward to an uplifting end to the week tomorrow. Thanks to Orpheus for a good outing and to Rotter. John M.

    Edited at 2019-02-21 10:44 am (UTC)

  15. Very straightforward. Never heard of WELLINGTONIA, but the cluing was clear enough, unless of course you had never heard of Duke Ellington.
    COD HYDRANGEA only because I am useless at flower clues but this one jumped out.
  16. A cruise this morning, although I only parsed COURT MARTIAL afterwards.

    TIME 3:11

  17. Most enjoyable puzzle of the week for me. Back on track with a time of 6:17. COD and LOI was 8ac, which took a while to come to mind. Thanks to Orpheus and Rotter.


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  19. 10:04 for me, not far off a PB.

    LOI was buoyant mainly because I had the Y from coypu and assumed that was the ‘young’ part of the clue with ‘male worker’ giving ant. Didn’t fully grasp the parsing until reading this so thanks!

    However – a quibble, no more – I was also thrown by the definition. Is resilient really a fair clue for buoyant?

    I do see the connection. They call it bouncebackability in sport after all, quite literally what a buoy does.

    Yet I can think of plenty of examples of resilience that hardly qualify as buoyant. Theresa May is undoubtedly resilient, but is she buoyant? Hydra are biologically as resilient as you can get but don’t float. Fish (or people for that matter) only become buoyant upon the expiry of their resilience.

    As I say, a quibble but it did cost me a few seconds!

    1. I see your point, and I think someone else posed a similar question above, but my Chambers gives the second definition of BUOYANT as ‘…(of spirits, etc) light, cheerful and resilient’. Maybe you are thinking too hard about the physical meaning of BUOYANT ‘able or tending to keep afloat or rise to the top of a liquid or gas’.

      Quibble accepted, but I think Orpheus gets away with it in this case.

  20. The easiest of the week so far, but then that’s not saying much. I was still however the wrong side of 25mins, having been held up by the unknown Wellingtonia, and wondering why loi ‘Idolate’ was so difficult to parse… My favourite today, by a country mile, was 10d Far Fetched. Invariant
    1. ‘My favourite today, by a country mile, was 10d Far Fetched’. Well, I don’t believe that!
    2. I so often mirror your times. I finished all but Wellingtonia in my target 20 minutes, but spent another 8 minutes until the penny-drop moment came. The parsing was obvious (once I saw it) so the fact that I don’t recall ever having heard the word is no excuse!
      I was glad to have an easier QC today but surprised that most people seemed to find it so very easy. It was a relief to find you and I, once again, on the same wavelength. I however preferred 11a and so that gets my COD.
      Thanks, Rotter , for the blog and for your perfect reply to Invariant!!MM
  21. Was heading for a first ever sub 10 mins, but bunged in idolate instead of adulate. Note to self: check wordplay. Great puzzle, thanks to setter and therotter.
  22. I was held up with my LOI, WELLINGTONIA, as I’d inadvertently entered 7d as HYDRANGER. I’d had a couple of glasses and was feeling a bit dopey when I did the puzzle. The Duke came quickly enough but I didn’t know the plant and it was only when I deduced the I part of the wordplay that I realised I needed an A at the end. I’ve been caught out my MARTIAL and MARSHAL before, so wasn’t this time! 8:24. Thanks Orpheus and rotter.
  23. Oh Dear, how embarrassing. A complete doddle but stymied by 16a. Have been living in the same house for 21 years with a beautiful giant sequoia flanking my driveway but have never heard of WELLINGTONIA !
  24. First under average time for me for a while, making a 1A change. AILMENT my COD. 3:45.
  25. …. seriously right today and I actually have a time worth posting (16:24, according to the app on my phone – I do it on the paper but put the answers in the app to check I’m right). Much better than the 60mins+ earlier in the week, with lots of help from aids. Less than three Kevins – won’t happen again any time soon, I’m sure.

    All went in pretty well with a bit of biffing where I just couldn’t quite parse the answer – 9a, for example, where I was looking for letters that ‘lad’ could enter and completely missed the hidden – anyway, we’d had one already so maybe I can be excused. Also 14a, which I just couldn’t see.

    Knew the big tree – we used to have one in our front garden when we lived on the side of the Malvern Hills.

    Thanks to Orpheus for a much needed boost to my motivation for keeping going. And to Rotter for the explanations. I would have given up years ago without this blog.

  26. 21 minutes for an enjoyable puzzle. It would have been less but for my brain insisting that BOUYANT was the correct spelling for 8A despite the wordplay, and ending 7D with -ia. Must improve my spelling!


    Edited at 2019-02-21 02:12 pm (UTC)

  27. Thanks Orpheus. Much more like a ‘normal’ QC. A couple of unusual words (but no more that a couple) and clued for the novice.

    I DNF yesterday and meant to have another crack but never got round to it. Reading the comments on yesterday’s blog gave me heart that I was not alone.

  28. Grateful today for my time as a National Trust Garden Guide: Biddulph Grange in Staffs has “Wellingtonia Avenue” which is worth seeing.

    Edited at 2019-02-21 03:35 pm (UTC)

  29. Actually managed to finish my first puzzle. Definitely on the easier side but that is no bad thing as it offers a bit of encouragement, especially after the last 2 days


  30. Working through old stack of T2s while staying at my parents and this one seemed to click. It’s so weird when it flows sometimes and other times it takes me 5 mins just to get FOI.
    FOI: Welcome
    LOI: Wellingtonia
    COD: Persian ruler’s quiet expression of satisfaction (4)
    Time: 12.52 (2.2 Kevins – by far my best)
    1. Clarification: misspelled Hydrangea but I might let myself off that one!

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