Times Quick Cryptic No 1298 by Pedro

Pleasant puzzle from Pedro – I worked through it fairly steadily and crept in a few seconds under my target. Looking back over it there seems to be a bit of an over-reliance on the “insert x in y” type clue, of which I count nine (and a further three “remove x from y” clues). This, along with a few long anagrams might explain the steady solve, but it never felt like a plod as there were enough other things of interest along the way, such as the nice words in 8ac and 15d, and the light-hearted 5d and 11d. In my ignorance I only knew 14ac as the food, so I did learn something as well. Much enjoyed, many thanks to Pedro!

1 Risk needing a sling? (6,4,3)
CHANCE ONES ARM – I was initially a bit unconvinced, and thought I was missing something, but it’s fair enough: taking a chance with your arm may result in the need for a sling, I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that. The origin of the phrase is somewhat disputed.
8 Exclamation when probing handwriting — blooming shopkeeper! (7)
FLORIST – LOR (exclamation, as in “oh lor!”, after “lord”) probes FIST (handwriting). Blooming as in flowers. “Fist” for handwriting is perhaps somewhat archaic: the OED’s entry, not updated since 1896, described its use as “now only jocular”. Nice though.
9 Family group’s beginning a racket (5)
CLANGCLAN (family) G (Group’s beginning)
10 Elevated position in Mad Hatter’s prose (12)
12 Bound to return to US city for the Spanish food (6)
PAELLA LEAP (bound) reverse/return, to LA (US city)
14 Sea creatures affected during island’s revolution (6)
SCAMPI – CAMP (affected) during/inside IS. (island) reversing/revolving. I was sure scampi referred only to the meal of cooked langoustine tails or similar (or cooked batter if you’ve ever bought the frozen supermarket variety), but no, it’s an animal, also called the Dublin Bay prawn or Norway lobster. The singular can be either scampi or scampo. If I was setting up a retro nouvelle cuisine restaurant, there’d definitely be scampo on a bed of spaghetto as a main course (serves two).
17 A man from the Balkans secures British circus performer (7)
ACROBATA CROAT (a man from the Balkans) secures B(ritish)
19 A scam to snaffle farmer’s last fruit from tree (5)
ACORN – A CON (a scam) to snaffle R (farmeR‘s last)
20 Deduce no escaping from fire (5)
INFER – INFERNO (fire) with NO disappearing/escaping.
21 Keeping to oneself, sulk endlessly amidst dreadful rain (7)
INSULAR SUL (sulk, endlessly) amidst an anagram (dreadful) of RAIN
22 Those people will collect old record for religious study (8)
THEOLOGY – THEY (those people) collects O(ld) LOG (record)
23 Longing to thumb a lift in part of London? (4)
ITCH – or to hitch in Cockney

1 Hit copper with repeated force (4)
CUFF – Cu (copper) FF (Force, repeatedly)
2 One sent out letters covered in beer (7)
APOSTLEPOST (letters) covered in ALE (beer)
3 Country engaged in machinations? (5)
CHINA – “Engaged” in the letters of maCHINAtions
4 Work on it ineptly for choice (6)
OPTION – OP. (opus/work), anagram (ineptly) of ON IT
5 Clue “Seascape” with an anagram? It’s a potential way out (6,6)
ESCAPE CLAUSEWell call a spade a spade, eh?! Anagram of CLUE SEASCAPE.
6 A type of grain I ditched in shock (5)
AMAZE – A MAIZE (type of grain, ditch the I)
7 Awful aching torment that needle points to (8,5)
11 Someone getting a buzz from their hobby? (8)
APIARISTcryptic definition, referring to bees buzzing.
13 Seriously inaccurate stories about artist making free (7)
LIBERAL – Seriously inaccurate stories can be LIBEL, going about R.A. (artist). Nice use of “seriously”. 
15 Argue about Northern Line, one not seen in the brightest light (7)
MOONLIT – to argue = to moot, going about/around N(orthern) L(ine) I (one). A moot, originally a legal assembly, came to be a hypothetical case for discussion by law students, hence a moot point’s lack of practical significance.
16 Nothing overlooked in keeping yarn (6)
STRING – STORING (keeping) with O (nothing) overlooked/ignored
18 Search thoroughly for weapon (5)
RIFLEdouble definition

26 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1298 by Pedro”

  1. This took me some time. For one thing I didn’t know 1ac, and had the same doubts about SCAMPI; and indeed, ODE defines it as lobster when cooked. But no objection here. 7:35.
  2. Crossed the line in 15.12, the best of the week by far for me, except that I forgot to fill in RIFLE, so greeted by two red squares. AMAZE was what I thought was my last one in – knew how the clue worked but ran out of grain synonyms on the first two looks at it.
  3. 10 minutes, also with the slightest of reservations about 1ac which lost me a minute taken to reread the clue more than once looking for something more than was there (unless we’ve all missed it). Some places in England have a Moot Hall (Aldeburgh in Suffolk, for one).

    “Oh lor!” is a favourite Bunterism and I don’t need much excuse to use my colourful avatar of the Fat Owl.

  4. FOI 1d CUFF and LOI 23a ITCH with just a few delays in between. 8a FLORIST gave me pause for thought as I guessed FIST for handwriting and DNK LOR as an exclamation – I cannot remember ever dropping the d. I tried bunging in Octopi as an erroneous plural of Octopus for 14a but I couldn’t parse it and the name for the bee keeper at 11d came to me only after I had three checkers in place. 9 mins
  5. It took me over a minute to get started with FOI CUFF.
    Then I solved steadily until a hold-up in the SW. There were hardly any gimmes (perhaps none) so this required full concentration. The AMAZE and CLANG crossers took me quite a while. Finished with STRING after Acrobat ( he had been an unparsed Serbian).
    20:46 in the end. Very good puzzle I thought which will challenge beginners.
  6. “Lor” just as archaic as “fist”, I’d have thought, but like Jack the tightest trousers in Greyfriars School came to my rescue. A very enjoyable puzzle done and dusted in 1.5 Kevins, a Very Good Day. Lots of wit on display but I particularly like the camp prawns so COD to SCAMPI (as it were). Thanks Pedro and roly.


  7. Nice puzzle from Pedro, taking me close to my target at 14m and some seconds. FOI was the last two words of 1a, the first word needing a couple of checkers from CUFF and CHINA before it revealed itself to me. LOI was STRING for no accountable reason. Nice blog too from Roly – I’m still giggling about the proposed main course.
  8. Sub 20 mins, which is quick for me, and without my wife around as a sounding board for when I doubted myself – so this felt on the easier side. I hesitated on first glance at 10ac…. surely it couldn’t be an anagram? And for that I enjoyed that Pedro made me second guess myself. I couldn’t parse Florist or Scampi, got those from the checkers, so thank you to Rolytoly for extending my crossword knowledge (I knew of scampi being a creature in its own right after an old disagreement with my wife at a less than fine dining establishment in Great Yarmouth – in that case though I fear that my wife was correct and we weren’t eating an actually scampi but a collection of other things assuming the name!) An enjoyable start to the day.
  9. I enjoyed this overall but I agree about the ‘double archaic’ for Florist. I wouldn’t have got it but it had it not been so obvious. Also 15d doesnt work for me though I understand it.
  10. A quick start then the wheels started spinning and I got bogged down. Just over 3 Kevins in the end. I biffed answers like FLORIST, MOONLIT and parsed later. I hesitated over SCAMPI but thought APIARIST and ACORN were neat. LOI MOONLIT. The longer anagrams were good but I needed most of the checkers. A fairly testing QC but some very nice clues. Thanks to Pedro and to Roly for a helpful blog. John M.
  11. About 30 mins, thought chance ones arm a bit weak, and florist.

    loi moonlit and itch, i have been caught out by moot for argue before.

    Cod itch.

  12. 16 mins – 4 under target and my best for a little while. LOI was itch as I thought I was looking for somewhere in London (which, according to Frank Skinner’s radio show, is a large conurbation in the SE of England) my knowledge of which is not great. I was helped out by Moonlit showing the way.

    Enjoyed the puzzle – the grid layout seemed ‘friendlier’ than some rather than necessarily ‘easier’ clues – florist for instance.

  13. Not much to add, really. A fairly straightforward solve with a little time wasted trying to squeeze in ESCAPE CAPSULE at 5d. Finished off with MOONLIT which would have been much more difficult if the checkers were -o-n-i-.
    Many thanks to setter and blogger.

    Edited at 2019-02-28 10:44 am (UTC)

  14. ….STRING ? Like the Rotter, I’m not sure how I didn’t spot that one more quickly.

    Slowed down by trying to convince myself over CHANCE ONES ARM, but no other major hold-ups. I too was a fan of the Fat Owl of the Remove.

    TIME 4:41

  15. This was a steady solve with no particular holdups, finished in 8:39. I biffed Moonlit, so thanks for the explanation. COD was 10ac which was also my LOI. Thanks to Pedro & Roly.


  16. I started off briskly but then got bogged down after biffing OCTOPI. I thought I was going to exceed my target at one point, but then had a spurt until I arrived at my LOI STRING, which exercised the neurons a bit, but I did manage to submit with all correct at 9:38. Thanks Pedro and Roly.
  17. I started quickly with 1a and most of the downs coming off it, but slowed down at the bottom with ACROBAT taking a strangely long time (I got stuck on the Serbs). I finished with STRING which took me a while to se how it worked. Completed in 13.47, which is just under the leaderboard average, so I’m happy with that.
    Thanks for the blog
  18. 23 minutes, so just over target, although I was worried when got as far as 20A without an answer! The downs were easier and its amazing how a single checker can lead to a PDM. The last two were MOONLIT – I missed the ‘i’ for ‘one’ so I had to biff it – then ITCH.


  19. A very enjoyable 30min puzzle from Pedro, with loi String responsible for most of the delay at the end. Several contenders for my CoD vote (viz 17, 19 and 20ac), but I think 2d Apostle just gets the nod. I suppose epistles would have been too much of a hint in the clue, but a more fitting word. Invariant
  20. I particularly liked 2D as the Apostle Paul did send out a lot of letters. Please could someone tell me what a ‘nina’ is? I think I have worked out what most of your other abbreviations mean though maybe a list of them somewhere would help newbies.
    1. I think someone has posted a list, but I have no idea when. Anyway, off the top of my head:
      BIFD (Bunged In From Definition), i.e. entered without doing the wordplay. Morphed into a verb, to biff.
      DNF: did not finish
      DNK: did not know
      FOI: first one in
      LOI: last one in
      MER: minor eyebrow raise
      NHO: never heard of
      unch: an unchecked square, i.e. one that has no adjacent squares on the perpendicular axis
  21. Despite having to biff several in, and expecting a big “unlucky!” at the end, I actually got them all right, and in a near-PB of 17 mins. I knew SCAMPI as Norwegian Lobsters (for some reason). I only got FLORIST from “blooming shopkeeper” part of the clue, which could be a clue in itself. Never come across “fist” meaning handwriting. I didn’t get the clue fully for PAELLA, but a spanish food “P***L*” was easy enough. I had considered MOONLIT for some time, before near the end realised that “moot” could be an argument (and I work in law, as well!). All in all a pleasing finish, if a little lucky.
  22. 18.32 and Pedro did not give up his answers easily for me. Never quite parsed ITCH, FLORIST, PAELLA, LIBERAL or SCAMPI. Quite a list on review. A bit dubious about 1 ac. But good work out.

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