Times Quick Cryptic No 1843 by Corelli

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic

An excellent puzzle with a clever theme or NINA from Corelli, who traditionally gives us a theme of one sort or another.  Just in case you want to look for it yourself, I won’t give the game away here, but will provide details of the theme I spotted with a link at the end of the blog, as Jackkt did so thoughtfully a week or so ago.

This took me all of my 15-minute target to complete, slowed slightly by initially trying the wrong answer at 10a.  My first attempt did fit the definition, but not the word play, and caused a short delay on 11d.  Please do let me know how you got on.


1  Ada, rusty, exercising for twenty-four period (8)
SATURDAY – Anagram (exercising) of [ADA, RUSTY].  I wonder if the word ‘hour’ is missing from my version, which would allow the clue and definition to scan much more acceptably.
Leading Roman Catholic staying in a hotel (4)
ARCH – RC (Roman Catholic) inside A (a) and H{otel} (phonetic alphabet).  ARCH is used to denote chief or principal, especially in compound words such as arch-enemy, arch-bishop, etc.
8 Cooker of very exquisite nosh (starters only) (4)
OVEN – Initial letters (starters only) Of Very Exquisite Nosh.
9  Quietly changes shapes in advance (8)
PREFORMS – P (quietly) and REFORMS (changes).  To PREFORM is to form or determine the shape beforehand.
10 Turned white with pain, having spilled blood all around (8)
BLEACHED – ACHE (pain) with BLED (spilled blood) around it.  I entered the as yet unparsed BLANCHED here originally, and corrected it once I saw that the parsing didn’t work.
12  From what we hear, deserve to get the bird (4)
ERNE – Sounds like (from what we hear) EARN (deserve).
13  Tool found in workbench is electric (6)
CHISEL – Hidden answer (found in) in {workben}CH IS EL{ectric}.
16  Stylish Tessa coming out of her shell, outwardly dull (6)
DRESSY – {t}ESS{a} (coming out of her shell, i.e. dropping outside letters) and wrapped instead in (outwardly) DRY (dull).
17  Fit to dispute losing right (4)
AGUE – A{r}GUE – dispute / argue losing R{ight}.  An AGUE can be either a burning fever or a shivering fit.
18  Seb, taken aback by over-the-top editor, becoming obsessed (8)
BESOTTED – SEB reversed (taken aback) to give BES, with OTT (over-the-top) and ED{itor}.
21  Horticulturist’s fantastic red range (8)
GARDENER – Anagram (fantastic) of [RED RANGE].
22  Article in study for head of college (4)
DEAN – A (indefinite article) inside DEN (study).
23  Say nothing?  Am false! (4)
SHAM – SH (say nothing) and AM (am)
24  Crazy and terrible situation in which you’ll find Hazel? (8)
NUTSHELL – NUTS (crazy) and HELL (terrible situation) clued by a cryptic definition, where Hazel is a nut, rather than a girl.


2  German villain holds something for forging  (5)
ANVIL – Hidden answer (holds) in {germ}AN VIL{lain}.
3  United sailors in vessel (3)
URN – U{nited} and RN (Royal Navy, sailors).
Complexity of small section attached to hospital (5)
DEPTH – DEPT (abbreviated department, small section) and H{ospital}.
5  Messing around idly, Dee gave up (7)
YIELDED – Anagram (messing around) of [IDLY, DEE].
6  An hour after midday, people with time for reconcilliation (9)
ATONEMENT – AT ONE (an hour after midday) with MEN (people) and T{ime}.
7  Sat on beam, fence – regularly picked up sticks (7)
CEMENTS – Alternate letters (regularly) of SaT oN bEaM, fEnCe, all reversed (picked up).
11  Trams made to crash in European capital (9)
AMSTERDAM – Anagram (to crash) of [TRAMS MADE].
14  Bull and pig clean (7)
HOGWASH – HOG (pig) and WASH (clean).  HOGWASH has an interesting etymon.  It didn’t start life, as many believe, as a synonym for pig-swill (kitchen scraps fed to swine).  In the past, a HOG was a slang word for a shilling, and for a farm labourer in the 1500s a shilling was roughly a week’s wage.  The two largest expenses for a farm labourer at that time were lodging and fuel, which ate up the majority of this amount every week.  The few coppers remaining after rent and fuel had been paid (typically a few farthings or ha’pence) became known as the HOGWASH, and subsequently anything that was worthless or rubbish adopted the same name.
15  Book by unknown author following the French state (7)
LEBANON – B[ook} and ANON (unknown author) after (following) LE (‘the’ in France).
19  One eating no fat fish (5)
SPRAT – Double definition, the first referring to Jack SPRAT (who could eat no fat, whilst his wife could eat no lean).
20  Lie around in the morning after returning message (5)
EMAIL – LIE surrounding (around) AM (the morning) all reversed.
22  Note exclamation of annoyance (3)
DOH – Double definition, the first as in DOH, ray, me…, and the second exemplified by Homer Simpson when annoyed by his own stupidity (D’OH).

OK, so did you find the NINA or theme? – I looked for one as soon as I saw Corelli’s name.  I spotted the titles of many of the literary works of Ian Russell McEwan, English novelist and screenwriter.  These include:

  • THE CEMENT GARDEN (cements and gardener)
  • ON CHESIL BEACH (chisel and bleached – nice!)

There may be others, please let me know if so.

On the etymology of HOGWASH in the main blog, that’s what it is – hogwash!  See today’s date!

52 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1843 by Corelli”

  1. 9 minutes. I was also looking for a Nina but failed to find one, so congrats to therotter for tracking it down. I read McEwan’s earliest books (The Cement Garden was his first published) and was aware of all the titles mentioned apart from NUTSHELL & SATURDAY but never spotted their connection in the puzzle. You had me fooled re HOGWASH!
  2. I’ve just noticed that my attempt to hide the theme behind a link in the blog appears to have failed. I’m sorry if that spoiled the fun for anyone.
    1. I don’t think it failed. I accessed the blog firstly on my tablet and then on my PC and it was hidden on both, although it was presented differently – on the tablet there was just a down-arrow to touch and on the PC there was a link ‘Read more…’ to click. I’ve never quite worked it out, but I think after you’ve opened the hidden bit the first time it’s not hidden on future visits, and that may be what’s thrown you. There may be other variants on other types of device. Somebody else may be able to confirm or explain more fully.

      Edited at 2021-04-01 06:12 am (UTC)

  3. Started fast and faded today. Although part of that fast start was whacking in Thursday which I thought I’d spotted instantly from the anagrist. Spent a while wondering if a ‘nutshole’ might be a thing on the way to NUTSHELL and I took an age over BLEACHED where I tried to force ‘blanched’ in and also tried to fit a pain into an anagram of ‘blood’ (spilled around). Really enjoyed BESOTTED which appeared before my eyes as I followed the clue and CHISEL as a good example of a hidden word. LOI was AGUE where I became fixated, for no good reason, with ‘ogre’, not helped by not knowing AGUE — although I’m sure we’ve had it before. DRESSY not in my vocabulary so took a while but I did like the ‘coming out of her shell’ device when I finally spotted it. All green in 21 for a very lowly place on the leaderboard and 50% slower than my regular target person!
  4. I don’t remember anything about this; I did it in a rush to catch a train and didn’t even look at it after submitting. I’ve never read any McEwan and didn’t recognize most of the titles. Never noticed the missing ‘hour’ either. I was about to make a po-faced comment on our blogger’s etymology, but fortunately read the blog more carefully. Naughty blogger! 8:39.
  5. I had a complete brainfreeze in the NE, after making quick work of the rest of the puzzle – I just couldn’t see what was going on with PREFORMS, DRESSY and CEMENTS, so spent a frustrating 5 minutes alternately minutely dissecting the clues and running alphabet trawls. COD CEMENTS eventually provided the key to the other 2 and I finished in 14.13.
    I had a brief look for a nina but as usual it sailed way over my head.
    Thanks to Rotter

    Edited at 2021-04-01 08:09 am (UTC)

    1. I too struggled with preforms. I had it pencilled in, but the “quiet” in the clue threw me. Then I remembered a crossword I had attempted a few days ago. I can’t recall if it was in the Daily Telegraph or The Times, but it had used P to represent quiet. I had looked it up in Chambers on that puzzle and saw “P”. I am not sure myself how quiet = P, but it did come to mind today because of the other crossword.
      1. P is a musical abbreviation for ‘piano’ meaning quietly/softly. F is a the abbreviation for ‘forte’ meaning loudly.
      2. Hi PW, P is short for piano in musical notation (PP is pianissimo). P means quiet or soft, PP means very quiet or very soft. The ‘piano’ (the instrument) is actually called a pianoforte) means an instrument that can play soft and loud (f = forte or loud).
  6. I’ve read some of Mc Ewen but missed the Nina.

    I enjoyed the etymology of HOGWASH. It reminded me of the April 1st article about 50 years ago when the BBC ran a short instructional programme on how to grow and harvest spaghetti on a spaghetti tree — my husband was fascinated: “I never knew that!”, and when informed of the date asked: “Well, how do you grow spaghetti then?” He’s never been allowed to forget it.

    Quite hard work today, and I’m not very comfortable with AGUE/FIT.

    Thank you, Corelli and Rotter.


    1. I too wondered about Ague and Fit. I put Ague in anyway and then checked a Collins dictionary. It described ague as a “fit of shivering”.
    2. Following on from Diana’s hoax reminder, I have always read The Times carefully on April 1st to seek out any BMW adverts. They have an interesting history going back decades of producing spoofs for the credulous. Everything for ‘tyre adjustment from the dashboard’ to ‘BMW Optiglass windscreen’ (drivers don’t need glasses if they have this) via ‘driver’s weight sensor’ and CRAP (Canine Repellent Alloy Protection) system. Worth a read — search for BMW’s April Fool Hoaxes if you want a chuckle. Who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour?
      Other manufacturers have jumped on this bandwagon more recently — Porsche, Caterham, Audi, Dacia, Aston Martin, and even Voltswagen. Land Rover even have the UK’s most distant charging point on top of a mountain on the Isle of Skye. There is a good selection on an Autoexpress April fools website.
      I must check today but I only have the online papers.
      Sorry if this is boring to any serious Xword solvers. John.

      Edited at 2021-04-01 09:24 am (UTC)

      1. “Voltswagen” seems to have backfired a bit having been announced on 29th March.
    3. So many things I am not allowed to forget, most of which I have long forgotten!
    LOI: 4d DEPTH

    Time to Complete: DNF

    Clues Answered Correctly without aids: 22

    Clues Answered with Aids (3 lives): 6d, 7d, 19d

    Clues Unanswered: Nil

    Wrong Answers: 12a

    Total Correctly Answered (incl. aids): 25/26

    Aids Used: Chambers

    I have never tried a Corelli crossword before, so I was keen to see how well I did. I was rather excited as I started to race through many clues. Perhaps today would be my fastest ever solve? Bah, it was not to be! However, the good news is that I did solve it in under my current target (one hour) – just! Or so I thought …

    If I am honest, I am a little disappointed with myself for using my three lives so quickly, but I saw I was on target for my one hour, and I did not want to dash that hope.

    6d. ATONEMENT – One of my three lives, and this was the one in which I was most disappointed with myself. I am sure, that with time I would have been able to answer this without help.

    7d. CEMENTS – Life 2 used. I just could not see this one until I looked in Chambers and saw cements. I had the C and N in place and so I guessed this must be the correct answer. Then I looked at the clue again and saw the reversed regular.

    19d. SPRAT – Life 3 used, and so disappointed yet again. SPRAT. Of course! He could eat no fat.

    22d. DOH – I worked this one out without help, though was a little reluctant to put it in. Homer Simpson immediately came to mind, but so did James Finlayson (of the Laurel and Hardy era). Apparently, it was he from whom Matt Groening got “Doh”. James would do it as a sign of exasperation. Though his doh was a little more drawn out than Homer’s.

    12a. ERNE – And this is where my joy turned to sorrow. I thought I had completed this crossword correctly and was even typing this blog entry out when I realised, I had not checked my answers with The Rotter’s blog. I had put ERNT. I had no idea if there was such a bird, but I had E_R_. I saw the word “deserve” in the clue and guessed “earnt”. Knowing it was a homophone I put “ERNT”. I had no idea if there was a bird called ernt, but I did know there was a bird with four letters that began with ER.

    April 1st playing an April Fool’s joke on me by letting me think I had completed this puzzle. Oh well, I did enjoy this puzzle very much.

  8. Finally a decent time, seems like an age since I got one done on target. Held up a bit in NE corner, since quite a few words fit in the 9A spot when 6d was absent, I liked PREFACES but also tempted by PRECEDES, probably more.

    ATONEMENT was LOI and COD. Our minister at church talks about it as At-one-ment, so should have seen it earlier, but was playing with combinations of AN, H=hour, PM (“after mid-day”).

    ERNE, add it to the list of words that only exist in my mind in crosswords. Setter is forgiven for picking it, as when trying to “chisel” in a Nina, obscure vocab is needed. Many great clues today.

    I read my first (and only) Ian McEwan book back in the early 80s: “First Love, Last Rites”. Recommendations for my second?

    1. Atonement is my favourite one. I spent all of On Chesil Beach shouting “Just talk to each other,” somewhat missing the point!

    2. Yes, don’t … read Sam Pepys or William Cobbett or Parson Woodford instead, just as interesting but educational and true.
  9. Start quickly (sucked in by an easy NW today) and then slow to a crawl — that seems to be the rut I find myself in these days. Ended up in the NE with CEMENTS and ARCH taking to long to see (doh) and preforms being rather unsatisfactory to me. However, my real downfall was in the deep south — NUTSHELL. I put in ….HOLE (terrible situation) and was left with NUTSHoLe. I couldn’t see the obvious despite having cottoned on to Hazel early (nice red herring to get one thinking about rabbits and rabbit holes?). Really thick this morning. My CsOD were BESOTTED and ATONEMENT. Thanks to Corelli for a mixed bag and to rotter for his ever-reliable and interesting blog. John M.

    Edited at 2021-04-01 09:13 am (UTC)

  10. Another slow one — last three in were NUTSHELL HOGWASH and SHAM the last of which I just couldnt quite work out what was going on with the w/p even with the checkers.

    A typo as well 😬

    Never mind, four days off imminent 👍

    Thanks all

  11. 18 minutes; I put BLANCHED in too, despite not being able to parse it, realising my error as soon as I saw AMSTERDAM. I didn’t see the NINA despite being a McEwan fan.
    Oh, and you had me fooled with HOGWASH! Doh!!

    Edited at 2021-04-01 09:24 am (UTC)

  12. This was a tough QC, I thought. FOI ARCH, then some quick progress until I hit the harder clues. ATONEMENT and PREFORMS needed hard study.
    I was pleased to see the ERNE, a bird which used to appear almost daily in the Evening Standard crosswords I used to do on the way home from work.
    My last two were AGUE and SHAM (unparsed). 16:56 on the clock.
    A grown-up challenge. And I missed the nina.
  13. … only by a few seconds, but that’s enough to count! Started very well, with 3/4 of the puzzle falling into place smoothly enough (though I was another with Blanched initially for 10A), but then found the NE corner very sticky, with most of them slow to come and LOI 7D Cements biffed and never parsed at all.

    A challenging but enjoyable puzzle. Many thanks to Rotter for the blog — and the April Fool

  14. Struggled with NE and SW, but when I finally worked out the answers, I felt I had been a bit dim.
    I thought of AGUE but only finally doubtfully put it down.
    Many of the answers depended on being well versed in Crosswordese tricks. CEMENTS was a struggle, don’t know why I was slow on HOGWASH (good clue) and LEBANON and NUTSHELL ditto.
    Thanks for April fool, Rotter!
  15. And missed the NINA but finished. I normally give up at approx. -4 answers, usually around an hour or so but persevered today. All done in 108 mins and was pleased to have worked out cements. The VVV SCC!
  16. Another long haul for me at 35 mins, but at least I finished today. Main hold ups were the NE corner — mainly as a result of initially putting “Prefaces” for 9ac. I was another who nearly put “Blanched” for 10ac, but for once realised the parsing didn’t work.

    After wasting time debating whether Amsterdam was indeed the capital of the Netherlands, the rest went in fairly smoothly. I particularly liked 23ac “Sham” (not Stum as I first thought), 18ac “Besotted” and 24ac “Nutshell”.

    FOI — 1ac “Saturday”
    LOI — 9ac “Preforms”
    COD — 14dn “Hogwash”

    Thanks as usual.

  17. Got off to a poor start by wondering what a twenty-four period was, and why there was no ‘h’ for Thursday… Blanched for 10ac quickly followed, albeit doubtfully. I had better luck with the lower half of the grid, but sorting out the NW, and a long struggle at the end with Atonement and Preforms, turned this into a sluggish 30min solve. Invariant
  18. I totally fell for the April fool and was about to congratulate you on the fascinating fact — if it hadn’t been for Jack heading me off at the pass, I would have been covered in embarrassment! Brilliant — thanks for the laugh. D’oh indeed 😅
    Also no idea of the nina — I haven’t read any McEwen and Corelli is a rare visitor to these shores so I didn’t remember that s/he usually provides a theme.
    All the same, I enjoyed this — all sorts of devices, some good vocab and fun surfaces. Also I came in at 9 minutes so A Good Day.
    FOI Saturday
    LOI Nutshell
    COD Chisel

    Many thanks Corelli and extra thanks to Rotter for the highly entertaining blog

    Edited at 2021-04-01 11:31 am (UTC)

  19. Yesterday’s frustrations (re: BEAU) were well and truly banished by a blistering (for me) 24-minute solve today and, at the third time of asking, it was my first successful attempt at a Corelli puzzle.

    My favourite clues were 24a (NUTSHELL) and 7d (CEMENTS), which was particularly clever IMHO. My favourite solution was HOGWASH and, whilst I wasn’t fooled, I really enjoyed therotter’s hogwash about this word. Actually, ‘hogwash’ is a word much used by Mrs Random, often in relation to much of what I say.

    Mrs R finished in 35 minutes today and is now tackling yesterday’s QC by Orpheus, so I had better not disturb her for a while.

    Many thanks to therotter and to Corelli.

    1. Phew – had wondered how Mrs Random did yesterday… Glad to know she’s still working the QCs away in the background!
  20. No problems for me today although I didn’t spot the NINA despite having read SATURDAY (FOI), AMSTERDAM and ATONEMENT (LOI). The last two mentioned books I enjoyed but I have to confess the many pages dedicated to a squash game in SATURDAY bored me to tears and I think I stopped reading any more Ian McEwan works after that. Excellent day with an all green submission taking just 29 secs longer the Kevin. Well done Rotter for spotting the NINA.
  21. Thought I was in for a fast time today as the left-hand side went straight in with scarcely a pause. I did enter BLANCHED at 10ac and couldn’t parse it, but pretty quickly realised that 11dn was an anagram and couldn’t start with the letter N. The right-hand side proved considerably trickier and effectively put paid to any PB time. I eventually finished in 20 minutes without ever having parsed 10ac. Completely missed the nina but then I always do.

    FOI – 1ac SATURDAY
    LOI – 9ac PREFORMS
    COD – 24ac NUTSHELL

    Thanks to Rotter for the blog and cheeky April Fool and thanks to Corelli for an enjoyable puzzle.

  22. As a newbie is there a convention for homophones?eg does the clue at12ac give an indication why ’erne should go in the box and not ‘earn’
    1. If only. Trying to decide which way round the answer is can be fiendishly difficult, though ‘to get the bird’ is a clear enough signpost today.
    2. *Pace* invariant, it’s usually pretty clear which of two homophones is correct. Today’s clue, for instance, is unambiguous. It reads
      From what we hear, deserve to get the bird
      ‘from what we hear’ indicates a homophone; but it can only modify ‘deserve’. So we hear ‘earn’, but since that’s what we hear, it can’t be the answer, leaving the bird, ERNE.
      1. At the risk of a heated agreement, Anon was, in effect, asking for a non-existent hard and fast rule. ‘Clear enough’ is an understated way of saying ‘blindingly obvious’. (Pace.)
  23. I remember when Amsterdam was first published – Displayed among the other new novels were numerous copies of a guide to the Dutch city. The WH Smiths buyer must have pressed the wrong button.

    Have read most of McEwan’s but found On Chesil Beach excruciating.

    Needless to say, I missed the Nina.

  24. I didn’t spot the theme even when alerted to it by Rotter as I’ve not read any books by the author in question. I had a routine solve until I was left with 9a and 7d which added about 5 minutes to my solve between the. I failed to lift and separate the clue for PREFORMS, and despite looking for a reverse hidden, didn’t see CEMENTS for ages. Once I had the M, I finally saw how PREFORMS worked. A sluggish 14:49. Thanks Corelli and Rotter.
  25. An unusually early solve for me today. FOI 1a Saturday. LOI 22d Doh – because I only reached it last. COD 18a Besotted – a good literal clue. We don’t see enough of Corelli IMO but this was a good puzzle. Liked your blog Rotter blog and the April Fool…
  26. It’s been a good week for me with another satisfying solve. I think this was my favourite so far, for a good mix of clues and Eureka moments. The only one I was unsure of was sprat as h.ad forgotten (or never knew?) the nursery rhyme. I have read quite a bit of Ian McEwan and did even think of the book when I got Atonement but failed to put the other clues together. Thanks Corelli for a lovely crossword and Rotter for the explanation (& hog wash 😂)

  27. FOI Saturday, LOI Cements. Twelve on first pass, then filling in. Some write-ins for me, e.g. the acrosses Saturday, ovens, chisel, besotted, gardener, then the fun started, especially in the NE corner. Saw dressy but could not parse, so left it for the aha moment, seeing dry. Once I saw atonement, it gave me a sense of satisfaction, a very nice clue. Arch should have been easy, but the “leading” in the clue I found misdirecting, which was also a source of enjoyment. Did not parse dean, nutshell or Lebanon. Was looking for a Nina based on Hamlet after nutshell, but there was only nutshell, so failed there. I found this a really fun, satisfying puzzle which left a warm glow. COD cements. Thanks, Rotter, for the excellent blog, and Corelli for a completely topping puzzle.
  28. We were off like a shot today – lots of answers readily filling the grid. Then we became stuck in the NE corner with 7D really stumping us. After several minutes of head scratching we decided that the answer to 12A was ERNE not EARN (one day we hope to be able to workout which answer is being sought – currently it’s a bit hit and miss) and ended up completely biffing CEMENTS. There were a couple of other biffed answers so we were delighted to discover that we had correctly completed the puzzle – even if it had taken us 25 minutes.


    Thanks to Corelli and Rotter (especially for clarifying CEMENTS).

  29. for no discernible reason – the unfathomable wavelength in operation.

    Mightily held up by CEMENTS, which I still didn’t parse, so thanks rotter.

    Also NUTSHELL, though that came quickly enough after I had deleted the A in LAB?N?? and replaced it with an E to get LEBANON. ATONEMENT also took ages.

    I liked HOGWASH – both the clue and the spurious etymology!

    Twice my target time at 12 minutes on the nose.

    Edited at 2021-04-01 01:24 pm (UTC)

  30. Zoomed through most, then got really stuck in NE corner, resulting in a DNF as I had PREORDER not PREFORMS (not really heard of that) and did not see CEMENTS or ATONEMENT at all. Didn’t see the McEwan Nina either. Incidentally, Amsterdam is not a capital city – The Hague is the capital of the Netherlands.
  31. ….and I wouldn’t have picked up on this one since the author was unknown to me.

    I spent in excess of 2 minutes on my LOI.

    TIME 5:25

  32. This started slowly and finished ever slower with a succession of interruptions interrupting my interruptions. Most problems with the 4 letter words.
    Liked HOGWASH and Rotter’s lovely use of a “shilling” made the day, wonderful. Such a prankster!!
    Haven’t read McEwan so missed the NINA (enjoying the Thursday Murder Club before moving onto a backlog of birthday books).
    Amazing that the pre-Easter sunshine has turned into a forecast of snow and rain. Wouldn’t you know it.
    Thanks Rotter for a good wheeze and Corelli for a mental work out. Back on the treadmill tomorrow.

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