Times Quick Cryptic No 1978 by Pedro

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
The curse of the last clue struck again, and I gave up and clicked on the answer after a bit of an impatient stare at 17d. There’s little excuse for this when the clock is only at 8:30, but there we are: I apologise to the crossword gods and will endeavour to improve. (In my defence I will say I recently seem to have spent quite enough time staring at the last one or two clues, and there’s only so much self-improvement one can profitably attempt in an average week.) Good fun apart from that – many thanks to Pedro!

1 Youngster I start to lecture? (5)
PUPIL PUP (youngster), I, L (“start” to Lecture). An &lit clue where the whole clue is a literal definition, as well as the cryptic.
7 I’m leading a lot of constables to capture it? Unwise (9)
IMPOLITIC – IM ahead of POLICe (“a lot of” constables) capturing IT
9 A visitor from Edinburgh, say, in Berkshire town (5)
ASCOT – A SCOT (a visitor from Edinburgh, say)
10 Elected tyrant, not the first time? That’s a sign (9)
INDICATOR -IN (elected) DICtATOR (tyrant), without the first T(ime)
11 Money fool returned (3)
TIN – NIT (fool) returned
12 Disorganised carpool is a sight to see in Athens (9)
ACROPOLISanagram (disorganised) of CARPOOL IS
14 Looking peculiar in soccer gear? Every chance! (5,4)
SHORT ODDS ODD (looking peculiar) in SHORTS (soccer gear)
16 Pet fur has nothing removed (3)
CAT – CoAT (fur), with O (nothing) removed
18 Irrational character had gone wrong in the topic (3,6)
MAD HATTER anagram (gone wrong) of HAD in the MATTER (topic)
20 Enough to taste? Not initially (5)
AMPLE – sAMPLE (taste) “not initially”
21 Matt rages after changing plan (9)
STRATAGEM anagram (after changing) of MATT RAGES
22 One trap set around river still (5)
INERT – I (one) NET (trap) around R(iver)

1 Flying vehicle on flight, finally, for Mars? (6)
PLANET – PLANE (flying vehicle) on T (flighT “finally”)
2 Measure of importance under the mistletoe? (7,5)
PECKING ORDER cryptic hint: pecking = kissing
3 Literary giant ruined pursuing legal action (8)
LITIGANT – LIT(erary) and an anagram (ruined) of GIANT. Litigant as an adjective is litigating/engaged in a lawsuit.
4 Arachnid runs underneath piano in bank (6)
SPIDER – R(uns) under P(iano) in SIDE (bank)
5 Forestall reduced group of countries (4)
BLOC BLOCk (forestall) “reduced”
6 Road vehicle adopted by one American guy involved in fatal flight (6)
ICARUS CAR (road vehicle) adopted by I (one) US (American)
8 Variety of top celestial or astronomical event (5,7)
TOTAL ECLIPSE anagram (variety of) TOP CELESTIAL
13 Finished source of mutton before one serving of ham (8)
PASTRAMI – PAST (finished) RAM (source of mutton) before I (one)
14 Pacific islands are home to small spicy dish (6)
SAMOSA – SAMOA (Pacific islands) are home to S(mall)
15 Spot mature time of feeble-mindedness (6)
DOTAGE – DOT (spot) AGE (mature)
17 Sign of gratitude, having supplied skill (6)
TALENT – TA (sign of gratitude) having LENT (supplied). Perfectly fair clue, of course, just me being dense.
19 One opposing article returned it (4)
ANTI AN (article) TI (it “returned”)

50 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1978 by Pedro”

  1. to Osaka, I took the 12:45 stopper from Shanghai to Western SAMOSA, via ASCOT, taking in the ACROPOLIS en route. No Bifffers – no Buffers hereabouts!

    FOI 19dn ANTI

    LOI 17dn TALENT


    WOD 6dn ICARUS

    M H V Meldrew

    Edited at 2021-10-07 04:29 am (UTC)

  2. All green in 15 with SAMOSA and SHORT ODDS adding an age at the end. Spotted ‘odds’ was going to be at the end but my clean living let me down again as I just couldn’t think of something to put in front of it. Rugby World Cups reminded me Samoa is Pacific and that S let me see ‘short’ would fit but I still hesitated because I couldn’t see what ‘looking’ was doing in the clue — and I missed it was an insertion and failed to work out ‘soccer gear’ was shorts not kit or strip or something. Five on the first pass (including 1a for the first time in ages) before speeding up to such an extend I didn’t notice the dreaded double unches until I pondered TALENT. Knew TIN from not knowing it in previous crosswords but absolutely nowhere else!
  3. Misspelled STRATAGEM (‘strategem’), and really struggled with SHORT ODDS. I went with SPORT ODDS, which I thought might be another term for “sporting odds”, with soccer=sports.

    Also struggled with SAMOSA. And really hesitated over lent=supplied in TALENT. Was sure that ‘sign’ was the definition, and ‘supplied’ just doing duty in construct8ng the clue.

    COD PECKING ORDER, very clever. Please don’t tell me it’s a chestnut.

    BTW, fifteeners, today’s 15×15 is on the easier side, I think.

    1. I made exactly the same mistake with stratagem. Thanks for the recommendation on the 15×15. I’ll print it now to mull over at work.

  4. 11 minutes, missing my target by 1 yet again. Nothing in particular held me up but I was generally slower than when at my best.

    Contrary to popular belief the ‘Mad Hatter’ is never mentioned in Lewis Carroll, he’s just called ‘The Hatter’, but there have been ‘Mad Hatter’ characters in various comic strips.

    1. ‘A Mad Tea-Party’

      “There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it.”

      The Hatter is referred to as “mad”, along with his little tea party, but he is never explicitly called ‘Mad Hatter’ in Carroll’s works of 1865.

      The first documented instance of the phrase can be found in the 1829 short story, Noctes Ambrocianæ, published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine.

      “Mad as a March hare” is a common British English phrase, and is first noted in John Heywood’s collection of proverbs, published back in 1546.

      I would humbly suggest Lewis Carroll was perhaps avoiding legal action by this omission! The Hatters of Northampton were somewhat litigious! There have been scores of Judicial references citing both ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Alice Underground’ – the name of the original manuscript of 1862.

      1. As a late addendum, courtesy of my brother’s pedantry, it’s actually The March Hare’s Tea Party. See the last para of Chapter 6.
        She had not gone much farther before she came in sight of the house of the March Hare …


  5. All good, but I too ran into a problem at the end when I couldn’t see TALENT. So I took almost as long on that one clue as the rest of the crossword.
  6. All good sub 10m but had to leave 1A until the end.

    Thank you to rolytoly and Pedro.

  7. A biffed SOLAR at the start of 8d caused me all sorts of problems in the NE, in what was an otherwise relatively trouble free solve – although SHORT ODDS took a bit of figuring out.
    Enjoyed PECKING ORDER and ICARUS but my COD goes to PUPIL. Squeaked in just under target in 9.59 with LOI ICARUS.
    Thanks to rolytoly and Pedro
  8. After yesterday’s turn in the superSCC, I turned in a good time at ten minutes for this friendly offering from Pedro who doesn’t seem to be in the tightened-up-their-game set. FOI Ascot, ten on first pass, LOI talent. No biffs, all parsed, so I infer this must be at the easier end of the spectrum. Still much to enjoy. COD pecking order. Thanks for the pointer to the 15 x 15, Merlin. I’ll have a look. Thanks, Rolytoly, and Pedro.

    Edited at 2021-10-07 08:05 am (UTC)

  9. I missed target but then that is no surprise when Pedro is the setter. I had lots of gaps all over the grid but interestingly TALENT wasn’t one of them. I have no idea what SHORT ODDS are so that was a guess which then gave me PECKING ORDER and finally PUPIL (I didn’t pick up on the &lit) 11:46 for a so-so day.
  10. Didn’t start well so I slowed down and went through all the acrosses then downs. I think this may have been a good approach given the grid layout and that’s how it turned out – finishing in a surprising 8:18. I had trouble with LOI SHORT ODDS and not only because I’d messed up LITIGANT with litigate. Still, shy of 2K – I’ll take that.
  11. I thought I had started my timer, but had not, so I have no time for this one. However, it was a DNF with 6 clues left unanswered.

    4d. I didn’t fill spider in for a long time as it seemed too obvious to me. Really, did it need the rest of the clue after arachnid? In the end some cross-letters told me it must be spider.

    13d. Pastrami – as somebody indicated above, I did not think pastrami was ham. I always thought it to be a beef dish. When I saw the answer here I Googled “pastrami” and could see no mention of ham. Everything pointed to beef. If this is true, on how earth did this clue pass the pre-publish checks?

    I found this QC to be very difficult. In fact when I first ran through the clues, so many just seemed utter gibberish to me. As I worked on them many of them became clearer.

    Not an unenjoyable puzzle, but exactly enjoyable either.

  12. A poor show from me after yesterday’s smooth and quick (for me) progress. This was tough. I jumped all over the place looking for easy bites at first but accelerated as the grid filled up. Sadly, I came to grief in the SW, like others. SHORT ODDS (I’m not a betting person) gave me trouble, not helped by having biffed LITIGATE because I didn’t parse it carefully. SAMOSA and even MAD HATTER gave me trouble (why?) — enough to take me into the SCC and down to earth. Thanks to both (but roly, how can you give up after such a short time? Some of us are just getting going at that point!). John M.

    Edited at 2021-10-07 08:53 am (UTC)

  13. Mr. Wyvern is quite right! “How earth did this clue pass the pre-publish checks?” In future could he be sent the clues in advance, in order to avoid this type of error. Oink would never make such a mistake. Over to you Izetti. COD 2dn PECKING ORDER. Again easy for a QC – Time 4:47

    Edited at 2021-10-07 09:04 am (UTC)

    1. It is good to see Mr.Wyvern getting the hang of things. So if it looks like a spider and walks like a spider – it probably is a spider! It’s ducks that swim and quack!?
    1. True – well spotted. Just shows, when I think I’ve fully parsed everything there’s usually something I’ve missed.
    2. Oh yes, well spotted – and very tasty it is too! The OED does say “Later also in extended use: other meat or fish prepared in a similar manner”, which gives a potenetial out, but I think it’s simply a mistake.
  14. ….confused by this meat (8)

    As Bob Todd used to exclaim in the old Knorr adverts “IT’S BEEF !” (Horryd will remember those)

    MER at “shorts = soccer gear”, which was so vague as to hold me up almost until the end.

    TIME 4:21

    1. Benny Hill’s old sidekick, but not “It’s Beef!”. I can’t find it on YouTube although Danny Baker mentioned it almost five years ago on Twitter.

      What I do remember is ‘Wendy’s’ great Joe Sedelmaier’s ad for agency Dancer Fitzgerald NY :- “Where’s the Beef?” Writer Cliff Freeman.

      1. Wendys “Where’s the beef” was first shown in 1984 the end of an era when the ads were better than the programs.
        I can only vaguely remember Bob Todd larking around with Mr. Hill. The ‘Woke’ crowd would have a fit!
        1. My favourite Bob Todd joke:

          Bob, to barman: “Do you think you could get double whiskey into my pint?”

          Barman: “I think so, sir”

          Bob: “Why don’t you fill it with beer, then!”

      1. Nice anagram, but as most would agree wretchedly mistaken clue!

        Edited at 2021-10-07 12:16 pm (UTC)

  15. I like Pedro, 18 mins of steady brain fun, kept me thinking and never too stuck for too long. Top half went in quicker than the bottom although IMPOLITIC took a while to parse. PASTRAMI was a MER but had to be. Liked the TOTAL ECLIPSE anagram amid several other fun clues.
  16. 10 minutes on paper today. FOI was ASCOT: last two SHORT ODDS and SAMOSA.
    SHORT ODDS held me up most.
    COD to PUPIL.
    A good challenge and nothing too demanding.
  17. Started slowly …
    … and thought I was in for another struggle to follow yesterday’s, but picked up Pedro’s wavelength and ended in just under 13 minutes. Minor hold-up at soccer gear = shorts; one wears more than shorts to play soccer and can play many other sports in shorts, so a bit of a MER at this clue, but otherwise a steady solve.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  18. Normally I parse pretty much everything as I go along but I felt I was bunging more in than usual without fully knowing what was going on. Nothing wrong with that — more than one way to get to the desired goal I guess

    Liked the pair of classical clues ICARUS and ACROPOLIS

    Thanks Pedro and Rolytoly

  19. Despite a good start in the NW corner, I really struggled with this and needed a break with five clues left after hitting a brick wall. Bloc (!) then unlocked the NE corner, where ‘a lot of constables’ had had me fooled into thinking MET/CID was involved. Samosa/Mad Hatter (no maths after all) in the SW still took an age before I crawled over the line, well beaten by Pedro. Invariant
  20. I liked MAD HATTER. Hatters were prone to all sorts of neurological illnesses (erethism) due to the Mercury used to cure the felt in hat making. I can’t claim that as an excuse for my ponderous solving prowess although my “fat finger accuracy” could be a cause of diversion on occasion.
    I really enjoyed the lower half of the grid with lots of smiles. LOI IMPOLITIC as I could not see the wood for the trees. I do like Pastrami (and US corned beef rather than UK in a tin variety) but it is always beef not ham.
    Thanks Rolytoly and Pedro.
  21. At first glance this looked hard and only a couple of across clues filled in, but once I got going on the down clues everything fitted in smoothly and I zoomed through it with no holdups at all.
  22. Seemed much easier than the last couple of days and resulted in a within target solve of 16 mins. Steady rather than anything else with no great hold-ups anywhere. I was also surprised to see PASTRAMI defined as a serving of ham – it’s not as far as I know.

    FOI – 9ac ASCOT
    LOI – 17dn TALENT
    COD – I would go for both 2dn PECKING ORDER and 18ac MAD HATTER as the stand-out clues.

    Thanks to Pedro and Rolytoly

    Liked PECKING ORDER, ICARUS, SAMOSA, amused by ‘Carpool Is’ being an anagram for ACROPOLIS.
    Could not parse SHORT ODDS (mer?), INERT (must remember trap=net), MAD HATTER, SPIDER but answers were clear.
    PASTRAMI amusing, so not bothered by meaty error.
    Maybe I do better leaving the QC until lunchtime.
    Thanks all, esp Roly.
  24. I actually found this straightforward (for me) and completed it in 13 mins. Main hesitations we’re in the NE corner and the unknown 7ac “Impolitic”. Quite a lot of biffing going on with the big clues though (3dn “Litigant”, 12ac “Acropolis”, 13dn “Pastrami”, 18ac “Mad Hatter”, 2dn “Pecking Order”)

    FOI — 1dn “Planet”
    LOI — 6dn “Icarus”
    COD — 2dn “Pecking Order” — first Xmas clue of the season?

    Thanks as usual!

  25. 6:37 this morning, for what I thought was a tougher than average QC.
    However my impetuosity was my “downfall”, when I immediately saw how 6 d worked but entered “Adonis” instead of “Icarus”, something I’m not “waxing” lyrical about……
    COD 2d “pecking order”
    Thanks to Roly for the blog and to Pedro.

  26. Speedy start but slow finish to this enjoyable puzzle. Took us a while to work out SHORT ODDS and INERT which resulted in a completion time of 17 minutes.


    Thanks Rolytoly and Pedro.

  27. Mrs Random had done all but two clues (MAD HATTER and SAMOSA) well inside the SCC cut-off, but then suffered the dreaded curse. This meant that my finishing time of 24 minutes (very quick for me) enabled me to score a family point — my first for a couple of weeks, I think.

    We both found the lower half of the grid more tricky than the top, and we both finished in the SW corner.

    Many thanks to Pedro and rolytoly.

    Edited at 2021-10-07 03:56 pm (UTC)

  28. Iagree with others Pastrami is predominately beef. Occasionally lamb or even turkey but NEVER ham. Apology from Pedro needed.
  29. There were a few clues that were pleasing but, on the whole, this one didn’t really do much for me, I’m afraid. Nothing too hard although MER at PASTRAMI (like everyone else) and SHORT ODDS wasn’t so easy. Biffed SOLAR ECLIPSE but saw the error of my ways quite quickly. The ones I did like were PLANET and STRATAGEM. All done (if not dusted) in 10 minutes.
    Strangely, I always think of mutton as being from ewes, not rams, which makes no sense from a farmer’s or butcher’s point of view! I guess it must be linked in with the phrase ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ 😅
    FOI Ascot
    LOI Anti
    COD Total eclipse
    Thanks Pedro and Roly

    BTW I didn’t find today’s 15×15 that easy – the bottom half went in quite quickly, but the top half had rather too many blanks 🤔

    Edited at 2021-10-07 04:46 pm (UTC)

  30. Mostly done in good time, but unravelling the SW, particularly MAD HATTER, SAMOSA and LOI SHORT ODDS took me up to 23:25. I’m pleased to say (S)AMPLE didn’t hold me up too long as I’ve seen it quite a few times now, but it always used to get me. TIN for money, however, seems to have gone straight into my lexicon (as, it seems, has lexicon, though I’m not sure how it got there), although I came across it for the first time only a couple of weeks ago. FOI ASCOT, COD was going to be PASTRAMI as I failed to notice the ham controversy. It would seem IMPOLITIC to choose it now, so perhaps I’ll go for that instead. Thanks Pedro and Roly.
  31. Squeaking inside my 20 minute target. The first half went in in 5 minutes but things gradually slowed until the SWcorner and pecking order were left. Only when I saw mad hatter did the rest finally fall into place.
  32. Would have been a bit quicker had I not biffed IMPRUDENT, which meant the NE took a bit of untangling before I realised my mistake.

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