Times Quick Cryptic No 1983 by Noel

Noel has set at least twice this year (he usually submits only one puzzle per year), but I blogged him under his other alias (Alfie) back in June (puzzle 1893, whilst this is 1983).  He also usually includes a theme.  I spent 13 minutes solving this puzzle, and then far more time than that searching for a hidden theme – without success!  I played with St Andrew’s and Saltire, which are obviously connected, traverses bridge or channel, and I even thought Victoria Bowes-Lyon (Bows-Latin?) rang a bell for a time.  However, I have come up blank – if there is anything there, it is too subtle for me.  However, after three days in the SCC, I am just happy to be back within target.

I found that the puzzle was fairly bland with nothing of particular interest to commend it, although SPLODGE is an interesting word and I make that my WOD, with 1a FOI and 22d LOI, and nothing else standing out as COD.  If you can spot a hidden theme where I failed, please enlighten me.


Monarch raving to vicar about one (8)
VICTORIA – Anagram (raving) of [TO VICAR} and I (one).
Surrenders primitive weapons (4)
BOWS – Double definition.
9 Old language the French preserve (5)
LATIN – LA (the in French) and TIN (preserve, as in canning)
10  After church, queen left for station (7)
CHANNEL – CH{urch} followed by ANNE (queen) and L{eft}.  CHANNEL as in TV or radio station.
11 Comes across revolutionary art and poetry (9)
TRAVERSES – ART (reversed, revolutionary) to give TRA and VERSES (poetry).
12  Flushed, but hardly flush, in this (3)
RED – Cryptic clue.  If you are ‘in the RED’, you aren’t flush – you owe money.
13  Brings up Religious Education in English county (6)
BREEDS – RE (religious education) inside BEDS (English county – Bedfordshire).
15  Game of golf embraced by newlywed (6)
BRIDGE – BRIDE (newlywed) containing / embracing G{olf} (NATO alphabet).
18  Unions returning on a smaller scale? (3)
CUT – TUC (Trades Union Congress – Unions) reversed (returning).
20  New wardens on the way for golf club (2,7)
ST ANDREWS – Anagram (new) of [WARDENS] after ST{reet} (the way).  We seem to have seen a lot of St Andrews recently.
23  Reflecting some merit, lasses feature on Scottish flag! (7)
SALTIRE – Reverse hidden answer in {m}ERIT, LAS{ses}.
24 One judge getting angry (5)
IRATE – I (one) and RATE (judge).
25  Promise without really delivering, at first (4)
WORD – WO (without) and R{eally} D{elivering} (at first – first letters).
26  Rush to NE, moving from different direction (8)
SOUTHERN – Anagram (moving) of [RUSH TO NE].


1  Nearly all getting into animal doctor’s clean car (5)
VALET – VET (animal doctor) containing AL{l} (nearly all).
Country dwelling with animal enclosure outside over the top (7)
COTTAGE – CAGE (animal enclosure) outside OTT (Over The Top).
Very little weight carried by announcement (5)
OUNCE – Hidden in (carried by) {ann}OUNCE{ment}.
4  Where luggage goes as a precaution (2,4)
IN CASE – Where one would expect to find ones luggage – in a case!
6 Someone who has depression, missing daughter (5)
OWNER – {d}OWNER (downer, depression, missing D{aughter}).
7 Large stain ruined old pegs (7)
SPLODGE – Anagram (ruined) of [OLD PEGS].
Emperor’s carriage crossing sea to the north (6)
CAESAR – CAR (carriage) with SEA reversed inside it (crossing SEA ‘to the north’).
13  Deer spotted woodcutter (7)
BUCKSAW – BUCK (dear) and SAW (spotted).  A BUCKSAW is a large saw with a blade set in an H-frame.  The blade is tensioned by a chord across the opposite end of the H-frame to the blade.
14  Boy doing some spring-cleaning briefly (6)
DUSTIN – DUSTIN{g} – spring-cleaning (briefly – drop the last letter).  Not sure why this is ‘boy’, most DUSTINS grow up to be men!
16  When to expect moisture, it’s said, on fruit (3,4)
DUE DATE – part homophone (it’s said) – DUE (sounds like DEW – moisture) on DATE (fruit).
17  Stare, with old boy turning up in summerhouse (6)
GAZEBO – GAZE (stare) and OB (old boy) reversed (turning up).
19  Row about Liberal alternative to Thatcher? (5)
TILER – TIER (row) containing (about) L{iberal}.  A TILER is an alternative to a thatcher, for those of us not fortunate enough to live in a thatched cottage.
21  Meaning to join doctor, if time (5)
DRIFT – DR (doctor) IF (if) and T{ime}.  Get my DRIFT?
22  Starts on some Kafka: a German yarn (5)
SKEIN – First letters (starts on) S[ome} K{afka} and EIN (a in German).  A SKEIN is a standard length of yarn.

53 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 1983 by Noel”

  1. I’m not sure why BOWS are primitive. The modern ones seem very sophisticated. I held off putting it in wondering if there was some short word for rock axes or something. So in the end it was my LOI. And I think of the CASE as being the luggage, not the stuff inside. Chambers has it as the suitcases of a traveller, not the contents of said cases. Also, dusting seems like everyday cleaning. To me, spring cleaning is washing down the walls and emptying cupboards and wiping them down. I liked the Thatcher clue.
    1. I had the same reservation about IN CASE; in fact, it seems just wrong. In, ah, any case, ‘as’ should be underlined.
    2. Indeed, I just read on Page One about a bow being used to cause multiple deaths in Norway just yesterday.
    3. But BOWS can be primitive, so it works for me. One can describe a friend as an old friend, even if he is still a current friend!

      I have sympathy with IN CASE, where the same thought occurred to me, but I forgave / forgot it — probably already looking for the theme.

    4. Agree DUSTINg is not spring cleaning. I don’t usually moan about clues but that was too misleading (for me)
  2. Rotter, you were within a whisker of spotting that every Across answer relates to the word ‘cross’, or in one case ‘crosses’. Some may not be familiar with the name ‘LATIN cross’ which is a cross that has its lower arm longer than its other three.

    The puzzle took me 15 minutes, but somewhat longer to spot the theme. The only unfamiliar answer was BUCKSAW, but the clue that delayed me (by 5 minutes actually) was my LOI at 5across which needed an alphabet trawl.

    Edited at 2021-10-14 04:31 am (UTC)

      1. After 1ac VICTORIA I thought it might be stations, but it turned out to be crosses.
        Excellent spot from The Master!
    1. Thanks Jackkt, well spotted. You are doubly right — I was an inch away from it, and cross as a result of missing it. One up to Noel!
  3. 15m on the dot today. I feared the worst as I had to pass over seven clues before BREEDS dropped in. Things picked up from there to give me five on the first pass of acrosses— not bad. The downs in the top were kinder — the V of VALET got me going in the NW. COD to SOUTHERN where I needed all the checkers — and a trip back to the clue for hints – to see what to do with the rest of the letters. SW held me up the most but LOI was BOWS were I wasn’t quite sure it wasn’t going to be something else. Good one!

    Edited at 2021-10-14 05:25 am (UTC)

  4. Mainly a top to bottom solve. Delayed a bit by the saw and the house cleaning chap.
    Given the news from Norway today, I think we can revise 5 to lethal weapon.
    Many thanks for blog and puzzle
  5. A nice puzzle — closer to the spirit of the QC than many recent examples, IMO. I moved pretty smoothly through the grid pausing my downward progress to move up from the bottom and meet in the middle. Some very nice clues but I was held up beyond my target by nearly 5 mins by the last few — GAZEBO, BUCKSAW (couldn’t get hacksaw out of my mind) and SOUTHERN included (why?). I liked SKEIN, DRIFT, TILER, and many others. COD SPLODGE. Thanks to Noel and rotter. John M.

    Edited at 2021-10-14 07:25 am (UTC)

  6. First finish of the week — around 45 minutes with a few disturbances, which is about average for me.

    Enjoyed this puzzle from Noel (I seem to enjoy any puzzle I can finish!) but wasn’t complete plain sailing, having fallen into a few traps along the way.

    Whilst looking for an old language I had written in LE_ _ _, of course not remembering that ‘the French’ can also be LA (or LES). This held me up for about 5 minutes until 3dn OUNCE dropped in and cleared things up. Incidentally, OUNCE took me far far too long to see, given that it was a hidden word. These were my last clues in.

    13dn I had initially biffed HACKSAW, but had to revisit this when 13ac didn’t work. I didn’t know BUCK as a deer but will add this to my list of synonyms as I assume it gets used frequently.

    I couldn’t work out why CHANNEL = Station until I came here. 22nd NHO SKEIN. The wordplay was undisputable for both of these clues.

    Thanks to Noel and Rotter

    Edited at 2021-10-14 07:37 am (UTC)

  7. ….I agree that ST.ANDREWS is a golf COURSE. The club is the Royal and Ancient.

    In a possible first, I spotted the theme ! It didn’t spoil the puzzle on this occasion — only the NHO BUCKSAW was forced in, and the clueing was perfectly fair.

    Thanks to Noel for a nice challenge, and as ever to Rotter for his excellent blog.

    FOI VICTORIA (I tried a railway station theme at 10A before the penny dropped)
    LOI BUCKSAW (once I saw CUT — duh !)
    COD TILER (great surface !)
    TIME 3:58

    1. There are three golf clubs in St Andrews, each with their own premises, the R & A, the New and the St Andrews Golf Clubs. I don’t know if the setter was aware of that.
  8. Very much enjoyed this puzzle. A vast majority of the clues either came relatively easy, or were the type that was right at the front of my mind, but just needed coaxing out. The clues were clever and entertaining.

    I really liked TILER ( I spent ages trying to think of who was in opposition during the Thatcher years), and OWNER.

    More from Noel please!

    45 minutes on the nail.

  9. 15:45, out of the SCC for the first time this week. Did not see the theme, very clever. But don’t see IRATE as a cross? Theme did not seem forced, so nice job, setter.

    Also did not understand CHANNEL=station, so thanks for clearing that one up.

    LOI was WORD, as WORN looked possible.


  10. A slow start then a steady solve …
    … as on the first pass not much of the top half went in. But the bottom half yielded more easily and thereafter it came together for a 14 minute completion. 13D Bucksaw the only word I did not know but the wordplay was clear.

    I’m left somewhat with Rotter — nothing to dislike about this puzzle but equally, no real stand-out moments. And like Rotter, I didn’t see the NINA.

    Slightly surprised to see Noel as the setter as I have only previously remembered him from puzzles at Christmas time. But clearly the Editor allows him out more than once a year!

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

    1. Of the 7 puzzles set as ‘Noel’, 3 were on Christmas Day (2014, 2017, 2020) and the others were at various times of year.
    2. Having set my first QC a couple of Saturdays ago, may I say that I am in awe of Noel for just setting the grid of answers all to mean or be associated with ‘cross’ (that is almost more impressive than writing the clues).
      1. There is indeed a St Andrews Golf Club based at the famous Links, one of the oldest golf clubs in the world (1843) and still a private member’s club.
  11. I managed this fairly quickly for me, coming in at 13 mins. NHO BUCKSAW, but it had to be right. Loved TILER as an alternative to Thatcher. Thanks to Noel and Rotter.

  12. A blind spot at 18a/13d held me up at the end taking me over my target. VALET was FOI after which VICTORIA leapt out at me. Everything else seemed to flow nicely but I still found myself at 11:56 when submitting. Thanks Noel and Rotter.
  13. Steady going and I had a similar query as some earlier commenters with the case/luggage thing. BREEDS took a while as I didn’t consider abbreviations of counties until I got the B from the NHO BUCKSAW. Finished with COTTAGE which proved inexplicably tricky in 10.21. Enjoyed TILER.
    Thanks to Rotter.
  14. Very fast then stuck on BUCKSAW, BREEDS (LcorrectOI) – slow on SPLODGE too.
    FOI VICTORIA. Only saw clever Nina when others commented on it.
    Thanks all, esp Rotter.

    Edited at 2021-10-14 11:15 am (UTC)

  15. I thought I was heading for another DNF as, after 11 minutes, I ground to a halt on LOI BOWS. I finally got there after 16:49. Clue misled me a bit. Pleased to have finished correctly.
    I had IN HOLD before IN CASE; same thoughts as others.
    I agree St Andrews is strictly the course. And is it ever spelt Saint Andrews?
    But good fun overall. Did not spot a theme even though I looked.
  16. This crossword kind of solved itself, as noted by The Rotter and Cedric Statherby above. Seven minutes, solving 16 on first pass. FOI Victoria, LOI bucksaw, NHO, not in the OED, but on reading the blog, my husband said his father had a bucksaw, though my husband didn’t know that was what it was called. Though I found this an easy solve, I didn’t fully parse everything. I saw the verses in traverses but missed the art. I didn’t see OTT in the cage. And then, on the blog, I found I had two incorrect. I put stein in with a shrug, should have known better, and biffed Kaiser, which was careless. But quick. Thanks for the blog, Rotter, for the puzzle, setter, and to Jacktt for pointing out the theme, which as usual I missed.
  17. 5:15 this morning.
    A well-pitched QC with some shoo-ins but other clues that required a little more thought.
    NHO of 13 d ” bucksaw” but wordplay left few alternatives.
    COD 19 c “tiler” — nice surface.
    My rating of the puzzle rose once the theme was pointed out to me!
    Thanks to Rotter for the blog and to Noel for posting early for Christmas
  18. 55 mins. Slow start, faster finish. FOI LEAK, last EMIGRANT. Was looking for more trad. High St trader than DRY CLEANER. No U following Q in QINTAR confuses. Thank you

  19. I think I’ll claim this a Very Good Day, because, despite taking nearly four minutes to get my LOI, I did see the theme pretty quickly – and I thought it was very good! All done and dusted in 13 minutes. In fact, finding the theme helped me get BOWS. It’s quite cross-making really – the one time I decide not to start at the beginning of the alphabet for the trawl, it turns out it would have been a good move after all.
    Nearly biffed northern and stein but saw the light, and BUCKSAW was unknown, but otherwise all OK. I liked SKEIN and TILER a lot.
    I’ve often wondered why setters always put girl or boy when they’re cluing a name – why not woman or man?
    FOI Victoria
    LOI Bows
    COD Red
    WOD Splodge
    Thanks Noel and Rotter
  20. Needed some thought in places – took me a while to see DOWNER and guessed BUCKSAW – unknown, but easy from clue. I don’t like these name clues – DUSTIN here.
  21. … and I solved 26 of them in just 26 minutes (very fast for me). Unfortunately, the wheels then came off, and it took me a full 10 minutes of alphabet trawling to re-find OWNER (I had considered it earlier, but just couldn’t work out the parsing at the time). It would have helped, of course, if I’d had BOWS, but I didn’t and I was loathe to alphabet-trawl ___S as such a process would have yielded hundreds of options. So, in the end I crossed the line in a satisfactory 37 minutes, but it could have been so much faster.

    My FOI was VICTORIA, my WOD was SPLODGE, I had NHO BUCKSAW (but I have seen one on several occasions), and my LOI was BOWS.

    Mrs Random is visiting her parents again today, so I daresay she will tackle this puzzle tomorrow.

    Many thanks to Noel and therotter.

  22. Not that I spotted it, but well done to those that did.

    A nice crossword, the spring-cleaning boy was my LOI. SPLODGE my favourite word.


  23. Back within my 10 minute target for the QC. Nothing too challenging but never spotted the theme until reading the blog (I’m usually too busy trying to deal with correcting typos as I go through.

    Thank you to therotter and Noel.

  24. I didn’t find this as easy as others, taking 28mins, but then I always seem to struggle with Noel. The NHOs Bucksaw and Skein, and the setter’s odd use of ‘case’ did nothing to help speed up what was already a slow solve. Traverses was a pdm, but only after time was lost playing around with (art poetry)* when I only had the first three crossers. CoD from a mixed bunch to 19d Tiler. Invariant
  25. Boy, we weren’t on Noel’s wavelength today — there were a couple of write ins but mainly our answers were hard fought for. We finally finished in a magnificent 31 minutes — what does not kill us can only make us stronger!

    FOI: RED

    Thanks Rotter and Noel.

  26. Don’t agree with Rotter that this was bland.
    Liked DUE DATE, TRAVERSES and SOUTHERN in particular.
    Paul and Judith
  27. I made hard work of this and trundled in after 30 mins (must have been all the excitement after spending 10 mins in space)

    After raising an eyebrow over “case” for 4dn, I also wondered whether a “bow” on its own could be classed as a weapon. Eventually, I realised I was being an idiot – if you applied that logic you could say the same for a gun without bullets.

    Other than that, some nice clues.

    FOI – 1dn “Valet”
    LOI – 16dn “Due Date”
    COD – 19dn “Tiler” – this also raised a smile.

    Thanks as usual!

    Edited at 2021-10-14 01:03 pm (UTC)

  28. A nice puzzle from Noel I thought, at just about the right level of difficulty for a QC. I came in at 26:07, so a little over target but there wasn’t anything that took ages. LOI was BOWS, COD to TILER. Thanks Rotter and Noel.
  29. Mr. Rotter, my favourite QC bloggologist — I skipped yesterday and knew Mr. Pedwardine would be in jeopardy. What was the question Ed asked? Anyone?

    FOI VICTORIA platform 1ac

    LOI 5ac BOWS

    COD 22ac SKEIN a German yam!? Sir Siegfried Kerning!

    WOD 7dn SPLODGE! Christopher Columbus! I had no idea this word had not yet reached America!

  30. Finished today. We know a bucksaw as a bowsaw in this country, similar to a frame saw in principle.
    Long bows may be primitive but modern long bows are laminated
    All other bows are generally far more complex

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