Times Quick Cryptic No 2029 by Mara

Today I got my second Mara Quick Crossword in a row to blog. It’s another good one, and I enjoyed savouring the clues as I compiled the blog. We are treated to a rare reverse cryptic type clue, which was my COD. I hope it didn’t baffle too many. My LOI was 16D where I hesitated over the 3rd letter. One or two other tricky clues might cause some head-scratching (is 23A true for you?), but I finished in 5:03. Thank-you Mara. How did everyone else get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Sawbill’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the latest crossword here. Enjoy! And if anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to them here.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, deletions and “” other indicators.

1 Black horse in bad dream (9)
NIGHTMARENIGHT (black) MARE (horse). Hmm. MER at black for NIGHT, but the answer is obvious, and it makes a good surface.
6 Vehicle occupied, briefly (3)
BUSBUSy (occupied) without the last letter, “briefly”.
8 Cleaner ladle almost filled with meat (7)
SHAMPOO – Another deletion of a last letter… SPOOn (ladle) “almost”, “filled with” HAM (meat).
9 Fruit, gorgeous thing (5)
PEACH – Double definition. I bought some tasty ones in this week’s food shop… but I see from the label they’ve come all the way from South Africa. Feeling guilty now for not considering the climate impact.
10 Old master in main college upset about husband (12)
MICHELANGELO – (main college)* “upset”, “about” H (husband).
12 Look, Lord! (4)
PEER – Double definition… in 8 letters! Concise clue of the year?
13 Pubs in opposite directions (4)
INNSIN, NS (north, south; opposite directions).
17 Secret plan possessed by Copenhagen, Danish? (6,6)
HIDDEN AGENDA – Nice one! A reverse cryptic where the answer is a clue to the clue…. AGENDA is HIDDEN in (possessed by) CopenhAGEN DAnish! My COD.
20 Ordinal carried by clergyman, in theory (5)
NINTH – And now a straight hidden – in clergymaN IN THeory. That’s a neat juxtaposition of clues.
21 Give support to English husband or wife (7)
ESPOUSEE (english) SPOUSE (husband or wife).
23 Certainly tricky, these puzzles ultimately (3)
YES – Ha ha! Has anyone else been thinking the QCs are getting a little more tricky recently? Final letters, “ultimately”, of trickY thesE puzzleS.
24 Asian river up there, as winding (9)
EUPHRATES – (up there as)* “winding”. With Tigris the boundary of ancient Mesopotamia.
1 Feature is aware of the facts, we hear? (4)
NOSE – Sounds like KNOWS (is aware of the facts) “we hear”.
2 Stone: garnet I fancy (7)
GRANITE – (garnet I)* “fancy”.
3 First vessel capsized (3)
TOP – POT (vessel) upside down, “capsized” – this is a down clue -> TOP.
4 A vote: Odin’s first for God! (6)
APOLLOA POLL (vote) Odin “‘s first”. Is the “for” really necessary? Oops. It’s not my job to be the editor.
5 Costing quite a bit, former VIP seen splashing out (9)
EXPENSIVEEX (former) (VIP seen)* “splashing out”.
6 Stop rift on the radio? (5)
BRAKE – Sounds like, “on radio”, BREAK (rift).
7 A number of swimmers train (6)
SCHOOL – Double definition.
11 Something supposedly lucky that’s on the hoof? (9)
HORSESHOE – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
14 Bound to bust, I’m sure (2,5)
NO DOUBT – (Bound to)* “bust”. A bit tricky, but if you stick to the principles of identifying the definition and wordplay you will surely get there.
15 Originally, sherry within reach, drink! (6)
SHANDYSherry “originally” HANDY (within reach). A word I clued recently in my last Weekend Quick Cryptic. Immodesty compels me to reveal my own was “Be quiet and start your drink”. Sorry. I’ll get my coat.
16 Happy cosmetics have been applied? (4,2)
MADE UP – Double definition. The first is a bit of a stretch, methinks, but the second leaves no doubt. We had MAKE UP just a couple of days ago, which may help.
18 Hollows, lairs occupied by termites primarily (5)
DENTSDENS (lairs) “occupied by” Termites “primarily”.
19 Numbers sent off (4)
TENS – (sent)* “off”.
22 First of all playing average round — this the score? (3)
PAR – “First of all” Playing Average Round. I suspect a number of golfing solvers reading this will think “If only my average rounds were anything close to par!”.

51 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2029 by Mara”

  1. I biffed MICHELANGELO once I had a couple of checkers, never bothered checking the anagrist; ditto for EUPHRATES. I liked HIDDEN AGENDA. I was puzzled by ‘happy’, and just went with the rest of the clue. 5:10.
  2. 9 minutes.

    I don’t have a problem with ‘night = black’ as Lexico has black as: Darkness, especially of night. And Collins has something similar.

    I didn’t see ‘happy = made up’ but I’ve since found this in Collins: If you are made-up, you are happy [British, informal]. I note it’s hyphenated, however, which I think it has to be to fit with ‘happy’ as an adjective.

    Edited at 2021-12-17 06:19 am (UTC)

  3. After a couple of more challenging quicks for me this one went in with only one problem and that the result of a fat fingered APOLLP.

    I liked HIDDEN AGENDA and I would not be looking for a MADE UP hyphen, but willing to accept that I should. Enjoyed the clever variation of clueing for EXPENSIVE.

    8’10” if I’m allowed to correct P to O. Technical DNF if I’m not.

    Thanks Mara and John

  4. I was a NN DOUBT but generally was never too held up by this enjoyable offering

    I don’t know whether it’s particularly common to Liverpool but Stevie G would often be heard uttering MADE UP especially after beating the other Reds

    Liked the surfaces for EXPENSIVE and MICHELANGELO

    Thanks John and Mara

  5. HIDDEN AGENDA was very good and I had a wry smile at YES.Thanks Mara and John

    ‘Certainly tricky, these puzzles ultimately’ … as it is my turn to set the Weekend QC, let me know where it stands?

  6. Steed hails from Yorkshire where MADE UP is definitely used to imply great happiness. We really enjoyed Mara’s puzzle — a number of write ins (always welcome) along with some tricky twists to savour. We were all done in 9 minutes.


    Thanks John and Mara.

    Looking forward to another weekend crossword — they are really appreciated!

    1. Definitely northern. I was 20 before I heard it from a girlfriend from Merseyside. She’d said something like “I passed my driving test and was made up’ and I couldn’t understand why she’d said “I passed my driving test and was wearing make up”. No wonder she dumped me. Growing up in the Somerset with a long time in London and SE I’ve really not heard it much since.
  7. I was bang on the wavelength for this one and only missed out on a very rare sub 5 minute solve by not risking submitting without a spellcheck.
    No problem with the expression MADE UP, although I nearly got the wrong tense again and I would have struggled with ESPOUSE if it hadn’t appeared in a very similar format recently.
    Finished with COD HIDDEN AGENDA in 5.01.
    Thanks to John and Mara
  8. LOI PEER…I blame yesterday’s booster, and therefore feeling less than MADE UP after a disturbed sleep and mildish side effects.

    After seeing everyone liked HIDDEN AGENDA, I returned to the puzzle to see why. V clever, and I now concur. I had bunged it in, vaguely thinking it was at least a partial anagram.

    Despite the brainfreeze over the easiest clue of the puzzle, I managed a reasonable time.


  9. I had all bar 17a and 15d done in ten minutes, then I had to put it down and clear breakfast table. Even when completed, I couldn’t see how 17 worked, so thanks for that John. AZED used to do these reverse engineered clues quite a lot.
    Have a good weekend everyone!
  10. This gave me my best ever time at just over 6 minutes although maybe it doesn’t count as had a silly error with MichAlangelo instead of Michelangelo.

    No issues with made up although i run n it is more northen than southern, and espouse which was used recently. I more or less solved consecutively other than the old Master where i was waiting due the crossers to solve.
    Thanks Mara & John

    FOI Nightmare
    LOI Michelangelo
    COD Hidden agenda

    1. That was me, I can’t edit it having posted anonymously.

      Does anyone else use the LJ app? I try to but it sometimes hides the answers when bloggers use the arrow technique like John has today. It doesn’t seem to work on the app (Android phone). So then I come on line and use the web version. Would be great to know if anyone has found a solution to this!

      1. What do you mean by “the arrow technique”? I could try and avoid using it if it causes a problem.
        1. It’s where the answers are hidden when you first look at them & then you click the arrow to reveal them. On the app,all you can see is the blog intro. But please don’t change this just for me. I think it’s an issue with how the app works

          1. Personally I like the mechanism where John and Jack (among others) hide the answers on the opening page of the blog. I find it really frustrating when I accidentally glimpse answers in the biggie, which I usually tackle after visiting the quickie blog. I only use LJ via my laptop or my tablet, so don’t know how it works with the app.
            1. I totally agree — I had to skip over Verlaine’s blog on my way here, while screwing my eyes up to avoid reading it !
      2. I had the same problem and talked to LJ support who said the feature is not supported in the app. Weird approach to make the app less functional than web access, but they couldn’t suggest any workaround so I use the web all the time now, just infuriating that the web access continually prompts me to get the app!
        1. That’s good to know & yes quite ridiculous that they can’t make their own app function in the way the website does. I will follow your lead and revert to the website!

  11. 15:09 almost identical to yesterdays time

    An excellent QC, I was another who didn’t see the cleverness of HIDDEN AGENDA until coming here.

    Spent most time on SHAMPOO, just couldn’t think of any synonyms for Ladle.

    Was a bit slow to see EUPHRATES, as I always forget that the Middle East is in Asia.

  12. I was nearly very fast (for me) but I could get from B_A_E to BRAKE and that let the minutes tick by to 12. All green though, so that’s better than yesterday. SHAMPOO went in on first reading but that was one of only four on the first pass of acrosses — picked up with the downs before stalling. SCHOOL took a while too — outfoxed by the cryptic and not being helped by being slow to BUS being a letter short of ‘busy’. Good one.
  13. An excellent QC. A generally smooth solve for me but with one or two head-scratchers to slow my progress. I biffed SHAMPOO. I was a minute under target at 14 mins but it seemed quicker.
    The brilliant HIDDEN AGENDA is my COD. Thanks to both for a good end to the week. John M.

    Edited at 2021-12-17 09:46 am (UTC)

  14. I thought this was very good indeed. Thanks Mara and johninterred. Plenty to enjoy and nothing controversial. Hidden Agenda particularly clever!
  15. … except (curses, curses) I wrote down the wrong start time and when I finished and compared it to my time at completion, I was looking at a time of “minus 15 minutes”! But I suspect this was around or just under 5 minutes, so probably not a PB quite. It certainly confirms for me though the views of others that this was Mara at his more gentle.

    For all that it flew in, there were more than enough clues to savour. I took 2 goes to spell 10A Michelangelo correctly, starting with Michael… until I ran out of spaces in the grid to finish the word and rechecked the anagrind. I enjoyed 17A Hidden agenda — and then enjoyed it even more when John’s blog explained it was even cleverer than I thought. As for 16D Made up, being a southerner I didn’t immediately associate Made up with Happy. But if you make up with your partner (as in you have resolved major differences with them, not merely put on cosmetics together), you are presumably made up and therefore happy, so it worked for me even on that level.

    Many thanks to John for the blog, and I look forward to the Saturday Special. A good weekend to all

  16. A nice fairly easy crossword for me, though I did struggle with TENS. “Off” just did not shout ANAGRAM to me as it should have.

    Managed to do this in under half an hour.

  17. Managed to trot round the puzzle without stopping, I biffed HIDDEN AGENDA without seeing how clever it was. FOI NIGHTMARE, LOI SHANDY. Liked that one, also EUPHRATES and BRAKE, APOLLO.

    Thanks vm, John.

  18. Query at 4dn – why does this ‘God’ have a capital ‘G’? LOI 4ac APOLLO!

    FOI 1ac NIGHTMARE on Elm Street!


    WOD 10ac ‘In the room the women come and go. Talking of MICHELANGELO.’ (Prufrock)

    Is Verlaine once again missing in action? Call Ghostbusters!

    1. My question would be ‘why does any god in particular deserve the capital G?’ It seems discriminatory to me to select any one of the possible alternatives to be deserving over any other.
  19. Presently there is no ‘Like’ option today it just say ‘Complain’! So I am!
    This was no 1ac and I was at the Euphrates just within five minutes.
    My COD was Ninth – very neat and tidy.
  20. On the easy side – thirteen minutes. FOI nightmare but only four acrosses fell at the first pass. The downs went in quicker, and then it was just a matter of filling in the blanks. LOI brake. Didn’t parse shampoo, hidden agenda, expensive, no doubt, but didn’t have to and therefore didn’t bother. A bit lazy, I admit. Got the wrong god at first because I saw Odin – Adonis fit, (but was he a god, though?)and Odin is in there. Michelangelo sorted him out. Then I saw shampoo. COD – two today, hidden agenda in agreement with everyone else, and Euphrates. Thank you for the blog, John, I enjoyed the explanations of the parsings I didn’t get, and thanks, Mara, for a nice puzzle that I could solve at one sitting.
  21. A frustrating 20 mins that should have been quicker, however I got hung up on two of the more simpler clues: 6ac “Bus” and 6dn “Brake” — for some reason I initially put “cease” for 6dn. In addition I stupidly started 4dn with “Avo” which provoked much head scratching later on.

    But it was still enjoyable, and was helped by biffing the long clues quite quickly.

    FOI — 1dn “Nose”
    LOI — 6dn “Brake”
    COD — 20ac “Ninth”

    Thanks as usual!

  22. Exactly 10 minutes, which used to be my target 3 or 4 years ago, but I had to up the target to prevent regular disappointment. Easiest of the week, but still much fun. I too missed the nuances of the excellent HIDDEN AGENDA when solving, only appreciating its quality afterwards. LOI SHANDY as I didn’t look at the clue until last. Thanks Mara and John.
  23. What should have been a comfortable sub-20 turned into a close run thing, thanks to the curse of the loi, 12ac Peer. What is it with four letter answers? This was another that required a slow alphabet trawl… followed by a head slap. CoD to the cunning Hidden Agenda: not sure I’ve seen this technique in the QC before, but it’s common enough in the 15×15. Thanks to Mara for a well balanced puzzle and John for his customary informative blog. Invariant
  24. Not sure why but I can only see John’s intro and not solutions in the blog today. Maybe something to do with Live Journal app on iphone.

    Very enjoyable solve today in 15 mins, two over my PB. Held up over SCHOOL and PEACH which seemed obvious once I got them.

    I think my time was helped by me challenging Mrs Prof whether I could finish it before she brought a cup of tea and mince pie, so I did not succumb to normal distractions!
    COD to HIDDEN AGENDA which I enjoyed.

    Thanks John for blog, which I’m sure was excellent as always, and Mara for clever puzzle. Prof

  25. I made a much better job of this one than yesterday’s puzzle, with NIGHMARE going straight in and a sprint to the end. I had to come back to MICHELANGELO, my LOI once I had the crossers. Like HIDDEN AGENDA. 6:36. Thanks Mara and John.

    Edited at 2021-12-17 12:15 pm (UTC)

  26. 7 minutes, which is about as fast as I can get, whether using pencil and paper or doing it online. I don’t think my brain will work any faster, and neither will my writing / typing! Anyway, as I’ve said before, I like to savour the clues as I go.
    I thought this was a most enjoyable – and definitely quick – puzzle. I’ve long struggled with reversal type clues like 17a when attempting the biggie, but this is a technique I’m becoming more familiar with now, and it was definitely less complex than some I’ve seen on the other side!
    I was supposed to be going for coffee and cake at a cafe called GRANITE’s today, so that would have been a nice bit of synchronicity, but unfortunately it’s been cancelled 😞 I liked MICHELANGELO and NO DOUBT made me smile. I associate MADE UP for happy as north western, and Scouse in particular.
    FOI Nightmare
    LOI Peer – the same problem as others!
    COD Hidden Agenda
    Many thanks Mara and John

    Edited at 2021-12-17 11:36 am (UTC)

  27. I found this quite approachable. All done and dusted in about 20 mins over coffee. 17a one of the best clues I remember seeing. Very clever. No problem with MADE UP but I have spent many years in the North of England.
  28. … on the sides of the Random house, this morning. First, Mrs R completed yesterday’s Hurley in 19 minutes (precisely half my time), thereby escaping the SCC. And then, I finished today’s puzzle in 17 minutes (only my 10th ever sub-SCC performance) and Mrs R pipped me in 16 minutes. It all felt very hectic to me, so I can’t imagine how a sub-5 or similar must feel.

    I remembered to pause on MADE UP to check the tense, and I had to check my spelling of both MICHELANGELO and EUPHRATES carefully before writing them in. My favourite clues were NINTH, INNS and the very devious HIDDEN AGENDA, for which I needed John’s blog to understand fully why.

    Many thanks to Mara and John.

  29. ….and perhaps last thing at night suits me. Nice puzzle, no problems.

    TIME 3:25

  30. Glad to finish in a reasonable time after problems over the lasr 2 days. Slowed down working out 17a hidden agenda otherwise fairly straightforward. Thanks Mara.
  31. Normally struggle with Mara but a gentle walk through today.
    Thanks all round and have a good weekend
  32. Went well for me today, all correct 31 min at GN6, quite good. Amused to see no one has posted a longer time than me, maybe I should try to run and savour, not sure how. Grateful for entertainment and ambience. Thank you.
    1. Stroll and savour… great philosophy. It is the savouring that I most enjoy about blogging… and today’s from Mara was particularly tasty, I thought.
  33. Was on for a very rare sub 10 but realised too late the lord was PEER not SEER. Nevertheless, one of the easier ones today.
  34. Nice one to finish the week. Just the right amount of head scratching to provide real satisfaction when completed.

    Hidden agenda — brilliant

  35. Seeing Espouse quickly helped having learnt from missing its recent other outing somewhere…
    Also nearly stuck on Shampoo but just in the nick of time PDM!
    From thinking it wasn’t going to be my day to slowly unpicking each answer equals an excellent crossword in my book.
    I was trawling through Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles which worked beautifully for 10a.
    And 17a was of course very neat — I only wished I got there by looking for the hidden which at first I thought was indicated….had I worked it in reverse I would have felt very pleased with myself. Oh well….
    Thanks all
    John George

    Edited at 2021-12-17 09:42 pm (UTC)

  36. Nothing wrong with “made up” for “happy”. Perhaps it depends where you come from — used it all the time in Liverpool where I grew up!

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