Times Quick Cryptic No 2068 by Felix

One of those gratifying puzzles that has the feeling of being quite tricky but all goes in smoothly: I came in at 6.35, about a minute quicker than yesterday, helped along by getting all but four of the acrosses on the first pass (missing out on 1,9,17,25). Good, fair clueing. There is a theme, as we’ve come to expect from Felix, but it was unobtrusive and didn’t stilt the solve – see end of blog for brief details, although I could well have missed some bits. An array of smooth, fun surfaces to boot, so many thanks to Felix!

1 Lifeless hair: you can do nothing with it! (8)
DEADLOCK – DEAD (lifeless) LOCK (hair)
5 Bark in court, loudly (4)
WOOF – WOO (court) F (forte = loudly)
9 Desolate, when left with bill outside (5)
BLEAK – L(eft) with BEAK (bill) outside
10 Rioting in each N Indian city (7)
CHENNAI – anagram (rioting) of IN EACH N
11 There’s no nice weather, save for this! (1,5,3)
A RAINY DAY – cryptic hint
12 Musical notes, allegro, mostly? (3)
FAS FASt (allegro) “mostly”
13 One hundred arms and legs — or shins? (6)
CLIMBS – C (one hundred) LIMBS (arms and legs). As in to shin/climb up.
15 Cheddar maybe tucked into by English fellow (6)
GEORGE – E(nglish) tucks into GORGE (Cheddar, maybe)
17 Sink with air coming the wrong way (3)
SAG – GAS = air going the wrong way
18 Fifth such journalist to become an infiltrator? (9)
COLUMNIST cryptic definition, a fifth columnist being an infiltrator.
20 Survive a tour we organised (7)
OUTWEAR – anagram (organised) of A TOUR WE
22 Accommodation found in Soho, usefully (5)
HOUSE “found in” soHO USEfully
24 Small row to escalate dramatically (4)
SOAR – S(mall) OAR (row)
25 Saint speaks: has trouble doing so? (8)
STUTTERS – ST. (saint) UTTERS (speaks)

1 Fish that’s rotten brought up (3)
DAB – BAD (rotten) “brought up”
2 Doing a typical amount of damage given a rag (9)
AVERAGINGanagram (damage) GIVEN A RAG
3 Compare Liberal Eisenhower with Reagan finally (5)
LIKEN – L(iberal) IKE (Eisenhower) with N (reagaN “finally”)
4 Scoundrel entering spies insect (6)
CICADA CAN (scoundrel) entering CIA (spies)
6 Possess topless robe (3)
OWN gOWN (robe) “topless)
7 Mad Miss Flite is most weak (9)
FLIMSIESTanagram (mad) of MISS FLITE
8 Print out again, in entirety, permit (6)
RETYPE – “in” entiRETY PErmit
11 Carstone’s eccentric forebears (9)
ANCESTORSanagram (eccentric) of CARSTONES
12 Tables etc initially required, not included in future (9)
FURNITURER N I (“initially” Required Not Included) in FUTURE
14 Throw it down — and be dying to kick it? (6)
BUCKET double-ish definition: the first as in pissing, the second as in passing, if you’ll excuse the crudity. There is no satisfactory etymology for “kick the bucket” but it goes back to at least 1775 – see here.
16 Wine from clubs, drunk later (6)
CLARET – C(laret) and an anagram (drunk) of LATER
19 I might tip this rubbish! (2,3)
MY HAT double definition
21 We hear Peg leaves for a drink (3)
TEA is heard the same as TEE (peg)
23 German town Seamus regularly visited (3)
EMS s E a M u S “regularly visited”. News to me (and not because it seems to have been renamed Bad Ems in 1913), but generously clued.

So the theme is 9ac 22ac, which I haven’t read, with a number of characters therein, such as 1ac (without the A), 15ac, 14d, crossing in 4d and 16d, and in the clues of 7d and 11d. Any others?

53 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2068 by Felix”

  1. FOI 5ac WOOF! WOOF!

    LOI 24ac SOAR the Leicestershire river


    WOD 11ac A RAINY DAY my mother’s financial mantra

    The biggie today is tough, but it has all the mail!

  2. Bounced around for 10’20” and enjoyed it all. Didn’t spot the theme (haven’t read the book – along with most Dickens to be honest bar necessary exam reading back in the day) but thanks Felix and Roly for the fun. SOAR slowed me down and RAINY DAY cheered me up – as a clever clue
  3. I needed 8 minutes for this one with time lost on an alphabet trawl to find 25ac as my last answer in.

    After giving us something different last time, Felix is back on his most familiar territory in this puzzle, his 8th with a Charles Dickens theme. You found one more reference than I did, Roly, as I missed the one that’s split between 4 and 16dn.

  4. Struggled a bit grumpily for the first half today. Only four on the first pass of acrosses and I wasn’t sure of all of them. The downs weren’t too much better but those checkers got me going and as Roly says the tricky clues started going in quite smoothly. Loved WOOF, didn’t understand the first BUCKET definition (Roly’s got me closer, is it to do with raining heavily?), annoyed myself by not rememberind the DAB and spending a long time wondering if ‘doc’ could mean rotten and had test cricket to thank for CHENNAI. All green in 15, which I’m pretty pleased with given how it started.
    1. 👍Raining hard = Coming down in buckets. I needed Roly’s direction too.
      I usually concur with your QC experience but at a more leisurely pace.
    1. Thanks, well spotted. I’m not sure what happened, as I can’t blame keyboard proximity – I must have found it too hard to shake off the end of Reagan.
  5. Missed the theme as usual. I always find them harder to spot on my phone because, I think, I cannot see the whole grid at once. Not that it would have made any difference today.
    Relatively straightforward to reach my usual chair in 30 mins to enjoy a coffee.
    LOI FAS. Had to be a vowel but I was much too Lago to work out which one and why.
    Thanks Roly and Felix
  6. 9 minutes for me. When I was a teenager I learned to climb in Cheddar gorge so that one posed no difficulty, once I stopped trying to put some cheese thing in. I didn’t know the German town so that went in a bit tentatively.

    Fact of the day: Chennai is the name for Madras that we are all meant to use. Because. I don’t know. We can use English names for cities in most places such as Munich, or even Lyons (no “s” in French) or Moscow.

    Second fact of the day: the airport code for Beijing is still PEK (and Guangzhou is CAN for Canton).

  7. Around the half-hour this morning from FOI: DAB to LOI: BUCKET which I got from ‘kick it’.
    At 12ac I just removed the ‘T’ from fast and bunged it in as a guess. Also followed the instructions at 23dn as the German town was an unknown to me.
    COD and WOD: to WOOF as it is a fun clue.

    I didn’t spot the theme during the solve.

    Edited at 2022-02-10 07:54 am (UTC)

  8. Struggled with this one, as I have been doing with all of these QCs since the start of the year. Completed in 38 minutes but needed help with some clues.
  9. Quite a satisfying solve as there were a number of PDMs as seemingly tricky clues resolved themselves.
    I had a complete brain fade when entering A SUNNY DAY at 11a, making POI AVERAGING tricky until I realised it was an anagram. COD and LOI was DEADLOCK, but also enjoyed BUCET.
    Finished in 10.04.
    Thanks to Roly
  10. I didn’t get the theme, but enjoyed tracing it through your directions. I gave up on Dickens some time ago. I find many of them too long and dreary. However they lend themselves to the film and tv world, whose productions are a much better way of enjoying them.

    COD BLEAK, thanks all.


    1. I gave Dickens a try back in 2015-16ish when the BBC made the Dickensian series. Actually really enjoyed that, so of course they decided against creating a second series *rolleyes*

      Read Great Expectations and Pickwick Papers and think I began reading Bleak House as Sir Lester Deadlock rings a bell but 100 pages in was where my Dickens journey ended … the language is too archaic for me and I kept referring to Cliffnotes summaries to understand what was happening!!

  11. Inside 12 minutes today, but failed to spot the theme, which is disappointing. I was up early to collect friends from Heathrow, so my mind was on other things — that’s my excuse. LOI SOAR despite growing up on its banks, as Horryd states, and requiring an alphabet trawl like Jackkt. Otherwise, no problems with anything. Thanks Roly and Felix.
  12. I certainly found it a very odd puzzle — Felix took a quirky view of almost everything. It took me a while to get into my stride and I was a couple of mins over target in the end. LOI was DEADLOCK. I liked A RAINY DAY. Strangely unsatisfying overall for me but all fair, in retrospect.
    The theme was so unobtrusive (for a change) that I didn’t spot it. Thanks to both. John M.

    Edited at 2022-02-10 09:44 am (UTC)

  13. Seventeen minutes, all parsed for once, but without spotting the theme. FOI bleak, nineteen on first pass but the rest needed some contemplation. LOI stutters, had stammers in mind but left it there until my hat went in, and the penny dropped. COD cicada, which struck me as very clever. Also liked furniture. Thanks, Roly, especially for pointing out the theme. I find Dickens rather off-the-wall, so haven’t read many, though I appreciate his concern for the poor in his work. Thanks for the puzzle, Felix.
  14. Another LOI SOAR but I was home in 9 minutes despite the delay at the end. Enjoyed the puzzle and missed the theme.
    Bleak House is a brilliant book which I read fairly recently. Best not to rush it; it took me about a year. It just goes on and on- and in a way that’s the point.
  15. 12 minutes for us and we didn’t spot the theme (we never do so no surprise there).

    FOI: DAB

    Thanks Rolytoly and Felix.

  16. 1hr06 after 9 DNFs in a row. Probably a technical DNF as had TEA / SOAR wrong but corrected these without any indication of where I’d gone wrong from the checker. (Stupidly put TEE and thus STEP for a small row).

    At this stage, I’m taking it as a completion – small victories and all that – even just to make it into the GC (Glacial Club)

    Putting STAMMERS held me back for a while.

    Couldn’t remember spelling of CHENNAI and completely missed the hidden word of RETYPE resorting to an alphabet trawl for my initial completion in 1hr02.

    NHO MY HAT (in context of rubbish)

    COD CLIMBS. Great set of clues from Felix – I tip my hat, they are far from rubbish.

    1. Well done Mr Plates! I like your use of geological time periods — often more suited to my efforts, as well.
  17. Having noted the setter was Felix, and with Bleak as my soi (after Dab), I paused to read the Wiki article on Bleak House. Suffice to say, I gave up about half way through the synopsis — and remain eternally grateful that O Level Wuthering Heights was the closest I ever came to this sort of tosh. As far as the puzzle goes, a steady enough solve, but I gave up trying to parse Furniture (couldn’t see what Not was doing) as the clock reached 25mins. CoD to 19d, My Hat, for the surface. Invariant
  18. An entertaining puzzle, solved steadily although struggled with SOAR for a while, thinking of a different row!
  19. I wrote in DEADLOCK and WOOF, and confidently settled in to look for a “Tarka the Otter” theme (DEADLOCK being, of course, the leading otter-hound in the pack that hunts Tarka and “the truest marking-hound in the country of the Two Rivers”). I feel thoroughly misled!

    EMS? FAS? And using “oar” for “row”??? Eyebrows twitching here.

    FOI DEADLOCK, LOI SOAR, COD MY HAT, time 08:50 for an estimated 1.5K and an Annoyed Day.

    Many thanks Felix and roly.


  20. I was on wavelength for the most part although I biffed FURNITURE and have NHO EMS the town. I also needed all the checkers for A RAINY DAY but I enjoyed the PDM. I’m rather glad others were slowed down by my LOI SOAR as I had to resort to two alphabet trawls before submitting in 9:03 for an OK day. Time to revisit the grid to see if I can spot the theme.

    On edit regarding the theme – I recognised the title of the book only!

    Edited at 2022-02-10 11:36 am (UTC)

  21. I couldn’t get to sleep so got up and did the Concise and this one before stumbling back to bed in the small hours. As usual the theme passed me by, and if I had noticed, the only part that would have stirred any memory is the title, not having read the book. Anyway DEADLOCK went straight in and I finished with the generously clued EMS in 8:36. Thanks Felix and Roly.
  22. Puzzly enough to make you think, but not so hard as to elicit gnashing of teeth and rending of one’s garments.

    A RAINY DAY won out for me today, a genuine smile, rather than an internal one on solving that.

    Biffing STAMMERS slowed me up a little in the bottom right.


  23. I did Bleak House as an A level text, it put me off Dickens for life. Someone does spontaneously combust and halfway through which was quite amusing at the time.

    15 minutes here with most of the last 3 spent on George.

    FOI Chennai
    LOI George
    COD Deadlock

  24. If I went into my local Indian restaurant and ordered Beef Chennai they’d look at me like the Man from Mars.
    1. Holy Cow, Phillip!

      fyi Chennai is actually pronounced Madras!

      Edited at 2022-02-10 06:01 pm (UTC)

  25. … but took just under 30 minutes. Still, better than my DNF yesterday. NHO MY HAT for rubbish, DNK EMS, and biffed COLUMNIST (although now geddit). Loved WOOF, FAS and STUTTERS (being ex-SLT). FOI BLEAK, but didn’t spot the theme. Remember my sister struggling through Bleak House for A Level back in the day. Dickens was happily absent from the syllabus when it was my turn a few years later. LOI GEORGE, very slow to think of anything other than cheese 😆 Many thanks to Felix and rolytoly.
  26. I bought a copy of BLEAK HOUSE online last year as part of a plan to read more classic literature. It’s a very thick volume, and has gone into my reserve stock. I’m currently reading “The Fifth Witness” by Michael Connelly — ’nuff said.

    Of course I didn’t spot the theme, despite being well aware that there would be one, but Felix seldom allows it to spoil his puzzles, and I’ve no beef with him.

    TIME 4:17

    1. I really enjoyed Bleak House — but, after reading about the Jarndyce v Jarndyce, came to the conclusion that nothing much has really changed in the legal profession.
  27. As with others SOAR was LOI and added a minute or more at the end

    Tried to get past page 86 of Bleak House a few times and failed, but did do so eventually and really enjoyed it though it remains the only Dickens I’ve read cover to cover

    Thanks rolytoly and Felix

  28. The Ems Telegram was instrumental in triggering the Franco-Prussian War.Apparently Bismarck vacationed there.
  29. Another frustrating day when I bunged in SPAT (a small row?) at 24a, again not being able to parse. This despite living on the banks of (or at least nearby) the river mentioned by Horryd and Rotter! Perhaps if it had been clued as such, I *might* have got it 😅 It would have been a good time for me too, at 8 minutes. I liked BUCKET and MY HAT. I did get the theme this time before finishing the grid, although I’ve not read the Dickens book – and have no intention to either.
    FOI Woof
    LOI Deadlock (I forgot to go back to it)
    COD A rainy day (it’s hailing here at the moment)
    Thanks Felix and Roly

    Horryd’s right – the biggie is very hard today! I abandoned it after about 45 minutes with just over half done.

  30. 17 minutes for Mrs R, and 24 minutes for me. I wonder if this was facilitated by there being an unusually high number of short solution clues (6 x 3-letters and 2 x 4-letters) and relatively few longer solution clues (just 4 x 9 letters). 28 clues in all, which is uncommon for a QC in my experience.

    CICADA has come up a few times, but I still don’t know what one is and it always nearly stumps me. I had NHO EMS and only just remembered DAB. I also found FLIMSIEST a difficult anagram to crack. I wanted it to be F____LESS.

    I have enjoyed the few Dickens novels I’ve read (e.g. David Copperfield; Great Expectations). He must be up-and-coming, so I will look out for some of his other stuff.

    Many thanks to Felix and rolytoly.

    Edited at 2022-02-10 02:22 pm (UTC)

    1. Cast your mind back to holidays in the Mediterranean — remember those?? That warm sun and cool wine, and not forgetting the whirring hum in the background — that’s the cicadas (not the aircon!) It’s making me feel really quite nostalgic…
  31. Totally way off the mark today and really struggled with this — maybe it was the heavy cryptic nature that fooled me. Didn’t help that I couldn’t spell Cicada properly (even though I did it in another puzzle only a few days ago). Similarly, put “A Sunny Day” for 11ac and “Stammers” for 25ac, which made any attempt at 19dn futile.

    FOI — 1dn “Dab”
    LOI — dnf
    COD — 15ac “George” — made a change from Liz Truss’s favourite product.

    Thanks as usual!

  32. .. which like for quite a few it seems was 24A Soar. I am entirely with Templar and his fluttering raised eyebrows on Oar = row — I don’t find this works for me and I cannot think of a natural sentence where they are interchangeable. “My turn to oar”, anyone? “Let’s go for an oar”? “Pull hard on the other row”?

    But that apart, and despite not getting the theme (I never do), an enjoyable puzzle and even with a 2 minute alphabet search for my LOI, all done in 12.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  33. LOI for me was bucket. Interestingly, ‘cast down your bucket’ is a phrase from Moby Dick, and was used famously by Booker T. Washington in his 1895 ‘Atlanta Compromise’ speech. Obviously I didn’t clock the Dickens’ theme!
  34. Quite quick, for us, with most of the puzzle, slowed down by putting Ems in at 21d, which messed up the se corner for a few minutes. Also misspelling Chennai did not help. Missed the Dickens connection which seems so obvious when looking at the completed grid. Thanks Felix.
  35. 20 mins for me today, which is not only the fastest time of the week so far but also the first time that I’ve completed without using aids. Still a relatively slow time by my normal standards though, so I’m writing this off as a bad week. Didn’t get too many on first read through but the grid filled up quite steadily until I was interrupted by a phone call with 2 or 3 to go. These last fell quite quickly after I resumed. The theme passed me by, but then they usually do and I haven’t read the book either.

    FOI – 5ac WOOF
    LOI – 24ac SOAR (after finally rejecting SPAT)
    COD – 11ac A RAINY DAY

    Thanks to Felix and to Rolytoly

  36. Enjoyed this one and trotted steadily through. NHO EMS. Missed the theme , as usual. But I now see BLEAK HOUSE etc.
    MY HAT sounds extra archaic, even by Crossword standards. COD A RAINY DAY.
    Thanks all, esp Roly.
    Those who don’t like Dickens could try the audiobook of A Tale of Two Cities.
    1. The phrase died out in the early fifties when hats for men became passé. My grandfather used it, but not my dad, even though he was as bald as a coot!
    1. If you mean ‘oar’ for ‘row’ it’s perfectly standard, is in all the usual dictionaries and according to the Oxfords dates back to the early 17th century.
  37. Perhaps the wittiest QC ever.

    A rainy day, columnist and bucket are from the top drawer in the raising a smile category!

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