Times Quick Cryptic No 2213 by Felix

Theme spoiler alert– I have given some of the theme elements at the end of the blog.

This puzzle took me 3 minutes over target at 18 minutes, and I can’t decide whether I was slowed by looking for a theme after seeing the Setter’s name, or whether the puzzle was good enough to delay me in its own right.  It didn’t seem too clunky, which can often be the case when a theme has been incorporated, so congratulations to Felix for that.

Please let me know how you got on.


 Scientist off filling rubbish receptacle (6)

BOFFIN – OFF (off) inside (filling) BIN (rubbish receptacle).  BOFFIN was originally military slang, dating from WWI, but I can’t find where it came from.

4  Shared amount buyable: odd bits have been excluded (6)

MUTUAL – Alternate letters (odd bits excluded) from aMoUnT bUyAbLe.

8  Principal’s mood something close to grave? (9)

HEADSTONE – The principal’s mood might be the HEAD’S TONE (not ED’S STONE that some of you might remember from a few years ago).

10  One month in a thousand, indeed! (3)

MAY – M (a thousand – Roman numerals) and AY (indeed!).

11  Endanger old New York accord (7)

HARMONY – HARM (endanger) and O{ld} NY (New York).

12  Chaotic study in need of a clean (5)

DUSTY – Anagram (chaotic) of [STUDY].

13  Old king who’s 50 per cent cockney 100 per cent Marxist? (6)

ALFRED – ALF (‘alf is a cockney half, 50%) and RED (100% Marxist) – ‘ALF RED.

15  Long, thick locks securing small minister’s houses (6)

MANSES – MANES (long, thick locks) outside S{mall}.  A MANSE is an ecclesiastical residence, especially that of a parish minister of the Church of Scotland (Chambers).

18  Chap starts on Stitch in Lilo and Stitch (5)

SILAS – First letters (starts) in Stitch In Lilo And Stitch.  It is a random, archaic name, but generously enough clued.

20  Cooker needing beam of light to get very hot (7)

RAYBURN – RAY (beam of light) and BURN (get very hot).  RAYBURN is a trade name for British cast iron fires and cooking ranges fuelled by a number of fuel types.

22  Girl denied son’s become boxer (3)

ALI – ALI{son} (girl – denied son) – referring to Muhammed Ali.

23  Out to lunch midday, ten loudly sent up (9)

DYNAMITED – Anagram (out to lunch) of [MIDDAY, TEN].

25  Mate who’s close by day (6)

FRIEND – END (close) next to FRI{day}.

26  Careless agent, cut off internally (6)

SLOPPY – SPY (agent) containing LOP (cut off) ‘internally’.


1  The third to leave party?  That’s annoying! (3)

BAH – BA[s}H (third letter leaving party – bash).

Gift left in market (5)

FLAIR – FAIR (market) containing L{eft}.

3  Heroin’s moved close to coast (7)

INSHORE – Anagram (moved) of [HEROIN’S].

Tip from university writer, dismissed at first (5)

UPEND – U{niversity} with PEN (writer) and D{ismissed} (at first).

6  A French maiden poses – and is revealing (7)

UNMASKS – UN (a in French) M{aiden} and ASKS (poses).

7  Notice that contains strangely only two Es, say (3,4,2)

LAY EYES ON – Anagram (strangely) of [ONLY EE (two Es) SAY].

Gemstone being worn by Yankee with Times (4)

ONYX – ON (being worn) and Y{ankee} (phonetic alphabet) and X (times).

11  Item of clothing that’s disguised hard faces (9)

HEADSCARF – Anagram (disguised) of [HARD FACES].

14  As careless riverside walker did maybe; one Italian director (7)

FELLINI – FELL IN (what a careless riverside walker might have done) and I (one).

16  Awful crybaby’s ma loves hugs (7)

ABYSMAL – Hidden answer inside {cryb}ABY’S MA L{oves}.

17  Jenny, perhaps, in novel, reader finally recalled (4)

WREN – NEW (novel) containing {reade}R (finally) and reversed (recalled).

19  US lawman embraced by star in African country (5)

SUDAN – DA (US lawman – District Attorney) inside (embraced by) SUN (star).

21  Only the first sixteen letters in one’s head? (2,3)

UP TOP – The first sixteen letters would be UP TO P.

24  Doctor yesterday’s beginning to be teetotal (3)

DRY – DR (doctor) and Y{esterday} (beginning).

Here is what I found:  The pointer is in the top and bottom lines – MUTUAL FRIEND referring to the Dickens novel Our Mutual Friend.  References include the names of key characters from the novel; John HARMON. Noddy BOFFIN, Eugene WRAYBURN, Jenny WREN, Bradley HEADSTONE, SILAS Wegg, ALFRED Lammie ad SLOPPY.  There are probably more if you look closely, but I’m not overly familiar with the book.

I think this makes the 11th Dickens themed QC from the Setter Felix, out of 15 Dickens novels in total, so we probably have more to come.

64 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2213 by Felix”

  1. I didn’t finish this one but I didn’t feel bad about it. A couple I got that I couldn’t parse and needed the blog.
    I forgot that a boffin was a scientist, even after the discussion from last time!

    Couldn’t parse MAY (thought My! meant Indeed!) or UP TOP

    I missed the ‘one’ in the FELLINI clue and decided *Mario voice* because-a he’s-a Italiano he walked-a to the River and he Fell in-i! and thought that was a little.. Problematic. Turns out *i’m* the problematic one. Apologies to Italians.

    I didn’t know Rayburn (but the clue was clear) so I guess they’re the Pepsi to the Aga’s Coca Cola.

    I also didn’t know Wrens were Jenny so that made that clue impossible for me.

    I thought this puzzle was quite fair, I started with Headscarf, when lost having an anagram entry point is always so helpful.

    1. A Rayburn is a variety of Aga which can provide hot water and/or central heating, as well as being a range cooker!

          1. Not an expert but I don’t think a Rayburn would provide enough central heating for a big house. More suitable for old cottages.

    2. Just to be clear, WRENs aren’t Jennys. Jennys are female donkeys. Jenny Wren is a character in the book of the theme, which I’ve never read—so I couldn’t solve!

      1. I had a quick Google after the puzzle and it told me that Jenny Wrens were a common type of wren in the UK? Like the common house wren is a Jenny Wren

        Which leads to it being a character name and a book name and a song name etc

        1. My goodness, you’re right! Apologies.
          I had done a Google search too, but I must have done it wrong, somehow!
          That improves the clue, and eliminates my excuse for not getting it.
          I don’t think (not going to read every word now) anyone pointed that out in the blog, aside from your allusion to it. I wasn’t even sure what you meant.
          “Jenny Wren“ is a Paul McCartney song too!

  2. I think you’ve spotted them all, Rotter. I could add that the Harmon house is known in the neighborhood as HARMONY Jail. (And Felix managed to get the W of WRAYBURN in, albeit above not next to the R.) (A typo: it’s Alfred Lammle.)
    This took me a long time, and I only saw the theme when I got my POI WREN. NHO RAYBURN, so that went in with some hesitancy. 9:47.

  3. 25:52. Got really mixed up in lower half mainly stemming from throwing in Friday,Robinson Crusoe’s buddy, instead of the obvious FRIEND. This made SUDAN problematic which meant DYNAMITED
    then ABYSMAL were too. Slowly unravelled all that and everything ended happily. NHO RAYBURN but clueing was clear. I took son as s so thought Alis must be the girl’s name -a little-known alternative to Alice or Alix? Also thought Alf might just be a typical Cockney name and missed the 50% -‘alf reference. Needed blog for these and other details -thanks!

  4. Struggled here and there on my way into the club at 24.25. Only Silas that came to mind was Marner so looked in vain for other associations.
    UP TOP was a previous COTD so I guess it is again.
    Now if only I could swat a dratted mosquito I would go back to sleep.
    Thanks Rotter and Felix

  5. 12 minutes. I was looking for a theme but didn’t spot it until after completion. It was only seeing MUTUAL and FRIEND that gave it away as I didn’t know any of the characters looked up later on Wiki.

    WREN in a QC for the second time this week!

      1. Thanks, Laurie. I have seen your message but I can’t find a way the new system enables me to respond to it ‘behind the scenes’ so I am taking advice.

        In general I would suggest you allow a week or so before becoming too concerned as this is still a holiday period and we’ve just had the intervention of a Bank Holiday weekend when people’s normal routines tend to be disrupted.

  6. 11.04 woe

    Desperately bunged in IRON at the end (was thinking of jemmy!) having a total mind blank on JENNY WREN. Oops.

    Struggled with the rest of it but the cluing seemed fair

    Thanks Felix and Rotter

  7. DNF after 29 minutes with 10 of those staring at ?A?S?S nothing came to mind so I stopped the clock.

  8. 9’37” with MANSES as LOI.

    Started to fly through but got bogged down by a range of clues. Enjoyed it though especially my COD UP TOP.

    I don’t know enough Dickens to pick up the theme but great spot by Rotter.

    Thanks Felix and R.

  9. Got off to a flyer and thought I was on for a speedy solve, but got bogged down in the SE corner, where no seeing the anagram for DYNAMITE or the hidden ABYSMAL didn’t help. Also tried going down the A to P route for UP TOP, before the penny dropped.
    Finished in 10.36 with my favourites being the Marxist king and the Italian director.
    Thanks to Rotter for the blog for letting us know that there are only 4 more Dickens novels for Felix to use

    1. Unfortunately there appear to be a lot of Dickens short stories plus five novellas, so we may not have escaped from Felix’s favourite theme just yet. I guess they would still be a bit easier to discover than his children’s teachers’ names 🙄 I’m afraid I still haven’t entirely got over that one!

  10. More woe, but at least I stuck at this one, unlike yesterday. Though to my chagrin, my LOI was the hidden ABYSMAL, after I finally realised DYNAMITED was an anagram. Those two took ages.

    I liked FELLINI and ALFRED, looking up slightly I see that I more or less mirrored the experience of Plett11, even to the extent of writing in ATOP…However, I was slower.


  11. I swept through the top half (apart from UNMASKS which came later) but came to grief in the lower right. I entered UP TOP for 21d but didn’t really believe it because the parsing escaped me (thanks, Rotter) and for some unaccountable reason I biffed ERLE for 17d simple because I thought Jennifer Erle was an actor and erle was hidden backwards (recalled) in the clue. I know – daft because it doesn’t parse and the name is Ehle, not Erle. Look, folks I’m being honest here – are we not all allowed a mad moment in the rush to try to be ahead of Rotter when we know he is writing the blog? Yes, I know, it turns out that I failed there, too.
    DYNAMITED came late when I cleared the dodgy biff and reinstated 21d.
    Thanks to Felix for a very good puzzle with stings that caught me late in my solve and for some clever misdirection. I liked some of the shorter ones: MAY, ALFRED, ALI, UPEND, ONYX, UP TOP, plus LAY EYES ON and my COD, WREN.
    Many thanks to Rotter for a very good blog and for being wise to a theme that totally passed me by. John M.

  12. FOI was BAH, LOI DYNAMITED. No dramas. Missed the theme until Rotter pointed out their was one, and then saw MUTUAL FRIEND, but didn’t know the characters anyway. 9:39. Thanks Felix and Rotter.

  13. In addition to the characters listed by Rotter, I would suggest a couple of other OMF-related answers – DUSTY (the Harmons made their money from London’s “dust”, meaning rubbish – not understanding at first that this wasn’t literal “dust” caused me a lot of confusion as a sixth-former!) and FELL IN (there are innumerable drownings and near-drownings in OMF, and I remember from A level that “rebirth through water” is a major theme of the book).

    I loved the way that Felix has made the W of WREN do double duty for WRAYBURN, bravo!

    Anyway, never mind all that, this is a frabjous day! FOI BOFFIN, LOI DUSTY, COD UP TOP, time 09:44 to pip the great man by 3 seconds for a Red Letter Day!

    Many thanks Rotter and Felix.


  14. I’m spending time with the 15×15 before the QC this week, and I think it fatigues my efforts, with another miss with several empties in the SE corner.

    I thought of RAYBURN but discarded as I thought there was a rule against brands. Miscounted the alphabet so was looking for something “S”, along the lines of “A to ESS”, like that chestnut HIJKLMNO for H2O. 16d had one too many misdirections for me, with “awful” not an anagram indicator.

    Also, I don’t really understand “hugs” as a “hidden” indicator, who is hugging what? crybabysmaloves hugs “abyssmal”, is that it?

    Finally at 23A, DYNAMITED, I had midday=N(oon)+ten+loudly with “sent up” as an anagram indicator.

    Not a fan of these Dickens Puzzles. Very clever I’m sure, but i was looking for his lesser known work “Our Sloppy Boffin”

    COD FELLINI, especially Tina’s parsing of it.

    1. I think you understand ‘hugs’ ok – if I hug Mrs R, I wrap her in my arms in the same way crib and oves wraps around abysmal in crybaby’s ma loves. At 23a you just got the wrong end of the clue for the anagrind.

  15. Yet another DNF. Much as the previous ones this week I found it to be a very unfriendly puzzle. Did like the ALFRED clue.

    Managed to answer perhaps two thirds of this puzzle.

    With regards to the Jenny/Wren clue. When I was going through basic recruit training at HMS Raleigh in 1990/91 I had not heard of the nomenclatures Jack and Jenny, referring to male and female sailors. I do recall going into the “Automat” area of Raleigh (which you were only allowed in after successfully passing your first major kit inspection). There were two toilets (heads) labelled Jack and Jenny. 😄

  16. 10 minutes to get to the SE where I came to a grinding halt. Managed to work everything out in the end. LOI RAYBURN. I had not expected that brand name and my search was not helped by AT TOP ( A to P ,overlooking the extra T) at 21d. Once that was corrected, the answer was clear from the clue. Probably 25 minutes in the end.
    I have not read Our Mutual Friend so missed the theme. I am a big fan of Dickens but he can be hard work. I’m currently reading David Copperfield slowly.

  17. I started off quickly on the LHS but it didn’t last. I biffed DYNAMITED and did an alphabet trawl for the 16th letter before then biffing SLOPPY. MANSES eluded me for a while but the clue that caused me the most trouble was LAY EYES ON. I completely missed the NINA although in retrospect I should have spotted something was up when SILAS appeared in the grid. 11:52 for another poor day.

  18. My slowest solve by some considerable time at 21.28. I had all but two solved in 10 minutes, and then spent the remaining time staring blankly at the WREN and DYNAMITED cross. They were perfectly reasonably clued, and I have no idea why I couldn’t get them, but I eventually saw the light.
    I had an overwhelming temptation to put in DOH for 1dn thinking of Homer Simpson’s response. In fact DOH just about sums up my effort.

  19. My heart sinks every time we come to a Felix puzzle – having given up on Dickens a long time ago, I now find the puzzles equally torturous. At the 30 min mark I was about to give in with the Dynamited Wren extant, but MrsI chipped in with ‘the obvious’ Jenny Wren, at which point the possibility of an anagram for 23ac could no longer be ignored. Just another four of these to go then 🙄 Invariant

  20. A visit to the SCC today as this took me just over the threshold at 20 minutes and a few seconds. Apart from the delay on my LOI Manses, which took at least 4 of those 20 minutes (-A-S-S not terribly helpful!), not immediately clear why as all clear enough once one reads Rotter’s excellent blog, but it felt chewy at the time and I see others were slower than usual too.

    The surface for Silas (Chap starts on Stitch in Lilo and Stitch) must be one of the most forced and contorted for some time, but it did at least give away what was going on very clearly.

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

  21. Finished after a real struggle. Never read Our Mutual Friend. Could not parse BAH, MAY or MANSES – thanks for explanation. Took a while to see LAY EYES ON and UNMASKS. hard work.

  22. 7:38 this morning, rather surprised to see I was around 20th on the Club Leaderboard at the time. However this was another in a recent series of tough QCs, many clues would not have been out of place in a 15×15 imo.
    So I hope newcomers don’t get too disheartened, Rotter’s blog should be seen as very helpful – just notice the variety of devices used by Felix in this puzzle and see if you can recognise them in future puzzles.
    FOI 1 ac ” boffin” but this was a false dawn for me as I experienced delays at the next few clues I attempted. For example, I couldn’t parse 6 d “unmasks” at first because I couldn’t equate “asks” with “poses”until I revisited the clue….duh
    Liked 23 ac “dynamited” and 13 ac “Alfred”.
    Dickensian themes pass me by I’m afraid but I still appreciate Felix’s skills. Thanks too to Rotter for a fine blog

    1. It’s reassuring after a few challenging days in a row to find even the most experienced solvers being stretched by recent QCs. But I also notice a completely different tone to today’s comments – respect for a very well-crafted puzzle, even if it took many of us well over our usual time. The contrast with yesterday’s far less positive comments shows that a QC can be “tough but fair”, and enjoyable even if very challenging.

  23. Started very well on this, but was then forced to slow down and took an age over my LOI DYNAMITED, so finished on 26:07. Only vaguely knew Our Mutual Friend was Dickens, so never heard of any of the characters, but thanks to Templar for the dust=rubbish thought. I suppose that explains why dustmen (or persons, though I’m guessing dustwomen are still rarities – indeed, even my computer just autocorrected that to ‘dustmen’) are so called. COD to ALFRED. Thanks Felix and Rotter.

  24. Lovely puzzle- did get WREN but could only think of jenny long legs for ages and trying to squeeze fly into the mix- cod to ALFRED, it made me smile 😊

  25. Finished SCC++.
    Started quite well with HEADSCARF, which helped with several including ALFRED which made me laugh. No problem with WREN.
    Finally stuck in NE/SE so went to Waitrose where jolly old chap asked me if I was hosting Ukrainians when he saw my overloaded trolley.
    Anyway on return I managed to solve the rest inc MUTUAL, Up TOP, DYNAMITED and LOI SLOPPY. Was confused by new anagrist Out to Lunch.
    Thanks for much needed parsing hints, Rotter.

    1. ‘Out to lunch’ is actually the anagrind (anagram indicator). The anagrist (the letters that constitute the anagram) in this case is [MIDDAY TEN].

  26. Unusually early solve for me waiting for the bread to prove… Got off to a good start with Boffin and Bah and then the others in the NW. Surprised to see a trade-name included, but I recall seeing AGA. Struggled with 6d Unmasks and failed to spot the hidden 16d Abysmal until I found a word that fitted and went back to the clue to parse for a PDM. Appreciate Rotter’s explanation of a couple eg 25a Friend and 19d Sudan (nothing else even remotely fitted and I was partly on the right track). Really enjoyed the clues at 13a Alfred and 14d Fellini. Happily, I remembered the device used for 21d Up-Top. Not the easiest but not the torture of some recent QC’s…

    FOI 1a Boffin
    LOI 6d Unmasks
    COD 23a Dynamited.

  27. A bit over 11 minutes, with a brief interruption when our lovely heating engineer (and daughter’s friend) came to fix our boiler. Strange when people you’ve known as youngsters turn into grown-ups with responsible jobs 😅
    As soon as I saw Felix, I thought ‘Oh no more Dickens’, but as soon as I saw MUTUAL, I twigged which book it was. Nevertheless, I didn’t know a single name from it, so – as usual – the theme was totally wasted on me.
    Having said that, I thought it was an enjoyable puzzle with some fun surfaces. We do seem to seeing brand names more often these days.
    FOI Boffin LOI Silas (I often forget to look past the first word in these sort of puzzles) COD Dusty
    Thanks Felix and Rotter – great blog as always 😊

  28. I finished this, but found it harder than average. There were several clues that I solved but could not parse, so thank you Rotter. Can anyone tell me why Maiden is M, please?

    1. A non-scoring (Maiden) over in cricket has a capital M entered on the bowler’s section on a scorecard.

      1. Oh thank you Invariant. I didn’t know that. I did know that a maiden over scored no runs, so I wondered whether the third letter was O… but then fortunately I realised that “poses” was “asks” so I got Unoasks, and then saw that it had to be Unmasks.

        1. This is probably way too much detail, but for the benefit of anyone who might chance across this, each over in the bowler’s section is represented by two vertical sets of three dots. The M is drawn to coincide, ie the sides of the letter are vertical not sloping. A wicket maiden (W and M), produces a pleasing pattern and, of course, a delighted bowler 😊

          1. Since cricket is featured in the qc, more often than other sports, every piece of knowledge can be useful. Thank you.

  29. A short memory re Dickensian characters. Back in the 70’s I was working in a warehouse in Toronto often alongside casual short term labour. Four young chaps from “Down East” (Nova Scotia) appeared one day and they explained they were rock musicians just picking up some cash while they got their “act” together
    When I asked the name of their group they said they hadn’t decided yet but really liked something along the lines of Uriah Heep. They had no idea he was a fictional character and I explained about Dickens and suggested there were hundreds of cool names in his books. Anyways over the next weeks whenever our paths crossed loading or unloading trailers or in the lunchroom they would pump me for more names. I recall they really liked Ham Peggotty, Martin Chuzzlewit, Barnaby Rudge, Bentley Drummle, Uncle Pumblechook among others but they finally,to my surprise, unanimously went for James Steerforth. I was going to tell them he wasn’t a very likeable fellow but then thought, well, neither was Uriah Heep!

    1. Just as well they didn’t choose Uriah Heep, as there was quite a popular rock band of that name already in existence. Amazingly, it would seem they still are!

  30. I managed to solve this but struggled with some of the parsing. As always, thanks to The Rotter for his very helpful blog. Having read this, I can appreciate the skill which went into the setting of this QC. I was unsurprisingly deep into the SCC today but I agree with Cedric’s comment above – hard but fair.

  31. 17 minutes but not been doing the QC long enough to get distracted by a theme; and don’t know the book anyway. LOI: LAY EYES ON

  32. Catching up as I’ve been away…a dnf for me.

    Struggled with the SE corner: 15ac “Manses” and 20ac “Rayburn” are both vaguely familiar, but they just wouldn’t come. I also couldn’t see the anagrams for 7dn “Lay Eyes On” and 23ac “Dynamited”.

    Thought this was fairly hard to be honest.

    FOI – 1dn “Bah”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 6dn “Unmasks” – nice surface

    Thanks as usual!

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