Times Quick Cryptic No 2218 by Trelawney

I am standing in for RolyToly today whilst he is on holiday.  You can enjoy his sparkling elucidation for the next two weeks when he returns.

I found this puzzle by Trelawney to be fair and at the easier end of the spectrum, completing in just 9 minutes, which is a fast time for me.  Hopefully, this will give some hope and encouragement to a number of our newer solvers, who have had a tough time lately with a string of harder QCs.


 1  Rich person with unlimited beer – sweet! (6)

TOFFEE – TOFF (rich person) and {b}EE{r} (unlimited beer, i.e. drop the outside letters).  I wondered initially at TOFF = rich person, but Chambers has ‘A person of the upper classes, esp wealthy and smartly dressed’ so I suppose it is OK.

4  Vehicle put in reverse, creating argument! (4-2)

BUST-UP – BUS (vehicle) and PUT (put) reversed.

8  Chap, 90, with a primarily tame pet (4,3)

MANX CAT – MAN (chap) with XC (90 in Roman numerals) and followed by A (a) and T{ame} (primarily).

10  Arrived with Oscar for small role (5)

CAMEO – CAME (arrived) with O{scar} (phonetic alphabet).

11  Country type playing golf inside (5)

EGYPT – Anagram (playing) of [TYPE] with G{olf} inside (phonetic alphabet again).

12  Make use of a key exercise (5-2)

PRESS-UP – Double definition, the first cryptic.

13  Mistakenly drug Lenin’s subordinate (9)

UNDERLING – Anagram (mistakenly) of [DRUG LENIN].

17  Pointer for gold seekers in dodgy bar I own (7)

RAINBOW – Anagram (dodgy) of [BAR I OWN].  The definition is cryptic, referring to the legend of a pot of gold at the end of a RAINBOW.

19  Talent to burn brightly, we gather (5)

FLAIR – Homophone (we gather) – sounds like FLARE (burn brightly).

20  Pass me a report concealing false accusation (5)

SMEAR – Hidden answer (concealing) in {pas}S ME A R{eport}.

21  Again question defensive structure (7)

REDOUBT – Double definition.

22  Sycophants beginning to sneak into nation (3,3)

YES MEN – YEMEN (nation) containing S{neak} (beginning to).

23  Nodding, agent accepts shelter (6)

SLEEPY – SPY (agent) containing LEE (shelter).


1  Salesperson encountered rising anger (6)

TEMPER – REP (salesperson) and MET (encountered) all reversed (rising).

Dishonest behaviour in joke shop, say? (5,8)

FUNNY BUSINESS – Double definition.

3  Left to go round clubs, being keyed up (7)

EXCITED – EXITED (left) around C{lubs}.

5  Bizarre clue about northern relative (5)

UNCLE – Anagram (bizarre) of [CLUE] surrounding N{orthern).

6  Perhaps ¾ miniatures get reworked (4,9)

TIME SIGNATURE – Anagram (reworked) of [MINIATURES GET].  ¾ is an example of a TIME SIGNATURE, two numbers that give an indication of rhythm, indicating (in the case of ¾) 3 beats to the bar, and each note being a quarter note (don’t blame me if that is garbage – I’m no musician!).

7  Cause expert politician to be on time (6)

PROMPT – PRO (expert) and MP (politician) on T{ime}.  PROMPT here is in the sense of a cause or instigation, rather than anything to do with being on time, which is a part of the wordplay.

Excellent prize kitty picked up (3-6)

TOP-DRAWER – TOP (prize) and homophone (picked up) sounds like draw (kitty).  I’m not too sure about this – perhaps someone can clarify.

14  Non-believer at home with Castro, perhaps (7)

INFIDEL – IN (at home) with FIDEL (Castro, perhaps).

15  Reliable cyclist ultimately out of practice (6)

TRUSTY – {cyclis}T (finally) and RUSTY (out of practice).

16  Fairly easy on the eyes (6)

PRETTY – Double definition.

18  Push boat (5)

BARGE – Double definition.

82 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2218 by Trelawney”

  1. The only one I had trouble with was REDOUBT because I didn’t know the meanings of the word

    Wrt TOP DRAWER I assumed it was kitty = REWARD, picked up/reversed

    But yes much much easier today!

    1. That looks interesting – it can’t be a coincidence reward is drawer in reverse. Well spotted! Also pot is top reversed and the pot in poker could be the kitty.

    1. Yes that is what it is. I thought it was the other way around your parsing makes much more sense

      1. Thanks to you all for clearing that up – after a night’s sleep, it now looks obvious. I just couldn’t see it when writing the blog – stupid boy!

    2. I’m so glad that is the parsing and that ‘drawer’ is not a homophone for ‘draw’ as The Rotter originally suggested. The problem of course being that ‘drawer’ has two syllables while ‘draw’ has only one (the way I pronounce them anyway).

  2. I biffed TOP DRAWER, as well as EXCITED & TIME SIGNATURE, parsing the first two post-submission and not bothering to check the anagrist on the last. I see Tina beat me to it. I didn’t know the ‘push’ meaning of BARGE; it looks to be a UK thing. 5:37.

    1. Kevin! Are you not English!

      This gives me so much hope

      Have you really not heard anyone barge into something (a conversation, a crowd)

      1. American, living in Japan. The BARGE in the clue is ‘push’, which is not the ‘barge’ of ‘barge into’; ODE has “[with obj.] (chiefly in a sporting context) run into and collide with (someone) typically intentionally”. e.g. “…Beattie first barged his opponent …”

          1. “Barge past” someone would be the same as “push past”. Does that meaning not work in Murican English?

            1. Sure; that’s taking ‘push’ as intransitive. I was taking ‘push’ in the clue to be transitive, and for me ‘barge’ isn’t transitive; hence my comment. But of course there’s nothing in the clue that requires my interpretation of ‘barge’. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that e.g. ‘Smith barged Jones’ is not a Murcan locution.

      2. Hey Tina, don’t despair!

        I live in Australia and so speak fluent Strine, with plenty of exposure to British and American English thru the media, but Times Crossword English is a different thing from all of those!

  3. 15:57 I had difficulty with a lot-TRUSTY, RAINBOW, TIME SIGNATURE, PRESS UP among them- until enough crossing letters appeared to help me along. I think TOP DRAWER tricked me as I couldn’t see beyond “picked up” as a homophone indicator not a reversal. And I don’t believe that business about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I’ve never found a darn thing.

  4. 8 minutes, now up to 3 consecutive days of achieved QC targets.

    I was sorry to see the unsignalled Americanism in the clue to 6dn. I know they talk about three-quarter time (Ira Gershwin refers to it in his lyric By Strauss) but in British English the time signature is ‘three four’ (three crotchet beats to a bar) and it’s not a fraction. Nor is it written as one in musical notation – even in America as far as I’m aware! It’s 3 over 4, no line.

    1. In defence of the clue, in the app it’s written as 3/4 (not three over four) which I think is a common way to write it in a sentence. I’ve never seen time signatures typed out without the forward slash.

      I am happy to be corrected however.

    2. I hadn’t appreciated the significance of including or otherwise a solidus in the time signature. Since the clue included one, I did too when writing the blog. However, it would have been hard to avoid as my spell checker insisted on changing my 3 / 4 (no spaces) to the miniature 3/4 that you see in the blog. I wrote the blog on my pc, and I’m writing this on my iPad, which rather annoyingly doesn’t repeat the miniaturisation of the fraction.

      1. No criticism was intended of your blog, Rotter, and I appreciate you were simply repeating the style of the clue as your keyboard allowed. Also, as has been suggested in the comments, it’s probably convenient to use a solidus when representing time signatures in a printed script although the line would never be used in a music score. Anyone with serious musical intent (composers, musicologists, students of music writing their treatises etc) would surely take the trouble to employ an alternative method of reproducing time signatures correctly as they are first and foremost musical symbols.

        1. Today I learnt the word ‘solidus’! Well as long as we agree it’s not a vinculum (a word I *do* know) 😂

    3. I just presumed they couldn’t format the text to show three four time rather than it being any specific Americanism.

  5. All green in 14 with a slow finish from a fast start. Still hadn’t heard of a TIME SIGNATURE even after I’d realised that was what it had to be, I was disappointly slow on MANX CAT even once I realised XC could be 90 and got FUNNY BUSINESS via fairy and fancy somethings. All easy in retropect but a stuggle at the time – perhaps the sign of great clueing. Enjoyed it a lot.

  6. 6.54

    Nice clues; liked it. No idea what was going on with TOP DRAWER.

    Thanks Trelawney and Rotter

  7. 18 minutes all parsed.
    LOI: PRETTY after I had corrected FLAME at 19ac which I BIFD without reading the clue properly to FLAIR.

    I had marked MANX CAT as a favourite but by the end, I had marks against many clues.

  8. Top quality puzzle at the easier end of the spectrum. Only hold ups were the unknown TIME SIGNATURE, where I needed most of the checkers before unravelling the anagram, and the parsing of TOP DRAWER.
    Too many excellent clues to pick one out but my favourites were RAINBOW, INFIDEL and MANX CAT.
    Finished in 6.39 with LOI SMEAR
    Thanks to Rotter

  9. Still licking my wounds after yesterday, I approached this with all the enthusiasm of a man opening his latest gas bill. Fortunately normal service has been resumed.

    FOI TOFFEE, LOI TOP DRAWER after finally parsing it (sorry for failing “Crossword 101”, vinyl, but I see I’m in company), COD RAINBOW, time a pleasingly exact 08:00 for 1.5K and a Good Day.

    Many thanks to Rotter and the Squire.


  10. I hesitated over PRESS UP but put it in anyway, only later thinking of the computer keyboard having an ‘UP’ key outside the QWERTY bit. LOI BARGE. I liked RAINBOW. Thanks Trelawney and Rotter, 4:06.

    1. Ah, thank you. Now I understand the ‘up’ part of the answer refers to the ‘key’ part of the clue. I was struggling with the parsing of that one. Prof

    2. I thought of it as being an “Up” button in a lift which I think works better – although I doubt there are many lifts now that have this rather than individual floors.

  11. Having completed the 15×15 in a pretty good time but with a stupid typo at least I got the chance to spell it correctly this time.

  12. A MANX CAT with a TEMPER got me under way and I finished with a SMEAR in 6:10. I glossed over TIME SIGNATURE and TOP DRAWER. Thanks Trelawney and Rotter.

  13. A good puzzle and a breath of fresh air after some recent stinkers. I managed most of the top, then most of the bottom, found myself with enough crossers to see the long down answers and completed the puzzle by adding the second part of FUNNY BUSINESS. A few seconds over 10 mins (all parsed) so I can appropriate rotter’s modest, self deprecating remark ‘which is a fast time for me’.
    Thanks to Trelawney and to rotter for his usual good blog. John M.

  14. Very enjoyable, completed quite quickly. FOI MANX CAT, LOI PRESS UP (needed blog to see the clever parsing, I often miss DDs), COD waltzed to TIME SIGNATURE. I can’t remember seeing REWARD as reversal of DRAWER before, which is surprising. Regarding barge, I agree it is intransitive, but setters often deceive us by swapping a noun for a verb or adjective, and I would class confusing transitive with intransitive a lesser crime. Many thanks to Trelawney and The musical Rotter.

  15. 1423 death of Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London

    14:23, good time after a very slow start.

    Still don’t see “make use of a key”= Press up. Is there an “up” key? Is that what I call up-arrow?

    Great use of “solidus”, rotter. Rare to see it being used in text as opposed to in a puzzle.


  16. Very enjoyable puzzle today, completed in 17 mins inside my target. Held up by some of the parsing and had not fully understood PRESS-UP and TOP DRAWER until reading the helpful comments above. Thanks everyone and to The Rotter for blog and Trelawny for a very nice puzzle. Many enjoyable and clever clues today.

  17. I’ve been playing catch-up this morning, and did the two previous puzzles before this one. All three completed within target.

    TIME 4:28

  18. A straightforward puzzle, completed in 14mins, with pauses over Flair (Flame until Pretty came along) and the parsing of Press Up. I see from Rotter’s blog, with help from others, that I also completly missed Trelawney’s cleverness with Top Drawer. Having over-complicated many a clue while doing these things, I’ll take it as (partial) payback. CoD to 21ac, Redoubt, for the surface. Invariant

  19. Was heading for under 10 minutes but was held up at the end in the lower half of the puzzle. Last two were YES MEN and BARGE (there are so many words for boats).
    I had biffed TOP DRAWER early on but went back and spent some time on the parsing which I think has now been sorted.
    12 minutes in all . Good puzzle.

  20. Managed to complete this one with no aids, but was held up for a long time after inadvertently writing TEMPER into 1a rather than in 1d. Could have punched myself for not seeing my error earlier.

    My best friend lives on the Isle of Man. Whenever I find IoM referenced in a clue, I always send it to him. 😄

  21. Slow today. Quite difficult. Toffs can be quite poor, imo, so Rich Person quite a dodgy definition, but it’s only a bit of fun(?). And there are rich men who are deffo not toffs.
    I was not helped by initially drawing in a dividing line for 2d in the wrong place. Very dim.
    Thanks vm, Rotter.

  22. Fairly straightforward – just a pause over BARGE = PUSH? and figuring out TIME SIGNATURE. LOI REDOUBT.

  23. Gosh, everyone’s early this morning.

    Nothing more to add really, echo much of the above.

    PROMPT was my LOI, I very much liked the idea of Lenin’s subordinate being mistakenly drugged, a proper smile at that one.


  24. I enjoyed this one with many great clues. FOI – CAMEO, liked MANX CAT and TOP DRAWER (I had CUP DRAWER until the cat wandered in). Missed the key-press element to PRESS UP so must be a biff. LOI – TOFFEE with a mer on TOFF = rich person but I note The Rotter’s explanation.
    Thanks, Trelawney and The Rotter.

  25. 7Completed this most enjoyable puzzle in just under 12 minutes, though with Top Drawer not parsed. I see now it is very clever, indeed the answer pretty accurately describes the clue (is there a word for clues like this – if not there should be) and it is certainly my COD.

    Nice to see 90 giving XC and congratulations to Trelawney on getting XC into a word (or in this case two words) like this.

    As others have commented, the puzzle was a real pleasure after a few more difficult ones recently. I usually average 1 or at most 2 DNFs a month but have had 3 in the last fortnight.

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

  26. 25 mins on a fractured solve. NHO TIME SIGNATURE nor REDOUBT as a defensive structure so they both held me up and were ultimately biffed with fingers crossed.

    I’m enjoying all the debate here about 3/4 – it has introduced me to a whole new world -and many other issues raised in the comments

    Thanks Rotter and Trelawney and all contributors

  27. 13 mins…A straightforward and enjoyable QC from Trelawney I thought.

    I think we’ve had the “Toff” discussion before, especially as there are many Toffs that are not necessarily rich. Took a while to get this anyway, as “Trifle” kept popping into my head.

    Only other hesitation was 19ac “Flair”, as I’d forgotten “we gather” was the indicator for a homophone, and 9dn “Top Drawer” which I parsed differently.

    FOI – 1dn “Temper”
    LOI – 21ac “Redoubt”
    COD – 8ac “Manx Cat” – probably a little contrived, but I still liked the surface.

    Thanks as usual!

      1. I’m guessing that must be something to do with Tail Off? But not sure where the abbreviation comes from.

            1. The ability to reason backwards from the answer is definitely not the same as the ability to crack it in the first place!

  28. Finished within target at 8.53, and my initial impression was that it was probably more difficult than people seem to have found it. Perhaps it was because I was a bit slow myself to see the musical connection, and hence the answer for TIME SIGNATURE. I liked FUNNY BUSINESS at 2dn, a very UKcentric term I would imagine.

  29. An enjoyable and achievable QC for me. MANX CAT and CAMEO got me started and I made fairly good progress throughout my first pass. PRESS UP went in, despite not being able to parse it, and REDOUBT went in despite not knowing its meaning. I was held up by biffing FLAME (instead of FLAIR), which caused a frustrating and unsuccessful alphabet trawl for PRETTY. My LOI was FUNNY BUSINESS. Total time = 27 minutes, my fastest for some time.

    Mrs Random started a few minutes after me, finished ahead of me (in 15 minutes), and has now also completed all-but-one clue of Tuesday’s Orpheus. Her unsolved clue was the infamous EYE RHYME, but unlike me, she had the good sense to give up after only 5 minutes working on it. She said “I have too much else to be getting on with” – and then she was gone.

    Many thanks to Trelawney and Rotter.

  30. Thoroughly enjoyed this potpourri of clues to finish on the dot of 20.00 but probably 18 if I had been able to parse rather than biff PRESS UP.
    No real difficulties but a thank you to Trelawney for providing a source of enjoyment. And of course to Rotter.

  31. I too had been struggling with some of the recent quick cryptic and, still being quite new to them in any event, was getting disheartened. However I was pleased to finish this one in 19 minutes.
    FOI Toffee
    LOI Egypt
    COD – Manx Cat and Yes Men.

  32. As usual, I DNF. I found this much harder than yesterday. I thought 17D would include OR for gold, and that “pointer” meant some type of arrow.

    I only managed TOFFEE, TEMPER and PROMPT today. Sometimes I get the majority of the clues, but not today! I think today’s attempt is my worst ever!

    The blog and the comments are very useful. My small library of “How to do cryptic crossword” books less so. But at least my dining table is now level!

    1. Keep your chin up Ian, and keep plugging away. Just last year Poison Wyvern was in a similar position to you on this blog, and we have all watched him improve week by week. Today, he completed the puzzle without resorting to aids. Keep us posted on your progess now that you are signed up to the blog, and good luck!

  33. 11 minutes again today. I got held up on 2d because I did my usual thing of scrawling in a letter that I then couldn’t read – in this case, I thought I saw a T, rather than an I, in the second word of the clue. When I checked again, I realised that RAINBOW doesn’t have a T in it 😂 That sorted the FUNNY BUSINESS out!
    Otherwise, much as above – I too didn’t parse PRESS-UP, and the cleverness of TOP-DRAWER passed me by. What a clever clue.
    FOI Toffee LOI Funny business COD Underling
    Thanks Trelawney and Rotter

  34. I was slow to start but gathered speed. Some answers I entered without fully reading the clue e.g. RAINBOW and YES MEN. REDOUBT rang a bell but I waited for most of the checkers. I thought I had parsed TOP DRAWER but now find after reading the comments I hadn’t. My LOI was TIME SIGNATURE. I can read music but rhythm/beat notations are not my forte. 8:40 for an OK day.

  35. Much better today after being beaten all ends up by yesterday’s puzzle. Only hold up today was putting FLAME at 19ac, which was resolved when LOI 16D PRETTY became apparent.
    Many thanks to Trelawney for the puzzle and Rotter for the blog.

  36. We also had flame for 19a, and neatly for 16d, otherwise fairly straightforward. No problem with barge for push, just a strong push. Most enjoyable set of comments today, they go from strength to strength, many thanks to all. One advantage of posting late.

  37. 18 minutes, so I struggled today but did enjoy it!
    Lots of Ts and Rs and Ps I thought that there might be some other form of funny business going on but I cannot see anything….
    Thanks all

  38. No problems, but typo of tempet. I remember writing temper on the laptop so not sure how that happens.
    Lots of good clues, liked Egypt, underling and manx cat.

    Our cat, rescued in the middle east is definitely not tame, even though it is named snuggles.

    1. We have been staff to three cats: Snoozy, Snuggle and Sinders – the last one started off as a grey kitten but (thankfully) grew into a jet black Burmese type to match her predecessors.

  39. I struggle to start at the moment but I plugged away and made decent progress. Held up a little by 1ac and dn but got there in 25 mins or so. Glad to get a QC completed after recent problems.

    Thanks for the excellent blog and the comments from others on 9dn. What a brilliant clue!

  40. Confident of being Last Man In after a day out, I am happy with a gentle bedtime unwinding at 29 minutes all parsed.

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