Times Quick Cryptic No 2242 by Teazel — Did you hear about the fire at the circus?

I was well and truly Teazed! But at least I finished, albeit in 11:19. This was very tricky but very satisfying.

My conventions in the solutions below are to underline definitions (including a defining phrase); put linking words in [brackets]; and put all wordplay indicators in italics. I also use a solidus (/) to help break up the clue where necessary, especially for double definitions without linking words.

1 Screen bride’s attendant behind house (4,4)

I hadn’t thought of PAGE as being a bride’s attendant specifically, and the definition ‘screen’ is not much of a help!

5 Stops wedding announcement being read (4)
BANS – homophone of BANNS
8 Irishman I brought forward for a summary (2,3)
IN ALL – NIALL with the I moved to the front

Not sure if I got the definition right, but it couldn’t be ‘summary’, could it?

9 Friend shielding revolutionary hacker (7)
11 Swallow starts to execute acrobatic turn (3)
12 Ask Hector to cook something for tea (9)
13 Notice about dog to tie up (6)
15 Determined [to be] under canvas (6)
18 Use plan in touring Korea, for one (9)
19 Message on tomb [that brings] a tear (3)
RIP – R.I.P.

I laughed at this one.

20 Gain / medal for gallantry, initially relieving castle (7)
WINDSOR – WIN + DSO (Distinguished Service Order) + first letter of RELIEVING

Didn’t know the medal, but fortunately the castle was gettable.

21 Subject to choose, not the last (5)
TOPIC – TO PICK without the last letter
22 Fungus / that damages iron (4)
RUST – double definition

Shows you how much wheat farming I do… never heard of the first definition!

23 One may show press instruction at an opening (8)
DOORBELL – cryptic definition

I mean, are doorbells typically accompanied by instructions?

1 Woman who’s expecting? (7)
HEIRESS – cryptic definition

Expecting an inheritance, that is. Not totally sure I understand what’s going on here. I looked in the dictionary to see if there are any specialized definitions of ‘expect’ that have to do with inheritance, but I couldn’t find any.

For what it’s worth, I originally wanted this one to be WAITRESS.

2 Carving name into flesh [is] deliberate (5)
3 Bound to open hands [in] US resort (4,7)

Biffed this one.

4 Frisk doctor entering prison (6)

Perhaps someone can explain to me the whole GAOL thing. Is this the only British spelling of what we call ‘jail’? Is it an equivalent alternative? Do you see it in newspapers? Etc.

6 Maintain period [is] normal (7)
7 [For] investment, one’s raised / for example / euros initially (5)
SIEGE – I’S reversed + E.G. + first letter of EUROS

I can’t imagine many will be too happy about this one. ‘Investment’ is a rare definition of SIEGE. I was fortunate enough to have not even read the definition until writing this blog.

10 Shrub [found in] bed on holiday (11)

Never heard of this one, but pieced it together from the wordplay.

14 Dogs, a number wearing coats regularly (7)
CANINES – NINE in every other letter of COATS
16 Clay pit being worked over in no way unusual (7)
TYPICAL – anagram of CLAY PIT
17 Book [is] nothing after a couple of pints (6)

This one took me awhile, and I nearly gave up!

18 One with a penny debt might … (5)
POWER – P(enny) OWER is ‘one with a penny debt’

I liked this one.

19 … [cause] pure chaos / with European currency (5)
RUPEE – anagram of PURE + E

60 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2242 by Teazel — Did you hear about the fire at the circus?”

  1. 19:31. Had a similar experience to blogger on many clues. Had trouble with QUARTO (wanted 2 “p”‘s), HOME PAGE(forgot about computer screens) and IN ALL(summary=in all?). For the sense of “expecting’ in HEIRESS I thought of the Dickens novel Great Expectations where the”expectations” seemed to suggest possibly riches ,status ,fame etc coming to the hero. I saw COTONEASTER a few months ago and fortunately it stayed in my brain . In the clue for POWER does it need “might be a” instead of just “might” to make sense?

  2. 6:13
    Hald up by BANS, where I couldn’t see bans = stops. Still can’t quite see it really. If banning something was equivalent to stopping it, then we wouldn’t need law enforcement would we? Defund the police?

  3. Held up at the end with BANS and AVERAGE. I went away and did the 15×15, then came back and saw them both immediately. I think DOORBELLs simply sometimes have “press” on them.

  4. 11 minutes delayed by 22ac where I needed both checkers to come up with RUST as something that ‘damages iron’ and then remember it as a type of fungus.

    As far as I’m aware ‘jail’ and ‘gaol’ are fully interchangeable both as noun and verb in the UK, but as for newspapers they may have their own house styles.

    Heirs and heiresses may already have received the benefits of their inheritance and no longer be expecting.

    No problem with stop = ban. Smoking was stopped/banned in pubs and restaurants many years ago and is 100% effective in most places without the need for enforcement.

      1. I don’t see a contradiction. In most places (i.e. individual pubs and restaurants, in my example) the ban is 100% effective without the need for enforcement.

      1. In wiktionary we have:
        Usage notes
        Gaol was the more common spelling between about 1760 and 1830, and is still preferred in proper names in some regions. Most Australian newspapers use jail rather than gaol, citing either narrower print width or the possibility of transposing letters in gaol to produce goal. By far the most common spelling in Canada is jail, but a handful of legal writers use gaol.

  5. I know we’ve had COTONEASTER before but unlike curryowen it was nowhere near the front of my mind. Didn’t know what was going on with SIEGE so followed the cryptic and meant to go back to it but forgot. Spotten the ‘steak’ in ‘ask Hector’ and so found it hard to move on from savouries. Got there in the end. Bit of a trudge today but all green in 18.

  6. 25 minutes and struggled to get a proper foothold hopping around the grid for easier pickings.
    Favourites: Both the CDs HEIRESS and DOORBELL. I also like the linked clues once I got them.

  7. Teazel seems to always live up to his name and serve up something prickly.

    I enjoyed today’s puzzle though. LOI was DOORBELL, and I think it also gets my COD. Glad I just followed the wordplay for SIEGE, as I’d NHO the investment definition. COTONEASTER I must have met before, though the cluing is pretty straightforward if you haven’t.


  8. DNF DOORBELL. I still don’t like the cryptic definition. Doorbells don’t say “press”. CDs should have a PDM when the answer is seen, and this didn’t work for me. HEIRESS much better, although WAITRESS would have worked if it had fitted.

    Learnt COTONEASTER from crosswords.


    1. There’s no shortage of doorbells saying ‘press’ on Amazon and other outlets. Here’s just one example. It’s also very common to have a notice saying ‘Press’, ‘Please ring / press the bell’ etc next to the bell-push as covered by ‘at an opening’.

      1. The blogger’s query “Are doorbells usually accompanied by instructions?” brought to mind my recent purchase of a length of rope. The 50 foot yellow plastic rope was accompanied by an 8 page leaflet which I was admonished to read thoroughly and to consult before any attempt to use the rope.

  9. Had hostess for 1 down (Woman who’s expecting) and quite liked it as a clue. Sadly this then made 8 across impossible.

  10. Decidedly chewy in places. Have seen COTONEASTER before but it was deeply buried so spent a fair amount of time trying to think of words for the tourism type of holiday. QUARTO was tricky and needed an alphabet trawl – must remember to think of Q before ‘_ U’ in future. DOORBELL needed all the checkers and SIEGE some thought at the end.
    Finished in 11.42 with COD to RIP
    Thanks to Jeremy and Teazel for the workout.

  11. Like Desdeeloeste, I thought of SIEGE early on but didn’t like it so I wavered until the end. QUARTO was actually my LOI and COD (so simple, yet clever) and, after staring at it for ages, the light came on.
    A good puzzle that took me 2 mins over target (this is happening too often but I don’t want to give in and add 2 mins to my 15 min daily target!).
    Teazel did indeed live up to his name yet again. It was a good puzzle but I share the discomfort over DOORBELL.
    Thanks to both. John M.

    1. DOORBELL didn’t chime for me either. I put DOORWELL, with the instruction to the press being to DO ORWELL. This being Putin’s instruction to Pravda re the “special military operation”.

  12. Struggled a bit today and relieved to find when I came here that I was not alone. 15 minutes in all, but far from all parsed. Like Jeremy I biffed Palm Springs, not seeing “to open” as implying an inclusion – one to store away. And Heiress seems a strange clue; many are not so much expecting as already in receipt of whatever they have been bequeathed.

    Many thanks to Jeremy for the blog

  13. Well, it’s all about me today, isn’t it 😅
    Joking aside, a quick, early visit as we’re off to the Cotswolds for a couple of days.
    Less troubled than usual by Teazel as I finished in 10:14, online. Too much biffing though – probably because I’m in a hurry.
    FOI Bans LOI Heiress WOD Gambol

  14. [Jeremy, you’ve got an error at 14d – you say “A + NINE in every other letter of COATS”, but that would give two As. It’s just “NINE in every other letter of COATS”.]

    Terrific puzzle where every clue felt tough but then revealed its secrets. I really enjoyed that. Held up mainly in the SW by COD POWER, the obscure fungus and the DSO.

    All done in 08:51 for an extremely rare sub-Jeremy so I’m calling this as a Red Letter Day.

    Many thanks Jeremy and Teazel.


    PS on edit – I always assumed that a quart was four pints, and now believe that I was seriously misled by Whitbread’s advertising in the 1970s (“the pint that thinks it’s a quart”), because there’s no way that that glass is only two pints! https://youtu.be/mECJa9bd2Fw

  15. It’s a good job that I had nothing particular planned for this morning. FOI was MACHETE. After that slow progress frequently thinking that’s difficult for a QC.
    I nearly gave up after 20 minutes needing 3d and 7d. It had to be PULL STRINGS but I could see no way of parsing that. Eventually PALM SPRINGS came to me.
    And 7d was a complete mystery and was my LOI when SIEGE emerged from the parsing. Not a meaning I knew. And I had a question mark next to RUST.
    Tough stuff but I’m glad I persevered. About 30 minutes in the end.

  16. I just avoided the SCC at 19 minutes, finding this one decidedly tricky. BANS, AVERAGE and SIEGE were my last three in, but nothing seemed easy today. Even my iPad played up, seeming to get stuck for a few seconds, and then catching up in a rush with remembered pokes at the screen. Not my finest I’m afraid, and it has left me a little dispirited and disappointed. My turn to blog tomorrow, let’s hope things go better. Thanks both.

  17. I must say I found this tough, finally falling over the line in 15.07. A good crossword however with some neat clueing, 15ac INTENT being a good example.
    Perhaps I can attribute my slower time today to the fact that I had a background noise of pop music, courtesy of the decorators. It is of course a known fact that tradesmen can’t operate without background music, and it would be rather mean of me to ask them to turn it off.

  18. 25:56

    A very slow but very enjoyable solve.


    I was one of many held up at 17dn by looking for a word with PP

  19. I’m afraid I gave up on this one, finding it ridiculously difficult and unenjoyable.

  20. I too found this very tricky. My LOI was DOORBELL which needed an alphabet trawl and I put in SIEGE and RUST more in hope than certainty.

    I was happy with COTONEASTER as I grow it in my garden. At the risk of teaching Granny to suck eggs, it’s pronounced COT – OWN – EE-ASTER and not COTTON- EESTER as my Mum used to call it.

    Quite pleased to have come in at just over 20 minutes.

      1. I bet you’ll recognise various forms of it! The horizontalis form is very popular and has loads of berries which the birds strip at this time of year. Every other garden in our 1980s estate has a cotoneaster tree in it too – the builders’ favourite 😅

  21. Couldn’t see SIEGE at all – struggled to see something pertaining to “investment”: perhaps would have got it if I had just concentrated on the rest of the clue. Saw QUARTO after trying to fit PP in somewhere!
    A toughie overall.

  22. Dnf 😂

    To be fair, I nearly got there but just couldn’t get 10dn “Cotoneaster”, 17dn “Quarto” and 23ac “Doorbell”.

    Tricky I thought – with some quite obscure definitions (ie. 7dn “Siege”)

    FOI – 11ac “Eat”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 3dn “Palm Springs” – once went there, strange place.

    Thanks as usual!

  23. Did this much earlier but was summoned by the dentist for a slot-in appointment to complete my root canal jobbie before I had time to comment. Now much poorer and a bit numb. My brain must have been numb earlier, as I struggled for ages with my LOI, HEIRESS. I only got it after revisiting 1a where I’d slung in SEMI PAGE, that little known typesetter’s device. SIEGE went in from wordplay only. I’m quite familiar with the COTONEASTER since I started doing these crosswords, and even know how it’s pronounced! Wouldn’t know it if I saw it in the garden though:) Taken well over my target by the mishap at 1a. 15:53. Thanks Teazel and Jeremy.

  24. 4:16 on paper this morning but a typo when keying in to the Times Crossword Club messed things up.
    Hey ho, it was still basically a competitive time, for what was a typically inventive and witty puzzle from Teazel.
    Managed to get on wavelength quickly with 1 d “heiress” and 7 d “siege” and everything else seemed to follow thereafter without much delay.
    Plenty of candidates for COD, including 10 d “cotoneaster”, of which we have a few specimens around a path in our garden fortunately, but really liked 23 ac and LOI “doorbell”.
    Thanks to Jeremy and Teazel

  25. Found this one of the most difficult QCs for a while. Was determined to finish and crossed the line in just over 39 mins. Put SIEGE in from wordplay alone as didn’t know it also meant investment. Also didn’t think of RUST as fungus… I love COTONEASTER so this was spotted straightaway. HEIRESS and IN ALL, slowed me down, but LOIs by a long way were DOORBELL, closely followed by QUARTO which I only know from crosswords. Super tricky but I do always enjoy a Teazel QC. Many thanks Jeremy.

  26. Had the time to attempt an earlier solve today. It didn’t help. A DNF with two to get. This was extremely difficult and I’m moderately pleased to have solved as many as I did.

    Every time I think that I’m improving, a QC like this comes along. Disappointed after a good day yesterday.

    Thanks for the blog, a necessity today!

    1. This was really tough. I almost DNF’d, but just managed to fall over the line in 60 minutes exactly.
      P.S. I’m running a day behind at the moment.

    1. It’s not that unusual in accounts of medieval warfare “the attacking force invested the castle” meaning “laid siege to”. Not my first thought for investment, but not a surprise.

  27. We were slow on this one. 1a caused problems, Home page and 7d siege. No problem with cotoneaster, plentiful in garden and very colourful berries now.

  28. Much the same experience as everybody else – a slow solve taking 25 mins in all, with everything parsed. NHO siege = investment or rust = fungus. Also wanted to put waitress at 1dn. Some very tricky clues here.

    FOI – 5ac BANS
    LOI – 23ac DOORBELL
    COD – 23ac DOORBELL. Also liked 1dn HEIRESS and 10dn COTONEASTER.

  29. enjoyable but ouch as 4 left undone
    some fun cluing in the ones we did get
    liked machete

  30. A tricky challenge, but I must have been on Teazel’s wavelength as it took only average time. With only the initial S, I put in SIEGE on wordplay and a hunch, but seeing the blog think it was probably more than a hunch and that at some time in the past 80 years I have read something like …troops were invested in the city…

    FOI BANS, LOI and COD DOORBELL. Puzzle and blog both much enjoyed, thanks T and J.

  31. I’m with Poison Wyvern and others on this, way to tricky / obscure. 1A “screen” could mean any page, not a clear indication of HOME PAGE. NHO SIEGE for investment! And I thought QUARTO was a paper size? Glad to have got more than half solved / parsed.

  32. Ok – a day late but FWIW – I didn’t find this so hard at all. Many that were not liked by others eg Doorbell seemed pretty straightforward, especially with a couple of crossers to give confidence to the PDM. My failures were 18d Power and 22a Rust. I think I should have got Rust but P-ower seems off the mark from the clue – and there are options eg pawns which looked more credible to me. I guess the lack of a single word clue in the definition spooked me. If I had got Rust, then Powe would have been more obvious with two checkers. I didn’t push the solve as I was keen to catch up and tackle today’s puzzle. But, really nothing to complain about regarding the clues I did get. So not sure what the fuss is about. We’ve had real stinkers compared to this one.

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