Times Quick Cryptic No 2299 by Teazel

Our last Times Quick Cryptic of 2022 is provided by Teazel. I found it very entertaining, if a little on the tricky side – it took me a couple of minutes over my average at  7:31, finishing with the elusive anagram at 7D. I liked “having wife to maintain” at 9A, 5D and the clever wordplay at 23A, but my COD goes to 1D for the surface. Thank-you Teazel. How did you all 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! If anyone is interested in our previous offerings you can find an index to all 67 here.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

1 Band’s worst artist? It is (4,7)
DIRE STRAITSDIREST (worst) RA (artist) IT’S (it is).
8 A carbon copy employer gives prosecutor (7)
ACCUSERA CC (carbon copy) USER (employer). It’s funny how “carbon copy” is still used in the online world. Does anyone use carbon paper with a typewriter any more?
9 Vacillate, having wife to maintain (5)
WAVERW (wife) AVER (maintain).
10 Pack animal shortly trails behind, like this (2,7)
AS FOLLOWSAS{s} (pack animal) [shortly] FOLLOWS (trails). Tricky definition.
12 Managed a shower? Not I (3)
RANRA{i}N (shower) without the I.
13 Chucked, we are told, in high chair (6)
THRONE – Sounds like, [we’re told], THROWN (chucked).
15 Show is about meat (6)
REVEALRE (about) VEAL (meat). Show the verb is the definition, although it’s a noun in the clue. A sneaky setter’s trick to watch out for.
17 Regularly killed in US, one hears (3)
OFT – Another homophone clue, [one hears], OFFED (killed, in US slang).
18 It takes a measure of time to cancel the guard (9)
STOPWATCHSTOP (cancel) WATCH (guard). It took me a while to spot the definition.
20 Warms up for rounds of races (5)
HEATS – Double definition.
22 Lost rib, shot in city (7)
BRISTOL – (lost rib)* [shot].
23 After revolutionary 30 seconds suggested to postpone card game (6,2,3)
CHEMIN DE FERCHE (Guevara; crosswordland’s favourite revolutionary) MIN{ute} half of minute (30 seconds suggested) DEFER (postpone). Nice one. Chemin de fer is a baccarat card game where players bet against each other. A bit tricky, perhaps. Luckily I knew this and saw it from the checkers. I liked the 30 seconds device.
1 Died, face up in the drink (5)
DECAFD (died) FACE [up] -> ECAF. I quite liked the surface of this, but maybe face down would be more likely.
2 Whispering sounds from street interrupting pronouncements (9)
RUSTLINGSST (street) [interrupting] RULINGS (pronouncements).
3 Regret one magpie may be for it? (6)
SORROW – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint referring to this magpie nursery rhyme.
4 Cruel fight given up (3)
RAW – WAR (fight) going upwards [given up] -> RAW.
5 In prose? The opposite (7)
INVERSEIN VERSE (the opposite of in prose). Crikey! How do I classify this? It’s like the, ahem, “inverse” of a semi-&lit, where the the whole clue is the wordplay and part of it is the definition. Nice one.
6 Choker left in unusual cargo area (12)
STRANGLEHOLDL (left) [in] STRANGE (unusual) HOLD (cargo area).
7 Disastrous scratch — patio ruined (12)
CATASTROPHIC – (scratch patio)* [ruined]. My LOI, needing the checkers to get to the answer.
11 Singular aroma around garden site is distorted (4-5)
SKEW-WHIFFS (singular) WHIFF (aroma) [around] KEW (garden site). A favourite expression of late Dad’s, but it may not be as familiar to some as I’ve never heard anyone else use it.
14 Scramble to advance career — as traitor? (3,4)
RAT RACE – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
16 Not good enough? Tough luck (3,3)
TOO BAD – And another, this time the first is the cryptic hint.
19 Teacher that’s bad has nothing right (5)
TUTORTUT (that’s bad, as you might do in reaction) O (nothing) R (right).
21 To be on the slopes is how many Russians finish (3)
SKI -Double definition, the second referring to Russian names ending in -ski.

91 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2299 by Teazel”

  1. I made heavy weather of this. Lots of good if for me tricky clues. FOI Ski. LOI Rustlings COD Stranglehold.
    Maybe I am showing my age but in Manchester 50 years ago pictures hanging at an angle were definitely skew-whiff.

  2. This took me a while, although that was partly because of frozen fingers. I biffed CATASTROPHIC without verifying that ‘scratch patio’ was in fact the anagrist. Had a vague memory of a band called DIRE STRAITS, and thought I saw anagrist in ‘artist it is’, with DIRE as the anagrind; again, didn’t bother to check. I had no idea what the magpie was doing in 3d; I’ve never come across the nursery rhyme. 8:10.

  3. 6 + 1/2

    Dire Straits might not be the worst, but Knobfler’s band is down there somewhere.

    Second time this week the answer’s been sorrow and I’ve not understood why

    1. I had the same thought about SORROW; well regret is a kind of sorrow (DBE?), but. Since I didn’t know from magpies, I submitted without leaderboard.

      1. Can I ask please, what does “submitted without leaderboard” imply? I’m not sure I submit to anything/anyone, with or without said board. Am I missing something?

        1. If you solve through the Club then when completed you are offered a choice between submit with leaderboard or submit without leaderboard. I think that the difference is that if you choose “without leaderboard”, then your time/accuracy points are not included in your rolling score. So it seems from the comments today that some people choose “without leaderboard” when they have biffed an answer or two and aren’t sure of the accuracy – so they opt out if having any error counted against them. (Errors make a big difference to the points calculation.)

          1. Thank you, all clear. As I don’t do it through the Club I hadn’t met the term.

          2. Well I didn’t know that but it sounds crazy. In amateur golf nowadays thanks to modern tech, you have to elect to have your score included in your handicap round BEFORE you start for obvious reasons. And why does a cheeky biff matter? Continuing the golf analogy if you shoot 78 with a couple of flukes it’s still a 78. So it seems the leaderboard is very much open to manipulation. Doesn’t bother me as sub 20 is a result. 30 today though with 3 biffs. J

            1. It’s not so much biffs but using aids or wandering off for a while and forgetting to hit pause would be good reasons to submit without leaderboard.

    2. I don’t love ‘em but the above might be a bit harsh by Lou! And it appears there are plenty who may disagree with him: “According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Albums, Dire Straits have spent over 1,100 weeks on the UK albums chart, the fifth most of all time” (Wikipedia – not the best but sometimes the fastest reference)

      1. It’s a widely accepted truth that a band can’t be the worst ever unless they’ve sold at least a million records. It’s hardly going to be the band playing down at your local.

  4. 11 minutes. No problems but I was just a little bit slow. Fortunately I used to watch Magpie on children’s TV which had the nursery rhyme as its signature tune.

  5. Good fun. I enjoyed WAVER and STRANGLEHOLD most.
    Let me know how you get on with the Weekend QC.

  6. 14’20” with many chewy clues, very few of which went in on first run.

    Even with WHIFF in and then out and then back in again, it took a few seconds to see SKEW so it was my LOI.

    STRANGLEHOLD took a while too.

    Enjoyed the anagram for CATASTROPHIC and the clueing for OFT but needed the checkers for it.

    Like Jackkt I remember the theme tune of ITV’s slightly rougher-round-the-edges version of Blue Peter and so SORROW was not an issue. “…2 for joy, 3 for a girl, 4 for a boy, 5 for silver, 6 for gold, 7 for a secret never to be told. Ma-a-a-ag-piiiiiie!”

    Thanks Teazel and John

    1. “One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for a birth, five for silver, six for gold and seven for a secret that’s never been told” was what I learnt.

  7. 15:22, with several minutes on LOI RAT RACE

    SKEW WHIFF, COD and WOD. Great expression, last person I heard use it was my late father too, also from Manchester. Just checked the OED: they have the last quote as from Lancashire, 1977.

    Here’s a good one from Dorothy Sayers “ When Neptune shouldered Britain out of the sea, he did not make a neat engineering job of it. Characteristically, Britain came up SKEW WIFF, with one edge thick and hard and the other soft and thin, like a slice of wedding-cake.”

    1. “Skew Whiff” is still used a lot up here in the north west (but I’m middle aged, so maybe it’s dying out as an expression)

      I used it quite a bit when supervising my other half putting up pictures.

  8. 8.18

    Took some time to get a foothold but once I had I made good progress. I knew the nursery rhyme but SORROW was still my LOI.

    Without sounding like a tired old music critic some of Dire Straits’ early stuff is worth a listen if you like that sort of stuff. I also liked what was then the occasional local reference (such as Cullercoats and Whitley Bay in Tunnel of Love).

    Thanks Teazel and John

    1. I lived for a few years in the 1980s in a bedsit in Ocean View in Whitley Bay just round the corner from the sea front. But I never listened to any Dire Straits so didn’t know about their Tyneside references.

  9. Struggled with REVEAL for some reason – ran out of meats after beed and lamb and moved on. Needed that checking E to get to SKEW WHIFF – stated at S— WHIFF for ages, perhaps because it was a down clue, even though I know the expression. Hadn’t thought of it as dated before but the strongest association now I think of it is my late Grandma. Six on the first pass of acrosses and not that easy from there on. Enjoyed the surface for DECAF. All green just under 15.

  10. I found that really chewy and it pushed me out over 10 for the first time in a while. Couldn’t get 1a without lots of checkers and was surprised by it when it came – if we can’t have living people, how come we can have band names where everyone in the band is still alive? (Also – Brothers in Arms was a cracking album and I’ll fight any man in this pub who disagrees.)

    Excellent morning workout though with hindsight a preliminary coffee would have been a good idea. All done in 11:52 for 1.6K and an Undistinguished Day. Many thanks Teazel and John.


    1. I won’t be fighting you – I think Brothers in Arms is a great album, one of the first I bought when I got a Walkman-type thing. The Knopfler brothers went to the same school as MrB, albeit some years earlier!

  11. Pleased to sneak in under target as there was some tricky stuff in here.
    Started with CATASTROPHIC, having not being able to make head or tail of 1a, which opened up the left-hand side of the grid nicely. Enjoyed putting together CHEMIN DE FER from the wordplay as it’s not a game I’m familiar with. Finished with STOPWATCH and STRANGLEHOLD in 9.43.
    Thanks to John for the blog and Teazel for the entertaining solve.

  12. A good puzzle to end the official QC year (still the highlight of the Last Saturday Special 0f 2022 to come of course), and all done in 11 minutes, helped by getting both Catastrophic and Stranglehold quite early on – both lovely clues.

    I am familiar with the phrase Skew-whiff, which is certainly in use chez Statherby, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen it written down before. On the other hand, I did not parse Dire Straits (like SteakCity I half-saw an anagram of Artist S), and I also paused over Cruel = Raw. Also, NHO the phrase Offed meaning killed, so had to wait for the checkers for Oft, my LOI. Was anyone else misled by “Regularly” in the clue and looking for a 6 letter word one could take 3 letters regularly from?

    Many thanks John for the blog and a good weekend/year-end to all

    1. Regularly misdirected me too. Never heard the expression OFFED despite watching Sopranos and The Wire etc etc

  13. Took me 28 minutes to work my way through this.
    FOI: SORROW knowing the rhyme helped.
    OFT went in not knowing the homophone but was the only possible answer.
    Favourites: REVEAL and DECAF.

  14. As today’s puzzle was the last of the year, and as (like I suspect a few others) I keep a note of the times I take for each setter, it is an opportunity to compare my experience of 2022’s QCs with 2021’s, not least as there has been much talk in this forum that the QCs have become slightly trickier of late.

    My notes are of course a dataset of just one solver, but they don’t show conclusively that the puzzles have changed. My average time has fallen, but only very slightly from 12:18 to 12:09, and since I mostly do the puzzles on paper and measure by a watch not the timer, that is insignificant. Perhaps more interestingly, my percentage of DNFs (or “finished with errors”) has increased slightly, from 9% to 11% – about 2 a month. Maybe I am getting more careless as I get more confident that I understand how cryptic crosswords work.

    Of the individual setters who set regularly, I seem to have found Breadman, Joker and Wurm getting more challenging (ie, taking me longer) and Corelli, Mara and Oink getting more approachable. But the standout statistic is that my average time on Izetti’s puzzles in 2022 was exactly the same (to within 1 second actually!) as my average time on his puzzles in 2021. As that is over 29 puzzles in 2022 and 27 puzzles in 2021,that is an extremely impressive level of consistency to go with his other many qualities as a setter.

    Many thanks to all our setters over the year, regular and occasional. You give us a lot of pleasure.

    1. Hello Cedric,
      Great stats! I will post some of my ’22 vs ’21 stats next week, when I get back from visiting my elderly parents. We will then have a sample size of two.

  15. Well, Teazel certainly put me in my place with this one. I could not get close to most of the impressive times above (neither can I understand the self-deprecation in some cases) but I was impressed by Teazel’s imagination and range.
    I needed crossers for many of the answers and needed divine inspiration to get quite a few, even then – SKEW WHIFF for example. The expression is familiar to me (I grew up in Lancashire) and is still used by me (and others) today but it was so unusual in this context that it left me flailing. The long down answers on the left and right were fine but I was much slower to pick up on the clever long ones across the top and bottom. I wonder what Lou’s problem with DIRE STRAITS is? It seems like a deep-seated dislike. I always rather liked them and I’m with Templar on this one.
    As for others, SORROW was way beyond my understanding but I biffed it anyway.
    I was well into the SCC – a dreadful end to a mixed few weeks – but I appreciate Teazel’s offering and will go back over John’s excellent blog to get the most out of it.
    COD was the simple but sneaky OFT (coming in slightly ahead of DECAF and AS FOLLOWS).
    Thanks to both. I look for a more competent start (from me!) to next year. Best to all of you for a happy an healthy 2023. John M.

  16. skew-whiff also known further South and commonly used in Sussex. Some suggest it comes from misaligned cloth in a weave as in skewed weft…? sounds plausible. Thanks for a year’s worth of QCs and blogs from our tireless setters and bloggers.

  17. 13.07
    LOI was SKEWWHIFF. The word is in my spoken vocabulary, but like others I had never seen it written down before, and was surprised by the spelling.

  18. I found this difficult and never really got into my stride. After 15 minutes I needed three. I had to get RAT RACE (Run Race was deleted) to get OFT. I had considered the American term OFF for Kill but didn’t make the leap until the end. Then it was back to LOI The Magpie clue. I put in SORROW as a synonym for REGRET and will now look up the rhyme.
    19 minutes in the end. An excellent challenge and slightly quirky feel.

  19. Many thanks to the setters for the work out throughout the year and the bloggers who have helped me to understand the answers. Happy new year to all

  20. Oh dear. SKEW-WHIFF evaded me altogether even though it’s a term I have always known and used – I think I would have spelt it WIFF , but I probably shouldn’t expect people to sound the H. I also struggled with OFT and STOPWATCH, despite the checkers. Enjoyed lots of the clues today, so thanks Teazel and John.

  21. Enjoyed this one, despite my wife’s wittering in the background.

    LOI was stopwatch, because I has “measure of time” in my head as SEC and “guard” as SECURITY. Much easier than that in the end. My penultimate was SORROW, which was also my COD. I knew the rhyme from the song by The Unthanks in the 3rd series of the excellent Detectorists, and the fact that my wife spits whenever she sees a magpie.


    1. Your wife spits when she sees a magpie? I assume that is like throwing salt over the shoulder when you’ve spilled it?

      If I see one, I usually look around for a second. Isn’t there some part of the old wives tale that magpies are birds that need to be part of a couple which is why one is for sorrow, two for joy. Just about know the rhyme. There was a late 70s/early 80s TV series called Magpie which I rarely watched (because it was ITV 😂) but I’m sure the theme tune went through the rhyme.

    2. “The Curious Case of the Wittering Wife Who Spat at the Sight of a Magpie”. Possible title of a detective mystery novel?

  22. 48min12 … tricky indeed.

    The four long ones around the edges (and pretty much anything with 8 letters or more in the middle) eluded me for a long time. CHEMIN-DE-FER I vaguely remembered from my lacklustre attempts to read the original James Bond books. CATASTROPHIC was a hard anagram to unravel until I had the -HIC ending. STRANGLEHOLD I pondered an “unusual” anagram of “choker left in” too long.

    DIRE STRAITS – put me down as a big fan. As a teenager I had all their albums after hearing Brothers in Arms and went down a rabbit hole of being overly interested by them for a while. To the extent, there was a coffee table photo book in my local library which I would regularly pop in and look at on the way home from school! Rediscovered them in recent years and have been blown away by the quality of the music on their middle albums particularly Making Movies, Love Over Gold and Brothers in Arms. I never quite understand why some people have an issue with them (a friend earlier this year pulled a face) – while I may not like every thing everybody else likes I can still appreciate why others do.

    INVERSE – we only had this on Tuesday – I still didn’t get it on first pass.

    RAT-RACE – very meh on the parsing. Biffed but feel like there is an anagram involving career there but hey.

    Anyway glad to solve, December has been a slow but successful month.

    Thanks to setters, bloggers and those who reply and encourage. Happy new year to you! 🥂

    1. Stat attack … stat attack … stat attack …

      I’ve only got records going back to start of February which is when I stopped using aids. It was slow going for a while. In terms of solves the year mostly hovered around 50% until a bonza December. The success has been in getting quicker!

      Feb 8 / 20 (median successful solve time 1hr13)
      Mar 9 / 23 (1hr08)
      Apr 3 / 21 (42mins)
      May 11 / 22 (1hr02)
      Jun 11 / 22 (43min50)
      Jul 9 / 21 (36min)
      Aug 13 / 23 (42min)
      Sep 11 / 22 (25min45)
      Oct 9 / 21 (31min58)
      Nov 11 / 22 (29min39)
      Dec 17 / 22 (29min07)
      Summary: 112 / 239 (47%)

      Avg. successful solve time
      – Feb/Mar – 1hr21
      – Apr/May/Jun – 51min27
      – Jul/Aug/Sep – 41min00
      – Oct/Nov/Dec – 34min25

      14 SCC escapes – first in May, zero in June, two every month since except September when there were three.

      Solves over an hour – Feb 6, Mar 6, Apr 0 , May 7, Jun 3, Jul 2, Aug 3, Sep 0, Oct 1, Nov 0, Dec 2

      I mentioned the stats to my cousin and she said “That’s a bit serious isn’t it?” and I agreed it is! But I also feel that having the statistical record has pulled me through the dark times. While a certain period can have a run of tough grids; seeing the overall improvement that is clearly shown here gives motivation to keep going.

      1. Impressive improvement. I have been recording my QC times since June 2015, a total of 1963 puzzles , tracking my monthly and 6-monthly averages. FWIW, my 6-month rolling averages have been :
        Dec 2015 – 7:11
        Dec 2016 – 6:22
        Dec 2017 – 7:05
        Dec 2018 – 6:08
        Dec 2019 – 5:48
        Dec 2020 – 5:02
        Dec 2021 – 5:27
        Dec 2022 – 5:35
        …from which it looks like my solving peak was in 2020 and I’m gradually getting worse.
        In that time my 15×15 monthly average times have improved from 27:22 to 15:53 so maybe I’m not into terminal senile decay just yet.

        1. Thanks John – interesting to see your times and progress. 7:11 to 5:02 is remarkably good at your level I’d say. What do you attribute your improvement to?

            1. … or “practise”? I can’t work out whether your one-word answer is a verb or a noun. Quite pertinent, given the discussion here a week or two back perhaps.

              Great stats, BTW. Many thanks for sharing, and an impressive % improvement. Possibly akin to a national standard athlete training for months/years to shave a few tenths off their time, in order to become competitive at international level.

    2. More stats … arbitrarily using 15 QCs as a cut off, my record vs the setters is:

      Breadman 5 solved of 16
      Hurley 14/22
      Izetti 7/21
      Joker 10/21
      Mara 16/22
      Orpheus 6/22
      Teazel 9/23

      Avg time spent on puzzles by these setters:
      Breadman 42min31
      Hurley 41min51
      Izetti 1hr12
      Joker 1hr01
      Mara 55min50
      Orpheus 51min56
      Teazel 57min17

      Elsewhere … 100% success against Kenny, Marty, Parkin and 100% failure against Beck but I did only attempt one of their puzzles!

      SCC escapes by setter … Hurley 5, Mara 3, Trelawney 2, Wurm 2, Oink 1, Marty 1

      1. Thanks for sharing your stats. It’s great to see how much you have improved. I think you deserve a full licence now.

      2. I’ve always admired your honesty, recording both good and bad days. Your perseverance has really paid off and should be an encouragement to other newcomers 😊 Congrats – maybe time to cast off your L-plates and get promoted to a Green P 😂

        1. Thanks PB – I hope to get to your heights one day. In the meantime, I’ll just keep reporting how it goes! 😊

  23. I struggled with this one, with 3d and 10a giving me most trouble. Those two probably took 4 of my 13:45. I eventually remembered the rhyme and got sorrow which allowed me to see AS FOLLOWS from the crossers. Dire Straits hadn’t really impinged on my consciousness, apart from having heard The Walk of Life on the radio fairly frequently, but after watching a Sky Arts documentary on Mark Knopfler, I was moved to buy several albums. Like Dvynys, I like the references to local towns such as Cullercoats and Whitley Bay. I nearly lost one of my daughters when she almost slipped out of a chair in the Mean Machine at Spanish City as a 5 year old! Anyway, each to his own. Thanks Teazel and John.

    1. As a confirmed Southerner the areas Knopfler refers to in the songs were a mystery to me. But I loved the stories he was telling in them. I happened to read Mike Carter’s One Man and His Bike this year which is about cycling around the coast of Britain and he namechecks some of the places like Whitley Bay. It got me looking at the geography of the NE and places mentioned.

      As for hearing Walk of Life on the radio, it’s the go to Straits’ song these days. Most of their songs are too long for radio and Money for Nothing has been banished / cut for its use of the F-word. This wasn’t homophobia on Knopfler’s part but he was reproducing what he overheard some blue collar workers saying while he was in a store in the States who were dropping slurs when they saw popstars on MTV videos.

    2. My brother recently took a tumble down the steps at the Spanish City, which are cunningly hidden if you’re not looking where you’re going.

  24. Struggled but got there in the end. Slow on DECAF, AS FOLLOWS, RUSTLINGS (LOI), not helped by putting Thrown instead of THRONE originally.
    Had various PDMS eg with the magpies, STRANGLEHOLD, CHEMIN DE FER (thanks to Che), REVEAL, STOPWATCH, DIRE STRAITS. Had to start in SE at BRISTOL. COD SKEW-WHIFF. Must remember gardens = Kew, sometimes.
    NHO Offed but biffed OFT. Also uncertain-ish about RAW = cruel.
    Pleased to have finished this tricky one. Thanks vm, John.

  25. This was the toughest QC I think I’ve encountered, although others who submit similar times to me seem to have fared a lot better. Perhaps it was just a bad day at the races for me, but at times I felt as if I was doing the 15×15. My time of 20.43 reflects the trouble I had with SKEW WHIFF my LOI. I hope for better things with the biggie!

  26. Seriously thought I was in 1ac, and about to achieve my expected big, fat dnf, as I hardly had any of the grid completed after 20 mins.

    However, I persevered and managed to stumble in around 44 mins which is normally way over my cut off time (being on holiday helps).

    I thought this was really tricky with a few unknowns and lots of misdirection – 6dn being an anagram an obvious example.

    Never thought I’d see the expression “Skew Whiff” in a QC though.

    FOI – 12ac “Ran”
    LOI – 3dn “Sorrow”
    COD – 11dn “Skew Whiff”

    Thanks as usual and a happy new year to everyone in advance!

  27. 21:24. Slow to get this one out and my comments mirror those of AndyPandy’s above. Couldn’t parse DIRE STRAITS or SORROW and found CHEMIN DE FER and SKEW-WHIFF pretty tough. Just happy to have finished a very good puzzle with all correct.

    Thanks to Teazel for a stiff work-out and to Johninterred

  28. Once started I progressed fairly steadily until left with the last 4 or 5 clues which seemed to take an age. A tricky puzzle which I was glad to finish in 23 minutes, all parsed. Some clever clueing and some quirky solutions.

    FOI – 12ac RAN
    LOI – 11dn SKEW WHIFF

    Thanks to Teazel and to John and a Happy New Year to all.

  29. Worst ever for me. 1/24! SORROW was the only clue I could solve today. Many thanks for all the helpful blogs. It’s now time for me to admit that I’m not clever enough for cryptics and call it a day. Good luck to all the learners.

    1. Hard lines, but keep going. Look at how far L-plates has come and be inspired. You can do the same, I’m sure.

    2. I’ve made big progress in cryptic in my 6th decade (though I am way slower than the super fast people on here). I’d recommend persevering as little by little you’ll understand the clue construction and crossword vocab better (Party = Do, Home = In etc etc). If you look on the Big Dave DT sight there’s a succinct guide to the commonest crossword pointers.


    3. They haven’t felt easy for most of the month. But you did well yesterday if I recall with 2/3s done. Nonetheless, just take a break and pick them up occasionally. I recommend focusing on what you do achieve rather than what you couldn’t get.

  30. I started this online, but gave up and printed it out. Slowly cane together from the bottom up. About 35 minutes of solving. Some very good clues- DECAF was very good. I finished with SORROW, and suddenly the ‘Magpie’ theme tune came into my head. One of the presenters was the lovely Susan Stranks if I remember correctly.
    I used to have the first Dire Straits album on vinyl. I loved ‘the sultans of swing’.

  31. Difficult. Took a long time, getting a clue here and there along the way. Eventually got CHEMIN DE FER and RUSTLINGS which helped, but NHO OFT or OFFED, so DNF.
    Happy New Year to all QCers.

  32. Tough one, last few were sorrow, dire straits and raw.
    I like DS and Mark Knopfler is a great guitarist.
    COD Stranglehold.

  33. I started off very slowly but enjoyed this tricky offering. My FOI was CATASTROPHIC as I couldn’t make sense of either of the 1s at first. I was thrown by FACE being in the clue and the answer for 1d. I foxtrotted around the grid with my penultimate guess CHEMIN DE FER and LOI RAT RACE in 11:27.

  34. I found this difficult with very little on first pass and then needing a lot of aids to finish. Also had NOT BAD instead of TOO BAD even though it didn’t really fit with ‘tough luck’.
    I have been doing the QC since it started and this blog is a great addition to the learning experience. Many thanks to all contributors.

  35. 13:30. I wandered all over the place with this one, and got quite stuck in the SW corner, but at least I finished.
    I can’t say anything really stuck out for me, but it was a pleasant enough solve. SKEW-WHIFF took a while, as I tend to think of it as one word (as, it seems, does Collins). It’s well-known to this southerner living in the Midlands, and still used from time to time. It does look very strange written out without the hyphen though.
    Too many magpies in my garden these days! I’m not superstitious but I know people who always salute a magpie.
    I quite liked AS FOLLOWS and SKI.
    FOI Accuser LOI Chemin de fer
    Thanks Teazel and John

    I’d like to echo everyone’s thanks to the bloggers – you do a great job. But I’d especially like to thank John, Vinyl and Jack for their amazing work in getting the new blog set up and running so well.
    Thanks also to all the posters for the highs and lows, the amazing range of GK, the laughs and your good company. Happy new year everyone 😊🥂

  36. To my SORROW I quickly found myself in DIRE STRAITS with my brain all SKEW-WHIFF from this puzzle where I couldn’t crack the above three clues. I would like to second PennyB’s thoughts and express my gratitude for all the entertainment and stimulation provided by this forum and all who sail in it- very much appreciated!

  37. I was hoping for a great time to end the year. Alas, it was not to be and I took just under 35 mins. As so often with Teazel, I couldn’t get on the wavelength and struggled throughout. Thankfully a short break to take a phone call helped just at the point when desperation was setting in.

    I’ve realised that my GK is usually good enough for me to secure a decent time, but I am still stumbling over some of the word play, with today being a good example. I was convinced that 1ac was an anagram and, for 22ac, I thought the words comprising the anagram were rib and shot rather than rib and lost. D’oh!

    Knew CHEMIN DE FER from the Bond books and SKEW WHIFF is a common term in Yorkshire. I always greet a magpie with the words ‘Good morning Mr Magpie’ to ward off SORROW, just as I was taught as a child.

    With my legal hat on, slightly thrown by 8ac. I appreciate fully that the dictionaries have PROSECUTOR and ACCUSER as synonyms, but, to me, they are different. The accuser is the victim of an offence and the prosecutor is the solicitor/barrister who presents the case at court. It also didn’t help that I saw prosecutor and thought DA!

    FOI – RAN
    COD – OFT (brilliant)

    Can I echo the comments of those above and thank all the setters, bloggers and contributors for the entertainment provided over the last year. I can’t compete with Cedric or L Plates when it comes to stats, but I have enjoyed countless hours puzzling over the daily QC!

    My very best wishes to all of you for a happy 2023. After the turmoil of recent years, it would be nice to see a period of calm and peace.


    1. Toughie today GA – but you got there. HNY to you – always appreciate your comments 👍

      1. Thanks L-Plates😊 and well done for recording those statistics. They made for interesting reading and show just what progress you have made. You’ll be one of the bloggers before long!

  38. Thank-you for all the comments thanking the brilliant setters and team of bloggers, to which I would like to add one more… the commenters! It is the interesting discussion and communal mutual support that really bring the blogs to life and make the effort to blog worthwhile. Thank-you to you all.

  39. Thanks to John and Teazel.

    As a big fan, I kicked myself for only getting DIRE STRAITS from the checkers. Thanks to John Dunleavy for explaining the relevance of ‘Spanish City’ in the masterpiece that is Tunnel of Love – I’d always wondered.

    Almost DNF, due to OFT. Am I the only one who doesn’t think oft (ie often/frequently) means quite the same thing as regularly (ie at regular intervals)? Many people use ‘regularly’ when they mean ‘often’/‘frequently’, but Chambers suggests the two are not strictly interchangeable. Additionally, as a clean-living boy, I’d never heard of OFFED, which didn’t help!

    Like many others, enjoyed DECAF’s surface.

    1. I am a quibbler about regularly and frequently not being the same thing. After all you celebrate your birthday at regular intervals but that doesn’t make it frequent. But I have got over myself and accept most people think of them as the same thing.

  40. A really tough workout today – 67 minutes (across 3 stints for me)! I struggled with almost every aspect of crosswording – deciphering the wordplay, vocabulary, GK, the lot! LOsI were OFT and RAT RACE, but many others had me beaten for a very long time.

    I will peruse all of the above stats over the weekend and will post a set of my own next week.

    Very many thanks to Teazel and John for today’s puzzle, and Mrs Random and I wish everyone here all the very best for 2023.

    1. HNY to all; I enjoy the blogs sometimes more than the crossword!
      I spell it skew-wiff. I think.

    2. Well done Mr Random. It was your statting in the first place that inspired me to keep them 👍

  41. I think the joy to be had today was simply getting to the end of a tough one, Mr R. Well done for showing such perseverance.

  42. we did not complete the puzzle today due to visitors, but wish all contributors the best for the new year. we enjoy this site very much, thanks to all.

Comments are closed.