Times Quick Cryptic No 2317 by Felix

Solving time: 6:57

A thought-provoking challenge from Felix who is known for the ninas and themes with which his grids are occasionally spiced. Always worth reviewing the grid on completion to see if you can spot anything….

Did you spot it? If so, try not to give too much away in the chat, so that later solvers can join in the fun. If you didn’t however, I’ll post a clue in the chat at 15:00 GMT…

Definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [directions in square ones].

1 Flood’s ending with Noah’s vessel in gloom (4)
DARK – Last letter [ending] of {floo}D + ARK (Noah’s vessel)
3 Come down with post for remote Cornish location (5,3)
LANDS END – LAND (come down) + SEND (post)
8 Remains after rearranging student meeting (7)
SEMINAR – Anagram [after rearranging] of REMAINS
10 Annual percentage rate, one lowered initially for a month (5)
APRIL – APR (Annual percentage rate) I (one) + first letter of [initially] L{owered}
11 Drunk a lot on a mild sherry (11)
AMONTILLADO – Anagram [drunk] of A LOT ON A MILD
13 Cold German gentleman with yen for fruit (6)
CHERRY – C (cold) HERR (German gentleman) Y (yen)
15 Awoke close to eight, in brief dramatic appearance (4,2)
CAME TO – Insert the last letter of [close to] {eigh}T into CAMEO (brief dramatic appearance)
17 Attractive girl we hear going round for job in church? (4-7)
BELL-RINGING – BELL – homophone [we hear] of BELLE (attractive girl) RINGING (going round i.e. circling)
20 Sends up European surrounded by runners (5)
SKIES – E (European) inserted into [surrounded by] SKIS (runners)
21 One monotonously reciting viewpoint — one read, in part (7)
INTONER – Hidden [in part] inside viewpointone read
22 Ape synod’s unusual times for public visits (4,4)
OPEN DAYS Anagram [unusual] of APE SYNOD
23 Go down for a season in San Francisco? (4)
FALL – Double definition
1 Remoteness of girl with attitude (8)
DISTANCE – DI (random girl) STANCE (attitude)
2 Tough character reflected partially in Jacob Marley (5)
RAMBO – Reverse hidden [reflected partially] in Jacob Marley

David Morrell, writer of the novel ‘First Blood’ in which John Rambo appears, says that in choosing the name Rambo he was inspired by “the sound of force” in the name of Rambo apples, which he encountered in Pennsylvania.

4 Tune I like, yodelled at first in casual manner (6)
AIRILY – AIR (tune) I + first letters of L{ike} Y{odelled}
5 Very resistant to once more entering lifeless street (4,7)
DEAD AGAINST – AGAIN (once more) inserted into [entering] DEAD ST (lifeless street)
6 Lug part of bale, or last of produce, carelessly (7)
EARLOBE – Anagram [carelessly] of BALE OR and E [last of {produc}E]

LUG is a Scottish or Northern English informal term for an EAR (though I’m from London and certainly remember the term “lug ‘oles” being used with the same meaning)

7 Toy handed to grateful girl, last of all (4)
DOLL – Last letters of all of the preceding words: {hande}D {t}O {gratefu}L {gir}L
9 As uitlander, potentially, awarded citizenship? (11)
NATURALISED – Anagram [potentially] of AS UITLANDER
12 One pursuing, perhaps, article in Spanish for comic verse (8)
DOGGEREL – DOGGER (one pursuing, perhaps e.g. one who follows/dogs another) EL (article in Spanish)
14 One in recession, ie bachelor, ruined with debt (3-4)
EBB-TIDE – Anagram [ruined with] of IE B (bachelor) and DEBT
16 Clever bishop — rather wet? (6)
BRAINY – B (bishop) RAINY (rather wet)
18 Pinot Noir, as regularly found in ancient part of Asia (5)
IONIA – Every other letter [regularly found] of pInOt NoIr As

IONIA was in the area of Turkey now known as Western Anatolia. Its biggest city was Ephesus where one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis, was located.

19 Capital city’s outskirts evacuated, behold (4)
OSLO – O{utskirt}S [evacuated i.e. remove all inside letters] LO (behold)


94 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2317 by Felix”

  1. It would never occur to me to look for a Nina in a QC; having looked, I don’t find it, unsurprisingly. 4:50.

  2. Off for a very rapid start, but ended with a DNF as I couldn’t figure out CAME TO. Too many choices, and I didn’t see how the clue worked. Banged in MAKE DO and received the unsurprising pinks.

    Also much slowed down by EBB TIDE, having being diverted by EBITDA which goes down in a recession.

    I had a great holiday in IONIA last FALL, where we saw two wonders of the world, the other being the tomb of Mausolus (the Mausoleum) in modern day Bodrum.

    Still searching for that blasted Nina. It’s probably Dickens.


    1. You couldn’t have seen much of the two wonders; they were destroyed centuries ago.

  3. An 11:24 DNF. In a hurry at the end and ‘carelessly’ bunged in “earhole” for 6d. Put in “bright” initially for 16d, for which ‘rather wet?’ sort of works in a Conservative Party political sense, until corrected by crossers.

    No luck with the theme &/or Nina.

    Thanks to Felix and Mike H.

  4. 8 minutes. I was expecting a theme or Nina from the start as at least the last 18 consecutive puzzles by Felix have had them and there were several before that, however on this occasion I have been unable to spot anything. Most of the previous ones had a literary theme and the majority of those featured Dickens, but there have been a number of other themes on completely unrelated subjects. I await enlightenment!

    1. I would never get that as they are not my thing. But the top line of the grid has what looked like a clear reference to something and a quick search later and I know what it’s about.

  5. Seemed very doable and whizzed along to finish in 18.30. LOI Came to.
    As the setter name does not show on my Android phone I didn’t give more than a cursory glance for a Nina, which, true to form, I didn’t, and still don’t spot.
    Too cold and icy to walk the dog, coffee and croissant instead.
    Thanks Felix and Mike

  6. 10 minutes but with errors – like BletchleyReject I essayed Earhole for the Earlobe. I knew it didn’t parse, and got my just desserts for ignoring one of the cardinal rules – if you can’t parse it, it is probably wrong.

    Learning point of the day is that Ionia is/was in Asia. Part of modern day Turkey, I gather. Yet the Ionian Islands (such as Corfu, Ithaca, Kefalonia etc) are western Greece and clearly in Europe. Very confusing.

    Many thanks to Mike for the blog

  7. Happy with 6’56” and no careless pinks.

    No Nina spotted.

    Enjoyed EBB TIDE.

    Thanks Felix and Mike.

    Will revisit later for Nina illumination!

  8. I thought this was fairly gentle and whizzed through most of the top. The bottom was a little slower to go in but had no major holdups. Came back to the unknown sherry at the end with pen and paper in hand to juggle the unchecked letters into something that looked like it might be word.
    Very relieved that it came back all green in 6.41.
    Had a cursory glance for a nina but assumed it would be Dickens which is a knowledge void for me.
    Thanks to Mike

  9. Thought I had done rather well but I too bunged in Ear-hole. Pity. Very fast by my standards, though slow on IONIA (LOI) as was mislead trying to think of a an ancient country much further east. Also slow on hidden INTONER. Biffed CAME TO. PDMs EBB TIDE, DOGGEREL, FALL.
    No problem with sherry, as ‘twas a common aperitif in my youth.🙂
    No idea about Nina.
    Thanks vm, Mike.

    1. I was in the EARhole camp for a short time but managed to talk my way out when I couldn’t see where the H was coming from

        1. I reckon that’s a good limit to set yourself. I meant to say yesterday that next time you see a Mara, I reckon it would be worth coming back later in the day, possibly a second time. I certainly found them to be one of the easier setters. Yesterday wasn’t but you still did well on it. Likewise Hurley tends to have some easy grids to solve.

  10. Enjoyed this, thanks Felix and Mike! Only issue was the Di in distance – the only Di’s I know are in their 70’s. I do think setters need to think about this!

    1. I know a Di in her late 40s and worked with another who would be early 50s. Princess Di would have been 61 at the moment. Probably the name will come back into fashion soon. It is an easy way for setter to get to DIS- words though.

      1. Thanks for taking the trouble to reply – to be clear it’s not the about the name ( as you say they go in and out of fashion) its about the use of the world girl – not all women appreciate it in my opinion.

    2. I haven’t got any stats to back this up but my take is that boy & girl are crossword shorthand for shortened names. So whilst Di, Val, Al & Ed might be clued as girl or boy, Diana, Valerie, Alan and Edward would more likely be woman / man.

      1. That was certainly the practice of some setters at one time but there have been so many exceptions over recent years I’ve had the feeling that the convention (if it ever was a general one) has long been abandoned by some if not most setters.

  11. A very quick solve – until I reached EARLOBE (not easy) and the SE corner when I came to a halt. INTONER helped me see DOGGEREL and only then did I see CAME TO and biffed FALL (d’oh). I was within target in the end but disappointed by my dramatic deceleration at the end.
    Thanks to Felix and to Mike for the blog. I wouldn’t spend time looking for a Nina.
    John M.

  12. Seeing Felix’s name I was braced for difficulty but I raced through this in 8 minutes. LOI AIRILY after EARLOBE.
    It occurred to me that there might be a theme but I didn’t spot it. And still haven’t!
    Good puzzle.

  13. Another careless EARHOLE. Didn’t really read the clue! Didn’t spot a nina either, even though I expected one. 5:36 WOE. Thanks Felix and Mike.

  14. DNF. Having remembered DOGGEREL from previous QCs and juggled the letters for the sherry, I then invented a new word meaning carelessly i.e EARBORE because it parsed! EAR (lug) B (part of bale) OR E (last of produce)

  15. Again finished outside target at 10.50 caused mainly by having to write out the long anagrams before managing to solve. My main obstacle however was confidently writing in BRIGHT for 16dn, thinking of the description given to some of Margaret Thatchers Tory wets from the 1980s. Got there in the end though. No idea with the Nina, although as LouWeed has hinted about a possible connection, I’m pretty sure if I have interpreted his comment correctly it will be unknown to me.

  16. 24:26 … didn’t really enjoy this as it felt clunky in places. Particularly with CAME-TO including “close TO eight” and INTONER using “monotonously”. Post solve I parsed everything but quite a few I ended up biffing with a certain degree of certainty. By the time I had my last two SKIES and OSLO (LOI) – I didn’t really care whether it was all right or wrong. Just wanted to be done.

    PS DOGGEREL is one of those answers which I’ve only learned from seeing it before. It’s not a QC-level word and even allowing for the Spanish article … -O-G–EL is hard to fathom “one pursing”.

  17. I thought I was up for a fast time early on but slowed down somewhat towards the end. Biffed EARHOLE too and failed to go back and parse it properly so 2 pinks for me in 19:12. No luck with the Nina but that’s par for the course. Thanks Felix and Mike.

  18. Saw Felix, thought there might be a theme, haven’t found it. I think the only one I ever found was one where there were umpteen M’s around the edge of the grid, may have been puzzle 2000.

    Avoided the EARHOLE, returning due to complete inability to parse , so that was my LOI. Jist realised I biffed the hidden INTONER. I liked DEAD AGAINST and CHERRY.


  19. This felt surprisingly easy today, and I finished in 8.17 with no hold ups. I cannot see the Nina.

  20. DNF for me after giving up with 7 left to answer.

    I started off very well but ground to a halt with the 7 out of my reach.

    Also, never heard of Amontillado.

  21. LOI was skies, I keep forgetting that runners are skis in crossword land. Managed to complete this so I’m happy, despite taking a while.

  22. Just inside my target at a few seconds below 15 minutes, but I can’t see a theme / Nina – I guess it is outwith my experience. Nice puzzle though, with a few to ponder on and no sign of clunkiness, so if a theme has been included, well done Felix. My LOI was EBB-TIDE after I finally saw BELL-RINGING as a possibility. Many thanks to Mike, I’ll be back for enlightenment later.

  23. Very straightforward, but lulled into the EARHOLE camp without really thinking about it! Doh! No idea about the NINA – I can never spot them.

  24. Much better than the past couple of days. I raced through the top half but slowed down considerably at the end, so ended up with a time of 15 minutes. Then came here and discovered I’d fallen into the ‘earhole’ trap, so a DNF for me. I was slowed down a bit by initially entering ‘bell ringers’ at 17ac and then trying to put the Spanish article at the beginning of 12dn. Luckily I saw CAME TO at 15ac fairly quickly which forced a bit of a rethink.

    FOI – 1ac DARK
    LOI – the incorrect 6dn
    COD – 13ac CHERRY

    Thanks to Felix and to Mike

  25. 21 mins…

    I thought it was fairly straight forward, and then got bogged down by a couple of the longer clues: 17ac “Bell Ringing”, 12dn “Doggerel” and 11ac “Amontillado” (which I’d never heard of – so was just a best guess based on letter combinations)

    Thought there may be a Nina but didn’t really look for it and still didn’t see it when I finished.

    FOI – 1ac “Dark”
    LOI – 11ac “Amontillado”
    COD – 17ac “Bell Ringing”

    Thanks as usual!

  26. I was expecting a difficult solve when I saw the setter was Felix, but the first few across clues seemed friendly enough, and I made it all the way down to Bell Ringing before coming to a halt. The crossers made the early downs equally friendly, but a careless Earhole would come back to catch me out. Bell Ringing and Ebb Tide took far too long to see, leaving me no time to revisit unparsed answers and keep a sub-20, and I inevitably paid the penalty. CoD to 5d, Dead Against, for the surface. Invariant

  27. On for a fast time but undone by EARLOBE. Completely wrong end of the stick. Thought ‘carelessly’ was the definition… Pleased to guess the unknown AMONTILLADO, and to remember DOGGEREL from previous crosswords. Liked CHERRY. FOI DARK, LOI the made-up ‘earbore’ 😂 Thanks as usual.

  28. All correct in 34 minutes (not bad for me), but last 5 minutes were spent on reviewing my two question marks – INTONER (took a while to see it was a hidden) and EAR LOBE (where I incorrectly had EAR hOle for some time).

    I found the top half of the grid reasonably accessible, but the lower half proved more difficult. Still, I got through what I think was quite a difficult QC – something I wouldn’t have achieved a year or so ago.

    Mrs Random is currently out at her Pilates session, having already run first thing this morning. She is also half-way through the process of making bread, so she has not yet had the time to tackle this puzzle. Mrs R is not often bored … unless she’s listening to me, of course.

    Many thanks to Felix and Mike H.

    1. Well done Mr R, we’re getting there slowly!

      I’m exhausted just reading about Mrs R’s endeavours.

      1. … and, since then, she has also made a lemon drizzle cake (very yummy and I got to lick the bowl). Finally, she polished off Felix’s offering in 27 minutes.

  29. Ticking most of the boxes above: EARHOLE without bothering to read beyond “lug” ✅, can’t see the Nina ✅, fairly gentle ✅. 07:29 WOE.

    Many thanks Felix and Mike.


  30. It’s always hard to spell something you’ve never heard of but I seem to have managed it this morning on the way to an all green finish in 10. Got to CAME ON via ‘walk on’ and ‘come on’ which made DEAD AGAINST hard. Enjoyed EBB TIDE.

  31. No, nothing! I had a brief search for the theme, didn’t spot anything, so moved on. I shall be back later to check Mike’s big reveal 😊
    For me, there is a problem, in that, when I see it’s a Felix or other RR puzzle, the prospect of a nina hangs over me somewhat. I find that, however much I try to ignore it, it’s lurking in the back of my mind while all I want to do is solve the puzzle! I accept that there are times when, if you’re lucky / bright enough to pick up on it early on, a nina can help. But that doesn’t happen often. I like an occasional theme or nina, when they are more of a treat, and there have been some really clever ones (the recent rainbow one was brilliant). But frankly, I think it’s getting a bit tiresome, especially when it’s some football team, Victorian novel or 1990s indie band which means nothing to me. That, of course, is my problem! Anyway, rant over.
    9:45 today. In fairness, I didn’t think the nina caused too many weird clues, so it was quite fun, but not much to report otherwise.
    FOI Dark LOI Came to COD Amontillado
    Thanks Felix, and extra thanks to Mike for a very illuminating blog

      1. Still nothing 😅😅 Now if it were DARK Side of the Moon, I might be in with a chance!

    1. Penny, I agree with you: ‘this Nina thing is getting a bit tiresome’.
      There seems to have been more blog discussion today about the phantom Nina than about the crossword itself.
      I start the QC each day to try to solve the puzzle and not to play ‘find the hidden words’. I could do that in the puzzle section of a less prestigious publication.
      I am beginning to wonder if I would get more pleasure out of the Cryptic Crossword in a different ‘broadsheet’ newspaper. I certainly have been doing so recently.

    2. Just “some Victorian novel”? I think Mr Dickens is an up and coming talent. He may go far. I wonder what he has for us next.

      P.S. What would her subjects have become known as if Queen Victoria had bee christened Barbara?

  32. I didn’t even think of a Nina till I read the blog, so went back to look over the grid hoping to spot it, but no luck. Otherwise not too difficult, apart from being in the ear hole camp. Biffing and not checking, my besetting sin.

  33. No offence … blah blah blah … frankly an idiot who should not be pandered to!

    Wonder what it’s like when you actually want to offend someone 🤔

  34. I’ve removed your comment, Ants. Your POV about the Nina may be shared by others and there’s no problem expressing it here, but it’s not okay to refer to other contributors in such derogatory terms.

  35. 15.16, much better than the last two days. Corrected earhole before finishing and never did make sense of DOLL, so thank you for the blog. As ever, the nina is a mystery.

  36. Note to the poster who complained about the request for restraint discussing the Nina or hidden theme:

    I have removed your comment. Your POV about the Nina may be shared by others and there’s no problem expressing it here, but it’s not okay to refer to other contributors in derogatory terms. Today’s blogger has made it clear that a full discussion will be welcome later today.

    1. Well that was rather excessively heavy handed.

      I have never seen anyone here complain about themes being spoiled, so I don’t see why you interpreted my derision of anyone who would as being “derogatory to contributors”. I was derogatory to some nebulous “other” that I felt the blogger was pandering to for no obvious reason. I mean, has anyone ever complained that early discussion of a theme was spoiling their “fun”?

      I see the blogger finally revealed the theme at 8PM, but all the regulars had been and gone by then, and only a few have bothered to return, so what exactly was the point of the exercise?

      1. There was no problem with expressing your point of view until you referred to anyone who might take an opposite view as ‘frankly an idiot’. That’s not acceptable here.

        1. I didn’t say that of anyone here though, I said it of the kind of people who go to speciality discussion sites and expect everyone else to keep schtum about something because they haven’t experienced it yet.

          I see them a lot at a particular sports forum I visit. And I must admit I find their apparent inability to take personal responsibility for avoiding spoilers – by, you know, not visiting a site where they’re bound to be seen! – extremely irritating. The admins there used to pander to them until enough people complained that they shouldn’t.

          I guess I was concerned that something similar was happening here, but for even less reason, because like I say, I’ve never even seen anyone complain about spoilers for themes/Ninas here. So the whole “don’t discuss it for now” request just seemed utterly pointless.

          1. Your point could still have been made without referring to anyone, here or not, as an idiot and then it would not have been deleted.

            More generally, TfTT doesn’t have an across the board policy on discussion of themes and Ninas – it’s up to individual bloggers of which there are some two dozen to decide how they want to handle it on the day. Sometimes there will be open discussion from the start and other times there may be hints for a while before the secret is revealed and the free-for all begins.

            Yesterday’s theme was one of the most obscure that I can remember as I gather it was outside of the range of knowledge of many contributors (including myself) so it seems quite reasonable to me that having mentioned its presence our blogger chose to give us all plenty of time to revisit the puzzle to see if we could spot it for ourselves.

            1. Thanks for your detailed and patient response. I shall endeavour in future to refrain from calling spades spades, even if referring to outsiders.

              I think we will have to agree to disagree about your final point. To me, it being relatively obscure was all the more reason to open up discussion as soon as possible, to increase the possibility of informed opinions being aired. As it is, the blogger’s final revelation has so far garnered precisely two replies, both of which claim little to no knowledge of the theme.

              Anyway, as someone who lurks a lot but rarely comments, I’ve already taken up far too much of your time, so I’ll leave it at that and just say thanks again. 👍

              1. Thank you. It could just be that the lack of comments following the final reveal reflects the lack of interest in the particular theme amongst the people who post here. But as you have said, enough is enough for now.

              2. Hello – I just wanted to thank you for your comments. It’s good to hear other points of view, but just wanted to clarify where I, as the day’s blogger, was coming from.

                As a solver myself for some years, I have occasionally had my attention drawn to the fact that there is a Nina within a completed grid, but no details have been given and by the end of the day, there has been no closure for me and therefore have been somewhat disappointed.

                When I’ve been made aware of a Nina, but have been told what it was and what the references are, I’ve been disappointed that I wasn’t at least given the chance to spot it myself and check whether I was successful later on.

                As the QC blog is also aimed at those newer to solving cryptic crosswords, I gave a hint that there was a hidden theme within the grid, and that I would offer a clue later for anyone who might be interested, and then a solution much later on when nearly all of the day’s solvers had probably had a go at the puzzle.

                I am not surprised that only a few commented at the solution – as you point out, it was obscure (but plaudits to the setter for going for something out-of-the-ordinary – unusually for me, I actually spotted the theme whilst reviewing the grid on completion – definitely a rarity!), perhaps not in the field of interest of the majority of cryptic-crossword-solving Times readers, and perhaps after all, not worthy of much comment….. but for the few who might have been interested, it was there if they wanted it.

                Thanks again


                1. Thank you for taking the time to explain your reasoning. I understand it, but I think the likelihood of lots of people returning in the evening – or middle of the night for some of the regulars – is pretty remote, regardless of the obscurity, or not, of the theme.

                  For what it’s worth, I do appreciate it when the blogger mentions the presence of a Nina in their preamble without revealing what it is – which I think is how jackkt usually handles them. Then if I’ve missed it myself, which is usually the case, I can go back to try figure it out before reading any comments. I think most contributors here will read the preamble first too. And if they don’t, well they’re just id… ahem, very silly! 😁

  37. Nina/Theme clue

    Modern (?) music is right up my street so spotted this quite easily.

    A 1987 album from a Scottish alternative rock band.

    There are at least 5 different references using all or part of 9 clues…..

    Full reveal at 2000 GMT

    1. Is this really what we choose to do the QC for?
      Gimme a break……
      My views are summarised in my response to Penny B, above (coincidentally, and rather spookily, at 3.00pm). John M.

      1. Well, my answer is that No, it isn’t what I do a QC for. I never look for them, and not surprisingly, therefore never spot them, and barely less surprisingly, never mind not spotting them. But some people like them, look for them, do spot them, and derive pleasure from them (including one presumes some setters). And good for them – it doesn’t spoil my day that I don’t share their fun.

        1. That is fine, Cedric. Everyone to their own source of pleasure, within reason.
          However, my objections (here and on earlier occasions) concern the way Ninas can affect the setting and the flow of solving (not a great problem today) but, also, the way the Nina (and related discussion) tends to eclipse the crossword itself. At a rough count, almost half the comments today include mention of this Nina. It becomes something that simply distracts from the usual interesting points made by bloggers concerning the QC itself.
          Others seem to agree, too (examples: Jan 20th and earlier blogs). John.

          1. Yes both fair points which I am happy to accept. But I would still hope that the pleasure to those that enjoy Ninas outweighs any downside for the rest of us.

            1. I do agree with you, Cedric – of course, one man’s meat and all that. I would never wish to spoil someone else’s fun. My main issue is that I’m always aware that there is likely to be a theme / nina with this setter, which I probably won’t get. Unlike some other solvers here, I find it hard to dislodge that aspect from my mind and that affects how I attempt to solve the puzzle. But as I said, this is my problem!

  38. I found the Nina with a bit of googling, but it wasn’t something I knew about. Easy for a Felix, I though. I liked the BRAINY bishop. Thank-you Mike and Felix. 4:10.

  39. 10:34. Thought I was on for under 10 minute solve but three snags. Forgot lug was ear and missed seeing cameo ,also puzzled over connotations of San Francisco before it hit me that it just signalled something peculiar to U.S. AMONTILLADO suggested Edgar Allan Poe but search for presence of morgues, ravens, ushers, tell-tale hearts etc was fruitless. Wait, thinking of these just reminded me of his poem The Bells, so BELL-RINGING fits?

  40. We carelessly joined the ear hole camp for 6d, otherwise no great holdups. Pleasant puzzle, thanks Felix.

  41. 24:09

    This seemed really easy at first but then I got stuck with about 5 to go in the bottom. I’d already discarded BELL RINGER but once I realised my error with that answer the rest went in quickly enough with LOI EBB TIDE.

  42. Began like the Flying Scotsman (first 7 across clues went in straightaway) and finished like a Transpennine Express service (those of you that have the misfortune to travel by train in Northern England will know exactly what I mean).

    This was mostly gentle but I took ages to see AIRILY, my LOI. This took me into SCC territory. Not a clue what the Nina is. As it appears to be musical, I won’t be much the wiser when we get the answer.

    FOI – DARK
    LOI – see above
    PDM – FALL

    Great blog Mike, many thanks!

  43. Just to report that I have (for once) solved the theme in today’s QC, but I needed MH’s 3:00pm heavy hint to do so. Whilst the late 1980’s were pre-kids for the Randoms, they were also post-honeymoon period in our respective careers and a crippling mortgage repayments period, so we rather lost track of what was going on in the modern music scene at the time. I know of the band, but don’t really know their music. Well done, Felix! It didn’t detract from the crossword, IMHO.

  44. Well done if you spotted the Nina/Theme.

    The 1987 album was Darklands by The Jesus And Mary Chain.

    The references (all of which are tracks on the album) that I spotted were as follows:
    10a APRIL + 20a SKIES (this was what led me to the answer)
    1a DARK + the first part of 3a LANDS
    16d RAINY + 22a DAYS (the full song title is Nine Million Rainy Days)
    23a FALL
    13a CHERRY + 15a CAME TO (the actual title is Cherry Came Too)

    Hardly Dickens or Poe, I know, but well done Felix for squeezing those in!

    1. NHO the band. I wonder who has. Mind you, am not strong on pop music post 60s 🙂

      1. I’ve heard of them but know nothing about them. Music in the early 90s was mostly The Wheels on the Bus and the Thomas the Tank Engine theme 😅

    2. That’s a brilliant spot Mike Harper and way beyond me but I love it.

      J&MC’s “Just like honey” (don’t know what album it’s on) is a wonderful track and on my all time playlist. I suspect the purists hate it as too commercial!

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