Times Quick Cryptic No 2352 by Mara

Mara having fun with synonyms today. Depending on how lenient you’re willing to be, between 5 and 7 double definition clues.

I enjoyed this puzzle very much, finishing a little inside my target in 14:06.  I don’t think I can pick a favourite clue today: all of SURFACE, OOMPH and BUSKING made me smile, and NOSE was beautifully smooth.

Definitions underlined in italics, wordplay indicators in square brackets, synonyms in round brackets.

1 Ruining lawns, lob white missile (8)
SNOWBALL – Anagram [ruining] of LAWNS LOB
5 Uninteresting doctor meets sailor (4)
DRABDR meets AB (able seaman)

AB for “able seaman” is an oddity that has always puzzled me. Looking in the SOED, the definition is “AB abbreviation Able (seaman)”. So there you go.

8 All there is to do when eg watch wound back (5)
REMITTIMER (eg watch), backwards [wound back]

A “remit” is a scope of responsibility: acting beyond one’s remit is a bad thing, hence the remit is “all there is to do”.

9 Transport chief playing for money (7)
BUSKINGBUS (transport) + KING (chief)

It’s not too much of a stretch to construe this as a double definition, with the first being a whimsical “bus king”.

11 Tree always seems huge, first of all (3)
ASH – First letters [first of all] of Always Seems Huge
12 Instruction in audit once misconstrued (9)
EDUCATION – Anagram [misconstrued] of AUDIT ONCE

This one sent me down the wrong path: I was looking for a synonym for the “direction” meaning of “instruction”.

13 Reveal former beau, model (6)
EXPOSEEX (former beau) + POSE (model, as a verb)
15 Having lost heart, fail test with colourful plants? (6)
FLORAL – The outer letters [having lost heart] of FAIL + ORAL (type of test)
18 First of casualties in war, score shocking — frightening figure? (9)
SCARECROWC [first of CASUALTIES] in an anagram [shocking] of WAR SCORE

The purpose of a scarecrow is – well – to scare crows, so it is by definition a “frightening figure”.

19 Knock  musical genre (3)
RAP – double definition
20 Buttonholed by Edward, relation teased (7)
TAUNTEDAUNT (relation) inside [buttonholed by] TED (common short form of Edward)

I never have any trouble with the various diminutive forms of Edward: my great-grandfather, grandfather and father are Ned, Ted and Ed respectively.

21 Principal has fallen from swing in corner (5)
ANGLE – {W}ANGLE (swing) without the first letter [principal has fallen].

I parsed this one post-submission. Wangle as in “I think I can swing that”.

22 Clutched by soprano, second bouquet (4)
NOSE – hidden in [clutched by] “sopraNO SEcond”

“Bouquet” and “nose” – both words for how wine smells. Lovely surface reading.

23 Even in action, dispirited (8)
DEFLATEDFLAT (even) inside [in] DEED (action)
1 Top, champion board rider? (7)
SURFACE – A “surf ace” could be a champion board rider

Another one that I could easily have parsed as a double definition.

2 Power higher initially, after raising of low energy (5)
OOMPHP (power) + H (higher initially) after reversal of [raising of] MOO (low)

“Low” as in “the cattle are lowing”.  This one made me smile.

3 Beloved after drink expressing contrasting emotions (11)
BITTERSWEETSWEET (beloved, as in “my sweet”) after BITTER (drink)

Bitter is a style of beer common in the UK.

4 Work with dog belonging to us (6)
LABOURLAB (type of dog) + OUR (belonging to us)
6 Wetter  prince? (7)
RAINIER – Double definition.

There have been multiple Rainiers of Monaco, but the one who sprang to my mind was the one who married Grace Kelly. Not really surprising, since he was Rainier III, and Rainier II’s reign ended in 1357.

7 Start, say, filling waste container (5)
BEGINEG (say) inside [filling] BIN (waste container)
10 Down and back, butterfly (11)
SWALLOWTAILSWALLOW (down, as a drink) + TAIL (back).

I had a minor MER at  “tail” for “back”, but the very first definition in my dictionary starts “The hindmost part of an animal..”

14 Snacka trifle? (7)
PEANUTS – Double definition.
16 See what I’m saying? (3-4)
LIP-READ – cryptic definition
17 Is one on the fiddle in card game? (6)
BRIDGE – Double definition, the first being the part of the violin that the strings run up and over.
18 Odd parts forgotten, is mantra one for evil spirit? (5)
SATAN – alternating letters [odd parts forgotten] of iS mAnTrA oNe
19 Proper  choice at junction? (5)
RIGHT – Yet another double definition, with a very smooth  surface

59 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2352 by Mara”

  1. 11:53. Everything came out fairly smoothly for me. White missile was my favourite definition and I enjoyed the SURF ACE and the BUS KING -oh and always fun to see OOMPH too. Thanks for the parsing of ANGLE- I had no idea what was going on there.

  2. In the dim recesses of my memory, I seem to recall that AB stands for “able bodied” seaman. Maybe – although Wikipedia suggests it’s just folklore!

    I thought “swing” at 21ac was “dangle”, but “wangle” is good too.

    1. That has also been my understanding after a first career in the Royal Navy. I’ve never heard an alternative explanation – AB is able-bodied.

    2. AB does indeed stand for Able-Bodied (Seaman). When I joined the RN recruits were known as ORD (Ordinary). Once you were qualified to go to sea you became AB.

      Not sure why Wikipedia suggests AB is folklore. That’s utter nonsense. I left the RN in 2017, and ABs were still ABs then.

  3. Fun puzzle tonight. Double definitions are enjoyable.

    Re 5a: ‘AB’ is the abbreviation for ‘able-bodied seaman’; it originally meant a sailor with enough sea-time (2 years?) capable of performing multiple jobs on deck, as opposed to a less-experienced and therefore less-qualified ‘ordinary seaman’.

  4. Like Vinyl, I just biffed ANGLE and didn’t search for a dropped initial letter. Liked OOMPH. 6:24.

  5. 11:13. BITTERSWEET took a while to come despite the helpful starting letter and I initially put in a guessed “feathertail” for the ‘butterfly’ at 10d which mucked up a few across clues. We’ve had the SURF ACE a few times in various places recently and OOMPH was another that crops up from time to time.

    Favourites were the LIP-READ cryptic def and the misleading ‘Is one on the fiddle’ def for BRIDGE.

    Thanks to Doofenschmirtz and Mara

    1. I think it should be “one is on the fiddle” in 17d. The bridge is not optional!

  6. 14 minutes, so another missed target here. I struggled with PEANUTS as my LOI but the main delay came earlier when I biffed BETTING at 9ac and chose to ignore my self-imposed rule not to move on until I had spotted the wordplay. That gave me T as the first letter of 10dn and I wasted more times considering TORTOISESHELL as the butterfly although I soon realised it wouldn’t fit in the grid.

  7. Definitely not on Mara’s frequency today with a big fat DNF beaten in the SE corner by ANGLE SWALLOWTAIL DEFLATED and LIP READ.

    Thanks Mara and Mr D for the fine blog.

  8. I was off wavelength too with troublesome clues all over the grid. SWALLOWTAIL and BITTERSWEET were both hard won as were SURFACE and REMIT where I wanted ‘gamut’ to fit and even got as far as ‘xemit’ (Timex backwards) before I finally got it. Very much enjoyed the BUSKING. ANGLE unparsed. All green in 19.

  9. I struggled a bit with the anagrams here and was also delayed by my woeful lack of butterfly knowledge, but eventually crossed the line at 12 minutes. 21A was either Angle or Ingle for a while but Dangle swung it – interesting that either Dangle or Wangle works. Can’t make a case for Jangle, Mangle or Tangle though …

    Oomph is a clever clue, and with Power at the start of the clue and Energy at the end it took me a moment post filling it in to work out how it works. Low = Moo always catches me out.

    Many thanks to Doofers for the blog

    1. Yes, I parsed ANGLE as you did, not moving past D when alphabet-trawling for the justification. As soon as I equated DANGLE with SWING I was satisfied, and moved on.

  10. A mixture of the straightforward and the decidely chewy.
    I parsed 21a as (D)ANGLE as if somethings dangling it might be swinging but I prefer Doofers explanation to mine. Should have got LIP READ more quickly as I’ve seen versions of it before but my major hold up was the last 4 letters of the butterfly which I eventually got by focusing on what could go between the ‘a’ and the ‘l’.
    Lots to enjoy but SURFACE and OOMPH stood out for me. Finished in 7.53
    Thanks to Doofers

  11. A fascinating puzzle. I thought it was going to be a doddle at first ( although SNOWBALL didn’t click on first pass) but then reality kicked in. Most of my thoughts have already been incorporated into the posts above.
    I saw SWALLOWTAIL immediately and thought of REMIT at once but didn’t believe it because I couldn’t think of power with M in the middle. Having seen SURFACE (nice) and BITTERSWEET, it had to be. I then biffed OOMPH.
    However, I took ages to see my LOI, PEANUTS and I ended up nearly 4 mins over target but avoided the SCC.
    Some clever stuff today. Certainly a better way to start the day than listening to endless speculation about the budget when we only have to wait a few hours to learn what is actually in it.
    Thanks to Mara and Doofers. John M.

  12. 23min DNF … ruined by lack of lepidoptery knowledge .. was left guessing at SWALLOW-I-L having opted for INGLE. Didn’t like that pair of clues with tail=back and dangle/wangle=swing. Thought there were some really good clues otherwise.

    Somewhat disappointing end to what had started out looking like one of the best and had only these two, FLORAL and OOMPH left around 11mins.

    BITTERSWEET, DEFLATED and lost heart describe today’s experience very well 😕

  13. 7.35

    Saw “corner” and bunged in INGLE as I knew INGLENOOK as a sort of corner where the chimney is. Overthinkage. Fortunately it didn’t look right as a checker on the bird so had a rethink

    BUSKING raised a smile but must have seen it before

    Liked it

    Thanks Mara and Doofers

  14. Held up at the end by PEANUTS. “Is on the the fiddle” was clever for BRIDGE. Thanks Mara and Doofers. 5:42.

  15. Edged a few seconds into the SCC by this cracker from Mara. Thanks Doofers for the blog. Well crafted Mara!

  16. Gave up. Far too difficult for me. What has happened to you Mara? You used to provide such enjoyable QCs. But for the past few months you’ve gone completely opposite.

  17. I enjoyed this, although I finished it indecently quickly. I’m firmly in the (W)ANGLE camp for 21A – something can dangle, yet be motionless. But if you wangle a cushy number, you’ve definitely swung it.

    TIME 3:38

  18. After a couple of weeks where I was beginning to worry that I’d lost my crossword brain, I’ve had a better week so far. Today’s done in about half an hour but only after using an aid for 14d. Had no idea how 23a worked, so thanks for the explanation.

    Despite having been doing the QC for several years, I very rarely escape the SCC. I doubt I’ll ever graduate to the 15×15..

  19. I too didn’t get past (d)angle for 21ac , but agree that (w)angle better describes swing. I started off fairly rapidly and then gradually slowed as I got further into it. I spent far too long staring at my LOI PEANUTS before the penny dropped. I was happy to finish within target at 9.45, and would consider this a very good offering from Mara.

  20. It’s interesting to see how people’s reactions differ. This was one of my quicker efforts in 16:01 and nothing held me up for too long. Lots of really nice clues so hard to pick a COD, but OOMPH, BRIDGE, LIP-READ all up there. FOI SNOWBALL, LOI DEFLATED. I parsed 21ac as (d)ANGLE but I can see that “w” works well too. ABs very familiar to me as a former Royal Fleet Auxiliary Officer who had to work out their payslips! Thanks Mara and doofers for a really good blog.

  21. Strugglled from the off and pulled stumps at the 30min mark with the SE corner very thinly populated. Just couldn’t see the pesky butterfly and without that Floral was a stretch too far. Should have got Lip Read, but was fixated on the ‘do you understand’ meaning. Not my best effort. Invariant

  22. Dodged all over the grid on this one but ended up with all parsed in 17 minutes – not one of my faster times but acceptable. Really enjoyed this offering from Mara which imo was pitched about the right level. Some really fine surfaces to the clues.

    FOI – 5ac DRAB
    LOI – 1dn SURFACE
    COD – 9ac BUSKING

    Thanks to Mara and Doofers

  23. It only takes one or two clues to push you outside target. Today mine were SWALLOWTAIL and PEANUTS. 10:12

  24. DNF disaster. Not on wavelength.
    But lots of clues were amusing like SURFACE, BUSKING, LABOUR 🦮, BITTERSWEET, PEANUTS.
    Thanks vm, Doofers.

  25. Nice puzzle.
    The angle of the dangle swung it for me.

    15m held up by bittersweet, peanuts, bridge, and LOI taunted.
    COD oomph

  26. Struggled with the two long down clues, but when they finally fell, the last few across clues went in quite quickly. I was another who saw D(ANGLE) and didn’t look any further. LOI was FLORAL, which only appeared after I’d grasped what was going on with LIP READ – enjoyed that one once I’d got it. BUSKING has to be my COD though, that one did make me smile!

  27. 5:14 this morning. A nicely pitched QC by Mara, plenty of neat clues and no real obscurities. Another who felt “dangle” was sufficient to justify answer to 21 ac, although I think Busman’s earlier comment is right.
    Liked 18 ac “scarecrow”, 2d “oomph” and 17 d “bridge”.
    Thanks to setter and to Doofers for an entertaining blog

  28. 5:49

    Guessed NHO SWALLOWTAIL from the checkers and the cryptic. Everything else went in pretty smoothly apart from BRIDGE where I had to think twice about what it had to do with fiddles.

    Thanks Mara and Doofenschmirtz

  29. 29 mins…

    I wasn’t sure whether I was being slow today or this was quite chewy. From reading some of the above, it seems a mixed reaction. Overall though, I really enjoyed it and thought there were some neat clues.

    Whilst my knowledge of butterflies is fairly limited, I thought the answer for 10dn was obtainable with a few checkers. My main hold up was erroneously putting “Tap” for 19ac and then wondering what on earth was going on for 19dn.

    FOI – 5ac “Drab”
    LOI – 10dn “Swallowtail”
    COD – 17dn “Bridge” – probably a chestnut, but still took me an age to twig the parsing.

    Thanks as usual!

      1. The good, old deadly sparrowhawk butterfly – likes to flutter for a while before descending rapidly to pick up some nectar 😃

    1. My earlygoing on the butterfly was cabbagewhite which fitted rather well for the —W-I-E ending I was developing with INGLE and bunging EVEN straight into DEFLATED.

  30. DNF, defeated by SE corner: ANGLE/DEFLATED/RIGHT. Found the rest quite testing, too. Not a good day.

  31. I was way off the wavelength for this one, but slogged my way through it. My biffed INGLE was fortunately corrected, without my realising, when SWALLOWTAIL arrived. Liked BUSKING and SNOWBALL. FLORAL was LOI and REMIT started the proceedings. 13:16. Thanks Mara and Doofers.

  32. You said it was a “Minor MER”. I’m going to add that my list which includes DVD disc, GPS system, HIV virus, ISBN number, PIN number and SARS syndrome.

    1. 😀 Also LCD display and my all-time favourite Microsoft MS-DOS operating system.

  33. Just over target for me today.

    I thought it a fine puzzle, I liked SURFACE and OOMPH. LOI was ANGLE.


  34. A classic ‘breezeblock’ experience for me. Getting both SNOWBALL and DRAB early on enabled me to breeze through the grid until, after just 18 minutes, my access to the finishing line was blocked by P_A_U_S. A systematic alphabet searched ensued, but the solution just would not come. So, seven minutes later (and very frustrated), I got up to pour myself a second cup of coffee, whereupon the solution popped into my head from who-knows-where. Total time = 25 minutes, which is still very good for me.

    Can anyone explain why something remains out of reach in the brain when you want it, but suddenly appears when you’re not trying to find it?

    Elsewhere, I enjoyed SCARECROW, but couldn’t parse OOMPH (never saw moo for low) or ANGLE (didn’t know what was going on).

    Many thanks to Mara and Doofers.

    1. There’s probably some scientific term for trying to recall something when concentrating, but then remembering when you’re doing something else.

      I always think it’s like looking at the stars. Often you can’t see them when you are trying to find them, but they appear in your peripheral vision when you’re looking slightly away.

    2. very often your mind goes on working on a problem without you realising
      this happens to me when I am sleeping

    1. Not bad, as this was relatively tough.
      Have you started that list yet of words that keep cropping up? e.g Italian river = po, diamonds = ice etc

  35. 16.23 Started very well but but slowed down at the end by SWALLOWTAIL, ANGLE, TAUNTED, BRIDGE (unparsed, but are there other card games in crossword land?) and PEANUTS. OOMPH was unparsed too. Thanks for the puzzle and explanations.

  36. Quite a few tough clues from Mara today I thought.
    By a nice coincidence a friend in Spain sent me a picture of a swallowtail butterfly this morning so that was one clue in the bag.
    Not enough to save me however as I just could not see PEANUTS, even stopping and returning which often works, and finally gave up after an hour.
    OOMPH was hard but I enjoyed the parsing once Doofers explained it.

  37. We enjoyed this one- especially as was a PB at 17 minutes. Liked snowball. Needed blog to find out why angle worked.

  38. Things are going downhill this week! I didn’t get to read yesterday’s blog till very late last night, so didn’t post, but yesterday’s time was 11:06, today’s was 12.45 – it isn’t looking good for tomorrow!
    However, I always say I prefer the challenge to trying to get a fast time, and today was no exception – I really enjoyed this. Mara always seems to me to be the master of the brief clue, and I often struggle with DDs, but today’s puzzle was great fun – very hard to choose a COD from BUSKING, OOMPH and LIP-READ among several others, but plumped for 1d in the end. Wangle was Dangle here 😅
    FOI Drab LOI Peanuts COD Surface
    Many thanks Mara and Doofers for the entertainment

    For the third day on the trot, I finished the biggie in a reasonable time – the law will undoubtedly kick in tomorrow!

  39. DNF

    My worst effort for months. REMIT and OOMPH unsolved at the top, TAUNTED and PEANUTS at the bottom. Gave up at 30 minutes.

  40. Started, had to stop after half a dozen clues, came back to it later. Got stuck on OOMPH and ANGLE, needed the blog today!

    Somewhere just over 10 mins/1.6K, OK Day, COD to LIP READ.

    Thanks Doofers and Mara.


  41. I found this hard and at the edge of my abilities. I was delighted to eventually finish, with a time around the 35 min mark. Didn’t help that I put INGLE for 21ac and so was badly held up by the butterfly. Eventually worked out SWALLOW and realisation dawned.

    Also held up by 8ac and 2dn, forgetting the other meaning of low. I also had BOP for 19ac for a while. Music really isn’t my thing!

    A strange day, with some posters finding this very tough and others finding it straightforward.

    Good show from Mr R – nearly an SCC escape – and almost a good day for L-Plates (so near, so far). I was just happy in the end to avoid a DNF.


    Great blog Doofers! 😊

  42. 15:09 and I’m in Portugal today and 1509 is the year they become the first Westerners to reach Malacca and Bombay.

    LOI PEANUTS. Had to think about SWALLOWTAIL as Sparrowhawk also fitted.

  43. As usual I’m trying to finish what I started yesterday. Today I failed miserably. A frustrating DNF for me.

    Did anyone else spot POSY hidden backwards in 22a? Clutched bY SOPrano 🤯

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