Times Quick Cryptic No 2357 by Beck

Solving time: 9:40

Looking back at the completed grid, I’m not entirely sure why this took the time it did, as there are no especially difficult words there….

My favourites were 11a – I usually like this style of clue but it took a while for the penny to drop – and 5d which was significantly helped by having the first and last checkers in place.

This is Beck’s second visit to the QC setters’ table following his/her inaugural outing back in November (QC2273).

How did you all get on?

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

1 Question asked after second demonstration (4)
SHOW – HOW (question asked) after S (second)
4 Curiously pro-Amish saying (8)
APHORISM – Anagram [curiously] of pro-Amish

An APHORISM is a memorable expression of a general truth or principle e.g. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” or “Winners never quit and quitters never win”

8 Haphazardly put South African currency in something small (2,6)
AT RANDOM – AT(RAND)OM – RAND (South African currency) put in ATOM (something small)
9 Return things to the way they were during sundown (4)
UNDO – Hidden [during] in sundown
10 Both of us said, “this is fun!” (4)
WHEE – Homophone [said] of WE (both of us)
11 Spooner’s to ignore indicator for warm weather (8)
SUNSHINE – SHUN (ignore) SIGN (indicator) is what the Rev. Spooner, renowned for mixing up his syllables, might have called SUN SHINE

My LOI – took a while to spot this, even with four of the eight letters in place!

12 Mental make up of Republican leaving jumbled cyphers (6)
PSYCHE – Anagram [jumbled] of CYPHE{r}S missing the R (Republican leaving)
14 Hold up street ballad (6)
WAYLAY – WAY (street) LAY (ballad)
16 Food shop, remarkably, bringing shipment (8)
DELIVERY – DELI (food shop) VERY (remarkably)
18 Curve of a conifer with its top cut off (4)
ARCH – {l}ARCH (conifer) missing the first letter [with its top cut off]
19 U-shaped pipe component backed up (4)
TRAP – PART (component) reversed [backed up]

….such as you’d find in a sink or loo

20 Tree surgeon sees Yeltsin getting into paintings, etc (8)
ARBORIST – AR(BORIS)T – ART (paintings, etc) containing BORIS (Yeltsin – first president of Russia 1991-1999)
22 Almost the entire spoilt baker’s dozen (8)
THIRTEEN – Anagram [spoilt] of THE ENTIR{e} [almost = all but the last letter]
23 Discovered limitless pocket (4)
EARN – {l}EARN{t} (discovered) without its first or last letter [limitless]
2 Problems created by hot reactions (7)
HITCHES – H (hot) ITCHES (reactions)

Not sure that reactions is the best synonym for ITCHES. Thankfully, the definition and checkers made the answer fairly clear.

3 Violently hit big mammal (5)
WHALE – Double definition

Apparently you can WHALE (hit or beat) someone or something in North America.

Coincidentally, I heard the first definition of this word just this weekend while watching the film Good Will Hunting (1998) so it was fresh in my mind.

4 Join in broad daylight (3)
ADD – Hidden in [in] broad daylight
5 Confine good route for author (9)
HEMINGWAY – HEM IN (confine) G (good) WAY (route)

Clue of the day for me.

6 Violently toss holy rug (7)
ROUGHLY – Anagram [toss] of HOLY RUG
7 Dean’s refurbished car (5)
SEDAN – Anagram [refurbished] of DEAN’S

A saloon car in Britspeak

11 Hertfordshire town theatre space hosting fair (9)
STEVENAGE – ST(EVEN)AGE – STAGE (theatre space) containing [hosting] EVEN (fair)
13 Conservative, trendier and cheerful (7)
CHIPPER – C (Conservative) HIPPER (trendier)
15 Whistleblower perhaps accrues nuts (7)
ACCUSER – Anagram [nuts] of ACCRUES
17 Where we all are, heading from fireplace (5)
EARTH – {h}EARTH (fireplace with first letter removed [heading from])
18 Get along with an environmentalist mostly (5)
AGREE – A GREE{n} (an environmentalist – missing the final letter [mostly])
21 Turning up, snatch block (3)
BAN – NAB (snatch) reversed [turning up – pertinent as this is a down clue]


66 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2357 by Beck”

  1. I actually knew of STEVENAGE, though not what county it’s in, and once STAGE occurred to me it was in. TRAP (LOI) took time. And for some reason I typed in LAYWAY: didn’t notice until HEMINGWAY. 6:09.

  2. 13:57. 1357 Formal start of construction of Charles Bridge in Prague.

    Much better after a tough start to this week. LOI the spoonerism clue which I always find difficult, and thankfully, we don’t often see them in the QC. COD HEMINGWAY.

    STEVENAGE is the birthplace of Lewis Hamilton.

  3. 11:41. I was held up at the end trying to work out what the defs were for 19a and 23a. If I’d ever known a ‘U-shaped pipe’ was a TRAP I’d forgotten and I didn’t know if the ‘limitless’ indicator at 23a applied to the preceding or the following word. Having to work out what the deleted first and last letters were wasn’t easy either.

    I liked HEMINGWAY and the not so obvious LAY for ‘ballad’ at 14a. I didn’t mind the visit from the Rev. Spooner, just as long as he doesn’t pop by too often.

    Thanks to Beck and Mike

  4. A slow start with only two on the first pass of acrosses but things picked up with the downs to finish all green in 13. Resisted WHALE for as long as I could because I didn’t recognise the definition and also found it hard to get from ‘pocket’ to EARN and finally ARCH was just tricky, perhaps more Monty Python would have helped. Nice to see Some Random Chap and of course Mrs Random get their moments in the spotlights. STEVENAGE isn’t far from here and Hemel Hempstead wouldn’t fit. Something a bit different about today’s – thanks Beck and thanks Mike for the blog.

  5. 11 minutes. I was delayed along the way by not knowing the first meaning of WHALE so I waited until all checkers were in place before writing it in. TRAP was the answer that finally took me over my target 10 minutes

  6. A slow start and I thought I would be over target again but then everything clicked and I finished in a rush.
    For once the Spoonerism didn’t put up too much of a struggle and WHEE made me smile. As usual I tried spelling HEMINGAY with an extra ‘m’ until I ran out of letters.
    Finished in the SE with AGREE, ARCH and EARN in that order in a pleasing 8.44.
    Thanks to Mike

  7. A welcome change from the last two. I took it steadily to finish a minute over target. I was held up, like some others by TRAP, WHALE (NHO whale as hit), EARN, and took a while to parse WHEE (d’oh). WAYLAY and SUNSHINE made me smile.
    Some nice clues – thanks to Beck and Mike. John M.

    1. Blighter, I think it was you who disapproved of TABOOED a week ago. I was amused to hear the word in regard to tabooed visiting hours when listening to Mrs Gaskell’s Cranford!
      (I find audiobook versions of the classics soothing at night)

      1. Well, we live and learn. The word has some credibility then!
        I still don’t like it…. 😀

  8. I think this is the first puzzle by Beck this year and it is only the second of his I have ever completed. An 11 minute solve, but not all fully understood/parsed as I am another who had not heard of that meaning of Whale, and I also failed to see the parsing of Hitches (I see it now, but agree with our blogger than itches = reactions is not the most obvious linking). Sunshine also only parsed post entry, this being my default position for Spoonerism clues.

    But on the whole, a much more addressable puzzle than some recently, so welcome back Beck! And COD to Whee because it is such a happy clue. It is only a shame that crosswords don’t include punctuation because this clue really should be spelt “Whee!”

    Many thanks to Mike for the blog

  9. 22’35 but would probably have got under the bell if I hadn’t spent so long on EARN repeating the alphabet mantra.
    Decided ‘Lay lady lay’ was probably not the correct interpretation of lay, but apposite none the less.
    COD STEVENAGE. No offence, but that is the most memorable feature of the town.
    Thanks all.

  10. Another who’s LOI was TRAP seeing it only when I tried to find the word that was reversed. DNK the American meaning of WHALE = hit, and I see I’m not alone in that either. I thought the “a” in 18A was unnecessary and it led me to think the answer started with A followed by the headless conifer. But otherwise a neat and enjoyable puzzle. Thank-you Beck and Mike. 4:40.

  11. 4.20. It felt like it was going to be a quick one from the off. I liked the spoonerism, the lack of random names, but like others didn’t know the other meaning of whale. Saw it early but left it till last. What else could it be?

  12. One second inside 11 minutes after a rapid start with the first four across clues going straight in on first read, then WHEE stopped me in my tracks until a crosser appeared. No major hold-ups otherwise. Spent a few minutes after completion looking to see if Beck was one of the Setters that habitually include a theme or Nina, as I hadn’t recognised the name, despite blogging his first puzzle when it appeared. Thanks both.

  13. I enjoyed this one a lot more and managed to complete it fairly quickly with hesitations only in the NW and SE corners. LOsI EARN, SHOW, WHALE, WHEE, TRAP.
    THIRTEEN easy, as not v cryptic. Luckily speedy on anagrams today. Must be the new method of writing consonants in one column and vowels in the other.
    Thanks vm, Mike.

    1. May give this a go. I still tend to write letters in a circle and hope the word jumps out!

  14. 12:07. Last two in were SUNSHINE and EARN. I am not good at Spoonerisms, and biffed Sunshine without seeing what was been Spoonerised. EARN held me up because I was reading “pocket” as a synonym for steal, so was running through all the words meaning illegally acquire, without finding one.
    Stevenage I know mainly as a station on the Cambridge to London line. I don’t think I have ever visited the town.

    Thanks for the blog.

  15. Nearly escaped the SCC. I was only missing WHALE and WHEE after 18 minutes but after I’d spent time trying to find the violent hit meaning for the former and then a PDM for the latter it was 20:08. I’m not a particular fan of Spoonerisms, although they usually make me smile once found, but this one arrived fairly quickly with the checkers. MER at itches=reactions and frustration at not spotting trap quicker. But all in all a pretty fair test. Thanks Beck and Mike.

  16. 19:28 but with last five mins spent trawling to see if there was an alternative to EARN. It’s not a natural synonym to me and I couldn’t think what the LearnT part would be.

    Couldn’t parse HITCHES (thought HATCHED for “problems created” and eggs hatch because of warmth) until PSYCHE got rid of that idea. Couldn’t parse SUNSHINE or the LAY part of WAYLAY.

    The top half flew in the first few mins and with a rarely seen setter wondering if this was going to be the day. It wasn’t but glad to have an approachable QC again. Sixth SCC escape of the month 👍

  17. A more friendly QC than a few of late, but with a few chewy bits thrown in for good measure. Towards the end I had some worrying gaps where the answers for 5, 11ac and 14 needed to go, but once CoD Hemingway was in place the other two promptly followed. Gave up trying to understand the Spoonerism (thanks Mike) in order to keep a sub-20. Invariant

  18. 11 minutes for me with LOI HITCHES and with a question mark about WHALE-like many others it seems.
    DNK Larch was a conifer; but I know little about trees.

    1. Most conifers are evergreens and the larch is deciduous, so easy to assume it wasn’t.

      1. Delighted a few years ago when neighbours felled their huge larches which dropped a thick covering of needles all over my garden.

  19. I see there are a number of solvers who are quite happy to see mention of old Spooner in a clue, well as I’ve noted many times I’m not one of them. I now skip past the clue and leave it until all the checkers are in place, and this speeds things up. The clue itself was slightly unusual in that one letter was transposed for two instead of the one for one.
    Again, for the third time this week, this offering from Beck was maybe a little tougher than average I thought, although I was tuned into this one finishing in 8.17. I would have been sub eight minutes but for my LOI HITCHES which delayed me a little.

  20. Whale meet again
    10 mins.
    I was struggling at first but completed ok eventually. 2 question marks for whale and trap as I didn’t know the meanings. Some quirky synonyms but can’t complain.
    Liked whee, hemingway, and accuser.

  21. A welcome QC after the previous two days. I didn’t know APHORISM but guessed it ended in ISM and the checkers sorted out the rest of the letters. I also didn’t know the hit meaning of WHALE. The spoonerism was a write in for me but I enjoyed it. My COD is WHEE. TRAP was my penultimate solve before HITCHES in a timely 7:28.

  22. 22:45 today with LOI EARN. Didn’t know other meaning of WHALE but had to be. COD to SUNSHINE – I love a spoonerism. Have been on the slow side this week but very happy to at least finish today. Many thanks for blog.

  23. DNF.
    Stood no chance with this one. It was far too hard for a “quick cryptic”.

  24. Found this quite tricky especially with all the American connections – hope this is not going to be a trend.

  25. DNF.
    Stood no chance with this one. It was far too hard for a “quick cryptic”.
    If they are all going to be as hard as this one then I might as well give up.

    1. There have certainly been some stinkers lately, but I don’t think this was in that class. What you have to remember is that solving cryptics is bound to get easier with practice, as you become more and more familar with the language of crosswords and the tricks of the trade. Would you expect to be fluent in French after, say, a dozen lessons ? Read the blog, work out where you had difficulty and then hopefully next time it will be a little bit easier. Good luck.

  26. Another tricky puzzle for me. I didn’t know the second definition iof WHALE, so waited for all the crossers, and still did an alphabet trawl. Spoilt it all with a typo in STEVANAGE which I missed on the proof read. Careless!! 10:55 but. Thanks Beck and Mike.

  27. 9:19. Is Beck our American setter? There certainly seemed to be more clues than usual with US links. I didn’t know WHALE, and wanted to put ‘whack’ in, but clearly that wouldn’t work! These two were nearly my LOIs as I couldn’t get WHEE for a bit. I did rather like it though, following the PDM , and agree with Cedric that it would have been enhanced with an ! 😊
    I found this to be pretty enjoyable and more user-friendly than some we’ve had recently. Also nice to see a reference to our resident RANDOM, especially following the statistics explanation the other day!
    FOI Show LOI Earn COD Sunshine. I can’t believe I’m writing this because I don’t really like Spoonerisms, but this was a fun one – and the sun is shining right now 🌞
    Thanks Beck and Mike

  28. 12:03. I was expecting the WHALE clue to be a variation of our old friend LAM/P, so I was stuck on that for a while, and if someone had asked prior to completing this puzzle I’d have put money on HEMINGWAY having two M’s. Everyday’s a schoolday! 😉

  29. Normal service resumed after the difficulties of the last two days. I was back around my average time of 16 minutes. Never parsed SUNSHINE as it was obvious from the crossers, so thanks to Mike for that. Like PennyB I wanted to put whack in at 3dn but couldn’t make it work and eventually had to wait for 10ac to fall before the Americanism (which I had heard of before) popped into my mind.

    FOI – 4ac APHORISM
    LOI – 19ac TRAP
    COD – several excellent clues but I liked 5dn HEMINGWAY the best

    Thanks to Beck for a return to normality

  30. 24 mins…

    Seriously got stuck on 2dn “Hitches” and 10ac “Whee” which sent me into SCC territory. I also hadn’t heard of the other definition of Whale.

    Main thing today was to finish after the last two QC’s.

    FOI – 1ac “Show”
    LOI – 2dn “Hitches”
    COD – 5db “Hemingway”

    Thanks as usual!

  31. Whilst it was nice to see a sort of self-reference at 8a, I am rather bucking the trend today, as I found this more difficult than either of the past two days. The NW corner really held me up, with SHOW, HITCHES, WHEE and the NHO definition of WHALE stumping me for 10 minutes or so. Once I’d finally got those I still had to move down to the SE to find WAYLAY and (my LOI) EARN, which took a slow alphabet trawl followed by a couple of minutes finding lEARNed. Total time = 33 minutes.

    Mrs Random was away visiting her parents yesterday, but she clearly hasn’t lost the knack of putting me in my place. She polished it off in just 17 minutes and is now in the kitchen making bread. I’m not complaining, because her home-made bread is simply the best.

    Many thanks to Beck and Mike H.

  32. I thought it was going to be trickier than it eventually turned out to be. A definite change in style from some of the other setters, and most enjoyable

    My old employers had an office in STEVENAGE back in the 1980’s, and I’m glad they put me in a hotel in the old town when I was sent down to do some IT training. Some very nice pubs. The new town, on the other hand, is utterly soulless.

    TIME 4:04

  33. 8.20

    Liked it. WHEE and SUNSHINE in particular

    I was a little sluggish but got there in the end

    Thanks all

  34. 8.53 Except for HITCHES, which needed all the checkers, the whole of the top half went straight in. This felt like the easiest for a while. And I did like WHEE.

  35. Better than the last two days for sure but I think the setters are having a poor week. Quite a few weak or tenous clues and obscure uses but at least it made sense I suppose. Thanks all!

  36. Found it slow going but finished it. It has been a tough old week so for. I am very slow and not very good at them after years of trying but I still think it would be boring if they were all easy. Fred

    1. Well said, Fred! The more I do, the better I get, but my rate of improvement is very slow and I’m still rubbish when compared to many here. However, if every puzzle was easy there would be little point in doing them.

  37. NW was tricky, but WHEE was fun.
    Hate Spooner clues, but this one raised a smile and I thought of Morcambe & Wise.

  38. Not being American, I was totally unaware that ‘whale’ could mean ‘hit’, but I did write it in since I had W, A and E and nothing else made sense. It isn’t a word I shall be adding to my active vocabulary.

  39. Definitely in the more difficult camp.
    Liked the happy clues of CHIPPER and WHEE.

  40. Didn’t start until this afternoon aswe walked seven miles this morning followed bya pub lunch near Stevenage, but the crossing clues for WHALE and WHEE gave me the first DNF of the week, though the puzzle was otherwise less tricy than its two predecessors. On the positive side, i was pleased to get the Spoonerism., so thanks Beck and Mike.

  41. Most went in without much difficulty but we had trouble with the NW corner in particular.

    1. That is a very good sign Ian. There were some hard clues today, so you should be pleased with that. Stick with it. So many of us are looking forward to the day when we see you complete a QC!


  42. A nice steady solve and all done in 53 minutes. Only WHALE not parsed and I wasn’t sure about EARN for pocket but it was correct.
    What a relief after the past two days.
    Some very nice clues such as HEMINGWAY and PSYCHE so thanks Beck and Mike.

  43. A very enjoyable QC. I couldn’t repeat the heroics of yesterday, but was only just into SCC territory. Began slowly but cross with myself for lacking the confidence to insert WHEE, which I saw immediately but was frightened to put in. NHO WHALE or LAY in this context, and didn’t appreciate that HEMINGWAY had that spelling.

    FOI – SHOW
    PDM – EARN
    COD – AT RANDOM (had to be as it put me in mind of Mr and Mrs R. Wonder if this was intentional on the setter’s part? I do hope so.)

    Great blog as always, much appreciated.

  44. 10:45

    More like it. After consecutive DNFs, this was nice and easy. Only WHALE went unparsed but obvious from the clue and checkers.

  45. I thought this was fairly straightforward (if you like anagrams) apart from definition of WHALE (hit?) and a quibble over ARCH (is a Larch a conifer?). Surprised that quite a few found it hard.

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