Times Quick Cryptic No 2373 by Teazel – to infinity and beyond!

Quite a quirky one from Teazel that took me 13 minutes to solve, with enjoyable excursions to a galaxy far, far away, the land of edelweiss and through the dark scary cupboard / wardrobe, perhaps to Narnia.

I got 1d before I understood it, liked the on board champion, and the ladies jewellery. How did you all do after the trials of earlier this week?



1  Honours ultimately desirable, carrying a lot of weight (5)

OBESE – OBEs (Orders of the British Empire – honours) and {desirabl}E (ultimately).

8 Debt collector needs security, if female (7)

BAILIFF – BAIL (security) followed by IF and F{emale}.

10 Singular bravery, dismissing a source of torment (7)

SCOURGE – S{ingular} and COURaGE (bravery dismissing A). My Chambers defines SCOURGE as a whip, an instrument of divine punishment – now there’s a classic oxymoron!

11 Talent is to blaze up, it’s said (5)

FLAIR – Homophone clue (it’s said) – sounds like FLARE (to blaze up).

12 Prime tree replaced in boundary (9)

PERIMETER – Anagram (replaced) of [PRIME TREE].

14 Lover is cooler (3)

FAN – Double definition.

15 Clever remark in annual test (3)

MOT – Double definition, the second referring to the MOT (Ministry of Transport roadworthiness) test for vehicles over 3 years old in the UK.

16 Such keys perhaps best left in cupboards? (9)

SKELETONS – Cryptic definition, referring to ‘SKELETONS in the cupboard’, a well-known MOT.

18 Eagerly take in being a whole circuit ahead? (3,2)

LAP UP – Double definition.

20 One country – and another without a lake (7)

AUSTRIA – AUSTR{al}IA – another country, dropping (without) A and L{ake}.

22 Champion on board is superficial (7)

SURFACE – A kind of double definition – a champion on a board might be described as a SURF ACE, and a SURFACE is superficial.

23 Revolutionary line fewer than ten back (5)

LENIN – L{ine} and NINE (fewer than ten) reversed (back).



1 Given leave, people miss circulating, a reaction to cold (5,7)

GOOSE PIMPLES – Part anagram (circulating) of [PEOPLE MISS] after GO (given leave).

2 Comrade’s rewritten middle of lecture for US politician (8)

DEMOCRAT – Anagram (rewritten) of [COMRADE] and {lec}T{ure} (middle of).

3 Carry Ecstasy into pub (4)

BEAR – E{cstasy) inside BAR (pub).

4 A bishop, dispatched, is missing (6)

ABSENT – A (a) and B{ishop} with SENT (dispatched).

5 Tune to be used by church in one of the services (3,5)

AIR FORCE – AIR (tune) with FOR (to be used by) with CE (church – Church of England).  Of course, the service concerned is actually the Royal Air Force in the UK.

6 Italian city is toured by Father (4)

PISA – IS (is) surrounded by (toured by) PA (Father).

9 Lousy pension so far, to reward all that hard work (3,4,5)

FOR ONE’S PAINS – Anagram (lousy) of [PENSION SO FAR].

13 Wrongly declare failure on mountain-top (8)

MISSPEAK – MISS (failure) on PEAK (mountain-top).

14 Knocking out fine ladies’ jewellery? (8)

FLOORING – F{ine} with LOO (ladies?) and RING (jewellery).

17 One avoiding online film villain? (6)

EVADER – E (as in E-mail, on-line) and VADER (Darth – film villain).

19 Look attentively over small opening (4)

PORE – Double definition.

21 Sulphur, key preservative (4)

SALT – S (sulphur – chemical symbol) and ALT (key, as on keyboard).

77 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2373 by Teazel – to infinity and beyond!”

  1. Biffed GOOSE PIMPLES & LENIN, parsed post-submission. FLOORING took me a while to parse, the ? not being right after ‘ladies”. 6:35.

  2. 13:41. Re 20 Across:” One country- and another without a lake”. Australia must be the “one country” and AUSTRIA is the other one missing the a and the l. But does that make “another without a lake” the definition? Maybe I’m overthinking?

    1. “Without” can also be the opposite of “within”, as in these letters surround these other letters

    2. I took Austria as the one country – and the other is “Australia” – then take off the “a” and “l”.

    3. Interesting! I don’t understand why Australia must be the ‘one country’. I guess it comes down to whether you interpret ‘without’ as meaning ‘missing’ or, alternatively, ‘surrounding’. In the first case, my parsing works, and Australia becomes the ‘other’ country, which, when A and L are missing, becomes the answer AUSTRIA, which fits the definition of ‘one country’. In the other interpretation of ‘without’ meaning surrounding or containing, Austria can be the other country, which, when A and L are added, becomes Australia, which clearly isn’t the answer – the answer is AUSTRIA. I hate to say it, but QED, or am I missing something?

    4. Yes, I see I totally missed the required meaning of “without”. Also I think I often just get stubbornly married to my first take on a clue and miss the clear alternative that makes sense! Thanks Lou, James and Rotter for helping me get this.

  3. 9:03. PORE was my last in too; with only the crossing first letter P, “peer”, “peek” and “peep” didn’t fit and even with the R, PORE took a while to come. The SURF ACE has popped up a few times recently but I still didn’t get it straight away. Yes, AIR FORCE could refer to the RAF, but to others as well.

    I sort of see what curryowen is getting at for AUSTRIA but I didn’t think about it too much and parsed it as in the blog.

    Thanks to Teazel and to TheRotter

  4. Beaten by a casual/lazy biff of ASSYRIA. Idiot.
    Quirky is a good description.
    Thanks Teazel and Rotter.

      1. Me too, with the idea that AS was given somehow by the name of a lake (Andas, Ason ….?) that wouldn’t come to mind.

  5. Defeated by PORE, which was so simple in retrospect. Doh! Took way too long to see SKELETONS. No stand out clues for me today. No time given. A strange week thus far but hey, the sun is shining this morning so maybe spring is here at last. Here’s hoping 🤞

  6. 10 minutes – my target time – on the nose, but on reading the blog I realised I forgot to return to decipher the wordplay in GOOSEPIMPLES which had eluded me in the heat of solving.

  7. Early start this morning and pleased to finish in 1h 17m. All parsed too.
    I thought this was a very good puzzle with some lovely clues and some real stretchers. Just right for a QC.
    Was stuck for some time on LOI SKELETONS, but obvious in retrospect and COD to FLOORING where ladies had me fooled until the penny dropped, almost literally.
    Many thanks to Teazel and Rotter

    1. Well done #5

      Think this is the sort of QC that will get quicker with experiencee as the wordplay / chestnusts becomee more familiar 👍

      1. Thanks #50. Like you I’m keeping stats. It will be interesting to review progress over a year.

        1. Out of interest, when did you start?

          It appears from my Youtube history my first day would have been 2 December 2021 as that was when I watched a video by the Cracking the Cryptic lads. That said, a friend first showed me the basics of cryptics in 1990 but I never got to grips with them until now with this blog, the ability to check or reveal online as well as QC being easier.

  8. An entertaining offering from Teazel.
    Made good progress with 1d going in early and opening up the grid, but slowed down a bit in the SE until the elusive EVADER sprung to mind. Finished with the surprisingly tricky PORE in 8.16 with COD to FLOORING for the PDM when I saw how ‘loo’ fitted into the answer.
    Thanks to Rotter

  9. Bounced back from the abyss! All green in about 40 minutes – thanks Teazel for an enjoyable and doable puzzle. FOI AUSTRIA; COD GOOSE PIMPLES; LOI EVADER (not quite parsed; “E” for online worth a MER?).
    Thank you three kindly souls below for your encouragement and welcome!

    1. Echoing Blighter – good to see you back.

      You can check out any time but you can never leave!

  10. Another excellent and approachable, but still testing, QC. Things are looking up (or am I tempting providence regarding tomorrow?).
    I went steadily through this but needed crossers for the long down answers. Luckily, PORE came to me at once and this helped the SW solve. I stayed within my target by half a minute which is OK for a Teazel for me. I took a little longer to write out on paper the anagrist for FOR ONES PAINS after first biffing ‘for your pains’.
    I enjoyed many clues but must mention SCOURGE, SKELETONS, my COD OBESE, and my LOI, EVADER.
    Thanks to both. Teazel gave us a well-judged puzzle – nothing too outlandish but plenty to chew on (and some happy PDMs). I’ll now go back to Rotter’s excellent blog to savour the details. John M.

  11. I thought I was finished in under 5 minutes, but then I looked at my unparsed ASSYRIA that I had bunged in like Mangoman. A slap on the head ensued the best part of a minute later when I gave up on getting it to work and belatedly realised it was that old chestnut AUSTRIA/AUSTRALIA. Thanks Teazel and Rotter. 5:44.

  12. Teazel continues to be my nemesis. Median time for his puzzles so far this year is is 9.5 mins (including 1 DNF, which I assign 20 mins to), compared to 6.15 minutes for all setters.

    I had most of this done in a normal kind of time, but FOR ONES PAINS, FLOORING and then SKELETONS took far too long.

    I think I liked FLOORING best, but I was well beaten by Teazel today.


  13. 7:52

    A better day, a seemingly easier puzzle than the past few days. Can’t say I’ve heard the phrase ‘FOR ONES PAINS’ before. As with others, PORE was last in but thankfully came quickly.

    Thanks Teazel and TheRotter

  14. 23:10 for an enjoyable solve. Laughed out loud at FLOORING and EVADER. Nice to have one full of plain English and gettable wordplay.

    Must admit my heartsank when I saw Teazel’s name – thoughts that you couldn’t have one worse following Orpheus and Hurley – although Jalna hasn’t made an appearance in a while. So I was pleasantly surprised to get off to a quick start with DEMOCRAT, BEAR, ABSENT, PERIMETER going straight in then it went quiet until LAP-UP and AUSTRIA. I’ve learned the three combination countries are Niger/Nigeria, Somalia/Mali, Austria/Australia although I’m sure there are a few others.

    After that it was work through and BAILIFF was something of a bif to open up the NE. Had to get the pen&paper out to unravel FOR-ONES-PAINS – thanks to Kevin (I think it was) who said “always ONES” when I struggled on a phrase in the Jumbo a few Saturdays ago.

    Missing the GOOSE-PIMPLES anagram held me up until I was into the SCC. OBESE wasn’t helped by a typo of BAER. SURFACE/PORE were my LOIs. MOT was the only one today I didn’t fully understand as nho the “clever remark” def so I was considering all sorts of things like wit, sat, alt (hidden word) as well.

    Having updated my stats, I discovered Teazel has actually been both good and bad to me this year. Two sub20 times (albeit DNFs) but also the most recent two were solves of 1hr16 and 42mins. This is one of the reasons I keep stats – it gives you an objective view of how things are.

    1. The phrase for clever remark is BON MOT. French literal translation – good word? And it doesn’t really work without the ‘BON’ – MOT is just ‘word’.

      1. Not according to my (usually) reliable on-line Chambers (e-Chambers?), where the second definition is ‘a pithy or witty saying’, although it does qualify the word as having a French origin.

        1. Thanks chaps. Useful to have a context for it (i.e. Bon Mot) – should help remember it 👍

  15. Yet another hard one and a DNF: beaten by MOT and GOOSE PIMPLES, and needed help for a couple of others too. This must be the hardest week ever for the QC (at least for us non-experts).

    1. I was where you seem to be about this time last year. Hence the moniker. Hadn’t even managed a SCC escape last April.

      I have come to appreciate that the “hardest week ever” are more frequent than people believe. It was like this mid-March and it was like this in Feb.

      Something easier will be along in a few days time to lift the spirits. Keep the faith 👍

  16. 13:03 (1303 Scotland defeat England at the battle of Roslin).

    Started well, then held up on the right hand side of the puzzle. Took a while to spot fan=lover, then FLOORING was my LOI.


  17. 6.26. All good and fair I thought.
    LOI “ for one’s pains“ for some reason. I wavered on a couple, particularly evader, which sort of made sense but didn’t quite convince me. Seems fine on reflection. COD to flooring.

  18. Quite a tricky grid I thought; and there were some “easy” clues mixed in which I did not read until well into the puzzle. So a slow start and fast middle.
    Last two were PORE (tricky that) and DEMOCRAT which I had not taken time to parse properly.
    13 minutes in all.
    COD to PORE.

  19. 15 mins…

    After a torrid week, a puzzle that felt relatively straight forward, with some amusing clues. I particularly enjoyed 17dn “Evader”, 5dn “Air Force” and my COD 14dn “Flooring”.

    Only query was 15ac “Mot” for a clever remark. Not sure I’ve come across that before.

    FOI – 3dn “Bear”
    LOI – 14ac “Fan”
    COD – 14dn “Flooring”

    Thanks as usual!

  20. My comment from yesterday applies to this one for me, that is to say it was easier than the first two of the week but no gimme. I don’t know whether MOT will cause any problems for the overseas contingent as it’s a very UKcentric term.
    I was only held up a little at the end by GOOSEPIMPLES, and probably a further thirty seconds was required on my LOI SCOURGE. I crossed the line in 8.53, a similar time to yesterday.

  21. My only hold up was pore, so went back to work and had a go later.

    COD airforce or flooring.

  22. Not particularly impressed by MOT without its preceding “BON”. And totally unimpressed by (E)VADER. I loathe science fiction, and therefore I’m probably the only one here who thought it was too obscure for a QC.

    TIME 4:27

    1. Surely Darth Vader of Star Wars is popular culture now, not requiring having actually seen any of the films? So fair game for a QC. In a similar way, I’m not sure I have ever read or watched Frankenstein but am very familiar with the monster.

      1. I agree with all that – but I did have reservations yesterday: NHO Austin Powers – should I have?

        1. Should you have? Probably not. I think you can let yourself off that one. Not as iconic in popular culture. Unless you were a teenager 25 years ago when the three AP films were released in which case perhaps you should!

        2. Austin Powers wasn’t in the crossword – he just got a passing mention in the blog – so you didn’t need any knowledge of him to solve the puzzle

          1. Well…. with respect, you needed to be aware of him in order to know “it’s not my bag”. Without any knowledge of him, I couldn’t know hobby = BAG. Bit more than a “passing mention”, then? And no, I wasn’t a teenager any time in the last 50 years!

            1. You didn’t have to know that Austin Powers said “it’s not my bag” in order to know that “bag” means “hobby”. You just had to know that “bag” means “hobby”. (Which it does: see dictionaries, eg Collins “slang -a person’s particular taste, field of skill, interest, activity, etc”.)

              I knew that “bag” means “hobby”, but I had no idea about Austin Powers. I just knew the word.

              1. Sorry – I retreat, withdraw, recant, concede … and beg forgiveness for my ignorance.

  23. A quirky but relatively quick offering today. I wasn’t sure about MOT but I think we’ve had it before now. My FOI was BAILIFF and my LOI the PAINS part of 9d. Unlike Busman I enjoyed EVADER but my COD goes to FLOORING. 8:44

  24. Well off the pace today. A 2023 worst of 26m. Loved FLOORING and EVADER when they arrived and like others had PORE as LOI. This is proving to be a tough week for me.

  25. 19:03 The Ford Motor Company is founded by Henry Ford

    Slow FOI and LOI. For PORE I burned several minutes going through all likely words (there a quite a few), but was not expecting a double def, with both {O}ver and {S}mall in there.

    FOR ONES PAINS needed the pen and paper to de-anagram .

    I expected MOT only with “Mot juste”, so not sure it works well by itself. ALT was a possibility here as well with “in annual test.

    COD OBESE, and also liked LAP UP

  26. 14 mins fully parsed and a very enjoyable puzzle today. If I had not paused to parse SURFACE it would have been a new Prof record.
    COD to EVADER for clever combination of two elements of popular culture. Everything seems to be an e- something these days so I loved the idea of an e-Vader.

  27. Taken over my target again today with several clues requiring careful thought. OBESE started me off, GOOSE PIMPLES needed the crossers, EVADER and AUSTRIA took a while and LOI FLOORING took far too long to see. 11:03. Thanks Teazel and Rotter.

  28. SPOOKY!

    Those who followed the discussion here on Monday may be interested to know that the death has just been announced of Dame Mary Quant.

    1. Yes Jackkt, spooky indeed – I had an exactly equivalent thought when I saw the news flash on my phone, but couldn’t remember when Quant / Quaint came up. I was born in the early ’50s, so the Dame was a celebrity feature throughout my adult life, although I never knowingly wore any of her designs! RIP Mary Quant.

  29. DNF Disaster.
    Will draw veil.
    Interesting that it does seem to be horses for courses among SCC members, and this wasn’t my course.

  30. Slow today – nearly 15 minutes – and fully 3 minutes of that on LOI Pore. As soon as I got it I wondered why it had taken so long, but it seems I was not alone in finding it troublesome. Share the MERs at MOT without either bon or juste, but at least with the M-T checkers the answer was unmissable.

    Many thanks to Rotter for the blog

  31. Slim pickings on my first pass of the across clues but things improved greatly with the downs. All parsed except GOOSE PIMPLES (which was obvious given the crossers I had by that stage) in a total of 16 minutes. Some very good clues which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks to Teazel for a fine QC.

    FOI – 12ac PERIMETER
    LOI – 13dn MISSPEAK
    COD – loved the surface of 9dn FOR ONES PAINS. Also enjoyed 16ac SKELETONS and 22ac SURFACE.

  32. Yet another really tough QC – 59 minutes for me. At least it wasn’t a DNF, I suppose.

    Hardly anything after my first pass, so very little to build from. The SE corner (apart from LENIN) stayed completely empty until 35-40 minutes had passed.
    My LOI (SKELETONS) required a 10+ minute alphabet trawl, as I had absolutely no ideas about how to parse the clue.

    Many thanks to Teazel and Rotter.

    P.S. Please may we have a ‘normal’ QC sometime soon?

    1. My experience was very similar, Mr R. Like you, I couldn’t fathom 16ac. It just seemed to be a jumble of words and I also needed an alphabet trawl. It’s astonishing how one can go from being on the setter’s wavelength one day to being completely off it the next.

      On the positive side, we both finished. For much of my solve, finishing seemed unlikely.

      Good luck with tomorrow’s puzzle.

  33. No time here as I started this before going to bed and finished in the morning, but left the timer running by mistake! Stymied for a bit by biffing DODGER for 17d, which made SKELETONS and AUSTRIA hard. COD a toss-up between EVADER and FLOORING, which (coincidentally?) were my last two.

  34. Found that hard, probably because I couldn’t get 1d till the end and so was short of first letters. 13:33 but WOE, biffing ASSYRIA. Hey ho, another one tomorrow!

    Thanks Teazel and Rotter.


  35. 36.34 This seemed really straightforward. Nearly all done in seven minutes, but I biffed FEARRING for 14d (having decided I’d spelt earring correctly I failed to notice that fearing only has one r, and made no sense anyway) and then biffed SPACEBARS for 16a which made EVADER impossible. Then it took nearly half an hour to come to my senses. Thanks both.

  36. Hard but doable and generally fun for this member of the SCC. Glad that there were no obscure words today (except perhaps MOT for clever remark, only known as BON MOT).

    And yes I know of Darth Vader having seen zero (!!) Star Wars films

  37. DNF

    15:00 but carelessly biffed HIT FORCE without bothering to parse. Otherwise pretty straightforward although for some reason FAN needed the checkers.

  38. I think my brain is wired differently to most of the rest of you. Yesterday, which many found hard, was, for me, relatively simple. Today, which many found accessible, was like walking through glue. Got my usual number (12) on the first pass, but then ran into the sticky stuff. Ground out several clues (SCOURGE, SURFACE, EVADER) and eventually my LOI, SKELETONS, came via an undignified alphabet crawl. Time – 50 mins.

    Cross with myself over 20ac. I was well aware of the Australia/Austria clue from previous QCs, but, like at least one other poster, read ‘without’ the wrong way. I’m guessing 9dn is a common phrase, but it didn’t ring any bells with me.

    That’s 2 SCC escapes this week and 2 horror shows. My target of 2 hours for the week remains completely unrealistic on current form.

    Thanks for the blog Rotter. I am grateful to you and your blogging colleagues for making things clear for those of us with more limited talents.

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