Times Quick Cryptic No 2378 by Felix

A fun puzzle with a theme, pitched around average difficulty.

Getting most of the acrosses on the first pass gave me a decent finish of 7.28, but I was still slower to see the theme than I might have been. It seemed when solving that there were rather a lot of initial and last letter clues. I was a bit sluggish to see my LOI 6d. An enjoyable romp – many thanks to Felix!

Theme below, and anagram indicators in italics.

1 American dish was fad: dollar wasted (7,5)
WALDORF SALAD – WAS FAD DOLLAR wasted. I missed this on a first pass.
8 Belief mother is after spaniel, say (5)
DOGMA – MA (mother) is after DOG (spaniel, say)
9 Colours indeed must include initially light blue (7)
YELLOWS – YES (indeed) must include L (“initially” Light) and LOW (blue / down in the dumps)
10 Entertainment with skaters, cold confections, and, first of all, herds of wildebeest (3-4)
ICE-SHOW – ICES (cold confections) and “first of all” Herds Of Wildebeest.
11 Something invigorating filling panto nicely (5)
TONIC – “filling” panTO NICely
12 Great enthusiasm, or sudden blow linked to duck? (5)
GUSTO – GUST (sudden blow) linked to 0 (duck in cricket)
14 Ends school period in one (7)
TERMINI – TERM (school period), IN, I (one)
16 Misbehave when put roughly in reverse (3,2)
ACT UP – PUT, CA. (circa = roughly) “in reverse”
18 Completely tire of sport away from home (4,3)
WEAR OUT – WEAR (sport, as in clothing) OUT (away from home)
20 Hot sauce to accompany Basil and Sybil’s cheese omelettes primarily (7)
TABASCO – “primarily” = the first letters of the preceding seven words
21 Female hotel inspector going around East India (5)
HEIDI – H(otel) DI (detective inspector) going round E(ast) and I(ndia)
22 Muttering hog must be cooked for an evening of fine dining? (7,5)
1 Drawing typed out for guests at marriage ceremony (7,5)
2 Member not so drunk (7)
LEGLESS – LEG (member) LESS (not so)
3 NI town to confirm extra long furlough, finally (5)
OMAGH – the “final” letter of the preceding five words
4 Awkwardly sway left, avoiding tip of huge pest killer (3,4)
FLY SWATawkwardly SWAY LeFT, avoiding E (tip of hugE)
5 Packed with celebs, large and small, visiting place of sacrifice (3-4)
ALL-STAR – L(arge) and S(mall) visiting ALTAR (place of sacrifice)
6 A banality that can grow into something big? (5)
ACORN – A, CORN (a, banality)
7 Shrink from yacht, spirits dashed (12)
13 One who’s against work with model (7)
OPPOSER – OP (opus = work) with POSER (model)
15 Some sign in, originally turning up for evening out? (7)
IRONING – “Some” siGN IN ORIginally “turning up” = reversing. As in evening out creases.
17 Words of gratitude and disapproval? Don’t mention it! (5)
TABOO – TA and BOO being words of gratitude and disapproval
18 Work on them regularly, as authors did? (5)
WROTEW o ROT h E m “regularly”
19 Pale when chicken (5)
ASHEN – AS (when) HEN (chicken)

Theme: Fawlty Towers. The four long outside answers are all episode titles, and then at least three references elsewhere, with Basil and Sybil, a hotel inspector and herds of wildebeest (disgracefully not visible from a Torquay bedroom window). Anything else?

78 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2378 by Felix”

  1. I biffed WEAR OUT (forgot the wear meaning of ‘sport’), and IRONING (once again failed to spot a hidden); parsed post-submission. 6:06.

  2. 14:35. I had trouble seeing circa meaning roughly for ACT UP and also, like Kevin, didn’t twig sport meaning WEAR for quite a while. I was puzzled by “words of gratitude” giving TA but reading the blog cleared up my ignorance! YELLOWS was my COD.

  3. 4:14. Not always keen on themes, but if you’re going to have one it’s hard to go past FT. Especially when it’s accommodated seamlessly into the puzzle as this one was.

    Thanks Roly and setter.

  4. 11 minutes, missing my target by 1. I spotted the theme early so I don’t know what delayed me.

  5. ☕️☕️☕️☕️
    Oh dear. A very chewy one for me this morning, but at least I finished all correct and got a time of 39:20. Slow, even by my standards and close to a PW.
    I pondered way too long and hard over WEDDING PARTY, (a little ironic really as I shall be part of one this afternoon), FLY SWAT, TERMINI and YELLOWS. I enjoyed WALDORF SALAD and PSYCHIATRIST (which I had to change from a lazy PSYCHOLOGIST).
    A good puzzle, but in my opinion quite a bit harder than usual. Still, the sun is shining and there is the promise of another fine spring day in the air, plus coffee with Mr Random Chap in Christchurch this afternoon. I feel we will have much to discuss re this morning’s QC.

      1. We did indeed enjoy a coffee and chat. Trouble was that I hadn’t had my attempt at the time.
        It was good to meet up with a fellow solver, and a thoroughly nice chap.

  6. The central column is an anagram of the theme, an homage no doubt to the mixed up letters seen on the hotel sign during the opening title sequence.

    1. Ah yes, great spot! The anagrams on the sign were very memorable, so this is quite the opportunity for another and enhances an already lovely theme. The “Flowery Twats” one might have raised some eyebrows!

      1. I think on one episode the sign said ‘farty towels’ but there was a missing w with that one!

    2. I always wondered who mixed up those letters. I always assumed it was the paperboy. (Do paperboys exist anymore? Haven’t seen one in years).

      1. They do – but unlike my day (when I was out at 6am on my bike in all weathers 😃), they all seemed to be accompanied by their parents or driven around in a car. Apologies if I came across all Daily Mail there.

  7. A slow start with few on the first pass, but I picked up speed eventually for a 13 minute finish – happy enough with that for a puzzle I thought quite testing, especially the long anagrams. Took time to accept the parsing of Acorn (corny = banal I know, but corn = banality new to me) and Legless (less = not so?), but no other queries.

    I did not spot the theme, but now it is pointed out I think it is rather well done, especially the central column anagram as Ed highlights.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  8. Found this a bit of a slog, struggled throughout and as per usual missed the theme.
    Only WEDDING PARTY of the 4 long perimeter answers went in without a fight which didn’t help matters.
    Finished with IRONING and HEIDI in an undistinguished 12.40.
    Thanks to Roly

  9. I wish you could see the setter when solving on a phone. Please, Mr Editor, can’t this glitch be fixed?

    Full of admiration for the theme. Brilliantly done, and a good puzzle to boot.

    I just could not crack the anagram at 1a and wasted time having three goes at it (once when blank, once with the W and once with the W-L). Hey ho. In the end it was LOI. I’d even begin to wonder if “dish” was being used for “attractive girl” and so I should be looking for some 30s pin up.

    Great fun and I got home in 09:43 for 1.5K and a Thoroughly Enjoyable Day.

    Many thanks Felix and His Rolyness.


    1. I used to miss it, but now I quite enjoy not knowing who the setter is until afterwards. No expectations.

      Besides, expecting them to fix anything with that car wreck of a website is an exercise in sado-masochism.

        1. Whoops. But then again, the level of neglect is so extreme – the bug that Templar mentions, not being able to see the setter’s name on mobile devices is something that actually used to work when the new site launched back in 2017 – that it feels as if there really is some malicious entity that’s actively taking pleasure in doing nothing.

  10. Needed lots of biffing to complete this, fortunately guessing correctly! Thanks for the explanations and for spotting the Fawlty Towers link.

  11. I took a while to get into my stride and found it a bit ‘bumpy’ somehow. Perhaps the very clever incorporation of the Fawlty Towers stuff was not quite so seamless for me. TONIC came at once but I completed most of the NE at the end – YELLOWS, ALL STAR, FLY SWAT, and my LOI ACORN. I, too, entered WEAR OUT without fully parsing.
    Two mins over target for me but an interesting journey.
    Thanks to Felix and Roly. John M.

    1. Yep, as stated below, I felt things were slightly off with FLY-SWAT and ICE-SHOW. The former I think you’d typically say “fly swatter”. Not sure about “ice show” – although my friend who was a professional may have used it. On further reflection, WROTE also felt slightly strange at the time – again forcing the central column.

      1. I agree with you. I hesitate to comment these days on the effect of ‘Themes’ on crossword puzzles but I always sense the unevenness, however slight.
        That said, this was pretty clever. As always, I failed to see (or look for) the theme. John
        P.s. A good time for you. Time to throw away your L-plates, I think.

  12. I’m playing with the big boys today – 11:30 – to get 0.77CO, ahead of Cedric, just behind Jackt. I feel honoured.

    Battling the morning sunshine glare and a dodgy ‘N’ key on the laptop which momentarily threatened to stick at 8mins but I got through without further issue.

    A good theme which doesn’t try to put too much in and therefore benefits from not forcing the rest of the grid. I did feel ICE-SHOW and FLY-SWAT were slightly off at the time. The latter makes sense now we understand what is going on in there.

    Enjoyed YELLOWS 😃

    1. What a great time! You will find the “ahead of Cedric” area is usually really quite crowded …

    2. Well done,sir! (Although I blush to be mentioned in the same breath as the “big boys”-I need to eat a lot more fish to ratchet my brain up to that standard!)

  13. 7:36

    Spotted the theme when the first of the long ones went in (GOURMET NIGHT in my case) and guessed that the other long ones were other episode titles with which anyone who has seen the series several times should be familiar with. The central column which I missed is a real bonus.

    As for the other answers, spent a little too long on IRONING and HEIDI (wasn’t sure where the D came from), before LOI ACORN which required a thankfully short alphatrawl.

    Thanks Felix for the entertainment and Roly for the unravellings.

  14. FOI WEDDING PARTY. I couldn’t solve 1a until I had the F of WALDORF. I parsed HEIDI post submission and failed to understand IRONING although I could see the reverse hidden. LOI GOURMET NIGHT in an on target 8:22. I didn’t look for a theme so I am now off to inspect the grid.

  15. There are a couple of other tenuous FT references… 12a duck (with orange, with cherry, or surprise,); 2d who could forget Kurt being pickled, soused etc when under the table.

  16. I really enjoyed this one. I saw the Fawlty Towers connection very quickly. 1a was the biggest clue.

    I answered all clues with no aids, though I didn’t understand (and still don’t) 15d IRONING as being related to even… ah, even as I type this it has just struck me. When you iron you even out the creases.

    2d LEGLESS could be another loose word related to Fawlty Towers, when Kurt, the gourmet chef, got plastered following Manuel spurning him.

    With the central column being an anagram of FAWLTY TOWERS, reminiscent of the sign outside the hotel. What a clever puzzle this was!

    Perhaps the most enjoyable QC for me to date.

    No time recorded. I have stopped setting myself a time limit as it was just causing me frustration, which in turn affected my concentration.

    Candy bar awarded.

  17. Absolutely loved this one and brilliantly presented by Felix. I recognised the theme with the last two across clues, and for once recognition of the theme was advantageous and allowed me to return to the bypassed 1ac and fill it straight in. I finished in 6.44 which is quickish for me, but I’m slightly disappointed as I seemed to be completing it more swiftly I felt.
    My children know how much I loved Fawlty Towers (the greatest comedy of them all), and my son bought me a birthday present of a ‘Basil Fawlty experience night’. This took the form of a three course meal at the Cardiff Millenium Centre, with mine hosts being ‘Basil and Sybil’ and ‘Manuel’ serving the food. The actors played their parts brilliantly, and we the guests (about 80 of us) were routinely insulted all night by ‘Basil’ who half way through the meal frogmarched one of the guests out of the restaurant! I was told to shut up and get on with my food. A truly memorable night, and one I can recommend to anyone if they’re still touring the country.

    1. What a great experience 👍

      I read recently the “Karen’s Diner” concept is coming to our area. It’s billed as rude staff being rude to customers. The clip I saw had the manageress (Karen) effing and blinding. I suppose it is trying to achieve the same thing but, without the Fawlty Towers backstory to Basil, I can’t see it as being a shade on it.

  18. Love the theme, though naturally I didn’t spot it. Central column very clever. Having said that I was desperately slow. Admittedly I had a few brief interruptions but 42:09 seems positively moribund. Never mind, I enjoyed the challenge. Thanks Felix and roly.

  19. 8:10 (birth of Kenneth MacAlpin, founder of the kingdom of Scotland)

    20a alerted me to the fact that something Fawlty Towers related must be going on, but I failed to spot most of the references.

    LOI 15d. I missed the reverse hidden.


  20. 13 minutes, and unusually didn’t spot the theme, despite looking for one, and being a big fan of the series (who isn’t?). I even thought about FT when entering the answer to 1a – I must be unusually stupid this morning. Many thanks to Felix and Roly.

  21. I actually spotted the theme, and it eventually helped with WALDORF SALAD. Missed my target though – not unusual for the dreaded Felix.

    TIME 5:21

  22. Ah, came here to complain of “Green Paint”, only to learn that they were all the titles of FT episodes!
    I never spot the themes, pangrams or anything else.

  23. Finished it! A struggle, though – took about an hour and a half. NHO WALDORF SALAD or ICE-SHOW; blue = low and sport = wear are both quite difficult; as one who has a collection of fly swatters from 20 countries, I agree with L-plates that in this country we always say fly swatter, not FLY SWAT which may (however) be American? Grumble over; any I couldn’t completely parse were correctly biffed. Open-mouthed in awe at the ingenuity of the theme with its central column (thanks, Ed). FOI TABASCO, LOI ACORN. Congratulations to Felix and thanks to Roly.

    1. I doubt FLY SWAT is American. Certainly across the border here in Southern Ontario I’ve only ever heard fly swatter.

    2. It’s worth remembering feeling blue=low=down=depressed. It comes up regularly as the middle two are good components of other words; as is blue when referring to birds (blue tits, norwegian blue) and probably butterflies or some such.

      Can’t say I’ve seen sport=wear in the QC, and WEAR-OUT was a tentative LOI for me as I hadn’t sussed that meaning. But on reflection, I don’t see it as uncommon, I’m sure we used to talk about someone “sporting a new jacket” or “haircut” (albeit you don’t quite wear it).

      Anyway, well done Martin … good completion

  24. For once I actually spotted the theme! Great puzzle. Stretched me to just over my target at 10:30. Thanks Felix and Roly.

  25. I’m always on my guard when I see ‘by Felix’ after the puzzle number, on the basis that Felix + Theme usually means Dickens. Happily, this one was much more approachable and I even managed to twig the FT theme. . . just as I entered loi Gourmet Night 🙄. Yes, a couple of the clues were a bit convoluted, but Ed’s amazing spot re the centre column means all can be forgiven. A very enjoyable 16min solve, with CoD to 18ac, Wear Out, for the parsing. Invariant

  26. 13:02 King Edward I and Robert the Bruce sign a peace treaty. It lasts only 9 months.

    What a great puzzle, and clever use of the anagram in the central column. This is how my Dad explained what anagram actually was to my younger brother. “You know at the start of Fawlty Towers where they mix up the letters to make something else, that’s what an anagram is”.

    And yesterday I actually had a Salad in Waldorf (near Heidelberg, HQ of my employer, SAP).

    LOI IRONING, where I thought “some” was an anagram indicator of SIGN IN + T[urning].


  27. Theme not spotted, even when alerted to it. I can’t even claim ignorance of the program, as I watched it a few times on VHS as a teen back in the early 90’s. Not seen it since then mind you, and that is 30 years ago now. Very neat though, especially to include the anagram down the middle.

    To the puzzle itself, which fell squarely within my target range, LOI was GOURMET NIGHT, and I had to write out the anagrist. I liked the simplicity of ASHEN.


  28. Didn’t spot the theme but completed and fully parsed in just under 12 mins – fast for me! Very enjoyable, even more so now that I can fully appreciate all the FT refs – fabulous. Thanks all.

  29. A couple of other possible Fawlty references:
    20ac – ‘cheese omelettes’ play quite a role – served to Bernard Cribbens- in ‘The Hotel Inspectors’.
    17d – is this a reference to ‘don’t mention the war……’?

  30. A fun puzzle, v clever. Dimly failed to notice the theme despite the mention of Basil and Sybil, and/or Don’t Mention…. FLY SWAT WROTE
    Even if I had noticed, I don’t know the names of the FT episodes by heart.
    Finished the LHS without problem, but then had to pause. PDM with PSYCHIATRIST helped, then TERMINI, IRONING, WEAR OUT fell into place. LOsI. YELLOWS as not sure of parsing and ACORN (COD) which helped.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

  31. 5.13. Nice puzzle I thought, but needed Roly to point out the wonderful theming. Clearly I can only think of one thing at a time. I like it when the setter shows their wit with themes like this, and apart from the flyswat(ter), I thought it was pretty seamless. Thanks Roly and Felix.

  32. 14 mins…

    Good puzzle, but the theme totally passed me by (probably didn’t help that I wasn’t looking for it).

    I agree with Roly, there seemed to be quite a few clues with initial/end letters involved. In fact, 20ac “Tabasco” and 3dn “Omagh” were clues totally based on plucking out them out, and whilst I appreciate one is the initial letters and the other the final letters, I can’t remember a QC where I’ve seen two of these types of clues together in the same puzzle (especially as they tend to be of the easier variety). Perhaps the nature of the theme necessitated a little bit of engineering.

    FOI – 8ac “Dogma”
    LOI – 1dn “Wedding Party”
    COD – 9ac “Yellows”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Good work James – continuing to solve well 👍

      For the QC, I’m not against the use of multiple initliasms/endisms. Plus we had two hidden words, tonic forwards, ironing backwards and WROTE as a hidden alternates. If that makes it more approachable and gets some checkers on the board, I don’t think that’s a bad thing for the newbies.

  33. Small milestone – first time I have spotted a theme early enough for it to be helpful for the solve.


  34. Really enjoyed this puzzle, finishing in around 25 minutes – a PB. I was unaware of the theme until reading the blog. Very cleverly done.

  35. I’m going to be the grumpy one today. I didn’t enjoy this puzzle at all. I didn’t spot the theme, despite the blatant “Basil and Sybil” reference, and don’t know the titles of Fawlty Towers episodes anyway. I also dislike long anagrams, which meant I skipped all four of the outside clues on my first pass with increasingly incredulous thoughts of “ANOTHER 12-letter anagram?” I can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into creating the puzzle, but it missed the mark for me. Ah well, tomorrow is another day, perhaps that will be more to my liking.

    Thanks to rolytoly for the blog and to Felix for the puzzle.

  36. I found this tricky and struggled to finish in 21 minutes, including unaccountably writing in ‘tobasco’ at 20ac. Never spotted the theme (but then I never do) and had one or two not completely parsed. MER at ICE SHOW and FLY SWAT, possibly forgiven because of the cleverness of the theme.

    FOI – 10ac ICE SHOW
    LOI – 21ac HEIDI
    COD – 7dn. Anyone who can anagram PSYCHIATRIST while preserving a good surface to the clue deserves a medal in my book

    Thanks to Felix and to Rolytoly

  37. Needed the long clues to finish, missed the theme but enjoyed the puzzle and Faulty towers at the time.

  38. Newbie here, enjoyed today’s puzzle and theme. Apologies for the off-topic query, but can anybody tell me if the Times Crossword Club website (when subscribed to the Times and logged in) and the Times Puzzle app are meant to be in sync, or if the app is a totally separate entity.

  39. An excellent puzzle! I was amazed to get 1a and 1d straight away, both of which provided several starting letters. 19 minutes for me.

    Great theme and great setting skill shown to achieve it, but my favourite clue was IRONING for ‘evening out’.

    Did anyone else spot the asymmetric grid? I think that’s a first in the nearly three years I’ve been doing these QCs.

    Many thanks to Felix and Rolytoly.

  40. Brilliantly executed theme. Fun puzzle too.

    FOI 1d wedding party
    LOI 21a heidi
    COD 15d ironing

  41. 11.50 Late today after a long walk in the sun. None of the long clues came straight away. WEAR OUT and ASHEN were both biffed and parsed afterwards. I spotted the hidden but never did make sense of LOI IRONING. Despite missing the beautifully executed theme this was a very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks both.

  42. It took me over three hours, on and off. I’m fairly new to cryptics so I expect that it will be a while before I’m measuring my times in minutes. But today is the first time that I finished all of the puzzle, and didn’t have to skip any of the answers!

    1. Well done Wombat. We’ve all been there (I still sometimes go over the hour mark)! I’m sure the times will improve as you gain experience and spot the various clues/abbreviations/word play etc.

    2. Wow! 3hrs of commitment – well done.

      I started these almost 18mths ago and even as recently as December took 1hr45 a particular thorny one.

      They get easier with practice 👍

      But as today shows they can still be impossible until you’re one of the elites! From 11-mins on Felix to 1hr15 dnf on Izetti.

  43. Very late solve after long day at work. No chance of a great time, but v enjoyable nevertheless. For once, I saw the theme (admittedly hard to miss).

    Thanks for the blog.

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