Times Quick Cryptic No 2388 by Mara

Slower than the last couple of days for a somewhat tricky QC.

No particular hold-ups, but a number of the clues seemed to take a bit more thought than usual, despite all seeming quite clear in hindsight – the mark of a good puzzle in my book. I clocked in a touch under the 9 minute mark, versus 7ish for the last couple of days.

Many thanks to Mara!

Anagram indicators in italics.

1 Diet average, I am breaking fast (10)
PARLIAMENT – PAR (average) I AM breaking/entering LENT (fast). As in the Diet of Worms.
7 Place finished, be accommodating (3,2)
PUT UP – PUT (place) UP (finished)
8 Straight in, real switches (6)
LINEAR – IN REAL switches
10 Have piece of cake, a treat (3)
EAT – “Piece of” cakE A Treat
12 Twisted metal rods for painting (3,6)
13 Misery, one arm being broken (6)
MOANER – ONE ARM being broken. Misery as in the noun.
14 Freezing cold, like small mountains (6)
CHILLY – C(old) HILLY (like small mountains). LOI, and came with a chuckle!
17 Correcting fluid: line cancelled out (9)
19 Time in another age (3)
ERA – “in” anothER Age
20 A small seabird behind boat (6)
ASTERN – A S(mall) TERN (seabird)
21 Passing words inspiring leader of Russian Revolution (5)
ORBIT – OBIT (passing words) inspiring R (“leader” of Russian)
23 Bird wing seen by fisherman? (10)
FLYCATCHER – to FLY = to WING seen by CATCHER (fisherman?)
1 Sweet spice, perfect (10)
PEPPERMINT – PEPPER (spice) MINT (perfect: in mint/perfect condition)
2 Scoundrel Jack set up (3)
RAT – TAR = Jack, set up = reversed
3 Pray, observing demon mythology (7)
IMPLORE – IMP (demon) LORE (mythology)
4 Complaint from boy stuck in tree (6)
MALADY – LAD (boy) stuck in MAY (tree)
5 Jack held hostage by girl assassin (5)
NINJA – J(ack) held hostage by NINA (girl)
6 Ballet is performed in prison (8)
9 Intellectual ability, important issue for older people? (4,6)
GREY MATTER – double definition, the second whimsical
11 Dry-eyed nobleman hugged by Hardy’s girl (8)
TEARLESS – EARL (nobleman) hugged by TESS (Hardy’s girl – ‘er of the d’Urbervilles)
15 Retreat, due to his almost failing (7)
HIDEOUT – DUE TO HIs (“almost”) failing
16 Piece of cake, al fresco treat (6)
PICNIC – double definition
18 Ladies briefly dancing in dream (5)
IDEAL – LADIEs (“briefly”) dancing
22 Expression of disgust in Brighton and Hove, first of all (3)
BAHBrighton And Hove “first of all”

82 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2388 by Mara”

  1. 17:43. Many definitions I couldn’t see at first glance: diet for PARLIAMENT, misery for MOANER, passing words for OBIT, fisherman for CATCHER, and piece of cake for PICNIC.

  2. 13 minutes. I hopped around the grid a lot picking off the shorter words, but most of the long answers required most of their checkers before they would come to me. Not the best of days for me as I was slow on the 15×15 too .

    1. Belated congratulations and thanks for the milestone – I always find your explanations and insights a pleasure to read.. but it really shouldn’t be too long before the big G/K/M (any others? XxC?) so I’ll save any further effusion for then!

      1. Many thanks, but I think any of those milestones would be a bit ambitious! l currently have my sights on 900 total blogs which I should achieve towards the end of next month, although I’m not planning to make a thing of it here.

  3. Lopped off the wrong end of ‘ladies’ to leave me with ‘ideas’ in place of IDEAL for ‘dream’ – it’s never the first letter but I didn’t think to recheck that focusing instead on BAH when I struggled to get something to fit where FLYCATCHER ended up. I remember the Diet of Worms from my the Early Modern part of history A level but it still took a while to get to PARLIAMENT. Good one! Slow, quick, slow to end up all green in 17.

  4. Just under 15m held up by 1d as I had Set Up instead of Put Up at 7a for a while. Some good clues including Parliament, Orbit and Flycatcher (couldn’t think of a bird ending Angler). However, I thought some clues were lazy – too many hiddens and too many anagrams where the last letter was omitted. Thanks blogger and setter.

    1. Maybe lazy to include “too many hiddens and too many anagrams” but perhaps trying to give us lesser-ability people a chance? It is the Quick after all.

  5. Diet = PARLIAMENT? I still can’t see it. I did see it as a possibility once all the checkers were in but still didn’t use it, hence No Time Given today.
    I particularly liked BASTILLE and TEARLESS.
    Another lovely sunny start to the day.

    1. A Diet is another word for some parliaments (Germany and Japan, for example).

      1. I agree this is the meaning here – the other doesn’t make sense!

  6. 12 a could be “art models” as well…
    Many thanks to setter and blogger

  7. A bit tricky in places, but no hold-ups for me, rejecting OLD MODELS for 12A fairly quickly. Happy Star Wars Day to all. Thank-you Mara and Rolytoly. 4:22.

  8. About 15 mins – I would usually agree with Roly re all seeming clear in hindsight as the sign of a good puzzle but this one still feels a bit unsatisfactory to me.

    Two ‘nearly’ anagrams 15D and 18D seems at least one too many and PARLIAMENT as ‘diet’ is worthy of a 15×15 even if the wordplay makes sense.

    A few clues felt a bit of a stretch: e.g. PICNIC for something easy when I think I normally hear it used as ‘no picnic’ for something hard and CATCHER for fisherman. I can’t argue with either but they niggle.

    Still, thanks as ever to Mara for taking the time and effort to create a puzzle that stretches and thanks Roly for a great blog (although ‘as in Diet of Worms’ feels a bit obscure too!).

    On reflection maybe I’m just grouchy today…

    1. ‘A walk in the park’ and ‘picnic’ used to appear almost daily in this forum to describe an easy puzzle. You can stick a negative in front of many words or expressions to give them the opposite meaning.

  9. I found this tough, especially the longer clues – like Jack I dotted round the grid getting the shorter clues before tackling the long ones, and even with the checkers they came only very slowly and the long anagrams needed writing down on paper before they emerged.

    But all finished eventually, in 14 minutes, which is well above my average for Mara – I thought it was just a slow day after a celebratory evening last night on the birth of a new grandson, but I see others were stretched too.

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  10. A lot harder than yesterday’s puzzle, but I had my anagram hat on today so at 24mins only a little longer. Talking of hats, a tip of mine to anyone who spotted Parliament without any crossers. Lower down the grid, I was another who explored Art Model (‘for painting’) at 12ac, but Ninja really had to be right. Loi Flycatcher went in with fingers crossed, as birds are never a strong point, but fly/wing seemed worth a go. CoD, by a country mile, to 17ac Nullified for the surface. Invariant

  11. Having failed to get 1a or 1d, I started with RAT and then got almost all the downs, so the acrosses were then easy. That left only PEPPERMINT and IMPLORE. I enjoyed it.

    All done in 08:05 for an estimated 1.4K and a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Mara and roly.


  12. A fine QC and a bit of a tease from Mara, I thought. I had to jump around at first having failed to see 1a & 1d. Lots of answers that were obvious with hindsight but took a bit of time to see (as comments by others above). I finished 5 seconds under target but it felt slower. Things are looking up for me this week – I have been under target every day (apart from The Breadman QC which took me a minute over).
    Some very good clues I finished with 1d, 1a, and 6d, BASTILLE (a slow PDM). My COD was PARLIAMENT.
    Thanks to Mara for an excellent puzzle and to Roly for a very good blog with some apt comments. John M.

  13. An excellent challenge, some brilliant clues, but no obscurities. Harder than yesterday but finished all parsed in average time. Held up my ART MODELS at 12a and a MER at CHILLY for FREEZING, but no complaint as the Y stimulated GREY MATTER not merely metaphorically. FOI RAT, LOI FLYCATCHER, COD PARLIAMENT. I believe that the Duma is also called a diet, but in such a large country the Worms are like snakes. Thanks Mara and Rolytoly

  14. Found this tough, especially as I saw anagram of 12a as ART MODELS until the down clues made this impossible. Needed crossers for longer words and didn’t like the ‘briefly’ and ‘almost’ clues. Biffed ORBIT.

  15. I found it easier than puzzles earlier in the week, or at least my time reflects that. I thought as I was going along that there were some tricky definitions.

    I liked PARLIAMENT, passing words = OBIT, misery = MOANER, PEPPERMINT. LOI was NULLIFIED, waiting for checkers to untangle the anagram.


  16. I echo MangoMan’s comments; I was gratified to finish but it took me 34 mins, whilst doing other things, and I didn’t feel much enjoyment in the process albeit the mental exercise was good.
    Diet = Parliament evaded me but the wordplay with some checkers got me there later on after, as seems to be my process of late, flitting all over to get some bones to build on.
    I now usually spot partial anagrams but I think for newer solvers they are particularly problematic. I will be interested to see later comments.

    …Oh! My long missing avatar has mysteriously returned!

  17. Hardly more than half today, alas, despite the easy 3-letter ones (RAT, ERA, BAH, EAT). NHO Diet of Worms… then like AlanH (above) I had 7 SET UP which seems equally possible? Confused by “out” in 17; is that word superfluous? In 21, nothing is underlined in the blog; where is definition of ORBIT, please? NHO FLYCATCHER; NHO NINJA (but biffed). Just not on the wavelength today, I’m afraid. By the way, as a “newer solver” (or not-solver) I can report that it was clear enough that 15 and 18 were partial anagrams, so perhaps they should have been doable.

  18. Like Hopkinb I also found this ok, helped by PARLIAMENT going straight in.

    A typo, so a fail, but 6.04 time-wise

    Thanks all

  19. I’m bucking the trend as I found it easier than the last couple of days despite my LOI being 1a PARLIAMENT. NINJA made me smile because I quite like using the turtling method to solve clues. I’m not sure I would have solved BASTILLE so quickly had I not been a fan of the same named pop band’s song Pompeii. COD ORBIT 6:36 for an excellent day.

      1. As per the glossary link

        Ninja Turtling – divining the existence of something highbrow or classical from something distinctly not, as in: “Of course I’ve heard of Donatello. He’s the one with the purple mask..” Coined by Keriothe in this 2018 blog.

        and thank you for the kind words yesterday.

  20. 34.23 … big old struggle throughout with LOI PARLIAMENT. Have seen it once before but crosswords are tough when you can’t get the long 1s. Was looking at wrong end of PEPPERMINT for the longest time and never thought of the confectionary definition. FLYCATCHER LbOI so not a good day around the edges.

    Was I the only one to try and biff SPANDAU into the prison ballet ?! 🤣

    Some tough anagrams and definitions in there and having to work east to west made it harder. Liked GREY-MATTER when I saw it but as often happens, my enjoyment of such clues is lessened when I’m grinding it out.

  21. 12:45 (Henry III starts the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey)

    I wasn’t sure when solving this if it was trickier than usual, or whether it was just that I am a bit sluggish because of a cold.

    LOI was IDEAL.
    5d made me think there might be a Nina in this puzzle, but if there is I can’t see it.

  22. 16 minutes, but I was surprised to see I had escaped the SCC as the solve felt significantly harder than that time suggests. I finally saw DIET for what it is (I’m sure either or both of Iceland or Ireland call it that), and thought the clue very good when I eventually solved it. CHILLY was LOI – I’d been trying to fit ALP in there for too long. A challenging puzzle with lots to like, but I kind of agree with those that came away feeling a little disquiet about it. Thanks Mara and Roly.

    1. I wonder if you’re thinking of the Dail in Ireland . Iceland has its ancient Althing.

    2. Isn’t it called the Diet in Japan? Or at least the English equivalent name.

  23. I didn’t find this one too difficult though 1a completely flummoxed me. I just could not work it out. I didn’t even know which end of the clue to start at. In the end I used my one and only aid here and opened up the Ask Ross app on my phone. Once it told me that another word for average was “Par” it clicked into place. I had heard of the Japanese parliament being called Diet.

    Did not know OLD HATTER, but once I got some letters filled in, it had to be the answer.

    I can never remember if Brits say gray or grey. I know the Americans use the opposite. I opted for Grey and was fortunate to be right.

    An enjoyable puzzle.

      1. Sorry, OLD MASTER. When I first saw the clue I thought MAD HATTER, but that didn’t work. Yes, OLD MASTER is what I actually put. 🤣

  24. Are we likely to get a Coronation themed solve tomorrow?

    Fridays seem to have become nina/theme day recently. Apart from a few weeks back when it was moved to the Thursday and the Izetti Holy-orders toughie was given the long weekend.

    1. L.P., I’m puzzled, why”a Coronation themed solve”? Is there some significant connection between 2023 and Coronation Street?

    2. Well maybe it is if it’s Felix, or some other of our Crossword Editor’s pseudonyms. It’s not my turn for the Weekend QC or I might have been tempted, but Sawbill’s this weekend at least has a party reference… to ours in June. Do come along.

      1. No. Friday’s is an Izetti. But the 15×15 has a Coronation theme. It is on the harder side though and has a bit of a gibe at us solvers at 19D!

  25. All green but well into the SCC at around 30+ mins – no exact time because of phone calls and other interruptions. A slight feeling of disquiet here, too, but some nice clues amongst them all. PARLIAMENT, PEPPERMINT and MOANER last 3 in. Thanks Mara and rolytoly

  26. I found this very tough for a QC, as my finishing time of 14.22 reflects. I confidently put in ART MODELS for 12ac and this certainly hindered me before seeing where I had gone wrong. I thought 1ac PARLIAMENT to be an excellent clue, with its clever misdirection and this took me some time to fathom.

  27. I agree with our blogger, this was somewhat tricky.
    Took me 15 minutes which doesn’t look too bad having read the comments above.
    My last three were PARLIAMENT, PEPPERMINT (having SET UP? at 7a was a cause of much delay) and LOI BASTILLE.
    Excellent QC overall.

  28. Felt as if I was wading through treacle with this one and, unlike Invariant, seem to have carelessly misplaced my anagram hat this morning – not a good puzzle to do it on.
    All the long clues needed many checkers and the proverbial crowbar and eventually crossed the line in 13.20 with PARLIAMENT and FLYCATCHER being the last 2 in.
    Thanks to Roly for the blog and Mara for the workout.

  29. Just scraped in under my target with PEPPERMINT and PARLIAMENT holding me up at the end. 9:48. Thanks Mara and Roly.

  30. Crumbs! That was hard going. 46 minutes for me with very little coming easily, apart from a few of the shorter clues (e.g. ERA, BAH, EAT).

    Ten clues solved after 15 minutes and six still to go as the half-hour passed. The most intractable for me were PARLIAMENT (NHO the definition), RAT (didn’t equate Jack with tar), PUT UP (didn’t see PUT for place or UP for ended) and MALADY (MAY = tree?). I could list several other clues which stumped me, but there’s no real need as most of the rest would be included.

    A full-scale workout for the brain, but not particularly enjoyable I’m afraid.

    Many thanks to Mara and rolytoly.

    1. Ah yes, the May tree or hawthorn as it is better known. I’d forgotten about that clue as it reminded me that it was only being discussed last Friday in the comments.

      With her gardening knowledge, I’m sure Mrs Random will fill you in – so to speak

  31. 13.35 This was mostly straightforward but I spent five minutes on PEPPERMINT and PARLIAMENT, then IMPLORE and PUT UP went straight in to finish.

  32. A bit over 9 and a half minutes. I was fortunate to see PARLIAMENT early on so was able to work down steadily to complete the rest. Hardest ones were the IMP LORE and I found MOANER for the non-abstract sense of ‘Misery’ surprisingly difficult for a six-letter anagram. No spoilers but I was helped with the first bit of one clue here by another clue somewhere else (not far away from here) today.

    Thanks to Mara and rolytoly

  33. Well that was a battle but scraped over the line in 1h 6m with the old grey matter well and truly exercised.
    Got off to a good start with lots of anagrams and hiddens but then the tough clues kicked in. I used the ‘pencil’ option several times as could not be sure the answer was correct without some crossers e.g. PUT UP and thought some of the definitions were a stretch e.g. IDEAL for a dream, FLY for wing and CATCHER for fisherman.
    Definitely in the hard QC category but thanks Mara and Roly.

  34. 19 mins…

    All went in fairly steadily, with the main hold up on 16dn “Picnic” and 23ac “Flycatcher”. Also spent a bit of time on 12ac “Old Master” after initially misreading it and trying to insert “oil” at the beginning.

    9dn is a question I ask myself nearly everyday 😀

    FOI – 2dn “Rat”
    LOI – 23ac “Flycatcher”
    COD – 21ac “Orbit”

    Thanks as usual!

  35. 7:51

    Lucky enough to watch an old episode of The Chase last night on which one of the answers to the question ‘To which assembly was Martin Luther summoned to explain his views’ (or something like that) was ‘Diet Of Worms’ – coinkydink, huh?

    Three of the four around the outside (exception of GREY MATTER) were some of my last few in, with LOI PICNIC.

    Thanks Mara and Roly

  36. Slow to get going and Too much of a rush today so used CCD for FLYCATCHER, NINJA and one or two others. But ones I did solve myself included PARLIAMENT, OLD MASTER, NULLIFIED And HIDEOUT.
    Pretty difficult, imo. Thanks vm, Roly.

  37. Those of you interested in OLD MASTERs may like the film Vermeer, The Greatest Exhibition. On at random cinemas at random times. The local Odeon in our case, along the same sort of cultural lines as the opera films. Just search. It is a very good film. 90mins.

    1. We saw it on Monday – I agree, it was very good. A lovely reminder of our trip to Amsterdam last month – and nobody in the way 😅
      By the way, ever since our conversation about hawthorn and may last week, I’ve seen quite a few clues featuring both words!

  38. Like many others, I found this tricky and enjoyable. It took me several passes through all the clues, getting one or two more each time, until my LOI, FLYCATCHER. Just avoided the SCC, all done in 19:12.

    Thanks to Mara and rolytoly.

  39. For us, dodgy definitions and a ridiculous number of anagrams made this a boring solve. Since anagram solving is largely mechanical, the skill of the setter is to hide the fact it is an anagram and/or mislead which is the anagrist. Neither seemed to be well done here, and with so many it quickly becomes the first thing you look for.

    1. I counted 5 anagrams, which is generally regarded as the maximum that’s reasonable, but maybe I miscounted. Remember this is a Quick Cryptic and anagrams can be helpful for the less experienced solver. What did you find to be dodgy definitions? Nothing seemed untowards to me, and I didn’t find it boring. Maybe stick the 15×15 if you find the QC too easy and boring.

  40. Plenty of anagrams suited us, no real problems with diet, always caused a laugh in history lessons. Found it a little harder than yesterday and we were glad to finish with all correct.

  41. Did like implore but found this one more difficult than yesterday’s

  42. About 9 minutes this morning, before a very busy day. 16d was particularly suitable as we are planning a street party / PICNIC for Sunday.
    I forgot to make any notes but I did like OLD MASTER and BASTILLE.
    Thanks Mara and Roly

  43. Had to laugh when an earlier blogger described a 13 min solve as like walking through treacle. For me, that’s a tiptoe through the tulips!

    Given my recent travails, a 25 min solve is a decent result, although I missed a few I should have seen on the first pass. Seemed to be anagram-heavy, but I suspect that is just me.

    As an ‘expert’ on comparative constitutional law (well I designed a course on it), the Japanese Diet is well known to me, but I took ages to work it out here.


    Following wise advice from L-Plates yesterday, I tried to have no expectations coming in (but slightly narked that I didn’t dodge the SCC).

    Thanks for the excellent blog.

  44. As quite often seems to be the case, my experience of this puzzle was at odds with most others. I found most of it fairly straightforward and although PARLIAMENT and IMPLORE slowed me down at the end, I still managed to cross the line at 15:47. Never heard of Diet meaning Parliament, but at least it was fairly clued. COD to ORBIT. Thanks Mara and Roly.

  45. I’m so glad I stumbled across this blog – it’s full of useful information and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it often.

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