Times Quick Cryptic No 2408 by Joker

Perhaps a touch on the trickier side today.

The top half went in smoothly enough but the bottom half took a bit more unpacking, with my geography and anagramming leaving a bit to be desired. And a major PDM when I finally discovered what was going on with 24ac.

Wrapped up in 8:18, and much enjoyed – many thanks to Joker!

Anagram indicators in italics.

1 Not sweet, animal, heartless. Just so (6)
BRUTAL – BRUT (not sweet, as in a wine) AnimaL “heartless”. The definition refers back to the rest of the clue, which adequately describes BRUTAL.
5 Patrol going around entrance (6)
PORTAL – PATROL going around
8 Risk grenade exploding with pin’s end put in (8)
ENDANGER – GRENADE exploding, with N (piN‘s “end”) put in
9 President that’s cleaner? Not right (4)
BUSH – BrUSH (cleaner) without the R(ight). The first Bush, to preserve the non-living-person (except for the monarch) rule in Times crosswords (except Sundays).
10 Amphibian’s weight in trap (4)
NEWT – W(eight) in NET (trap)
11 Nice place, relaxing (8)
PLEASING – PL. (Place, as in a town square) EASING (relaxing)
12 Scattered boxes with energy (6)
SPARSE – SPARS (boxes) with E(nergy)
14 Without leaders, fun truly is wild (6)
UNRULY – “without leaders”, fUN tRULY
16 Tell about English initially going lower in division (8)
RELEGATE – RELATE (tell) about E(nglish) and G (“initially” Going)
18 Sulphur frequently is not hard to the touch (4)
SOFT – S(ulphur) OFT (frequently)
20 Execute reform centrally (4)
HANG – cHANGe (reform) “centrally”
21 Head leaves Bedfordshire town likely to fail (8)
UNSTABLE – Dunstable is our Beds town, with the head leaving
23 Establish a colony   somewhere in Yorkshire (6)
SETTLE – double definition
24 Wizard   writer for children (6)
POTTER – double definition: from Harry to Beatrix. I was scrolling down through Collins to see what on earth kind of child’s writing implement a “potter” was when Beatrix appeared. I doubt I would have parsed this otherwise; I was miles off.
2 Fury about new rocket-testing area (5)
RANGE – RAGE (fury) about N(ew)
3 Large area requires empty outdoor vehicle (7)
TRACTOR – TRACT (large area) requires OR (“empty” OutdooR). “Outdoor” is a generous hint from Joker (and one I availed of), but has nothing to do with the actual definition, which would involve it doing double duty.
4 Record   piece of firewood (3)
LOG – double definition
5 Hound is in itself endearingly attractive (9)
PERSECUTE – PER SE (in itself) CUTE (endearingly attractive)
6 Puzzle about public transport (5)
REBUS – RE (about) BUS (public transport)
7 Weapon store is second in combat zone left (7)
ARSENAL – S(econd) in ARENA (conbat zone) L(eft)
11 Strange erratum replacing middle of page is ill-considered (9)
PREMATUREstrange ERRATUM replacing the AG of PagE
13 Repaper for renovation — and what one must do first? (7)
PREPARE – REPAPER for renovation
15 Perhaps lounge with paintings to go from the top (7)
RESTART – REST (perhaps lounge) with ART (paintings)
17 Cube has heaviness without width (5)
EIGHTwEIGHT (heaviness) without the W(idth)
19 Primarily fake, artificial, lying, sham, ersatz? (5)
FALSEFake Artificial Lying Sham Ersatz “primarily” spell FALSE, and also define it in various ways
22 Lose one’s footing, dropping large drink (3)
SIPSLIP (lose one’s footing), dropping L(arge)


85 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2408 by Joker”

  1. 12’32 for a relatively tough puzzle held up particularly by BRUTAL, HANG and PERSECUTE, although there were enough gimmes to keep me moving on like NEWT, LOG, BUSH and PORTAL.

    SETTLE and (D)UNSTABLE may be tough for some?

    Thanks Joker and Roly.

  2. I got round in about 14. As an overseas solver I’m resigned to some UK geographical challenges, and note there are quite often references to other parts of the world. Not long ago I was struggling to come up with a city from -Y-N-Y and was working my way through Africa and Asia until I eventually realised it was Sydney, which I was sitting in the middle of. A bit unconvinced by 1ac today, BRUTAL. Like, I got it, but don’t get it.

    1. Too right about geography close to home. I needed checkers today to think of Dunstable as ‘Bedfordshire town’ yet it’s the nearest neighbouring town to Leighton Buzzard where I have been living for the past 40 years! Not that I’ve ever been there by choice.

      1. I can’t think that anybody would choose to go to Dunstable – although George Best did briefly late in his career.

        1. I needed an emergency life-saving operation, otherwise I might have declined!

          1. Ok that is what you meant when you said ‘by choice,’ I get it. Good decision! I’ve been to Beds (have ancestral family links to there I am told) but not Dunstable. I am now beginning to feel a bit sorry for the place as I was yesterday when the wonderful echidna was being mocked by people who have never had the pleasure of meeting one…

          1. LB, where I live suffers collateral damage from the proximity of Luton in that we are lumbered with their post code. Rumour has it that this adds a premium to insurance costs.

            1. I live about 4 miles away from you jackkt in the Brickhills but with an MK postcode. Still, I needed a few checkers before I came up with DUNSTABLE and my only visits there were for out of hours doctors when the kids were young. I suspect that the out of hours doctors has been replaced with an NHS phone service now.

    2. I took the clue as what I think experts call a semi &lit, definition HEARTLESS, JUST SO, with HeARTLESS doing double duty. Good when the penny dropped. I remember the crafty SYDNEY clue, and almost treading on an echidna near Launceston, but managing a photo before it scarpered.

  3. I was in a hurry to catch a train and so made no notes, but I remember that BRUTAL took some time, as did HANG. I’m not sure if I knew DUNSTABLE the town, but I remembered Dunstable the composer. I knew SETTLE for some reason, and a good thing, too, but as usual couldn’t have told you what county it’s in. 6:22.

  4. 12 minutes, and my slowest solve of a QC this week so far. I looked twice (or more) at too many clues before writing in the answers, e.g. BRUTAL and HANG.

    1. Nicely said Jack … having to look looked twice before writing in answers .. was definitely the thing which held me back too 👍

  5. It was all going swimmingly until I came up against my LOI PERSECUTE, over which I took an inordinate amount of time and ultimately failed to see. DOH! So No Time Given yet again this week, but comfortably joining my SCC colleagues.
    It had been a nice puzzle up until then, however, and UNSTABLE made me chuckle. I failed to parse the very obvious POTTER, but bunged it in anyway, and I especially liked PLEASING and RESTART. REBUS is a clue I’ve encountered a couple of times recently and it is now firmly filed away for future recall.
    Thank you Joker for a fine puzzle.

  6. 13 and a bit minutes. Definitely on the trickier side for me today, with another slow start at 1a. I did know the Bedfordshire and Yorkshire place names which helped, but overall I was sluggish and was happy to finish all green. It looks innocuous now, but I found RESTART – a def that wasn’t obvious and with so many possibilities for parsing the wordplay – particularly difficult. The quintuple def / &lit FALSE was excellent.

    The juxtaposition of the Republican heavyweights (figuratively speaking) BUSH and NEWT (Gingrich) was PLEASING, or maybe not 😊.

    Thanks to Joker and rolytoly

  7. I did enjoy this but took a while to see the parsing of several, HANG being one. Dunstable came to me quickly having lived nearby. I did have PLEASANT written to one side but could see it didn’t work, PLEASING finally sorted that.

  8. Another day another pink square. I’m making life hard for myself recently. Ruined ARSENAL by thinking UNRULY was in the clue – ‘fun truly’ must have morphed in my head so I put in ‘unreal’ clearly taking no account of the s in leaders nor that ‘truly’ is close to but could clue ‘real’. Can’t claim a typo it’s a full blow error. Struggled with the parsing of PREMATURE on the way with ‘replacing the middle of page’ confusing – but I think I was just struggling with ‘replacing’ meaning ‘put in a different place’ rather than ‘substitute’ – and also paused on RELEGATE as it means more than ‘lower in division’ and I should know I’m a Yeovil Town supporter and we’ve had more relegations in the last ten years than anyone else, sort of an anti-Luton (neighbouring DUNSTABLE). So not all green in 17 with two errors from two pink squares. Good one!

    1. I was meh on RELEGATE. Put it in, took out, eventually put it back in.

      I’ve only seen it used as a verb (i.e. to relegate a team) and my grammar isn’t good enough to be sure that “lowering a team down a division” is the same as “lower in division” although I suppose you can “lower a bucket down a well”. – Seems clunky.

      But there you go, one of those situations where those of us with an specific interest get a bit testy over something the casual observers just accept 🤷‍♂️

  9. 7:29

    Nothing ungettable here – fortunately live reasonably close to SETTLE, less so DUNSTABLE which took a little remembering. Needed all checkers for LOI PERSECUTE.

    Thanks Joker and Roly

  10. Hurrah, I managed to avoid the hattrick of failures, although it was a nervous wait after pressing submit.
    Made quite short work of this despite thinking that it felt tricky in places. Major PDM when BRUTAL went in which just left LOI PERSECUTE, which I failed to parse.
    Crossed the line in 7.35 with COD to PREMATURE.
    Thanks to Roly

  11. I simply didn’t like this puzzle, and not just because I missed my target by a smidgen. UK geography is one of my better subjects, so no problems with the two smallish towns. However I eventually biffed my LOI and am grateful to Roly for unravelling it for me.

    TIME 5:03

  12. I appear to be in a run of DNFs – 3 in the last 2 weeks – as I could not see beyond Pleasant for Pleasing. It was my LOI, and the P at the front misled me into thinking the parsing was P for place then a 7 letter word, and I didn’t recover from that. Alas.

    That apart, all went well, including (D)unstable which I have been to though not for many years, and 11 minutes for a nice puzzle. One might say a pleasant solve even if not a pleasing ending (I’ll stop there …)

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

  13. Definitely chewy. A similar pattern to yesterday’s QC for me. No real progress in the top half – start from the bottom – make decent progress – fill in gaps – then fight over my LOI (BRUTAL).
    I had no problem with HANG once I had the G. Many answers were logical but had me off-balance. I biffed POTTER early but needed Roly’s blog to remember Beatrix (d’oh!) and to sort out PLEASING and the per se in PERSECUTE. In the end I was just glad to finish it and avoid the SCC even though I was 3 mins over target again.
    This has been a funny old week and I fear for what will arrive tomorrow to complete a tough selection.
    Thanks to both. John M.

  14. 15.21 to achieve my weekly SCC escape. Fastest time ever on a Joker.

    Always feel (irrationally) pleased with myself for knowing what a REBUS is and therefore a sense of smuggery when it comes up in a crossword. Not that it’s anything special to boast about in these parts but in normal life …

    Couldn’t parse PERSECUTE which was LbOI as I was looking for some breed of dog within the letters or parse HANG – thank-you to Roly for the blog. The latter is a type of clue we rarely see in the QC. Also struggled to parse ARSENAL (could see ARENA but not its connection to combat) and I’m rather meh at RELEGATE for “lower in division”.

    BUSH was LOI. Was fairly certain it was that from early on. But Joker often has one misleading answer to cause a DNF so I held back on it until I saw the brush connection. Edit: seems like pleasing/pleasant may have been the ‘misleading’ answer today given a few DNFs on it.

    So while there were lots of little quibbles and minor hold-ups, I enjoyed getting that sorted in 15mins or so 👍

    1. Hey, congrats- good ten minutes ahead of me today. (I started to calculate our time ratio but feared I might get a headache so will leave that higher math to you!)

  15. On the tricky side. I know of Dunstable as the crossroads of Watling Street and the Icknield Way, but don’t remember ever stopping there. I’d like to walk the downs there, but it is just a bit far away for me for a day trip. COD to HANG for the ‘think of a word and chop both ends off’ wordplay. Thanks Joker and Roly. 5:20.

  16. Second time this week for Arsenal!

    As a committed supporter, cannot remember seeing Arsenal and Relegate in same place! (Sorry! Couldn’t resist it!)

      1. Never mind Mr Rotter! Just ask Mr Leaver how many Arsenal promotions he can remember.

  17. Just over 15 minutes today, so continuing improvement this week. I also wanted pleasing to be pleasant, but couldn’t make it work, and also failed to parse HANG, but I did think of both POTTERs, and really liked PER SE CUTE when I saw it. Many thanks Joker and Roly.

  18. 6.04

    Bucked the trend on this one with a rare sub-K

    Not sure why but knew SETTLE and saw HANG quite quickly.

    Liked PREPARE

    Thanks Joker and Rolytoly

  19. Not quite as tricky as Joker often is, and I fortunately found myself on his wavelength, so completed in below average time, very satisfied. FOI RANGE, LOI PORTAL, COD BRUTAL, which took some time. Thanks, Joker and Rolytoly

  20. I must have been on Joker’s wavelength today as I completed a top to bottom solve. Fortunately I knew Dunstable from when my nephew worked at Whipsnade.

  21. No time but no speed trip for me so I am happy to take a proxy seat in my usual corner chair to enjoy a coffee and sourdough toast.
    Missed Beatrix so misplaced gratitude to Harry. COD PERSECUTE. Thanks to all.

  22. I thought today’s QC from Joker had too many clues that were impossible until the answer made them obvious, but then I’ve never been happy with the bifd then parse approach. In the end I resorted to Google maps for 21ac – I think fall rather than fail in the clue might have helped – for the token SE town, and loi Brutal only went in because I could think of nothing else that would fit (but Just so, really ?) 25mins for a technical DNF. Invariant

    On edit, thanks to Ozned (whose earlier post I have just read) for explaining Brutal

  23. I don’t like finishing without parsing as that is usually where the mistake is. In this case I couldn’t parse HANG or PLEASANT and one was right and one was wrong. So a dnf but happy to finish a hard puzzle with just one error.
    There was a real mix of clue types which kept me on my toes. Thanks Joker and Roly for the explanations.

  24. DNF for me, failing to get PERSECUTE and HANG.

    Also got 15d wrong, putting RESTATE without really trying to parse it.

    Biffed SOFT, POTTER (after fixing 15d!) and TRACTOR.

    Why is cube = EIGHT please? I know 2^3 = 8, is that it? Does that mean cube could also be one, twenty-seven, sixty-four etc?

    1. Re: cube question … exactly that! And yes to the alternatives although it would be a harsh clue for “one” I’d say.

      Occasionally see “square” in the same way e.g. four, nine.

    2. Cube, yes that’s it.

      On a related note there’s a famous clue thqt goes zero squared cubed (3)

        1. In mathematical terms, any number raised to the power of zero equals one.

          1. Thank you – having been a mathematician at school, I knew that – but how do you relate “zero squared” to “to the power of zero”?

            1. We have both been fooled into thinking the answer is one, and trying to justify our assumption.

              Try Zero squared is zero x zero . . . oxo

              1. Brilliant! Sorry, that’s Blighter’s word (below), so I’ll say…. inspired. Thank you.

                1. Giving up on a wrong answer is on a par with looking at the other end of the clue as a sign of progress in this game.

                  1. I’m really sorry: I don’t understand what you mean. Could you be so kind as to spell it out? For a start, who “gave up” on which “wrong answer”? And what is “the other end” of the clue? Thank you!
                    After yours of 11.04 (since there’s no “Reply” box beneath it): very many thanks – I *nearly* understand…….. I’m still rather new to this game.

                    1. I gave up on ‘one’ being the answer when I couldn’t think of a satisfactory answer to your question. Did you ?
                      Also, a big problem (for me at least) is being fixated on finding an answer to an assumed definition when the real target is actually at the other end of the clue – you will sometimes see comments about ‘wrong end of clue issues’. That issue doesn’t apply in this particular case, but the general advice still stands.

      1. Zero squared cubed. Thanks for that, M.
        Brilliant, but it took a while for the penny to drop. John.

      2. Cheers!

        Least I’ll know the answer to that one, shall I ever see it!

  25. An almost successful struggle: FOI UNRULY, COD PERSECUTE, LOI (unfortunately) PLEASant – otherwise all done in an hour, though failed to parse the difficult SPARSE and HANG, or POTTER. Thanks to Roly for the explanations.

  26. Travails continue, though at least this was a tricky puzzle.



  27. Managed to get under target at 9.10 for the first time this week, and again I felt it was a bit tougher than average. Held up mainly at the end by PREMATURE and especially by my LOI PERSECUTE which took some time to unravel. It took a while to parse BRUTAL as well, but I got there in the end. I’ve travelled extensively over all parts of England but never been to DUNSTABLE, and after the earlier comments I think I’ll give it a miss!

  28. Dnf…

    Could be on a clean sweep depending on tomorrow.

    I had everything after 20 mins, but just couldn’t get 5dn “Persecute”. Then, on reviewing the answers, I see I put “Pleasant” for 11ac (still not sure why that couldn’t actually be an answer).

    I rattled through Yorkshire towns, and ended up putting “Nestle” for 23ac – as in establishing a colony and the fact there is a Nestle factory in York. Ok – perhaps that was stretching it a bit, but it seemed to work 😀

    FOI – 10ac “Newt”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 24ac “Potter!”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Yes I too had PLEASANT – the problem with it is that EASANT is not a word.

      1. Agreed – but I took it as a double definition of “Nice Place” and “Relaxing”.

  29. I liked this puzzle from Joker although I really wasn’t sure whether BRUTAL was the right answer. Now I understand the parsing, especially the double duty of ‘heartless’ (thanks guys) I really like it. Also liked PERSECUTE (very nice). HANG took a while to parse and I was also a little unsure about EIGHT for cube.
    A really enjoyable workout – thanks Joker and rolytoly.

    BTW I’m no longer registering my times for the QC. Instead I’m enjoying the challenge of completing every one, even if sometimes it takes quite a while. It’s great to see progress of course, but I’m measuring mine by fewer DNFs and greater enjoyment.

    1. I agree entirely with your approach. I used to struggle with the 15×15, taking 2 or 3 hours. I enjoyed the challenge but rarely finished without seeking help. The QC gives me just as much enjoyment and takes around 30 mins normally. Hopefully my times will improve, but that is not the primary motivation.

    2. I wish I had your approach to the QC, but my competitive side won’t let me!

  30. I completed yesterday’s 15×15 in just over an hour this morning; not an easy puzzle.
    So I was confident about Joker’s QC; he’s a setter I normally do well with.
    But after 20 quite difficult minutes I still had two left (1a and 3d) so took a break.
    Have just come back to it and immediately saw BRUTAL -I was very misled by the Just So device.
    LOI was TRACTOR where I had the OR from the start, but I was stuck with COAST as a maybe.
    A challenging puzzle for me.

  31. 25:25. Being unable to see the role of hound or the point of middle of page or that per se was required all meant I spent ages on PREMATURE and PERSECUTE. Oh well, the SCC is a pleasant place- good company and a decent cup of tea.

    1. Sorry, I couldn’t join you today but enjoy your tea on the terrace. I can assure you it’s been especially nice out there for the past week – especially with the sunshine and long summer days 🍰☕

  32. 8:38 but with a very careless typo. BOSH for BUSH. Drat! Thanks Joker and Roly.

  33. My knowledge of Yorkshire is good, Bedfordshire bad, so has to Settle for looking at an old atlas to find D-UNSTABLE. In one of my early mag jobs in London, we used to be treated to a Christmas lunch at Whipsnade Zoo by our printers but that was in ye very olde days. (Didn’t get to go round the zoo though.)
    Laughed aloud at PERSECUTE PDM so that’s my COD.
    Failed to parse BRUTAL.
    Completed the top half quickly but slow on PLEASING and looked up PREMATURE. Didn’t realise replacing AG of Page meant deleting. Oh well.
    Thanks vm, Roly

  34. FOI the AL of BRUTAL although the full answer was my penultimate solve. PREPARE amused me because it reminds me of my dad who says ‘if you are going to do a job, do it properly’ and yet I married someone who likes to do a job hastily. DIY is not one of his many talents. LOI in a good time for this week, 8:33, was PERSECUTE.

  35. Unusual midday solve but still a DNF – beaten by 16a Relegate (not getting beyond ‘delegate’) & 20a Hang (unable to parse) as I was too unsure of 17d eight to enter it for sure. If I had been confident of Eight I would possibly have completed this tricky one from Joker.
    Dunstable is notable for the traffic queues at Icknield Way/Watling Street junction. Otherwise an un-remarkable town but with a much maligned reputation. For four years I worked in Luton, and so Dunstable has always seemed much nicer, and almost countryside.

  36. I struggled to get started but then put on a bit of a spurt … until about eight clues to go, that is. Those final eight (or so) took an eternity and I stumbled across the line in 47 minutes. Somewhat on the slow side for me these days, but Joker often has that effect.

    For me, the top half of the grid contained the most challenging clues. RANGE, BRUTAL, (the unparsed) PERSECUTE, PLEASING, BUSH and (the NHO) REBUS all remained out of reach for a very long time.

    Mrs Random had few such problems, finishing as she did in 26 minutes.

    Many thanks to Joker and rolytoly.

  37. 10.48 Quickest for three weeks, though it felt quite slow. RESTART, UNSTABLE, PREMATURE and RELEGATE held me up at the end. While thinking about the cryptic bits I initially rejected “REST-ART” as not a word. I really should type in ideas to see how they look.

  38. 31:28, but as ever just happy to finish. Thought I was going to fail at the last hurdle and spent many minutes on HANG (thank you rolytoly for clearing up the wordplay).

    I think I’m slowly getting better. Still get stuck a lot, but I’m also getting more clues in seconds rather than minutes.

  39. Joined those who found it tricky. Some solved without being able to parse, eg brutal, had to get help for the two towns. ‘Poor week for us so far.

  40. I don’t often post on here as I am an early evening solver and most of the points I would have made have already been covered. Even so, I visit every weekday – sometimes for an answer or explanation, but always to enjoy the comments from other solvers.
    Like Chabuduo above I rejected REST-ART as nonsensical before revisiting the clue when my brain suddenly moved the emphasis to give RE-START. Doh! PERSECUTE was my LOI as I was sure there must be a dog reference somewhere, and I was unaware of PER SE meaning ‘in itself’.

    1. Hello Wheatstone! Do please post your comments from time to time, despite the relative lateness of your solves. Quite a few of us re-visit this place later on in the evening to catch up on the chat and responses to earlier trails of conversation.

  41. No official time but somewhere between 20-25 mins. Not an SCC escape. I should perhaps be satisfied given some of the earlier posts, but I never really got on the wavelength and did some biffing. Another day when I struggled with some clues that should be food and drink (11dn; 24ac; 15dn).

    Liked SETTLE but more than a MER at the straight definition for RELEGATE. Any football fan will tell you that it means to go down a division! I should know as a member of the tangerine half of Dundee.

    Thanks for the blog.

    PS Just realised I actually had a DNF as I put PLEASANT for 11ac. Sums up my general level of incompetence at the moment. ☹️ A truly dreadful week thus far. Two DNFs and well in excess of 2 hours. What’s the betting on an Izetti tomorrow?

    1. I’m expecting Izetti tomorrow. He’s been turning up every other Friday since March and he’s due again. If it’s not him then a theme or NINA.

      I was at 2hrs yesterday and my weekly goals are already met or in tatters. A DNF on Tuesday blocking the clean sweep and the SCC escape today. I suppose as we’re now in June, I currently still have the chance to avoid any solve taking longer than an hour … roll on tomorrow…

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