Times Quick Cryptic No 2439 by Felix

Today we have a Quick Cryptic from Felix to entertain us. All done for me in an average time of 5:26 but there are one or two tricky bits – not least 13A, which has a rather tortuous definition. Some other typically elliptical definitions such as 8A, 18A, 23A and 3D kept me on my toes and amused and I learnt something I didn’t know – the national animal of the land of my birth. Thank-you Felix! How did you all get on?

Furthermore, it being Felix as our setter, we have come to expect a theme or Nina in the grid. Can you find it?

Not as difficult to see as some, I think, we have a tribute to the TV series “The Herbs“. I can see the CHIVES, AUNT MINT, SIR BASIL, DILL the DOG, (FEATHERY) SAGE the owl, (NOBLE) Lady ROSEMARY, HAL (Good King Henry) and, in a circle in the middle, MISS (Hyssop).  Nice one! But where is Parsley the Lion? And have I missed any?


Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic. This time it is Sawbill’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword here. If you are interested in trying our previous none-too-hard offerings you can find an index to all 81 here.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

1 Records part of search I’ve started (8)
ARCHIVES – Hidden in seARCH I’VE Started.
5 Relative to visit frequently in E London? (4)
AUNT – {h}AUNT (visit frequently) dropping the H  as they do in E London.
8 Dread about the unknown, such as birds? (8)
FEATHERYFEAR (dread) about THE, Y [unknown].
9 Fortune initially told after thirty seconds? (4)
MINTMIN{ute} half of minute (thirty seconds) [initially]  Told.
11 Fellow arts graduates I left (5)
BASILBAS (arts graduates) I L (left). Man’s name
12 Knight, behold, has popular beef (7)
SIRLOINSIR (Knight) LO (behold) IN (popular).
13 No longer is? That’s spurious, firstly! (6)
EXISTSEX (no longer) IS  T{hat’s} S{purious} [firstly]. An &lit, where the whole clue is both the wordplay and the definition. Thanks to Branch in the comments below for suggesting how it works. I think it’s “That’s spurious firstly” can be taken as in indication to ignore the “no longer” at the front, leaving “IS” as the real definition. Phew! As he says, not the sort of wordplay one would expect in a QC!
15 Publication by Web is something attractive (6)
MAGNETMAG (publication) NET (Web).
18 Everyone taken in by benefit that’s subject to inflation (7)
BALLOONALL (everyone) in BOON (benefit).
19 Count, perhaps, on returning book and French article (5)
NOBLE – ON [returning] -> NO, B (book) LE (French article).
21 Wise thing to put in stuffing (4)
SAGE – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint.
22 Girl who’s wayward so may err (8)
ROSEMARY – [wayward] (so may err)*.
23 Daughter, unwell, getting one in a pickle? (4)
DILLD (daughter) ILL (unwell).
24 Shabby party clothes found by journalist (3-5)
DOG-EAREDDO (party) GEAR (clothes) ED (journalist).
1 A female relation displaying a good nature (7)
AFFABLEA F (female) FABLE (relation; story).
2 Excellent form! (5)
CLASS – Double definition.
3 One prince lying in state, not breathing out (10)
INHALATIONI (one), HAL (prince) in NATION (state).
4 Means to escape, say, on steam ship (6)
EGRESSE.G. (for example, say) RE (in) SS (steam ship).
6 Scotland’s representative in on RUC reforms (7)
UNICORN – (in on RUC)* [reforms]. Well I never knew that. Read here about Scotland and the unicorn.
7 Giant bird on land, wingless (5)
TITANTIT (bird) {l}AN{d} without its outside letters [wingless].
10 Relative violently anti-Greece (5-5)
GREAT-NIECE – [violently] (anti-Greece)*.
14 Forbidden to enter vaudeville gallery (7)
ILLEGAL – Hidden in vaudevILLE GALlery.
16 Like patterned cloth, all square, you had once (3-4)
TIE-DYEDTIED (all square) YE’D (you had) [once].
17 Home closed twice, completely (2,4)
IN TOTOIN (home) TO TO (closed; like a door) [twice].
18 Like to be in bed, it’s established (5)
BASEDAS (like) in BED.
20 Orwell’s British resting place (5)
BLAIRB (British) LAIR (resting place). Eric Blair’s pen-name was George Orwell.

123 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2439 by Felix”

  1. I think the definition at 13 ac is indeed a literal. It’s the negation of the spurious statement “no longer is”, so it still EXISTS.

    Too much for a QC, surely!

    Apart from that it was all fair enough.

    1. Yes I think that’s close. Thanks. Blog amended to say “That’s spurious firstly” can be taken as in indication to ignore the “no longer” at the front, leaving “IS” as the real definition.

  2. 15:34. Enjoyed many, especially EGRESS, DOG-EARED and TIE-DYED. Couldn’t see how EXISTS worked but branch’s way of looking at it makes sense. All I could make of it was maybe the definition “is” was in the middle of the clue but that “is” was an essential part of the wordplay. Thanks, branch, I can sleep tonight.

  3. The explanation put forward by branch for EXISTS sounds like it might be right, with ‘spurious’ doing double duty. I’m all at sea when it comes to defining clue types so I’ll just agree that it was a tough one for a QC. In general an enjoyable puzzle which I did in 9.49, ten minutes quicker than yesterday. NHO the TV show John mentioned, just saw a lot of herbs jumping out as I went through the acrosses. Wondered if we might be going to Scarborough Fair but the thyme and parsley never showed up. Delayed by EXISTS, FEATHERY (mistakenly put an S on the end) and my refusal to believe that UNICORNs had anything to do with Scotland.

  4. 10 minutes. I spotted the herbs but not The Herbs, a programme I have never seen but was vaguely aware that it existed.

    UNICORN as a Scottish representative came as news to me too, although I knew of its presence if not its significance in the Royal Coat of Arms. This rather surprises me as my father had an affiliation with Scotland and a lot of their history and culture was instilled in me from an early age yet this one seemingly had passed me by.

    1. My experience was as yours.

      I enjoyed FEATHERY and IN TOTO.
      Now to do the Weekend QC … Oh, I can’t.

  5. A medium to slow solve for me this morning ultimately thwarted by a lazy FEATHERS and not seeing MINT. (It was the ‘half a MINute’ what done for me guv.) In desperation I opted for FIAT hoping it might be a NHO, but it was not to be. I never did manage to parse INHALATION or EGRESS but biffed them anyway.
    Otherwise a nice puzzle to end the week with 3 pinkies to add to my week’s tally of 6. And after such a racing start to the week too.
    Clues I especially liked today were ARCHIVES and UNICORN.
    Thanks to Felix and John, and I look forward to tackling Sawbill’s offering over the weekend.
    So where’s the summer gone? Its let hath been all too short this year after such a fabglorious June. I know we needed a bit of rain, but come on you weather gods, give it a rest! At this rate I’m soon going to be back on my daily vitamin D tablets. 😟

  6. Slow again on a QC; not sure why. I parsed EXISTS as Bruce did; not really QC material, I’d say. I never know who the setter is, and if I had known it was Felix, I wouldn’t have known there would be a Nina, and if I had known, I wouldn’t have bothered looking for it. 8:35.

  7. Johninterrd – could you explain IN-TOTO … I failed on this one, I don’t understand why TO is closed? Vaguely heard of the phrase but without the specific knowledge, most of the alphabet will go in -O-O.

    Not that it made any difference, I also put FEATHERs and DOw-EARED. Was fairly racing through until I hit the SE.

    A theme from before I was born. I never even saw it in repeats.

    Decentish week outside of yesterday with 3 times under 20mins albeit two of them DNFs.

    Have a good weekend everybody 👍 Off to do sprints in the rain.

    1. Sorry. I should have explained more fully. When a door is closed it is said to be “to”, as opposed to “ajar” when it isn’t quite. Blog updated.

      1. [Responding to John] But not forgetting that ‘to’ can also mean ‘not quite shut’ as in the other puzzle we discussed behind the scenes this week re another matter. Oddly enough your example comes up in that puzzle too!

        1. Just to complicate matters, I always thought of ‘to’ as a door being closed but not latched. So it can be pushed open without using the handle to unlatch it.

          1. Thanks LO – not sure if that’s what Jackkt was saying above or a nuance to it. Either way I’m sure I can remember my parents moaning “push the door to” when I walked in the room leaving it wide open. (This was as a teenager – not recently!)

          2. It’s possible, LyndsayO, but the subject has been discussed here several times over the years, often in great detail with strong opinions exchanged, and I don’t recall latches ever being mentioned before. I know people talk about leaving a door ‘on the latch’ and I think that’d be the more obvious phrase to use if that’s what one means.

            1. I’ve always taken the term “on the latch” to refer to an external door which had both a latch – operated by a handle – and a mortise deadlock – operated by a key. So to be “left on the latch” meant that the door could be opened by just turning the handle with no key being required.

              1. I waded into this with eyes wide open, aware of spirited exchanges in the past. Let’s forget about my mention of the latch, does ‘to’ mean closed but not shut? Or maybe it’s shut but not closed…goodnight from Oz!

                1. I suppose when my parents said “push the door to” they meant close it, but the fact they never just said “close the door” led me to think it must be something slightly different.

                  According to an ex-girlfriend her family from up north used to say “put wood int ‘ole”; she translated it to this southerner as being “put the wood in the hole”. There’s nowt so queer as folk … 😉

  8. 14 mins but with a pink square for TYE DYED. Also had to cheat by looking up Orwell’s real name.

    Saw the herbs but forgot The Herbs. There was also Bayleaf the gardener, Constable Knapweed and Tarragon the Dragon as I recall.

    Still don’t see Fable=relation. I don’t see one as a definition of the other, or that they can be cognates in a sentence.

    1. My reasoning for fable=relation is that you can tell/relate a story/fable, so that what you relate (the fable) is a relation. Just as what one distils is a distillation?

    2. Obvs you relate a fable. Isn’t “relation” therefore the thing you have related i.e. an obscure synonym for a story or fable?

      Edit: I see Cedric has managed to explain it much better than my attempt

    3. Chambers has Fable 1 A narrative… and for Relation 3 Narrative or recital.. That seems close enough to me.

    4. Thanks all, but I still don’t like it. Just because a fable can be related, doesn’t make it a relation. And not everything that can be related is a fable.

  9. All done in 11 but Exists not parsed – the wordplay to construct the answer was clear but I could not see the definition. Now it has been explained by branch, I realise why I couldn’t see it and I doubt I’ll be alone in that. As Kevin says, not really QC material.

    Otherwise a pleasant solve and (a great rarity) I even spotted the Nina.

    Many thanks John for the blog and I look forward to the Saturday Special

  10. Mixed bag today. Wasn’t a huge fan of INHALATION, where the wordplay was clear but the definition a bit odd and EXISTS went in unparsed. NHO of Orwell’s real name so that went in with fingers crossed as well.
    On the positive side I particularly enjoyed FEATHERY, AFFABLE and COD MINT.
    Finished in 9.42 with LOI MAGNET with the nina going straight over my head.
    Thanks to John

  11. 16 minutes, but would have been on target if only I had known Orwell’s real name. I saw BLAIR fairly early, but just couldn’t make a connection with Orwell, so tried several alpha-trawls to find an alternative that never arrived. In the end I put it in with fingers crossed. Also didn’t connect Unicorns with Scotland despite being married to a Scot. And saw herbs but no idea about the tv programme. Thanks both.

  12. I enjoyed that and since I’m solving on a PC today I could see the setter, so I looked post-solve for a Nina and spotted it!! Once in a blue moon. [On edit – I didn’t spot all the things that John spotted. Very good!]

    Unlike some others I liked INHALATION and EXISTS, I thought they were very clever. FEATHERY was satisfying too.

    ARCHIVES to DOG-EARED in 06:39 for a sub-K and a Red Letter Day. That’s three in a week which makes this my best ever week. I think I need to go and lie down.

    Many thanks John and Felix.


      1. Definitely not. I am way down the competence league table on here, and I can’t do the 15 to save my life. Kevin beats me 99 times out of a hundred – I just had a good week (or he had too many late nights!).

    1. 👍

      Good stuff m’learned friend. At least so I assume from your monicker here.

  13. DNF as I could not complete 13a, 24a, 17d, 16d, 20d

    13a was an awful clue in my opinion. Outside the realms of a QC.

    Didn’t like 5a either. Dropping the H from haunt does not sound like Aunt. Seeing as we were given an E London clue I was expecting a homophone. It really did not work here.

    Enjoyable despite not being allele to finish. However, I feel that the setter could have done better if he put his mind to it where 13a and 5a are concerned.

    I liked feathery and balloon.

    Didn’t understand Orwell=Blair as I was not aware that George Orwell was a pseudonym.

    So a disappointing week for me.

    1. “Dropping the H from haunt does not sound like Aunt. ”

      But there’s often things like this in QCs … last week we had IMP-ROVE which doesn’t sound like Improove … DOG-EARED isn’t DO-GEAR…

    2. I had the same reaction as you did with AUNT, until I realized that the clue says nothing about homophony.

      1. Except that ‘AUNT in “East London” would naturally sound like “ORNT” which does not sound like AUNT. If the clue was, say, HANDY sounding like ‘ANDY it works. I think the homophone is implicit.

      2. But spellings in East London don’t change – only the pronunciation, right?

  14. John, is there a story behind your new picture? I often enjoy what people choose and wonder about the back story.

    Mine, since no-one was asking, is my great grandfather. Very dashing, and 5ft 3, and so inevitably in an era of nicknames known to all (friends, family, even business contacts) as Big Boy.


    1. Very disappointed to learn that it’s not you, Cedric. Boo. (5ft 3? No wonder he favoured a tall hat!)

    2. I have always assumed it was Winston Churchill!

      My picture is an allegory for the fiery pits of L where I shall be eternally damned to do Izetti QCs … 🤣

    3. My pic is fairly self-explanatory. Once I reach a level where I consistently avoid the SCC, I will subtly alter my alias to NAILS, with a corresponding update to my avatar. Yet to be decided is whether the pic will be an ironmongery type of nail, or an acrylic, beautician’s type of nail. It’s a long way off, so plenty of time to decide…

      1. Ah … the eternal debate of when you’ve made it out of the SCC …

        I promoted myself for one day (plus a weekend) back at start of June after 5 escapes in 7 days and a 1hr22 total for the week.

        Consequently the Crossword Gods punished such hubris with an Izetti the very next solve which I had to admit defeat with 3 left once I reached 1hr22.

      2. I think you have made good progress and will make it out of the SCC. The trick is to be patient. It will happen when it happens.

    4. I’ve always thought he looks most AFFABLE. Mine (as I announced once before) is M’s beautiful girlfriend, the composer Vítězslava Kaprálová who tragically died at the age of just 25.

      1. Certainly affable, in fact the life and soul of most parties. He had an extensive wine cellar, which he bequeathed to my grandfather, who in turn bequeathed to me a taste for wines I cannot afford!

    5. I have been using it for at least a year, I think. It is the statue of St. Edmund which stands just by St. Edmundsbury Cathedral and I guess you all know the connection with my pseudonym here.

    6. Oh Cedric, I always though this was you. The picture fits so well with the erudite comments you post. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

    7. My pic is a moon penny, more commonly known as the oxeye daisy. I think the first is a much prettier name 😊

    8. I too thought that your avatar is a picture of you. It suits your literary style and erudite comments!

      Mine is a Chinese dragon wrapped round a star. Lung = dragon and Sing = star in Cantonese. My nom de plume for many years whilst working in HK.

  15. A bit of a grind today. 36.55 (3655 – the year in which I will have memorised the complete works of Shakespeare)
    BLAIR was known to me, but was not recalled from the deep recesses of my brain – I needed the blog to refresh the memory.
    YE’D felt a bit obscure, but as a newbie seeing nobody complaining about it, I’m assuming that’s fair game?
    Because of the cross-letters and the brevity of the answer, I got AUNT, but the cockney reference slipped by me like a wraith.
    And who the heck is Prince HAL? I see from the web that it’s Henry V. I need to read more Shakespeare, clearly.
    Thanks JI & Felix

    1. I agree YE’D is rather obscure for the QC. We regularly get Ye=”the old” but not seen this before.

      On reflection, I think there was quite a lot of stuff in here that was not great QC material – hal, exists, to, perhaps even Blair with its resting place clue and the GK also just out of immediate recall.

      I’m sure I would have struggled a year ago.

      1. I keep plodding forward. The permissibility of YE’D opens up the possibility of YE’LL, YE’VE, YE’RE. Making a note to myself to watch for these.

  16. 16 mins until BLAIR, which I couldn’t get. Lair as resting place did not come to mind and after staring at it for some minutes I baled out. Until then, no particular problems! And I saw the fairly obvious herbidacious theme.

  17. Full of a summer cold, so ended up on the club site after doing a couple of concise puzzles as warm up. This means I have to double check for fat fingers, which takes a bit longer.

    No clue how EXISTS worked, so thanks all for elucidation. Never heard of The Herbs, so was never going to get the theme. I liked FEATHERY.


  18. 9:03 (Viking raids on Anglesley)

    I hesitated for a few seconds before entering my LOI EXISTS, struggling to completely parse it. Many thanks for the discussion of how this clue works.

    I watched the Herbs many decades ago, but failed to spot the theme.

  19. Struggled and struggled… threw in the towel with four undone. Thank you, John, for your as always valuable instruction; must remember to drop the H in E London! NHO TIE-DYED (but Mrs M had), otherwise no excuses. Enjoyed ARCHIVES (FOI) and AFFABLE, no problem with EXISTS and BLAIR (not nearly as obscure, IMHO, as much other GK that is expected of us).

  20. 08:21

    Saw the many herbs in the grid (not realising at first that it was a Felix) but did not connect with The Herbs which I did watch many years ago – not sure I could have named all of the characters but it might have been a stretch to shoehorn Parsley, Tarragon and Knapweed in as well. I have a vague recollection that the CHIVES consisted of several children and their always-crying mother (Mrs Onion?).

    Thanks Felix and John

  21. 13 minutes including trying to parse LOI EXISTS; I parsed enough of it to ink it in.
    I enjoyed this. Completely missed the Nina.
    I liked ARCHIVES , a clever hidden, and DOG-EARED.

  22. All green in 18:04 to finish off a better week than I’ve had for some time – I’m almost missing my friends in the SCC with only one visit this week. FOI ARCHIVES and LOI BLAIR (with fingers crossed as I didn’t know that was his real name). Spotted some of the herbs but didn’t see the full connections like DILL the DOG, etc., even though I vaguely remember my kids watching the programme. Much to enjoy in this one, so thanks Felix and thanks John.

  23. I enjoyed this but agree it was at the harder end. Like others I couldn’t parse a few. Several brought a smile. I like learning new things providing they are getatable from the clues which they were for me. Whoever knew about UNICORNS, and BLAIR? – I’ll think about that next time I walk past his old home in Canonbury Square. Off now to see whether those sardines from last week have turned into pilchards at the fishmongers….

    Time: one cup of coffee.

    Thank you Felix and John for the great blog.

    1. Eric Blair also lived in Suffolk for a while. There is a great mural of him by the pier in Southwold. I can’t find my photos of it but see here.

  24. I had already drifted into the SCC, having spent too long trying to parse 13ac, Exists, and since I didn’t even know that Orwell was a pen name, loi Blair proved a step too far. That’s two loi DNFs on the trot. Invariant

  25. I gave up trying to get my head around EXISTS and moved on. Sadly it’s been a week of typos for me and today was no exception. UIICORN. Drat. I suppose it’s due to using my ipad in bed whilst drinking coffee, and typing with a guitarist’s finger nails. Mind you I always do the 15×15 with a laptop and proper keyboard. FOI ARCHIVES, LOI ROSEMARY. 9:22 WOE. Thanks Felix and John. Like Jack I spotted the herbs but not The Herbs.

  26. Many thanks for the blog John. No errors but I hadn’t correctly parsed AUNT, AFFABLE or TIE DYED. Now that I fully appreciate AUNT that’s definitely my COD. I was stuck for quite some time on LOIs MAGNET/TIE DYED, and again didn’t fully parse the ‘ye’d’ part – easy when you know how. I also learned that Orwell’s name was Blair. Thanks again for the blog John. Saw lots of herbs but didn’t think of The Herbs… Thanks Felix for an entertaining QC.

  27. FOI ARCHIVES, then plodded around the grid, all correct finally.
    LOI BLAIR – a biff, as I didn’t know it was Orwell’s name.
    Liked BALLOON, AFFABLE, MAGNET, NOBLE. Complicated parsing in places, eg EXISTS!
    I would only apply DOG-EARED to old books, and don’t consider it synonymous with Shabby.
    NHO ‘The Herbs’ TV series – must have been abroad. But obviously saw there were a few herby clues.
    Thanks vm, John.
    By the way, I like to keep learning new stuff in my old age. Good for the brain. They said so on TV last night so it must be true.🙂

  28. For the fifth time this week finished under target at 7.43. It helped to know Orwell’s real name, which has been a stock quiz question for donkeys years. The Nina completely passed me by as usual as I’ve no knowledge of The Herbs.
    Total time for the week was 45.11, giving me a daily average of 9.02, a little better than last week.

  29. All complete in over six minutes, so again a slow one for me. Didn’t love this though.

    I liked the unicorn clue, if only because I know more than I did before.

    I felt EXISTS was rather weak, and having INHALATION as the definition of “ not breathing out“ is just uninspired.

    On this occasion I won’t complain about the names Rosemary and Basil, since they were needed for his Nina.

  30. 12 mins – so tricky but nothing like yesterday. I read the comments about AUNT above with interest. I’d always tied ‘In East London’ in as a homophone indicator rather than just ‘drop the H’. So still a bit of a meh but now muted. I was familiar with Unicorn which makes me think we must have had it previously so was surprised by those comments above.

  31. Dnf…sigh – although the grid was completed in 18 mins.

    It looks like I wasn’t the only one who rushed 8ac and put “Feathers”. But I also got 17dn “In Toto” wrong, putting “In Loco” which probably means something totally different.

    The rest of it I enjoyed, and thought there were some good clues.

    FOI – 5ac “Aunt”
    LOI – 15ac “Magnet”
    COD – 18ac “Balloon”

    Thanks as usual!

  32. Enjoyed todays QC far more than yesterdays offering which I attempted after a 200+ mile drive from Pembrokeshire and on which I failed miserably!
    A couple of nice hiddens and even an obvious anagram to help get the (obligatory?) random girls name. DOG EARED was my LOI after I managed to dredge Orwell’s real name from the recesses of my memory.
    The Nina passed me by, as they usually do, although I did spot a lot of herbs.
    Thanks to Felix and John for the blog.

  33. I managed to finish this after a few pauses and brainstorming. pleased to have done so. Struggled with INHALATION, FEATHERY and, of course, EXISTS. Spotted all the herbs, but never saw THE HERBS on TV. Off on holiday tomorrow so may well miss a few puzzles until back from la belle France.

  34. I was very surprised by many of the earlier posts, which just goes to demonstrate how subjective one’s assessment of difficulty can be (unless we are in Izetti territory, where the QC is difficult – or, in my case, virtually impossible – period).

    I had no problems and was very much on wavelength for a 17 minute completion. One of those rare days when I got most of the wordplay either immediately or after a little bit of thought.

    My GK is nowhere near as good as some here, but I thought Orwell’s real name was commonly known. Perhaps not? He is still arguably our greatest political writer.

    Similarly, I didn’t have much difficulty with EXISTS, and had no objection to the clue. I wasn’t sure whether the critical comments were concerned with getting the answer or parsing the answer. I can see why the latter might have provoked some comment.

    But for yesterday’s horror show, I would have achieved my goal this week (5 finishes in 2 hours or less). Three SCC escapes and another in the 20-30 min bracket, so I will take the positives and not dwell on Thursday.

    Many thanks for the blog John and best wishes to everyone for the weekend. I fear it may be rather soggy.

    1. Well done GA 👍

      3+1 decent solves for the week and yesterday was just what it was … I think you deserve the reward of reading a book on crossword solving, failing that 🍰

      1. Thanks L-Plates

        We’ve both had a relatively good week.

        I’m taking the book on holiday with me in a few weeks time. A bit of light reading!

    2. Well done this week, Mr A.
      As for me, I recorded a 5-0 week, but in a more sedate time of 2 hrs 46 mins.
      Mind you, 44 minutes of that were spent on just 3 clues – EMANATION, STAGEY and TABARET.

  35. 8.44 I couldn’t parse EGRESS and I didn’t know about UNICORNs in Scotland. EXISTS was unproblematic. I didn’t much like AUNT but Kevin makes a good defence. 58.59 for the week is my best time since I started counting in March. This week really was easier. Thanks to John and Felix.

  36. 6.47

    No problems other than trying to start the relative with GRAND

    Actually liked the “prince lying in state” device though EXISTS was a horror show of a clue – the clunkometer was off the scale for that one unfortunately

    Thanks for the rest Felix, and John

  37. 11 mins. I’m ok with clues like exist as they crop up in the 15×15 so its good practice.

    Wasn’t sure about in toto and blair, and didn’t immediately see the equivalence between fable and relation.

    COD feathery/sage.

  38. I found this a real struggle. Biffed quite a few where I just couldn’t see how they were parsed. I think I was so beaten down that I had pretty much given up by the time I got to my LOI (22) a completely missed that it was an anagram.

  39. Pressed the button after 44 minutes with several biffed and some, such as Aunt, Egress and Exist, unparsed so was pleasantly surprised to have finished correctly to make this the first week of 2023 with five finishes.
    The blog was very very helpful in explaining the parsing.
    Thanks Felix and John.

  40. Can one of you clever people explain clues 3 and 4 in the quintagram today? I’m totally lost and my delight at solving the QC is fast evaporating.


    1. Bound=margin (as in boundary)
      “Drink with it often”=gin (as in “gin and it”)

      I have no idea about how clue 3 works

        1. #3 charge = FEE, BLE(w)= almost exploded

          #4 I don’t really understand “gin and it”. I thought it was G&T or” gin and tonic”. NHO Gin and it. but that’s not unusual around here

          The X in #5 was hidden away

          1. Yes, pleased with myself for getting 5 after spotting the x.

            Thanks for explaining 3. Brain definitely not in gear for that one.

  41. 9:11 – not a bad thyme to end the week! BASIL and ROSEMARY straightaway put me in mind of The Herbs before I realised it was the theme. I just thought it was herbs in general, but then DILL, SAGE and the CHIVES appeared and it became obvious! I couldn’t find Parsley either. I didn’t know Aunt Mint as I haven’t seen all the episodes – I was too old for them first time round but loved the episodes I watched when my two were little. I’m going to look for them now while MrB watches the Tour de France 😊 He got two on Izetti’s challenge yesterday but (surprisingly) appreciated the clues when we went through it together afterwards! I’ll set him today’s homework after supper 😉
    FOI Archives LOI Exists COD Balloon
    Thanks Felix and John
    PS I’m still getting logged out every day at the moment.

    1. Penny, when you log back in do you tick the “Remember me” box? If you do that you should still be logged in next time. Of course should does not equal will!


      1. Hi Cedric – thanks for taking the time to reply 😊 Yes, I do tick the box, but every day for the last week, when I visit the site for the first time each day, I’ve been logged out again! It’s a mystery…

        1. I’d think you are doing something to the cookies on your browsing device; as they are what remember your login. E.g. clearing down the cache/cookies or using a Private/Incognito window or possibly going through a VPN.

          See QC 2383 by Hurley for more discussion on “cookie” !!

          PS Nice Boltesque thyme – not so sure about the pun 🤣

          1. Thanks also for your advice. I am flummoxed by the situation – have had to log in again just now. I haven’t cleared my history / cookies / caches recently but know I have to log in again whenever I do so. I don’t use private / incognito windows but will investigate the VPN issue when my technical advisor has finished doing a job in the garden – maybe when he next dashes in to avoid the rain!
            Sorry about the pun – I couldn’t resist 😅

            1. I know we’ve discussed this before. I’d email you directly again but others may find this helpful… Have you tried the first 3 options in this article? If you are not using chrome drop me a message via the Contact Us form telling me what device you are using, what operating system and what browser and I’ll see what other help I can provide.

              1. Hi John – yes indeed, we did, when I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t always getting notifications. As you explained, that was because I was logged on sometimes but not always! Since then, I’ve had very few issues as I do always check that I’m logged in, but this week has been something else! It sounds as if Steakcity has had similar issues. I will go through the article with my other half who is a software engineer – I’m sure between us we’ll get it sorted. Thank you so much for your continued support – I really appreciate it 😊

                1. Hi. I think I may have solved this, for me anyhow.
                  Try clicking on your profile here, then check the information is correct and your email is right, including dots, save. You may get an email to confirm any changes.
                  I went through that process and although there was nothing obviously wrong, hey presto, it now seems to recognise me when I come here without needing to go and log in.
                  I am suspicious of it being anything browser/VPN complicated as I haven’t changed any settings.
                  I hope this works for you too. Richard

                  1. Many thanks Richard – interestingly enough, I was still logged in when I went to the blog this morning, but have done what you suggested since then, just to double check. Let’s hope it was as simple as that – and I haven’t undone anything!

    2. Poor Mr B! Don’t harangue him about crosswords. Let him watch Le Tour (that’ about as far as my French goes, these days) in peace. He could then move on to listening to some Lazuli (a French band, whom Mrs R and I have tickets to see at Trading Boundaries in December).

      1. No haranguing, I promise! Since starting the Guardian quickie a few weeks ago, he’s got increasingly interested in what we do and is enjoying the wit and cryptic-ness of these – you know how it gets under the skin.
        I’ll tell him about Lazuli – hope all is well chez Random and that you both enjoy the gig 😊

    3. Me too. Using Android phone, and yes, remember be ticked.
      It is annoying as I realise I am not logged in to comment so have to scroll up to the top, log in (name and password are remembered), then scroll back down to where I was in the first place. Definitely not incognito and have not knowingly turned off anything that would cause me to wipe cookies. Never used to happen, so hoping that it fixes itself once day.

      1. Yep, that’s exactly what happens. Obviously irritating, but I’m comforted to know that it’s probably not something I’m doing wrong, not being a very technical person 🤔 As you say, fingers crossed it resolves itself soon!

  42. Thought I’d crept under 10 but heeded the 98% warning and sought out BLAIR and slipped to 10.12. Took a while to see why BLAIR was right but did have the GK for once. Didn’t notice the EXISTS controversy on the way through but can see why eyebrows might have been raised for that and AFFABLE. A strong end to a strong week!

  43. I didn’t find this as satisfying as most QCs because there were such a large number of clues I couldn’t understand for one reason or another, so very grateful for the blog. I got one wrong: Feathers instead of Feathery. Otherwise I solved all the clues without necessarily knowing why. I liked Magnet. Thanks Felix and Johninterred.

  44. Pleased to see all the herbs, didn’t have the childhood TV to understand the deeper link. No problem here with Aunt / Haunt after listening to the OED’s approved British pronunciation of Aunt — though I suspect it isn’t said exactly that way in East London.

  45. I thought there were a couple of other NINA-like answers.

    TOTO was a DOG in the Wizard of Oz.

    The “LOIN and the UNICORN” (almost) was a famous publication by Orwell.

  46. What is the link with To and closed ? I get Toto being completely but not to and closed.

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