Times Quick Cryptic No 2457 by Teazel

Solving time: 8:58

Thanks to Doofenschmirtz for taking the reins two weeks ago (QC2447) while I was in very hot and sunny Croatia.

I found this to be a medium-level QC challenge, managing half a dozen of the acrosses on first pass, but failing miserably on the downs, which meant the painstaking piecing together of much of the puzzle. Looking back, none of it seems too ungettable, though I did raise an eyebrow at 1a and failed to parse 16a until post-completion.

How did you do?

Definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [directions in square ones].

1 Drop insects in leisure wear (3,5)
SKI PANTS – SKIP (drop) ANTS (insects)

I had a bit of a MER as to whether SKIP is synonymous with DROP but found this:

Skip and drop are semantically related. In some cases you can use “Skip” instead the word “Drop” as a verb or a noun, when it comes to topics like live out.

Suggestions welcome for how they might substitute each other – I’m still not sure…

5 A little fantastic wine (4)
ASTI – Hidden [A little] in fantastic
8 Very fashionable river for aquatic creature (5)
HIPPO – HIP (Very fashionable) PO (river – longest in Italy)
9 No Conservative went first (7)
LEFTIST – LEFT (went) IST (first – the I looks like the 1 of 1ST)

Conservatives are often described as ‘right wingers’ or ‘on the right’ therefore a LEFTIST person would not be a Conservative.

11 Enter laptop for repair, one liable to spread infection (6,5)
ROTTEN APPLE – Anagram [for repair] of ENTER LAPTOP
13 Rings to be put in hard place, a fair game (6)
HOOPLA – H (hard) OO (Rings) PL (place) A – the Rings (OO) have been ‘put in’ H PL followed by A
14 Dasher, and part of his sleigh (6)
RUNNER – Double definition, the second mildly cryptic in that Dasher is one of Santa’s reindeer pulling the sleigh
16 Deterioration with muscle injury after sport (4,3,4)
WEAR AND TEAR – AND (with) TEAR (muscle injury) after WEAR (sport)

Bunged in from definition – only parsed after completion after twigging what sport was doing there…

18 Records poem, storing one instalment (7)
EPISODE – EPS (Records) ODE (poem) containing [storing] I (one)

EPs – Extended Play vinyl records, popular more than half a century ago

19 Data for entry is put in in the wrong order (5)
INPUT – PUT IN in the wrong order is IN PUT
20 Close — of day, almost (4)
NIGH – Close of day is NIGHT – ‘almost’ means ‘without the final letter’

Close is serving here with two different meanings both as the definition and as part of the cryptic

21 Sprayer initially annoying to one who’s near (8)
ATOMISER – A{nnoying} [initially i.e. initial letter of] TO MISER (one who’s near)

‘Near’ is an archaic word for MISER. Anyone seen that before?

1 Singular old house in entertainment district (4)
SOHO – S (Singular) O (old) HO (house)

When I was growing up in London, Soho was synonymous with quite a different sort of um, ‘entertainment’. The association with top theatres and restaurants appears to be a fairly recent makeover?

2 Posing as priest, moaning pitifully (13)
3 A drink to have a day, up to the time of a party (11)
AMONTILLADO – A MON (day i.e. MONday) TILL (up to the time of) A DO (party)
4 One working the land is calmer, not needing spades (6)
TILLER – STILLER (calmer) without [not needing] the S (spades)
6 Leaving out binders, give these a twirl? (8,5)
SKIPPING ROPES – Mildly cryptic definition. ‘Leaving out’ becomes SKIPPING, ‘binders’ becomes ROPES
7 Tiny hero failed on paper (2,6)
IN THEORY – Anagram [failed] of TINY HERO
10 Changing frame futile in this full-length work (7,4)
FEATURE FILM – Anagram [Changing] of FRAME FUTILE

‘this’ seems superfluous to me

12 Fried noodles – dog chewed mine (4,4)
CHOW MEIN – CHOW (dog) plus anagram [chewed] of MINE
15 Notice a means of escape coming (6)
ADVENT – AD (Notice) VENT (a means of escape)
17 Almost begin to take principal role (4)
STAR – ‘Almost’ means ‘Remove last letter from’ STAR{t} (begin)


69 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2457 by Teazel”

  1. 14:32. EPISODE, ATOMISER and AMONTILLADO were favourites. I remembered the fair game HOOPLA from a previous puzzle. Would a ROTTEN APPLE cause infection? As boys my friends and I ate a lot of dodgy fruit from abandoned orchards and I think if anything it probably made us healthier by exposing us to a wide variety of organisms!

    1. I think this is a reference to the saying about one bad apple in a barrel of them being enough to turn the whole lot rotten by infecting them.

  2. Re 1ac, doesn’t your commentary at 6dn provide an example where ‘skip’ can sub for ‘drop’ – ‘Leave out’ = ‘skip’ = ‘drop’?

    I crashed to earth on this one after solving in 8 minutes on Monday and Tuesday. 16 minutes.

  3. Unlike Mike I found this to be on the tough side, taking me 13.37 to complete. As I understand it near is an adjective meaning miserly, and I’ve only ever seen it in Times crosswords. In that it is not alone. Not sure about skip = drop, I remember at school we might skip a class but drop an entire subject and the two did not equate. Some good clues here, I was held up by AMONTILLADO, SKIPPING ROPES, ROTTEN APPLE and FEATURE FILM which are mostly anagrams but that didn’t make them any easier. Thanks to Mike and Teazel.

  4. 8’33” a surprisingly decent time given, looking back, some relatively tough clues.

    I liked CHOW MEIN and ATOMISER.

    I knew “near” meant tight or stingy but have NEVER heard it used in conversation, although I can’t rule out having read it.

    Thanks Teazel for a decent challenge and MikeH for the fine blog.

  5. 13 minutes for a decent time, having approached this at an earlier time than usual. I enjoyed this from Teazel. My first thought for 1a was hot pants, but I couldn’t make that work, so turned to 1d and saw SOHO straight away, and SKI quickly followed for a quick start. Thanks both, now off to golf.

  6. An odd grid, with an abundance of longer words. It felt slow while I was doing it, but the small number of clues helped me to a respectable 11 minute solve. Not all parsed though – I mis-parsed Hoopla slightly, thinking that “place” gave “pla”, didn’t parse Amontillado until post solve, and needed the blog to understand Wear and tear.

    Near meaning miserly does these days seem to be “only in crosswordland” and EP for a record must be well on its way to joining it.

    Many thanks to Mike for the blog

  7. 16 1/2 minutes. Held up by taking far too long to see the IMPERSONATING and FEATURE FILM anagrams and then couldn’t get SKIPPING ROPES which I thought was quite hard. Interesting to see ‘Close’ and then ‘near’ in adjacent clues, both of which can mean “miserly”, in crossword land anyway.

    Not that I would know, but I’ve heard EP’s are making a comeback in the real world.

    Thanks to Mike and Teazel

    1. I still have my EPs from the 60s, The Beatles and The Animals had some crackers. But my favourite is Bowi by Nick Lowe, so-called because Nick was offended that Bowie left the E off his LP Low. Was lucky enough to spend several hours with Bowie in c1979 and he signed it, so I have the world’s only Bowie signature with the E left off…

  8. Moderately tough giving me an on trend (SCC) time. Got all the answers but needed the blog to parse some. I still question whether the QC is the place to use obscure definitions like “near”, but I know from previous discussions that this is hotly contested on both sides. So I won’t throw a match on the tinder this time. Oops, maybe I just did… [walks away whistling innocently]

  9. I didn’t know AMONTILLADO and so missed out on lots of checkers that would have been very handy in a puzzle I found hard throughout. Fairly clued but I did check it existed before entering. Only three on the first pass of acrosses, all on the left, and the downs weren’t much better so then the slog began. Utterly befuddled by LEFTIST until it revealed itself and spend too long trying to remove the S from anywhere but the start of TILLER. All green in 18. Didn’t manage to fit in yesterday’s but saw the top of Merlin’s blog saying it was OK, so I’m going to try that at lunch!

  10. A good challenge with some chewy clues that needed some thought.
    Started with SOHO and finished in a steady 8.20 with the NHO drink which I had to piece slowly together from the wordplay (but I guess that’s the whole idea of cryptic crosswords 🤦‍♂️😊). Lots to enjoy along the way but my favourite was ATOMISER.
    Thanks to Mike

  11. I tend to find Teazel’s wavelength, so did this in below average time. Until I read the blog, did not realise I had failed to spot WEAR = SPORT in 16a. FOI SOHO (I understand the ladies have moved to Kings Cross) LOI STAR, COD IN THEORY. Thanks Teazel and MIke.

  12. Nicely pitched for a QC, I think. I tried making OTTER work for 8A but that would need something like “East London’s more fashionable aquatic creature”, so I skipped it until I got the crossers. Christmas seems to start earlier every year, they say, and 14A seems to bear that out. COD to AMONTILLADO. I think I’ve seen that several times in crosswords recently, but it hasn’t come up here since January. Maybe in a prize crossword yet to be blogged? Nice puzzle. Thanks Teazel and Mike. 4:59.

  13. Fat fingers are a curse, SLIPPING ROPE being the problem today. At least K and L are adjacent. So a technical DNF, but I’m recording my time, as I wouldn’t have done that longhand!

    Typically slower perfomance on a Teazel puzzle. ATOMISER LOI. I liked ROTTEN APPLE among others.


  14. Thank you, Teazel, for a *very* friendly one today; all green in about 45 minutes. But three were biffed (WEAR AND TEAR, TILLER, SKIPPING ROPES), so thank you, Mike, for your good blog. No problem with drop = SKIP, and we had record = EP quite recently, but NHO S = spades – in what context is that seen, please? Bridge? If so, can we expect H = hearts, C = clubs, D = diamonds?

  15. I expected a slog but seemed to be Teazel’s wavelength today. I enjoyed the puzzle and finished smoothly in 10.34.
    The longer answers emerged surprisingly easily as the grid filled but my LOsI were ATOMISER (a biff given that miser = near was not known) and ADVENT.
    I liked the anagrams plus CHOW MEIN and AMONTILLADO.
    Thanks to Teazel and Mike. John M.

    1. ‘near’ does not (or did not, back in the day) mean ‘miser’, it means ‘miserly’. The clue reads ‘one who’s near’, which does (or did) mean ‘miser’.

      1. Thank you for your kind correction of my terminological inexactitude.
        I was just making the point that I made no connection between the two words.
        I cannot imagine it will appear on my horizon again in future except, perhaps, in the rarified world of Crosswords. John

  16. 14:33 (birth of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy)

    I liked ATOMISER.
    I wonder how many people outside crosswordland consider HIP to be very fashionable.
    LOI was AMONTILLADO. My preferred sherry is Fino.

    Thanks Teazel and Mike

  17. 11 minutes for me having failed to parse ASTI whilst solving.
    Nothing too difficult.
    AMONTILLADO was late in, a drink I used to have frequently before a meal out. Not common now.

  18. 73 to Oxford Circus

    Bit early to start, but some AMONTILLADO might go down very well, perhaps with a pre-lunch ASTI. I could fancy CHOW MEIN to follow now I’ve got the spelling right.

    Was put off by the long ones but they proved doable for me . Enjoyed SKI PANTS once I stopped looking for SUN leisurewear.

    An enjoyable crossword.
    Thanks Teazel and Mike

  19. Not that quick but got there eventually. After PDMs, I felt I should have solved many much faster.
    Don’t much like pants for trousers.
    Liked HIPPO, ROTTEN APPLE (LOI), EPISODE, SKIPPING ROPES and ATOMISER (COD). Biffed dodgy Chop Suey instead of CHOW MEIN at first. But AMONTILLADO helped.
    Thanks, Mike.

    1. I’d agree with you generally, but I think “ski trousers” are more often referred to as “ski pants” even amongst Brits. Or at least those I ski with.

  20. Enjoyed and favourite CHOW MEIN. Had to reveal AMONTILLADO even with all crossers. Very slow but under an hour is fast for me!

    1. Sub par 16 mins fir a change as I taxi away from SC club to another club at LHR departures for another US trip.
      Biffed ATOMISER as NHO near to definition. Thought it was some derivative of mither/annoy but then that didn’t work so just went with the flow. Enjoyable. Thanks Mike and setter. COD The cryptic WEAR AND TEAR was easily biffable but nice to parse.

  21. I enjoyed this – thanks setter and blogger!. it was a good and mostly fair challenge. Only moan is the clueing for atomiser. I’ve never come across this definition of ‘near’ outside these crosswords. I don’t think its a 2023 usage even if it’s surviving in some dictionaries. It had to be ‘atomiser’ though so it didn’t block me.

  22. 1244 Siege of Montségur marks the final defeat of the Cathars (Albigensians)

    Bang on average for me these days, most of my times are early Middle Ages.
    LOI LEFTIST (Not really a word?)
    Slow to get SKI PANTS as I thought the leisurewear was starting “SUN”.

    Why do crossword setters insist on proliferating “conventions” such as near=miser? It just puts barriers up for potential new solvers. Clue would work much better as
    Sprayer initially annoying to one who’s mean (8) .


    1. But surely the surface works better with near as somebody in close proximity would be more likely to be affected by someone spraying.
      Personally, although it has been exasperating at times, I’ve always quite enjoyed learning the archaic terms of crossword land.

    2. If your average QCC times are “early middle ages”, does that mean my usual 15 x 15 times are set in the 60th century and beyond?

  23. Knew all the relevant words, and meanings, even if they didn’t immediately leap to mind and onto the page, and arrived at the SCC bang on time. Liked the sherry clue parsing, and the – intentional? – dig at Macs generally in 11A. All good fun and fair, I felt.

  24. A little chewier than yesterday, but stayed out of the SCC on account of gambling that, as MON was the only day I could think of in the heat of the moment which had an O in the middle, that there might be a drink called AMONTILLADO. Stopped my watch on 19:22. I don’t know whether HIPPOs worry too much about how fashionable their rivers are, but I liked that clue, and also CHOW MEIN. On the subject of ROTTEN APPLEs, I’m always surprised at how little they spread infection. Far from “spoiling the barrel”, I’ve often come across completely brown, squishy and mouldy apples surrounded by unblemished neighbours. A demonstration perhaps of how important a barrier to infection our skins are.
    Thanks Mike and Teazel.

  25. I was surprised to find I’d finished virtually spot on target at 10.01 when it seemed so much slower in solving. I got off to a slow start and darted all over the grid which usually means it’s on the harder side of average. I was fairly sure the answer to 5ac had to be ASTI, but I couldn’t parse it. I really am the worlds worst I think at spotting hiddens. I couldn’t get DANCER out of my head for a while for 14ac, but I finally sussed it.

    1. My experience too – slow on each clue, but not slow overall due I think to the smaller than usual number of clues in the puzzle.

  26. 22 minutes for me but seemed quicker whilst I was solving. Didn’t parse WEAR AND TEAR or ATOMISER and took too long to solve the IMPERSONATING anagram and to see AMONTILLADO.

    FOI – 5ac ASTI
    LOI – 4dn TILLER

    Thanks to Teazel and Mike

  27. 27 mins…

    I found this on the tough side, but it was enjoyable none the less – even if most of my answers came in the last third of my time.

    With regards to skip=drop, I thought of it like dropping or skipping a subject at school.

    FOI – 1dn “Soho”
    LOI – 21ac “Atomiser”
    COD – 9ac “Leftist”

    Thanks as usual!

  28. No time as lots of interruptions, but I wasn’t on Teazel’s wavelength so no pb.
    Dnk amontillado, but would probably like it!
    Liked ski pants, in theory, and chow mein.

  29. I got off to a quick start with SOHO, then HIPPO and IMPERSONATING opened things up. I biffed AMONTILLADO from the A_O and mention of party in the clue. Needed the crossers for FEATURE FILM. ATOMISER was LOI. 6:15. Thanks Teazel and Mike.

  30. Emboldened by previous encouragement to give slow times too, my first post here for my first sub-1 hour. Done in three different sessions, but about 45 mins total. Started doing these a couple of weeks ago after about 50 years – I last did the Times Cryptic with friends at university and I wasn’t very good then…

    EPs are back in the sense that if an artist only has a few tracks to release on a streaming service they tend to call it an EP rather than an album (at least, that’s what I’ve seen). And I don’t know where the ladies of the night are these days, but it’s not Kings Cross – since the station and Granary Square behind it were redeveloped it’s gone upmarket.

    1. Good to hear from you, Astolat, and well done today. Teazel is a tough setter.

    2. Great performance!! You smashed the 1-hour barrier by some distance, so well done. Perhaps celebrate with a glass of amontillado? 🤣

  31. Mistyped wear as “wesr” and as it’s a crossing letter it counted as 2 mistakes – frustrating. Without typo would have been 14:17. FOI – ASTI, LOI – AMONTILLADO, COD – TILLER. Recognised S for “Spades” straight away, being a bridge player does have some adavantages…

  32. Nothing too difficult here, not that I was quick.
    Interesting coincidences: if you are thinking of doing the 15*15 today start with 21d (and maybe 26a) as you’ll get lucky.

  33. Only one across clue and three down clues solved during my first pass, which took 10+ minutes, so I feared a huge DNF. However, I have learnt to be patient and, slowly-but-surely, things came together. In the end, I felt quite proud to have crossed the line in 33 minutes.

    I never fully parsed WEAR AND TEAR, but I got everything else along they way.

    Mrs Random has just finished with the comment “It’s nice when it stops”.

    Many thanks to Teazel and Mike.

  34. A steady solve starting with SOHO. Like others I had to piece together the drink AMONTILLADO from wordplay and all but one of the checkers. I do remember it being clued as a sherry earlier this year but would have struggled to spell it without the clear wordplay. I also remembered near = miser from a previous discussion so ATOMISER went straight in. LOI in an on target 8:53 was WEAR AND TEAR.

  35. 13.29 WOE. Quite chewy with a foolish biff of ADVERT at the end. WEAR AND TEAR and IMPERSONATING went straight in but all the other longer words held me up. A nice challenge. Thanks to Mike and Teazel.

  36. Yesterday’s QC was easy. Today’s was impossible – for me anyway. 20% after one hour and aids.

  37. Quite tough but fair and all finished in 56 minutes.
    Wasn’t sure about ASTI until I spotted the hidden and avoided ADVERT as it didn’t parse.
    Thanks Teazel and Mike.

  38. Back in the bin for me with a DNF, thanks to AMONTILLADO . Haven’t heard that one since my grandpa offered some to my parents in the early 80s, but can’t claim it as an NHO. Should really have been able to get it from the wordplay but my brain stopped working.

    My first experience of getting drunk was around the age of 7-ish when the same grandpa put down his sherry glass and wandered off. I seized the moment and had a very giggly couple of hours.

    1. My youngest brother (aged about 4) did much the same with our grandmother’s pre-prandial Dubonnet, and missed lunch and tea 😅

  39. 7.52

    Late entry currently on substitute bus for the Inlandsbanan in Sweden. Turns out UK isn’t the only country whose public (private in fact) transport struggles to cope with a bit of weather. More than a bit though to be fair! Enjoying the friendly welcome from everyone though

    No real problems though ASTI went in last unparsed – a rare failure to spot a hidden

    Thanks all

  40. Tough but for me enjoyable. I liked (in both senses!) AMONTILLADO. And I simply parsed WEAR AND TEAR as a double definition (worked for me anyway). And finally into a comfy chair in the SCC after about 35 minutes.

  41. Quite a lot of biffing today resulting in a time of 14 mins, which I am happy to take. I did the Quintagram before the QC for a change. Perhaps this sharpened me up for the main challenge? For once, I didn’t struggle too badly with the anagrams.

    Thanks for the excellent blog Mike. Needed it for the parsing of ATOMISER and WEAR AND TEAR.

  42. All done and dusted in a smidge over 10 minutes, several hours ago!
    My son just told me that Oppenheimer is being screened in a number of different formats for film buffs (and which I would never notice), so the surface of FEATURE FILM seems quite topical.
    I do like a glass of chilled AMONTILLADO, rather more than ASTI, which is definitely too sweet for me!
    FOI Ski pants LOI Leftist COD Input (it was so simple but took it’s time!)
    Thanks Teazel and Mike
    The near old man didn’t like getting his tin or rhino out to buy a new lid, as it was too dear!

  43. DNF. WEAR AND TEAR & ROTTEN APPLE defeated me. Struggled with other anagrams too.

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