Times Quick Cryptic No 2478 by Joker

A lovely puzzle, pitched on the tricky side.

An impressive variety of clues along with a good dose of originality made for a top notch puzzle. Quite a few crafty things going on, and I felt a bit lucky to remember the acrobat at 14d, and a similar clue to 9d in a recentish 15×15. I finished up a touch over 9 minutes. Good stuff – many thanks to Joker!

Anagram indicators in italics.

1 Disposal of waste article I found in railway halt (10)
SANITATION – AN (article) I (one) found in STATION (railway halt)
7 One in wild gang growing old (5)
AGING – I (one) in wild GANG
8 English city, but to the west, that’s associated with The Wash? (7)
BATHTUB – BATH (English city) BUT “to the west” = reversed
10 Conductor let end of Kyrie and Credo go wrong (9)
ELECTRODE – LET E (“end” of kyriE) and CREDO go wrong
12 Like hard wood (3)
ASH – AS (like) H(ard)
13 Marine mollusc moves quickly, shedding skin (6)
CUTTLE – sCUTTLEs (moves quickly) “shedding skin”/outside letters. Can’t say I’ve heard of the fishless cuttle before, but they’re one and the same apparently.
15 Gloomy main actor — heartless, even (6)
LEADEN – LEAD (main actor) EN (“heartless” EveN). Slightly unusual to see “heartless” refer to the middle two letters of an even-lettered word, but perfectly fair of course.
16 Tree covered in tinsel mainly (3)
ELM – “covered in” tinsEL Mainly
17 Strong wind meeting hill church. This could strip surface (9)
BLOWTORCH – BLOW (strong wind) meeting TOR (hill) CH(urch)
20 Very good and lawful petition (7)
SOLICIT – SO (very good) and LICIT (lawful). I think SO = VERY GOOD as an interjection.
22 Right country for ancient Italian (5)
ROMAN -R(ight) OMAN (country)
23 Common metal I label unknown, rather sarcastically (10)
IRONICALLY – IRON (common metal), I, CALL (name), Y (unknown). Sarcasm is ‘often but not necessarily ironical’, according to Chambers, hence the “rather” in the definition, I suppose.
1 Spear small fish (5)
SPIKE – S(mall) PIKE (fish). I was wondering how SLING and SPEAR were the same.
2 A spot of dancing close with tango society? (9)
NIGHTCLUB – NIGH (close) with T(ango) CLUB (society)
3 Banned words used to thanks and surprise (5)
TABOO – TA and BOO being words used to thank and surprise
4 That lacks worth, ultimately? (3)
TAT – ThAT lacks H (wortH “ultimately”). An &lit clue, where the whole clue is both wordplay and a definition.
5 Published mounted sketch that’s superficial (7)
OUTWARD – OUT (published) and a “mounted”/reversed DRAW (sketch)
6 Waiter cries — is completely lacking one salad ingredient (10)
WATERCRESS – completely remove the I (one) from WAiTER CRiES iS
9 Late yawn may be hidden here (10)
BEHINDHAND – cryptic hint, with a yawn possibly being hidden behind one’s hand. We had a similar clue in the 15×15 recently.
11 Relating to X marks in elite exam (9)
ELECTORAL – ELECT (elite) ORAL (exam)
14 Acrobat   that’s often full of drink? (7)
TUMBLER – double definition: the second as in the glass; I’d thought the first was a jocular term for a trapeze artist or the like, but I see it’s a recognised term for a gymnast.
18 Relating to vision of paradise that is created initially (5)
OPTICOf Paradise That Is Created “initially”
19 Expression of surprise after strange card game (5)
RUMMY – MY (expression of surprise) after RUM (strange)
21 Have the ability to dance — but not the repeat (3)
CAN – CANCAN is our dance, without the repeat

48 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2478 by Joker”

  1. I agree with roly, a really enjoyable puzzle from Joker. I found it a bit more on the tricky side and got round in 13.40. Some devices – the ‘I’ removal in WATERCRESS, the hard to identify anagrist for ELECTRODE – presented an agreeable challenge but were quite time-consuming for a QC. Liked ELECTORAL, NIGHTCLUB (for the def, ‘a spot of dancing’) and CUTTLE, fish or no fish. I ruled this out originally because I thought it was a type of squid, which I now find is a mollusc as well…

    1. I had the same thought re CUTTLE, but as of today I now know that molluscs include cephalopods. That knowledge is bound to come in handy at some point.

  2. Biffed BEHINDHAND. I had some trouble with SOLICIT, as I took ‘very good’ to be PI. I liked WATERCRESS. 6:19.

  3. My third trip in a row to the SCC, but I enjoyed all of the 22:44 I spent on this puzzle. I particularly liked the trick of removing all the ‘I’s to get WATERCRESS: I don’t remember seeing that before. Spent ages looking for an orchestral conductor for 10ac before the PDM.
    Thanks to Joker and rolytoly.

  4. 13:51. Lots of enjoyable clues, LEADEN took the longest as I thought main must lead to the sea – but it just led to LEAD. SANITATION was very clear in hindsight but for some reason I looked at the crossers and could only see non-words sinstation or sunstation for too long. Sling, shake, smolt, and skate were all contemplated before I finally saw SPIKE.

  5. 16 minutes, so another target missed and a second consecutive day in my red zone (15+ minutes) – that last happened in January 2022. Also like yesterday I found myself solving from the bottom of the grid upwards, which is always a disadvantage.

    I don’t think any particular clue gave me trouble, but I was just generally slow throughout.

    I always think AGING looks wrong without the E.

  6. Defeated ultimately by the OUTWARD/SANITATION intersection, so NTG again today, but I was well over 30 minutes. Again. Still, it was a fair puzzle, even if OUTWARD doesn’t make sense however I look at it (to me at least).
    I liked CUTTLE, BEHINDHAND and WATERCRESS especially. The pedant in me agrees with jacktt that AGEING looks wrong without an ‘e’, but that’s just a technicality I guess and didn’t really pose a problem.
    Thanks Joker and Roly.

  7. Finished with another visit to the SCC, but an enjoyable 25 mins, this is a fine puzzle.

    Was stuck for ages with the mollusc as COCKLE, which meant trouble looking for the Acrobat. I know “beforehand”, but is BEHINDHAND really a word? Sounds very odd.

    And why does “mounted” indicate a reversal, for a down clue? I just mounted a picture in a frame, it’s not upside down, or backwards. And a jockey mounted on a horse faces forward. What’s going on here?

    19d contains two of the old-fashioned words that I only ever see/hear in crosswords. RUM (for odd), and MY.


  8. Oh, so that’s how OUTWARD works! Had the opposite problem with BEHINDHAND where I got the cryptic but hadn’t heard of the definition. Generally slow today – could have done with a straight anagram – but all fair in the end. I work in rail so am quite ashamed of the time it took to get from ‘halt’ to ‘station’ – although not all halts are stations etc etc. All green in 16 after another hard workout.

  9. 11:29. Off to a bad start with SPIKE (another SLING as my first guess) at 1d and the tricky ‘A spot of dancing’ def for 2d. I didn’t know the ‘Marine mollusc’ at 13a either and gratefully bunged in WATERCRESS without taking the trouble to parse it properly. Interesting to have the crossing ELECT(s) at 10a and 11d. Favourites were the ‘English city, but to the west” wordplay for BATHTUB and the TAT &lit.

    Thanks to rolytoly and Joker

  10. Like yesterday I seem to have bucked the trend, finding this excellent puzzle quite straightforward. Started with SANITATION and worked my way quickly round the grid before finishing with COD ELECTORAL (nice PDM) and BEHINDHAND in 6.01.
    Thanks to Roly

  11. An enjoyable puzzle, which I found quite challenging. But after yesterday’s disaster (where I was relieved to find on reading TfTT later in the day that I was far from alone in struggling), I was determined to finish this one, and came home in 12 minutes. Several excellent clues, but my COD to Watercress because of the neatness of removing no less than 3 I’s.

    Many thanks to Rolytoly for the blog.

  12. More plaudits from me for a clever puzzle. WATERCRESS and TAT topped a very strong field. I never quite got stuck but plenty of clues required more than one visit and SANITATION was LOI.

    Got there in 09:37 for 1.5K and a Decent Day. Many thanks Joker and roly.


  13. I started off quickly with FOI SANITATION but the offshoots were not so easy and NIGHTCLUB was my LOI. ELECTRODE required several visits and BEHINDHAND was entered from the cryptic alone. I suppose everyone just says late which is why the word feels unfamiliar. 8:30 COD to TAT which required two of the three letters to solve.

  14. A tough but very fine, imaginative puzzle with lots to chew on. I just slipped into the SCC but enjoyed my meandering trip to the edge.
    Some exceptionally good clues – I have little to add to those picked out in earlier posts. However, like others, I was especially impressed by WATERCRESS and TAT. I will now go back to the blog to enjoy them all again.
    Many thanks to Joker and Roly. John M.

  15. Pleased to get as many of the difficult clues as I did – beaten (after the usual hour) by five. Thank you, Roly, for all your explanations; CUTTLE, LEADEN, TUMBLER and BEHINDHAND were beyond me, and couldn’t have got OUTWARD in a million years but will now learn “mounted” = going up.

  16. Lovely puzzle, which I didn’t find as hard as some did. Plenty of clues as candidates for COD, but I liked TAT and WATERCRESS most. Thanks Joker and Roly. 4:09.

  17. Had to cogitate harder than usual for this one. Several clues had me initially baffled, including TAT which went in after FOI, SANITATION and BATHTUB made it inevitable. Couldn’t get away from SLING at 1d until I had AGING and ELECTRODE, so SPIKE was LOI. 8:59. Thanks Joker and Roly.

  18. 13:10 (Piers Gaveston leads unsuccessful campaign against Robert the Bruce)

    I agree with those who found this an enjoyable challenging puzzle.
    I liked the construction of WATERCRESS.
    For 4d I initially put TSH, thinking this may be an expression of disapproval, but the T in BATHTUB put me right on that.

    LOI CUTTLE, as I had no idea that cephalopods are also molluscs – something new learnt today.

    Thanks Roly and Joker

  19. Some complex and tricky clues here.

    After TAT, I wanted to put TUT in 1A. Being a railfan I too was surprised not to see STATION until after it was biffed…


    Thanks Joker for a challenging puzzle and RolyToly

  20. 7:36

    The crossword fish LING got in the way for a while at 1d, as did a carelessly bunged in 8a TWINTUB (TWIN = that’s associated with?). Pretty smooth otherwise, though it did help having seen BEHINDHAND somewhere not too long ago. Same as several others, I thought WATERCRESS was very good.

    Thanks Joker and Roly

  21. I agree with others that this was tough but also enjoyable. I was outside target again at 12.20, but this was at least an improvement on yesterday. The greatest delay was getting my LOIs, which were LEADEN and finally OUTWARD. I thought 8dn WATERCRESS was an excellent clue.

  22. DNF as didn’t get SPIKE/ELECTRODE, oh dear. Guessed OUTWARD: how does MOUNTED mean reverse/backwards? AGING doesn’t look right and CUTTLE on its own? Praying for an easy puzzle to end the week tomorrow.

  23. 5.56

    Good one for me probably because it had more emphasis on w/p and less on long anagrams and DDs.

    Nice puzzle – TAT was clever

    Thanks all

  24. I did yesterday’s difficult QC late after golf. Took me ages and could not parse Eggs.
    Today’s was not easy but easier than yesterday. I made good progress until held up by my last three: ELECTORAL,LEADEN and LOI OUTWARD ( needed the Draw part). 16 minutes.
    Another high quality Joker offering. COD to SANITATION.

  25. Felt very dim and hot this morning after walking dog to the village shop to get the paper. Did not get the SANITATION/NIGHTCLUB crossing, as I tried to make Sanitation much more complicated than it was.
    Struggled through this witty puzzle, but finished the rest.
    Thanks vm, Roly.

  26. 22 mins…

    I also found this challenging but enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed 8ac “Bathtub”, 9dn “Behindhand” and 2dn “Nightclub”.

    6dn “Watercress” brings back memories as a young child visiting a cafe at Grange Over Sands. When our food arrived, I commentated on why we were eating grass with our sandwiches. Still don’t like it.

    FOI – 3dn “Taboo”
    LOI – 5dn “Outward”
    COD – 6dn “Watercress”

    Thanks as usual!

  27. Another hard one – I thought was going to give up on my LOI, LEADEN, but I realised I couldn’t parse OUTLINE, and got OUTWARD, which gave me that LOI.


  28. Nice if challenging puzzle. 55minutes.
    LOI OUTWARD. ‘Out’ for ‘published’ only exists in crosswordland and ‘superficial’ is not a particularly helpful synonym for outward. However that’s a small gripe as the rest of the puzzle was most enjoyable.
    Thanks Joker and Roly

  29. Very tricky but completed without help from Pumpa.

    Enjoyed this one but didn’t like BLOWTORCH. “This could strip surface” – that just didn’t seem like a very good description. I believe Joker could have done better here.

    Other than that a nice QC.

  30. So, Joker has brought my brief run of relatively quick solves of difficult QCs to a shuddering halt. I knew my luck couldn’t last, but it’s frustrating all the same. I gave up after 48 minutes with one wrong and two unsolved.

    My error was cRitICALLY (for IRONICALLY), which I wrote in faintly and with some doubts, but which I never thought to re-visit. This meant I was faced with __t when trying to solve CAN. I also only got as far as SOLegIT whilst searching for SOLICIT, which I knew wasn’t a real word. I DNK that LICIT was a word or that SOLICIT meant petition. So, I was well beaten today.

    Many thank to Joker and Roly.

  31. Completed in 3 separate sittings. As challenging as yesterday’s for me. TAT and OUTWARD not parsed – thanks for the blog. LOI NIGHTCLUB took an age until the penny finally dropped. Liked BEHINDHAND and BLOWTORCH. I always assumed AGING was US spelling and ‘ageing’ UK. Seems both are correct. Another tricky but enjoyable QC. Thanks Joker.

  32. Lovely puzzle. Spent far too long in a Siding instead of a station for 1a. And was very pleased with getting Bristol for 8a… shipshape and Bristol fashion being washed was my thinking. Oh dear! Could not biff behindhand but won’t beat myself up as not convinced it’s one word!
    Thanks Joker and Roly!

  33. 22.34 This was mostly OK but ELCETORAL held up LEADEN for a good while and I spent ages on LOI SPIKE. I also toyed with SLING, and the even less likely SMITE. An enjoyable puzzle. Thanks to rolytoly and Joker.

  34. Plett11, johninterred and myself appear to be on the same wavelength. A most enjoyable puzzle, although I confess to biffing ELECTRODE

    TIME 4:02

  35. I am not a fan of ‘riddle’ style clues, but will concede that 14d Tumbler was pretty good. On the whole though I didn’t think this was quite the tour de force that others seem to imply, and was thankful rather than pleased to finish in time for a window seat. Also, while call in 23ac would indeed be a fair shot for ‘name’, I think it’s quite a stretch for ‘label’. Invariant

  36. Hooray! This was NOT a DNF, thank you Joker. Challenging (As all puzzles are to one in the SCC) but with enough to get going so the rest could be worked on. Really liked WATERCRESS.

  37. Unlike most of you I found this tough and not enjoyable. There is no doubt that the QCs have got much more difficult. I used to enjoy doing them after lunch or as a coffee break but now I often need to come back later for another go or I get fed up and use aids. They used to have a lot of 3, 4 and 5 letter words but today’s, like others this week, just has so many long words. This morning I could do very little but I worked out more this afternoon though it was DNF as I had cockle so couldn’t get tumbler.
    Incidentally I think outward/superficial works eg outward appearance/ superficial appearance. Very good/so works for something being ‘just so’. Also label/call works for ‘you might label him as antisocial but I would call him very shy.
    Thank you for a helpful blog.
    Blue Stocking

  38. Struggling to see how anyone could enjoy this. 37 mins of torture. Ever since I said I was close to cracking the QC, my skills have gone into reverse. Just can’t see what I’m doing at the moment. Spent last 8 mins on 11dn thinking it must be ELECTORAL but how can I parse it? Summed up my day.

    That’s 2 hours, 3 minutes, and still one day to go. This week is almost as bad as the last. It is rare now to have a day when I get much pleasure from the QC.

    I suspect the comparatively small number of comments is because a lot of beginners and intermediates are fed up with this succession of very tough puzzles and are losing interest.

    ☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️ again!!

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. You are not competing with anyone other than yourself. If you get better on average that is enough.

      One way to improve:
      Start solving older puzzles that are fully blogged here. Give yourself a fixed amount of time, say 10 minutes. Then open the blog, read each solution and understand the wordplay. There are at least 1000 Quick Cryptics fully explained in this blog and its predecessor.

Comments are closed.