Times Quick Cryptic No 2497 by Joker

Solving time: 14:29

Bit of a ‘mare for me – left with the four in the NW corner with seven minutes on the clock, however it took a further seven minutes to come up with satisfactory answers for them. Definitely not helped by the unknown 9a which may (or may not) be a gimme for our American solvers…

What did you make of it?

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

1 The word just before this is a hybrid (6)
ACROSS – A CROSS (hybrid). The word that appears just before the clue for 1a is ACROSS.

This was my LOI, needing the checkers to suggest what the answer might be.

4 Group of pupils in favour of marks (4)
FORM – FOR (in favour of) M (marks i.e. abbreviation for the currency)
9 Bad smell round inside of container in US railway wagon (7)
CABOOSE – B.O. (Bad smell i.e. body odour) O (round) all inside CASE (container)

A caboose is a North American railroad car coupled at the end of a freight train, providing a shelter for crew who will keep a lookout for shifting loads, damage to equipment or cargo, and overheating axles.

Never heard of it. One of my last four in, I only managed to solve this once 1d was in.

10 Island in Med has head killed in a hostile manner (5)
ICILYSICILY (Island in Med i.e. Mediterranean Sea) without its first letter [has head killed]
11 Smallest fragment of lilac isn’t to be arranged (9)
SCINTILLA – Anagram [to be arranged] of LILAC ISN’T

Not sure whether the superlative ‘Smallest’ is required. Collins online defines SCINTILLA as ‘A minute particle; spark; trace

12 Beer available in local establishment (3)
ALE – Hidden in [available in] local establishment
13 Scatter 500 piles all over the place (6)
DISPEL – Anagram [all over the place] of D (Roman numeral for 500) and PILES
15 A few months to get well (6)
SPRING – Double definition (?) separated by two words for surface.

SPRING is the few months between winter and summer.

17 Mountain ace getting record (3)
ALP – A (ace) LP (record)
18 Prompt about a rest (9)
21 Box key is surplus to requirements (5)
SPARE – SPAR (Box) E (key i.e. In music, a scale of musical notes beginning with a specific note.)
22 English join with queen returning in train (7)
RETINUE – E (English) UNITE (join) with R (queen i.e. regina) all reversed [returning]

A band of attendants accompanying an important person.

23 Attempt to encircle Oman’s capital city once (4)
TROY – TRY encircling O (Oman’s capital letter)
24 Commercial trade unfortunately involves little volume (6)
ADVERT – Anagram [unfortunately] of TRADE involving V (‘little’ volume i.e. just the first letter in this case)
1 Take advantage of days after account is charged (7)
ACCUSED – USE (Take advantage of) D (days) after ACC (account)

The third of the answers I was stuck on for a while. Of course, it seems much easier now…

2 Religious leader to go on without end (5)
RABBI – RABBIT (to go on) without its last letter

Chestnutty, though I failed to spot it for ages 🙁

3 Get word Edward is after beer that’s robust (5-7)
STOUT-HEARTED – HEAR (Get word) TED (Edward) after STOUT (beer)

STOUT is a strong, dark beer the best-known of which is Guinness, brewed in Dublin, Ireland.

5 Paper folding kit friend needed to support circular letter (7)
ORIGAMI – RIG (kit) AMI (friend – from the French) supporting O (circular letter)
6 Possibly become empty after a month (5)
MAYBE – B{ecom}E [empty i.e. only the outside letters] after MAY (a month)
7 Reportedly get money for small room (4)
CELL – Homophone [Reportedly] of SELL (get money for)
8 Saddened daughter is given the job (12)
DISAPPOINTED – D (daughter) IS APPOINTED (is given the job)
14 Second work managed by old singer (7)
SOPRANO – S (Second) OP (short for the Latin word ‘opus’ meaning work or labour) RAN (managed) by O (old)

In music, the opus number is the “work number” assigned to a musical composition or set of compositions to indicate the chronological order of the composer’s production. It is also used to distinguish between compositions with similar titles. The word ‘opus’ is abbreviated as “Op.” for a single work, or “Opp.” when referring to more than one work.

16 Chap putting arm in jacket, perhaps (7)
GARMENT – GENT (Chap) putting ARM in
17 Something worth having — like TV? (5)
ASSET – AS (like) SET (TV)
19 Injure Epsom’s first horse (4)
MARE – MAR (Injure) E (Epsom’s first i.e. first letter of)
20 Scandinavian introducing clubs for disco, say (5)
DANCE – DANE (Scandinavian) introducing C (clubs i.e. card suit)

I wasn’t entirely keen on ‘introducing’ as an insertion indicator here.

60 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2497 by Joker”

  1. Fortunately I knew CABOOSE and got RABBI straight away, which made life a lot easier in the NW and enabled a 7.57 finish. Like Mike I was fooled by ACROSS and also needed several checkers to get ICILY and SCINTILLA. I thought the clue for ACCUSED would have been better if all in the past tense and thus eliminating the clunky reference to days to get the D, and I’m no fan of ‘circular letter’ to get the O in ORIGAMI. But overall this seemed like a good QC from Joker with a nicely varied degree of difficulty. FOI ALE, LOI ASSET.

  2. I think we’ve had CABOOSE once or twice in the 15x15s, but it is a bit much for a QC. I biffed it. RABBI is definitely a chestnut. ORIGAMI is another; and I didn’t care for AMI as ‘friend’; ‘French friend’, OK, but it’s not an English word. (I say this, and no doubt someone will tell me it’s in Chambers.) I liked ACROSS, my LOI, which helped slow me down to 7:27.

  3. 14:50. ACROSS and STOUT-HEARTED were main holdouts for me. The latter was hard to fit the parts together and the former was just plain mystifying- until it wasn’t. I almost went for PROM instead of FORM but luckily rethought it.

  4. 20:22
    Made my target time with 1 second to spare, being late to see the chestnut RABBI. I thought it might be something oriental, like Swami. Then CABOOSE went straight in, I think my kids sang a song like The Little Red Caboose.

    1a (ACROSS) was a brilliant clue, best in ages.

    I went through at least a dozen islands before finding ICILY.

    1. The Little Red Caboose was a children’s book when I was young, and I remembered it immediately. It’s a lovely simple story for children aged say 3-6, not that dissimilar to the Revd W Awdry Thomas the Tank Engine tales. My memory is that it was a book I demanded be read to me almost every night at one stage – no doubt my parents got very tired of it.

  5. At 22 minutes when my target is supposed to be 10, this was another disaster for me.

    Again I was slow generally, but the real problem was in the NW segment. For a start, I knew I knew the US railway wagon and could even picture the thing as I’d come across it in many a Western, but I was unable to remember what it was called. The wordplay was of no help to me, and it was only after I had eventually recalled CABOOSE that I was able to see how it worked. Incidentally the word has appeared only once before in a daily puzzle when in 2016 it was defined as ‘galley’ because another of its meanings is the cookhouse on a small ship. Now that really did confuse me!

    For ‘get money for’ at 7dn for a long time I could only think ‘earn’, and at 2dn until the B-checker arrived I could only think ‘swami’. With only the T-checker in place I convinced myself that the first word of 3dn was going to be ‘heart’. Then, with all that eventually sorted out and one answer remaining to be found I took another 5 minutes to spot the device at 1 ACROSS!

    I would add that none of the above is criticism of the level of difficult or the setter, as on reflection everything was fair. I’m just going through a bad patch so I may decide to take a more relaxed attitude to timings for the QC as I do with the 15×15 puzzle.

    1. Enjoy a very rare day in the SCC Jackkt – the regulars are very friendly I find when I visit.

  6. NW was home to all my problems despite ACROSS going straight in. NHO CABOOSE, needed to stare at STOUT HEARTED for ages even with all the checkers (short something, sport something) and ACCUSED just took a long time. I’ve forgotten BO for bad smell before so dredging that up before making a word I had to check existed was a challenge. No typos at least so all green in 22.

  7. ACROSS went straight which gave me some confidence after a couple of tricky days but this ended up being another over target solve.
    Like others, my major problems were in the NW where ACCUSED and CABOOSE held out until the end. I was aware that the latter was a word by had no idea what it meant.
    ICILY also proved difficult and I had a MER at ‘ami’ being clued as friend without French alongside it but as Kevin surmised it does appear in Collins.
    Finished in 10.15.
    Thanks to Mike

  8. As noted above, a struggle. Played with EYES for ‘Group of pupils’ in favour of (ayes) but soon realised that was a bridge too far. COD ACROSS. So cleverly hidden in plain sight, Joker indeed.
    Several LOIs which took me to 30 mins and a cold coffee in the club. Can’t help thinking CABOOSE is a peculiar word and wondering about its derivation.
    Thanks Joker, Mike and all.

    1. I can’t find anything definitive on CABOOSE other than it’s thought to be of Dutch origin. Thinking back to the old Westerns I’m sure they’d sometimes talk about the whole caboose meaning a mixture of everything. I’ve found that is a corruption of the whole caboodle which reminded me I’ve also heard the whole caboose and caboodle and the whole kit and caboodle. I must get a life!

  9. Anybody else remember ‘Tennessee’ Ernie Ford’s song The Tennessee Local?

    The boiler leaks, the engine squeaks, the seats are all loose
    But the Tennessee Local is a classy caboose!

    There’s a Youtube recording

  10. I got to 11A on a first read through the clues before getting an answer, but things went more smoothly after that… except for PROM as my initial answer for 4A… which fits the clue, but not with ORIGAMI when that came. I think I’ve seen CABOOSE elsewhere recently, but clearly not here. I liked the witty 1 ACROSS. Thanks Joker and Mike. 4:52.

  11. I had no problem with CABOOSE (once the B of RABBI was present) but I felt slow to see many other answers until the odd crosser emerged. I was dreadfully slow to see the clever ACROSS and I took too long to get GARMENT but, at least, that opened the door to my LOI SPRING.
    I slowed myself unnecessarily by not seeing a couple of careless mis-types (e.g. REnAINDER which closed off MARE and RETINUE until I looked again carefully).
    Like jackkt, I slipped into the SCC again by a few seconds, continuing a terrible run of slow times and disjointed solves.
    I thought SCINTILLA was brilliant and there are some other very good Joker clues to revisit in Mike’s excellent blog.

  12. Completed, not that quick but a lot better than yesterday. LOI PDM ACROSS.
    Again found RHS easier than left though it took me a while to get going.
    Biffed a few so I needed the blog, thanks Mike. I kept solving words that provided end crossers like TROY and ADVERT whereas one hopes for initial letters.
    CABOOSE was somewhere at the back of my mind, luckily.

  13. I only just made my target of 15 minutes by rounding down a couple of errant seconds, but it still feels like a fail to me. Like others, the NW was my problem area. I knew CABOOSE (as a galley, and sometimes a small hut or shed on wheels, but not the specific meaning here), but struggled to make it fit the wordplay – BO escaping me for a while. And I was stumped for ages with both ACCUSED and ACROSS. Very clever Joker, and nice blog Mike.

  14. I should confess that my heart sank when I saw this was a Joker puzzle, but what a surprise. Raced through from foi Across to loi Remainder in 15mins – quite fast for me these days. I knew Caboose (no doubt from watching too much TV as a child), and Stout Hearted went in without too much difficulty as well. Icily on the other hand needed all the crossers, and it left me wondering what Ic(k)ily was until sanity prevailed. Hard to pick out a CoD, but hopefully more like this please Joker.

  15. 16:16 (the future Charles I is invested as Prince of Wales)

    Like everyone else, the NW corner was the slowest. I had just about heard of CABOOSE. I needed ACCUSED before I finally spotted ACROSS, despite the word being literally written above the clue – COD to this.
    LOI was CELL.

    Thanks Mike and Joker

  16. Return to normality for me after 2 well over par days. According to Quitch, it couldn’t be much more par for me with scores of 101/100 NITCH/WITCH.

    ACROSS was vg indeed. LOI CABOOSE was a complete and utter biff, so I was somewhat lucky. Well, not even a biff, because I didn’t know that a caboose is a train carriage – I thought it was something native americans carried their children in, though a quick google tells me that is actually a papoose!


  17. The word ACROSS doesn’t appear if you use the app, unless I’m missing something.

    I knew CABOOSE from a shape matching puzzle my son had when he was little. I never knew it before that!

  18. 8.50 but it was the SE that slowed me down.
    Also had prom at first.
    Liked advert, maybe, and COD across.

  19. As with one or two others, I ground to a halt in the nw corner. If I could have recalled the name for a US railway wagon I would have been fine, but I couldn’t get beyond boxcar. I know the RABBI clue has been used before, but even this eluded me for some time. I thought I was going to pay a visit to the SCC club for possibly the first time, but the four remaining answers came to me in a rush just as I was preparing to submit my membership application form. Eventually I crossed the line in 17.45, bruised but unbowed.

  20. Only managed just over half this. NHO CABOOSE or STOUT-HEARTED. I too had 4a PROM, leading to much time wasted trying to find an anagram of ORIGAMI. COD to ACROSS. Thanks to Mike.
    Tiny, rather arcane point: opus numbers more often correspond to chronology of publication, rather than of composition – makes a big difference in, for example, Beethoven and Dvořák.

  21. I thoroughly enjoyed this offering from Joker as it was full of clever wordplay. I had to abandon the 1s and started with FORM. I then solved clockwise and returned to the NW with more checkers in play. It was a lovely PDM moment when I got ACROSS but I think my LOI CABOOSE (vaguely knew the word but the wordplay was top notch) pips it for COD. 8:33

  22. Ditto most comments above, NW was trickiest. MER at ami=friend whatever Collins says, I’ve never heard or seen it in English usage although it didnt delay moi.
    As I enjoy my oft occupied seat in the SCC I have just read, with interest, the discussion/debate in yesterday’s blog about the QC’s role. I don’t have an answer, there is no obvious way of making everyone happy, but I do applaud the (mostly) constructive exchanges that this site facilitates. For those that struggle, at least the blogs provide constructive assistance with gentle humour that I found invaluable in reaching my lowly, but contented, level.

  23. ACROSS was brilliant!

    I was not, alas, and took 5 minutes to winkle out STOUT-HEARTED and LOI CABOOSE. (I eventually blundered my way to CABOOSE by reasoning that “inside of container” meant “the central letter of container”, and then trying an “a” in the various blanks. Ahem.)

    So I would have been 12 mins but it didn’t matter anyway, because it turned out I’d fat-fingered DISAPPONTTED, like a great gumby.


    Many thanks Joker and Mike.


  24. Re 13A – surely DISPEL means to refute or reject e.g. to dispel a rumour. The verb ‘to scatter’ is surely DISPERSE?


  25. DNF – caboose and icily.
    Quite a challenge and like most finished up in the NW.
    Enjoyable as always though and always appreciate the blog.

  26. Slightly bucking the trend here as I found this one of Joker’s less challenging offerings, all done in just under 9 minutes. I don’t fully understand what is meant by wavelength but some of the answers flew in and even the longer clues, often my downfall, came to me quickly enough. My greater challenge these days seems to be parsing the answers once I have written them in – Caboose being a case in point which I got straight away from childhood memories and then had a real struggle working out why it was right.

    Across one of the cleverest clues we have seen for a while, and a rare instance of going outside the actual numbered clues to find the reference word. OTOH I am with Kevin that cluing Ami as just “friend” seems to me a bit off – “friend in Paris” would be more normal I would have thought.

    Many thanks to Mike for the blog

  27. Crikey, DNF after about 12/13 minutes.

    I kind of got the idea of 1ac but couldn’t work out what the preceding word was, which was maybe a bit dense. I eventually twigged but had struggled on ACCUSED as well

    But CABOOSE did for me. I did think of the word but had no idea what it meant and just couldn’t see how the word play worked so conceded defeat.

    I had also been a PROM which also delayed me.

    And there was me yesterday saying I like the harder ones 🙂 My twin told me he’d done today’s sub-Kevin so I must have cracked under the pressure!

    Thanks Mike and Joker

  28. Remarkably, listening to Radio 4 programme Strangers On A Train this morning, while discussing rail travel with a railwayman on the boat train from London to Holyhead, Alexei Sayle used the word ‘caboose’. Quite the coincidence!

    1. Dear Mr H.
      I think I have mentioned before that your avatar (Beaker) always makes me smile when I see it, so I looked up a clip of him on Youtube today – Beaker performing Ode To Joy. Well worth a look-see if you haven’t watched it, or another if you have.

      1. I am glad my avatar provides you with so much enjoyment. I will certainly check out Beaker’s Ode To Joy – thanks for the tip!

    2. Must be one of those days as I had two occurrences of Baader-Meinhof phenomenon today. Yesterday I was talking to a guy about his trip to Wichita on the weekend and that came up in a crossword today. Then Garibaldi came up in a different crossword and it turned up in a book I was reading. I will probably have a few more of these over the next week and then none.

      Actually it now occurs to me that I have been looking at Alfred Hitchcock films this past week. This included watching a Top 10 films by him c0untdown video yesterday – that did of course include … Strangers on a Train.

  29. I drew a blank in the NW, apart from FOI, CELL, so concentrated on the NE and carried on clockwise. SCINTILLA and CABOOSE opened up the remaining corner and ACROSS was LOI holding me up for quite a while. 10:15. Thanks Joker and Mike.

  30. DNF, having failed to arrive at the correct Mediterranean island. I knew how the word play worked, just couldn’t think of the right island. No problem with CABOOSE although it didn’t come to me immediately. In fact, with the exception of 10ac, no real problems at all – just generally slow, which I seem to have been all week so far. Time was 22 minutes having used an aid to get to ICILY.

    FOI – 12ac ALE
    LOI – DNF
    COD – liked DISAPPOINTED and REMAINDER but the prize has to go to the brilliant ACROSS

    Thanks to Joker and Mike

  31. Yet another interminable slog for me and a DNF this time. I gave up after an hour.
    CABOOSE was my downfall as I did not remember BO for ‘bad smell’, never thought of CASE for ‘container’, rejected O for ’round’ and had NHO the word. Basically, the whole clue went way over my head and, after struggling through a very hard crossword, left me feeling slightly cheated.

    More than 9 hours spent on the past 11 QCs, including two DNFs and only two solves under 45 mins (and none under my average for the past four months). Checking back through my records shows this to be the worst such period (for me) since the Spring of last year. Needless to say, I am getting increasingly frustrated.

    Many thanks to Joker for the challenge and to Mike for the helpful blog.

    1. I’m afraid I’m with you there Mr Random. I’ve been doing these for 5+ years and have had my worst spell ever in the past few weeks. At first I thought I was losing my marbles but am slightly comforted, if irritated, by the fact I am not alone. What the rationale for ramping things up is I’ve no idea, other than to make it more exclusive perhaps.

  32. I’ve sat by the window on many an Amtrak train waiting in the sidings for the freight to go by and never knew that that last carriage was a CABOOSE! Now as I watch those beasts go by Revelstoke on the Virtual Railfan site I shall have a new word on my mind.

    Thanks for that Joker, you’ve made my day even though the result was a DNF. Thanks Mike and everyone else.

  33. Much to my surprise, I actually managed to finish this very difficult puzzle. As with others, the NW corner was the problem, but once I put in ACCUSED as a guess I had a brainwave with CABOOSE, which I remember from an old song. Had to look it up to see what it meant, but it was then the obvious answer. Not sure if SCINTILLA is “smallest fragment, however.

  34. My first QC of the week – Ouch! 44:17
    As with others, it was the NW corner for me. I had all but ACROSS, ACCUSED, RABBI, and yes, CABOOSE after 18:30
    Once I saw ACROSS I was left staring at CABOOSE and need to confess to a ‘word trawl'(?) for the solve.
    Thanks to Mike and Joker (I think) 😀

  35. 24 mins…

    5 mins of that was plucking out 9ac “Caboose”, which sounded vaguely familiar but was a bit of a guess in the end. For once it paid off.

    The rest of it went in steadily, although I always get caught out by account being “Acc” rather than “Ac”, making the rest of the parsing for 1dn somewhat tricky.

    FOI – 4ac “Form”
    LOI – 9ac “Caboose”
    COD – 1ac “Across”

    Thanks as usual!

  36. 21.19 A similar story. All but the four in the NW done in 9 minutes. Then ACCUSED led to ACROSS. Once I realised that the pong might be BO I got RABBI and then eventually dredged up CABOOSE from somewhere. I’m still blaming my performances on the covid. Thanks to Mike and Joker.

  37. 12:24. After a tough couple of days (21 and 32 minutes), it was good to get one that suited me better. CABOOSE went in quickly once I had a couple of crossers and I never parsed the “bad smell” part. COD DISAPPOINTED, for reminding me of a Morecambe and Wise joke that had to be painstakingly explained to me when I was a child: “‘I didn’t get the job’, he said, disappointed.”

    Thanks to Joker and Mike.

  38. Tough again today. Gave up with CABOOSE unsolved, then kicked myself as it is a word I vaguely know. SPRING caused a few difficulties as I failed to separate ‘to get’ and ‘well’… Favourite clue was ACROSS which was beautifully placed right above the clue on my iPad version. Another who tried ‘prom’ before FORM. A bit of a slog but eventually over the line all bar the train bit. Many thanks all.

  39. 22:34 – which is probably around my average and the point where I begin to get bored. Slower than most of the recent Jokers I’ve done which have avg’ed 17+ mins since start of June and that was reflected in some tougher defs.

    ACROSS was LOI and slightly kicking myself as I’ve seen it before, likewise slow on CELL and DISAPPOINTED. STOUT-HEARTED was LbOI and took a bit of unravelling, at one stage thinking it was an anagram.

    I always feel confident approaching a Joker, not because I’m guaranteed a fast time but because he rarely throws in words I’ve NHO. While I appreciate that wasn’t the case for others with CABOOSE I had. Just couldn’t figure out whether to spell it -BOO- or -BOU- or something else as I was looking for a 3-letter smell turned around. Eventually saw the “body odour round” parse.

    With ICILY, I wanted to put in Ibiza as the island but couldn’t parse the latter. Once I thought of Sicily, I enjoyed its surface alluding to the Mafia who are prominent there. I hope GA will approve of that at least!

    PS also think SCINTILLA is a great word even if it’s bloody difficult to unravel with only 1 checker!

    1. It’s about the only thing I did approve of.

      This was my worst experience ever on the QC (and that really is saying something).

      Got all bar 9ac in, I would guess, 25 mins and felt reasonably happy. Then spent 80 mins (not a misprint!) trying to solve that one clue. Three wretched letters (having got all the checkers)!

      Got absolutely nowhere so ended with a DNF after 1 hour, 45 mins. Thought of every word for bad smell other than BO but never got the inside container wordplay. Did spot the O for round, but thought inside of container was A. How could I not have got this?

      Anyway, you can all have a laugh at my rank incompetence.

      This is my second nightmare day in the last four. I am coming to dread attempting the QC.

      1. 😱😱😱

        I’m beginning to think you’re making up these horror stories in an attempt to compete with Mr Random for the Perseverer of the Week award 🏆 😉

        No-one laughing at you, we’ve all had similar experiences and know it could happen tomorrow.

        1. Being female, Mrs Random has much more sense. She would never spend more than 5 minutes (tops) on her last clue. She just puts down the paper and goes off to do something more constructive with her life.

      2. Well done, Mr A. I have never gone beyond 1 hr 36 mins. However, I also spent an inordinate amount of time on CABOOSE, which I never got, and for precisely the same reasons as you.

        1. Thanks chaps.

          I’m inclined to say that things can only get better, but that would perhaps be tempting fate.

          Good luck for tomorrow.

  40. Just under the 10 minute mark. Luckily I saw ACROSS quickly; on another day it might have given me a lot of trouble. I was fortunate with ICILY, with Ibiza being my first guess for ‘Island in Med’ too. I did know CABOOSE and the wordplay and crossers stopped me from mixing it up with “papoose”; not exactly the same thing!

  41. For 7D I went wrong with HALL, thinking that ‘Reportedly get money’ was the homophone “haul”. But HALL being a ‘small room’ is a bit of a stretch.

Comments are closed.