Times Quick Cryptic No 2498 by Izetti

I was making good progress until a sting in the tail made for another tricky puzzle this week.

Mostly done by 6ish minutes, but the final four clues (12d, 16d, 20ac and 24ac) more than doubled that to over 13. Not helped by not being able to get the wrong word out of my head for 20ac, until I finally remembered that useful rule about what to do when you see a “U”. I also missed 12d being a cryptic definition for a long time. So I’ll take this as a good lesson about what to do and what not to do when you hit a brick wall in a puzzle.

Almost a complete absence of anagrams (just half a clue at 3d) and some devious things going on elsewhere made for a tricky puzzle in a tricky week.

Many thanks to Izetti!

1 Hairstyle concealing old man with a title (7)
BARONET – BARNET (hairstyle) concealing O(ld)
5 US soldier given paper that comes free (4)
GIFT – GI (US soldier) given FT (newspaper)
7 A hundred old books — what you may find in bedroom (3)
COT – C (a hundred) OT (Old Testament = old boooks)
8 Crow returns to heather? That’s confusing (8)
GARBLING – BRAG (crow) returns = reverses, LING (heather). Ling for heather is a useful crossword staple to remember.
10 Meeting in street after test (5)
TRYST – ST(reet) after TRY (test)
11 Greed seen when Virginia tucks into a particular food (7)
AVARICE – VA (Virginia) tucks into A, RICE (particular food)
13 Gibberish from British hoi polloi heading off (6)
BABBLE – B(ritish) rABBLE (hoi polloi) with the “heading” off
15 King: some Lionheart hurt (6)
ARTHUR – “some” of lionheART HURt
17 Leader of Conservatives to roar and disintegrate (7)
CRUMBLE – C (“leader” of Conservatives) to RUMBLE (roar)
18 Town’s prohibition on old city (5)
URBAN – BAN (prohibition) on UR (old city). UR is the old city equivalent of LING.
20 Make familiar Bill, attractively unusual (8)
ACQUAINT – AC. (account = bill) QUAINT (attractively unusual). It’s not the first sense of QUAINT that I’d use, and I couldn’t get ACCUSTOM out of my head (with some vaguely unworkable idea along the lines of being custom built). But the rule is a good one: if you’re stuck with a U, think Q.
22 Welsh politician entertained by many Englishmen (3)
NYE – “entertained” by maNY Englishmen
23 Cheese momentarily deserted by fly (4)
BRIEBRIEfly (momentarily) deserted by FLY
24 Tackle with difficulty, crossword finally dispatched (7)
HARNESS –  HARdNESS (difficulty) D (crossworD “finally”) dispatched
1 Like two in sequence   certainly not face-to-face (4-2-4)
BACK-TO-BACK – double-ish definition
2 Bad-tempered   companion of Mr Toad (5)
RATTY – double definition
3 Funny thing on card in entertainment centre (9)
NIGHTCLUB – Anagram (“funny”) of THING on CLUB (card)
4 A salt? Two salts! (6)
TARTAR – TARTAR, or potassium bitartrate, is a salt. A SALT is also a term for a sailor, another being a TAR, which if doubled gives us TAR TAR.
5 Posh female   set? (3)
GEL – double definition
6 European‘s final act being reported (7)
FINNISH – FINISH (final act) being “reported”
9 The German people with bells and guns (10)
DERRINGERS – DER (The, German) RINGERS (people with bells)
12 Phoney wind instrument? (3,6)
AIR GUITAR – cryptic definition, playing on the idea that WIND = AIR
14 Fellow at door gets difficult delivery (7)
BOUNCER – double definition, the second as in cricket
16 Fairy’s husband to pass away (6)
PERISH – the PERI is our fairy, so PERI’S, and then H(usband)
19 Bishop at one time the head (5)
BONCE – B(ishop) ONCE (at one time)
21 Exercise in American English (3)
USE – US (American) E(nglish)


77 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2498 by Izetti”

  1. I too was held up by LOsI AIR GUITAR and ACQUAINT, having also spent longer than seems warranted in retrospect on BARONET, GARBLING, NIGHTCLUB and TARTAR. All done in 11.07 but I will admit to some puzzlement over the air guitar clue, I got it but I don’t get it. Otherwise a fun solve, even if there was – unusually – only half an anagram. Thanks roly and Izetti.

    1. I read AIR GUITAR as a reference to the fact that someone playing ‘air guitar’ isn’t really playing a guitar so they are phoney.

      1. I read it as “not really a wind instrument”. But either way the clue is getable without in my view being Izetti’s best.

    2. I saw it as you are pretending to play a guitar by strumming air (wind instrument?),
      but you’re not playing a guitar so you are a phoney.

  2. 21:07. HARNESS and PERISH took the most time. For the latter I couldn’t get Oberon out of my head. At first I thought maybe Mr Toad had a friend Mr Shrew. I liked GARBLING and NIGHT CLUB most. Didn’t know BONCE but it sounded a likely place to aim a BOUNCER at. Like LindsayO I couldn’t quite see how AIR GUITAR was supposed to work.

  3. 8:27 with only PERISH uncertain as Peri was unknown to me, but what else could it be? Some research reveals a beautiful mythical being from Persian folklore. Every day’s a school day and all that.



    Thanks Izetti and Roly

  4. Slow on the acrosses, fast on the downs for a rare sub-10. Minor hold up at the end to work out why NIGHTCLUB was the answer and to juggle the pronunciations of GEL but the general knowledge went my way today with Peri, DERRINGERS, Ur and TARTAR all write ins (those last three purely down to length of crossword service). My Dad had a dog named Aneurin after Bevan, so Nye went in quickly enough once I’d finished trying to do something with MS. All green in 8.

  5. Pretty well a perfect Times crossword ‘lite’ for me and only little over my average time. A classic cryptic with a couple of unusual words and some nice alternative meanings.

  6. After previous disasters with this week’s QCs I resolved to take a more relaxed approach to this one, so I took my time and was prepared to spend longer on clues as necessary instead of moving on swiftly and looking for easy pickings. The result was my best time this week, 13 minutes – so it would count as another target missed, but I certainly enjoyed the puzzle more. AIR GUITAR was my LOI.

  7. 17 minutes, so maintaining Izetti’s knack of being seriously more challenging than his fellow setters (my other times so far this week being 11, 11 and 9 minutes). I did finish the puzzle, but I’m beginning to think that either Izetti or every other setter has missed the memo saying what a QC should be.

    Several clues required serious thought – I DK that Tartar was a salt, I was not sure that Rumble and Roar are really that close synonyms, and Garbling took a long time to emerge even after I had put the -LING in in pencil fairly immediately. But it was the Perish/Harness pair that were my L2I, as I had NHO Peri. I see from Wikipedia that “In Persian mythology, peris are exquisite, winged spirits renowned for their beauty”, so a common everyday word NOT. Another Izetti “I know more than you” moment …

    Many thanks to Roly for the blog

    1. Both Roget and Chambers Thesaurus give ROAR as synonym for RUMBLE so is it that much of a stretch? And PERI is in the subtitle of one of G&S’s better known comic opears (Iolanthe-The Peer and the Peri) so hardly arcane knowledge surely?

      And I don’t even like G&S!

      1. Iolanthe is the only time I’ve ever come across PERI. In The Times today, there was a picture of the new Iolanthe show at the London Coliseum, which opens tonight.

      2. Are we to take it that G&S (harrumph) is a more relevant source than say the lyrics of Eminem (E), surely by now we have moved to more modern references?

    2. I’m not sure the crossword editor knows what a QC should be, so maybe the memo hasn’t been sent.

  8. I got about half of the clues in 30 mins. The rest, not a hope. I feel like a bluebottle buzzing against a window, with certain setters – I keep trying but get nowhere. A dispiriting waste of time.

    1. Izetti is probably the toughest of them all. Approach with caution. I have DNFed on 10 of his last 11 so had begun to manage my expectations accordingly. Teazel is the other setter I would be particularly wary.

      Chin up Snail – it’s been tough for a while, something nice will be along again soon 👍

  9. Hurrah, my first sub target finish of the week – although not by much.
    Desperately tried to fit ‘perm’ or ‘afro’ into 1a until the b from BACK TO BACK pointed me in the right direction and spent some time thinking that the definition for 16d was fairy and not getting further than Oberon. Trying the h for husband in different places finally helped the penny to drop and led to LOI HARNESS.
    Completed in 9.18 although I TARTAR went in unparsed as I was unaware that it was a salt and COD to BARONET
    Thanks to Roly for the blog and to Izetti for an enjoyable puzzle.

  10. I started well but was held up at the end by NIGHTCLUB (not difficult with hindsight), PERISH (took a while for Peri to click), and ACQUAINT where I took too long to remember the rule mentioned by Will and LindsayO above…… I also biffed ‘ACCUSTOM’ for 20a before re-booting my brain. Nevertheless, I managed to finish 2 mins over target at 17 mins which I am happy to accept for an Izetti.
    A testing but very good puzzle with one or two stunning clues. I felt, at first, that Izetti had really made an effort to descend to my level but he reverted to his more demanding high expectations in parts.
    Thanks, anyway, to Izetti for a good workout and thanks to Roly for a good blog. John M.

  11. Another ACCUSTOM here, making ACQUAINT my LOI after I’d sorted the rest of the SW corner out. A couple of synonyms seemed a bit of stretch (e.g. rumble=roar, as Cedric noted), but nothing unfair. Thanks Izetti and Roly. 5:39.

  12. 20:40 corrected DNF. Screwed up on GEL by putting GaL and not thinking it through. We had this same clue/answer in a Teazel at the end of May (#2406) so 🤦‍♂️

    Have to say, I was flying through that with whole of the rightside done in 6ish mins (albeit only the latter part of GARBLING). No issues with AIR-GUITAR – straight in although I did reassess it late on when like others stuck on ACQUAINT.

    I was the first to complain loudly about Izetti being unapproachable over the past six months but feel he has got back to being achievable over the last four grids. My big complaint in the past was including 4 or 5 words or GK I’ve NHO. While fairy=PERIsh (my LOI) was an example of that today, I think I knew everything else – had to dig to remember RATTY from reading Wind in the Willows in 1970s though.

    Personally I have no complaints about this one. Actually had a laugh at BONCE and BARNET – great words.

    I will add further to Tuesday’s discussion that my uncertainty about the potential quickness of any QC always leaves me feeling like I need a clear hour ahead of me. E.g. today I started at 8am, knowing I need to do something at 9:15. If I had got to the QC at 8:30am – I probably wouldn’t have started it. Whereas for my friend who generally does these things in 6-7 mins and sometimes gets stretched out to 10 or 12mins, he knows he can do it on his commute into work without fear of arriving at his destination before he has completed.

    Am appreciative that Izetti seems to have got back on track. I know others may have struggled as there were certain areas like CRUMBLE, BABBLE, GARBLING, ACQUAINT, BRIE, HARNESS where I think an inexperienced me would have struggled.

  13. 9:14 (Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians defeats Viking invaders)

    A very similar experience to Rolytoly, including initially entering ACCUSTOM for 20a, for much the same reasons.
    PERI was familiar to me from Iolanthe. LOI was, very appropriately, 24a.

    Thanks Izetti and Rolytoly

  14. Somehow managed this in one sitting, especially without all those anagrams which are my forte.

    NHO PERI or DERRINGERS but they were getatable for me.

    It helps to have been doing these for a while for recalling UR and LING.

    Now to start the day!

    Thanks Izetti and Roly

  15. Another harder one in a harder week.

    ACCUSTOM didn’t help matters, and I was slow to see PERISH and AIR GUITAR. HARDNESS LOI. It was all going well until that bottom right corner.


  16. Another ACCUSTOM here but I wasn’t happy with the parsing of it and so deleted all unchecked letters after AC. Thankfully solving PERISH put paid to the idea of custom as attractively unusual. I solved the NW corner very quickly and the SE corner slowly finishing with HARNESS in an acceptable time of 8:35. I really enjoy Izetti’s wordplay but I wasn’t sold on AIR GUITAR today.

  17. Another tough test today, and I was sure half way through solving it I was going outside target again. Sure enough I finally crossed the line in 11.28, with PERISH and my LOI ACQUAINT being the main stumbling blocks. I got AIR GUITAR fairly quickly, but the clueing of it didn’t fill me with confidence that it was correct.
    NYE of course refers to that great politician ANEURIN BEVAN. My father who was an architect was commissioned to design a Waterworks building near Tredegar in South Wales. The building was opened by Nye Bevan in November 1952, and there was a dinner laid on afterwards. Nye Bevan made a speech at the dinner, and my father was one of a number who were asked to respond. Quite a daunting task I would imagine to follow someone who was renowned for his oratory eloquence. I still possess the menu card with Nye’s signature, and can confirm that those present sat down to a meal of tomato soup, and a main course of roast turkey with sprouts and roast and creamed potatoes, followed by Christmas pudding, cheese biscuits and finally coffee. A veritable feast when rationing for certain commodities was still in place!

    1. Great politician Indeed, and got me straight to the answer. Just been hearing about him on The Rest is History podcast. An early and very temporary supporter of Oswald Mosley if I recall!

  18. Stumped by three, HARNESS + two NHO: TARTAR = salt and AIR GUITAR – is there such a thing? No problem with ACQUAINT, and knew PERI not from Iolanthe but Schumann and Dukas.

  19. A handful of seconds over 15 minutes again for a very good QC in my opinion. HARNESS LOI, initially put in SIDE BY SIDE, but TRYST changed that to SIDE TO SIDE, and then COT eventually pointed me in the right direction. I liked BONCE and BOUNCER. Thanks both.

    1. I am in agreement with TheRotter here. A QC that hits the Time crossword ‘lite’ for me perfectly!

  20. Undone by ACQUAINT and AIR GUITAR, despite having the AC and crossers on one and AIR and crossers on t’other, and flying through up to then in under 15 mins.
    For those who have asked, AIR GUITAR is to mime playing a guitar as if in a rock band, generally vigorously and flamboyantly. There is a competition based on this, a search would no doubt provide the details.
    Lots of clues I enjoyed and a grudging smile for the ones I didn’t.

  21. I was another to start quickly and finish slowly. My last two were PERISH and LOI HARNESS, not fully parsed.
    I eventually remembered PERI from earlier puzzles I think; I did see Iolanthe not that long ago and, as mentioned above, a peri has a leading role.
    17 minutes in the end.
    Hard to pick a COD; I liked Air Guitar as I wrote it in, then wondered if the clue really worked.

  22. Zipped through fairly quickly but ground to a halt with LOI BABBLE, finally opting for ‘bubble’, then immediately seeing the correct answer. Biffed but couldn’t parse HARNESS (thanks roly – doh). Remembered PERI from a previous QC I think. Another gal before GEL. A few write-ins (AIR GUITAR, BACK TO BACK, TARTAR, DERRINGERS, PERISH). Favourites were BONCE (top word) and BRIE (for surface and challenge). Tricksy in places. Thanks Izetti and roly.

  23. Failed on ACQUAINT, PERISH and AIR GUITAR. Put ACCUSTOM and NHO PERI. Besides, I didn’t notice I had missed 16d.
    Most of the rest seemed relatively easy, eg we have had DERRINGER recently and I do know Heather=LING. I actually zoomed merrily along at first before coming to grief in the SE.
    Thanks all, esp Roly.

  24. 24:13
    Started really quickly and was hoping to make up for yesterday’s slow solve, then slowed and then stopped at 18:00 ish staring at AIR GUITAR, BOUNCER and BABBLE.
    Persevered, and finally got there.
    I thought BARNET was ‘the hair’ and not a ‘hair style’?
    FOI: 5ac GIFT
    LOI: 13 ac BABBLE
    COD: 12 dn AIR GUITAR (sneaky!)
    Thanks roly and thanks Izetti

      1. Satisfied myself with “nice Barnet” referring to the styling of rather than the actual quality of one’s hair.

  25. I sailed through this in two straight passes, and achieved my fastest time of the week (I missed my 5 minute target on Tuesday – not been posting as I’ve had 5 days away). MER at AIR GUITAR, though it’s an “instrument” that I’ve been guilty of “playing” from time to time!

    TIME 3:52

  26. Same experience as others – started fast but struggled with PERISH, ACQUAINT and HARNESS. All done in 21 minutes or so I thought. However, when I was checking my answers against the blog I doscovered I’d entered CAT at 7ac, despite having parsed COT, so a technical DNF. Couldn’t parse NIGHTCLUB (thanks Rolytoly) and wasn’t keen on the clueing for AIR GUITAR.

    FOI – 5ac GIFT
    LOI – 24ac HARNESS
    COD – 23ac BRIE

  27. 10:08

    Same issues as others with remembering PERI, but eventually did which cancelled out ACCUSTOM and confirmed AIR GUITAR though I didn’t think the clue was great. Needed the ‘If U think Q’ rule to come up with ACQUAINT.

    Thanks Izetti and Roly

  28. An early release from today’s jury service meant I could complete this earlier than usual. A very enjoyable puzzle I felt, slightly tougher than average, but nothing unfair so long as you’ve done a few crosswords before and know staples like Ur, Ling, FT and Tar. Finished with ACQUAINT on 23:48. COD to BOUNCER. Thanks Roly and Izetti.

  29. DNF

    Just couldn’t fill in the gaps in -u-t-r. Gave up after staring for a couple of minutes. Not my greatest hour 😬

    Struggled to see NIGHTCLUB as well but that and ACQUAINT did eventually fall under my target 10 minutes

    Thanks Rolytoly and Izetti

  30. For the first time in what seems like ages, I completed this under target and without a typo! TRYST was FOI. Didn’t know TARTAR was a salt, so put it in with a memo to self to be prepared to remove it again. BOUNCER was LOI, except that during proof reading I noticed that FINNISH had become FNNISHH due to an earlier cock up where GEL had gone into the across clue also screwing up GIFT. After sorting that out I decided to check all the entries closely. Despite that clowning around, I submitted at 7:09, so smiles all round. Thanks Izetti and Roly.

  31. I was quite enjoying this until I got down to my last three: 16, 20 and 24. Aquaint finally succumbed to a pdm, but the other two pennies wouldn’t drop, leaving me with a disappointing DNF. Should really have got Perish, as I had come across Peri for fairy, and that might have prompted a lift and separate moment for Harness, but it was not to be. CoD to 3d, Nightclub for the parsing. Invariant

    1. I couldn’t get the various fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream out of my head which scuppered any thoughts of “Peri”.

  32. Dnf…

    Without reading all the comments above, I guess I’m in similar company to others with regards to 20ac, 16dn, 24ac and 12dn. I eventually figured that 12dn must be “Air Guitar”, but I couldn’t see how it fitted with what I thought was “Accustom” for 20ac. Like Roly, I thought “custom” was good enough for attractively unusual ie. custom built and unique. As a result, I just couldn’t finish it.

    Frustrating really, as to start with I thought I was going great guns for an Izetti.

    FOI – 5ac “Gift”
    LOI – dnf
    COD – 17ac “Crumble” – mainly for the topicality.

    Thanks as usual!

  33. Similar. HARNESS stumped me and I should have biffed PERISH. Might have done if I wasn’t having my mind melted by the other one to stump me TARTAR. But I got ACQUAINT and a few others that might have done for me a few weeks back. COD BONCE.

  34. DNF in the SE but I was listening to the cricket and a little distracted so that’s my excuse. All enjoyable all the same.

    1. Maybe the England players were distracted thinking about their QC answers; not sure how else to account for that performance.

  35. 16:58, over my target but not by much. All my comments have been said by others!

    Thanks to Izetti and rolytoly.

  36. 41.15 The covid is improving but my times aren’t. I started with NOSE-TO-TAIL but it didn’t hold me up much. HARNESS and PERISH were the last two in. Thanks to rolytoly and Izetti.

  37. I actually look forward to an Izetti now as I know it will be hard but fair.
    This one seems relatively easy until I was pulled up short by ACQUAINT making a dnf after an hour.
    Quite agree with Roly about looking for a Q when there’s a U. There was another example recently.

  38. I got completely stuck on the same four clues as our blogger, but over a much longer timescale. I reached that point at around the time I entered the SCC, but was then unable to make any further progress for another 25 minutes. Hiatuses (hiati?) like this are soul-destroying, but I just can’t seem to rid myself of them.

    I finally broke through with PERISH (NHO the fairy) and HARNESS followed straight away. ACQUAINT took another 3-4 minutes, but despite having all the checkers AIR GUITAR remained hidden for another 5 minutes. Total time = 54 minutes, so my awful run continues.

    Eight consecutive finishing times beyond 60% more than my previous medium-term average of just under 30 minutes is not a chance occurrence. It would be like throwing 11 or 12 (i.e. 5/6, 6/5 or 6/6) with two die (a 1 in 12, or 8.3% chance) in a game of Monopoly or Backgammon 8 times in a row. That equates to a probability of roughly 1 in 8.9 trillion, or 0.00000000089%! Whether it’s me or not, something has definitely changed and I’m finding it a little tiresome.

    Many thanks to Izetti and and Roly.

    1. Don’t despair, nearly all of ‘our peers’ are finding them tricky of late. Even Jackkt was on the coach yesterday, and you don’t see that everyday.

    2. Oh dear MrR – you’re not having a good time of it. The Quitch shows 7 of the last 8 to have been over 100 so your run of bad form is backed up by that.

  39. Ah, so now Persian mythology is classed as general knowledge. Somehow my schools left that out! And when did anyone really use GEL to address a female? Maybe I’m too young at 70 for the QC (I was called a snowflake the other day!)

    1. I related the snowflake discussion of a few days ago to Mrs Random. She just said she wished I could “raise my resilience to that of a snowflake”.

  40. Same problem with many others, acquaint, perish. Easier to a degree but still hard work.

  41. I really struggled with this one, and it took repeated returns during the course of the day before I completed it.

    I thought I was going to do it without help, but GARBLING just had me stumped. The clue just seemed so nonsensical to me.

    Once the cat returned home from his daily patrol of his territory, I asked him to take a look, and he gave me an extra hint that enabled me to solve it.

    1. Heather = Ling is absolutely standard in crosswords, so well worth remembering. You then just needed a reversed four letter ‘crow’ to complete the answer (I needed the crossers).

  42. Tackled this in the lunch break during a day in court … the little grey cells seemed stimulated and I came home in 08:31. The RHS went in very fast but the LHS seemed a lot trickier, with long pauses over BABBLE, CRUMBLE and ACQUAINT. COD to BOUNCER, very good.

    Many thanks Izetti and roly.


    PS I was a big player of the air guitar in my early teens. Thank goodness it was before the era of smartphones and social media!

  43. I’m finished with the QC. Today was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    DNF after well over an hour: 4dn, 16dn and 24ac not done. Absolutely nowhere on any of them. Total failure to understand any of the wordplay.

    If so many of you think this was a fair QC, it makes me realise just how bad I am. I found it horrific.

    1. Gary, recent QCs have shaken me a bit, too. Pedro’s offering today (Friday 6th) has been my last straw after too many NVQCs. Good luck, and nil carborundum. John.

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