Times Quick Cryptic No 2538 by Felix

Relatively gentle for Felix, of the usual high quality.

I clocked in at exactly the same time as yesterday (5:37) done just beforehand, which I think is a first, so I’ll be interested to see how close to 85-90ish this ends up on the snitch. I’d put this one as slightly trickier though – I’d certainly have been slower if I’d paused to parse everything, and there were at least three I gave up trying to parse while solving (5d, 13d, 22d).

There was plenty of this setter’s deftly-worded clueing to enjoy; if there’s a theme or nina it eludes me, although the grid certainly looks ripe for one. [Edit: there is indeed one, see sawbill’s post below.] Either way, a lovely puzzle – many thanks to Felix!

Anagram indicators in italics.

1 Direction, as employed in Spielberg film (4)
EAST – AS employed in ET (Spielberg film)
7 Cases to be cracked over breakfast? (9)
EGGSHELLS – cryptic definition
9 After first of month, one’s going to factory (4)
MILL – after M (first of Month), I’LL (one’s going to)
10 Extended November in one’s youth in area of NY (4,6)
LONG ISLAND –  LONG (extended) N(ovember) in I (one) ‘S, LAD (youth)
11 Fair Jordan, initially US tennis’s number one (4)
JUST – J (Jordan initially), US, T (Tennis’s number one)
12 The Samurai strangely far from professional (10)
16 Signal to go eco: not difficult! (5,5)
GREEN LIGHT – GREEN (eco) LIGHT (not difficult)
19 Ruin a Parisian party (4)
UNDO – UN (a, Parisian) DO (party)
21 A barge touring London’s outskirts? It won’t stop until morning (3-7)
ALL-NIGHTER – A, LIGHTER (barge) tours LondoN (outskirts being the outside letters)
23 Nothing fitted round a collar (4)
NAIL – NIL (nothing) fitted round A
24 Volatile, I excel with bat, somehow (9)
EXCITABLE – I EXCEL with BAT somehow
25 Times of bewilderment, we hear (4)
DAYS – we hear the same as DAZE (bewilderment)
2 Super Indian making comeback, regularly getting bye (5)
ADIEU – s U p E r I n D i A n, comeback = reversed, regularly = alternate letters
3 A shopper, perhaps, giving things away (8)
TELLTALE – cryptic definition, with a play on “shopper” as informer
4 Schedule article on sex for broadcast (6)
AGENDA – A (article) on GENDA, which is heard (broadcast) the same as GENDER (sex).
5 Pick the centre out of a cold, brown sweet? (6)
CHOICE – take the centre letter out of CHOc ICE (a cold, brown sweet)
6 Large porter maybe brought up for airline (2,2)
EL AL – L(arge) ALE (porter maybe) brought up = reversed. The Israeli national airline.
8 Assent to reform most reasonable (6)
SANEST – ASSENT to reform
13 NZ bird pinching top from sewing case (3)
TUI – an ETUI is a sewing case, remove the top to get the bird. I’m not sure how well known the bird is, but this is getting pretty close to an obscurity clued by an obscurity – I was only vaguely aware of either from crosswords past.
14 Being elected again is way to secure fresh tenure (8)
RETURNED – RD. (Road = way) to secure a fresh TENURE
15 Interrogated endlessly: that’s grating (6)
GRILLE – GRILLEd (interrogated) “endlessly”
17 Envoy say coming in after hours (6)
LEGATE – EG (say) coming in LATE (after hours)
18 Great eponymous hero keeping pistols near (6)
GATSBY – if you have GATS  BY, you would be keeping pistols near
20 Bloomer turning up in corduroys I admit (5)
DAISY – “turning up in” corduroYS I ADmit
22 Condition to run in (4)
NICK – double definition: the first as in “in good ___”; the second (unknown to innocent old me) means to “arrest and take to a lock up”.

109 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2538 by Felix”

  1. Yeah, nah.

    So much vocab I didn’t know, but the wordplay was all obvious, I just didn’t have the words to fill the gaps. I biffed a ton I couldn’t parse, as well.

    Things I didn’t know: Lighter, Tell-tale being a shopper (!), are ice creams also sweets in the UK?, El Al, Tui or Etui (I feel bad about that one given that NZ is right next door and I like crafts), the second definition of Nick

    My COD is GRILLE.
    Maybe because I can’t get the Tom Cardy Bon Apetit song out of my head. It’s about 20 seconds long and I recommend it heartily

      1. I’m sure that’s what the setter intended, but have you ever seen choc-ice on the menu at a restaurant?

        1. My kids would have the Australian equivalent of a choc ice at home for dessert if they’re being good

  2. I biffed LONG ISLAND & RETURNED, parsed post-submission; biffed ADIEU (LOI) without reading the clue. NHO TUI, but ‘etui’ is, or was, a NYT chestnut, so very familiar. As a QC clue maybe not ideal; I’ll be interested to see comments. 6:15.

    1. I thought an obscure clued by an obscure was too much for a QC – maybe because I did not get it, not knowing either😊

  3. 15:15. I found many very tricky. ADIEU for it’s not so obvious definition and hidden wordplay, CHOICE for the missing centre of choc ice, and AGENDA for the sex as genda. I always thought porter was distinct from ale but elementary research showed my ignorance. One’s going to leading to I’LL is still difficult for me even though it has appeared several times before. TUI was NHO but had to be since etui is fixed in my brain from earlier puzzles.

    1. I remember as a youth that the local pub was only licensed to sell beer, ale and porter.

  4. If TUI is an obscure bird then ‘etui’ is certainly even more obscure as a sewing case. I biffed it anyway on the basis that maybe the travel company isn’t an acronym.

    Still, beaten by LEGATE as not a word I’d heard of and I couldn’t not see an ‘h’ between the G&T so couldn’t biff it either – but that’s my fault.

    I enjoyed TELLTALE but needed some other answers first to help.

    Thanks FELIX and Roly.

    1. I feel like Legate comes up a lot, but I’ve only ever seen it in crosswords. Seems like a handy word with the common letters it has. So any time you see envoy or emissary or diplomat type words keep Legate in mind!

    2. The only times I’ve seen Legate are either as a representative of the Pope (Papal Legate) or as the senior officer of a Roman legion. I’m wondering if Legate is connected etymologically to the much more common Delegate – ie exercising the Pope’s authority in the first case or the Emperor’s (as C-in-C of the Roman army) in the second. Any OED experts able to enlighten us?

      1. Both the SOED (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) and the ODE (Oxford Dictionary of English) shows a similar etymology for both Legate and Delegate as being from the Latin legare

        1. Thanks to everyone who has responded on my LEGATE failure which has slowly made me join the dots on etymology – which is why (for its own sake only) I enjoy this blog.

          Every day is a school day.

          Last week I sat at a media/audience research conference and took a picture of a slide being presented on statistical theory entitled “agglomerative hierarchical clusters” to send back to my colleagues to say ‘for those of you that think I’m on a jolly….’. My wife pointed out that of course I knew the word ‘conglomerate’ and so I shouldn’t have been so bewildered by ‘agglomeration’ which is clearly of the same etymology. She was right. But while still bewildered I felt relatively better educated. I love joining the dots and I’m grateful to those on here who help me do it.

    3. Before WW2 diplomatic missions were often Legations headed by a diplomat of Minister rank as opposed to Embassy headed by an Ambassador. As Cedric says, it would seem the only Legate left is the papal one and he is often called the Papal Nuncio

  5. 6.33 for me. My LOI was the NZ bird, some distant memory must have guided me to put a U into T-I because I immediately got the thumbs up. Unlike almost everybody else I have never heard of etui. Thanks to Roly and Felix.

  6. 9 minutes, so this is the first time in a fortnight I have finished under 10. It may have helped that I didn’t notice the setter’s name until after I had finished or I’d have been looking for a theme as I solved and that might have slowed me down. In any case I haven’t found one.

    ‘Etui’ is a crossword term I seem to have known forever, and long before I switched to The Times from The Telegraph, but TUI as a bird was new to me. The archive reveals it has appeared once before as an answer and once in the wording of a clue, but both puzzles were Jumbos, in 2016 and 2018 before I started doing them regularly.

    I hope someone can shed light on the theme or Nina, if there is one.

    1. I remember seeing a TUI in the 15×15 not long ago. It was clued as:

      Nectar-seeking flier from group of Noctuidae (3)

      Lots of commenters referred to it, mainly in their lists of NHOs. MartinP said “Tuis are lovely birds; like a largish blackbird with a white bib and very tuneful. I see them in the trees and bushes around my flat.”

      It was in the Cryptic 28682 on 15 August

  7. Missing letters made life hard. Bunged in CHOICE – I was miles away thinking of choc ices – and after a couple of vowel trawls whacked in TUI but I didn’t know what was going on. I’m sure I must have met etui here before before it wasn’t kindly clued at either end. Held up at the end by NICK. I should have been in the right area for that after NAIL for collar but wasn’t. Enjoyed ADIEU, hard to find with all those vowels in a reverse hidden. All green a shade under 15.

  8. The Nina centres on The Great GATSBY, LONG ISLAND, DAISY Buchanan, JORDAN Baker (in a clue), EAST EGG, NICK Carraway etc.

    1. Aah so that’s it – well spotted! The Great Gatsby is a(nother) glaring gap in my reading. About the extent of my prior knowledge was that he was clued as “antihero” in the 15×15 not so long ago, so with this new slew of info I’m slowly piecing bits together.

      1. I finally read The Great Gatsby last year. Very disappointing and over hyped in my humble opinion and Gatsby himself is not heroic in any sense.

        1. Certainly he had a lot of flaws but I think in some senses he could be considered heroic. He stays faithful to his first love, Daisy,throughout and even takes the rap for her at the end. And I guess he embodied the “American Dream” of rising from poverty to great wealth.

    2. Well spotted Sawbill, I did wonder about GATSBY, but being short of time today, didn’t follow it up – it has been a lot of years since I read it, so that’s my excuse for not spotting it myself.

  9. Another slow and tricky one for me but eventually completed successfully in about 28 minutes. I pondered long over ALL NIGHTER, but had to admit it was a good clue, even though I didn’t know a lighter was a barge, and EGGSHELLS brought a smile to my wizened lips. My COD was LEGATE.
    So I stay firmly in the SCC but at least I finished and have score of 2/4 so far this tough week.
    Thanks to Roly and Felix.

  10. 19:57
    Bunged in CHOICE at the last second but had no idea how it worked. I chose it over THRIVE on the basis that in slang, the exclamation “choice!” and “sweet!” are equivalent. I had not thought of “pick” as the definition.

    TUI was a ridiculous clue. I knew the bird as my daughter lives in NZ, but I dislike vocabulary that only crossword people know, and ETUI is in that category.

    I liked GATSBY for the definition of “great eponymous”, I always thought a “gat” was an artillery piece, as in Gatling gun. It’s a pistol? Another obscurity that appears a lot.


    1. Hear hear on Tui! An obscure bird (to those of us not in Australasia – apologies to any Kiwis reading this) clued by an obscure term known only to (some) crossword-solvers and which is very seldom seen in real life.

      The issue here is that Felix backed himself into a corner. With T-I to fill in his options were very limited, indeed I can only think of Tai (as in Tai Chi) as an alternative. The problem is that in order to avoid needing to use Tui or Tai he would have needed to unpick Amateurish or Green Light, which no doubt would have led to more undoings, which etc etc.

      I can understand why setters are reluctant to undo large parts of the grid to avoid a single awkward word, but if they do have to use obscure answers I think they have a duty to clue them generously – or at any rate more generously than this clue. How about, for example, “Antipodean bird from that unusual island, initially”?


      1. Hi Cedric. I might have got that one (albeit with a quick dictionary check!). I hope Felix is watching… 👀

        1. I thought when I read your alternative clue starting “You French” you were pointing to TOI as being a word the setter could have used to avoid TUI.

        2. ETUI is the French word for a phone case, which helped me enormously here! (I live in France, and my sister in NZ…)

          1. Huh. Tui is the Vietnamese word for case – which I assume must have been taken from the French (woo colonialism) now that you’ve said this

            Now I will never forget this word.

      2. I find it amazing how much difficulty “Tui” caused. If you know your airlines and have lost your glasses case in France, it’s a cinch. Étui is also a regular Polygon word (gave this up when it was no longer possible to print the electronic format in a sensible way).

    2. Well, I put in the answer thinking that the airline TUI may have taken its name from a bird. How wrong I was. On lookup its name is from Touristik Union International (“Tourism Union International”). Still, a bit of luck today.

  11. Just over 9 minutes, so like Jack glad to be under the 10 minute mark for the first time this week. Well done to sawbill for picking up the theme. No spoilers but there are echoes of today’s 15×15 in one piece of wordplay.

    TUI’s will be well known to Kiwis of both the human and avian variety. They’re very common there and have also given their name to a beer. I thought a GAT was an air rifle, or an abbreviation for a Gatling gun. Like Merlin, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a GAT ‘pistol’, but looking at Wikipedia there is indeed a Gat air pistol.

    Thanks to Felix for a confidence builder (even if I did miss the theme) and to Roly

    1. I’ve known “gat” for “pistol” forever, but then I did read a lot of Raymond Chandler in my youth (sample – “You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail” – Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep).

  12. Steady going with couple of tricky bits of parsing, which I missed.
    Having read the blog ETUI does ring a very vague bell from a previous QC, but I didn’t know it then and had forgotten it today so I relied on the MangoMan approach to the unknown bird and based my answer on the travel company! Also failed to parse CHOICE.
    I assumed the theme would be based on The Great Gatsby due to 18d but having never read it, it went over my head – thanks to Sawbill for the enlightenment.
    I always think it’s a sign of a good puzzle when you read through a lot of the clues thinking you’ll never be able to solve them but on closer reading and with a checker or two they start to make sense and this was the case today.
    Finished with a tentative TUI in 8.03.
    Thanks to Roly

  13. Wow. Another really tough one. DNF after 25 mins, with 4 unsolved.
    Could not get EAST, ADIEU, TELLTALE, NICK.
    Others I got, but could not parse eg CHOICE, ELAL (porter for ale?), GATSBY (gats for pistols?), LONG ISLAND.
    NHO TUI, but had, incredibly, heard of étui.

    Maybe it’s just me, but when a blogger uses words like gentle, easy, simple, straightforward etc, I always find them really tough. I mean I get most of the clues pretty quickly, but it’s the 5 or 6 at the end that take 80% of the time (gotta love Pareto, right? ☺️).

    Anyway, It’s a lovely cold day today ❄️. Much fun to be had outside.

  14. 9:45 (Hywel Dda meets with legal experts to standardise the laws of Wales)

    A good crossword, apart from my LOI TUI, where I had never heard of the sewing case or the bird. I biffed the correct answer, based on the name of the travel company. Biffed CHOICE, but couldn’t parse it.

    Thanks Roly and Felix

    1. That’s depressing-somehow I had always visualized 10th century Wales as a blessed lawyer-free land.

  15. DNF after 10

    Already some minutes staring at _h_i_e. Just couldn’t make anything of it. Is a choc-ice a sweet? Not convinced but still should have got it.

    Toughish I thought. ETUI somewhere in the recesses.

    Thanks Felix and RT

  16. 11 minutes, which is less time than a Felix puzzle usually takes me, but not all parsed. I’m not sure whether that makes me agree with Roly that it was “relatively gentle” or not. But I did find it an uneven puzzle – some clues were very definitely on the gentle side, even for a QC, and others were far from straightforward. I only got Adieu with a long alphabet search (and never saw the hidden even after doing so), I was not aware of Gats being guns and I have commented on Tui against Merlin’s post above. So a bit of a curate’s egg for me, even if quite a fast finish.

    Many thanks Roly for the blog

    1. I always associated ‘gat’ with hard-boiled detective stories (Spillane, Hammett, …) where it meant some sort of handgun; it was only years later that I thought there might be an etymological connection with the Gatling gun.

  17. I got all bar two of the acrosses first up so was hoping for a quick time, but came to a shuddering halt on LOIs CHOICE and TUI. Biffed “choose” at first pass but then that didn’t fit with LONG ISLAND when I got it, so had a rethink. I thought CHOICE was probably right but for a long time could only see an I in CHOC (for the brown sweet) and just could not make it work. PDM eventually!

    Got there for 07:15 for 1.15K and a Pretty Good Day.

    Many thanks Felix and roly.


  18. 5:02. LOI NICK. I liked the hollow CHOcICE and the amateur Samurai. Thanks Felix and Roly.

  19. Just crept under the 10 minutes. Tough. Fortunately tui a write in as I knew the sewing case. Thanks all.

  20. 10:46

    I forgive myself for egs shells.
    COD choc ice
    LOI legate

    Worst cod: tui. Awful. As mentioned obscure clued by obscure.
    Suggest: Kiwi bird, held back in Maori utensil.

  21. Trotted through then slowed before PDMs with EGGSHELLS, CHOICE and luckily biffed NHO TUI, but, yes, it should have been clued more generously.
    Missed the GATSBY theme, though it is a novel I know well. Oh dear.
    Liked NICK, GREEN LIGHT (does Gatsby stare across the water at a light on Daisy’s jetty?)
    Thanks vm, Roly. London bobbies often say ‘you’re nicked’ when they catch the bad dude on TV.

    1. Yes, he spends a lot of evenings/nights staring across the water at her light. He bought his palatial pile solely because its location offered him this opportunity.

  22. Quite nippy today finishing in a time of 7.14. I had to repair a bit of damage on the way where I biffed CHOOSE for 5dn, but LONG ISLAND showed me the error of my ways. The only time I’ve ever seen ETUI referred to is in crosswordland, but it’s been so well used over the years it’s embedded in my brain. If not for this knowledge I would probably have gone wrong with TUI by opting for a different middle letter.

  23. Not a scooby how CHOICE worked – I had the C from cold, the H crosser and ICE = sweet and bunged in the O to get CHOICE from definition. You could have given me 2o mins and I wouldn’t have got CHOC ICE from “cold brown sweet”! Had heard of TUI, but not ETUI, must file that away.

    I liked EGGSHELLS, being a fan of the cryptic definition.


  24. 8:51

    Mostly straightforward but struggled with four. Took a little working out to see the parsing of JUST, but had no idea about the parsing of 2d ADIEU. Failed also to see the parsing of CHO(C)ICE – I had C and ICE for sweet, wondering how brown might relate to HO. I’m another who has NHO etui, however I was under the notion that the travel company was named after a bird (turns out, it isn’t, according to Wikipedia at least), so after checking that there were no other possibilities, bunged it in.

    As for the nina, I had read GATSBY years and years ago and have seen the more recent film, but it still totally passed me by – might have linked GATSBY, LONG ISLAND and DAISY but no others.

    Thanks Felix and Roly

  25. GR to TUI. I didn’t know either etui or tui – both far too obscure for a QC in my opinion. Had that been more generously clued I would have finished in about 7 minutes which is incredibly fast for a Felix QC. I didn’t bother to look for the nina because I was in such a mood and came straight to the blog to understand TUI. Might have actually spotted this one for a change.

  26. Found this a struggle although did finish eventually. Totally foxed by wordplay for CHOICE and NHO etui/TUI so will file both away. Also biffed EL AL and needed blog to remind me of porter for ale. Many thanks all.

  27. I thought this was very difficult and guessed quite a few with no real idea of the parsing. Amazed to find all guesses correct! Imagine quite a few DNFs today, despite our blogger finding it easy.

  28. A similar experience to Roly and others, except I did parse NICK! Etui? Now come on Felix – once I read Roly’s comment, I thought: Yes, I’ve seen that word, but I would never have known / remembered what it meant. One for the biggie? I had a vague memory of TUI so the bird went in very tentatively, but I think that is a stinker of a clue in a quickie. I never did work out CHOICE.
    Otherwise this was another fairly straightforward one for me – I forgot to put the timer on but think it was about 8 minutes. Just for once I got the nina, and that was before I’d even finished the crossword 😊
    The discussion above about sweets is interesting – I don’t think of things like choc ices, or ice creams and lollies on sticks as sweets, but not pudding / dessert either. So I’m not sure how to define them – treats perhaps?
    FOI East LOI Tui COD Amateurish
    I reckon the real clue of the day is 1a in the biggie – I haven’t got very far with it today, but that was a cracker 😂

    Later: I have abandoned the biggie! IMO the best clue was the first one 😂

  29. Unlike many others, I didn’t find this easy and went over target at 16 minutes. Unusually, though, I had no problems with TUI / etui or with CHO(c)ICE. The first I just knew, and the second because one of Mrs R’s specialities is to make homemade fudge ripple choc ices for sweet / dessert when we entertain at occasional dinner parties with neighbours and friends. My biggest problem was insisting on reading the clue for 21 across whilst looking at the checkers I had for 24 across, and not being able to make any sense of it. That, and the unhelpful grid anyway. Thanks Roly and Felix.

  30. Found this the most tricky for a while and certainly didn’t like some clues. Have been going QC for a few years but don’t remember etui, gat etc. Agree that obscure words that are known to lifelong crossword solvers should not be encouraged.

  31. Fortunately I knew ETUI from its several outings in the 15×15, so TUI was no problem. I missed the theme as usual, despite reading the book many years ago. EAST was FOI and NICK was LOI. 8:00. Thanks Felix and Roly.

  32. DNF. I gave up at 25 minutes with ADIEU and CHOICE still outstanding. I had no idea what was going on with either of these clues or indeed which end of the clues to look at for the definition. In general I found the top half very tricky after the bottom half had gone in quite quickly. NHO the NZ bird but knew the sewing case, so I didn’t have to resort to guesswork for that one. Gats for pistols was lodged somewhere in my store of vocabulary that I would never use, so that one also posed no particular problem. Didn’t see the nina – in my defence it’s a long time since I read the book/saw the film, and anyway I never do.

    FOI – 1ac EAST
    LOI – DNF
    COD – nothing stood out for me and in fact I found a lot of the clues vague and/or clumsy

  33. 28 mins…

    However, based on the last few weeks, I was just pleased to finish. Main hold ups were in the SW corner with 21ac “All-Nighter” (these days I can barely make it to 9pm), 22dn “Nick” and 17dn “Legate”. Had doubts about 23ac “Nail”, but couldn’t see what else it could be.

    Is Long Island technically an area of NY like, say, Manhattan or the Bronx? I guess it’s part of the state, so I’m probably being pendantic.

    FOI – 1ac “East”
    LOI – 22dn “Nick”
    COD – 5dn “Choice”

    Thanks as usual!

    1. Only parts of Long Island(Brooklyn and Queens) are in New York City, but all of it is in New York State.

  34. All green in 30:03 (this is a good time for me!) with only 1 brief look to verify TUI was a real word and not just a travel agent. I only knew LEGATE as a Roman officer, and “Gat” as in Gatling Gun which isn’t a pistol but I seemed to be on Felix’s wavelength for the rest which made it a very enjoyable solve. Favourite was CHO(C)ICE, bringing back childhood memories of having one in a bowl for pudding with strawberry sauce squeezed over it.

  35. DNF. I couldn’t see CHOICE or GATSBY. No problem with etui, but NHO the bird, so I looked it up to be sure it does exist. Was expecting EMU when I saw a three letter Kiwi bird but I see from research that it’s only found in Australia.

    1. I biffed MOA on first pass as a 3 letter bird that actually is (or at least was) from NZ.

  36. A messy, hop around the grid solve that took a good 25 mins, but with Tai for the unknown bird. A terrible clue that fully deserves a GR. Invariant

      1. Golden Raspberry, a term coined by an erstwhile contributer here as a (significant) step up from a simple MER. Felix is building up quite a collection !

  37. DNF for me on this one for much the same reasons as others having difficulties. I’ve never heard of ETUI or TUI and guessed the wrong vowel between T and I. Also didn’t get GATSBY. I’ve never read it or seen the film and I certainly didn’t know a GAT was a pistol. Given my lack of literature knowledge I wasn’t going to see the theme. Now give me maths, science or classical music ….

    Thanks to Felix and Roly.

  38. Managed to solve this one in two sittings, not needing the cat’s help, which is just as well as he’s been asleep in his cat bed for much of the morning. After pestering me for a Tesco Cat Stick!

    Never heard of the NZ bird, but I am sure there’s an airline called TUI, not sure if it’s a carrier from NZ. But it was flying related and so stuck it in.

    The only one that caused me real problems was CHOICE. A good clue.

    An enjoyable QC. Quite tricky but nevertheless a good one.

    1. TUI is a travel company that operates flights and stands for Travel Union International. Nothing to do with birds, so I’d say you got lucky. I did exactly the same.

  39. My first time this week to finish – 16 mins and v pleased with that. Biffed tui, choice and adieu as best guesses, and legate rang a distant bell from previous crosswords.
    Found light a bit weak for not difficult.
    COD Eggshells

  40. Struggling to enjoy the QC at the moment. Scraped in under 35mins today – that’s the 8th puzzle in the last 17 taking over 30mins. The same as I had across the whole of Aug/Sep/Oct.

    The positive is that November saw 20/22 solves which is the best since I started exactly two years ago. I can attribute a little bit of the slowness to being more careful this month, but most of the time it’s been fly into it and then spend a long time staring and picking off answers. I’m hoping it’s just a stage of the learning curve.

    Today was typical. Had pretty much only the SW left around 12mins. Finally got that done but then spent last 15mins alphabet trawling NICK and CHOICE. Talked myself out of the latter around 22-23mins as “to pick” would be “to choose” but also considered that when you pick, you make a choice – just couldn’t see what was going on with the cold, hard sweet so I completed trawling before choosing which word to fit – at which point I saw choc-ice.

    Obligation to the spreadsheet is the only thing that keeps me going with these at the moment …

    PS Went back and did Orpheus Tuesday puzzle this afternoon which I couldn’t face at the time. Fairly pleased with 24min especially after seeing other comments on the blog. Pleased to be reminded by my LOI of Ferris and … “9 times” … “wake up and smell the coffee Mrs Bueller, he’s just leading you down the …”

    1. Its easy to fit ET into a clue than say “The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain”

  41. 20.40 I found this tough. CHOICE was parsed after submission, GAT was new to me and I had no idea how TUI worked. CHOICE and GATSBY accounted for much of my time. Thanks rolytoly and Felix.

  42. DNF. Gave up in despair / disgust after half an hour. TUI and ETUI? GATS for pistols? LIGHTER for barge? Clearly I don’t have the vocabulary for this.

    1. Hopefully you won’t need Tui (Etui) and Gats/gun again for a few years, but Lighter/barge comes up more regularly, so it’s certainly worth remembering. Just a small sub-set of the new language that comes with this game.

  43. 5.12. A very biffable crossword for me. Like Jack I seem to have known etui for ever for some reason, but like many have never heard of the bird. I can see why people would be irritated.
    I liked green light, but COD To NICK for its brevity and simplicity.

  44. 22:18

    Well I didn’t find this gentle. A good couple of minutes over target and failed to parse ADIEU and LOI TUI which owed as much to luck as judgement.

  45. Found this hard but did finish in 11 minutes. Gatsby, Nick and TUI were last in – with the latter got by a lucky (and wrong) thought that the airline TUI may have been named after a bird. It actually stands for Touristik Union International (“Tourism Union International”).

  46. Finished after 40 minutes, 15 spent on TUI (I guessed correctly but take zero pleasure from that).

    If that was gentle, then I’m wasting my time here.

    This is now like walking through glue with my feet tied together – every day! Heading for another 3 hour plus week.

    Too fed up to moan any more. ☹️☹️☹️

    1. I had almost exactly the same experience, Mr A. Somehow reached just one to go (T_I) after a veritable biff-fest. I had no idea how to parse many of the clues, but I guessed correctly. I worked on T_I for nearly 10 minutes before plumping for TUI purely from TUILAGI of rugby fame. 38 minutes for me, but I’ll never know how it wasn’t a DNF.

      1. Well done for finishing. Interesting to see how you got to TUI. I was trying to think of the most Māori-sounding of the possibles!

  47. Three DNF’s in a row for me – found today’s very tricky indeed with six blanks! One away yesterday and Tuesdays was an awful performance. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

  48. A small sewing case is or rather was normally referred to as an “Ussiff” (a homophone clue)

    1. I was going to mention that in my early comment but forgot. I can’t say I’ve heard it said as your spelling suggests though, since its actually spelt ‘Housewife’ and would normally be pronounced Hussiff I think.

Comments are closed.