Times Quick Cryptic No 2547 by Oink

Solving time: 4:42

Enjoyable and thought-provoking fare from Oink, though I am expecting some fast times from the speed merchants. I do like crosswords that throw up a word or two that leave one wondering how on Earth it or its definition came to exist.

If your favourite clues are double definitions, you’ll enjoy the acrosses. If though, you prefer anagrams, you’ll be better served by the downs. Personally, I liked 12a and 20d which are neither…

How was it for you?

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

7 Sure to be above zero (8)
POSITIVE – Double definition, the second referring to numbers
8 Some holiday a help for Indian nanny (4)
AYAH – Hidden [Some] in holiday a help
9 Rob’s winter garment (6)
FLEECE – Double definition, the former referring to swindling someone out of their money (since ca. 16th century), the latter being seen very recently in the 152.
10 Run off with Penelope, abandoning writer (5)
ELOPEPENELOPE without [abandoning] PEN (writer)
11 Sailor starts to take another rum (3)
TAR – Initial letters of [starts to] T{ake} A{nother} R{um}
12 Creepy, a bit like CIA agent? (6)
SPOOKY – A CIA agent could be informally referred to as a SPOOK, so to be a bit like a CIA agent would be to be SPOOK-Y
14 Still following the Spanish team? (6)
ELEVENEVEN (Still) following EL (Spanish for ‘the’)
16 Secluded spot for a break (6)
RECESS – Double definition plus a few linking words

Back in the 1530s, RECESS was a noun meaning ‘the act of going back or away‘. The meaning of ‘period of stopping from usual work‘ is from the 1620s, probably from the parliamentary notion of “recessing” into private chambers. A ‘place of retirement or seclusion‘ followed soon after in the 1630s.

The meaning of ‘niche or inward indentation‘ came much later in the 1690s.

18 Donkeys carrying first of the goods (6)
ASSETSASSES (Donkeys) carrying first letter of T{he}
19 American soldier quietly retreating? Horrible chap! (3)
PIG – GI (American soldier) P (quietly i.e. musical notation short for piano) all reversed [retreating]

Our setter’s signature porcine reference…

20 Country got hospital and new area, first of all (5)
GHANA – First [letters] of all [words] i.e. G{ot} H{ospital} A{nd} N{ew} A{rea}
21 In the end, ambassador will make you try again (6)
REHEARHE (ambassador i.e. His/Her Excellency) in REAR (end)

The definition REHEAR is as in the re-examination of a case in court.

‘will make you’ seems to exist only to improve the surface, though I guess it could be interpreted as ‘will provide you with an answer to the definition of’….

23 Very very ordinary (2-2)
SO-SOSO (very) x 2

Are SO and VERY every really used the same way? There is a formality distinction where using so suggests a degree of familiarity that isn’t necessarily present with very.

“I’m very sorry.” might be used to express condolences at the funeral of an acquaintance, while “I’m so sorry!” might be used when telling a friend you are running late.

Alternative views welcome…

24 See great changes in cheapest class (8)
STEERAGE – Anagram [changes] of SEE GREAT

Unsurprisingly, STEERAGE stems from the part of a ship where the steering apparatus was in the 17th century i.e. below deck. When the deck wheel was introduced in the early 18th century, moving the steering apparatus above, the former below deck area became the habitation of inferior officers evolving by the beginning of the 19th century into the section of a ship with the cheapest accommodation.

1 Cops all high on E pass out? (8)
COLLAPSE – Anagram (high) of COPS ALL on E

‘on’ is apposite as this is a down clue

‘high’ as an anagram indicator exists in List of anagram indicators | Cryptipedia | Fandom – i.e. nearly every word in the English language is an anagram indicator – you’ll drive yourself mad if you look at this for too long!

2 Nip of absinthe occasionally? (4)
BITE – Every other letter [occasionally] of aBsInThE
3 Precision displayed by iconic E-type (6)
NICETY – Hidden in [displayed by] iconic etype

NICETY isn’t the first word I would have thought of as a definition of Precision but as a fine or subtle detail or distinction, I guess it amounts to the same thing.

4 Serious cut on end of nose (6)
SEVERESEVER (cut) on last letter of [end of] {nos}E
5 Noblewoman unexpectedly bears son (8)
BARONESS – Anagram [unexpectedly] of BEARS SON
6 Drugs we hear to bring you peace (4)
EASE – Homophone [we hear] of Es (Drugs i.e. more than one tab of MDMA aka Ecstasy)
13 Technician a trooper shot (8)
OPERATOR – Anagram [shot] of A TROOPER
15 Alienate troublesome sergeant (8)
ESTRANGE – Anagram [troublesome] of SERGEANT
17 Son charges back with ecstasy in short supply (6)
SPARSES (Son) RAPS (charges i.e. criminal) all reversed [back] then E (ecstasy)
18 A sin? Certainly (6)
AGREEDA GREED (sin i.e. one of the seven deadly sins)
20 A heavy? Pull the other one! (4)
GOONGO ON! (Pull the other one!)

GOON was a sailor’s word for albatrosses and similar big, clumsy birds. From the mid-1930s, the GOONs were characters in the Popeye comic strip “Thimble Theater”, the most famous being the slow-witted and muscular Alice the GOON who began as the assistant of the Sea Hag (a nemesis of Popeye).

Later senses of the word possibly all stem from this – the sense of GOON as “hired thug” is first recorded in 1938 (in reference to union “beef squads” used to cow strikers in the Pacific Northwest). GOON was also used among American and British POWs in WWII when referencing their German guards.

According to Spike Milligan, the title “The Goon Show” was also inspired by Alice the GOON.

22 Fabulous runner caught napping in race (4)
HARE – A cryptic allusion (Fabulous) to Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the HARE” in which the HARE’s overconfidence is his downfall when challenged to a race by the tortoise.

In case you’ve never heard of it, I won’t spoil the ending…


75 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2547 by Oink”

  1. 12:35. A lot friendlier than the two previous quickies. EASE was hardest for me as I was going over the alphabet many times for the first letter but kept overlooking E. I thought snoopy first before I saw SPOOKY. I’m curious about 15 squared (can’t type the small raised 2). 225 A.D. or B.C. ? Plenty of interesting facts in the blog-thanks, very informative!

    1. Arghhh I fell on GOON (had good, as in a heavy good, as didn’t understand the definition/wordplay; I’m still not convinced I got it). The rest was relatively easy, maybe too many anagrams (I prefer the Fleece and Recess 😃).
      By the way, was there a self reference with Pig?
      (Edited: only now I read your commentary properly, and you had already mentioned it, now I look like a goon 😂)

  2. Oink! My friend, my pal, my reliable trusty piggy mate, when morale was low and all seemed lost, Oink has come to us newbies 😀


    Many of those minuted spent on EASE where _A_E suggested a one syllable word with an ‘a’ sound in the middle. I was beginning to wonder if there was some ye olde English slang for drugs I didn’t know!

    I didn’t really know the definition of NICETY and RECESS was my LOI.

    I really tried to have Rob’s winter garment be some sort of ‘stole’ but it didn’t fit

    I use so and very interchangbly but I would not use ‘so’ in a business email or anything.

    Also I was pleased to know that Spook isn’t just the Australian term for a spy, we have lots of words for occupations that probably aren’t used elsewhere eg Chippy (carpenter) and Sparky (electrician)

    1. ‘Chippy’ for carpenter is very common in the UK, but usually ‘sparks’ rather than ‘sparky’ for electrician or ship’s radio officer. Both terms seem to have been around forever.

      ‘Spook’ for spy is a little more recent I think, but we are well familiar with it. There was a hit BBC-TV series called Spooks that ran for 86 episodes over 10 years (2002-2011) which was surely shown in Australia.

      1. Oh that’s good to know! I’m constantly editing my words online to make them more internationally intelligible and good to know those words are understood where you are

        I do recall Spooks! It would have been shown on our public broadcast station also though by then I was no longer watching TV that came through an antenna….

  3. Great time from Mike, I found this quite tough and finished in 11.06 having been required to track down a mystery typo which was eventually found in AYAH. Main hold-ups were LOsI OPERATOR and SPOOKY. Not sure about NICETY/precision, to me the former means something particular while the latter is a general state. But hey, I’m not so, or very, or even all that fussed. After last Friday’s brutal 15×15 it was nice to see a definition of FLEECE that I actually understood straight away. Thanks to both.

  4. 17:14 for yet another slowish time. Today it was RECESS, FLEECE and HARE that did for me but even POSITIVE was slow to come, so it clearly wasn’t my day. I liked the ‘iconic E-type’ in 3d and the surface for GOON.

    SO for ‘very’? “That tofu burger was so / very good!” (Really?)

    Thanks to Mike (yes, great time), including for the interesting background information to STEERAGE, RECESS and GOON, and to Oink.

  5. 12 minutes excluding the parsing of SPARSE which I had to return to later. I lost quite a bit of time on my LOI, HARE, as it required an alphabet trawl, and again after the event, I needed to look up and remind myself of the detail of the fable to understand fully how the clue worked.

  6. Another DNF. This is turning out to be a terrible week for me. I gave up after my cut off point of 30 minutes with SEVERE, REHEAR, ELEVEN and POSITIVE not parsed. In fairness to Oink, these were all fine clues. It’s just that my brain didn’t seem to be in gear this morning. Well done to others with good times.
    Thanks to Mike and Oink.

  7. Something a bit more approachable after a couple of tricky days. Sped through this with my only minor hold ups being my last two – REHEAR and HARE. Like our blogger I particularly enjoyed SPOOKY and GOON.
    Finished in 4.56
    Thanks to Mike

    1. Blistering time- well done!
      Pleased it’s not just us in the SCC that got held up on REHEAR and HARE 😊

  8. Maybe it’s the preChristmas drinks that are doing for me but it really feels like these quickies are getting harder and harder. Defeated yesterday and today by too many clues to list. Still, thanks Oink and Mr H.


    Like Tina I wanted the winter garment to be a stole and I tried endless variations around that before reluctantly giving up the idea … at which moment the answer became obvious …

    So FLEECE was LOI and the only other hold ups were RECESS and SPOOKY. Those did enough to deprive me of a rare sub-6, but I’ll take 06:07 and it’s a Very Good Day.

    Many thanks Oink and Mike. The Quitch is running at 88 so this is a friendly one.


  10. 4:30. On the gentle side. Held up by 1D trying to find a word meaning Cops from an unlikely looking collection of letters for an anagram. Otherwise, after a slow start, it all fell into place smoothly enough. Thanks Oink and Mike.

  11. Must have got out of bed on the wrong side this morning as this was a DNF (2 missing) or more accurately a CBB (Couldn’t be bothered), as I cut my losses without even trying the last two too hard. The culprits were Ease (there are nearly 200 words that go -A-E and if you don’t see a homonym fairly quickly there is zero to go on to help you) and Goon, which I would never have got as I DK the meaning Goon = Heavy.

    Rest of puzzle took just 7 minutes, despite yet another portcullis grid (does the crossword editor ever read these comments?), so I agree that in general, a much easier offering from Oink than recent puzzles. And if you see the homonym and know Goon, you will finish with a fast time and think “nice gentle puzzle”. But I didn’t and didn’t.

    Many thanks Mike for the blog.

  12. All except 2 done in under 4, then a minute and 10 on my last 2, REHEAR and HARE. Seemed to be anagram heavy, which can catch me out.

    Nice change after 2 tougher ones.

    edit: Just got enormously breezeblocked on the concise too, to the extent that I just gave up, only to realise that I had misread a single word clue as “confusion” instead of “contusion” – maybe I should wear my glasses more often…


  13. Lovely to be able to do the first five in order – a kind of mini-PB.
    The difficult ones were COLLAPSE (high = anagram?!) and REHEAR (= try again?!).
    Much more enjoyable than the last two days, though.

  14. Enjoyed this – definitely tricky in parts but, unlike yesterday’s, very fair! Thanks Oink and Mike!

  15. Another DNF for me due to RECESS at 25 minutes. After looking at the two Es and an S for 5 minutes I decided it was not worth it and came to enjoy Mike’s fabulous blog. Thanks for the background information Mike, great stuff.
    COD to POSITIVE which was my LOI (or last but one with the missing RECESS) because I could not get the temperature meaning of above zero out of my head. Hey ho.

  16. 8:20 (birth of Rhodri Mawr, King of Gwynedd)

    After two very hard QCs, nice to be back to a gentle one. Like several others, I tried to fit STOLE into 9a.
    LOI was 7a – I had my physics hat on rather than my maths one, and wasted time looking for words ending in ICE.

    Thanks Mike and Oink

  17. Stuck on REHEAR/HARE and RECESS and NHO AYAH, but guessable from the clue. More entertaining puzzle than the last couple.

  18. Needed help to finish with EASE and a few others but enjoyable mostly. Liked GOON, FLEECE, HARE, NICETY, STEERAGE. ELOPE made me smile.
    Thanks vm, Mike. Good you avoided a spoiler re the ending of the Hare and Tortoise story.

    1. It’s a grid that doesn’t have words along the top row and/or the bottom row, therefore making it look a bit like a portcullis or a trellis or lattice

      They’re hard because getting 1 across is not going to give you any starting letters for your down clues

  19. I was zooming along quite happily with about six minutes elapsed and just two to do, when the fog descended over my last two 21ac and 22dn. It took a further three minutes before the fog finally lifted and I managed to get HARE. A further 20 seconds or so, and REHEAR finally came to mind. My time in the end was a reasonable (for me) 9.30, but I was left with the feeling it should have been so much quicker. I saw the hidden for AYAH quite quickly (unusual for me), but didn’t have the confidence to put it in until I had both checkers in place.

  20. Well into the SCC by the time I reached my last three: Hare, Ease and Recess. The first two came after a bit of careful thought, but sadly by then the well of inspiration was exausted and *e*e*s remained unsolved. Nothing wrong with the clue, just couldn’t see it. CoD to Rehear for the surface – Reheat got short shrift. Invariant

  21. 10:43
    Got stuck on positive, rehear, and recess although recess is a chestnut.

    Had a question mark next to goon, but I was hearing “go on go on…” from Mrs Doyle in Father Ted, and that was good enough.

    COD positive.

  22. I thought this was a middle of the road puzzle, leading to a middle of the road time for me of 18 minutes. I found it mostly straightforward but with some rather more testing clues. Still a relief after the last 2 so called ‘quick’ cryptics.

    FOI – 8ac AYAH
    LOI – 22dn HARE
    COD – 20dn GOON. Also liked POSITIVE and AGREED

    Thanks to Oink and to Mike for his great blog

  23. 22:37
    I thought I was going to be under my 20min target time with 7 clues left after 10mins and then 2 left after 15mins.
    It felt like I was staring forever at REHEAR (trying to remember the abbreviation for ambassador) and HARE (looking for an ‘R’ caught in ‘race’).
    Loved the Goons (Goon Show), especially Spike, and never knew the origin of the name – thanks Mike.
    FOI: 18ac ASSETS
    LOI: 22dn HARE
    COD: 12ac SPOOKY
    Thanks to Oink and Mike

  24. Not too bad, but did need the cat’s help with a couple of clues.

    Didn’t like 3d at all.

  25. I’m not sure why I bunged in absolute instead of POSITIVE on the first across but it didn’t hold me up for long. However I had a brain freeze at the HARE/REHEAR crossing. There was a PDM when I saw HARE but my misinterpretation of the clue for REHEAR (where I thought ‘in the end ambassador’ supplied the R) dragged out the solve to 8:03.

  26. 9.45 All quite straightforward. RECESS was LOI. I’m roughly halving my time each day this week so I’m looking forward to Friday’s taking three minutes. Thanks Mike and Oink.

  27. My favourite setter came up trumps again, and I even got a name check! Well, I don’t think I can really claim that but obviously it raised a smile.
    So much fun today – I really liked POSITIVE, ELOPE, TAR, SPOOKY – that’s just for starters. A few jumped straight out – ESTRANGE, TAR, SO-SO – but others took a bit more puzzling – POSITIVE, RECESS, REHEAR, so all in all a nice mix.
    FOI Ayah LOI Collapse COD Rehear 9:13. I decided to go for enjoyment rather than speed today, and I’m glad I did!
    Many thanks Oink and Mike, especially for the extra details which were very / so / really interesting 😊

  28. DNF. Was on fire for the first 10 mins, then totally breezeblocked by EASE and REHEAR.
    I find the Quitch doesn’t help me predict my overall time. It just indicates how quickly I’ll grind to a screeching halt on the last 2 or 3 clues, at which I stare blankly, thinking WTF, until I give up.

  29. DNF – submitted on 30:46 with 2 blanks (EASE and HARE) and 1 incorrect (guessed at REPEAT rather than REHEAR). More of a case of running out of lunch time than giving up, but it would’ve taken me a while to get those two. Fun puzzle though, I enjoyed it.

    NHO NICETY meaning “precision” but couldn’t be anything else, and pleased I got SPARSE as I tend to struggle with clues where you have to reverse things.

  30. 6th ‘portcullis’ in 6 QCs. Must be deliberate.

    After a tough few days this was a QC worthy of the name. Off to a decent start with POSITIVE and the (NHO) AYAH, albeit faintly written in. I enjoyed SPOOKY, NICETY and HARE, but EASE, GOON, and REHEAR (my LOI) caused me some grief.

    Interestingly (although only mildly so), whilst I got GOON from the definition and never saw GO ON, Mrs Random got it only from the wordplay – she DNK it as a word for a thug/minder/bouncer/heavy.

    Time = 27 minutes

    Thanks to Oink and Mike.

    1. I understand that 1a isn’t the only thing that’s positive in your house 🤒 So sorry to hear that you and Mrs R aren’t well and hope you get better soon. Under the circs, your time is really first class 😊

  31. Here we go again…..

    Utterly awful performance. 42 mins of hell, made all the worse when I saw the Snitch score (easy) and the times of other solvers with whom I hope to be on a par. The lack of improvement is an absolute killer.

    Nothing is going right for me and this is shaping up to be the worst week since I started solving without aids. 2 hours, 34 mins so far, with absolutely no confidence going forward.

    Some of the comments about how approachable others found this just make me want to give up. If this was straightforward then I really am stuck in reverse gear.

    Struggled with so many today. LOI was RECESS but so many others took forever (EASE,FLEECE, SPOOKY, REHEAR, GOON, HARE, SEVERE)

    I’ve tried everything – being positive, not caring about my time, relaxing, appreciating the quality of the puzzle. NOTHING WORKS – I just haven’t got the mental ability. The gap between my expectations and the daily reality is now a yawning chasm, with absolutely no improvement. Either I see the clue immediately or I struggle mightily. As soon as I don’t get a clue, I am all at sea, often being incapable of working out what type of clue it is. I am also unable to remember all the standard abbreviations/synonyms, despite religiously recording them every day for the last 3 years!

    I am dreading tomorrow and Friday.

    I would love to come on here and say something positive, but my optimism tank is empty. I am so embarrassed at my inability to show any competence at the QC, despite trying so hard to achieve a modicum of respectability.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Nah then nah then, from one novice to another, it is quite the learning curve, but I find myself stuck, stuck, stuck, and then for some reason something clicks in my brain and a puzzle goes just one notch better than the ones before.

      I try to focus on why I’m doing them – the fun of the wordplay and so forth.

      1. Thanks Steel City, I appreciate your comments. Thing is I’m not really a novice. I’ve been doing these puzzles for over 3 years and was making reasonable progress until early this Summer, since when it’s been a steady decline. I keep hoping to turn a corner but it just never seems to happen.

        1. I do think they’ve definitely got harder this past year or two. I used to breeze through in 10-15 minutes, but now 15 minutes is an achievement and 10 is almost unheard of. I did put it down to post-chemo brain fog at the outset, following a health blip in 2021, but can no longer blame it on that.

        2. I appreciate you not taking offense at my wrong assumption! (Is this the internet or am I dreaming?)

    2. You finished, and 42 mins is ok. I understand you think you should complete quicker.
      I think you need to decide if you enjoy doing them though.
      Lots of people set a cut off time because of work etc.
      If this is relevant to you then maybe set a convenient cut off time, say 30 mins or whatever, then just see how many you get in that time. Thats what I do for the 15×15, if I stuck at it until finished I would not enjoy it and be sacked!

      1. Thanks flashman. Yes, that might be a sensible step for me to take. I have tried this before but didn’t stick to it when I found that, if I had just one or two clues left, I would carry on. Perhaps I need to be more disciplined in future.

        1. Gary, I’m sure that you do this already, but take a break when stuck. It often helps when you come back to it a few hours later (or the next day). Also, make sure that you REALLY dissect the clues – don’t read them at face value – separate many words that seem to run together and see if you need to read the clue differently. I usually take between 15 and 30 minutes and sometimes don’t complete. And I’ve done about 1800 of these. But most people I know are well impressed that I can do them at all.
          I hardly ever attempt the 15 x 15 – too obscure for me.
          And lastly don’t forget that most people on this blog who are super fast do the 15 x 15 on a daily basis. And have done for years.
          But there is a knowledge as well as a brain function that I have lacking that I know I’m not ever going to have. But then I’m sure that I have many other attributes that maybe the speed merchants don’t have.
          Good luck in the future.
          More will click with time I suspect, but you are still among a minority who can do these at all.

          1. Thanks HeathrowExpress. I appreciate you taking the time to write so fully and am grateful for your wise advice and words of reassurance.

            1. One last thought, when you read a clue, and haven’t any ideas, move quickly on and try another. Often the 3 and 4 letter clues can be easier too, so try to find clues that you can solve and then go back with maybe a letter or two to help the ones that looked impossible. And then your subconscious may have also kicked in with an idea.
              Good luck.
              Over and out!

    3. You know I don’t think the Quitch counts dnfs or errors made. So if someone dnfed their time doesn’t count at all, which I think doesn’t truly reflect how difficult a crossword is

      Happy to be corrected on this however

  32. DNF: did this late in the day, allowed 20 minutes but threw in the towel at 18 mins having been stumped by GOOD/PACE/RECESS.

    -A-E has dozens of potential homonyms, with third letter S,C or Z giving plausible plurals. There’s a lot of drug slang to work through as well.

    Heavy=GOON was cued up by the important “A” indicating it was a noun not an adjective; after thinking it started with A (which held up GHANA) I didn’t go back to check.

    I never, ever check setters names, since, for me, it yields no insight at all. But I did glance up when PIG appeared.


  33. 4.39

    Another fine puzzle from Oink. No hold ups though a few benefitted from some checkers

    Thanks all

  34. Well that was another DNF, beaten by REHEAR and HARE.

    Although I haven’t been contributing to this blog until recently, I have been doing the Quick Cryptics since they started and occasionally doing the large one for decades (mostly unsuccessfully) as well as cryptics from other sources. I’ve also recorded my times and whether it was correctly completed. I have now had 4 DNFs in the last 6 puzzles which is by far my worst performance since the QC began. I would normally have a DNF or a wrong answer perhaps once every 10 or so puzzles and rarely two in a few days. I have sympathies with everyone who thinks they have got harder recently as that is definitely my experience.

    Of course, it may just be that my brain has suddenly atrophied . . .

    1. Also DNF by REHEAR and HARE. May have tried a bit harder but I’d been so beaten up and dispirited by Monday and Tuesday that I gave up .

  35. Miraculously I did this one without help (dictionaries, googling for things) in 26:37, so I must be learning something! LOI EASE which I probably got only because the clue told me I was looking for a pun on a plural noun. So I had _ASE and a trawl through the alphabet got me there. COD COLLAPSE, what a fun surface!

    Thanks for the fun and informative blog!

    Pretty ecstatic puzzle today, I must say.

  36. 22 mins…

    Fairly quick for most things apart from my last one in, 16ac “Recess”, which wasn’t the first thing I thought of when trying to think of a synonym for “secluded”. Dnk 8ac “Ayah”, but the clueing was helpful.

    FOI – 2dn “Bite”
    LOI – 16ac “Recess”
    COD – 21ac “Rehear” – a reappearance of “HE” for “His Exellency” – felt like I haven’t see it for a while.

    Thanks as usual!

  37. 12:19, inside my target for the first time this week. Like others, I spent too long trying to make STOLE work somehow for the winter garment.

    I once read somewhere that The Goon Show had only been approved because the BBC management thought it was called The Go On Show. It may be an urban myth, but it helped me today!

    Thanks to Mike and Oink.

  38. we found this much easier than the last few days. Foiled by22d hare, we tried hero. enjoyable puzzle.

  39. 1hr15 across 3 attempts. Had six left after first 13mins and had felt quite happy until then. Final 43mins spent alphabet trawling for RECESS and POSITIVE 🤷‍♀️ E-E-S and -O-I-I-E although I was tempted by homicide or at least finding someone to try it out on.

    Don’t really see how EASE=peace or even brings it. So allied to the 2nd hidden word in AYAH (NHO) that was a crappy corner.

    Clearly I made it harder than it needed to be, but just confirms what I said yesterday. I did the Express Crusader in 15mins today after my first attempt on this and I rarely take much longer. Much more friendly and it doesn’t even claim to be Quick. I don’t see what the point of the QC is anymore – I might just as well attempt the 15×15 for an hour and be left struggling.

  40. My settings seemed to have reset themselves to ‘skip filled squares’ which caused no end of trouble until I fixed it. Then it flowed along pretty well, not straight wrote ins and some food for thought – so a good QC imo. Thanks Oink – and Mike for an interesting blog.
    PS Just before posting I noticed I was logged out- so that probably explains the settings business.

  41. Loved this one. Thanks Oink. Would have had clean sweep except EASE beat me. It should not have as the use of E as a term for drugs was also in 1d and many previous crosswords

  42. DNF but hey that’s life. Some crosswords are like that – you just have to know when to give up and when to peer at them for a few more days….thoroughly enjoyed it nevertheless.

    Was concerned at the references to E’s. Oink are you OK?

    Could not think of 21A even though I know ambassador is HE (actually I only know that from crosswordland)

    HARE passed me by – a lot of water has gone under the bridge since I last read about them.

    Never got GOON – was too young to enjoy The Goon Show and obviously because my parents enjoyed it I wouldn’t (like the Archers and all classical music). Needless to say I have grown up since then but remain utterly amazed that our children seem to like what we do – my Bob Marley CDs were always in their rooms…..

    Thanks Oink and Mike

  43. A blessedly easy QC today, as I had a lot of preparation to complete for my daughter’s second birthday tomorrow. I don’t time myself, because of the two-year old, perhaps that is something the despondent solvers might wish to consider? A clue or two, filled in during a spare minute, might ease the pressure and bring more enjoyment.

    In any case, I enjoyed this puzzle so much (very much)!

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