Times Quick Cryptic No 2568 by Joker

Solving time: 10:08

Nice mix of clues today from the Joker’s brow. There doesn’t seem to be anything ungettable, though I was surprised that I had only two inked in from the first pass of the acrosses. Things picked up on the downs but I’d still say that this was a slowish solve.

COD to 7d. LOI 11a where I was looking too hard for too long at the wrong end of the clue…

Let me know what you thought…

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

1 Presence of cleaner is followed by mother (8)
CHARISMACHAR (cleaner) IS followed by MA (mother)

From the Greek word χάρισμα (khárisma) meaning “favour freely given” or “gift of grace”, it was originally used in a religious context to describe a gift, power or talent conferred by God. Later, the meaning expanded to include a personal quality of presence or charm that others find compelling.

5 Cutting account identification (4)
ACIDAC (account) ID (identification)
9 Cooked meat from pasty’s insides (5)
ROAST – The inside letters of {f}RO{m} {p}AST{y}
10 Performed song about drink in Spain (7)
SANGRIASANG (Performed) then AIR (song) about i.e. reversed

Sangria means “bloodletting” in both Spanish and Portuguese.

Sangria recipes vary wildly even within Spain, with many regional distinctions. However, the base ingredients are always red wine, and some means of adding a fruity or sweeter flavour, with perhaps something extra to boost the alcohol content.

11 Material about production of play (12)
RECREATIONALREAL (Material) about CREATION (production)

REAL/Material as in physical objects e.g. the material/real world

My LOI – I was looking for a material for too long…

13 Nut — as in nibble? (6)
CASHEWAS in CHEW (nibble)
15 Defeated British eight are then eliminated nearly at the beginning (6)
BEATEN – I read this initially as B (abbreviation for British? – Not sure it’s a standard though can be seen in BTU (British Thermal Unit), BA (British Airways) and many more – see also 21a where it is clearly used as an abbreviation)…..

….then first letters of [at the beginning] eight are then eliminated nearly. But it could be read simply as the first letters of all six words including that of British .

17 I’ve cut tartan badly — not a pretty sight (12)
20 Illustrations of rook pair in Noah’s ship (7)
ARTWORKR (rook i.e. chess notation) TWO (pair) in ARK (Noah’s ship)
21 French cheese injected with British sweetener (5)
BRIBEBRIE (French cheese) injected with B (British e.g. as in BTU (British Thermal Unit))
22 Fish an enthusiast put back (4)
TUNAA NUT (an enthusiast) reversed [put back]

A chestNUT.

23 Fashionable church in hollow is dirty (8)
INDECENTIN (Fashionable) then CE (church i.e. Church of England) in DENT (hollow)
1 About right day for Joker? (4)
CARDCA (About i.e. circa which is Latin for ‘around, approximately’) R (right) D (day)

Works with two different definitions of Joker i.e. :

i. the playing card (more likely as the question mark would denote a DBE (definition by example))

ii. the informal dated meaning of a person regarded as odd or amusing.

Choose whichever works best for you.

2 Chap leaving aggregate stone (5)

AGATE is an ornamental stone consisting of a hard variety of chalcedony (quartz), typically banded in appearance and can be any of a variety of colours.

3 Bury branch junction (12)

SECTION as in a distinct group within a larger body e.g. the non-parliamentary section/branch of the party.

4 Lose track of minute Hebridean island (6)
MISLAYM (minute) ISLAY (Hebridean island)
6 Crown — gold one is used in court (7)
CORONETOR (gold) ONE in CT (court)

A CORONET is a crown whose bearer is less than sovereign or royal in rank, irrespective of the crown’s appearance. It is reserved for the lower ranks of nobility such as Marquesses and Marchionesses, Earls and Countesses, Barons and Baronesses, and some Lords and Ladys.

7 Disused railway’s time for completion? (8)
DEADLINE – A disused railway might be described as a DEAD LINE.
8 Bit inside leg, unfortunately not easy to eat? (12)
INDIGESTIBLE – Anagram [unfortunately] of BIT INSIDE LEG
12 Resident’s strange account about parking (8)
OCCUPANT – Anagram [strange] of ACCOUNT about P (parking)
14 Ran past, dreadfully hard (7)
SPARTAN – Anagram [dreadfully] of RAN PAST
16 Sleep on family’s linen sheet? (6)
NAPKINNAP (Sleep) on KIN (family)

In 1954, Nancy Mitford insisted in “The English Aristocracy” that NAPKIN was correct in all circumstances (U i.e. upper-classes) and that serviette was a vulgarism (non-U i.e. aspiring middle-classes)….

18 Immorality about Oscar’s speech (5)
VOICEVICE (Immorality) about O (Oscar in the NATO phonetic alphabet)
19 Sensed the texture of thick material (4)
FELT – Double definition


62 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2568 by Joker”

  1. Raced through most clues but was then completely stumped by my last 4. Spent another 20 minutes not getting anywhere, then looked up a list of Hebridean Islands to get MISLAY, which gave me the confidence to put in SANGRIA though I couldn’t parse RIA. Couldn’t get DEADLINE or RECREATIONAL either for a disappointing DNF.

    1. Islay is home to my favorite single-malt Scotches. I first came across the name in a neighborhood supermarket, where the Japanese transliteration saved me from the gaffe of calling the island Izzlay.

  2. I first encountered CHARISMA when it was applied to John Kennedy, who certainly was a contrast in that respect to Richard Nixon. Like Mike, I spent a lot of time on RECREATIIONAL before the light dawned. I don’t think I ever parsed it. The long anagrams took some time, as I do them (in QCs) in my head. 6:47 (once again with one of the poorest NITCHES).

  3. 14:32
    Though I was staring at my second to last clue for a while, before Mr Tina (lol) walked past, declared that he hates puzzles ‘why do you want to think recreationally on your lunch break, you need harder job, Tina’ and pointed out the answer was DEADLINE

    RECREATIONAL was my LOI, the crossers were no help, I thought I was looking for a name of a play – but eventually I fit ‘creation’ in and the rest of the word followed

    .. So.. Do I have to learn all of these flippin hebredies or what 😂

    1. There are dozens of them – and that is just the inhabited ones! Islay is one of the largest and best known, not least for its whisky distilleries (there are around 10, with more new ones being built), and is known as The Queen of the Hebrides for both its beauty and its fertile soil. To add to the confusion, it’s pronounced Eye-lah.

  4. 16:43. ARTWORK, CASHEW, and RECREATIONAL were favourites. I also enjoyed the extra info in blog re CHARISMA, AGATE, NAPKIN, CORONET, and SANGRIA-thanks, Mike.

  5. 14:30 for me, about twice what I took yesterday. But now I don’t see what was hard. I have had some excellent sangrias in Spain…but sometimes they make them white rather than using red wine. And keeping on the alcohol them, I also enjoy the whiskies from Islay (pronounced eye-la for those who don’t know and don’t have a katakana transliteration). I went on a cycling vacation with my then-girlfriend around the island. Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin are basically in a line down the same road. There are a lot more distilleries now than there were back then, it seems.

  6. Thanks for the parsing of RECREATIONAL, which bamboozled me for some reason. Too much ISLAY? No, I can’t abide whisky.

    I always say NAPKIN, being a) a snob and b) someone with a preference for short Old English/Old German words over longer Frenchified ones. (Even if NAPKIN is derived from Old French, I now see.) Well, whoever said human beings were rational?

    I hope I haven’t commenced something…


    1. There are napkins and paper napkins – no other word required. I picked that up from Brian Johnstone’s Someone Who Was.

  7. RECREATIONAL bamboozled me too, and I am in debt to Mike for explaining that as well as CASHEW, BEATEN and a couple more. I thought B for British was very much par for the course in these parts. All up this took me 8.19, with the long anagrams taking a while and the REC word requiring a minute of not very incisive thought at the end.

  8. Another completion for me, but in around 30 minutes so I’ll be remaining firmly towards the back of the class from where I can only stare enviously at the backs of the swots’ heads. Still, that’s 3/3 so far this week, which is a vast improvement upon last week’s unprecedented maiden. If I keep this up I may even qualify for the unsought after ‘Good Effort’ prize at speech day. 🏆
    I was doing well until I ground to a halt with RECREATIONAL and my LOI DEADLINE. And NAPKIN took longer than it should’ve as I got the KIN bit straight away. My favourite clue was undoubtedly INDECENT.
    Thanks as usual to Joker and Mike.

  9. I hit breezeblock central for RECREATIONAL, but it looks like I’m in good company, and I also misparsed it in the same way as Vinyl with ‘re’ and ‘creational’.
    Other than that I found this fairly gentle and made decent progress from top to bottom other than some procrastinating over DEADLINE.
    Started with CHARISMA and finished with RECREATIONAL in 9.07.
    Thanks to Mike

  10. 1858, got there in the end, with LOI RECREATIONAL. Slow also with CARD/ROAST.
    Didn’t parse BEATEN either, I’m not good with clues that have an extended set of potential red herrings like this one.


  11. 10:43 (coronation of Edward the Confessor)

    I thought I was heading for a fast time, then needed ages staring at my LOI RECREATIONAL until the penny finally dropped. I liked MISLAY – I am another fan of Islay malts; my favourite used to be Lagavulin before the price rose to silly heights.

    Thanks Joker and Mike

  12. Wow. That was a slog, but completed it all in 31 mins. As I do QCs online, without aids, and without paper and pen, deciphering some of anagrams by staring at them with limited checkers took some time. So, despite my agonisingly slow time, I quite enjoyed this and am pleased I finished. 😊

    Islay brings back warm memories of my recently late father when, as a novice pilot, we flew into Machrie airport on the occasional weekend for a walk along the dunes and the machair followed by lunch in the hotel. Obvs, no single malts were imbibed, despite the temptation.


    Mis-parsed it like vinyl and plett11 ✅

    Loves Islay whisky (though not the peat-monsters – Bunnahabhain is my favourite, good luck to the katakana transliterators on that one) ✅

    Very good puzzle, perhaps a bit easier than the average Joker. I did enjoy the self reference in 1d CARD so that’s COD for me.

    All done in 07:43 for 1.3K and a Good Day.

    Many thanks Joker and Mike.


  14. There seems to be much agreement here on (a) a nice puzzle, with (b) Recreational the most challenging answer to both get and parse and (c) good memories of Islay. I tick all three boxes, with an 11 minute solve, the unparsed Recreational as my LOI (I completely missed the “of” in the definition “of play”), and several trips to Islay, the first over 50 years ago and the most recent just 4 months ago.

    Many thanks Mike for the blog

  15. ^^

    What this lot said. Though I did parse LOI RECREATIONAL properly when I finally got it. Nearly mombled a fictional Hebridean island MISSAM – MISS (lose track of) A M (a minute), until I realised a) it was the QC b) it didn’t parse very well (no “a”), and looked for something more likely. Will give MISLAY my COD. I do like a peat monster like an Ardbeg. Just a little one mind – it’s not for swigging. I used to have to visit Frankfurt from time to time in a previous job, and usually stayed at the Hessischer Hof, which had a smoky cigar and whisky bar in the basement, where the barman introduced me to the peaty Islay whiskies.


  16. Only two on the first pass of acrosses and then only five on the downs. From that unpromising start it somehow all came together (all green) in 16. RECREATIONAL was hard – held up by thinking I was a crossword genius for remembering ‘rep’ is a material and was reluctant to let that go, so REPRE looked like goer for “material about”. Finished with the lovely CASHEW banishing the memory of the angst.

  17. 5:46. Another who parsed RECREATIONAL as re-creational, but Mike’s parsing is clearly better. 1A got me wondering how long it will be before we get 2023’s word-of-the-year RIZZ in a crossword. Held up by putting BEATEN in as the answer for 13A rather than 15A. LOI FELT. Thanks Joker and Mike.

    1. The rate it’s going, I expect to see Rizz in approximately forty years when I’ll still be here justifying it to the younguns

        1. I’ll take that as a challenge for my Weekend Quick Cryptic after next then (this week’s is already ready to go).

            1. Yes. It’s in my latest to be published next Friday. Your clue inspired mine which, in turn, led to a theme for the crossword, to be called “Down in the Woods Today”. I think I’ll need to explain in the introduction to the crossword that it contains the 2023 word of the year as it isn’t in most of the dictionaries yet.

      1. I’ve just had to read up on RIZZ: I’d never heard the word & missed the story about it being the word of the year. I think I can safely say that it won’t be entering my common vocabulary.

  18. 23 mins with at least 8 of those spent on LOI RECREATIONAL even with all the checkers. Happy to have got it eventually and the puzzle fully parsed. Also spent far too long on AGATE and DEADLINE.
    COD for me was SANGRIA.

    Thanks Mike for blog. I love the additional comments, always nice to learn something about the words in the QC. Prof.

  19. Another excellent offering from the Joker who always seems to maintain a certain standard. That is to say not too many clues are giveaways, but even the tough ones are gettable. Under target by a few seconds for the third time this week at 9.22, even managing to correctly parse RECREATIONAL on the way, although my first thought was REPsomething.
    SANGRIA takes me back to a holiday in Spain about forty years ago, when I thought I’d try it to see why so many seemed to like it. It turned out to be the one and only time I downed one – truly awful.

  20. 10′ ish, NW corner holding me up for some reason even though CHARISMA was FOI. Enjoyed RECREATIONAL and CASHEW but generally nice clueing. I’m a Speyside man myself, Islays are usually too peaty for my taste. Thanks Mike and setter.

    1. Generally I’d agree with you Gerry, but did come across a really smooth Caol Ila in a whisky advent calendar which prompted me to try a full bottle. Can recommend!

  21. For 15ac BEATEN I did ‘read it initially’ including the B from British but it could equally be the abbreviation.
    Same as many, found this hard at 13 minutes, loi was RECREATIONAL and I like Islay – sailed past it and moored at Lagavulin distillery for a visit and wee dram – happy days. Interesting blog, thanks.

  22. A good challenge today. Needed to look up the Hebrides to find ISLAY (not a whisky drinker) and took a while to get ROAST and RECREATIONAL.

  23. 11 minutes and a bit. Enjoyed CHARISMA and being tricked by SANGRIA; how does ‘about’ give RIA was my first reaction. Happy to admit the correct parsing of RECREATIONAL eluded me but clearly I wasn’t alone.

    Thanks to Joker and Mike

  24. Finished in 15 minutes but with one error. I had a complete mental block on 20ac and, after staring at it for what seemed like hours, shrugged and entered ‘artbook’. No, of course I couldn’t parse it and with hindsight it is quite inexplicable. The rest I found relatively straightforward including the parsing of RECREATIONAL and BEATEN, although I couldn’t parse ROAST.

    FOI – 1ac CHARISMA
    LOI – DNF
    COD – 7dn DEADLINE, closely followed by 4dn MISLAY

    Thanks to Joker and Mike

  25. After yesterday’s frustrating DNF, today was a 2 under 11.01. I guessed recreational midway when I had enough checkers so spared myself the need to actually understand it. LOI was Tuna as inevitability I had forgotten I’d seen it before and also as it was somewhere near the bottom. Visiting the Hebrides is on the bucket list and Islay is about the only one I know, mainly because of whisky.
    Thanks Joker and Mike

    1. The Hebrides should be on your list as your nom de guerre is a Hebridean island. I guess you already know that. 😊

      1. I’m afraid my ignorance of the Hebrides is so complete that I was not aware of that! The name has a totally different etymology based on University nicknames. On the plus side at least I now know 2 Hebridean islands and surely even my goldfish-lite memory can retain this one. Thanks for pointing it out.

  26. Happy to finish in about 25 minutes. Took me a while to get rid of Reg for Greg! Clue of Day for me was 23a and Last One In was 22a! Thank you Joker and Mike – couldn’t parse 1d until saw blog.

  27. Steady progress until the last three: Agate, Deadline and Recreational. A pause for coffee sorted out Agate (sneaky), but the setter’s trick of pairing the last two proved a step too far. I think getting either would have prompted the other, but no prize for neither. CoD to Artwork – it dodged around a bit, but a satisfying bag. Invariant

  28. Joker gave us some top quality clues. I really enjoy a short story clue and today’s included CARD, OCCUPANT, DEADLINE and my favourite and COD CASHEW. There were no unknowns for me so I raced through this from CARD to RECREATIONAL in 6:57.

  29. I needed a second sitting for this one which I found enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed 13A – Nut – as in nibble? Especially as my New Year’s resolution is to eat more of them and less of those pasties insides.

    Thanks Mike and the Joker

  30. I found this one to be a bit tricky in places, but I managed to complete it. 11a required assistance from the cat before I was able to answer it.

  31. I found this to be very user-friendly and finished in 6:23, and with no silly slips, so that makes it Another Good Day! However, I also didn’t fully parse RECREATIONAL but like it better now I understand it 😅 Others I liked included UNATTRACTIVE and MISLAY. A few years ago I had a very unusual single malt from the Oban area which had a real tang of the sea about it – ok for one glass, but not really to my taste. I definitely prefer the Speyside versions.
    FOI Charisma LOI Spartan COD Roast
    Thanks Joker and Mike, especially for the all the added extras 😊 Very interesting

  32. 25 mins…

    I agree that it was a nice balanced puzzle. Main difficulty came in the NW corner (which I’m sure is a tactic to play with people’s minds – if I’m struggling I quickly move onto another section). 1dn “Card”, 9ac “Roast” and 11ac “Recreational” took much longer than they should have.

    FOI – 3dn “Intersection”
    LOI – 9ac “Roast”
    COD – 13ac “Cashew”

    Thanks as usual!

  33. It took me 30 minutes, which is becoming a longer time for me as I progress, and yet, looking back, nothing seems hard! Nice to see I’m part of the in-crowd, with RECREATIONAL stumping me until all the crossers were in.

    Doing these puzzles is loosening up my literal-mindedness. I can whine that after all, not all real things are material, or I can accept the slippage of meaning inherent to human communication. Anything that improves flexibility of body or mind is good at my age! (I, too, associate “charisma” with JFK, the word was taken up by all the newspaper writers until everyone was sick of it.)

    Fun puzzle, really enjoyed the surfaces!

  34. 4.13, no malarkey and no unforced errors. Liked MISLAY, and much like others, RECREATIONAL was my LOI.

    Thanks both.

  35. Late in today but I found this quite easy. Liked DEADLINE. From CHARISMA to CASHEW in 6:48. Thanks Joker and Mike.

  36. Oh dear. 15:22 with two separate howlers, for a day to move on from. Firstly I decided that “rook pair” had to mean the two Os inside ROOK, so had ARTBOOK for 20ac even though it didn’t really fit the definition or parse properly. I put it in thinking, “I’ll come back to that”, but then of course didn’t. And then my last one was 4dn, where I looked at the wrong end of the clue and invented a Hebridean island called Missam. Ah well, on to tomorrow.

    Thanks to Joker & Mike.

  37. Quite tricky in parts, I thought. Started at lunchtime and needed the long afternoon gap to get LOI RECREATIONAL. Strange how unsolved ones spring to mind after a pause, because I definitely had no time to think about the crossword ( entertaining old ladies to bridge).
    I had to check the atlas for Islay, I admit. Also slow on NAPKIN and put Artbook instead of ARTWORK – must learn chess notations. Liked ACID, DEADLINE, CASHEW, AGATE, among others.
    Thanks vm, Mike.

  38. I found this very tough and didn’t cross the line until 61 minutes had passed.

    I started with ACID and finished with RECREATIONAL, which took 10+ minutes of alphabet trawling at the end. I wasn’t helped by having miswritten DEADLINE as DEAadINE, which left me with _E_R_A_I_N_d to fill.

    Earlier in the proceedings, I was also delayed by mid-writing ARTWORK as raTWORK.

    Many thanks to Joker and Mike, and respect to those who solved this quickly.

  39. 23.23 I’m taking up residence in the SCC. This was mostly OK but then I was stuck for a couple of minutes on AGATE and another ten on RECREATIONAL. It’s been a long day. Thanks Mike and Joker.


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