Times Quick Cryptic No 2592 by Lupa

Solving time: 5:33

A friendly offering from Lupa, a new setter, that is sure to please the ‘QCs are getting harder’ solvers. I felt there were more mildly cryptic definitions than we might usually see – certainly no bad thing in my book.

What did you think?

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

7 Huge reduction in solid fuel (8)
COLOSSALLOSS (reduction) in COAL (solid fuel)
8 Half of medicals returned the same (4)
IDEM – MEDI [Half of medicals] reversed [returned]

Apparently it’s used in citations to indicate an author or word that has just been mentioned e.g. James Hilton, Goodbye Mr. Chips, 1934; idem, Random Harvest, 1941

9 Some pest, rodent, made determined progress  (6)
STRODE – Hidden [Some] in pest, rodent
10 Make amends together (5)
ATONEAT ONE (together)
11 Almond fanatic? (3)
NUT – Why the question mark if NUT is synonymous with “fanatic”? Perhaps it isn’t quite? Discuss.
12 Given third class ranking, and boxed (6)
CRATED – If A-RATED is a first class ranking then C-RATED would be a third class ranking
14 Still so rubbish inside (6)
STATICSIC (Latin for ‘so’ or ‘thus’) with TAT (rubbish) inside

sic is short for sic erat scriptum, “thus was it written”

16 Skilful King of France takes time after promotion (6)
ADROITAD (promotion) ROI (King of France – French word for King) T (time)
18 Copy in Home Counties writer (6)
SCRIBECRIB in SE (Home Counties)
19 Dance on one leg? (3)
HOP – a mildly cryptic clue, a HOP being an informal social event often involving dancing
20 Someone having a go in German city (5)
TRIER – Double definition with linking word

Founded by the Romans in the late 1st century BC as Augusta Treverorum (“City of Augustus among the Treveri” – the Treveri being a local tribe of Gemanic or Celtic people), Trier is considered Germany’s oldest city.

21 Workplace not on rocks (6)
OFFICEOFF (not on) ICE (rocks i.e. the small blocks of frozen water found in one’s drink)
23 Performance of Callas, perhaps: missing the start (4)
ARIAMARIA (Callas, perhaps) missing the starting letter

“Callas, perhaps” is doing double duty here – ‘Performance’ on its own wouldn’t necessarily indicate what type of performance you might be looking for…

24 Moving close to you, a Gallic despot (8)
CALIGULA – Anagram [Moving] of YOU [close to you i.e. the last letter of] A GALLIC

Caligula had been emperor for only four years when, aged 28, he was assassinated by the Praetorian Guard. His first six months as emperor are described as noble and moderate after which he became increasingly self-indulgent, sadistic and perverted, while demanding and receiving worship as a living god. He also planned to make his horse a consul.

1 Messed about, like Hogwarts Harry? (8)
POTTERED – Doing something in the past tense “like Hogwarts Harry?” suggests POTTERED
2 Single, very depressed we hear (5)
SOLOSO (very) plus homophone [we hear] of LOW (depressed)
3 Go up higher in short descant arrangement (6)
ASCEND – Anagram [arrangement] of DESCANT [short i.e. without last letter]
4 Stays above water, till supplies appearing (6)
FLOATS – Back in the olden days when folk still used cash, at the beginning of each working period, a cash till would be given a ‘FLOAT’ i.e. enough change to cope with the first several transactions where the customer typically slaps down a tenner for a packet of mints.

Therefore ’till supplies’ would be FLOATS

5 In our sad arrangement, one unable to adapt? (8)
6 Only a lake (4)
MERE – Think this is a double definition, though I was not sure that ‘only’ and MERE are truly synonymous.

You could say “She was only a slip of a girl” which could be substituted with “She was merely a slip of a girl” though “She was a mere slip of a girl” would be allowable.

Any other way to make it clearer?

13 Hot left back in charge of a learner (8)
TROPICAL – PORT (left) back i.e. reversed is TROP then IC (in charge) A L (learner)
15 Be caught within one mile: fool! (8)
IMBECILE BE C (caught) within I (one) MILE
17 Cut the grass three times (6)
THRICETHE (Cut the i.e. all but the last letter of the) RICE (grass)
18 Destroys gains (6)
SPOILS – Double definition where gains = SPOILS is exemplified in ‘the SPOILS of war’
20 In poverty, recession, one affected by inflation (4)
TYRE – Mildly whimsical definition. Hidden [In] in poverty, recession
22 Fruit in fridges, oddly (4)
FIGS – The odd letters of fridges


114 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2592 by Lupa”

  1. 10 minutes by skin of teeth but I knocked of a few seconds for the slight confusion caused by incorrect enumeration at 2dn – it should be 4 letters not 5.

    I had 11ac NUT as a double definition (almond / fanatic) and took the question mark as applying to the surface which can be read as an all-in-one example of a NUT – i.e. a person who is fanatical about almonds.

    I welcome a new setter if applicable, rather than an existing one using an alternative pseudonym. Lupa was the she-wolf who according to Roman legend nursed and gave shelter to the infants Romulus and Remus. I wonder if the choice of name indicates the arrival of a female setter, otherwise as far as I’m aware we don’t currently have any on the QC.

    1. My thoughts regarding the name too, Jack, although I remember being somewhat disappointed to discover that Jalna was a chap! Tracy also, come to that😅

    2. What about Juno? She was a Roman goddess. Is that a male setter / one of the usual suspects?

      1. I’ve never had confirmation but have always suspected that Juno is one of many pseudonyms of another setter. Nearly all of ‘her’ 21 puzzles to date have been identified as containing a theme or Nina.

  2. 5.52, breaking the six-minute barrier for the first time in a while from memory. Welcome Lupa, I enjoyed this nicely-pitched QC. NUT, HOP and FIGS were probably as simple as it will ever get but there were also some quite complicated cryptics like TROPICAL, THRICE and LOI ATONE. Thanks Mike.

  3. 13:42

    I tried ‘Acid’ instead of IDEM before I got the crossers – I nho IDEM and that was the only word I could see that fit backwards in ‘medicals’

    Caligula is one of those historical figures that you read about with glee as a 12 year old in those history books made to appeal to children.

  4. 11:09 THRICE and COLOSSAL were favourites. Trying to parse FLOATS I completely missed the required meaning of “till”. Interesting blog explanations about TRIER and CALIGULA. (I wonder if historians will ever be able to decide if the Treveri were Celtic or Germanic)? And if CALIGULA’s horse was worthy of a consulship certainly Poison Wyvern’s extraordinary cat, Pumpa, could well appear on next year’s Honours List?

  5. 6 reminded me that there is only one lake in the Lake District (Bassenthwaite Lake). The rest are meres eg Windermere or have other titles eg Coniston Water.

    1. This featured on QI many years back, and someone in the audience shouted it out. Stephen Fry and the panellists were astounded that someone would know this. My Grandpa told me this “fact” when I was about eight.

    2. Similarly the Lake of Menteith is the only lake in Scotland as opposed to over 30,000 lochs.

  6. 12:18. Not sure why this took as long, but looking back I had trouble with the crossing CRATED and TROPICAL and then IMBECILE for which I was stuck on M for MILE. I parsed ARIA with ‘Performance’ as the def, to avoid ‘Callas’ being part of wordplay and def as mentioned, but I agree that it is a pretty vague def.

    I liked DINOSAUR; I won’t say why.

    Thanks to Mike and thanks and welcome to Lupa

  7. Not ‘friendly’ for me I’m afraid. I threw in the towel, which has become much rarer of late, with the nho IDEM plus DINOSAUR and STATIC unsolved at my cut off time of 30 minutes.
    Disappointing. And it’s raining ☹️

    (Quick update: I just smashed the DT 15×15 so am feeling much happier now 😊)

  8. Isn’t the ? at 11ac because ‘almond’ is a DBE?
    I biffed a bunch: COLOSSAL, ADROIT, CALIGULA, LOI TROPICAL. Had no idea about the other meaning of FLOATS, just registered a slight, unfounded annoyance at ’till’, thinking it should be ’til or ‘until’. NHO. I see that Jeremy and I got the same time, 5:10.

  9. Didn’t think I recognised Lupa’s name, so welcome! I took a while to find the wavelength but from then lots of smiles and a good pace. Six on the first pass of acrosses before good work on the downs that still left work to do in the SE. Finished up with STATIC which had spent 13 minutes looking impenetrable until it appeared! All green a second under 14.

  10. Welcome Luca.

    Nice puzzle, we started well in NW then worked diagonally down to SE before filling the corners. All done in 22.57, nicely inside our current target of 25. Thanks Mike for the blog, we needed your explanation of floats which gave us the big PDM d’oh!

    Last night’s biblical rain has now stopped here.

  11. A very enjoyable debut with several smiles along the way – CRATED, FLOATS and THRICE being the standouts for me.
    I always find it interesting to wonder if figures like CALIGULA or Nero were as bad/crazy as history tells us – or whether it suited the assassins to exaggerate their faults to justify their actions.
    Finished in 7.35 with the unknown IDEM and the unparsed ATONE, which I still don’t really understand.
    Thanks to Mike

    1. I’m with you – I’d say that as one means together, rather than at one. Which would explain why I found this one quite tricky, and it was my LOI. My excuse, anyway!
      I’ve just read a bit further down and seen HB’s thoughts on the matter – he makes a good case for the argument.

  12. 3:19. Welcome Lupa. Very friendly, I thought, leading to my fastest time this year so far. Only CALIGULA held me up as I worked out the anagram. Thanks Lupa and Mike.

  13. 21:46, but I was pleased to get through it what seemed like a tougher challenge than usual.

    As soon as I saw “till supplies” I thought of that kind of till. But the two Latin tags, sic (sic) and Id Em were beyond me and me O-Level. Caecilius would be turning in his grave. Maybe Latin and Rome (CALIGULA) will be signatures for Lupa.

    I don’t think POTTERED quite works for me.


    1. Caecilius!!! 😂 😂 😂
      I wonder what happened to Cerberus, who was always in horto.

      1. Actually, Cerberus est in via (the street), it was Matella who “est in horto”.

        And famously, in my Year 7, Saunders translated “cena paratus est”, (dinner is ready) which was accompanied by a picture of a roast goose as “the dinner is a parrot”.

        1. Thanks for that Merlin – that’s the best laugh I’ve had ages 🤣🤣🤣
          I failed Latin O level – we had two years to start from scratch and had to learn Pliny letters and chunks of the Aeniad by heart since we hadn’t actually done enough Latin to be able to do the translations. My brain ran out of space. Our wonderful Latin teacher was appalled by the system, and I’m not surprised.

          1. Ha, well, I passed Latin A level, a very long time ago. Can just about understand the banter below but, apart from that, have forgotten it.

  14. Bucking trend, I didn’t find that easy at all. The downs were fine but unfortunately I started with the acrosses! Six missing at first pass and so lots to do after the downs went straight in. (Like Merlin, I didn’t think POTTERED quite works.)

    Limped home in 09:04 for 1.8K and a Poor Day.

    Many thanks Lupa and Mike.


  15. A PB for me, and by a large margin. All green in 15.50!
    TROPICAL held me up a bit, but I can’t quite believe the outcome. Lupa, you have a new fan!

    1. Me too, at 12:27! Congrats!

      I imagined there would be a lot of us! Maybe it’s my new coffee regime.

      I saw the right meaning of till immediately, and started looking for “cash” and “change”. Despite having worked retail, never heard of the floats thing, maybe they don’t say that around these parts.

      Quite enjoyed the skillful king! Thanks to Lupa and Mike!

  16. 7:49 (death of King Ælfwald of East Anglia)

    Welcome to Lupa.
    LOI was FLOATS, which I had been tempted to biff earlier, but could not initially see what “till supplies” meant.

    Thanks Lupa and Mike

  17. No problems with this gentle offering, which should leave the SCC sparsely populated. Mind you, I had to talk myself out of “as one” at 10A.

    TIME 3:55

  18. I thought this was a vg QC, with some neat clues – ADROIT, STATIC, ARIA, THRICE, COLOSSAL all stood out for me.

    MERE was LOI.

    I thought I was aligned with with Plett – I would have “as one” = together, then I thought of phrasing like “Swampy was at one with his environment”, or “on the question of the repeal of the corn laws, we are at one”.

    Welcome Lupa.


  19. 12:17
    I didn’t find it easy either. Although finished with an average time.
    Didn’t parse floats.
    COD aria.

  20. Although this did not feel all that easy at the time it was a pleasing sub 30m finish for me.
    Quite a lot of biffing followed by ‘ah yes’ moments at the clever clueing.
    COD to TYRE and ARIA, both very satisfying clues
    Thanks Lupa and Mike for explaining ‘till supplies’ as floats (another BIFD)

  21. 14:12, despite having a complete grid at 9:30-ish. But I wasn’t happy with STASIS for “still”: the definition kinda-sorta worked, but the wordplay was unfathomable. I’m pleased that I took the time to think again, although that one clue ended up taking ⅓ of my time!

    Thanks to Mike for the blog and thanks and welcome to Lupa.

  22. 15 mins…

    I thought there were a few more cryptic type answers as well, but overall it felt fairly balanced. Once stayed in Trier as a stopover driving back from Munich to Calais, but was somewhat underwhelmed.

    FOI – 1dn “Pottered”
    LOI – 23ac “Aria”
    COd – 24ac “Caligula”

    Thanks as usual!

  23. 6 Down . A mere is a lake. Thorpeness mere has artificial islands with dinosaurs but is only 18 inches deep

  24. I add my welcome to Lupa, and I also spotted the Latin-esque theme. Perhaps Lupa is also the setter for the Saturday Times’ “O Tempora!” crossword in Latin? Trier in passing has the most impressive Roman gateway, four storeys high and one of the finest remaining Roman gateways anywhere.

    I thought as I was doing the puzzle that it had a slightly different feel, and it stretched parts of my crossword-solving brain that don’t usually get so much exercise. I wasn’t sure if that made it more or less challenging – some clues definitely took more thought – but my eventual time of 10½ minutes, below my average, suggests that our blogger has called it correctly. LOI was Tropical and a real D’oh moment when I finally got it – nice clue but didn’t quite merit all the extended head-scratching it took.

    Many thanks Mike for the blog.

      1. Nobilissime Magister Aenigmatifex: Intelligo ut tu “O Tempora”facies, sed esne quoque Lupa? ( not confident my Latin attempt makes any sense, but hope you can get the drift -apologies in advance!).

        1. Gratias multas tibi agens, quod scripsisti, intellego.

          Ita vero, lupa sum, aenigmatifex sum, unum est.

          Sic te tuosque meis nugis fructuros esse spero.

            1. Well this is marvellous. The tone is definitely being lifted. Well spotted Cedric; welcome Lupa.

          1. Tua “O Tempora” mihi multum delectionis iamdiu dabant. Spero plus aenigmarum Lupae videmus!

  25. Much enjoyed and was pretty quick.
    LOI CALIGULA – missed close to U. (OIH)
    You often see IDEM in indexes/indices.
    NHO TRIER so biffed. Also biffed FLOATS, though should have been familiar with the concept since we stall-holders are all given floats before the church bazaar.
    Liked COLOSSAL, SPOILS, ADROIT, CRATED, TYRE, among others.
    Thanks vm, Lupa and Mike.

  26. Welcome, Lupa, and a good puzzle which this habituee of the SCC much enjoyed but didn’t find easy. COLOSSAL only came once I had several checkers, and it took ages to see why FLOATS was. CRATED also eluded me for a while.
    I’m just back from a ski trip so maybe the cold has affected my already limited intellect, hopefully the brain cells will recover soon.

  27. 18:20 … not sure about that one. There were certainly some nice obvious ones – FIGS, ARIA, POTTERED, STRODE and always glad when the 3-letter answers go straight in. But also a bunch (ADROIT, CRATED, COLOSSAL, THRICE) which resisted my brain confidently parsing them.

    I got a bit stuck in the NE. Partly because I tried “unite” for “Make amends together – ATONE” but also because NHO ADEM and we don’t have many MEREs down here on the south coast. Interesting to see DINOSAUR (and SCRIBE) come up after recent appearances.

    Slight fear that this is Lupa’s introductory offering and he/she becomes Teazelesque in the future. Time will tell. I’ve said it a couple of times recently but I feel the QC setters have lightened up since mid-December. There’s only been 2-3 grids this year which I felt weren’t pitched correctly and the occasional misfire is to be expected.

    1. Is that#50 with a new moniker?
      I agree that the QCs seem more accessible this year. Let’s hope it continues like that.

          1. You can’t bait me into saying the wrong thing with that sort of question 😂

            How many more until #1000? I recall the date was in March but not sure whether you’ve taken on the Saturday challenge …

            1. Hello N-D,

              Yes, I do tackle the new Saturday QCs and, assuming I get there, the date of my 1,000th is Friday 15th March. My overall median performance dropped below 40 minutes (to 39) a couple of weeks ago and I have a fighting chance of getting it down to 38 minutes in time. But only if I avoid (stupid) DNFs like today’s, where I finished comfortably inside 39 minutes but got one clue wrong.

              All DNFs, however speedy and however minor, are allocated a time of 1,000 minutes in my spreadsheet. In this way the MEDIAN function can be applied to all attempts (whereas the AVERAGE function can only really cope with successful solves).

              Once I have reached the magic 1,000, I will publish a few choice metrics to paint a picture of how I have fared since I started in June 2020. I will also then close my spreadsheet and not worry so much about finish times and marginal DNFs, etc. I’m hoping it won’t be such a millstone from then on.

              ATB, Mr R.

  28. A nice introduction from Lupa who decided not to tax us unduly as my finishing time of 7.07 would suggest. Like Merlin and Templar, I thought the clueing to 1dn POTTERED didn’t quite work, and I even wondered about 10ac ATONE thinking ‘as one’ better describes together.

  29. Definitely a record time for me and nearly broke the 10min mark. A few were biffed and sorted out after entry.

  30. On the almond issue, the almond is a drupe and not a true nut. If you can listen to an edition of ‘the unbelievable truth’ on bbc radio sounds there is one very funny lecture on what most people consider to be nuts in fact are something else, eg seeds, drupes etc.

  31. I really enjoyed this puzzle when I eventually got going. My FOI was NUT so it took a while to get on to Lupa’s wavelength. I liked the wordplay for IMBECILE and THRICE but my COD goes to FLOATS. NHO IDEM so I waited for the checkers and I am unfamiliar with the city of TRIER but it rang a faint bell. LOI in 7:43 was CALIGULA.

  32. A bit slower on this one than last couple of QCs but much to like, particularly ADROIT and FLOATS. Didn’t know the German City – will find out more. Many thanks for the interesting blog, and great to have a new setter (if they are indeed new).

  33. Another happy outcome with 10:25. It’s been a good week so far. Nice mix of clues today I thought. Vaguely remembered that there was a city called Trier but not that it was German. COD ATONE. LOI SCRIBE. Thank you Lupa and Mike!

  34. 7.49, same as simjt. Very gentle but I did spend a short while trying to shoehorn DEMI into 8a and I never did parse FLOATS. I liked CRATED. Thanks Lupa and Mike (and nice time on the concise!)

  35. Thanks Lupa, I thought it a bit trickier than normal, but not impossibly so. Took a bit of time to get going, but once underway all fell into place, 15 mins, no biffing, which I was happy eith

  36. All fairly straightforward except where it wasn’t! 15 minutes all parsed but I was slowed by the ADROIT/TROPICAL crossing, having already tried and failed to parse advert and adept at 16ac (and the latter doesn’t even fit). I think I’ll have to go and lie down.

    FOI – 6ac IDEM
    LOI – 10ac ATONE

    Thanks (and welcome) to Lupa and to Mike for the informative blog

  37. I thought this was a curious mix at the time, with a few that slowed me down, but on rereading, I can’t really see why. A couple were jumping-off-the-page easy though – POTTERED (did we really need Hogwarts?) and HOP, although that did get a tick and a smile for being fun. Again, it could just be a question of getting used to a new setter’s style (assuming it isn’t RR in yet another disguise!). I couldn’t parse FLOATS – I’d forgotten about a cash float. That takes me back to Saturday jobs. I liked COLOSSAL, DINOSAUR and THRICE.
    8:10 on paper. FOI Idem LOI Atone (no idea why I struggled with that one – we’ve seen it before) COD Aria
    Thanks and welcome to Lupa, and thanks Mike for the blog and the extra interesting info

  38. Only and MERE synonymous? I can’t think of any valid substitution tests. In fact something like “She is a mere child”/”She is an only child” throws up a curious result.

    1. She is only a child. So you need to move the a to get the same meaning.

      Back to the clue, “only a” is synonymous with “a lake”.

  39. A nice gentle puzzle from our new setter to whom, welcome Lupa! SOLO was FOI. Liked ADROIT and TROPICAL. TYRE was LOI. 5:44. Thanks Lupa and Mike.

  40. I was a bit put off by the grid, but managed to get it polished off in 19:36. LOI was STATIC, which I stared at in increasing panic for what seemed to be hours. Will try to remember that SIC = THUS.

    Thank you to Lupa for the crossword and to Mike for the blog!

  41. An awkward grid and several awkward acrosses led me to fear the worst early on, but I then managed to solve all but two of the down clues at their first attempts. An SCC escape beckoned and, despite taking four minutes to crack the ATONE/MERE pairing, I succeeded with two minutes to spare. Time = 18 minutes, so an excellent day.

    Mrs Random could tell I was progressing well and about to set her a challenging target, so she focussed her mind, paced her effort and crossed the line one minute ahead of me. How does she do that at will?

    Many thanks to Lupa and Mike H.

  42. An entertaining puzzle and an interesting blog too. I had 7 across and 8 down on first pass making for a good start. The rest fell pretty easily.
    FOI 8a Idem
    LOI 12a Crated – neatly done IMO
    COD also 12a.
    Thanks to all!

  43. I have no idea what was going through the blogger’s mind when he claimed this was a “friendly” QC and would “ sure to please the ‘QCs are getting harder’ solvers.”. Can I have some of what you’re smoking please? 🤣

    I really did not like this QC and do not consider it to be friendly at all. I got halfway through and lost interest.

    My verdict: 🤮

    Pumpa’s verdict: HISSSSSSSSS!

  44. This was very hard. Only 5/26 solved. Yesterday was very easy by comparison, as I solved all but 5 clues.

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