Times Quick Cryptic No 2654 by Hurley

A neat Quick Cryptic from Hurley today with a couple of tricky clues, 9A and 14D, helping to take me a bit over target at 5:56. My LOI was 20A where I was slow to spot it was a hidden word. Thank-you Hurley. How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic.  This time it is Phil’s turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword here. If you are interested in trying our previous offerings you can find an index to all 101 here.

SAVE THE DATESaturday 15th June at The George, Borough High St from 12 noon.  After we had such fun with a summer get-together last year, attended by some TimesforTheTimes old hands, bloggers and commenters, we thought we would have another one. Read about last year’s here.

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

1 Debut? That’s a shock! (5)
START – Double definition. The second seems a little bit of a stretch; isn’t a start the result of a shock? But maybe I’m being a bit picky.
7 Resistance of presenter in London is tempting you initially (9)
HOSTILITYHOST (presenter) and initial letters of In London Is Tempting You.
9 Higher in rank, could become purple if learner included? (5)
UPPER – Anagram of the answer plus L (learner), (upperl)* -> purple. That wordplay is  a bit tricky!
10 This might advertise a little greenery (7)
LEAFLET – Double definition.
11 Know in advance enemy must seize king by bishop’s place (7)
FORESEER (Rex; king) in FOE (enemy), SEE (bishop’s place).
12 Attractively thin person posting letter with pounds inside (7)
SLENDERL (pounds Sterling) in SENDER (person posting letter).
15 Somehow reunite followers (7)
RETINUE – [Somehow] (reunite)*.
18 Habitual way to protect home (7)
ROUTINEIN (home) in ROUTE (way).
20 Maybe not wholly proper Hapsburg (7)
PERHAPS – Nicely hidden hidden (and definition). It fooled me for a while! Hidden in, [not wholly] proPER HAPSburg. My COD.
22 Very little in short street that’s charming (5)
SWEETWEE (very little) in ST (short for street)/
23 Demanding situation — in change, Lille regularly visited (9)
CHALLENGE – Alternate letters of LiLlE [regularly visited] in CHANGE.
24 Found in habitat, typically shabby (5)
TATTY – Hidden in habiTAT TYpically.
1 Things in general, formal and old-fashioned? Not quite (5)
STUFF – All but last letter [not quite] of STUFF{y} (formal and old-fashioned).
2 A quiet mother maybe easily understood (8)
APPARENTA P (piano; quite) PARENT (mother perhaps).
3 Party beat (6)
THRASH – Double definition. The late Rotter had a rule of thumb… if it’s a two word clue it’s more likely than not to be a double definition.
4 Silver in mud? An illusion (6)
MIRAGEAG (chemical symbol for silver) in MIRE (mud).
5 Clock face used by lad climbing around India (4)
DIALI (India) in LAD [climbing] -> DAL –> DIAL. A bit of an odd surface, I think, or maybe I just lack the imagination to make sense of it.
6 My story with Oxford’s head ousted by Eton’s head — crime novel? (7)
MYSTERY – Another tricky bit of wordplay. Take MY ST{o}RY and replace the first letter of Oxford [‘s head] with the first letter of Eton [‘s head]. The ? indicates a definition by example.
8 Lessons a rep arranged for colleague in shop? (11)
SALESPERSON – (lessons a rep)* [arranged].
13 Coming up, top island chap, hard-working (8)
DILIGENT -LID (top) [coming up] -> DIL, I (island) GENT (chap).
14 Hot areas include first appearance of rain in items for discussion (7)
TROPICS – First letter of [first appearance of] Rain, in TOPICS (items for discussion). Did anyone else get stuck thinking the the definition was at the other end of the clue?
16 In orderly way have meal, large, in New York (6)
NEATLYEAT (have meat) L (large), in NY (New York).
17 Tabloid group’s daily event (6)
SUNSETSUN (tabloid) SET (group).
19 Soldier on watch with cap missing competitor (5)
ENTRY – {s}ENTRY (soldier on watch) with first letter [cap] missing.
21 Wander through Italian city reportedly (4)
ROAM – Sounds like ROME (Italian city).

94 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2654 by Hurley”

  1. 11:30 Didn’t know THRASH as a party. I really enjoyed LEAFLET and found CHALLENGE and MYSTERY both very clever.

  2. I found the clues all very wordy and overly complex and I didn’t get any clues until 2 min with SWEET. But then it all slotted into place and I didn’t have any trouble from then and finished in 11:02

    I didn’t have any issues with Hapsburg because surely I wasn’t expected to know anything about some incestuous family, so it must be a hidden

    LEAFLET made me smile and DIAL was my LOI but I don’t know why, it seems straightforward now

    1. Aha. Tina. I think you may have discovered a new solver’s rule of thumb….. if you see some random proper noun (lie Hapsburg) the answer is likely to be hidden.

  3. THRASH might have been a problem for me, but we had it recently in a 15×15. Unlike John, I found PERHAPS poorly hidden: I’m terrible at finding hiddens, but this one stood out for me, especially as the stress pattern is the same. Like John, I had the wrong end of the clue at first at 14d. This may be the first time I’m faster than John; a whole 2 seconds faster! 5:54.

  4. Not too hard for a Friday and all done in 33 minutes.
    I parsed 9a as adding learner = class to upper gives upper class who were the only ones to wear purple in the old days. It’s a bit of a stretch but allowed me to finish. John’s solution is neater.

  5. 9.25 and looking back I feel I should have been quicker. Apart from FOI START I couldn’t break in to the across clues and so took a while to get going, then was held up by a lot of simple answers that should have gone in straight away, like SALESPERSON and MIRAGE. Like Tina I saw 20ac and thought with dread that I had to know about the Hapsburgs, but fortunately like Kevin I saw the hidden almost immediately. For once I went the right way on the ROAM homophone. I liked the rather complicated HOSTILITY and MYSTERY which I thought were quite a challenge for the QC but perfectly fair and gettable with a degree of application. Many thanks to Hurley and John.

  6. 12 minutes. A little slow as there were several clues that did not give up their secrets so easily and required some unravelling.

    I share John’s misgivings about shock /START. The only possible support I have found for it is in Collins which has START as archaic for ‘startle’ (but that requires both to be verbs and is some what negated by the definite article in the clue), and on-line under American English (i.e. from Websters) it has START as a sudden, brief shock or fright; startled reaction.

    1. Don’t know if it’s a “northern” thing but I’m familiar with someone saying “You gave me a bit of a start” if they have been surprised.

  7. Hurley is one of my favourite setters, but I began to question my judgement a tad when I only got three clues in my first pass on the acrosses. However, the downs were a little more yielding and once some checkers were in place I settled in and managed a 15 minute finish, so ‘Yah-Boo’ to the boys at the front. (Plus I gain a bonus point for achieving a fast-becoming rare foray out of ‘The Club’.) A great way to end the weekday QCs.
    I especially enjoyed LEAFLET and ROUTINE, but my Clue of the Day must go to DILIGENT.
    Many thanks to Hurley and John.

    1. I half-biffed DILIGENT without reading the clue properly and thought for one moment of excitement that our chap was being preceded by East Timor’s shabby and rarely mentioned little capital, but alas no…

      1. Come to think of it, an alternative clue: Jose Ramos Horta, for example, is hardworking…I’ll stop there.

        1. I had to Google Jose Ramos Horta, and now I get it. It’s hard coming up with anyone well known from East Timor, that’s for sure!

          1. Xanana Gusmao? I suspect here in Oz we’re a bit more adjacent, but the place has rather dropped out of the news which we assume is a good thing

        2. Very good. Judging on your efforts this week, both you and Merlin have glittering careers as setters ahead of you!

          1. I can do one clue now and again, but doing 20+, and selecting the actual words, that’s a whole different league. I remain humbled by all the setters, who produce such good work. I’ve always wondered how long it takes them, they should publish their construction times, maybe they have their own TFtT blog.

            1. My own construction times are rather slow, but I don’t record them. Probably, on average, about 8 to 10 hours over 2 days and then a bit of tweaking thereafter from test solver feedback.

              1. I think our crossword editor once replied to a similar comment that setters don’t do that, although it is possible. I use the excellent Crossword Compiler software to assist in telling me when a word I’ve added to a partially filled grid will make some part of it impossible to fill and I choose one word at a time when filling in words that already have some checkers, thinking about how they might be clued as I go.

                1. Thanks. I normally just click through the grids until one appeals, as it is the clue writing that I find more interesting.

    2. Reading the clue for DILIGENT again, I realise I’d missed, while blogging, a rather nice surface… something you could imagine being read in a news bulletin. A good choice for COD.

  8. A whopping eight on the first pass of acrosses, mostly in the bottom half. Then good progress until left with HOSTILITY, LEAFLET and DILIGENT to go. Took a while to realise quite how much of the clue ‘initially’ related to, then spotted LEAFLET and that left me staring at the gap where DILIGENT ended up. Forgot to consider ‘gent’ when thinking of chaps but got there in the end. All green for the first time this week in 11.

  9. Having stared blankly at the first four across clues I remembered comments in yesterdays blog about jumping to the bottom if can’t get going at the top. Went straight to 24 and saw tatty immediately. Then a nice steady solve back up to the NW enjoying lots on the way, especially leaflet, diligent and mystery. Having read out the clue for 14d Mrs RH said topics are items for discussion and it was then a write in 😊

    L2I upper and thrash took at least 3 of our 23.22 with NHO thrash for a party needing what seemed like a rediculous alpha trawl to find something other than thrust!

    Thanks John for the parsing of upper, a bit too clever for us, and thanks Hurley.

  10. I was initially a bit unsure about Start but the three down clues dangling from it confirmed it must be right. Then a relatively serene passage through the bulk of the puzzle before – for some reason – being breezeblocked by my LOI Sweet. The very opposite of Tina’s experience! But it emerged eventually for a finish in just under 9 minutes, making 43 minutes for the 5 weekday puzzles which I cannot recall ever bettering.

    Many thanks John for the blog and in anticipation for the Sunday Special.

  11. Must have been on Hurley’s wavelength as I found this fairly straightforward and even the hiddens jumped out at me for a change.
    Started in the NW and worked my way anticlockwise around the grid finishing in the NE with MYSTERY and LEAFLET.
    Crossed the line in 5.16 with COD to SUNSET and an honourable mention to UPPER for the interesting cluing.
    Thanks to John

  12. 19:07 … held up for well over seven mins by my last two of DILIGENT and CHALLENGE. The latter because I’d put ROME and C-M-L-N-E still looks plausible 🤦‍♂️

    1. I thought I’d look… My Wordweb Pro tool tells me there is only one word that matches C-M-L-N-E : It’s not in the usual dictionaries, but Wikipedia has “Camelinae is a subfamily of artiodactyls of the family Camelidae. Camelinae include the tribes Camelini and Lamini.” (a special of camel). I don’t expect to see that as an answer in a QC any time soon!

      1. But now that you’ve brought it to the attention of those sneaky setters it’s sure to show up somewhere!

      2. It’s good to know I wasn’t overlooking anything obvious.

        Hoping it hasn’t given you ideas for your next Fortnightly!

  13. 18:04 – struggled at the end with LOI SLENDER

    A lot of biffing eg CHALLENGE, DILIGENT (I liked Lindsay’s alternative, v. Good) Liked LEAFLET and APPARENT, chestnuts no doubt but new to me.

    14d “hot areas include R” was surprisingly tricky for me.


    Closing phone now, 24 hour flight to Melbourne.

    1. You’ll probably fly over the top of Dili! If you’re here for any time let me know, we might risk a vino

        1. Thank you John, we’re in touch via email but nothing yet decided for next week, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile do you happen to know any other Melbourne comrades? I have encountered one or two via the blog but I can’t remember their handles. I did a little blog shout-out and as you’d know the only response we got was from Zakthehomebaker who’s in, er, London.

          1. Doing a search of comments mentioning Melbourne, there are a few more: jacaroo, aphis99, bruce_in_aus, and BletchleyReject, but it would be a breach of our data confidentiality rules to provide you with their email addresses. You could try replying to comments they made on the site to which they would get a comment notification email.

      1. I was going to suggest that T. There are some others in Melbs as well, if they read this please register an interest and let’s see what we can organise

        1. I’m a Melbournite, but currently living in London. Planning to move home early next year!

  14. Slow and steady with no particular difficulties as things dropped nicely into place. No recorded time as I split my solve with sleep, but I doubt I broke out from my usual club qualifier, so I will take my preferred chair in the corner and grab a quick coffee before heading off for a busy day.
    Liked several of the clever cryptics. Thanks John and Hurley.

  15. An enjoyable solve in two straight passes.

    TIME 3:48

    Good luck to all who find time to tackle my Weekend Special.

  16. A rare wander outside the SCC at 18.50 today. Like ND above, fixing the carelessly-entered ROME allowed CHALLENGE to slot in.

    Happy Friday all. Pi

      1. I had a big spate of picking the wrong homophone last year and DNFing because either word could fit the checkers. Think this was my first misfire of the year.

  17. 12 minutes. Another case of being slow out of the blocks and never getting a good sequence of write-ins. The ‘purple if learner included?’ trick for UPPER was sneaky and I needed the crossers to see it. Of the rest, HOSTILITY put up the most, well, resistance. Favourite was the nice surface for MIRAGE.

    Thanks to John and Hurley

  18. Quick except for my regular Achilles Heel – the last two clues. Today these were CHALLENGE, where I read the “every other letter” instruction as referring to the whole thing and was trying to construct a word that way (spoiler – it didn’t work); and that LOI TROPICS where I was convinced that the definition was at the other end and was trying to work HARS in there somewhere, with a crowbar if necessary. Then I realised …

    Got home in reggo 08:24 for 1.6 K and a Cuddawuddashudda Day.

    Many thanks Hurley and John. Looking forward to Phil’s special; might print it out and tackle it with Mrs Templar on the train up to town tonight.


  19. On the wavelength today and very quick once I decided to start at the bottom with TATTY.
    An enjoyable confidence building puzzle. Rather a lot of correct biffing then parsing.
    Thanks vm, John.

  20. This offering from Hurley didn’t put up too much resistance, the exception being the NE corner. Like Plett I finished with MYSTERY and LEAFLET but I took a minute more to get there. 6:09

  21. A relatively straightforward puzzle today. As others I considered START but wasn’t sure until other words fitted around it. SW corner completed first, THRASH took a few minutes. LOI and COD DILIGENT, LEAFLET made me smile and wonder how Harley’s mind works!

  22. Despite my debilitating attack of man flu, that direst of maladies, I finished this in about 20 mins. Tissues, self pity and brain fog slowed me somewhat as nothing was actually too taxing in hindsight. Liked LEAFLET and MYSTERY once enough brain cells connected. Still don’t see why SALESPERSON has to be a “colleague” rather than just any shop worker, so I rather over complicated trying to answer it.

    1. The only cure for man flu is eating the cat and stroking chocolate. Or is it the other way around? 🤔

  23. I was expecting a stinker, but was wrong! Enjoyable puzzle. I would have been quicker but was slightly held up by my LOI HOSTILITY – I’m quite often undone where you have to take the initials of more than one or two words, and here there were five. I had no idea what “in London is” was doing until the solution jumped out at me.

    As Kevin says, quicker than Johninterred is a rarity, so I’ll take that.


  24. 11:13

    Another day behind the curve for me – Quitch of 95 suggesting around 8:30 for me – trouble teasing out stuff like CHALLENGE and HOSTILITY and I didn’t immediately enter START either (but perhaps that’s more justified). Oh well.

    Thanks John and Hurley

  25. Lots to do today so threw in the towel quite early on with TROPICS and PERHAPS unsolved. Frustrated to find the latter was my nemesis, a hidden, and an obvious one at that! Enjoyed the rest but needed the blog to parse UPPER. COD to LEAFLET which made me smile. Like Plymouthian I also made SALESPERSON more difficult than it needed to be (colleague?). Thanks John.

  26. Frustrating to get all except THR-S-. Couldn’t see how “thrust” = party, and indeed it isn’t.

  27. I nearly always find with Hurley’s puzzles that I finish round about my target time, and today was no exception being a little outside target at 10.29. I think he (or she of course) is the most consistent of the setters, and each puzzle is well crafted. I had to go a fair way into the puzzle at 15ac before I was confident enough to put in an answer.
    My overall time for the week is 46.18, giving me a daily average of 9.14.

  28. Very pleased with my finish time of 22 minutes, despite missing out on an escape from the SCC (it’s very comfortable in here), as it took me the best part of 5 minutes just to get my first clue on the board. That was RETINUE and I was starting to think it was going to be a long haul today. Fortunately, though, the lower Acrosses and the Downs proved more crackable (if that’s a word) and my pace picked up considerably.

    ROAM, UPPER and THRASH eluded me for a while and TROPICS was my LOI.

    Many thanks to Hurley and John.

  29. I found this one to be tricky in places, but very enjoyable. This is the sort of QC I like. Not too easy but not ridiculously tough. Clues that may not make total sense at first, yet there’s that “on the tip of my tongue” feeling.

    Just one clue I was not totally happy with and that is 8d. I think “colleague” was not the best choice of wording.

    Needed the Orange One’s (who keeps stealing my computer chair whenever I get up!) help with a couple of clues. Other than that no real difficulty with this one, for a Friday.


    My verdict: 👍
    Pumpa’s verdict: 🐈

  30. 14 mins…

    Thus concludes one of my more successful weeks for a while (although the dreaded Saturday QC looks on the horizon). Nothing too taxing here I thought, although I spent longer than I should on trying to get an anagram out of “mother” for 2dn and needed a few checkers for 18ac “Routine”.

    FOI – 4dn “Mirage”
    LOI – 18ac “Routine”
    COD – 17dn “Sunset” – a bit of a chestnut, but still brings a smile.

    Thanks as usual!

  31. My first pass through the acrosses yielded nothing until FORESEE. SLENDER, RETINUE, SWEET and TATTY followed without too much trouble. Several more passes were required, with HOSTILITY, TROPICS, PERHAPS and CHALLENGE providing quite an, er, challenge, before LOI MYSTERY closed the proceedings. Scraped in under target at 9:47. Thanks Hurley and John.

  32. 17:18 for a relatively quick solve. As I STARTed in the UPPER left, I thought I could FORESEE a SWEET CHALLENGE, without too many MYSTERY ENTRies to hold up the DILIGENT solver. And so it proved though in its usual fog my wayward memory had me straying through oases looking for MIRAGEs and trying to believe AGRENDA was a word!

    Thanks Hurley and John!

  33. Silly typos took me to 35 mins which is okay-ish for me, disregarding typos I’m giving myself an adjusted 30 mins, which is target. Irritated I’m always well off mark from everybody else.

    1. If you’d popped in earlier, you’d have seen me struggling behind you…

      Last Feb, my times were 40mins Quit, 17DNF, 22DNF, 33, 38, 13, 34, 53, 14, 38Q, 28, 38Q, 28, 43, 41, 38, 59, 54, 18DNF, 35 …. an average of about 35mins

      Feb 2022 they were 1hr Quit, 1hr50 Q, 1hr40 DNF, 1hr15 Q, 2hr20 Q, 2hr Q, 1hr Q, 1hr06, 1hr10 DNF, 58mins, 1hr34 DNF, 2hr30 Q, 1hr57, 2hr40, 33mins , 1hr20, 1hr Q, 1hr40, 22mins Q, 1hr

  34. All done in 10:54. During my first pass of the acrosses, all the left hand side went in and none of the right until SWEET. Fortunately, I found the downs to be more even. COD leaflet: as someone else mentioned, probably a chestnut, but it felt fresh and clever to me.

    Thanks to Hurley and John.

  35. Only one of the acrosses in the top half on first pass but the bottom half proved more accomodating. Thereafter I jumped around the grid somewhat, picking off clues at random. On the way I fell into most of the traps that others have already mentioned, finishing up all parsed in 18 minutes. A great xword imo, with no obscure vocabualry or references, just goos clueing throughout.

    FOI – 1ac START
    LOI – 22ac SWEET
    COD – 10ac LEAFLET

    Thanks to Hurley and John

  36. 23 minutes

    Bad performance today. Bested by all the people I tend to record similar times to, in the SCC and a straightforward QC to boot.

    How is is that so many of you struggle to start but still beat me? Am I the only solver who starts well and then always struggles on the second pass?

    Initially put STATE (as in STATELY) for 1dn and that held me up (my daily piece of idiocy). Took ages on the so easy HOSTILITY, and I am still getting the definition and the word play the wrong way round on so many (TROPICS/SUNSET).

    Another ‘fail’ week. My target (5 solves in 2 hours) continues to eludes me. 90 minutes this week and three SCC escapes, but one DNF (EYE rather than EWE on Wednesday). Close is no consolation as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks for the blog John.

    1. Really I don’t see how 23 minutes is a “bad performance” (who’s watching anyway?)!

      Twenty-three minutes of solving pleasure feels like a pretty good bargain to me. Once I finished much much faster than usual and felt deprived!

      (Edited to add) Incidentally, I often wonder why I struggle more as time goes on. Aha, it’s because I did the easier clues already.

      1. That’s only half of my target Tina. I need 5 solves and I only had 4. DNFs don’t count.

        Well done today on your excellent performance. Wow.

  37. We too were slow to get going today but once we did the clues all seemed pretty fair and straightforward. 11:54. Particularly enjoyed LEAFLET and SUNSET.

  38. Was a tad daunted but first but my head gradually cleared. The LHS went in first and then I had to get a couple more to have crossers to help for the rest of the RHS. Eventually got up some momentum for (a rarely timed) 26 minutes. Misled myself at FOI with 2d as Metaphor (as an aid to explaining) but it had to go for 11a Foresee and 1a Start. Was slightly surprised by 3d Thrash – a word I haven’t used/heard/seen in this context for many a decade and yet we have the PC 8d Salesperson when Sales Assistant seem still perfectly acceptable (IMO).

  39. 18:26

    Some of the clues were too easy change O to E for MYSTERY or LLE in CHANGE for challenge. I was looking for a synonym for change when none was needed. So, well done the setter for fooling me. LOI PERHAPS.

  40. Not on form today and a DNF. CHALLENGE, UPPER, THRASH defeated me. Struggled with a few others, too. Not finding Hurley at all easy lately.

  41. 48:13 with the last three of DILIGENT / ROUTINE / ENTRY taking an absolute age. Irritatingly, I thought of “sentry” as a possible answer until I saw it didn’t fit, and then dismissed it for another ten minutes or so until the penny very belatedly dropped.

  42. Really annoyed
    5 out of 5 this week bar one letter yesterday (we have to do Friday’s on Saturday)


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