Times Quick Cryptic No 2678 by Teazel

A pleasant Quick Cryptic from Teazel today that’s a little tricky in parts – it took me about a minute over my average time finishing in 6:30.  LOI was the Scotsman and my COD award goes to 23A, which made me smile. Thanks Teazel. How did you all get on?

Fortnightly Weekend Quick Cryptic.  This time it is my turn to provide the extra weekend entertainment. You can find the crossword, entitled “A Girl’s Adventures”,  here.   If you are interested in trying our previous offerings you can find an index to all 103 here.

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

1 This is how spies left informal gathering (6)
SOCIALSO (this is how) CIA (spies) L (left). I thought the definition for “so” a bit odd, but the dictionary says “In this, that, or such manner, degree, or condition”.
4 Peer is said to be childless (6)
BARRENBARREN sounds like BARON (peer).
8 Undemanding hilltop not very high (7)
LOWBROWLOW (not very high) BROW (hilltop).
10 An argument about River Dart (5)
ARROWR (river) in A ROW (an argument). You have to see to separate “River Dart” to get the definition. A typical setter’s trick.
11 Take side off piece of furniture to make it fit (4)
ABLE – {t}ABLE (piece of furniture), without the letter on the left-hand side of the word, [take side off]. I don’t think I’ve seen “take side off” as a deletion indicator before.
12 One that forgives a tale-teller (8)
PARDONER – Double definition, the second being one of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tale tellers. Read his tale here.
14 Believer is quiet and strangely hesitant (9)
PANTHEISTP (piano; quiet), [strangely] (hesitant)*. A believer in many gods.
18 Spotted insect and hen, may one say? (8)
LADYBIRD – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint. A hen might be described as a LADY BIRD.
20 Mince remains hot to start with (4)
HASHH (hot) ASH (remains). Mince the verb not the noun.
22 A friend from America returning by one Muslim country (5)
DUBAI – A BUD (friend from America) reversed -> DUBA, I (one).
23 Where Dad can swim with ease? (4,3)
DEAD SEA – (Dad ease)* [can swim]. A neat semi&lit, where the whole clue is the definition and includes the wordplay to get to it. This made me smile and gets my COD award. To elucidate (thanks to iratevower in the comments) an added quote from the World Atlas: “Dead Sea’s high salt content allows one to float effortlessly on the water”.
24 Foolish time to put identifying mark into deer (6)
DOTAGETAG (identifying mark) in DOE (a deer, a female deer…).
25 Heat of battle at mountain height (6)
WARMTHWAR (battle) MT (abbreviation for mount; mountain) H (height).
1 A little insult angers sovereign (6)
SULTAN – Hidden in unSULT ANgers.
2 Primrose in part of animal’s mouth (7)
COWSLIPCOW’S LIP (part of animal’s mouth). Here in Suffolk in places we get the bigger ones called Oxlips. They are both members of the Primula family of plants.
3 With gold, artist creates special atmosphere (4)
AURAAU (chemical symbol of Gold), RA (artist).
5 Scotsman unfortunately died before broadcast (8)
ALASDAIRALAS (unfortunately) D (died) AIR (broadcast). If you biff this from some of the checkers you might not get the right spelling.
6 Engineers manage a repeat broadcast (5)
RERUNRE (Royal Engineers) RUN (manage).
7 Fresh flood defence for Notts town (6)
NEWARKNEW (fresh) ARK (Flood defence; i.e. Noah’s Ark). Fortunately I’ve been up and down the A1 passing the signs to Newark so many times that the answer leapt out. “flood defence” for “ark” is a little tricky.
9 Suffered from exposure, but survived (9)
WEATHERED – Double definition.
13 Assisting girl with jewellery (8)
ENABLINGENA (girl) BLING (jewellery) – not RING as I thought initially.
15 Time to pay for freedom in the bar (7)
TRANSOMT (time) RANSOM (pay(ment) made for freedom from kidnapping). A crossbeam. Ah. That sort of bar.
16 With a cutting edge, youth pierces couch (6)
BLADEDLAD (youth) in BED (couch)
17 Covering small area of unproductive land (6)
SHEATHS (small) HEATH (area of unproductive land).
19 Ledger entry’s extremely defective part (5)
DEBIT – Outside letters, [extremely], of DefectivE, BIT (part).
21 Leaving word poor quality stuff is at start of auction (2-2)
TA-TATAT (poor quality stuff) and first letter of Auction. And with this last clue it’s ta-ta from Teazel and ta-ta from me.

85 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2678 by Teazel”

  1. Lots of words I didn’t know. I might have dnf this whole week.

    Dubai is not a country though? I double checked to see if it didn’t say ‘county’ instead, learned my lesson. But Dubai is def a city, or like, a territory at best.

    1. Good point about Dubai. It is one of the Emirates that make up the country of United Arab Emirates so I think that makes it more like a principality or kingdom than a country in its own right. But then might that apply to Wales too?

      1. Wales is described as a country though. Whether or not an emirate is a country is beyond my knowledge but I didn’t think it was.
        I think Dubai is more like Monaco than Wales

        1. Good spot about DUBAI, Tina. On the subject of whether Wales is a country, Cedric wrote a very informative post about this a couple of weeks ago which can be found here – scroll about a third of the way down to see his response to a post by Martinu or just do a Find On Page search on “Cedric”.

          1. It’s a sovereign city state. I never consider it a country, along with the likes of Vatican City.

                1. I guess it all depends how you define the word ‘country’. All the definitions I could find would certainly cover independent city-states like Singapore or Monaco, and probably the Vatican City as well. I can’t, however, see any way that Dubai could be considered a country. Yes, there is an Emirate of Dubai, but that isn’t a country either. It’s all part of the U.A.E.

        2. Surely a cowslip is not a primrose. I have them both in my garden. Cowslips prefer wetter ground. Primroses banksp

  2. 17:55. Plenty of fun clues- SOCIAL,
    ALASDAIR, LADYBIRD, and COWSLIP especially. Like Tina, I didn’t think of DUBAI as a country( maybe rather one of the United Arab Emirates?). Also didn’t think LOWBROW meant undemanding until I thought about it for a while.

  3. 12 minutes at a leisurely pace by my own choice. I didn’t spot the DUBAI thing though I might have done if the answer hadn’t come so easily and I’d had to spend time thinking about it. I felt NEWARK might cause some problems overseas. I looked twice at ARK as ‘flood defence’ but ended up liking it and at least it made a change from ‘lifeboat’.

  4. I thought some of these were hard and it took me 11.55 to finish. Looking back now it all seems rather straightforward but SOCIAL, PARDONER (if you haven’t read Chaucer) and the clever anagram for PANTHEIST struck me as being outside the usual QC parameters. But then again, what are they? Enjoyable overall, thanks Teazel and John. One day someone should add up all the different ways there are to spell that Scotsman’s name.

  5. 15 minutes. A few tricky ones as noted by John, to which I would add COWSLIP for ‘Primrose’ and the ‘tale-teller’ part of the def for PARDONER.

    I wondered about DOTAGE for ‘Foolish time’, but Collins has dotage as “a period of decreased mental functioning, esp. as a result of old age” and the separate sense of “foolish infatuation” which may be what was intended, so can’t complain. I’ve always thought of dotage though as just related to old age, or as Oxford Dictionaries puts it “the period of life in which a person is old and weak”. Either way it doesn’t sound good!

    I liked the ‘flood defence for Notts town’ for NEWARK, particularly as I now see there were floods there earlier this year.

    Thanks to John and Teazel

    1. Just an added quote from the World Atlas: “ Dead Sea’s high salt content allows one to float effortlessly on the water”. I was told the same for the Med and so learned to swim there, “buoyed” by the belief! Well, it worked, even if untrue; it was certainly warmer than the English Channel or the North Sea.

      1. Thanks. I really should have explained that is why it’s such a great clue in ihe blog… so now I’ve added it.

      2. Finding myself at the Dead Sea in the 1980s, I donned trunks and gave it a go. Amazing feeling of lightness! I floated round for ages (and I had the water almost to myself). This Dad exemplified the neat clue.

  6. DNF with WARMTH and TRANSOM being the holdouts. Some pretty tricky clues here, and agree that no way is Dubai a country. Why not just say “city”?

    I see that DOTAGE appears in the same spot as its opposite, NONAGE, from earlier in the week.

    COD DEAD SEA for the great surface

    1. While we’re on the subject (and I hesitate to raise this question in case somebody answers it and confuses me further) John nominates the DEAD SEA clue as a semi&lit and I had thought of it as just an &lit. I suspect the difference is not great but can anybody explain? cheers!

        1. The difference is that in a true &lit every word in the clue has to be part of the wordplay. In this case the word that isn’t is “where”. Typically a semi&lit will includes a determiner such as “this” or “here” or “whose”, or, as in this case, “where” to complete the noun phrase clue. Although I didn’t spell it out in the parsing in the blog the [with] indicates the joining of ‘Dad’ and ‘ease’ to make the anagrist.

          1. Thank you for that. I did look at the Glossary after making my comment and realised that ‘Where’ could be the Semi &lit reason.

          2. As a matter of interest, what do we call a clue in which all the clue is wordplay but only part of it is definition?

          3. Thank you John. I don’t think I will ever have any confidence on these issues and am grateful to be enlightened! Cheers

  7. Beaten all ends up by lots of clues, the answers to which simply would not reveal themselves including SHEATH, WARMTH, COWSLIP, WEATHERED, SOCIAL, LOWBROW, TRANSOM.

    An off day? Maybe, but a pretty tough week for me.

    Thanks Teazel and John. Fine weekends all!

  8. Fingers crossed for TRANSOM, PARDONER was LOI – I definitely haven’t read it but did some Chaucer at school (Wife of Bath I think so some Canterbury Tales thoughts must have stuck – unless it’s been on TV in the intervening decades). Pleased with myself for warmth, tried an unlikley looking ‘mth’ at the end of word and there was WARMTH. Whacked in LADYBIRD hoping to parse later and when I came back to it found it a lot easier. DOTAGE held me up for not sounding at all like the bits that made it up. All green in 14 on the dot.

  9. Failed miserably with this one by not seeing WEATHERED, LOWBROW, PARDONER and HASH after 35 minutes. However I liked ALASTAIR and PANTHEIST.
    I expect be in the corner wearing dunce’s cap this afternoon while the others enjoy their choosing time. And I’d been doing well up until yesterday ☹️
    Thanks anyway to John and Teazel.

  10. Enjoyed this one a lot and thought it had a good mix of clue difficulties.
    Had a lovely PDM with PARDONER, no idea what tale he told as I only got to do the prologue for A’level English which I found rather dull. I needed all the checkers before I could biff SULTAN and then spent a while wondering how it parsed 🤦‍♂️ and had to dredge the Notts town from the depths of my memory.
    Started with SOCIAL and finished with COD NEWARK in 8.17.
    Thanks to John

    1. Yes Wikipedia doesn’t say it is a country, but it is an emirate (which is a sovereign state) as well as a city… just like the country of Monaco. I’m inclined to give our setter the benefit of the doubt.

      1. May I add this? The Principality of Monaco has an Embassy in London. That would be unthinkable for Dubai which is part of the UAE. So Monaco and Dubai are not analogous. I’m only adding this as yet another criterion, not using it necessarily to disallow the clue, for as others have pointed out, Wales and Scotland are indubitably countries.

  11. 8:59
    A slow start, then speeded up. SOCIAL and SULTAN my last two in.

    Enjoyed PARDONER. I did the prologue for O level, and rather enjoyed it, despite a teacher who told us off if we said we were“ translating” Chaucer into modern English. “You can’t translate English into English, you are merely paraphrasing.”

    Thanks John and Teazel

  12. I’m relieved that others have found this chewy – if even John found it “a little tricky” then we know it was no walk in the park! It took me 15 minutes, well above my par, and even apart from the MER at Dubai (city and emirate but definitely not a country), several clues took some chiselling out. I also thought 13D would end in -RING, and ENA isn’t the first woman’s name that comes to mind either, so that was a tough one, and LADYBIRD was also a big PDM when it finally emerged. But the clue that took me most time was the anagram PANTHEIST – even with all the checkers it took some finding.

    Many thanks John for the blog and in anticipation for the weekend special.

  13. No real problems, though I did biff “Alastair” on the first pass, correcting it when the second pass screamed PARDONER at me.

    COD WARMTH (DEAD SEA also excellent)
    TIME 4:55

  14. NHO TRANSOM; my dictionary gives five definitions, none of which include the (catch-all!) word “bar”. Otherwise three simply eluded my brain today: LOWBROW, WARMTH, ENABLING (not helped by pencilling in RING). And that ENA again! The web tells me Ena is “the 3314th most popular girl’s name”; more like the 3rd most popular here, though …

  15. 11:50 today so slightly slower than usual. I spent too long looking for a word for assisting ending in RING not BLING. DNK PARDONER or TRANSOM but the clues were kind.
    I am definitely in the camp of DUBAI is not a country but an Emirate within the UAE.
    Fun puzzle and blog as always.

  16. Also queried Dubai as a country. Was sure of LADYBIRD but PDM came a couple of minutes later. No problems with anything else but clearly in my DOTAGE as biffed that and needed blog to parse what is really a basic clue. Ridiculous! Thanks to John

  17. 14:55

    Spent an age on POI ENABLING, sure that it would end RING. Should have concentrated on LOI PANTHEIST.

    Overall pretty tough I thought and very enjoyable.

    Thanks all

  18. I groaned when I had to look at the map of Nottinghamshire for LOI NEW ARK=flood defence.
    A pretty hard puzzle in parts, but clever and enjoyable. Felt a bit smug when I solved PARDONER and PANTHEIST. Struggled with several PDMS: LOWBROW, BLADED, LADYBIRD (in fact all SW). Among other LOsI: ALASDAIR, WEATHERED, ENABLING. FOI BARREN. COD TRANSOM (part of boat, I dimly remembered). Also liked SOCIAL, among others.
    Thanks vm, John.

  19. Not the easiest puzzle to follow on from yesterday’s toughie. I managed to finish in 10.59 which I think was relatively good considering the difficulty. I didn’t help myself by biffing SLIGHT for 1dn by not reading the clue properly, and I needed to solve LOWBROW to put me back on track. I was a little surprised to see DOTAGE clued as ‘foolish time’, I’ve always associated the term as being a reference to being in old age, without suggesting you’re losing your marbles in being so.
    My total time for the week was 47.36, giving me a daily average under target at 9.31.

    1. Dear Mr Pandy,
      Should you ever buy yourself a new ark I think I know where you would berth it?
      Your weekly total just beat my time for today’s puzzle (50 mins). Well done!

  20. Delighted to see a few others with slower than usual times too – I thought it was just me, after a late night and an extra glass of port!

    I thought that that had a distinct 15×15 flavour and struggled with lots of it – eg couldn’t see SO for “this is how”, LOWBROW for “undemanding”, or COWSLIP for “primrose” (which I have a MER at – a primrose is not a cowslip, they are two different plants: primula vulgaris and primula veris). For my LOI I resorted to writing down TEA-S-M, THA-S-M, TIA-S-M, TOA-S-M, TRA-S-M and then staring at them!

    All that added up to 13:14 of wrestling with a very good puzzle for 1.9K and an AlkaSeltzer Day. Many thanks Teazel and John.


  21. This went swimmingly – I thought – and I only had 1a and 11a to complete at the 10 minute mark. But then I sank for a further 10 minutes, having put Caliph at 1d, thinking that lip was the little insult: memo to self, always check for hiddens! By the time I spotted CIA in the social I was in my usual corner in the SCC.
    But what a fun puzzle and great blog from Suffolk neighbour John. I too have Newark from many trips up and down the A1. And the Pardoner’s tale from my schooldays. Didn’t mind Dubai as a country because 5 letter places starting with D are like hen’s teeth!

  22. Not bad for what QUITCH says is the hardest puzzle for a while, and my best WITCH since I had a purple patch around a month ago.

    DEAD SEA and WARMTH were both very good, but the former gets the nod from me. SHEATH went in last after WARMTH.


  23. Teazel is my favourite setter. The puzzles are challenging but always fun. Today was no exception. Took ages to get going but gradually filled the grid. Favourite clues, all PDMs, were LOWBROW, DEAD SEA, LADYBIRD and NEWARK which made me smile. LOI was SHEATH – totally misdirected and expecting a NHO for ‘unproductive land’ (doh). Many thanks John.

  24. 9.03

    Breezeblocked on two of the easier ones at the end – LOWBROW and WEATHERED

    Agree DEAD SEA was excellent

  25. Another tricky offering! Managed to come in under target, but wondered if I would when I got stuck on WEATHERED. At least getting that one opened up COWSLIP, PANTHEIST and TRANSOM which I was also stuck on. ENABLING was my LOI and also took a while. 9:12. Thanks Teazel and John.

  26. Tricky – at 13:02. The Scotsman/one that forgives intersection was the last. Post solve I puzzled about the parsing of PARDONER – I’m not ‘up’ on the Canterbury Tales. I got involved in the creation of a town called NEWDAM for quite a while. Thanks for the blog.

  27. Struggled to finish and needed time off to come back to succeed eventually. Found it very testing, especially as I was very slow to see the hidden SULTAN which inspired SOCIAL and LOWBROW. A hard week.

  28. 12:19

    Toughest for a while in my view – found PARDONER, PANTHEIST and WEATHERED all hard to come by. Eventually pencilled in (an incorrect) -RING at 13d which gave DUBAI and filled in from there correcting 13d as my LOI. Failed to parse LADYBIRD as a LADY BIRD – ho ho.

    Thanks John and Teazel

  29. 35 mins…

    Got there in the end, but that was a tough workout. For the first 15 mins, I hardly had anything.

    I wasn’t 100% sure about 15dn “Transom” nor 14ac “Pantheist” – but applying the logic that most believers are “ists” of some form, I made an educated guess. I made the mistake of sticking in Alastair for 5dn, which meant a long hold up on both 12ac “Paronder” and 7dn “Newark”. For the latter, I had all sorts of combos: Newdam, Newlee, Newbar – none of which felt right. I even thought of Newark, but didn’t immediately see the “flood defence” connection, until I sorted out my Alastairs and a few other clues fell into place.

    FOI – 3dn “Aura”
    LOI – 7dn “Newark”
    COD – 23ac “Dead Sea”

    Thanks as usual!

  30. Tricky end to a tricky week! I shall remain comfortably inside the SCC at 23:25.

    I started doing some of these with a friend of mine this week, which for some reason seems to take double the time that it takes me to do them by myself, which is a bit odd. Good fun, though.

  31. I thought this was a stinker. But then I have not found any of the last week’s friendly to those of us new to puzzles. It would be nice to catch an easier one every now and then, if only for encouragement. A DNF to finish off a week of DNFS

  32. I win with the longest time, 43:36! What a great puzzle, but I was not on the wavelength at all, and simply got more and more stubborn, and less and less insightful as my morning wore away. Finally walked away from it with WEATHERED, LOWBROW, PARDONER (excellent misdirection here), missing. Returned and saw them all nearly instantly. (I had gotten so hung up on smothered, slathered, blathered, …!)

    Favorite clues? So many, DEAD SEA, PARDONER, LADYBIRD, TRANSOM all were pleasing. And teasing.

    Thanks much to Teazel and John.

    PS: has anyone here ever met anyone named Ena? I haven’t, nor encountered a fictional character neither, not never.

    1. Dear SC,
      Your celebration was slightly premature, as I have just crossed the line in a time of 50 minutes. Therefore, well done for your speedy solve.

      1. I’ve noticed we tend to be on the same wavelength most days. Nice to have company here in the dust of the slow coach!

    2. In days of yore (1960s?) there was an elderly character in a UK soap called Ena Sharples, a bad-tempered dragonlady. I’ve never met anyone IRL called Ena.

  33. Challenging! Mrs Random returned from her U3A Advanced German group as I was being welcomed into the SCC and, at that stage, I had solved only seven clues. I had visions of a DNF or another 90+ minutes solve today, but a couple of brief spurts at key moments ENABLed me to cross the line successfully in a total time of 50 minutes. Teazel has always been my most awkward setter to get to grips with, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

    I ended up with several question-marked clues, including PARDONER, PANTHEIST, ABLE and DOTAGE, but even though my solving skills and command of the English language leave something to be desired they all fitted and I enjoyed the journey.

    Many thanks to Teazel and John.

  34. 20m
    No time again as work got in the way, but that was either very tough or I need to cut down the old speckled hen.

    Struggled with weathered, bladed, newark, warmth, transom, pardoner, and LOI Alasdair which looks odd.

    COD Dead sea.

    1. On a training course for journalists in 1979 our tutor was a wonderful Scottish ex-editor, one Alasdair Strathern. I can always remember a couple of his lessons:
      ‘Never use an exclamation mark at the end of a headline!’; and
      ‘Alright is not all right!’
      So how could anyone spell Alasdair any other way?

  35. What can I say? Better than yesterday’s but that’s a very low bar! I was not on the wavelength at all but I stuck with it and managed to complete in 26 mins, all parsed. Nothing unknown, so I can’t claim that as an excuse. Thanks to Teazel for a good work out.

    FOI – 4ac BARREN
    LOI – 12ac PARDONER
    CODS – liked 11ac ABLE, 7dn NEWARK and 15dn TRANSOM the best but lots of good clues.

  36. Another nightmare day.

    Didn’t help that I had to solve this at work. No official time recorded and no enjoyment either.

    Had I been able to record my time, it would be in the 40-50 minute region.

    I have spent hours recently trying to improve my skills (including attempting the proper crossword) and I am absolutely nowhere. Over the last 2 weeks, I have spent upwards of 30 hours on cryptics, and there is very little to show for it.

    This week has been horrible. Two shocking DNFs, two deep SCC- territory finishes and only yesterday as something decent. How the heck can I record 13 mins yesterday (and be disappointed by that as I found it so easy) and then have these other disasters? Inexplicable.

    Thanks for the blog John.

    Another weekend of self-reproach awaits. Nothing new there.

    1. Wow, 13 minutes yesterday is impressive! I took 28.

      Also, I spent more time than I care to mention doing yesterday’s 15×15 thinking to improve my skills. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  37. I had no idea what was going on in 6D, other than that I was looking for some sort of Scot. Thought it might include an anagram of DIED and didn’t think of AIR for broadcast, so DNF. Otherwise a fun puzzle.

  38. 26.46 DNF. Distracted by something I really ought to have been doing instead I spent ages stuck with the unlikely town of NEWDAM. Eventually PARDONER (which I never parsed) led to NEWARK and then I discovered I’d fumbled COWLSIP. Aargh! DEAD SEA was nice. Thanks John and Teazel.

  39. 20:59 here, but with aids for TRANSOM, which I just couldn’t see, even with all the crossers. Ho hum. Tomorrow is another day.

    Thanks to Teazel and John.

  40. Held up getting PARDONER until pdm that I had put ALISTAIR instead of ALASDAIR (I did wonder where the died fitted in!!).
    Thanks Teazel and John

  41. I agree with those who feel it’s been a tough week. No jet lag excuses now but still we only came in under 20 minutes by 3 seconds. It didn’t help not knowing the Pardoner character, our POI which finally unlocked LOI ALASDAIR. Spent far too long trying to work with an anagram (‘unfortunately’) of died and wondering what could possibly mean ‘before broadcast’. Substantially amore than 3 minutes on those two clues alone. We also raised an eyebrow at Dubai but then moved on. Thanks to Teazel for the workout and to John for the blog.

  42. 29:22

    Stuck for an eternity on DUBAI which I didn’t think was a country and DEBIT before really coming undone on LOI ALASDAIR.

  43. I know I am late to the party but this resident of the SCC (or occasionally special table) really enjoyed this puzzle! I was slow (as always!) but made steady progress and succeeded. Thank you Teasel. Loved DEAD SEA, sort of knew TRANSOM (no idea why!) And last one in was SULTAN (D’oh!).


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