Times Quick Cryptic No 2688 by Trelawney

Solving time: 7:46

The Squire’s brow engulfs us with a wealth of interesting words here – and challengingly-enough clued, I’d say, to push the Quitch towards 90 perhaps?

15a was my LOI, but I was amused by the notion of 10d which might result in a watering of the eyes, thanks to a firm thump on the nose (though that may depend on the type of concert suggested to you by the clue).

How did you all get along?

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

1 Ancient period‘s character captured by wise person (5,3)
STONE AGETONE (character) inside [captured by] SAGE (wise person)

To put it into context, the Stone Age i.e. human use of stone for tools, lasted for roughly 3.4 million years, ending less than 6000 years ago with the advent of metalworking. It therefore represents more than 99% of human history!

5 Revolutionary secretly listens to argument (4)
SPATTAPS (secretly listens) reversed [Revolutionary]

The derivation of SPAT is a bit fuzzy – it started out as an informal abbreviation of the word ‘spatterdash’, which referred to a type of protective leg covering worn mainly by late 19th/early 20th century men. While spats protected socks and shoes from the elements, a minor verbal clash or argument somehow became a SPAT – an example of how language can evolve informally, drawing on existing words and associations to create new terms.

8 Underwear extremely visible? Bold! (5)
BRAVEBRA (Underwear) then the end letters [extremely] of V{isibl}E
9 Mock fool carrying amplifier (7)
LAMPOONLOON (fool) with AMP (amplifier) inserted

In amplified music, AMP is a standard abbreviation for an amplifier.

LAMPOON as a noun, is described by Dr Johnson as “A personal satire; abuse; censure written not to reform but to vex”. It came from the French lampon (17c.), a word of unknown origin, said by French etymologists to have derived from lampons (“let us drink!” – a popular refrain for scurrilous drinking songs), which itself came from lamper “to drink, guzzle,” a nasalised form of laper “to lap”.

11 Chill pitcher regularly (3)
ICE – Alternate letters of pitcher
12 Spider is natural at scuttling (9)
TARANTULA – Anagram [scuttling] of NATURAL AT

The only spider that exists in Crosswordland

13 Companion’s corset adjusted (6)
ESCORT – Anagram [adjusted] of CORSET

ESCORT was initially a 16th century military term for an armed, protective or honorary guard, from Italian scorta “a guiding”, which is from the verb scorgere “to guide”.

The sense of “person accompanying another to a social occasion” is from the mid-1930s.

15 A herb finally mailed out (6)
ABSENTA then final letter of {her}B then SENT (mailed)

Don’t be shy now! – you can admit that you were looking for a five-letter herb to follow A….

Think this might be a breezeblock for one or two – very cunning setter, very cunning!

18 Somehow win orange from Scandinavia (9)
NORWEGIAN – Anagram [Somehow] of WIN ORANGE

You have no doubt asked yourself frequently, why do only NORWEGIAN and Glaswegian, have the -wegian suffix?

19 Vehicle found in Nicaragua (3)
CAR – Hidden [found] in Nicaragua
20 Worst and best part of a motor race? (3,4)
PIT STOPPITS (Worst) and TOP (best)
21 Silly cousin an embarrassment, partially (5)
INANE – Hidden [partially] in cousin an embarrassment
22 Boy eats last of leftover fat (4)
LARDLAD (Boy) eats i.e. insert last letter of {leftove}R

LARD is the rendered fat of a swine, and comes directly from the Latin lardum “lard, bacon, cured swine’s flesh”. This is also the source for lardon “a cube or strip of bacon fat inserted into meat for roasting”, and the 14th century larder “a supply of salt pork, bacon, and other meats”.

23 Piece from tabloid chaps inserted into broadsheet (8)
FRAGMENTRAG (tabloid) MEN (chaps) inserted into FT (broadsheet i.e. Financial Times)
1 Wonderful fruit at the bottom of U-boat (7)
SUBLIMELIME (fruit) at the bottom of SUB (U-boat)

The positional indicator is apposite here as this is a down clue and LIME is ‘at the bottom of’ i.e. underneath SUB

SUBLIME comes directly from Latin sublimis “uplifted, high, borne aloft, lofty, exalted, eminent, distinguished,” possibly originally “sloping up to the lintel,” from sub “up to” + limen “lintel, threshold, sill”. The word limit comes from the same source.

2 Give a speech, primarily on robbery and tax evasion (5)
ORATE – First letters [primarily] of on robbery and tax evasion
3 See Croat jet crashing? This could be used! (7,4)
EJECTOR SEAT – Anagram [crashing] of SEE CROAT JET. The second part of the clue is the definition, indicating that the answer could be what to use if you are, say, the pilot on a Croat jet and you see that is about to crash…

It’s never very clear to me when a clue is an &lit or a semi &lit or neither so I won’t even try to guess.

4 New lager includes oxygen in abundance (6)
GALORE – Anagram [New] of LAGER with O (oxygen – chemical symbol) inserted

From 17th century Irish go leór, and equivalent Scottish Gaelic gu leóir meaning “sufficiently, enough”.

6 Get hold of professional remedy (7)
PROCUREPRO (professional) CURE (remedy)
7 Country not upset over general assembly at first (5)
TONGANOT reversed [upset] over the first letters of [at first] G{eneral} A{ssembly}

Again, the positional indicator is apposite as this is a ‘down’ clue, and the first part (TON) is ‘over’ i.e. above the second part (GA)

10 Astounding request to a tall person at a concert? (4-7)
MIND-BENDING – If you were stuck behind a tall person at a concert, you might ask if they would MIND BENDING so that you might see better. However, you might expect to receive an answer along the lines of ‘Get knotted!’ if you did…
14 Clergyman, mostly, or museum director (7)
CURATORCURATE (Clergyman [mostly i.e. remove the last letter]) OR
16 Arranged rent and MOT? Agony! (7)
TORMENT – Anagram [Arranged] of RENT and MOT
17 Captain discards small fish (6)
KIPPERSKIPPER (Captain) without [discards] the S (small)

KIPPER comes from Old English cypera “male salmon,” perhaps related to copper on resemblance of colour. The earliest attested uses of the verb are related to the curing of salmon, the more modern “kippered herring” comes from the mid-1860s.

18 Writer heads north over a large country (5)
NEPALPEN (Writer) reversed [heads north] over A L (large)

And again, the positional indicators here, ‘heads north’ and ‘over’, could only be used with a ‘down’ clue.

19 Machine used for lifting bird (5)
CRANE – Double definition

125 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2688 by Trelawney”

  1. Couldn’t sleep. Did this on a whim. Nice puzzle. 12.47 – not bad for me these days.
    My COD was ABSENT.

  2. 8:10. EJECTOR SEAT, MIND-BENDING, FRAGMENT, and SPAT were favourites. Very informative blog, thanks Mike.

  3. Norwegian comes from Latin Norvegia; Glaswegian is evidently on analogy with Norwegian. My question is, why? Why not, say, Glasgovian? (cf. Harrovian, Shavian, …) I liked MIND-BENDING. 6:12.

    1. Hmm. The first definition of Galwegian in Collins is “another word for Gallovidian,” but no similar gloss appears in the entry for Glaswegian.

    2. I would have thought the citizens of the town of Oswego on Lake Ontario in upstate New York would call themselves Oswegians but apparently they say Oswegonians.

  4. Enjoyed this one, and even though I got held up by my LOI FRAGMENT, I still came in for a very rare sub-10 minute solve (albeit with a fat-finger typo).
    Quite a few nice clues I thought, such as EJECTOR SEAT and MIND-BENDING but COD has to be PIT STOP, what a great clue.

  5. A bit under 10 minutes. ABSENT and FRAGMENT were hard ones to tease ‘out’ and I needed all the crossers for MIND-BENDING. Favourites were PIT STOP and the ‘See Croat jet crashing’ for EJECTOR SEAT.

    Those of us who live on an island to the north of Bass Strait refer to our fellow countrymen who live on the island to the south as “Taswegians”; all in good fun of course.

    Thanks to Mike and Trelawney

  6. Apparently, Glaswegian and Galwegian (that’s in Chambers) were both formed by analogy with “Norwegian.”

          1. I assumed wrongly that the Macquarie Dictionary was a wind up; but no. I should get a copy. Also I see in Wictionary:
            Taswegian (plural Taswegians)
            1 (Australia, navy, slang) A Tasmanian seaman.
            2 (Australia, humorous, sometimes derogatory) An inhabitant of Tasmania.

  7. 9 minutes. Nearly a week since my last sub-10 solve. I toyed with MIND-BLOWING at 10dn but decided to wait for the missing checker. Nice puzzle.

  8. A MIND BENDING 10 (ten) on the first pass of acrosses after a bit of a pause to work out what went in middle of ‘sage’ to get STONE AGE. Fast from there to end up all green in a fastest for absolutely ages time of 6.24. A huge proportion of the world’s EJECTOR SEATs are are made here in Buckinghamshire by Martin-Baker. Quite an interesting website if you need a diverting coffee break read.

    1. Thanks, really fascinating. I’d never even heard of them but a real UK success story.

  9. Back on track today with a 14 minute finish. I especially liked MIND BENDING, despite its slowing me down somewhat, and I spent way too long looking for a herb in my other favourite ABSENT.
    Many thanks to Trelawny, always a favourite, and to Mike.

  10. 11:40
    Good puzzle, really liked MIND BENDING. LOI LAMPOON.

    Going back to Norwegian, where -ay becomes -egian for the demonym, what about those blasted Scottish Hebrides we hear about in the crossword. Are Men of Islay, Colonsay etc known as Islegian or Colonsegian ?

    1. A man (or woman) from Islay is known as an Ileach, from the Gaelic name for the island, Ìle. Alas I don’t know the equivalent for someone from Colonsay…

  11. Hurrah, a PB today of 14.44 which could have been sub 14 but for fragment.

    Thought Mind very early on but also needed many more checkers for the PDM, great clue but COD for the surface of tarantula, add scuttling as Anagrind #487 to our list 😀

    Thanks Mike for all the interesting info, made a great read, especially as we had extra time after our fast solve 😉

    Thanks Trelawney, enjoyed this very much.

  12. Much enjoyed this puzzle – I usually find Trelawney very approachable – and scampered through in 8½ minutes. Spent rather longer savouring Mike’s excellent blog, a feast for those of us interested in etymology. Where else can one find references to Latin, 16th century Italian, 17th century Irish Gaelic and so on at this hour of a Wednesday morning?!

    Many thanks Mike – the bar has been set high for other bloggers…

  13. Typical Trelawney puzzle – great clueing and at the gentler end of the spectrum.
    I biffed ‘mind-blowing’ until the Scandinavian pointed me in the right direction but other than that no real hold ups.
    Started with STONE AGE and finished with SPAT in 5.28 with COD to PIT STOP.
    Thanks to Mike for the very informative blog

  14. 4:33. Neat and not too demanding. I liked BRAVE and MIND-BENDING. Thanks Trelawney and Mike.

  15. I’m not very tall so I have very much wished I could ask people to bend down in front!

    9:40 – I found this very smooth sailing, nothing held me up.

    1. Me too! But they can be very useful when you can’t reach something on the top shelf in the supermarket 😅

  16. A rare completion! V pleasing and at 13.15 probably a PB. There have been some tough ones of late but this was most enjoyable and rewarding

  17. Well clued and mostly vanilla. COD FRAGMENT. 18.30 for a rare sub 20 finish. Thanks Mike and Trelawney.

  18. Having been somewhat sluggish of late I was pleased to scuttle through this in just under 13 enjoyable minutes, with time to enjoy the educational blog thereafter. No particular delays, steady downward progress although throwing in MIND BLOWING without parsing the second part left me with a strange anagram for our Scandinavian, prompting a rethink.

  19. What a joy. I remember the days when they were like this every day. Great fun. LOI MIND-BENDING (lovely). Thank you, Trelawney.

  20. 10:49 (birth of Rhiryd ap Bleddyn, King of Powys)

    Fast start, then held up by ABSENT (where I was another one looking for a herb), and my LOI MIND BENDING.

    Thanks Mike and Trelawney

  21. 10 mins…

    Personally I found it one of the more straight forward puzzles in quite a while, and assured me, for a short time at least, that perhaps I haven’t completely lost it.

    Saying that, there was still enough to leave me chuckling here and there, with the only holdup being the initial misspelling of “Norwegian”.

    FOI – 2dn “Orate”
    LOI – 23ac “Fragment”
    COD – 10dn “Mind Bending”

    Thanks as usual!

  22. Very enjoyable. COD to PIT-STOP, which immediately brought John McEnroe’s “you cannot be serious!” tantrum, during which he called the umpire “the pits of the world”. I had never heard the phrase before and was baffled by it (it was before Google … I had to wait for an explanation in my father’s Times!).

    Had a bit of a head scratch over LOI SUBLIME, which stopped this entering PB country. But brisk enough at 05:44 for a Red Letter Day.

    Many thanks for the education, Mike, and to the Squire for the fun.


  23. Wish I had timed myself today as was v quick. Enjoyable puzzle.
    Steeling ourselves for the arrival of guest, a friend’s puppy, not entirely housetrained.
    Thanks vm, Mike.

  24. Yesterday’s struggles were quickly forgotten as I ‘dashed’ round the grid in a quick(ish) 15mins, including parsing. A little lucky in spotting today’s CoD, Mind Bending, with just a couple of crossers in place, and also being of an age where thoughts of Whiskey Galore and Norwegian Blue still produce a smile. Similarly, yesterday’s lift and separate primer was fortuitously timed to help avoid problems with mailed out herbs in 15ac; just a pity rag/tabloid wasn’t equally forthcoming in loi Fragment. Overall, I thought this was a nice QC from Trelawney. Invariant

  25. 4.55

    Rare sub-5. Needed all the checkers for MIND BENDING. Liked EJECTOR SEAT. Nice puzzle and interesting blog – thanks Mike and Trelawney.

  26. A very disappointing day.

    I finished but took forever over MIND BENDING, FRAGMENT and ABSENT. Also took ages for GALORE. How could I not see that?

    I had the MENT for FRAGMENT and the SENT for ABSENT and still couldn’t see it.

    I saw it was a Trelawney, expected a breeze, and, when that didn’t happen, went into panic mode.

    I’m definitely going backwards and so frustrated I could cry.

    I know I’m not supposed to be timing myself this week, but this took me over 30 minutes. There is no satisfaction in that.

    I’m not having a good week and am really struggling to read the clues correctly. Having just read how easy everyone else found this, I’m thoroughly depressed. Nothing to be positive about today. I’m bottom of the class by miles and losing the will to continue with this.

    Congratulations to those of you with good times and PBs today.

    Thanks for the blog.

    1. Trying to read the clues “correctly” is arguably the most fun bit of doing crosswords and, whilst I’ve improved at it markedly since I started four years ago, I still struggle for far too long or fail altogether. Given that some clues may be read in 6, 7, 8 or more ways, it never ceases to amaze me how our most accomplished solvers can finish in under five minutes. They just must have the knack of reading every clue correctly first time. Scarcely believable!

      1. I just get worse Mr R. My inability to see a clue in more than one way is my undoing. I haven’t got the right brain for this. I look at all the good times today and ask myself why I am incapable of doing this. I’m feeling completely lost.

          1. 🤣🤣🤣

            I was expecting you to have recorded a 15 minute completion today given how easy it apparently was. 🤣

  27. Lovely QC which for once didn’t pose too many problems. All done and parsed in 13 minutes – clearly the brain cells that I thought I’d lost in the last couple of weeks have re-awakened. Thanks to Mike for his informative blog.

    FOI – 1ac STONE AGE
    LOI – 23ac FRAGMENT (indicating that I might have completed an uninterrupted solve from NW to SE but alas, that was not the case)
    COD – 20ac PIT STOP

    Thanks to Trelawney

  28. All done and dusted in just 14 minutes, which is all-out sprinting for me. My FOI was BRAVE and my LOI was PIT STOP. On the journey I enjoyed FRAGMENT and MIND BENDING made me laugh.

    Many thanks to Trelawney and Mike H for his very informative blog.

  29. Exciting solve for me because I beat the 10 minute marker for the first time ever! Hooray for Trelawney and thank you for generous, logical clueing.
    Colleagues in a past existence used to refer to Scandiwegians in jocular fashion. Lumping all those (very different) Nordic countries in one basket. Not very pc. But such wordplay is fun and pits plus top is inspired! Mind bending reminded me of that historic instruction to ladies entering French theatres: those wearing hats will not be admitted! Stray thoughts prompted by a pitch perfect QC and a terrific blog by Mike: thank you!

  30. About half of this went in very rapidly and I thought I was on for a quick time. I slowed right up however, and took a comparative age on my last two MIND BENDING and then ABSENT. I couldn’t get MIND BLOWING out of my mind which didn’t help. In the end I crossed the line in exactly 10.00, bang on target.

  31. Flew through this one. Good job as I purchased a candy bar today, and when I got home to enjoy it I discovered I had lost it.


    My verdict: 🍫😭
    Pumpa’s verdict: 🐈 🤺

    1. What bad luck! The next one you buy will taste all the sweeter….(and we’ve all done it!)

  32. 07:02
    Brain sluggish so could have been faster.
    Liked pit stop and brave. COD to mind bending.

  33. I thought this was a perfectly pitched QC and I seemed to be on Trelawney’s wavelength today – all green in just over 14 minutes. Thanks to him and Mike for an entertaining and informative blog. I generally learn something new every day from the various bloggers.

  34. After yesterday’s DNF was pleased to finish in about 20 minutes. All well crafted gettable (I think that’s a word) clues with a bit of head scratching for ABSENT and SUBLIME. Thanks Trelawney and Mike. Very enjoyable.

  35. A decent puzzle merits a decent blog, so thanks to Trelawney for the former, and Mike for the latter.

    I was another who entered MIND but realised quickly that “blowing” wasn’t what I needed.

    LOI ABSENT (wot, no herb? 😂)
    TIME 3:56

    * There were others that would have made COD on another day – particularly that scuttling TARANTULA, the Croat jet, and Jack Sprat’s son at 22A who clearly takes after his mother.

  36. Tchah. Phone (correcting fat finger errors) and an unpaused interruption of a couple of mins meant I was slow today. Lovely puzzle though. MIND BENDING was my favourite.


  37. Rare sub 9. More half-parsed answers than usual…does anyone else get a post biffing subconscious parsing halfway through the next clue? A sort of partially distracted mind PDM.
    LOI the LOL mind bending?
    many thanks Mike and Trelawney; a very enjoyable pairing.

      1. Snap – it’s really strange how the brain is still mulling over something even though you’ve moved on!

  38. 8:34. Tried to fit in ejection seat at first. Finished on FRAGMENT then CURATOR. Sub-lime made me think – if sublime means wonderful then surely lime must be even better – although I do appreciate your explanation of origin in the blog.

  39. Late to the party today, but an enjoyable puzzle. From STONE AGE to MIND BENDING in 7:20. Thanks Trelawney and Mike.

  40. A dnf today with MIND BENDING and ABSENT unsolved but no complaints as it was a most enjoyable puzzle. I had a feeling that ‘out’ was the answer to 15a but it was hard not to keep looking for a suitable herb.
    COD to PIT STOP.
    Thanks both.

    1. I think you and I are the only ones who struggled today Ian. I had problems with the same clues as you.

      Good luck tomorrow!

    2. We also struggled with POI ABSENT and the amusing but LOI MIND-BENDING. Neither could we see either NORWEGIAN or ESCORT on the first pass through and both seem rather obvious in retrospect. So, quite a long way off PB territory but nevertheless an enjoyable 13:37 of entertainment. Thank you, Mike and Trelawney.

  41. I joined the PB club today with a best-ever time of 11:35. An enjoyable solve, CsOD to BRAVE and PIT STOP. Could not see GALORE for ages, why why why? On the other hand ABSENT went straight in. The mind works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. FOI STONE AGE, LOI KIPPER (oh really, now, being American is no excuse).

    Thanks to Trelawney for the truly Q C. Thanks to Mike for the entertaining blog. Come for the solving, stay for the commentary!

  42. Best ever@ 18:30. Struggled a bit parsing FRAGMENT, but shoved it in anyway wouldn’t have got MIND BENDING without multiplicity of crossers. Most bloggers seemed to have found this even easier than I did

  43. 5.53 My second fastest solve. FRAGMENT and SPAT took a moment at the end but it mostly flew in. EJECTOR SEAT was nice. Thanks Mike and Trelawney.


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