Times Quick Cryptic No 2690 by Teazel

Teazel provides us today with a neat Quick Cryptic that is a bit tricky in parts. It took me about 7 minutes, which is a couple of minutes over my target. Nothing unfair though – I may just have been a bit slow today. Thank-you Teazel. 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 104 here.

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

1 Dark-skinned couple making a bow (5,3)
BLACK TIEBLACK (dark-skinned) TIE (couple, the verb). Well that was a bit tricky to start.
6 Fixed time in animal lair (4)
SETTT  (time) in SET (fixed). The animal being a badger.
8 First course perhaps is very revolting (4)
SOUPSO (very) UP (revolting).
9 Fetches book and phones home (6,2)
BRINGS INB (book) RINGS (phones) IN (home).
10 Huge performance by worker in charge (8)
GIGANTICGIG (performance) ANT (worker) I/C (in charge).
12 Police force is back for support (4)
STEM – MET’S (police force is) reversed -> STEM.
13 Work over travelling round EU (6)
OEUVRE – EU in (over)* [travelling].
15 Father fast making highest church office (6)
PAPACYPA (father) PACY (fast). I got held up with this one thinking “father” =” pop” leading to something like “popery”.
17 Old musical that needs regular cutting? (4)
HAIR – Double definition, the second a cryptic hint. The musical “Hair” dating from 1967,  but still on tour in 2019, was a notorious and genre-defining rock musical. “The work reflects the creators’ observations of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s, and several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical’s profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy“.
19 Sensitive girl, Clea, all of a muddle (8)
ALLERGIC – (girl Clea)* [all of a muddle]. Not the most helpful of definitions and how many girls called Clea do you know? Personally, none and I can’t recall anyone with that name in the media etc.
21 Alcohol I consumed at food counter in a frenzy (8)
DELIRIUMDELI (food counter), I in RUM (alcohol). I frowned at this initially but Chambers has as the second definition for delirium “Wild excitement, happiness or wild enthusiasm”, which sounds like a frenzy to me.
23 Married, rolling back years, appearing so fresh? (4)
DEWY – WED (married) reversed -> DEW, Y (years).
24 Island incorporated hotel (4)
INCHINC (incorporated) H (hotel in the phonetic alphabet).
25 Comprehensive, even if approximate (8)
THOROUGHTHO’ (even if) ROUGH (approximate).
2 Like a cat, boy with that many lives? (7)
LEONINELEO (boy) NINE (that many lives). A cat has 9 lives, as we all know. “It has been suggested that the idea of cats having nine lives has its roots in Ancient Egypt. The sun god Atum-Ra was said to take the form of a cat so he could visit the underworld. Atum-Ra was said to have given birth to eight other gods. As a result, some people have linked the saying of cats having nine lives with this myth—the eight gods, plus Atum-Ra, equal nine lives.”
3 Rejecting some cappuccino for tea (5)
CUPPA – Reverse hidden [rejecting some] in cAPPUCcino. Lovely surface. My COD.
4 Backed some debate that is key on computer (3)
TAB – What? Another? Yes a second reverse hidden in a row. Hidden in deBATe.
5 Opening special broadcast is work of bishop (9)
EPISCOPALOP (opus; work) in [opening] (special)* [broadcast].
6 Commits to notices being displayed (5,2)
SIGNS UPSIGNS (notices) UP (being displayed).
7 Point of fork catching wife’s thread (5)
TWINEW (wife) in TINE (point of fork).
11 One offering treatment, the first to include music (9)
THERAPISTRAP (music, allegedly, but not to me), in THE IST (1st; first).
14 Make oneself scarce, grabbing right topcoat (7)
VARNISHR (right) in VANISH (make oneself scarce).
16 Punch comedian and gossip (7)
CHINWAGCHIN (punch) WAG (comedian).
18 Wife finally opening a can, enjoyed home cooking? (3,2)
ATE IN – Last letter of wifE in A TIN (can). Another lovely surface, but it doesn’t happen in our house – I do all the cooking  and I can’t remember when my wife last opened a can.
20 Didn’t get on a horse evidently for cattle round-up? (5)
RODEORODE O – Rode nothing… hence didn’t get on a horse. Geddit?
22 Frame of mind almost low (3)
MOOMOO{d} (frame of mind) [almost].

104 comments on “Times Quick Cryptic No 2690 by Teazel”

  1. 14:24. THOROUGH was the hardest for me to solve and DELIRIUM was my COD. Very interesting to learn how cats got nine lives- thanks, John! The only Clea I’ve heard of was one of the main characters in the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell and her name is used as the title of one of the four books.

  2. I got most of this, but missed SETT (I tried that through the wordplay but it doesn’t look like a word to me) and STEM (so many words for the police, I didn’t think of Stem being a support).

    Thank goodness for OEUVRE occurring recently.

    People my age probably know the wonderful actress Clea Duvall. We also probably think rap is music 😂

    I remember one of the first word plays that gave me a shocked giggle at school is that Therapist is also the rapist.

    1. Cuppa reversed is in CAPPUCCINO blew mind. Now need a lie down to get over THERAPIST discovery.

  3. Occasionally I have to double check that I’ve not opened up the grown up crossword by mistake, and today was one of those days. After my first trawl through the acrosses I had two clues but I then found the downs more approachable. In the end I amazed myself by coming in All Green in around 15 minutes, so there’s a spare place at the Special Table today.
    My first one in was HAIR, my favourite was a toss up between OEUVRE and VARNISH and I finished with THOROUGH.
    Many thanks to John and Teazel.

  4. Completed this in my sleeping back sat in a camp chair with my feet on another drinking coffee with water from my Camping Gaz stove. Some tough stuff here so I was disappointed to fail due to carelessness. Don’t really know the word LEONINE but saw something similar existed and how the clue worked and still entered LEOlINE – presumably because I’d been checking feline didn’t work.

    There were five new baby Cleas in England and Wales in 2022 according to the ONS. 24 Tinas.

    Air tents are a game changer!

    1. Goodness I always thought Tina was such an old lady name.

      Who is naming their baby Tina? Are they naming their sons Barry as well

  5. Not really on wavelength today as I struggled to an all-green but far from all-parsed 13 minute completion. In contrast to John I found Black tie a write-in, but the bright start was not maintained as I was held up by several clever clues (Delirium, Episcopal), and could not parse Soup (up = revolting?) or Rodeo (too clever for me). Fortunately both biffable.

    MER at Allergic = sensitive; as someone with a real, medical allergy I am not just being “sensitive”.

    As for Oeuvre, the God of Strange Coincidences strikes again – a word not seen for years then twice in very quick succession. It is very odd how often that happens.

    Many thanks John for the blog and I look forward to the Weekend Special.

    1. SOED: allergy – (medicine) – altered reactivity of the body towards an antigen; esp. hypersensitivity towards a particular foreign substance such as a type of food, pollen, or micro-organism. E20.

    2. I sincerely hope that the Weekend Special is more to your liking than my last one. Your criticisms of that puzzle were mostly justifiable and have (hopefully) been taken on board.

  6. Struggle, 20+ mins with DNF.

    Although I’ve seen low=MOO many times, I had the clue backwards. Looking for a state of mind ending with O, landed on EGO. This gave a plausible E, in the DELI clue, but no words came to mind. Lead to second guessing THERAPIST, which I didn’t parse, and I gave up. I had THE RAPIST, “the first” seemed to indicate exactly what it said.


    1. My initial thought was Ego as well – but my attempts at a truncated synonym for something “under” just didn’t work. Funny how things that I wouldn’t think twice about a year or so back, suddenly vanish from the memory if they’re not used for a while. Another one is “sign” which I always forget can be a star sign.

  7. 11:39. I couldn’t really get going and the difficult to parse DELIRIUM resisted for a few minutes at the end. Along the way I was also delayed by entering DROVE for the 20d cryptic def before I had any crossers. It does work but didn’t fit with ALLERGIC and THOROUGH and the D in RODEO helped get DEWY which I didn’t see straight away.

    Favourite was the hidden reversed CUPPA in ‘cappucino’; as implied by Mendesest, who would have known?

    Thanks to John and Teazel

  8. After a slow start this turned into a steady solve. Teazel is one of my favourite setters and there was plenty to enjoy in this one but CHINWAG and THOROUGH were the stand out clues for me.
    OEUVRE would have been a lot more difficult if it hadn’t appeared so recently and I nearly settled for COUP as it appeared at the start of my alpha trawl.
    Started with SETT and finished with SOUP in 8.23.
    Thanks to John

  9. 12:24
    Not many went in on the first pass, though with hindsight I’m not sure why, since nothing especially obscure. I took a long time to see PAPACY as I was thinking about the wrong sort of fast, and wondering if PALENT was some high ecclesiastical office.
    I was not familiar with the Egyptian origin of the nine lives. Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet has Mercutio say to Tybalt “Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives that I mean to make bold withal, and as you shall use me hereafter, dry-beat the rest of the eight.”

    Thanks John and Teazel

  10. Biffed SOUP – would be grateful for an explanation how UP can mean revolting. Otherwise a satisfying solve. Thanks John for the great blog.

  11. Snuck in just under 20 mins. Good fun, chewy in places. I was unaware of INCH as an island but as nobody else has commented, I appear to be just a bit dim. And the list of islands with short names seems infinite in Crosswordland anyway.
    Liked the MOO clue, PAPACY took me too long having got the PA start, OEUVRE was also a slow solve. Off for another CUPPA and out into a rare bit of sunshine.

  12. The toughest of the week by some distance I thought, and I was not helped by putting STET in for 6ac (god knows why) and EAT IN for 18dn. I needed to solve the crossers before seeing where I had gone wrong. I got there in the end though, but in a slowish time of 11.55.
    My total time for the week was 48.03 giving me a daily average under target at 9.37.

  13. At 10:58 I went over the 10 minute mark today and that was because of my LOI OEUVRE which I stared at for a good 90 seconds before finally seeing how the clue worked. Otherwise no problems.

  14. I didn’t have too much trouble with this enjoyable puzzle, although BLACK TIE didn’t immediately strike me and hindered a flying start.

    TIME 4:08

    Good luck to those enjoying (hopefully!) my weekend offering.

  15. Thank goodness I had already done NYT Connections today otherwise I would have struggled with OEUVRE. Have we had INCH before? I assume we have because I got it but I still had to look it up on a map (not Scottish for once). I had to correct a biffed eat IN once I got HAIR and my LOI/COD was DELIRIUM. 8:21

      1. I’ve learnt something new today!
        From Collins Dictionary
        Scottish and Irish
        a small island

  16. Pleased with 14:50 for a Teazel. Helped by OEUVRE appearing in the big one recently as I wouldn’t have thought of it otherwise. Wasn’t too long ago we had the, then unknown, INCH as well. It’s half term and I guess more sleep is good for me. FOI SOUP, LOI DEWY, COD to THOROUGH. Thanks John and Teazel.

  17. As per Plett – hard to start, then steady – but rather slower for me at 09:58. Tried a “den” and a “holt” before finding SETT; couldn’t see BLACK-TIE for the life of me (I hate it when 1a is LOI or thereabouts); and was convinced that it would be “gin” in the “deli” (so delirium was LOI). Teazel is the toughest solve for me so I was not displeased to squeak in under 10 minutes! A Decent Day, I think.

    Many thanks Teazel and John.


  18. Wasn’t on the wavelength today. No! I refuse to use that excuse! I found this very difficult and gave up in the end. It’s been a poor week for me where the QC is concerned. 😢

    I’m off work next week. Perhaps this’ll put me in a more relaxed frame of mind for the QC.

    My verdict: 😖
    Pumpa’s verdict: Pumpa? Where are you? Still painting the town orange I guess.

  19. No problems, but I thought 13a LOI OEUVRE was clued in a way more tricky than it was the other day; although the anag was seeable it didn’t feel like one.
    Never sussed 20d RODE-0 but then it was an easy biff.

  20. Another enjoyable Teazel puzzle. Didn’t know INCH was an island – thanks Desdeeloeste. Liked TWINE and DEWY for the clever surfaces. Last two in were MOO, followed by DELIRIUM. Wrong definition in both cases. As a longstanding therapist I can’t believe Tina’s observation is new to me – thanks, I think 😁 Interesting stuff about nine lives. Many thanks John.

  21. 19 minutes and: bingo, changed brings up to brings in and twine followed. Phew! Enjoyable solve with lots of wordplay to like. A gig with ants in charge conjures up Animal Farm, and leonine brought that lovely poem Christabel to mind – though I think the Baron was called Leoline. Enough of this chinwag! Thanks Teazel and John, my Suffolk neighbour, and wishing everyone a great weekend.

    1. That’s it! Mendesest mentioned “leoline” and it rang a faint bell but I couldn’t place it. Wonderful, frustrating poem! Wag on.

  22. 5:50

    Mostly quick with 10 of the 14 acrosses going in on the first pass – 1a, 13a, 21a and 25a required a second reading. Consequently, with so many checkers to play with, 10 of the 12 downs went in first time round – only 11d and 14d holding out. And so, I was finally left with 11d and 21a, the latter of which took the most time in working out which alcohol and where exactly it fitted in – was toying with RE_I_IUM initially before realising the error of my ways…

    Thanks John and Teazel

  23. Struggled with this, principally down the right-hand side which remained almost blank for an embarrassingly long time. I eventually completed it in 24 minutes, all parsed. With hindsight (always a benefit) I can’t really see what caused the problems. I also raised the proverbial eyebrow at sensitive = ALLERGIC but seeing the definition given above by Jackkt it would appear to be fine.

    FOI – 10ac GIGANTIC
    LOI – 12ac STEM
    CODs – 3 ticks on my paper copy today: 25ac THOROUGH, 16dn CHINWAG and 20dn RODEO

    Thanks to Teazel and John

  24. Enjoyable. Fast, lots of biffs, then stuck on last two , 22d/21a. OK, I admit I then looked up Low in the CCD, and when the MOO penny dropped I groaned, but that enabled me to solve LOI DELIRIUM.
    Could not parse SOUP, EPISCOPAL, THERAPIST, RODEO (!). Vaguely knew INCH=island
    Thanks vm, John.

  25. Not too bad, perhaps not being able to see the setter was an advantage.

    I liked DELIRIUM and CUPPA (though I’ve never understood the national obsession). LOI was STEM.


  26. Seemed like very slow going but a fraction over 10 minutes doesn’t seem too bad. The fraction was spread out due to loi HAIR – the well known musical completely out of my mind until great concentration dragged it back. Liked leonine.

  27. Can never do a Teazel so thought I did quite well to get all except four:
    NHO (nor has Collins) fresh = DEWY, or punch = CHIN; also defeated by THOROUGH and MOO.
    Then: NHO Isle of INCH or TINE (both biffed); also obvious enough was EPISCOPAL, but can’t see how “Opening” is relevant.
    Where is the reverse indicator in “Rejecting some”? – but that biffed, too.
    Otherwise, very many thanks for the (useful as always) blog.

    1. Very tough today.
      I’m just going to assume that OP is opening ‘special broadcast’ by being inside it?
      Ta to John and Teazel

    2. In CUPPA, “Rejecting” is the reverse indicator and “some” is the hidden indicator. If you are rejected from, say, the gates of heaven, you are turned back (and sent down below). As for “dewy”, Chambers has “Early freshness” for dew.

  28. Finished correctly in 50 minutes.
    A tough one to finish the week.

    6 Down. SETT ? A den for any animal ? I was going to badger the setter about this – but decided not to.
    13 Across. WORK = OEUVRE ? Have not heard politicians talking about hard-oeuvring families, yet ?
    23 Across. DEWY.
    From Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas :
    ” I will say this, his milk’s as fresh as the dew. Half dew it is.”

  29. Didn’t see 1a or 5d until I had several crossers. TAB was FOI. THOROUGH and CHINWAG brought up the rear. 7:08. Thanks Teazel and John.

  30. 25 mins…

    Probably would have been quicker if I hadn’t got stuck with 21ac “Delirium”. I got it in my mind that the alcohol was “gin” and that it was slap bang in the middle of some food counter rather than at the end. Once I worked out 22dn “Moo”, I had to change tack.

    Quite a few unknowns here: “up” = revolting, “wag” = comedian, 24ac “inch” being an island.

    FOI – 6ac “Sett”
    LOI – 21ac “Delirium”
    COD – 25ac “Thorough”

    Thanks as usual!

  31. DNF – put SIGNS ON instead of UP, so couldn’t get PAPACY. Found it a struggle to do the rest. facy having OEUVRE again so soon!

  32. A slow-ish but enjoyable 23:30 (a few months ago I would have said “fast for me” so the learning process continues, hurray). I didn’t really get stuck until CHINWAG, although DELIRIUM gave me a bit of trouble until I saw where to put DELI. OEUVRE again, so soon!? took some time. DNK INCH for island or CHIN for punch. It’s nice to see WAG; Christopher Smart’s cat Jeoffry is a mixture of gravity and waggery, so lovely. I loved THOROUGH, and CUPPA from cappuccino is priceless. I needed the blog to explain SOUP and to confirm my after-the-fact parsing of EPISCOPAL.

    Thanks to Teazel for the workout and to John for the blog.

  33. 10:17. I had my covid booster yesterday and it has made me feel decidedly odd. I don’t know if that is why I didn’t really get into this – I’ll blame the jab rather than the setter. What are clearly fun clues just bypassed me today, so thank goodness for the blog to show me what I was missing – especially CUPPA, which I biffed. I wasn’t sure about up = revolting. Up-in-arms, yes; up on its own – hmm? I don’t really think of HAIR as an old musical – I suppose at 50-plus, it is really 😅
    FOI Sett LOI Thorough
    Thanks Teazel and John

    1. My last covid jab made me sicker (for 24 hours) than covid did! So blame the jab, for sure.

    2. Had my booster a couple of weeks ago and spent the next day in bed! Not had any reaction previously.

      1. Isn’t that strange! Exactly the same for me – never had a bad reaction before. In fact, they’ve always been easier than the flu jab 🤔

  34. 11.16 A lot of hopping about but I was never stuck. INCH was dimly remembered. I was dubious about STEM for support and the parsing of SOUP evaded me until afterwards. HAIR was LOI. Thanks John and Teazel.

  35. A 75 minute finish after several visits and a bit of help with LOI DELIRIUM when I ran out of patience.
    I don’t attempt the 15*15 but some of these felt like 15*15 clues which I suppose is to be expected now and then if we QCers are to progress.
    Thanks both.

  36. 13:48 here, started with SETT and ended with DELIRIUM, where I was also trying to cram I GIN into an anagram of DELI for too long.

    Thanks to Teazel and John.

  37. A horrible end to a dreadful week.

    I was supposed to be ignoring the clock, but my total must be well over the 2-and-a-half hour mark. Just appalling.

    Perhaps now you will believe me when I tell you how bad I am at this?

    Four years and I still can’t do this in anything other than a glacially slow time. I thought Wednesday was shocking, but this was on another level.

    I barely got any on the first pass and took forever to get any kind of toe hold. When I did see some answers I lacked the confidence to insert them (e.g. RODEO/SETT/BLACK TIE/INCH/SOUP/TWINE). I have no faith whatsoever in my ability.

    I am battered, bruised and thoroughly crushed by this. My times are humiliating. People I was once on the same level as are now so far ahead of me that they are finishing in half the time I do. Their bad days are now the same time-wise as my good ones!

    I haven’t read any other comments because the comparison is too much to bear. I would give anything to be a halfway decent solver but it’s just not going to happen. I am serially incompetent.

    What makes it all the worse is that I’ve tried to have a go at the proper crossword recently. You might have thought that would at least improve my ability with the QC, but, if anything, it’s made it worse. To misquote Gary Player, ‘The harder I practise, the unluckier I get’. I spend ages going through the answers, trying to understand the parsing and making copious notes of abbreviations, word play indicators etc, and I’m still nowhere. It’s so frustrating.

    Thanks for the blog John.

    1. I don’t think that I have got a lot better over the past few years. But recently I have found that I do better when I don’t try so hard. Rather than trying to analyze the clue logically I let my mind wander a bit and see what the various segments of the clue suggest.

      1. I do remember you saying a long time ago that there was one setter you always avoided. I’ve often wondered who that was. Now I know (and I can see why!)

    2. If you can finish correctly most days – then you are doing a lot better than me. Forget the times just concente on finishing the crosswords correctly. The speed will follow as you build your knowledge.

    3. Gary, surely you must have improved to be having a go at the 15 x 15! Sometimes progress is hard to recognise (and invariably taken for granted).

      Incidentally, I wonder what drew you to cryptics in the first place. I doubt it was ‘to regularly beat myself up’ or ‘to compare myself unfavourably to others’. Maybe it was just to embrace a gentle mind-expanding hobby. Perhaps it may be worthwhile reviewing your aims… then ditch the clock!

      1. It took me a year or so to start solving without aids and then another year to solve regularly in under an hour. Since then there really has been little improvement.

        I took up the QC because I found my work uninteresting and I wanted to do something to stop my brain from becoming redundant. But now I want to improve and it just isn’t happening. Finishing isn’t enough now. It’s like playing a new sport. Once you’ve learned the ropes, the desire to get better takes over. I can’t ignore the clock. I’m too competitive.

  38. A tricky one for me, taking 24:24. I’ve seen MOO = “low” before so that one took me far longer than it should have, and I needed a good minute or so for DELIRIUM despite having all but two letters, desperately rummaging around in my brain for an obscure liqueur. And I just had to look up the spelling of “liqueur”, which doesn’t bode well for my crosswording future.

    Thank you to John for the blog!

    PS: While I’m here, did any of you fast people (let’s say, those of you who reliably hit targets under ten minutes) pick up the hobby in middle age? I’m curious about how much of my relative sluggishness might have been overcome if I’d started thirty years ago. It’s very possible that I’m just making excuses for myself.

    1. As you completed this in probably half the time I took, you are hardly sluggish.

      I began when I was fifty. I hit a peak about 18 months ago and have got steadily worse ever since.

      1. I suppose it’s all relative. A friend of mine in his fifties has been dabbling for years, and Wednesday’s Trelawney saw him achieve his first ever unassisted all-green. I’ve learned not to compare myself negatively with the people on this forum or I’d never get out of bed!

    2. Interesting question. I started with doing the Sunday Times crossword with my Dad when a teenager (and not doing well) and then The Telegraph with a work colleague for a while in my mid-twenties. But I only really started doing crosswords on my own at the age of about 50. It was discovering Times for The Times and reading the blogs that helped me improve through my 50s to become a TfTT blogger and confident enough to enter the Times Crossword Championship in 2018. Would I have been quicker if I had started earlier? Possibly. But I don’t think I would ever have been in the crossword Premier League.

      1. Very interesting, thanks John! I’m a mere stripling at 48 so perhaps there is hope for me, though I suspect that my brain’s tendency to jettison knowledge that it judges to be of limited practical value will scupper me in the end. Still, I enjoy it and will continue to improve for as long as I can.

    3. Well, we started in the last ten years and now, at >80< we are definitely getting better but never look at the time. Grandchildren starting now are coming along well and with more practice, they'll no doubt be streaks ahead of us eventually.

  39. A DNF on STEM which we revealed after about 19 minutes. Didn’t envisage that as a support and MET’S was too much of a stretch. Some other clues also made this a toughie!

  40. 2026

    NHO INCH but that was fairly obvious. Spelt OEUVRE with the E and U wrong way round which delayed LEONINE then couldn’t figure out EPISCOPAL. Only when all of that was sorted did I see LOI BLACK TIE. Bit of a struggle.

  41. Struggled to get MOO for ages, forgot low = moo again. Thought 21a was an anagram until the m from moo went in.

  42. Finished correctly in 50 minutes.

    A tough one to finish the week (I only do crosswords – Monday to Friday).
    Sett is a den – for for badgers . Saw some a badger in my garden a few months ago. Apparently it is not good to have a sett in your garden.- badgers can cause some damage.

    1. At one time we offered Bed and breakfast for badger watching. It was very popular but so many people complained it was SO dark in the countryside with no street lights.


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