Times Saturday cryptic 26658 – February 25, 2017. A bishop, a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar…

The department of dodgy homophones was on the case with this one.  I put them in the same category as cracker jokes and just relax and enjoy them but there are some on the Club Forum who get worked up about them.  Some clever and witty stuff here and nothing excruciatingly difficult.  18.23 which is a bit above par for me but I can’t remember any real struggles. Now that Vinyl (and again many thanks to him for taking this on) has filled his roster for the regular season I’m disappearing after today (well except for the TLS every third week).  Looking forward to reading our new Saturday bloggers Bruce and Alec.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.


1.  Bridge-building initially is hard work for man (6)
BISHOP.  B[ridge-building] (initially).  IS. H[ard].  OP=work.  Man as in chess.
4.  TV’s Catholic priest, converted to Judaism, went on and on (8)
RABBITED.  1990’s Uk sitcom’s Father Ted meets a Jewish religious leader.
10.  Manage to recruit Medoc’s chief wine expert (9)
COMPETENT.  COPE=manage containing (to recruit) M[edoc].  TENT=wine.  I’ve only come across this wine in crosswords.
11.  Model railway in fashion (3,2)
TRY ON.  RY=railway in TON=fashion.  The Georgette Heyer aficionados will have no trouble with the mode.
12. Swimmer’s extremely excitable, approaching lake (3)
EEL.  First and last letters (extremely) of E[xcitabl]E with L[ake].
13.  English cornfield after ploughing will need years to become green (11)
ECOFRIENDLY.  E[nglish] with anagram (ploughing) of CORNFIELD with Y[ears].  Very neatly done.
14.  Inactivity of the secret police (6)
STASIS.  The Stasi were the East German Gestapo.
16.  At the front, painted orange and blue like some hotels (7)
POSADAS.  First letters (at the front) of O[range] and P[ainted] with SAD=blue and AS=like.  B&Bs in Spain.
19.  Engineers in railwaymen’s union sent round for more fluid (7)
RUNNIER.  Re=Royal Engineers. IN.  NUR=the union.  All reversed (sent round).
20.  Emulate orphan lacking one new hat (6)
BEANIE.  If you want to be like the Little Orphan from the comics or the musical you’d BE AN[n]IE dropping one of the N[ews].  A kind of beret. And see Kevin below.
22.  Commanding officer cheers, reaching a former colony (6,5)
COCHIN CHINA.  CO=commanding officer.  CHIN CHIN=cheers.  With A.  Not actually China, more like Vietnam – French colony.  Often spelled as one word.
25.  Time to leave English city that’s disgusting (3)
BAH.  Remove T[ime] from Bath.
26.  Pasta: a bit, you say (5)
PENNE.  The first of the homophones.  Sounds like “penny”=bit, but does it?  I say “pennay” but that’s probably affected, as you might have expected.
27.  I race round province showing lack of enthusiasm (9)
INANITION.  I with NATION=race around N[orthern] I[reland]=province.  I dithered over this because I always thought it meant starvation – got this from Jane Eyre in the bit where she’s run away from Mr.R. and wanders about on the moors.  But now I’ve learned there’s more to the word than that.
28.  Twist and Shout — a fairly big number (8)
THOUSAND.  Anagram (twist) of AND SHOUT.  Not Chubby Checker but it certainly can be a big number.  Kevin says it wasn’t Chubby but the Isley Bros. and he’s right although the one I recall is the Beatles version. 
29.  Girl stalks mountain cat (6)
BENGAL.  GAL=girl following (stalks) BEN=mountain.  Until I came to do the blog I thought this meant a tiger but I see there’s a US breed of domestic moggy so it could also be that.


1. Motorcyclist repressing constant row (6)
BICKER.  BIKER=motorcyclist containing (repressing) C[onstant].
2.  Teacher largely uplifted, with place at public school for dunce (9)
SIMPLETON.  MIS[s]=teacher omitting the last letter (largely) reversed (uplifted).  With PL[ace] and ETON.
3.  Tubby going round in these boots (6)
OBESE.  Hidden in [th]ESE BO[ots] reversed (going round).
5.  Internal CIA manoeuvres to entrap local Democrat? (14)
ANTIREPUBLICAN.  Anagram (manoeuvres) of CIA INTERNAL containing (entrap) PUB=local.  Well, perhaps.
6.  Barking — mostly Irish area in part of London (9)
BATTERSEA.  BATT[y]=barking (mostly) ERSE=Irish. A[rea].
7.  Played?  Birmingham’s neither won nor lost reportedly (5)
TOYED.  The other homophone and the one giving rise to the most comment.  Apparently that is how “tied” (neither won nor lost) is pronounced locally (reportedly).  I  can’t judge that but in old Brooklynese that would be how “third” would be spoken, while “oil’ would rhyme with “earl”.
8. Like fop with yen to be cuddled by attractive female (8)
DANDYISH.  AND=with Y[en] contained in (cuddled by) DISH=attractive female.
9.  During recess Tory big noise reveals another put-up job (14)
RECONSTRUCTION.  CON=Tory contained in (during) REST=recess with RUCTION=big noise.
15.  Family overrun by moles beginning to show irritability (9)
SPIKINESS.  KIN=family contained in (overrun by) SPIES=moles with S[how].
17. Drooling as girlfriend turns up with showy jewellery (9)
DRIBBLING.  BIRD=girlfriend (rather dated) reversed (turns up) with BLING=jewellery.
18.  Crazy way to spoil ceramist’s work? (8)
CRACKPOT.  That’ll do it.  Double definition.
21.  Acid no help in rehabilition (6)
PHENOL.  Anagram (rehab) of NO HELP.
23.  Pro-Remain foreign banker? (5)
CONGO.  If you are pro-Remain you are…  African river=foreign banker since it flows between banks abroad.
24.  A wood pile finally burning (5)
AFIRE.  A FIR=wood with last letter (finally) in [pil]E.

32 comments on “Times Saturday cryptic 26658 – February 25, 2017. A bishop, a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar…”

  1. For some reason I took forever on 4ac, even though I had the TED, having seen the sitcom (about 3 minutes of it, which was enough). But if I recall 7d was my LOI, as I had no idea what Brum was doing, needed the checkers, and still couldn’t get it. I also typed ‘inanation’ and didn’t notice for a long time. Two nits to pick, Olivia: ‘Twist and Shout’ was sung by the Isley Brothers; Chubby Checker did ‘The Twist’; and, at least in the States, a beanie is an asinine skullcap-like thing with a little stick on the top with a two-winged fan. If my mother had ever bought me one I would have run away from home. Thanks for filling in; see you at the TLS.
    1. You’re right about Twist and Shout Kevin and I’ve put a squib in the blog. So that’s a BEANIE is it – I thought it was those things the french navy wears with the pompom on top. I say it’s a beret and I say the hell with it!
      1. I’ve got a beanie. It’s got no bobble and it’s definitely not a beret. I feel like a roundhead when wearing it, not a member of the French Resistance. Grey and made of thermal insulating material, it would be ideal for walking the dog if it was bigger. It ends half way down my ears and my hair flops out at the front. My wife says it makes me look even more of an idiot. I just pull it down harder.
    2. I thought the beanies with propellers are actually called “propeller beanies”. Once worn as a joke by SF fans at conventions – but haven’t see one for decades. Assume there is a kind of beanie sans propeller that is just called a “beanie”.
      1. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you were right; we were looser in our definitions in those (distant) days. I notice also my inability to come up with the word ‘propeller’; yet another senior moment.
  2. One of several solving nightmares I have experienced recently although there have been some very easy ones too so I’m not complaining.

    I needed aids only for 6ac, my LOI, and although I got the Father TED connection right away I failed to work out what was going on with the Jewish convert thing. I gave myself a severe kick up the rear when I finally got there. My only excuse is that I missed it earlier in the proveedings and by the time I revisited it as last man standing my brain was exhausted.

    I was pleased to crack the unknown POSADAS and INANITION though.

    I knew STASI as “secret police” but only just realised that the final letter in the answer at 14ac needs to be read as apostrophe S to fit with “of the secret police”.

    A BEANIE in my experience is like a round woollen tea-cosy sometimes with a bobble on top.

    Edited at 2017-03-04 06:28 am (UTC)

    1. Jack, the missing clue for 18dn in today’s crossword is not the mimic one (which is 8dn) but: Blue note in middle of Alcina? Don’t talk like a fool
      1. At our sloggers-only meeting in Fremantle this morning, I persuaded Galspray and Grestyman that the answer must be CLUELESS! Time to hang up the boots I reckon.
        1. To be fair, we didn’t take much persuading. In fact we thought it was genius.
      2. Thanks, Jerry. Sorry for confusing things further by quoting the wrong missing clue. Anyway it’s all been corrected now at the Times so I have deleted my earlier posting.
  3. 4ac RABBITED not 6ac Jack. My LOI.
    I once saw two minutes of ‘Father Ted’ which was enough for me!

    42 minutes. FOI 1dn BICKER .

    COD 22ac COCHIN-CHINA noted hyphenated on its postage stamps, as were.


  4. Managed to finish this on the day and so sent it in in the vain hope of winning a prize.I’d like to know how many entries they get.
    Re the puzzle, I did not know Posada, Inanition or Tent as wine but the clues were helpful. Beanie took a while as did Rabbited (like others I saw Ted immediately). Enjoyed the puzzle. Favourite 23d. David
    PS thanks for the blogs Olivia.
  5. The Beatles did a great version of Twist and Shout as the last number on the Please Please Me album, with John Lennon getting his tonsils right round it. I remember it being played incessantly at a youth club I was visiting for a table-tennis match. That was 1963, as the world changed, too late for Larkin. Finished this in about 40 minutes. As a Lancastrian who lived and worked for five years near Brummagem, I think that like a fine red there are complex flavours behind the pronunciation of TIED there. The mouth drops rather than rounds when trying to mimic the noise, so it is not a full TOYED. Like Olivia, never had TENT wine that I am aware of, so don’t know ot its complexity, but COMPETENT was slow to present itself. I say PENNAY too, so it must be posh. Got both POSADAS and INANITION from cryptic, perhaps knowing the latter. Enyoyable.
  6. 10:45. No problem with either of the homophones. I say ‘pennay’ too but many don’t, as the dictionaries confirm. I liked the the Father Ted clue, just as I liked the brilliant show.
  7. Was never on the wavelength for this one but I liked the variety of clueing devices. Didn’t know INANITION and even after getting it from wordplay I was worried it was wrong as I couldn’t square it with inane, which I assumed it must be related to. Also didn’t know COCHIN CHINA – finally got it from wordplay when all the checkers were in, but that also confused me as the only Cochin I knew was in south-west India. It’s important to linger on the double n when pronouncing penne, so that you don’t instead say something that wouldn’t normally be found covered in bolognaise sauce. COD to 4A, though the appeal of the show is a mystery to me. Not sure if I should be embarrassed to say that I first think of Deacon Blue when I see Twist and Shout.
  8. My sheet has “1H EXACT” scrawled next to the puzzle. Not bad for a Saturday, for me.

    FOI OBESE, LOI INANITION, a word I’ve not heard of, though apparently I soon will: I bought Jane Eyre on World Book Day this week, purely on the grounds that she keeps coming up in crosswords.

    Happy to have constructed my other unknowns COCHIN CHINA and POSADAS. I’m getting more confident at building things from wordplay. Happier with the 7d homophone than the 26a, especially as I wasn’t too convinced of “bit” being “penny”, either.

    Thanks to puzzler and parser!

    Edited at 2017-03-04 11:24 am (UTC)

  9. My mother-in-law knitted five beanies as we set off to brave the Japanese winter. Warm and cozy they were as well, but there’s not much call for them in a Perth summer. Must say I thought it was a universal term, but apparently it’s not.

    Nice crossword, great blog Olivia.

    1. I seem to have contracted trumpitis – when caught saying something obviously wrong, double down. If it’s not too late, I concede on the beanies!
      1. Not too late at all, Olivia. It’s been great blogging. And anyway, under my wife’s criteria, Trump would suit a beanie perfectly.
  10. Forgot my time but must say as a Brummie, born if not bred, how much I enjoyed TOYED.
    1. So you’re a Scottish Chinese Kiwi Brummy Londoner now? And all you ever really wanted to be is an Aussie!
      1. Heaven forfend that I might be a Londoner. As for the final alternative, I must have a lie-down to recover my equilibrium.

        Edited at 2017-03-04 04:58 pm (UTC)

  11. I’ve been practicing using the Club site to get used to using a keyboard instead of pen and paper, and have just redone puzzle 26661 from 1st March. Despite entering it all correctly, it tells me I got 4d wrong, with the middle letter D in 4d, ODD showing in black and all the rest in BLUE. As the answer in the solution is given as ODD how can it be wrong? I deliberately submitted without Leaderboard. Help! Baffled of Middlesbrough!
    1. John – I’m not sure but I think what may have happened is that you had a typo for the middle D. The Club site shows only the corrected answer not what you entered and shows our errors in black and the correct stuff in blue. I haven’t tried this but I seem to remember someone on the Forum saying that the way to check is to go to “play” for the puzzle in question and then go to “print progress” (you don’t actually have to print) and that should show what you entered (perhaps the dreaded invisible typo). If that doesn’t work – you should absolutely go ahead and ask on the Forum General thread because someone is sure to get back to you.
      1. Ah! Many thanks Olivia. I did as you suggested and I seem to have typed OOD in by accident. More practice and magnifying specs required I think 🙂
  12. Apart from the decidedly dodgy homophone (penne = penny), I’ve always understood that “two bits” = 25 cents and therefore “a bit” must be 12.5 cents/pennies.
    1. Both Chambers and Collins define ‘bit’ as a coin (‘any small coin’ in Collins), as well as the specific US usage.
      Chambers, Collins and ODO also all give this pronunciation of PENNE. In Collins it’s the only one, whereas the others also give ‘pennay’.

      Edited at 2017-03-05 12:00 am (UTC)

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