TLS 1184 by Talos – Goodbye to All This?

And so the TfTT TLS blog pulls on its chalky old gown, downs the last of that half-decent madeira and totters to the lectern to deliver its valediction. As 25’s Renton put it,  What kin ye dae? (see 20d)

If you’ve been living in a cave — and these days why wouldn’t you? — the TLS puzzle will no longer be available on The Times’ Crossword Club site and we’re probably calling time on this section of the blog. I think there are going to be at least two more TLS blogs, anyway, so we’re not quite done yet.

I’ve dipped into The TLS itself many times over the years, but always in common rooms, faculty libraries and student lounges. It’s not something I want to read often, more when the mood takes me. And as online access is subscription only, that’s me out. £75 a year is not an incidental to me. The TLS online has quite a few free sections but alas the crossword is not one of them.

Of course, I imagine the good folk at the TLS, horrified to think of the iminent disbanding of the four musketeers, are as we speak arranging complimentary subscriptions for Olivia, Zabadak, Verlaine and me. Aren’t they?

Let’s get on with it. Nice work by Talos, as ever. A FOREIGN COUNTRY at the top, and Nabokov and SABATINI made me think we were in for an EMIGRES theme, but I don’t think deracinated writers are more than averagely represented. 6d is one of my favourite clues in a while.

It’s customary for me to have either one error that I can’t see or one clue I can’t really explain. Today’s is 16d. Tell me what I’m missing.

Apologies for the scrawl but no longer having access to the puzzle online I had to make do:

1 A FOREIGN COUNTRY – from Hartley’s The Go-Between
9 SPECTRE – I’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond …
10 EMIGRES – anagram of Grimes around E. The Nabokovs were forced into a nomadic exile following the 1917 revoution, spending time in England and Berlin (where Vladimir’s father was shot dead by a rival emigré Russian faction), France and finally the USA
11 SABATINI – (I abstain)* Rafael, another transnational writer, this time English / Italian
12 JO,ANNA – If you’re hosting one of those fantasy literary dinner parties, Jo Nesbø, author of the Harry Hole novels, and Anna Sewell might get together round the old Joanna
15 DE QUINCEY – Thomas, this being DEY (half of Snidey) around a quince
18 TIP,PERARY – Frank Delaney’s novel
19 S(A)KI – HH Munro’s pseudonym
22 EGGERS – Dave Eggers, author of the much-praised 2000 novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
25 B,RENTON – Renton is the Trainspotting character who ran off with the money, part of which rightfully (okay, it was a heroin deal so ‘rightfully’ may be pushing it) belonged to BEGBIE of 20d
26 ENRIGHT – Anagram of “the Ring”. Anne Enright, who won the 2007 Man Booker prize for The Gathering

3 E,STATEThe Fourth Estate is a Jeffrey Archer novel
4 GREEN HENRY – by the Swiss writer Keller. In it, Wikipedia tells us “Truth is freely mingled with fiction, and there is a generalizing purpose to exhibit the psychic disease that affected the whole generation of the transition from romanticism to realism in life and art.” I have no idea what that means
6 UNICORNS – A veritable peach of a clue. UNI (where one might read) + COR (my!) + N(iece)S. I just love those vacuous nieces
7 TERENCE RATTIGAN – (Centre treating a)* Rattigan claimed to write for a notional ‘Aunt Edna’, a well-to-do middle class person of conventional tastes. Unsurprisingly, this prompted a little teasing (but at least he was honest)
13 CUR(R)E(R) BELL – I think this is CURE BELL twice interrupted by R. And, as I had totally forgotten, the pen name of Charlotte Brontë
16 OPERETTA – because it has to be Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide, but why?
20 BEG,B(I)E – this being Irvine Welsh’s man with anger management issues Francis “Franco” Begbie. After the glass-throwing incident and its violent aftermath, Renton memorably says of him: “He really is a c*** ay the first order. Nae doubt about that. The problem is, he’s a mate n aw. What kin ye dae?”
24 A(N,N)E – suitably fiendish wordplay for the author of The Vampire Chronicles (Anne Rice). It’s PEAS without the sides reversed around the first letters of “nuts now” (the sometimes convention of “bits of” for first letters). Phew!
21 SCORER – Camus was, of course, a noted goalkeeper who sometimes did a bit of writing

7 comments on “TLS 1184 by Talos – Goodbye to All This?”

  1. 16D Starts with a fairly easy O for “old”, but then … there’s one of those “surname looking like a forename” things that somehow seem more common in the TLS – Etta James, a singer who makes a change from Henry in this bit of trickery. She isn’t on my iPod but won 6 Grammies. The O,ETTA combo “blocks in” PER = “a” – easy when seen but well-hidden.

    If there are free subs coming, no-one told me. So I believe it is farewell to the four musketeers, and in particular to one of the most entertaining blog writers I ever managed to recruit for TftT.

    1. Aw, thanks.

      As for O,PER,ETTA, I wasn’t even close. I fell into the forename assumption, and I was thinking the ‘blocks in’ meant a subtraction of ‘in’, so spent a long time vainly Googling James Pinerett / Perinett / Peretint, you name it. With tougher checkers that would have been a brute.

  2. Yes we’ve been orphaned and it’s annoying not to be able to go back and look, so thank you for putting up the handwritten grid Sotira – a nice touch. I got Etta James (finally) because she turns up regularly in the NY Times puzzles, but had absolutely no idea what was going on with Anne Rice – although this being the TLS I did think it must be something to do with the vampire author.

    I told Vinyl that these last 3 blogs would be a bit like chickens without their heads but it was nice to see yours for auld lang syne.

  3. I haven’t been doing the TLS for more than a year or two, but I have grown to like it and I am really going to miss it… thank you so much setters, and bloggers for some fine blogs
  4. As another recent convert to the TLS puzzle, I too am saddened to know that the blogs will soon be coming to an end. I enjoy the challenge of these puzzles, they stretch my literary GK to its limits (it’s wonderful when some long forgotten book or poet arises unbidden from the depths with an Aha! moment) and force me to improve at deriving unknowns entirely from word play, which I think has improved my ability to solve the regular Times cryptic. Beyond the pleasure that I get from the puzzles is the wit, enlightenment and lightly worn erudition of the bloggers. It is rare for me to complete the grid with everything parsed and all allusions and references understood. Even using aids to complete can still sometimes leave me scratching my head. It’s going to be a Brave New World trying to understand it all on me tod, even with a correct solution in one hand and Google in the other. This puzzle for example “Anne” was beyond me, even with the checkers. I just couldn’t see what was going on. I bunged in “operetta” because it had to be but parsed post solve, only alighting upon Etta James after Google had confirmed that Pere James, James Pere and James Rett were not, in fact, significant musical James’s. I had to look up 18ac, the second word of 4dn and 27ac. I knew the Trainspotting references, remembered the JR, sorry, LP Hartley quote and much else was either within the limits of my GK or at least not so far outside of it as not to be a relatively educated guess away. I’m sad for the setters that they will no longer have their hard work so expertly recognised and appreciated in this forum. Thank you blogger. Thank you setter.
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  6. Oh no, does this mean you wonderful TLS crossword puzzle solvers will no longer be blogging here? I am a longtime TLS Literary Crossword addict who found she was lost when the new crossword setters took over, with more clever wordplay and fewer literary clues. I found this site and have been both instructed and entertained by your blogs – please set up a facebook page or similar site where I can still go for erudite and amusing help! Thank you for all your posts up until now, and best wishes,
    Jodie the retired Librarian

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