TLS Crossword 1163 by Broteas – February 17, 2017: Definite Alcohols

It seems like I don’t often get to blog a Broteas, but when I do I always (a) really enjoy it and (b) find it a stiff challenge! And talking of stiff, this puzzle contains multiple references to potent alcohols, which combined with the most excellent clue at 21ac almost makes me think that the setter had calculated in advance who was going to be on blogging duty this particular week…

Also an unusual number of answers beginning with a definite article – one of them is Spanish, but still counts. What can it all mean? Anyway I shall now thank the setter and let you get on with perusing the parsings. A lot of them are really quite clever, to the point where I’m worried I may have missed some cunning literary allusions elsewhere. Additional insights gratefully received!


1 The wine that could be poisoned in a P D James mystery (3,5,5)
THE BLACK TOWER – Both a 1975 Adam Dalgliesh novel by PD James, and a popular brand of German wine. I’m not sure if Black Tower wine is more likely to be poisoned than other wines, despite its foreboding name?

8 A timely prize-winning title? (9)
LONGITUDE – Dava Sobel’s book – winner of the 1997 British Book of the Year – about John Harrison, inventor of the first clock sufficiently accurate for determining longitude at sea, hence “time”-ly.

9 Point outside of India that has some pyramids (5)
NUBIA – NUB [point] + I{ndi}A

11 One who came, to kill in cold blood? (6)
ICEMAN – referring to Eugene O’Neill’s 1939 play The Iceman Cometh.

12 British novelist’s intrusion that’s about to … (8)
SILLITOE – SILL [intrusion, in a geological sense] + I.E. [that is] about TO. Angry young British novelist Alan Sillitoe, author of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner etc.

14 capture one in spirit (4)
GAIN – A [one] in GIN [spirit]

15 Rocky lairs I have, as a mythical mother (4,6)
RHEA SILVIA – (LAIRS I HAVE*) [“rocky”]. Romulus and Remus’ mum, maybe a friend to rocky-laired wolves.

18 The last character in Pickwick Papers? (3,7)
THE COBBLER – The cobbler in Pickwick Papers is a typically colourful Dickensian, who makes his bed under a table due to having been used in happier, pre-imprisonment times to a four-poster. A cryptic definition based on the fact that a cobbler works at a last.

19 Where you’ll see Lee at first in depressed part of Gloucestershire (4)
SLAD – L{ee} in SAD [depressed]. Slad is a Gloucestershire village in the Slad Valley. Referencing the fact that Laurie Lee (Cider With Rosie) was a Slad native.

21 Very short bit of verse about a poet (8)
VERLAINE – VER{y} + LINE [bit of verse] about A. Though of course poet is only one of the many strings to his bow.

23 Actor and playwright’s plot with a monarch (6)
PLANER – PLAN [plot] with E.R. [monarch]. You can call him an “actor and playwright” all you like, he’ll always be Neil off The Young Ones to me.

25 Ponderosa’s one tree in part, not bay (5)
RANCH – {b}RANCH [tree in part], without the B [bay]

26 Poem I’d heard on champagne — very old and very dry (9)
MUMMIFIED – IF [the Kipling poem] plus IDE [homophone of I’d] on MUMM [champagne]

27 I can’t locate North America when it’s stormy (8,5)
ATLANTIC OCEAN – (I CAN’T LOCATE N.A.*) [“when it’s stormy”], semi-&lit.


1 Barnes’s love triangle kit? — without the French involved (7,2,4)
TALKING IT OVER – (LOVE TRIANG{le} KIT*) [“without the French”, i.e. LE, and “involved”]. As the novel concerns a love triangle this is another &lit-type clue.

2 British writer of plays, who specialised in comedy (5,4)
ERNIE WISE – I think this refers to Wise’s “plays what I wrote” in the Morecambe & Wise show? But that was all a bit before my time. Unlike the Dickens and Shakespeare obviously.

3 I call a revolutionary “secular” (6)
LAICAL – (I CALL A*) [“revolutionary”]

4 Culture regularly provides a bit of information (4)
CLUE – C{u}L{t}U{r}E

5 Cronin’s top title, one he’d contrived (3,7)
THE CITADEL – (C{ronin} TITLE A [one] HE’D*) [“contrived”], &lit. AJ Cronin’s best-known novel, an expose of ethics within the medical profession that laid the ground for the foundation of the NHS.

6 Achieve something with humour, holding a particular view (6,2)
WANGLE IT – WIT [humour] holding ANGLE [a particular view]

7 Sailor trapped by traitor in an Atlantic port (5)
RABAT – AB [sailor] trapped by RAT [traitor]

10 Kentish gentleman and revolutionary a northern leader nixed (9,4)
ALEXANDER IDEN – (A N LEADER NIXED*) [“revolutionary”]. Takes out the rebellious Jack Cade in Henry VI Part 2, when he discovers him starved and stealing from his garden.

13 Caine’s key position in British film-making? (3,7)
THE BONDMAN – An 1890 bestseller by Hall Caine. I think the clue references the UK film industry prestige of being “the Bond man” (position currently occupied by Daniel Craig).

16 Speed worked for this gentleman (9)
VALENTINE – cryptic def, referring to Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, wherein Speed is Valentine’s servant. Everyone remembers Proteus’s man Launce better, because of his hilarious dog.

17 An Irish sea island once had Charlie and a prince as men living in cells (8)
MONACHAL – MONA [an Irish Sea island – aka Anglesey] + C [Charlie] + HAL [a prince]

20 Online confusion — a source of trouble in South America? (2,4)
EL NINO (ONLINE*) [“confusion”]. El Nino “refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.” A source of historic and present-day climatic disruption in e.g. Peru.

22 Rhymester engaged in Japanese poetry? Just the reverse (5)
RENGA – {rhymeste}R ENGA{ged}. A form of Japanese collaborative poetry of which Matsuo Basho was perhaps the most famous master.

24 A demon and I — we fight (4)
IMPI – IMP [a demon] + I. An impi is a Zulu regiment.

9 comments on “TLS Crossword 1163 by Broteas – February 17, 2017: Definite Alcohols”

  1. Several answers starting with “The” – partly the result of stashing away book titles in a list that my copy of Crossword Compiler can search. If a title includes “The” and is up to fifteen letters, my current idea is that it goes into the list in full. Nice-looking titles with 16-18 letters would be put it in with “The” dropped. In this puzzle, once I’d started with a T in the top left corner and happened to choose answers starting there that both put T at the beginning of a couple of ten-letter answers, most of the “The …” answers were pretty much guaranteed. Also no planning for the booze references — I’m pretty sure I was struggling with MUMMIFIED for ages before noticing the champagne.

    21A: no cunning calculations – it was simply one of the possible words to fit other answers. I normally put in the long answers first when filling the grid, so I probably had V?????N?. Once I saw the possibility, it had to go in.

  2. A pretty comfortable solve well within the hour, though a few things went in with distinct uncertainty — Alexander Iden, monachal, The Bondman (where I fell for the red herring and was trying desperately to think of a Michael Caine film that would fit).

    I certainly wouldn’t have known how to spell Rhea Sylvia so was glad of the helpful checking letters.

    I felt the need to verify that there actually are pyramids in Nubia …. but of course there are. It’s not as if Peter wouldn’t have checked (or possibly seen them?).

    1. African travel so far limited to a trip in southern Tunisia with some good stories attached. If you’re bored of xwd chat at some future pub gathering, ask me about the mouche/magot incident.
  3. I can’t edit my first comment now so, embarrassingly, it will have to stand as proof that I don’t know how to spell Rhea Silvia!
  4. For some reason I couldn’t get any traction at all with this one so went off to do something else for a bit. I think I was put off by not understanding 1A at all (no idea about the wine or the poisoning) and also being clueless about the Ernie Wise reference. And taking ages to figure out the Bondman. I liked MUMMIFIED.
  5. Crept in just under the hour on this, wondering whether this community was getting a little introverted, what with our (occasionally) inebriate blogger being mentioned in dispatches: or was that indeed just labelling it for attention? I look forward to Zabadak or equivalent finding it’s way into the grid. This TotP version of it is notable for the contrast between the mooning studio dancers and the four professional dolly birds, and for the member of the band whose main job is to wait until they need the machine that goes tschhhhh.
    Serendipity is always fun. Not long after this, one of Mrs Z’s quiz programmes wanted to know which ancient nation had the most pyramids. Joyous to be able to declare with confidence Nubia! Though I rather think they made them a bit too pointy.
    1. We’ve also had Olivia a couple of times in the TLS but there didn’t seem any reason to preen! Sotira and Vinyl would be quite clueable but Zabadak would be rather a challenge. I could get no further than playing with “bonanza” “badlands” and “Dakota”.

      Edited at 2017-03-11 03:34 pm (UTC)

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