TLS Crossword 1165 — 1A by Praxiteles – March 3, 2017 Return to Mugby Junction…

….or The Magic Fishbone

This is no normal TLS, and there are clearly those at t’Club who dislike it simply because everything in it is from Dickens. The extraordinary determination of Praxiteles to give every clue at least a bit of Dickens wordplay, if not a Dickens answer, means that for everyone, except those with an Hafizic knowledge of the canon plus a photographic memory with easy access, needed to engage Google early on at least for confirmation. Maybe it’s possible to do this on wordplay alone, and you certainly don’t need all the detail to fill every vacant square. That’s what I’m for. Many “hard” times were recorded, and I suffered the additional indignity of a simple error relying on grammar rather than wordplay and dropped still further down the list. There were also a couple of clues where I failed to crack the wordplay before submitting (in more ways than one).

I’m not complaining: far from it, this was a terrific challenge and a real tour de force of teeth-gritted setting, reminiscent of P’s Shakespearefest in TLS 1122. I might go so far as to describe it as a real pip, though perhaps with no great expectations of everyone agreeing.
Here, as far as Google, Project Guttenberg and I can make it, is the untanglement.
Clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS


1 25 being one of his characters  (7)
DICKENS  Works as a straight definition clue, since (spoiler alert) Mr DICK (25d) is indeed one of Chuck’s characters, but it’s also a bit cleverer than that: ENS being Latin for – um – being, added to DICK thus giving the hero of the puzzle.
5 How Monks described Oliver, as brat ill-used by Dodger initially  (7)
BASTARD Might not get past the censors (didn’t on the Club). From Oliver Twist, as are all the characters mentioned. AS BRAT is ill used in such a way as to give BASTAR, and The Artful’s first letter supplies the D
9 Register at start of “Tale …” that the Woodman’s was muffled  (5)
TREAD  Register READ, start of Tale… T. From …of Two Cities Ch 1: “But that Woodman […] went about with muffled tread”
10 Turned out badly like Betty Higden’s mind  (9)
UNTUTORED  An anagram (badly) of TURNED OUT. Our Mutual Friend “There was abundant place for gentler fancies too, in her untutored mind”
11 What’s revealed by Dolly Varden, tirelessly thorough  (6)
ENTIRE  Hidden in VardEN TIRElessly. Dolly is in Barnaby Rudge, and cheerfully donated her name, via a brightly coloured dress, to a Californian trout and several US sports teams (sic).
12 Sensations making Tappertit audibly stomp about (8)
SYMPTOMS  SIM(on) Tappertit is in Barnaby Rudge, and provides the SYM sound to add on to an anagram of STOMP
14 “The howling of tabular statements” (Hard Times) (5)
OCEAN  Know it (!), look it up or guess it from O?E?N. It’s in Hard Times and appears to be an expression relating to the mathematical way in which Gradgrind’s mind works, without imagination or wondering. Perhaps a native Accountant can explain.
15 Comfortable miser discomfited in a manner of speaking (9)
WELLERISM  my last in, because I wouldn’t give up working at the wrong end of the clue. Comfortable WELL, MISER “discomforted” ERISM, for Sam Weller’s (Pickwick Papers) distinctive way of speech.
18 Turner perhaps, name of 25  (9)
SWIVELLER  Dick of that family turns up in The Old Curiosity Shop, and despite what his name suggests turns out to be the good guy. Charade on Turner.
20 Answer to what “The Chimes” may give – a watery ring  (5)
ATOLL  The Chimes (the next Christmas story after the Carol) might give A TOLL, though since a toll is a single bell ringing that seems unlikely. Not sure if “answer” is meant to supply the A: works for me either way.
22 Father Jack, guest in the Haunted House  (8)
GOVERNOR  So not Craggy Island, then. Jack Governor appears in “The Mortals in the House”, a short story in the Christmas book of 1859, collectively The Haunted House.
24 Tiny Tim shortly to tell about description of Oliver’s friend, name of 25  (6)
LITTLE  An anagram (I think) of TI(m) and TELL. Oliver Twist’s friend Dick at the orphanage was described as “little”, as was Oliver. And Dorrit. and Paul and Florence (D&S). And Wackford Jr. And Nell….
26 Pegler is confused about part of oratorio he composed  (9)
PERGOLESI  Pegler is our only Dickens reference here, from Hard Times. His name plus IS and the O from oratorio together supply PERGOLESI, 18th century composer and musician
27 Lachrymose manservant has no hesitation in identifying lover of Miss Manners  (5)
TROTT  Job Trotter was manservant to Alfred Jingle in the Pickwick Papers, given to using tears as a means of persuasion. Take away ER, his hesitation, and you have Alexander TROTT, who elopes with Julia Manners in the Great Winglebury Duel, one of the sketches by BOZ. Phew.
28 Medic with letters describing what Mr Sapsea does at the Dean  (7)
DRESSES  Wordplay is simple: DR for medic and ESSES for letters. It was a characteristic of Mr Thomas Sapsea (Edwin Drood) that he dressed in imitation of the Dean of Cloisterham Cathedral,  and that provides the allusion. I can’t make the grammar work – should that “at” in the clue be “as”?
29 Children’s family like the gloves that Kenwigs sent out for  (7)
KIDSKIN  A double definition: Children’s family are KID’S KIN, and Mr Kenwig in Nicholas Nickleby sent out for a 1s2d pair of white KID(skin)  gloves in order to muffle a door-knocker. Don’t ask.

1 Note the children in this fictional Yorkshire village  (9)
DOTHEBOYS  Scene of the notorious School run by the foul Wackford Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby, based on the real Bowes Academy. Note DO, the THE, children BOYS. Dickens at his most transparent in nomenclature, as if Wackford Squeers is going to be the nice guy.
2 Game will we hear involve hop-grower  (7)
CHESTLE Indeed a hop-grower, who seizes the eldest Miss Larkins from the affections of David Copperfield. That’s all I can tell you, because that’s all there is. Sounds like chess’ll.
3 Assembled under one church; Tappertit thought there were bounds to his (9)
ENDURANCE  reassemble UNDER to produce ENDUR, then add AN for one (don’t argue) and CE for Church. “’There are bounds to human endurance’ Thus thought Sim Tappertit” cf 12ac.
4 Where Mrs Jarley’s penurious poet might live  (4)
SLUM Dicken’s imaginative name for a poet with minimal means who might well live in a – um – SLUM. From The Old Curiosity Shop
5 Flirtatious maidservant harassed by stalker about entrance to chamber (5,5)
BETSY CLARK  Who is as described, in Sketches By Boz. An anagram (harassed) of BY STALKER with a side helping of C(hamber)
6  ’Tis perhaps what John Hutley did with the patient all night  (5)
SIT UP  Well it could have been SAT UP apart from the wordplay. ‘Tis, after all, in a down clue is SIT “UP”.  John Hutley turns up in the Stroller’s Tale, part of the Pickwick Papers, and does indeed sit up all night with a dying actor, far gone in ravings.
7 Monks found here mostly in best type of reasoning  (1,6)
A PRORI  Monks returns from Oliver Twist and 5ac, except that it’s not him, it’s people who might live in a PRIORY, its end stricken and its whole surrounded by AI for “best”
8 Gullible ones ruined by Dodson yielding term in prison  (5)
DODOS  An anagram (ruined) of DODSON without (yielding) the N from the end (term) of prison. Dodson is half the legal partnership of Dodson & Fogg who attempt to swindle Mr Pickwick and land him in prison, making the clue a rather neat précis of the story. And not Charles Dod(g)son who also wrote about dodos
13 “… the of oysters alone are not gregarious” (American Notes)  (10)
SWALLOWERS  It just is. And not Charles Dodgson who also wrote about oysters.
16 Briefly medicated one badly, like Smike at the end  (9)
EMACIATED An anagram (one badly) of MEDICATED sold short. Smike from Nicolas Nickleby is perpetually thin and dies of TB.
17 City businessman becoming a lord in an Oxford college  (9)
MALDERTON  Ah yes, got it. It’s A L(or)D in MERTON. A city slicker in Horation Sparkins, Sketches by Boz
19 How Mrs Hunter described a dying amphibian? Quite the opposite!  (7)
INVERSE Mrs Hunter, in Pickwick Papers, regaled her salon with The Expiring Frog, written, of course, IN VERSE.
21 What Mr Crisparkle climbed at Cloisterham Weir, exposed to the air  (7)
OUTLOOK Exposed: OUT, air: LOOK. A vantage point at Closterham Weir in Edwin Drood. Not, I think, where Crisparkle picked up his emails.
22 How greengrocer yawned in front of Mr Tuckle (about page 500)  (5)
GAPED  And caused much feigned offence to Tuckle and company in The Pickwick Papers. An anagram (about) of PAGE and D (Latin for 500)
23 Over which twisted housebreaker fled, otherwise retreating from society  (5)
ROOFS  The Twisted housebreaker must be Bill Sykes, twisted because he is taking Oliver with him (geddit?). Otherwise (or) retreating RO, from OF, S(ociety). Didn’t understand this at the time of solving.
25 Surname of fool recurrently occupied by Charles’s head  (4)
DICK  Mr Dick in David Copperfield, rescued from an asylum by Betsy Trotwood, obsessed with King Charles 1 and his disconnected head. I knew this! There is some back-up wordplay contained in the clue: Fool, KID recurrently gives DIK, get the inserted C from Charle’s head Clever stuff, though you could, like I very nearly did, ignore the wordplay.

10 comments on “TLS Crossword 1165 — 1A by Praxiteles – March 3, 2017 Return to Mugby Junction…”

  1. This sounds OK to me; if he dresses in imitation of the Dean, he’s dressing at him. The locution somehow rings as (small) bell. I bet you could find something in the OED sv ‘at’sense 39 or so.
    1. You’re not wrong. From Drood: “Mr. Sapsea ‘dresses at’ the Dean; has been bowed to for the Dean, in mistake; has even been spoken to in the street as My Lord, under the impression that he was the Bishop come down unexpectedly, without his chaplain. Mr. Sapsea is very proud of this, and of his voice, and of his style.”
      The ‘…’ inverted commas are Dickens’, presumably quoting a phrase of that age. Can’t find the phrase in the usual sources.

      Edited at 2017-03-24 11:36 am (UTC)

  2. Hi – I am not an expert on Dickens overall, but I am (though I say it myself) something of an expert on The Pickwick Papers, as I am the author of the novel Death and Mr Pickwick, which tells the story behind the creation of The Pickwick Papers. I must say it gives me a HUGE buzz to see Pickwickian characters appearing in a crossword that I never ever expected to appear – such as Hutley. Wonderful! Best wishes Stephen Jarvis
  3. I am no fan of Dickens .. but I have to agree that this is a very fine crossword. The fact that I was able to finish it, despite never having finished one of Dickens’ books (started one or two!) speaks volumes for the setter’s skill. A little biffing, a little googling, but a surprising number of clues were solvable without – 1dn, 29ac as examples
  4. I mostly agree with Jerry. This was a very fine puzzle indeed and I only wish it had had more of the Dickens I do enjoy (Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House, Tale of Two Cities) and less of Pickwick, with apologies to Stephen Jarvis. It didn’t actually take me the 15 hours recorded on the Club timer. That Friday’s cryptic was unusually difficult and I hadn’t left enough time that morning to finish this. I know it took me at least an hour and probably more.

    There were two I didn’t parse at all (LITTLE and DODOS) and I never did see the anagrams in BETSY CLARK and GAPED, so thanks for all those Z. I note that there’s a second clue that the Club censor would asterisk in addition to 5a – 25d… I completely missed the nuances in that one too, oh dear.

    1. Before I came to write the blog, I thought both the D**K clue and the one for Chuck were both CDs, or even definition only clues, and both work well enough like that, but they’re also rather elegant cryptics.
      The clue for LITTLE was a bit of a stretch, I thought, and with Tiny at the front we effectively had two definitions.

      1. I forgot to say that I dithered over this because of its being clued as (5). Perhaps it was just too easy as (3,2). Hyphenated, it only works as an exercise I no longer do now my back won’t let me.
    2. I am sure that nowadays a lot of people would indeed prefer those other Dickens novels you mention to be in the puzzle, rather than Pickwick, but historically the popular tastes would have been the opposite. Until about 1930, Pickwick was Dickens’s most popular novel by far, and indeed was often proclaimed to be Dickens’s masterpiece. All the best Stephen Jarvis
    3. I am sure that nowadays a lot of people would indeed prefer those other Dickens novels you mention to be in the puzzle, rather than Pickwick, but historically the popular tastes would have been the opposite. Until about 1930, Pickwick was Dickens’s most popular novel by far, and indeed was often proclaimed to be Dickens’s masterpiece. All the best Stephen Jarvis
  5. I enjoyed this, but as my Dickens knowledge tragically stems mostly from David Copperfield, there was a lot of Googling for confirmation here. One day I’ll catch up with the whole canon (perhaps in my retirement?)

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