QC 2687 by Oink – Times for The Times (2024)

QC 2687 by Oink – Times for The Times (1)Author &nbsp MerlinPosted on 28th May 2024 at 1:35 AM28 May 2024Categories Quick Cryptic

16:36, Some great surfaces here, I don’t usually read surfaces much, as I am too busy trying to decrypt them. 1A for example is a perfectly natural English phrase.

I’ve been trying to come up with alternative clueings (two examples below), but I can never match the smoothness of the setters’ surfaces.

Two rare adjectives-as-nouns (rustic and menial) are needed to solve this puzzle.

1Delightful lake in rustic surroundings (8)
PLEASANT – PEASANT (rustic) contains L{ake}

This is “rustic” as a noun, and this is a chestnut, along with PEASANT/PHEASANT

Uncouth person grabbing tail of skittish bird (8) from QC 2572

6Old-time chap from Scotland chosen, did you say? (4)
PICT – sounds like [did you say] PICKED (chosen)

The word PICT is generally thought to have come from the Latin for “painted”, “pictus”, from which we get “picture”. They were probably tattooed.

8Choose to make U-turn, concealing company’s last mistake (4)
TYPO – OPT (choose) reversed [making U-turn] contains {compan}Y

My LOI, couldn’t see beyond R in the third letter, for Pyro, Gyro or Tyro.

Still hoping for a clue with a TYPO in it, such as

Choose to make U-turn, concealing Yankeee for example (4)

9A German mug? On the contrary (8)
EINSTEIN – EIN (“A” in German) + STEIN (mug)

“On the contrary” refers to the fact that that Einstein (a German) was no mug. Clever, and my COD. The fact that Stein is German for stone is merely a distraction this time. Here’s a way to clue it slightly differently:

One stone in Germany is a prize winner (8)

10Coach’s posture (8)
CARRIAGE – Double def

This was another slow one for me, as the checkers were not helpful.

12Sign submarine captain will return (4)
OMEN – NEMO(submarine captain) reversed [will return]

From Captain Nemo, from Jules Verne 20,000 leagues under the sea. The Kids film Finding Nemo would be the way to get this via Ninja Turtling.

13Women I allowed to retain a servant (6)
MENIAL – Hidden [to retain] in Women I allowed

The noun usage is not common (and unknown to me). The OED has an excellent definition, which seems to have come straight from Dr Johnson or Professor James Murray:

In the 18th and 19th centuries frequently used disparagingly of liveried menservants kept for ostentation rather than use, with an imputation of pomposity or arrogance.

15Drawing of small boat (6)
SKETCH – S{mall} + KETCH (small boat)
17No Rolling Stone will have such a hanger-on (4)
MOSS – Cryptic def

From the phrase “A Rolling Stone gathers no moss”. This one seems a bit weak. Is the Moss supposed to be a Hanger-on? I can’t see this meaning of moss in the OED.

19Remedy almost certain to produce riches (8)
TREASURE – TREA{t} (Remedy) + SURE (certain)
21Obscure travelling salesmen (8)
NAMELESS – (SALESMAN)* [travelling]

Pleasing 8 letter anagram.

23Country I was the leader of (4)
IRAN – I + RAN (was the leader of)

The N is unchecked, so IRAQ would fit, but can’t see anyway to mistake RAQ for “leader of”. QC 2648 had IRAQ, but clued very differently. How about this?

Sounds of me setting up a game of snooker in Arab Republic (4)

24As drunk as this, went mad? (4)
NEWT – (WENT)* [mad]

Drunk as (usually P*ssed as) a NEWT.

Please note my North American friends, in British English “p*ssed” by itself means drunk, you must use the full “P*ssedoffif you mean angry. I’ve seen some confusion over this, believe me.

25Revolutionary art and poetry making you cross (8)
TRAVERSE – TRA (“art” reversed) + VERSE (poetry)
2Expose what nudists did on beach? (3,4)
LAY BARE – Double def, the second being cryptic. Good one.
3Some in LA mourned this secret love affair (5)
AMOUR – Hidden in “LA mourned”

I didn’t actually know that an AMOUR was secret, I thought it was a crush.

4Man, not married, drinking this in boozer? (3)
ALE – MALE (man) – M{arried}

Boozer being a pub, where ALE is drunk.

5Teens seen running wild in US state (9)
TENNESSEE – (TEENS SEEN)* [running wild]
6Everyone steering clear of this drug den (7)
POTHOLE – POT (drug) + HOLE (den)
7Took refuge in church, getting rebuke (5)
CHIDE – CE (Church) contains HID (took refuge)

CHIDE has the excellent past participle of CHID, which is sadly on the way out.

11Your share of vegetable patch? (9)
ALLOTMENT – Double def, and an easy one.
14Test cricket perhaps absorbing papa (7)
INSPECT – INSECT (cricket, perhaps) contains P{apa}

Very clever juxtaposition of Test & cricket which need to be separated.

16Vehicle about to go over animal’s remains (7)
CARCASS – CAR (vehicle) + C (about) + ASS (animal)

The parsing is tricky as the clue could have been “Animal’s remains”, since a carcass is never used to refer to a human.

18Hold forth in Old English about traitor (5)
ORATE – O{ld} E{nglish} contains RAT (traitor)
20Wretched chap, one interrupting news broadcast (5)
SWINE – (NEWS)* [broadcast] contains I(one)

Phew, Oink is back to his piggy ways after an aberration a few puzzles previously.

22Outspoken Pole in Bath perhaps (3)
SPA – Sounds like SPAR (pole)

In Somerset, where Bath is, SPAR is definitely not the same as SPA, they lurrve their RRR’s down therrrrre.

  1. I think the idea of the MOSS is that it would be a hanger-on if the rolling stone actually gathered any. I didn’t think twice about it, mainly because the answer was so obvious. I’m not sure why NEWTs are supposedly always drunk, odd now I think about it.


    1. Or why ‘sick as a parrot’.


    2. From reading about the little critter’s habits I would say ‘randy as a stoat’ is justified.


      1. Whereas, Robert Benchley tells us, “It is not generally known that the newt, although one of the smallest of our North American animals, has an extremely happy home-life. It is just one of those facts which never get bruited about.” –“The Social Life of the Newt”


        1. On a similar note, last week in Cornwall I saw some baby coots on the Bude canal and they were totally bald on top. As though they’d been tonsured.


    3. Spanish moss hangs.


  2. 9:00. POTHOLE and INSPECT were the picks for me. I had always thought a CARCASS could also be of a human being. I remember a murder mystery by Dorothy Sayer titled Have His Carcase.


  3. I’ve never come across ‘pissed/drunk as a newt’, so I was reluctant to enter NEWT, even though it seemed inescapable. CARCASS is actually used sometimes in reference to a human body–as in ‘park your carcass’–just not to a dead one [on edit: (although curryowen reminds me of an exception)]. I think of a wretch as a pitiable person not a nasty one, so SWINE took me a little longer. (ODE sv wretch: ‘an unfortunate or unhappy person.’ ‘(informal) a despicable or contemptible person’) 6:43.


  4. This was a pretty easy puzzle, and took me longer than it should have. I could see some of the obvious answers, such as Pict, moss, menial, sketch, traverse, typo, and Iran, but pleasant, carriage, and carcass eluded me longer than they should have.

    Time: 7:59


  5. It seems the new-to-me expression “drunk as a newt” has several postulated origins and the one I landed on first is not the last word, so I’ll forgo mentioning it…
    Not to split hairs (moi ?!), but I feel that EINSTEIN as “not a mug” here is most directly not so much a reference to the physicist himself as to the use of his name to mean (because he himself certainly was) an inordinately brainy person (sometimes, of course—no sh*t, Sherlock—used sarcastically). Collins online has this particular usage listed as (non-Collins, strictly speaking) American English.


  6. I liked so much of this, even if I DNF. I was tricked so many times.

    I didn’t know an allotment was a vegetable patch. I googled it just now and I guess most people just have their own gardens here. I just picked a very satisfyingly sized pumpkin from mine yesterday.

    Having said that most lots on my street have now been subdivided for apartments, town houses and the like, so maybe allotments in community gardens are in our future


    1. My brother is green-fingered and keeps a magnificent allotment, complete with 2 greenhouses. I think he relies on indentured labour in the form of my mother, who is long retired and so has the time to keep it neat and tidy while he is at work.


      1. Ah. My father is also retired and his yard his small but I swear he has simply every single type of fruit tree in it. It’s a huge 5 bedroom 3 bathroom empty nest of a house and I dread the day he will have to leave his garden for a smaller house, or my house.

        He spends all his waking hours in his garden. I… I eat all of the fruit.

        So vege patches in your own yard. Are they allotments?


        1. Allotments are owned by the local council and leased (at fairly low cost) to residents, and so different from a vege patch in your own garden. I think provision of allotments came about in cities where ordinary folk didn’t have gardens, or space enough to grow fruit and vegetables in the garden they do have.

  7. 11 minutes. Lost a bit of time thinking LAY BACK at 2dn before reconsidering the parsing. Also wondering why ‘your share’ at 11dn, to which there was no answer.


  8. Enjoyed this. Took a while to realise ‘went’ was anagrammed, before that I’d been in the realms of mad monks and being as high as a Lord. Nice when the penny drops – then it happened again with OMEN. POTHOLE held me up at the end – I usually hear about people moaning about not ‘steering clear of them’.

    We like our R’s so much in Somerset we even get one in Bath. Enjoyed saying SPA and spar out loud to myself a few times – unexpected breakfast pleasure. Thanks Merlin.

    Now to enjoy the empty roads a half-term brings.


  9. Defeated after 20 minutes by POTHOLE and OMEN, as well as getting NAMELESS wrong. INSPECT made me smile.


  10. Found the top hard to get in to so worked from the bottom up. After about 15 minutes we were well on the way but then slowed by the north east in particular.

    Mrs RH said stein about 1 minute in but I was convinced a German would be ager or ade so ignored her – when will I learn!! When the penny dropped was our COD closely followed by lay bare. Very helpful to have the anagrist for the US state to confirm the numbers of n’s and s’s 😀

    LOI pothole was clever and good to see the porcine reference confirming that meaning of wretch.

    Thanks Oink and Merlin for the great blog and extra clues.


  11. A good puzzle which didn’t put up too much resistance.
    Started with PICT and finished with MENIAL in 7.18 with COD to INSPECT.
    Thanks to Merlin


  12. Puzzled through at a good pace expecting to grind to a halt at any moment, but just lumbered on to complete under 25 mins.
    Thanks Oink for a nice selection of not too cryptic clues and Merlin for the blog.


  13. Was going along nicely with this very enjoyable puzzle until my L2I, where I hit a POTHOLE which took me far longer than it should have and so discombobulated me that I invented the hitherto unknown sign OREN at 12A for my LOI. So 10 minutes to “two left” but then a 14 minute finish WOE.

    Many thanks Merlin for the blog and I do agree, some of the surfaces were extremely smooth.


  14. Great blog, Merl. Your application for the post of QC setter has been acknowledged with interest. 😜



  15. 9:55 (death of Eadred. Eadwig becomes King of England)

    No especial hold ups. LAY BARE and CARRIAGE were my L2I.

    I am hoping the rain holds off, so I can plant squash, celeriac and okra in my 11d this morning.

    Thanks Merlin and Oink


  16. Some excellent clues as usual from Oink. Took a little while to really get my brain in gear so landed in the SCC by 26 seconds. NHO stein = mug. Didn’t really get the Rolling Stone one. As long as you know the phrase, it’s not really cryptic at all. Anyway, LOI CARRIAGE, COD to NAMELESS. Thanks Merlin and Oink.


  17. Really fun puzzle. I do like Oink’s style and nice to see the return of the piggy signature clue (the pignature?).

    COD to LOI NEWT from me, because when I was wrestling with it first time I thought “maybe it’s an anagram of went” and then thought “don’t be ridiculous, it’s only four letters, it would jump out at you – twen, tewn … there’s no anagram here”. Oink 1 -0 Templar.

    All done in 06:21 for a Red Letter Day. Many thanks Oink and Merlin – some excellent clues in there.



    1. pignature 🤣


  18. Top drawer puzzle from Oink, and I can’t add much to what others have said. EINSTEIN came close to being COD….

    Thanks for the usual excellent blog Merlin.

    TIME 4:10


  19. Excellent puzzle which I finished in 15 minutes, all parsed. No particularly obscure vocabulary, although I can see ALLOTMENT might cause sone difficulty to non-Brits. MER at MOSS, which seemed barely cryptic, so much so that I hesitated to put it in at first.

    FOI – 9ac EINSTEIN
    LOI – 13ac MENIAL
    COD – so much to like. On my way through I have ticked EINSTEIN, LAY BARE and POTHOLE.

    Thanks to Oink and to Merlin for the great blog


  20. Clockwise solve in 8 minutes. Liked Newt and Einstein. Had to wrench my brain off Pitlane for Pothole – otherwise it all flowed smoothly.


  21. I agree totally about the clever and natural surfaces
    Finished in 9:46 so just inside my 10 minute target


  22. A pretty speedy solve here crossing the line in 7.33. The only clue that held me up to any great extent was my LOI which was CARRIAGE. It’s always frustrating when there is just one left to get and you can’t see it. Got there eventually after about a minute.


  23. 6:49

    Fairly breezy Tuesday fare with plenty of acrosses in on the first pass. Slower to get stuff like LAY BARE and CARCASS (wasn’t sure of the ending thanks to Dorothy L Sayers and didn’t see the ASS) but enjoyed the MOSS, TREASURE and LOI NEWT clues.

    Thanks Merlin and Oink


  24. I was slow to get going on this fairly easy clever puzzle. I kept skipping over and missing solving the obvious clues and pondering about the hard ones. e.g. hesitated about LOI SWINE, easiest of the lot.
    Cd not parse TYPO, CARCASS.
    Thanks vm, Merlin.


  25. Finished correctly in 44 minutes.
    Hooray – first one I’ve managed to finish for a while.
    Well done to the setter. More like this one, please.
    Got to say though, I thought carcass was spelled carcase until I looked it up.
    Not sure a drug den would be a ‘pothole’ – surely it implies something stronger than marijuana ?
    Does moss ‘hang on’ to a stone ? More likely stick to.
    Minor quibbles, though.


  26. DNF in 5.23

    Probably rushing too much as I put in a horrible LAMENESS. Will quickly head for the door.


    1. I couldn’t shake lameness for ages.


  27. 7:54

    Didn’t see much in the NW on first glance so ended there with LAY BARE and PLEASANT.

    Particularly enjoyed test cricket.

    A fine puzzle, thanks Merlin and Oink


  28. Still slowed up by the use of phone.

    Nice puzzle though, LAY BARE and NEWT particularly. SWINE LOI.



  29. Another slow plod for me today but much to enjoy. COD to EINSTEIN (pleased to remember the German beer mug) but also appreciated LOI LAY BARE. Held up by hidden MENIAL (no surprises there) and POTHOLE (absolutely no idea about this clue for ages). Agree ‘pissed as a newt’ meaning tricky for non-brits. Nicely pitched QC. Thanks Oink and Merlin.


  30. I came here expecting to read how everyone thought this was unusually difficult for Oink, only to find that I am (so far) in a minority of one. Struggled for ages with Nameless and Carriage, and needed a guide dog to point out Menial. Couldn’t parse Carcass (didn’t lift and separate) and finally stumbled into loi Pothole as I passed the 30min post. CoD to 14d, Inspect, (lift and separate ✅). Invariant


    1. Minority of two now, with me for company!


    2. Minority of three now, add me to the list!


  31. I know I’m supposed to be concentrating on finishing (which I did), but this was not my finest hour. As so often, I missed some anagram indicators and took forever to get my LOI, CARRIAGE (not sure why). A frustrating day, given that many went in easily. I also misread a couple, which really doesn’t help!

    Thanks for the blog.


  32. 15m
    Nice puzzle but not easy. Usually I get stuck on one or two clues, but here there were 9 that I had to work carefully through.

    LOI carriage.
    COD Pothole


  33. Like Mike H above had forgotten 16d CARCASS could be spelled that way, so was foxed by CARCASe, which doesn’t parse or (fortunately) fit.
    LOI CARRIAGE, not sure why, but took a while.


  34. Another puzzle where I had to dart around the grid picking off low hanging fruit. After ALE, AMOUR and TENNESSEE, I really should have seen PLEASANT, but no, I had to wait for
    LAY BARE too. Took a while to see the hidden MENIAL as I was fixated on WAITER, which of course it couldn’t be, and there’s no such thing as a WAILET (unless it’s a mephisto word for a small cry!). Anyway things went better after ALLOTMENT was in place and I finished on CARRIAGE in 7:54. Thanks Oink and Merlin.


  35. Hard to get started – my FOI was 13a (MENIAL). Even harder to finish – my L2I (OMEN and POTHOLE) added around 17 minutes to my time. I also wasted a fair bit of time trying in vain to parse CARCASS and SPA. Total time = 49 minutes. Slow!

    Otherwise, an enjoyable solve and I particularly liked Oink’s signature clue (SWINE) today.

    Many thanks to Oink and Merlin.


  36. 22 mins…

    Oink is definitely getting harder in my opinion – and I’ve said it for quite a while. I often wonder whether setters outsource their names to someone else to do if they’re busy. Probably a definite no-no, but in the world of sub and sub-sub contracting, who knows.

    Overall, I thought this was a good little puzzle, with some great surfaces. I particularly liked 6dn “Pothole”, 14dn “Inspect” and 2dn “Lay Bare”. Personally, I’ve never heard of the expression, “drunk as a newt” – “drunk as a skunk” maybe – but not a newt. It was only after doing a painful alphabet trawl and realising nothing obvious was coming that I saw the possible anagram.

    FOI – 4dn “Ale”
    LOI – 13ac “Menial”
    COD – 9ac “Einstein”

    Thanks as usual!


  37. An entertaining stroll through this pleasingly elegant puzzle in 17:07, held up by NEWT (nho “pissed as a…”) and (oh the shame) ALE. I was befuddled by “boozer” in the latter clue because unaware of its meaning as a pub, and thought it had to be a person drinking. Alcohol is my downfall, and it’s only 9 o’clock in the morning!

    FOI PLEASANT, LOI ALE, COD INSPECT, if only for the satisfaction of not, for once, being misled or intimidated by the game of cricket!

    Thanks Oink, and thanks to Merlin for the great blogging. Looking forward to a puzzle from you some day.


  38. So much to like here. A toss up I think between EINSTEIN and NEWT for COD. LOI MENIAL – missed the hidden for so long looking for variants of ‘I let’. An about average 12:43 in the end.


  39. Held up by POTHOLE, NAMELESS (saw LAMENESS, then eventually realised otherwise), TYPO and MENIAL, which I saw so late! Good to see a porcine reference back!


  40. 11.39 I’ve seen a lot of CARCASE recently and assumed I’d always been misspelling CARCASS. So LOI 16d puzzled me for a while. POTHOLE was also tough. Thanks Merlin and Oink.


  41. Complete in 30mins which is my admittedly slow target. EINSTEIN great clue, struggled to parse CARCASS, had it correct but thought it was a bit too obvious and clumsy


  42. With Oink I always look first for the porcine clue which took a few minutes today, but swine gave rise to three useful crossers and I found myself working bottom right to top left and racing along – until 13a stumped me (oh those hiddens) and, like others, I flirted with lay down, lay back until lay bare jumped out! Onward and upward. Made it, but into the SCC for the second day this week. Ein Stein of helles, or lager, would be welcome right now: my COD. Thanks to setter and blogger


  43. Really enjoyable, and as Merlin says, lovely smooth surfaces – every one tells a story. That must have great fun to blog! Oink continues to be my absolute favourite setter.
    Hard to choose a COD today – particular favourites were PLEASANT, NEWT, TENNESSEE and POTHOLE. Even though I’m not exactly ‘rhotic’, I questioned whether I would say SPA and spar in the same way. Like Mendesest, I said them out loud a few times, thought about going to our local mini-market, and realised that I do indeed pronounce them the same – no R 😅
    FOI Pleasant LOI Nameless COD Einstein All done and dusted in 8:29
    Thanks Oink and Merlin


  44. Got to the finish line but struggled with a few and don’t know why really. Thanks for a great blog!


  45. A lot of fun with this one. I thought at the time that I might be on for under ten minutes and was slightly surprised to clock in at 17:55. With hindsight I had a bit of a car crash in the NW corner thanks to CARRIAGE, LAY BARE and MENIAL (will I ever remember to look for hiddens? No, no, I probably won’t).

    Thank you to Oink for the puzzle and to Merlin for the blog!


  46. Attempted the big crossword again.

    Got more than half but it’s really well out of my league.



QC 2687 by Oink – Times for The Times (2024)


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