Times 28461 -something for everyone here

A pot-pourri of good clues here, with several of them evoking nostalgic memories for me. My only MER was at 6d where I felt the wordplay fell short.  25 minutes without rushing, and nothing difficult to parse. As a one-time chemist who has lived in Greece and France, I was right on the setter’s wavelength with 11a, 12a, 5d and 20d.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrists in italics.

1 Something boring on deck, a sanction for servicemen (4,5)
PACK DRILL -DECK of cards = PACK of cards, DRILL = something boring.
6 Intimidated fake banking partners getting deals (5)
COWED – COD (fake) has W E inserted; W and E being partners “getting deals” at the game of bridge.
9 Issue has article probing Eastern China (7)
EMANATE – E, AN (article) inside MATE = China (CRS China plate = mate).
10 Signifier of five divided by zero for ruling family (7)
ROMANOV – In ROMAN V signifies five, insert O for zero.
11 Chemist’s radical limits of experiment hastily left (5)
ETHYL – first and last letters (“limits”) of ExperimenT HastilY then L for left. Ethyl, C2H5-, as in ethyl acetate for example.
12 Established state’s Romance language (9)
PROVENCAL – Established = PROVEN, CAL = California. Provençal is a dialect of the Occitan language, spoken by some in SE France. I used to play golf with a chap called Jean-Louis  who was Professor of Occitan languages at Toulouse University; he seemed to have a lot of spare time for golf.
13 Tailor is near my place to learn the cloth trade (8)
SEMINARY – (IS NEAR MY)*. Cloth trade, as in clerics “of the cloth”.
14 Speaker’s issue — if so, it makes lout pout? (4)
LISP – If you have LOUT and then the L IS P, you get POUT.
17 Starter of gourmet Polish food (4)
GRUB – G(ourmet) RUB = polish.
18 Conclude covering Queen — Queen or Supergrass? (8)
SQUEALER – SEAL = conclude (e.g. seal a deal), insert QU for queen and add ER for another Queen.
21 Firm about boring worthless stuff, a TV genre (9)
DOCUDRAMA – OC (firm, about) inside DUD (worthless), RAM = stuff, A.
22 You heard holy man from the east displays taste (5)
UMAMI – U (sounds like you) then IMAM reversed (“from the east”).
24 Game, I sense, is draining for the finances (7)
RUINOUS – RU (rugby union) I, NOUS = sense.
25 Architrave from which to efface unknown letter (7)
EPISTLE – an EPISTYLE is an architrave, delete the Y (the unknown).
26 Media group pocketing no returns for ages (5)
YONKS – all reversed, SKY with NO inside.
27 Outstanding person who sings, a real prima donna! (9)
SUPERBRAT – SUPERB = outstanding, a RAT “sings” or tells on people; a superbrat being a name for a bad tempered sporting prima donna; John McEnroe in his prime, for example. It’s in Collins.
1 Pastry case, but no filling portion (5)
PIECE – pastry = PIE, C E = case without filling.
2 Acclaim actor: judge with fulsomeness capital part involving many lines (7,8)
CLAPHAM JUNCTION – CLAP (acclaim), HAM (actor), J(udge), UNCTION (fulsomeness). For our overseas readers, Clapham Junction is a busy rail junction in SW London, famous enough to be often used as a metaphor (“it was like Clapham Junction in the shopping centre today…”).
3 Parent circling 4th of June — note it’s the due date (8)
DEADLINE – DAD with (Jun)E inserted, LINE = note, as in “drop me a line”.
4 One succeeding around theatre, flipping amateur! (8)
INEXPERT – I (one) NEXT (succeeding) around REP reversed.
5 Works progressing slowly in large Greek city (6)
LARGOS – L (large) ARGOS (city in the Peloponnese not far from where we lived for a few years); LARGOS as in Handel’s Largo for example.
6 Reach outside parking, getting learner to drive (6)
COMPEL – Reach = COME (to), insert P for parking and add L for learner. A dodgy clue IMO, for me reach doesn’t mean come without a “to”, and compel is a stretch for drive (although Thesaurus.com does give it as an down-the-list option).
7 Effect of cool current catchword I’ll only half finish off (4-5,6)
WIND-CHILL FACTOR – (CATCHWORD I’LL FIN)*, fin being half of finish.
8 One improving property of solution for paparazzo? (9)
DEVELOPER -double definition, one a possibility. Solution as in e.g. hypo for developing photo negatives, which, many years ago before digital cameras, a paparazzo might have had to do (or more likely get someone else to do!).
13 Slav with yen to devour very mature cheese (4,5)
SAGE DERBY – a SERB is our Slav, devours AGED and adds Y for yen the currency.
15 Pay off Conservative no longer lying? (6,2)
SQUARE UP -a conservative person could be “square” or old fashioned, then UP meaning not lying down.
16 Funny games with copper, one you can’t trust (8)
PECULIAR – PE (games) CU (Cu, copper), LIAR.
19 Smells not right around opening of insect repellent (6)
ODIOUS – Smells = ODOURS, delete the R for right, insert I the opening of insect.
20 French booze — idiot thus knocked back bottles (6)
CASSIS – ASS (idiot) is “bottled” by SIC (thus) reversed. Blackcurrant liqueur, or a popular apéritif made from dry white wine with a little cassis added.
23 Still pirouetting in Montmartre nightspot (5)
INERT – hidden reversed as above.


72 comments on “Times 28461 -something for everyone here”

  1. 34:34
    Took a long time, thanks to obtuseness mainly, to get the last 2, SUPERBRAT & LISP. I was fixated on SUPERsomething, SUPERB didn’t occur to me. And I of course thought of LISP once I had the checkers, but couldn’t see how a lisp would produce a P. DNK ‘epistyle’ or ‘architrave’–well, I ‘knew’ the words, not the meaning–let alone that an epistyle is an architrave. Also DNK the JUNCTION, but of course I knew of the man on the bus, so CLAPHAM was easy enough to get from checkers. An MER at ‘holy man’ for IMAM. Another MER for COME=reach.

  2. 11:34. Nearly tripped up by reading “Slav” as “Slave”, which produced SAGE DERFY, which failed the sniff test for a cheese. LOI was SUPERBRAT for the same reason as Kevin, and biffed EPISTLE without knowing of an “epistyle”.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  3. Off the wavelength, but really enjoyed it – all the little flourishes like “partners getting deals”, “solution for paparazzo”, “cloth trade”, “capital part” etc. Didn’t know EPISTYLE and failed to link PACK and DECK, so LOI EPISTLE and PACK biffed. No other problems – Clapham Junction famous enough to have been on the news here about 30 years ago for a giant crash, many killed.
    Liked SUPERBRAT and saw it immediately – we had similar with a Superb Owl at a US sporting event a few years back. Didn’t know the band Supergrass – looked up “Crime of the Century” but that was Supertramp.

  4. Didn’t know epistyle at all or architrave pretty much, and the Peculiar crossers didn’t help. I liked it: clever and witty. I liked Romanov and Lisp a lot, and I liked the use of ‘cloth trade’. thanks, pip

  5. LOI SUPERBRAT… and, wondering what level of “dictionary status” it might have, I Googled, and found John McEnroe at the top of the results.
    Other previously unknown was the symmetrical PACK DRILL.
    Must’ve seen CLAPHAM JUNCTION here before…
    Similar to Pip and Kevin, I would have thought “come” needs “to” to mean “reach.” But, unlike Kevin, my eyebrows remained level at “holy man” for IMAM. To me, as an atheist (but for all I know, Kevin is one also), “holy” is just a word—like “godly”—that people apply to certain things and people, or appropriate to themselves by taking a religious office, but which is essentially meaningless. I must say, though, that somehow it still has an effect coming from Dylan Thomas.
    Compel to” and “drive to” seem to me fairly equivalent. A “drive” is a “compulsion.”

    1. I knew PACK DRILL only from the expression, “No names, no pack drill”.
      One can believe that the set of all holy people is the empty set, just as one can believe that the set of all unicorns is; we still know what a unicorn is, and we know what ‘holy’ applies to. And it doesn’t apply to imams (so I understand; I may, of course, be wrong), while it does, say, to sadhus. [On edit: I was not aware of the difference between ‘imam’ in Sunni and Shi’a usage. I suppose the Shi’a may take the 12 imams to be holy.]

      1. The second definition of “imam” in Merriam-Webster is “a Muslim leader of the line of Ali held by Shiites to be the divinely appointed, sinless, infallible successors of Muhammad.” Sounds pretty “holy” to me. But you don’t even have to go that deep into theology. Here’s one M-W definition of “holy”: “devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity”; the example is given of a “holy monk.” Collins: “3. devout, godly, or virtuous.”

  6. I don’t know what to make of this one as the whole of the LH side went in very easily but on the RH side I managed only INERT before grinding to a halt. Unable to progress further I found myself nodding off so I put the puzzle aside until this morning on the assumption that a brain refreshed would make short work of the remainder. However it didn’t and I struggled to find a further foothold, and when I eventually did I still had to battle for nearly every answer.

    I think in total I must have spent an hour on this, all but 15-20 minutes on the RH side, and I still ended up using aids for UMAMI which I think I have met before but evidently it didn’t register in my brain.

    NHO ‘epistyle’ so EPISTLE went in unparsed. And with LISP I was looking for word meaning ‘lout’ which said with a lisp would become a word meaning ‘pout’. Having ‘large’ in the clue to LARGOS prevented me seeing the obvious for far too long.

  7. 84 minutes. I was going along well until I became stuck fast in the SE corner with the crossing SQUEALER, SQUARE UP and PECULIAR. Eventually managed to get going, though just about gave up a few times. NHO an EPISTYLE, the city of ARGOS or SAGE DERBY as a ‘cheese’ Does a DEVELOPER necessarily improve a property? Not in my book.

    I liked / like CASSIS and think I’ve earned a Kir Royale after getting through this one.

    1. Well I think a developer will fail very quickly if (s)he does not raise the price of the property, so one might infer that a price hike=improvement?

      1. Yes, but if you’re living next door to what was once a modest cottage / bungalow, now replaced by a multi-storey townhouse complex, you may not see it the same way!

  8. 43:40 – a time which flatters my rather chaotic effort, ending with a biff-fest because there were so many I couldn’t properly parse (and some where the checkers were there and I didn’t bother). Amongst others, these included Kevin’s SUPER(B) problem and failing to equate “deck” with PACK. Closing sequence LARGOS (NHO the Greek city) / PROVENCAL (biffed due to solving ineptitude) and LOI LISP which I actually worked out.

    Anyway, I feel rather pleased to have completed this tough puzzle despite being way off the wavelength. The more I practice, the luckier I get – thanks P and setter.

  9. 18:37. I found this a very satisfying puzzle, with many clues requiring a fair degree of thought. I managed to parse most, though had to hope for the best with EPISTLE, never having heard of an epistyle. One to file with the ogees and the astragals. COD to ROMANOV for the neat reference to the Roman numeral.

  10. 73m 24s
    I found this tough. Like others and like Pip, IN compel, I always think it should be COME TO.
    I think I must have spent about 20 minutes on my three LOIs: UMAMI, PECULIAR and EPISTLE.
    I knew of entablature but not epistyle.
    Thanks, Pip for 1ac PACK DRILL. Equating pack with deck went over my head.
    Now that you’ve explained it, Pip, COD to LISP. Very good!

    1. Likewise. Found most of the grid fairly straightforward until I reached the SE corner. Biffed EPISTLE having not come across ‘epistyle’, but then ground to a complete halt because I couldn’t see PE and, even though I guessed SUPERBRAT, didn’t trust it because I couldn’t see ‘superb’. Not one of my better days!

      Thanks, Pip, for the elucidation. And Setter, naturally.

  11. I was really up the junction in the south-east, finishing this in 42 minutes. I biffed EPISTLE from crossers. I really liked SUPERBRAT, channelling my inner John McEnroe, but you cannot be serious about UMAMI, LOI and unheard of. COD to ROMANOV. Tough but highly enjoyable. Thank you Pip and setter.

  12. Finished sub 60 on a 100+ Snitch, good time for me. Also completed just after my train stopped at CLAPHAM JUNCTION.

    Had to backtrack a few errors : propel for COMPEL, the possible EPALATE (A in PLATE =china).

    I also thought DOERUPPER almost worked for the double def, as a paparazzi who couldn’t see enough for a full frontal might settle with “I’ll just do er upper”

    COD LISP. Really liked the variety of clues today.

  13. A steady solve for me. The only unknown was EPISTYLE. I knew architrave was all those moulding around a door or window. But apparently it can also be some other things. Chambers defines EPISTYLE as “architrave”, so I still don’t really know what an epistyle is for next time. My only hold up was putting WIND CHILL EFFECT (not looking at the anagrist carefully), but that only lasted until I saw UMAMI. My LOI like many others was SUPERBRAT, and I didn’t spot SUPERB, just SUPER, so I was wondering how a BRAT was someone who sings. 36 minutes.

  14. And I shall have some piece there, for piece comes dropping slow, …

    Peace, I know.
    After 30 mins I was stuck on the Q (Square up, Squealer). An extra 5.
    Nice one.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  15. 10:00 on the dot. No specific problems. Like Merlin above I completed this shortly after passing through CLAPHAM JUNCTION.

  16. 13:32. I liked this, although I share our blogger’s misgivings about COMPEL. DNY EPISTYLE or that ARGOS was a city, but they didn’t hold me up. LOI PECULIAR. Lots of lovely clues. I enjoyed a PIECE of SAGE DERBY for some GRUB. COD to SEMINARY – cloth trade, ho ho. Thanks Pip and setter.

  17. 19:44 – below average time for me, so I was very surprised to see the SNITCH so high. Nothing too taxing I thought, although I blanked on SAGE DERBY for a while and couldn’t parse DOCUDRAMA. Thanks to the setter and piquet!

  18. 36:33. I found this tough and was relieved to finsish without error. LOI was LISP which I did’t parse.

    COD: SUPERBRAT. I liked Pack Drill too.

  19. 42 mins. NHO PACK DRILL or an epistyle, but biffed both – knew drill had to be something military and EPISTLE was faute de mieux. Ditto PROVENCAL, which had to be right from wordplay but didn’t know the language. Agree that COMPEL was a little naughty, and I’d not have got it without crossers. Was very pleased to get INEXPERT on first trawl, and it helped hugely with other clues. As often for me, the harder puzzles sometimes come more easily than the supposedly easy ones.

  20. 50:38

    The LHS went in pretty quickly helped by the familiar 2d which I expect I have travelled through thousands of times.

    Came to a grinding halt after about 13 minutes, it took ROMANOV to fill in another three or four, and then a punt on DOCUDRAMA which I couldn’t quite parse at first to free up a few more.

    The anag at 7d was the key for the rest, though SUPERBRAT took a long time to come.

  21. My problem with the COMPEL clue wasn’t with the definition of compel but with the setter’s use of reach = come; even Piquet says ‘come (to)’. I don’t think come is the same as come to. Perhaps there is a pair of sentences where come and reach are interchangeable, but I can’t think of one. Otherwise very nice — I liked the cloth trade. 43 minutes.

  22. I had to biff EPISTLE, as although I know what an architrave is, I’ve NHO an EPISTLYE. That was fairly late in the proceedings, as the SE was where I finished up with a furrowed brow. SUPERBRAT wasn’t a problem and UMAMI popped into mind easily enough after WIND CHILL FACTOR provided some crossing letters, but SQUARE UP, SQUEALER and the aforementioned EPISTLE took a while. PECULIAR went in last after even more brain contortions. Lot of enjoyable stuff in the rest of the puzzle had to be constructed carefully from the wordplay. Liked DOCUDRAMA and INEXPERT. 25:48. Thanks setter and Pip.

  23. Definitely on the tough side for me. I almost gave up with EPISTLE and PECULIAR unsolved. Eventually I got EPISTLE, then PECULIAR. I’m not sure why I tooks so long to get the latter. The wordplay is straightforward enough, but it appears I was not alone. I was fixated on the right side of the clue for the definition. Good clues. Superbly disguised anagram for SEMINARY.
    A rather plodding, but satisfying, 45 minutes.

  24. After Clapham Junction I was able to progress to the south east rather slowly and finally aritived pretty late, ‘leaves on the line at Dorking!’

    FOI 17ac GRUB
    LOI 19dn ODIOUS
    COD 2dn CLA’HM JUNCTION as it is known on the King’s. Road!
    WOD 26ac YONKS a word used only in the plural!? How long is YONK, anyone!?

    So what of that East Midlands cheese Sage Derby.?It used to only be available towards and during Christmas and my Dad was fond of it with a Conference pear and salty crackers- as it is fairly mild, unlike ‘Stilton’ from nearby Melton Mowbray and not Stilton.was stamped on its containers at Melton itself.

    This wonderful blue and creamy white ‘marbled’ cheese was named after the village of Stilton in olde Huntingdonshire, the first coaching inn where it rested overnight, before reaching London The second ‘port of call’ l believe was either Biggleswade or Royston in Herts. Perhaps both!

    This heavily marbled, sage green variety is rarely bought in any quantity, but
    is an eye-catching addition to any English cheeseboard which, in my slightly humble opinion, should offer a mature Cheddar and ripe Stilton; Wensleydale, a Red Leicester and a ‘Stinking Bishop’ – served with home-made chutmey, crisp pickled onions and red cabbage. Oh! and with quartered, red greenhouse tomatos, on the side.
    Just on its own, a decent full cream cheese sandwich with sliced and vinegared beetroot is divine, as per Adrian Mole.

    1. I agree with much of your cheese ramblings. The Stilton we get comes from the nearby village of Long Clawson a bit north of Melton towards Belvoir. And Sage Derby is also available most or all of the time. A fresh ripe pear often goes well with our cheddar or Stilton.

  25. 5m 18s. ROMANOV was lovely, definite COD.

    Chambers has ‘to reach’ as the ninth definition of ‘come’, curiously as an intransitive verb – I can’t think of a way in which I’d interchange them, though.

    1. Under ‘reach’ it also has ‘to succeed in going or coming’, which is equally curious and doesn’t really help!

    2. I would think that grammatically, as an intransitive verb, this allows for adding the preposition “to” after “come”, to equate it with “reach”, although it would be clearer if the dictionary actually did that.

  26. 26:41. Couldn’t see PECULIAR, my penultimate in, for too long (inflexible mind) which finally gave me UMAMI. Had the same doubt about LISP as our blogger, so thanks for the explanation – cleverer than I realised.

  27. My LOI and the only one I failed to parse was EPISTLE, which is rather ironic as I have specified many an architrave in my former life as an architect. If I had written EPISTYLE into my specifications, I’m sure the builder wouldn’t have had the foggiest notion of what I was talking about!
    I thought I had finished in a speedy (for me) 30.02 until I discovered UMAGI does not display taste after all. I think I must have had Christmas on my mind when thinking of MAGI instead of IMAM. It’s always annoying to get just one letter wrong, but never mind, England are in the last sixteen at least 😀

      1. Not to be underestimated I’m sure, but we should progress. France in the quarter finals maybe would be far more concerning…..

  28. 14’02”

    I enjoyed this one. A good variety of clues with some classical references to boot: right up my street. I must admit I FUC’d (filled-in using crossers) the two long down clues without much thought regarding parsing. Many years ago I used to commute via Clapham Junction. At the time it was the busiest station in the world, thanks to its numerous platforms and hundreds of daily through-trains. The station building itself is tiny though, with no concourse, as it isn’t a terminus.

    It surprises me that so many here haven’t heard of Argos. It gives us the Argives that any reader of the Iliad will be familiar with as one of several terms for the invading Greek army at Troy.

  29. Some excellent clues in here, and I was very pleased to finish in 39:38. COD LISP – reminded me of the clue “Capital, as described?” (6) from Anax’s Sunday puzzle a couple of weeks ago. Thanks setter & blogger.

  30. Firstly I must thank Piquet for hacking through the dense undergrowth that obstructed my progress on this puzzle. I biffed COWED, EPISTLE, and WIND-CHILL FACTOR, and failed to parse them afterwards (DNK epistyle). SQUARE UP caused me problems due to my being utterly persuaded that it should start with C for Conservative, and it only got cleared up when I finally “sealed the deal” on SQUEALER. My LOI really shouldn’t have been !

    Is the cloth really a trade ? I liked the clue though !

    COD SUPERBRAT (“You cannot be serious”)
    TIME 14:58

  31. 42 minutes for me. I wonder if I have really never heard of EPISTYLE, or if it’s in my Big List O’Words somewhere? I can’t check at the mo. Enjoyed 14a LISP but mostly wasn’t on the wavelength for most of this one.

    Speaking of disappearing from the wavelength, I’m just off the phone from the Times subscriptions office, and while the half-price-for-the-next-three-months offer was somewhat tempting, I decided that when it went back to the full £26 come March it would still be more than I could justify for a crossword, love it though I may. I therefore cancelled, and the last day of my current sub will be tomorrow.

    Hopefully I’ll still pop in every now and again even after tomorrow, but it may rely on my buying the actual paper on a whim every now and again, so I probably won’t be around so much…

        1. Thanks, David. Hopefully I won’t be a complete stranger here, and we’ll still cross paths every now and again.

      1. I often feel more clueless than insightful here! Thank you, and likewise; I’m sure I’ll be back at some point…

    1. That is such a shame. Loved reading your comments. Had always hoped we could meet up for a drink some time as The George is a longish way away and I know there are a few other SW based solvers. 😢

      1. Well, never say never—I’ve very much enjoyed being here and reading everyone else’s comments, too, so I’m sure I’ll be tempted back at some point. Keep the beer on standby 🙂

    2. If you wait a month or two, they’ll probably run a £ a month for three months offer again.

      1. Well, you never know. I think I unsubscribed a few years ago and was tempted back in by a half-price-for-a-year deal that arrived fairly quickly after my cancellation…

  32. Two goes needed again. I hadn’t a clue what an architrave was, so I didn’t get EPISTLE until several of the checkers were in place. It wasn’t until I got ROMANOV that I figured out DEVELOPER, and then SQUEALER and SQUARE UP were my last two in.

    FOI Emanate
    LOI Square up
    COD Provencal

  33. 51 minutes, although I was also preparing lunch at the same time. Mind you it was only smoked salmon on bread so I can’t knock off a huge amount. Nice puzzle.

  34. Not sure if someone has posted this already, but ‘hypo’ is a fixer or stopper of developed film or paper: hydroquinone is a developer of same.

  35. All done and all correct! Quite tough for me, especially the eastern side of the puzzle. Some terrific clues: SAGE DERBY and both long clues down. Word play precise, but smooth surfaces too.
    Thank you setter, and thank you for the blog.

  36. A very enjoyable 54 minutes, slowly plodding along. Many superb clues. The ones I had to biff were EPISTLE and WIND-CHILL FACTOR, as I was trying to halve the wrong word in the anagrist. But I liked all the misleading indicators (the cloth trade, the partners getting deals, I NEXT for one succeeding, etc.). Hard to say which would be my COD, perhaps ROMANOV or SAGE DERBY.

  37. Superb puzzle with smiles all the way. DNK epistle was an architrave but it couldn’t be anything else.
    Thank you, clever setter.

  38. Much enjoyed 24’36” with SUPERBRAT last to go in. Wondered why a brat was a singer, till I saw the light. By the way, I just realised that SIR IS A HUNK is an anagram of you know who.

  39. I found this one so far off my wavelength that I was left with 6 or 7 clues unsolved, which had to wait until Mr Ego returned from work to lend his discrete solving skills so as to finish it off. One clue I did solve with no problem was UMAMI, but with a massive MER. The word is not pronounced Youmami, but Oomami, so is absolutely not a homophone of You. Surprised that nobody else has commented on this. Did not get EPISTLE until the I went in, and then bifd, as I’d never heard of EPISTYLE, or, indeed, that meaning of ARCHITRAVE, only the modern one. LARGOS was embarrassingly late coming to me given my musical knowledge and the last two were SQUEALER and SQUARE UP, although I had UP, but could only think of ‘settle’.

    1. I think the clue works, if you take it as the “you heard” clues the letter U rather than the first syllable of UMAMI.

  40. Nice one setter! So I doff my hat
    Not often I’m prepared to say that
    COD goes to COWED
    I confess I was wowed
    Last one in was, of course, SUPERBRAT

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