Times 28719 – how tickled we are.

A fine, witty Wednesday offering, for once lacking in American related meanings and obscurities, I’m glad to say. It took me 20 minutes without rushing and being able to enjoy the wordplay. It might have been a few minutes quicker had I seen 5d sooner.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

EDIT: it’s a pangram, which I forget to look for and others below have spotted.

1 Crime rings left in charge, getting intoxicants here (3-7)
OFF-LICENCE – Crime = OFFENCE, insert L and IC for in charge. For those living in countries where an alcoholic drinks shop is called something else, an off-licence is licensed for take-out sales, as opposed to an on-licensed premises like a pub.
6 Tip of finger on buzzer in Hereford, say (4)
BEEF – BEE for buzzer add F[inger].
9 Wow — whizz around lake in this? (7)
CORACLE – COR ! = Wow! ACE = whizz, insert L for lake.
10 Fast or fleet run towards the west, then north (7)
RAMADAN – we have ARMADA for fleet, we move the R to the front to get RADAMA, and add N for north.
12 Entry of player put on the bench, culminating in goal (10)
SUBMISSION – a player on the bench is a SUB, MISSION = goal.
13 Coastal town‘s atmosphere picked up (3)
AYR – sounds like AIR = atmosphere. A town in SW Scotland near Troon and Turnberry, two of the best golf courses anywhere.
15 Feeling ill as taking drug, Sally drops everything (6)
QUEASY – QUA (Latin for ‘as’) SY = SALLY without ALL, insert E the usual drug.
16 Asian dish — Jo and Alfred won’t finish unknown one (8)
JALFREZI – J[O], ALFRE[D], Z an unknown number, I = one. Yum.
18 Erstwhile knight not primarily a paragon (8)
EXEMPLAR – EX = erstwhile, once; [T]EMPLAR = knight not the first letter. From Latin via French.
20 Tom, perhaps, meeting English underworld figure (6)
HECATE – a HE CAT being a tom cat, add E for English. Greek goddess of witchcraft and spells, who tried to recover Persephone from the underworld, allegedly.
23 Go quickly, possibly fly (3)
ZIP – double definition.
24 Plain clothing fashions not showy enough (10)
OVERMODEST – OVERT (plain) with MODES inserted.
26 Stole large bags robbers emptied, getting time in correctional facility (7)
BORSTAL – a BOA is our stole, insert RS (robbers emptied) T (time) then add L for large. Borstals were begun in 1902 – the first one was in a so named village in Kent – and abolished in 1982, replaced by something less harsh I hope. I remember being driven by parents past the scary-looking one on Portland (near Weymouth) and wondering how bad a lad you had to be to end up in it.
27 Act, say, securing leads in university theatre (7)
STATUTE – STATE = say, insert U T the first letters of university theatre.
28 Cross parents when children get excited (4)
XMAS – X for cross, MAS for mothers.
29 Ran desktop after treatment for bug (4-6)
1 I will catch cold — not again! (4)
ONCE – ONE (I) insert C for cold.
2 Reason to get a 14 in a packet (7)
FORTUNE – you’d get a 14 see below, for (a) tune.
3 Benefit is mentioned, tucking into cool drink (6,7)
INCOME SUPPORT – IN (cool) PORT (drink), insert COMES UP = is mentioned.
4 Squire’s back with page, really (4,2)
EVER SO – E (back letter of squire) VERSO a page opposite recto.
5 Top British wartime commander (8)
CARDIGAN – double definition. This was my LOI as I spent an age trying to justify CARDINAL to mean top and some spurious commander. Sadly, I had to do a word-search to find the proper solution, which was then immediately obvious.
7 Parisian in grand lady’s housing when queens have gone off, maybe? (7)
ENDGAME – EN (French for in) DAME (lady) with G for grand inserted. Reference to a chess game.
8 After organising fair, Ed runs charity event (10)
11 Staffs cricketers stop a drive? That’s novel (9,4)
MANSFIELD PARK – MANS (staffs, as a verb), FIELD (cricketers who are on the field) PARK (stop driving !). Jane Austen’s third novel, I’ve just read the synopsis on Wiki and it doesn’t sound too exciting.
14 Fight started by lover, one held tightly by musician (7-3)
SQUEEZE-BOX – SQUEEZE = lover, colloquially, BOX = fight.
17 Maker of Rolls, say, with large wheels and brown line in London (8)
BAKERLOO – a BAKER makes rolls, L[arge], OO for wheels. Tube line shown in brown on the system diagram.
19 Monument with scrubbed exterior borders parking for shops (7)
EMPORIA – [M]EMORIA[L] for a monument “scrubbed”, insert P for parking.
21 Said a substance like sodium nitrate is in battery (7)
ASSAULT – sounds like “A SALT”, of which sodium nitrate is an example.
22 Unlike Victoria, Bill welcomes inspiration (6)
AMUSED – AD (bill) “welcomes” MUSE = inspiration. QV is alleged to have said “We are not amused” in response to an equerry who told a dodgy joke, but her grand-daughter (Alice, Countess of Athlone), in an interview, said her granny denied that she had said it. Apparently Henry II is thought to have been the first to use the “Royal we” referring to himself and his connection with God. Now you know.
25 Don Quixote finally gets involved in combat (4)
WEAR – WAR = combat, insert E the last letter of Quixote.


52 comments on “Times 28719 – how tickled we are.”

  1. I liked the varried vocabulary – I guess you need to stretch the imagination a bit to get all the pangram bits in. nice blog, nice puzzle

  2. No time, as I was repeatedly phoning (and told to try later) to make a reservation for my 7th(!) Covid vaccination while solving. DNK JALFREZI; figured it was -EZI, but I needed the F to get it. The F I got by biffing MANSFIELD PARK from the M and enumeration. The novel’s not a favorite among Janeites; Kingsley Amis wrote a famous essay bemoaning it (“What Became of Jane Austen?”). DNK the bug, but the K made arranging the anagrist easy. Didn’t notice this was a pangram.

    1. You’ll recall Kevin that MANSFIELD PARK is the source of the uncharacteristically dodgy Austen quotation involving vices and bums. I’ve always found it enjoyable but it suffers from a tiresomely wimpy and good-goody heroine. The pleasure is in the lesser characters some of whom are funny and nicely wicked. It’s also historically interesting because it’s clear the fortunes of the family involved are based on slavery in the West Indies.

      1. It’s kind of you, Olivia, to attribute to me the ability to recall the content of a book I’ve re-read oh, months ago, when I have trouble remembering what I had for dinner last night; but it’s coming back to me, although of course I can’t remember her name. (Don’t tell me; I’m keen to guess.)

      2. All I can remember is the young people putting on a play and Dad returns unexpectedly from his travels and is shocked they would stoop to such an immoral practice. In a novels course I took a fellow student once identified the heroine as Fanny Hill and this provoked much hilarity.

  3. I saw the possibility of the pangram and that helped me thinking that JALFREZI was a thing. Found the rest pretty tricky too – 13:52

  4. Liked it a lot. Mostly easy, Jalfrezi rang a faint bell helped by the clear wordplay. Borstal also, from a book we had to read at school… Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner? Yes. No other problems until the end, last 3 CARDIGAN, SUBMISSION and EVER SO took a few minutes, expecting 4dn to be —- UP.
    Liked the ENDGAME best.

    1. Borstal Boy(1958) by Brendan Behan was much talked about at the time and was later made into movie.

  5. 69 minutes in two sessions overnight. I did rather well on a lot of it but INCOME SUPPORT and OVERMODEST were missing from the grid until I returned after sleep, the first of these omissions giving me major problems in the NW segment.

    Sadly after all that effort I still had one wrong as I went for EVEN SO at 4dn although it was unparsed and didn’t really fit the definition so I was hardly surprised when I revealed the correct answer.

    I hate cross-references at the best of times but I was thrown by this one as it looks more like ‘1 4′ on my printout than ‘14’ so I wasn’t quite sure that a cross-reference was intended – but what else could it mean? Apart from that I didn’t think much of the clue anyway.

    I think most supermarkets have JALFREZI in their standard range of curries. It tends to be the hottest unless they also have a vindaloo.

    1. I very nearly went with EVEN SO, because it fits well enough the “really” definition. Ever so glad I didn’t, even so.

      1. It caught me out – NHO Verso and no reason to my mind why Venso could not be a page😊

        Excellent puzzle – thx blogger and setter

  6. DNF. I wish that like piquet I had spent an age trying to justify CARDINAL. Instead I just threw it in and submitted. When I saw the pink squares I immediately thought of CARDIGAN (admittedly aided by CARDI_A_ being green). Pah!

  7. Pleased to be all clear at 41.27 on what I thought was a pretty tough day. Quite a number of Hail Mary solves which turned out to be right, including JALFREZI, HECATE and POND-SKATER. Indebted to piquet for quite a few, especially offence in OFF-LICENCE, boa in BORSTAL and the mechanics of INCOME SUPPORT. Btw, to those who disputed whether Niue was a country in 28701? Biden just recognised it, and has established diplomatic relations. Also with the Cook Islands, which surprised those of us who thought it was an offshore NZ retirement home…

    1. I’m pleased to see acknowledgement that Joe Biden, despite what people say, can recognise what’s put in front of him, and probably even spell it. His expected opponent was rather proud of recognising an elephant when shown a picture. Not sure he could manage the spelling.

    2. I’ve looked back at 28701 as I couldn’t remember NIUE but I can’t see it. Can you say which clue it was? (Damn my reading glasses, I’m going to see if I can get them improved on Thursday!)

      1. Hi Astarte. This was the clue:
        9 Country united in reversal of basic principles (4)
        CUBA – ABC being “basic principles”, reverse and insert U.

        This led to a discussion about 4-letter countries with a U in them, and from their poor Niue’s status as a country was questioned by some and defended by me!

        1. Ah thanks! That explains it. I thought you had meant that NIUE had been an answer or a word in a clue, not just a discussion point in comments.

  8. Bang on the wavelength for this fun puzzle, it seems, even to the extent of noticing it was a pangram, which helped me finish by providing the H for HECATE, where otherwise my vocalophobia might have given me more pause. 23 mins.

  9. I guess most solvers biffed Mansfield Park on the numeration. For what it’s worth, I think the parsing is MAN, then FIELD in SPARK (= Drive).

    1. That would leave you with a spurious A which is taboo. Also, cluing PARK as stop a drive is witty!

  10. I, like Pip, tried to justify cardinal, and then biffed it anyway to render my 11:29 merely wasted time. A pity, since it was a decent puzzle. COD to ENDGAME, which was an answer in my latest “weekend QC”, albeit clued rather less elegantly!

  11. It keeps eternal whisperings around
    Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
    Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
    Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
    (On the Sea, Keats)

    25 ish mins mid-brekker. Neat and tidy. I thought the charity event must be a Fun-something. So what is fun, I thought. A fun run, a fun fair? Oh, of course, a Fun-draiser. I just love Draisers.
    I did think Hecate was tricky for the non-classicists.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  12. 28 minutes with LOI CARDIGAN. “Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.” I can here my Mum reciting it as she set off on some errand. Left school at 14, but they learnt poetry in those days.I had my fingers crossed for HECATE althought it made perfect sense. I never think of looking for a pangram. That would be doing two things at once. COD to ONCE. Enjoyable. Thank you Pip and setter.

  13. 54mins so definitely on the trickier side. Breezeblock in the NW. Finally CORACLE FORTUNE and LOI SUBMISSIONall fell into place. Unfortunately to no avail because, like Jack, I had EVEN SO. Damn. Another with CARDINAL for a long time until a relook at the TOP bit forced a rethink.


    Thanks pip and setter.

  14. DNF. I seem to visit OWL (One Wrong Letter) Club at least once a week these days, and this time it was thanks to putting ‘even so’ rather than EVER SO – though I’m relieved to see I’m not alone in that. I need to remember verso=page.

    Didn’t fully parse INCOME SUPPORT or MANSFIELD PARK, so thanks for the explanation.

    Really enjoyable puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Once

  15. 11:31

    Brain functioning well this morning, helping me avoid the EVEN SO and CARDINAL bear traps and post a NITCH / WITCH combo of 79/81.

    Food & drink is one of my strong suits so no problem with JALFREZI, and being a Brit obviously helped with the likes of B’LOO, POND SKATER, INCOME SUPPORT & CARDIGAN.

    I missed the pangram though.

  16. 14:00
    I always begin with the LHS Down answers, so spotted the pangram possibility early, which helped later with JALFREZI . More Flanders & Swann, with their “ordinary Northumbrian spokeshaver’s CORACLE” – do they ever whizz?
    And now I have Sham 69’s ‘BORSTAL Breakout’ going around in my head – I’ll see if I can drive it out with The Who’s ‘SQUEEZE BOX’.

  17. 40 minutes, but enjoyable.
    My LOI was CARDIGAN and I was close to putting in CARDINAL for want of anything better but luckily had another think and remembered the Light Brigade.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  18. 42mins. Thought this was quite hard, so pleased to finish it. Wasted way too long trying to convince myself CARDINAL was right… until inspiration struck. LOI FORTUNE, because I became fixated on ‘packet’ as meaning freight ship. Liked CORACLE, BORSTAL and OVERMODEST.

  19. Dodged CARDINAL and EVEN SO.

    CARDIGAN LOI. I seem to have been on the wavelength for this one, I often take 5-6 minutes longer on easier snitched puzzles.


  20. Good fun, but I slowed myself down by using GAD for 23a initially – well, it seemed almost reasonable, on the basis of gadfly and gadding about.

  21. 09:24, and never too late to remember good crossword habits – stopped myself from putting in both EVEN SO and CARDINAL because neither really rang true, so there had to be something else, and there was. Getting SQUEEZE BOX comparatively early also alerted me to the helpful possibility of the pangram, on the grounds that a word beginning with X suggested there was something of the sort going on. JALFREZI is one of my favourite go-to dishes when there’s a surplus of peppers and tomatoes in the house, and if there isn’t a surplus, I sometimes create one.

  22. 25 minutes in all, with the last 5 spent on HECATE followed by an equal amount of time kicking myself. My imagination took me all over the place, from obscure felines to famous TOMs, peepers, drums, you name it. The penny finally found its place and I can’t believe it took me so long to solve this absolute chestnut of a clue. Ho Hum. Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable mediumish puzzle and to piquet for explaining the clues I biffed, such as QUEASY. There is probably a latin phrase which sums up my ignorance in that area, but I wouldn’t know it.

  23. 7:40. Breezed through this with quite a lot of biffing, but like Penfold and TT I was sufficiently on the ball/deploying good crossword discipline to avoid the EVEN SO/CARDINAL traps. Partly at least for that reason I liked this one a lot.
    I had all the knowledge today, which always helps. I have eaten many, and made one or two, JALFREZIs.
    I almost never notice pangrams, so I gave myself a little pat on the back for spotting this one, even if I did so when checking my answers so it was of no use whatsoever.

  24. As Piquet says, a witty offering with no unknowns, but sadly, I plumped for the other meaning of ‘really’ and went for EVEN SO (though in good company), coming here to understand the parsing, and lack of P. I realised we were looking at a pangram, but it didn’t help me as LOsI were the INCOME bit of 3D and the aforementioned 4D trip hazard. I must admit that I hadn’t realised borstals no longer existed, never having had much to do with them, but I liked the surface of the clue, and ditto QUEASY, my COD.

  25. 46 minutes on a puzzle which as I was doing it struck me as on the tough side, but the SNITCH suggests otherwise. I was slowed down for a while being quite unable to see the anagram at 29ac, but this was because I had an unwitting amusen at 22dn. Keep doing that sort of thing. Another little thing to add to Penfold’s list: it’s tempting to put ‘off license’ at 1ac. If you’re a chess player ENDGAME is quite easy and I was pleased with the ‘maybe’, but if not then I should have thought it was rather hard.

  26. I seemed to be on the wavelength for this one. ONCE I’d been to the OFF-LICENCE I was off! I was held up at the end by HECATE and LOI, CARDIGAN. Fortunately, CARDINAL didn’t occur to me. I biffed MANSFIELD PARK and INCOME SUPPORT from the crossers. 22:33. Thanks setter and Pip.

  27. If, with all the checkers in place, CARDINAL had occurred to me, in it would have gone. As it was, having lived in Cardiganshire (who remembers that?) once upon a time, CARDIGAN appeared first and passed muster.

  28. An enjoyable work-out, all done in 32 minutes. NHO POND-SKATER, but the anagrist left little option. Like others I had to rethink 4dn when I could not parse EVEN SO, and so avoided that bear trap.
    FOI – BEEF
    COD – ENDGAME, and also enjoyed CARDIGAN for the irony.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  29. 33 mins held up mightily at the end by entering OFF LICENSE making the CARDIGAN impossible. LOI HECATE, sorry had to look her up.

  30. 36:01 but…

    …cheated with LOI CARDIGAN as I didn’t have a clue – a thank-you note to the setter might suggest that for random GK, the clue might be more fairly parsed (e.g. Top place in Wales (8)) rather than just an allusion.

    Otherwise, mostly done in around 25 mins before more thought required for OVERMODEST and INCOME SUPPORT (didn’t fully parse) followed by EXEMPLAR and EMPORIA (failed to parse), then SUBMISSION, RAMADAN, ENDGAME and the irksome CARDIGAN to finish.

  31. One error in 20:17.

    I avoided the EVEN SO and CARDINAL banana skins but met my WATERLOO instead.


  32. 46:59 with one pink square. I too had EVEN SO for 4d, which fitted the definition, even though I could not parse it.
    LOI was 5d, where I could only see Cardinal for ages before finally seeing Cardigan.
    Favourite clue was CORACLE.

  33. 34’55”
    Good early pace, stayed on well.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this and finished with almost all parsed (income support in retrospect) in nearly bang on my par.
    Not only did it contain a much loved novel (perhaps not her greatest but anything by Austen… ), and, for me, local instrument, known as fisarmonica or organetto, but also memories of building up a thirst to be quenched in The Dog and Gun of Keswick by wizzing round Derwent water, when the the low cloud put the hills out of bounds.
    The poor old boatman, who charged by the hour, was rubbing his hands with glee as when told him we just going to do circuit or two of the island.
    Little did he know the oars were to be wielded by the gentlemen’s and ladies’ captains of City of Cambridge Rowing Club helmed by a fairly competent coxswain muggins. We were back in under an hour, but we did give him a healthy tip.
    Lots to like here; silky smooth surfaces, clever clueing and a gratifying grid!
    Bravissimo/a setter and thank you Pip.

  34. A 25 minute fail with a WATERLOO for BAKERLOO. Not happy after avoiding the EVEN SO trap.

  35. Avoided the traps of ORCA and CARDINAL, but fell for EVEN SO. Serves me right for not working it out. I figured EVEN SO in a King James bible kind of way could mean REALLY. But on the cryptic side, well yes I had nothing to offer. Fun puzzle. 24’46” with the error.

  36. Of such things are memories brought to life. MANSFIELD PARK was a stumbling block on my way to appreciating English Literature, redeemed by among other things, Emma. But the one that got me today was EVER SO: straight back to Mr Downing’s 2nd year juniors, when I timidly put up my hand to ask how your spelt it. The scorn it provoked that I, the genius of the class (I wore glasses) should need to ask, and would consider using such a trite phrase was withering. It still hurts.
    The crossword today? Good fun: FORTUNE was as left field a use of the cross reference as you could want, ZIP (possibly fly!) raised an audible chuckle, Don Quixote goes to war was a surface gem, as was BAKERLOO (with no mention of toilets!) and a delicious pangram to boot. What’s not to like?

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