27670 Thursday, 21 May 2020 Kill’d i’ the Capitol

I’m not sure whether I found this tricky because it is, or because I was tackling it after a long and unusually busy day. You will see that there were several clues which I only really worked out after submission: perfectly fair but not very yielding. There’s no “hidden” clue today, reversed, alternate letters or otherwise, to provide light relief. It didn’t help that 1ac, so often the key to getting started, has at least one perfectly plausible alternative, or that the innocuous four letters at 20ac look as if they could be almost anything.
I will, as I often do, rashly suggest that the vocab lacks obscurity, which only really means that I know the words and the allusions. Unless you count one element’s abbreviation, there’s no Science, no Sports, and lots of Arts.
I have to give my CoD to the pre-flood operation.
The rest of my comments, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS, are…



1 Put out pole with end disappearing in river (6)

DEPOSE So not EXPOSE, then, which was my first (reasonable) try, but the same wordplay, a POST without its end in the river DEE
4 Stout knocked back with cheese? That’s the stuff! (7)
TAFFETA Stout is FAT and the cheese is FETA. The first is “knocked back”
9 Inclined to be mendacious (5)
LYING Two definitions, with “to be” merely filling the hole between them. For lie as incline, Chamber has “lean”. Leaning: inclined is close enough
10 Royal house near castle mostly dilapidated (9)
LANCASTER The red rose faction in the Wars of the Roses, providing three kings: Henry IV (both parts), Henry V and Henry VI. Most of NEAR CASTLe is in anagram form, “dilapidated”
11 One with negative response wins against a second person, right? (9)
GAINSAYER A confection of wins: GAINS plus A plus second person: YE plus R(ight)
12 One of Caesar’s last words, the beast! (5)
BRUTE According to the bard, Caesar’s last words were “Et tu Brute? Then fall Caesar!” Pick out the one that means beast. Shakespeare was displaying a knowledge of Latin and punning, but not history, which records Caesar either dying wordlessly or speaking Greek, καὶ σύ, τέκνον, “and you, son?”. Brute is the vocative case of Brutus, foremost amongst the assassins.
13 Country became backward, finishing with nothing (4)
TOGO Useful that Togo appeared just yesterday as a contributor to Bogota. Here, in its own right, it’s represented by became: GOT backwards plus O, nothing
14 Special gear enthusiast brought to plant, having crossed yard (5,5)
FANCY DRESS The enthusiast is FAN, the plant is the unassuming CRESS, and Y(ar)D provides the filling that it “crosses”
18 Using a tool to shift support across hole (10)
SHOVELLING I think this is support: SLING “across” (same idea as above) HOVEL for hole, as in a miserable place to dwell.
20 Inadequate side dish (4)
FLAN Inadequate is simply saying the word doesn’t reach its end, the word being FLANK. I’m guessing this is a good place to find today’s pink squares
23 Ending in jail, I am afraid of getting no answer — am I there for ever? (5)
LIFER An &litish sort of clue. Ending in jail is, of course, L, I am afraid of is I FEAR from which you take the A(nswer)
24 A rescue organised outside very quiet capital (5-4)
UPPER CASE Hands up all those who wasted time going though the Big Boys Book of Capital Cities, or the Even Bigger Boys Book of Currencies, before accepting the shift key version. An anagram (organised) of A RESCUE surrounding PP for music’s very quiet
25 Cold girl getting degree, the heartless student you study with (9)
CLASSMATE Perhaps I’d best not say who this reminds me of, in case she does crosswords. C(old) girl: LASS gets an MA degree and ThE heartless. Great surface
26 Material in bathroom in short supply? (5)
TOILE Much simpler than I thought. The euphemistic bathroom gives TOILET, which is supplied short
27 Cuts of meat go bad aboard ship (7)
SADDLES ADDLE is go bad, and is placed “aboard” SS for ship
28 A ceremony rendered by speaker correctly (6)
ARIGHT  Today’s first homophone, (“rendered by speaker”) of A RITE for a ceremony

1 Representatives providing instruction to get rid of barriers (9)
DELEGATES A version of delete used in proofreading and conventionally represented by δ, DELE precedes GATES for barriers. I only worked this out post solve.
2 Mostly professional gang in pre-flood operation? (7)
PAIRING References Noah’s preparation for the deluge by organising animals (except the ones he was going to eat) in twos. A professional gang would be a PAID RING, but you only need most of the PAID bit. A long time dawning for me
3 Most wise and godly person having a long time inside (6)
SAGEST Our godly person (Noah again?) is a S(ain)T, enclosing AGES for a long time
4 A number of men giving voice in concert (5)
TENOR Of which select group I are one. We have a random number, TEN, plus the O(ther) R(anks) men. Time lost here
wondering why I wasn’t looking for a plural
5 Lorries in boring county (8)
FLATBEDS Possibly rude, and certainly inaccurate, with respect to Bedfordshire: happy days watching the gliders for Dunstable Downs, or on the White Lion slopes of Whipsnade.
6 Go mad in hospital department building in need of oxygen (7)
ENTHUSE The hospital department is almost always ENT (ear, nose and throat if you never knew) and the building is a HOUSE for which the O(xygen) is removed
7 A weird roofless home for bird in US (5)
AERIE The UK spelling being normally EYRIE. EERIE for weird loses its “roof” and is appended to the A
8 Mess about before social event or cooperate? (4,4)
PLAY BALL I got the PLAY for mess about a long time before deciding that the social event was a BALL, not helped much by reading cooperate as corporate
15 Covers food in tin with ordinary salt (8)
CANOPIES Another unparsed before submission, but I think the tin CAN is with OS for ordinary Seaman/salt covering PIE as a representative food
16 Most genuine from the time of leading others (9)
SINCEREST from the time: SINCE, others: REST
17 Gentleman with power rising in authentic act of revenge (8)
REPRISAL Gentleman: SIR with P(ower) rises inside authentic: REAL
19 Discourteous old worker squashing females (7)
OFFHAND O(ld) worker: HAND “squashing” two F(emale)s. Probably risks prosecution
21 Top man in his field, perhaps, spouting? (7)
LEAKING The field is a LEA, and the top man in it is the LEA KING
22 To roar out? That could suit me (6)
ORATOR An anagram (out) that doesn’t look as if is could be, of TO ROAR
23 Needs to be casual in speech (5)
LACKS Our second homophone (in speech) of LAX
24 Mountains in pictures, miles away (5)
URALS The mountains in this case are pictures: MURALS without the M(iles)

46 comments on “27670 Thursday, 21 May 2020 Kill’d i’ the Capitol”

  1. I never noticed the typo at 1ac: DEPOST, where I expect I was typing while parsing and typed the deleted T. Stupid. I certainly spent too much time on ‘capital’, especially given the enumeration, which should have kept me from capital cities and currencies. FLAN at long last let me do a brief alphabet-trawl on 21d; LEAKING was my LOI. Never figured out the ‘professional’ part of 2d, but the definition led me to Noah.
  2. Just snuck in under my average, but I felt like I was too slow on some clues (e.g. “from the time of” = “since” in my LOI). I did like LEAKING when I tumbled to it.

    Congratulations, Z, on the usual erudite blog and the ability to get Greek letters (with accents!) into the comments.

    Edited at 2020-05-21 03:11 am (UTC)

  3. I couldn’t get the Noah PAIRING and went for PRIMING (priming the pump before creating a flood with it). I was pretty sure it was wrong since I couldn’t see how the rest of the clue fitted. But completel fair. Took too long to see the LEA KING too, my second to last in.
  4. POI FLAN & LEAKING immediately after… together took longer than any other ten clues combined.
    Entertaining and challenging, even without anything at all unusual.
  5. Didn’t find this too hard, LYING notwithstanding for some reason, which should mean my snitch entry should be entered less redly than usual. Now off to find out where in the available range of mild to impossible they have decided to pitch today’s Fiendish Sudoku. Then a trip into garden to find out which of my newly acquired bedding plants have been carelessly trampled underfoot overnight by visiting foxes.
  6. 40 minutes with ages lost at the DEPOSE/PAIRING intersection. I had thought of PAIRING with reference to Noah quite early and before I had the P checker in place but had dismissed the idea as too fanciful.

    NHO AERIE with that spelling, but worked it out. Must say it seems a bit odd that the Americans would choose that spelling when they studiously avoid ‘ae’ combinations in words such as anesthetist.

    NHO DELE so wondered what was going on there, but assumed an E accidentally excluded from wordplay and moved on as the answer was clearly correct.

    TAFFETA and TOILE in the same puzzle! Two fabrics particularly favoured by crossword compilers.

    Edited at 2020-05-21 05:36 am (UTC)

    1. There are no less than five possible spellings of the word for eagle’s nest.
  7. Thank you for letting me know I wasn’t alone in my EXOSE at 1a; as I didn’t know “δ”—or more likely had forgotten it, given that my mum was a proofreader—it took me a long time to sort out 1d. Those two and the crossers of the cunning COD 21d LEA KING and LOI 20a FLAN pushed me ten minutes over my half hour, I’d estimate.

    Glad I got up early and had the time to persevere on this one. I thought it was quite fun.

  8. Took ages on DEPOSE/PAIRING and FLAN/LEAKING, so a long time but at least a correct one. I suspect some people might put in ‘leading’ instead of LEAKING. Didn’t work out the pai part of PAIRING. Had play fair instead of PLAY BALL for a while, which held up SHOVELLING. Also put limbo instead of LIFER for a while. Was TOILE supposed to make you think it was an anagram of ‘short’?

    COD CLASSMATE, quite long but kept the theme.

    Yesterday’s answer: I can find one other example of a country hidden backwards in a capital apart from yesterday’s BOGOTA/Togo (TOGO making another appearance today): Antananarivo/Iran. Iran is also forwards in Tirana, I think the only example where it isn’t just the capital and country having the same name.

    Today’s question: what is the latest year of which it is true to say that since then there has been a king on the throne for longer than there has been a queen?

    1. I think the last day of which this is true is 16 August 1756 but the last whole year is 1755. Amazing little fact!
      In working this out I discovered that Microsoft Excel doesn’t support dates earlier than 1900, which is quite extraordinary.
      1. My answer was indeed 1755, but yours is much more precise, thanks for working it out!
        1. If you use the date functions in a spreadsheet (not Excel!) it’s actually much quicker and easier to do it precisely!
  9. 30 mins and gave up on 20ac and 7 and 21dn.
    Life’s too short. Several MERs, e.g. That’s the stuff=Taffeta.
    Thanks setter and Z.
  10. Steady top to bottom solve with no pyrotechnics. Glad I didn’t think of EXPOSE at 1A. Liked LEA-KING.
  11. 41 minutes but with LEADING for 21d on the grounds that the LEADING man would be spouting his lines. That was laziness on my part, having spent too long PAIRING the animals once I’d decided that the pump didn’t need priming. I‘d biffed the DELE before the GATES prior to that. I’d washed up the FLAN dish last night after quiche, so that thought was in my head. COD to UPPER-CASE. Thank you Z and setter.
  12. 20:59 1 wrong – with PRIMING for 2D failing to see past PR(O) for “mostly professional”. It didn’t look right, so I should have thought for longer. As it was, about 8 of my minutes were spent on that, LEAKING and FLAN. I hate it when I get stuck with just a couple to go!

    Edited at 2020-05-21 06:54 am (UTC)

  13. Bang in line with my NITCH so no complaints. I started really quickly and thought this was going to be a doddle, but there were some cunningly placed traps which needed skirting: I nearly biffed LEADING when I saw “top” in the clue, and I suspect that’s where some may have fallen. That’s also my COD. Overall cluing very good but BRUTE was not even worthy of the quick cryptic.
  14. 48:14
    Ouch. Had party dress instead of fancy dress, which wasted me 10 minutes as I couldn’t then find canopies. Once I spotted that it was endgame.
    Thanks z
  15. Under 20′, but unhappy with the obscure US spelling. Glossed over DELE…

    I have been to Bedfordshire, the police were nice. One version of the flood story says that Noah took seven of some of the animals.

    Thanks z and setter.

    1. Ararat Sevens. Spot on: goats and sheep and anything on the rather limited menu then available. Scripture doesn’t record how many got off at the other end, but I doubt it was as many as seven. All those Shabbat lunches.

  16. My FOI 10ac was wrong and had to be swiftly altered to LANCASTER – Young Fleming’s middle name.

    LOI 20ac FLAN I thought this was going to be a triple def. but assumed FLANGE and not FLANK, not that it mattered!

    COD 21dn LEAKING!

    WOD 18ac SHOVELLING the poroverbial.

    Originally had PLAY FAIR at 8dn but decided to PLAY BALL instead.

    Time: just under 45 mins. Most enjoyable time – where’s the Gilbey’s!? (It’s ten to six – and I have had the most productive day with ‘Madame Joseph’!

  17. ….FLATBED Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.” (The Eagles : “Take it Easy”).

    I never considered “Exe” at 1A, but then I live in historical Cheshire.

    Like Kevin, I wasted time with cities before the truth of UPPER CASE was revealed.

    I was flying, and was left with 2D after 8 minutes. It added 25% to my time whilst alpha-trawling (missed it on the first attempt !) but I sneaked inside 10 minutes in the end.

    TIME 9:58

  18. 13:15. Enjoyed this, not quite as much as Tuesday’s but a lot more than yesterday’s. I had a bit of unraveling to do when I typed the 10-letter COURSEMATE into the 9 squares set aside for CLASSMATE.

    I also had more than a momentary panic when I realised I didn’t know any Latin words that might have something to do with “last” that could also be an animal. MOUSE was a candidate for a while when I had the U and E.

  19. Lean pickings from the NW, with only LYING and SAGEST going in on the first pass. LANCASTER and ENTHUSE were all that dropped out of the NE until PLAY BALL indicated that 11a might end with SAYER. It was much later in the proceedings that DELEGATES(NHO DELE for delete) gave me the G to complete it. There were richer pickings in the SW but the SE was last to fall with LEAKING, POI and FLAN LOI. The NE had finally yielded when I stopped tring to stuff ELA (knocked back ALE) at the end of 4a. FLATBEDS took an age to see. The time spent proofreading was worthwhile and I corrected DELAGATES before submitting at 41:47. A toughish workout. Thanks setter and Z.
  20. All but 3 clues rattled off, then total blank. I saw LEAKING, but failed to lift and separate. Had I but pencilled in the L I would have got FLAN straight away. LOI PAIRING I prefer the Sumerian version myself, especially as it’s the original story. However I don’t think there’s any PAIRING done by Utnapishtim.
  21. Held up by 23a, was sure it was LIMBO, L + IM + BO(O). Made perfect sense at the time.
    1. Me too. And limbo is more forever than life. Too bad it didn’t cross properly.
  22. Loved PAIRING, didn’t get DELEGATES (thanks, Zed) and had an epic fail on CANOPIES, having to cheat and submit offline in more or less a Starstruck.
  23. Glad to find I was not alone in being delayed at the end by the tricky nexus of the FLAN and the LEA KING. Somewhere on social media last week, someone had posted an illustrated version of the story of Noah: the artist had done especially good work on the two lions, walking up the gangplank side by side, with their matching manes looking especially magnificent…
    1. I was surprised to see a bat and a pangolin boarding together but live and let live, I say.
  24. I ended up in the same cul de sacs as others and I’m glad I didn’t think of “expose” in 1a. I fiddled about with “defuse” for a while (could a fuse be some sort of electrical pole?) and with Upper Volta or Utter Pradesh for the capital in 24a which were obvious non-starters luckily. PAIRING was very nice once I saw it which took a while (boat-building was off the table). And nice to see the word used in a context that had nothing to do with being precious about wine. 21.18
    1. I took part in a Zoom wine tasting yesterday evening with a producer in California and someone asked him what food he would pair his wines with. His refreshingly unprecious answer was ‘good food goes with good wine’.
  25. 15:59. I found this quite tough but I really enjoyed it. I liked some of the quirkier things that appear to have irritated a couple of people, just goes to show one person’s thingy, etc etc.
    I didn’t understand the DELE in DELEGATING, and I failed to parse CANOPIES, so thank you z for clearing those up.
    MER at inclined = LYING.
    Like anon above I had LIMBO initially but REPRISAL sorted me out. I also followed the wordplay to construct FLAUTEST but didn’t leave that one in: I’m not a complete idiot. At least not all of the time.
    Loved PAIRING and LEAKING.

    Edited at 2020-05-21 12:07 pm (UTC)

  26. My LOI was AERIE with fingers crossed after FLATBEDS (COD to that).
    Unfortunately I see I came to grief on the 20a/21d pairing.I rejected LEADING and plumped for HEADING which gave me THIN at 20a -a triple definition I thought; you can eat Thins but the inadequate side is missing (like my football team). LEAKING never occurred to me but I now see it’s very clever.
  27. obviously an anagram at 24a,and therefore PAPER ECUS fitted the bill nicely, until it caused problems with crossers. Did anyone else biff house LANNISTER of Westeros at 10a? It fitted with the crossers to that point. All retrieved in the end for 30’57”.
  28. But agin m’lud these were not exam conditions. Constant pestering from office. Can’t they see I’m doing something important? Held up for a good ten minutes at the end by the leaking flan combo.
  29. 18.23 but got pairing wrong. Frustrating after getting through the rest in reasonable time. FOI taffeta, LOI depose. Here’s looking forward to Friday.
  30. Completed this correctly. Glad that 8d was enumerated as (4,4) unlike the same as (8) in a recent Graun. COD TOGO
    Ong’ara in Kenya.
  31. 27:59 I found this all a bit skew-whiff while solving, never quite latching on with the usual comfortable certainty. Not sure I can put my finger on it exactly. Dnk Dele. Perhaps we’ll see the Dele gates outside White Hart Lane in a few years time. Like others I trawled both big boy books of capitals for far too long. Pairing and flan were troublesome. I can see it now but I had no end of trouble getting canopies to work, just the word order I think.
  32. Whizzed through this (by my standards) and wondered why it rated harder than Wednesday. Then hit the skids at 20 ac and 21 d. My ‘under an hour’ turned into ‘much too long’. I decided pea king ie lord of the peas sort of worked as: top (off), speaking ie spouting. Of course I had no real faith in it but it allow me to make something up for 20a having tried to fit pan, urn, can and tin I was ready to give up. I went with span and poured myself a glass of decent red.

    COD: PAIRING for pre – flood op

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