28138 Thursday, 18 November 2021 You might say that….

Not too tricky at this station, arriving fully parsed in 20.19, but as you may infer from my ramblings below, there are quite a few bits where the general knowledge may not be all that general. I rather liked the clean surfaces of 21 and 23, and I don’t think there’s a dud clue anywhere. But I believe we have the first appearance of the rather ugly term for a Political Advisor, which would previously have been clued perforce as Signal Passed At Danger, and as far as I can see, the grammatical term at 1a is making its first appearance too. For that and the Elizabethan playwright at 27 some inspired guesswork might be needed by some of this order, but I don’t think they’re impossible or unfair.
Along with my musings, I have reproduced the clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS.
1 Perhaps May’s second day, all very endless and black (5,4)
MODAL VERB Right. Pay attention, class, because for once, you won’t have learned this bit of grammar in Mr Jarry’s Latin lessons. “A modal verb is a type of verb that is used to indicate modality – that is: likelihood, ability, permission, request, capacity, suggestions, order, obligation, or advice. Modal verbs always accompany the base (infinitive) form of another verb having semantic content. In English, the modal verbs commonly used are can, could, may [without a capital!], might, shall, should, will, would, and must.” Or you can just follow the wordplay and hope for the best. Second is MO, plus D(ay), plus AL(l) and VER(y) “endless”, plus B(lack)
6 Old heating unit bust after time (5)
THERM Which I thought we still used, but apparently one therm is equal to about 105.5 megajoules, 25200 kilocalories, or 29.3 kilowatt-hours, which looks like a lot in any old or new units. T(ime) goes before HERM, which is (or you hope it is) a bust of some kind: “a head or bust (originally of Hermes) on a square base, often double-faced”.
9 Friend’s gone — I’m back inside (5)
AMIGO Rather more accessible: AGO for gone (in the past) with I’M reversed within, like it says.
10 Risk damage when drilling patent bucket? (9)
OVERTRAIN Which must be drilling as in square bashing. Patent gives OVERT and the RAIN  buckets down.
11 Bogey fault west of Paddington? (7)
BUGBEAR Fault gives BUG, and Paddington is the quintessential BEAR. From Peru.
12 Annexe about to run into chalk ground (7)
WHITING Finely ground chalk can be used for various whitening applications. Annexe is WING (of a building) and run into gives you the HIT to put inside
13 Song at cricket ground such as Worcester and Oxford? (5,9)
LORDS SPIRITUAL are the 26 (of 42) Bishops of the CofE who are entitled to sit in the House of Lords. Five are Canterbury+, York+, London+, Durham+, and Winchester+, plus a selection of the rest, currently including those of Oxford+ and Worcester+, though they are only so entitled by seniority, the length of time they serve, unless they’re women, in which case they take precedence. To appoint them to this grid, imagine an African-American song such as Swing Low being sung at the Home of Cricket instead of Sweet Caroline or the dreary Don’t Take Me Home.
17 One — and he spends freely — showing this? (4-10)
OPEN-HANDEDNESS Sort of &lit. An anagram (freely) of ONE AND HE SPENDS. For once, one is not just I
21 Post Office note about label showing cost of carriage (7)
PORTAGE P(ost) O(ffice) plus the first random note of the day E, surrounding TAG for label. [On edit: as others have pointed out, the note is the sol fa RE, otherwise the R is missing]
23 Gradually destroy fuel element in reactor’s heart (7)
CORRODE Fuel element ROD, and reactor’s heart to put it in CORE.
25 Trouble holding double plastic bomb (9)
DOODLEBUG The V1 flying bomb of WWII. Trouble is DOG, and an anagram (plastic) of DOUBLE is held therein.
26 Best garden party? (5)
OUTDO Party is a DO, and one in the garden would be OUT(side).
27 Society dramatist of Elizabethan times in the manner of Fox (5)
SLYLY S(ociety) plus John LYLY, well known (?) for his plays Campaspe and Mother Bomble. We are not necessarily helped by the fact that Lyly is only one way in which John spelled his surname, given that our answer can also be rendered as SLILY
28 Happy to direct how refugees are often accommodated (9)
CONTENTED CON for direct (as in “you have the con(n) Mr Sulu”) plus well, yes, how refugees are often accommodated, TENTED

1 Stupid American encountered outside a dance (8)
MEATBALL I’m more familiar with meatball applied to surgery in M*A*S*H, but Chambers has it as US slang for a dull-witted person. Encountered: MET outside A in plain sight plus BALL for dance.
2 What comes in handy in golfing final (5)
DYING The final act for most of us. Hidden in hanDY IN Golfing
3 Witnesses lone rooks flying (7-2)
LOOKERS-ON Notwithstanding “a Crow in a crowd is a Rook, a Rook on its own is a Crow”. An anagram (flying) of LONE ROOKS. The given enumeration confirms the word order.
4 What makes one feel more able, say, to put up rent (3,4)
EGO TRIP EG for say, to put up for OT, RIP from rent.
5 Conflict in unruly bar row involving ecstasy (4,3)
BOER WAR a specific conflict, then, and an anagram (unruly) of BAR ROW and E(cstasy)
6 Show disapproval about tango and current music everyone plays (5)
TUTTI Italian/music for the definition. TUT for show disapproval plus NATO Tango plus I for (electric) current.
7 English spread out around Cape to destroy (9)
ERADICATE E(nglish) plus RADIATE for spread out with C(ape) inserted
8 Some years supporting males in household (6)
MENAGE Some years can be an AGE, here supporting MEN for males.
14 Concerned with a Conservative’s regular turns (9)
REPERTORY RE for concerned with, plus PER for a (tuppence a/per bag) plus TORY for Conservative.
15 Roused to manoeuvres round King’s royal emblem (5,4)
TUDOR ROSE Another simple anagram (manoeuvres) of ROUSED TO plus R for King.
16 What’s part of beach life? Eros, perhaps (8)
ASTEROID A double definition. Starfish are of the order asteroid(ea), though if they’re beached, they’re probably not beach life. Eros is one of the larger asteroids, visited (indeed landed on) by the NEAR Shoemaker space probe in 2001.
18 Old still drink with doctor in charge (7)
ALEMBIC The alchemist’s forerunner of the whisk(e)y still. Drink is the (less potent, usually) ALE, doctor MB, plus I(n) C(harge)
19 Figure month must lead to endless anguish (7)
DECAGON Random moth DEC, plus AGON(Y) for endless anguish
20 Minister’s adviser regularly gets suit (6)
SPADES I’m not sure how far the SP(ecial)AD(visor) has travelled beyond Cummings and No 10, but it makes an appearance here, with gEtS (regularly) added.
22 Dean not including verse in passage (5)
ALLEY For once, dean is not ecclesiastical but geographical, giving VALLEY with the V(erse) not included.
24 Chamber piece too much involving two separate keys (5)
OCTET Too much is OTT, and two more random notes, C and E (again) are separately included.

89 comments on “28138 Thursday, 18 November 2021 You might say that….”

  1. Started off easy enough but the last handful were quite a handful. As I went through to parse I found that many clues had some obscure bit I didn’t know (dean, ASTEROID, SP.AD., CON, HERM, etc). A Mephisto-ey feel (but easier). Fortunately everything was gettable. LORD’S SPIRITUAL was a challenging last-one-in for this American solver, as you might imagine. I’m learning!
  2. Easy enough except for the many gaps in my knowledge. DNK asteroids are starfish, NHO SPAD, didn’t remember DEAN as valley, etc.

    Thanks, Z.

  3. All correct despite not knowing HERM or SPAD or LYLY. When I looked up SPAD afterwards, there was nothing in Chambers. Not nearly as tough as yesterday.
  4. Defeated by Asteroid. I liked Open Handedness; cute, that was. There were a couple usages that I think I dragged up from deep memory, but it’s possible that the cluing along with the crossers taught me them instead. Thanks, setter, it was fun, and may I compliment you on the grammar note, z?

    Edited at 2021-11-18 03:19 am (UTC)

  5. Some DNKs here, too: CON, DEAN (I knew ‘dene’, although not that it was a valley; inferred that dean=dene=valley), SPAD, the starfish, WHITING. I thought HERMs were heads or statues, but in any case THERM was unavoidable. With my inability to spot a hidden, DYING was an embarrassingly long time in coming. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the term MODAL VERB, only ‘modal auxiliary’.

    Edited at 2021-11-18 03:24 am (UTC)

  6. After 15 minutes of staring at 16dn, I gave up and entered ASTEROID. It fitted the checkers, but neither element of the clue.

    Dear Reader, imagine my surprise…

  7. Pleased to finish, but with one pink square, DOING for DYING. Apart from that, pleased to get through it all. And I did know SPAD.

    DNK either of the meanings of my LOI ASTEROID. It fitted, I was tired, and my luck held. The only classical asteroid name I know is Ceres, which, like Pluto was originally classified as a planet. They have bizarre names now: montypython (13681), jamesbond (9007), morganfreeman (224693) etc

    COD OVERTRAIN I like clues where a double word is split in a different way. Elegant.

  8. No, I don’t know what a beach has to do with an ASTEROID darling; maybe it fell there. Had POSTAGE in at 21ac so stared for a long time at 14dn until the penny dropped. HERM and LYLY both new to me. I also wasn’t aware of SP AD as a pukka abbreviation for Special Adviser, but Spad sounds like a good acronym to use in future. “Boris needs new Spads.”

    Got MÉNAGE for household from a recent appearance somewhere.

    FOI 6dn TUTTI

    COD 23ac CORRODE for keeping everything nuclear without being nuclear.

    Edited at 2021-11-18 05:18 am (UTC)

  9. Having never heard of EGO TRIP, I entered EYE DROP! Making 10ac EYE STRAIN.
    So a DNF, rather than an Helsinki.


    (LOI) 16dn a painful ASTEROID


    WOD 25ac DOODLEBUG the Londoner’s 11ac, back in the day.

    I had an ‘unch that this was the same setter as yesterday.

      1. I lied – under oath! Subpoena me if you will. I made up Helsinki as well! Victor Moriarty Meldrew
  10. Didn’t know what “dean” had to do with “valley” (A dene, derived from the Old English denu and frequently spelled dean in place names, used to be a common name for a valley… Thank you, Google!), nor ASTEROID with the beach (I see… fallen starfish?), how CON could mean “direct” nor what Worcester and Oxford were doing in 13. Also, I didn’t know what LORDS SPIRITUAL means. (“LORD’S SPIRITUAL? Why would the Lord be singing a spiritual?”) Oh, and SPADES was a biff too—didn’t dig deep enough.

    My gas bill still counted the damages in terms of THERMs, last time I looked (but I had the gas turned off a few years ago).

    I really liked MODAL VERB! More grammar clues, please!

    To my dad, a DOODLEBUG was a self-propelled railcar such as was seen at the trainyards where Papaw worked. But I may have seen the explosive meaning before…

    Edited at 2021-11-18 06:12 am (UTC)

  11. Exactly the same experience as galspray with ASTEROID, even if it was 20 minutes later, so I was very surprised to see no pink squares. With another 3 or 4 unparsed eg LORDS SPIRITUAL (for which I thought the def was ‘Song’!) and SPADES, this was as hard as yesterday for me.

    My luck may / might / must be due to run out soon, even if I got MODAL VERB this time – enumeration and wordplay aren’t always so helpful.

  12. I’m a bit pushed for time at this moment and as this was a very interesting puzzle I may have more to say later.

    For the moment I’ll state my solving time which was 52 minutes. I had queries against 7 answers on completion of the grid although I knew my answers were correct. I reckoned I’d have needed a good 15 minutes looking things up afterwards if I had been on blogging duty but as things were, I was just happy to finish the puzzle and turn off the light for the night.

    Edited at 2021-11-18 07:46 am (UTC)

  13. …beaten by ASTEROID so I had to use aids. Gratifying that others had problems with that clue, too.
    Couldn’t parse EGO TRIP, WHITING or SPADES, either, till I came here.
  14. …was where I first heard Adios AMIGO, which for a while was the way we bade farewell at primary school. Jim Reeves came later. 36 minutes with LOI ERADICATE. THE NE was the last to fall, I didn’t know the bust but did know the heating unit. WHITING was from crossers and the cryptic, as was ALEMBIC. ASTEROID was just from Eros plus the crossers. I didn’t know where the CON came from in CONTENTED either, having successfully avoided STAR TREK all my life. Is that why ships have a conning tower? COD to BUGBEAR and its beautiful surface. I also liked the LORDS SPIRITUAL and I did vaguely know of (s)LYLY. I found this a mix of excellent, tricky and obscure. Thank you Z and setter.
  15. Well, I managed to finish but I’m not sure how. 48 mins. Held up in theSE by having bunged in OCTAGON, well, it worked for me.

    Several GK holes HERM , SPAD, ASTEROID (I only know Eros as the Greek god of love and Piccadilly Circus fame!) DEAN, and MEATBALL for stupid. Never worked out what Worcester and Oxford were doing.

    Liked MODAL VERB.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  16. I was also pleasantly surprised not to see a pink square or two in Asteroid. I couldn’t convince myself that a steroid forms part of beach life. I also has POSTAGE for quite a while.

    COD: SPADES. I approve of “SPAD” entering the Times Crossword lexicon.

  17. … But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
    His Psyche true!

    40 mins left Spiritual ungot.
    Too clever for its own good.
    Thanks setter and Z.

  18. Too hard for me, too many gaps in general knowledge. Though not asteroid as starfish, remembered from previous crosswords, although I most definitely don’t associate starfish with beaches. Didn’t know Lord’s Spiritual, though having read the blog it reminded me it came up in the comments quite recently: 28119, 3 weeks ago.
    Liked the hidden DYING, but COD to corrode for the fuel rod in the core.
  19. After protractedly painful warm-up quickie, very happy to get a completion – some biffing, but I had reasonable confidence when I submitted. FOI BUGBEAR, SE corner last to go (CON for “direct” is completely new to me) and LOI ASTEROID after writing down -S-E-O-D with all five possible vowel starting letters

    WOD by a country mile DOODLEBUG. My mother, now 94, Oldham born and bred, mentioned her wartime memories to me many times during my childhood. Doodlebugs were much-feared, and everyone – even young children – knew that when the engine sputtered and went silent, the bomb was about to do its damage. She also described how much she enjoyed the communal singing in the air-raid shelters (and how this caused her to miss quite a bit of her schooling).

    Thanks setter and Z

    Edited at 2021-11-18 09:08 am (UTC)

    1. It is interesting to note that the V1s were aimed at Manchester and reached. What is hardly known is that the first 44 V2s aimed at Britain all were deliberately aimed at Norfolk – September-October 1944. A few strayed south into Suffolk. 52 persons were injured – no fatalities.
      1. Hi Horryd – wondering if my memory (or indeed my mum) was deceiving me, I did a quick bit of research. I’m insufficiently privileged to post links here, so a quote will have to suffice:

        “On Christmas Eve 1944, 45 Doodlebugs were launched off the Yorkshire coast from beneath Heinkel He111 bombers flying over the North Sea. The bombers released the V1s aimed at Manchester, then turned back to base. Many of the missiles landed harmlessly; the worst was at Abbey Hills Road in Oldham where 27 people were killed.”

        Rather interesting to find that out – thanks for prompting me!

        1. Rocketry in WWII is my speciality. I’m rather glad your mother survived ‘the doodlebuggers’ and I am sure you are too! Take care!
  20. Misparsed ASTEROID as ‘a steroid’ (is your body beach-ready?). Dnk HERM. Held up by banging in ‘postage’. There are far too many Lords Temporal now.

    COD to MODAL VERB, which must rank with ‘fronted adverbial’ as the most useless piece of schooling ever (blame Gove).

    23′ 18″, thanks z and setter.

  21. Made life difficult for myself in the bottom half by confidently chucking in POSTAGE and OCTAGON which made REPERTORY and CORRODE pretty tricky!

    Finally sorted out the mess in 28 minutes although, like others, didn’t have a clue about ASTEROID!

  22. 21:25 LOI ASTEROID having finally remembered the celestial body… DNK it was also the name of starfish. MODAL VERB and LORDS SPIRITUAL were also new to me, but I had come across LYLY before, no doubt in a crossword. Very educational. I had OCTAGON for 19D at first which made 17A difficult. Good stuff. Thank-you Z and setter.
  23. Beaten by a starfish! Had to use aid to get ASTEROID. Some write ins, others hard. 59 mins. Having taught grammar MODAL VERB was ok. Challenging in parts. Thanks all
      1. In the Japanese versions of ‘Star Trek’ , the character known as Mr. Sulu was Mr. Takei.
      1. It didn’t occur to me last night, but I had heard of a conning tower, on a submarine.
  24. Didn’t know the starfish, but was fairly confident that an Eros might be floating around in the ASTEROID belt, once I’d decided that nothing else fitted the crossers. HERM was a new one on me, as was LORDS SPIRITUAL, which was constructed from wordplay and crossers. No problem with SPAD or MEATBALL. TOE GRIP went out of the window when MODAL VERB and OVERTRAIN arrived, and common sense was restored. DYING was FOI, and WHITING was LOI, after ASTEROID. Liked CORRODE a lot. 33:31. Thanks setter and Z.
  25. Off to be a bad start when confidently entering OCTagon but that wasn’t really what held me up: final staring at W?I?I?G, knowing that it was something inside WING but never heard of the ground chalk def, so wasted a couple of minutes in the end before biffing WHITING as the most likely option (isn’t it better known as a fish?) … Few too many randomnesses perhaps but no real complaints, so thanks to setter and especially to blogger for excellent commentaries.
    1. … as could think ONLY of the fish when considering WHITING so missed the whole point and just bunged in WRITING, thinking that it was something to do with the marks glaziers put on windows to stop idiots (like me) putting their hands through a new bit of glass.
  26. 18:30
    I think clue 28 is flawed. The grammar of the clue demands an adverb or adverbial phrase in the answer. You can’t be ‘accommodated tented’. ‘Tented’ describes the accommodation itself, not the manner in which it is provided.
    Thanks, z.
      1. It’s a fine one, Kevin, but I think the culprit is ‘How?’ as it anticipates an adverbial phrase, e.g. ‘in tents’.
  27. 23:01. Well that was a weird experience. I trundled through it fairly steadily, slowed down for a while by a hasty POSTAGE, but then got completely stuck with three clues left. Not only could I not solve them, I didn’t have even the first notion of an idea of how to interpret any element of any of them. After about ten minutes I finally spotted some wordplay that led me to the unknown WHITING. At that point I hesitated between giving up entirely and bunging in the only words that I could see that fitted the remaining two answers but without in either case any discernible relationship to the clue. Eventually I plumped for the latter course and was very surprised to find that THERM and ASTEROID were indeed the required answers.
  28. Yes, this gave me all kinds of trouble. SP AD, really? – I thought it might have something to do with padres but couldn’t see how. Well of course not. The only WHITING I could think of was the one who tells the snail to walk a little faster because he’s got a porpoise on his tail. And before the EGO TRIP dropped in I was looking for a model club of some sort at 1A. Quite pleased to clock in correctly at 26.36 after all that.
    1. (Also further to Z’s remarks in the main solution). I’d say that SPAD was a “Westminster bubble” word until Dominic Cummings came along and cused ministerial advisers to break the surface. During that period (2016 – 2020 approx) it leaked into more widespread use.
      1. Thanks Denise. I think some Americans had – just – heard of Cummings but his tenure overlapped with the Donald Trump incumbency so we had rather a lot on our minds this side of the pond.
      2. SPAD has been familiar to me at least for much longer than that: since The Thick of It (2005) at least.
  29. Got to my usual 75-ish% complete before stumbling to a halt.

    Had trouble with:
    THERM – NHO HERM, stared blankly at T_E_M for a while before moving on
    BUGBEAR – Spent a long time trying to refashion Bogey plus something else
    DOODLEBUG – couldn’t see this included an anagram; what’s the indicator? Plastic?
    SLYLY – NHO and left blank, but should have guessed at this from fox-like
    MEATBALL – weird americanism but got there eventually.
    ERADICATE – RADIATE for “spread out” makes sense in retrospect
    ASTEROID – flummoxed.
    ALLEY – NHO Dean for VALLEY before.

    Getting there, day by day.

    1. You are correct that the anagram indicator in the Doodlebug clue is plastic. In its adjectival form it means mouldable, which looks close enough for the Times.

      Edited at 2021-11-18 04:38 pm (UTC)

      1. Begrudgingly makes sense, but it’s a bit of a stretch!

        Thanks for confirming, much appreciated.

  30. A well-constructed puzzle which took me to the edge of my knowledge, and possibly a little beyond it. HERMs are familiar to all smug classicists; as well as a head, they often had, rather oddly, some more intimate body parts lower down on the base, and the desecration of some of them during the Peloponnesian War was a cause celebre in Athenian circles. Only sort-of remembered the alternative ASTEROID, and realised that I’d been thinking of ERIS (which turns out to be a dwarf planet, not an asteroid) rather than EROS. I also wasted time thinking the heart of reaCTor’s was CT. All in all a good challenge.
  31. Lots of unknowns, all of which have been mentioned, which more or less had to be and entered with a shrug. 55 minutes. Despite Jack’s explanation to me of Lords Temporal etc the other day I was slow to get 13ac.
    1. Thanks for the name-check but I would mention that today I wrote in LORDS straightaway and could only think of ‘temporal’ to follow it, which was obviously of no use. I knew there was another word and that we’d discussed both here recently but I still needed checkers to bring SPIRITUAL to mind. Oh, the joys of approaching senility!
  32. Was convinced 16d was an anagram of LIFE and EROS giving me ISLEFORD, a near-shore feature of a beach consisting of a sandy spit or bank enabling foot or vehicular access to a proximate island. Except there’s no such thing and it isn’t an anagram either.
    1. The anagram looked so likely to me that I kept coming back to it even after I had entered CONTENTED and rechecked it three or four times!

      Edited at 2021-11-18 12:26 pm (UTC)

      1. Azed once said that in his clue-setting competitions he accepted ‘probably’ as an anagram indicator, but not ‘perhaps’. Goodness knows what his reason was, can’t remember. But it means that I’m out of the habit of expecting ‘perhaps’ to be an anagram indicator, so didn’t go down the eros + life route, expecting most Times setters to go along with Azed here. Not in fact wise — I do remember ‘perhaps’ being used once as an a.i. in The Times, but perhaps it isn’t very common.
        1. Interesting comment. I can’t see his logic either – it seems the reverse of what you would expect. However, I’ll keep an eye out for “perhaps” and “probably” in future and see if this inexplicable scruple continues to be observed to any useful extent.
  33. Seem to have beaten the SNITCH but a fair amount of biffing and shrugging here:

    MODAL VERB — no idea before now — I went to a comprehensive where such notions were apparently unnecessary — either that or the teachers didn’t know what they were either.

    THERM — what else could it be? I knew nowt about those mentioned in Z’s parsing. No idea about HERM being a bust.

    LORDS SPIRITUAL — educated guess with enough checkers

    DOODLEBUG — failed to parse. Spotting Trouble = DOG might have helped.

    SLYLY — another inconsequential nobody to add to the list.

    CON = direct? NHO it.

    ASTEROID — my shakiest guess. No idea about the beach life. Eros as asteroid must have rung a vague bell.

    ALEMBIC — a word I only knew from a brand of bass guitars. Now I know what it means too.

    SPADES — completely unparsed.

  34. Lots unparsed – SPADES and THERM for example, and knowing Eros is one, ASTEROID parsed in the Venice beach fashion like others above.
    I thought the Lord’s spiritual might be a hymn sung by the Barmy army, without any idea how Worcester and Oxford worked ( as usual with Oxford I looked for a shoe to shoe-horn in to the answer).
    All ended well in 31:30
  35. Left with W-I-ING, no solution of which fitted. I only think of WHITING as a fish that my mum used to cook, so not my fave clue. And as for starfish on the beach….. lucky that it couldn’t have been anything else.
    1. When I was young the only fish the cat would eat was whiting, so my mother never made it for the family!
  36. And where’s our ASTEROID expert when we need him? Maybe it’s because there’s no birds.
    1. Where is our beloved astronowt
      I’m sure he’s lurking about
      No birds in the Times
      No need for good rhymes
      He’s probably gone walk about

  37. But your version looks less outre.

    DNK our dramatist Lyly, though it couldn’t be anything else from checkers. NHO MEATBALL in that sense, though it was again the obvious answer.


  38. I was really surprised about this, because although I am an atheist my wife wasn’t and sometimes complained that Richard Harries (who was bishop of Oxford) didn’t give the support she thought he should give to his vicars, and therefore I noticed when he left his job, only about 5 years ago. He popped up in Radio4 Thought For The Day even after he moved on. So I couldn’t believe that his successor could possibly be senior enough to qualify as a Lord Spiritual so soon. But in fact he qualified almost immediately so maybe seniority is not time in THIS posting????
    1. The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, current Bishop of Oxford, was previously Bishop of Sheffield, and “qualified” for the House of Lords in 2013. I think I am not unfamiliar with the perception shared by your wife of the quality of his predecessor!
  39. This was a bit of a Curate’s Egg (Punch!) with Asteroid my LOI. My WOD was 25ac Doodlebug and my COD was the Lords Spiritual.
  40. ….and biffed ASTEROID to finish correctly in 15:25 — which was a relief, since I’d biffed 4 or 5 answers. Didn’t enjoy this at all.
  41. I very much enjoyed OUTDO and the cleverly hidden DYING. Not so terrible impressed by DECAGON, which could just as well have been OCTAGON without the checker. And for a while I’d made up the note ‘se’ in order to get POSTAGE to work.
  42. This was tough, but I got there in the end. ASTEROID was a hit-and-hope once all the checkers were in; I didn’t know con=direct or herm=bust, which held up CONTENTED and THERM respectively; I didn’t parse DOODLEBUG at all (must remember ‘plastic’ as an anagram indicator); I tried to put in ‘meathead’ for 1d but eventually realised that MEATBALL can be an insult too; and I had to hope there was someone called Lyly to get SLYLY.

    FOI Octet
    LOI Whiting
    COD Lords Spiritual

    1. QAnon – If you care to read all the comments, dcrooks has already mentioned this! Out for repetition!
  43. Not too easy for me. 27.55 and tied myself in knots over whiting and asteroid. In the case of the latter trying to work out an anagram of life and eros which made me doubt contented for too long.

    Pleased to work out modal verb and at least I avoided another disaster like yesterday when I was utterly defeated in the SE corner.

    Thx setter and blogger.

  44. LOI Asteroid – like many others I just took a punt on that one. I guessed Eros was probably an asteroid, but couldn’t see the beach connection. Elsewhere — Spad, Herm — I had to awaken some dormant synapses. Alembic is like the French. Many thanks

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