28762 Et in Arabia ego


Well that was fun, though my time of 28.21 suggests I also found it challenging, which I did, especially getting going at all in the top half. But I liked it: the clues are for the most part inventive and smooth, with artfully concealed definitions as it should be.

Even some of the anagrams didn’t fall out easily for me, and we certainly took a Cook’s world tour in the variety of locations visited. The arty references may not be to everyone’s taste, and I’ll concede that the cluing for each is not that straightforward, but “a man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”.

Definitions underlined in italics, the rest to be deduced.

1 Maybe encourage one to get groundbreaking single out (4-4)
HAND-PICK – If you hand someone a pick, you might be encouraging them to start chipping away at the concrete.
5 Greeting for which parent, sadly, is not going forward (6)
SALAAM – سَلَام for those of you who can read Arabic, in full ٱلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْas-salāmu ʿalaykum, peace be upon you. The way this works is you select MA as parent, ALAS for sadly, and then since she’s not going forward, she’s reversed.
9 That is awfully harmful for a footballer (5,4)
SCRUM HALF – That’s the kind of football played by gentlemen with odd-shaped balls, and it’s the player who feeds the ball into the set scrum, picks it up when it’s worked to the back, and distributes it to the quick “threequarters”. That is becomes SC (Latin scilicet, namely) then add the anagram (awfully) of HARMFUL.
11 Commentator’s staunch European (5)
CZECH – Staunch as in CHECK the flow, but as said by a commentator, so sounds like it.
12 American or Caribbean music covered by a network (7)
ALASKAN – Caribbean music is SKA, rather like reggae, “covered” by A LAN, local area network.
13 Switch to fiddle used by old composer (7)
RODRIGO – Joaquin, a Spanish composer. Switch is ROD (with  which schoolmasters used to be allowed to beat impish pupils) fiddle gives you RIG, and add O(ld). Here’s John Williams playing his Concierto di Anranjuez
14 Reducing money for American sailor after swindle (13)
CONCENTRATING – CON for swindle at the front, then money for American CENT, and sailor, RATING
16 Tricks pair at bridge — opponents there? (6-7)
DOUBLE-CROSSES – Pair is DOUBLE, bridge is CROSS, and opponents at the game of Bridge are E(ast) and S(outh)
20 Rum sort of jacket seen on graduate (7)
BACARDI – Bacardi® has it’s own entry in Chambers, being these days a generic term for rum, though other brands are available! Graduate BA, sort of jacket CARDI.
21 Crescent, one French in character, largely (7)
LUNETTE – UN, one in French, in most of LETTEr for character.
23 Owner of estate left thoroughfare, accepting fine (5)
LAIRD – L(eft) R(oa)D with AI for fine inserted.
24 Part of Hampshire town’s free to redevelop (3,6)
NEW FOREST – An anagram (to redevelop) of TOWN’S FREE
25 Is spread betting clean? Yes, every so often! (6)
SPLAYS – A neat lift and separate with an amusing twist. SP for betting (Starting Price), the alternate letters of cLeAn YeS.
26 Maybe gather tight trousers for director (8)
TRUFFAUT – Once I’d remembered François, I used the word play to remind me how to spell him. RUFF is (maybe) to gather, and TAUT trousers, pockets or encloses it.
1 Husband in Soviet Union a cavalryman once (6)
HUSSAR – H(usband) then (Yodaspeak) A in USSR.
2 Other parent presumably also missing opera (5)
NORMA – “Neither Pa NOR MA” are at the opera
3 After quiz, family you could turn to late in the day? (7)
PUMPKIN – As the clock strikes midnight, and if you’re a coach, I suppose. To quiz is to PUMP for answers, family is KIN.
4 Complicated for a technician, unleashing loud chemical process? (5,8)
CHAIN REACTION – An anagram (complicated) of FOR A TECHNICIAN with the loud F “unleashed”, let drop.
6 Charity account artist set up for Greek department (7)
ARCADIA – Well, it’s an administrative district, at least. Charity is AID, AC(count) and RA for artist complete the set, which you then reverse (set up)
7 I agree I must meet obligations to provide services (9)
AMENITIES – AMEN for I agree, I for -um – I, and TIES for obligations
8 Game, if clumsy player turning up with girl, no good at golf (3-5)
MAH-JONGG – A clumsy player, especially an acting sort, is a HAM. Reverse it (turning up), add JO (as in March, Bland etc) for the girl, and N(o) G(ood) and NATO Golf. Originally Chinese game with illustrated tiles.
10 Conflict in another case slow-witted hosts scaled down (5,5,3)
FIRST WORLD WAR – So the other case to lower is upper. Within sloW-WItted you have the common abbreviation for our conflict.
14 Cold homeless waif stops to see old war leader (9)
CHURCHILL – A waif is an URCHIN, delete the IN for home, use the remains to stop CHILL, cold.
15 Poor black lad sold nuts (8)
ODDBALLS – An anagram (poor) of B(lack) LAD SOLD. Took me a while to sort one end from the other.
17 Sensationally, if clearly, making speed of light run! (7)
LURIDLY – Clearly, LUCIDLY, if the speed of light C becomes R(un)
18 Car accessory that’s fixed on for us (7)
SUNROOF – An anagram (fixed) of ON FOR US, Almost an &lit.
19 Three couples send rude message — and in French (6)
SEXTET – 3X2! Send rude message is the portmanteau SEXT, and in French is ET
22 Letter: it’s likely to arrive after Thursday (5)
THETA – Likely to arrive ETA from Estimated Time of Arrival, dropped onto TH(ursday).

95 comments on “28762 Et in Arabia ego”

  1. 28:17
    Slow going; I’ve got the worst NITCH currently. I biffed all over the place, and never parsed DOUBLE-CROSSES, TRUFFAUT (LOI; DNK RUFF), or WWI. DNK CARDI, so BACARDI was a very tentative FOI. I liked CHAIN REACTION & SPLAYS.

  2. Took a while to settle into this one, which certainly required more thought than anything else so far this week. I started at the end, for some reason, and worked SE, SW, NE, NW, ending with ARCADIA, which should have been easier. I never figured out how the clue for FIRST WORLD WAR works, and it was driving me crazy. Merci bien !

  3. DNF after 26:51. I submitted off-leaderboard as I had to seek help for TRUFFAUT. Should have got it, just didn’t see “taut” and was very close to entering FRUFFAST.

    Had to trust the wordplay for MAH-JONGG, didn’t know about that extra G.

    Victory to the setter on this occasion. No complaints, just too good on the day.

    Thanks setter and Z. BTW, I wish more halfbacks would recognise their role as you describe it. The insidious “box kick” is one of the things conspiring to make the game unwatchable these days.

  4. 57 minutes. I was unsure of a number of things when solving especially as there were several clues where I was unable to unravel the wordplay until after the event – DOUBLE-CROSSES and FIRST WORLD WAR, for example.

    I don’t recall seeing MAH-JONGG before.

    1. Mah-Jongg and Mah-Jong are in my cheat list and almost sure they got there from Times Cryptics.

      1. Yes, New Year’s Day 2018 was its only previous appearance. Interestingly the other spelling has appeared only 3 times in he TfTT era so it’s only 1 ahead of the double-G.

  5. CNF, threw in the towel at around 35 with the NE largely blank. I suppose I might have got SALAAM and CZECH (I was close, tried to justify Croat) but RODRIGO and MAH-JONGG were never going to yield. I like the challenge of a tough puzzle but I thought this was too wilfully obscure, and although I got it I cannot rank PUMPKIN as any kind of decent clue. Many thanks to Z for his highly informed and much-needed blog.

  6. 32 minutes, I was definitely battling through it. Didn’t know how to spell Mah Jongg till now! But no specially hard or difficult clues really, just overall hard work. For example, lots of things like amen for I agree, which aren’t obvious, you have to think of amenities first and then see amen-i-ties.
    Thanks setter and blogger I need my coffee now!

  7. No idea what was going on with the WW1 clue, but never stopped to think about it. Always had a soft spot for Truffaut’s Night for Day, in which Graham Greene gets his wish to play at being a movie star. 20:58.

        1. “Day for night” and “La nuit americaine” are the respective English and French terms for the same filming technique. Jacqueline Bissett’s character remarks “Oh, day for night” when the director explains they will be shooting her next nighttime scene in daylight and then adjusting the lighting in post-production.

  8. 36 minutes, but I didn’t have a clue what was going on with FIRST WORLD WAR which I never would have worked out and I needed all the crossers for AMENITIES as my LOI. I was surprised by the spelling of MAH-JONGG too but did as I was told by the wordplay. I agree about the ‘Is spread’ def for which I was looking for something to put on your toast.

    Concierto de Aranjuez is RODRIGO’s best known piece but I also like his Soleriana orchestral suite, based on the works of the 18th century Spanish composer Antonio Soler; here is Soleriana: Boleras which is a very pleasant 5 minutes or so’s listening.

  9. The farmer’s children
    Tiptoe past the shed
    Where the gelding knife is kept.
    (Et in Arcadia Ego, Auden)

    30 mins to fill the grid, but to be honest I gave up trying to decipher them. Six crosses plus three MERs. Terrible crossword.
    Ta setter and Z.

    1. I thought I might use today’s rhyme
      To honour a grid that’s sublime
      I’m sure our setter sees
      That one simply can’t please
      All the people for all of the time

  10. 15:46. I would never have considered a CARDI a type of jacket, more a jumper with buttons. However, to my surprise Chambers has jacket in the definition so I can have no complaints about that. I also referred to Chambers to confirm that MAH JONGG can be spelled without the final G, which it can. I presume MAH JONG is the more common spelling as why waste the effort on writing/typing that extra G?

    1. ‘Jacket’ as definition certainly seemed a stretch, but even more surprising for me was CARDI without the E. I don’t recall ever seeing that before although on reflection, why would it take one?

      1. “Marg” without an E is stranger. Wouldn’t that be a hard G?
        I checked that a cardigan can be a “knitted jacket” as well as a sweater. I don’t think of a “jacket” as knitted, but if you say so, Collins.

        1. Well Collins was seeing fit to be telling the Spanish what paella is a couple of weeks ago, so it’s not to be relied upon as the most authoritative of sources.

  11. Seem to have a range of views this morning, but put me down as one who enjoyed it, inventive I thought. 1dn then 1ac write-ins, which got me off to a decent start.
    Spent far too long trying to understand why oddballs = poor, until I finally got the right anagrind.
    The main role of a scrum half these days is to cheat, by putting the ball in straight to his own pack.. when was the last time you saw the other side get the ball?

    1. In answer to your question, England v South Africa in the second half, when the only way England could stop them was to find one of the many incomprehensible ways of giving away a penalty. Which amounted to the same thing.

  12. DNF, defeated by the TRUFFAUT – I thought of taut, but didn’t know ruff=gather, and even if I had I’m not sure I’d have been confident enough to enter a completely unknown name.

    Hesitated over Rodrigo as I didn’t know rod=switch (is it from fishing?); had absolutely no idea how FIRST WORLD WAR worked; went round most of Europe before getting CZECH; and had to trust the wordplay to spell MAH-JONGG correctly with the extra G.

    Tough stuff. Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Splays

    1. It’s more as in “spare the rod and spoil the child” where the words switch, cane and rod are more or less interchangeable. Still legal in some US States, where they’re keen on selected Bible texts. It was not outlawed in the UK soon enough for me: I still feel the smart from two strokes of the cane on my hands administered in Primary School, and I’m not that old!

  13. Gave up with Rodrigo unsolved, though of course I know the famous work (especially the gorgeous Miles Davis version). Too tricksy for me, a rather joyless grind.

  14. DNF thanks to Mr Rodrigo. I hadn’t heard of him and I gave up after a few minutes of making up nonsense.

    Otherwise I was on-message and raced through it, albeit biffing right, left, and centre. The only other one that held me back was the spelling of MAH JONGG thanks to entering concentratiON in my haste.

    I enjoyed this one though, so I am happily beaten. Thanks to both setter and blogger.

  15. 56 minutes with LOI SPLAYS. This was tough, particularly at the top end, which meant I never got going. COD to SEXTET for the light relief. Thank you Z and setter.

  16. After convincing myself that ‘PUSHKIN’ must be some kind of late night drink or a pillow, it was all downhill from there. Simply not on the same wavelength – even answers that were obvious were just not forthcoming as quickly as usual. Strange puzzle but fair.

  17. 49:39
    Got there in the end. Odd puzzle that was lacking in sparkle. The pumpkin clue sums it up.
    Thanks, z.

  18. 7:53. This was a furious biff-fest, to the extent that I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see a pink square. Loads of clues where I didn’t have even the first notion how the wordplay worked but just bunged in the obvious answer. So by the standards of some I hardly solved this puzzle at all!
    I did need the wordplay to spell MAH-JONGG though.

  19. No time, but probably over 1/2 hour. I stopped when stuck in the NE corner on 5A, 6D, 7D 11A and 13A but the answers mysteriously came to mind quite quickly when I came back to it. Very mind-stretching all round. Thanks Z and setter.

  20. 33:24. Nice and quick with quite a few biffed then parsed. Sign me up to the group who enjoyed it, and to the group (most of us?) who wouldn’t have spelled MAH-JONGG like that. I liked BACARDI and SPLAYS

  21. I’m more than capable of tripping over my own shoelaces, but this all went in rather neatly in 13.23. TRUFFAUT rang enough of a bell, and my nhos RODRIGO and ARCADIA were nicely indicated. Got FIRST WORLD WAR from the enumeration and kept it in as the crossers all worked – would never have parsed. I was probably helped by never having had any exposure to MAH-JONGG, so while I’ve heard of it I’d have accepted all sorts of spellings.

    Thanks both.

  22. Just to throw a little bit of gasoline on the fire, the internet seems to think Mahjong is Chinese and Mah Jongg is American, both games a bit like bridge with differences in play and in the number of tiles or cards. Hyphens and spacing vary indiscriminately. The computer versions, usually patience-style matching games, all seem to have the single G.

  23. Mah-jonng and concentration (cent-ration) was the actual mistake I made, but there were several others entered without my really understanding what was going on. FIRST WORLD WAR struck me as rather good once it was explained here, although does ‘scaled down’ = ‘this, scaled down’? Several other things that seemed a bit messy: ‘you could turn to late in the day’ = PUMPKIN; ‘not going forward’ = ‘back’; ‘pair’ = double’; ‘ruff’ = ‘gather’; the necessity to include ‘neither Pa’ in the thinking for the NORMA clue; etc. perhaps. Maybe some of them can in fact be justified, but they made it so difficult for me that I eventually used aids, for 53 minutes.

    Now why has the picture of me aged 7 disappeared? Not that it really needs to be there, but after appearing for a while it’s now gone.

  24. I enjoyed this, probably because I did not take too long to find the answers at 4dn and 10dn which gave plenty of help for the across clues. I struggled a bit with the parsing of NORMA and 10dn, but was confident enough in the answers. In 16ac I wondered whether was there a subliminal reference to the cross on the card in the bidding box used in bridge to signify a call of Double? All done and dusted in 21 minutes, after a short delay in the NE corner.
    Thanks to Zabadak and other contributors.

  25. Another DNF – very tired, so probably me rather than the puzzle. Did know TRUFFAUT, with RUFF a noun not a verb for GATHER. Failed on AMENITIES – AYE didn’t pan out for I agree so I just gave up; and RODRIGO. Totally bamboozled by WWI, also failed to parse DOUBLE CROSSES and CHURCHILL (C for cold, then URCH in HILL = to see???), MER at BACARDI which I didn’t know had reached hoover/bic style usage, and always thought ARCADIA was Latin. I know very little about art except there were about a gazillion paintings in the middle ages called Et in Arcadia Ego – Latin? And a further bazillion paintings called Adorazione dei Magi – though that’s Italian, maybe only Italian artists called their pictures that.
    Bad day.

      1. Apart from having its own entry in Chambers, Bacardi (on my limited experience!) is far more likely to be ordered as a drink “with Coke” than any other named brand.

        1. Fair point. I note though that it’s defined in Chambers as a brand, whereas ‘hoover’ is defined as a word in itself. ‘Coke’ is not really a generic term: if you order a Coke and they only have the other one, you will invariably be asked ‘we only have Pepsi, is that OK?’. I wonder if this is the case with Bacardi: if you ordered a ‘Bacardi and Coke’ and they had another brand of rum, would they check? I don’t know (rum and coke is not a drink I tend to find myself ordering) but I suspect not, which would suggest that maybe it can be considered to have attained ‘hoover’ status.

          1. In the States Bacardi and Coke would mean Bacardi brand, and if they didn’t have it they would ask what you wanted instead. If you didn’t care, you would order rum and Coke (then they’d ask you which rum).

    1. I rather think the gather is a noun as well as the ruff.
      Ruff as verb I only know as trumping, I think the other verb might be ruffle.
      On edit; apologies ruff as a verb is to make a tuck or ruff in fabric.

  26. 31 mins I went through every European I could think of with 5 letters, and just missed one out. It took the rather arcane Greek department to resolve my geography.
    LOI SPLAYS, biffed and came here. Obvious really.

  27. No time as I dipped into this through the morning while breakfasting, packing and hotel transfers before going home from hols. It wouldn’t have been quick though, found this chewy. LOI AMENITIES which had a lot of unhelpful crossers till “amen” came to mind.

  28. I really enjoyed it. More difficult than the others this week but to me that’s most of the fun, being challenged and overcoming. I agree with some of the quibbles about some of the clues but as long as I get that ‘difficulty buzz’ I find that I don’t much mind some rough edges. I didn’t feel anything was too obscure and the extra ‘G’ was no problem for me as my father bought a Mah Jongg set when we were children and we learned how to play it. A bit like Rummy as I recall but with seasons and different coloured dragons and pungs and kongs. I can still see the odd spelling on the box in my mind’s eye (I was a little brat who liked picking up odd spellings and surprising people with them in schoolboy games like Hangman).

    Glad someone made that comment about Rugby scrums. I like watching the game when the big matches are on but I don’t really follow what is happening with rule changes and so on. So yes, I remember playing it at school and when you had a scrum the scrum half had to put the ball in straight and then the hookers would try and win it. That’s what the hookers were for. But now it just seems to be a pointless procedure for giving the ball to your own side. I don’t know when that change happened, or if it was codified at all, or if people just started doing it and the officials decided it would be too difficult to enforce the definition of putting the ball in ‘straight’, particularly given that the ball shape practically laughs in the face of the concept of straightness.

    Thanks to the setter and Mr Z!

  29. A very enjoyable steady solve. And pleasingly my third finish without aids this week. Spent far too long trying to see how -RATION could possibly mean ‘sailor’ before seeing -RATING (Doh!). Didn’t even try and parse WW1. Considered Seven Years until I got the F of -HALF. LOI AMENITIES.
    Zabadak’s info about SALAAM prompts further observation: some linguists say that the translation as ‘peace’ could perhaps better be ‘submission’ or ‘resignation’ but I’m no Arabist. The word ‘Islam’ is from the same root and reflects this sense. (Submission to the will of Allah, presumably.)

    1. I rather assumed it as a verb linked to those Elizabethan collars that need to be gathered/pleated to achieve the look. Chambers has it as a verb meaning “to provide with a ruff”, which I reckon is close enough.

  30. 11:26, with some wrestling required. The tricky NE corner would have been even trickier had I not heard some Rodrigo on the radio only yesterday, and thought (as I always do) of Pete Postlethwaite in Brassed Off, where the band perform his “Concerto de Orange Juice”.

  31. 5m 34s for a fun puzzle, finishing on CHURCHILL after spending too long assuming it would be a foreign leader I hadn’t heard of. Both that and WWI biffed.

    PUMPKIN is a nice idea but ‘you could turn to late in the day?’ is not a definition – even an extra ‘that’ might have helped a bit.

    1. I read the structure of 3dn as ‘[thing] you could turn to late in the day’, where [thing] is the product of the wordplay.
      Or to put it another way, if the clue read ‘vegetable you could turn to late in the day’ you wouldn’t, I think, object. ‘After quiz, family’ here plays the same role as the word ‘vegetable’: a kind of wordplay-synonym of PUMPKIN.

  32. 27:45

    Tough goings-on today with plenty bifd/unparsed. I balked slightly filling in SCRUM HALF – seeing as the majority of the (hated-at-school) game is played with the hands, ‘footballer’ is a bit of a stretch…

    – RODRIGO went in from three checkers, only known from the ‘Manuel & the Music of the Mountains’ UK chart single (No.3 in 1976)… – never knew about any of the other versions!
    – Bunged in DOUBLE-CROSSES without fully checking the parsing until after completion.
    – Thought 2d NORMA was a bizarre clue.
    – Failed to parse LURIDLY and FIRST WORLD WAR – just bunged them in

    Liked CZECH, TRUFFAUT and the carefully-built MAH-JONGG,

  33. 31:16
    I thought this was excellent. Thought I had ground to a halt at one point, with the NE still mostly empty.
    Was thrown by the Greek ” department” and tried to ram ACADEME in for a while. MER at “turn to late in the day”. Failed completely to parse FIRST WORLD WAR .
    A friend of mine would have had no problem with 20. When asked what she would like to drink the answer was invariably “a cardi coke”.
    Thanks to Zabadak and the setter

  34. 47 mins and certainly the toughest this week. LOI RODRIGO once I had all the checkers and saw the RIG.

    I am so glad our blogger remembered me! Unlike CORNEILLE the other day, TRUFFAUT went straight in today, phew. LUNETTE here is also the lav seat!


    Thanks Z and setter.

  35. 14:19. Not too tricky but some interesting twists and turns. I biffed FIRST WORLD WAR. Very happy I didn’t try to work it out!

  36. Couldn’t properly parse 1a HAND-PICK, 25a SPLAYS, nowhere near on 10d WWI, 16a Double Crosses and Mah Jongg ditto. So, lucky to finish really. Actually I didn’t as I used aids. Not sure a (20a ba)CARDI is a jacket, but I see above it is OK.
    Clever stuff, and enjoyable.

  37. Zabadak, I’d like to compliment you on an especially excellent blog.

    I enjoyed the crossword, too, even though I made slightly heavy weather of it.

  38. Totally failed to see ROD for switch, so eventually had to look up RODRIGO, as I’d also not got LOI, AMENITIES, which was held up by a careless DOUBLE-CROSSED. Once I had the I from RODRIGO, I revisited 16a and was then able to solve AMENITIES. 38:45 submitted off leaderboard. Thanks setter and Z.

  39. I think you’re supposed to read it as A1 (one, not I), since A1 is slang for fine/top class

  40. 11:00 Very enjoyable, though a high biff rate (about 50%), so most parsing done post-solve (by reading the blog!). I was very slow to see CZECH, which was my LOI. I don’t recall seeing any other spelling of MAH-JONGG, so was surprised to see that others expected something different. I’m afraid my knowledge of Rodrigo and Truffaut extends only to the extent that they are famous enough to be included in crosswords. I always thought “cardigan” was short for “cardigan jacket” but it seems I was wrong; I’ve never seen it spelled without an E on the end though. I agree with others that SPLAYS is a very good clue (and my COD today), though I have no idea what spread betting is – I once spent a very dull month doing matched betting in order to “earn” £500 or so, so I should probably know…

  41. Looking at the times reported here, I’m rather chuffed at my own 29’15”, though admittedly with FIRST WORLD WAR unparsed having been biffed early on. Thanks to our blogger for the explanation which I got on the third reading. Very nice puzzle today with some great clues, of which DOUBLE CROSSES was my favourite.

  42. A 37 minute struggle for me – especially the north east. Amen for I agree took forever to fall and I was unclear about Rod for switch or the spelling of the Chinese game thankfully the clueing was clear.

    Elsewhere despite my love of the Elbow track of the same name lunette proved elusive. Never understood First World War clue so thanks very much for that.

    Thxx Z and setter

  43. Hardest of the week so far – dreading tomorrow! This really was at the limit of my ability and took a chunk of the afternoon – luckily, as I had things to be done in the morning. With only 3 entered initially, I was doubtful of finishing, but luckily some bifd answers parsed correctly, such as TRUFFAUT, whom I knew, but would never have got from the clue. LUNETTE was also fingers crossed, as I didn’t know that as being a crescent, nor did I know C was the speed of light, though I assumed it to be the case. Other unknowns – ARCADIA as a Greek area specifically, though here at least the clueing was generous, and the extra G on MAH-JONGG. CZECH only went in with the E of AMENITIES (a good one, that) and for some time I did wonder if MASALA was a greeting, as well as a course! LOI RODRIGO, despite knowing the composer – again, the clueing was quite opaque. Naturally, never parsed the very-late-in FIRST WORLD WAR! Many thanks, Zabadak, for the blog.

  44. I struggled a little today with the QC when others seem to have found it fairly straightforward. Conversely, I was relative quick in solving this in 34.15, when other solvers who are speedier than me had slower times. Perhaps solving it later in the day suits me better for some reason, although the general consensus has always been that you’re at your sharpest in the morning. The only one that held me up to any degree was my LOI which was TRUFFAUT. I was grateful for the clear cryptic direction in spelling MAH JONGG, even though I have a set, although I haven’t played it for many years.

  45. Setter should sit on the naughty step. Despite our government’s best efforts to reduce our Armed Forces, HUSSARS are still cavalrymen!

  46. I’m slow this week. 46’46”. Aghast to see Snitch on only 100 or so. Thought we were way above that. Rodrigo brought back Manuel and the Music of the Mountains (aka band-leader Geoff Love) who had a chart hit in 1976 with an arrangement of the guitar concerto. Wiki tells us the single enjoyed the shortest ever period as number one. After a few hours it was relegated because of an error in calculation. Happy memories of Radio 1 in the good old days. Tough crossword. Many thanks.

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