28774 It’s not Advent yet.


I’m not sure about this one, and it took me over 30. Partly that’s because my guts are doing an audition for the remake of the Mr Creosote sketch, which is a shame because my built from scratch mushroom risotto was rather tasty. But I also had hesitations over several of the clues, though I don’t think anything was really hard. It remains to me to apologise for a slightly later post than even I manage, and for any errors that have slipped through my rather bleary edit.

Definitions underlined in italics, the rest as you find it.

1 Man getting sack, as if Mrs Thatcher could be bothered (6,9)
FATHER CHRISTMAS – An anagram (could be bothered) of AS IF MRS THATCHER
9 Stress caused by commuter journey? (5,4)
DRIVE HOME – A lecturer or preacher might like to emphasise some part to drive home his message. In my experience you only remember what you should have said on the homeward part of your commute.
10 Ace to welcome having time off for match (5)
AGREE – A(ce) and GREEt with its T(ime) off
11 Writer’s well popular, returning to peak! (6)
INKPOT – Last in, working out which bits to reverse and what abbreviations to use. Popular IN, the TO P(ea)K reversed
12 Bird with judge in black coat, not far ahead (8)
NIGHTJAR -J(udge) in black NIGHT. When I think how to produce AR, I’ll post it. Right. I’ll leave that because it’s sometimes good to admit one’s puzzlement. Black coat is TAR. not far, NIGH goes ahead and both sandwich J(udge).
13 Urban dweller to have secure fences (6)
TOWNIE – Chambers allows both the IE and EE endings, but here its have: OWN fenced by secure: TIE
15 Barmaids worked on as engineer was called (8)
ISAMBARD – Brunel’s first name a happy anagram (worked on) of BARMAIDS
18 Element, mostly temporary one, we must think (8)
ACTINIUM – No 89 on the list, so a nasty with very limited use, though I gather they’re working on it possibly for radiotherapy. Mostly temporary is ACTIN(g). one is I, and I take UM as “we must think” as in give us some time to think about that.
19 Coming soon, Jonathan Demme’s Caged … (2,4)
AT HAND – I didn’t know, but film producer Demme was responsible for 1874’s Caged Heat. He cages JonAT HANDamme
21 … Heat, note, theatre putting out first showing a third time? (8)
REREPEAT – This looks a little clumsy to me: HEAT is the word that loses its first, RE is the note and REP the theatre which preceeds it.
23 Bolts entrance to storehouse after derisory comment (6)
SCOFFS -That meaning of bolts, and come to that scoffs. First letter (entrance) of Storehouse after SCOFF for derisory comment.
26 Hold-up as echo’s smothered in order to be quiet (5)
HEIST – NATO Echo is covered by HIST for order to be quiet.
27 Something of a catch, daughter ended single (5,4)
DOVER SOLE – (D(aughter) OVER for ended, and SOLE for single
28 Such as spring camping I love that comes to bad end? (4-11)
WELL-INTENTIONED – I think this is an &lit, because I can’t see a separate definition apart from such as which needs the rest of the clue to make sense. Spring gives WELL, camping gives IN TENT, I and O from love, and a bad (anagrammed) END
1 Follower of fashion with directions for making punch? (7)
FADDIST – Somehow read the direction as ADD (directions for making) in FIST (punch).
2 Take in run, coming in second (5)
TRICK – R(un) comes in TICK, second of time.
3 One’s going to sea, so it’s said — more easily with this? (3,6)
EYE LOTION – Ones going to gives I’LL, sea gives OCEAN, put the two together for homonym (so it’s said). I have no ideas on why eye lotion makes going to sea easier, unless sea is doing double duty for a homophone of see.
4 Doctor Who won’t fight no dalek, ultimately! (4)
COOK –  As in the books. Someone who won’t fight is a C(onscientious) O(bjector), no gives the other O, and the last letter of DaleK the K
5 Again correct to swallow tablets to get most high (8)
REEDIEST – Such voices are high enough. RE-EDIT from again correct takes in ES, tablets.
6 Writing on reflection remains a great success (5)
SMASH – writing is MS, then reflected, and remains is/are ASH
7 Entering harbour, just losing way, a trip provider (9)
MARIJUANA – The harbour is MARINA, insert JUST without ST(reet) which gives JU, add the A
8 Did pilot hit the roof crossing top of this? (7)
STEERED – Took me a while to see hit the roof as SEE  RED. into which insert top of This.
14 One having a race with a “condition” — not well at finish (5-4)
WATER-MILL – The water that makes the mill wheel turn is a race. W(ith) A TERM from condition, not well for ILL.
16 One camper wandering outside turned up 19 skeletons! (9)
METACARPI –  I think someone who has turned up is AT, the rest is an anagram (wandering) of CAMPER. 19, AT HAND gives where the bones are.
17 Musical work, something groovy recalled with books (8)
TURANDOT – Another Puccini opera. Something groovy RUT, to be reversed (recalled), with gives AND (easy to miss!) and books the Old Testament.
18 Base display of arrogance greeting native American (7)
AIRSHOW – Chambers gives A flying display, usually at an a airbase, but I took a while to be convinced. Display of arrogance AIRS, and the alleged native American greeting HOW. I might be persuaded to put display with the definition.
20 Stretch one’s mind with centre for reading (7)
DISTEND – One’s gives IS mind gives TEND the centre of reaDing goes at the front.
22 Bacteriologist favoured upping radiation (5)
PETRI – He of the dish. Favoured: PET and I(nfra) R(ed) radiation reversed (up)
24 Show of concern? Not to women on vacation (5)
FROWN – So take the alternative to to from the phrase to and FRO, add empty WomeN.
25 Fixture, not ending all square (4)
EVEN – Fixture EVENT, knock off the T.

88 comments on “28774 It’s not Advent yet.”

  1. A very enjoyable if tough puzzle – a proper Friday test (on a Thursday). I failed on ACTINIUM and the magnificent AIRSHOW, and could only manage ‘eye motion’.

    ‘Base display’ indeed! A pleasant reminder of a childhood spent watching Jack Hargreaves, Fred Dinenage and friends imparting information in a fun and educational manner.

    How! to one and all.

  2. Zed, ‘fashion’ needs to be added as part of the definition in 1 down. I’m with Vinyl in taking ‘add in fist’ (i.e. make use of fist) as a very loose alternative for ‘directions for making punch.’

  3. Complete at just under the hour. But didn’t quite parse COOK (CO new to me). Nor did I see why ADD was in FADDIST. Nevertheless, pleased to finish a toughie.

  4. Tough for a Thursday., but glad to finish without errors. Last in was EYE LOTION, which was my COD. I was held up by INKPOT. I knew what I was looking for but took ages to think of an alternative to INKWELL.
    18d ‘base display’ was very good. My first ever flight, as a child, was at an airshow- a short joy-ride in a De Havilland Dragon Rapide biplane.

  5. After writing in FATHER CHRISTMAS immediately (a rare political dig in a Times puzzle though commonplace in The Guardian), I made heavy weather of some of this with gaps in every quarter of the grid almost to the end.

    As the hour passed, still with a couple of gaps and with two answers I was unable to parse, I realised I must have gone wrong so I threw in the towel and resorted to aids. My two unparsed errors were TITANIUM at 18ac and METATARSI at 16dn instead of ACTINIUM and METACARPI respectively. The errors had prevented me getting AIRSHOW and SCOFFS.

    Aside from my own incompetence my initial enthusiasm for the puzzle had been undermined by two clues I considered badly constructed – those to REREPEAT and WELL-INTENTIONED, the latter’s surface being an absolute dog’s breakfast which I am unable to read as any sort of definition.

  6. DNF. I felt that the setter tried just a little too hard to be clever with FADDIST and, particularly, to squeeze in Caged Heat. The crossword didn’t need it.

  7. 54 minutes and relieved to get over the line. I couldn’t figure out some of the parsing including REREPEAT, FADDIST and WELL-INTENTIONED, for which I tentatively had ‘comes to a bad end?’ as the def, though it doesn’t work.

    I think NIGHTJAR is NIGH (‘not far’), with ‘ahead’ as a positional indicator placing it as the first letters in the answer, followed by J (‘judge’) contained in (‘in’) TAR (‘black coat’), or maybe ‘coat’ is part of the containment indicator.

    Another one I couldn’t parse, unless ‘sea’ is part of both def and wordplay as suggested, was my LOI and favourite EYE LOTION. I finally finished thanks to the immortal lyrics of “Poison Ivy” (I’m most familiar with the Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs 1964 version):
    “You’re gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion
    You’ll be scratchin’ like a hound…”

  8. I read FADDIST as F+IST (instructions on how to make FIST). Some clever stuff in this one, perhaps bordering on quirky here and there. I was particularly impressed by 16d’s novel embedding of ‘AT HAND’ in the clue, where AT< is wordplay and (I think) HAND is part of the 'Hand Skeletons' definition.

  9. I was glad to finish with all correct, having struggled in the SW towards the end. My LOI was REREPEAT after I’d abandoned the idea that THREEPEAT might have an alternative spelling of THREPEAT. But once I got AIRSHOW (finally) all was clear.

  10. I found that very hard, taking 46 minutes. LOI was REREPEAT which alone I took several minutes on and wasn’t sure it was a word. Before that AIRSHOW also took several minutes. I didn’t understand the CO part of COOK till I came here. Regarding EYE LOTION, I certainly understood sea = ocean and sea sounds like see.
    Thanks setter and blogger

  11. Gave up after an hour with AIRSHOW, HEIST and PETRI missing, FADDIST biffed and EYE LOTION preferred to POTION without spotting the homophone. I did once break two metacarpi making a cup of coffee, and the pain from that and doing this crossword was of similar intensity. This FATHER CHRISTMAS greeted you with HO HO HO and then took pleasure in beating you up. Even so, thank you setter for the challenge and Z for the answers.

  12. I couldn’t get anywhere with this one, but “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, and I thought that was the bad end implied at 28 across.

  13. 40′, failed at the last with ‘eye motion’, which also parses, even missing the homophone of ‘see’.

    Did all the hard work though, and enjoyed the puzzle after the 1ac write-in.

    I agree re Advent, not yet started. The fourth Sunday of Advent is Dec 24.

    Thanks z and setter.

  14. Exactly like boltonwanderer. Gave up on the hour with the same three unentered. Brain freeze by that point. Too tricky for me.

    Never worked out how to parse FADDIST or REREPEAT.

    Thanks Z and setter, I think!

  15. 28:45
    Not convinced by the constructions in FADDIST and REREPEAT, the dual application of “so it’s said” for EYE LOTION, the &lit in WELL-INTENTIONED or the definition in AIRSHOW. Apart from those, fine.

  16. I gave up on this. A series of what I thought were very poor clues undermined my confidence that persisting would result in ‘eureka’, rather than ‘u wot m8’, moments.
    I couldn’t quite bring myself to put in EYE LOTION, which has nothing to do with sight, 28 seems to be entirely lacking a definition, REREPEAT is a convoluted mess, etc. I would probably never have got NHO ACTINIUM anyway.
    ‘Greeting Native American’? Really?
    In short, harrumph.

      1. Although actually it’s semi-&Lit, because the words ‘such as’ are not part of the wordplay.

        1. I took ‘such as spring’ = WELL.
          It is very ambiguous though, I agree. And a very long &lit at that.

          1. The problem I have with it is that I can’t see how going on a camping trip (even one that doesn’t go well) fits the phrase about the road to hell.

    1. I could echo all those sentiments. I didn’t give up, exactly, but I did cheat a little, using Word Wizard to check all the element names ending in -IUM. At one point, I was wondering if there was a nonstandard spelling of “threepeat,” which is something that I’ve actually heard. Was thinking last night that my problem might be that I had to work so late (after coming home from the office) because Kissinger had (finally!) died and I was just too beat to concentrate on the last handful of intractable clues. It still took me a long time to get thru them today.

  17. REREPLAY went in without really thinking if it was a word or not – especially with the ‘theatre’ reference. EYE MOTION (I’m ocean) seemed a cert but how on Earth could I think that eye motion made anything more easy. Grrr.
    Very enjoyable puzzle.

  18. 22:55 but 1 wrong with EYE MOTION… I see I’m not the only one with that. A bit of a naff clue, that one, I think. Held up in the SW corner taking a while to find ACTINIUM, AIRSHOW and LOI the clunky REREPEAT. But plenty else to enjoy – COOK, STEERED and DISTEND all got a tick. Thanks Z and setter.

  19. I finished this, but only with plenty of biffing and ‘WTF?’ moments. Same criticisms as others have made.

      1. Oh really? I’ll bear that in mind maybe, but would you object to “don’t give a monkeys”? And if not, why not, and as the phrase is widely used how do you explain it to little niece or whatever? And what is the D for? I’ll assume Devil.
        I must say that in general where the actual taboo word is initiallised I don’t let it bother me at all.

  20. Just about scraped home in about 50 minutes over 2 sittings.

    A great crossword with plenty of misdirection and I didn’t ever quite get into a flow. As above comments airshow was a favourite.

    Thanks to both.

  21. Not so many problems as some, it seems.
    “That comes to bad end?” seems a reasonable definition of the road to hell, where being well intentioned may get you.
    in 3dn sea is doing double duty, but so what? Is this another “unwritten rule?” The answer seemed clear enough.
    To make a punch, start with F and ADD IST…
    The only one I did have a little trouble with was 4dn, where CO didn’t register with me. But should have, I guess.
    I did like 1ac, Ho Ho Ho!

    1. That’s obviously the intention with 28ac, but it’s a bit of a stretch to apply this phrase to a camping trip!

      1. Well you are right of course, but it took me no time at all to imagine a camping trip that was well- intentioned, but!
        I have camped a lot.

    2. I’d go with F ADD IST if any of those bits were in the clue. I’m reading it as a kind of rebus, where FADDIST is “add in fist”, how to create a punch. Still.think it’s a bit marginal!

      1. This seems like a double stretch to me. First you have to deduce – without any indication – that FADDIST consists of ADD in FIST, and then some how read ‘add in’ (words which are not in the clue) as an indication of what you do with your fist when you punch someone. Which it isn’t, really.
        F + IST as a set of instructions to make FIST seems much more straightforward. And a reverse-cryptic of the kind we see all the time.

  22. Just scraped in within the hour, but with three wrong: EYE MOTION (I see I’m not alone) and METATARSI instead of METACARPI (putting my foot in it – I should be ashamed) which forced STUFFS instead of SCOFFS. Enjoyably hard, I thought, except the ones that were just a bit weird. I liked the neat little FROWN

  23. I was going at a steady pace until the SW where I gave up on REREPEAT, which I agree with others is a mess. It should have been biffable but I was fixated on making sense of the wordplay. I’m annoyed to have missed that definition of race because that was probably one of the better clues.

  24. Finished in over an hour but had to check a few beforehand. Hard ,which is fine, but not particularly enjoyable. I thought I just didn’t have the wavelength until I saw similar comments above. Quite a few biffs semi-parsed afterwards, but with a shrug. I worked out REREPEAT and WELL INTENTIONED reasonably quickly, (2 of my semi-parses) neither of which I liked, so put me off the puzzle somewhat. FATHER CHRISTMAS should have come earlier than it did, which would have helped. Well done Zabadak for getting through it.

  25. A great puzzle, with lots of clever ideas and clues. I think 8dn was my favourite (“Did pilot hit the roof crossing top of this? (7)”), as it so strongly suggests the past tense of “hit” when in fact it’s the present needed, and the surface reading is so good.

    A side note – is there a way to get this site to retain cookies? I keep having to log in every time I comment. Or is this me doing something wrong, perhaps?

    1. Its been happening to me recently after some months of being automatically logged in. Currently it seems to work for a few days then I have to log in again. Not sure why (I’m on android if that’s a factor). Also I don’t know I’ve been logged out till I come to comment.

  26. 21:26, tough but enjoyably so. Lots of thought required, but everything was there once you held the clue the right way up. For a brief moment, I, too, thought we were going to be in the territory of the NFL and other American sports, where defending your title is a repeat, and doing it a third time is a THREEPEAT (there again, they also keep stats on who is the “winningest team”, so perhaps it’s better not to follow their example). Lovely stuff, though now my brain thinks it’s Friday.

  27. Failed with REEKIEST. I considered REEDIEST but couldn’t parse either of the choices so tossed a coin and got it wrong. I was trying to take 2 separate Es out instead of the ES. Doh! Spent around 5 minutes on that clue alone. AIRSHOW and REREPEAT accounted for another 5 minutes or more. FADDIST and INKPOT were 2 more holdups. 35:30 WOE. Thanks setter and Z.

  28. Much to like here (FOI Father Christmas anagram, for example) and quite a few to raise the eyebrows. I put in FADDIST and EYE LOTION without being convinced the wordplay works, and didn’t think REREHEAT was a real word. Not so much hard, as imperfect, in my opinion. I also had TITANIUM unparsed for too long but eventually found element 89. Glad I wasn’t blogging this one, I might have been rude.

  29. I found it hard to parse many clues, so was surprised to be all green, so thanks to all for explanations. I did get 1d as F+IST, and 3d is almost an &lit with the whole clue being the definition, but having the homonym indicator stuck in the middle. 11a looked like TOP(peak) IN reversed but couldn’t see where K came from.

  30. Very difficult and at around an hour I used aids, eventually finishing in 85 minutes. Some very nice clues but one or two that I didn’t like: REREPEAT doesn’t seem to work: what is the ‘first’ doing? It can’t be both an instruction for heat to lose its first letter and also to put note, theatre in the first position in the clue. WELL-INTENTIONED seemed a mess — a dreadful surface that only hints, rather unsuccessfully I think, at the proverb. For 7dn the blog says ‘add the a’, suggesting that it’s the final a in the word that you add; surely the a is added to ju and marina wraps it all.

    1. ‘Putting out first’ indicates that REREP (note theatre) is replacing (putting out) the first letter of HEAT.

      1. Yes of course! Well spotted. That’s been bugging me all day! It’s actually not a bad clue.

        1. There’s certainly nothing technically wrong with it, I just find it a bit convoluted and I’m reluctant to accept that REREPEAT is a word!

          1. I don’t much like linked clues (bit too Guardian-y) but I thought this was quite clever, especially if (unlike me) you’d heard of the film or the director! As for “re-repeat” the OED has examples from the early 17th century!

  31. I went for REREPLAY unfortunately.

    Not a fan of EYE LOTION – either as a homophone or for the use of ‘sea, so it’s said’ in the clue to mean ‘see’. Save that kind of stuff for the Guardian.

    AIRSHOW was nice, and tricky.

  32. All done in 20 something, with a silly Isembard spelling error. Famous people have sometimes inspired namesake christenings – not sure how many Isambards there have been…

  33. 35:00 Thought I was in for a speedy score on this, but I spent much pencil-chewing time on my two last, ACTINIUM and AIRSHOW. Some of the clues seemed iffy – EYE LOTION? – and the REREPEAT clue was decidedly clunky, but I didn’t waste much time trying to make sense of them.

  34. Embarrased to say that I DNF with TURANDOT and PETRI tripping me up (worse because both are perfectly familiar to me).

    REREPEAT took a long time and I don’t like the clue
    ACTINIUM was parsed (and somewhat biffed)
    A few other partial biffs and educated guesses here.

    Pleased to have got so close (gave up on the final 2 clues at 1 hour 4 minutes)

  35. Needed two goes, and even then I got three wrong: ‘stuffs’ rather than SCOFFS (thinking of ‘stuff and nonsense’ as the derisory comment); ‘metatarsi’ rather than METACARPI (thought it was an anagram, but otherwise completely failed to parse it, and as a football fan I’m more familiar with metatarsals than metacarpals); and ‘eye motion’ rather than EYE LOTION. At least I’m not alone.

    I hesitated over REREPEAT for a long time, as I really don’t see how you both move ‘heat’ to the end and take the first letter off. Didn’t know hist as ‘be quiet’ for HEIST, constructed the unknown NIGHTJAR from wordplay, and missed the ‘a’ in 7d so thought ‘Mariana’ was a port somewhere into which we put ‘ju’ to get MARIJUANA.

    Very tough. Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Isambard

  36. I also failed by putting in rereplay. It didn’t parse, but unlike some of the heroes on this site I would only spend so long on a crossword, and then just take a guess if necessary. Does there not need to be some indication that the word heat is used for the very last part of the clue, not the first bit?
    Not entirely convinced by Eye lotion or faddist either. However I will give benefit of the doubt to well intentioned.
    COD To watermill.

  37. 51:32

    Mostly enjoyable but slightly spoiled by a few clunky clues imho. Thought AIRSHOW was good (initially bunged in CHOCTAW from just the W but of course could not make it work). I entered the NHO element tentatively, thought REREPEAT was convoluted (and I’ve NHO Caged Heat either, nor was aware who Jonathan Demme is/was). Couldn’t quite see the definition for WELL-INTENTIONED though the answer seemed obvious. I did like METACARPI though.

  38. I’m another one in the EYE MOTION camp, so a DNF in 65 minutes.
    L2I were ACTINIUM and AIRSHOW, after first entering TITANIUM and then failing to find anything to fit T-R-HOW.

  39. 56’35”
    Clearly found the going testing….

    …… and would have been over an hour, as I was yesterday, but today I was spared the alphabet trawl that finally gave me the sharpening device. All were parsed en route, even the spaghetti-like rerepeat, which seemed to take an age.
    Nearly got very stuck in the SW corner, until the 89th element fell on me from I know not where.
    I’m glad I persevered with this and enjoyed the tussle.
    I saw a production of Turandot a couple of years ago and it left me baffled; she’s clearly got physical attractions, fair enough, but can’t you clowns see that she’s an insane, vindictive, homicidal maniac?
    Liù, the slave girl, is the only sympathetic character to be seen, and she comes to a sticky end.
    Thank you and well done to setter and to Z for teasing it all out.

  40. DNF after 45 mins or so.

    Got close though, failed on ACTINIUM, EYE LOTION, AIRSHOW, which all kind of intersected.

  41. This is the first time I have raised my head.
    I write to thank you all.
    For weeks I have been attempting the QC. I then read the blogs. I have gradually reduced frequency of reveals, checks and synonym hunts. I occasionally even have the timer on (no longer grossly depressing).
    I also try the 15×15. Progress has been markedly slower as I ploddingly learn to identify and navigate the tunnels and layers between clue and answer. Nevertheless, I feel I am on an upward trajectory.
    Today, humming after the QC, I leapt into the 15×15. Stonewalled. Totally flattened ( Father Christmas, heist, Isambard and faddist – the latter I couldn’t fully parse). That was it.
    Had you all throughly enjoyed and sailed through it I think I might have quit…
    I cannot tell you how much shared pain helps the fragile hopes of a novice.
    Without your blogs and commentary over these past weeks I would be nowhere.
    Always edifying and hugely appreciated – as are the efforts of all setters.
    Just saying thank you.

    1. Well done and stick with it.

      I’ve been at it for about
      6 years and I’ve only piped up on the blog in the last few months. Before that I just checked it after each attempted solve to learn from the daily bloggers and experienced solvers.

      I’d suggest having a look on YouTube at the “cracking the cryptic” channel on which the typically tough Friday 15×15 is solved each week. I’ve only stumbled upon it recently but I wish I’d watched it when I was starting out.

      From my perspective it is hugely satisfying when you eventually get to the point where you start a 15×15 confident you’ll finish rather than wondering if you’ll ever gain a foothold!

      Good luck with future solving.

    2. Nil desperandum! I thought this one was very hard too.
      I progressed from only tackling the QC a couple of years ago and usually these days manage most if not all of the main cryptic. But sometimes you just aren’t on the same wavelength as the setter.
      I don’t time myself (I always solve on paper) and never consider it a race 🙂

  42. Surprised there isn’t more of a wince at the ‘greeting native American’. When I read comics in the ‘fifties we all thought it was funny and sometimes imitated it. By now I thought there was a tad more respect around. If time should be called, as I think it should, on the wearying aitchless East End assumption, this particular hangover is past desperate.

    Generally I’m with keriothe on the puzzle. Certain clues made one give up the will to live, if that was the point of one’s current existence.

  43. DNF, slightly against the above. Knew CO for Conshy, the K was blindingly obv but didn’t COOK up the right answer. “0” for NO? Doh.
    Also missed DRIVE HOME, EYE LOTION, INKPOT so pretty poor really. Also, as kapietro, biffed METATARSI instead of METACARPI which forced STUFFS instead of SCOFFS. So all in all a failure. Oh well….

      1. Yes, I think you’re right. I was extending the iffiness of some of the other clues to this one, and at least in my mind allowing no to produce O. It’s often easy to miss when the setter takes the ends from several words.

  44. I rather enjoyed this, despite its taking an hour and twenty minutes with one mistake (REEFIEST, which I somehow convinced myself was REFIT with a couple of E’s in it). The clues were also very strange, sometimes too involved, but still very funny. For ACTINIUM, I had to trawl Tom Lehrer’s song about the elements until I got to it. Weighing the many good bits against the many weaknesses, I don’t really know what to think of it, but there was nothing basically unsolvable, so it was a pleasant solve in any event.

  45. Really struggled to get half a dozen answers here – I biffed COOK and TOWNIE but couldn’t parse them. I wasn’t enjoying the effort so gave up to read this blog! I felt a lot of the clues were unsatisfying and reading comments above believe that this was a bit of a Marmite puzzle. Is it just me or have they all been harder this week? I still feel a novice although I usually manage most of the clues these days and more regularly complete puzzles than I did a couple of years ago. Practice pays off and I’m again grateful to those who kindly provide the blog.

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