28798 Arsenic ’as as many as you could want


Not that difficult until I froze with my last three in the Kent area, pushing up my time by a good 5 minutes to 16.35. 22d could really only be one answer, but I couldn’t justify it from the wordplay and almost expected the pink. Otherwise there’s nothing particularly frightening: the philosopher is one of the best known who “begins with an S”, and even the provincial governor has turned up a few times before. The clues are tidy and kind without trying to be clever, though I like the mildly mathematical invention at 21d

Definitions underlined in italics, the rest in the text. Hopefully.

1 Philosopher‘s request for help wrapping box (8)
SOCRATES – Helped a bit by Bill and Ted, this is request for help as in SOS containing CRATE from box.
5 Rejected role as provincial governor once (6)
SATRAP – Darias the Persian had 120 of them (Daniel in the lions’ den) and indeed they were regional governors. It’s just PART AS from role as, reversed (rejected)
10 Alternative suggestion from bartender? (15)
COUNTERPROPOSAL – A bartender works behind a COUNTER, and his suggestion might be a proposal. If I knew how to do a dotted underline I’d do so here after the solid one, because this works pretty well as an &lit.
11 Fast runner I caught in short burst (7)
OSTRICH – I have witnessed ostrich racing, and they’d thrash the gee-gees on the flat. I C(aught) in an anagram (burst) of SHORT
12 Hard worker assembling good part of roof (7)
GRAFTER – Easy: G(ood) plus RAFTER, part of roof.
13 Up to a point, about the speaker, who cares? (8)
SOMEWHAT – ME being the speaker, contained in SO WHAT(?), alias who cares?
15 Something hot or cold, like snacks in bar (5)
TAPAS – A TAP is either hot or cold (usually) like gives you the AS. They are, too, but like sushi, you have to have a plethora of them to feel you have eaten a meal.
18 Strength of current in all directions (5)
SINEW -Current has the symbol I (actually i) and the full set of cardinal points is SNEW
20 Psychologist in hearing, one who keeps records (8)
ANNALIST – A simple homophone (in hearing) of analyst.
23 Challenge a vain statement from me (7)
IMPEACH – Can’t imagine the twice-impeached one saying it, but I’M (a) PEACH would be another bit of vanity.
25 Something made for passageway (7)
PRODUCT – Once you spot that you need to replace for with PRO, the DUCT comes pretty easily for passageway.
26 Makes assertion, in theory wrongly, about a pressure that’s off-putting for patient (8,7)
AVERSION THERAPY – A compound clue, with AVERS for makes assertion, then an anagram (wrongly) of IN THEORY, with A P(ressure) inserted
27 Passed in City’s second half score (6)
TWENTY – Neat. Past is WENT, placed inside the second half of ciTY. Coincidentally, something that happened three times last in the World Club Champions’ second half demolition of Villa. Sorry AV!
28 Give up? It could be far worse (8)
FORSWEAR – Another likeable clue: an anagram (could be) of FAR WORSE: I like the neat surface.
1 See actor rejecting each part (6)
SECTOR – Take the letters of SEE ACTOR and take out EA(CH).
2 Unknown’s withdrawn from Irish part in series that comes to nought? (9) 
COUNTDOWN – Take the “unknown” Y out of COUNTY DOWN, which gives me the irresistible excuse to point you to the wonderful Ballad of County Down  from the Hoffnung series of concerts spearing the early American sense of inferiority in the Space Race. Good music too.
3 Dirt sea spread across both sides of bay, perhaps (7)
ASTRIDE – The bay in this “perhaps” being a horse. An anagram (spread) of DIRT SEA
4 Take precaution against being shocked or heart initially sinking (5)
EARTH – Simply move the H of Heart to the bottom.
6 Road-making material, when soft, to stop working? (7)
ASPHALT – When: AS, soft: P, stop working HALT
7 Amongst others, one providing fresh test for student (5)
RESIT – Others is REST, insert I (one)
8 After inconclusive vote, emerge and create sharp division (8)
POLARISE – An inconclusive vote is POLL without its last letter. Emerge translates to ARISE
9 Holiday destination that’s British? You betcha! (8)
BRIGHTON – Possibly the setters’ favourite holiday resort because it allows a host of variations on today’s version, B(ritish) RIGHT ON for you betcha.
14 British statesman on line, counterpart of Charles de Gaulle (8)
HEATHROW – Statesman, yachtsman, musician and The Great Sulk Edward HEATH on ROW for line, CDG and LHR being the respective principal airports of Paris and London .
16 Delay writing on Internet about university’s hypothesis (9)
POSTULATE – What I try not to do when blogging this thing, which is to POST LATE. Insert U(niversity) I checked that postulate can be the noun, so the definition doesn’t need to have an E on the end.
17 Showing ambition in the form of sanctimonious tirade (8)
ASPIRANT – AS in a third  (or even fourth) incarnation today, this time indicated by “in the form of”. PI from sanctimonious, rather less questionable than yesterdays “transcendental”, and RANT from tirade
19 Weight that is misrepresented as something unspecified (7)
WHATSIT – W(eight) plus an anagram (misrepresented) of THAT IS
21 English footballer of fifty with a total of two sons (7)
LIONESS – Before getting the O from product, I expected this to be a named footballer, probably called LAWLESS, which rang a bell, but there aren’t any dead ones who played for England, instead its a generic female English player. Rather cleverly, fifty is L , a total of two is I (one) plus ONE, with two S(ons) attached.
22 One who stops? Just the opposite (6)
STAYER – I may have the stupid hat on here, but the best I can do is that the opposite of one who stops playing is one who stays on the pitch. Open to (quite probably obvious) suggestions
24 For example, bishop making quiet pronouncement (5)
PIECE – Another homophone (pronouncement) of PEACE for quiet.
25 Accepting the odds, play this on area outside house (5)
PATIO – The odd letters of PlAy ThIs On.

79 comments on “28798 Arsenic ’as as many as you could want”

  1. Worked most of this with comfortable alacrity, but was suddenly thinking I might not finish when, after POI AVERSION THERAPY, I had all the crossers for what seemed to be the name of some British sports star. What a relief (and a pleasant surprise) to realize that LIONESS is a member of a women’s team!

    I didn’t have any sports association to STAYER (which I was unsure of at first), thinking more generally. Collins says it can mean a “persistent [race] horse,” but I’m not sure anything so specific was intended.

    (Z, that backward apostrophe in your title is bugging me. It’s just my occupation-related OCD, but you could paste this in:
    Arsenic ’as as many as you could want )

    1. Assuming you didn’t really want “Arensic” 🙂

      Z did the right thing by including a straight single quotation mark ('), which would have been okay. Unfortunately WordPress converted this automatically into the left single quotation at the beginning of the word. The fix is to use the code “& rsquo;” (without the space after the &) instead, which I’ve now done.

      I thought posters might be interested, in case they need this in the future.

      1. After reading your message, I corrected “Arsenic” (misspelling, actually, another word)! But that’s what’s there now. So that was right. Did I misspell “Arsenic” somehow? Oh, well…

        I’ve never spelled out the html here but have more than once given the keyboard strokes (easily translatable, I assume, from Mac to PC) for the apostrophe and quotation marks. A couple people, at least, have appreciated it. (This Sunday, I could lecture on the marks for minutes and seconds.)

        1. You’re both lucky: at that time of night after the rest of the blog, I only just stopped myself putting in Aspartame instead of Arsenic

    2. In horse racing a ‘non-stayer’ stops or weakens before the end of the race because the ‘trip’ (distance) is too far for it. A stayer runs right to the line at optimal speed. Witness the horse Hewick at Kempton Park on Boxing Day-although you may be slightly more familiar with his exploits at Far Hills, New Jersey in October 2022 when he won the U.S Grand National.

  2. 14:20
    Slowed down a bit at the end with PRODUCT & LIONESS to do. Finally thinking of PRO=for (took me a while) gave me DUCT immediately; and a vague memory of a discussion here finally led to LIONESS surfacing. Wondered about STAYER, but like Guy took it to mean just what it says.

  3. Stay can mean stop, so one who stops is stayer. While one who stays the distance doesn’t stop. Stay is like sanction and cleave, has two opposite meanings. I’d have used “Yes and no” instead of “Just the opposite” in the clue, perhaps.
    Noticed all the ASs in solving, unusually, and the intersecting COUNTs in the top left. Nice puzzle. Liked PRODUCT and POLARISE.

  4. I think Biden is a bit more likely to say ‘I’m a peach’ than Trump, who would surely stick with carrot, imagination not being his strong suit.

    Simple enough puzzle, completed in 18 minutes.

    I watched the Lionesses play Spain in what turned out to be the ‘Kissgate’ Euro Final. Pretty ordinary showing, sadly, and not the advert for the women’s game they were hoping for.

    1. It was the World Cup, not the Euros.

      (Thanks for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to correct you (or anyone) on a soccer-related issue).

        1. I needed to be specific as I anticipate having opportunities to correct you on other football codes.

          BTW, which branch of the family tree did you invoke for the recent RWC?

          1. Nisbett, Smith and the execrable Mexted put me off New Zealand (my mother’s homeland) for good. Being a supporter of the hopeless underdog, I ended up supporting Australia.

              1. Eddie Butler? Was he anti-Antipodean? I thought just anti-English.

                The Aussie commentators, going right back to the 1989 Lions tour, have (whenever I’ve heard them) been very even handed. Chalk and cheese in respect of my mum’s countrymen!

                1. No I was throwing our erstwhile coach (who definitely wasn’t in negotiations with Rugby Japan and how dare you media grubs even suggest such a thing) into the mix.

  5. I liked the puzzle, and the blog.

    I took STAYER to be long distance racehorse, that as it says doesn’t stop.

    1. Indeed, as in the Stayers’ Hurdle run at the Cheltenham Festival every March over about 3 miles.

  6. 24 minutes. No concealed weapons today thank goodness. I missed the multiple As and the correctly oriented crossing COUNTER(s) but didn’t find this too difficult. I only solved STAYER from being the opposite of ‘One who stops?’ and didn’t see the auto-antonym aspect, as pointed out by isla3.

    Favourite was HEATHROW; if he were still with us, he’d probably be racing in the Sydney-Hobart now.

  7. 25 minutes. A very pleasing puzzle in every respect. The Kent area added 5 minutes to my solving time too, with PRODUCT, STAYER and FORSWEAR all needing several return visits before giving up their secrets. At 21dn it was helpful that I had researched sports teams named Lions and Lionesses for my blog last Tuesday.

  8. 8:46 for a pleasant stroll today. Thought STAYER would be more familiar to solvers, but that may be a regional thing. “But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay, and the old man said ‘that horse will never do'”.

    Lots of clever clues but nothing impenetrable. Thanks Z and setter.

    1. I agree. Anyone who vaguely follows horse racing would be familiar with STAYER for a horse that tends to go the distance

  9. Slick crossword. Liked ‘short burst’, ‘so what?’, ‘for passageway’, County Down and LHR.

  10. Not too hard, but it did take me 40 minutes. I thought I’d come unstuck on 21d because I know nothing about football. It was my LOI after PRODUCT. STAYER was a tentative entry for a while though I could see the double meaning. I’m not sure about ‘the speaker’ for ME (though I assumed early on that it was ME). The setter isn’t dictating the clues to us.
    Three examples of AS from wordplay seems excessive

  11. If you can force your heart and nerve and Sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
    (If, Kipling)

    After 30 mins pre-brekker, I was done up like a kipper by the bloomin’ airport. I thought, it could be Heath, but (a) why statesman, not PM? and (b) there are no proper words that are Heath?o? – so it must be some statesman I ain’t heard of.
    Ta setter and Z

        1. My favourite Ted Heath story is the one about the leader of the orchestra he was conducting who said “If you don’t stop being so rude to us, Sir Edward, we may start obeying your instructions.”

          1. Singing in the chorus of the HK Phil (a very decent band) I hear stories of how the orchestra (orchestras in general) follow the concertmaster rather than the conductor. Because I’m a bit of a hack (many of my co-choristers are excellent sight readers* and have perfect pitch) I have no idea if this is true.

            *We get re-auditioned periodically. Last time round, with a new chorus master, when confronted with the sight-reading segment of the test, I noticed that the line we were required to have a stab at was full of dotted notes. So, I said to myself, focus on that (it must be what they’re testing for) and just go up and down as appropriate to deal with the intervals! Apollo took time out at the end of the audition to compliment me on my sight-reading skills. I felt a very happy fraud – like a barrister must feel after winning a case.

  12. 26 minutes. LOI was PIECE. I particularly liked PIECE and SOMEWHAT in this collection of nicely set clues. STAY and STOP are interchangeable to me, as in stop/stay at home, at an hotel, etc. If it’s regional, it seems to embrace Australia and Lancashire. Thank you Z and setter.

    1. Not so much regional as technical: Trump is trying to stay all his court cases so he doesn’t end up in jail before the looming election.

      1. That’s the “stop” meaning. I think BW’s talking about the other definition, pertaining (mainly) to racehorses.

    2. I was at least a little bamboozled by this being the season to be jolly, and the interminable First Nowell intruding on my consciousness:
      “This star drew nigh to the North-West,
      O’er Bethlehem it took its rest,
      And there it did both stop and stay
      Right over the place where Jesu lay.”

  13. 11’44”, delayed by overthinking COUNTDOWN / SOMEWHAT.

    STAYER went in without much thought – our daughter stayed / stopped with us this Christmas.

    Liked HEATHROW, I remember waking up in 1970 to find he’d won the election.

    Thanks z and setter.

  14. 25′ or thereabouts having to work around the interminable call waiting queue for a doctors appointment… Enjoyed Heathrow, not seeing the C de G meaning until I solved it. Spent time overthinking both both COUNTDOWN (looking for a complex maths progression) and LIONESS (being a footie fan I was trawling old names). Thanks Zabadak and setter.

  15. About 15 minutes. Wasn’t sure that POSTULATE can be a noun, so thanks for clarifying that it can, and thought ASTRIDE would be ‘_ _ _ side’ for a while, but no real problems otherwise.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Tapas
    LOI Astride
    COD Product

  16. As a newcomer to solving online (on a smartphone), I have a query or two. I have the Times App on the phone. If I select the crossword instead of the crossword club can I switch the result into the club section so that I can see how the time compares? I did that today, and went to the club section and tried to arrange to complete it in the same time, holding off on submit (ending up 6 seconds too early as the phone’s clock when on the site only gives minutes). I was interested to find that the time if I not waited would have been about 5 minutes, so I would make a poor neutrino.

    1. I also solve on iPhone. I don’t think there’s any connection between the paper and Club versions, or any way of copying from on to the other. The only downside is that the names of setters (for QC and at weekends) never show on the phone.

  17. Pleasant, no problems although impeachment always feels a bit more in-your-face to me than a mere challenge. Reading too much Hilary Mantel I expect, where it was invariably a prelude to something quite final.
    Satraps seem to be becoming regulars hereabouts.
    Oh, and allow me to say how very much I dislike Ed. Heath, who at a stroke and for no valid reason cancelled out a thousand years of British history by upending all the counties and disposing entirely of Huntingdonshire and Rutland. To their credit, Rutland refused to accept this and just carried on as if nothing had happened (they are now a “Unitary Authority”) but poor old Hunts is long gone now.

    1. We had it drilled into our heads in Civics in high school–apparently it was a problem–that impeachment was merely accusation. (When I was in high school there had been only one impeachment of a president, Andrew Johnson; never did learn what the accusation was. The current record-holder, of course, is plainly guilty.)

        1. It’s a couple of hours before bedtime; I’ll save it for then. Good to take a break from Ambien.

    2. The name Huntingdonshire lives on in the name of the “Huntingdonshire District Council”, albeit as a District within Cambridgeshire.

  18. 29:30
    No typos today so there is that, but otherwise I made more of a slog of this than it should have been.

    A few chestnuts therein and nothing unknown aside from SATRAP which rang only the vaguest of bells.

    Thanks to both.

  19. 23:41
    Lots to like in this clever puzzle with COUNTDOWN, HEATHROW, ASTRIDE and IMPEACH the pick of the bunch for me.
    I enjoyed The Ballad of County Down but for me the name will always evoke The Star of The County Down, one of my earliest memories being of my dad (a Kerry man) bouncing me up and down on his knee while singing it. You can see the Chieftains and Van Morrison do a fine version of it on YouTube.

    Thanks to Zabadak and the setter

  20. A tidy puzzle which was fun to work through. Held up by not understanding LIONESS (thanks Z) and interminably by the airport. Just over the half hour.

  21. Socrates: A little song pirated from Monty Python & Co.
    Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
    Who was very rarely stable
    Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
    Who could think you under the table
    David Hume could out-consume
    Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel
    And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
    Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel
    There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya
    ‘Bout the raising of the wrist
    Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed
    John Stuart Mill, of his own free will
    On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill
    Plato, they say, could stick it away
    Half a crate of whiskey every day
    Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
    And Hobbes was fond of his dram
    And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart
    “I drink, therefore I am.”
    Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed
    A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he’s pissed

    1. Yes, don’t we all work our way through that whenever ‘philosopher’ appears in a clue?

      1. Yes we do. And usually lose a couple of solving seconds by dragging out the first syllable of Immanuel.

        I believe the practice is known as Ninja-Turtling, for obvious reasons.

  22. 32 minutes, having spent a while on LIONESS, eventually entered without understanding. Thanks for explaining it. I spent so long getting started that I thought this was going to be the sort of problem one often gets on Thursdays or Fridays, but mercifully no. At university one of the things I did was Psychology and I became tired of people asking if I was going to psychoanalyse them — Psychology seemed to be mostly about rats on jumping stands and that sort of thing.

  23. A brisk (for me) 38′ although I had zilch for the first 5 minutes, until SOCRATES reared his noble head.

    COD – HEATHROW as when the penny dropped I near dropped my pain au chocolat. Zut alors!

  24. 19:23 – thought it would be a speedy one when 1ac and 1d went in on sight, but reality soon slowed me down. An efficient, run-of-the-mill mid-weeker.

  25. Found this quite tough but got there in 36 minutes. Clues OK. Savoured the word ‘astride’ and reminded of Pozzo’s observation in ‘Waiting for Godot’, a cheery bon mot for the New Year… ‘They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.’

  26. 17:39

    Enjoyable and straightforward – everything well-parsed. No probs with either meaning of STAYER

  27. 12.31, didn’t know STAYER but it couldn’t have been anything else. Liked FORSWEAR and HEATHROW.

    Thanks both.

  28. Normally have to peek at blog for last few clues in the 15×15 but finished unaided in around 45 mins today. Couldn’t work out the parsing of LIONESS or TAPAS (thanks z). LOI FORSWEAR. Initially misdirected by 14d until belatedly seeing Heath and thus airport. This was my COD. NHO SATRAP but generously clued. Very enjoyable. Many thanks all.

  29. I finished this in 18.15 which for me is ultra quick, so either this was easy or I was totally zoned in to the setters wavelength – alright it was easy then! I had to remind myself I wasn’t doing the QC as the answers flowed with all parsed as I went.
    9dn BRIGHTON was no problem and came readily to mind as nearly 50 years ago my wife and I spent our honeymoon there. My wife never tires of telling people that I should have arranged a destination that was a bit more glamorous. Personally I love Brighton, with its regency architecture it’s the jewel of the south coast.

  30. 11:58. Done after a pleasant day walking by the Suffolk coast. LOI FORSWEAR. Nice puzzle. Thank-you Z and setter.

  31. 30 minutes of which 10 on the top half and 20 on the bottom half. Very enjoyable puzzle.
    I took the two sons to be ONE S and then another S, so I couldn’t figure out where the I came from – many thanks for the explanation.

  32. It was Manchester United that put three past Villa, but they are not current Club World Champions and haven’t been since their only victory in 2008.
    Manchester City ARE of course the current Club World Champions. However, when they played Villa back in early December, they didn’t hold that title. And as for scoring three in that match, they lost 1-0.
    Which match are you thinking of?

    1. Ah. Quite. A combination of the serendipity of the City clue, the Manchester name, the lateness of the hour, my wearing of the stupid hat acknowledged in the STAYER clue, and the fact that WordPress not only fails to put in the correct punctuation but also lacks a fact checking function led to the appearance of this fiction. You may be interested to know that, as retribution, Spurs today managed a 4-2 loss at (more serendipity!) BRIGHTON, and I shall now have to explain to the faithful fans how it was all my fault.

  33. Started late in the day when a little tired but found it a very agreeable steady solve.
    COD OSTRICH (nice surface)
    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  34. Finally crossed the line with just under an hour on the clock. FOI was Socrates (after running through the Monty Python Philosophers Song in my head). LOI was FORSWEAR.

  35. Back to a more in keeping with the snitch 33:35 and needed the blog for the ‘total of two’ part of LIONESS and the ‘opposite’ meaning of STAYER. LOI POLARISE.

  36. Very enjoyable for me too, although I was totally stuck on LIONESS (not knowing the UK Women’s soccer name) and, unforgivably, on TWENTY, as I was thinking the TY belonged to the end of the clue. Most of the answers gave satisfaction on cracking, which is what I like. LOI TWENTY, COD COUNTERPROPOSAL.

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