28882 A (very) late message?


11.26, so I kept counting the squares to make sure I wasn’t doing the Quickie by mistake because for me (always make the remark with caution ’cause it may be just me) this was firmly on the easy end, with a possible sub-10 on the cards (8 minutes or so with two clues to go). Such a rarity for me was scuppered by what must be a howler at 19d, unless the setter and the editor share a dictionary the rest of us don’t have access to. Latin and French (and arguably Hebrew) turn up, but hardly so you’d notice, and I will watch with interest to see what obscurities some of you have struggled with. An oddity with this one has all the anagrams in down clues.

Definitions underlined in italics, and I continue my experiment with showing excluded letters in []. Otherwise explanations should make enough sense.

1 Note something not intended by a learner (10)
ACCIDENTAL – Well. nobody intends to have an ACCIDENT, even when A L[earner]. Our answer is a musical note “a sharp, flat, or natural not in the key signature”. Possibly a right note, “but not necessarily in the right order”
6 Promised Land lacking an amazing wedding venue (4)
CANA – For the Hebrews fleeing slavery in Egypt, the Promised Land was CANAAN: deduct AN and you get the town in Galilee where Jesus dramatically accelerated the wine making process despite using water only.
9 Split — like some tennis courts (7)
GRASSED – Split as in informed on. Wimbledon is an example of courts remaining true to the lawn tennis ideal.
10 Rejected rubbish had to be reduced (7)
REFUSED – A very ordinary word for rubbish, REFUSE, plus the reduced form of had as in he’D
12 Rival firm getting more pruned, holding little in France (10)
COMPETITOR – Firm is the usual CO[mpany], MORE, when pruned, lops the E off the end, throw in PETIT (does anyone not know that’s French for little?)
13 Woman making time to fill Christmas stocking? (3)
EVE – In our house, Santa came after midnight mass, so it wasn’t technically Christmas EVE, but you get the idea.
15 London borough in distress (6)
HARROW – Distress as a verb.
16 Street sellers covering area in vessels (8)
COASTERS – Street sellers in Petticoat Lane and similar are COSTERS. Insert A[rea]
18 Register a loan, taking vehicle around (8)
CALENDAR – A plus LEND for loan (verb, not noun) surrounded by CAR, the most likely of vehicles.
20 It’s not right for Parisians to be socially inept (6)
GAUCHE – Left (ie not right) for the French is GAUCHE, here applied in another example of prejudice against left-handedness.
23 Curate’s food, say, good (in parts) (3)
EGG – Reference the famous Punch Cartoon  first seen in 1895 and occasionally repeated. How we laughed!
24 Home with those folk having single yen to be rich? (2,3,5)
IN THE MONEY – Home is IN, those people THEM, single ONE, Y[en], all respaced.
26 A number of books — English — penned by a single German (7)
INTEGER – Books is/are N[ew] T[estament] add E[nglish] and surround with single I and GER[man]. Don’t lose time reminding yourself that single in German is ein. I know I did.
27 Woman at number 13 taken in by this criminal group (7)
THIEVES – Fetch down the woman at 13a and surround her with THIS (in plain sight!)
28 Celt is more than a breath of fresh air, we hear (4)
GAEL – Sounds like (we hear) GALE, given in understated form.
29 Plot uneven with novel’s ending held to be ”messy” (10)
BEDRAGGLED – (Garden) plot is BED, uneven is RAGGED, insert the end of [nove]L
1 What may be trapped in coastal garbage? (4)
ALGA – Seaweed hidden in coastAL GArbage.
2 Calm disrupted by first person’s big noise (7)
CLAMOUR – An anagram (disrupted) of CALM plus the first person plural possessive OUR
3 Unworthy daughter is gesturing with finger, holding dad up (13)
DISAPPOINTING – D[aughter] IS POINTING with the inclusion of a reversed (up in down clue) PA for dad.
4 What could be untidy condition that’s exposed (6)
NUDITY – An anagram (could be) of UNTIDY.
5 Lawn treatment needing a time to get into ground (8)
AERATION – Poking holes in a Wimbledon surface. A plus ERA for time plus an anagram (ground) of INTO
7 Severe wind coming with energy (7)
AUSTERE – AUSTER is a south wind, to which is added E[nergy]
8 People given messages, possibly sadder notices (10)
ADDRESSEES – An anagram (possibly) of SADDER plus SEES for notices.
11 Heralding what could make air show end — fog (13)
FORESHADOWING – An anagram (could make) of AIR SHOW END FOG
14 Something in sauce that is ”nautheating”? (10)
THICKENING – Thuffering Thuccotash! Thylvester contributeth a lithping clue!
17 Garden feature mostly separated — blunder admitted (8)
PARTERRE – Most of PARTE[d] for separated with ERR for blunder inserted.
19 Messenger given entrance into shelter (7)
LEGATEE – I have looked and looked, but I can’t find a definition of legatee that means someone with a message (that’s legate), and this is where I lost my chance of a sub-10. The wordplay is GATE for entrance within LEE for shelter, but the definition is plain wrong. Ed?
21 Herb is cold when meeting the girl, nasty almost (7)
CHERVIL – C[old] plus HER for the girl, plus most of VIL[e] for nasty
22 Right or wrong mark? Put off comprehending that (6)
DEXTER – Wrong mark is X, “comprehended” by DETER, put off. Only in comedy have I seen Roman soldiers marching to the Centurion’s “sinister dexter horribiles homunculos” but it might have happened.
25 Guided? Not her, being well-worn, maybe (4)
USED – Guided is USHERED, take out HER (in plain sight)

78 comments on “28882 A (very) late message?”

  1. 30 minutes for this. There were several answers that went in with fingers crossed but they all turned out to be correct.

    I’m also baffled by LEGATEE. I checked that the facsimile newspaper has the same clue.

    1. In the online version, the clue to 19d read: ‘One left things in shelter outside entrance’ which made sense.

      1. I’m sure I saw ‘messenger’ on my online version, but when I clicked enter it shows ‘one left things’. Can updates work like this? Weird.

        1. I suspect there was a change early this morning. I printed off just after midnight and got the faulty clue. Somebody in the Club has forum queried it too.

          1. I printed it off at about 7:20 this morning and it had the faulty clue. The print function still gives the faulty clue. It’s not the first time a clue has been changed after publication recently – there was one in my latest Jumbo Cryptic blog where the clue changed from when I solved it (and hence what I had in my blog) when the answers were published.

            1. Yes, I’ve had that today with Jumbo 1664, 23 March, my blog to be published this Saturday. An extra word has appeared in 18dn that makes sense of it. Prior to that I had the answer but no idea as to the parsing.

          2. Let’s have a sweepstake on where the editor pops up first-on here or on the forum? Or if at all?

            I’m still bemused by the 4-word offering that was the polygon on Monday. I may have missed the explanation for that.

        2. 19d in the ‘ordinary’ version in the online edition newspaper definitely reads ‘messenger’ . What a muddle.

  2. Yeah, pretty much a breeze—though CHERVIL was a guess, I felt confident enough not to even check, and AERATION came late, if not last (I don’t remember). I took LEGATEE on faith, figuring that a “legacy” can be anything handed down…

  3. Nor did we seem to fear the wine would fail:
    For ready, in a row, to fill with water and a miracle,
    We saw our earthen vessels, waiting empty.
    (Cana, Thomas Merton)

    Almost done in 20 mins pre-brekker. Then gave up on the Auster/Coster ones.
    Slight MER at “first person’s” rather than “first persons’ “.
    Ta setter and Z

    1. I believe you coined the term, so I’ll ask you: is MER an acronym (a MER)? or an initialism (an M E R)? If an acronym, how is it to be pronounced? Like ‘myrrh’? –Puzzled in Osaka

            1. Thank you for asking, Kevin. I’ve often wondered too. I’ve always assumed it was a variant spelling of ‘meh’. And thanks too to Myrtilus’ for your ever-appropriate contribution.

    2. In this context I don’t think you ever say ‘persons’. ‘Our’ is – as Z points out – the first person plural, but it’s still the first person.

  4. Agree with our blogger, quick start, slow finish. 37 mins. No idea about LEGATEE which went in with a shrug from the wp. Last three in AERATION, AUSTER &BEDRAGGLED took a while for some reason.

    I liked the trick at THICKENING.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  5. 12:05. I assumed LEGATEE had a meaning I’d never heard of, possibly an alternative spelling of LEGATE Held up at the end by DEXTER and took a while to parse AERATION. I liked the clues for EGG and FORESHADOWING for the surfaces. Thanks Z and setter.

    1. After a slight mer for ‘legatee’ I just thought of ‘a delegate’ (as a messenger of sorts in the world of politics and diplomacy), and bunged it in with a shrug.

  6. 21:43, giving me one of the poorest SNITCH scores.
    I don’t know the names of most London boroughs, and those I do know I don’t know that they’re boroughs. So I Googled. DNK that ‘split’ could mean ‘grass’. Did the EIN thing with INTEGER. I surprised myself with AUSTER, which I thought I didn’t know. Surprised myself even more with LEGATEE. The curate’s EGG was barely QC-able; quite out of place here. I believe, by the way, that Harold Ross, of New Yorker fame, pioneered the one-line cartoon caption. I liked AERATION.

  7. 23 minutes with LOI Ted DEXTER. He usually batted higher up the order. I’m not sure if I liked or hated THICKENING, as set by Violet Elizabeth Bott. Go on, let’s give it COD. Very enjoyable puzzle. Thank you Z and setter.

  8. 13:15. I too was headed for a fast-ish time but was inexplicably held up by my LOI GAEL. Just wasn’t thinking in the right direction.

    As is often the case, my ignorance came in handy with LEGATEE as I didn’t stop to question the definition.

    NHO that meaning of split but it didn’t exactly require a leap of faith. Also couldn’t parse CANA but the party trick is a pretty well-known one so no real problems there. Quite straightforward otherwise.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  9. For the second consecutive day, a decent enough time (7:34) spoiled by a typo (“coastees”).


  10. Very quick today. I don’t record times so don’t have a PB but this must have been up there. Some very nice surfaces though. And it’s always fun to pretend to be Verlaine for a day..

    Re 12ac yes I do know the French for small but couldn’t help thinking of WEE as well.. well, it does sound French, ne c’est pa?

    19dn is curious because a legate is indeed a messenger. But I couldn’t find any way to account for the extra e.

  11. About 15 minutes.

    Missed the problem with LEGATEE; didn’t know the GRASSED meaning of split; like a few others, tried to fit ‘ein’ into 26a before rethinking; haven’t see ALGA (as opposed to algae) very often; didn’t know that CHERVIL is a herb, but the cluing was kind; and wasn’t sure about DEXTER until I looked it up post-solve.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Alga
    LOI Cana
    COD Foreshadowing

  12. 9:55. Similar experience to galspray in that ignorance of precisely what LEGATEs and LEGATEEs may or may not be saved me time, and I got stuck at the end on GAEL. Fortunately just at the moment I was properly starting to panic about that one the answer just popped into my head. It could easily have taken me a few more minutes of alphabet trawling.
    Some curious things in this lending it an old-fashioned feel: the double-biblical CANA (which uncharacteristically caused me no problems), ‘split’ for GRASSED, costers, DEXTER, auster.

  13. 22:31
    As per 23A, I thought that was somewhat of a curate’s egg.

    There were quite a few very straightforward clues, but the double bible reference at 6A felt a little harsh, especially as it crossed with the unknown to me AUSTER. I guessed Canaan from the lyrics of Bread of Heaven (or Guide Me Oh Thou Great Redeemer, as you English types might have it) but CANA itself was an unknown. Back to chapel for me.

    Perhaps I’m just sore as I thought I should have been quicker.

    CHERVIL was the only other total unknown but that was generously clued.

    Thanks to both.

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head I think.

      Lack of consistency across the grid within required skill margins, is one of the biggest problems with The Times Crossword. Often contributors will post on here (eg) ‘Top-half a write-in, but struggled in the SW’. The reason being that often you’ll find there’s a clunker or something completely left-field crowbarred in to the solve, completely out of kilter with the rest of it.

      The ‘offending’ clue(s) might be very good indeed, but it will be wasted where the rest of the grid is a few rungs below it in difficulty. The solvers who are mere mortals will simply give up after doing the easy ones. Especially in this case the atheists.

      Much better to have a crossword that is difficult, or at least has the same level across the board.

  14. DEXTER = right, Auster = wind, register = calendar? In the circs I was happy with 23.56. Enjoyable puzzle, thank you Z. I too tried working with ein and spent a long time on COASTER looking at the wrong end of the clue for the def. NHO SPLIT, confused by LEGATEE, not sure if I love or hate THICKENING. FOI ACCIDENTAL, LOI GAEL.

  15. In terms of LEGATEE I think the definition is somehow related to “messenger given”. Perhaps the legacy is “messenger given” because the person giving is dead. It still doesn’t sound quite right.

  16. I totally agree with Zabadek, this felt very much like a QC, and I finished it in 17:09, which is a PB for me. Even LEGATEE did not hold me up, since I had GAEL at that point, and just assumed it was an alternative to LEGATE and moved on.
    LOI was USED.

    Thanks Zabadek and setter

  17. I thought I remembered split in that sense from the recent past. For the egg, I also G(ood) in e,g,, say. Thanks z. You too, setter.

    1. Indeed, the curate’s egg was such a instant hit of a clue that I didn’t see it actually had wordplay, which I think doesn’t need insertion: it’s just EG (say) pus G[ood]. Cheers!

      1. I took the (in parts) to do the insertion. I wouldn’t have seen that if I hadn’t thought that the Curate part hadn’t been so clear – I worried for a second that there might be some serious misdirection going on so I looked harder.

        1. I don’t see how ‘in parts’ can indicate insertion here. I just took it as an indication that EGG, taken ‘in parts’ is EG, G.

          1. Of course. Doh. I thought the ‘in parts’ was awkward for an insertion, assumed it was that way to match the currate, and didn’t even see the better, simpler, EG G solution. thx

  18. One hour thirty five minutes. All correct but couldn’t parse AERATION. Kept try to find an answer related to ground. Thought it was relatively easy though I plodded through the puzzle and it was not reflected in my time.
    FOI IN THE MONEY saw it immediately
    For CANA kept looking at it the wrong way in that I didn’t take “promised land” literally since “an” is present. Once I had the A and A crossings I saw Canaan and it fell out.
    Saw THICKENING fairly quickly in “nautheating” to nauseating to sickening to THICKENING; a case of pronouncing S as TH which seemed very familiar to me

  19. About 25′, thick head due to insomnia and then oversleeping.

    DEXTER LOI. I know all the inner London boroughs but the outer ones take time to come (without THICKENING I thought of MERTON). Didn’t parse THICKENING at all.

    Thanks z and setter.

  20. 32 minutes. Ignorance was bliss for LEGATEE (? a female LEGATE) but not for CANA as I barely knew either biblical reference; if I’d thought of Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer (Hymn no. 297 in the hymn book we used at school) as suggested by Rowlie26, I might have been more confident.

    GRASSED for ‘Split’ was new. There are a lot of ‘London borough(s)’ / suburbs starting with H so I was lucky to get HARROW, my LOI.

  21. A very quick start, half done in ~10 minutes, then a slow-down. Foiled by LOI DEXTER, for which I rashly put ‘DEFTER’, thinking ‘DEFER’ for ‘put off’, but not getting my own parsing, as I was in a rush to break 50 m. Which I did. But didn’t, if you get my drift. Definitely on the easier side for a latter-weekday.

  22. 28:02
    Just waddled through it while eating a Chelsea bun and drinking coffee. Nice puzzle, but yes, legatee = messenger looks like an error.
    Thanks, Z.

  23. LEGATEE may have a meaning that fits, but I wasn’t comfortable with it and as Z says he looked and looked. But it was presumably the answer. I can’t really see that CALENDAR = register, but no doubt in some dictionary somewhere the word ‘register’ is used. Very fast start, but then rather like the other day, I slowed a bit before finishing (26 minutes) in what to me is the closest approximation I can manage to a rush.

    1. Always happy to oblige, Wil!

      SOED: calendar 4. A list, a register, spec. (a) of canonized saints, (b) of cases for trial, (c) of documents arranged chronologically with summaries, (d) US of matters for debate. LME.

  24. As others above, a quick solve, 13 minutes ending with DEXTER, and put in LEGATEE without stopping to consider the origin of the last E. BEDRAGGLED was nice.

  25. Having just completed the puzzle online, it seems the legatee clue has been corrected there to “ One left things in shelter outside entrance”. So I wasn’t held up by it but now feel I had an unfair advantage!

  26. Stared and stared at the crossers for DEXTER, but couldn’t see it. Gave up on the 45 min mark, having done the rest in 25. Also baffled by LEGATEE, but wrote it in with a shrug. Liked AERATION and AUSTERE.

  27. 8.07. I just solved this online (1124am UK time) by which time the clue to 19D had been amended. A few garden refs?
    Thanks to setter & blogger

  28. DNF, beaten by CANA and DEXTER. Didn’t parse GRASSED .

    We can use ‘comprehend’ to mean ‘contain’ now? This is a new one on me and has sent a creeping horror up my spine wondering what other synonyms I’m missing!

  29. 10:58. For a while I thought I would be on for my first ever sub-10 minuter, but the southeast corner slowed me down at the end. What a shame!! I needed to drag CHERVIL from my memory to then quickly finish the rest. So near and yet so far…
    As the blogger says, this was QC standard really, but still, let me be happy for a moment 😉
    Thanks setter for the chance at a fast time, and blogger
    Cheers, Steve

  30. Having seen Z’s header remarks while looking for the QC blog, I was expecting a bit of a breeze (a gale?), but found I wasn’t as on the wavelength as I’d hoped. No problem completing in the end, but slowed down particularly in the SE with SLOI DEXTER – where I couldn’t get defer out of my head and BEDRAGGLED. In retrospect, I was over-thinking many of the clues – when I remarked to Mr Ego about something particularly obscure, I found that vocalising the problem almost immediately sorted it. Hence LOI GAEL. It didn’t help that I was half-convinced that I’d somehow got LEGATEE wrong and there wasn’t a final E. GRASSED and HARROW were easy for this born-in-Londoner, but clearly the former’s usage is restricted to the UK and those who watched The Sweeney! Apart from the mistake, now corrected, it seems, a fun puzzle!

  31. 14:09 – First person’s for OUR seems strange, but probably isn’t. The LEGATEE had acquired its more normal (corrected?) definition by the time I got there, which was helpful.

  32. 23 mins. On the slow side, largely due to thinking the clue for THIEVES was for a woman’s name, probably Irish with IEVE in the middle. Needed the T for my LOI DEXTER.

  33. DNF

    Never seen a lisp clue so managed to convince myself that a misread nautheaRting was an obscure word for lacking courage, so ‘chickening’! Chicken sauce?

  34. Not too many problems with this, and was expecting an easy one after the heads up by Z. DEXTER was my LOI where for a while my schoolboy Latin deserted me. I didn’t have a clue about the parsing for THICKENING, but there seemed no other plausible answer. I eventually crossed the line in a respectable (for me) time of 29.36.

  35. 22:53 held up for over 5 minutes on Bedraggled and Dexter which I struggled to drag from memory despite recently listening to the excellent Elbow track Dexter and Sinister. Can’t remember seeing the “comprehended by” device before so that also threw me. Clue for legatee had been corrected by the time i did the crossword on line.

    Thx Z and setter

  36. By the time I came to this puzzle 19d had been revised, so in it went without delay. ALGA and ACCIDENTAL got me off to a good start. THICKENING went in quickly with a smile. Took auster=wind on trust. REFUSED and AERATION were late entries. Didn’t know CHERVIL so relied on the wordplay. BEDRAGGLED was LOI. 15:48. Thanks setter and Z.

  37. All correct in record time but I hadn’t got a clue how to parse thickening and legatee was puzzling.

  38. At least no errors today, but Dexter took me ages to solve.
    Knew Canaan but not Cana, but it was fairly obvious from -a-a.

  39. Maybe 35 minutes with my LOI, AUSTERE, biffed right away, but then I spent another 5 minutes alphabet trawling to make sure there really was no other answer — too many one mistake DNF’s this week. Except for that everything was very easy. THICKENING definitely the COD.

  40. 19.35

    Held up at the end with AUSTERE and then the simple REFUSED (spent too long trying to see the w/p rather than just clocking the definition) and finally AERATION where I knew what I wanted but couldn’t (a) spell it or (b) think of the right time


  41. Some good guesses for me, namely “thickening”, “austere” and “integer” where I was pretty certain the answers were correct, but couldn’t work out why. Now I understand, I really like “thickening” and wish I could have worked it out. Sadly DNF, because I didn’t know of Cana (although Canaan was well known to me) and I couldn’t get Nirvana out of my head for the Promised Land.

  42. Straightforward. I wasn’t sure what LEGATEE meant so I just assumed it had to be a messenger. The fact that they changed the clue later is a clear sign it was a mistake. Wasted some time on CANA parsing “land without an” as LD. But I’ve actually been to CANA so easy once I realized what was going on. I also don’t think I knew AUSTER but I do know it Australis means south (Australia anyone?) so I assumed it must be a wind from the south, as indeed it is. DEXTER was my LOI (“right” should be underlined in the blog surely).

  43. Busy day so visited a couple of times. thought it was reasonably quick overall except I DNF having no idea of dexter (though I should have). instead I biffed texter for no good reason than I was stuck. thanks Zabadak and setter

  44. A good work-out, with some ingenious clues, all done in 29 minutes, about average for me. Would have been quicker had I not struggled with LEGATEE, but I eventually bunged it in anyway as nothing else seemed to fit (no correction possible for the print version). No problem about the first person in 2dn being plural. Despite living in London I do not have an instant recall of the names of the Boroughs, especially the outer ones. But HARROW finally dawned on me. I remember a local quiz-master getting a lot of flak for setting a question requiring quizzers to find a London Borough, and many participants getting grumpy when the answer turned out to be BATTERSEA, which is not a Borough!
    FOI – CANA
    Thanks to Zabadak and other contributors.

  45. 15.51. This felt more like a Torygraph puzzle. 19d wasn’t corrected in the online version that I solved, but, I thought, what else could the answer be ?

  46. Re “comprehending”: see the second-last line of Philip Larkin’s poem, “High Windows”: “The sun-comprehending glass”.


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