Times 28923 – all that glisters…

I enjoyed this one in 25 minutes, although a few of the definitions merit some pedantic discussion for accuracy. I’d heard of the alloy at 14d but not known of the link to a nearby place until I looked it up out of curiosity. I wasn’t keen on the Bard of Avon clue but I liked STEEPLED.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 O for the means to disseminate information! (8,6)
CIRCULAR LETTER – well, a double definition, as O is that.
9 European state’s obsession involving church function (9)
MACEDONIA – MANIA (obsession) with CE and DO (function) inserted. Bone to pick, Macedonia is not a European state. You can have North Macedonia, a state, or Macedonia which is a region of Greece. For a period there was the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” while the new name was negotiated with Greece, and before 1991 it was a part of Yugoslavia.
10 One who stirred up revolution in large square to the west (5)
LENIN -L (large), NINE reversed.
11 Risk backing old police force and its area of activity (5)
INCUR – all reversed, RUC, NI, as in Northern Ireland.
12 Inclined to trap game, inviting legal action (9)
LITIGABLE – LIABLE (liable to, inclined to) traps TIG a kid’s game.
13 Like some churches, requiring expensive form of light (8)
STEEPLED – STEEP = expensive, LED a light emitting diode.
15 Temper displayed by athlete finally breaking record (6)
ANNEAL – ANNAL (record) broken by the final letter of athletE.
17 Rings protractedly for tea (6)
OOLONG – O O (rings) LONG. A Chinese tea variety, I like it.
19 Spotted animal setter possibly observed on train (5,3)
COACH DOG – coach = train, and a setter is a dog breed. Coach dogs were often, but not always, Dalmatians, hence the reference to spotted.
22 An old railway hotel by river providing charitable accommodation? (9)
ALMSHOUSE – A, LMS (old railway company), H[otel], OUSE a river in the fens, near me, or another one in Yorkshire.
23 Lacerated round back of rosebush — by this? (5)
THORN – TORN with the end of rosebusH inserted.
24 River in east with hot flowing water? (5)
RHINE – R (river), H (hot), IN, E[ast].
25 Fail to be a turncoat, we hear? It’s intrusive (9)
KNOTGRASS – sounds like NOT GRASS i.e. not be a turncoat. Knotgrass is a common weed, not to be confused with Japanese knotweed which is really invasive.
26 Bard’s work stirs writer primarily active around district (14)
SHAKESPEAREANA – SHAKES (stirs) PEN (writer), insert AREA, add A (primarily active). Not a word I’ve ever used but it seems like something the culture vultures in the Guardian would want to use.
1 Uniformed employee in firm, initially managing task on river (14)
COMMISSIONAIRE – CO[mpany], M[anaging], MISSION (task), AIRE (a river in Yorkshire).
2 Sappers given vehicle to prepare for further use (7)
RECYCLE – RE (Royal Engineers), CYCLE a vehicle of sorts.
3 Subject to terrible end in ancient city (5)
UNDER – (END)* inside UR.
4 Cancelled article withdrawn from yearbook was the best (8)
ANNULLED – ANNUAL loses an A, add LED = was the best.
5 Outhouse of slender construction, excessively short (4-2)
LEAN-TO – LEAN = slender, TO[O] = excessively, short.
6 Wrongly cite touring superstar mostly attractive to viewers (9)
7 Honour over in Kiel, Bonn, etc (7)
ENNOBLE – hidden reversed as above.
8 Masterminds seeing Latin Lit translated (14)
14 Cheap device for identifying stream by church (9)
PINCHBECK – PIN a device for identifying, CH[urch], BECK a stream. Pinchbeck was or is an alloy of zinc and copper which looks like gold, so was a cheap imitation; and so has a more general meaning of cheap. And it’s also a pleasant enough village not far from me, and close by Spalding Golf Club. Apparently the Pinchbeck family took their name from the existing village, and one of them, a Christopher Pinchbeck, a jeweller, invented the alloy.
16 Solitary person’s high honour featured in article abroad (8)
LONESOME – LE (article abroad) with ONES (person’s) OM Order of Merit) inserted.
18 Ungainly politician, one in luxurious environment (7)
LUMPISH – MP, I, inside LUSH.
20 Art work produced by French couturier with a university degree (7)
DIORAMA – Christian DIOR, A, MA.
21 Uproar engendered by American supporting scrum (6)
RUCKUS – US after RUCK not as in rugby (where a scrum is not a ruck) but a general melée or scrum.
23 Row about grand creature of the forests (5)
TIGER – G inside TIER = row. Tiger, tiger, burning bright…


75 comments on “Times 28923 – all that glisters…”

  1. This didn’t take tOOLONG.
    I knew PINCHBECK from somewhere, but I don’t think it was here.
    LOI COACH DOG, a previously unknown term—as I never knew that dalmatians used to be trained to trot alongside women’s carriages.

    1. Yes, I’m one of the probable many and no excuses this time because I didn’t parse it properly.

      1. It came up before (a Google check shows) and I got it wrong then too.

        At least, my muscle memory is thriving.

  2. DNF. I had all but two intersecting answers as the half-hour passed but then had a brain freeze over the two remaining clues, 16dn and the first bit of wordplay in 25ac. I really should have got LONESOME but without the second O-checker I was unable to bring it to mind.

    I had two problems with KNOTGRASS, the first being that I had inexplicably written RUMPUS instead of RUCKUS at 21dn so I had an incorrect first letter checker. GRASS was obvious from ‘turncoat’ but the plant in question is only known to me as ‘knotweed’ so I stood little chance of arriving at its alternative name.

    1. knotgrass and knotweed are two different plants. My point above was that “invasive” is more applicable to knotweed than to the answer in the grid.

      1. SOED has knotweed (a) = knotgrass 1

        but there’s a knotgrass 2 that’s different from knotgrass 1 and therefore, I assume, from knotweed. It’s all weeds to me as I have nothing but the most superficial knowledge on the matter.

  3. Managed this in 15:55 last night
    LOI was the NHO COACH DOG, so I googled that afterwards, interesting
    Almost spelled Shakespeareana with an i, luckily a quick check of the parsing saved me
    Thought 1ac was clever and generally enjoyed this puzzle
    Thanks setter and blogger

  4. Really enjoyed this and managed to complete although it probably took an hour and a half. Not helped by the bifd retrain for recycle and rumpus for ruckus. Steepled was my first thought for 13a but the N from retrain held me up before pinchbeck went in.
    Some NHO words today – coach dog, pinchbeck, knotgrass. CODs to oolong and circular letter. Thanks setter and piquet.

  5. I dopily thought I was looking for a particular work by the bard at 26a, but at least painstakingly working it out meant I put in the required spelling. That one, the barely-remembered PINCHBECK, the unknown COACH DOG and, for no reason I can see now, LONESOME really held me up at the end, contributing ten minutes to my total 34, I’d guess.

  6. 35.51, with the same NHOs as others. I was held up at the end by the spotted dog and LONESOME but got there eventually. Thanks piquet, one day everything I’ve learned today about PINCHBECK I will put to good use. For those who don’t read the QC blog we’re off tomorrow to the Greek islands for a month and I am unlikely to be much heard from, so yiassou for now!

    From You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go:
    Situations have ended sad, relationships have all been bad
    Mine have been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud
    But there’s no way I can compare all them scenes to this affair
    You’re gonna make me LONESOME when you go

  7. 22:51
    Another slowed by RUMPUS, making KNOT GRASS and LONESOME my last two in, and the only real unknown was COACH DOG for Dalmatian. Luckily I checked my work for once so avoided an errant i in SHAKESPEAREANA.

    Thanks to both.

  8. 24 minutes with LOI KNOTGRASS, assumed to be something similar to Knotweed. I constructed PINCHBECK from first principles. I vaguely knew COACH DOG. Why on earth breed bully dogs when so many other dogs are such great friends? COD to DIORAMA. Thank you Pip and setter.

  9. DNF. No problems until the NHO COACH DOG. I just couldn’t think of a word fitting the pattern ?O?C? that means ‘train’. Turns out that was because there isn’t one.

            1. Quite possibly. I tried lacing her water with whisky once, but it made her rattier than normal.

              She liked grapes, though.

              1. I am informed by D(aughter)2 that grapes are poisonous to dogs. Not sure that I believe her, our collie-type-mutt liked them and seemed none the worse.

                1. Our dogs will eat chocolate given half a chance and that’s definitely poisonous so we try to be careful with it. Fortunately they don’t like onions.

                2. I sometimes watch YouTube animal videos- not so much for the ‘odd couples’, remarkable recoveries etc, but for the comments. There’s always something that someone is doing wrong.

                  So far as I’m concerned, I’d put down anyone who views their relationship to a dog (mongoose, snake, rat) as a ‘mother’ or ‘father.’

                    1. What a chance for a spoof! The female dog opens a can of Bud, and the male one cocks its leg and shows her an altogether superior drink.

  10. Around 40 minutes. FOI CIRCULAR LETTER appeared at least once in Australian cryptics. COACH DOG remember from same source. TELEGENIC also seen several times.
    Knew ANNEAL from Uni as temper in metals but hesitant to put in until I had all the crossing letters. Couldn’t see how it vaguely related to rest of wordplay. Thanks Piquet.

  11. Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
    Can with this single Truth compare –
    That God was man in Palestine
    And lives today in Bread and Wine.
    (Christmas, Betjeman)

    25 mins mid-brekker. I quite liked it.
    But I’m not sure how Risk=Incur, nor how “with hot” gets the H inside R,In,E.
    Ta setter and Pip.

    1. For the ‘with hot’ is it not “R, then ((in E) with h)”, i.e. “R, then (h (in E))”?

      1. I guess that is right – using the “A with B” can equal BA (as well as the more obvious AB). I am not keen.

          1. Well, yes, in the real world. But in Crosswordland, surely it has to be banker or flower, if only one word?

            1. ‘Water’ seems a perfectly good definition for a river to me.
              There’s also a sort of semi-&Lit-ish thing going on whereby the word ‘flowing’ helps point you in the right direction even though it’s not technically part of the definition. In a semi-&Lit the definition is often just something like ‘this’, and doesn’t make sense in the absence of the wordplay elements of the clue. Her you just need a bit of the wordplay.
              You might call it a demi-semi-&Lit.

  12. About 18′, with the wrong spelling of commentary on and souvenirs of the Bard’s work.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  13. 16:22 WOE, i instead of e of course; biffed it at a glance, never bothered to check. Serves me right. DNK LMS, but assumed it was a railroad; anyway, it had to be ALMSHOUSE. I liked 1ac.

  14. 13:33. NHO PINCHBECK, COACH DOG or KNOTGRASS (although I knew knotweed and it wasn’t much of a leap). Held up at the end by having, like Jackkt, an unparsed RUMPUS for 21D. I liked the expensive church lighting. Thank-you Pip and setter.

  15. 8:30, helped by getting three of the long border entries in short order (SHAKESPEAREANA after PINCHBECK).
    LOI KNOTGRASS (AKA prostrate knotweed, not as invasive as the Japanese variety).
    COACH DOG never previously spotted.

  16. 23:57. Nice puzzle, all delays my own fault. I had to build SHAKESPEAREANA from the wordplay, which helped me avoid that trap.

    NHO the railway company, and only vaguely know the river AIRE (possibly from the Airedale Terrier), but both worked otherwise. I’ve come across PINCHBECK as a surname, but that was otherwise new.

    I took far too long on LONESOME, thinking of the other articles (UNE/DIE), looking for a word meaning a solitary person (possibly with HOME involved), then thinking ‘high’ gave ON E.

    Once those pennies had dropped I stared at _O_C_ for a minute or two, wondering if there was some other word for ‘train’ I was missing. Decided there wasn’t, and now I know a new category of dog.

    Thanks setter & piquet.

  17. DNF

    Managed COACH DOG and corrected to RUCKUS but just could juggle all the bits into the right places for KNOTGRASS and LONESOME. Had an I in the bard anyway. Not a great effort!

    Thanks all

  18. NHO KNOTGRASS or PINCHBECK, so failed on these. Not sure how ‘fail to be a’ becomes ‘not’, but hey ho. Found this one vaguely irritating throughout.

  19. 27 minutes. I took COACH DOG and KNOTGRASS on trust, not having come across either term before. Just missed falling into the I instead of E trap for SHAKESPEAREANA after taking the trouble to look at the wordplay more carefully.

    LITIGABLE is a bit of a mouthful but I liked CIRCULAR LETTER.

    Thanks to Pip for the blog, including the extra info. about MACEDONIA and PINCHBECK and to setter.

  20. 30′, mainly fairly straightforward but needed a lengthy alphabet trawl for COACH. NHO PINCHBECK so like others I built it from the instructions. Agree re MACEDONIA, could cause a diplomatic incident. I remember from studying metallurgy that tempering and annealing were slightly different steel treatment processes with different objectives, but close enough for crossword purposes! Thanks Piquet and setter.

  21. About 25 minutes.

    Nearly fell into the SHAKESPEARiANA trap, but corrected myself in time; slowed myself down by putting ‘track dog’ for 19a, and only once I realised 16d had to be LONESOME did I correct to COACH DOG, a term I’m not really familiar with; had to trust the wordplay for PINCHBECK, though I imagine it’s come up here before and I’ve forgotten it.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Tiger
    LOI Coach dog
    COD Circular letter

  22. OK I’ll bite: pedants corner. In Rugby, a RUCK is not a scrum except by fiddling with a Thesaurus. MACEDONIA is not a European state unless it’s North. And yes, 24a wordplay strictly gives RINEH: there’s nothing to push the H into the interior.
    That said (with strong expectation of arguments to follow) this was rather fun, set up by O at the beginning, and a relatively gentle stroll to completion in 14.49. The Quickie nearly took longer this morning because of its Hebridean nonsense.
    I actually knew COACH DOG, partly because of the struggle my wonderful Polish Mother in Law had trying to decide on a new dog: a coolie or a damnation?
    Great blog setting up those pedantries, PK, even if Blake would want it to be tyger. He’d have got a pink, of course.

    1. I thought that about ruck/scrum but then figured that they have more general (non-rugby) meanings that are at least very close. ODE gives ‘a tightly packed crowd of people’ for ‘ruck’ and ‘a disorderly crowd of people or things’ for ‘scrum’.
      What do I I know though, I can’t tell the difference between a noun and a verb.

  23. 13:22

    COACH DOG was a guess and I wasn’t 100% confident that KNOTGRASS was correct so that corner was a bit of a worry.

    Mostly enjoyable but with the same MERs as others.

  24. Perhaps it would be a good idea to warm up with the QC before doing this: On my first pass through the acrosses I got none of them, but then many of the downs, and after 22 minutes only had two to go, which took me another 6 minutes: COACH DOG an unknown and LONESOME somehow seemed rather loose, no reason really. I had RETRAIN at 2dn, seemed quite OK, but MACEDONIA sorted that out. If people weren’t in a desperate search for speed, SHAKESPEAREANA would have been entered.

  25. 19a NHO Coach Dog. I thought of Dalmatatians and guessed. My dictionary has coachdog but not Coach Dog. It refers to dalmatatian dogs as second def. Another part of the former Yugoslavia; Dalmatia approx = Croatia and also Illyria from 12th Night.
    22a POI London Midland and Scottish Ry; when I commuted to school Br Railways mixed some of their rolling stock in with the GWR stuff that was native to those parts (Worcs.) GWR= Gt W Ry, or the Great Way Round (Brunel preferred diversions to tunnels.)
    26a SHAK… agree with blogger, not a useful word, and to add insult to injury I biffed it with an Iana instead of Eana so DNF, and under the circs, Do Not give a F.
    14d Forgotten Pinchbeck, but gettable.

  26. 25:52

    I enjoyed this. Slowed down a little by entering RUMPUS and a lot by doing the puzzle one fingered on my phone, on a train between Stockholm and Copenhagen. Very scenic mind, and you get a complimentary coffee and chocolate sweetie.
    Thanks to Pip and the setter

    1. Oh, I thought the train went via a tunnel. Nearly caught it by accident once, fortunately spotted I was on the opposite platform.

      1. It has to travel right across Sweden first, so it would be quite a long tunnel .☺️

  27. LEAN-TO and TELEGENIC rolled in first, quickly followed by ENNOBLE and LETTER, but CIRCULAR needed all the crossers before the penny dropping groan. Didn’t know COACH DOG so had crossed fingers for that one. PINCHBECK was vaguely recognisable after construction from wordplay. SHAKESPEAREANA was LOI and assembled according to the instructions with my intitial I replaced by an E after I re-read the aforementioned. 25:07. Thanks setter and Pip.

  28. 21:09

    Luckily, owned a dalmatian in the 90s, so knowing they were bred to run with coaches, goes with the territory. PINCHBECK familiar as some Harper ancestors come from down that way. Didn’t think too deeply about the European state. SHAKESPEAREANA last in once fully parsed (seen it here before perhaps?)

    Thanks P and setter

  29. Reasonably quick today.
    Knotgrass sounds familiar (a character in Pickwick papers?!) but turns out to be a nho.
    There is a River Ouse in Sussex as well, Pip.

  30. Got all but 1A in about 25 mins but DNF as I couldn’t get the first part of 1A. I’d say average or slightly easier than average difficulty overall though. NHO COACH DOG, VHO PINCHBECK and some clues were a bit strange or weak, esp. KNOTGRASS which isn’t really defined in the clue.

  31. Found this not too onerous – my unknown bit of GK was LMS, but luckily Mr SR has a very smart train set which has LMS coaches.
    My moment to preen was knowing that dalmatians used to be COACH DOGs, remembered from reading “101 Dalmatians” a long time ago. It’s such a lovely and well-written book. The coach dog info is in a delightful chapter called “Hot Buttered Toast”. Nothing against the Disney version as entertainment, but there’s so much more in the book.
    Many thanks for the fun, setter, and also for the blog, Piquet. Not required today but we always read it and it’s a comfort to know it’s there in times of need!

  32. Under 30 minutes but with two awful errors that I’m too embarrassed to explain. Just laziness on my part.
    Otherwise, good puzzle.

  33. 36 minutes to nearly finish, with COACH DOG being the problem. I did consider it, but couldn’t make ‘coach’ sufficiently equivalent to ‘train’. Reassuring to see that keriothe had the same blind spot. Thank you piquet for shining the light.
    NHO KNOTGRASS but it seemed plausible enough to this unenthusiastic and clueless gardener. Shakespeareana had to be made up to fit the checkers, and once in, it felt like the setter had done just the same. Didn’t much like the clue, but hated the answer.
    Otherwise an enjoyable half hour.

  34. As with others, NHO for PINCHBECK and COACH DOG – but also TIG, which no one else has mentioned. We called it TAG (growing up in London). I’ve found some info on this, pasted below, in case anyone’s interested.

    26:18, about average for me. A nice crossword, much enjoyed.

    Tig and tiggy are found in the north (and Cornwall), and tag in the South. The Home Counties use h-words: he, hit and had, which are unheard of outside those regions.

    Then there are few oddities: tip in North Wales, tap in Portsmouth, tuggy in Newcastle, and dobby in Nottingham. What the hell, Nottingham?

    (At private schools, there’s a lot more “tag” and “it”: hardly any “tig” at all compared to the rest of the UK.)

  35. DNF. All done in 40 minutes except for the NHO COACH DOG, and I gave up after another ten. KNOTGRASS was also unknown. I avoided the SHAKESPEAREANA trap but spent far too long trying to solve the anagram for 1a before realising that the anagrist didn’t have a U for UNDER. Thanks piquet.

  36. 35 minutes and despite its being fairly easy and correctly solved, I didn’t really like it. Entries like COMMISSIONAIRE and PINCHBECK are just gratuitously difficult and contribute little to the general wit and intelligence of the puzzle. I also had RUMPUS for 21dn until P?O?GRASS turned out not to be going anywhere at all. With RUCKUS, of course KNOTGRASS fell into place immediately and my botanical knowledge is too weak to have created any problems about the exact name of the invasive plant. Of course I tried to put in SHAKESPEARIANA, but the wordplay saved me.

  37. A slight quibble on 26a, since the -ANA suffix usually denotes possessions or memorabilia of the person in question, not their works. But that was more than compensated for by the heartfelt cry at 1a and the subtle allusion to the habitat of Blake’s tyger. Thanks to setter/Dalmatian and piquet.

    1. I concur; if you look up the dictionary definition of “Shakespere(i)ana”, then at a stretch you could interpret it as including Shakespeare’s actual dramatic and poetical works, but, in decades of study of Shakespeare, I have never seen it applied to them, certainly not as a body of work.

  38. Perhaps I am too much of a pedant, but I baulk at “risk” as even a vague synonym for “incur”; if you have incurred something, you are not “at risk” of it, any element of risk that did exist no longer exists, you have actually sustained it.

    In insurance, there is a specific use of “incur” in the accounting item “incurred losses”, which is the total of claims actually paid plus a reserve for claims which have been notified but not yet settled; this is to avoid overstating profits. Thus “incurred losses” is a “current worst case scenario” comprised of a known element (paid claims) plus an unfinalised element comprised of claims which have been notified but not yet paid.

    I stand to be corrected, but I don’t think there is any possible sentence in which the word “risk” could be substituted for “incur” without significantly changing the meaning.


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