Times 26380 – the crossword that came to dinner

Solving time : According to the club timer, 27:46, but there is a bit of a story here. I’m in dress rehearsals for a production of The Man Who Came To Dinner and I finally managed to get the wireless backstage to work (well, sporadically). So I started the crossword and then heard my cue. So I shut the laptop, did my scene, and came back. Opened it up and finished off the crossword, submitted and… the internet had reset.

So I had to load a second version of it and play neutrino (fortunately I remembered all of the answers from reading the clues, so this only took a few minutes).

Similar to yesterday, a puzzle with magnificent wordplay for some relatively obscure terms, there was only one where I was hoping (a Zulu term clued as a part anagram).

The internet seems to have come and gone again, so I hope this will post when I get it written up.

Away we go…

8 PER,M: this may be clue of the week, as I’ve seen three variations of it recently
9 SCANDALISE: SCAN(picture),DALI(Spanish artist who is not Miro),S(tartling),E(veryone)
10 BIRDSHOT: B(Bachelor) then an anagram of THIRD,SO
13 HAMMERHEAD: HAMMER(attack),HAD(experienced) around (shor)E
16 INFO: alternating letters in Is No FoOl
17 GINS: hidden in sellinG IN Small
18 EXPOSITORY: remove the last letter of EXPOSE(revealing story) then I, TORY
20 INDABA: anagram of (A,BIND), A – I like “reconvening” as an anagram indicator
22 SLAG HEAP: reversal of PA(secretary),GALS surrounding HE
24 IRIDESCENT: I, (b)RIDE, SCENT(bouquet)
26 MA,IN: key meaning “most important” here
27 STEPPING STONE: Took me a while to figure the wordplay here, I didn’t get it when I hit submit. Anyway we have two STs, surrounding EPPING forest, then ONE
1 CREPITATION: CITATION surrounding REP(where I happen to be right now)
2 AIMED: the trunk is the A1, then MED
3 DISCHARGE: DISC(recording), HARE(career) containing the key of G. Terrific surface!
4 DRAFTEE: and another! D, RAF(service), TEE(support)
6 SOLO WHIST: SO LOW HIT containing S
7 YES: remove the PR from YPRES
12 AFFIRMATIVE: another long reversal, this time of AM,RIFF in EVITA
14 MISHANDLE: M(male), then HAND in ISLE(Arran, say)
15 DESCARTES: or DES CARTES anniversaires
21 AESOP: reverse PROSE,A and remove the R
23 HIMBO: a term I haven’t heard in a while – H, then (l)IMBO
25 RES: shorten RES(t)

85 comments on “Times 26380 – the crossword that came to dinner”

  1. … to the reign of terror. Similar unknowns to Vinyl (above). And an overall struggle for all but a few answers. Well over the hour. LOI was INDABA — haven’t we had that before at some point? Could be the only way I’d even half remember it.

    George: hope your rep gets a citation and you put on a cracking performance.

  2. 1ac CLAUDE DEBUSSY held me up making the top half a struggle.


    HIMBO!? Not in my dictionary! (Chambers) DNK the antithesis of JIMBO no doubt!

    So DNF after an hour.

    I am now in Victor Meldrew Mode. HIMBO! UNBELIEVABLE!!

    horryd Shanghai

    1. It’s in my 2003 electric Chambers, so maybe it’s fallen out through lack of use.
  3. and a good time for one, too, as I had two errors besides. I never saw the hidden at 17ac (I’m actually quite good at not seeing hiddens), and I threw in ‘hambo’ (mambo sans initial M) in desperation, never having heard of the word, and hoping never to hear of it again. (I won’t join horryd in Victor Meldrew mode, as the word is in my Oxford dictionaries, of English and of American English.) I totally failed to parse 11ac, and finally Googled London boroughs to find NEWHAM, hence the DNF. Still, I liked a number of the clues, perhaps especially CREPITATION & DISCHARGE.
  4. DNK NEWHAM, INDABA, CREPITATION and BADEN. Barely knew the musician at 1ac, which was the main cause of delay. Once he was in, the rest fell into place.

    Thought AFFIRMATIVE was clever as “picked up” and “heard” had me looking everywhere for homophones. And PERM was nicely clued as well.

    Another excellent offering. Thanks setter and George.

    Edited at 2016-04-07 04:13 am (UTC)

  5. 46′, with the barely known CREPITATION and the wholely unknown INDABA last in.

    HIMBO is an abomination. MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN, O lexicographers!

    Edited at 2016-04-07 04:34 am (UTC)

    1. I “knew” the word, but thought it meant “(an act of) farting”. Just looked it up now, and it turns out that it originally did.

      Edited at 2016-04-07 05:35 am (UTC)

  6. A very interesting and rewarding solve that took me briefly over the hour to complete.

    INDABA was unknown despite having come up in December 2009 and February 2010 when I cheated and looked it up on both occasions; but today I took my best guess to fit the remaining anagrist around the checkers and got it right, so it may have been lodged somewhere in a distant recess of my brain. It’s also used for international Scout conferences, btw.

    HIMBO and BIRDSHOT are new to Times puzzles apparently but gettable from wordplay. “Bachelor with third is panicky” would have produced a more interesting solution to the latter but the definition part would have required a rethink.

    RES is one of those tricky little words that nearly always gives me trouble.

    Edited at 2016-04-07 05:28 am (UTC)

    1. Bachelor with third is panicky? That’s lucky?

      About 30 minutes with INDABA/INBADA guessed. Excellent crossword.

      1. Given that a third is the lowest Hons grade, I’d use “bottom’s dropping” for the lit/def part.

        Edited at 2016-04-07 07:47 am (UTC)

  7. INDABA not a problem if you have spent (as I did) many years reading Just So Stories to your children!

    Overall a lovely puzzle, I thought.

  8. No time as I was repeatedly interrupted, though less entertainingly than George. But I have an error, in any case. Like kevingregg I couldn’t get past mambo as the dance, so another HAMBO here. Thanks to kevingregg, also, for the memorable etymology of CREPITATION.

    Excellent puzzle and very rewarding to solve, the 1s especially.

  9. A tough one, never really in sync with the setter. many answers had to be dragged out almost letter by letter or laboriously parsed post-solve. Nevertheless it was, as sotira says, rewarding to solve. Also liked the 1s.
  10. I was brought up on a diet of Aesop , Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm which I think did a little more for the child’s mind than Horrid Henry , Walliams , et al . Those were the days .
    1. Might depend on whether children read the Disneyfied versions of the classics or the more terrifying originals
  11. Yet again, ten minutes more or less on the nose here – seems to be my standard time for this week. INDABA was familiar though I don’t see how it could be familiar from anything other than doing crossword puzzles! See also IMPI.
    1. As I noted above, it is in “How the Camel got his Hump”:

      “That made the Three very angry (with the world so new-and-all), and they held a palaver, and an indaba, and a punchayet, and a pow-wow on the edge of the Desert…”

      Kipling’s prose seems to be meant to be read aloud, so children love it and after reading it a few times you remember whole chunks of it by heart.


      1. There is a well-known Rugby song, to the tune of the Eton Boating Song, about how the camel got its hump and how the Sphinx got its inscrutable smile but probably not for this forum!
  12. Well done George – my time of 19.39 is easily beaten by your negative ten minutes or so, if I’ve got my calculations right. Glad this wasn’t my week, as I had no clue as to how AFFIRMATIVE worked, and fortunately didn’t need one.
    On the other hand, the toponym clues were easy for me, as I live not a million millimeters away from the forest and its eppingonymous town, and my grandchild’s life was saved in Newham Hospital. Newham was also one of the five “Olympic Boroughs”, which got far more of the training and employment goodies than “my” Hackney and Tower Hamlets, Not that we were envious, no not envious at all. Never.
    Loved Rene’s birthday cards:
    “I’ll wager it’ll be a good one, Blaise Pascal”
    “Have a whale of a time, Thomas Hobbes”
    “The best of all possible birthdays, Voltaire” (probably arrived a bit late).

  13. A frustrating dnf, otherwise 22′. Had after being delayed for some minutes put in CREVITATION, not surprisingly being unable to parse it. INDABA a guess, could equally have been INBADA…
    1. I fortunately knew INDABA (didn’t know it was specifically South African), but given the 2 spellings, the odds would be against INB…, especially in spelling a foreign word. (We write ‘in Berlin’ but say ‘imberlin’.)
  14. Same as others – very entertaining puzzle with excellent wordplays and some good surface readings. Thanks setter. Break a leg George.
  15. … and that One Error was… inbada. Thanks for the tip above, Kevin, it makes sense, and had I thought a little harder, I may have opted for the right one. However, when I solve online, I often chuck the random letters of an anagram into the squares, and only amend when I get the down clues, and then I forget to go back and check the original anagram. All others ok, took 45mins, ending with the pesky PERM.
  16. Just over the 30 minute mark. My Civil Service friends always seem to refer to high level internal meetings as indabas so I knew the word. Smiled when I saw 1ac and guessed BADEN. The town is BADEN BADEN,,,,, presumably not like New York, New York.
    Thanks setter and George.
  17. I’m improving month on month thanks to all you bloggers and was very pleased to nearly complete this. But failed on Crepitation, Indaba (really?) and Res. Very chuffed to get the composer which helped greatly. Biffed Clap Trap at 22a which made for some head scratching moments before I realised my error. COD to 10a with a nice anagram, especially as I’ve been reminding myself to always watch for with=w !
    1. I’ve got CLAP TRAP written on my sheet of paper but it never made it as far as the little white squares. CBA to look it up but I suspect it’s one word or hypehenated.
    1. Don’t despair, Rita. I had a problem getting started too but having the confidence to persevere when that happens takes time to develop. It will come!
    2. I did think when solving this that novices would struggle with so much misdirection knocking around.
  18. Agree with Jimbo. One of those puzzles that you’e enjoying doing and although pleased to finish in good time, you wish there was more to do. 35 minutes with the INDABA / INBADA a correct guess. I liked 24a because IRIDESCENT seems such a nice word, like it smells of rainbows.
  19. 33:22, feeling miles away from the setter’s wavelength all the way through. There were loads of clues where I just had no idea what was going on, until suddenly I did.
    Most enjoyable though, with the exception of INDABA, the dreaded obscurity anagram. I guessed right, just because it looked a bit more likely than INBADA somehow, but really there’s no need for this sort of thing.
    1. I reckon they do this sort of thing just because so many bloggers complain about it.
      Managed to guess INDABA right, same unknowns as everyone else, and 31:20 – being quicker than many people (such as yourself) who are always quicker than me.
  20. As instructed by his wife, what Descartes said to a party guest who wanted to eat the cakes at midnight, according to Frank Muir on My Word. Never forget a good corny joke. Or even a bad one. I’ve not heard of Himbo. It’s defined as a handsome but unintelligent male on one Google link. I only miss out on one of those. Just over the hour today.
    1. The only monologue I remember ended “You can’t have your kayak and heat it”.

      Sorry about the intelligence…

      1. …and the only one I can remember is “It’s my beer Yeats because I’m a Larne diner”
      2. Talking about football, there was ‘Demons are Argyle’s best friend’.
    2. Now you’ve started something!
      Most men need wives of quiet respiration
      I’ve got two wonder mice, Ken

      1. Is there a bumper book of feghoots that you’re all using? I’ve got Thoreau and Cole Porter after London, Plymouth, Petra and you can’t have your cake and eat it. It’s worse than the crossword!
        1. Speaking for myself, it’s just happy memories of one of the finest wordplay panel games of all time. Muir and Norden’s stories with the most unlikely punning punchlines were the highlight of My Word, and some of them just stuck. There are collections.
          I have to concefe “feghoot” is new to me.

          1. I really liked them both. I’ll confess to learning ‘feghoot’ this evening.
        2. As Z8 says, just happy memories of compulsory listening on steam radio, and my offering is the only one I now remember. The story leading to the punch line was of course set in a nursery and I have just recalled Frank Muir explaining that the lady in question called her new rose Red Setter because it was a dog rose.
  21. I think I need to get better at remembering obscure words! 9m 5s today but I took a punt on INBADA after a mental toss of the coin. It feels like another example of a rather ungenerous anagram for an obscure foreign word.
  22. 18:48 all correct but I’m with Keriothe and Colin in finding the INDABA clue unacceptably awkward.

    I also have no idea how you get REST from Roman Holiday as it seems to bear no relation to the film, the song or dictionary definitions about public spectacles and pleasure gained from the discomfort of others. Would anyone care to tell me what I’m missing?

    I though there was an error at 3dn as I equated CAREER with CHARGE and could’t see how the shared C in disCharge worked when the indication was to “release” a key.

    All that said I loved the Descartes clue.

    1. Res is latin for matter – Roman indicated Latin in the clue. We used to translate is as ‘thing’ at my hallowed grammar school. Lawyers use res to mean a matter in legal proceedings. A holiday is rest, shortened also res. At least that’s how I parsed the clue.
    2. ‘Matter of Roman Holiday being shortened’ – literal is ‘matter of Roman’ (see Collins); w/p RES[t]. Feel free to kick yourself now!
      1. Damn you! Yes, I just realised that and hoped I’d be able to come here and edit before anyone noticed.
      1. Now that’s weird. I updated the page and no one had replied to your comment. I replied and suddenly a bunch of other comments appeared … and now I can’t edit my comment. Gremlins. Apologies for the redundancy.
  23. Hi all, used to post terrible times (reasonaably) often as bfgee, but have forgotten my log in just had a quick question, in the print edition definition 1d is “cracking” – but all references to crepitation seem to suggest “crackLing” – is this a typo or do I need to expand my definition of this DNK for me?



    1. In medicine crepitation refers to crackLing sounds not cracking so the answer is wrong.
      1. We have been here before, Barra. Experts may not approve of the definition, given their expertise, but if the definition is in one of the recognised dictionaries, it is fair game for the setter. I often twinge at answers in my area but I go with the flow.
        1. In which dictionary is crepitation referred to as CRACKING , bigtone53? All the on-line references agree with the medical definition.
          1. OK, point taken. My biggest dictionary (SOED) consistently refers to ‘crackling’ so unless anyone knows better, I concede the point. [0n edit} although SOED does refer to ‘The cracking of a joint when pulled’. Where is Dr Thud when needed? (On strike?)

            Edited at 2016-04-07 03:45 pm (UTC)

            1. Cracking of a joint means what it says but crepitation is a finer sound altogether and can be heard in the chest with pleurisy; when I was a medical student somebody told me it was like the sound of trying to bend a gynaecologist’s wallet !
  24. No time for this as I did it in several spells between breakfast and a final (INR stable for now) hospital visit for a blood test, lunch at said hospital with the elder daughter, who managed to escape from her Orthoptics department for half an hour, and back home again to complete the struggle. Guessed wrong for my pet hate, obscure anagrams, and bunged in INBADA, and not being able to think of Limbo, despite considering HIMBO, stuck in HAMBO. Bah Humbug!! FOI AIMED. LOI RES. Having said that I quite enjoyed the struggle. Failed to parse AFFIRMATIVE, so thanks to George for that, and good luck with the show! My elder daughter is into Am Dram, has just auditioned for Tees Valley G & S Society’s October production of The Sorcerer, and landed the part of Constance.
    1. Thanks – when I’m lucky I get some professional work, this one is total am-dram, but it’s a very funny part.
  25. A very pleasant and chewy 28 mins. Only one DNK which I am proud to declare was “himbo” where I managed to select the correct dance to decapitate by connecting with “bimbo”.
  26. This was a chewy one which took me a full 50 minutes to complete. LOI was CREPITATION, once I finally saw the wordplay. I was sorely tempted by HAMBO until Another alphabet search for an appropriate dance found me the limbo. I didn’t know of NEWHAM but it looked like a likely answer. The definition for STEPPING STONE is certainly imaginative, if a bit odd. Nevertheless, regards to all.
  27. Another knock-free solve and I must have been on the setter’s wavelength because my 17 mins looks quite respectable. After a poor run I was starting to think I was losing the ability to solve in a relatively quick fashion. RES was my LOI and I thought it was an excellently tricky clue for a three-letter word. I’ve come across INDABA a few times before so I didn’t have a problem with it, but I sympathise with those of you who did.
  28. Solving on a moving train with a bad mobile connection and distraction, so just over an hour with one mistake: HAMBO (from MAMBO instead of LIMBO), as I have really never heard of HIMBO. My other guess with no help from checkers was INDABA (a bit more linguistically likely than INBADA), at least that one correct. I have nothing against obscure words that can be solved from wordplay, but that doesn’t help if the wordplay is ambiguous and the checkers don’t resolve the ambiguity. And I agree with keriothe and others that that’s not really necessary.
  29. O.k. for me, I knew ‘Indaba’, and, while ‘himbo’ was unknown it was readily inferred from the wordplay once solving 27a made ‘himmy’ untenable (shimmy rather than the mambo that attracted other contributors).
    Having said that, I very nearly fell for the same problem as yesterday: only a final check showed that I had not solved ‘res’ at 25d. Fortunately this was quickly addressed as I remembered the term from day release study of Public Law many years ago.
    Could, perhaps, have been faster if I was not listening to the Liverpool match on the radio – Drat, Dortmund have just equalised!
  30. Hi again everyone.
    Finding this one hard to decipher even with the solutions and can’t wait until I get to the stage you are all at.

    The per/m one. How did you get per?

    Thanks for the patience whoever replies.

    Edited at 2016-04-07 08:45 pm (UTC)

    1. Hi, per = each = a. Think of it as “the bananas cost so much per(a) pound” Keep working at it. It gets easier 🙂
      1. Thanks John. I saw that definition but wasn’t sure if there was something else ‘as well’ if you see what I mean!
        I will stick if you all don’t mind my questions! 🙂 It’s horrible when it’s so difficult at the start but I’m looking forward to the day when I recognise the clues. Thanks for the patience.
        1. I found this blog 5 years ago. Before that my first Times crossword took 3 days to get 75% of the way through with aids. Through absorbing the explanations provided by the contributors, I now finish correctly most days, rarely going over the hour and have done the occasional puzzle in 20 minutes. Still a way to go to catch up with the best performers though. I still marvel at those who regularly do it in 10 minutes or less! In the first few years I regularly took 90 minutes.
  31. About an hour today but another INBADA here – add my grizzle to the others above about obscure foreign words and anagrams. Also a song and a prayer for HIMBO though at least the word play seemed to point in that direction more obviously. Otherwise a pleasant struggle with some lovely clues – 3d for example. Break a leg, George.
  32. Thank you so much. The support you give is invaluable as it is hard when you start out particularly if you’ve always had a facility with words.. I find the quick cryptic more accessible currently and get a bit further but presume that it’s a matter of practice and … practice! The blog helps hugely in interpreting the words behind the words. I dream of an hour let alone 20 minutes but it’s really encouraging to know that others have been at this end of the journey.
    Thank you so much for replying.
  33. Damn! My first mistake of the year, but at least it was out of ignorance rather than stupidity or carelessness. I’d never heard of HIMBO so it was a toss-up between MAMBO and LIMBO for the dance, and at the time HAMBO sounded more likely. Should have thought of “bimbo”, I suppose. (Sigh!)
    1. Geez Tony, I’ve lost count of the number of mistakes I’ve made this year. And only some of them have been in crosswords!
  34. Decided HIMBO is somewhat amusing, and fair; INDABA INBADA less so, and not. NE hurt me badly today: got the W in WHIST first, which meant the borough had to be BOW, confirmed by the down Old British – whoops. Thankfully my ophthalmologist takes plenty of time with patients, so I had plenty of time.
  35. In yesterday’s South China Morning Post……

    Very clever wordplay, but maybe too many unfamiliar words.

    Having gone to boarding school in Swaziland, I knew indaba, as we used to have them from time to time.

    Jezz in Hong Kong

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