TImes 26,489: Familiarity Breeds Content

Another Friday, another rather easy puzzle by (the increasingly obviously apocryphal) Friday standards. I don’t think I’m having the best of weeks but finished this inside 400 seconds without breaking a sweat, and I see quite a few other ~6-minuters on the Club board already.

Sometimes lack of challenge makes me grumpy but actually I thought this grid was alright, suitably Timesish of both vocab and reference. I think its only “problem” is that it’s a puzzle that is full of old friends for those of us who have done many thousands of crosswords. 18ac, 25ac, 27ac, and the 24ac that seems to have been in 50% of all puzzles lately somehow, 17dn! And see also (pun intended) 8dn. I thought 10ac was rather familiar too but with hindsight I might have been thinking of COPAL? So I’ll give that one the benefit of the doubt.

Add this to write-ins like 21ac and an extraordinary number of biffables (the shape of the words, combined with pretty transparent definition parts, meant that I confidently bunged in 9ac, 11ac, 1dn, 4dn, 7dn, 12dn, to be full parsed afterwards) and you end up with a very quick solve. But let us grizzled old warhorse think of it as a nice reward for all the hours we’ve put in, a chance for our experience to show its worth. Thanks to the setter from this ageing veteran!

FOI 4ac, LOIs inevitably the short ones at 19ac and 26dn, both excellent clues that took a bit of puzzling over to reach the penny-drop. Most embarrassing stumbling block was getting it into my head that the “fulminate” at 6dn was definitely RANT and trying to remember if RANGTHIT or similar was a Thai or possibly Burmese lemur. No, I don’t understand my brain either…


1 African city finally investing in Asian country (5)
LAGOS – {investin}G in LAOS

4 Tyneside vicar backing humanist? Not again, not at any time! (9)
NEVERMORE – NE + REV reversed + (Thomas) MORE

9 Threadbare Missouri girl, not quite eleven (4-5)

10 Prickly type — certainly not a friend! (5)

11 Propeller of vessel absent managers tie up outside back of hut (8,5)

14 Naked belligerence ultimately shown by retired debt-collector (4)
NUDE – {belligerenc}E shown by reversed DUN

15 Concern distributing most of dues after petition (10)

18 Sea cook’s fish? Fish or beef (10)

19 Pie, for example, that may be served inside (4)
BIRD – double definition, as in magpie, and “doing bird” respectively

21 Fairground attraction — vessel on big wave (6-7)
ROLLER-COASTER – ROLLER on COASTER. Bit of a chestnut, this one?

24 Nip back to lock up commander’s dog (5)
POOCH – HOP reversed, to lock up CO

25 A woman’s journal exhibited at first outside Italian museum? (9)
HERMITAGE – HER MAG E{xhibited}, outside IT

27 Organised medevac with little hesitation, producing handbook (4-5)

28 Soil constituent reeks, overwhelming university (5)
HUMUS – HUMS, overwhelming U


1 One sends up pilots on manoeuvres involving America (10)

2 Leaders of group using Telemann’s material for strings (3)
GUT – G{roup} U{sing} T{elemann’s}

3 Way traditions upset compound (6)
STEROL – ST + LORE reversed

4 Flagrant lack of right-wingers mostly out to replace English (9)
NOTORIOUS – NO TORIES, OU{t} to replace E

5 Spite of small number married after Victory in Europe (5)
VENOM – NO M after VE

6 Fulminate about awful night husband dispatched lemur? (8)
RINGTAIL – RAIL about (NIG{h}T*)

7 Seizer of chances left spades in one after work (11)

8 Reportedly see like some ocean-breeding creatures? (4)
EELY – homophone of ELY

12 Extreme youth — time lad initially wears stranger headgear (11)

13 Sensitivity is inclined to restrict some high-flyers (10)

16 Trendy style of art with strange unseemliness? (9)

17 She may drunkenly set about a large dog (8)
SEALYHAM – (SHE MAY*) set about A L

20 Administrative area identified by capital H? (6)
PARISH – PARIS [capital] + H

22 Set of moral principles, and so on, covering Hawaii (5)
ETHIC – ETC covering HI

23 Wide boy’s odds on girl getting rise (4)
SPIV – SP (starting price) on VI reversed

26 Single male trapped under a train? (3)
AIM – I M trapped under A

60 comments on “TImes 26,489: Familiarity Breeds Content”

  1. Oh, one more thing…

    Eight question marks and two exclamation marks in one puzzle, that’s quite a lot, isn’t it? I remember remarking on an unusually ?-laden puzzle at least once in the past, I wonder if this could be the same setter… although the clues didn’t seem *especially* punny or potentially tenuous this time…

  2. Fell at the last hurdle on this one, somehow getting the anagrist wrong for the completely unknown VADE-MECUM and slapping in VADE-MECEM. Both TODDLERHOOD and AIM took me a surprising amount of time to get, despite me seeing the TODDLER bit straight away.

    I blame a hangover and a 4:45am start (I was up early to see if it was worth walking up to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta for their morning launch, but it was too windy for them to fly, so I did the crossword instead…)

    Glad I remembered SEALYHAM from a very recent puzzle; happy to have correctly guessed the unknowns STEROL and NOPAL. COD EELY, for producing a satisfying groan.

    1. I should have checked my classicist privilege on VADE-MECUM… a Latinist isn’t likely to spell that one wrong! But it’s only through crosswords that I learnt that a VADE-MECUM is a little notebook that you take everywhere with you.
    2. My first stab at the anagram was ‘made vecum’ which must mean something, it sounds so plausible. Got there in the end though, but had to check what it meant as I had never come across it before.
      1. I’m sure the Reverend Spooner must have had pretty good Latin!

        Edited at 2016-08-12 11:55 am (UTC)

  3. A pleasant 18:13 with much biffing (or even the step before that, seeing answers from the crossers without even reading the clue). I think that SEALYHAM has come up recently but will need to check why HERMITAGE is a museum. Anyway, thanks to setter and V. Plenty of time now to try the TLS having made a complete horlicks of last week’s (still have not spotted the theme).
    1. I don’t think there was a theme as such. More repeated variations on a device in a number of clues.
      1. The first TLS I have actually finished, waiting see if it was Orl Korrect or not… am far from ready to join the TLS blogging team though!
  4. Fastest Friday, possibly for ever, at 12’23”. FOI 1ac, LOI 19ac. Dnk NOPAL. Incidentally, I have blogged the QC today, and all feedback is welcome. If you don’t normally do it, today’s main puzzle may have left you with spare time…….
  5. Yes, easy. Yes, a bit cliched … not much to say.
    Verlaine, not a glass half full man? Perish the thought!

  6. Ruined a good solving week by having to guess where the ‘A’ went in the never-heard-of VADE MECUM. Needless to say, I guessed wrongly.

    If VADE MECUM is an obscure term, that makes it a poor clue in my opinion. But if it’s just general ignorance on my behalf I guess I’ll cop it sweet.

    To be fair, I had also forgotten to go back and correct the obviously wrong EELY, only to find that it wasn’t.

    Oh well, will try again next week. Thanks setter and verlaine.

    1. If I remember my schoolboy Latin correctly, the literal translation would Go With Me.
      1. The internet claims that the plural of VADE-MECUM is VADE-MECUMS, but something obstreperous in me wants to argue that it should be VADETE-MECUM. (It probably shouldn’t though.)
        1. Sounds like the same source who might think Hamilton and Rosberg take part in Grand Prixs
    2. When I read the Latin clue, I thought ‘This is likely to trip up a bloke from South Sydney’. Now that to me is the definition of a good clue.
  7. 11:22 … a lot of wildlife on show (pooch, bird, the lemur, a moth, eels, another pooch in the SEALYHAM …. what have I missed?).

    TODDLERHOOD very painstakingly assembled from wordplay and submitted in the ingenuous belief that it was an item of clothing for a small child. Sometimes you stare at words too hard to see them.

    Edited at 2016-08-12 07:59 am (UTC)

  8. No problem with VADE MECUM – more of a problem with NOPAL and TODDLERHOOD. Also, I didn’t know DUN was a debt-collector. Still, as I say with pub quizzes I set, the ones that come bottom are the ones that get the most out of it…
    And by V’s own admission, he doesn’t seem the sort to have a glass half full for long anyway.
  9. My usual 30 minutes with no problems. Verlaine, contrary to the reputation that precedes you, I believe you to be a glass half full man. I find it hard to be so generous with this crossword.
    1. It feels like a few weeks since I’ve properly gushed about a crossword, so I was determined to go into this one in a positive frame of mind.

      I see the Club big hitters had this one done and dusted in 5 minutes. I feel we’re owed a week of mostly hard puzzles sometime soon!

  10. Due to a silly mistake early on, I struggled for 15 minutes over my LOI, PARISH. I’d original entered HERITAGE in the grid and didn’t clearly overwrite the T with the I after inserting the M, so I was looking for an administrative district to fit _A_T_H, which probably finished with _AITCH. When I eventually noticed that the T should be an I, it took me 5 seconds to solve. Doh! A sluggish hour to complete, with LAGOS FOI. Liked SILVERSIDE. Still don’t know what a NOPAL is though. Time for Google. Ah, a cactus! Thanks setter and V.
    1. Are you a debt-collector by the way, john_dun? (Like others, I didn’t know that meaning of DUN before I did this puzzle.)
      1. As it happens, I’m not:-)My Dun is short for Dunleavy. My cousin, being possessed of a swarthy skin, was often asked if it was spelt Dunlevi.However I did know the required meaning of DUN from a misspent youth reading Leslie Charteris’ Saint books. I also used to frequent an ale house in Durham called the Dun Cow, but that is yet another meaning describing the cow’s colouring. It’s also directly opposite Durham Prison, where people who didn’t pay the DUN often finished up 🙂
        1. I only knew DUN from dunning letters which most finance systems will produce automatically for aged debtors (or is it creditors?)
  11. 45 minutes but stuck in EELS at 8dn when it was of course EELY.

    17dn SEALYHAM for the second time in a fortnight. Woof-woof!



    horryd Shanghai

  12. I baulked at Thomas More being described as a humanist but Wiki put me right. He was a renaissance humanist, something different, not that he would have known that at the time. Finished this pleasant puzzle in 20 minutes today with LOI BIRD. The welcome magazine at Oxford back in 1964 was called VADE MECUM in the days when LATIN O level was more or less compulsory even for scientists. Is there a magazine still called that today? I had to type this up twice as the first post was registered as SPAM. Anyone know why?

    Edited at 2016-08-12 09:26 am (UTC)

    1. The usual reason is missing a space between a full-stop and the first letter of the next word. LJ thinks it’s a url and blocks it unless you have blogging rights.
    2. In 1966 Latin or Greek O level was a compulsory requirement (or so I was told) whatever you read, Chem in my case. Maybe it wasn’t if you went to Eton or Westminster, but then you’d have done it anyway.
      The FFG (Federation Francaise de Golf) equivalent of the EGU, calls its annual PDF publication of rules, events, guidelines to organisers, its ‘VADE MECUM’ which is unusual as the French tend to avoid using foreign terms if they can, even in ‘dead’ languages.
  13. 28 minutes with DUN as debt-collector and NOPAL unknown. Wasn’t too sure about STEROL either, but took the wordplay on trust. “Ocean-breeding creatures” for “eels” was a bit of a leap but true enough I suppose.

    A very wordy of set clues that required zoom reduced to 93% to fit one page. Usually lengthy clues are more difficult to solve but many of these were a doddle.

    Edited at 2016-08-12 08:37 am (UTC)

    1. I’m pretty sure I only knew the required meaning of DUN from it having come up here before so I suspect you’ll be able to add it to your collections of things you’ve never heard of several times.
      1. Bizarrely, despite my generally awful memory, I can remember exactly where I first learned “dun”: Robert Heinlein’s To Sail Beyond the Sunset, which I read in 1987. Weird how some things stick in the mind for that long, where I can barely remember “Sealyham” from one week to the next.
        1. When I was about 6 there was a firm of debt collectors called Dun(n?) and Bradstreet. Not sure if they were worldwide or local downunder – google says American. My dear old mum pointed out the pun for me.
          Remembered sealyham this week 😉
          15:27 so easy, even with the few unknowns and unlikelies and known-but-forgottens – vade mecum a guess, but I knew I’d seen it before.
  14. 22 minutes, with my last two to fall being the same as the V. What with getting the same one wrong yesterday, I am beginning to wonder if meeting up in that pub in Kennington a while back has not set us in some kind of lockstep.

    Edited at 2016-08-12 08:51 am (UTC)

  15. 16 minutes, all a bit trite as V says, my only unknown was NOPAL which I bunged in anyway.
  16. Fastest Friday for ages for me too although my fast is 40 minutes. STEROL and NOPAL from word play as I did not know the words and one error as I misplaced the A and E in 27 Across. That Latin O level was far too long ago to be of any use. Very much enjoyed the whole 40 minutes spent on a garden bench in the sun with coffee and the dog. Retirement is a wonderful thing. Off to very rural Cornwall for a week with 3 six and unders tomorrow so no crosswords for a week. Fingers crossed for more weather like today’s in Cheshire.
  17. 24 minutes with an equal amount of biff and guess – STEROL, NOPAL and DUN for the latter group. Generally straightforward – IBO exams had VADE MECUM(s) for guidance to centres I recall. Bit clumsy at times this setter – 11a gets my vote for DOD – dullest of the day. As ever the entertaining blog had my cup overflowing whatever state V’s glass(es) were in!
    1. Mm, the surface of 11ac is the sort of borderline sensical gibberish that you could only ever find in a crossword clue, isn’t it? Setting great clues is really hard though, don’t I know it.
  18. 20 mins but unfortunately bunged in “eels”. Never heard of NOPAL despite my wife’s frequent but unfair description of me as Billy No Mates.

    Edited at 2016-08-12 12:04 pm (UTC)

  19. In 1943, when it was a requirement at oriental alternatives to Latin and Greek (Sanskrit, perhaps?). I needed to go up to pass a Latin test after a crash course (I’d done a couple of terms before the war, but that ceased when evacuated, so didn’t get as far as School Cert.) before being allowed to read maths. (I also needed to be confirmed by a bishop as a member of the CofE, as Selwyn only accepted Christians at that time.)
    1. Interestingly, CS Lewis faced an almost equal and opposite situation when he went back up to Oxford after service in the Great War. In those days the university required a pass in maths, and because he’d already been there for a term or two in 1917 and had been wounded, the authorities were willing to turn a blind eye to this lacuna. Had they insisted, the world would have been denied the insights of this singular literary historian. No Narnia either, which would have brought joy and sadness in equal measure, I rather imagine.
    1. If it’s your thing, the screech owl sanctuary at St Columbus Major is worth a visit.

      Edited at 2016-08-12 02:07 pm (UTC)

  20. As has been well-documented in the past I’ve had as much of a grounding in the classics as a ring-tailed lemur so I was doomed to failure.
    1. You are obviously either too young, or went to the wrong sort of school. You have no-one to blame but yourself.
  21. The semi-tropical sun has rotted my brain, of this there is no doubt. However, I have given up trying to catch up on the week’s puzzles and fast-forwarded to today’s, which I found mercifully straightforward. My only NHO was “dun”, but that caused little inconvenience. I knew VADE MECUM from somewhere, and NOPAL from somewhere else – I think I’d have had a hard time convincing myself that NOPAL was a word otherwise.
  22. 18 mins. A knock-free earlier solve than of late which should have led to a faster time, but for some reason I was slow to see several answers that should have been write-ins for me, such as SILVERSIDE, VADE-MECUM, BIRD and SEALYHAM. I was reluctant to enter NOPAL until I had the checker from RINGTAIL. I was also reluctant to enter POOCH until I had got 12dn because I wasn’t 100% happy with HOP as a synonym for “nip”, and that led to it being my LOI after TODDLERHOOD.
  23. No real problem, except that when I got to 21a I saw the enumeration and the checkers I had at the time I biffed HELTER SKELTER (there should be a word for when you biff something having only read the first few words of the clue). I couldn’t tell you what a VADE MECUM was but I’d heard of it.

    I had no problem with NOPAL. I live in San Francisco. We have a part of town called NoPa that stands for “north of the panhandle”. If you have ever been here, you have probably gone to Golden Gate Park and may know it has a long part that sticks out known as the pan-handle. There is a famous (ie you can’t get a reservation) restaurant called Nopa. When their Mexican sous-chef wanted to open his own restaurant they backed him and it is called Nopalito. Which is a sort of play on words that any crossword-lover would like, since Nopal is a Mexican word for an edible cactus, an it is the little son of the original Nopa.

    And in a final twist, it is actually south of Golden Gate Park so not close to Nopa

    Edited at 2016-08-12 03:15 pm (UTC)

  24. If I bothered with horoscopes I’m sure mine this morning would have said something like “A day for biffing”. And so it proved. Unfortunately, inspiration ran out with 13d. I found myself unable to move beyond LEANERNESS for quite a while.
    I see others have mentioned the reappearance of SEALYHAM after one was sighted only very recently. Several unknown words for me today: STEROL, LAMPOONIST, TODDLERHOOD, NOPAL and DUN (in that sense) but the clueing made them straightforward to solve. 41m 47s
  25. Thanks ulaca. We do love animal and bird places. I have looked it up and it is about a 1hr 15 min drive so well within range depending on weather. If it is dry and bright we may stick to the beach. Thanks very much for the suggestion.
  26. 8:46. A lot of biffing from rather obvious definitions culminating in the worst clue I’ve seen for long time. 27ac is just irredeemably awful. I looked it up to see which of the three perfectly feasible arrangements of the vowels happened to be the right one but in the circumstances I don’t even consider this to be cheating.
  27. 9:52 for me in a similar experience to the first half of the week except with significantly more biffing.
  28. Not too hard (though I took nearly an hour), with a number of somewhat contrived though obviously legitimate words (EELY? TODDLERHOOD?). SPIV went in from a vague memory, as neither SPIV itself nor even less “wide boy” is in my non-British vocabulary. I did know SEALYHAM, but only because it threw me when it appeared a few days ago.

    Edited at 2016-08-12 10:48 pm (UTC)

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