Times 26,675: Down And Out In Puzzles And London

To begin with a semi-important announcement: keriothe and I are planning to have a crosswordy meetup on April 12th, probably at that old stalwart the George Inn near London Bridge. It is after all almost exactly the midway point between the 2016 and 2017 Championships, which means we won’t have seen a lot of people for 6 months! It would be great if you could make it and/or spread the word to any other potentially interested parties…

Anyway, to today’s business. I did this enjoyable and skilfully clued puzzle offline and in about 8.15 according to my stopwatch. Most of the surfaces are rather smooth and I particularly liked 1ac, 8dn and 20dn. I’ll make that last my Clue of the Day because a verlaine always likes a clue which could be about a drop of the hard stuff if you squint at it (and today is St Patrick’s Day, after all).

I predict 1dn will also have many admirers, though I do feel we’ve seen it clued very similarly at least once before in my lifetime as a blogger. If I were to quibble I’d say I didn’t really feel that the income in 21ac is any more useful for retaining services than its opposite? Not that that really matters I suppose but it would have been lovely if it had managed to be more &littish.

I’ve been reading the brilliant essay collection Inside The Whale all this week so 14ac should probably have been a write-in; which provides a nice segue into saying that I need to go away and catch up on the TLS puzzle that’s been blogged today and maybe you should to. A raised glass to the setter and a hearty “Sláinte” to anyone planning to partake later today!


1 Rook perhaps next to knight, king or queen? (5)
CROWN – CROW [rook, perhaps] next to N [knight]
4 Novel is made complicated for radio, TV, etc (4, 5)
NEWS MEDIA – NEW [novel] + (IS MADE*) [“complicated”]
9 Immediately performing after that trouble (2, 3, 4)
ON THE NAIL – ON THEN AIL [performing | after that | trouble]
10 Gather behind strike leader, flummoxed (5)
STUCK – TUCK [gather] behind S{trike}
11 What Bren guns can do seconds after bombing (6)
STRAFE – S [seconds] + (AFTER*) [“bombing”]
12 Group of wives from Home Counties tease celebrity endlessly (8)
SERAGLIO – SE RAG LIO{n} [Home Counties | tease | celebrity, “endlessly”]
14 N African port guards fine one – evocative of repressive state? (9)
ORWELLIAN – ORAN [N African port] guards WELL I [fine | one]
16 Classify third man “to the right of left” (5)
LABEL – ABEL [third man (after Adam and Cain)] to the right of L [left]
17 Pulling over, finds records (5)
DISCS – DISC{over}S [finds, “pulling” over]
19 Stopped working outside small bar and parted company (9)
DISBANDED – DIED [stopped working] outside S BAND [small | bar]
21 The sort of income you ultimately require to retain a service (8)
UNEARNED – {yo}U NEED [require] to retain A RN [service]
22 Highland water in church that encourages growth (6)
CLOCHE – LOCH [highland water] in CE [church]
25 European airline expanding axes its currency (5)
ZLOTY – LOT [European (Polish) airline] “expanding” Z + Y [axes]
26 Pines block assistant nearby (9)
ALONGSIDE – LONGS [pines] block AIDE [assistant]
27 Tube complaint? It is on record (9)
ENTERITIS – IT IS on ENTER [record]. Tubes as in one’s intestines!
28 Circle late notice about Republican (5)
ORBIT – OBIT [late notice] about R [Republican]


1 This producer’s slow, laboriously enlisting a pair of unknowns (9, 6)
CROSSWORD PUZZLE – (PRODUCER’S SLOW*) [“laboriously”], “enlisting” Z + Z [a pair of unknowns]
2 Creature that swims from pilot, terrified (5)
OTTER – hidden in {pil}OT TER{rified}
3 Injection, perhaps, to remove foreign article necessary (7)
NEEDFUL – NEED{le}FUL [injection, “removing” LE (foreign article)]
4 Bread articles placed end to end (4)
NAAN – AN reversed placed next to AN
5 Passionate about climbing headland to get the bush? (10)
WILDERNESS – WILD [passionate] + RE reversed [about, “climbing”] + NESS [headland]
6 Wrongly identify one’s car at first in London road (7)
MISCALL – I’S C{ar} in MALL [London road]
7 Dangerous section of road, maybe, nameless crash site? (6, 3)
DOUBLE BED – DOUBLE BE{n}D [dangerous section of road, “nameless”]. “Crash site” as in place to sleep!
8 Tight low-necked garment not having Queen’s acceptance (15)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT – (LOW-NECKED GA{r}MENT*) [“tight”, “not having Queen”]
13 As cryptically suggested by this conflicted region? (6, 4)
MIDDLE EAST – reverse cryptic – the middle of {e}AS{t} being “as”
15 He was swapped on party duty, stripped and exhausted (6-3)
WASHED OUT – (HE WAS*) [“swapped”] on DO [party] + {d}UT{y} [“stripped”]
18 Rose succeeded with petition (7)
SPRAYER – S [succeeded] with PRAYER [petition]
20 A couple of litres, say, run out rather fast (7)
ALLEGRO – A L L EG RO [a | litre + litre | say | run out]
23 Conservative branch to rise (5)
CLIMB – C LIMB [Conservative | branch]
24 Five missing pacifists is enough (4)
DOES – DO{v}ES [“Five missing”, pacifists]

61 comments on “Times 26,675: Down And Out In Puzzles And London”

  1. 18:44 … excellent Friday workout.

    I’m in awe of the anagram for ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. Bravo. Equally admiring of the misdirection in 5d. I’m sure I wasn’t the only herbiphobe to try coming up with a shrub — I pencilled in the exotic wassennton bush for a while.

    Thanks setter and Verlaine.

    1. Absolutely. I wasted more time than I want to admit worrying about this non-existent bush. I thought it was just me being dim.
    2. My only bush beginning with W is the Wellingtonia, and if you take out the G, then “well into” is very promising for “passionate about”. If it had fitted, I would have shoved it in.
      1. Coo that’s a big shrub Z. The one in my parents’ garden in Wilts. years ago was about twice as tall as the house. Still, your parsing was ingenious.
  2. 17m. I made horribly heavy weather of this. For instance I put INEARNED at 21ac, so dismissed CROSSWORD PUZZLE as an answer and didn’t reconsider for an embarrassingly long time.
    Good puzzle, though. I thought 21ac was very neat: of course strictly speaking you could retain a service with earned income but it’s nicely evocative of the idle rentier classes.
    Thanks setter and blogger, a good weekend to all, and hopefully see some of you on the 12th.
    1. Actually, you’re right, on reflection (and given that compelling explanation) it’s a really good clue! I didn’t sleep very well last night, I’m going to blame that.
  3. Hard work, but very enjoyable and I was just pleased to finish without resorting to aids. Didn’t know the Polish airline but knew the currency. I’m still unable to see band/bar but assume I am missing something obvious.

    Edited at 2017-03-17 08:14 am (UTC)

      1. Yes, that seems to cover it as I found this under heraldic terms: Bar ~ A horizontal band, narrower than a fess but broader than a burrulet

        I thought we might be in the realms of a band of colour but couldn’t equate it with bar. Thanks.

        1. Oh, yes, as in “bar sinister”. Wish I’d realised that at the time…
      1. Yes, I considered that before I was convinced of bar/band (which I now accept), but I couldn’t find any support for b = bar in the usual sources so I think that even if it does exist it’d be too obscure for our purposes. On the other hand if that’s the thinking that gets one to the answer it’s fair enough.
  4. 1dn was user friendly along with 1ac CROWN FOI.

    All over in 33 minutes so much improvemnt on yestrday.

    LOI 9ac ON THE NAIL (though I had the unparseable ON THE BALL for ages.)


    Verlaine – your new avatar (Art Tatum) does not have the imposing air of your original V. – Meldrew

    1. Once everyone has had the image of Nahum seared on their retinas, and by that token will never again be able to complain that they’ve never heard of that excellent book of the Bible, I shall restore my proper face!
      1. A valuable public service, for sure. Can’t wait to see how you do Habbakuk and Nehemiah.
      2. I am travelling abroad for work at the moment as usual but really hope to make it on April 12th in London.
        1. Would be great if you could make it! Obviously I don’t *mind* if it just ends up being a drunken tete-a-tete between myself and keriothe, but it feels like the larger social possibilities of our wonderful shared hobby are going largely untapped…
  5. … as I chucked in ‘lots’ in desperation at 24dn. Oops. dnp DISCS either, but I was luckier there…

  6. Unlike horryd, I stuck with ON THE BALL, because I had quite a few unparsed in my 50 minutes.

    I completely missed the parsing of 15 and 17, I didn’t know that LOT was a Polish airline (though I guessed an Aeroflot connection?), and I couldn’t quite see “band” for “bar” in 18—but I could see “ban”, which confused me.

    So, given that I had so many which I was certain were right but couldn’t quite see the through line, I never went back to 9a. Curses! Ironic, given that I’m about a mile away from the (likely apocryphal) “nail”. Everyone in Bristol knows it’s true, whatever the research says.

    50m DNF for me, therefore. FOI 2d, LOI 27a, COD 1d. Thanks to setter and blogger!

  7. Untimed, doing other things, but felt fastish if not altogether straightforward.
    In what sense is ROSE SPRAYER – would UKians call a shower rose what OZians would call a shower head? Wrote it in, then consulted the dictionaries but still flummoxed.
    Never seen tight as an anagram indicator – after writing in the obvious answer took a bit to work out the parsing. Lucky to know zloty and Lot; knew cloche & seraglio as words but not their meanings. Liked the puzzle, COD to strafe.
    1. Yes, I think a rose is the part that diffuses the water on a shower or a watering can.

      I found it very difficult to get past the “hat” sense of the word CLOCHE. Typical crosswords, clues are always botanical when you don’t want them to be, and not botanical when you do.

      Edited at 2017-03-17 10:08 am (UTC)

  8. The very friendly 1D made for a good start and the rest followed in steady fashion – excellent puzzle to finish the week.

    I’ve fired a Bren gun – a very accurate light machine gun. Men who had used it in combat told me it was if anything too accurate rather than providing a wider field of fire

    1. Teds with Bren guns! The past exploits I imagine for you get more colourful by the day…
      1. I was at school at an inner London grammar in the 1950s where military training was mandatory part of the curriculum.

        At 14 we did a year of basic army training including stripping, cleaning, reassembling and firing rifles and a Bren gun as well outdoor survival.

        At 15 I did 3 years in the RAF where I learned to be morse code radio operator, navigator and to control an aircraft in level flight in the air (not landing or taking off).

        I believe youngsters today would benefit from similar training and discipline

        1. They almost certainly would. There was CCF at my school but I avoided it with the same assiduousness as I evaded all sporting activities… and look at the terrible state of me now!
          1. Before that came on the agenda I’d had 3 years practice avoiding as much compulsory sport as possible so I had no problem with getting out of playing soldiers. I’m sure it did a lot of people a lot of good but it wasn’t what I needed at that age.

            Edited at 2017-03-17 02:12 pm (UTC)

          2. I don’t get 3D. “Injection perhaps to remove foreign article necessary (7).” NEEDFUL

            If a needle (injection) loses it’s foreign article (le) it becomes simply need. How does the clue help with attaching the “ful”?

            1. The dictionaries define a NEEDLEFUL as “the length of thread put into a needle at one time”. The “perhaps” in the clue makes a playful reference to another type of Needle. Full of a vaccine perhaps….
          3. I don’t get 3D. “Injection perhaps to remove foreign article necessary (7).” NEEDFUL

            If a needle (injection) loses it’s foreign article (le) it becomes simply need. How does the clue help with attaching the “ful”?

        2. I learned to fire the 5.5 inch gun howitzer, but not how to get away from the area once the Russian equivalent of our Green Archer dropped a shell on our placement as soon as we’d fired one.
  9. 33m but held up by on the nail which in my confused blonde (well it was once) head I thought meant ‘the right amount of money’. We live and learn! Otherwise I found this quite straightforward and probably the most Mondayish of the week’s offerings! Glad of the blog again, V, for the enjoyment and the enlightenment. I’m off to London to see some theatre so good wishes for the weekend to one and all.
  10. This took a lot longer than it felt possibly due to collateral damage from the merlot massacre that occurred in the cottage last night. Inspite of my manifold years on this planet always thought on the nail was the same inference as hit the nail on the head…..Off to Tate Britain this morning for the Hockney picture show.35 mins TY V and setter
  11. Another good time for me that would – and should – have been quicker had I not entered ZLOTI. I am not sure I have ever written it down before and with the Z in place I saw the airline and bunged it in without reading the clue properly. Another small lesson learned.
  12. Around 40 minutes – particularly enjoyed DOES for some reason.

    Ulaca (for it is I)

  13. Have had to do my daily XWord on the iPhone all week which has led to some very long times. Isn’t half fiddly! At last managed one in less than the hour LOI DOES. I hate those -o-s four letter answers. I found 208 possibles… eniamretrauq
  14. Excellent Friday-ish puzzle, especially the airline inside the currency. Not for the first time, I added an extra degree of difficulty for myself, this time by going with ON THE SPOT at first.
  15. Very good puzzle for the end of the week. I thought I was being extra clever and bunged in ‘anna’ (as in an old Indian coin) for ‘Bread’ at 4d, thereby adding about 15 minutes to my eventual 50 minute time and making the ‘Novel is made complicated’ for 4a particularly apt. Missed the parsing of DOVES, my last in – couldn’t get past ‘CO’ for ‘pacifist’. I’ll go for the obvious and plump for the ‘crash site’ as my favourite, closely followed by ‘tube complaint’.

    Thank you to setter and blogger.

  16. Gave up on 24dn after 45min, bunging in LOTS to finish grid fill. I’d done all of RH side before I had anything more than 2dn on left – I was sure there was a producer with ZZ in his name to be found at 1dn, and had been trying to make something from various non-fictional states at 14ac.
  17. Made a pigs ear of this one by not noticing that my eventual solution to 1d changed my LISTS for 17a to DISTS. On top of that I had ON THE BALL for 9a, so 2 wrong in 38:37. A dispiriting end to the week. I did like CRASH SITE and WILDERNESS, where I had the same esoteric shrub as Sotira for a while. I was tempted by EPOXY with PO as that well known growing European airline, but I couldn’t reconcile the glue with a currency and eventually saw the real meaning of expanding. An interesting puzzle. Thanks setter and Verlaine.

    Edited at 2017-03-17 01:04 pm (UTC)

  18. Sadly, we had to make that awful final trip to the vets first thing this morning. He was 15 and has had a good life, but he gave back much more than he took. Half an hour ago I picked this puzzle up as substitute for the usual post-prandial tats. Jacked it in with 9a misbiffed and 12a not springing to mind.
    1. One of the utter joys of this blog is not the obvious interaction but the small insight into each other’s lives.
      Many people are sympathising with you.
    2. Really sorry to hear that BW. At least he gave and received lots of love and affection for those 15 years.
    3. I’m so sorry BW. I know the feeling. We have lost two poodles in the past 16 months (pictured) and the pain doesn’t go. Both died unexpectedly. We now have two rescue poodles, two grumpy old men, Oscar & Felix, because they make a real Odd Couple. I sincerely hope you can get over your pain. Martin
    4. Oh, what terribly sad news. They are so brave these pets of ours, and as you say they give back so much more than they take. I will never forget the look in our old flat coat’s eyes as he was given his final injection. He seemed to be saying: “…. I’m sorry I’m being such a nuisance….” as we all bawled our eyes out. Heartfelt condolences to you and yours. Janie x

      1. Exactly the same with our golden, Janie, but I interpreted the look as telling me that it was ok, he was ready to go.
        Was actually a big help to me in getting through it.
  19. Started in the coffee-shop and finished off at home, so no accurate time but probably about 50 mins. – which is good for me, for a Friday.

    Much of it went in unparsed, so particular thanks to Rimbaud’s mate for the explanations. Thanks also to setter.

    Many commiserations to boltonwanderer – I have also made that trip and it never gets any easier. However, the pain will ease and the memories will stay with you.


    Edited at 2017-03-17 02:01 pm (UTC)

  20. I wondered if I’d be the only solver to put “lotte” for 2 down, not seeing the more obvious “otter” and vaguely remembering it as a type of fish. It left me a bit stuck in the top left hand corner and it was only after sneaking a look at the solution to 1 act that I saw my error and completed the rest of the grid.
  21. Thank you for all the thoughtful and kind comments I’ve just read, which are much appreciated.
  22. My bread was ANNA for a while as I thought that bread was shorthand for currency and anna is or was part of the monetary system in India. My “enough” was LOTS and stayed that way as I couldn’t make sense of the clue. I had C.O. (Conscientious Objector) for”pacifist” and couldn’t get it out of my head.
  23. I was done in by ‘lotte’ also being hidden in 2 down. Sure I’ve seen it on a French menu …
  24. 14:38 for a crossword I’d clearly have enjoyed a lot more if I hadn’t felt so darned tired. As it was, I never really found the setter’s wavelength.

    Joining the CCF was effectively compulsory at Dotheboys (you could join the scouts instead, but as most of them only did so because they were flat-footed, it wasn’t regarded as a proper alternative). After basic training (Parts 1 and 2), you could choose between Officers’ Cadre (mostly for those aspiring to a career in the army and hoping to go on to Sandhurst), Artillery (who got to fire the school’s field gun and Bren gun) and Signals (which I joined as being a comparatively cushy number and which has proved useful subsequently mainly because I learned the phonetic alphabet – but does mean that, unlike dorsetjimbo, I’ve never fired a Bren).

    In my final year I became bandmaster, and (as the only full-time bandsman) on corps afternoons when the band wasn’t practising for the Remembrance Day Parade or “General Salute and March Past”, skived off to a music room and listened to records. Happy days!

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