Times 26,745: Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me…

…when I blog twice a week? Don’t worry, it’s only temporary, to make up for Pip’s kindly standing in for me last Friday, while I was in Barcelona gawping at the Sagrada Familia and sunburning my knees. Anyway this proved a very agreeable midweek puzzle, with some nice surfaces throughout, with a fair few easy ones to get started with but a few tougher nuts to crack at the end. And indeed the latter managed to push me just over the 10 minute mark on this occasion.

7dn was a write-in for me as I lived in South Norwood a couple of years ago, indeed right across the road from Selhurst Park stadium for a while, so the history of Crystal Palace was well-known; similarly I’m quite ashamed I had to think for even a few seconds to get 2dn. (Just to keep things a little fair though, I didn’t know upon which river Durham stands off the top of my head, which I’m sure many of my less London-centric compatriots will have!) On the more difficult end of the spectrum, I will definitely not have been alone in spending an agonisingly long time staring at 28ac wondering how on earth its wordplay could lead to TURBOT, and it also took ages for the penny to drop on 24ac, even when I was pretty sure what the solution must be. Clue of the Day from me to the quite original 6dn, whose unusualness managed to slow me down, combined with the fact that “suit” is not the most obvious definition for the answer!

Thanks setter and to all of you for your patience in accepting cotton when you are used to silky feathers. See you again very soon!

1 Fresh quality in some French vintages? (8)
DEWINESS – in DES [some French], WINES [vintages]
5 Barbed Juliet made fun of missing Romeo (6)
JAGGED – J [Juliet] + {r}AGGED [made fun of, “missing Romeo”]
10 Waste education on evident shower? (9)
OVERTRAIN – OVERT RAIN [evident | shower]
11 Excessive measure restricting Ecstasy (5)
STEEP – STEP [measure] restricting E [Ecstasy]
12 Essence of fruit stone hearts (4)
PITH – PIT H [fruit stone | hearts]
13 Combine, say, run back with an early finish — around five (9)
HARVESTER – HARE STER{n} [run | back “with an early finish”], around V [five]
15 A hot soup goes painfully here? (10)
OESOPHAGUS – (A H SOUP GOES*) [“painfully”], semi-&lit
17 Test in English before ten in the morning (4)
EXAM – E [English] before X AM [ten | in the morning]
19 Overload current vehicle (4)
TAXI – TAX I [overload | current]
20 Control way of working allotment (10)
MODERATION – MODE RATION [way of working | allotment]
22 Discover M has plant for top agent? (9)
SPYMASTER – SPY M [discover | M] has ASTER [plant]
24 Like creating cake or bun’s filling? (4)
AKIN – the filling of {b}AKIN{g} [creating cake or bun]
26 Blood groups revealed — that’s concerning (5)
ABOUT – AB OUT [blood groups | revealed]
27 On backward Greek island, I got off with European jet-setter (9)
SOCIALITE – on COS reversed [“backward” Greek island], I LIT [I | got off] with E [European]
28 No fool’s thrown back fish (6)
TARPON – reverse of NO PRAT [“no fool”‘s thrown back]
29 Novice has to ask for meal when day has passed (8)
BEGINNER – BEG [ask for] + {d}INNER [meal “when day has passed”]

1 Pronounce judgement on tenor after rising (4)
DOOM – MOOD reversed [tenor “after rising”]
2 Sexy, with uniform made up for Sergeant Pepper number (4,2,5-4)
3 That’ll never happen to a phone when roaming (3,1,4)
NOT A HOPE – (TO A PHONE*) [“when roaming”]
4 Hide of small walrus, perhaps (5)
STASH – S TASH [small | walrus, perhaps]
6 Either way, some jeans weren’t crew’s navy suit (6)
ANSWER – hidden in one direction in {je}ANS WER{en’t} and in the other in {c}REW’S NA{vy}
7 What gave rise to Crystal Palace’s fantastic showing (5,10)
GREAT EXHIBITION – double def, more or less
8 Behaviour left your setter in depression (10)
DEPORTMENT – PORT ME [left | your setter] in DENT [depression]
9 In the dough and done dealing with Euro and cent (2,6)
EN CROUTE – (EURO + CENT*) [“dealing with…”]
14 Happy to include singular terriers as competition entry (10)
CONTESTANT – CONTENT [happy] to include S TA [singular | terriers]
16 Renunciation of an appointment when meeting Yankee (8)
APOSTASY – A POST AS [an | appointment | when] meeting Y [Yankee]
18 A clam cooked with mostly dry seafood (8)
CALAMARI – (A CLAM*) [“cooked”] with ARI{d} [“mostly” dry]
21 Rubbish overly military show (6)
TATTOO – TAT TOO [rubbish | overly]
23 Scout playing field supported by church (5)
RECCE – REC [playing field] supported by CE [church]
25 Nearly drained Durham’s river (4)
WEAR – WEAR{y} [“nearly” drained]

61 comments on “Times 26,745: Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Read Me…”

  1. After falling into the TURBOT trap, and taking a long time to see where I’d gone wrong. I agree about the quality of 6DN.
  2. Oh, as a side-note, if anyone fancies trying their hand at (another) real masterpiece of crossword construction you could do worse than tackling Shackleton’s Listener this week (# 4453). It’s bloody difficult but as usual the sense of awe when various pennies drop and you think “how on earth is it even possible to do that in a crossword?!” justifies every hour and swatch of torn-out hair.

    Edited at 2017-06-07 06:59 am (UTC)

    1. Apropos your confusion on Durham’s river, I don’t know if you remember Roger Whittaker’s charming little song Durham Town. As a boy, the writer would sit on the banks of the River Tyne, watching all the ships sailing down the line. I could never listen to it without thinking, “Don’t you mean the Wear?” Durham was a city too. I also doubt if lads called their mother Momma, but it was still very poignant. Maybe John Dunn could advise on this last point.
      1. I was born in Durham and spent my first 20 years living in a small mining village called Willington, 7 miles SW of the city. The actual pit was at Brancepeth, and the colliery was at Willington with a huge slag heap which the kids used to play on(despite the dire warnings). My Dad worked in the 18 inch seams for 15 years after leaving school at 14 years old, until he taught himself to fix radios in a shed in the garden and then opened a shop in the village. I never heard anyone call their mother Momma. It was always Mam or Mammy. I used to travel through Durham every day on my way to grammar school at Sunderland, so the river was a write in although it took me a minute or two to see the parsing.
      2. I remember the tune well, and remember wondering if there was a Durham town somewhere else in the world being referred to, him being born in Kenya, so your comment inspired me to google it and I was informed by Wiki that:
        “Whittaker’s original intent, to set the song in Newcastle, had been abandoned in favour of nearby Durham because Whittaker agreed with his producer that “Durham” simply sounded better. While focusing the song on Newcastle, Whittaker had set its second verse “on the banks of the river Tyne”, and as Whittaker had little or no familiarity with his chosen locale for the song he retained the verse with its Tyneside setting for the song’s finalized version set in Durham. In fact the Tyne flows eastwards through Newcastle but it is the Wear, 20 miles to the south, which flows through Durham”.
        1. Thank you John. That’s more or less what I suspected. I couldn’t hear a north-east voice saying Momma either.
  3. About 45mins over porridge and not sure where the time went – although maybe an indication is the age I took over Doom. I know – odd what you can’t see. Ages ago I saw some Tarpon in New Orleans and was gobsmacked by how massive they are, like gigantic sardines.
    COD Stash, for neatness.
    Thanks setter and V.
      1. I guess 6d also fits the Sgt. Pepper theme: if you play it backwards there’s a hidden message.
  4. 15:40 … bit of a work-out, for sure. Last in ANSWER and AKIN.

    As of today I’m a reformed character so I diligently worked at 28a until something that parsed came up. We’ll see how long that lasts.

    I imagine a lot of work went into this puzzle. I do like 2d, with a bit of a Lovely Rita misdirection that had me trying to work a meter maid into it. COD, though, has to be 6d.

    I’ll still need you, Verlaine, even with sunburnt knees.

    1. I was still wearing my stylish Victorian-era shorts on Monday, but a good dose of summer British rainstorms yesterday mean that my knees are safely stowed away for another year now…
  5. I was so chuffed at actually spotting a hidden clue so fast that I never bothered with the rest of it, so failed to see, until Verlaine kindly pointed it out, what a splendid clue it is. Thought of TURBOT, of course, and though I never put it in, the Gresham’s Law of Cryptics saw to it that it kept TARPON from my mind for ages. I wasted some time wondering what to do with UT at 26ac. LOI STASH. I liked AKIN, but ANSWER is the COD.
    1. The answer being ANSWER is pleasingly self-reflexive, as if it needed any more bonus points!
  6. 30mins ended with a ? at both AKIN and the def ‘suit’ for ANSWER, and an unfortunate toss up between the wp and the def at 28ac. Note to self: ‘always go for word play – your vocabulary is not that extensive!!’

  7. Still running in slow but steady mode, though I don’t think that’s why it took me so long to get the Beatle’s song. I remember walking past a pensioners’ club on the Isle of Wight in 1979 and hearing them cheerfully singing “When I’m Sixty-four” with the same gusto as they’d use for Pack Up your Troubles” or There’ll Be Bluebirds Over”, perhaps a true indication of the universality of the Beatles’ songs. I had my Beatle birthday last year.
    There can’t be many combinations that allow two fish. Naturally I got TURBOT first but with no chance of parsing. Couldn’t parse WEAR either, but left it in because of kind Durham. Thanks V, and for revealing the true and unappreciated glory of 6.
    I trust I’m Getting Better, With a Little Help from My Friends. Hopefully it won’t necessitate Fixing a Hole. Good Morning, Good Morning all.
  8. 15m, with difficulties in the same places (I actually put TURBOT in, but fortunately felt uneasy enough to unbiff it) as our blogger, and similar admiration for 6dn.
  9. Well, at least I finished, although with DEEM, EYESTRAIN and TURBOT, so thanks for the explanations V. In awe of 6dn. My Beatle day is in 10 days time.
  10. 15.13 No problem with 28ac because I looked at the cryptic before I had any crossing letters to confuse me and if it wasn’t be salmON it had to be the only other one I knew. Thanks for the parsing of AKIN – that was a straight biff because I never got beyond cAKe.
  11. Joni did, straightaway on 6d, and I saw life from Both Sides Now. I better come clean, I actually remember the Frankie Laine (Lord above) version best, not having been able to sing WHEN I’M SIXTY-FOUR for the best part of a decade now, I also tried to find a home for lovely Rita, meter-maid. She’d left though, meeting a man from the motor trade. Bye bye. The penny then dropped, as it should as I had a bedsit for a couple of years across the road from Penny Lane. I never wore a mac in the pouring rain either. Weren’t we stupid when we were young? Nearly as daft as we are today. 28 minutes with LOI EN CROUTE. Bring back proper pies! Thanks for the memory, V and setter. Yes, I remember Bob Hope too.

    Edited at 2017-06-07 10:45 am (UTC)

  12. DNK TARPOT or EN CROUTE, but got lucky for the third day in a row.

    Some great clues as mentioned, but I’ll give a shout out to STASH.

    Thanks setter and Verlaine. Hope I’m still doing these WHEN I’M SIXTY-FOUR.

          1. This is turning into the opposite of a fine kettle of fish.

            I was only aiming for a clean Sweep!

  13. I can’t resist a good biff, and TURBOT was just too tempting this morning. I did have a moment’s hesitation when I thought maybe I should come back later and reconsider but no, I was too confident that it could only be turbot.
  14. Yay, a relatively easy one 🙂 I’ve put together a general election* crossword** and I’ll add a link to it in the thread for tomorrow’s cryptic.


  15. my WOD,was known to me via the effusive Robson Green and his fishing challenges. I never even thought of TURBOT for 28ac.
    I started on the West Wing mainly due to 7dn GREAT EXHIBITION being a write in but had a slow start on the East Wing as 2dn WHEN I’M SIXTY FOUR should have been a write-in!

    24ac AKIN did not parse muster. The Walrus (4dn S-TASH) was from The Magical Mystery Tour EP.


    Is salmon en croute a stranger in Perth?

    All things in MODERATION, including moderation.

    Edited at 2017-06-07 09:50 am (UTC)

      1. Perhaps he turns the puzzle upside down before solving to make it more of a challenge – not a bad idea actually!
      2. It is because he is in the Southern hemisphere, I think. Like bathwater..
        1. Er, ok jerry if you say so. I prefer Verlaine’s suggestion with the alternative suggestion that horryd solves in a mirror.
          1. You are quite right of course, thank you for pointing that out .. in my defence I can only say it is a long way from me. I had not appreciated in fact how much closer you are to it than I am. Apparently the Southern hemisphere has only 10% of the world’s population.. having China placed firmly in the Northern one, is probably a factor 🙂
            1. Down here you often hear something being pumped up as “largest (whatever) in the Southern hemisphere mate”. Sounds more impressive than it is, for the reason you stated.
  16. In combination with horryd‘s observations above, I think it’s clear that TARPON is a pretty quick write-in if you’ve heard of one, and the diametric opposite if you haven’t! I’m more comfortable with TARPEIAN rocks myself.
  17. 41 minutes, so again not too bad for me these days. I was pleased to avoid turbot for the unknown TARPON but I trusted to wordplay. Got the AK of 24ac from the middle letters [filling] of {c}AK{e} which led me to AKIN = like, before realising what was actually going on.

    Edited at 2017-06-07 09:28 am (UTC)

  18. My inner optimist believes it’s getting better all the time, just something I’ve got to admit. My inner cynic ruthlessly intrudes with can’t get no worse.
  19. Fortunately not tempted by the turbot (although I did like Galspray’s tarpot). The tarpon season in the Florida keys ends just about now – they provide great sport fishing. The one I had trouble with was OESOPHAGUS because the O is dropped this side of the pond. Ditto Jack on AKIN. At 12.18 it must have been on my wavelength (or I’m getting better all the time).
  20. Quite pleased with 16.11. Whenever I see a reference to the Great Exhibition I remember a solemn moment 100 years later in 1951, bored to death by being the only child in a bunch of adults intent to inform me of this, that and the other at the Festival of Britain. I was interested however when someone mentioned the G.E. “Will there be another one then in er, er, 2051?” “Yes, bound to be.” And I made a vow, the mightiest in my life, to live to go to that, and not with any b- adults! 34 years to go and by God
    I’ll do it. – joekobi
  21. So that’s what a Wednesday feels like for everybody else. Tricky enough, this one, took me 35 minutes with a foolish TURBOT in but not understood. Liked ANSWER and the Beatles stuff. Scary to think when Sgt Pepper was on my playlist, the idea of being 64 was something that only happened to old people. Now that age I can view with nostalgia.
    Thanks V for the excellent subbing.
  22. Here comes the sun, again, hence insomnia. Flew through today’s in 18 minutes. Can I mention the newspaper taxi at 19ac? Really enjoyed the puzzle. Apparently Lovely Rita introduced or at least popularised the phrase ‘meter maid’. Thanks v and setter. Am going to the Isle of Wight in the future. Honestly..

    Edited at 2017-06-07 12:58 pm (UTC)

  23. Another TURBOT man here. And I came here to find out, at 24a, how bun’s fiiling (U) was actually IN, since cakes’s filling was already AK. Since the two long ones were write-ins (my brother lived in south norwood too, although I ithink I knew the story of the exhibition and the fire anyway), this was quite easy (except for that fish).

    A rule I forgot today is “when you are going to the blog to get the explanation for an answer, take another look. perhaps it is wrong, especially if biffed!”

    Edited at 2017-06-07 01:14 pm (UTC)

  24. Two errors, neither of which yielded to any kind of justification on the parsing front so there’s a lesson in there somewhere. En croute took forever too, thanks no doubt to the very well disguised def, and it was only when I got to the page of the big boys’ book of crossword solving with the bit about “if nothing sensible seems to fit the checkers try thinking in foreign” that the p dropped.
  25. Managed to avoid the biff traps again today, but took 43:31. I eventually saw the parsing for AKIN, being nudged in the right direction by cAKe, and confidently put ____ON at 28ac, before trying SALMON and, briefly, TURBOT before dragging the TARPON from the depths. Took forever to spot the anagram fodder at 2d after which the penny dropped. The original vinyl is in a cupboard in front of me, but I resisted the temptation to glance through the titles. Started off with GLASS for 7d which gave me 5a before 17a gave me the X after which it became crystal clear. TARPON and then AKIN were my last 2 in. An excellent puzzle, superbly blogged. Thanks setter and V. The owls seem to be taking over. My elder daughter has just been appointed Barn Owl for the local Brownie pack en route to her being installed as Brown Owl once her training is complete. My son in law reckons she’s bossy enough to be an Eagle owl, but somehow he got away with that comment!
  26. 13 minutes, but I was ready to be full of ire and bile – I was convinced that there was a typo for “overlord” and 19 across was meant to be I,VAN. Conviction in that must have held me up a few minutes.
    1. Talking of tearing my hear out over the latest Listener puzzle, I actually went so far as to email the editors to check that “six each” in the rubric wasn’t a careless slip for “approximately six each”. Of course they refused to even discuss such matters with me before the closing date, but the lesson I came away with, if the two possible scenarios are (a) the incredibly smart people who construct these things slipping up and (b) me being an unperceptive idiot as usual, let’s just say that one of them is considerably more likely than the other…
  27. Yet another DNF as I simply could not see 1d. Otherwise a fun puzzle and I even got Tarpon easily (having just re-read Julian May’s terrific Saga of the Exiles trilogy). Anyway I just have to say Sgt Pepper isn’t even one of the better album by the Beatles. Full of rather poor songs from Paul and, presumably, acid-based dross from John (I will forgive LSD).
    1. I loved the first two books of Saga of the Exiles, but at that point all my favourite characters were dead (anyone who was a normal human being rather than a psychotic killing machine, basically) so I never bothered with the rest! Did tarpons feature heavily in them, then, as I don’t remember…?

      I’m a White Album man myself… never mind the quality, feel the width. Plus a great album sleeve (and an aspirational one for idlers everywhere) from my mum’s, and Brian Ferry’s, old art tutor at Newcastle.

      1. It must be the third book. Marc (Remillard) is fishing for tarpon in Florida. His son disturbs him and he loses the fish. Marc then uses his powers to turn his son into a tarpon and he spends some time “on the hook”. Well, any parent would. I think one needs to suspend one’s beliefs. By the way, thanks for your very enjoyable blogs -always a delight.
      2. I’m with you on the White Album V, and I remember buying it with my own earned money on my first solo trip to NYC when I was 19 (it was so much cheaper here, as were cigarettes which you could buy from a vending machine). But Sgt Pepper was the music of my awakening from a conventional British female childhood, as it was for quite a few of us “girls in pearls”. The other records we played at the time were the sound track to Un Homme Et Une Femme and Francoise Hardy’s Mon Amie La Rose album…. Got to admit life got better, at least for me, so I don’t feel nostalgic.
  28. Late on parade but couldn’t miss out thanking the setter for ANSWER, STASH and EN CROUTE (which made me smile).
  29. A DNF for me—luckily the only thing that I didn’t finish, given that I did this on a flight back home and my first answers in were DOOM and NOT A HOPE! That was a worrying start at a few thousand feet in a 737, I can tell you…

    Sadly, though I corrected my spelling of OESOPHAGUS in the end and got most of the SW, I slipped on the TARPON. I did even think of it, but it seemed an unlikely word and “prat” just didn’t seem Times-ey enough to be a sure thing. Ah well.

    Hopefully I’ll be back to my usual routine tomorrow. Too many helpings of Mythos, ouzo, and τσικουδιά dulled my mornings enough not to fit a crossword in while I was holidaying.

  30. 17 mins. I spent the last couple of minutes on ANSWER and I really appreciated the clue when the penny finally dropped. I also spent plenty of time on AKIN, TARPON and EN CROUTE. I’m annoyed with myself for taking far too long to see 2nd.
  31. Hi all. Very enjoyable puzzle, which I solved and parsed all except for AKIN, which was a biff. Well, actually more of a guess, since I was blind to the real parsing. Everything else went in fairly OK; I was tempted by the turbot, but realized it needed to end with ‘-on’, so I persisted until another fish swam into view. Regards.
  32. Nice puzzle some parts trickier than others. Spent 23 mins on the train this morning, 36 mins at lunchtime and finally another 11 mins after work to tidy up harvester, stash, akin, tarpon and contestant. Most of the RHS went in first. 2dn took far too long to see, especially since I watched a programme about the making of Sergeant Pepper only a couple of days ago. I also considered salmon and turbot before deciding to work out the unfamiliar tarpon the long way round with an alphabet trawl to find the prat. I was another who saw the inside of cAKe and wondered how IN was the inside of a bun. FOI 12ac. LOI 4dn. COD to 27ac, just holding off the nifty anagram at 2dn, because I like the expression “I alit”.
  33. 10:43 for me, clearly helped by knowing (from countless crosswords over the years) that “Durham’s river” is always WEAR, but hindered by general slowness of thought. (Sigh!)

    Indeed I was incredibly slow getting CONTESTANT (my LOI), but at least that meant I had no problem with TARPON, since I didn’t have the initial T to put me off and the wordplay made it almost certain that the answer ended in ON.

    On the subject of the Listener crossword, it’s regarded as rather bad form for serious solvers (which you’re now becoming 🙂 to make any kind of comment before the solution is published. I’m probably guilty myself occasionally (I suspect that even mentioning that I write a computer program to solve numerical puzzles may offend the purists), but I think discussing “six each” in the rubric is probably overstepping the mark.

    1. Oops! Noted and I shall steer clear of any possible controversy in future. Keeping completely schtum until after the closing date seems like the only safe course of action really…

      Edited at 2017-06-08 11:11 am (UTC)

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