Times 26815 – “He used to carry his guitar in…..”

Time: 29 minutes

Music: Beethoven Violin Concerto, Karajan/Ferras/BS

I started out quickly enough, but soon came to a rather sudden and complete halt.   The smooth clues made it difficult to separate  the cryptic from the literal, which made biffing rather difficult.   Retrospectively, I had the wrong end of the stick with most of the clues I looked at, but fortunately I held myself back from pencilling in wild guesses.   Then, after about 20 minutes, the answers came in a flood, for no reason that I could see, as one thing led to another.   So my actual solve was concentrated in the first three and the last nine minutes, with little in between.

I will be curious to see how everyone else did on this one.

The recent changes in the Crossword Club have given a few of our bloggers difficulty, and it’s possible that in the next few weeks our regular readers mght see a new avatar or two, or possible an old familiar blogger in a new slot.   Only Helen Ougham, one of the five Jumbo bloggers, has definitely resigned at this moment, but it is possible that there will be other changes.   I would like to thank Helen for her efforts in the Jumbo, a set of blogs where the bloggers certainly get little enough encouragement from the readership.


1 Report having ingested hard drug mixture (5)
4 Limit of French liquor consumed (9)
9 She could provide us with a minder (9)
NURSEMAID – Anagram of US + A MINDER, an reverse-cryptic &lit clue.
10 Intro’s fifth note stopping concert (5)
PROEM – PRO(E)M, a word found only in 18th-century poetry, apparently.
11 Do celebrities like Bauhaus? (13)
14 About to join firm’s plant in South America (4)
COCA – CO + CA, which is Chartered Accountant in the UK, as opposed to CPA in the US.
15 Record concerning Good Queen Bess and Walter Raleigh? (10)
18 Accepting nothing, raised objections about US prison (4-6)
OPEN-MINDED – O (PEN) MINDED, where the literal is just ‘accepting’.
19 Abroad, we’ll show good sense (4)
NOUS – Double definition, the French pronoun and the Greek noun.
21 Person on the right team helping review (13)
24 Work one’s way up in heart of Special Branch (5)
CLIMB – [Spe]C[ial] + LIMB.
25 A page turned in a Hindu’s curious sacred text (9)
UPANISHAD – AP backwards inside an anagram of A HINDU’S, where the clue gives a rather strong hint of what the answer is.
27 Failing to pen line, journalist headed off (9)
28 One fired nastily, gutted to get sacking (5)
GUNNY – GUN + N[astil]Y.
1 Supporter’s gripe about new player (10)
2 Song from East End musical? (3)
AIR – [h]AIR, presumably long, beautiful ‘Air.
3 Hospital’s within reach for deprived area (6)
4 Lacking mercy in a Conrad novel (9)
DRACONIAN – Anagram of IN A CONRAD, no literary knowledge required, this is not the TLS puzzle!
5 Princess charmed, eagerly doing some stripping (5)
MEDEA – hidden in [char]MED EA[gerly].   The play by Euripedes was the first Greek drama we attempted, after a semester of declensions and conjugations.
6 Vendor, always upset, accepting current suspension (8)
REPRIEVE – REP + EVE(I)R upside-down.
7 A stern Head of Inspectorate using evidence (1,10)
A POSTERIORI – A + POSTERIOR + I[nspectorate], my FOI.
8 Unfinished novel, Hemingway’s last, gets award (4)
EMMY – EMM[a] + [Hemingwa]Y, where a novel is almost always either ‘She’ or ‘Emma’.
12 Roaming free in check garment (11)
13 Begrudge Democrat cutting revenue for now? (7-3)
16 Heading for Chicago on plane, as well as US port (9)
CLEVELAND – C[hicago] + LEVEL + AND, home of the white belt and shoes.   I nearly biffed ‘westbound’, but couldn’t justify it.
17 Willing troops accompanying sailor in the drink (8)
20 Having bottle, sweetheart puts away litres (6)
DARING – DAR[l]ING.   ‘Puts away’ often means ‘includes’, but here it means ‘doesn’t include’!
22 Northerner maybe employed by computer firm round university (5)
INUIT – IN(U)IT.   If you are employed by a computer firm, you are not necessarily ‘in IT’, as you might be the janitor or the CEO.
23 Sharp accountant going over papers (4)
ACID – AC + ID, the Chartered Accountant is now backwards.
26 Scot’s pet after losing weight (3)
HEN – [w]HEN, where is is a word meaning ‘after’ that loses the ‘w’.   I didn’t understand the literal, but it turns out that ‘hen’ is a Scots slang term for something like ‘dearie’, or ‘sweetie’.

52 comments on “Times 26815 – “He used to carry his guitar in…..””

  1. I knew it was NOUS from the start, but it took me forever to figure out how it worked. HEN i got from a Monty Python sketch–two gay judges–but didn’t realize it was Scots; whoever it was who used it didn’t sound particularly Scottish to me. I thought FUNCTIONLIST was beautiful.
  2. For me this was the best Monday 15×15 for a long time. I didn’t fill a darned thing in for six minutes, then a few and finally, like Vinyl, a veritable cascade all in 43 minutes.

    I agree that it certainly was on a different wavelength from the usual Monday offering – mainly because of the smoothness of the cluing.

    FOI 4dn DRACONIAN. LOI 9ac NURSEMAID (well disguised)


    Mood mellow!

    1. I answered to your Friday blog comment.
      Both myself and Gallers have been cut off from Limited News.
      Buggered if I’ll now cough up the best part of $100 a year to them for the crock on offer.
      Might rethink if the puzzles become printable.
      1. Sad to think of my antipodean pals no longer enjoying these challenges. Commiserations!
        1. Professor McText and Gallers! It is shameful that King Murdoch of Oz has cut his fellow Australians off! Commiserations are not enough – something should be done!

          Mood meldrew!

  3. A fast start, a swift finish, but not much in the middle. Very good cluing kept me guessing for a long time: tricky ones included FUNCTIONALIST, DEMARCATE (I had DELINEATE for a while, but couldn’t justify it), DISCOVERER (which shouldn’t have taken as long as it did). MEDEA also stumped me for a while: the princess is nearly always DI, so I was barking up the wrong tree. I think of MEDEA as being a queen anyway. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  4. I struggled a bit but completed in 52 minutes without resorting to aids which I thought might be necessary for 25ac – yet another example of an obscure foreign word being clued as an anagram, so if one doesn’t know it one has to make a guess. I wish setters would stop doing this. As things trurned out my guess was correct. Also unknown were GUNNY, PROEM, BHANG and MEDEA and of these it appears that only GUNNY has not appeared before. PROEM came up as recently as April this year and I didn’t know it then either. At least I remembered A POSTERIORE this time!

    Edited at 2017-08-28 05:22 am (UTC)

    1. I’ve started to think of these as “anagrims”. At least we had “A page turned” to fix some letters in a particular order…
    2. I note both you and Vinyl have misspelled A POSTERIORI.
      The Upanishads are the Hindu equivalent of the Koran or the Bible .. so I would not personally regard them as obscure, though I sympathise with those who do
      1. Blame him, I checked my spelling against his! Luckily the last letter was checked in the puzzle. On obscurities I go along with whoever it is around here who defines ‘obscure’ as words he’s never heard of. And double that if they’re imported and /or to do with religion.

        Edited at 2017-08-28 10:48 am (UTC)

        1. Can’t think who you might mean. I happened to know UPANISHAD, but I consider it too obscure to be clued by an anagram.
  5. 20 mins (which is the best it ever gets for me) this morning – with a fat rascal (hoorah).
    I was bhang on the wavelength from the proem, showing consideration and nous. Maybe I’ve been inspired by the letters I heard read out by illustrious actors at ‘Letters Live’ in Edinburgh last night. One was from GB Shaw to Covent Garden Opera House – it is brilliant and well worth a google. (I’d put the link, but not sure if I am allowed by this site?)
    Mostly I liked the concise, meaningful surfaces today, e.g. 9ac, 11ac, 13dn.
    Thanks readable setter and Vinyl

    PS I think the blog header should be 26,815

    Edited at 2017-08-28 07:31 am (UTC)

  6. hm … had to solve this on the main paper site after getting that “you’re not supposed to be here” error whichever way I tried to access the puzzle on the Club site (it’s now working for me … go figure).

    But another DNF in a persistent run of them. I solved everything except 26d in around 16 minutes, then had to admit defeat on the 3-letter word with 2 letters checked!

    They didn’t change some setters when they changed the website, did they? After a couple of years of rarely failing to finish, it’s suddenly happening to me quite a bit.

  7. 15.42 but my LOI was a mis-typed GHETO (sic) that left one square blank and also affected 11ac. Strangely, this was counted as only 1 error. Another attempt at a typo-free week fails to get off the ground. I parsed 26dn as (T)HEN, removing the ton, having first thought of (W)HEN. I guess both routes are valid.

    Edited at 2017-08-28 07:44 am (UTC)

  8. A very hard working 22:12 with a prayer to any Hindu deities who may have been listening that I had the letters in the right order. Not quite cricket I agree.
    Not very Mondayish – perhaps it’s a Bank Holiday special?
  9. 56 minutes for me. I came here not entirely expecting my last two in, UPANISHAD and HEN, to be right, and was pleasantly surprised. That SE corner took a while, especially as I kept on trying to do something with LL for “litres” involving “gall” for 20d.

    A fine puzzle, I thought. Vaguely remembered PROEM from last year sometime, glad MEDEA was a hidden, let alone that I actually saw her immediately, and with gradese on DISCOVERER having taken me far too long, even after I’d had it pencilled in for a while. Knew neither BHANG nor GUNNY, but at least the wordplay pointed fairly clearly in the right direction.

    Thanks to setter and blogger. Have a fine Bank Holiday, those of you who are enjoying one…

  10. 28.22, with most of it trying to justify HEN: could it be HUN or HON short for honey which sounds a bit more Scots? I had trouble pushing HEN further north than Newcastle, which feels more geographically accurate. I couldn’t make WHEN mean after, and eventually settled on THEN (which does mean after) minus T for Ton as the weight.
    I knew UPANISHAD (I even have a copy) so the H couldn’t be wrong. I’m not quite crying foul, but for a three letter word that was a swine of a clue. The rest of the puzzle started easy and then (after) froze, and for a Monday was a considerable push.

    Edited at 2017-08-28 08:21 am (UTC)

  11. Parsed it as (T)HEN like others, ‘HEN’ being Scots, ‘pet’ Newcastle. Nice challenge, 30′, thanks vinyl and setter.
  12. 50m struggle today spending far too long barking up wrong trees often in the wrong wood. Trying to recall the names of any American prison for example cost me at least 10 minutes! And then I remembered to lift and separate (thank you, Jimbo) and I was away again in search of another false trail. But in the end all were gettable so a good puzzle to start the week! Thanks for the blog.
  13. No papers delivered today, a Bank Holiday, so had to drive to petrol station before starting. Still, it’s better than the online travails most of you seem to be suffering. I wouldn’t want to be playing computers first thing in the morning. Took 40 minutes on this with LOI the biffed HEN, a Scottish expression I didn’t know. GUNNY also unknown and guessed from cryptic/crossers too. Loved FUNCTIONALIST which took me a long time to see. The sixer of the Tawnies at St John’s, Birkdale Wolf Cubs in 1956 should have woggled the letters for NECKERCHIEF quicker too. I’ve always splashed a priori and a posteriori around liberally in the hope of getting in Pseuds Corner. One day maybe. Good puzzle. Thank you V and setter
  14. 15 mins and all parsed with the exception of NURSEMAID which I thought at the time was a rather weak cryptic definition, so apologies to the setter for that.

    I’d heard of the UPANISHAD so no problems there, and HEN sprang to mind from Rab C Nesbitt referring to his wife as “Mary hen”, although it took a little longer to see the W(HEN) element of the clue.

    A POSTERIORI was my LOI. I knew it but I had brain freeze until all the checkers were in place.

  15. Not a bother with this one, except to guess (correctly it seems) the position of the P, N and S between the checkers of 25a. BHANG and 1d flew in immediately and the rest followed in 20 minutes. I wouldn’t have known PROEM except we had it fairly recently.
  16. I had no trouble with HEN, but then I was born in Scotland and we got the Sunday Post every week – a word frequently to found in “The Broons”, I seem to recall. My near downfall was an almost plausible ABSINTHE for 17d but I couldn’t see how S could be ‘Willing troops’ and had to scrub it once I saw CLIMB at 24a. I think I’m starting to get to grips with this setter’s style, which used to flummox me regularly. FUNCTIONALIST and A POSTERIORI both unknown and last two in. 16:59

    Edited at 2017-08-28 08:59 am (UTC)

    1. A Scots-born master at my Prep school in the sixties used to get the Sunday Post. My favourite was Oor Wullie.
      1. Yes indeed. And now I feel it necessary to admit to some family connection…. my mother’s maiden name was Brown, so, being quite small and the youngest, was, of course, known as “Wee Broon”. Furthermore, her father was called “Willie”… aka “Oor Wullie”. But they weren’t cartoon docu-soap stars, just namesakes.
  17. Well the clue does say ‘maybe’.Personally, I am IN IT and I don’t work for a computer firm.
  18. Hi V, thanks for the blog. DNF for me on the HEN and a silly error.

    BTW, I think the number for today is 26815 (rather than 26813). This stops my auto-reference to this blog from the SNITCH site, in case there is any interest.

    Thanks again.

  19. 31 mins 08 secs. A smooth, steady solve. Very enjoyable. Bunged in nursemaid without full parsing or appreciation. Proem known from Chaucer, I think. 11ac a cracking clue. At secondary school RE lessons dealt with the 6 major world religions so 25ac was no problem. I wonder if comparative religion was not yet in fashion on the curriculum for those who had trouble with it. 26dn LOI and required some thought. Eventually thought of Rab C’s Mary hen but took the weight off her shoulders to be a ton not a weight, though on reflection I think the latter must be what was intended. Super puzzle. Thanks setter and thank you blogger.
  20. Failed on 26d. I actually knew the Scottish expression HEN, but had originally biffed the ubiquitous IAN and forgot to go back to it after finally decoding my LOI, UPANISHAD, leaving me with HAN. Otherwise 36:21. Didn’t know GUNNY. PROEM was mainly from wordplay with a vague idea I’d come across it before. Didn’t spot the proper parsing for NURSEMAID. Knew 7d was going to be a Latin phrase but had to construct it from wordplay. Quite a challenge for a Monday! Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  21. After a week of functioning as intended, the Times puzzle website has fallen over again, refusing to download any interactive puzzles to my desktop. (Firefox gives a ‘waiting’ message with a rotating star, Chrome nothing at all – am using Windows 7 HP)
    The paper’s main site also doesn’t download interactive puzzles, but although I can’t get into the club I find its ‘print’ option does give me a pdf, so I can complete them, and I’ll have to send the prize puzzle solutions by post unless the site is fixed soon.

    No real holdups today, but didn’t note time – I guess half an hour or so, with LOI 1dn, as I didn’t get 9ac sorted till I saw 5dn was simply hidden.

  22. Thanks for the link – I hadn’t tried the Guardian before. 30 mins over lunch (leek and potato soup). 1dn was right up Horryd’s street.
  23. 17 minutes so a little harder than average for me. I needed all the checkers to get A POST whatnot, ditto the sacred text and even then I wasn’t 100% that I had everything placed correctly.
  24. No real problems with this. A steady 23 minute plod. I knew HEN – I think I must have heard it on “Rab C Nesbitt” which I used to watch with subtitles. Ann
  25. Oh dear – beaten by HEN, having utterly failed to parse; I guessed H.

    I was, however, quite inelegantly pleased with myself for having figured out PROEM and BHANG without every having encountered them, and dredged UPANISHAD and GUNNY up from the very deepest, darkest recesses of my so-called memory.

    1. I came across BHANG in my misspent youth reading Leslie Charteris’s Saint books. In one story the victims were drugged using bhang and were eventually rescued by the urbane Simon Templar.
  26. 10:53. No real problems today, although the last half a dozen clues took me as much time as the rest of the puzzle put together. I didn’t know this meaning of HEN but followed the wordplay. Fortunately I knew UPANISHAD so was spared the irritating guessing game.

    Edited at 2017-08-28 03:33 pm (UTC)

  27. …and my LOI was… HEN! A mere three-letter word. But I didn’t know the literal either, and it never occurred to me that the sense of “when” in a phrase like, “There I was, diligently working the puzzle, when my pen ran out of ink,” is equivalent to “after” (online dictionaries give “and then,” which is not the same thing). But in phrases like “You can look at the eclipse when the sun is totally covered,” or “You can make coffee when the water boils,” you could substitute “after,” though I don’t know why you’d want to.
    As a longtime user of cannabis, I of course knew BHANG. Having dabbled for a time, as expected of every hippie, in Eastern religions, I had no trouble with UPANISHAD.

    Edited at 2017-08-28 05:44 pm (UTC)

  28. The Mitford sisters used to call each other “hen” – when they weren’t being “hons” that is.
  29. It took over an hour, but at least I finished (like Sotira I have been having problems recently), including HEN from the wordplay (my Scots also being a bit weak). As for that wordplay: strangely enough there is a German expression meaning “from time to time” which is “dann und wann”, which one can translate literally as “then and when”. As far as I can see, both will do for the wordplay for this clue. THEN (which was my own preference) obviously means “after” and T is a ton, but WHEN can also mean “after” in some locutions. For example, “when you have finished this, do that” means “after you have done this, do that”, but you needn’t perform the second action at the precise moment you finish the first one.
  30. Heard the term hen used recently in a news story from the UK

    was it “dinnae talk s**** hen” from an SNP MP to a female member of the government?

    Always interested in the various dialects of English that stray from the perfect enunciation we Australians use.

  31. Nothing to do with accountants, chartered or otherwise, as far as I could see. CA = about, to join company (CO) > coca.

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