Times 27040 – a little off the sides

Solving time: 18:47. That’s pretty slow for me, and there’s some tricky stuff in here, but I don’t know if I have ever agonized over an answer like I have 1 down. The second word seemed to fit part of the clue, but I had a hard time trying to pick over the words that fit in the first part of the answer, and plumped for one triggered by another one in the clue.  The good news is that I came back as correct, the bad is that I still have no clue whatsowever as to how the clue works.

Definitions are underlined in the clues… away we go!

1 Startle, prepared to keep ace and not lead (4,1,4,4)
TAKE A BACK SEAT – TAKE ABACK(startle) then SET(prepared) containing A(ace)
9 It may get endless representation (5)
IMAGE – nice clue – remove the last letters from It MAy GEt
10 Message’s tenor we may hear described (9)
VOICEMAIL – and a tenor may be a VOICE, MALE
11 Think shop needs rebuke (10)
12 No time for jokes — strap on leg (4)
JESS – remove T from JESTS(jokes). Got this from wordplay, it is the strap on the leg of a hawk. Last seen in the daily Times in 2007 (back when I was a mere occasional commenter) and the Saturday Times in 2008
14 Get cash for proper detached place, not large (7)
REALISE – REAL(proper) then ISLE(detached place) missing L
16 Republic extremely embarrassed, withdrawing current coins (7)
DENARII – the Republic of IRAN, and E(mbarrasse)D reversed, then I(current)
17 At heart, regrets nothing in Spanish island (7)
GRENADA – the middle of reGREts then NADA(nothing)
19 Burden of work papers (7)
20 Just open a container (4)
21 Fruit and meat including starter of rice for Chinese runner (5,5)
PEARL RIVER – PEAR(fruit), and LIVER(meat) containing R(ice). Got this from wordplay, it is also called the Canton River
24 People arrest smooth boy over a little bling (9)
MEDALLION – MEN(people) containing OIL(smooth), LAD(boy) all reversed
25 Maxim’s garden feature? (5)
GNOME – double definition for a witty saying and a think you might stick in the garden
26 Ma and Granny worried about Junior, a disillusioned playwright (5,5,3)
ANGRY YOUNG MAN – anagram of MA and GRANNY surrounding YOUNG(Junior)

1 Old broadcaster’s second trailer for good stuff on compiler (5,9)
THIRD PROGRAMME – I think I have this sorted out… THIRD PROGRAMME was an old radio station.  So THIRD would be trailing second, then PRO(for), G(good), RAM(stuff), ME(the compiler of this crossword).
2 Frolic about, holding a pen (5)
KRAAL – LARK(frolic) reversed containing A
3 Land almost nothing, after a West Indian lands one (10)
AZERBAIJAN – ZER(o) after A, then BAJAN(West Indian) containing I(one)
4 Injurious commercial, very Irish (7)
5 Came together and kept busy at the guillotine? (7)
KNITTED – double definition, referencing the crowd in front of the guillotine bringing their knitting to do between executions
6 Like some spuds? I had to speak (4)
EYED – sounds like I’D
7 Agreed toe is deformed somewhat (2,1,6)
8 Doctor percussing a lot who will get you looking better (7,7)
PLASTIC SURGEON – anagram of PERCUSSING,A,LOT, though the defintion is up for debate
13 Simple game won’t come to an end — I go to bed (10)
SNAPDRAGON – the game of SNAP will DRAG ON
15 Queen cross with regiment holding up drink (9)
ALEXANDRA – X(cross), AND, RA(regiment) under ALE
18 Useful feature to order any time (7)
AMENITY – anagram of ANY,TIME
19 Managed to support some good books: here, The Castle? (7)
OTRANTO – RAN(managed), TO under OT(good books). Got this from wordplay and thought it might have been a physical castle, but it is a book by Horace Walpole. OK, it appears there is a physical castle from comments, but the question mark seems to indicate that the clue is referring to the book.
22 Rev Vicar’s first study, say (5)
VROOM – V(icar) ROOM(study, for example)
23 Bullet hit pest (4)
SLUG – triple definition!

50 comments on “Times 27040 – a little off the sides”

  1. Biffed a few, and probably just as well, as eg I DNK Bajan. Biffed 1d as well, helped by a recent discussion here of UK/US spelling differences; George’s parsing sounds good to me. At 5d I suspect the setter may have been thinking of Madame LaFarge specifically; I was, anyway. COD to IMAGE.

    Edited at 2018-05-17 01:24 am (UTC)

        1. As Arkwright might have said, “It is a far, far better thing…”
          Kind regards, Bob K.
    1. Saw your thread on the General Forum over on the Club Kevin and put my 2 cents in. As of yesterday the gremlins are charging me with 74 errors in the last 30 days. Goodness knows what they’ll do today…..
      1. I can’t remember how long ago it was, but I coined the term Snafu Central to refer to this motley crew, and it still seems applicable. Let’s see if David Parfitt gets something done about this.
  2. 28 minutes, rewarded by my attempt to solve yesterday’s oldie by being able to write in KRAAL. A slightly old-fashioner feel to this one, I thought, but the setter must get credit for working AZERBAIJAN into a puzzle.
  3. I deduced THAT THIRD trailed SECOND as in any competition.

    FOI 20ac AJAR
    LOI 19dn OTRANTO
    COD 22dn VROOM (Remember John Kent?)

    45 minutes but DNF as I had 12ac as FESS (FESTS of the joke type!) JESS should have been obvious.

  4. Thank you, George, for your parsing of 1d. THIRD PROGRAMME had to be the solution and I’m old enough to remember it but I had no idea how the clue worked until I read your blog.
    COD for me was GRENADA. I was silly enough to spend time looking for a Spanish island.
    Never heard of JESS.
    Another sad day: Ray Wilson, elegant left back of 1966-and-all-that fame has died.
  5. One point on the blog, OTRANTO is a ‘physical’ castle and it features in several places on the Wiki page for the port. Unfortunately I didn’t know that (nor the town despite its many appearances in past puzzles as mentioned above by vinyl1) so I had to rely on wordplay for the answer. Other unknowns were BAJAN and PEARL RIVER but I still finished within my target half-an-hour with 1 minute to spare.

    The THIRD PROGRAMME was the BBC’s classical music station before it was renamed BBC Radio 3 in 1967. Regulars may have noticed that I am not overkeen on ‘old’ (or ‘former’) with reference to things in the past but I think in this clue something along those lines is fully justified as the answer is a bit obscure, especially, I imagine, for overseas solvers.

    Edited at 2018-05-17 04:39 am (UTC)

  6. 59 minutes and 30 seconds! FOI 6d EYED after nothing much else sprang to mind, then dotting about trying to knock off any easy ones before I got enough crossers to build momentum. LOI 3d AZERBAIJAN—glad I see I’m in good company not knowing BAJAN.

    Also glad that KRAAL came up recently, as I didn’t know it before this week. (I’ve just started reading another of my crossword-inspired novel choices, She, so it’s possible I’ll encounter the word again before the week is out, but I’m only up to the bit where they hit the African coast…)

    COD 17a GRENADA for the misdirection, though a mention in dispatches for JESS for its “strap on leg”. Luckily I knew the falconry term. WOD SNAPDRAGON.

    Edited at 2018-05-17 06:56 am (UTC)

    1. Bajan is basically another way of saying ‘Barbadian’. Known to cricket fans…
  7. 40 mins with a croissant and Gin&Lime marmalade (hoorah).
    You wait ages for a Kraal, then two come along at once (albeit one delayed from 1977).
    A gentle solve with nothing to excite the horses – except, perhaps the oily lad in his medallion. Ugh.
    Now I will always know how to spell Azerbaijan. Or one way, anyway.
    Thanks setter and G.
  8. I’ve never heard of THIRD PROGRAMME but I thought of THIRD as ‘second trailer’ quickly so evidently I was briefly on the wavelength.

    I’m not sure I’d have got JESS but for the fact there was a pest controller using a hawk on the office block next to where I work last week and one of my colleagues referred to the JESS on its leg (he actually said Jesse).

  9. Easy again .. I suppose that nowadays we would call it the Third Program?
  10. …I heard you say. At least not today. 18 minutes, same as yesterday on the Championship qualifier. I’m getting delusions of adequacy again. I didn’t know JESS, which was a guess from crossers and jests. In my hurry to break 20 minutes, I didn’t bother to parse DENARII or THIRD PROGRAMME which were clear from literal and crossers. Never heard of PEARL RIVER, which I did properly construct. I realised why REALISE after biffing it. Here’s a first for me. I’m giving COD to an anagram, ANGRY YOUNG MAN which was a neat clue. Thank you George and setter

    Edited at 2018-05-17 08:18 am (UTC)

      1. One of my favourite films! I used to regularly park in the Multistorey car park in Gateshead which Bryan Mosely(Alf Roberts of Coronation St fame) was thrown off the top of in the film. It’s been demolished now though.
  11. Excellent crossword and such concise clues taking up less than two thirds of the available space. JESS, IMAGE and GRENADA were my trio of CODs.
  12. 22:49. I was on target for sub 20 mins but then got stuck in Azerbaijan. I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t give serious consideration to Z being a candidate for the missing second letter.

    COD Azerbaijan. Nice surface and unexpected.

  13. Those were the days: Home Service, Light Programme, Third Programme…..Only knew of OTRANTO from the Gothic novel, dnk GNOME in that sense. LOI IMAGE.

    12’36”, twenty seconds faster than yesterday. Are there many others who don’t send it in because of potential stress?

    Thanks gl and compiler.

    1. I don’t send it in because of the stress that would be caused through not being good enough!
    2. For a few years I haven’t applied because of potential stress but finally this year I’ve gone for it.
    3. Too true! I’ve done both entries, and filled in my details, but they are sitting on the arm of the sofa next to me and will stay there:-) On a good day I might complete two puzzles in an hour, but never three!
  14. A DNF in 43 minutes as I bunged in ‘grove’ for GNOME, thinking that the music dictionary man may be ‘Maxim’ but no such luck of course. Couldn’t work out 1d satisfactorily and a few others such as JESS went in from the wordplay.

    I would hazard a guess that ‘percussing a lot’ is not something many plastic surgeons would do – too physicianly a practice – so unfortunately 8d couldn’t be parsed as an &lit. A nice clue anyway.

    Thanks to setter for a good pre-dinner solve and to our blogger.

  15. Just over 10 minutes. Quite a lot from wordplay today, which I always like: JESS, PEARL RIVER, OTRANTO, the spelling of AZERBAIJAN (I knew BAJAN fortunately). Funny to see KRAAL again so soon.
    I was just thinking of the ‘tricoteuses’ in general rather than a particular person.
    The professional association of 8dns is called BAAPS. No seriously.

    Edited at 2018-05-17 08:34 am (UTC)

  16. ….to the THIRD PROGRAMME. That’s Radio 4 in “newspeak” !

    Started slowly but quickly built up speed to finish in 10:41 which was rather slower than yesterday (I shall express my view on that one when the blog appears).


    By halfway through I was convinced it was a pangram, but fortunately saw there was nowhere for a Q in my LOI GNOME. That required an alpha trawl which was solely responsible for my not breaking the 10 minute barrier.

    DNK PEARL RIVER, but the surface was friendly.

    COD SLUG – I love clues like that !

    Only gripe is PLASTIC SURGEON. These specialists do far more than facial beautifying, so I thought “will” should have been “may”. Only a minor nitpick though – a very enjoyable puzzle, and thanks to both the compiler and George.

    1. Hear hear! with your gripe- nb Sir Archi McIndoe and his ‘Guinea Pig Club’
    2. I had the same thought (hence the distinction between an 8dn and a plain cosmetic surgeon) but I figured their work will generally improve appearance, even if not necessarily for cosmetic reasons.

      Edited at 2018-05-17 03:42 pm (UTC)

  17. jess only known from othello: “if i do prove her haggard, though her jesses were my dear heart strings, i’d whistle her off, and let her down the wind to prey at fortune” pendrov
  18. Twenty-eight minutes for this one. NHO “bajan”, so 3d went in with a shrug. Nor had I heard of people knitting before the guillotine, so 5d was a case of crossing fingers (not that anything else would have fitted). GNOME as a maxim was vaguely remembered (probably from here), and KRAAL likewise.
    1. ‘I well remember the olde crones sat round ‘Madame Guillotine’ down Bridgetown way, knitting and pearling.’

      ‘Caribbean Circuit’, Avril Poisson – 1837

      You’ve led a sheltered life!

      1. As an erstwhile knitter, I feel compelled to point out that pearling is diving for oysters containing a glistening round object, whilst the knitting stitch is Purling.
  19. But actually felt quicker – clearly a wavelength one for me, with a biff at 1d (too young to remember it as a thing) and a random thought popping into my head that said “AZERBAIJAN” [which I can’t even read without hearing it in Eddie Izzard’s voice).

    I have it in my head that this about the 3rd or fourth time this week that we’ve had 20a in one form or another.

  20. 18:47 slowed down by trying to work through old RADIO stations (Caroline, too short: Luxembourg, too long, Hilversum, no) Thanks robrolfe for reminding me of the Light Programme; I remembered Home Service.
    OK with KRAAL and JESS, and gnomic utterances but PEARL RIVER was a complete guess. Thanks setter and George.

    Edited at 2018-05-17 11:01 am (UTC)

  21. I’m all right Jacques. I did like the Mme Defarge clue. Knew it had to be AZERBAIJAN but I was one letter short somewhere in there and had to wait for the crossing ones. JESS I had from re-reading The Raj Quartet recently – there’s a hawking scene in the last book. Never did parse THIRD PROGRAMME, thanks George. 17.10
  22. Nicely challenging. A quick look at the leaderboard and comments here also confirmed my feeling as I solved, that this was a very “wavelengthy” puzzle, and happily I seem to have been on it. The one exception was spotting what was going on with 3dn, where inspiration refused to strike, and I concluded with an alphabet trawl – that’s always an unsatisfactory way to reach an answer, especially when the crucial letter you turn out to need is a Z…
  23. I thought I was going to be in for a long slog as I perused the clues without a single hint of an answer until I reached AJAR at 20a, but the outlook improved rapidly as SLUG and AMENITY followed quickly and a suggested MINORCA/MAJORCA for 17a were discarded as GRENADA hove into view. Radio 3 promptly followed and I was off! PEARL RIVER was assembled from its component parts in Z-like fashion, as was MEDALLION. My LOI was GNOME, where like bletchleyreject, I briefly considered GROVE, but reconsidered. 33:28. A most enjoyable puzzle. Thanks setter and George.
  24. 23 minutes today. I was very slow getting started but after seeing 1a the rest opened up nicely. I’m old enough to remember the THIRD PROGRAMME from the days when there were only 3 radio programmes. (Before Radio Luxemburg!) I knew JESS from reading historical novels and from a wonderful T E White book, “The Goshawk”, about his efforts to train a bird. There’s also a lot about hawking in “The Once and Future King” (aka “The Sword in the Stone”). White seems to have been a bit of a hawking enthusiast. Ann
  25. I had never heard of THIRD PROGRAMME. It waited for the crossing letters, and then the wordplay led to the answer, but I looked it up before entering, so I can be said to not finish. I also didn’t know anything of knitting between executions, nor of whatever a BAJAN is, but the answers were clearly what was needed so they went in without worry. Regards.
  26. 54 mins. Top left was my stumbling block until i got 11A. Assuming A as the one-letter word in 1A, got Azerbaijan quickly (former girlfriend had worked at BDDC in Barbados so knew the term for a local). COD and LOI 5D – forgotten that little nugget about Les Tricoteuses
  27. 38:38 for me I found this tricky and was picking around the edges a bit without getting into any sort of a rhythm for a while but it all came together eventually. FOI 17ac. LOI 3dn. Dnk jess, Pearl River or the knitters.
  28. Rather late in the day, but I just noticed that you have ‘Spanish island’ underlined, not just ‘island’.
  29. Ummed and aahed about that, but it was originally a Spanish principality. Clue works either way.
  30. Sorry I’m late so this may not be read, but why is snapdragon “I go to bed”?

    7 looked up today which is pretty average for me.


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