Times 27171 – don’t get led up the wrong garden path

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A very enjoyable, medium level puzzle today, which had me going in the wrong direction several times, only to discover later I needed to see the clue from a different angle. Oddly, 1d was my LOI as I was fixated on trying to parse a wrong answer. Doh! It took me 35 minutes with no need for aids, and there are no anagrams of obscure words or other bones to pick, from my point of view. 3d being the only weak clue. Well done Mr. Setter.
If you’re reading this, Mr. or Mrs. Obnoxious Anon-troll from last week, I hope you find it illuminating and more to your taste.

1 Liliaceous plants taken by yellowish-brown grazers (9)
BUFFALOES – BUFF = yellowish-brown, ALOES are liliaceous plants apparently, although I thought they were more cactus-like.
6 Source of strength identified by wife attending function (5)
SINEW – My FOI. SINE the trig function, W for wife.
9 Supervising healthy exercise (7)
RUNNING – Double definition. Personally I always found running an unhealthy exercise compared to hill walking or golf.
10 Asian joke, one involving judge and sailor (7)
PUNJABI – PUN = joke, I = one, insert J for judge and AB for sailor.
11 Position offered by sardonic headmaster (5)
12 What Parker displays, disturbed by current din? (9)
NOISINESS – I for current goes inside NOSINESS as in nosy Parker. No certainty about the origin of the phrase, but amusing to read about all the same: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/nosy-parker.html
14 Ironic study dismissed by poet and dramatist (3)
DRY – John DRYDEN the poet laureate and dramatist loses his DEN = study.
15 His curate blunders initially in consecration of sacred elements (11)
EUCHARISTIC – (HIS CURATE)* then I C = initial letters of in consecration.
17 Like priests in Times unusually backing animal shelter… (11)
MINISTERIAL – (IN TIMES)* then LAIR reversed.
19 … only briefly, note (3)
SOL – SOLO = only, briefly = SOL as in the SOL FA tonic scale.
20 Notes male attorney has penned backing City (9)
MEMORANDA – MAN = male, DA = attorney, insert ROME reversed.
22 Bloke outside hotel, source of good news brought to Aix? (5)
GHENT – H inside GENT; place from which they set off to ride to Aix, as in the Browning poem. Nowt to do with Mr Revere, who was on another ride altogether, apparently. I did tell you I know nothng of poetry.
24 Figure a small number badger without respite? (7)
NONAGON – NO = a small number; to NAG ON would be to badger without respite.
26 One drinking beer half-heartedly with doctors in islands (7)
IMBIBER – MB = doctor, inside I, I = islands, then BER = beer half-heartedly. Why doctors plural? Which would make it IMBSIBER from the wordplay? I suppose MB can stand for Medicinae Baccalaures and be plural in Latin.
27 Chapter in revolutionary story bringing conspicuous success (5)
ECLAT – C for chapter inside TALE reversed.
28 Senior officer in boat starts to lecture youth sharply (9)
PUNGENTLY – GEN(ERAL) inside PUNT for boat, then L Y = starts to lecture youth.

1 Verbally unproductive? Lord! (5)
BARON – Well, it’s not difficult, but for B-R-N I kept trying to justify BYRON as the LORD involved. At last I saw that it’s BARON as a homophone for BARREN = unproductive. Not a very good homophone, the way I pronounce them.
2 A couple of girls fussing (7)
FINICKY – I realised early on this would be two girls’names adding up to the definition, but again, got fixated on NANCY as the second lady. No, it’s FI (Fiona) and NICKY not Nancy.
3 Vitality not recorded in a number of quarters (9)
ALIVENESS – A, LIVE = not recorded; E N E S S being compass quarters. A not very elegant clue for a not very elegant word.
4 Possibly eyes Native Americans on new church feature (5,6)
ORGAN SCREEN – ORGANS could be eyes, CREE are native Americans, N for new.
5 Juice quietly taken down in Bath, for example? (3)
SAP – Bath is a SPA city, move the P (quietly) down to the end.
6 Muslim star going over part of UK (5)
SUNNI – SUN our star, NI = Northern Ireland.
7 Live in shelter closest to hand (7)
NEAREST – Insert ARE (live, exist) into NEST = shelter.
8 Fanciful act overturned, protecting particular chap thus (9)
WHIMSICAL – LAW = act, reversed = WAL, insert HIM = particular chap, SIC = Latin for thus.
13 This writer’s against changing into a wit (11)
IMAGINATION – I’M (this writer’s) AGIN (against) (INTO A)*.
14 US politician working in dome for shady group (9)
16 Displaying deficiency in character-forming action? (9)
ILLEGIBLE – Cryptic definition.
18 Token love-bird found in northern lake (7)
NOMINAL – O (love), MINA (bird) inside N, L. Token as in token gesture.
19 Second man splashing out rupees for cooling drink (7)
SHERBET – S = second, HERBERT is our man, loses his R. In my youth I thought it was SHERBERT with two R’s, because people seemed to pronounce it that way.
21 What authors do to listeners? Absolutely (5)
RIGHT – A homophone that works; RIGHT sounds like WRITE to me.
23 Stay smeared with viscid substance (5)
TARRY – Double definition; TARRY as in ‘tarry a while’. Now I know viscid I’ll try and use it in a conversation and wait for someone to tell me I mean viscous.
25 Dash to get form of identification set up (3)
NIP – PIN number being a form of ID, dash as in a dash of brandy.

62 comments on “Times 27171 – don’t get led up the wrong garden path”

  1. Should have been faster, but I persisted with TAN as the color in 1ac, had the wrong lord (as in L have mercy) at 1d, and was just plain dumb thinking about 9ac, 15ac, and 24ac, three pretty easy clues. 17ac solved post biff.
  2. My LOI was 1d, too, but it was also my Only One Wrong (OOW), because I didn’t think of BARON as a “Lord” but did think of BYRON and FIGUREd that could be a homophone to “barren” to some people in England. I wasn’t entirely convinced, but I was tired. If I had only thought about it a nanosecond longer… The top Google result for BARON gives ˈberən and for “barren” likewise ‘berən, but at least Pip’s remark indicates that some of you folks over there might pronounce one of those rather differently.

    Edited at 2018-10-17 05:33 am (UTC)

  3. 24 minutes after spending 16 struggling a little to finish off today’s Quickie. This was all pretty straightforward and helped even more by having SINEW after ‘sinewy’ turning up yesterday, and the clue to MINSTERIAL seemed recently familiar too. In my book the plural of’buffalo’ is ‘buffalo’ or, if one insists on adding an S, ‘buffalos’; the E looks wrong to me but the usual sources are all happy with it, and one even has it as the preferred plural.

    Edited at 2018-10-17 05:22 am (UTC)

    1. As in the often-cited sentence, “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”
    2. I notice GHENT also appears there in the clue to 12D. You wait ages for a Belgian clue….
    3. Forgive the late comment, but interesting you had a similar experience to me (though much quicker than me on both). 39 minutes for this, after a woeful 18 on the QC this morning. Perhaps it took the quickie to engage my (our) foggy brains? Both enjoyanle puzzles though.
  4. A long way from my wavelength, but I got there in the end. 53 minutes. FOI 1d BARON, but not much else fell on my first pass, and I painstakingly dotted hither and thither, including getting the ORGAN bit of 4d but not the SCREEN, seeing the anagram fodder in 15a EUCHARISTIC and 14d DEMIMONDE but not working the answers out until the very last, and not having a clue what was going on in 22a GHENT. I still don’t, really, but I’ll look it up after I’ve headed off to my doctor’s appointment!

    Some lovely misdirection in a few places, as Pip observes. Thanks for the workout and the workings-out!

    1. Well, I got spammed trying to supply a URL, but as Myrtilus alludes, it’s a Robert Browning poem, “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix”. Which I keep thinking has the line, “Well, sir, we’ve got you Ratisbon”.
      1. Browning is OK but not a touch on the Sellars and Yeatman take-off, including the consequence of a quick drink when arriving at Aix

        Then all I remember is things going round
        As I sat with my head twixt my ears on the ground
        And imagine my shame when they asked what I meant
        And I had to confess that I’d been gone and went
        And FORGOTTEN the news I had carried from Ghent
        After I’d galloped and galloped and galloped . . .

        Edited at 2018-10-17 08:46 am (UTC)

  5. 28 minutes represents what David Beckham, David Cameron, Richard Branson – well, just about any Brit these days – would call a massive victory after recent travails.

    If I may add to the Nosy Parker discussion with a personal anecdote. 40 years ago I was part of an undergraduate revue at Merton College – then top of the Norrington Table, which determines the brainiest college at this most august of all educational institutions. (I hasten to add, I single-handedly brought it down a couple of notches by the time I had finished.) The other members of the group devised some biting satirical sketches, one deconstructing the Ayatollah’s Iran and others on socio-political matters of weight and import. My contribution was twofold: an impersonation of Australian cricketer Bobby Simpson, who had come out of retirement to take on Mike Brearley’s England, and a rather lengthy ‘Thunderbirds’ sketch, in which the central premise was that the Americans were so dumb (apologies all round – I was young and impressionable) that they thought the Radcliffe Camera was, well, a real camera (which they intended to steal). Essentially, the idea of cavorting around ‘on strings’ as Virgil, Scott et al seemed too good a chance to pass up. The audience seemed to enjoy it too, as gentle fun was poked at our cousins across the Atlantic. Little did they realise that the whole charade was actually building up to a climax I had planned to test my theory that however brainy you might be, your sense of humour never really developed on similarly sophisticated lines. Or, perhaps, put more accurately, the possession of improbably immense intelligence required an equal but opposite recidivism in terms of sense of humour in order to preserve your equilibrium. Anyway, back to the story, such as it was. Parker enters and proceeds dangly Thunderbirds style to an imaginary chest of drawers, from which he extracts a key document implicating the perps. However, at that very moment, who should walk in but Lady Penelope, to whom the item of furniture rightfully belongs. She looks at him quizzically for a moment – as if trying to come to terms with his domestic solecism – before deducing that her man must be onto something. Waggishness replacing umbrage replacing suspicion, she says to him, ‘You been nosy, Parker, again?’, garnering the biggest laugh of the evening.

    1. I have to admit that the Thunderbirds connection was my first line of attack when I saw Parker in the clue.
  6. 35 mins of fun with a pain aux raisins. (Hoorah)
    The only hold-ups were: writing Punj..? in 11ac before realising it should go in 10ac (pass me the rubber) and confidently biffing Pointedly at 28ac (pass me the rubber).
    Mostly I liked Buff Aloes (COD) and the reminder of the poem “I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, etc.”.
    I remember there was a funny parody of this which included the lines:
    “As I galloped, you galloped, he galloped, we galloped, ye galloped, they two shall have galloped: let us trot.”
    Thanks setter and Pip.
    PS I don’t think Paul Revere rode from Ghent.

    Edited at 2018-10-17 07:30 am (UTC)

  7. When I couldn’t get any of the three letter words to start then found there was only one multiple word answer to have a go at I thought this might be tough but it didn’t turn out to be quite so hard. Possibly helped by no obscurities.

    Like Pip I wanted 1D to be BYRON for some time, but before I’d got BUFFALOES and RUNNING I wanted it to be LUCAN.

  8. ….I’ll wait here until Paul Revere catches up.

    I wasn’t on the setter’s wavelength with this, and rather like yesterday I ground to a halt in the NW corner after 13 minutes, before scraping home in 18:12 with little sense of pleasure.


    Thanks Pip for parsing IMBIBER (not impressed), PUNGENTLY, and SHERBET.

    I blame our Transatlantic friends for the abomination of BUFFALOES, and was also less than impressed by ALIVENESS.

    LOI the appalling FINICKY. I loathe these random name clues.


    I hope the rest of you garnered more pleasure from this than I did.

  9. 19 minutes, many of them spent correcting the effects of a sudden access of fat finger typing, nothing to do with the quality of the crossword. Easier than yesterday (and Monday’s) I thought, with a lot of fairly standard Timesy clues. I decided not to get annoyed by the random directions at 3d, which made the whole thing more pleasant.
    PUNJABI my LOI, mostly because I had entered SPA (didn’t we have Bath/SPA recently?) without checking the rest of the clue.
    And I similarly entered FRY at 14a for the dramatist, though I wasn’t sure where the irony came in.
    I can confirm Myrtilus’ suspicion that if that dreadful charlatan Paul Revere rode from Ghent, he’d have taken a while, what with swimming the Atlantic and all.
  10. 37 minutes with LOI NOMINAL. The Bolton Evening News Saturday night football paper (printed on light brown paper and sadly missed) was called the Buff, so BUFFALOES quickly seen. COD ILLEGIBLE. My sainted English master Peg-leg Wakefield once wrote in red pen on my essay, dashed off in Break, “your handwriting is illegible.” Naturally enough, I had to say to him, “Sorry, Sir. I can’t read what you’ve written.” Good crossword. Thank you Pip and setter.

    Edited at 2018-10-17 12:09 pm (UTC)

  11. 18:41 with two typos.

    I had illiterate for illegible which delayed me in my quest for the beer drinker.

    COD Imagination.

  12. 30 minutes almost exactly. I would say this was absolutely at the mid point between hard and easy. No stand out clues really.
    1. The SNITCH is currently at 98, so I think you (and I) are correct. Surprised that Monday’s was only 102, I found it harder than usual, as was yesterday’s.
  13. Oh dear! I was way off the wavelength with this: 63 mins and, for me, harder than any for the last month or so. I often got the right ideas from the wordplay and parsing, but then simply couldn’t make those ideas fit: how can I possibly get something meaning ‘wit’ or ‘a wit’ from I’M with AGIN positioned inside something else? And there must be a group of islands somewhere in the remotest Pacific with a name which ends -BER! Grazers beginning with B, certainly, but I must squeeze OCHRE in somehow — hmmmmmm; ironic is WRY — so who was the poet and dramatist??
    And I’d never heard of the Browning poem, which I now think (having looked it up) was a blessing.
    My technical interest in English linguistics drives me to question how it could be possible for any native English speaker not to pronounce ‘barren’ and ‘baron’ indistinguishably. Ah, well… chacun a soi and all that.
    Thanks for the expansive blog. And thanks to the setter.
    1. It never occurred to me until today’s blog that there was anything short of perfect homophony in the pair.
      1. Quite so. But since I’ve been following TftT, I’ve discovered that perfect homophony — or indeed pretty-close homophony — is much rarer than I had supposed.
        1. My conclusion from these discussions is that perfect homophony is quite common but universal homophony (i.e. words or expressions that sound the same in any accent) is almost non-existent.
              1. Barren, baron and indeed barron all sound the same. Otherwise The Barron Knights just wouldn’t have been funny. Oh, hang on a minute…
          1. The pronunciation questions are trivial. The real issue is the first word of the clue: “verbally”–a word which simply doesn’t mean “in pronunciation”. As the compilers ought to know. “Orally” (or “aurally”, if you like) but not “verbally”.
            1. Not true. ‘Verbal’ is very commonly used to mean ‘oral’ (‘verbal agreement’ for instance) and this usage is recognised in all the usual dictionaries.
  14. 16:49, so moderately difficult going by the time but it felt harder than that. I had notably few answers filled in after my first pass through the acrosses. Most trouble in the NW where the phrase ‘liliaceous plants’ induced mild conniptions.
  15. 9m 43 with BUFFALOES the LOI, as I don’t recall having come across ‘buff’ as a colour before. I also tried to crowbow ILLITERATE into 16d, making my answer ironically rather illegible.

    A fun puzzle that wasn’t too challenging for a Wednesday. There was the usual anagram for a foreign word, but DEMIMONDE seemed the only plausible answer even though it’s not one that rang any bells.

    1. The phrase “steady the Buffs” comes from a famous infantry regiment that were so called because they had BUFF facings on their uniforms.
  16. The Longfellow ride of Paul Revere isn’t much better than the Browning version. I managed to type in “pip” at 25d (giving me a “nonagop”) so I must have had in mind who was on blog duty today – luckily it popped out at me on review. The two puns held me up briefly thinking the double exposure was unlikely, otherwise I had the wavelength for this one. ALIVENESS hmmm. 17.18
    1. I went to a great exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery yesterday of Dylan’s On the Road drawings. Called Mondo Scripto, he’s written out the lyrics of 64 of his songs in his best handwriting to put alongside prints of 64 of his drawings, adding new verses on some. I’ve not yielded to the temptation to date to buy one of the limited editions. I suspect it would be divorce if I did! The words for Tombstone Blues were alongside a sketch of a coffin.
      “The sweet pretty things are in bed now, of course
      The city fathers, they’re trying to endorse
      The reincarnation of Paul Revere’s horse
      But the town has no need to be nervous.”
      1. Thank you for the reminder BW. I’ve always liked From A Buick 6 from that album. My husband still has his parents’ 62 Buick Electra that runs yet!
  17. I made heavy weather of this, with the NW my bete noir again. I got the SCREEN bit of 4d quickly enough but ROOD didn’t fit and I went with SIGHT(after all sights can mean eyes) for a while despite the lack of mention of the MCC. SAP(my FOI) was my only entry in that corner until late in the solve. It was only when I finally saw ORGAN that Parker’s display became wordplay instead of definition, as I flirted with ___IDINESS for an age. My 28a was pointedly corrected when my IMAGINATION ran riot. DEMIMONDE and FINICKY finally gave me DRY(den) and I was done once the BUFFALOES had stampeded into 1a. ALIVENESS?? Really?? BARON took too long too! Still an enjoyable romp at 43:23. Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2018-10-17 12:14 pm (UTC)

  18. 14 minutes dead. BARON was my first in so I must have hit the setter’s wavelength from the off looking at how others struggled with that one.
  19. Same as usual; 33 mins. Struggling to break the half hour at the minute. Great blog, cheers.
  20. 17:42 but I neglected to parse WHIMSICAL and IMAGINATION and just biffed SHERBET. Thanks for explaining that one, Pip. A nice middle-of-the-road puzzle. PUNGENTLY my favourite.

    Edited at 2018-10-17 12:13 pm (UTC)

  21. So a medium puzzle for me too. Not knowing liliaceous plants from my elbow I decided on BUFFASSES and SIGHT SCREEN (do they play cricket in churches?) which left me somewhat high and dry for NOISINESS for which I had the clue back to front anyway. GHENT fortunately was obvious from the cryptic and I assumed it was some literary allusion or other.
    I recently decided that my literary knowledge, being nil, needed upgrading so I started on Nicholas Nickleby, but found the humour so dated that I gave up. Back to Dalziel and Pascoe then..
    1. If you read D and P then your literary knowledge is not zero. I love to infuriate Mrs K by pronouncing him Dal-zeel every time his name comes up.

      Edited at 2018-10-17 02:27 pm (UTC)

      1. I’ve just finished “Exit Lines”. I can’t read Dalzeil’s speeches without hearing the late and much missed Warren Clarke.
          1. I’ve been listening on audiobook – Jonathan Keeble’s reading of the stories is quite outstanding. The one I’m reading, The Wood Beyond, is also full of weird and wonderful words. I think Reginald Hill (the author) must have been a crossword fiend!
  22. One of those odd ones which didn’t seem that testing when I was doing it, certainly in comparison to the likes of yesterday’s challenge, but when the clock stopped, had somehow taken nearly as long, so I’d describe it as sneakily difficult. Nothing wrong with a setter being sneaky, of course.
  23. Hello again… Mr Anon-Troll here.

    Thanks for your solicitous inquiry: I always find the solutions and explanations illuminating, and appreciate the effort. My complaint last week was solely about tone of voice and I’m delighted to find you’ve taken note, as well as umbrage; as evidenced by today’s significantly less self-aggrandising blog.

    As you somehow sensed, I found today’s offering substantially simpler to solve, whereas it took you longer than last week: I suppose it’s all about “wavelengths” than degrees of difficulty. Anyway, thanks for thinking of me – and for your time and effort blogging.

  24. Around 20 minutes here, for what I too thought an average puzzle. LOI was TARRY but only because I had to puzzle over GHENT, having no knowledge of the poem in question. I agree with those less than happy at ALIVENESS, which is simple enough to understand, but so ‘not in everyday use’ as to appear more than passing strange as a word. Anyway, regards.
  25. I always thought that Demi Monde was two words – life lesson for today – enjoyable puzzle.
  26. ALIVENESS may not be the best word but if it is in the dictionary then fair game.

    I had SIGHT SCREEN for a while before BUFFALOES went in.

    Failed to parse NOISINESS, fixated on Thunderbirds and more unlikely, Parker Pyne.

    Never heard of the GHENT/Aix nonsense. AIX (IBM’s version of the Unix operating system) is my specialism, so mildly disappointed to find that the answer was totally unrelated, as is much of the guff that comes up when googling AIX.

    LOI NIP after finally unravelling the SE corner.

  27. 43:13. I found this quite tricky and found myself looking at the wrong end of quite a few clues – searching for liliaceous plants rather than grazers at 1ac for example – and (as usual) looking for wp where there was none, in the double Def at 9ac and the cryptic Def at 16dn. Dnk the literary reference at 22ac so Ghent entered from wp. Not too keen on aliveness, apart from it being an ugly looking word, I tend to dislike clues that include an instruction to the solver to arrange an unspecified set of random points of the compass / musical notes etc, I know it is a useful device but I prefer something a bit tighter and with more precision.
  28. It is just PIN and not PIN number as the N represents the word number in the acronym.

    In Oz we call cash dispensers Automatic Teller Machines and they are frequently called ATM machines.

    There are numerous other examples of this redundancy in the now widespread use of TLA’s.

    Graham in Melbourne
    totally out of sync
    subscribing to The Australian newspaper to get my daily dose of xword heaven

  29. Second time through this time online 3 years later — halved my previous time, though still didn’t get the Ghent/Aix reference!

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