Times 27,293: Eggs Over Easy

This was a really good puzzle, tricksy in the wordplay department without being obscure, impeccably surfaced, and having a pleasantly Timesy old-worldliness to its vocabulary. I adored the thwarted soldiers at 9ac and the clever containment indicators “boxes” and “fences” in 15ac and 22dn, but 25ac may have to take the cake as the best “hidden” of the day. Nine and a half minutes on the clock, all of them joyous: much kudos to the setter!

1 Rival’s back-to-back works (4)
OPPO – OP [work] twice, one facing forwards, one backwards. Not quite sure how an oppo (opposite number?) is a rival, when it’s usually a mate, but there wasn’t much room for doubt. A friendly rival perhaps?

4 Excursionist not falling over things in the dark? (3,7)
DAY TRIPPER – if you aren’t TRIPPING [falling over things] in the dark, presumably you’re doing it by DAY.

9 Demanding key allowing smooth access? Yet denying entry to soldiers? (4-6)
HARD-BOILED – HARD B OILED [demanding | key | allowing smooth access]. Soldiers as in pieces of toast on soft-boiled egg duty.

10 Knight grabbing a coat casually (4)
DAUB – DUB [knight] “grabbing” A. LOI, taking ages as I was slightly fixated on GARB.

11 Burn lots of paper by side of road (6)
STREAM – REAM [lots of paper] by side of ST [road]. Burn as in a small watercourse.

12 Resident publisher holding minor volume with a set of books (8)
OCCUPANT – O.U.P. [publisher, from the best university town] “holding” CC [minor, as in small, volume] with A NT [a | set of (holy) books]

14 With no touching allowed, display flesh (4)
VEAL – {re}VEAL [display, minus RE = touching]

15 Conservative altered the ballot boxes: one’s providing teatime coverage? (10)
TABLECLOTH – C [Conservative], “boxed” by (THE BALLOT*) [“altered”]

17 Complete a facility for scrap (2,4,4)
DO AWAY WITH – DO [complete] + A WAY WITH [a facility for]

20 Partners with hands empty poet lamented (4)
WEPT – W + E [partners with (bridge) hands] + P{oe}T

21 Fear musical genres haven’t succeeded (4,4)
BLUE FUNK – BLUE{s} + FUNK [two musical genres, minus S = succeeded]

23 Old bit of gym and some games area (6)
PESETA – P.E. [gym] + SET [some games] + A [area]

24 No oil painting of Burghley’s oddly extant: the opposite (4)
UGLY – {b}U{r}G{h}L{e}Y, with the even letters, not the odd ones, extant

25 Address in Bishop’s Stortford (10)
APOSTROPHE – hidden in {Bishop}'{s Stortford}. An apostrophe is also an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person or thing.

26 King of Troy under horse after collapsing (5,5)
HENRY TUDOR – (TROY UNDER H*) [“collapsing”]. I took ages trying to anagram “under horse” into some legendary ancestor of Priam’s, perhaps the sweaty-sounding HERNE SUDOR.

27 Possible alternative to barrel bomb (4)
TANK – either a container for liquids, or to flop miserably.

2 Lark about to fly initially hit a pole sadly (4,3,4)
PLAY THE FOOL – (TO FLY H{it} A POLE*) [“sadly”]

3 Society member getting rum down with pained expression (9)
ODDFELLOW – ODD [rum] + FELL [down] with OW! [pained expression]. An 18th century London, and subsequently American, secret society.

4 Drudge ultimately destined to roam haphazardly … (7)
DOORMAT – {destine}D + (TO ROAM*) [“haphazardly”]

5 … or reliable person on staff seizing a path to fortune (6,5,4)
YELLOW BRICK ROAD – YELLOW [or, as in gold] + BRICK [reliable person] + ROD [staff] “seizing” A

6 Root in the end for a rising hero (7)
RADICLE – {fo}R A + reversed EL CID [hero]

7 Milan outfit quietly training players (5)
PRADA – P [quietly] + RADA [training players, i.e. trainee actors]

8 Raised swelling is to explode (5)
REBUT – reversed TUBER [swelling]. Explode as in “explode a myth”.

13 Greatly inferior to what an unrepaired bike tube has? (3,1,5,2)
NOT A PATCH ON – double definition, one slightly more forced than the other!

16 Resort typically ranked bottom? (9)
LOWESTOFT – or LOWEST, OFT suggesting [typically ranked bottom]

18 Warning as unknown circle replaces ME state’s king (3,4)
YOU WAIT – take KUWAIT [M(iddle)E(ast) state] and replace its K [king] with Y O [unknown | circle]

19 New PE shirt fitting below the waist (7)
HIPSTER – (PE SHIRT*) [“new”]. As in “hipster jeans”.

21 Gesture of respect for auditor’s branch (5)
BOUGH – homophone of BOW [gesture of respect]

22 Horseman once going over national hunt fences (5)
UHLAN – fenced in reversed by {natio}NAL HU{nt}. An obscurish word for a Polish cavalryman, but fortunately the cryptic doesn’t leave much room for doubt!

54 comments on “Times 27,293: Eggs Over Easy”

  1. At the end of my hour, I shoved in REAL at 14a, on the grounds that it might at least mean “flesh”, but I still had the unknown 6d RADICLE and 25a APOSTROPHE to go. After ten minutes I threw in the towel. Still, if I’d got those two I’d’ve kicked myself when I saw VEAL!

    Not sure I’d have pieced together the root, but I should’ve seen the APOSTROPHE, especially as it came up a few times in Great Expectations, which I recently read for the first time, and especially as I’d actually thought of it starting APOST…, but mostly because it might have something to do with bishops. D’oh!

    Never quite got to grips with this one, finding quite a few clues fairly impenetrable, especially the unknown secret society in 3d. Well, I suppose if I’d heard of them, they wouldn’t be doing a very good job of keeping secret… Nonetheless, enjoyed the HARD-BOILED 9a and the &littishness of 27a.

    Edited at 2019-03-08 07:32 am (UTC)

  2. 47 minutes of quite hard work but I enjoyed the challenge. Struggled to come up with VEAL having been tempted far too long by ‘PEEL’ for ‘display flesh’ perhaps with reference either to striptease or the paring of fruit. Went with APOSTROPHE as a word that fitted the checkers and there being one in Bishop’s Stortford, but I had no idea of its other meaning. Couldn’t get my head round the second bit of the clue to UGLY, but unless on blogging duty why would anyone bother when the answer was so obvious from the first bit? I’ve never really thought of OPPO as being a rival and I see it’s defined as a counterpart, so perhaps they are people working towards the same goal if from different angles. Misspelt 6dn as RADICAL until forced by the arrival of the last checker to look at it again.

    Edited at 2019-03-08 07:39 am (UTC)

  3. Terrific puzzle; I’m surprised that I got through it so fast, although LOsI DAUB and PRADA were a disturbingly long time in coming. Biffed a couple, and never did figure out 18d–I got stuck thinking ME was Maine. Also didn’t understand the definition of HIPSTER, never having heard of hipster jeans. UHLANs weren’t just Polish; various European armies had them. Finally, I spotted a punctuation mark as the definition, having been fooled a couple of times before. Apostrophes used to be big among poets and orators. I believe it was Coleridge who claimed to have come across someone’s “Inoculation! Heavenly maid, descend!” And Wordsworth has given us “Spade! with which Wilkinson hath tilled his lands, …” One can see why they’ve gone out of fashion. COD to DAUB, with 5d and 14ac in hot pursuit. (I just noticed that 10ac and 5d have the same device: ‘grabbing a’/’seizing a’.)
  4. 18:45 … a bit different and definitely tricky. But I finished it correctly — therefore a good puzzle.

    I was surprised to learn that a BLUE FUNK is a state of fear rather than depression, but I suspect it’s not the first time I’ve been surprised to learn that here.

    Have to agree with our blogger — the thwarted soldiers are a delight.

    1. I first came across the word in “Lord Jim”, although it wasn’t blue; it’s what causes Jim to abandon ship. ODE gives ‘depression’ as the North American meaning, so maybe your time in Newfoundland has influenced you.
  5. Super crossword. PRADA LOI having tried to get AC (Milan) as the outfit into something. How do you pick a COD? DAUB? HARD-BOILED? HENRY TUDOR? VEAL? RADICLE? UHLAN? I’ll settle for VEAL.
  6. … it didn’t actually but I planned my headline as I wrote in 4 across and it would be a shame to lose it. 19 minutes today, which for a tricksy puzzle was good for me. I didn’t know RADICLE spelt like that and assumed it was the Chemistry term radical misspelt. LOI was DAUB, seen after a hesitant, penultimate REBUT. Some great clues here, with HARD-BOILED winning COD, NOT A PATCH ON appreciated too. I was puzzled by OPPO meaning rival as I’ve always used it the ‘colleague’ sense. I have always used BLUE FUNK to mean ‘fear’ though. Thank you V and setter.
  7. Like Jack I spent considerable time tempted by PEEL for ‘flesh’ – what else could it be? So it was satisfying to resist my temptation this time and get the correct answer.

    And as per boltonwanderer, LOI DAUB after a doubtful REBUT. I didn’t get the ‘explode’ definition until seeing Verlaine’s explanation above.

  8. In other words, game of two halves.

    Started well enough but I struggled to make progress after the first 15 minutes. I stuck at it though and thought I’d got over the line OK in 38:04. But two wrong and one typo. PEEL for VEAL, BLUE PUNK for BLUE FUNK and TANL for TANK.

    Lots to like. A three way tie for COD. The amusing HARD BOILED and the cleverly disguised, UHLAN and HENRY TUDOR.

  9. BLUE FUNK at 21ac in Chambers is great terror! I have always thought it to be a bad but silent temper, a depression as per Sotira – mood Meldrew.

    FOI 14ac VEAL I thought it was that easy!!

    LOI 6dn REBUT I thought it was silly!

    COD 25ac APOSTROPHE and certainly not the excruciatingly IKEAN 26ac HENRY TUDOR pah!

    WOD 16dn LOWESTOFT for family reasons.

    I much enjoyed Aston Villa’s brace – BLUE PUNK but not his fat-fingered TANL (Club Monthlyland! Lord Verlaine?)

    Edited at 2019-03-08 09:56 am (UTC)

  10. With a clutch of easy-peasy ones going in straightaway, I fooled myself into thinking this was no Friday puzzle. The so-biffable top line of OPPO and DAY TRIPPER, YELLOW BRICK ROAD (6,5,4), unmissable anagram for DOORMAT, quickie STREAM, write-in DO AWAY WITH… and so on. But the UGLY clue was ugly. The solution seemed clear from the def and the easy BOUGH checker: but why ‘the opposite’? This discombobulated me somewhat. I soldiered on (loved the 9a clue) and finished off taking 15 mins over the trio of REBUT, PRADA and DAUB (my LOI). I tried KAGI (casual for ‘cagoule’?) for a while, which didn’t help. But eventually the very reasonable ‘dub’ came to me. 42 mins.
    I think of OPPO as my ‘opposite number’ — but presumably many people think of an ‘opponent’. And a blue funk is a panic.
    Thanks for your blog, V.
    O anonymous setter, thanks for a great puzzle.
    1. I guess OPPO meaning “mate” is so old-fashioned that it might be what the kids use to mean “someone in a rival Fortnite clan” these days, and I just haven’t caught up yet! Actually is it ever used in sports as a short term for “the opposition”? Another thing I just wouldn’t really know.

      Edited at 2019-03-08 05:21 pm (UTC)

  11. I got distracted looking for a mac as the casual coat in 10a and by ME=Maine (like Kevin) in 18d. And also had to rehearse the alphabet before remembering Just You Wait Henry Higgins! Then wasted time trying to dredge up the name of a Milan football team (not my strong point). In The Way we Live Now Trollope spells the resort “Lowestoffe” which had me a bit addled too. Good puzzle. 21.28
    1. Did the same thing with Milan; actually came up with Parma, which turns out to be a football team, but I felt fairly sure that it wasn’t in Milan. I realized only retrospectively that had it not been for the Meryl Streep movie, I would have had no idea what PRADA was, or that it was.
    2. Lowestoffe is the local pronunciation.

      Kipling wrote of it too, as it was Britain’s largest submarine base in WWI, and bombed by Zeppelins.

  12. 36 mins of toil with many rewarding answers. My COW (clue of the week) goes to HARD BOILED. LOI was VEAL which proved intractable due to my vegetarianism. I just don’t think of flesh that way!
  13. About half an hour, but having failed to think of anything better in several minutes eventually bunged GARB in. Also spent a while mentally wandering round Stortford (just down the road from here) trying to find any feature that would be sufficiently well-known to be usable, so I needed all the checkers to get on the right track.
  14. ….for taking the easy way out, and therefore I biffed three answers as I sped through this (DO AWAY WITH, PLAY THE FOOL, and RADICLE). Thanks to Verlaine for the parsings.

    V : I note you took “ages” working on HENRY TUDOR. How long is “ages” in the context of a sub-10 minute solve ?

    Chambers gives OPPO only as “opposite number”, so rival seems fine, but like others on here I would only use it to describe a colleague, usually in a two person outfit.

    I thought 22D was a nice reminder for next week’s Cheltenham Festival.

    TIME 10:39

      1. Let’s assume there are 30 clues to the average Times Crossword. (Jack?)

        If LV&Co take ten minutes to complete a puzzle that’s about twenty seconds to read, digest and process each clue, and then enter each answer.

        If LV&Co gets down to five minutes, and add the odd biff, they will be at ten seconds per clue for this process.

        Those with fat fingers on an iPad may require a tad longer.

        Those in the finals have to finish three puzzles in one hour; that’s roughly a consistent 40 seconds per clue over an hour. Plenty of time.

        (Mere mortals need at least 1 minute per clue to get to the finish line in thirty minutes.)

        Tomorrow, take two print-outs of the grid – fill the first one in as per normal. This should take you anything from five minutes to an hour.

        When you are done, simply copy one’s answers onto the second empty grid –
        setting a stop watch or timer, whatever. Write quickly then note the time. (This assumes that only tree-ware is allowed at the Finals)

        I did it recently and managed just under a leisurely three and a half minutes. At that speed, under normal circumstances, would make one eligible to win the Championship: except you already know the answers! (Cheating not allowed)

        In the Verlaine World one can simultaneously read, digest, process and enter. And they all know how to spell everything, including minuscule!

        I was at a final in Piccadilly many years ago when a young man (from Stockport?) finished and hurriedly walked off in around 3.40 mins.

        However, he did not qualify as he forgot to put the middle letter in a three letter word down at the bottom right. The world’s greatest ever DNF!

        I wish I could say, “I know that because I was that sailor.”….but I can’t.
        I’m,like most of us, simply mortal.

        Edited at 2019-03-08 01:43 pm (UTC)

        1. Well, indeed.

          Hence why I only scraped into the top 50 in my prelim last year.

          And yes – the championship crosswords are 30 clues each

          And no – neither was I that sailor.(too young…..)

        2. Sometimes you (or more likely Magoo) just read the clue, infer the answer, and fill it straight in. Other times you stare at a bunch of impossible-looking crossers with a sense of rising panic as the seconds ticking by on the clock get louder, louder, louder.
  15. Sunk by 14 across, where unlike our more circumspect commentators, I didn’t get past PEEL, despite being less than convinced by it. I did briefly consider VEAL but couldn’t see the wordplay, and like Jack thought of sunbathers and fruit and veg. Really liked HARD BOILED. I also wasted time with (UNDERHORSE)* at 26a but got there eventually. Lots of satisfying penny drop moments, but all, alas, in vain. 38:54 WOE. Thanks setter and V.
  16. 12:54. I had about two-thirds of this done in 4 minutes, so I thought it was going to be a very easy one, but I slowed to a crawl after that. So it was very much a brace of pheasant puzzle, but all great fun.
    Collins defines OPPO as ‘a counterpart in another organisation’, which is the way I’ve always used it. Such a person may be a rival in some circumstances and a collaborator in others.
    25ac breaks the usual containment rule that you aren’t allowed extra words: from a wordplay point of view ‘Stortford’ is redundant. Of course Bishop’s Stortford is a lexical unit but it still struck me as a bit odd.
    Add me to the list of people trying to construct an unknown figure from antiquity from (UNDER HORSE)*.
    1. It doesn’t really.
      That “rule” applies to clues where the answer is “hidden” in a series of letters. All this clue is saying in that there is an apostrophe in Bishop’s Stortford.


      1. Indeed but if you were being consistent you would apply the same principle since the word ‘Stortford’ is redundant from a wordplay perspective. There is an apostrophe in “man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn” but that would be a bit rum.
        Anyway I don’t really mind it but it just struck me as odd.
        1. Yes but the clue “Address in man’s …..” would be perverse and not make a lot of sense.
          Sometimes one can overanalyse these things 🙂
    2. I prefer Bishop’s Finger to Bishop’s Stortford. See report in today’s financial section on brewers Shepherd Neame.
      1. Indeed -I was recently in the Bishop’s Finger in Canterbury, a historic Shepherd Neame pub which also serves the beer.
  17. Very nice puzzle, kept me entertained for just over half an hour. UHLAN was vaguely known, but on reflection I vaguely knew only the wrong one – UHLAN Bator (which isn’t a horseman and isn’t spelled that way anyway), which just goes to show that wrong information is sometimes better than no information at all. I didn’t get the parsing for HARD BOILED – thanks to Verlaine for explaining a very nice clue.
  18. Put in Peel for Veal. No, I can’t see how it works cryptically either – but the definition fit. Very nice crossword. We must have been many who put in radical for radicle before seeing that it had to end in ‘e’.
  19. This gave me that Friday feeling (the one where you find yourself staring at _A_B and _E_L, and trying not to put in JAMB and PEEL because you can’t for the moment think of anything else). Lots of good stuff.

    My crossword karma has been boosted by discovering that I won the prize for last Saturday’s 15×15, so now I get to go out with my vouchers and see what it is that WH Smith’s sell these days apart from huge chocolate bars.

    1. Hugely expensive printer ink cartridges which make it hardly worth spending the vouchers on them! I speak from bitter experience:-(
  20. I fully support the idea of putting a Beatles song title into every crossword from now on. Too much to ask?

    Some obscure definitions and answers today but all very fair and nothing too troubling. If I take Verlaine’s “nine and a half minutes” at utter face value, can I claim a rare triumph with my 9m 29.6s (by my stopwatch)?

    1. I would agree about The Beatles, but not when it’s clued as ludicrously as it is here. The competition for worst clue of the year may as well be wrapped up here and now. Mr Grumpy
    2. Indeed you may. But I’m sure it’s not a “rare triumph” – I’ve noticed that on a good day you can sometimes leave my time in the dust!
  21. …but at least I did a lot better than yesterday. Also couldn’t get past PEEL. APOSTROPHE fooled and foiled me, though I remember getting this kind of clue before with INVERTED COMMAS. PESETA (stuck on SITE for AREA), HENRY TUDOR (UNDER HORSE got me), YOU WAIT and TANK we’re the others given up on as I finally decided that persistence can be all very well but there is more to life. Thanks for the revelatory blog and all the “of course” moments!
  22. The parsing of 2 down is slightly incorrect. The 2 letters missing from the anagram are the i and t of hit. I came here as I could not get rid of the i and having seen your explanation I eventually saw how it worked. So thanks anyway.
    1. Many thanks, corrected now! After a tough solve I sometimes rush through the write-ups with a certain lack of remaining mental energy to spare…
  23. Indeed. Today I solved I think 19 or 20 of these clues in 4 minutes: 12ish seconds per clue.
    The remaining 9 or 10 took me 9 minutes, around a minute each.
    Go figure.
  24. 1 hr 2 mins. Cruised through most of this in half an hour but was well flummoxed by a handful which proved highly resistant, necessitating some alphabet trawling, some head scratching and some furious staring at blank squares before all fell into place just past the hour mark: 3dn (dnk or did not remember the society member), 18dn, 9ac, 17ac and 26ac. Some good quality Friday tricksiness.
  25. Struggled with this, and after an hour still had five left. NHO RADICLE, got HARD but didn’t see BOILED (doh!) and thought of the obvious tuber but ‘forgot’ that REBUT means explode. Disappointed with not getting YOU WAIT – I went too far down the Maine path as well. Also stuck on Peel, not getting as far as even thinking of ReVEAL.

    I put it all down to the previous evening writing a poem for a good friend who was leaving work for pastures new. Obviously drained my lexical pool/puddle somewhat.

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