Times 28085 – I’m a substitute!

My boss at the first job I ever worked at told me this: if you are the boss, and no workers are available, it is your responsibility to do the work yourself.   So here I am!

This was a difficult puzzle, and it took me over an hour to finish.   I tried to solve it solo, then worked with Jeremy online.   Even after we finished, some of the parsing had to be worked out, so thanks to my fellow blogger for the help.

1 Action to start set pieces is needed, they maintain (10)
SERVICEMEN – SERVICE + MEN, service as in tennis, pieces as in chess, for the kind of service men who repair your appliances.
6 Give licence to overtake (4)
PASS –  Double definition.
8 Ruler from past stopping in error, returning without wife (8)
GOVERNOR – G(OVER)NOR[w], where wrong is backwards and over isn’t
9 Appalling smoke beginning to thicken all around (6)
TRAGIC – CIGAR + T[hicken] backwards.
10 Stake blanched by the sun, perhaps (4)
PALE – Double defintion.
11 I’m obliged to admit blunder, tailing old men (5,5)
12 China’s in marginally overlapping dioceses, it appears (9)
SEEMINGLY – SEE(MING)LY, i.e. SEE + ELY overlapping.
14 Within seconds, fool gets out of control (5)
17 Fried stuff with uniform filling (5)
19 Reference book‘s chapter on critical politician (9)
DIRECTORY – DIRE (C) TORY, where critical clues dire.
22 One group has difficulty concealing evidence of operation (5,5)
23 Take part of judge in The Archers (4)
HEAR – Hidden in [T]HE AR[chers]
24 Show that’s unselected, might one say out loud? (6)
DEPICT – Sounds like DE-PICKED.
25 See you put biblical books on stand, removing key (1,7)
A BIENTOT – ABI[d]E + NT + OT, of course.
26 A question of gender and class (4)
FORM – F OR  M, thanks to Mcchoc…..I thought the parliamentary meaning of “for” was a bit weak in the proposed parsing.
27 1 across prepared complex work schedule for members (5,5)
ORDER PAPER – OR + anagram of PREPARED, where servicemen now mean something different than they did in 1 across.
1 Assistance to motorists so GPS isn’t misused? (9)
2 Enthusiast’s put up with empty vehicle for spin (7)
REVOLVE –  V[ehicl]E + LOVER, upside-down.
3 Associated musical with nightclub (8)
CONJOINT – CON + JOINT, where con = “musical with”.
4 Good distance south of Slough, comprehensive training area? (11,4)
5 Lawman‘s refusal to wait put queen off once (6)
6 Oddly, prevalent clothing for sailor? (3,6)
PEA JACKET – P[r]E[v]A [l](JACK)E[n]T, a brilliant &lit.
7 Dodged nettle going into hut (7)
13 Belief of immodest Hapsburg leader in Reformation (9)
METHODISM – Anagram of IMMODEST + H[apsburg].
15 One whose promotion is up in the air (9)
SKYWRITER – Cryptic definition.
16 Battle-hardened horse and rider set off (8)
DESTRIER – Anagram of RIDER SET, tough vocabulary here.
18 Rule out supporting a learner one’s interested in (5,2)
ALIVE TO –  A + L + I + VETO.
20 Dealing with everything when angry, one can blow it (3-4)
21 Senseless British game (6)

59 comments on “Times 28085 – I’m a substitute!”

  1. So that’s how GOVERNOR works! It was my LOI, since I couldn’t make any sense of the clue. 3d was my POI, where it took me forever to see ‘musical with’. My COD.
    26ac is F or M? V, your parsing of DIRECTORY is abbreviated; ‘critical’=DIRE, C=chapter. A difficult puzzle, as the SNITCH shows, but rewarding.
  2. Well done, Vinyl. This was a trial by ordeal. I needed an aid to check the anagram for the old nag. DESTRIER rides again could have been a great movie. LOI was A BIENTOT. It’s a long time since I did O Level French. COD to SEEMINGLY. I bought a PEA JACKET a few years ago, the first time I’d heard of such a thing. Again thank you Vinyl. and also to the setter for the torture.
  3. A proper Friday funfest! Off to a poor start biffing GROUNDSMEN for 1a as FOI. This seemingly tragic start was slowly overcome, though it took ages to get SERVICEMEN and DIRECTORY. Many thanks to the stand-in bloggers.
    40:54, but happy to finish all green.
  4. Thanks to Vinyl and Jeremy for standing in. I hope Verlaine is OK.
    I was going along quite nicely with this puzzle until I hit a wall and couldn’t see a thing for 5-10 minutes. Eventually I managed to work out ALIVE TO and the rest gradually fell into place from there.
    Having got ORDER PAPER and then OTHER RANKS I was convinced there was a misprint and ORDER PAPER had been meant to cross reference 11 rather than 1 but as it turned out there were soldiers in various places today.
    1. Me too! I even went so far as to post a comment about it in the Club, but fortunately realised my mistake before the window for deleting it had elapsed.
  5. A bit of a military flavour here. Finished in 52 minutes, spending a while on sometimes tricky parsing, eg A BIENTOT and MARSHALLING YARD. Had to guess DESTRIER from wordplay. Thanks for explaining the subtlety of PEA JACKET.

    Up to the expected Friday degree of difficulty for me. Favourites were the non-surgical answer for the ‘evidence of operation’ def at 22a and PASS at 6a, which I parsed as a triple def.

    Thanks to vinyl1 for riding to the rescue and to setter

  6. If the SNITCH stays at its current score I think this will be the first week with two 150+ rated puzzles since it began.
  7. First completed crossword for a while, though it took three goes.

    I didn’t parse MARSHALLING YARD at all (biffing it once I realised what “training area” was getting at), hesitated over PILOT LIGHT even after parsing as I wasn’t sure what it was, didn’t know DESTRIER so put it in as the only plausible answer given the checkers, and relied on the wordplay for PEA JACKET.

    Agree with bletchleyreject that PASS could well have been meant as a triple definition.

    FOI Hear
    LOI Conjoint
    COD Signposts

  8. Thanks for the blog!

    DESTRIER plucked from the depths. CONJOINT LOI. Liked PEA JACKET and ONE STOP.

    31′ and a bit, thanks again.

  9. Definitely a toughie, but I think I got lucky with dredging up DESTRIER and spotting the wordplay for GOVERNOR.

    Had to work harder to construct the unknown ORDER PAPER, CONJOINT and PEA JACKET, and combined all that dredging, guessing and construction at the end to get the unknown-but-must-have-heard-at-some-point A BIENTOT.

    Quite a workout. Thanks setter and Vinyl (sub).

  10. Vinyl1 and Jeremy – best back-up bloggers of bewildering brilliance. Many thanks.

    Sincerely hope Verlaine is fine.

    Crossword completed in just over the hour. Tricky, indeed..

  11. When I completed (albeit with two clues wrong and one assisted) Wednesday’s v. diff. puzzle, I really thought I’d turned a corner in that respect and was looking forward to Friday….
    …should have known better.

    I never got to grips with this, always felt way out of my depth. Gave up at 56m with only seven correct answers, having entered STOPSIGNS for 1d. I’d spent far too long on that anagram, and was relieved to the extent that I didn’t question the single-word format.

    One possibly notable aspect of the Wednesday episode – I did most of the puzzle directly after coming out of the swimming pool. It was the first time I’d been for a swim in 18 months, and I felt totally fantastic and “on it”. I seriously think that may have been a big factor in my improved performance. Going to test this theory next week …watch this space.

    1. Nice. I just found a pool that is near enough by, a full 25m, and (best of all) open. So next week I’m with you in being back in the water. The question was going to be will I have lost all my good habits, muscle tone, and wind, or will I have forgotten all the bad habits I’d developed over the years. Now the question will be do my puzzle times improve.
      1. You’re going to LOVE IT! I always knew swimming was the best form of exercise for making you feel good afterwards – but following a long break, it’s just another level, totally astonishing.

        First few lengths I thought “oh no, my shoulders don’t work anymore” – but the rhythm soon returns. Have fun, and nail that puzzle afterwards!

  12. Thanks V or is that V2?

    I wondered at 27a if the clue was meant to read 11 across not 1 across?
    As it is an anagram of PREPARED after OR (OTHER RANKS)?

  13. Tricky. 1ac and 27ac both being 10 letters I was hunting for a full anagram instead of a partial one.

    re 10ac I tend to think of the sun darkening things; but I suppose it can bleach them too.. versatile, eh?

    No complaints though, overall.

  14. DNF. I tried for a while to construct a likely-looking answer from the anagrist at 16dn but failed and gave up. I should probably have twigged that I was looking for something unlikely-looking.
    Tough until that point.
  15. Following yesterday’s comparatively disastrous effort, the wavelength-o-meter showed definite cruciverbal compatibility with today’s grid.

    SNITCH 153 which would suggest a target time for me of 66m 30s — pah! Smashed it.

    There were a few that I didn’t quite parse — didn’t link ORDER PAPER and SERVICEMEN as I’d gotten the former first; neither did I see the F OR M trick so that one was a bit hit-and-hope; A BIENTOT — the French popped up from nowhere after forty years gathering dust to fit the checkers, though I didn’t fully parse; missed the CON bit of CONJOINT.

    NHO PEA JACKET but no probs with DESTRIER which appear a-plenty in the first Game Of Thrones novel (haven’t gotten around to reading any more yet — too many books to read not enough life left in me to get through them all so have to be picky).

  16. I completed this in 56 minutes.

    I failed to parse CON at 3dn although as I’m trained in music I’m familiar with the terminology.

    My only unknowns were DESTRIER and PEA JACKET although I’m ready for someone to prove I’ve met them here before.

    You will see ‘sauté potatoes’ on menus meaning ‘fried potatoes’ but I’m still a little uneasy with ‘fried = sauté’ rather than ‘sautéd’.

    Edited at 2021-09-17 01:15 pm (UTC)

  17. 44 mins. CONJOINT and A BIENTOT needed some scratching around and I never managed to parse the latter, so thank you for the explanation. I thought this was ingeniously put together with few biffing opportunities and plenty of penny-drop moments. A good workout.
  18. I learnt 6dn PEA JACKET just a few days ago – from having to decide whether Ian Fleming was wearing a duffle-coat or a PEA JACKET, whilst on the Dieppe Raid.

    FOI 6ac PASS

    LOI 15dn DESTRIER – nowhere else to go!

    COD 28ac FORM – class is permanent as per Ronaldo


    No Verlaine! Whatever next!?

  19. DNF, and the all-but 3 which I didn’t get were definitely challenging. I have to say that I did like many of the clues when I got them sorted, with Pea Jacket, as noted by blogger v, among them. I happen to be reading Armitage’s translation of The Death of Arthur, where there are steeds, steedes, horses, mounts, chargers, and I believe a blonk — but no Destriers that I remember.
  20. 25:23 Another tough one. I failed to parse A BIENTOT and DNK DESTRIER so trusted to wordplay there. I liked TRAGIC the clever cross-reference at 27A. which could easily have referred to 11A too. COD, though, to SIGNPOSTS for the great surface. We have a few signs around here sating “Don’t follow Satnav”. Thanks V, J and setter.
  21. This was a very good puzzle that I did in 10 minutes in an airport lounge but then I had to leave — lucky it didn’t take me too much longer. I’m not dead but, worse, I’m severely internet-deficient. Off to pick up an emergency modem from the Xfinity store in the very near future.

    DESTRIER familiar from D&D, where paladins often ride one.

  22. I think this took me twice as long as anybody else on here at two hours, glad I can spare the time. Only four on first pass so marginal as to whether to continue. Had to get on the puzzle on the Times website and try a few things out to solve this, so a technical DNF but pleased to get there in the end. Much biffing. Thanks, V, for the blog, very informative, and setter for the absorbing test. GW.
  23. I was forty-five seconds slower, as mine was done at the barbers. COD 8ac GOVERNOR. Destrier was interesting as was Pea Jacket.
  24. I carelessly failed to return to the stake, where I had biffed POLE without much conviction, so 1 pink square. I managed to construct the unknown CONJOINT, PEA JACKET, DESTRIER(which seemed vaguely familiar), but failed to parse PILOT LIGHT and TRAGIC, as well as not bothering to fully parse MARSHALLING YARD until later. Otherwise understood and battled through in 52:52. A toughie! Thanks to the setter and to Vinyl and Jeremy for filling in!

    Edited at 2021-09-17 03:46 pm (UTC)

  25. ….que je ne sais pas DESTRIER, mais A BIENTOT etait un oui.

    It wasn’t actually that tough overall, but I added 50% to my time with the horse (which I biffed in the end), and the failure to spot SERVICEMEN, along with the last 3 down clues running out from it.

    TIME 21:19

  26. That was some work-out! No idea how long it’s taken me as I’ve been visiting it on and off over several hours. Great puzzle though, with only one unknown but easily solved once the checkers were in place. That’s DESTRIER, of course. And I loved the interplay between SERVICEMEN and OTHER RANKS. Thanks to our setter and blogger.
  27. Is the horse Prince Caspian rides away from the palace to join up with the old Narnians. It needed an archeological dig for me to come up with that. I don’t have a time because I had to go and talk to the plumber about our malfunctioning well pump but I’m sure it was pushing the half-hour mark in total if not exceeding it. If I’d had any thought of pinch-hitting for Verlaine as JohnInterred and I did once before it was put out of court thanks to my inability to find the definition in 1a and to parse 2 or 3 of the others. So many thanks to Vinyl and Jeremy.
  28. but as I’m on hols, I don’t mind. Or at least, my mind is sufficiently slowed down. I spent a long time with STOPSIGNS on the grid which held things up no end. I couldn’t work out the cryptic for A BIENTOT till I came here, didn’t work with AMBIENT. LOI PALE, brain seizure.
  29. I found this very hard and made it no easier by biffing STOPSIGNS at 1d and seeing no reason to change it.
  30. I thought 6A was a triple definition – PASS as in ‘pass/give me the pepper’ then as per the blog.
  31. 57 minutes, so under an hour, but wow! My LOI was PALE after convincing myself that that was better than PoLE, and otherwise there were many complex and often obscure clues, so I’m glad I finished at all. DESTRIER was not completely unfamiliar — a word I learned from the excellent biography of William Marshal presented on the wonderful History of England podcast.

    Edited at 2021-09-17 06:19 pm (UTC)

  32. I’m on a month’s trial subscription- the insane price of the News International propaganda sheet that you have to buy to get the crossword puzzle otherwise rules out the pen-and paper option. I know you can print it out, but I don’t think I’ll be subscribing- the online format is trying and I seem to have become so stupid in the intervening years that it’s hardly worth it. Have the last three days been shockingly difficult or have I become shockingly dense? The opinions opined in the newspaper are as distasteful as I thought they’d be, Another of life’s small pleasures whisked away!
    1. Follow the link to SNITCH (under Categories in the header) to be reassured about this week ‘s difficulty.
    2. I just read the Times to take a squiffy at the nonsense being purveyed as news, and then put in comments to put them straight. I get shouted at which adds to the jollity.
      1. Yes indeed. I entered a mildish objection to some of the usual rubbish from one of their columnists and could almost hear the trolls howl across 3000 miles of deep water. Where do they find these people?
  33. Thank you, Vinyl and Jeremy. I had to go to bad last night (NZ time) blogless! Shock, horror!
    Sometimes even the difficult puzzles fall into place relatively readily and this was one of them.
    Thank you chaps, particularly for the CON in CONJOINT and for explaining PEA JACKET, A BIENTOT and SEEMINGLY.
    1. Am also in New Zealand, waiting for flights back to Patagonia, but always do the crossword one day late, ensuring a bloggier blog!
  34. Generally tricky, particularly south east corner. Destrier I’d never heard of but worked out from constituent elements. Directory a bid naughty because if direct = critical, where was the ‘t’ in tory? Skywriting an outmoded activity, but I did remember it being fairly ancient myself. Servicemen misleading because more like military people than maintenance men.
  35. I had to pause overnight and come back to it this morning (saturday). My mental blockages seem to have shifted overnight thankfully. The seven or eight clues remaining slotted in quite quickly. Undoubtedly a stinker. My LOI was conjoint, and I didn’t get the clue till reading the blog. Destrier I guessed. French wiki says it comes from Dexter meaning right hand, and is so called because the squire would hold his own horse on the left and his knight’s — the warhorse — on the right. Now to finish off Wednesday.

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