Times 28089 – when is a wall not a wall?

After last week’s 155-snitch corker, I found myself zipping through this one in less than twenty minutes, until spending a couple on the 18d – 25a crossers, my LOsI. Nothing too scary, although I’m not quite sure I have understood all the subtelties of 5a. My CoD is 13a.

1 British taking English newspaper on occasion in the US (7)
BETIMES – B (British) E (English) TIMES (our paper).
5 Old plane nearly late — the cause of serious bird strike? (7)
BUSTARD – BUS (affectionate name for an old plane?) TARD(Y), a bustard being usually a Great Bustard of a serious size hence you’d know if you struck one. Or am I missing the significance of strike?
9 Team initially charged games coach, say (9)
TRANSPORT – T(eam), RAN (charged) SPORT (games).
10 Sculptor needing staff at home (5)
RODIN – I’m thinking, ROD (staff) IN (at home).
11 What goes to block army career, perhaps (7,6)
SERVICE CHARGE – SERVICE (army an example) CHARGE (career). I think, as in a service charge to each of a BLOCK of apartments.
13 Ravel’s magical charm in need of piano (8)
ENTANGLE – Not the suave Maurice, but ravel seems to mean the same thing as the more usual unravel and also its opposite. PENTANGLE loses its P.
15 Imagined team getting drunk after drive (6)
DREAMT – DR(ive), (TEAM)*.
17 Eastern variety of miner moth (6)
ERMINE – E, (MINER)*. If you didn’t know it was a sort of moth, you’d guess it was.
19 Driving force of fellows in books — protected by mother (8)
MOMENTUM – Russian doll clue – MEN inside OT inside MUM.
22 Remembering part in AMND: “… a girdle round about the earth”? (9,4)
RETAINING WALL – remembering = RETAINING, WALL between Pyramus’ and Thisbe’s gardens, a part played by Tom Snout in AMND.
25 Gag the man to guard against losing secrets initially (5)
HEAVE – HE (the man) (S)AVE = guard against, losing S(ecrets).
26 A change of word order during reading (9)
INVERSION – IN (during) VERSiON (reading).
27 One who’s stopped working on island (7)
RETIREE – RE (on) TIREE (island in Inner Hebrides often mentioned for its coastal report in the shipping forecast).
28 Negative characters to form company? I don’t find it possible (2,3,2)
NO CAN DO – NO (negative) C AND O (characters to form CO)

1 Only time for a quantity of wine? (4)
BUTT – BUT = only, T for time.
2 Pass across millions taken from telecast perhaps (7)
3 How to refer to a man hiding away tons? (5)
MISER – &lit; MISTER loses his T.
4 Many turning up lazily and impassively (8)
STOLIDLY – LOTS reversed = many turning up, IDLY = lazily.
5 What’s used in certain puddings for buffet (6)
BATTER – double definition.
6 Cleaner splitting big increase in extra payment (9)
SURCHARGE – SURGE (big increase) is split by CHAR (cleaner).
7 State using the euro with gold rand adopted at the outset (7)
ANDORRA – AND (with) OR (gold) R (rand) A (first letter of adopted). I went skiing in Andorra once, it was rubbish, so I tried to hire a car from Hertz to go to Figueres and Barca and they told me I couldn’t take it out of Andorra (which is about 10 miles across, with two roads). Then they said when did I need the car and I said now, they said we don’t have any cars for another week. And this was long before Brexit!
8 I’m interned, tortured when one’s wanting to eat? (10)
12 One who may discover her career’s ruined (10)
14 Some number using the internet are mostly with a crooked set-up? (9)
NONLINEAR – N (some number) ONLINE (using the internet) AR(E) = are mostly.
16 Heavenly power, something assumed possessed by right (3-5)
GOD-GIVEN – GOD = heavenly power, GIVEN = something assumed, as in “that’s a given”.
18 Statement by weatherman and the rest in support (7)
METCAST – ETC (and the rest) inside MAST (support, for a sail I suppose). My LOI as not a familiar word.
20 Demanding hotel in capital (7)
TALLINN – TALL (demanding, as in a tall order), INN = hotel.
21 Restricted mixer for gin in first class (6)
FINITE – IT (Italian vermouth, which can be mixed with gin if you insist) inside FINE = first class.
23 Part of Switzerland invested in a currency initially of gold (5)
AURIC – URI (one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland) inside A, C(urrency).
24 Open with part of Nessun dorma (4)
UNDO – hidden as above.

74 comments on “Times 28089 – when is a wall not a wall?”

  1. I was about 20 minutes into this and all of a sudden the earth started to move. Now, don’t get me wrong, I normally love doing The Times crossword, but not THAT much. Anyway, turns out we were having an earthquake, which at last report registered 6 on the Richter scale. Had to go outside to feel a bit safer, but thankfully no after-tremors.

    After all the excitement, took a while to get back into the swing of things. No time; eventually solved though slow. I didn’t know how SERVICE CHARGE worked or the significance of BUSTARD and I had to guess the ‘moth’ at 17a. METCAST isn’t really a term here either and was my LOI too.

    Given the seismic nature of the events today, favourites were TRANSPORT and MOMENTUM.

    Thanks to Pip and setter

      1. Hello,

        I’m in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Southern Hemisphere, The World, The Universe. Not usually a seismic hotspot.

        1. I live on what is now nicknamed ‘the San Andreas fault of Bedfordhshire’ which experienced four earthquakes last September – the third and fourth occurring exactly a year ago today, on September 22nd. The magnitudes were 3.5, 2.1, 3.0 and 2.1, so not quite in your league, but still very disturbing and made worse by the apparently unlikely location.
          1. Keep in mind that the Richter scale is logarithmic, so that M6 is a LOT more than twice as strong as M3. I grew up in San Francisco and live in Japan, but I’ve been lucky so far to have never experienced an M6 earthquake. (The 1995 Kobe earthquake, which was hugely destructive, was M6.9; I was about 30 miles away, and happy to be no closer.)
            1. Interesting. Is duration factored into it too? The two larger ones here were quite scary but were over almost as soon as they began. I imagine if they had continued even for 4 or 5 seconds they would have been terrifying and a lot of damage could have resulted. My part of town is also on a tornado alley as it has a history of tornados sweeping through along a particular path, though none experienced in the 38 years I have been living here, thankfully.

              Edited at 2021-09-22 06:19 am (UTC)

              1. I’m not sure, but presumably the longer the shaking, the greater the expenditure of energy. The Tohoku earthquake (an unbelievable M9) lasted quite a while, as I recall. There are videos (google ‘Hanshin earthquake’ for Kobe, ‘Tohoku earthquake’ for Tohoku) if you want to get an idea of what major earthquakes look like (I don’t).
          2. Wow, that Bedfordshire sounds a pretty dangerous place. You must all be living in fear.

            Seriously, this is the first tremor we’ve had here for about ten years and I’m not expecting another one soon. It was just a bit of “wobbling” and I imagine would scarcely have been noticed in places like Wellington or LA.

        2. Not surprised you were shaken (not stirred). We had one once in Manhattan of all places where I was sitting reading 16 floors up and it felt as if a mouse was running around in the upholstery of my chair. Not pleasant.
          1. When I lived in Tokyo, I was in a very full lift coming down from a high floor when it stopped because of an earthquake and just dangled and shook for 10 minutes or so. Of course, nobody spoke to each other.
    1. What’s going on down there? Riots and earthquakes in the same week!

      Good to hear (so far) that everyone’s ok. My daughter was certainly shaken up by it, but it sounds like it was just substantial enough to distract from the boredom of lockdown.

      1. Glad to hear your daughter’s OK. Of the riots and the earthquake, I’m much more worried about the riots, with further mayhem apparently planned tomorrow. All very depressing.
    2. Re earthquakes and Melbourne: Coincidentally we were talking about earthquakes yesterday in the pub and my son mentioned experiencing one about 10 years ago when he was living in Melbourne. He was on the train on the way to the airport and thought it was just a particularly bumpy ride.
  2. Held up in the SW for ages, but not in lockdown. Had REVERSION instead of INVERSION for far too long, making the first class gin mixer impossible to digest. Reviewed reversion and revised it, and limped over the line with HEAVE and METCAST in 36:30.
  3. Really chuffed to finish this in an hour. Really enjoyed it, though I too don’t quite get the BUSTARD clue. GOD-GIVEN held me up longer than it should, as I negotiated the harder bottom half, finishing with METCAST (silly word) and the clever / too clever for its own good RETAINING WALL.
  4. A lot of biffing and misparsing. DNK the putative US meaning of BETIMES; to me it’s just archaic for ‘early’. Didn’t understand the BUSTARD clue. Didn’t get the ‘what goes to block’. DNK ERMINE, but as Pip says. Spent too much time on 20d trying to find a capital to put H in. Got AURIC thinking it was somehow Zurich revised; only saw URI after. LOI METCAST (NHO), where I took ‘weatherman’ to be MET (the weatherman/MET says it’s going to rain), and CAST to somehow fit in. Not my finest solving hour. COD to RETAINING WALL.
  5. 28 minutes or so but couldn’t get METCAST. Forgot all about that meaning of MET, otherwise I imagine it’d be a write-in.
  6. Another with metcast in last, unparsed, as a hopeful guess. Retaining wall also guessed, don’t know AMND so well (saw it once in Oz performed by Royal Shakespeare Company). Service charge not understood, so a bad day all round – thanks for the explanations. Tallinn took forever, trying to put an H in a capital. No other troubles, bustards are big so serious bird-strike seemed sensible.
  7. I had a bit of a car crash in the SW today. Firstly I put in HALSE instead of HEAVE, figuring it was ALS (against losing secrets initially) in HE. Not knowing what HALSE meant I assumed it was a type of gag. I then had ET AL for “and the rest” and when nothing seemed to fit I threw in MATELOT not noticing that this had ATEL rather than ETAL. Sheesh!
    1. You weren’t the only one trying for “halse”. Oops, on edit I see I jumped the gun and Galspray and Kevin had joined the club ahead of me. Sorry.

      Edited at 2021-09-22 10:54 am (UTC)

      1. Looks like a few others as well Olivia. I think the key point is that if HALSE did in fact mean gag, then it would be a solidly-constructed clue.

        Unlike my METALOT, which fits neither the wordplay nor the definition. Nor does it make sense, or indeed even exist.

        And yet I still dared hope to avoid the pink squares!

  8. So apparently HALSE meaning gag hasn’t made it into the dictionaries yet. Not sure why I should be punished for that.

    It caused METCAST to go from ungettable to even more ungettable, although I had actually considered how an ETC could fit in there. Meh, maybe I would have got it if I’d had HEAVE.

    Not sure I did this one justice, but thanks in any case to Pip and the setter.

    1. Collins, sv HALSE:
      verb (transitive)
      1. to hug or to embrace
      2. to implore or plead with
      3. (way rare) to gag
  9. 44 minutes with only the part of Switzerland unknown. I’d remembered the ERMINE moth from a puzzle not too long ago. I enjoyed the RETAINING WALL clue. ANDORRA came up in a puzzle solved within the last few days so was fresh in my mind, although I knew of it anyway and would have got round to it eventually.
  10. Quite a few blanks today. Did not know what AMND was, thought it must be part of an anagram.

    For BUSTARD I was going through old planes, and lopping off the last letters (‘nearly’), then d ( = died, ‘late’)


  11. 51 minutes with LOI METCAST, which I at best only vaguely knew. Thanks for the SERVICE CHARGE explanation as I couldn’t see how the gratuity on a restaurant bill was a block. RETAINING WALL was biffed from crossers. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not my favourite Shakespeare, although I was aware of the quotation. COD to NONLINEAR, as was my progress through this. A tough puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.
  12. No, Mr Bond…

    After 30 mins I had put in HALSE (like Galspray above) and so couldn’t get Metcast.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  13. I gave up on the hour – in despair – I never intended to enter Mephistoland, officer. TLTWATW. I have self-medicated and had a few cups of green tea. I shall now go for a long walk – I may be some time!

    18dn METCAST what ITNOG was that! I’m a Brit and watch the Weather on BBC World. (Metalcast is type.)

    11ac BAYONET CHARGE surely!? Thus making me and 4d RATTY! NMYGOI

    22ac RETAINING WALL was not liked hereabouts. AMND being somewhat perverse; WYW. I shall be writing to my MP – IDS

    FOI 10ac RODIN

    (LOI) 21dn FINITE


    WOD 28ac NO CAN DO!!

    Mood Meldrewvianesque

    Edited at 2021-09-22 07:26 am (UTC)

  14. I DREAMT we might TRANSIT away
    From enduring a bird every day
    BUT They say “NO CAN DO”
    Yesterday an EMU
    And a ruddy great BUSTARD today
    1. The bustard’s an exquisite fowl
      With minimal reason to growl
      It escapes what would be
      By grace of a singular vowel

  15. Pleased to finish, trawled remembering all of AMND characters before penny dropped. Great clue, undoubtedly my COD, and a terrific play.

    I got stuck hitchhiking in ANDORRA, took a day and a night to get through. Anyway, it’s a principality, so is it a state under Pointless rules?

    25′ 39″ thanks pip and setter

  16. 15:57. All sorts of trouble particularly in the SW where I had put in HALSE like others and was tempted by METALET, which contained some of the wordplay elements but otherwise didn’t make sense. I got there eventually.
    Lots I didn’t know or understand in this: BETIMES as an American usage, ‘what goes to block’, METCAST, Uri. So thanks Pip for untangling it all.
    I went skiing in ANDORRA a few years ago and it was great. I wonder if it’s got better or you were just in the wrong place. Perhaps both.
  17. Hesitated briefly over BUSTARD, thinking the plane could be Mustan(g), but then I saw BATTER which put me on the right track. Wasn’t entirely sure about AURIC (didn’t know the canton), SERVICE CHARGE or ERMINE, and FINITE ended up as my uncertain POI as I never remember “It” as vermouth. RETAINING WALL finally came to me about 15 seconds after deciding to take a break… funny how the brain works.

    FOI Undo
    LOI Retaining wall
    COD Entangle

  18. ….a chewy BUSTARD. I eventually battered my way through it, joining others in not understanding why BETIMES was American. I biffed HEAVE simply from gag and never returned to parse it until afterwards — when I found I couldn’t ! Thank you Pip.

    FOI RODIN (I was already becoming “The Thinker”)
    LOI NONLINEAR (probably 2 minutes after all else)
    COD RETAINING WALL (not a Bard fan, but clever)
    TIME 14:07

    Edited at 2021-09-22 08:27 am (UTC)

  19. Wednesday seems to be turning into the new Friday as far as I’m concerned. 40 mins but I had to cheat to get metcast.

    Despite the toils, I enjoyed the puzzle particularly service charge, entangle and dreamt. COD to Tallinn but only because when I stopped trying to fit an H in to tall and in, it was such a relief.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  20. Managed to finish just, on the hour. I found this quite difficult. Stuck on the same ones as others, and I also had REVERSION for a long time so FINITE was impossible. When I finally saw sit, I liked RETAINING WALL. Thanks for the explanations Pip as I had a number unparsed.
  21. 36:05 Definitely off the wavelength and seriously puzzled by this one, but at least I finished. I failed to understand BUSTARD (BUS = old plane?) parse METCAST or believe BATTER is used in puddings. As for RETAINING WALL… I discovered I didn’t know it was used to retain earth. I did like MISER and RESEARCHER, hoping my daughter, who is one, doesn’t find her career in ruins.
      1. Also Apple Batter. An absolute staple of my childhood that I haven’t thought of it for years. I wonder if anyone still makes it. It bears a resemblance to toad-in-the-hole but with sliced apple instead of sausages, and loads of sugar sprinkled on top. Served with Bird’s custard. Delicious!
        1. And who could forget from one’s childhood: Betty Botter bought some butter, but the butter, it was bitter. If she put it in her batter, it would make her batter bitter, but a bit of better butter, that would make her batter better.
  22. It was difficult to get going on this, and I found the puzzle oddly irksome for some reason. Doubt if I’d have got METCAST, RETAINING WALL or NONLINEAR. Gave up, in a sulk, after 40 minutes. My fault, not the setter’s. Now feel a bit of a chump.

    Hey ho, the wind and the rain (though it’s quite sunny here).

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  23. Chewy indeed. Similar problems to others, and toyed with similar ways of solving them i.e. inventing (and fortunately rejecting) the word HALSE. Given that I had to deduce the existence of METCAST, which did turn out to exist, it wouldn’t have been that big a leap. Also kept trying to put LIME in my gin, which is unforgiveable for someone who’s been doing these puzzles for forty years – if there’s one rule in crosswords, it’s that gin and It is everyone’s cocktail of choice.
  24. Rather than the 57 on the crosswordclub site as I left the timer running while attending to some urgent work stuff.

    Enjoyable but hard I thought – I was held up for a long time by STOLIDLY (I kept thinking of STONILY which didn’t help) and especially METCAST (POI – not a term I’m familiar with) and RETAINING WALL – I was pleased after an alphabet trawl to remember the WALL in AMND. Was trying to get an anagram out of “in AMND a girdle” for a while.

    Many good clues, my favourite being NONLINEAR.

    Thanks setter and pip

  25. I had no idea about WALL and had never heard of a RETAINING WALL… somehow managed to guess that bit right, but alas made a typo with TRANSMT and incorrectly biffed DIVINE.
  26. Completed in just over 20, but with the two errors in the southwest. I assumed it had to be halse, because it worked so well. I knew there was such a word, but not its meaning. And after that only matelot fitted. I saw the met- connection earlier but couldn’t think how to use it. Dastardly. Good to see Auric back again. Goldfinger’s first name of course. And while we are on Bond, I have another coincidence to report. Octopussy was in the crossword last Thursday. I did Thursday’s yesterday, having at the weekend just started to read … Octopussy. But there’s more. In Octopussy (the story), what is the name of Smythe’s doctor? Jimmy Greaves! Who died last week. We know Fleming chose names of real people for his characters (like Goldfinger). And Greaves was in his heyday in the early 60s when Fleming wrote Octopussy. Should have been in the obit!
  27. Quite a stretch for me, this one – though with that SNITCH rating I was expecting nothing less. Found myself entering quite a few with little-to-zero parsing of the clues – wasn’t getting anywhere near a finish otherwise. Didn’t even figure out AMND, never mind knowing details of the plot. NHO TIREE, guessed that ERMINE must be a type of moth.

    LOI 21d which I entered as DIVINE, more out of desperation to finish, than believing I’d solved it. This is the second time in 3 or 4 weeks that I’ve failed to make the “gin and it” connection (and the good news is that when I fail twice on the same decode, then mention it here, the message finally sinks in).

    Nevertheless, a positive outcome for me under the circumstances – feels like I’m very close to achieving my first full correct solve of a 125-plusser. Thanks Pip and setter

  28. Another HALSE until METCAST graciously revealed itself. Attuned enough to think of Wall the instant I see AMND clued anywhere, but RETAINING was a while coming. A clever clue amongst many. No exact time but around 35 mins.
  29. Whizzed through the top half, with reservations over BUSTARD. has a BUSTARD ever been involved in birdstrike? Chapter and verse please.
    In the lower half, I simply froze. URI in Switzerland is more Geller than Canton in my book. METCAST I got (eventually and reluctantly) as statement by weatherman def, “and the rest in support” the Met cast, the others in the weather team. Easier than squeezing in et al. Couldn’t make the gag/HEAVE connection, nor work out how to make EAV in HE with an S mean against. INVERSION wouldn’t dawn, not equating reading and version. Didn’t remember TALLINN has two Ns, nor work out where to put the H(otel). I mix my gin with anything but IT, and first class didn’t equate to FINE, so that was my last.
    A mad, frustrating 35 minutes for a not-particularly-hard puzzle.
    1. >>>has a BUSTARD ever been involved in birdstrike? Chapter and verse please.

      Actually yes – I don’t think I’m permitted to post actual links here, but if you search http://www.atsb.gov.au ar2016063_final-report.pdf I expect you’ll find it…

      …including the following, edited for brevity “Some larger, less commonly struck birds are not included in Table 14, such as the Brush Turkey and Bustard (30 birdstrikes)”

      Hope this helps (though I’m sure it doesn’t)

      1. Unspammed. Unfortunately your attempt to circumvent the url rule by posting the url didn’t work! 🙂

        Edited at 2021-09-22 01:18 pm (UTC)

  30. Well that was a struggle, but all done (if not quite all parsed and understood) in about an hour. RODIN FOI and then built out from that little toehold in the NE. LOI was FINITE. I took pleasure in deriving NONLINEAR from word play, but I biffed the WALL. There were also lots of little subtle bits that gave pleasure. Good puzzle and blog, thanks both.
  31. but I had to look up what AMND meant. Who knew? Not me. Was very doubtful of BUSTARD not having heard of the old plane, which left me wondering about BUTTER. More common in puddings than BATTER, but I hadn’t thought of savoury puddings…
    LOI METCAST not a thing as far as I am concerned
  32. Was certainly what I was thinking after a first pass yielded only RODIN. Could have fooled me that BETIMES is used in that sense in N America but the dictionary sez. I found the double CHARGE rather addling, could it be? And I had no idea what the block was doing in 11a. Ah, of course, a block of flats – should have remembered this is a British puzzle. In NYC it’s an apartment house or building and maintenance or rent that you pay depending on whether you own your place or not. After a lot of head-scratching 25.36
  33. DNF in around 40 minutes. I didn’t have the patience to disentangle the heave / metcast crossers. Having entered halse for heave on the basis of wordplay and the result sounding vaguely familiar, and being unable to see past et al for and the rest, I made up metalet. Very frustrating. At least I seem to be in good company.
  34. I just remembered why I had the unlikely recollection of this – it seems to be where William Tell haled from.
  35. As everyone said, this was tricky. I decided to make it trickier by one of my first in being ABRIDGE for 2d. A telecast could be a radio show, and the best know radio show is the Archers, set in Ambridge, and if you take the M for millions out of Ambridge you get ABRIDGE, meaning pass across.

    My smugness at getting such a potentially difficult one so early slowly dissipated as I realised that, sadly, it was completely wrong.

    Do I get points for out-the-box thinking?

  36. I thought this a mix of some excellent clues (Entangle/Miser/Retiree/Stolidly) with some odd or clunky clues (Batter/God-given/Metcast/Heave).
    Thanks for the blog.

    Edited at 2021-09-22 01:44 pm (UTC)

  37. Finished the puzzle despite my ignorance of AMND and its characters. I think 25a was my favourite clue.
  38. Fifty minutes to complete, not fully parsed, though. FOI was no can do. Eleven on first pass. I was on safari in South Africa with a couple of Germans and we saw a Kori Bustard. We kept on about it, and the Germans got more and more coy until we showed them the entry in the bird book and they realised we weren’t swearing about the bird.
    I tried concord for a while at 5 ac which didn’t parse, didn’t help, and didn’t it have an e on the end? Of course it did. Thrilled to finish, even with some biffs. Thanks, Pip, and setter. GW.
  39. with METCAST biffed. I also wondered about BAYONET CHARGE.
    COD 22ac RETAINING WALL. Batter puddings with Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup – yum! “Out of Strength came forth Sweetness.”
  40. 26:45 Never really got going this afternoon, felt like a real plod, but feeling a little better having seen the SNITCH just creeping into the “very hard” category.
    5 ac “bustard” reminds me of a Scottish footballer in the lower divisions with that surname many years ago. Poor guy never stood a chance, everyone seemed to be convinced he was totally useless!
    COD 22 ac “Retaining Wall” which some may have found contrived but I reckoned was pretty clever. In racking my brains for characters with four letter names in AMND I was getting nowhere until I tried “retaining” as a synonym for “remembering” and the play within the play gave me the answer.
    23 d “auric” NHO “uri” as a canton but recalling Mr Goldfinger was enough to convince me of the answer.
    LOI 21 d “finite” after taking ages to identify both the two letter gin mixer and a four letters for “first class”.
    Overall a slightly mixed experience but the good clues outweighed the clunkier ones.
    Thanks to Pip for a concise blog and setter.
  41. Nothing to do with the puzzle, but does anyone know why I can’t see the D section of the solutions on the Livejournal App? Happens on some posts but not others…

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