Times 28105 – Blood! Death! War! Rumpy-pumpy!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I thought this crossword was fun, quirky, not too easy and a little left-field. Several words which are more familiar with other meanings, and one word which could probably stand as a shibboleth test to determine who are the ‘sexists’ among us.

I am proud to say I failed the test, but then I hate all ‘-isms’ – the coinages, not what they signify. To me, use of such verbiage tends to lead to censorship and the abolition of thinking (not to mention, dissent), and that – for someone living in Hong Kong in an increasingly closed and moribund society – is something that is truly disturbing…



1 Bird house originally opened by American writer (6)
HOOPOE – HO O[pened] POE (Crosswordland’s most popular 19th US writer – I prefer Hawthorne of the essays and tales)
5 One and only constant is spy chief’s impropriety (8)
9 Shammer’s way to interrupt beggar’s declaration? (8)
10 Very narrow lane in depressed area (6)
11 Blow wind instrument outside back of inn (6)
BUNGLE – [in]N in BUGLE; ‘blow’ (verb) as in ‘cock up’
12 Huge deficit borne by firm at Leicester initially (8)
COLOSSAL – LOSS in CO A[t] L[eicester]
14 Tumbled over boarding train with possible classmate (12)
SCHOOLFELLOW – FELL (tumbled) O (over) in (‘boarding’) SCHOOL (train) W (with)
17 Confront oarsman making progress in water (12)
BREASTSTROKE – BREAST (confront as in ‘breast the storm’) STROKE (person who determines how many strokes per minute, say, a group of oarspeople will perform)
20 Discontinue honour associated with that in French monarchy (8)
QUEENDOM – END (discontinue) OM (Order of Merit > honour) after QUE (‘that’ in French)
22 Like Pat’s deliveries after all? Not entirely (6)
POSTAL – POST (after) AL[l]; a reference to children’s TV character, ‘Pat the Postman’
23 Disreputable son lacking energy to swallow drug (6)
SLEAZY – S E (drug) in LAZY; a Times crossword is like a Vestal Virgin without her gown if it doesn’t include a drug or cricketing reference – preferably, both
25 Women’s group left with drunk around dusk (8)
TWILIGHT – WI (Women’s Institute) L (left) in TIGHT (drunk)
26 Representative in court? Try one at random (8)
ATTORNEY – you need an anagram* of TRY ONE AT to obtain this member of the lego-judicial industry
27 A winner in odd parts of this Pacific island (6)
TAHITI – A HIT in T[h]I[s]


2 Element primarily identified in outstanding parent (6)
OSMIUM – I[dentified] in OS (outstanding) MUM (parent); one of the names Brian Blessed (AKA ‘Richard IV’) must have called his non-firstborn son Edmund; along with Osmund, Edgar and Edna…
3 In quiet Irish waterway, jointly use cutter (11)
4 Leap — then react badly (9)
ENTRECHAT – THEN REACT*; a ballet move, I believe
5 Teacher meeting commanders in hot oppressive wind (7)
SIROCCO – SIR OC (officer commanding) CO (commanding officer); funny to name a wind after a car, but there you are
6 Plane taking off and touching down? (5)
LEVEL – LEVEL is a palindrome, so the same going up and coming down; plane and level are adjectives meaning flat
7 Mostly chilly passage through mountains (3)
COL – COL[d]; I used to say that this was the type of clue even an Australian could get, before I was severely reprimanded and threatened with an evening binge-watching Neighbours
8 Novel way to betray high-class furniture maker (8)
SHERATON – SHE (the HR Haggard book which has been immortalised by crossword setters) RAT ON (to betray); Thomas Sheraton was on of the Big Three British furniture designers of the 18th century, along with Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite. Hepplewhite has entered oblivion, presumably because no hotel chain or group of strippers was named after him.
13 Craftsman unexpectedly visits her mill regularly (11)
15 Mark made by one progressing in Oxford, perhaps? (9)
FOOTPRINT – a nice cryptic definition with an Oxbridge reference to keep the colonials on their toes
16 Racehorse spy allowed to catch river fish (8)
TROUTLET – R (river) in TOUT (racehorse spy) LET (allowed); a TOUT is ‘a person who spies on racehorses so as to obtain betting information to sell’ (Collins)
18 It set up a test on extremely hardy grass (7)
TIMOTHY – TI (it reversed) MOT (test of vehicle roadworthiness) H[ard]Y; ‘a perennial European grass (Phleum pratense) with dense, cylindrical spikes of bristly spikelets, widely grown for hay’
19 Prestige of a Communist revolutionary in Connecticut (6)
21 Senior member’s passionate desire to support party (5)
DOYEN – DO (party) YEN (passionate desire)
24 A board-game for two players in the past (3)
AGO – A GO (Japanese board game)

74 comments on “Times 28105 – Blood! Death! War! Rumpy-pumpy!”

  1. It took me a while to come up with BREAST, and with QUEENDOM (POI), which does look odd, I confess. Had no idea what Pat’s deliveries were, until I got the P and remembered the postman; biffed it, parsing post-submission. A slight MER at PLOUGHSHARE (LOI); is a lake a waterway?

    Edited at 2021-10-11 02:11 am (UTC)

  2. Another puzzle of two halves. RH more or less a write-in but LH I struggled with nearly every answer. 39 minutes.
  3. Biffed IMPOSTER for impostor in pursuit of a quick time. This was a colossal bungle! 14:09 with one pink.
    1. Worried about making precisely that error, I made sure of the wordplay. I’ve had a similar problem with idolater/idolator.
  4. Imposter was the imposter for IMPOSTOR.

    COD Lots of nice ones but nothing really stood out.

    Lots of long pauses, and a total stall in the SW corner waiting for the fish and the royal to cross.

    Thanks setter and blogger.


  5. Spent way too long in the Margaret River corner muttering to myself about obscure racehorse names, until sanity prevailed.

    In the end it was a clue that even an Australian could get.

    Thanks must go to our esteemed setter and our ismist blogger.

  6. I hesitated over TROUTLET, though it was all I could see there, because it seemed a tout should be a racecourse—not a racehorse—spy… Hesitated more briefly over FOOTPRINT, because the Oxford made me wonder if SHOEPRINT has dictionary status. Also took a while to see that OSMIUM’s the word there. Glad to have remembered yer Postman Pat. LOI HOOPOE, and I’m looking forward to the limerick from astro_nowt.

    Edited at 2021-10-11 04:19 am (UTC)

      1. I found the notion that a tout is a spy tout court, anywhere at all, surprising, so that threw me. Then it sermed natural to pair the noun “spy” with a specific place or general sphere of activity. I don’t know how much turf the word “racecourse” can cover. Is it only the track proper, or does it encompass, say, the stables where horses wait their turn to run and injections might be given and money surreptitiously passed? In any case, I don’t think what a tout knows or thinks he knows or just wants you to think he knows comes much from spying on the horses to studiously evaluate their performances.

        Edited at 2021-10-11 08:08 am (UTC)

        1. I don’t know much about racing but I think the idea is that a tout spies on horses away from the racecourse to glean information (on their fitness, injuries or whatnot) that might be useful for betting and wouldn’t be available to a punter at the course. How widespread or useful this practice is I’ve no idea!
          1. I think what you describe is what they want people to think they do (and if that is their procedure, it still seems strange to call them spies: Do they enter locales surreptitiously?). My impression has always been that they are usually not on the level and often backed by the kinds of people who fix races.
            “When horse racing ruled the sports world in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, racetrack touts would sometimes pick each horse in a race to a different customer, thereby guaranteeing one would win. The tout would then return to the winning customer to receive a fee or percentage of the winning bet in exchange for pointing that bettor toward the winning horse.”

            Edited at 2021-10-11 03:50 pm (UTC)

            1. Yes you could be right — I’ve no idea! In theory you could watch a horse training surreptitiously (from the bushes, for instance) but I’m not sure what really useful information you could glean from that.
  7. I found this pretty tough going, struggling to a finish with PLOUGHSHARE then TROUTLET. My solving often relies on seeing what fits then working back to the clue and it took some time to see anything that fitted these two. Perhaps on a similar note the puzzle as a whole didn’t suit my pattern spotting solving — not one multiple word or hyphenated answer today.

    Edited at 2021-10-11 05:56 am (UTC)

  8. I put SHOEPRINT in at first, but for once I didn’t let it mess me up and I quickly fixed that. Took me forever to get PLOUGHSHARE despite all the checkers. I was sure it was going to end SHAVE (like “spokeshave”). I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a TROUTLET but the wordplay didn’t leave much doubt. Osmium is twice the density of lead, which is pretty insane given how heavy a block of lead feels.
  9. No problems with this one which seemed to be occasionally over-generously clued. Did we need ‘American’,’high-class’ and ‘Pacific’? Lots of mini chestnuts like POE, CHE, GO, YEN, CO, W.I, SIR and SHE. Thanks all.
    1. …not to mention “for two players”… though the superfluous words surely made the surface better and the clue probably a tad harder.
  10. 30:44 for an enjoyable tricky puzzle. FOI 1ac HOOPOE then onward and…. I missed the palindrome at 6ac struggling with a woodworking plane taking off slivers of wood, which got me nowhere. And I couldn’t parse SCHOOLFELLOW. So thanks for the blog ulaca, including the hint of Benny Hill in “Pat the Postman”
    1. Quite unintentional! Not quite sure what had me writing that…

      Probably creeping senescence.

  11. Quite a few learning items for me there…
    – Knew ENTRECHAT was a word, but nothing else about it, had to test it with the crossers
    – Knew SOLECISM was something to do with language, ditto
    – Only knew SHERATON as Hotel chain – at least I got novel = SHE following exact advice received Friday
    – NHO TIMOTHY as a type of grass

    Ended up head-scratching for 10 mins or so over TROUTLET / QUEENDOM combo, unsure whether TOUT was racehorse-related. Eventually entered it, along with a dumb never-believed-it answer for 20a. I think I have something of a blind spot for words with a QU- combination, and need to train myself to test accordingly any grid containing -U. Someone else here recently commented along similar lines

  12. and their spears into pruning-hooks:

    25 mins pre-brekker. I was left puzzling over what Timothy had done to be regarded as a grass.
    Thanks setter and U.

      1. I know you’re a fellow-Trollopian Kevin and will recall that the SLEAZY rev. Slope took Paul’s letter to TIMOTHY as the text for his debut sermon that set Barchester by the ears. As delivered by Alan Rickman it is sublimely creepy.
        1. I’m ashamed to say I don’t recall Slope’s debut; it’s been ages since I read the series, although I did re-read ‘The Warden’ just a couple of months ago with precisely the intention to do them all; can’t remember now, of course, what stopped me. Alan Rickman is much missed.
          1. Slope’s slithery sermon was one of the highlights of the series, it’s just a pity they (the BBC) only did the first two books of the six. One of the few DVDs we watch more than once.
  13. A COLOSSAL BUNGLE to start
    A SLEAZY IMPOSTOR, thou art
    Using birds every day
    Destroys setter’s CACHET
    So sayest this grumpy old SIROCCO*

    * SIROCCO = hot oppressive wind

  14. Done in 19 minutes with LOI QUEENDOM. I really liked much of the puzzle which played to my knowledge base until it didn’t. ENTRECHAT was not in the range, and was POI with fingers crossed. My daughter did do ballet at school some twenty years ago and I remember was praised for her leaping ability (I guess they had to find something nice to say), but I don’t recall them being called that. I constructed Timothy too. In my life, he’s been a couple of books in the bible, one of my cousins and our wonderful family dog, but never a grass. The only other slight hold-up was TROUTLET, again constructed but which at least sounded right. And I knew the bird. Enjoyable. Thank you U and setter.
  15. 37 mins. Held up by bunging in SCHOOLFRIEND which made SILVERSMITH ungettable for a while. Loi TROUTLET once QUEENDOM was worked out painfully. NHO TIMOTHY. Thanks U and setter.
  16. Is it an urban myth that Postman Pat is banned in Japan?

    I enjoyed reading SHE.

    PLOUGHSHARE LOI, needed all the crossers and started a trawl. Is a lake a waterway? (I agree with kevingregg).

    There was a HOOPOE on these islands recently, blown off course I believe. It was in the I-Spy book of birds, and when I was very young I spent some time in the garden hoping to see one.

    17′ 28″, thanks ulaca and setter.

    Edited at 2021-10-11 07:43 am (UTC)

    1. The story was that because he only had three fingers he looked like a Yakuza, but yes, it is a myth and he is available in Japan on the Disney channel, which rather specialises in characters short of a finger or two..
  17. 15 mins but didn’t start with electric pace! FOI shoeprint which I didn’t realise was wrong till schoolfellow presented itself. A few odd newbies in queendom and troutlet which took a while but other than that, once I woke up reasonable progress.

    Nice start to the week.

  18. 11:55 finishing with QUEENDOM and TROUTLET, which held me up for a while, trying like galspray to think of a famous racehorse that fit. I liked BUNGLE best.
  19. 13:25. A puzzle of two halves for me, half easy and half much less so. Probably a good thing, because if I had been going any quicker I probably wouldn’t have avoided the IMPOSTER trap.
    Held up a little at the end by SHOEPRINT.
    TIMOTHY my only unknown.
  20. I didn’t know IMPOSTOR could be spelt like that. But I paid attention to the wordplay and avoided a pink square. I didn’t know HOOPOE either but again the wordplay was fair.


  21. Dropped in just under the 20-minute mark for a not-too-difficult offering.

    Only the bottom left had me truly puzzled until at the 19-minute juncture, I spotted QUEENDOM, TROUTLET (which I had already suspected) and SLEAZY in quick succession.

  22. Quite quick, well it is Monday.
    At present I look out every day for Astronowt’s bird (are the setters doing this deliberately, now?) and was glad to see it at 1a.
    The only thing I don’t understand is our esteemed blogger’s shibboleth.
  23. Once more a not-Monday Monday, taking 20 minutes with LEVEL and (therefore) VALLEY resisting to the end.
    Considerable head scratching getting from BUNGLE (easy from wordplay) to blow as a definition. Still think it’s quite a stretch to the extent that I was expecting a pink. IMPOSTOR likewise wordplay dependent.
    TOUT for racehorse spy was not at the forefront of my thinking: more often they’re trying to buy/sell tickets at The Lane. At least the TROUTLET was a plausible fish.
    ENTRECHAT recalled Wayne Sleep, who I saw creating a world record entrechat douze on BBC TV yonks ago.
    I’m beginning to like Monday puzzles for being quirky and different rather than just being easy.

    Edited at 2021-10-11 09:30 am (UTC)

  24. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and spell thee word impostor properly… you will avoid a pink square, my son!

    Thanks to ulaca and the setter.

  25. I thought I’d finished at around 25 minutes, but it told me that I wasn’t quite done, and it took me 5 minutes to find the mistake — imposter (which is an alternative spelling). I’d justified it as the possibility of a ‘beggar’ in fact being a con artist and not really a beggar at all, saying ‘I’m poser’. Most unlikely and I didn’t notice that it required t to be a way, very silly.
  26. Nice zippy Monday, concluding with the intersection of TROUTLET and QUEENDOM, which provided the only real delay. I am obviously not the only person who always struggles with IMPOSTOR/IMPOSTER, and regularly makes the wrong 50/50 call, so I was very glad that the wordplay helped me out today. Like everyone of my generation with my name, I can blame Ronnie Corbett for a long period where I heard “Language, Timothy” an awful lot, but worse things happen to people.
    1. All the usual dictionaries give ‘imposter’ as an alternative so you’re not actually wrong, and neither am I!
      1. Excellent, so I/we haven’t (necessarily) been wrong every time. I think this promotes INDISPENSABLE to the top of my personal bugbear list (always think it should be -ible at the end, however many times I get it wrong, and just had to look it up again to check now)
  27. I started with HOOPOE and OSMIUM and ploughed on from there with hardly a pause until I came to the 16a/20d pair. Eventually TROUTLET appeared in the shallows, and QUEENDOM loomed from the mist. My SCHOOLFRIEND became a SCHOOLFELLOW courtesy of SHERATON and SILVERSMITH. 16:20. Thanks setter and U. Time to hit the M5 and attempt to get back to the North East, hopefully without holdups. At least I have a full tank of fuel.
  28. NHO SHERATON – I’m an IKEA man myself – and I had to resort to the dictionary for that one. The clue made it harder with a ‘way’ that doesn’t seem to be doing anything… I’m not entirely sure it’s sound, but that could be sour grapes.

    I was another SHOEPRINT, always a danger with cryptic definitions.

  29. ….but I laboured a little, being very slow to nail the TROUTLET/QUEENDOM intersection. I’ve never seen TIMOTHY as a stand-alone without the grass attached. It’s worth noting that all 3 of those highlighted words were queried by the spellchecker on this site !

    TIME 9:53

  30. 20:51. Wouldn’t normally spell IMPOSTOR with two Os and didn’t know the grassy definition of TIMOTHY — I thought it might be upper-class slang for marijuana. LEVEL was cleverer than I thought until reading the blog. Otherwise seemed reasonably straightforward — if occasionally clued a little verbosely.
  31. After a lazy Summer and a week away, here’s my new regime. Print the puzzle, take it to a quiet place, focus entirely on completing it for up to an hour (i.e. don’t start it while having lunch and carry on in odd spare moments in the day.) Read the blog and comments and record my time. My aim is to complete the puzzle correctly every day, read the blog and comment, all within the hour.
    Today proved the value of the process. After 33 minutes I was close to a PB but the last few proved troublesome. As I had allowed myself an hour and was in a quiet place, I renewed my efforts and they slowly fell into place in a time of 41’15”.
    FOI hoopoe
    LOI breaststroke which I couldn’t see for so long despite having all the checkers. Resorted to an alphabet trawl which (thankfully) didn’t take long.
    Like others, I only knew solecism relating to language rather than as an impropriety, didn’t know tout as a spy, NHO troutlet or queendom, but all were fairly clued.
    Didn’t understand level until reading the blog. Had a vague memory of timothy having something to do with grass.

    What was Postman Pat called after he retired? (See next post for answer.)
    Thanks to setter and blogger

    1. A lot of what you say is within my own solving regime. ‘Print the puzzle, take it to a quiet place, focus entirely on completing it’ being the most salient points.
    1. I print the puzzle, take it to the noisiest local Pokémon Suite, loose focus and after forty minutes finish or give-up! “It takes allsorts” – Bertie Bassett
  32. I thought a bugle was brass rather than wind but I now see it’s a bit of an IMPOSTOR. And I’ll thank the setter for making it clear which spelling was called for because the final vowel was an unchecked letter. 16.57 after sorting out which kind of hoofprint was needed.
    1. I’m a bit puzzled that you didn’t immediately see BUGLE as a wind instrument. Am wondering whether in American parlance they use the word exclusively for woodwind. In an orchestra the wind section is brass and woodwind. Must be a small cultural difference.
      1. I’ve always taken ‘wind instrument’ to include the brass. ODE gives ‘woodwind’ as an additional definition.
  33. A DNF in 15 and a bit minutes from me today. Paid attention to the wp to get impostor but there is no accounting for me capping my solve with the Pacific island of TaHATi. My palm is still firmly attached to my forehead after that one. Otherwise I thought this was a pleasant solve with a couple of fiddly ones like the queendom / troutlet crossers to give it some bite.
  34. Olivia, you missed a treat and today’s bisque, with finely sliced straw mushrooms! Best ever lobster was at ‘Frederic’s’ on Île Saint-Honorat just off Cannes: deep fried with French fries, with a fiesty, frosty chablis – As Stravinsky said to Sir Arthur – Bliss!

    FOI 24dn AGO

    LOI 9ac IMPOSTOR – a POOR clue which caused pause!?

    COD 1ac HOOPOE I once saw one in the wilds of Emilia Romagna – a male in all his deep vermilion finery!

    WOD 4dn ENTRECHAT – please talk amongst yourselves

    Time 31 minutes – a very decent Monday puzz.

    On edit as per Mr. Mauefw – 8dn SHERATON was a bit of an IKEA assembly job.

    Edited at 2021-10-11 02:13 pm (UTC)

  35. Stuck in the West. Alphabet trawl for impostor gave me ploughshare and osmium. LOI troutlet. Saw it ages before, but it couldn’t be that, surely? Or postal? MER. Good puzzle. DNF on my own. Needed to try out and get pink squares to correct my errors. Five unparsed or only partly parsed today. An hour’s entertainment for two. Thanks, U, and setter.
  36. I was surprised to see a lowish Twitch number, as I found this offering way beyond my grasp.

    This SHE novel has caught me out many times before. A quick check shows that “It”, (Stephen King), “Kim” (Kipling), “Moo” (Jane Smiley), “Utz” (Bruce Chatwin) are all short book titles which are no more obscure.

  37. 12:08 this afternoon, with everything parsed. An enjoyable Monday crossword, with occasional words that haven’t really entered my vocabulary (e.g. Queendom, Troutlet and Solecism) but which were clued in a friendly way.
    I associate my COD 1 ac “hoopoe” with my first experience of playing golf in the warmth of spring in the Algarve. Mrs P (who didn’t play golf at the time) brought her binoculars with her and at one stage walked straight through a bunker, fixated on getting a close-up of the self-same bird. Maybe Astronowt would have approved but not too many other onlookers did. Anyway within a year she had taken up the game and eventually became lady captain of her club. I seldom have had the temerity to remind her of her trespass.
    Thanks to Ulaca for an entertaining blog and to setter.
  38. I could not parse IMPOSTER; now I know why. I could not parse SCHOOLFRIEND; ditto.
    Got quite a lot of this intriguing puzzle but several blanks as I come here.
    HOOPOE very good. Must remember it’s not only Chippendale who made furniture.

  39. Yes another one

    No complaints — no biff as the w/p was clear but many a slip…

    Otherwise same as everyone else but a bit slower

    Thanks all

  40. 38 minutes or so, so moderate difficulty, but despite a few unknowns there were no real problems for me. I wanted 1ac to be COOPER for a while (American writer) with COOP being the bird house and ER being … well, I couldn’t see what, so I corrected it to HOOPOE. No problem with IMPOSTOR, since the wordplay specifies the second O. Never heard of ENTRECHAT, but it seemed the only sensible anagram of the letters given. TIMOTHY seemed to make sense, despite my having no idea at all what it was. LEVEL came to me right away, which rather surprised me. And although I saw that there were several alternatives to FOOTPRINT (SHOEPRINT, HEELPRINT) I did put it in first and of course it worked well with SCHOOLFELLOW.

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