Times 28,127: I Dug 18dn And That’s Why I Drink

I was well off the boil for this eminently vendredic puzzle but at least that means anyone watching my Twitch stream got value for money as I toiled over this one for over a quarter of an hour. A big problem was 18ac where I’d never heard of the carriage, and indeed wondered if it could be a SELFY before the actual answer finally occurred and could be validated; also a bit mean of the setter to cross one answer meaning an obscure conveyance with another! But there were plenty of other clues that were just too devious for me to crack quickly: none of 23, 25 or 27ac were in any way 28ac, for instance.

I did love this though, the type of crossword that Fridays should be all about, so many thanks to the setter for their fine work. If anybody wants to watch me struggle unduly over it, the video is at https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1196198246 (about 27 minutes in).

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.

1 Sort of country where shopper goes on to spend extravagantly (9)
BLUEGRASS – GRASS [shopper, as in one who shops] goes on BLUE [to spend extravagantly]. Sort of country (music).
9 Unfamiliar look for Welsh composer (7)
NOVELLO – NOVEL LO [unfamiliar | look!]
10 Kid at party left large toy (3,4)
RAG DOLL – RAG [kid] at DO [party] L(eft) L(arge)
11 Seeing red top worn by girl (5)
LIVID – LID worn by VI
12 Weary personnel getting stick for raising standards (9)
FLAGSTAFF – FLAG STAFF [weary | personnel]. Nice lift and separate, resulting in a great surface.
13 Strongly desire to surrender weapon (7)
LONGBOW – LONG [strongly desire] + BOW [to surrender]
15 Broadcast medium mostly one that’s a spokesperson’s business? (5)
RADII – RADI{o} I. A spokesperson may make spokes, in which case their business is RADII (groan)
17 Drunken head of orphanage in Dickens ending in penury (5)
BOOZY – O{rphanage} in BOZ [as in, Sketches By] + {penur}Y
18 Horse-drawn vehicle withdrawn? (5)
SULKY – double def, and really quite hard if you’ve never heard of a sulky carriage, which I had not.
19 The lot of the viewer (5)
SIGHT – a “sight” of something is a lot of it, and obviously sight is intimately connected with viewers.
20 Gallery’s founder going on hikes north of Albany, say (7)
23 Brief, wrongly maligned at first, does well currently? (9)
25 Writer who’s about to put in partial French translation (5)
QUILL – who’s about to = who will = who’ll; translate just the “who” part into French to get the monstrous Franglais of QUI’LL. Utterly tortuous and strangely brilliant
27 Unusual collection of shell-like blocks fell backwards (7)
EXOTICA – OTIC [of the ear = of shell-like] “blocks” reversed AXE [fell]
28 Finishes off joke in music hall show not needing to be cracked? (2,5)
EN CLAIR – {jok}E {i}N {musi}C {hal}L + AIR [show]. “En clair” basically means unencrypted
29 For rambling trip, I keep something bright to wear (6,3)
1 Abandoned female in cap (6)
2 Greek character upset by my lacking manners (10)
UNGRACIOUS – reversed NU by GRACIOUS! [my!]
3 A grossly misused reference (8)
4 The works outing arriving initially in Scottish town (5)
ALLOA – ALL [the works] + O{uting} A{rriving}
5 Shy about pants pinching (9)
6 Paradise island showing up lack of volcanic activity? (6)
AVALON – NO LAVA, reversed
7 E European going places promoting son (4)
SLAV – LAVS [places to “go”] with the S(on) promoted to the top
8 Like bed that might collapse with abnormal weight of a lady (8)
14 Mushroom first one to go in basket? (10)
BALLOONIST – BALLOON [mushroom, as in snowball] + 1ST
16 ABM risked being set alight (9)
17 British university’s short challenge becoming shorter (8)
18 Carriage’s singular function on short trip east (8)
STANHOPE – S(ingular) TAN(gent) on HOP E(ast)
21 Partner hiding hairstyle until it goes dark? (3-3)
ALL-DAY – ALLY hiding D.A.
22 Put a skewer through one’s pasty (6)
IMPALE – I’M PALE [one’s | pasty]
24 One can be clean — but not after work? (5)
SWEEP – you have have a clean sweep – but a chimney sweep, after work, is not clean but covered in soot!
26 Buried in breadfruit, chrysalides are dying (4)
ITCH – hidden in {breadfru}IT CH{rysalides}

63 comments on “Times 28,127: I Dug 18dn And That’s Why I Drink”

  1. I had never heard of the SULKY carriage, but I did know STANHOPE so that went in early. I did know that a SURREY is a carriage of some sort, so it seemed plausible that perhaps SURLY was some sort of related carriage. But it is not…and BALLOONIST (my LOI) was impossible until I gave up on that idea. It’s not as if SULKY was any more or less likely but apparently it is. My daughter lives in UPSTATE New York (although south of Albany) but that seems pretty obscure for a London crossword. The bottom right was definitely the part that took me the most effort,
    1. Here in NZ, “North of Albany” would also qualify as “upstate”, if we had states. It’s on the northern edge of Auckland
  2. We’re missing only a J in the pangram stakes.

    40 minutes but I failed to solve 6dn. The only word I could come up with that fitted was EVELYN so I bunged that in without much hope after giving the clue my full attention for 5 minutes at the very end. It turned out I vaguely knew of AVALON but I was never going to recall it without assistance from the wordplay, and that was not forthcoming.

    I did however recall SULKY as a carriage, although it doesn’t appear to have come up here before today, and I doubt I would have remembered PB mentioning it in passing when he blogged the Christmas Turkey puzzle back in 2014.

    By happy coincidence I was listening to an old LP of Ivor Novello songs only yesterday so he was at the forefront of my mind. An interesting fact about him is that he wrote an extraordinary run of smash hit West End musicals, a feat not since achieved by any composer until the arrival of Andrew Lloyd Webber many decades later, but unlike ALW he also starred in them, yet he never sang a note on stage. Nice trick if you can pull it off!

    Elsewhere I failed to parse EXOTICA.

    Edited at 2021-11-05 07:21 am (UTC)

  3. Faster than it felt, and completer than I had hoped. FOI 1d, i.e. not a single across on the first pass. SULKY was a long time coming, but it came. I wondered about NAFF=pants, especially as I’m never sure what ‘naff’ means and I didn’t know SNAFFLE. UPSTATE surprised me aa bit, this being a UK puzzle and all.I never parsed EN CLAIR or QUILL, and I’m not sure I care for the latter. On the other hand I really liked ‘going places’, ‘getting stick for raising standards’, ‘brief, wrongly’, all producing PDMs. COD maybe to SLAV, but it had plenty of competition. A definite feeling of accomplishment doing this, and in only 2 Verlaines, yet.
  4. Enjoyed most of this but not SULKY or QUILL. At 21d I paused over ALL-DAY which, to me, means the whole day ie not stopping at 5pm when it goes dark in winter. I don’t think adding a question mark was enough.
  5. Sulky one of the last in, but certainly heard of – the “carriage” in trotting and pacing races. Balloonist also very late, but sweep LOI in desperation, unable to parse. Forgot all about the job title. Apart from those 3 no real problems, even knowing kipper tie from a dodgy Brum homophone of cuppa tea, in the other place some years ago. Must have been on the wavelength.
    Some great surface readings and lift and separates.
    Thanks setter and blogger.
  6. Harness racing is big here in NZ so no problem with SULKY.
    With BLUEGRASS, I always thought the word for spending extravagantly was to BLOW but I see both BLUE and BLOW are in Lexico.
    FOI: Can’t remember.
    COD: SLAV. I love “going places”!
  7. 18:31. I thought this was great. Very tough, but almost all fair and very little that could be entered confidently without reference to the often very tricky wordplay. I say ‘almost’ only because SULKY seems a bit mean, but it rang a vague bell once I thought of it.
    1. was my LOI. “Withdrawn” seems like it could have stood without the question mark. That was the most obvious definition to me!

      Edited at 2021-11-05 03:45 pm (UTC)

    2. We still have plenty of working sulkies in Patagonia. One lady, Manon Berwyn, drove one a couple of years ago from the Atlantic Coast to the Andes, a distance of 600 km, to commemorate an expedition of her great grandfather. She told me en route that her horse was getting through more shoes than Imelda Marcos!
  8. FLAGSTAFF is famous, you know
    It’s where Tombaugh discovered Pluto
    The craft sent to visit
    Had his ashes in it
    New Horizons had so far to go
  9. 53 minutes with LOI SULKY the nearest thing I could find to ‘withdrawn’. but unknown as a carriage. QUILL was semi-biffed without the benefit of Franglais. It would have been COD if I’d seen it, but that goes to SLAV. It’s been a contrary type of day. I like most country music but I’m not keen on BLUEGRASS. I don’t like either Glam or Prog Rock much, apart from Roxy Music/Ferry. So AVALON is today’s earworm. But memories of Ivor NOVELLO’s music might just be displacing it. A toughie, but a good one. Thank you V and setter.
    1. The ‘ever so slightly lilac’ Ivor Novello lived up by Montego Bay, Jamaica – just around the corner from Oscar Hammerstein II, who was straight as a die. ‘Green Grow the Lilacs’ (Oklahoma) was his take.

      Edited at 2021-11-05 09:19 am (UTC)

      1. Ivor’s London home was in a flat above the then Strand theatre in Aldwych, retained until his death in 1951. The theatre was bought, refurbished Delfont/Mackintosh and reopened in 2005 as the Novello Theatre.
  10. Plenty of interstin’ EXOTICA – ‘ALL DAYS’ is a 24hr corner shop chain here in Shanghai.

    Time 55 worrisome minutes

    FOI 23ac UPSTATE like Poughkeepsie

    LOI 28ac EN CLAIR


    WOD 17ac BOOZY and Hawkes?

    GOD! Kipper Ties – ‘Room 101’ clobber

    Edited at 2021-11-05 09:08 am (UTC)

    1. I think you’ll find that’s Boosey h and, apparently, they’re still publishing music.
      1. Mr. Rose – of course! Just fun with words – NB the question mark.

        Edited at 2021-11-05 09:16 am (UTC)

          1. My dear old dad – a tenor – used to pop down to London every so often to pick-up piles sheet music from Boosey & Hawkes in Aldwych (or Tottenham Court Road?)

            On the subject of music I forgot to mention that 10ac ‘Rag Doll’ by ‘The Four Seasons’ still gives me goose-bumps – I was only fourteen.

            Edited at 2021-11-05 09:34 am (UTC)

  11. Cor, what a struggle. Unlike yesterday though when I gave up after an hour, I was determined to finish today. Took me 1hr 10 mins though, with at least twenty mins staring at the SE corner blankly. LOI SULKY. like V a NHO. Finally got SWEEP, very clever, which got me going again. So many great clues it’s hard to pick the best, but I really liked SLAV and MISINFORM was brilliant with its misleading comma! KIPPER TIE too, several of which I used to own. Only knew AVALON from Roxy Music.

    Glad to see I wasn’t alone in finding this a “toughie”. Thanks V as ever and setter.

    Edited at 2021-11-05 09:12 am (UTC)

  12. 41:55
    Good, tough challenge. Enjoyed it. Last two in were balloonist and sulky (the latter a lucky guess, really).
    How does the surface reading in 16dn work? Is ABM something I should recognise?
    Great blog, v, thanks.
    1. I wondered the same thing, if it was a famous UK person that everyone would immediately recognise.
  13. 21:33 Nice one. LOI FOLDAWAY after SULKY. Failed to parse as few – QUILL, EXOTICA or SWEEP, so thanks for the explanations V, but I did see past FLING = shy in 5D to see it was SLING eventually. COD to KIPPER TIE, which I’m sure my walking friends will enjoy too. Thank-you V and setter.
  14. I always look forward to a vendredic (really?) challenge, obscure vocab and all. SULKY kind of rang a bell so it went in (so called, apparently, because you can only get one person in it!). There was a fair amount of biffing today (37.5%) but some great clueing once I’d gone back and parsed the clues properly.

    LOI BLUEGRASS (took a while to get what “country” was referring to)

  15. just under 23 minutes, with a lot of time spent staring at the unlikely entries in the SE. Most of the trouble came from getting definitions and wordplay confused. SWEEP I entered and erased several times before crossers confirmed the half understood reality. EXOTICA last in, knowing EAR for shell-like but not seeing how it could possibly go in.
    Didn’t know NOVELLO was Welsh, certainly not given his awfully nice tones.
  16. I nearly gave up a few times. After rejecting Blossomist for the actual word Bassoonist, I finally saw a Balloonist hiding in plain sight. Then, after 3 more frustrating minutes, I ended with a sulky flourish.

    COD: Flagstaff.

  17. Few things better than that once in a blue moon feeling where you can sense that a puzzle is actually quite difficult but you’re finding it pretty straightforward. Lots of entertaining stuff, as you’d hope on a Friday, none of the subject matter too obscure (pace those who aren’t familiar with all of the many, many horse-drawn carriages which populate Crosswordland), but made up for by plenty of cunning definitions.
  18. Talk about unknown unknowns. I had no idea that SULKY was an obscure term, as it was my parents’ main form of transport when they were young. Must be a regional thing.

    Thought this was an excellent challenge, happy to escape unscathed. LOI BALLOONIST.

    Thanks V and setter.

  19. Failed to get anything until LONGBOW, then failed to make anything from its checking letters. STANHOPE came next, then it became a war of attrition as I extracted answers like recalcitrant wisdom teeth. However after AVALON arrived, the NE fell in a spurt and I found myself left with 14d and 18a. BALLONIST came first and SULKY went in as the most likely meaning of withdrawn, the carriage being unknown. 36:22. Thanks setter and V.
  20. 26:45. Sulky racing big in Durham, at least it was half a century ago when I lived there, so no probs with the carriage. Stanhopes, like barouche landaus, hackneys and other pre-Uber transport, are familiar only from Victorian novels and Times crosswords. Presumably they are all different but I couldn’t say how and fortunately one is never expected to know.
  21. Really enjoyed this, tough but fair. About 30m of fun.

    Another good day for the Heyerites, both carriages being familiar items.

    Abbreviations.com lists dozens of ABMs, of which I like Anything But Microsoft best..

  22. Felt significantly chewier than yesterday’s 15×15, with a lot more obscure devices that I’ve never come across in the QC.

    Managed to get just under halfway through before calling it a day. Enjoyed what I managed to get down, but plenty still to learn.

  23. About an hour with an aid for the balloonist. Had a suspicion that it was ‘soshy’ — it seemed vaguely familiar — but it can’t have been. Lots of clever stuff here, 1ac particularly. Couldn’t at first think of any composers beginning with N apart from Nielsen, and didn’t help myself by thinking that it was a word for unfamilar with lo replacing W. And I would have liked 7dn but am getting rather tired of clues about ‘going’, of which we seem to have had a lot recently.
  24. Nicely Friday, and like Verlaine I found the SE corner the chewiest. SULKY was my LOI and new to me, as far as I can recall, but STANHOPE is an old friend from crosswordland so that went in pretty quickly.

    I couldn’t parse BRUSQUER at the time, and I wasn’t sure what was going on with QUILL, so it was a relief to see everything in green when I was done. 11m 39s.

  25. Mostly OK though didn’t know SULKY as a carriage and the SW took a lot of thought to unravel.

    ITCH and DISEMBARK went in quite early but it wasn’t until I saw QUILL that some of the others became clearer. LOI ALL-DAY

  26. The bits everyone found hard were easy and vice versa. My main problem was finishing off with ALL -A- and not seeing the ALLY. Not that I’d heard of a DA anyway. I assumed that SULKY was very well known, surprised.
    Due to a weird contorted mind, I liked QUI’LL COD.
    1. Then you are not a child of the fifties. The Ted’s special hairdo, along with the ‘Brothel Creepers’, ‘Drape’ jacket, flick-knife and ‘Drain-pipes’. Ted Meldrew
  27. so I needed help before entering ALL DAY 21d. Struggled with parsing QUILL 25a, BRUSQUER 17d and SWEEP 24d, so thank you blogger for the clarification.
    YOD (yuck of the day) to SLAV/lavs.
  28. 42.06. A fiendish puzzle which I found hard work but enjoyable. FOI rag doll. LOI sulky – from the checkers it was the best fit for withdrawn I could find. I was completely foxed by foldaway, balloonist, misinform and quill to name just a few which had me going all round the houses and up the garden path before the light slowly dawned.
  29. Dead chuffed again to finish, just like yesterday, even though it took me 1 hour 27 minutes (pretty much like yesterday) and yet, again, comfortably in the top 100 on the leaderboard at 1:20 pm.
    FOI RAG DOLL. LOIs FOLDAWAY and the totally unknown SULKY with fingers crossed. Liked BALLOONIST, MISINFORM and (sorry) QUI’LL
  30. 53 mins of sheer bliss despite the effort. Did reasonably well until having to chisel my way through the SE corner. Like being stuck on the M25.

    I thought any of brusquer, stanhope, balloonist, misinform, impale and sweep were COD candidates on any day and to get them all on the same day- delicious torture. Hope that doesn’t sound weird!

    Sulky was just plain cruel but I guessed well.

    Thx setter and blogger. Is Verlaine human after all? Mind you 15 mins, I am not worthy.

  31. …and this was really the hardest of the week.
    SULKY was LOI; have I ever heard of the carriage?
    Pretty sure I’d never heard of the Welsh composer.
    AVALON reminds me of Roxy Music. As crosswords go, we could hardly ask for “More Than This.”

    BLUEGRASS gets boring quick. This is why I once drank too much moonshine (living dangerously) at a BLUEGRASS festival on a West VIrginia mountaintop where I was stuck all night with a friend…

    Edited at 2021-11-05 03:48 pm (UTC)

    1. Alloa Athletic 2 Queen of the South 0
      Cowdenbeath 2 Airdreonians 2
      East Fife 4 Forfar Athletic 5
      Stenhousemuir 1 Raith Rovers 3
      And finally, Third Lanark 0 Hamilton Academicals 0

      Scottish Poetry on a Saturday afternoon

        1. …as the clue says Scottish Town!

          The English know every one from the fitba scores read out at tea time by JAG.

          But there is no such place as Raith! It’s pronounced Kirkcaldy and without the ‘l’.

          1. Come on, H, you must be more of a John Webster man. JAG is too recent. Bring back Eamonn Andrews. Better still, Raymond Glendenning. And as Jeff Stelling has it, they’re Roath Ravers.
  32. Like a couple others I thought of Surly until Balloonist appeared. I didn’t know Alloa (so by definition it’s obscure), and I thought Upstate would be even more obscure for many. I’d just finished The Death of Arthur, which ends with burial at Glastonbury, but that did put Avalon at the front of my mind. Thanks setter, v
    1. The definition here, you know, is wrong. Upstate New York is north of the NYC metro area. Albany is upstate. Wikipedia: “Major cities across Upstate New York from east to west include Albany, Utica, Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.”
      1. You’re right about Albany being Upstate itself — though that would certainly also make anything further north Upstate, too. And I’m still surprised that there weren’t more “say WHAT?” comments about the clue.
  33. A damn fine puzzle. Managed to drag up SULKY from somewhere but got held back for far too long by thinking 1 across must be HOURGLASS. BALLONIST EN CLAIR.QUILL, MISINFORM all excellent.

    Apologies if it’s been already mentioned somewhere, but there’s an obituary of Anne Bradford (of Crossword books fame) in today’s Times.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter.

    1. Yes, I read the Anne Bradford obituary yesterday. An interesting read. She was an elite solver as well as a crossword dictionary compiler.
  34. ….and was on the setter’s wavelength straight away. Mind you, I didn’t much care for the tortured Franglais of QUILL, but the quality elsewhere made that forgiveable.

    TIME 11:01

  35. 20:51 this afternoon. A tough puzzle but I managed to work through it, being helped by a few inspired (or is that desperate?) guesses.
    I thought the clueing was very clever, with plenty of misleading elements and a few inventive structures. It must be frustrating for setters to find their attempts at originality being greeted with some MERs and bemusement but, on the other hand, do we really want a puzzleful of chestnuts?
    FOI 10 ac “rag doll”, then a lot of head scratching until POI 24 d “sweep” (where I relied on the first half of the clue) and LOI 21 d “all-day” (where I relied on the second half). NHO “DA” as initials for the 50s hairstyle (which I had heard of).
    So overall, felt not a little fortunate to complete the puzzle unscathed — but for a Friday (and a SNITCH currently at 133) I’ll take it!
    Thanks as ever to V for the blog (and the offer to view his solving process) and to the setter for an enjoyable (I think) stretch.
  36. I’ve just realised that the very tenuous obscure pun in my blog title has been rendered completely incomprehensible by my putting “18ac” instead of “18dn”! So very on brand for me…

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