Times 28135 – Erica lingers on….where?

Time: 20 minutes
Music: Kempf, Beethoven Piano Sonatas

We are pretty much back to easy Monday here, as I trotted through this puzzle at a fairly easy pace.   Only fleuron gave me pause – is that a subatomic floral arrangement?   Otherwise, I found it pretty routine, but with a number of good-quality clues embodying original ideas.   However, if you don’t happen to know all the words, then you may chose to differ. 

1 Scottish island’s current proprietor mentioned in speech (4)
IONA – I + sounds like OWNER to the non-rhotic. 
3 Cautious about girl serving wine (10)
CHARDONNAY – CHAR(DONNA)Y.   Serving seems to be just a connecting word, since Donna is an honorific in Italian.
10 Plain southern woman digesting version of Bible (7)
11 Fine plan, regularly collecting cash for floral ornament (7)
FLEURON – F + [p]L(EURO)[a]N. 
12 Reward for service having the Midas touch? (6,9)
GOLDEN HANDSHAKE – Double definition, one allusive.
13 It gets confused with Mao’s Chinese philosophy (6)
TAOISM – Anagram of IT and MAO’S.
14 Dull quality of poet backed by head (8)
DRABNESS – BARD backwards + NESS.
17 Country dweller got cat doctored with little hesitation (8)
COTTAGER – Anagram of GOT CAT + ER.
18 Ill-fated high-flyer in charge of a sport stadium originally (6)
ICARUS – IC + A + RU + S[tadium].
21 State of French uniform received by this method? (7,8)
23 Importuner ultimately serving a long time in prison cell (7)
DUNGEON – DUN + [servin]G + EON – the American spelling, not indicated.
24 Famous conductor in West, possibly, initially taking Ravel in thus (7)
MAESTRO –  MAE [west] + S(T[aking] R[avel])O.
25 Performer, one who’s rational about one in court (10)
RECITALIST – RE(C(I)T)ALIST, a real Russian doll construction.
26 Where cattle may be kept near river Exe at first (4)
BYRE – BY R E[xe], a word often found in Chaucer and such authors.
1 Visible capacity for understanding (7)
2 Rock plant! Want lover replaced! (9)
NAVELWORT – Anagram of WANT LOVER – you should usually try a -wort with letters like that.
4 Blooming troll finally dismissed, like Erica (6)
HEATHY – HEA[-trolL)THY.  
5 Factory initially releasing extremely showy clothing (8)
REFINERY – Releasing] E[xtremely] FINERY.
6 Signed too much, having too many clients (14)
OVERSUBSCRIBED – Double definition, one a bit fat-fetched.
7 Operatic heroine, not quite typical (5)
8 US city taking ages to welcome English king (7)
YONKERS – YONK(E,R)S.  No complaining from the UK crew, we just had this a couple of weeks ago.
9 Subject to update from bank? That’s putting it mildly (14)
15 Seriously bring in new style (9)
EARNESTLY – EARN + anagram of STYLE.
16 Eg Christmas fastener broken by a young relative (8)
17 Male theologian trapped in vehicle? Hard cheese (7)
19 Extremely pretty hotel protected by lone method of checking callers (7)
SPYHOLE –  S(P[rett]Y H)OLE, usually call a peephole here in the US.
20 The messenger god — or some other messenger? (6)
HERMES – Hidden [ot]HER MES[senger].
22 Peacekeepers in film relating to ancient Carthage (5)

98 comments on “Times 28135 – Erica lingers on….where?”

  1. Personal Best (technical DNF owing to one typo), 32:16.

    NHO NAVELWORT, but figured the V could only go in third, which locked in the AV of SAVANNA, then HEATHY was LOI although I don’t understand the Erica reference.


    Can someone explain importuner=DUN?


    Edited at 2021-11-15 01:08 am (UTC)

    1. Erica=ling=heath
      dun: ODE sv DUN2 verb: make persistent demands on (someone), especially for payment of a debt
      noun (archaic) a debt collector or insistent creditor

      I didn’t know the noun, and started off thinking ‘dunner’.

      1. I had to biff DUNGEON because I thought “importuner” meant someone who installs a turbocharger on their Honda
        1. As I recall from reading “Private Eye” regularly during the 1980’s, an importuner was usually referred to as a COTTAGER. Strange coincidence !
          1. Hmmm – also noticed that – I didn’t realise importuning had a use outside of the world of sex-seeking. Pretty sure I first encountered the word 1980-ish because a politician was at it (prime territory for the Eye)

            Brief dictionary investigations seem to indicate that importuning can involve any type of sexual activity – whereas cottaging is practiced by gay men.

      2. That’s what the clue says but personally, I would have said Erica=ling=heather .. and like Erica s/be heathery, not heathy, a word surely nobody has ever used. However I see Collins lets the setter off the hook, as per usual..
  2. FLEURON was new to me, too, and I waited for all the checkers before putting it in. ICARUS, on the other hand, was a gimme, which I never bothered to parse until after submitting.

    Edited at 2021-11-15 01:36 am (UTC)

      1. “The next sketch is set in a ball bearing factory. I play a man who loses his bearings….”

        “….and I play a man who loses his temper.”

        “The Two Ronnies” circa 1986.

  3. Thanks vinyl. Didn’t know Byre or Fleuron but the clueing was clear. Since I’m in no way constrained, and since eliminating one or two doesn’t save enough ink to be meaningful, I generally use all the letters at my disposal. Especially the final H in Savannah.

    Edited at 2021-11-15 01:52 am (UTC)

  4. 10:18 – I slowed right down in the middle of this one, trying to put together the long answers that were not really that difficult.
  5. I found this one very straightforward until I came to the upper-right corner. I had a tough time with everything up there, and had to grind it out.
  6. Was screaming towards a sub-10, but got stuck on REFINERY and the NHO FLEURON at the end.

    Other unknowns like BYRE, NAVELWORT and the DUN reference were easily resolvable with checkers in place.

    Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  7. This was straightforward indeed, time 21 minutes


    LOI 7dn NORMA

    COD 11ac FLEURON — a word much used by philatelists of yore. Heraldic nonsense.

    WOD 8dn YONKERS was the nickname of our geog teacher at Carre’s, never knew why!

    Mr. Merlin came over from the QC district and shone! Others might like to follow.

    Edited at 2021-11-15 02:46 am (UTC)

    1. Just putting together my album page of Demerara Large & Small fleurons, enhanced by recent “Imperium” / Du Pont purchase. (Well, at least you’ll understand this!). All best, Trux
      1. When I work out who the Earl of Trux is, l will reveal to him of the great mystery that surrounds the Demerara 1c matchbox label. I was sorry to hear of the demise of Nigel Goldblatt.
        1. Thank you telling me of Simon’s demise; I hadn’t heard. I had marvellous lunch with him in London just before COVID struck; he was already in his ’90s but still oh so enthusiastic. We were regaling a young friend with the delights of philately, and he was offering sage advice about what and what not to collect. He’ll be missed by many.
  8. I would’ve been ten minutes quicker if I hadn’t BIFD NUMBNESS at 14ac so obscuring 5dn which finally led me to see CHARDONNAY, my LOI. I had been somewhat fixated on cautious clueing as wary. I suppose HEATHY must be a word but that took a while for me to tease out too. NHO NAVELWORT, but it must be a very exciting plant to warrant that exclamation mark!

    I quite liked 13ac, my COD.


  9. I don’t keep a record of my 15×15 solving times but at 16 minutes I think this must be a PB or =PB. If I ever achieved 15 minutes I would surely remember it.

    Very few clues required revisiting today although I passed over both FLEURON and NAVELWORT fairly quickly because I realised they were not going to come until most of their checkers were in place. I have see DUN as a debt collector somewhere within the past month, and possibly for the very first time. If it wasn’t here (somebody may confirm later) it must have been in the Guardian. Anyway, it came in handy although the answer DUNGEON went in immediately from definition and checkers.

    After this easy one I wonder if I am in for a stinker on my blogging day tomorrow.

    Edited at 2021-11-15 05:24 am (UTC)

    1. I knew DUN from dunning letters (essentially letters importuning customers what owe you money). I think it is much more common usage in the US than here in the UK.
      1. Memory might be wrong, but back in the 60s/70s the major dunning company in the world was Dun and Bradstreet? They still exist, but not as knee-cappng debt-collectors, it seems.
  10. Lotsa fun, starting with IONA, then SE => NW => SW => NE, LOI CHARDONNAY

    Knowing NORMA was a big help (someone advised me a few weeks ago it would reappear) and FLEURON had to be thoroughly decoded as it was a new one to me. But I was pretty lucky with 3a because I started by assuming that “cautious” was SHY rather than CHARY, getting me the crosser correct for HEATHY. Only after removing the leading S, and no longer considering SHERRY, did I see the obvious answer.

    Adding to the ever-growing list of PBs for today – 22:31 lowers mine by 25s. Thanks vinyl and setter.

  11. 27 minutes. I didn’t know DUN as a noun either and FLEURON went in from wordplay. With those unknowns, it’s all very well to say “it couldn’t be anything else” but I’m never quite sure. Glad I avoided the temptation to biff “Yankees” for ‘US’ at 8d. Much better to be YONKERS, that famous home of the New York trots.

    Is DUNGEON “the American spelling”? As a non-American, that’s how I would spell it. Or did you mean EON rather than AEON?

    Thanks to vinyl and setter

  12. I see a few PBs above today and I’ll add mine to the list. Inevitably when moving at speed I miss some of the subtleties and I thought that HERMES was a DD referring to someone who throws parcels into your back garden. My COD for hiding the cryptic in such a good surface.
    1. MyHERMES delivered beer to me during lockdown. I complained to the vendor because, despite the box being labelled “THIS WAY UP” it was invariably left at the front door on its side. I think they’re specially trained to ring the doorbell and vanish as if playing Knock Down Ginger.
  13. I was lead to believe that to ‘pootle along’ meant to take one’s time in a leisurely fashion. Not so! Well done!
    My COD was Navelwort (pennywort) Umbilicus rupestris.

  14. 14 minutes with LOI FLEURON the only unknown and taking a minute or two to construct. I tell a lie, I hadn’t heard of NAVELWORT either but the crossers made that clear. An EXPRESS DELIVERY from HERMES comes here most days so the messenger has turned from obscure to a write-in. COD to GOLDEN HANDSHAKE, although it’s usual meaning is “ Honour the NDA and bugger off quietly.” Mondayish but nicely constructed. Thank you V and setter.
  15. in the wilds,
    And starve together, dear, in Childs.

    After trying a ‘wort’ on the NHO plant and constructing the NHO Fleuron despite cash=Euro being a bit singular, I started not to enjoy this.
    I did like ‘State of French uniform’ however.
    15 mins. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  16. Solved by EXPRESS DELIVERY
    (That’s UNDERSTATEMENT from me)
    INSIGHT hardly expected,
    (Well, FLUERON excepted)
    “Make it harder!” they cried EARNESTLY
  17. 20 mins PB. Golden hello with 12 ac FOI. Last Fleuron. Not too long studying my navelwort, wort comes in a lot of flora. Heathy is interesting. Ted’s Cabinet perhaps?
  18. 29 mins. Finished in the NE corner with the unknown FLEURON and then YONKERS (heard of) having finally got CHARDONNAY which for some reason took a while to see despite having had a rather nice Pouilly-Loché for lunch yesterday.

    I liked EXPRESS DELIVERY. Very enjoyable.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  19. 7m on the nose. Straightforward but a smattering of less-than-familiar words to slow things down a bit.
    I thought a GOLDEN HANDSHAKE was a signing-on bonus, so a reward for just taking the job rather than service. Apparently not.
    I will always associate YONKERS with Death of a Salesman: the place Willy only just gets past.
      1. I would have said the HANDSHAKE is what you get when you arrive, HANDCUFFS are an incentive to stay, and a PARACHUTE is compensation for being booted. All the dictionaries disagree with me on the first though.
  20. Two poems for the price of one, but both with same typo … which was nearly my downfall as biffed CHEVRON initially, making the Factory unfathomable. Almost sub-10 “double” with the QC (3:57) so fairly plain sailing today. Didn’t have to gaze too long at the WORT to find most likely candidate. Thx to blogger and setter.
  21. 10:36 Held up by GRAYNESS for 14A which made OVERSUBSCRIBED hard to see. DNK NAVELWORT or FLEURON and failed to parse DUNGEON, but then I find I didn’t know what an importuner was, let alone dun as a noun. I liked the hidden HERMES.

    Edited at 2021-11-15 09:16 am (UTC)

  22. Didn’t know dun, but DUNGEON couldn’t have been anything else. Also had to trust the wordplay for BYRE and FLEURON, and for some reason chary meaning cautious has never quite sunk in, which made me hesitate over CHARDONNAY for a while. No real problems otherwise.

    FOI Iona
    LOI Fleuron
    COD Express delivery

  23. 11 minutes for a new PB, with FLEURON last in, unknown but sorted from wordplay.

    So YONKERS is a real city not a made up nickname for a place, I gather.

  24. Is the setting for Hello Dolly. I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that and will thank me for reminding you of the song. 12.53
    1. Thankfully I am ignorant of all musicals except Salad Days, which my mother used to play interminably on the piano; even Hello Dolly. Was that Louis Armstrong? I still have an earworm from watching an ABBA biopic last night.
      I see Yonkers is a suburb of NYC now, and name is of Dutch origin, although it sounded like an exclamation. Yikes! Yonkers!
            1. That must have been the production I saw at Richmond (Surrey) in 1995 prior to transfer to the WE, with Kit & the Widow and directed by Ned Sherrin. It was camped up beyond belief (as if it needed it!) and enormous fun, but I couldn’t help feeling it was attempting to add a layer of satire and/or pastiche to a show that had already both pushed to their limits. In the show’s day (early 1950’s) people took it all at face value and enjoyed the apparent innocence of a time that had not yet quite passed.

              Edited at 2021-11-15 02:57 pm (UTC)

      1. Favourite musical is: “All That Jazz”. Whose storyline is: a musical producer dies of a heart attack, but as if in an LSD flashback. Just reminded of it these past few days… check check check … Saturday’s blog title ‘Everything old is new again
  25. At 8:35 I had 5d and 11a still to do, but ground to a crawl. Eventually saw REFINERY and FLEURON(NHO) and did a fleeting proof read, which obviously failed, submitting at 10:33 only to find a pink square where my fat finger had put DEASONAL. Drat! Thanks setter and Vinyl.
  26. 12′ and a bit, thought there were some non-Mondayish words. Hard to believe HEATHY is a word.

    Thanks vinyl and setter.

  27. Very Mondayish. Almost a PB but FLEURON and NAVELWORT gave me pause. The later sounds like a Harry Potter character. Somehow, I can’t imagine the one-time prime minster ever being referred to as HEATHY

    Not much time for puzzling at present. Visiting in-laws in BLairgowrie last week and off to London to visit daughters tomorrow. For me, travel always seems to broaden the waistline more than the mind.

    Thanks to Vinyl and the setter.


    1. I had no idea about the floral things but I did know them as the little puff pastry crescents that are used to garnish sole Dieppoise when I can be bothered to make it.
      1. I had to look up Sole Dieppoise -it looks very nice, but I can see why one might not be bothered.
  28. At 19d I shoved in SHINGLE having half read the clue, (Hotel in lone) which left me wondering how the EMPRESS BERIBERI related to the clue at 21a!
    1. is alive and bilious and living in Fernando Po, according to ‘Our Man in Port Harcourt’.

      Edited at 2021-11-15 02:49 pm (UTC)

  29. 22 minutes, having spent two minutes on HEATHY, not believing that it could possibly be a word and eventually succumbing to aids, only to discover that yes it was, and in my bewilderment over it all failing to understand how the clue worked, which was easy really. Never knew what a fleuron was — in fact I still don’t really — but it had to be.
  30. 12:58. A rare excursion into sub-teen territory in spite of the unknown but very gettable FLEURON. I had forgotten about the debt-collector type of DUN as well but it didn’t slow me down.
  31. foray into the sub-15 club for me, and nearly a second ever sub-10, had not the NHO FLEURON taken a while to construct.


  32. ….FLEURON, I flew through this. I wondered if crossing HERMES and EXPRESS DELIVERY was deliberate.

    TIME 5:58

  33. Sometimes when I spend Monday morning completing the Listener the regular crossword suffers as my brain over-complicates the clues. But this was indeed a gentle and undemanding piece of work. The clocked ticked over to 10.01 as I put in the last letter, so I decided to check properly rather than whack in a sub 10. So I can confirm it takes 40 seconds to do a proper check, and even then I omitted to work out the (hidden! again! wordplay for HERMES. Round here, HERMES is either a ridiculously expensive fashion accessory or a (product placement alert) delivery and courier service, so I thought that second would do if a bit feeble as a clue.
    The Listener, by the way, as a bit of a cracker.
    1. I had a look at the Listener but it seemed like one of those that just have too many moving parts. Maybe I’ll give it another go.
      1. It certainly has moving parts: you may need a second print of the grid. I was daunted by the jumbled entries, but once you get the quotation, googlable from the across entries, that resolves as the thematic items appear.
  34. Not bad, as I seized up briefly before NAVELWORT appeared, and I cursed myself for being so dumb for not seeing the WORT bit. After that, I discovered that I had missed reading most of the easy clues, and went from zero to hero in 4 minutes.
  35. An easy Monday with lots of biffing opportunities – I thought I might be on for a PB but came in about half a minute slower than that, finishing on the unknown FLEURON.
  36. Another day making it about 75% of the way through before grinding to halt.

    FLEURON – NHO, and got myself in a fine tizzy trying to figure it out
    14ac – not come across NESS=HEAD before, can anyone explain?
    23ac – NHO Importuner before, but I see it’s been explained above already
    24ac – MAE for WEST seems obvious in retrospect
    4dn – why is Erica HEATHY?

  37. ‘Heathy’ according to Chambers means ‘abounding with heath’, whatever that means, and one of the definitions of heath is of any shrub of genus Erica. ‘Ness’ is defined as ‘a headland’ — you see it in place names like Orford Ness and Stromness.
  38. I realised there would be some quick times today as I completed this correctly 7 or 8 minutes faster than I’ve ever managed previously. A Bob Beaman moment for me. It feels great now but having reduced my pb by so much in one step it could be a very long time before I get near to it again.

    NHO navelwort or fleuron but throughout the wordplay was pretty straightforward.

    Thanks to the setter for a gentle start to the week and to our blogger.

  39. Good progress on this gentle week-opener for 13 mins or so, took the remaining 5 mins or so to unlock the five remaining in the NE (already had OVERSUBSCRIBED and NORMA in place) — in order YONKERS, CHARDONNAY, REFINERY, FLEURON and finally the less-than-satisfying HEATHY.

    As with others, FLEURON was unknown as was DUN. No eyebrow was raised over the spelling of EON.

  40. Was hoping for an under-tenner but it was not to be. Fleuron comes easier to French-speakers because it is a commonish word, meaning flagship, pride and joy, cream of the crop kind of thing. Navelwort was a guess. Yonkers I’d heard of but could not have placed on the map. Simple Monday fare for the most part, but plenty of fun.
  41. 11.32. This was something of a sprint for most of the way. I dithered slightly over the unknown fleuron until all the checkers were in. For some reason I had put maestri which meant a delay over LOI, the not particularly difficult spyhole, until the error had been corrected.
  42. Good Monday stuff. Like nearly everyone else, I didn’t know FLEURON but it was one of those clearly-clued unknowns that doesn’t worry you when you press Submit.
  43. Sub-30 minutes, comfortably, which is quick for me. Navelwort, Punic and Fleuron (LOI) were all new to me, but all gettable clues, so no real holdups. Thanks both.
  44. Could be a personal best. I’ve done less than 8 mins before but not sure of my exact previous best time. So I will claim it as this. Yay!
  45. I normally take over an hour to complete a 15×15 so was amazed to finish this in a PB of 14.51. Many thanks to the setter. Simon

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