Times 28,151: My 13dn is HELLraison

This was quick for a Friday but upon parsing I see it was mostly because the answers were too darn biffable: 10ac, 25ac, 4dn for instance all going straight in before I’d needed to appreciate their subtleties fully. The SE corner gave me by far the most pause, with 13dn being a good non-obvious anagram, 21dn being slightly lateral, and 29ac throwing me for a minute-long loop as recounted below. Plus I think 14dn is my COD with its cryptic contortions fully justified by the model lift-and-separate requirement of “horse’s stall”.

In short, nice one setter, and I shall even for forgive you for the inclusion of motorways and multiple rugger references, which would dampen my enthusiasm if encountered in a quiz, but never mind, they would almost certainly make topicaltim‘s day so swings and roundabouts. (The Times-for-the-Times Quizzing Juggernaut rolls on, incidentally: we seem to have managed to avoid relegation from Division 1 this season, much to all of our surprise!)

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

1 Welsh runner on return put away stuff (7)
TAFFETA – TAFF [Welsh runner = something that runs = river] + reversed ATE [put away]
5 Clubs twice invested in shabby old kit for assembly (7)
MECCANO – C C “invested” in MEAN O(ld). FOI, with great nostalgia
9 Place I quit to make money abroad (3)
LEU – L{i}EU. Romanian currency, not to be confused with the Bulgarian lev or the Albanian lek
10 Ignorant Oscar is abandoning state for sea (3-8)
ILL-INFORMED – ILLIN{o}{is} + FOR MED(iterranean)
11 Mediocre temp initially standing in for female domestic (8)
12 Addict tours centrepiece of church, one attracting lots of interest (6)
USURER – USER “tours” {ch}UR{ch}. That is monetary interest, not curiosity
15 Purchase beef after reduction (4)
16 Books in popular eastern landing place showing discrepancy (10)
INEQUALITY – LIT(erature) in IN E(astern) QUAY
18 Refurbish chapel a bit in established Order (10)
19 Emphatic type dismissed, caught (4)
BOLD – homophone of BOWLED. That’s type as in typeface
22 Hurried to complete minutes in no particular order (6)
RANDOM – RAN DO M [hurried | to complete | minutes]
23 It strains fellow traveller visiting satellite perhaps (8)
COLANDER – or CO-LANDER (on the moon?)
25 Poster impresses one Scottish golf club perhaps (7,4)
PLAYING CARD – PLACARD “impresses” YIN G(olf)
27 Tips of plant, Chinese camellia? (3)
TEA – {plan}T {chines}E {camelli}A, &lit
28 Appear expert on white horses? (7)
29 Significant space in medical speciality (7)
EMINENT – EM IN E.N.T. I wasted a lot of my solving time trying to work out which of VIDE or MINE was more likely to mean “space” before the penny smacked me in the chops
1 Bank job making an impact (7)
TELLING – double def
2 Writer‘s source? A stylish prison (8,3)
FOUNTAIN PEN – FOUNT [source] + A + IN [stylish] + PEN(itentiary). Thanks Jeremy for stopping me wondering aloud why a penitentiary was necessarily more stylish than a prison
3 One leaving country before fighter’s let in (6)
EMIGRE – ERE with MiG let in
4 Versatile player‘s ball game without wings (3-7)
5 A person of habit, male running kilometres (4)
MONK – M ON K [male | running | kilometres]. A person dressed in a habit, ofc
6 Peeved group of lawyers that joins supporters on pitch (8)
CROSSBAR – CROSS BAR [peeved | lawyers]. The supporters are the goalposts
7 Target section of north-south artery (3)
AIM – I think this is just a reference to A1(M) motorway sections, though I refuse to engage with motorway-based quiz questions and so I must do the same for crossword clues
8 Tidy Berliner article found in airport (7)
ORDERLY – DER found in (Paris) Orly
13 Does trainer broadcast a topic in metaphysics? (6,5)
14 “Very old Tom” superseding name in horse’s stall? (10)
17 Original claim a March girl’s put in for pottery (8)
MAJOLICA – (CLAIM*) with A JO (March from Little Women) put in
18 A forward’s hogging ball? That’s concerning (7)
APROPOS – A PROP’S “hogging” O
20 Quiet commissionaire misses nothing, given time (7)
DORMANT – DO{o}RMAN + T(ime)
21 Indian figurehead‘s three letters in a row (6)
24 Round some work up, nasty sort (4)
OGRE – O + reversed ERG
26 Look — one’s taken in by a conjuror ultimately (3)
AIR – I “taken in” by A {conjuro}R

86 comments on “Times 28,151: My 13dn is HELLraison”

    1. 50 Friday minutes for this absolute beauty.

      My FOI was 5ac MECCANO endless hours of British boyhood fun.

      LOI 29ac EVIDENT

      COD 19ac BOLD

      WOD 17dn MAJOLICA

      21ac GHANDI — well gheeki!

  1. I was interrupted by an earthquake (M5 something, although weaker where I am) and had a bit of trouble concentrating after watching the news. But in any case I would never have got PROP for ‘forward’. Do tellers tell?
    1. Hope everything OK after the quake. I can empathise, though the one we had here a few months ago was a bit of a damp squib. I had to look it up, but apparently tellers do tell = count, reckon, enumerate, or at least their calculators do it for them.
      1. We had “tell” with the sense of “count” not so long ago, if memory serves, in one of the puzzles it was my honor to blog.
    2. In Rugby a prop-forward is equivalent to a linebacker in American Football.
      I trust your collection of majolica survived the M5 and glad to hear you were unscathed.
      Please take care over in Osaka.
      1. Thanks; I didn’t mean to suggest that anything seriously seismic was going on chez moi. I used to watch “Antiques Road Show” I think it was called, where people would bring their stuff to have an expert assess its value, and I recall their pottery man telling a fellow that his majolica was worth a bundle. I knew the word somehow, had no idea how hideously ugly the thing could be.
  2. Wonderful. Except I had to give up on MAJOLICA having no idea who March girl was and assuming M is a sort of abbreviation for March. But I’d never heard of MAJOLICA (although maybe it’s been here before). I too was bemused at FOUNTAIN PEN having taken the FOUNTAIN as the source and the PEN as the prison and the stylish to be…err…no idea. I never did parse EMINENT, just assuming MINE was a very weak synonym for a mine. Also wondered if VIDE meant a space, since it’s close to void.

    Edited at 2021-12-03 02:20 am (UTC)

  3. No proper time given a few interruptions (= nodding off) but would have been about 75 minutes. Very satisfying to have everything solved in the end, with plenty of answers that needed a bit of thought to work out the proper parsing. I liked the ‘March girl’ in MAJOLICA (thanks to previous crosswords for the literary reference and “Bargain Hunt” for the def), the A+B+C wordplay for EMINENT, the ‘Very old Tom’ in EQUIVOCATE and the SURF ACE.

    Thanks to setter for an enjoyable Friday challenge and to Verlaine

  4. Opposite experience to our blogger: Taff as a river unknown, 13d and 14d went straight in, BOLD and PLAYING CARD took a while at the end – not least because I don’t speak Scottish. Not my favourite clue. Enjoyed the rest.
    COD Gandhi
  5. All but five answers in 24 minutes, but needed another 24 for the remainder. NHO MAJOLICA but worked it out once I’d understood ‘March girl’.
  6. Usual time. A gentle and enjoyable progression. For once, I seem to have both the vocab and to have spotted the devices quite quickly. No complaints. I’ll even forgive O for ball given there was a ‘?’
  7. …as famously remarked by Jo March. Reminds me once again of the current bizarre idea of ‘saving Christmas’, as though the incarnation hadn’t already happened.

    A good time today, but with EVIDENT 🙁

    Really liked BOLD. May I please put in an early plea to friends in Australia not to discuss the Ashes until we in the UK have had the chance to watch it at a reasonable hour?

    15′ 45″, but a DNF, thanks verlaine and setter.

    1. Rob, wouldn’t it be more practical to just avoid the blog (and the millions of other potential on-line spoilers) until you’re up to date with events in the cricket?
  8. Very on wavelength today, yielding a rare sub-30 Friday. Like V, many were biffed and then parsed post-entry, which is not a bad way to appreciate the setter’s art. Some nice nostalgia what with MECCANO, FOUNTAIN PEN and the A1(M) which I came to know well when shuttling from London to the greatest university in the world long before the M11 was thought of.

    Thank you setter and V.

        1. Kind of hoping your alma mater was a large spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces now!
  9. DNF. I think I would probably have put in MAJOLICA in desperation under competition conditions based purely on ‘girl’ and the least unlikely-looking combination of the other letters but I couldn’t bring myself to do it this morning.
  10. Managed to finish, albeit in 77 mins. Really struggled with a few; APROPOS, PLAYING CARD, EMINENT and MAJOLICA.

    Took a while to see RAISON D’ETRE too. those dratted apostrophes!

    I liked ALPHABETIC once I finally saw it.

    Thanks clever setter and V. Well done with the quizzing.

  11. 39 minutes. I found this tricky to finish. I spent time on EMINENT versus EVIDENT before plumping the right way. LOI was the PLAYING CARD. COD to SURFACE. LOUD was very clever, although I’ve just discovered that I sound the L in bowled but not bold. I constructed the unknown MAJOLICA hoping that I’d got the right March girl. Good puzzle. Thank you V and setter.
  12. Much delayed in the lower half, particularly by the clever GHANDI and EMINENT, the latter because (like V in at least that respect) I couldn’t work out what space to include in ENT. The clue for GANDHI worried me because I thought we might have strayed into an impossible random three letters in a word for row, and didn’t twig what an Indian figurehead might be. Much relief when Mahatma showed up.
    So 23.45, though I see I didn’t properly parse FOUNTAIN PEN.
  13. Gave it my best shot – which wasn’t quite enough…

    …having completed the last 3 puzzles successfully (which may be a record run for me) I was pretty determined to make it four (definitely a record) – and I’m long overdue for a Friday completion – if I ever had one, not 100% sure. So I decided to give this as much time as I needed, dipping in and out with multiple bites at the cherry. Unlike our esteemed blogger, I wasn’t dismayed by clues that were “too darn buffable” – otherwise I’d probably be another hour-plus.

    Starting with RANDOM, I battled my way through, only half-parsing quite a lot, COD was SURFACE because it raised a brief chuckle amidst the hard slog. NE corner fist complete section unlocked by MECCANO then sloooooow progress towards completion with LOI ÉMIGRÉ. Unfortunately my lit knowledge let me down, and I guessed MO for March girl, + anagrist best I could muster was CAMOMILA.

    Keepin’ alive the venerable Friday Fail tradition – thanks V and setter!

    1. You’re doing great at this crosswords lark Denise, keep it up. I look forward to being there to celebrate your maiden Friday victory with you 🙂
      1. Thanks V – appreciate your kind words of encouragement, I know that acquiring this sort of expertise isn’t going to happen in a few weeks (or indeed months). 3 completions, including a PB, made this a milestone week for me so I’m very happy, looking forward to further progress. Have a great weekend!
  14. I guess I’m not very well read
    As MAJOLICA not in my head
    I might give up on birds
    As my least favourite words
    And pick obscure china instead
  15. Was hopeful of a rare Friday solve, but well beaten by MAJOLICA. I figured DI would be our girl, hidden in a synonym for March.

    Also made a mess of PLAYING CARD, looking at IAN for one Scottish. And finally annoyed to miss SURFACE after thinking of waves, foam, spray but not surf.

    Liked GANDHI, but if the Mahatma spelt his name the way I always spell it, Ghandi, it would be neater.

    Another one worried by VIDE, which is “empty” in French and vide looked like a shoo-in as a heraldry term for a space in a quartered shield.


    1. Very sorry – you got there first on “vide” but I hadn’t yet read down to your comment when I saw Paul’s supra.
  16. Going through the clues to try and understand what was snagging my progress, I check TAFFETA in Lexico, and find (as I expected) “A fine lustrous silk or similar synthetic fabric with a crisp texture” How can this be a synonym for “stuff”? (Except insofar as any material of any sort is “stuff”)

    Am I misunderstanding this or was the definition really that loose? Thanks

    1. Taffeta IS stuff; it’s not a synonym but an example. If ‘taffeta’ had been used to clue STUFF, that would have been a dreaded DBE, but.
      1. Lexico goes so far as to define stuff as ‘woolen fabric, especially as distinct from silk, cotton, and linen’, so very specifially not TAFFETA.
        However this was a case where my ignorance helped me.
    2. I was quite expecting it to be material, but in Wiktionary I found the following:

      Usage notes
      The textile sense is increasingly specialized and sounds dated in everyday contexts. In the UK & Commonwealth it designates the cloth from which legal and academic gowns are made, except for the gowns of Queen’s/King’s/State Counsel, which are (often in contradistinction) made of silk.

      So you were right. Andyf

    3. Came here to get the explanation for this clue. Even after reading all the replies I still don’t get it.
      1. One not to think about too deeply I think. “stuff” can be fabric, “taffeta” is fabric, see that the wordplay matches, enter and move on.
    4. Also not convinced by the clue. Post-solve checked the dictionaries: stuff, not taffeta. Stuff seems to be material. O… K… But is that material in the sense of what clothes are made out of including wool silk cotton linen silk taffeta etc. Or does that mean material in the sense of “matter”?
      I can just about see it – and solved it without problem – but I think this clue doesn’t quite work. Could be convinced otherwise.
  17. 25.33. All going well till I hit the buffers in the SE corner. Eventually worked out eminent which quickly yielded Gandhi with my last two in being equivocate – my COD- and inequality.
    Struggled to grasp why colander was right except in the literal strainer sense and good to see even Verlaine seems a bit perplexed by the clue.

    Good end to the week and I hope my run continues for a while yet.
    Thx setter and blogger.

    1. I wasn’t perplexed by COLANDER so much as, you need to see that it can be CO-LANDER too and then not worry too much about whether the definition part is the best possible description of that, just shove it in and move on!
      1. A LANDER is of course specifically a ‘spacecraft designed to land on a planet or other body’ (Collins) so it’s not a huge stretch to extend that to the person landing in said lander on the moon.
  18. My heart sank as I went through the clues with nothing appearing out of the fog. Eventually I followed my “start at the bottom” strategy, as the setter might have run out of steam down there, and spotted TEA. DORMANT, EMINENT and RAISON D’ETRE soon followed and I was off. Loved EQUIVOCATE once I stopped messing around with equinoxes. It was the SW corner which gave me the most trouble, but APROPOS opened it up. I then managed to correctly separate golf and club, and the PLAYING CARD emerged. SURFACE was next and provided the OGRE and I was left with 17d. The capital M for March triggered thoughts of Little Women and Jo dropped in to provide our bit of pottery, which for once, I was familiar with. Nice puzzle. 29:55. Thanks setter and V.
  19. Very slow start but warmed up a bit as things went along. BOLD gave me the most trouble because I tend to blank on cricket and *o*d presents a lot of possibilities. For once I wasn’t thrown by the apostrophe in 13d and luckily wasn’t tempted by “vide” in 29a. Meant to tip the hat to the setter – good one. 22.44

    Edited at 2021-12-03 11:02 am (UTC)

  20. It’s not often that I find myself at odds with Times crossword homophones, but today is the dreaded BOLD, which I pronounce to match ‘bald’ rather than ‘bowled’. I believe it’s a Midlands thing, where I grew up. Still, I’d come across it before so it wasn’t too much of a hold-up.

    LOI was MAJOLICA, where having figured out the Little Women reference, it was a case of guessing the anagram for the remaining spots – fortunately I guessed right this time.

    Turns out I had no idea what metaphysics was, but the anagram came quickly enough.

  21. I really enjoyed this. Especially BOLD, GANDHI and EQUIVOCATE with the last getting COD – agreeing once again with our quizzing (quizzical??) blogger.
  22. 23:44. A manageable and enjoyable workout with mostly easy parsings, though I missed the Little Women reference in Majolica.

    Edited at 2021-12-03 11:38 am (UTC)

  23. Was going quite fast and I expected V to say that it was too easy, but as is so often the case these days, came to a halt. So I used aids for the prop = forward, and the playing card (shouldn’t have needed to) and all was well. Entered ’eminent’ reckoning that there was probably some sense in which mine = space. I thought the fountain pen was nice in retrospect: at the time I thought it was a rather fanciful CD, with the idea of fountains playing in a prison. 45 minutes.

    Edited at 2021-12-03 11:40 am (UTC)

  24. This was about my level for a Friday, until BOLD, which it had to be, but I had to come here to understand it. Which left MAJOLICA, which was an impossibility for me, as I had no idea about Jo (not my kind of literature) and NHO the pottery, so I had to use checkers. Clue for the monthly special, methinks.
  25. Highly colored Majolica ware derives from the island of Majorca, Spain. Also highly popular in Italy, and with Martha Stewart. My COD. I feel the visual arts are badly represented here in crosswordland. Time at 15 minutes dead.

    Edited at 2021-12-03 12:09 pm (UTC)

    1. In the days when men took snuff regularly they often stored the tobacco in MAJOLICA jars. How do I know – probably Georgette Heyer as usual…..
    2. The only reason I knew MAJOLICA was that I used to visit Mallorca frequently and there was a big store in our local village that sold it.
  26. As our blogger has correctly guessed, I noticed a lot of sport in today’s puzzle, which is absolutely fine by me. And with quizzing in mind, MAJOLICA came up in a quiz as recently as last Sunday, when one of my team-mates pulled it out of the air to get us a point, so that was also fresh in my mind, even if the knowledge is vicarious. Had the same hestitancy over EMINENT / EVIDENT and picked the right one without realising why until I came here. Oh well, like many sports, crosswords are a results business, and the lads rode their luck and got the job done today.
  27. Evidently Chickentown! Bloody hell! Pardon my French (Vide) With apologies to John Cooper Clarke.
    22mins with the evident error.
  28. are my forays into Friday’s 15×15, being faint of heart as I am.

    Enjoyed this though, and made a decent enough fist of it until stalling a bit on the last couple. PLAYING CARD took an alpha trawl all the way to L and then to Y — very very dim. Alpha trawl also for INTERIOR, again, not a difficult clue.

    MAJOLICA from watching antiques roadshow, not really my taste, but helpful, as JO March was NHO. I did wonder about TAFFETA = stuff.


  29. Most enjoyable.

    Like Verlaine I found the South East the trickiest area with GANDHI (COD) and EMINENT holding out for some time. At least I won’t need to struggle when spelling the former in future.

    Picasso had a thing about Ma Jolie and MAJOLICA which helped, as did recently having seeing the Little Women film.

    According to the BBC, FOUNTAIN PEN sales are on the rise.

    Thanks to Verlaine and the setter.

    1. How else would you annotate your vinyl record collection except with a fountain pen? The reactionary old ways are the best.
      1. I was told that a gentleman should always use a fountain pen to sign his name, but I find it irritates the hell out of delivery people with their little electronic receipt pads.
  30. Too many biffs here — FOUNTAIN PEN (simply thought FOUNTAIN instead of FOUNT for source); ILL-INFORMED (got the sea bit); EMINENT (shrugged about space = MINE which turned out to be a load of cods anyway)

    LEU — bit of a punt though thought I’d seen it before somewhere — PLACE = lieu didn’t occur to me.

    PLAYING CARD took ages to spot as I’d thought the second word might be IRON — changed only when I thought of The Big Yin and saw exactly what else a ‘club’ is.

    MAJOLICA — saw the anag and the March girl very quickly. Just didn’t know that it was china.

    I didn’t really get the topic in metaphysics clue but see it now — not my favourite.

  31. 18.22. I made a decent fist of this, aided no doubt by the relatively high biff-ability of several answers as mentioned by the blogger. This led to a tendency to identify the solution from definition then work back to crack the parsing, with only playing card eluding my parsing while solving. So a nice puzzle but overall it gave me a less satisfying solving experience than when you crack the clue by approaching it simultaneously from the two ends of word play and definition.
  32. ….if you have a beef with someone’s argument, you might gainsay it — which buggered up 15A despite missing out on any typos. Took me 3 alpha trawls to see my LOI, and I was damnably slow all round.

    TIME 14:00 with one error.

  33. About 45 minutes, but like many above I was stuffed by 17d. Very poor clue in a daily cryptic in my opinion. Pick a pretty obscure word with two different spellings, clue it with an insert in a jumble of CLAIM, all but one of the letters of which are unchecked, giving various possibilities if you don’t know the word. I don’t why the Times cryptic is so wedded to Little Women either. Only a setter who wants to trip solvers up at the finishing line sets a clue like that.
    1. There was a time decades ago when the crossword seemed to be wedded to Barchester Towers, about which I know next to nothing. Little Women does seem to come up a lot but I’ve never read it.
    2. If you haven’t read Little Women (as I’m sure most of us actually haven’t) SURELY you must at least have run across a screen adaptation. There was a Greta Gerwig one recently that did good business I believe…
  34. Crawled to a finish in 40 minutes, sleepy after a muddy game of golf, only to find I had one wrong – plumped for EVIDENT for 29a. Also had Mahatma spelt GHANDI for a while which slowed down the SE corner muchly. Thanks V for explaining 29a and the YIN Scottish thing.
      1. Pip, every two or three days I am logged out by LJ. Never figured out how to solve it.
  35. 14:24 late this afternoon. A good time for me for a Friday, although I see the SNITCH is at the top end of “moderate” right now, so perhaps gentler fare than normal for the final working day of the week.
    As yesterday, experienced a sluggish start and then suddenly picked up speed. Solving 16 ac “inequality”, once I’d decided that the landing place in question could be “quay”, then opened up the SE corner.
    Have to confess that I got 29 ac “eminent” for the wrong reasons, having convinced myself that “mine” could mean space , obviously thinking of an open-cast mine. Anyway thanks to V for the illumination.
    I enjoyed many of the clues during the process of solving and then savouring them some more during a re-read after completion — “Ill informed”, “bold”, “playing card” and “gandhi” to mention but a few.
    Thanks to V as ever for the informative blog and to setter for rounding off what has been an enjoyable week of puzzling.
  36. BOLD was very hard, because cricket. And then there was the “forward” in APROPOS.
    SURFACE was one of my last in, and very cool.
    Today’s new word discovered thru wordplay: MAJOLICA.
    I’d pick EQUIVOCATE as my COD too, unequivocally.

    Edited at 2021-12-03 08:31 pm (UTC)

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