Times 28,157: Quaerere Verum, Ire XC Milia Passuum Occidens

Now this is the stuff! A really good Friday puzzle I thought, despite one piece of wilful obscurity – you know I’m usually all for wilful obscurity in everything, but one must draw the line at 7dn, and its inclusion of a little known university that even after much Googling I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of before. I jest of course. The two clues in the third row were my FOI and SOI, and 6dn crossing it my LOI as I saw it must be a fish and bunged it in unparsed like the hell-for-leather seat-of-the-pants solver I am.

I really liked: 15ac “being in the sun”; the “behind parking place” in 26ac; “was overpromoted in East End” at 16dn; 22dn and 23dn (so relevant to my interests); WOD to the lovely UMPTEENTH and COD to 21ac which was brilliant construction and also provoked fond memories of boozing it up under the aegis of Shane MacGowan on the Archway Road. A great puzzle with tons of things in it to enjoy, sadly to be my last when a petition from Fenland alumni outraged at my Oxonian cheek makes it untenable for vinyl1 to keep me on the (pay-free) payroll.

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

1 Express plugs the most popular acts? (12)
SHOWSTOPPERS – SHOW [express] + STOPPERS [plugs]
9 Spaniard possibly with choice of exits? (5)
DIEGO – DIE and GO are two ways to “exit”. FOI
10 University disco due to move to shed? (9)
DECIDUOUS – (U DISCO DUE*). MER at the definition, but “deciduous teeth” are “teeth to shed” I guess
11 One at centre of singing group often affected by criticism (8)
CAMPFIRE – CAMP [affected] by FIRE [criticism]
12 UN chap in need of broadcasting corporation (6)
PAUNCH – (UN CHAP*). Corporation as in tum
13 Works to defend queries again? (8)
15 Being in the sun before noon, and time around it (4-2)
AMEN-RA – A.M. [before noon] + ERA [time] around N(oon)
17 Doctor accepting criticism with a sort of spirit (6)
GRAPPA – G.P. accepting RAP with A
18 Party night in German province (8)
CONNACHT – CON(servative) NACHT [German for “night”] to get this Irish province
20 Masseur, one with several pairs of hands? (6)
RUBBER – or you have several hands of cards in a bridge rubber
21 Mistake, second bachelor turning to lass for dance (8)
24 Moving little ceremony’s ending with celebrity touring garden (9)
SEDENTARY – {ceremon}Y, with STAR “touring” EDEN
25 I finished with an advantage (3-2)
ONE-UP – ONE [I] + UP [finished]
26 Behind parking place, see grassy area? (12)
CHESTERFIELD – CHESTER has a cathedral (in which I was regularly, though not enthusiastically, to be found during my teenage years) and is thus presumably an episcopal see; plus FIELD [grassy area]. A place for parking one’s behind
1 Wolf chewed stuff up, with observer standing around (7)
SEDUCER – reversed CUD in the middle of SEER
2 Never do move Derby Day, somehow (4,2,4,4)
3 Make fun disc of flower shows (5)
SCOFF – hidden in {di}SC OF F{lower}
4 Stubborn, he died earlier than expected crossing desert (8)
OBDURATE – OB [short for “obiit”, he died], before DUE [expected] “crossing” RAT [desert, militarily]
5 Still time for old northerner (4)
PICT – PIC [still (image)] + T
6 Fish, after swallowing maiden, left people alone mostly (3,6)
RED SALMON – REDS [left people] + ALON{e}, “swallowing” M
7 Drinking with army officer on ecstasy in part of Cambridge (7,7)
DOWNING COLLEGE – DOWNING [drinking] + COL{onel} + LEG [on] + E(cstasy)
8 Since Thursday yours truly’s laid up — with this? (6)
ASTHMA – AS [since] + TH(ursday) + AM [yours truly is] reversed, semi-&lit. Not 100% sure that “yours truly’s” should be cluing AM as opposed to I AM, but it’s a charming clue anyway
14 Latest of many met up, then dispersed (9)
16 Emblem, behold, was overpromoted in East End? (8)
LOGOTYPE – LO! [behold!] + GOT ‘YPE
17 Loud flipping kid I order to be quiet (6)
GARISH – reversed RAG [kid] + I + SH! [be quiet!]
19 Marched from military store, rounding men up (7)
TROOPED – DEPOT “rounding” O.R., the whole reversed
22 Sound, perhaps, if no longer fancy? (2,3)
GO OFF – clever double def. As in “the alarm went off” and “I’ve really gone off her since I discovered she went to Downing College”
23 Yet fail with quiz question? (4)
PASS – cryptic def. “Pass” is the opposite of “fail”, but a pass is a failure to answer a quiz question, as I know from bitter experience dozens of times a week

65 comments on “Times 28,157: Quaerere Verum, Ire XC Milia Passuum Occidens”

  1. This was a struggle, taking me over twice my average time. FOI PAUNCH, followed by 2d, the only clues that I solved immediately I read the clue. I had MERs at ‘to shed’ and AM(MA) for “yours truly’s”. And I had trouble with AMEN-RA, since I thought it was spelled AMON. (ODE has Amon as a variant of Amun, no mention of Amen.) Like V, I liked ‘behind parking place’–which only dawned on me once I thought of CHESTER–and ‘being in the sun’; also OBDURATE. A real sense of accomplishment in finishing this one.
  2. Another writing in AMON-RA, then using the cryptic to correct it. Vague idea this Amon is the same as the end part of Tutankhamen (sic) so happy enough with the E. Would have spelled the Irish place Connaught, without being certain if it existed or if I’d invented it. Heard of Cambridge(!) but not Downing College, took a minute to see ON=LEG but generously clued.
    Overall a puzzle testing the edges of my GK, but got there.
    Liked the behind parking place best of all.
  3. Thought this was brilliant, so pleased to come here and find that the great man concurred.

    It was obvious at the start that it wouldn’t be a rapid solve, no Travis Head-style bagatelle. Just a matter of seeing off the new ball, picking off the occasional loose one and capitalising later in the session. Proper Test match solving.

    LOI CAMPFIRE took a while. I should know by now that when a full set of checkers seems impossible to fill, we’re probably dealing with a compound word.

    Too many great clues to mention. Thanks Verlaine and setter. And Pat Cummins.

    1. I like your analogy, and I had the same feeling. When my first in was RUBBER I mentally told myself not to panic and settled in for a long spell.
  4. Like Kevin this took (well) over twice my average time. This week has been mostly in the red zone on the snitch- so I’m certainly getting my money’s worth from the subscription. But if I went 90 miles west to seek the truth I’d be completely at sea. 52:01
    Thanks to the setter and Verlaine for today’s excellent contributions.
  5. All done and dusted in an hour but fell at the last….. what was 15ac all about!? AMEN-RA — looks like a prayer mat from IKEA’s catalogue 1995. This was wilful obscurity unlike 7dn DOWNING COLLEGE as seen often on University Challenge!

    FOI 5dn PICT


    COD 7dn DOWNING COLLEGE the word play was very clear.


    Initially I liked Playingfield for 25ac but CHESTERFIELD was Brillo!

    Agree with Lord Verlaine this was a fine puzzlement.

    Edited at 2021-12-10 07:42 am (UTC)

  6. This was great but hard. DOWNING COLLEGE went in quickly since my Dad went there, and it pretty much had to be a college since nothing else would be famous enough (King’s Parade?). CAMPFIRE took a ridiculous amount of time. AMEN-RA from wordplay. I didn’t know if CONNACHT was really a place, or where, but the wordplay didn’t leave any choice.
  7. Enjoyable; a little on the hard side without being impenetrable. AMEN-RA from wordplay plus, when deduced, a vague recollection that I have met it before. If it hadn’t intersected with the poorly clued 8dn I might have solved it a bit sooner. Shame about ‘yours truly / AM’ which let things down in my opinion.
  8. …and only because I kept reading “fail” as “fall.” That’s the worst font!

    Felt this was easier than a couple this week!

    Certainly had heard of Connaught, but took a minute to recognize CONNACHT. Ach!

    Had the same qualms about “AM” and “your’s truly.” It’s “your’s truly’s ‘is,'” no?

    Edited at 2021-12-10 08:52 pm (UTC)

  9. I think this might have been my first finish of the week, but I’m a bit under the weather following the extraction of a couple of wisdom teeth (I may never describe a puzzle as “like pulling teeth” ever again…) I had a lot of question marks in the margin, and wasn’t actually expecting to succeed after bunging in LOI 21 BOOGALOO unparsed, but as it turns out that wasn’t a SHOWSTOPPER.

    My interest/obsession with Victorian eccentrics helped with 15: the Edinburgh temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was named AMEN-RA, and with that spelling, happily.

  10. ….I biffed AMON RA without going back to check.
    Still, this was, as Verlaine has indicated, an excellent puzzle with so much to enjoy.
  11. To wither-any Garish plume will do!

    30 mins pre-brekker and a bit of fun with its jokey defs.
    ‘Pass’ is a quirky one. I couldn’t parse it, so thanks V. And setter.

  12. Good fun … worth it for ‘moving little ceremony’,’one at the centre of singing group often’ and ‘behind parking place’. Thanks all.
  13. 53 minutes, with BOOGALOO and then the unknown LOGOTYPE last to fall. I never made it down Archway Road apart from a trip to Highgate Cemetery. COD to CHESTERFIELD which I am sitting on now. I liked PASS too, or is it now a chestnut I’ve not picked up on? I wasn’t convinced by ASTHMA either although it is an abbreviation I’ve used myself in text messages. I found this hard to start and to finish but went well in the middle. Thank you V and setter.
      1. Yep.There are many others in there including George Eliot, Michael Faraday and Henry Moore along with many more modern names you’d know. Well worth a visit.
        1. I lived just up the road in Muswell hill. Never did visit the graveyard though. Perhaps I should have.
        2. Douglas Adams and his charming little pot of tribute pens (because he lamented never being able to find a working one when he needed it, surely a plight familiar to every solver) is there of course.
  14. 55 mins so certainly meaty enough for me. LOI AMEN-RA which I did not really know except the Ra sun god bit but it had to be.

    Like others, I really liked CHESTERFIELD and the clever SEDENTARY. BOOGALOO also a very cute clue.

    Thanks V and setter.

  15. 15:01. Tricky and most enjoyable. A smattering of unusual words but without yesterday’s sense of grappling with a setter from a completely alien culture, and fair wordplay throughout. I loved the quirky definitions already mentioned by others.
  16. First blog this week. Looking after visitor, little time for xword, sadly. Back to a great challenge, thanks. DNF – BOOGALOO, I’m not a dancer, plainly. (Ask my wife). My AMON RA was wrong as well. So 46 mins. wasted? No! Enjoyed it.
  17. Seems a reasonably good time when I look at leaderboard. Steady and enjoyable progress throughout, never really held up, but often taking a moment or several to justify what I thought might be the answer (and in some cases what might be the definition. DECIDUOUS = “to shed” seems far-fetched to me, but many of others were definitely smiley territory). Many thanks to blogger for great blog, and to setter for much entertainment.
  18. 32:58 Great stuff! FOI GRAPPA, LOI after staring at it in bafflement for nearly 5 minutes before I twigged what “second bachelor turning to lass” meant, the unknown BOOGALOO. I loved the “behind parking space”, but CAMPFIRE was another late in and my COD when I saw it. Thank-you V and witty setter.
  19. A very fine puzzle but I’m going to gripe about AMEN-RA, as the only version I know of it for sure is AMUN-RA, which entered believing V would sort out the parsing for me. I freely concede that I should have trusted the wordplay as given, but I still think the version arrived at is a third rate one, with AMUN and AMON being much preferred.
    A pity, as the inevitable pink spoiled my enjoyment of “behind parking place” “one at centre of singing group” and the fish satisfied with a maiden (a kraken, maybe?)
  20. My self seeded and rather beautiful ash tree is always (going) to shed its leaves in late autumn because it’s deciduous. I don’t have a problem with that (apart from what to do with the fallen ex-greenery littering the grass).
    1. 1. with chicken wire or old pallets, build a leaf bin, tucked somewhere unobtrusive
      2. sweep fallen leaves into it, each autumn
      3. The following autumn, use the leaf mould as a very fine mulch

      … and repeat. We have three lawns, and three bins

    2. I was going to say in my comment, but forgot, that deciduous is actually an adjective and not a verb therefore “shed” really doesn’t work?
      1. I think that’s the point of having “to” in the definition. It may be debatable whether that’s enough to make it an adjectival phrase, though that’s how I took it.
  21. Yes, liked this one though one or two blemishes I thought, such as Amen-Ra intead of Amun or Amon, and AM = yours truly’s.

    Liked several clues esp. the behind parking place.
    Am willing to fight anyone who calls Downing College obscure.

  22. Seems Ok to me, the ‘I’ is implicit.

    FOI was ONE-UP, which indicated a hard slog to come.

    Is verlaine retiring, or have I misread his humour (for the umpteenth time)?

    COD to CHESTERFIELD, no complaint on AMEN-RA, my only experience with GRAPPA was that it is horrible. And thanks to Joe Root.

    1. We shall see next week if I have been persuaded to un-retire by a counter-petition from the Old Oxonians…
  23. Just over the hour, and I looked up the fish since so many begin ‘red’. Lots of good stuff here: it seems that when the setter is really clever as with so many of the clues he/she gets away with infelicities like am = yours truly’s. The Boogaloo is just round the corner from me on Archway Road; never been in though. I’d always wondered what the word meant. Was never quite sure about “got ‘ype”.
  24. A couple of longish pauses to check the spelling. AMEN-RA like most others and as a former Londoner I naturally thought it was Connaught all these years. BOOGALOO has unfortunately acquired a much more sinister meaning lately as the term used by certain white supremacists to denote the second Civil War that they seem to want to incite. I recently re-read Raymond Chandler’s Long Goodbye in which the sofas seem to be either CHESTERFIELD’s or Davenports. 23.08
  25. ‘Back off Boogaloo’ was a single in 1972 from…..?
    This took me 22:13 minutes and had Friday written all over it. My COD was 10ac Deciduous with Chesterfield a close second.

    1. Had to look it up and I still can’t quite believe it…. Ringo Starr! Thanks for reminding me.
  26. Lovely stuff. Satisfying penny-drop moments all round, especially with the definitions of CHESTERFIELD and CAMPFIRE, and the all-round wordplay for BOOGALOO, which is a very satisfying word.
  27. 38:27 but pleased to finish, a first pass yielding RED SALMON and nacht else. I didn’t know the alternative spelling of Connaught but my German does stretch that far, if not much further. Lots of fun.
  28. 44 minutes, with wordplay helping to solve quite a few unknowns. Loved the CAMPFIRE, CHESTERFIELD and misleading SEDENTARY defs and the GOT ‘YPE bit of 16d.

    Just what the doctor ordered for a Friday.

  29. This morning I accidentally printed out two copies of 28,157. Once I had submitted the first, I then, knowing all the answers, filled in the grid in 3:03 minutes! At that speed Verlaine & Co. cannot possibly read the clues! Can they!?

    1. I’ve done something similar with The Independent. But being of great age it takes me much longer, about 6 minutes. That’s writing; I’ve noticed in his videos that V is a very quick touch-typist, so that makes a difference.
  30. ….and only when I grudgingly biffed GO OFF (thanks V !) did I manage to alpha-trawl my LOI.

    I particularly liked CAMPFIRE and SEDENTARY, but my COD was a LOL when the PDM finally arrived.

    TIME 15:09

  31. Phew. I’m glad I left that until after a late breakfast! SCOFF and DIEGO were first 2 in. ASTHMA and ????-RA were next, and AMEN arrived later from wordplay and RED SALMON which I biffed. CAMPFIRE, REDOUBTS and UMPTEENTH held me up for ages until they arrived like buses in a moment of inspiration. OVER MY DEAD BODY was very helpful, and allowed me to get SEDENTARY quite quickly, with a postulated EDEN for the garden. The SE caused me most trouble. I managed to parse the DOWNING and COL bit of 7d, but the rest of the college was biffed. My smattering of German helped with the unexpected spelling of CONNACHT. TROOPED and GO OFF provided the grassy bit of CHESTERFIELD(brilliant!) and a hesitant PASS, together with an alphabet trawl for the C, provided the, er, see. LOGOTYPE eventually surfaced and allowed me to get LOI, BOOGALOO. 53:05. Thanks setter and V.
  32. great stuff indeed, @Verlaine, and always worth a pop at that university in the village in the fens. If you are fired, I shall be too.
    About 35 minutes of pleasure at leisure, and had to check AMEN-RA after a hopeful entry from the wordplay. Didn’t know AMEN and RA became one.

    Connacht is closer to the Irish language name and therefore more often seen in Ireland, as I remember, but Connaught is also allowed.

    PASS was clever, but the Behind parking place got my vote for CoD.

  33. After my first spell looking at this, I had solved 12ac, paunch, and 8dn, asthma, but was convinced asthma must be wrong for the reasons everyone else has stated.
    Had another go later which took me up to 45 minutes with less than half completed. This was feeling like I had stepped back several years in solving terms.
    Settled down before cooking supper to have one more go, at which point the delightful chesterfield swam into view. That somehow got me onto the wavelength which enabled me to get close to a finish. Did not see boogaloo or campfire. Missed the hidden in 3dn because I was looking for something much more complicated like all the other clues.
    In many of the clues, having the answer enabled the wordplay to be understood. I thought it was supposed to be the other way round!
    It’s been a tough week. Let’s hope the setters are gentler with us until the holidays.
    Thanks to the setter for a tough and original puzzle and to Verlaine for his explanations (and put downs of Fenland College).
  34. A bit late I know, but I have just finished this without aids. LOI was PASS. POI was CHESTERFIELD -another vote for COD.
    Lots of good stuff; worth the effort.

  35. Completed in exactly an hour, lots to chew on in this. With a bit of dedication I did manage everything except for 26ac and 23, 16, and 22 down, for which I had NO ideas at all until I finally so that GO OFF would fit 22. Then LOGOTYPE (excellent clue!) and PASS followed, well, not too slowly and I finally biffed Chesterfield. Lots of super clues such as the ones for REDOUBTS, DIEGO and others. And yes, I love the word UMPTEENTH, too.
  36. 47.16. Very tough. I enjoyed the same nice touches as others but there was much torment along the way.
  37. With SHOWSTOPPERS, this puzzle was class
    There weRE DOUBTS that my solving would PASS
    At my time, you would SCOFF
    So I’m about to GO OFF
    And kick my OBDURATE brain up the arse
  38. Just getting around to Thursday and Friday’s puzzles as I’ve just finished my exams. Really lovely puzzle, and am indebted to Verlaine for helping me parse CHESTERFIELD.

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