Times 28173 – a tasty tester for the last Wednesday of 2021

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
What a good puzzle! A few interesting words, a bit of general knowledge (with a geographical flavour) and some witty clues. 15d was my last one in as the word that fitted was obvious, but it took a bit of thought to remember the connection to the author concerned. 12d gets my CoD award, not least because I was mixed up in European advertising for the Yugoslav Tourist Board for a while before things came to a sticky end in 1990. Those were interesting times. I should write a book about it.
Happy New Year one and all, let’s hope there is light at the end of this tunnel, I hate face masks.

1 Cooks taking requests from diners eg keep taking the tablets (7,6)
DOCTORS ORDERS – Doctors = cooks as in ‘cook the books’; orders = requests from diners. Your doctor might say ‘keep taking the tablets’, mine does (or would if I could get to see him).
8 Metal jacket of interrogator being worn (4)
IRON – IR = outside, jacket, of interrogator; ON = being worn.
9 Sweet paintings etc gallery put back in container (5,5)
TARTE TATIN – TIN = container; insert ART and TATE reversed. Delicious upside-down-cooked apple tart created by the Tatin sisters in their French hotel in 1880, allegedly accidentally.
10 Worried surgeon clasping cold sponge (8)
SCROUNGE – (SURGEON)* with C inserted.
11 Peacock: it goes flying around (6)
13 Where tester found parent snaffling page belonging to us? (4-6)
FOUR-POSTER – parent = FOSTER, as a verb; insert OUR and P. The canopy over such a bed.
16 Shaft ending in channel secured by tool (4)
AXLE – L (end of channel) inside AXE = tool.
17 Difference in body having struck head (4)
TIFF – STIFF = body, loses its S.
18 Country where some litter scattered (5-5)
TIMOR-LESTE – (SOME LITTER)*. Small island country in Asia, the eastern half of Timor. Timor or timur means east in Malay, and L’este means east in Portuguese, so the name of the country means ‘east-east’, kind of tautology in two languages. Are there other examples of this?
20 Warning about British prince (6)
ALBERT – ALERT around B for British; Prince as in Victoria and Albert.
22 Wrecked, came to (8)
TOTALLED – very nice double definition.
24 Bird in cage: crime considering that won’t open (7,3)
BATTERY HEN – BATTERY is a crime; (T)HEN = considering, lose the T.
26 Communist march (4)
TROT – double definition.
27 Gripped by film, therapist struck by western (6-7)
SHRINK-WRAPPED – SHRINK = therapist, W = west, RAPPED = struck.

1 Controlling minister, one punching face (11)
2 Great runner has run off after felon (5)
CONGO – CON = felon, GO = run off.
3 Pair of decisions favouring bowler confirmed (3-3-3)
OUT-AND-OUT – in cricket, ‘out’ and ‘out’ mean the umpire has raised his finger twice and the bowler has taken two wickets. Out-and-out as in ‘Australia are out-and-out favourites to win the Ashes’. Yeah, sadly true.
4 Too much womaniser of course ultimately breaking hearts, say? (7)
SURFEIT – R, F, E, = last letters of ‘womaniser of course’; insert into SUIT = hearts, say.
5 On twenty-four hours earlier, old magistrate (5)
REEVE – RE (on) EVE (day before).
6 Develop complex (9)
ELABORATE – double definition.
7 Runner quietly failing to jump (3)
SKI – SKIP = jump, lose the P for quietly.
12 Flash Croatian deputy? (5,6)
SPLIT SECOND – A second-in-command from Split would be a Croatian deputy. I’ve been to Split, it’s a nice place, but then it was in Yugoslavia.
14 Judge and reader glower? (9)
REFLECTOR – REF = judge, Lector = reader.
15 Hope setting sun inspires girl visiting university (9)
RURITANIA – RA (Egyptian sun-god, or the sun to ancient Egyptians) into which insert UNI into which insert RITA a girl.
R(U(RITA)NI)A.  Fictional country in Eastern Europe, setting for the novels of Anthony HOPE, such as The Prisoner of Zenda.
19 Book, far from brilliant, cut (7)
MATTHEW – MATT (not glossy, far from brilliant), HEW (cut).
21 Cycle round capital of Italy — or somewhere to the north (5)
TURIN – I inside TURN. City in north of Italy.
23 Exhilarated seeing books on the top shelf? (3,2)
LIT UP – literature up high on the top shelf.
25 Some fashionistas smoke dope (3)
ASS – hidden word.

60 comments on “Times 28173 – a tasty tester for the last Wednesday of 2021”

  1. I was running overtime, and getting worried with 4 clues remaining, when finally ‘cut’ suggested HEW; the M gave me TIMOR-LESTE (I’d had the anagrist, couldn’t think of a country), the R_R gave me RURITANIA, and the H_N gave me BATTERY HEN, all in about one minute. Luckily we had ‘tester’ recently, either as the solution or as part of the clue. I liked CAME TO and SPLIT SECOND.
  2. Well I was idly watching the Ashes yesterday, went down to make a cup of tea, and by the time I came up again there were three further wickets down.

    I took a while to find (S)TIFF here. At first I had mentally pencilled in RIFT for another kind of difference (putatively (D)RIFT where a drift is a body of opinion, or snow).

  3. wikipedia has a page on it (I’d link it, but then I’d be spam); England has some very redundant place names:
    – Lake Semerwater = lake lake lake water
    – Ouseburn River = river river river
    – Torpenhow hill = hill hill hill hill

    Today’s crossword took me a while for some reason – 23m.

    Edited at 2021-12-29 02:58 am (UTC)

      1. Torpenhow Hill is four different languages if you count Old English, Old Norse, Old Welsh and modern English as different. But it is also probably something made up by a modern-day prankster.
        1. The Welsh are quite fond of inventing new words, like Popty Ping for microwave, but the exigencies of the language dictate that someone, or some body, must determine whether the word is masculine or feminine. That’s why the Welsh invented committees.
      2. I think River Avon is the most well known. River in English and Welsh. Lake Nyasa is another but I’m not sure of the second language. (Swahili?)It means Lake Lake.
  4. Terrific challenge, which l managed in a few minutes over the hour.

    FOI 25dn ASS



    WOD 15dn RURITANIA and now the contentious bit — writer John Quarrington argues that Anthony Booth did not write ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’. He contends it was written by E Phillips Oppenheim, which seems quite plausible. The story was based on the affair between the Duke of Clarence and Thomas Tapling at Belvoir — Rutland was the inspiration for Ruritania.

    12dn reminded me of the time I had a tooth extracted in SPLIT In 1972! Ouch!

  5. I neglected to note my starting time but I think I finished this around my target half-hour.

    I was delayed a little, never having heard of TIMOR-LESTE but eventually with the checkers in place I was able to spot TIMOR and guess LESTE as the only possible arrangement of the remaining anagrist. I also failed to parse RURITANIA – not that I tried very hard – having taken RITA as ‘girl visiting university’ whilst thinking that ‘visiting’ wasn’t quite right in that context.

    Edited at 2021-12-29 05:27 am (UTC)

  6. 30 minutes. Delayed in the NE by first confidently entering “hole” for AXLE which was therefore my LOI. Enjoyed the ‘Croatian deputy?’ wordplay for SPLIT SECOND and the misdirection in the surface and ‘Hope setting’ def for RURITANIA.
  7. All dressed in his best, quite a swell
    He’d a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle;
    The finest that Woolworth’s could sell

    30 mins pre-brekker. I liked the Hope setting, but took ages over Reflector having initially discounted Ref due to failing the alpha-trawl for -I-F = difference.
    Got there in the end.
    Thanks setter and Pip.

  8. 29 minutes with LOI TIFF. I just guessed that a tester must some part of a FOUR-POSTER bed. I liked SPLIT-SECOND but COD to RURITANIA for the Hope it gave. I suspect DOCTOR’S ORDERS would be to lose the five pounds put on in the last five days. Tatty tart’s about the only thing I haven’t eaten. Decent puzzle.Thank you Pip and setter.
  9. I enjoyed this puzzle. 35 mins. FOI DOCTORS ORDERS (always a good start when 1ac goes in quickly) and flowed from there. Held up a little by last two in, DIRECTORIAL and TOTALLED.


    When I lived in Belize Park, London, in the early eighties,Tony Booth was often to be seen drinking in, what was then known as, the Scottish pub up the road. I well remember Till Death us Do Part. Very unPC!

    Edited at 2021-12-29 08:38 am (UTC)

    1. Booth’s character’s name was ‘Mike Rawlins’, a fact unknown to most viewers as Alf always referred to him as the ‘Scass git’, or worse.
      1. Yep, it sure is oops didn’t see the spelling mistake sorry

        Edited at 2021-12-29 10:50 pm (UTC)

  10. …the puzzle was ruined by an error. I KNOW I typed RURITANIA (thanks for the explanation, Pip) but it appeared in the final version as RURUTANIA.
    SPLIT SECOND was my favourite.
    In the (Ashes) circumstances, 3d was rather unnecessary, I feel!
  11. 17:36 DNK my LOI, the other name for EAST TIMOR, but the letters had to be in that order. Some witty clues. SHRINK-WRAPPED was my favourite. Thanks Pip and setter.
  12. The clock says just over 30 minutes, but a stream of interruptions inflated that time more than somewhat, and rather spoiled the enjoyment of a fine puzzle.
    I had forgotten that a tester was a bed, and took a while to put P and OUR in the right order. RURITANIA had fine wordplay which I missed completely, to the extent that when I read Pip’s explanation I thought he’d seen a different clue to me!
    SPLIT SECOND a narrow winner out of the bunch.
    TIFF took a while to replace my tentative (T)ORSO.
    Is there a chance that the OUT, OUT AND OUT again England XI can be excused further play on DOCTOR’S ORDERS? Another, mysterious Covid variant perhaps?
  13. DNF
    On my own here, I think, in finding this impenetrable. Bottom half was just too much. Then = considering? NHO tester. Just couldn’t see tiff or totalled. And so on. Not my day 🙁
    Thanks, pip.

    Edited at 2021-12-29 10:22 am (UTC)

    1. I think it’s actually ‘when’. See Collins: ‘how did you pass the exam when you’d not worked for it?’
  14. 14:36. A really enjoyable puzzle: witty clues that required plenty of thought and application without excessive resort to obscurity. Having said that I’m glad ‘tester’ appeared recently, and I had no idea what was going on with RURITANIA.

    Edited at 2021-12-29 10:45 am (UTC)

  15. A tricky offering, which required a few leaps of faith and assembly of hopeful guesses at bits of wordplay based on crossers. I knew East Timor from a song that Vin Garbutt wrote about the December 75 invasion by the Indonesians led by Suharto, so was able to extrapolate to TIMOR L’ESTE. Like Kevin, a guess at HEW for cut, once I’d spotted SHRINK WRAPPED, led to MATTHEW. BATTERY HEN and LOI, RURITANIA, followed but although I correctly parsed the latter, the definition “Hope setting” went completely over my head. SKI, REEVE and TARTE TATIN set me off 36:53 earlier. Thanks setter and Pip.
  16. Lest I forget (except I always do) that apostrophe thing fools me every time so although TIMOR looked possible “leste” for a long time did not. The only time I slept in a FOUR-POSTER was in a place called Plaish in Shropshire and the house was so spooky I got very little sleep at all. Clever puzzle. EGOIST=peacock took me a very long time, as did RURITANIA (oh that Hope). 27.29
      1. So there isn’t! Well that’s how I explained it to myself at the time and I’m sticking with it.
  17. just shy of 16 minutes, but a careless reflectEr made a mess of that.

    I even had a mental note made to go back and reconfirm but just merrily pressed submit anyway without bothering.

    I blame the 4-day-weekend/ginfest that’s just happened.

  18. Once again Livejournal has lost my password. I haven’t lost or forgotten it. What IS the matter with the forum?

    I found this quite tricky after solving DOCTORS ORDERS as soon as I read he clue. I wasted some time trying to parse answers that I felt instinctively were right, such as FOUR-POSTER and RURITANIA. I never did understand the clue to RURITANIA. About 40 mintes in the end, but I felt I should have been quicker.
    COD to SHRINK-WRAPPED, which had me puzzled for some time. I thought it was going to be THERAPIST* in MIST.

  19. Cracking puzzle, with some lovely clues. 15d reminded me of a clue of mine from a long time ago: Land of Hope and Glory.

    Has anyone else had problems submitting in the last few days? Yesterday I had one letter disappearing when I tried to enter the next. Today and Monday it simply wouldn’t submit at first time of asking, though did so after I closed down and restarted.

    1. Last few months is more like it. Try clearing cache; it may help. Of course, the timer will continue ticking away while you do, but.
      1. I never solve on line so have no experience of this, but could you not clear the cache before you start?
  20. Nice crossword that took me 39 minutes. Never heard of Timor-Leste and had to check. MER at 14dn: surely if something glows then it provides the power for the glow inherently, not just by reflecting light from elsewhere? However, I expect the setter gets off the hook because of dictionaries somewhere.
  21. ….as I was down to 5 clues in the SE after 8 minutes, and gave up when I was no nearer 10 minutes later. I considered TIMOR-LESTE but rejected it as I’d heard of East Timor but not this version. Should have got MATTHEW, and TOTALLED, but couldn’t see SHRINK-WRAPPED or RURITANIA (to which I now award COD). A poor effort from me (again) — must do better.
  22. 35.44. An enjoyable solve although I really struggled at the end to get battery hen, tiff and reflector. Split second was a cracker but it came to me pretty quickly. Hope setting was probably my favourite, it had me scampering in entirely the wrong direction, trying to use a reversed sun as a container for a girl at university to get some kind of inspiration. Totalled was another good one.
  23. 16.59 . Going quite well until becalmed in the bottom sector. Eventually helped by dim memories of a couple of previous puzzles. First to make progress was shrink wrapped , after toying with string whipped for what seemed like an age. Then the A made me realise the Hope connection. Very crafty and my COD. LOI totalled , another clue where I went on a false initial trail to trollied!

    Thanks setter and blogger for a great crossword comprehensively explained.

  24. I believe Pendle Hill (where the witches fly) also means hill, hill, hill in three ages of English.
  25. Enjoyed this one and was feeling good — until I came here and realised that I’d entered “Factory Hen”. Inexcusable as it makes no sense at all.
    Can I please have half a point given that a Battery Hen is kind of a Factory Hen?
  26. LOI RURITANIA, and I didn’t know where to find the definition. Loved SPLIT SECOND too. SHRINK-WRAPPED was fun (I have a button somewhere, from the anti-psychiatry movement, that says “SHRINK RESISTANT”). I’m going to see if they have a TARTE TATIN at the new, pretty great French Tart Deli that opened up here in Brooklyn Heights a couple months ago. Raising a HEN in a BATTERY is indeed a “crime.”
  27. With a FACTORY HEN! My post Covid brain mush continues. Also somehow had SUAVEST instead of SURFEIT which made the TARTE impossible. I might go back and complete the crosswords I missed out on, maybe I need more practice.
  28. Never heard of Timor Leste if it’s past Truro then that explains it !
    Great puzzle , like the ” glower” clue

    30 earth minutes

  29. I note that the Like and Complain options are available on both pages of comments (cf the QC where they are only on the first page) and that Expanding collapsed messages no longer throws us onto a separate page.
  30. 57 minutes, a bit slow-going, though almost nothing really seemed that hard, except for my LOIs or more precisely LOsI: TIMOR-LESTE (which I had never heard of except that TIMOR seemed a reasonable start to the name of a country), RURITANIA and BATTERY HEN. The latter for a few moments also was FACTORY HEN until I realised that wouldn’t quite work, but it certainly describes what is going on in batteries. Glad I survived.
  31. Beyond 70%, not very enjoyable.

    NHO tester as summat to do with FOUR-POSTER.

    NHO TIMOR-LESTE and even thinking of TIMOR didn’t prompt LESTE.

    Never knew the provenance of RURITANIA but had lost heart by then.

    TIFF — didn’t get the definition.

    Roll on tomorrow.

  32. Got there in the end, doing it in between interruptions on a plane from New York to San Francisco a day late (having done the current crossword first). The “Hope location” thing went over my head but RURITANIA parsed so it had to be. Worked out TIMOR-LESTE from the anagrist (once I’d ruled out some weird TIROL country). Forgot all about testers but FOUR-POSTER parsed so in it went.

Comments are closed.