Times 28177 – Start the way you mean to go on

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A wrong guess at the Malagasy native did for me, in what was otherwise a very nice way to get the week going. Onwards and upwards…


1 Notice doctor cuddling new arrival (6)
ADVENT – N (new) in AD VET
4 Distort way fighter appears (8)
WARPLANE – WARP LANE; atypically, we have a literal appearing medially, rather than initially or finally
10 Mike and others argue about face of kroner that could be forged (9)
METALWORK – M (Mike – NATO alphabet) ET AL (and others) ROW reversed (argue about) K[rone]; alternatively, bung it in and move on
11 Track dog crossing river (5)
12 Token beer knocked back in old ship in Orkney, say (11)
ARCHIPELAGO – CHIP (token) ALE reversed (beer knocked back) in ARGO (Jason’s old ship); friends of mine live on Gairsay, the island with the lowest year-round population in the UK (2 people). Because the Royal Mail doesn’t honour its pledge of delivering to every domestic postal address in the UK, it pays the household instead and leaves the mail in a shed on the Mainland (the main island – not to be confused with Doon Sooth – Scotland)
14 Crack band with no name (3)
GAG – GA[n]G
15 Cast stand up for rubbish collector (7)
DUSTPAN – anagram* of STAND UP
17 Doctor works with unknown fluid problem (6)
19 Northern swimmer Jack sent round extract from Moby-Dick? (6)
BALEEN – reversal of N EEL AB; some love this book, but I think it’s rather a mess, in line with the first published review (from England, as it happens). That Melville was a very fine writer there can be little doubt, as his shorter works demonstrate.
21 New rock producer‘s refreshing vocal number (7)
VOLCANO – VOCAL* NO (number)
23 Organ needing repairs every so often (3)
EAR – [r]E[p]A[i]R[s]
24 Marshal Ney was ready for the first item in his diary? (3,5,3)
NEW YEARS DAY – NEY WAS READY* (marshal is the cunning anagram indicator)
26 Bloke in pub, backsliding — after this treatment? (5)
REHAB – HE in BAR all reversed
27 German city contracted one mate working for it? (9)
MUNICIPAL – MUNIC[h] I PAL; pretty much an all-in-one, I reckon
29 Is US aviation pioneer able to abandon British watersport? (8)
CANOEING – CAN [b]OEING; a bit contrived, no?
30 Grovel, offering punch and whiskey to wife (6)
KOWTOW – KO (knock-out punch) W (Whiskey in Nato alphabet) TO W; one of the few actions still allowed in Hong Kong without the perpetrator being arrested for subversion, sedition or collusion with foreign powers


1 In military, captain’s first — plus handsome escort (3,5)
ARM CANDY – C[aptain] AND (plus) IN ARMY; I have never knowingly been called this
2 Prophetic RC HQ ejects a nun finally (5)
3 PIN’s missing a zero (3)
NIL – N[a]IL
5 After a week minor perhaps gets bolshie (7)
AWKWARD – WARD (minor perhaps) after A WK; a favourite word of my father
6 Favourite staff all got up in gold, ready for OPEC? (11)
PETRODOLLAR – PET (favourite) ROD (staff) ALL reversed OR (heraldic gold); ready as in money
7 Obsessive is, say, pointing up a source of relief (9)
ANALGESIA – ANAL (obsessive) IS EG reversed A
8 Speech lauding record year under Brussels (6)
EULOGY – LOG Y follows EU (behemothic bureaucracy)
9 Spirit bottle regularly found in enclosure (6)
POTEEN – [b]O[t]T[l]E in PEN
13 Secure cheeky child the Spanish firework upset (11)
IMPREGNABLE – IMP (cheeky child – a frequenter of Crosswordland) followed by reversal of EL BANGER (the in Spanish and type of firework respectively)
16 Finish off looking round classy creature on bed (3,6)
SEA URCHIN – U (classy in the Cruciverbal Nancy Mitfordian sense) in SEARCHIN[g]
18 Overdraft in wobbly organisation’s a setback (4,4)
20 Converted cardinal hosts society correspondent (7)
NEWSMAN – S in NEWMAN; Henry Newman was an Anglican cleric who became a Roman Catholic
21 The sixth queen raised capital (6)
VIENNA – VI (the sixth, as in Edward VI) ANNE reversed
22 Malagasy native‘s refurbished centre (6)
TENREC – CENTRE*; I guessed NETREC, so ‘nul points’ for me; a kind of Madagascan hedgehog
25 Autocrat has to abandon singular repository (5)
DEPOT – DE[s]POT; no fun to live under these wretches
28 I’m surprised there are no tips on exclusive (3)
COO – [s]COO[p]; much beloved by hacks the world over, since they sell advertising

85 comments on “Times 28177 – Start the way you mean to go on”

  1. Just happy to finish! I’ve only managed to finish four of the last ten puzzles (without aids), and even those have been half-hour affairs.

    This one would have been more straightforward, but for some head-scratchers (for me) like VATIC, TENREC, BALEEN, POTEEN, TUREEN, ARMOZEEN, SPALPEEN, etc.

    Oh and laugh at me if you will, but I did try ARCHDIOCESE for Orkney at first.

    Edited at 2022-01-03 01:52 am (UTC)

  2. Biffed a couple, like SEA URCHIN & BALEEN. It took me a while to think that ‘cardinal’ actually meant cardinal. A MER at BALEEN; ‘extract’ seemed a bit odd, and Moby-Dick was a sperm whale not a baleen whale. I like ‘new rock producer’.
    1. Moby Dick is a most famous tale
      Of revenge that is destined to fail
      But it is my belief
      That sperm whales have teeth
      So BALEEN’s from the wrong kind of whale
  3. I guessed right on Tenrec, trusted the wordplay for Vatics, and had the GK for the rest so no pink squares — but found the clueing tricksy and a nice workout. I guess Canoeing might be a bit contrived, ulaca, but I kind of liked it. Happy New Year
  4. MER at 27a. Can one work for the municipal? Isn’t it an adjective? For the municipality, certainly.
    Ulaca, if your local despot does the crossword your comments might be thought insufficiently patriotic. I do hope it’s possible for you to continue blogging from a cell on the mainland.
    1. I think the idea is that we’re describing the job nature of a man working for a city council; hence the adjective.

      Incidentally, after arrest, the next stage would be years spent being demoralised by a ludicrous series of court appearances to decide whether I qualify for bail or not.

  5. They might put you in confinement with horryd – at least you could do the Chinese Crosswords together!
  6. A 48 minute DNF. Another victim of our furry Madagascan hedgehog. Still, who could complain about being tripped up by such an appealing looking creature. I liked the EL BANGER (aka “chorizo”, or sort of but not really) and the previously NHO term ARM CANDY – describes me to a T when I’m out and about with my 96 yo Mum.
  7. Yes, three quarters of an hour for a really decent Monday puzzlement. Much enjoyed with lots of lovely words.

    FOI 23ac EAR

    LOI 22dn NETREC so Mr. Hedgehog, a DNF!

    COD 4ac WARPLANE took a while!

    WOD 30ac KOWTOW from Kowloon

    Thought for the Day – 1dn ARM CANDY

    Edited at 2022-01-03 05:52 am (UTC)

  8. 38 minutes with one wrong having con for NETREC at 22dn, the old foreign-word-clued-as-an-anagram thing yet again. You either know it or you have to guess. For some reason WARPLANE held me up and was my LOI.
    1. “Warplane” was my POI. I was lucky enough to guess “Tenrec” ahead of “Netrec”.
  9. Foreign? It dates back to the 18th century, when it was borrowed from French; so it’s been around about as long as ‘cheetah’. Still, I take your point, and agree.
        1. It’s via French from the Malagasy word tàndraka…related to Malay landak “porcupine”. (Wikipedia)—so the etymology is quite foreign (to me, anyway, and no doubt you too) and thus no help… (I guessed right, though.)
  10. Very entertaining blog, Ulaca. I’m curious about your pals on Gairsay. Do they go every day to collect mail and how far do they have to go, and how do they go? Back in the late 1970s I worked for an airline at Liverpool Airport that was part of the hub and spoke network established by Royal Mail to improve First Class delivery times. Planes would converge from all over the UK and leave again, all within roughly a 2hr window. Wonder if Royal Mail still has such a system?
    I’ve tried two or three times to read Moby Dick but have yet to finish it.
    Like you, I don’t think I’ve ever been regarded as ARM CANDY.
    Thanks for SEA URCHIN and ANALGESIA.
    had RI(n)G for 14ac for a while and also started with COR for 28d.
    COD VOLCANO…not to be confused with Vulcano which is an island in the Aeolian Islands and is also…volcanic.
    1. As I recall, the postman used to put out a yellow tarpaulin sheet to show there had been a delivery. Pre mobile phones, that was also how you indicated you had arrived. The main house on the island was about three quarters of a mile from the shed and you got a good view of it from the kitchen window.
  11. My own REHAB as a regular here, stage 2. Rather a pedestrian solve, but at least I maintained discipline, and got through to a successful completion.

    FOI ADVENT, along with ARM CANDY provided a promising start, though any thoughts of zipping through the grid soon dissipated as I settled into a somewhat sedate rate of progress. COD to IMPREGNABLE for the embedded backwards firework, unknowns were TENREC (but I guessed correctly) and LOI POTEEN. Most severe snagging point was POI DUSTPAN where I expended 5 or more minutes trying to make sense of the cryptic before noticing the anagram (“cast” as anagrind is one that’s tripped me up previously)

    Anyway, decent start to the week, thanks U and setter

    Edited at 2022-01-03 07:55 am (UTC)

  12. So that the SEA URCHIN could see her chin. 42 minutes but I guessed right on TENREC. Didn’t we have John Henry Newman somewhere recently? I remember referencing Apologia pro vita sua, where he gave the build-up to his change of club. Perhaps Lukaku will be writing something similar soon. COD to WARPLANE which I took far longer on than I should have. A good tricky puzzle apart from when it turned prickly. Thank you U and setter.
  13. Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!

    Bang on 30 mins pre-brekker, so just right, and very enjoyable too.
    I had to invent Vatic but I am familiar with Tenrecs.
    Mostly I liked the cheeky Spanish kid upset by the firework. Great image.
    Thanks setter and U.

  14. Netrec/tenrec

    Well, I went for the wrong one, of course.
    An obscurity clued by an anagram for which there are two equally plausible solutions. Again. Doesn’t someone check these puzzles before they get sent out?

  15. 46 mins so on the trickier side for me. I did manage to finish and, luckily, opted for TENREC. What an odd word. Slow in The NE, not helped by having PETROLO***R. RIG for a while and then bunging in ANALGESIC which made VOLCANO hard. Note to self: pay more attention to the clue.


    Thanks U and setter. HNY all.

  16. One wrong in 16:54. I was expecting an error as I had no confidence that my choice of TENREC over NETREC would prove to be correct. But my error was elsewhere. CANDY proved to be dandy. My choice, BANDS, was quicker but also wrong.

    I didn’t know, until googling just now, that “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” is attributed to Ogden Nash nor that it appears in the 1971 film version of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

    Edited at 2022-01-03 09:20 am (UTC)

  17. I also leaped the wrong way at the hedgehog, which went as well as you’d expect. Shame, as I’d managed the rest in 26 minutes.

    In other news, LiveJournal have just emailed me to congratulate me on my seventeenth year here, which has made me feel very old. I remember when all this was just angsty youngsters blogging about their day-to-day lives…

      1. Some of us (myself included) were on LJ before TftT began, it used to be very popular with the young people, not that I was ever young
        1. Indeed. I think I first came here as one of the refugees from the uk.misc Usenet newsgroup after it started being nearly continuously flooded with weird posts from some poor paranoiac.

          It was a great community for a while, but things seemed to rather go south around the time of the Russian acquisition, though that may have been simple coincidence… But at least it meant that when I finally found out about and joined TftT I already knew how stuff worked here and had a paid account so I didn’t see the adverts!

  18. FOI ADVENT, LOI TENREC after checking. I guessed right but it could’ve gone either way. A good puzzle spoiled as Jack comments. 23:11. Thanks setter and U.
  19. I had a vague memory that BALEEN is French for whale, (but it isn’t), it went in without parsing. Guessed correctly on TENREC, but submitted without leaderboard as I am a precise person. Nho VATIC either.

    Liked CANOEING and the neologism ARM CANDY.

    14′ 30″, thanks ulaca and setter

    Edited at 2022-01-03 09:43 am (UTC)

    1. Well it comes from Old French, which is close enough so basically you were right.
      The expression ARM CANDY is at least 30 years old so not all that neo.

      Edited at 2022-01-03 11:51 am (UTC)

  20. My sojourn on Mauritius permitted me an enchanting encounter with the incredibly rare pink pigeon and a brief glimpse of, yes, the TENREC, so the only bit that threw me slightly was the Malagasy designation.
    I thought this was a fine crossword with intelligent clues completed in 15.43. Last in was ARCHIPELAGO, which looked an unlikely collection of crossing letters for what I was expecting to be a single island, since it didn’t have an S on the end. I believe that’s been a topic of conversation here before, when I was wrong again.
    GAG went in with a shrug, as I didn’t realise it was that sort of crack. Perhaps wearing facemasks has skewed my perception, as that’s no joke.
    I had an inkling that KOTOW was the more correct spelling: can our far eastern contingent confirm?
    I appreciated the “converted cardinal” deceptively suggesting an anagram, before realising it was John Henry himself, finding his way amid the encircling gloom.
  21. 12:55, but I biffed a few. TENREC entered with fingers crossed and DNK VATIC or ARM CANDY either. Like Jackkt WARPLANE was my LOI too. I liked EL BANGER, POTEEN and NEW YEARS DAY. Thank-you U and setter.
    1. Nothing to do with today’s crossword (is this allowed?) but just to say I am familiar with the River Lark you mentioned yesterday, and there is even a second River Lark in Suffolk, flowing roughly from Otley down to Martlesham Creek.

      Jim R

  22. So, you’re either a NETREC or TENREC person. You can’t sit on the fence, in the centre. I chose wrong. 42 mins DNF.
  23. 27 minutes with a typo in EOLOGY despite a proofread. I enjoyed this, despite being delayed for some time trying to think of a German town ending PAL.

    Nice to see my home ARCHIPELAGO mentioned; Ulaca, your friends must have a reliable boat with some capacity as Tesco won’t deliver there either! BTW where we live is just known as Mainland, without the definite article, helping to distinguish it from THE mainland 20 miles away.

    Happy New Year to all TftTers.

  24. 24:10 but managed to enter DEPTT instead of DEPOT despite checking.

    For some time I managed to convince myself that WARPLANE (COD) was warprate and a cryptic nod to Star Wars/Star Trek, a world of which I know very little. Good puzzle. I suspect TENREC wasn’t the setter’s first word in the grid.

    Thanks to U and the setter

  25. Enjoyed this, not hard but some nice clues.
    Surpised that so many seem not to have heard of the tenrec, one of nature’s cutest productions. There was an Attenborough programme on only last night which featured them and other Madacascan natives such as lemurs, some of which are also v cute.
    Moby Dick is definitely one of the great novels of the world, for all its flaws. It is a strange and wonderful book.
    1. Intrigued you say that… without really following recent (post-1960s) political developments I though the island was named Madagascar, and the people on it were the Malagasy Republic. Which would make the hedgehog a Madagascan, not a Malagasian. You know, unless it was a citizen and eligible to vote.
      I might have been led astray by a Disney movie.
      1. Apparently it was the Malagasy Republic but is now the Republic of Madagascar. I only know this because it also appears in another crossword I am currently writing a blog for.
  26. 12:41. No major hold-ups today. Quite by chance I was contemplating the TENREC yesterday while on the hunt for some other obscure animal for an answer in one of the barred-grid puzzles. I knew it anyway but that helped bring it to mind immediately. I do honestly wonder how clues like that get past the setting and editing process. ‘Ah yes, the TENREC, that is an entirely commonplace animal that all solvers can be expected to have heard of, and even in the unlikely event they haven’t there is no other possible way of arranging the letters CENTRE. Among the many options for clueing the word an anagram is clearly the way to go’.
    1. Yes. I had to check the little critter. Now, if the proper arrangement of the letters could be decided by guessing from knowledge of word roots, it would be a different story, but this word is derived from a quite foreign language…
  27. 32 minutes
    An easy launch, but held up by a few awkward ones. It didn’t help having entered RIG instead of GAG for 14, and carelessly entering TRIIL for TRAIL in 11. Thus ANALGESIA was my LOI, the penultimate being ARCHIPELAGO (guided by the checked letters, not the clues). I have never come across ARM CANDY, but I did know TENREC from another crossword (though I couldn’t have said what sortt of aninmal it was.
    Very nice anagram for NEW YEAR’s DAY.
  28. It all seemed to be going swimmingly and I thought I was on for a fast time by my standards, but the SW corner slowed me enough for a 39 minute finish. I suppose you could argue that the Malagasy native isn’t an obscurity and we all should know the word, but my guess is that it is really, so one is left with TENREC and NETREC and no way of knowing which is the correct one. Which in my opinion is poor setting.
  29. I don’t often contribute, for obvious reasons, but normally read this excellent blog. Finishing the xwd is always my goal even if it means sleeping on it. Even then my personal stats show that for 2021 I completed correctly on only 37 occasions, out of over 200 attempts. But Yahey, today, was a great start to the New Year with all my biffs proving correct. Thanks to all the regulars for your continued guidance and comments.
  30. Same as others on TENREC. Some nice ones as already noted, like the El Banger which reminded me of a famous divorce case from years ago that was required reading when I had to study that kind of thing (Parojcic v Parojcic in the remote case you were wondering). I read MOBY DICK eons ago on another distant island – Nantucket (aptly) where we were renting a fishing shack from a descendant of the Starbuck family, and haven’t opened it since. 18.32 that included a prolonged fit of sneezing – big mistake vacuuming.
    1. Hoovering whilst doing the crossword! I might try that if it gets one under 20 minutes.
  31. A very pleasing 24:52, so I have now accumulated four solves under 30 minutes. Guessed right for the TENREC, which somehow seemed the marginally less unlikely option. NHO VATIC but it didn’t matter, given the cryptic. Like others LOI was WARPLANE; even with PLANE penciled in, the WARP was slow to come. I liked IMPREGNABLE which, once constructed, still didn’t resolve into a real word straight away
  32. My entry should read “SEE the back of it” but the platform isn’t allowing me to edit my own post. Chacon a son gout Jerry !
  33. I liked Marshal Ney, and petrodollars as ready for OPEC.
    Another with the wrong animal. I see 4 ways to look at it:
    1. I guessed right, so the clue is perfectly fine.
    2. I guessed right, but I disapprove of cluing obscure words in such a way that you must make a random guess and hope for the best.
    3. I guessed wrong, but I’m all in favour of unknown obscure answers being clued as anagrams so that solvers have a 50% or less chance of guessing correctly.
    4. I guessed wrong and despised the clue which requires a random guess.

    I’d have put myself in category 4 until 2 weeks ago… when putting together the Christmas Turkey I argued in favour of the completely untenable “a shah/Asia” homophone just to give solvers something to comment about/decry/praise.

    So I have some sympathy for the Times editor using such an appalling clue for such an obscure word.

    Apart from that one, thoroughly enjoyed.

    1. 2….but with the obvious caveat that it’s hard to determine what exactly constitutes “obscurity”.

      Was revelling in the delightful birdsong of the CURRAWONG this afternoon, but many on here disapproved of its inclusion in the puzzle a few months ago.

      1. I remember the OREAD day, mostly because that day I remembered OREAD from a previous puzzle. It was the upper down clue on the right hand side. And as an Aussie who’s visited the (plague-filled) eastern states and seen and heard them, obviously CURRAWONG is not obscure, unlike TENREC: I’ve never been to Malagasy Republic.
    2. None of the above. I knew the word so no guessing involved but I still think the clue is poor.
  34. TENREC seemed more likely to me than NETREC, which looks more like a Fortran variable name. But it still came down to a guess.

    I got beaten up on here a decade ago for declaring “oread” to be an obscure word. Think the advice was to deal with it, absorb it, and get it right next time. Not so easy to accept when you’ve just ruined a good solve of course, but today I got lucky.

    Thanks setter, and thanks to the HKV for the blog.

  35. Not quite sub-10 double with QC. TENREC appears more frequently in barred puzzles so no problem there. VATIC was almost NHO and certainly little idea as to its meaning but wdp led to right biff. Enjoyed reversal of BANGER in middle of IMPREGNABLE, and good to recall the days of the PETRODOLLAR – I recall there were quite serious discussions about introducing a new international trade currency in the 1970s (Special Petroleum Receipts?) … HNY to one and all; thanks to setter & blogger.
    1. Small point of order. You can’t have biffed it if you didn’t know its meaning.
      1. The word ‘biff’ has come to be used to mean just ‘bunged in’, without the original sense of ‘from definition’. We might decry the loss of a precise usage, and the subsequent impoverishment of the language, but it is in the nature of language to change like this and there’s nothing we can do about it.
        Admittedly this development was arguably a bit quick.
          1. My tongue was in my cheek really but I have noticed the word being used this way more and more. Considering it was only invented about 5 minutes ago this is a remarkably rapid example of semantic shift.
          2. I’m sure it was discussed here — what new words we might need for bunged-in-from-wordplay and bunged-in-from-crossers — that was never resolved. Or perhaps it was. Biffing does it all
  36. A 16-min DNF, thanks to the hedgehog. Distinctly unimpressed, as no doubt the hedgehog would have been.
  37. I fully support your hearty endorsement of Moby Dick Jerry. I also fully support those who think it’s a load of rubbish! But we’re still having the discussion 170 years later, so nobody can doubt its significance.
  38. Easy-ish start to the New Year. Only POTEEN and TENREC held me up at all — the cryptic on the first was fairly sound, however TENREC was a hit and hope — pleased to see it come good.
  39. Nice to hear a Hermit Kingdom resident still refer to themselves as an Aussie isla! Perhaps there is still hope.
  40. I know that one man’s obscurity is another man’s wossname but I gave this the first loud “tsk” of the year. As already pointed out by others, the phrase “obscure word clued by anagram” has been used enough in the past that this sort of clue now seems like deliberate trolling by setter or editor.

    Anyway, I cheated by checking whether NETREC or TENREC was the required answer and I’m not even sorry.

    1. I agree, but just for once I knew TENREC perfectly well, so it wasn’t an unknown for me. It’s just down to what you know…..
  41. Held up at the end because I had RIG instead of GAG, both entirely plausible. In the end it was the EG which had to be in there somewhere which got me over the line.
  42. 16.04. This was a pretty smooth solve for me which I enjoyed very much. Luckily I managed to dredge up tenrec from somewhere. A small delay at the end over canoeing where the three vowels together were unexpected.
  43. Nearly all good, in two spells totalling 40 minutes, but another who guessed NETREC, didn’t much like the sound of either option. Beware of POTEEN it is usually fiery rotgut.
  44. LOI ARCHIPELAGO, because I didn’t recognize Orkney.
    Wonder why the second page behaves like a LJ page should, with Like buttons and expanded threads opening on the same page, but page one is still a letdown?

    Edited at 2022-01-03 03:40 pm (UTC)

  45. Steady solve for me. About 40 mins once relatives, angry wife and pyracantha all dealt with. Not sure which was thorniest.

    A childhood misspent reading natural history books paid off since I knew what a TENREC is.

    Thanks U and setter. Not sure my 100% record for 2022 will survive tomorrow.

  46. I’m another NETREC so two pink squares for me. Otherwise a fun puzzle to start the first week of the year.
  47. Obscure Word Clued Hanagramitically! Stick that in yer Glossary! COD Warplane – WOD Netrec a multi-dimensional shoot-up, computer game for up to 16 players; the aim being wipe out ‘Dinsdale’, a giant Madagascan Hedgehog that has taken over our Galaxy. DNF with 17 minutes gone.
  48. As it was a Monday and possibly my last weekday off for a while, I thought I’d give the biggie a bash. I’d got everything apart from 4a after 49 minutes (being a biologist I am familiar with TENRECs, which, while they look very much like hedgehogs, are not closely related. Some coevolution at work), but that one just wouldn’t come, even though I considered the fighter bit might indicate a plane. I gave up on the hour and then discovered on here that my ARMBANDS was wrong. Nevertheless, as nobody seems to be saying this was a walk in the park, I am quite pleased with my attempt.

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