Times 28192 – tricky dicky

Time taken: 10:23

I think this is a step up in difficulty from the last few days, though the wordplay is clear for all these entries, there are some unusual terms, particularly my last one in which had the wordplay in place but me scratching my head wondering what it really meant. A trip ro Chambers and Collins after submitting and I am still kind of baffled that it is a word, but there you go.

Hope you all had as much fun as I did – I’ll check back in the morning with a postscript.

Postscript: It seems everyone has a story about sawn-upping, so my apologies for calling it unusual. I’m sorry if I wasn’t gushy… this is a fine crossword, as I said in the intro, all the wordplay is there, which is what I come for.

Away we go…

1 Dog bites back in state of panic (8)
TAILSPIN –  TAIL(dog) and NIPS(bites) reversed
6 US roughage cut by British pork pie manufacturer (6)
FIBBER – FIBER(the US spelling of fibre, roughage), containing B(British)
9 Male dunking either end of toast in dip (4)
STAG – the first or last letter of ToasT inside SAG(dip)
10 Religious ceremony allows drinking up several tots? (10)
SEXTUPLETS – SEXT(fourth of the seven canonical hours) and LETS(allows) containing UP. Yep, sext has another meaning…
11 Mark and e.g. Mexican miss complaint (10)
SCARLATINA – SCAR(mark) and LATINA(Mexican lass)
13 A kind of whiskey picked up is wrong (4)
AWRY – A, then sounds like RYE(whiskey)
14 Correspond with Penny, say, not finishing drink (8)
COINCIDE – a penny is a COIN, then CIDER(drink) missing the last letter
16 Bugging current phone, keeping KGB out of Britain (6)
IRKING – I(current), and RING(phone) containing KGB minus GB(Britain)
18 Get back head of state overthrown by insurrection (6)
RECOUP – ER(head of state) reversed, then COUP(insurrection)
20 Playing sitar, strive for this? (8)
ARTISTRY – anagram of SITAR then TRY(strive)
22 Blood group felt to lose case for victim of crime (4)
ABEL – AB(blood group), then FELT missing the exterior letters
24 Naughty, like a nun who’s been expelled? (3,2,5)
OUT OF ORDER – double definition
26 Switching around Greek letter, claiming pens etc. (4-6)
SWAN-UPPING – SWAPPING(switching) surrounding NU(Greek letter). This was my last in – it means making a notch in a goose’s bill to denote it as your own. Is there really that much poaching of geese that you have to get territorial?
28 In which medicine is horrid, by the sound of it (4)
VIAL – sounds like VILE(horrid)
29 Walls of unusual room renovated in shiny coat (6)
ORMOLU – anagram of the exterior letters of UnusuaL and ROOM
30 Letter from twin boys round New Year’s beginning (8)
LANDLADY – the twin boys are LAD and LAD.  Insert N(new), then the first letter of Year
2 With skill, I stifle one that may be tender-hearted (9)
ARTICHOKE – ART(skill), I, then CHOKE(stifle)
3 Cricket sides bagging one run, showing restraint (3,4)
LEG IRON – LEG and ON (cricket sides, the same side in this case) containing I(one), R(run)
4 High official remains boring every year (5)
PASHA – ASH(remains) inside PA(every year)
5 Veto from President, not acceptable (3)
NIX – President Richard NIXON minus ON(acceptable)
6 Long dispute with the very famous advocate of hierarchy (9)
FEUDALIST – FEUD(long dispute) and A-LIST(the very famous)
7 Fighting breaks mass defensive structure (7)
BULWARK – WAR(fighting) inside BULK(mass)
8 Record provides amusement? Not half! (5)
ENTER – ENTERTAINS(provides amusement) missing the second half
12 Rough account penned by the writer then (7)
INEXACT – AC(account) inside I(the writer) and NEXT(then)
15 Composition in this person’s concert put off (9)
IMPROMPTU – I’M(this person’s), PROM(concert) then an anagram of PUT
17 One tending to issue order is rude man (9)
19 Tourist city loves to maintain right state (7)
ORLANDO – O and O(loves) containing R(right) and LAND(state)
21 Something priests do, given line in contract (7)
SHRIVEL – SHRIVE(hear confession, something priests do), then L(line)
23 Sheltered area for one on the fiddle? (5)
BOWER – double definition
25 Group running the game trap criminal boss (5)
FAGIN – FA(Football Association, group running the game), GIN(trap). Reference to the character in Oliver Twist
27 Eminence in East London is indisposed (3)
ILL – the eminince would be HILL, drop the H for the East London version

61 comments on “Times 28192 – tricky dicky”

  1. I knew Swan Upping, though I thought it meant a day of counting the Queen’s swans and pens in between bouts of recharging at waterside pubs, and when it went in i realised that what I’ll call odd-scurity would be the order of the day. It was, and Scarlatina defeated me. Thx gh, and real thanks setter.
  2. Also knew swan-upping as counting the queen’s swans – looked it up 50 years ago when I read about Afferbeck Lauder going swan-downing.
    Failed on Scarlatina – never heard of it, and I guessed a specific Spanish-sounding name Marina in frustration. That’s standard Times’ fare: random names in random languages. Hi Inez, Otto, Rene.
    Orvieto was first thought for Orlando.
    Liked nix, Fagin and the surface for bower.
    COD: recoup.
    1. I’m picturing Mum & Dad and the kids traipsing around Orvieto looking for Disneyworld but only finding the works of Luca Signorelli et al!
      1. It’s seeing a city starting and ending O and immediately thinking Italy or Spain. Saw Orvieto in the news in the past few days, into my mind it popped.
  3. NIX and SEPTUPLETS last in. ORMOLU seemed marginally more morphological feasible than ‘orlomu.’

    SCARLATINA a fairly clued obscurity, IMO.

  4. “Unusual” indeed. POI SCARLATINA, LOI SWAN-UPPING, which, thank goodness, is nothing like cow-tipping. I finally heard a faint (non-cow) bell indicating that this has come up here before. After all, how else would I have heard of it? ORMOLU, though, posed no problem, but I don’t have the feeling that I’ve seen it in these puzzles. I’ve certainly seen it elsewhere, and it’s very distinctive-looking.

    RECOUP is too close for comfort right now.

    Edited at 2022-01-20 04:54 am (UTC)

  5. George, for starters swans are not geese! All swans in the UK are the property of The Crown! l’m not sure about the Black Swans to be found in Regents Park! They may well be Lord Galspray’s territory. I shall return for further debate. Meldrew

    Edited at 2022-01-20 02:25 pm (UTC)

  6. 53 minutes. I didn’t know the unlikely name (in the current digital era anyway) of the ‘Religious ceremony’ at 10a, but was given a hand by crossers and def. The NHO practice of SWAN-UPPING had to go in from wordplay, for which remembering the zoological sense of ‘pens’ also helped.

    Slow on the uptake even if, in retrospect of course, there was nothing else too obscure. ARTISTRY was my pick today.

  7. I was the least confident I’ve been for a while on submitting but my trust in the cryptic for SCARLATINA and ORMOLU proved well placed. SWAN UPPING was eventually remembered from somewhere, having initially thought that “claiming pens etc” referred to raiding the stationery cupboard at work.
  8. 45 minutes, but I used aids to get the LATINA part of SCARLATINA, a medical term I have never come across. Even if I’d made the connection with scarlet fever I’d have expected the second vowel to be an E which wouldn’t have fitted with the checker of which I had no doubt.

    Much of this went in quite easily but I struggled with a couple in the top half (one already mentioned) and further down the grid, with ARTISTRY which was my LOI.

    No problems with SWAN-UPPING as I was aware of the annual ceremony that takes place on the Thames each summer. More details here for those who may be interested:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan_Upping

    Edited at 2022-01-20 07:26 am (UTC)

  9. Another night, and not my passion shrive.

    25 mins with last few wondering what priests do (apart from sext).
    Thanks setter and G.

  10. I thought this was a very clever puzzle, one which had me thinking all the way through; and, one with only 1 1/2 anagrams: ARTIST(TRY) and NURSEMAID.
    Thumbs up to: NIX.
    COD to SWAN UPPING. I was surprised to learn from the Wikipedia entry that Jack mentions that the ownership of swans on the Thames is not restricted to the Crown, it is split three ways between H.M. and the Vintners and the Dyers,
    1. That is why they have to be upped in the first place, Martin .. the activity takes place nowhere else apart from the Thames. except that for some reason, the Mayor of Maidstone does it on the Medway each year ..
      1. The Crown granted the title of ‘Swan Master’ to the Mayor of Maidstone, on the Medway in 1619, during the reign of James I. The new Mayor presently shares this privilege with Mark Brattle, Master of Falconry and Wildlife Management at Leeds Castle.
      2. How strange…about the Medway. I’m ashamed to say my geography was out. I didn’t realise that Maidstone is on the Medway. I thought the town was further east. The shame factor is because I come from a village in East Sussex just outside Tunbridge Wells which is where I went to grammar school.
  11. Well, I was finished in 40 mins but…. I had SEPTUPLETS and therefore bunged in NOP which I assumed (wrongly) was US for nope.

    Got SWAN-UPPING from somewhere without really knowing what it is/was.

    LOI SCARLATINA from wp and looked it up post solve.

    I liked IMPROMPTU.

    Thank you G and setter.

  12. 42 minutes with the SW falling at the end in a rush with ORLANDO, ORMOLU, SWAN UPPING and LOI IMPROMPTU. I also thought that SWAN UPPING was the Queen counting her swans, although I recall a swan on the Derwent by Spondon Power Station attempting to give the expression new meaning in his physical attraction to the staff. Lots of good clues including LEG IRON, LANDLADY, SHRIVEL (once I had the V) and my COD NIX. Thank you George and setter.
  13. ….violent, I wouldn’t want to get close enough to attack one’s beak.

    Tricky offering, and I found the SW quadrant pretty difficult.

    TIME 12:52

  14. I always wondered if they actually turn them upside-down — SWAN-UPPING one of those cultural things I love.

    ORMOLU was last in with all the checkers, previously I thought it was a type of clock, but now know it’s the bronze-gilding which gives the name.


    17′ 30″, thanks george and setter.

  15. I found this slow going compared to the last few. No particular hold-ups but several clues needed some thought to unravel.

    NHO SCARLATINA and agree with comments above on random names although once I’d thought of LATINA it felt right.

    I was worried about another obscure POTUS until I realised who it was.

    Rejected anagram of UL and ROOM at first as obviously couldn’t possibly be a word – only got once I had all the checkers.

    Thanks setter and G

  16. Excellent crossword, quirky and devious, which occupied me for 23.31.
    For a while, and with SEXTUPLETS nowhere near, I had NON for the presidential veto – N(ot) ON acceptable – recalling De Gaulle’s famous refusal to Brentry all those years ago. Happy days!

    Loved “pork pie manufacturer” once I got past hat maker, thinking I was being clever not to be hung up on Melton Mowbray.

    Likewise “claiming pens etc” for the gloriously arcane ceremony.

  17. 16:17 I enjoyed this a lot for the sneaky definitions and great wordplay. I did know SWAN-UPPING, but had fingers crossed with my LOI, SCARLATINA, which I didn’t know and failed to parse SEXTUPLET. I liked INEXACT and ARTISTRY best. Thanks George and setter.
  18. A bit like pulling teeth, this.

    Got off to a decent start with several down the left hand side, but was slow going thenceforth, picking up the odd answer around the grid.

    FEUDALIST helped a lot — plumped for SCARLATINA (though not heard of it before).

    LOIs SHRIVEL followed by SWAN-UPPING (which I had to look up before submitting).

  19. Didn’t start well, about 8 answers in 20m, feeling like I had no chance – gave up and made breakfast followed by morning walk, forgetting to pause the timer.

    Afterwards I was a bit more in the zone and made decent progress, finding it reasonably enjoyable until I ground to a halt in the SW corner. Throwing in the towel was the right choice, I was never going to get ‘em – NHO ORMOLU or SWAN-UPPING, and BOWER is a word I should really know, but didn’t. Maybe it’ll sink in this time. Thanks G and setter.

  20. Like Zed I was a ‘NON’ at 5dn – so NIX wasn’t my COD! Thanks to Jack SWAN-UPPING has been sorted out. The black swans are not the Queen’s, which may show an unusual spot of colour-predge from Madge.

    FOI 4dn PASHA

    LOI 8dm ENTER

    COD – so many ‘gooduns’ – 4ac FIBBER with 6dn FEUDALIST very close.


    Was 11ac SCARLATINA Thumbalina’s sister?

  21. I was out early on the deserted Shanghai Bund this morning, in glorious almost summer sunshine and lunch (Italian) out – finished-off Xword over a double espresso and macaroon.
  22. I did find today’s blog a touch utilitarian, considering this was such a terrific puzzle. For those of us interested in antiques Ormolu is a gilding technique for brass, known in France as ‘bronze doré’; 26ac was hardly helpful and the CRS of the Pork Pie manufacturer was not given a moment. However, at least ‘horrid’ was spelt correctly!
    My COD to 13ac AWRY. WOD 4ac FIBBER! Time 15.22
  23. Starting I think with Louis XIV practically every possible surface at Versailles, such as vases, clocks, mirrors etc, was ornamented with the stuff, although the process involved mercury which was pretty unhealthy for the artisans. For reasons too boring to mention I happened to know the Stanley Spencer painting of SWAN-UPPING at Cookham but it took me a long time to get there with this puzzle and I needed all the crossing letters. The thought of a high-FIBBER diet made me smile. Good puzzle. 22.53
  24. DNF: defeated by SCARLATINA. I was fixated on an individual Mexican miss, so considered for instance SCARMARINA but it didn’t look right. The disease in question does ring a bell from the dim and distant past, now that I see it, but like jackkt I think I associated it with scarlet. No complaints: the clue is perfectly fair, I was just being particularly dim this morning.
  25. 39:13. Slow to start, going through most of the acrosses before FOI 23ac ABEL, although I had penciled in UPLETS at the end of 10ac. The down clues were kinder. LOIs the crossing 11ac SCARLATINA (which I knew once SCAR had triggered scarlet fever) and 12dn INEXACT. I liked FEUDALIST and FIBBER. Good crossword
  26. Tricky dicky indeed — I finished, but did need a smidgeon of help in a couple of places. No problems with SCARLATINA, remembered from my childhood, when it and polio were still common child nasties. Liar was my first thought for pork pie manufacturer, but it still took a while to spot FIBBER. Good clue. There was lots to like here — several tots, claiming pens etc., cricket sides, one tending to issue, etc. Many thanks to Setter and Blogger.
  27. Gave up after 44 mins defeated by coincide. Very good clue which I failed to comprehend by never considering any other option for correspond except communicate.

    Still , pretty satisfied by the rest of my endeavours. A tough workout with lots of time spent on inexact, artichoke, tailspin and feudalist.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  28. I was getting on quite well with this puzzle until after around 25 minutes I was left with 11a and 12d. I had the SCAR bit but couldn’t think of anything for eg Mexican miss. Eventually I came up with la nina, which allowed me to get INEXACT. I wasn’t convinced about SCARLANINA as a complaint though, so looked it up to see if it existed, and Google corrected it to SCARLATINA. Ah well! 34:55 with a a look up at the end.

    Edited at 2022-01-20 11:43 am (UTC)

    1. my problem was seeing the scar bit, then trying to fit Srta around the remains spaces — insufficient letters, and crossers in the wrong places.
  29. 22:49. The pen in 26ac immediately put me in mind of swans for some reason and although I’d heard of swan upping, I had no idea what it was. Still not much wiser. Ditto ORMOLU. Had the same Gaullist NON at the back of my mind as others, dispelled by the simultaneous solving of SEXTUPLETS. Satisfying puzzle, I thought.

    Edited at 2022-01-20 11:44 am (UTC)

  30. It looked easy to begin with, but it did indeed get tricky. I was very slow to see some that were not hard (eg BOWER), and the choice between six or seven tots had to wait until I got NIX. Until then I had assumed ‘unacceptable’ in 5d was U. 40 minuutes, but with a wrong entry for 11a. SCARPALINA sounded familar, so I bunged it in.
  31. Enjoyed this puzzle tremendously. Failed to get 1 ac despite almost parsing it. Forgot the ‘dog’ = ‘tail’ connection. Bunged in septuplets without remembering that sext was an alternative which made 5 dn impossible. By then I had passed my allotted time so gave up.
    Surprised that scarlatina was not well known. A familiar word from childhood. COD swan-upping but many other contenders.
    Thanks to the setter and to our blogger for putting me right on my failures.
  32. Enjoyable puzzle of exactly average difficulty according to the SNITCH at time of solving, which is how it felt: just hard enough to be interesting. Living in the Thames Valley, I have encountered SWAN-UPPING before, though I’ve never personally upped a swan, nor would I want to (the ones I’ve encountered have never seemed amiable). And I confess I only knew one meaning of SEXT, which George wisely draws a veil over.
    1. My only ever interaction with a swan almost saw me beaten to death on the beach. Walking my slightly unhinged dog on the beach, there was a black swan paddling in the shallows. Of the ocean. Unusual, swans are freshwater birds on the lakes. My dog leapt in the water and started swimming after it to ?kill? it. Perhaps ?who knows?. People on the beach started scolding me and abusing me and threatening me violence. Fortunately swans can paddle faster than dogs can swim. Fortunately my dog, finding himself about a kilometre out to sea was smart enough and fit enough to swim back to shore. Fortunately I was younger and fitter and able to outrun the pitchfork-wielding hordes who wanted to beat me to death.
      Not a good day, all round.
        1. I’m sure Afferbeck Lauder in one of his books – maybe Nose Tone Unturned – went swan-downing and suffered a broken arm. That dates from about 1970, so my memory imght be wrong.
  33. 25.47. I found myself picking away at this in fits and starts without getting into much of a flow. It required a lot of attention to detail but the effort was well rewarded.
  34. A very fine puzzle indeed. I’m sightly surprised the SNITCH isn’t higher.

    I was beaten by the LANDLADY, (a service for which some tenants would probably pay for). The RC bit of SEXTUPLETS was knowledge gained. IMPROMPTU and SWAN-UPPING are joint COD.

    Thanks to George and the setter.

  35. Didn’t really get a toe-hold in this. DNF by miles. Enjoyed the blog enormously, everything very clear with that wonderful gift, hindsight. Thanks, George, and setter.
  36. I often find it interesting that posters here (self included) deem certain words ‘obscure’ and have noted on past occasions that words which, to me, are obscurities are apparently well-known to others. Today I’ve had quite the reverse experience, with neither SWAN-UPPING nor SCARLATINA causing any concern or particularly intense memory-searching. I’ve never upped a swan (honestly, officer), but I did have scarlatina in a gap between measles, rubella, chickenpox, mumps and a couple of bouts of pneumonia in what should have been my first school year but which was largely spent in ‘self-isolation’, a condition which, in 1966-7, was called ‘isolation’ and seemed perfectly understandable without the extension and hyphenation. I’d like to say I knew it would come in handy one day, but to be honest I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. Anyway, I enjoyed today’s crossword which occupied 23 minutes or so.
  37. I knew of swan-upping from Flanders and Swann ‘… it was Swan-upping Sunday’, accompanied by much laughter from Donald Swann. Two runs at this one with various commitments necessitating a long gap between, but does that explain why I took so long over it (67 minutes)? Probably not.
  38. 45 minutes for a very enjoyable puzzle, whose obscurities, including SCARLATINA and SWAN-UPPING (which I’ve come across before) and ORMOLU somehow didn’t faze me. FIBBER was my FOI, ORMOLU my LOI after deciding it couldn’t be ORLOMU. Thank you, setter!
  39. Lovely crossword. Delayed slightly by the sextuplet-septuplet poser. Weren’t septs something in Game of Thrones? Anyway, I tried out the x and got Tricky Dicky straight away so that was that. Ormolu means ground gold and features strongly in the book I am reading – Tristram Hunt on Josiah Wedgwood.
  40. Enjoyed this one — tough but fair.
    I think we’ve seen “Scarlatina” in the Times xwd before. Yet again, I’m indebted to Bargain Hunt, this time for teaching me “Ormolu”.
    1. A search suggests it has come up only once before, in a Club Monthly puzzle, seven years ago. I believe very few people here tackle the Club Monthly. We had the composer Scarlatti very recently.
      1. Less than the fingers on one hand! It is really there to amuse Verlaine and Jerry. I do wish the Club Monthly Special would be far more inclusive. Remember the original thematic Oldie Genius Crossword? – I believe that style would offer a decent challenge to a lot more members. Change is certainly required to improve general interest.

        Edited at 2022-01-21 02:36 am (UTC)

  41. Bought the paper on Thursday, finished the Crossword 28192 on Sunday morning, after several visits to my Chambers Twentieth Century. Feeling really chuffed with myself until I read that some guy finished it in TEN MINUTES. Mind you I still feel good about it. Gerry Williams.

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