Times 28209 – what about the Wurzels?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A reasonably straightforward Wednesday this week, with some QC type clues and no words with which I was unfamiliar. Even the two French cites were those which most would have heard of, if not visited. Four simple anagrams helped me along, to a time of 18 minutes with 17d my LOI.

1 Bag is carried by short manservant (6)
VALISE – VALE(T) has IS inserted.
4 Skill a Greek character’s shown travelling round island (7)
SUMATRA – ART A MU’S = skill, A, Greek letter’s; all reversed.
9 What is sought by holy travellers is good mode of transport (5)
GRAIL – G (good) RAIL (mode of transport).
10 Looking at means for cutting back fossil-fuel industry? (9)
11 Building material down street on edge of site (9)
BLUESTONE – BLUE (down) ST(reet) ON (SIT)E.
12 French city river, one end to the other (5)
TOURS – River STOUR (of which several in UK) has S moved to the other end.
13 Architect’s design’s ending with wood (4)
NASH – (desig)N, ASH = wood.
14 Smart head, one in hiding giving nothing away? (10)
STINGINESS – STING (smart) NESS (head) with I inserted.
18 Student from French city about to confront heretic (10)
SEMINARIAN – NIMES (French city) is reversed, add ARIAN = heretic.
20 Noise in church unpleasant, not half (4)
CHUG – CH, UG(ly).
23 Component for brewing supplied by a country (5)
MALTA – MALT used for brewing, A.
24 Tiresome person primarily out to play for time (9)
TEMPORISE – (TIRESOME P)*, the P from person primarily.
25 Tricks to grab open country in legal documents (9)
CONTRACTS – CONS = tricks, insert TRACT = open country.
26 Contaminate home, leaving rubbish round (5)
TAINT – IN (home) inside TAT (rubbish).
27 Little girl, daughter sheltered for a 24-hour period (7)
WEEKDAY – WEE KAY = little girl, insert D.
28 Maiden, kind person providing cattle food (6)
MANGEL – M(aiden), ANGEL = kind person.

1 Very briefly ruler forms relationship with tramps (9)
VAGABONDS – V(ery) AGA (ruler) BONDS (forms relationship with).
2 Illness caught by the French groups involved in sport? (7)
LEAGUES – AGUE (illness) inside LES (the in French).
3 Climbing mountains, don’t mention that drop of rain (6)
SPLASH – ALPS reversed, SH = don’t mention that.
4 Car with its hood blown off, say (5)
STATE – ESTATE car loses E at front.
5 Keep very good set of books penned by master (8)
MAINTAIN – A1 NT = very good, set of books; insert into MAIN = master.
6 Series of notes about guy who was official in Rome (7)
TRIBUNE – RIB (guy, tease) inside TUNE (set of notes).
7 Legendary ship arrives finally in old city (5)
ARGOS – ARGO (Jason’s ship) S (end of arrives).
8 One bringing news about hotel employee? (8)
REPORTER – RE (about) PORTER (hotel employee).
15 Almost a disaster, messing up sir’s name (4,4)
16 Like some worms in gent’s meal unfortunately (9)
17 Single upright character being put out as spotless (8)
UNMARRED – UNMARRIED (single) has the I (upright character) removed.
19 Miscellany offered by wandering gleeman (7)
21 Addressing hospital, feeling unwell (7)
HAILING – H(ospital) AILING (feeling unwell).
22 Part not being performed, a Shakespearean female (6)
PORTIA – PORTION (part) loses ON (being performed), add A. As in The Merchant of Venice.
23 Bird rising in the morning with squawk (5)
MACAW – MA (AM reversed, = rising in the morning) CAW (squawk).
24 Cheap adhesive (5)
TACKY – double definition.

57 comments on “Times 28209 – what about the Wurzels?”

  1. Very straightforward, over In just under half an hour.

    FOI 13ac NASH

    LOI 14dn STATE



    I’ve never partaken of a 19dn-a-trois, on a Sundae! Anyone?

    Hi, Kevin! Kevin!?

    Edited at 2022-02-09 07:36 am (UTC)

  2. Quick quick slow. Held up at the end with PORTIA – one of the few Shakespearean characters I know – TAINT due to misspelled segmenntl and CHUG which felt strange, but I suppose noise is as good a definition as any.
    COD state. Is hood used in UK as a car roof, or is the clue’s hood the American panel over the engine?
    1. In UK the hood is the top of a soft top sports car, which “comes Down”. The engine is under the bonnet and the luggage goes in the boot not the trunk.
      1. Cheers. In Oz we’ve copied bonnet and boot from you, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a soft-top’s roof called a hood.
  3. As horryd says, straightforward after, as isla did, I shrugged past Chug. Thx pip
  4. Never come across mangel without his mate wurzel, got lucky with a biffed PORTIA, but came a cropper with an anxiously biffed ‘unpaired.’ All undone in 27 minutes.
  5. Like isla and Paul, I hesitated on CHUG; in my case it was my POI. LOI was PORTIA, which I felt sure of but couldn’t parse, so hesitated until I could. Otherwise straightforward.
  6. Pretty straightforward for me, as Kevin also indicates.
    Thanks for the blog, Pip, and for the parsing of PORTIA and TOURS.
    I enjoyed LEAGUES and SEMINARIAN as the definitions weren’t where I thought they were.
    With 1d, I tried hard to get ‘vagrants’ in there somehow.
    Early post; off to see “Belfast” this evening.
  7. 44 minutes. Slow to get started and didn’t pick up the pace. Helped to keep going by having had ARIAN for ‘heretic’ recently. ‘Island’ as a def is almost as bad as bloomer / flower and with the reversal as well, I was relieved to get SUMATRA, one of my last in.

    No hope parsing PORTIA; glad I didn’t plump for “Gootna” which doesn’t sound very Shakespearean. Favourite was CHUG – reminds me of steam trains.

    1. My favourite brother in law Johnnie, was know as ‘CHUG’ at school for his ‘locomotive’ football-style.
  8. A breeze. BLUESTONE and MANGEL were easy guesses. LOI UNMARRED, Last One Parsed PORTIA.
    SUMATRA is where my morning coffee has come from for well-nigh 30 years.

    Edited at 2022-02-09 06:14 am (UTC)

  9. 44 minutes, so not as easy for me as for most so far.

    Not helped by not knowing BLUESTONE so although I guessed it, the BLUE bit had to wait for a checker before it was written in.

    The SEMIN bit of SEMINARIAN needed checkers to bring NIMES to mind as the backwards French city.

    CHUG with a shrug – it surely deserved a tighter definition.

    Lost ages trying to parse TUESDAY as the 24-hour period though I never got as far as writing it in.

    Unable to parse PORTIA.

  10. Think I made harder work of this than I should have. 47m with the NE corner last to fall. Helped by having recently listened to Adge Cutler of the Wurzels performing a song that briefly mentions the 1960s Cumberland Basin flyover system that’s a few hundred metres away from me right now! I went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole soon after and ended up on the MANGEL page…
  11. 25 mins pre-brekker left the S—-arian/—a-r-d crossers — and I was sure ‘put out’ would be ‘aired’. Unhaired? Is that spotless? And what French cities end MES?
    Eventually the penny dropped.
    Nice one, except Chug.
    Thanks setter and Pip.
      1. Not original, I’m afraid. An old joke.
        And here is another. A homeowner gives his handyman a tin of paint and a big brush and asks him to go to the front of the house and paint the porch. A while later, the handyman returns to say the job is complete, but, by the way, it is not a porch, it’s a BMW.
        I’m here all week.
    1. Is this to compete with Cilla’s urdu? Or is it from My Word, Frank Muir or Denis Norden? My favourite was Descartes guarding the cakes his wife had made, saying “I think they’re for 1 am” when someone tried to snaffle one earlier.
    2. I remember this from Noel Edmonds Sunday morning radio show which I listened to while in Sixth Form about 50 years ago. He tried to be intelligent in those days and had a series of incredibly long stories which ended with a long pun on a line of Shakespeare. In his version a headline from the Liverpool Echo read: The koala tree of Mersey is not stained – to reassure readers that the paint which had been applied to a tree in the zoo popular with the koalas had been removed (plus lots more twists and turns). Another one has permanently ruined the first line of Richard III for me.
  12. Fairly comfortable though held up in the NE until I pencilled in ARGOS (though never heard of the city) — the rest consequently fell one by one.

    Apart from that, the SEMINARIAN/UNMARRED crossing gave trouble until pencilling in the N as a likely second letter of the down clue gave away the city and a reminder of the recent heretic.

  13. 29 minutes with LOI UNMARRED, having spent most of the puzzle trying to make it UNTARRED. I think Arius should sue the Times Puzzles department but COD to SEMINARIAN. Decent puzzle but ARGOS was so weak I thought it couldn’t be right. It’s a long time since I’ve been in one. Do they still have those little pens or is it electronic now? Thank you Pip and setter.
    1. They still have the pens as an alternative to using a terminal. They’d lose a lot of their custom otherwise. I use them a lot as they’re they have the most comprehensive range of household goods and appliances in the town.
  14. gilesr commented late yesterday “I have been learning to do these over the last few years and am beginning to get to the point where I don’t look at a puzzle and think “it’s never going to happen”. After about 10 months of regular solving, I still get that all the time, including today. Even some of the really easy clues (TAINT, GRAIL, VALISE) took ages because I didn’t *believe* I was gonna get ‘em.

    After about 30 minutes there was an end in sight, and at 38 I had two clues left
    – 18a didn’t know that ARIAN = “heretic”, was trying to fit YPREAN into an answer meaning “heretic”
    – 17d just didn’t get it – I did think of UNTARRED but couldn’t get anywhere near it from the cryptic

    Feeling in need of a confidence-booster – maybe I need to start free-basing cocaine. Thanks Pip and setter

    {edited to change to glum avatar]

    Edited at 2022-02-09 08:21 am (UTC)

    1. Don’t be disheartened. I was totally off the wavelength yesterday and couldn’t do more than half. Today finished in 35 mins, without much difficulty. I really think some days one’s brain just isn’t in it.
    2. Remember the Arian heretics, they come up quite frequently, although I’ve never encountered them outside crosswords. It takes years to learn all these little things, so don’t be discouraged: after 10 months you are doing very well!
    3. I’d like to echo other comments: after less than a year of solving you’re doing quite brilliantly. I’ve always felt many clues are made easier by familiarity. Not with the exact wording, perhaps, but by the subconscious feeling of having seen something before. And yet it’s also true that we all have days when we’re way off the pace. Doing the crossword and in life in general! Keep it up!
    4. If it’s any consolation, I have been doing crosswords for years without improving much until I started to focus in more recent times. Despite that, you generally beat my times but not by much so you have become something of a benchmark for me. I didn’t time myself today (and put unpaired instead of unmarred) otherwise I might have had a successful day.

      I agree totally that the important part is the belief before starting (I am now good at crosswords and perfectly capable of finishing this) and the questions one asks during the process (how do I solve this rather than can I solve this). I could say more but this is already too much.

      Keep on keeping on. It’s good to have your input.

  15. This was a strange experience for me, as I thought I’d got through it fairly quickly only to find I’d taken longer than average. Anyhow, I feel my time was well spent parsing UNMARRED as I had been tempted by unpaired, as others have mentioned above. It was perhaps ducking that potential biffed error that led me to parse PORTIA before finishing as I worried that I could be tempted into a different biffed error despite it seeming obvious as a Shakespearean character.
  16. Might settrrs be labelled “Word-stitchers”?
    My tag could be “King of the Bitchers”
    With GANNET yesterday
    And the MACAW today
    It looks like “Revenge of the Twitchers”
    1. No classical music today
      So nothing to complain of that way
      But what’s that I found?
      CHUG is a sound?
      Maybe it’s what violins play?
  17. …which is becoming less of a rare breed for me. Either I am improving or the puzzles are getting easier. Cue much ferreting in the SNITCH to reveal the truth.

    NHO MANGEL or BLUESTONE and Ninjaturtled ARGOS from the shop (now department of Sainsbury’s) though it doesn’t exist this far north. Thanks Pip for the parsing of PORTIA: that on = performing device often gets me. And thanks setter for a fun half hour.

  18. UNMARRED was my last one in, having finally ruled out ‘untarred’ – I can’t recall seeing the letter I clued by ‘upright character’ before. I got SEMINARIAN reasonably quickly, helped I think by ‘arian’ having come up fairly recently as a heretic, and eventually remembered TOURS as the other French city. VALISE, BLUESTONE and MANGEL were all figured out from wordplay.

    FOI Nash
    LOI Unmarred
    COD Stinginess

  19. 11:18 WOE. I whizzed through this but then got completely stuck on 17dn. UNMARRED was actually the first thing I thought of but I couldn’t parse it and then got badly waylaid thinking ‘put out’ was indicating AIRED or something similar. After nearly five minutes of agonising I eventually saw the light but the experience had discombobulated me and I forgot to check my answers. Inevitably I had a silly typo.
  20. I got off to another flying start with the NW populated rapidly. The NE followed, although I didn’t spot the parsing of MAINTAIN until proofreading. I thought of CHUG but didn’t put it in until SEGMENTED confirmed it. Didn’t see REPORTER until STINGINESS gave me the T for it. Managed to spot PORTIA and parse her. SEMINARIAN was LOI. Saw UNMARRED quickly and didn’t consider any alternatives. 16:26. Thanks setter and Pip.
  21. Sherlock Holmes’s Giant Rat of SUMATRA – a story for which the world wasn’t yet ready – has an old ship in it but not the Argo. Not a difficult one but not a breeze either. 18.11
  22. I settled for an unparsed UNPAIRED after 21 m and failed to see the obvious answer after several minutes pondering it post-“solve”. I even managed to convince myself that IRED could be angered or “put out”. I keep relearning the fact that Times crossword clues are generally meticulously clear and if you can’t parse an answer without venturing deep into the realms of the improbable, it is almost certainly because it is wrong.
  23. 50:05. I did not find this easy as the early posters. Some good clues, but lots that took me a long time to unravel, including 5dn MAINTAIN: i came a copper recently by taking “very good” as A1 when it should have been PI. So this time i struggled for ages to put PI (+NT) into a word. Note to self — it can be either. COD SUMATRA
  24. I had a few problems with CHUG, BLUESTONE and ARGOS. Chug refers more to the type of motion than to the noise somethig chugging makes, surely — well, at least as much, anyway; Bluestone is a surname I’ve heard of, so I entered it although I’ve never heard of the building material; and I didn’t know (although Wikipedia tells me that perhaps I should have done) of the old city. 34 minutes.

    Edited at 2022-02-09 12:38 pm (UTC)

  25. Once again I thought I was on for a very quick time, until I spent at least the last 2 or 3 minutes grinding my way to ‘unmarred’, which I don’t really like as a word, and parsing ‘Portia’, just like everyone else, it would seem.
    FOI VALISE – nice easy one to start
    COD um, I quite liked VAGABONDS and SEMINARIAN (as others have noted – *very* helpful to have had ‘Arian’ recently)

    Thanks, Pip, and Setter.

  26. Pleasant enough and mostly straightforward, pausing only to wonder about UNPAIRED, which helpfully made me think of UNMARRIED instead, and raise an eyebrow at CHUG, but only slightly.
  27. I’d have been well under my 20.41 if it hadn’t been for UNMARRIED for single there are so many options, not excluding a Mephisto-ish UN for single. Aren’t all characters upright (most of the time)?
    Didn’t manage to parse PORTIA but fortunately couldn’t think of any other.
    Isn’t CHUG what Americans do with large beers?
    Otherwise nice and easy does it.
  28. I did not find this as much of a breeze as some people did. But I got there in the end. I never parsed PORTIA but she was the only Shakespearean female I knew who fitted the crossers. Struggled for a bit at the end with the SUMATRA, MAINTAIN, TRIBUNE bit. They are all obvious once you have one of them.
  29. Couldn’t parse PORTIA — was trying to see why O and I had to be inserted in anagram of PART. MER at BLUESTONE, as I only knew of the ones at Stonehenge, which aren’t part of the structures.
  30. One hour. LO’sI were the NE quarter. I had determine for examining which felt wrong so I deleted it and the rest began to flow. Had to look up temporise in the dictionary as I thought it was that but did not know the word. I spelled mangel “mangol” at first but looked it up as it didn’t parse, but with the e instead of the o it’s fine. Bluestone as a building material is pushing it a bit. I biffed a few. Thanks for clearing up the parsing, Pip, and for the blog.
  31. 16.33. LOI maintain, having tried to find the answer in a part of a castle. A forlorn adventure. My COD candidates would be sumatra, unmarred and seminarian , one of whom would no doubt study Arian.

    Thx setterand blogger.

  32. Didn’t find that too hard, and was happy to parse unmarred and portia. Good word, chug, though it had never occurred to me to define it as a noise. Reminds me of John Entwhistle’s bass-playing.

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