Times 28261 – I coulda been a contender

A pretty typical Monday offering, with not too much to scare the equines, or indeed ships of the desert. The winner of Most Bizarre Vocab Item was very generously clued and the winner of Old-fashioned Word That No One Ever Uses was something of a gimme too, so this is one that members of the Slow Coach Club might like to assay.

Only no blaming me if a cropper ye do come!

23 minutes for me, so a NITCH reducer, as a Monday ought to be.


1 Humped beast city attorney found in arid surroundings (9)
6 Emotional disturbance produced by second white wine (5)
9 Country-lover’s predicament at first, caught up in civil unrest (7)
PATRIOT – P (initial letter of predicament) AT (caught up in, as in ‘at work’ or ‘at play’) RIOT (civil unrest); a whole rash of patriots have sprung up in Hong Kong recently, like Cadmean warriors growing from planted dragons’ teeth
10 Sparkle, giving low-down about border (7)
GLISTEN – LIST (‘border or edging strip, esp of cloth’ [Collins]) in GEN (low-down)
11 What Tom possibly recalled, short hirsute growth (5)
TACHE – reversal of EH (what?) CAT (Tom); not sure why ‘short’, unless we are talking of a Hitler style. But of course we are not; thanks to curryowen for pointing out that ‘tache’ is short for, um, ‘moustache.’
12 Further damage a length of metamorphic rock (9)
MARMOREAL – if you further damage a length in Crosswordland, you may very well be said to MAR (damage) MORE (further) A (a) L (length)
13 Speed reached by the Spanish in very old metropolis (8)
14 Stick with fellow unknown to go missing (4)
WAND – W (with) AND[y] (random chap missing his scientific unknown Y)
17 Unoccupied daughter replacing son in Skye, perhaps (4)
IDLE – D for S in ISLE
18 Bad taste he exhibited initially? Surely not! (8)
AESTHETE – anagram* of TASTE HE E[xhibited]; I always think of Oscar Wilde, though there have been plenty of others
21 Issue overshadowing sport scholarship (9)
ERUDITION – RU (rugby union) in EDITION (issue)
22 Advert judge viewed with hesitation (5)
24 One flies aircraft primarily by way of rocky peak (7)
AVIATOR – A (initial letter of Aircraft) VIA (by way of) TOR (rocky peak)
25 Ache to join key troops in the near future (7)
ERELONG – E (key) RE (troops) LONG (ache)
26 Solitary individual in outskirts of Leicester (5)
LONER – ONE in L[eiceste]R
27 Eccentric French composer wrapping clear thin fabric (9)
SATINETTE – NETT (clear) in SATIE; was Satie more eccentric than your average composer? Probably, if Ken Russell got hold of him, I suppose. Hang on – this from the Naxos website: ‘As eccentric in his way of life as in his music, Satie exercised considerable influence over some of his more distinguished contemporaries, including Debussy, Ravel and Poulenc.’


1 Leading journalist going over regimental HQ (5)
DEPOT – reversal of TOP (leading) and ED (journalist); DEPOT can mean just about anything in a military context. Here’s Wikipedia’s initial take on the matter: ‘The regimental depot of a regiment is its home base for recruiting and training. It is also where soldiers and officers awaiting discharge or postings are based and where injured soldiers return to full fitness after discharge from hospital before returning to full duty. Normally, a variety of regimental stores will also be kept at the depot. The regimental depot is not the same as the regimental headquarters (where the main officers’ mess and certain central functions are based), though in practice the two will often be co-located in the same place.’
2 It gives a false impression to one’s pupils (7,8)
OPTICAL ILLUSION – simple enough, but a nice little story
3 Testimony of French accepted by English fellow (8)
EVIDENCE – DE (‘of’ in French) in E VINCE (a rather rare random chap)
4 Robots created by a university man at Aston originally (8)
AUTOMATA – A U TOM AT A; Lego for beginners?
5 Turn up in Mongolian hut, finding dairy product (6)
YOGURT – reversal of GO (turn in Monopoly, say) in YURT
6 It may stop habitual drunkard touring Tamworth, perhaps (6)
SPIGOT – PIG (of which Tamworth is a breed) in SOT (Crosswordland’s merry drunkard)
7 Off the alcohol, perhaps? Act as anchor in film (2,3,10)
ON THE WATERFRONT – ON THE WATER (off the booze) FRONT (act as anchor, as in a TV chat show)
8 County council’s final advantage, supplying ballast (9)
KENTLEDGE – KENT (county) [counci]L EDGE (advantage)
13 Flaw restricting ring, Irishman set up telephone facility (9)
VOICEMAIL – O (ring) in VICE (flaw) LIAM (random Oirishman, to be sure, begorrah) reversed
15 Devise new version of control outlet (8)
REINVENT – REIN (control) VENT (outlet)
16 Way to spur fish (8)
19 Knight leaves wading bird to get a drink (6)
BITTER – BITTER[n]; Knight is abbreviated as N in chess
20 Producer of fruit: pulpy drink mostly contains it (6)
23 Rascal cutting top off sturdy walking shoe (5)

54 comments on “Times 28261 – I coulda been a contender”

  1. I didn’t understand ‘anchor’, but luckily didn’t have to. NHO KENTLEDGE. And I wondered about ‘eccentric’; glad to hear from Naxos.
    1. Looking at ‘Les Maisons Satie’ on lonelyplanet, the introduction includes “…the whimsical spirit of the eccentric avant-garde composer”. I’ve been to the museum in Honfleur and assure you that ‘eccentric’ is putting it somewhat mildly.
  2. Went along smoothly for a while ,even piecing together unknowns KENTLEDGE and SATINETTE but failed on ERELONG. I didn’t understand “list”as “border”or “depot”as “headquarters”. I guess I thought from war movies the depot was just for storing supplies.Also couldn’t parse WAND-thanks for that and many other useful illuminations! Oh, and also I wonder if the “short” in front of hirsute growth is just to say tache is a short form of moustache.
  3. KENTLEDGE and MARMOREAL from wordplay. Lots of enjoyable wordplay in this puzzle. Breezy 6:33.
  4. Three quarters really quickly, then got bogged down in the bottom right. Had mentally pencilled in ON THE WAGON_____ thinking old westerns, which didn’t help; otherwise just my slowness. LOI and COD to AESTHETE after finally getting the film.
  5. …I biffed VOICECALL and never went back to take another look.
    For the most part this went in relatively quickly but I did struggle on the RH side, especially with KENTLEDGE, MARMOREAL (nothing to do with Marmots?!) and ON THE WATERFRONT.
    NHO KENTLEDGE and MARMOREAL and didn’t know a LIST could be an edge. ADVERT = ‘refer’ was new to me too.

    Edited at 2022-04-11 07:06 am (UTC)

  6. I biffed ISLE for “Skye, perhaps”, then did a cursory parsing, which confirmed to me we were swapping a D and an S in IDLE. Clearly my parsing was too cursory; that’ll learn me (except it probably won’t!).
  7. Currently covid-affected, and I was wondering how that might impact my solving – but actually it didn’t really seem to do so. Enjoyed the puzzle and made fairly rapid progress, slowing down progressively for the last few in the NE quarter. LIST for border was NHO for me, as was KENTLEDGE which caused less concern. However LOI 14a cost me 5m at the end – the “with” = W clue device always fools me completely. In the end WAND was a least-worst biff choice.

    Submitted only to find I’d failed to spot a common error of mine, placing the cursor on char 2 and typing from char 1 – giving me EERELON for 25a. Unclear to me how I failed to spot that on the pre-sub check, I’ll blame that on the dreaded lurgy. Thanks U and setter.

  8. 31 minutes, and like others I raced through most of this but struggled to finish in the SE corner.

    Unknown meanings were advert/REFER and border/LIST. The only unknown answer was KENTLEDGE. I knew MARMOREAL as something to do with marble but thought for a while that the answer had to start with MORE, so that delayed me just a little.

    At first I was expecting the definition at 7dn to be ‘off the alcohol’ and the answer to be an alternative to ‘on the wagon’.

    Edited at 2022-04-11 05:41 am (UTC)

  9. Thought I was going to race through this one, but a few GK gaps slowed me down toward the end, and I eventually finished in 26 minutes.

    My problems lay mostly to the east, needing the K of SHOCK to produce KENTLEDGE and finally confirm that it was GLISTEN with its unknown meaning of “list” rather than “glitter” or “glister”, and in the south I had problems with spotting that AESTHETE was an anagram and coming up with REINVENT. Still, I must be getting better at these things if I can just throw SATINETTE in from the wordplay…

    U, I think you’ve got “actor” where you mean “anchor” at 7d.

  10. 21 minutes, slowing down as I descended the puzzle with LOI SATINETTE. MARMOREAL and KENTLEDGE were both readily constructed on the way down. How have I lived all these years without having heard of either? Is KENTLEDGE from where the white cliffs of Dover are falling into the Channel? I spent a while thinking of an alternative to ON THE WAGON before I realised it was the name of a movie that was wanted. COD to OPTICAL ILLUSION. Thank you U and setter,
  11. 33 minutes. Like others, most of this went in without too much trouble, including the unknowns or forgottens, but then I got stuck on WAND. I saw the answer quickly enough but just couldn’t parse it, and spent a long time at the end excluding other possibilities.
  12. I guess it’s some kind of milestone, but my 9.17 this morning meant that I at last have a full 10 sub-10 results on the SNITCH, within 15 seconds of my fastest ever solve.
    MARMOREAL (some sort of monkey?) and KENTLEDGE both went in on wordplay, though I think I had some acquaintance with the latter.
    I was thrown a while by “eccentric” defining, as it turns out, Satie: setters usually just stick with “French” I thought I might be looking for a word with that meaning, and struggled a bit with the resulting wordplay. But Google “satie eccentric” for confirmatory info. AESTHETE, in the same corner, was very good.
  13. 28 mins so a good time for me. The last few held me up a bit especially the CITRUS/SATINETTE crossing. WAND and MARMOREAL. Like Jack I had MORE written In at the beginning which didn’t help. DNK KENTLEDGE but worked it out via the wp, nor that meaning of list.

    I liked the two long ones. Enjoyable for the clear clueing alone.

    Thanks U and setter.

    1. I also biffed my LOI which was “Satinette” — tricky because NHO Satie and didn’t see Nett and not sure if I have heard of Satinette!
  14. Some things which were a bit tougher than the average Monday, balanced by making the wordplay fairly incontrovertible, so my general thought was “no point thinking any harder about this, it’s presumably just things I don’t know”. Much the same as various other people, it seems: not familiar at all with KENTLEDGE, didn’t know Satie was especially eccentric, didn’t know that meaning of LIST, but no complaints.
  15. 13.50 but should have been quicker to do the working out on aesthete. Almost a last minute mess up. DNK marmoreal or kentledge but generously clued. Relaxing start to the week. Thx etc.
  16. Quick today, though KENTLEDGE took longer to occur than it should have, given my county of residence ..
    1. I’ve been embarrassed at least twice now when the city I’ve been looking for as a definition has turned out to be Bristol!
  17. Like some, started pretty fast by my standards but became a bit slow on things like KENTLEDGE and MARMOREAL, and ended in 23 minutes. I never understood PATRIOT and still don’t really: no doubt there are two sentences where ‘caught up in’ and ‘at’ are interchangeable, but I can’t think of an example.
    1. The dictionary helps here – at work or at play.

      I’ve amended the blog accordingly.

      1. I’m still not really convinced: if you’re caught up in work are you at work? And if you’re caught up in play are you at play? Being caught up in something suggests to me a bit more than a mere statement of where you are.
        1. The preposition is not being used locatively in this sense, so ‘at work’ does not (in this sense) mean ‘at the office’; it means ‘engaged in.’ You could be in the garden. ‘At play’ is even more clear, since there is no equivalent of ‘office’ where the child might be – especially in the modern flat with no playroom.
    2. I read the whole thing together: ‘caught up in civil unrest’ = AT RIOT. It would be quite hard to attend a riot without getting caught up in it.
      1. That’s an interesting distinction Keriothe. I believe that some of the “PATRIOTs” who attended the proceedings in DC on January 6th 2021 are claiming they were at them but not in them.
      2. I’m not sure that really works as a phrase; ‘part of a riot’ maybe. Needs an article (definite or indefinite), anyway.

        Edited at 2022-04-11 03:50 pm (UTC)

        1. We see this sort of truncated grammar all the time. Yesterday we had a similarly omitted article in ‘reaction from drunk’ to indicate HIC. Today we have ‘the Spanish’ to indicate EL, which is very common and even more elliptical!
          You might argue it could have done with a question mark.
  18. Kentledge seemed so unlikely as a word, that I worked to get the remaining crossers before putting it in. I had heard of Marmoreal, but began badly by trying for Moremareal, before common sense kicked in. LOI was Wand, as I was looking for a 5-letter chap ending in Y rather than a 4-letter one. But completed pretty quickly even for a Monday.
  19. 3m 33s for my second fastest time ever – with lots of biffing, and coming here to discover the parsing. The LIST of GLISTEN was obscure, and I was surprised to see ‘advert’ as a verb, but given it was Monday I didn’t want to think too hard about anything that seemed a bit odd. KENTLEDGE and then SATINETTE were my last two, both unknown but fairly nicely clued.
  20. Very Mondayish even with some slightly obscure vocab, notably KENTLEDGE and ERELONG, but both very generously clued. Combined with QC time of 3:29 to make comfortable sub-10 “double”, perhaps my fastest ever at 8:34 … not that that will be scaring the real speed merchants. Thanks to setter(s) and blogger(s).
  21. Likewise,a Monday quickie, with KENTLEDGE dredged up from somewhere, the rest was fine, 13 minutes.
  22. 8.41 which is as fast as I can go and probably means that Mohn will clock in somewhere around 2 and change. “List” the only unknown. AESTHETEs always remind me of Nancy Mitford’s Uncle Matthew who called them “sewers”.
      1. Why it reminds me or why he calls them that Ulaca? I think guess, don’t ask, either way!
        1. My initial difficulty was wondering whether he was calling them drains or people who sew. I favoured the former in lieu of context – ‘dirty rotten fellows’. However, a Google search suggests I might have been wrong:

          ‘Uncle Matthew said: “If we ask that brute Merlin to bring his friends, we shall get a lot of aesthetes, sewers from Oxford, and I wouldn’t put it past him to bring some foreigners”.’

          As an Oxford man, I would like to assure you that I never so much as picked up a needle.

          Though some of my best friends are avid seamsters…

          Edited at 2022-04-11 11:59 am (UTC)

  23. Started off at a gallop in the NW. Cantered through the SW. Trotted through the NE, but fell of the camel in the SE, where I spent 10 minutes of my 31:58, trying to solve AESTHETE and totally failing to see it was an anagram. Finally looked it up and submitted off leaderboard. The rest was fine. I’ll put it down to covid brain fog. NHO KENTLEDGE or MARMOREAL! Thanks setter and U.

    Edited at 2022-04-11 11:47 am (UTC)

  24. 24:51 Same unknowns as already mentioned to take the Monday wind out of my sails. Could have been a bit faster on the uptake for the generously clued KENTLEDGE; the same but somewhat less so for SATINETTE.
  25. My blindness for composers is known
    And this French one is one on his own
    Of him I had heard
    Unlike Astronowt’s bird
    I’d rather this bird had flown!
  26. A lot of easy stuff, starting with 1a, but I wasn’t convinced by the definition for REFER, so left that entry blank for some time, which delayed my getting the film, even though that’s one of my all-time favourites. The film led to getting SHOCK, GLISTEN (the border eluded me for ages) and KENTLEDGE, which was unfamiliar. I would normally expect to solve a puzzle like this in 20-25 minutes, but 30 minutes was up by the time of the LOI (ERELONG).
  27. Possibly a record for me. Held up by my own typing but at least none of my mistakes were still there when I hit submit. MARMOREAL and KENTLEDGE both unfamiliar but fairly signposted. A jolly Monday romp.
  28. 4:51. First time under 5 minutes in quite a while. Mostly I biffed away merrily, but I had to construct MARMOREAL and KENTLEDGE entirely from wordplay. Fortunately it was kind.
  29. But not an enjoyable puzzle for me. I’ve no idea how a noun like ‘advert’ can be a satisfactory definition of REFER but no-one else has mentioned this so I guess I’m missing something. The clue for WAND is just awful – I hate these ‘pick a name at random’ formulations – and is CITRUS really a producer of fruit? Not as I’ve ever heard the word used anyway. 6/10 and a ‘could do better’ for our setter today.
    1. verb: advert; 3rd person present: adverts; past tense: adverted; past participle: adverted; gerund or present participle: adverting

      refer to in speaking or writing.
      “I have already adverted to the solar revolution”

      1. Thanks for the definition. No need for the conjugation, which, for regular verbs, I can manage unaided, but thanks for the thought even so. I did look it up after posting in fact and I see that it’s of Middle English origin. My dictionary cites the same example of usage as you, but gives no date for the example nor indication of frequency of usage in modern day English. Suffice it to say that I’ve not contributed to its modern usage figures at all in the last 60 years.
  30. I paused at CITRUS too as ” producer “of fruit , thinking wait, isn’t citrus the fruit? However looking up “citrus” it is a class of plants, therefore the producer of the fruit. I think because we usually only hear of “citrus fruit” in ordinary discourse we can’t help but be diverted to that first meaning.
  31. 22.32. I ran through most of this puzzle pretty quickly but was sorely delayed by a few stragglers, the crossing kentledge and marmoreal in the north east, then aesthete which simply wouldn’t unravel itself from the anagrist, erelong and LOI satinette where I spent too long trying to lift and separate the eccentric from the french composer.
  32. 50 minutes, and like vinyl somewhat annoyed by getting off to a roaring start on the top left only to bog down entirely at the bottom right. I should have expected ERELONG to be two words, but apparently not, and KENTLEDGE, my LOI, is so obscure that my online Oxford English dictionary, to which I have just renewed my premium subscription, has no entry for it in the English dictionary, although the Italian one is happy enough to supply a translation. Not the most enjoyable of puzzles, and somewhat unbalanced, though I did enjoy STURGEON.

    Edited at 2022-04-11 05:27 pm (UTC)

  33. ON THE WAGONFRONT (don’t ask) delayed my LOI AESTHETE

    Also had MOREMAREAL until I moved out of Muppet-mode

    Miracle I finished it all correct tbh!

    Thanks Ulaca and setter

  34. Only got around to this on Wednesday as have been dahn saaf looking after my Dad who has been in hospital.

    Found it pretty breezy though had to (pretty easily) build KENTLEDGE and MARMOREAL from cryptic, and did not know those meanings of LIST and REFER.

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