Times 28327 – With a tiny monster, perhaps?

Time: 10 minutes

Music: Roxy Music, Avalon

We have  certainly gotten to just about the easiest possible puzzle today – I doubt whether this will break 50 in the SNITCH.   Everyone should have a great start to the week.     The simple clues for the long answers will give everyone a lot of checking letters, and then it should be off to the races.

Maybe you didn’t think so?   Dissenting views invited.

1 Aussie native everyone accepted readily at first in court (8)
WALLAROO – W(ALL, A, R[eadily])OO
6 Eddy, Victor or Tony’s first old flame (6)
VORTEX – V OR T[ony] + EX.
9 Food supplement damaging koalas to some extent (6)
GINGKO – Hidden in [dama]GING KO[alas].
10 Travel east in fast car, one seen at Goodwood, perhaps (8)
11 Splendid person, solitary type with no end of skill (4)
12 Composure of a Northern Ireland minister originally in actors’ union (10)
14 Kneeling-desk that is used by girl in Peru, oddly (4-4)
PRIE-DIEU – PR(I.E. DI)EU, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of Peru, not the odd letters!
16 Noble gas identified by knight a long time in America (4)
NEON – N + EON, which would be aeon in the UK.
18 Book unknown penned by English artist (4)
19 Legislator with master’s degree wearing carmine robe, principally (8)
LAWMAKER – LA(W/MA)KE + R[obe].   Stamp collectors will know carmine lake.
21 Like modern flutes stars never replaced (10)
22 Foot injury initially seen by a GP, perhaps (4)
IAMB – I[njury] +  A M.B.
24 Old coin Scottish architect used to secure team backing (8)
SIXPENCE – S(XI backwards)PENCE, one everyone will biff.
26 North Europeans, quietly abandoned in East European pass (6)
27 Sound situation for a swimmer at sea (6)
PLAICE – Sounds like PLACE.
28 Circulate police officers as such (8)
DISPERSE – DI’S + PER SE.   I was held up here because I had carelessly put an A at the end of mandarinate.
2 A legal right for someone from abroad (5)
ALIEN – A + LIEN, a super-chestnut.
3 Cunning deception disturbing in gem dealer (11)
4 Old country broadcast set up to include last of such poems (8)
RHODESIA – R([suc]H ODES)IA, where the enclosing letters are AIR upside-down.
5 Novel ally of solver and setter? (3,6,6)
OUR MUTUAL FRIEND – A simple cryptic hint.   Experienced solvers will know most fifteen-letter novel titles.
6 Empty container found outside jail (6)
7 Most of capital laid down for equipment (3)
RIG – RIG[a].
8 Chosen way, do we hear, to become a conductor (9)
ELECTRODE – ELECT + sounds like ROAD.
13 Decree covering most of paintings in old Chinese office (11)
15 Diving bird never settled by the ageing GBS? (9)
RAZORBILL – Another cryptic hint – since Shaw had a long beard, he never paid his RAZOR BILL.
17 Sentimentality of team’s leader with small head (8)
20 Way a planet reduced energy (6)
AVENUE – A + VENU[s] + E.
23 Possibly Grandma in Missouri primarily studying French art (5)
MOSES – MO + S[tudying] + ES.   She was a pioneer in outsider art, which is now widely collected.
25 Greek character’s exclamation of distaste for listeners (3)
PHI – Sounds like FIE, although not when actually pronounced by a fifth-century BC Athenian.   Are there any present?   Thought so!

97 comments on “Times 28327 – With a tiny monster, perhaps?”

  1. DNF. Missed on fairly rapid solve for me-32 minutes- by putting in Psi (sigh?) for PHI(fie)- groan. Also wanted Ruthenia or Roumania for a long time till RHODESIA proved the smarter option. When I had R_Z I immediately put in razorback till later developments led to RAZORBILL. I was going to have TWEENESS for COD until I read blog explanation of RAZORBILL and switched to the latter. Thanks for that and rest of blog.

    1. I think PSI is just as good as PHI. I tossed a coin and put PHI but….

    2. Same here! I must learn the Greek alphabet- didn’t find this particularly easy – not the best start to the week

  2. Put me down as a mild dissenter Vinyl. I did it in 17:28, which would mark it as about average, but the SNITCH is currently at 69, suggesting it’s fairly Monday-ish.

    Think I took a bit too long in the SW, not helped by the proximity of the religious clues EZRA and PRIE-DIEU.

    My aim for today is to use LEGERDEMAIN in a conversation. What a great word.

    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  3. Another “psi” here, so a 21 minute DNF for an otherwise gentle puzzle, though I couldn’t parse RAZORBILL either; very good.

  4. 13:16
    I biffed PRIE-DIEU from the hyphen, and the U let me biff OMF. DNK SPENCE. I didn’t get the GBS joke, probably thrown off by the ‘ageing’. And I didn’t get ‘carmine’, although LAKE rang some distant bell. It’s early, but SNITCH marks this as only ‘easier’.

  5. DNF as I had no idea for 14ac PRIE-DIEU! As a Methodist this is a somewhat 2dn. concept.. Re-5dn – as an experienced solver I take issue with Lord V’s assertion that I might carry memorised lists of fifteen-letter novel titles in my befuddled brain! I simply do not! However l’ll start you all off with- ‘Three Men in a Boat.

    FOI 2dn ALIEN – poor John Hurt.
    COD 24ac SIXPENCE – brought goings-on at The Capitol in January last year to mind.
    WOD 2dn LEGERDMAIN with 12ac EQUINIMITY on the rostrum.

    As for 15dn RAZORBILL – a simply dreadful clue, IMO involving a rather tiresome old beardy and a heavily tortured cryptic. Hardly ZZ Top!

    ‘Diving bird never settled by ZZT’ might have gained my interest!

    1. Ironically, ZZ Top’s Frank Beard is clean shaven in most pics. There would have been complaints from the cognoscenti of this parish!

      1. Was Frank the drummer? GBS did not always sport a beard, according to his mother.

        1. Indeed he was! Arguably, none of us in our youth sported a beard, but didn’t need razors either!

  6. I didn’t recognize the term for flutes, nor did I recall carmine lake. My LOI must have been RAZORBILL, and I find that clue somewhat far-fetched. (Even aside from the question, to take it literally, of why the esteemed playwright wouldn’t have paid for his razors and/or his blades before taking them out of the shop. I don’t think by-mail subscription services were around back then. And if it means Shaw left an unpaid tab at his favorite barber shop, why would we presume that?—we’re not talking about James Joyce here—and who says “RAZOR BILL” when they mean what they owe the barber?)


      In my opinion cryptic crosswords would be very dull indeed if setters were not allowed to indulge whimsy and imagination when adding a cryptic hint in support of a straight definition. The question mark indicates that part of the clue is not intended to be taken literally and deconstructed forensically.

      1. I honestly do find it a bit far-fetched, but I only went on for so long because I was having fun with it. Everything in parenthesis is just kidding around.

      2. I liked the clue, and laughed at the cryptic hint. No problem with the clue from me.

  7. 28 minutes.

    To my mind a puzzle which includes the unlikely word GINGKO on its first appearance in the TfTT era hardly fits the ‘easiest possible’ description. And LAKE for ‘carmine’ had me baffled.

    Elsewhere I was distracted by EON defined as ‘long time in America’ since I only learnt the word from crossword puzzles where it appears almost weekly without the ‘American’ qualification and if I ever knew it was also spelt ‘aeon’ I had forgotten it. ‘Laid down’ in 7dn also caused confusion because it suggests a reversal that’s not present.

    Grandma MOSES came up on 7th June blogged by Ulaca, and PRIE-DIEU on 24th May blogged by me and there was quite a lot of discussion about it so I’m surprised it has been forgotten in some quarters quite so soon.

    1. GINGKO doesn’t seem so obscure. Of course, I’ve seen it touted often as a treatment for tinnitus, which is ridiculous, of course. (There is no treatment for tinnitus. And I bet you could hear my tinnitus over the phone in a transatlantic call.) GINGKO appeared in Times Crossword 24525 on 2010-04-30 https://times-xwd-times.livejournal.com/548383.html?page=1 —when Vinyl opined that “the tree is just a bit on the obscure side, especially with a variant spelling.” But this is the only spelling that I know…

      1. Thanks for finding the link to a previous appearance, Guy, which I note is to Live Journal and raises a question as to why a search on this site didn’t locate it even though both the blog and comments have been imported successfully. It wouldn’t have found the actual blog entry because it was written as GING,KO with a comma, but ‘gingko’ was quoted further down by Vinyl1 so it should have found that, unless perhaps the quotation marks affected it.

        Anyway to revert to my comment above, one appearance 12 years ago doesn’t make the word commonplace in the context of a puzzle described as ‘easiest possible’, the point I was querying rather than whether or not it was fair to include it. Other than fitting in with that, the clue is perfectly fine in my view.

        1. I have discovered that the WordPress search function only searches the blog, and presumably headings etc. It does not search the comments. So GINGKOs in the comments would not be found.

          1. Thanks, I wonder if johninterred is aware?

            I eventually got it to find the blog here by searching on “ging,ko”. Without the quotation marks it brought up 44 pages of hits, mostly just containing ging

            1. Yes. That’s the way WordPress search works – only the pages and posts, not the comments.

              1. Thanks, John. Apologies if you have told me this before and I have forgotten. It shouldn’t be a problem now that all bloggers use the script, and could actually things speed things up when all we are looking for is a previous appearance of a word as an answer. Back in 2010 when GINGKO last appeared blogs were written in many different formats and of course we weren’t even blogging every single clue at that time.

                1. Once the site has been fully indexed, you should be able to use Google search with the site: operator. At the moment, this brings back the 2010 blog but not this one.

                  1. If you go to the dashboard you will see one link for posts and another for comments. If you click on the latter you will be taken to a page that includes a search function.

                    1. That is true, but the dashboard is only available to Authors, Editors and Admin, not Subscribers. There are plugins that can add more advanced search for all users… I’ll put that on the potential enhancements list.

                    2. Thanks. Tested on GINGKO and it found loads in #24525. It’s useful to know about the Comments search but I think the standard blog search will work in most instances for my purposes, today’s example being an exception because of the target word being interrupted by a comma.

    2. GINGKOs (or ginkgos) are fairly common around here; there’s a row of them lining the exit road from the highway near my place. I never thought of them –or any tree–as a food supplement, though. The nut is eaten in chawanmushi, and I’ve seen old ladies gathering up the fallen ones.
      I just assumed that ‘eon’ was spelled ‘aeon’ over there, just like ‘anaemia’, ‘aesthete’, etc.

      1. Your assumption may well be right, Kevin, but outside crosswords it’s not a word that’s used very often and for crossword purposes the ‘aeon’ spelling isn’t of much use. So setters use ‘eon’ and this is the first time I can recall it ever being signalled as an American spelling. It’s all perfectly correct and fair of course but because of the above, misleading —perhaps intentionally so!

        1. I did a quick search of the Times website and both versions seem to be in use. If you search for ‘eon’ you get nothing but references to the electricity company so I tried ‘eons’ with more success. I suspect ‘aeon’ may be on its way out: I would certainly never spell it like that.

  8. Carmine-lake is indeed a ‘Philatelic’ colour from Waterlow & Sons.

    When I worked in Singapore, at the turn of this century, GINGKO oil was traditionally used in beauty treatments in the Malaysian market.

  9. A 24 minute failure here, slowed down a little by not knowing much, if anything, about carmine lake, the length of GBS’s beard, architects or modern flutes, and finally sunk by seeing PSI as an obviously correct answer. (I’ve also never heard anyone say “FIE” in real life, which probably doesn’t help…)

  10. This did feel like a 50-SNITCH almost-QC offering for the first few minutes in the top half, but I found I had to work increasingly hard in order to bring it home. Didn’t decode GBS (which seems a bit gormless in retrospect), carmine was completely unknown, and PRIE-DIEU I’ve encountered once before (here a few months ago) – it had to wait for the crossers. I knew LEGERDEMAIN to be a legit word, but had no idea of the meaning. Unfamiliar with the expression of disgust, I’m glad PHI preceded PSI in the alpha-trawl (but I still don’t know how it’s pronounced). Fee-fi-fo-fum.

    Ended up in the SE where, after finally remembering the “French art” clueing device, I triumphantly entered my LOI as MISES coz I never considered the abbreviation clash with Mississipi. 39m, 1 pink, second successive Monday fail, mood nonplussed

    1. I thought MOSES was tricky if you didn’t know Grandma Moses. Fortunately I remembered her as having appeared in a puzzle somewhere quite recently.

  11. 18 minutes, so by no means the easiest ever for me. LAWMAKER was biffed, not knowing carmine to mean lake. TRANSVERSE solved the anagram but its connection with a flute was unknown to me. RAZORBILL was a bit too contrived to give a satisfactory PDM. LOI ELAPSE. COD to OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. Thank you V and setter.

  12. …when, sick for home,
    she stood in tears amid the Alien corn

    20 mins pre-brekker.
    At first, first, end of, originally, principally,initially, last of, leader, primarily.
    Too many.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  13. RAZORBILL is an awful clue in my opinion. I am all for fun in clues but this doesn’t work on so many levels. This is also our setter with the penchant for first/last setters – first, first, originally, principally, initially, last, leader and primarily. Too many.

    1. It seems to this casual appraiser
      That a man with a beard owns no razor
      So no RAZORBILL, then
      Sack the setter! And when
      They try to resist, use a taser

  14. No dramas, but not a pushover. No idea if GBS had a beard, did remember lake as red, found the flute clue strange. Transverse because they’re held across your mouth instead of straight in front like say an oboe? Spent a minute or two deciding between PSI and PHI. Didn’t know how to pronounce FIE, and probably don’t pronounce PHI like a 5th century BC Athenian, but picked the right one for the right reason. LOI Mandarinate took a minute or two to figure out as well.

    1. The other types of flute are ‘end-blown’ not very commonly used in Western music, and the more familiar ‘fipple flutes’ of the recorder family.

      1. For some reason I remember from “Lucky Jim” Professor Welch explaining to Jim that a flute is played ‘traverso’ (if I recall correctly).

  15. 12:00. I found this straightforward to start with but after a while there was plenty which gave me pause for thought. I had no idea about GBS, thinking maybe it was an organisation like the RSPB. I didn’t know what TRANSVERSE had to do with flutes. For the old coin I was looking for something like “ducat”. And for the novel I thought it was going to be an anagram of “solver and setter”. Not that ally would work as an anagrind. Perhaps I read it as alloy. I’ll use that as my excuse.

  16. Hmm, biffed razorbill from the Z, but quite like the droll clue now it is explained to me .. engagingly silly.

    I did not find it as easy as our esteemed blogger seems to have done and would say a SNITCH around the 70 mark is about right. I am also curious to learn how he knows how a c5 bc Athenian would pronounce phi, or in fact anything at all. In my lifetime Latin pronunciation has been changed dramatically, which I took as an indication that nobody knew how Romans spoke, either.

    1. When I switched schools at 11 my Latin was 3 years ahead of some of my classmates and I was forced to restart from scratch. The only problem I had was having to pronounce V as W. Wany weedy weaky still sounds silly to my ear!

      1. I seem to remember from that unimpeachable source 1066 And All That that the ancient Britons were so demoralised after being called Weeny, Weedy and Weaky by Julius Caesar that they put up no sort of fight. And what did the Romans do for us?

        1. Surely the first one was Wayney (husband of Colleen?)
          A while back Dr. Thud_n_Blunder questioned Latin pronunciation and someone pointed him to a youtube video of forensic archaeological linguists who were trying to trace the Roman pronunciation of Latin by e.g. looking at misspelled Roman graffiti, amongst other things. Very interesting, but I can’t find the link with google.

          1. My old Latin master had us say Wayney, Weedy and Weaky too but the joke didn’t work then. OK, it didn’t work anyway.

  17. 9:46. Sub-10 minutes, which isn’t common for me, but I didn’t think it as easy as our blogger suggested…. Oh. I see Jerry has just said the same. I never parsed RAZORBILL (very droll), only remembered PRIE-DIEU from another crossword and was glad GINGKO was a hidden. LOI SIXPENCE. Thanks V and setter.

  18. 34m 20s
    Along with galspray, put me down as a dissenter. Carmine Lake is a tad esoteric for my taste and not everyone has a mental list of 15 letter novel titles. My other dissenting opinion is on ELAPSE. Surely there should be an indication that only one of the two Ps in LAPPS needs to be abandoned?
    We’ve had PRIE-DIEU only recently.
    COD: RAZORBILL…well, I liked it.

    1. Martin, ‘quietly’ in music is ‘p’. ‘pp’ would be ‘very quietly’.

  19. Shame it’s not spelled JINGKO, listed as an alternative in some sources, as that would have completed the pangram. Otherwise a gentle start to the week for me at 11.05, though I gave up on Shaw’s beard and the full parsing of MANDARINATE (couldn’t see where the IN came from!).
    I haven’t said FIE for a long time, but anyone who has had to memorise chunks of Shakespeare will know it from Hamlet’s rogue and peasant slave speech. No-one knows how Shakespeare would have pronounce it either.

  20. 6:14. I did find this pretty easy but found that a bit surprising as there’s a lot of rather esoteric stuff in it. Most of it was at least vaguely familiar to me though, the one exception being carmine, which I assumed to be the name of a lake somewhere. That would have required a capital C but I didn’t notice that and with checkers the answer was obvious so I didn’t dwell on it.
    PHI/PSI seems ambiguous to me. On the one hand, ‘fie’ is a slightly better match for ‘exclamation of distaste’ than ‘sigh’, but on the other no-one has said it for about three hundred years.
    Does anybody in this country or anywhere else spell it ‘aeon’ these days?

    1. I do. I recognise “eon”, of course, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to spell it that way. Anyway, they look longer with the initial “a”.

  21. Well, I’m with Jack and Galspray as I took 40 mins today, held up primarily in the SW and having PSI (my view being that »sigh » is more an exclamation of distaste than « fie ») so not so easy and a DNF. Bah.

    DNK WALLAROO, though worked it out eventually and had forgotten LEGERDEMAIN.

    I liked RACEGOER.

    Thanks v and setter.

  22. “a farewell to arms” immediately came to mind when I saw people volunteering 15 letter novels. This took me about 30 minutes but not very exact since I was eating a hotel breakfast at the time, and getting up for coffee and so forth. Had no idea about the GBS thing so I just ignored it having filled in the answer from just the Z checker (and having had a beard for nearly 50 years, I guess I’ve saved quite a bit on my RAZORBILL too).

  23. 10:06

    Easy, but not ridiculously so. I biffed LAWMAKER and RAZORBILL so didn’t really take in that I had no idea about carmine lake or that the GBS thing was bit silly.

    I’ve come across GINGKO BILOBA as some kind of health supplement (as well as being a Santana song 😊 ) so that was fine.

  24. 19:56

    Par for Monday. As vinyl says, the long ones certainly helped. On the other hand, SIXPENCE and PLAICE held me up for a while. Winced a bit at RAZORBILL, but I think such clues are fair enough in the general swirl of things.

    I take a gingko and ginseng tablet every day -supposed to be good for the memory. I’m not convinced it does any good, and occasionally I stop. When I restart, I do seem to notice the benefit but
    I suspect this is just a recurring placebo effect.

    Thanks to vinyl and the setter.

  25. Not that easy, for me, but quite jolly. I put in RAZORBILL straight away seeing the Z and liked the GBS idea. Debated between PHI and PSI and plumped correctly. 25 minutes.

  26. 20:22

    Think our blogger might be alone in thinking this was really easy. I’d say straightforward though I missed some stuff:

    PRIE-DIEU – only remembered from recent grid, otherwise might not have known this
    EZRA – guessed that this is a book from the Bible
    TRANSVERSE – never heard of that term regarding flutes, but it makes sense (would have been truly bamboozled if it had been something to do with champagne flutes)
    RAZORBILL – missed the joke entirely, wasn’t even that good the second time around
    PHI or PSI – thankfully thought of PHI first
    MANDARINATE – even with four checkers, the word that held me up the longest


  27. 23 mins plus change, and yes, pretty Monday-ish, but not, in my view, especially easy. RAZORBILL went in as soon the Z appeared, but I totally failed to parse it having unaccountably registered anything in response to the clued GBS. Thanks to our blogger, and with respect to the several dissenters here, I now see it as a fine clue. MOSES went in entirely from generous wordplay, Grandma M being completely unknown to me and therefore someone to look up after lunch.

  28. Well I didn’t think it was that easy, certainly not as easy as possible as vinyl describes it! Having said that I did finish in 38.44 which was inside my target, but then discovered that PSI wasn’t sigh after all. After a poor showing on the QC, not my best day.

  29. Not the trickiest ever, but I certainly thought this was on the harder end of the scale for a Monday. GINGKO, PRIE-DIEU, carmine lake (??), the GBS reference, MANDARINATE… there was plenty here to give pause. And that’s before the PSI/PHI quandary, where I initially put the former and then decided the latter was marginally more likely. Unfortunate that the editors didn’t catch that one.

    7m 35s.

  30. Missed my target 30 minutes by 2 seconds (which puts this as my third or fourth fastest solve). No idea about carmine or the parsing of razorbill but, having seen one for the first time this month on a Farne Islands boat trip, it was easy to see from the Z.
    On the phi/psi dilemma, while psi is pronounced s in English (as in psychology) it was pronounced ps in Greek (as in upstart). While we cannot know how ancient languages were exactly pronounced, it would be odd for a language to have two separate letters for the same sound. Even more confusing is that we were taught at school to pronounce phi as ‘fee’, which does not help with today’s solve.
    Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable start to the week and to our blogger for the explanations.

  31. 06:33, so a Monday sprint to test the senescent. Nothing I hadn’t seen before, tough I was glad of sufficient clarity in the wordplay to be able to assemble the likes of PRIE-DIEU and GINGKO without having to think too hard.

  32. Seeing the grandma Moses reference in 23dn takes me back to my student days at the school of architecture, when each member of our year was given a ‘crit’ by The Professor on our latest design project. This could be a nerve wracking experience, particularly when your turn got ever closer. It was the turn of my pal Martin, and the prof after studying his scheme said his style reminded him very much of grandma Moses. Thank you very much sir said Martin, only to receive the reply ‘it wasn’t meant as a compliment’!

  33. Another who biffed LAWMAKER and RAZORBILL. The GBS reference totally escaped me, although Carmine Lake does ring a faint bell from my childhood watercolour paint boxes. I started off at a gallop with WALLAROO FOI. I remembered PRIE-DIEU from a previous puzzle but was grateful for the wordplay. The Us from that and EQUANIMITY helped with the novel. Fortunately I knew of Grandma MOSES. SIXPENCE eliminated Chi from the lottery at 25d, and after some musing I decided PHI was the better option. I’ve not heard TRANSVERSE as a description of modern flutes, but it seemed a reasonable assumption as that’s the way they are played. 15:16. Thanks setter and V.

  34. 17:45. Was stumped by RAZORBILL and don’t imagine I would parsed it had I spent even longer looking it. I also plumped for PSI, not because I thought it was a better answer but because I didn’t think of fie. I’m claiming it as a valid alternative anyway.

  35. Well easy I thought, but totally failed to parse RAZORBILL as although I knew GBS had a beard I didn’t connect it up. MANDARINATE had me wondering what ARIN had to do with anything, didn’t see the IN in plain sight.
    Then totally erred by entering Sir Basil SpenSe into my Excel cheating tool, and had to remove it on waking up! Hate to have false words in the tool. Never knew he was Scottish.
    Surprised so many didn’t recognise lake and carmine as red.

  36. Odd one. First glance through I thought ‘harder than usual Monday’ and ‘I probably won’t finish this one’, so slow start, but as I got the crossers from easy clues, I quickly topped it up in 18 minutes. I liked Razorbill. LOI Moses because I was distracted by MI for Missouri.

  37. Beaten after an hour plus by MOSES ELAPSE and ALIEN. Kicking myself about the last two but NHO Grandma Moses. Also had PSI (for sigh) and would never had aligned Phi with fie for half a dozen reasons, five of them being that I’ve never heard anyone actually utter the word.

    Biffed RAZORBILL and quite like the clue post blog but think it may have been a bit too clever for its own good when all considered. Agree with some above that a ZZ Top reference would not have been out of place!

  38. Just under 30 minutes (I stopped weighing alternatives and submitted just in time to achieve that), and yes, it was very easy. And I had no problems with the clues that other people complained about, such as the carmine LAKE and the GINGKO, nor PRIE-DIEU for that matter, although it is also not my religion. For WALLAROO, I decided only at the end that it was more likely than my original WALLUROO (U for accepted, though not “at first”). I biffed RAZORBILL, since I couldn’t figure out what GBS might have to do with it. As for PHI vs PSI, fie! is definitely more appropriate to indicate displeasure than sigh …, which to me shows sadness (a masochist might even like it).

  39. 17 mins, held up by not seeing PER SE, and wondering how the cryptic worked.
    I used to sell GINGKO, sometimes spelt Ginkgo, in my health shop, for helping with blood circulation. A lot of folks think it encourages blood into the brain to prevent Alzheimer’s, not sure about that….

  40. DNF. Bah! 15 1/2 mins but I can’t spell walleroo. Should’ve paid attention to the word play. I found this easy to get started in the top half. It got a little knottier towards the bottom but I never felt completely stumped.

  41. Astonished by Vinyl’s assessment of this as ‘easiest possible’. I guess I wasn’t on the wavelength. I spent ages on it, and had finally to call in Mr Ego to help me with his ‘database’ solving, that unerringly supplies words fitting the flimsiest of skeletons. He got RACEGOER, DISPERSE and GINGKO, which I completely missed and the rest of the puzzle fell to me. Never heard of ONER; LAWMAKER went in without understanding the carmine connection and RAZORBILL was entered via the R and Z checkers and parsed afterwards. Have to confess I’ve never heard of Spence and despaired of getting the answer until I thought of IX for ‘team backing’. Strange how one person’s ‘simples’ is another’s ‘beast of the week’! I am, however, shattered, at the end of 6 weeks of exam invigilation, so maybe the brain needs a little TLC and sleep…

    1. I’m with you alto-ego on V’s assessment of this: a bit dismissive of lesser solvers ( such as I) I thought. Started at a gallop with GINGKO – which I thought to be generally well-known as a health supplement, WALLAROO (being resident in Oz) and PRIE-DIEU, which came up here only recently. ( There IS some point in my interminable list of “Words to Remember” then! ) Hooray. The lake-carmine connection passed me by completely (even though having an interest in all things ART) , and I never saw the GBS joke. So..a bit of a struggle in the South, and not my finest hour.

  42. 8’03” – which is a PB. I started biffing like crazy when I saw it was going to be a fast one, and got away with it. Irresponsible behaviour I know, but it gets the adrenaline flowing. It meant I never even read the GBS part of the clue, because what else could a diver beginning R_Z be? Gingkos are one of ghe trees planted down the A77 — L’Autoroute des Arbres — which I know well. Easy word to spot, but a bu**er to pronounce. Many thanks.

  43. Thanks setter and musiclover. This would have been my fastest ever except that I biffed many and then wasted time trying (in vain) to parse them before moving on. RAZORBILL,for example, the only one I could think of that fitted would have been my COD if I had seen the joke, I remembered LAKE from collecting stamps >70 years ago and spent ages looking for something spelt backwards (East) in RACEGOER. I enjoyed the puzzle even more, seeing the blog. FOI WALLAROO, guessed, biffed, but NHO, LOI MOSES vaguely known and biffed, COD OUR MUTUAL FRIEND; I really like clues which “have to be right” when tyhe penny drops, and here, cracked with only the O as a crosser gave me the confidence to compledte with so many biffees!

  44. As blogged I did find this quite easy, but there were a good few weird words (for me) in it. Slowed me up a bit as I decided whether or not to trust the rather solid wordplay etc.

  45. I thought this was pretty easy, but maybe not enough to be in the ‘very easy’ category. Unusually, there were no hold-ups, although RAZORBILL bemused me for a while as I couldn’t think what it had to do with GBS until I realised, and MANDARINATE wasn’t really that familiar. Lucky to think of ‘fie’ (which comes in Shakespeare and people like that a good bit) before ‘sigh’. 19 minutes.

    [Actually I wrote this in the morning, then this evening couldn’t understand why my post wasn’t there. I’d forgotten to click on ‘Post’ or whatever it is.]

  46. 22.52

    At school we pronounced them p-sigh and fie so the former wasn’t an option

    Late solve so tiredness-ometer had a fairly high reading resulting in a short period of stasis but it all came good in the end

    Decent puzzle – thanks setter and Vinyl

  47. I failed on “Mandarinate” despite having all the crossers. I convinced myself that “old Chinese” would be “Ming” and so was sure that the second letter would be an “I”.

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