Times 28330 Turns out I can do.


I got through this in 12 seconds inside 20 minutes, though not without hesitations on the way over some quirky definitions and unusual anagram indicators.

There is vocab that may be unfamiliar to some participants, so I have presumed to add some clarification. That spelling of the plant at 5d still looks a bit odd, as for the gift at 2d. I liked the nostalgic reference to the Crossword Competition ca 1994: I still have my little bottle with its contents intact.

I present definitions in underlined italics, and solutions in BOLD CAPITALS

1 Top English physician back in Massachusetts area (4,3)
CAPE COD – Top either as a noun or as a verb gives CAP, add E(nglish) and DOC for physician reversed (back). I know Cape Cod from Robert Lowell’s The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket  studied in my youth. An historic, much visited peninsula in Massachussets.
5 Knock back drink around noon and have something to eat (7)
PARSNIP – Knock is RAP, which is reversed (back, again!), drink is SIP, surrounding N(oon)
9 Green light seen in space (9)
CLEARANCE – A double definition, I think.
10 Father has maybe one old possible banger after another (5)
VICAR – Plenty of vicars like to be called father in direct contradiction to their boss (Matthew 23.9). The word is made up of two “old possible bangers”, a description which loosely applies to the V1 rocket of WW2 vintage and more appropriately to a dilapidated car (cf banger racing).
11 Vicious Ohio gangster with new target practice facility (8,5)
SHOOTING RANGE – An anagram, indicated by “vicious” of OHIO GANGSTER and N(ew). Not sure I’ve seen vicious used this way before.
13 Do too much in Ulster, say — it’s fine for a time (8)
OVERCOOK – You need to know that an Ulster is (also) an OVERCOAT. Substitute A T(ime) with OK, fine.
15 Cloak that conceals a drug in church (6)
CAPOTE – Not, as far as I can ascertain, connected to Truman, its a cloak with a hood. A drug is A POT, “concealed” by CE, crossword abbreviation for the Church of England.
17 Understood to have dropped case in (2,4)
AT HOME – It’s FATHOMED for understood minus its case of first and last letters.
19 On snooker table, screw supports leg (8) 
BACKSPIN – Supports: BACKS, leg: PIN
22 Study involves too much banjo playing — damn! (6-7)
COTTON-PICKING – A phrase much loved of cartoon characters. CON for study around OTT for too much, and then PICKING for banjo playing.
25 One’s in the force? You’d hope not! (5)
THIEF – An &littish sort of clue. THE F(orce) includes I (one)
26 Mix up one thousand with one hundred, as shown in illustration (9)
IMPLICATE – I hesitated over the definition but accepted it in the end. We have I M (one thousand) plus I C (one hundred) within PLATE for illustration. Glossy pictures inserted into books always used to be called plates: are they still?
27 With great skill, branch line’s put together within a year (7)
ADEPTLY – DEP(artmen)T stands in for branch, add L(ine) and place both within A Y(ear)
28 Harry lets in police after a form of ID is produced (4,3)
NAME TAG – Harry is NAG, with MET for (London) police preceded by A introduced.
1 Firm about narcotic substance (4)
COCA – Two standard abbreviation, CO (firm, company) and CA (circa, about)
2 Gift item — oddly, with jam on top (7)
PRESSIE – The odd letters of ItEm with PRESS for jam on top – it is a down clue. I’ve always thought the alternative spelling of prezzie to be preferable, since they’re both apparently pronounced the same.
3 Load vehicle before journey (5)
CARGO – Easy enough, CAR for vehicle and GO for journey.
4 Grant put on a lot of weight when touring India (8)
DONATION – Put on a lot of weight translated to DON A TON. Insert I(ndia) NATO alphabet.
5 £25 secures each climbing plant (6)
PAEONY – “Stick a pony in me pocket” from Only Fools is your reference for the slang term for £25. Insert (secures) EA(ch) reversed (climbing) Even spelt this way, the paeony is not a climbing plant, so some lift and separate needed.
6 Class adopts one word for flower container? (9)
RIVERBANK – A definition only to be found in crosswords. RANK for class adopts I (one) VERB for word.
7 It’s not possible to have a party without toilet facilities? (2,3,2)
NO CAN DO – Back in the day, we competioners used to get a free miniature of whiskey from sponsors Knockando: much hilarity from realising that it was this answer as a homophone. A party without toilet facilities is a NO CAN DO
8 Fishing net put straight across small French river (5,5)
PURSE SEINE – A bag-like fishing net. Straight is PURE, which you put across/around S(mall) and follow with the best known of all French rivers. Parsed properly post submission, wondering earlier how purse meant put straight (it doesn’t) and where small came in.
12 Vacation’s itinerary to include old province (4,6)
NOVA SCOTIA – Another mildly bizarre anagram indicator, itinerary (works if it’s an adjective) points you to VACATION plus O(ld).
14 Kind of sweet to ring enemy up? Don’t be daft! (4,3,2)
COME OFF IT – Kind of sweet is COMFIT, several of which Alice handed out as prizes to the winners (everyone) of the Caucus Race in Wonderland. It “rings” FOE for enemy reversed (up)
16 With uniform in bag, scruff picked up catering equipment (8)
SAUCEPAN – U(niform) (NATO again) in SAC for bag, followed by NAPE for scruff (of the neck) reversed (picked up)
18 Direct telephone connection in hotel complex (7)
HOTLINE -An anagram (complex) of IN HOTEL
20 Soldier maybe with attendant on parade (7)
PAGEANT – When you see “soldier, perhaps” you should immediately think of ANT. Do so, and put PAGE for attendant on top.
21 Self-important pundit’s first sin is to support United (6)
UPPITY – The first letter of Pundit and PITY for sin, via a matter for regret (Chambers), I think, supporting U(nited)
23 Identify Crown Dependency’s dialect (5)
IDIOM – ID for identify, Isle Of Man for the crown dependency
24 Bomber group carries a threat to shipping (4)
BERG – Today’s hidden, in bomBER Group.

57 comments on “Times 28330 Turns out I can do.”

  1. I started off slow–FOI 2d!–and continued that way, taking over 40′ to finish. DNK PURSE SEINE, which I looked up to make sure of. DNK ‘screw’. I never figured out the VI of VICAR, or AT HOME. And I only parsed COTTON-PICKING & NOVA SCOTIA post-submission. OVERCOOK took ages because I was taking ‘fine’ to be F; and IMPLICATE ditto because I was thinking IMIC. All in all not a good day.

  2. I got there, but it took considerably longer than 20 minutes. I liked the hard to find definitions, but struggled to bring some of the barely remembered vocabulary (Capote, screw at snooker) to mind. I’m never a fan of plants, and unusually spelt plants are, if possible further from my heart. Pfui.

    Last time we had Cotton Picking there was discussion of whether it is a slur or not and whether it has suspect origins. I don’t think it is and I don’t think it has. However, I personally give Uppity a pretty wide berth.

    1. UPPITY has come up a couple of times, and Olivia and I have noted why we in the US (and Paul in London) give it a wide berth.

  3. I’m not convinced on the grammar of the PURSE SEINE clue – ‘put straight’ is a direct instruction to the solver, so it doesn’t flow too well after the definition part (IMHO)

    1. I think it riffs on the ambiguity of PUT as the imperative form of the verb, and PUT as the simple past tense. We have to separate definition and wordplay to make the clue work.

  4. Found this straightforward except for two: wrote an incorrect POEANY following the instructions to insert EA, realising I’d always thought a peony was a flower not a climbing plant. Idiot. And failed to spot the hidden BERG of all things, had to biff it. Spent too long thinking maybe a RAAF was like a REEF, or that I didn’t know some particularly arcane name for bombers from WWII, or something.
    Hadn’t known itinerary was an adjective, now do so the eyebrow has returned to position. Overall much enjoyed. COD: HOTLINE.

  5. 41 minutes. I’d NHO CAPOTE or PURSE SEINE, but both seemed more likely than their “capoth” and “purse rhone” alternatives. I couldn’t explain PITY for ‘sin’ and had never come across ‘itinerary’ as an adjective or the unusual PAEONY spelling.

    I liked the ‘maybe one old possible banger after another’ wordplay for VICAR.

  6. 30 minutes, which felt like a poor time, but judging from my colleagues’ performances, it appears I got lucky. OVERCOOK was my last in, and a struggle.

  7. 25 minutes. A steady solve. I think I’d heard of CAPOTE before, and it seems a pretty plausible word for a cape, but that was the only unknown. Oh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen PAEONY spelled like that. Not very Fridayish.

      1. That’s true. I’m in Europe and I’m just not used to solving Thursday’s puzzle on a Thursday. Usually Friday’s puzzle comes online at 4pm Thursday where I live.

  8. I found “pity” for “sin” unusual, but recognize that some people will say interchangeably “It’s a pity” and “It’s a sin.” VICAR took a while because I was forgetting about the missile. I noted “Whew!” next to OVERCOOK. For COME OFF IT, I started thinking that “the enemy” was time, so I at least had the last two letters… COTTON-PICKING seems very apt for an expletive as it is said to be one of the most grueling jobs imaginable. That’s a helluva angrind for NOVA SCOTIA; biffed that one before parsing. I couldn’t remember the slang term for £25 but knew there was one and looked that up. POI was the heretofore unknown PURSE SEINE and the not-that-difficult CAPOTE was my LOI.

    1. Slightly slower than the rest of the field at 45 minutes, but I really enjoyed today’s challenge.
      LOI 8dn PURSE SEINE I had the rivery bit early but finally as the PURE element.
      COD 12dn NOVA SCOTIA
      WOD 21dn UPPITY

      The only veg not found in Shanghai is 5ac!

      1. You accidentally (I presume) replied to me. Anyway, I didn’t give a time (that would be out of character), but I can assure you that it took me at least that long (while watching Colbert).

        1. It is a vegetable not found in France either. The French consider it suitable only for feeding to farm animals.

          1. Parsnips are found in France, though not commonly I’ll agree. They’re known as “navets” and they are available autumn/winter in our local market.

            1. To my French- Canadian in-laws “navet” is a turnip and “panais” is a parsnip.

  9. 31 minutes with fingers crossed having written in the unknown PURSE SEINE which might be obscure but the wordplay gave us all a fair crack at it.

    I lost time considering UPPISH at 21dn but couldn’t make it work and I was eventually saved by the arrival of the Y-checker at 27ac. I wasn’t really convinced by ‘sin / pity’ but it’s in my thesaurus and the example given by Guy seems to work. A little research on-line suggests that for some of those of a religious persuasion it’s self-pity that’s considered the real sin.

    CAPOTE as a cloak has come up before.

    I had thought the conversation about COTTON-PICKING (which I remember well) was quite recent but on checking I am disturbed to find it was in 2012 although the subject came up again the following year.

  10. 19:20. I found parts of this tricky, not least my LOI PURSE SEINE which I entered with fingers crossed. I have a vague feeling we’ve seen it before though. NOVA SCOTIA was biffed based on the checkers but having now seen the parsing I think it an excellent clue.

  11. 38:17
    Considered PURSE SEINE for ages before putting it in, and was surprised to find it was correct.
    Glad to get through this in one piece.
    Thanks, z.

  12. DNF in 45 minutes, undone in the NE. I had put VICAR in faintly but still didn’t get PURSE SEINE or CAPOTE, neither of which I knew. I was hesitant over IMPLICATE also. COD to COTTON-PICKING. Thank you Z and setter.

  13. 19:33. I found the NE corner of this the trickiest, finishing with PARSNIP, RIVERBANK and PURSE SEINE. I vaguely remembered SEINE being a sort of net, but didn’t remember the rest of it. CAPOTE the cloak was recalled from another crossword. I hesitated for quite a while over UPPITY not being able to equate PITY with sin… so thanks for the explanation Z. COD to THIEF. Thank-you Z and setter.

  14. 12:40. I found this mostly fairly moderate but with a bit of a sting in the tail with CAPOTE and PURSE SEINE. I was dimly aware that a SEINE is a type of net, without which I don’t think I’d have got this. The extraneous ‘put’ in the wordplay confuses matters and even with the knowledge of what the French river was going to be I was unsure of the answer. Not a brilliant clue IMO.
    The origin of the phrase COTTON-PICKING is sufficiently dubious that is should be avoided if you ask me, likewise the associations of the word UPPITY. I was very surprised to see both in the same puzzle.

  15. Managed this in about half an hour, but with a few unknowns. Didn’t know Ulster as an overcoat, so I hesitated over OVERCOOK for a long time before putting it in with a shrug as nothing else fitted with the checkers. I also didn’t parse AT HOME or SAUCEPAN, and I had to trust that there is something called a PURSE SEINE.

    FOI Shooting range
    LOI Purse seine
    COD Come off it

  16. 53m 25s
    Thanks, Z, particularly for VICAR, IMPLICATE and UPPITY.
    Like vinyl, I’ve been doing cryptics for long enough to raise an eyebrow when I see the word ‘flower’.
    Re COTTON-PICKING, wasn’t that the sort of thing Gabby Hayes used to say in the old westerns?
    LOI: CAPOTE. I wondered for a while if a ‘capone’ might have also been a cloak.

  17. 58 minutes after having trouble with PURSE-SEINE (nho), also failing to spell peone/peony/peaone/peaony/paeony correctly (at any rate for this crossword) and entering ‘peaony’, which looked wrong and made CLEARANCE difficult. So far as I knew a paeone (sorry, paeony) could very well have been a climbing plant. ‘Something to eat’ struck me as a pretty feeble definition of PARSNIP. Never understood AT HOME until coming here, but entered since I was pretty sure the definition was ‘in’. I liked the a.i. for NOVA SCOTIA.

  18. 35:04. I really enjoyed this one: tricky and challenging so a very satisfying solve. I needed the blog for some of the parsing, so thank you Z for that, but I was OK with the vocab, even PURSE SEINE known somehow from somewhere. I knew CAPOTE from capote anglaise (English overcoat) the French equivalent of our french letter. Lots to like. COD NO CAN DO, WOD PREZZIE

  19. The NE corner proved by far the trickiest for me, until trusting to PAEONY, eventually getting PARSNIP (my least favourite of all foods), and getting the rest relatively quickly after that.

    VICAR seems to have a superfluity of words in the clue – all the maybes and possiblies don’t seem to be needed, and that put me off entering it for quite a while. I’ve also never heard of PURSE SEINE, but vaguely knew that SEINE was netting, so trusted to the cryptic for the PURSE.

    9m 41s.

  20. Struggled quite a bit but came home in 25.19. Thanks for the parse on VICAR Z – I’d completely forgotten V1s. I certainly know UPPITY and COTTON-PICKING but I’d never say either. Rather an odd one this.

  21. No real problems with this one other than the telephone, which rang three times during my crossword break. If the third caller is reading this, he’ll understand why I was perhaps a bit curt. Time on the clock was 40 minutes, but with three calls subtracted it probably comes closer to 39 minutes. Thanks to our blogger for parsing AT HOME, which I couldn’t see for looking.

  22. Well I was really preening myself here thinking I’d done a great time 29.15, judging by some of the longer times listed above by people who are always quicker than me. I was then brought down to earth by finding I’d transposed the a and the o in PAEONY which meant DNF! Damn it all Cotton Picking flowers! I can just hear Walter Brennan saying it on my behalf. 🥲

  23. Gave up on this with CAPOTE still to get after about fifty minutes. I fell into the trap of dismissing CAPOTE when I’d thought of it earlier while I still wasn’t sure how the clue worked, and it didn’t fit my understanding at the time so I assumed I was just trying to cram a recognisable name into the crossers, not knowing the cloak. Not being sure about the unknown PURSE SEINE didn’t help. I too was quite put off to see the crossers of UPPITY and COTTON-PICKING.

  24. 27 but with POEANY, which looked wrong and predictably was, despite the generous signposting of the cryptic.

  25. I fund this tough-going but well worth the effort. Vicious seems a bit of a stretch for an anagram indicator, but I liked itinerary. COD – SAUCEPAN

    Thanks to Z and the setter,

  26. 33.55. enjoyable puzzle. The NE needed a little bit of unknotting with the unfamiliar purse seine causing a bit of a hitch.

  27. 31:40 but…

    ….cheated with the NHO PURSE SEINE – the wordplay didn’t seem that helpful either.

    CAPOTE was a guess in the absence of anything else.

    Couldn’t entirely parse VICAR.

    Did like BACKSPIN and the well-hidden BERG though.

  28. 39 mins including a snooze. LOI PURSE SEINE, I knew SEINING from Scrabble, but I thought the clue for PURE was a bit obscure for a word most people have NHO.

  29. Never heard of PURSE SEINE, but the clue was fine. Filled in OVERCOOK, but didn’t understand clue, even though I knew an Ulster was an overcoat. And CLEARANCE was the last one in, but I thought this was a weak clue. Anyway, all done in 34 minutes.

  30. Just under 45 mins and a real struggle with the last two- purse seine and, eventually capote. Never heard of either but once I worked out the former, finally recognised pot as the drug. Tough going but pleased to finish.
    Thanks etc….

  31. DNF. Still struggling with lack of internet, my iphone has now been turned into a livebox (finally) by Orange and I’m half dead with it all.

    Stuck in the NE with PURSE ungettable and just couldn’t see Parsnip.

    Also had misspelt PEAEAOONY so CLEARANCE wouldn’t show itself. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have a clearer head.

    Thanks Z and setter.

  32. 8 down gave me no problems. I recall the local fisherman netting a shoal of mackerel with one of these near to the shore on a balmy summer’s day.

  33. What’s the first man-made object in space?
    Which object do you think wins that race?
    The answer isn’t Sputnik
    Cos the question’s a trick
    And the V1 is taking first place

    1. Dear sir, your assertion ain’t true
      The V1 was always down low
      The weapon in space
      That deserves the first place
      Was the sleek and demonic V2!

  34. Late to this after a drive home from Oxford. CLEARANCE was LOI. Managed to construct PURSE SEINE and CAPOTE. Missed the hidden BERG and biffed it. 28:05. Thanks setter and Z.

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