Times 28339 – A day in the life of Figaro?

Music: Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Time: 21 minutes.

A rather simple Monday puzzle, but one lacking pizzazz.   I really shouldn’t have taken as long as I did.  There were some good ideas, but the puzzle could have used a bit of tightening.     There certainly shouldn’t be anything here that seasoned solvers have never heard of, so perhaps speedy solvers who are determined to finish quickly will sail through this one.

1 Study party rules to begin with, being a high-flyer (6)
CONDOR – CON DO R[ules].
4 Lucky creature, not large, caressing Henry’s cheek (8)
BACKCHATB[l]ACK C(H)AT.    In the US, a black cat is unlucky.
10 Cardinal’s assistant, initially receiving a rise (9)
PARAMOUNT – PA + R[eceiving] + A MOUNT.
11 Scraggy girl’s first obsession (5)
THING – THIN G[irl].
12 Wagnerian heroine in the Valkyries? Yes and no (3)
EVA – Hidden in [th]E VA[lkyries], a heroine in Die Meistersinger, which does not have any Valkyries.   Wagner also used the name for his illegitimate daughter.
13 Right setting for English first-year students providing elevenses, perhaps?(11)
REFRESHMENT – R(E FRESHMEN)T, where right = RT and not R.
14 Root retired man associated with mother’s ruin (6)
GINGER – GIN + REG backwards.   Associated with is rather vague as a placement indicator, and the clue doesn’t read well.
16 Forgetfulness of men travelling in continent (7)
AMNESIA – Anagram of MEN in ASIA, a bit of a chestnut.
19 Petulant woman feeding wandering sheep (7)
PEEVISH – PEE(VI)SH, and anagram of SHEEP.
20 Make a mistake with task involving travel (6)
ERRAND – ERR + AND, very clever.
22 Recent deal sadly restricting fine sewing and embroidery (11)
25 Afterthought about a source of spring water (3)
SPA – PS backwards + A.
26 Keen on adopting Rachmaninoff’s first prelude (5)
INTRO – INT(R[achmaninoff])O.
27 Hardline barrister initially involved in interminable case (9)
28 Flyer’s attempt at test taking hours (4,4)
29 Court housing able-bodied in Swiss Cottage? (6)
1 Photo turned up on the woman’s secret writing (6)
CIPHER – PIC upside-down + HER.
2 Before mounting musical, director finally ran over story (9)
NARRATIVE – EVITA upside-down, preceded by RAN upside down + [directo]R.
3 Head removed from bygone sea creature (5)
ORMER – [f]ORMER, which you will get easily if you know ormer.
5 Open-and-shut, according to the circumstances? (2,3,4,3,2)
AS THE CASE MAY BE – Cryptic hint, as a suitcase can be open or shut.
6 Man entertaining yen to crush King Edward’s army commander (9)
KITCHENER – K(ITCH)EN + ER, Eduardus Rex.    I was not expecting a specific person, so took a while.
7 Ambassador having friendly relations with European poet (5)
HEINE – H.E + IN + E, as in having an in with someone.
8 Miserly type drunk on whisky and Drambuie, principally (8)
TIGHTWAD – TIGHT + W[hisky] A[nd] D[rambuie].
9 Defeated, running 20 for a specific nobleman (3,3,3,5)
OUT FOR THE COUNT – A cross-reference clue to 20 across, so running an errand for the Count.
15 Newlywed crosses stream, finding place to eat (9)
17 Opera with spoken dialogue, one mostly including a lot of agents (9)
18 Outstandingly fine method of punishment! (8)
SPANKING – Double definition.
21 Finally seeing publicity, obtain gizmo (6)
GADGET – [seein]G  + AD + GET.
23 Eg wide passage out, not one taken by painter (5)
24 Foul smell left by small fish (5)

86 comments on “Times 28339 – A day in the life of Figaro?”

  1. Came here to learn what kind of task an ANT might be – so the clever ‘with’ got me at Errand. I didn’t know either that kind of moth or that name for an abalone, so I was glad the cluing was clear. thanks, vinyl

    1. Same here re the ant! Had forgot the GOAT MOTH but we’ve had it before, so, as so often, seen once and instantly forgotten. Only know the ormer from crosswords – I’ve never eaten it – but it crops up often enough to stick.

  2. Having a few checkers 13a was initially biffed as COFFEEBREAK, but parsing proved awkward. I also seriously considered SONGSPIEL for the opera but it too failed the parsing test; nho SINGSPIEL, but it passed, so in it went despite its unlikely look.
    The 28a flyer slowed me down, as I went through the De Havilland range of light aircraft; Tiger , Puss , Gipsy , Hawk Moth etc. There wasn’t a Goat Moth but the instructions meant it had to be. 14:59

  3. Another ERRANT here too. Plus typing TIGTHWAD. I’d never heard of SINGSPIEL although I realized it would end -SPIEL since that’s play in German and has SPIEs in it. And since that crossed ERRANT, it took me some time to work it out (and I still didn’t get ERRAND).

  4. 27:12. This puzzle was right on my wavelength with just a few minor holdups. Didn’t know ORMER or GOAT MOTH but they seemed likely and I was glad to see HEINE finally get a shoutout after seeing his subject matter ,Die Lorelei, get so many references in puzzles over the last few months. I knew there was Schauspiel so was able to figure out SINGSPIEL from singl(e) and spie(s). COD to KITCHENER. Thanks for parsing that one plus explaining the “yes and no” for EVA.

  5. 13:35
    BACKCHAT was my LOI; needed the checkers before I could finally separate ‘cheek’. I wondered about ‘lucky’, and concluded it was being used neutrally; as Albert King would say, If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all. I thought of SONGSPIEL at first, but SONG looked wrong for German. I never did parse the clue. DNK GOAT MOTH.

    1. I know that song! But I know it as played by Cream.
      I, too, thought first of SONGSPIEL.

  6. 30 minutes. Didn’t know the ‘poet’ at 7d but IN seemed more likely than IT for ‘having friendly relations’ and “Heite” didn’t look quite right. A bit of knowledge of German high culcha wouldn’t have gone astray here in other places as well as I didn’t know the EVA at 12a and had to construct the NHO SINGSPIEL from wordplay and crossers. Fortunate to have had ORMER elsewhere in only the last few days. Interesting to read up later about BLACK CAT(S) as either a sign of good or bad luck.

    The not so simple ERRAND was my favourite.

    1. Sadly I don’t know of in?? So went for HEITE, so one error! Here’s hoping for better tomorrow!

  7. POI the somewhat British BACKCHAT and LOI SPANKING, which also seems somewhat British (he jocularly added). I guess the latter has often followed the former. (Or had, in less-enlightened times.)
    I neglected to parse NEEDLECRAFT.

    1. A much more Mondayish puzzle for a Monday! And much as Mr. Curryowen in both time, 27 minutes, and wavelength 33 MHz.

      FOI 14ac GINGER, Biggles buddy!
      LOI 19ac PEEVISH as I originally had 2dn as NARRATION.
      COD 20ac ERRAND
      WOD 18dn SPANKING as remembered at ‘School Dinners’ on the Tottenham Court Road back in the eighties; when that sort of thing was rather more respectable. Guy, you would have hated it – as the food was godawful!

      I have decided to take a sabbatical, so tootle-pip!

      1. We employed a (quite pretty) waitress in the eighties who went off to work at School Dinners. She loved it, said it was great fun.

        See you on your return, hopefully!

      2. I realize I don’t have the proper equipment to accurately measure my wavelength but I sometimes measure my blood pressure, pulse rate , blood sugar etc. before and after solving and using various self-devised arcane and abstruse metrics I’ve found I’m usually only in the 20-25 MHz range.

  8. 23 minutes with a couple of minor delays along the way. I didn’t know EVA as a Wagnerian character as I know very little about his operas other than their titles and overtures, but everything else I had met before, including GOAT MOTH.

  9. To begin with, initially (twice), first (twice), finally (twice) and principally? Really? Where is the editor?
    This also had some chestnuts and three random names REG, VI and KEN.
    Didn’t enjoy this, sorry.

    1. On a separate note, I like the TfTT logo/icon that I have just noticed … it is very clever.

        1. It’s called a ‘favicon’ – look on the browser tab or ‘favourites’ toolbar if you have one.

              1. Could someone explain the favicon thing to this bear of very little IT brain.

                1. If you think that you are the least compute literate on this site then, forgive me, join the queue behind me.

                  On that row along the top of your laptop, ‘TfTT’ is accompanied by an icon/logo … this has been updated to a clever image.

    2. I’m PEEVISH, a serial whiner,
      Shall I moan about CONDOR or HEINE?
      The bird THING is a bore
      The other’s really obscure
      For the setter, a slow boat to China

  10. A much-needed green tick for me, after last week when Monday was a 1-pinker and it went downhill from there. Found this mostly easy, though TENCH took far too long and my almost complete ignorance of opera left me pondering LOI 17d for 3-4 minutes, very tempted to enter SONGSPIEL, but aware that I need to find an answer that rigorously fitted the cryptic (or begin a repeat of last week).

    Mightily relieved – all good in 26:23 – thanks V and setter

  11. I didn’t think 35 minutes was bad, considering you could probably write my entire knowledge of German art and literature on the back of a postage stamp. Most of it was probably picked up from Inspector Morse. Happily I took the time to parse 20a ERRAND, so didn’t end up with an errant ERRANT. The NHO 17d SINGSPIEL was last to go in; I quite liked 5d AS THE CASE MAY BE.

  12. 12:57. My POI was SINGSPIEL which took some construction, then I finished off with HEINE, which I’d left with the same thought as Bletchleyreject – did I want IN or IT? I did a quick alphabet trawl of I_ words in case there was something else I’d overlooked then pondered the meanings of IT and IN, and concluded that IN seemed most apt as in “In with the in crowd”. HEINE also seemed more likely than HEITE.

  13. The Play’s the Thing,
    wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.

    15 mins pre-brekker. As Sawbill points out above, this looks like the “first and last letter expert” again.
    I had to invent the Moth.
    Thanks setter and Vinyl

  14. Monday tends to be a bit easier, so I gave it a good go, with just 2 NHO left after 45 mins SINGSPIEL, and HEINE. 1a and 1d were both QC standard which got me off to a great start.

    The “yes and no” threw me at 12 a? What’s that about, clue works fine without it.


    1. Yes because EVA is contained in ‘the Valkyries’, no because she doesn’t feature in The Valkyries (the opera). I thought the opera was The Valkyrie but I don’t know much about Wagner so it didn’t bother me unduly.

  15. 21min but had errant wrong However that was a clever clue
    Never heard of singspiel, Heine or Eva which highlights my lack of knowledge of the arts

    1. All German stuff plus the Swiss CHALET, perhaps revealing a bias in the setter’s particular interests. At least the reference was to Eva Pogner and not Eva Braun.

  16. Back on song and finally (phew) ensconced in the Alps for a few weeks.

    30 mins but, thought of HEINE for the unknown poet and banged in HEITE.

    Another ERRANT too. Bah. I liked PARAMOUNT and NARRATIVE most.

    I agree with sawbill re all the add-ons/exclusions.

    Thanks v and setter. I think, by chance, the Tour de France goes past the front door here tomorrow . Yippee.

    1. When we lived in western France, Le Tour came close to us twice. As both stages were relatively flat, there were two ‘wooshes’: One as the breakaway sped past us, the second a few minutes later when the peloton raced through…..then we went home and watched the rest on TV!

      1. I agree, it only lasts a few seconds. A bit like my concentration span these days!

        1. But the convoy of promo vehicles throwing out free hats, sweets, and other goodies arrives beforehand – don’t miss that.

          1. Indeed, Pip! Both times, we came away with loads of goodies. The second time, when ‘le caravan’ came right through our village, the mobile shop stopped and had plenty of customers.
            I remember, though, one year when one of the goodies backfired. A polystyrene hand being waved by a spectator, struck a rider.

      2. Never seen the tour but was in Milano for the final stage of the Giro one year. Laps, so there were 3 or 4 “whooshes”. TV is much better. But I can also see that if you’re a 20-something Dutchperson being on “Dutch Corner” at the Alpe d’Huez, starting on the Heineken at 0600 hours o’clock AM in the morning with 1000 others, well that could be OK. Even if you didn’t notice the actual bike race as it went past.
        As for the puzzle: fail. too many unknowns poorly clued 😉

        1. 🤣
          Because of the time difference, I’m only watching highlights packages but I’m disappointed I’ve not yet seen “The Devil” -Didi Senft. I do hope he appears soon.

  17. 26 minutes after a sleepless night in the heat. LOI SINGSPIEL. COD to KITCHENER. A decent enough puzzle. Thank you V and setter.

  18. 20m 24s
    No real problems but thanks, Vinyl, for parsing KITCHENER and SINGSPIEL.
    I originally thought of ‘songspiel’, as did Kevin.
    In 7d my first thought was Hermann Hesse for the poet. He wrote the text for the first three of Richard Strauss’ ‘Four Last Songs’. I decided, though, that the SS were not likely to have had ‘friendly relations’ with anyone!

  19. I’ve got this problem with the Crossword Club site where the letters don’t enter properly – you type in one letter, but the highlight doesn’t move to the next square. Normally, clearing cookies sorts it out, but I’ve tried this, and restarting, to no avail. Any suggestions?

    Edit to update: I’ve tried loading today’s Concise and some other puzzles, but without success.

    1. I am afraid I don’t have an answer just a similar experience. The same thing happened to me with Saturday’s Jumbo cryptic, after completing about 50% OK, on my PC using Windows 10 and the old Times app (the one with Show more option). The 15×15 was fine. I have loaded the new Times app on my tablet, there is no Windows option as far as I can see, and that worked OK, using Android and an old version at that. Today I have had no problem with either the 15×15 or the Quickie on the PC. I have also had a problem using Chrome on the PC, I now use Edge.

    2. I have 2 iPads (don’t ask..) and on the new one it does this but not on the old one. So I have no suggestions I’m afraid but I’d also like to know the answer to this

    3. Try opening the site in a Private/Incognito window (or whatever it’s called on your particular browser).

    4. Try clearing cache, not cookies. I now do that without fail before going to the club site.

      1. Thanks for all your help. The problem at the moment seems to have sorted itself out. I solve on paper, with a stopwatch, then type in the answers on my laptop. After I’d entered four or five answers, it wouldn’t let me enter any more, despite clearing cookies (which has worked in the past). I thought to try it on the PC, and it worked. More interestingly, when I went back to the laptop, the copy I’d saved on the site was complete, and I have now submitted. I’ve just done a Concise, and everything is behaving. Oh well!

    5. You are not alone. I use Chrome and I found that my cursor was, unbidden, skipping filled squares.

  20. Another one to biff SONGSPIEL so ruined what would have been a good time (for me at least). Found use of ‘man’ for REG and then again for KEN and ‘woman’ for VI all a bit feeble, especially since all three of them could be used in wordplay in different ways (e.g. plate; know; six or even sex), but that may just be sourish grapes for my miscued vowel … Thanks anyhow –

  21. 23 minutes or so. SINGSPIEL took me the longest to figure out, even with all the checkers, otherwise this was fairly straightforward.

    MER over the lack of American indication for ‘freshmen’ in REFRESHMENT, as here in the UK first-year university students are always (as far as I know) referred to by the more gender-neutral ‘freshers’.

    FOI Condor
    LOI Singspiel
    COD Chalet

    1. They were called freshmen when I went, probably because only males went to my college. Not that I remember new girls at St Hilda’s being freshwomen! All changed now.

  22. Rattled through this is good time heading for a PB, only to be halted because I had put in NARRATION for narrative and so couldn’t see 19a for a while. Then saw the musical and all was well. Nice one for a Monday.

  23. 06:18, with only brief hold-ups to confirm the wordplay wasn’t contadicted by my (somewhat patchy) knowledge of German culture (EVA was unknown but had to be what it was, SINGSPIEL rather than songspiel or sungspiel, HEINE rather than Heite).

  24. 8:34. I whizzed through most of this but then got held up by a few at the end, particularly SINGSPIEL. I spent more time than I should have down a blind alley in which the agents were the CIA and I needed a homophone for a word meaning ‘dialogue’. A scene in a film is kind of dialogue, right… SENECIAL, a little-known opera by Massenet perhaps? I sorted myself out eventually and my very rusty school German was good enough to feel confident in the answer.

  25. Pitti Sing
    I initially thought of SONGSPIEL and didn’t check the wordplay properly, so entered it, even though, on reflection, I know it’s SING. Otherwise a smooth 11.28 solve.
    I thought cardinal to PARAMOUNT was a bit of a stretch, needing a bit of a three point turn in the Thesaurus.
    I believe SPANKING is still available to discerning gentlemen at 27 b Berwick Street: ring the bell and ask for Maisie.

  26. 11:10. I thought I was on for a sub-10 minute solve but got held up by PEEVISH and SPANKING at the end because of a careless NARRATION at 2D. Interesting to see SINGSPIEL, which I didn’t realise was different from SPRECHGESANG or SPRECHSTIMME…. but do now having looked them up. I liked the linked AS THE CASE MAY BE and OUT FOR THE COUNT, but didn’t much care for IN for “having friendly relations”. Thanks Vinyl and setter.

  27. The trouble so many have had with SINGSPIEL puts me in mind of those questions on TV quiz programmes where the category is music: at least 9 out of 10 seem to refer to pop music. Even Eggheads tends to fall prey to this. What jazz enthusiasts must feel I can’t imagine, but questi0ns on jazz are very rare.

    No problems with this, although my time of 29 minutes seems slow compared with the times of various other people. I’m old enough to have had no feeling that there should have been a US indication for freshmen.

  28. An opera buff I am not
    So I cared for this not a jot
    Not a note or a quaver
    Is it Eva or Eva?
    The answer will soon be forgot

  29. Somewhat similar experience to others with a couple of twists. On the first circuit I reversed the entire set of letters in GINGER and came up with an absolutely verboten (since we seem to be speaking German) word so moved hastily on. Toyed with “Siegfried” as well as “songspiel” at 17d. After going back and sorting out those hiccups I clocked in at 12.55. Now I’m going to see what this favicon thingy is.

  30. I have no even approximate time for this, as I was interrupted by a mis-fuelling crisis phonecall, which necessitated calls to the AA and the hospital to reschedule an appointment as a result, so under the circumstances I was rather relieved to encounter a typical Monday offering to lower the stress levels engendered by Mr Ego. No real hold-ups except the ageing brain cells – ORMER ‘ormerly encountered here, GOAT MOTH not, but easily parsable. All the rest were known. I wanted to put ERRANT in, but resisted and was rewarded by the PDM. I nearly put in AS THE CASE CAN BE, but fortunately the more usual phrase occurred to me. Last in were KITCHENER and BACKCHAT, as I couldn’t think of a lucky creature and assumed army commander to be generic.

  31. 13:08m – fast for me, even for a Monday, with an even faster time stymied by toing and froing between HEITE and HEINE and a number of even more unlikely options and trying to make SONGSPIEL work for too long before seeing the required SINGLE element.

  32. Not a good start to the week, as I picked the wrong hidden for the Wagnerian heroine. ESA anyone? I also used aids to decide between HEINE/HEITE, and to see if SONGSPIEL was a word, at which point Google provided me with SINGSPIEL and the parsing became clear. 21:39 but. Thanks setter and Vinyl.

  33. Hmmf. I’d been on for a pretty quick time but had two dreaded pink squares – one a simple typo that I didn’t spot (‘tightwas’) and the other was ‘Heite’, who I’d guessed was a German poet of whom I hadn’t heard. Felt a bit silly when I realised, as ‘IT’ would have to be very friendly relations, and I’d heard of Heine. Oh well.

  34. I failed to pick up the cross-reference from 9d, so went for ERRANT at 20, taking ‘with’ as part of a second definition. I know enough German to have no problem wirh Heine, Eva or Singspiel.

  35. 27:10

    Big shrug for ‘IN’ = friendly relations – I don’t get it and can’t think of an example where one substitutes for the other. Consequently the NHO HEINE was also my LOI.

    Thought AS THE CASE MAY BE was a little wishy washy – the checkers could have led to anything, and one had to rely on solving the somewhat cryptic clue.

    SINGSPIEL – another NHO but at least the cryptic was clear.

    EVA – NHO in The Ring context.

    1. There was a song “The In Crowd” that starts ” I’m in with the in crowd
      I go where the in crowd goes..” I think the first “in” means “friends” or “on good terms “.

  36. I like opera but have never heard of SINGSPIEL, managed to get it right however by constructing it correctly. Managed not to fall into the ERRANT trap, but ruined it all by going for HEITE. The insertion of ‘in’ never occurred to me. One wrong then in a time of 32.45, that I was initially pleased with, until I discovered my knowledge of German poets is somewhat lacking.

  37. Oh no! I imagined a form of punishment called upending – being hung by one’s feet etc. with Pending for outstanding and U for fine/high class

  38. Nice easy solve for a hot afternoon. Luckily I knew SINGSPIEL from The Magic Flute, and could guess the unknowns — the moth and the mollusc — quite easily. 23 minutes, not bad for me

  39. Not too hard, but also not trivial. I took 35 minutes. For me, the unknowns were ORMER and TENCH, and although I also wondered whether 17dn would be SINGSPIEL or SONGSPIEL, the latter would make no sense in German and the wordplay also helped a lot. For 23 dn I was thinking of EASEL at first, with AISLE being a wide passage, but I couldn’t make that work, of course. Oh yes, my FOI was AS THE CASE MAY BE, which I saw immediately, almost from the numeration, while just skimming through before even starting the puzzle in earnest. Nevertheless, I enjoyed solving this, despite its having a few faults.

  40. I’m PEEVISH, a serial whiner,
    Shall I moan about CONDOR or HEINE?
    The bird THING is a bore
    The other’s really obscure
    For the setter, a slow boat to China

  41. 19.51. I was guilty of overthinking some of this. A misspelt amneisa threw a spanner in the works and needed to be corrected before LOI singspiel could fall.

  42. 19’38”. Half of that on the last five or six clues, including singspiel, As the case may be, and – surprisingly perhaps — chalet. It’s only 73 on the Snitch which seems very low to me. I certainly didn’t find it that easy. Many thanks to all.

  43. AS THE CASE MAY BLOODY BE! Simple. Could I see it? Ridiculous.
    Great, great choice of music. Wilco are v special. Thanks.

  44. Didn’t do as well as I expected, considering a flying start with the CONDOR, but a tad over-thinking the rest, with assuming 4a definition had to be LUCKY (caught out too many times by not ‘lifting and separating’) – should have gotten as soon as KITCHENER went in! And also determined that 14a had to be ORIGIN = root (never mind the unlikely man’s name ). NHO Heine (but parsed ok) or SINGSPIEL ( not so lucky). So, all up, not a great effort on my part, considering the Snitch score…😦

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