Times 28347 – flightless larks

I thought this was a brilliant crossword, full of interesting and not-too-repetitive wordplay and fair, but at times well-hidden, definitions. It also gave me the chance to justify learning more about a flightless bird, a rare shellfish and to bang on about one in every 6240 hydrogen atoms in all of us. The setter seems to have had “under…” in mind, it’s in two answers and also the clue of 22d. 22 minutes, with 25a my LOI, the one whose parsing I am least sure about.

Definitions underlined in bold, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, anagrinds in italics.

1 Eastern memorials left instead of first new profits (10)
EMOLUMENTS – E (eastern) then L replaces the first N in MONUMENTS.
6 SA resident ambassador seized by gunmen (4)
RHEA – HE (His Excellency) inside RA (Royal Artillery). Here SA means South America, not S. Africa. Rheas are large flightless birds like ostriches. Small feral populations exist in Germany and in Hertfordshire, UK apparently. Perhaps near Leighton Buzzard.
9 Fellow doctor’s gagging (7)
COMEDIC – a CO-MEDIC would be a fellow doctor. Gagging in the sense of cracking gags.
10 Enthusiastically appreciated hosting graduate (4,3)
LIKE MAD – LIKED with MA inserted.
12 Slip and panic, cutting head (5)
ERROR – TERROR loses its head.
13 Responding instinctively, I sent in sweet note (9)
PAVLOVIAN – PAVLOVA is a sweet; insert I and add N for note.
14 Enjoying fewer rights, poor endured pig liver (15)
17 Shell ought to be red not black, curved further up (5-10)
ROUND-SHOULDERED – SHELL = ROUND as in gunnery, SHOULD BE = ought to be, drop the B (“not black”) then RED.
20 After Henry I, archery reshaped the pecking order (9)
21 Name taken from traditional rules of behaviour (5)
ETHIC – ETHNIC loses N for name.
23 Fancy area at the back of Big Ben perhaps (7)
CHIMERA – Big Ben, if the whole clock not the bell, would be a CHIMER, add A for area.
24 Correct spades for one edging plot (7)
SUBEDIT – Spades in cards is a SUIT, insert BED for plot.
25 Reservoir to sketch — later you must leave (4)
SUMP – I think this is SUM UP for sketch (?) losing the second U (you). I had SILO for a while but couldn’t make it work.
26 Study covers energy in ships, English, given new rating (10)
REASSESSED – READ = study; SS and SS for “ships” with E for energy inserted, and E for English inserted at the end.
1 Treasury‘s former auditor picked up (9)
EXCHEQUER – EX (former) CHEQUER sounds like checker = auditor.
2 Female leaves old seafood in the Channel Islands (5)
ORMER – FORMER = old, lose the F for female. Ormers in the UK Channel Islands (from ‘ormeau’ in French) are called abalone in USA and other places, and are becoming rare and so are expensive and highly regulated. I ate some in California in the 80s (they were cheaper then) and thought the meat was chewy and rather boring. I looked them up on Wikipedia and was amused to read “The demand for ormers is such that they led to the world’s first underwater arrest, when Mr. Kempthorne-Leigh of Guernsey was arrested by a police officer in full diving gear when illegally diving for ormers”. “Hello, hello, below”?
3 Student outside university arranged duet to be broadcast (13)
UNDERGRADUATE – insert U for university into (ARRANGED DUET)*.
4 One takes off Parisian art stunt (7)
ESCAPER – ES as in tu es = thou art in French, CAPER = stunt.
5 Clean up the fourth city (3,4)
TEL AVIV – VALET reversed, IV = fourth.
7 Hit boss with iodine, stopping ache (9)
HUMDINGER – ache = HUNGER, insert MD (boss) I (iodine).
8 Poet‘s article getting around hurdles at regular points (5)
AUDEN – AN (article) with alternate letter of h U r D l E s inserted.
11 Erudite king currently fit to put up shelf (13)
KNOWLEDGEABLE – K (king) NOW ABLE (currently fit) insert LEDGE (shelf).
15 Twice United merited awful “D” (9)
DEUTERIUM – (U U MERITED)*, D being the atomic symbol for deuterium, 2H, hydrogen with an added neutron in the nucleus, used to make “heavy water” D2O (and HDO) used in older nuclear reactors as a moderator.
16 Devoted daughter improved paper for university (9)
DEDICATED -D (daughter) then EDUCATED (improved) has the U replaced by I the UK online newspaper.
18 Career encompasses European court area (7)
HECTARE – HARE (career, run) around E CT.
19 Work by Joyce Grant (7)
ULYSSES -double definition, Ulysses by James Joyce and Ulysses S. Grant, General and 18th US President.
20 Correspondents shed, first to last (5)
HACKS – SHACK (shed) has the S moved from the front to the end.
22 Underworld spooks beheaded (5)
HADES – SHADES loses S. It seems shades can be a synonym for spooks, both meaning ghosts.


84 comments on “Times 28347 – flightless larks”

  1. I liked this one a lot too… though there were a few things I couldn’t finish parsing. I would never have seen “boss” in MD (but I guess it must be managing director). Wasn’t sure of VALET as a verb.

    Parsed SUMP just as you did, can’t see any other way!
    COD DEUTERIUM, rather a surprise!

    The rareness of ORMERs may be somewhat offset by their frequent appearance lately in these puzzles…

    1. A PAVLOVIAN twitch at the RHEA
      It can’t fly, but it shouldn’t be here
      The birds should be forsaken
      But they’ve been overtaken
      By how often the ORMERs appear

    2. You can get your car VALETed. I can’t say I like the usage but it is definitely something people say.

  2. Enjoyable. Didn’t know shades, and failed to spot that meaning of shell, so thank-you for those. No other problems or unknowns. Suspect deuterium will get a few harumphs, an obscure word clued by an anagram? Like Guy I was surprised to see it. Abalone uncovered on the reefs round Perth at low tide, highly sought-after but strictly controlled. Google, google: 4 days a year, one hour a day for legal recreational collection, licence required.
    Liked lots of the surface readings, and clues like hectare, chimera. COD to hierarchy.

    1. If Dorsetjimbo were still with us, you would hear from him about calling ‘deuterium’ obscure.

      1. 😄
        Definitely. Vale, Jim.
        Not obscure for me, having done two years of physics and chemistry at university. Including a first-year paper on Tokamak reactors fusing deuterium and tritium – expected to become the world’s clean electrical power supply starting about mid-1980s! But more people don’t do physics than do…

        1. I have a degree in English and I don’t consider Deuterium remotely obscure. A degree of curiosity about the world outside one’s own specialisms is expected here. This does not apply to bible stuff and other things I don’t know, of course.

          1. Of course. Everything is general knowledge, nothing is obscure, except things I don’t know.

  3. 15:37
    Biffed a lot: UNDERGRADUATE (never bothered to parse), TEL AVIV (like Guy, wondered about VALET), ROUND-SHOULDERED, REASSESSED, both parsed post-submission, HUMDINGER (didn’t know what to do with MD), PAVLOVIAN (DNK the sweet), and DEDICATED (couldn’t get it; managed to think of EDITED for ‘improved paper’, but that got me nowhere). I remember eating abalone at Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants as a child. LOI SUMP: it had to be, but it took me ages to figure it out; and I parsed it as Pip and Guy did. Like Guy, I can’t think of any other way.

  4. A bit under 25 minutes for me. UNDERGRADUATE was my LOI. Never managed to work out the middle bit of DEDICATED since I always forget I. PAVLOVIAN was quite neat.

  5. My kinda crossword! A steady 45 with loads of words to relish and GK Chesterton!

    FOI 19dn ULYSSES
    LOI 24ac SUB-EDIT
    COD 5dn TEL AVIV – nowt wrong with ‘to valet’ as a verb in UK.
    WOD 7dn HUMDINGER – the Managing Director is the boss in the UK.

    I could murder a Pavlova! And James Joyce.

      1. Thanks Sandy! ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ and the likes of ‘Tristram Shandy’ give me literary vertigo! ‘Under Milk Wood’ every time.
        I will not be doing the QC anymore. As it gets tougher, I find the comments are generally becoming more turgid. Sorry Jack!

        1. There’s no need to apologise. As one of the TfTT moderators I will save time worrying about insulting things being posted there.

          1. It’s very seldom that I want an emoji or wish there was a ‘like’ button, but this was one such time.

            1. Kevin, I believe the ‘Like’ button is currently scheduled to be added at the end of the month barring technical difficulties or time constraints.

              1. Sorry, but the technical difficulties appear unsurmountable in the short term. Maybe we’ll have more time to investigate after the summer holiday season.

          2. Jack, you yourself have noted recently how the QC has become far more difficult. So have many of the cryptic novices (and some of the bloggers. Jeremy noted this morning’ ‘was a bit tricky!) You have also stated that ‘The Concise’ is not for them. My comment is not insulting; it is based on their frequent and lengthy concerns which dominate the comments, that many of the recent clues are too hard, and do not belong in what is meant to be a ‘Quick Cryptic’ – well that’s what it proclaims on the tin!

            1. I was a fairly regular participant in – and occasional completer of – the Times Daily, but after the QC came out, I learned a lot about how these things work and my completion rate for Times Daily went up dramatically. I have much gratitude for the QC. I stopped doing the QC for quitge a while and have recently returned to it for practice. I still complete it faster than I used to, but I have, of course, now got much more experience due to the Times Daily.

        2. Tougher? More turgid? I think that, statistically the former is inaccurate and as for the latter, I think sharing details of how you got on with solving is very helpful to other QC solvers and should be encouraged. Maybe you will replace your commenting there with your erudite commentary on how you solve the pinnacle of Times crosswords, the Monthly Club Special?

  6. 56 minutes. Held up by the crossing DEUTERIUM and SUMP (couldn’t parse it) at the end. Felt a bit like a spelling bee with UNDERPRIVILEGED and KNOWLEDGEABLE as well as DEUTERIUM. Yes, third appearance for ORMER this month and CHIMERA has also been doing the rounds in crossword land.

    I liked the ‘curved further up’ def for ROUND-SHOULDERED and HUMDINGER.

  7. Curious about ETHNIC being ‘traditional’ – I’d have thought it relates more to nations, races and their customs but is that the same thing?

    1. Collins has: ethnic – denoting or deriving from the cultural traditions of a group of people
      the ethnic dances of Slovakia

  8. 35 minutes, delayed past my target half-hour by DEUTERIUM which I struggled to construct from wordplay and needed several revisits and the presence of all checkers to work out.

    I also took far to long to come up with ORMER despite its two recent appearances, one of which was in yesterday’s puzzle blogged by me where is was part of the wordplay leading to the answer FORMER. On its previous appearance about a week ago I had learned of its association with the Channel Islands but that didn’t help today as I lost time racking my brains trying to think of the the names of the smaller islands. I just knew there was a short name beginning with O, and later I found I had been thinking of the uninhabited ‘Ortac’.

    I also decided on SUM {u}P at 25ac with maybe more than a MER at the definition ‘study’ ‘sketch’ which I still can’t really see.

    last paragraph edit in italics

    1. E.g., ‘Smith read/studied law at Durham before switching to philosophy in graduate school’? A use of ‘read’ one doesn’t find in my neck of the woods, but I thought it was common in the UK.

      1. You had me worried for a moment, Kevin! If you were replying to my query, it was about 25ac not 26ac. I thought my brain must have fried in the heat if I missed ‘read’ for ‘study’.

          1. Ah, my fears were not groundless after all! I was writing about 25ac and had already mentioned SUM {u}P but then wrote ‘study’ instead of ‘sketch’. Apologies. Still don’t get ‘sum up / sketch’ though!

            1. Back in the day, BBC Test cricket E.W Stanton used to give a summing-up/sketch of each day’s play.

  9. 42 minutes, but sadly I got one wrong, coming up with ELONUMENTS at 1a; it didn’t look right, but it seemed to fit the wordplay if the definition was “new profits”. I should have taken the time to come back to this one, which had my only question mark in the margin next to it…

    1. I think ELONUMENTS are edifices erected by Musk’s army of Twitter worshippers

  10. 20 minutes which is as fast as I solve nowadays. Glad ORMERS are proliferating.

  11. Another up-vote for this pleasing puzzle – not least because I set a new PB (16:50, previous was 18:51) for a weekday 15×15. And that was after PB-ing the QC as well.

    FOI RHEA, and both of the 15-char across clues gave me good purchase on this from the get-go, and I had tremendous fun with no serious hiccups right through to the final CHIMERA and HACKS.

    Good job the temperature’s dropped, ‘cause I’m on fire today! Thanks p and setter

  12. 25 min with lots of biffing
    Like most people my LOI was 25a and I still can’t parse it
    Liked 23a and that word always reminds me of the Mission Impossible film with Bellerophon

  13. 24 minutes with LOI PAVLOVIAN. I think it was Clive James who wrote how we all salivate whenever the great man’s name is mentioned. POI was “She’s a HUMDINGER, folk-singer.” I had SUMP as per your parsing, Pip. COD to DEUTERIUM. Terrific puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

  14. 35 mins so standard fare, but a number bifd without parsing. Thanks pip for the explanations, especially SUMP. Personally I found there were a few too many « take this letter away, replace it with this, move one up etc »

    NHO DEUTÉRIUM And, like Jack, needed all the checkers before arriving eventually at the right answer. ORMER again! Guy beat me to it.

    COD HUMDINGER. Another who didn’t see MD.

    Thanks pip and setter. PS pip, you have missed out the second E for English in 26 ac.

  15. A third successive sub-30 this week with my WITCH running at 75… something has turbocharged me and I wish I knew what it was. It’s not the temperature: we hit a roasting 22C in Orkney yesterday. Lovely.

    Enjoyed this and romped home in 27 minutes, with DEUTERIUM holding me up at the end and TEL AVIV biffed with no inkling why.

    The frequent recent appearances of abalone remind me of eating it thirty years ago, perfectly breadcrumbed and tender, on the stunning terrace of the Ventana Inn in Big Sur, with the Pacific sparkling far below and the scent of Redwoods all around. Unsurpassable.

    Thanks blogger and setter.

    1. I was there in ‘87. Great place, super food, but downed to many excellent strawberry margaritas. My only excuse is you can’t taste the alcohol. Poor, I know.

  16. 7:53. Today I felt on the wavelength more than I have for some while hence the quick time by my standards. TEL AVIV went in largely based on ___/___V alone, with just a quick glance at the clue to confirm. Afterwards I tried to think of a term for solving clues by checkers and enumeration alone, equivalent to “biffing” but I couldn’t come up with anything catchy. Any ideas?

    1. Actually, I’ve used ‘biff’ in that sense, and have tried to think of a term; and failed. (My TEL AVIV went in on the same basis: ___V and enumeration.)

    2. Maybe “papering” (as in “papering over the cracks”)…
      … on the right track, but probably not snappy enough

    3. Perhaps we are just being too precious about the origins of BIFD. It is already more usually seen as biff, biffed or biffing. And is already taking on the wider meaning you seek. Language evolves. Let’s just accept it has come to mean entering something with fingers crossed

      1. I like it – biff as a multi purpose term. Like when I biff one erroneously – Bloody Idiot, Forgot Finking.

  17. 12:38. I was held up for a couple of minutes at the end by ESCAPER, which needed an alphabet trawl and PAVLOVIA, my LOI. Nice puzzle. TELAVIV and SUMP were both biffed, so thanks for the parsing Pip. I was pleased to see DEUTERIUM, which gets my COD. Thanks Pip and setter.

  18. I did the main one in 25 so I thought I’d be warmed up for this, but it was more challenging . Enjoyable though. Btw I think Leighton Buzzrd is just in Bedfordshire but nearer Bucks than Herts. Thanks all

    1. You are correct, apologies. I went there not long ago by going down the A1 and thought it was still in Herts.

      1. Np – As it happens some of the places round there (eg Linslade) were in Bucks but I don’t believe it ever was in Herts . Famous for The Barron Knights and nearby Great Train Robbery but otherwise little known methinks.

  19. 22 mins, fast for me. Was writing them in as fast as I could read the clues in the SE and SW corners. Most of this easy, but held up by HUMDINGER, ESCAPER and RHEA, which was only vaguely remembered and my LOI.

  20. Nice puzzle, with lots of biffing possibilities as well – the likes of ROUND-SHOULDERED, UNDERGRADUATE, PAVLOVIAN, TEL AVIV (from the checkers), HUMDINGER & DEDICATED.

    COD for COMEDIC.

    I was happy with 5m 19s until I saw the times for mohn & verlaine. Goodness me!

  21. 15:57 so pretty speedy for me. A lot of the answers went in on sight as the crossers filled up, with just a quick glance at the clues to spot the definitions – a potentially risky strategy, but in this case there didn’t seem to be any traps for the unwary biffer. Could never have parsed ROUND SHOULDERED anyway, but fortunately didn’t need to.

  22. ERROR and ORMER got me underway and the NW filled up rapidly. RHEA started off the NE and the T_L crossers allowed TEL AVIV to be inserted and parsed in short order. A gallop to the finish with only HADES and SUMP not fully parsed, saw DEUTERIUM lumbering into the LOI slot, although I was well aware of its existence from teenage years spent devouring all the information I could find on nuclear reactors. 16:46. Thanks setter and Pip.

  23. 42 minutes with quite some time on DEUTERIUM, after thinking the definition was ‘twice’ and that it was an anagram of (U merited D), and being slow to get SUMP (I wanted ‘sink’, but no) — it seems The Times has finally bitten the bullet and allowed textspeak with no indication. Does anyone know if this is now policy?

    1. Noticed that also. Times policy, details of allowed abbreviations, allowed brand names, other such arcana are not published. You’ve got to guess what the editor will and won’t allow. (Current editor seems to be much more liberal than the previous one.)

      1. It’s scary where this could be leading. The Guardian puzzle today had ‘a’ clued as an abbreviation of ‘acting’. I’m glad The Times doesn’t allow silly things like that (so far!).

  24. This one demonstrated the limits of my sketchy crossword GK. I thought RHEAs were extinct and must have been confusing them with “moas”. I also confused DEUTERIUM with duodenum and thought it was a body part and was looking for the definition until I spotted the “D” at the end 15d. EMOLUMENTS came up during a recent administration because it was entirely likely that the then president was in violation of that clause of the US constitution. Not one of my better outings. 16.06

    1. The excellent Representative Jamie Raskin spoke to us at the Nation office and expressed assurance that violation of the emoluments clause would be one of the articles of impeachment. After his talk, I looked at the latest New York Times and informed him that, to my surprise and great disappointment, it didn’t look like emoluments would be on the table after all. Glass houses?

  25. Well inside target at 34.05 although I think it was a tough test. I think my brain must be in overdrive today as it’s now cooled down a bit (at least here in South Wales).
    LOI was DEUTERIUM which was unknown to me and constructed from the available letters. I wasn’t confident it was right and based the word on the only similar spelling I had heard of in DEUTERONOMY. SUMP had to be the answer to 25ac but I couldn’t parse it.

  26. 26:33

    Bit of a biff-fest for me – each of HUMDINGER, ROUND-SHOULDERED, SUBEDIT, DEDICATED and UNDERGRADUATE all failing the ‘Can I be bothered?’ test.

    Last in – PAVLOVIAN followed by ESCAPER

  27. As a Chemistry graduate from about 50 years ago, I was shocked that I didn’t know or remember that D = DEUTERIUM. About 24 mins all told after losing 12 minutes because of forgetting to pause.

    1. I too had forgotten it had it’s own chemical symbol. And me a Natural Sciences MA, MPhil, Cantab.

  28. 10:04, possibly returning to something a bit nearer normal service as my brain cools down (I have not enjoyed the last couple of days in the UK, though I remain thankful I was only watching people play cricket and cycle up mountains from my sofa rather than doing either). Main delay was trying to figure out SUMP, most enjoyable moment was spotting where “gagging” actually pointed.

  29. 9:11 but with HACTARE. Honestly what’s the point of even bothering to check your answers if you do so in so perfunctory a manner that you miss something like that?
    And that after checking the anagrist so carefully at 14ac for a word I simply cannot learn how to spell.

  30. 20 minutes but with a misspelling of Ulysses- I had an extra e instead of s- didn’t think it was right but didn’t know the correct spelling- deuterium was my LOI got the word then saw why it was D!
    Thanks blogger and setter

  31. Among the things that I detest in cryptic crosswords are textspeak, and anything arcanely scientific. And here we had the culprits intersecting. Not my favourite puzzle of the year.

    LOI DEUTERIUM (after discarding “deuretium”)
    COD UNDERPRIVILEGED (though pig’s liver is to be relished rather than endured)
    TIME 8:35

  32. 11.35 . Good fun with a few tricky clues. Humdinger, dedicated and sump took a while and I didn’t really parse dedicated which was my LOI.
    Thx setter and blogger.

  33. 14.00 but

    As I wrote in UNDERPRIVILEGED I remember thinking “at least this is one word I can spell”. Still managed to bungle it up

    Otherwise lots of biffing and post submission parsing. DEUTERIUM and SUMP also my last two in after spotting the parsing for the latter

    Thanks Piquet and setter

    1. I wrote “underpriviledge” and looked at it and thought,well,there’s all 15 letters from ” endured pig liver” – but still , something is definitely off. Easy to fix though by shifting second ” d” to the end!

  34. 9’48”. Biffed like mad and very irresponsibly in order to get in under the ten, but it paid off. Got the adrenaline rush and the air-punch. The kindly-ones were looking after me because for once I remembered at 15 down the old nostrum that single letters in clues often refer to elements. Lovely stuff. Thanks to all.

  35. 11.11. Whizzed through this pleasant offering. A breath of fresh air.

  36. Nice puzzle, about an hour’s work over two sessions, good joint time for me and the lady wife

    Re Biffing, I rather thought it stood for “because it f**king fits”, but maybe I’m wrong!

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